Rohingya still fleeing violence, persecution in Myanmar – U.N. rights boss

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Muslim Rohingya continue to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine state, many testifying about violence, persecution, killings and burning of their homes by soldiers and Buddhists, the United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in his final remarks to the Human Rights Council before stepping down on Aug 31, questioned a top Myanmar official’s assertion that the government was committed to defending the rights of all, not those of any one community.

“In my four years as High Commissioner I have heard many preposterous claims. That claim is almost in its own category of absurdity,” Zeid said. “Have you no shame, sir, have you no shame? We are not fools.”

The Myanmar official, Kyaw Moe Tun, director-general of its foreign ministry, did not reply to Zeid’s comments which closed the two-hour debate. After the session he could not be reached for comment.

Earlier, Kyaw said during the debate that Zeid’s report contained information that was “distorted or exaggerated”. He blamed the violence on militants who attacked Myanmar government forces.

“The root cause of the tragedy was terrorism and terrorism cannot be condoned under any circumstance,” Kyaw said.

So far this year, 11,432 Rohingya have reached Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 have fled since an August military crackdown in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, Zeid said.

“No amount of rhetoric can whitewash these facts. People are still fleeing persecution in Rakhine — and are even willing to risk dying at sea to escape,” he said.

Many Rohingya refugees also report being pressured by Myanmar authorities to accept a national verification card that says they need to apply for citizenship, he added.

The citizenship issue is at the core of discussions on their status, Zeid said, adding that the cards “mark the Rohingya as non-citizens, in keeping with the government’s characterisation of them as foreigners in their own homeland”.

Authorities in mainly Buddhist Myanmar deny carrying out large scale human rights abuses, which the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing. Authorities say a crackdown in Rakhine is a necessary response to violence by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group, which attacked Myanmar security posts.

Kyaw said a top priority for his government was to find a “sustainable solution” in Rakhine. It had agreed with Bangladesh in January 2018 that repatriation of refugees would be completed within two years, he said.

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Zimbabwe Defence Force refutes allegations it will rig elections

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The Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) has refuted allegations that it will rig the 30 July elections saying it supports President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF.

The opposition MDC Alliance alleged during its protest march last month that the army was deployed to Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission and at opposition campaign rallies.

The army told the media in Harare that if serving members were participating in political campaigns they were doing so illegally, and will be disciplined. Staying in the barracks, the Zimbabwe Defence Force says no soldiers have been ordered to intimidate people in rural areas into voting for some political parties.

The reports are mischievous. “If some serving members are participating in the on-going political campaigns, they are doing so illegally and not as a result of an instruction from commanders.  Those with information on such misconduct must provide us with full details of such individuals for appropriate disciplinary action to be taken against them,” says ZDF’s Colonel Overson Mugwisi.

On a charm offensive, the army detailed its current deployments that include clearing of landmines, parks’ rangers and construction of schools and clinics. It says it has no direct role in the upcoming 30 July elections.

“ Our role in the elections is mainly to support the Zimbabwe Republic Police in their role of the maintenance of law and order in the country before, during and after the harmonised elections, we also remain ready to support the the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with transport.”

The army says soldiers will only be seen at political events attended by VIP’s assumingly for security, and humanitarian work. While soldiers have the right to vote they have been reminded they cannot hold political positions unless they are retired.

The opposition has welcomed this. “They have been saluting not Nelson Chamisa but the authority I carry so I am not worried they are a patriotic army in fact I respect them, if there is one thing that tickles me it is the honour of our men and boys in uniform, they are my agenda number one they are not getting what is commensurate with the smart work they are doing,  I have no problem with soldiers,” says MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa.

Southern African Development Community is confident the blast in Bulawayo was an isolated incident . “ I’ve had extensive discussions with President Mnangagwa soon after the hand grenade explosion as well as during the summit, I think those who sought to attack and kill were making an assault on democracy, we are pleased that he survived, it seems that it was a once off, otherwise  I am confident that they will have a peaceful election,” says President Cyril Ramaphosa.


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Uber returns to Finnish roads after taxi market deregulation

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Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] will re-start its ride-hailing business in Finland on Wednesday after a one-year pause, it said, seeking to benefit from the country’s transport law reform.

The US company has come under pressure from traditional taxi drivers and regulators across Europe, who accuse it of unfair competition and skirting traditional licensing rules.

In Finland, Uber was deemed legal provided its drivers held valid taxi licenses, but the company has been the target of police investigations and drivers have been ordered to give up their earnings to the state for not having valid permits.

An overhaul of transport legislation came into force on 1 July , removing a cap on the number of taxi licenses the government issues in a year and fare restrictions, while creating a legal framework for apps such as Uber.

The company will relaunch its uberX and UberBLACK services on Wednesday afternoon in the wider capital region, including Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.

