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Crisis in Rakhine reaches beyond Myanmar’s borders: UN expert

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United Nations, Oct 27: A UN special rapporteur on human rights has urged the Security Council to take decisive action to resolve the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, noting that the crisis “reaches beyond Myanmar’s borders”.

“The crisis in Rakhine state has not only been decades in the making, but has for some time gone beyond Myanmar’s borders. For a very long time now this issue has not been simply a domestic affair,” said Yanghee Lee.

“It has been cultivated for decades in the minds of the Myanmar people that the Rohingyas are not indigenous to the country and therefore have no rights whatsoever to which they can apparently claim,” she said in her report to the Third Committee, the UN General Assembly’s main body dealing with human rights and social and humanitarian issues, Xinhua news agency reported.

In particular, the special rapporteur stressed that given the gravity of the situation, it was uncertain how long it might take for the government to establish conditions for the safe and dignified return of the Rohingyas and to ensure they can rebuild their lives.

Furthermore, she noted that while the plight of the Rohingyas remained her main concern, the country had numerous other human rights challenges, including consistent reports of religious intolerance against Christians and Muslims across Myanmar.

It was unclear whether Myanmar’s peace process had advanced since the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement two years ago, said Lee, noting that all those responsible for human rights violations must be held accountable and that this should begin with full access for the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission.

The special rapporteur also urged the government to publicly embrace all the communities which make up the population of Myanmar and use its majority in Parliament to strike down all discriminatory laws, to show that all groups in Myanmar have equal rights.

“I have in the past commended Myanmar’s flourishing, widening democratic space. However, it seems to me that national legislation is effectively resulting in the criminalization of legitimate expression,” said Lee, calling on the government to press ahead with constitutional reform “to allow for proper operation of the rule of law”.

Furthermore, the reform of laws that contravene human rights standards should be prioritized, she added.

On August 25, a Rohingya militia allegedly attacked three police posts in Rakhine state and sparked the government’s return of attacks against the local villages. The exchanges of fire have caused hundreds of thousands to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

UN special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country’s situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

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Middle East

Palestinians protest against normalisation agreement between Israel, UAE

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Palestinians protest UAE-Israel deal

GAZA/RAMALLAH, Aug. 14 : Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank and Gaza on Friday against the United States’ sponsored normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Islamic Jihad Movement and other Palestinian factions organized the demonstration in Gaza city. Leaders of the factions, including the Hamas movement, joined the protest.

The crowds went out from al-Omari main mosque in Gaza city, waving flags and chanting slogans against the UAE. They marched the main street and gathered at Palestine square in the city’s downtown.

They carried banners writing “Palestine is not for sale” “No for normalization and no for those who lead normalization with the occupation” and “normalization is a knife in the back of the Palestinian people.”

Member of the Islamic Jihad Movement’s political bureau Khaled Al-Batsh renewed the Palestinian people’s condemnation and rejection of the agreement, calling on the UAE to withdraw its recognition of Israel immediately.

Hamas movement leader Mushir al-Masri addressed during the demonstration on behalf of the other factions’ leaders that the Palestinian people described the declaration of the agreement as “a black day for our people and cause.”

“The agreement is a total betrayal of the Palestinian cause and an unpardonable diplomatic action that no one forgives. It is a stab in the back of the Palestinians and gives free services to the occupation,” al-Masri said.

Protests also took place in some West Bank cities.

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CDC forecast projects 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in US by Sept 5

If the United States allowed the coronavirus to spread unchecked in an attempt to try to achieve so-called herd immunity, the “death toll would be enormous,” Anthony Fauci, U.S. top infectious disease expert, warned.

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 : A new ensemble forecast published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has projected up to 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Sept. 5.

The projection published Thursday forecast that 4,200 to 10,600 new COVID-19 deaths will be reported during the week ending Sept. 5 and that 180,000 to 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths will be reported by that date.

“State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Colorado and may decrease in Arizona, the Northern Mariana Islands, Vermont, and Wyoming,” the CDC said on its forecasting website.

If the United States allowed the coronavirus to spread unchecked in an attempt to try to achieve so-called herd immunity, the “death toll would be enormous,” Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Thursday.

“If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms … a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said during a live Instagram session.

“Testing continues to fall, especially in the South, one of the areas where the country needs it the most. Cases, too, are falling, which remains hard to interpret, given the testing decline — but fewer people are now in the hospital with COVID-19 than last week,” said a new report of The COVID Tracking Project.

This is the second week in a row that hospitalizations seem to have dropped, which suggests that infections may be declining independently of testing reductions, according to the report.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 5.29 million as of Friday afternoon with more than 168,100 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

The deal makes UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

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ISTANBUL : Turkey is considering suspending diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and withdrawing its ambassador over the Gulf state’s accord to normalise ties with Israel, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

The Turkish foreign ministry said history would never forgive the UAE’s “hypocritical behaviour” in agreeing such a deal, which recasts the order of Middle East politics.

Under the U.S.-brokered, the first between Israel and a Gulf Arab, the Jewish state agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank. Palestinian leaders have denounced it as a “stab in the back” to their cause.

“The move against Palestine is not a step that can be stomached. Now, Palestine is either closing or withdrawing its embassy. The same thing is valid for us now,” Erdogan said, adding he gave orders to his foreign minister.

“I told him we may also take a step in the direction of suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our ambassador,” he told reporters after Friday prayers.

The Foreign Ministry had earlier said Palestinians were right to reject the deal in which the UAE betrayed their cause.

“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour,” it said. “It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the (2002) Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League.”

Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years. In 2010 Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The deal makes UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

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