29 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


The pontiff visits camp where 1.1 million people were killed and later meets a group of former inmates

The Pope visits Auschwitz on Friday to remember those who lost their lives in the Nazi death camp. He is the third pope to visit the camp. Pope Francis chose not to make a public address, instead opting to pray silently in one of the cells before meeting Holocaust survivors

Pope Francis has visited the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, walking beneath the infamous gates emblazoned with the words arbeit macht frei, work sets you free.

After arriving at the museum and memorial to the 1.1 million people killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau during the second world war, the pope sat alone on a bench for several minutes of sombre contemplation and prayer.

Francis had said he wanted his visit – the third by a pope – to be conducted in silence. “I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds – only the few people necessary. Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

His only public words were written in the Auschwitz guest book: “Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

At Block 11, Francis met a group of former inmates of the camp and some of those hailed as “righteous among nations” for risking their lives to save Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland…………..

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Another airstrike around the city on Manbij, scene of the worst civilian casualty incident in the campaign against Isis, may have killed several dozen people

The Syrian Observation for Human Rights pegged the civilian death toll from the latest coalition airstrike near Manbij at at least 28 people.

The Syrian Observation for Human Rights pegged the civilian death toll from the latest coalition airstrike near Manbij at at least 28 people. Photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters

A day after announcing a formal inquiry into what watchdogs call the United States’ worst civilian casualty incident in its war against the Islamic State militant group, the US military said that more civilians may have been killed in another airstrike around the same Syrian city.

Manbij, the scene of intense fighting for over two months between Isis and US-backed militant groups, has now experienced another airstrike that “may have resulted in civilian casualties”, the US Central Command (Centcom) disclosed late on Thursday.

“We can confirm the coalition conducted airstrikes in the area in the last 24 hours,” Centcom said in a statement.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a major source of information on the plight of noncombatants caught in Syria’s devastating civil war, said it put the death toll in the latest lethal Manbij incident at 28 civilians, including, once again, women and children.

“They were killed when the warplanes of the international coalition committed a massacre in the town of al-Ghandour in the northwestern countryside of Manbij city east of Aleppo province, where the warplanes targeted areas in the town of al-Ghandour, which is more than 23 kilometers away from Manbij city, and the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation,” the Observatory said on its English-language website on Thursday………

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Defense for Stephen Rankin claims Chapman was charging him, but officer at scene says Rankin told him the 18-year-old was ‘reaching for something’

William Chapman.

William Chapman, 18, was unarmed when he was shot dead by officer Stephen Rankin in April 2015. Photograph: Family photo

A police officer in Virginia initially gave a different explanation than his current defense for why he fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old outside a Walmart, according to testimony given by one of his colleagues on Thursday.

When asked moments after killing William Chapman what had happened, officer Stephen Rankin “said [Chapman] was reaching for something”, detective Albert Mannings, one of the first officers to arrive on the scene, told jurors.

Attorneys for Rankin have stated that he opened fire on Chapman in the store’s parking lot on 22 April 2015 because the 18-year-old charged at him and posed a physical threat. James Broccoletti, Rankin’s lead attorney, reiterated this argument on Thursday and made no mention of Chapman appearing to reach for something as a justification for Rankin shooting him in the face and the chest.

“He doesn’t want to shoot, he doesn’t want to kill, but he has no choice because Mr Chapman doesn’t get on the ground – he lunges, he charges, he moves towards the officer,” Broccoletti told the jury at Portsmouth circuit court.

Chapman was the second unarmed man Rankin had shot dead in the city. After killing Kirill Denyakin in 2011, Rankin told authorities he shot the 26-year-old 11 times because he was reaching into his waistband while moving toward the officer. A grand jury declined to charge Rankin for the first fatal shooting…………….

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They say arrests of journalists plus closures of newspapers and broadcasters strike a major blow against public debate and government accountability.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an signing the state of emergency decree in Ankara.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an signing the state of emergency decree in Ankara. Photograph: Kayhan Ozer/AFP/Getty Images

Three leading press freedom bodies have condemned the Turkish government’s crackdown on the media following the failed coup.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression, David Kaye; the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s representative on media freedom, Dunja Mijatovi?; and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have called on the Turkish authorities to reconsider their actions.

Dozens of journalists have been arrested and several media outlets closed in the course of past two days by order of the government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.

A decree published in Turkey’s official gazette demanded the closure of more than 100 broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and distribution companies.

These include three news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio channels, 45 papers and 15 magazines.

Arrest warrants have been issued against 89 journalists, access has been blocked to more than 20 news websites, the licences of 29 publishing houses have been revoked, and a number of press accreditations have been cancelled.

In a joint statement, Kaye and Mijatovi? said: “The simultaneous arrests of independent journalists and shutdowns of print and broadcast media strike a major blow against public debate and government accountability.

“We strongly urge the Turkish authorities to reconsider these decisions and confirm their obligations to media freedom.”……………

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Serving 35 years for leaking secrets to WikiLeaks, she was being investigated for resisting guards, prohibited property and threatening conduct charges

Manning confirmed through her lawyers this month that she was receiving medical care after trying to take her own life.

Chelsea Manning confirmed through her lawyers this month that she was receiving medical care after trying to take her own life. Photograph: Uncredited/AP

Chelsea Manning may face charges relating to a suicide attempt this year, which could lead to indefinite solitary confinement or transferral to a maximum-security facility, according to a civil rights group.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Thursday that Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence in military custody for leaking state secrets to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, was under investigation for three charges related to her 5 July suicide attempt: “resisting the force cell move team”, “prohibited property”, and “conduct which threatens”.

Manning confirmed through her lawyers in July that she was receiving medical care after having tried to take her own life.

If convicted of these new “administrative offenses”, she faces punishment that could include solitary confinement for the rest of her sentence, reclassification as a maximum-security prisoner, and an addition of nine years to her sentence. It might also negate her possibility of parole, according to the ACLU.

“It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life,” ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio said in a press release. “The government has long been aware of Chelsea’s distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary.”…………….

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