“Drivers who have been fully licensed under the new regulations will now be able to help hundreds of thousands of Finns get around at the touch of a button,” Uber Nordics general manager Joel Jarvinen said in a statement.

“We hope that other countries, where local people are not currently able to use apps like Uber either to get around or to make money on their terms, will soon follow suit.”

Jarvinen said more than a quarter million people in the Helsinki area have opened the Uber app since August even though the company was not operating.

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King Zwelithini calls on his subjects to defend their land

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The King of AmaZulu Goodwill Zwelithini has called on his subjects to stand up and defend their land. His majesty also warned political parties not to take voters for granted and continue exploiting them.

He was addressing AmaZulu at an Imbizo at Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Thousands of people attended an Imbizo called by the King at Ulundi in the north of the province.

Parliament’s High Level Panel led by former President Kgalema Montlante recommended that the Ingonyama Trust whose sole trustee is the King be dissolved.

Over 3 million hectares of land in KwaZulu-Natal falls under the trust. AmaZulu converged in Ulundi to get a cue from the King on the way forward on the land issue, and especially on the Ingonyama Trust.

Speaker after speaker condemned the proposal to scrap the trust which controls millions of hectares of land in rural parts of the province.

The king reiterated he would not allow government to take his land away. He strongly warned those suggesting that he lose his land. He also promised to take the Ingonyama Trust issue to the highest court in the land if need be.

The Ingonyama Trust Act of 1994 allows amakhosi to hold all land previously owned by, or belonging to, the KwaZulu Government, in the name of the Ingonyama Trust. The trust is headed by King Goodwill Zwelithini.

The land debate continues to be a burning issue for many residing in areas under traditional leaders.

Ordinary people – including women – were given a chance to air their views.

“We do not want government to take our land, because we are not going to afford rates like people in urban areas. We are using our land to feed our children,” says one participant.

MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus told the gathering that the ANC had not yet taken any decision on the recommendations made by the group led by former President Motlanthe.

“Let me first apologise for the remarks made by former President Motlanthe. He delivered the recommendations but the ANC has not taken any resolution about the land under traditional leaders.”

Ingonyama Trust Board chairperson judge Jerome Ngwenya says they will be taking the fight to scrap the board to the highest court in the land.

“We have done nothing wrong in the past 20 years in existence. We have not mismanaged any funds but there are people who see it fit to call for the disbandment of the board.”

King Goodwill Zwelithini did not mince his words addressing the Imbizo. He called on politicians to respect traditional leaders.

Translation: “Politicians need not to interfere with the land under traditional leaders… I am not scared of those continuously challenging me.”  The King of AmaZulu reiterated that he will not give government the land his forefathers fought for.

The King of the amaZulu also questioned the ability of police intelligence. He referred to the torching of several trucks at Mooi River in the Midlands earlier this year, allegedly by unhappy local truck drivers, demanding employment. He says intelligence services should have been able to pick up the planned protest.


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Black Leopards appoints new technical director

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The Premier Soccer League returnees, Black Leopards FC have appointed former assistant manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C, which plays in the Football League Championship in England as the club’s technical director.

The Italian tactician, Stefano Cusin has joined the club on a three-year contract.

Leopards General Manager Tshifhiwa Thidiela says the club’s preparations for the new season are going well and that they are not worried about the matter between Ajax Cape Town and PSL.

The Johannesburg High Court has recently overridden an earlier ruling that Ajax be demoted to the National First Division.

This is after the team was docked seven points from the games in which Tendai Ndoro had played after it was found that he went against FIFA rules and played for three clubs in one season.

Lidoda Duvha, as Black Leopards FC are fondly called by fans have appointed an Italian football coach Stefano Cusin to the position of technical director.

Coach Joel Masutha will be assisted by Morgan Shivambo. Cusin has been officially unveiled together with physical trainer, Sorini Juan Luka who is also an Italian, at a media briefing that was held in Polokwane.

Cusin who gained international prominence as coach in countries such as France, England and Bulgaria also coached various clubs in Africa that include Congo’s national team.

Leopards FC General Manager Tshifhiwa Thidiela says they want to build a strong team.

“There’s a case between Ajax Cape Town and the Premier League, we are Black Leopards we are nowhere involved in that, we want to build a strong team and we want to go and say let’s put ourselves as high as possible, to Stefano when he came we told him that we have got a head coach, he is not here to coach when they fail or anything goes wrong they will get fired together as a unity.”

Cusin says he has been following South African football because he has been working in Africa for five years.

“I used to work in Africa for five years so I know the league very well, so I know all the best teams in the country and facilities during the world cup and I have also started to study the players, coaches and how they play and I’m still studying the league.”

Masutha says he is expecting a good working relationship with the new technical director for the benefit of the club.

“ I joined the club in 1995 since then up to now I have worked with 30 technical directors and he will the 31st obviously I have a good relationship with all of them and I believe we are going to have a good working relationship for the benefit of everyone especially the club so I don’t see any problem.”

Leopards’ Captain Macks Munyai says they want to make sure that the team retains its PSL status.

“ The plan is still the same we are going there to compete if we fail as long as we are still there in the PSL, the important thing is to stay there we just have to continue where we left.”

The club has also unveiled five new players. They include former Kaizer Chiefs player Zwivhuya Matombo and Themba Ndlovu, Lefa Hlungwane and Alton Kaping from the NFD side, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC. Former Orlando Pirates player Ayanda Gcaba is also training with Leopards in a bid to join the club.

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SA journalists living in fear – Report

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An alliance of civil rights organisation The Right2Know says many journalists in South Africa are fearful that someone is spying on them.

The organisation revealed this in its latest report titled ‘Spooked – Surveillance of Journalists in South Africa’.

The report presents a range of case studies of journalists who appear to have been spied on, with the aim to give them a better picture of the threats they might face so they can better defend themselves.

The Right2Know’s Murray Hunter says the main surveillance law is the RICA Act.  He says the AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism will soon challenge the law in the Constitution Court.

“What Rica says is that everyone who has a sim card and has registered their identity with the sim card, and that if the state wants to intercept their communications, they need the permission of the judge. But we have seen that it hasn’t done enough to protect people’s privacy against surveillance abuses.

“We have seen whistle-blowers, journalists, activists have been spied on. What we want from this constitutional challenge is more protection for our privacy. If you are spied on, at some point you need to get notified that your information has been handed over. The current secrecy around Rica has meant that when people are spied on illegally, they have no way of detecting it and acting to protect their rights.”

Right2Know says journalists in South Africa are targets of state and private sector spying particularly those uncovering corruption, state capture and in-fighting in the state security agencies.

Meanwhile, the South African National Editor’s Forum (SANEF) says they are not surprised by the contents of this report. SANEF chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase says journalists have been complaining that their communication devices including cellphones have been intercepted.

“Over the years we have heard from journalists complaining that they suspect that their phones have been tapped. We know that many of the journalists that have uncovered corruption in this country have been targets and this is a serious threat to media freedom.

“And whistle-blowers come to journalists because they are gatvol with the corruption within the state. They come to journalists trusting that they will be protected. We have to see action where there are gaps with the Rica laws. And also we are hoping that this review by the President of the State Security will actually look at all of these issues and bring them to an end,” Mahlase added.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has initiated a panel to review the mandate and functioning of the State Security Agency, which has been implicated in a range of abuses relating to its surveillance work.

The Right2Know says surveillance affects all members of society, including whistle-blowers and activists. The report recommends among others increased vigilance from media organisations and more accountability from communication service providers.

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Pamplona assures women its bull-running festival safe after “Wolf Pack” assault

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Pamplona wants to reassure women they will be safe from abuse during the bull-running festival that starts in the Spanish city this week, countering calls to boycott the event in protest at a failed rape prosecution.

Five men, who called themselves “The Wolf Pack”, were cleared in April of raping an 18-year-old woman at the festival in 2016, and convicted of the lesser crime of sexual abuse.

The ruling was met by a wave of protests that was renewed when the men were released on bail last month.

Ahead of Friday’s launch of the alcohol-fuelled event, where mostly men volunteer to be chased by bulls down narrow streets, suggestions of a boycott circulated on social media.

“Faced with calls not to come to the festival, I would make a call to women that Pamplona is a city whose institutions and society have said they will not allow assaults,” said councillor Itziar Gomez.

The municipality, started campaigning for festivals free from sexist assaults in 2014, building an infrastructure which now includes helplines in dozens of languages to deal with incidents.

This year it launched an app that lets people tell police at the touch of a button if they suffer or witness a sexual assault, with a signal for officers to locate them.

“We’ve become a city with an extremely high level of awareness,” Gomez said, adding that women were increasingly reporting assaults such as groping.

Rather than boycotting the bull run, some women plan to show their anger by wearing black instead of the traditional white.

“Now more than ever we women have to fill the streets, fill the fiestas and fill the night, because you will have that assurance that there are women in the street with you,” said former city councillor for equality Laura Berro.

The Wolf Pack case has raised awareness about sexual assault throughout Spain where chants of “I believe you, sister” and “Drunk and alone, I want to get home” ringing out across town squares have taken on a similar weight to the #MeToo hashtag that originated in the United States.

Spain’s new prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, appointed a female-dominated cabinet, reinstated a ministry for equality and pledged gender equality training for judges and a review of the legal definition of sex crimes.

Altamira Gonzalo Valganon of Themis, an organisation of female legal experts, said: “Judges in this country are generally cut off from social reality, have been educated in a patriarchal system, and have more empathy with men than women.”

In Pamplona, bartender Maitane Hermoso de Mendoza, 26, said she hoped some good would come of the Wolf Pack debacle.

“After this case, people are taking all these things more seriously. It’s sad to say, but it has served to make people more aware of what’s going on.”

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England beat Colombia on penalties to reach quarterfinals

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England finally ended their penalties curse when they beat Colombia 4-3 in a shootout after drawing their World Cup last-16 clash 1-1 following extra time after the South Americans equalised in the 93rd minute.

England had previously lost all three World Cup shootouts and three of four in the European Championship but prevailed on Tuesday when Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca failed to convert, leaving Eric Dier to win the game for England

It was the first time Colombia had been involved in a World Cup shootout and they took first blood when Jordan Henderson missed his spot kick – but for once fortune smiled on England.

Earlier Harry Kane smashed in a 57th-minute penalty, his sixth goal of the tournament, and England looked to be through until Yerry Mina headed an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.

It was England’s first win in a knockout game since 2006 and earns them a quarter-final with Sweden, who were far from impressive in beating Switzerland 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.

Then comes a potential semi-final against hosts Russia or Croatia with Tuesday’s win appearing to vindicate – just – coach Gareth Southgate’s decision to field a second-string side in the the final group game loss to Belgium to secure an easier route.

Colombia’s hopes suffered a huge setback before kickoff when key playmaker James Rodriguez was ruled out with a calf injury and without him they took a defensive approach and never rarely threatened.

England were always the more purposeful side but they lacked the key final ball and needed a gift to take the lead.

The South Americans had been getting away with blatant holding and wrestling at each of England’s many corners and the referee’s patience finally snapped when Carlos Sanchez hauled down tournament leading scorer Kane once too often.

After four minutes of mayhem as the Colombians protested, Kane kept his cool and smashed in his third spot kick of Russia 2018.

When Juan Cuadrado blazed horribly over the bar with the goal gaping 10 minutes from time with Colombia’s first chance of the match it looked all over for them but there was a fiery sting in the tail of normal time.

England keeper Jordan Pickford made a superb save to touch wide a furious long shot by Uribe but from the following corner – Colombia’s first of the match – giant defender Mina rose highest to head in the equaliser and send the massed Colombian fans into a frenzy.

England substitute Dier missed the best chance of the extra period when he headed over the bar but he made up for it in emphatic fashion with the winning penalty in the shootout.

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Analysis: Swedes steam into last eight with big names in their wake

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Sweden’s brand of football may not be easy on the eye but on Tuesday they added Switzerland to a list already including the Netherlands, Italy and Germany as they marched into the World Cup quarterfinals.

Had results in qualifying, the playoffs and the group stage gone another way, it might be any one of that illustrious trio preparing to face Colombia or England in the last eight on Saturday.

Much as it might offend the purists, however, it is Janne Andersson’s no-name outfit who will make the trip to Samara after a typically rugged 1-0 victory over Switzerland in St Petersburg.

The Dutch, third in Brazil four years ago, were barged out of the way in qualifying when Sweden edged the three-times World Cup finalists on goal difference to finish second in a group that France won.

In the playoffs the Swedes were paired with four-times world champions Italy and sensationally saw them off over two legs to keep the Azzurri out of the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

On seeding, defending champions Germany would have expected to be in Samara on Saturday but they finished bottom of Group F in Russia, an ignominious exit that would have come sooner had Sweden held out for a few seconds more to draw their clash in Sochi.

And on Tuesday, Sweden proved that once again that dogged defending and huge collective effort can be very effective, even in the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Sure, they were helped by the fact that Switzerland were toothless up front but no team is going to find it easy to break down the Swedes.

Ranged across the pitch in a traditional 4-4-2 formation, they are happy to cede possession – Switzerland enjoyed 63 percent on Tuesday – confident that by working indefatigably for each other they would get it back.

In attack, they lack the world-class edge that Zlatan Ibrahimovic once brought but they are big and strong and keep pumping balls into the box until one falls right for them.

In St Petersburg, their goal came with an element of luck when Emil Forsberg’s shot from the edge of the area took a huge deflection off defender Manuel Akanji and spun into the net.

The yellow-shirted hordes in the stands cheered it just as loudly as they once would an Ibrahimovic wonder-strike and, like the fans, Andersson does not really care what outsiders think about the way his team plays their football.

“We know that we are a good team, we’ve earned our successes, we know how we’ve got this far,” he told a post-match news conference.

“What other teams and countries think about that, you’ll have to ask them.”

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Prime Time: Gauteng MECs visit family of femicide victim in White City

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Source: The New Age

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