Indonesia Tragedy II
Foreign militants clash with Pak tribals
Emigration: Learn English first, says Straw
WW-II Sex Slavery
Cheney’s ex-aide Libby guilty of perjury
Asian women making inroads into politics
Yogyakarta, March 7
More than 115 others escaped through emergency exits as black smoke billowed behind them, authorities and witnesses said.
Transport minister Hatta Radjasa told reporters in Yogyakarta that 23 of the 140 passengers and crew on board died. Garuda said the injured passengers were being treated at three hospitals.
Survivors, many of them bloodied and dazed, said the Boeing 737-400 shook violently as it approached Yogyakarta airport and then shot off the runway, plowing through a fence and then coming to a halt in a rice field.
“Suddenly there was smoke inside the fuselage, it hit the runway and then it landed in a rice field,” local Islamic leader Dien Syamsudin told El-Shinta radio station.
“I saw a foreigner. His clothes were on fire and I jumped from the emergency exit. Thank God I survived.”
The government ordered an investigation into the crash, the third involving a commercial jetliner in the country in as many months.
''We had been warned that it would be a turbulent flight,'' said a survivor, Ruth Meigi Panggabean, who works for relief agency World Vision.
''As we approached the ground and I could see roofs from our window, the plane was still swaying and shaking. Then the plane slammed to the ground and skidded forward and slammed once again before it came to a stop,'' she said.
''It was dark, I finally found the emergency exit. It was not so high. The plane was full of smoke. I managed to get down. I just jumped from 2 m height and landed in a rice field,'' the 48-year-old Syamsudin, chief of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, told Radio Elshinta.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered a thorough investigation into the crash, appointing the security minister to look into possible “non-technical” causes, said spokesman Andi Mallarangeng, in an apparent reference to sabotage. — Agencies
Foreign militants clash with Pak tribals
Tank, March 7 Officials in Peshawar told Dawn that 12 Uzbeks, three tribesmen, including a brother of a tribal elder, and two Afghan nationals, were among the dead. They said that sporadic firing was continuing in the remote area, about 25 km west of Wana, the administrative headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency. The sources quoting local people said that the clashes started when some people opened fire on a pro-government elder Malik Saadullah Darikhel near Azam Warsak bazaar, killing his two cousins and a passerby. Malik Saadullah, who is heading a local peace committee, had recently survived two attempts on his life, which he believed had been carried out by foreign militants living in the area adjacent to the Afghan border. The attack on the tribal elder infuriated his relatives and a gunbattle ensued. The sources said that activists of the peace committee and fellow tribesmen of the Darikhel tribe, a sub-section of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, attacked foreigners residing in the area and killed 12 of them. One Afghan national and a brother of Saadullah were also killed in the cross-fire. Reports said that rival groups had entrenched themselves and taken positions on hilltops. About 300 armed volunteers had blocked the Azam Warsak-Wana Road.
By arrangement with The Dawn
Tank, March 7
Officials in Peshawar told Dawn that 12 Uzbeks, three tribesmen, including a brother of a tribal elder, and two Afghan nationals, were among the dead. They said that sporadic firing was continuing in the remote area, about 25 km west of Wana, the administrative headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency.
The sources quoting local people said that the clashes started when some people opened fire on a pro-government elder Malik Saadullah Darikhel near Azam Warsak bazaar, killing his two cousins and a passerby.
Malik Saadullah, who is heading a local peace committee, had recently survived two attempts on his life, which he believed had been carried out by foreign militants living in the area adjacent to the Afghan border.
The attack on the tribal elder infuriated his relatives and a gunbattle ensued. The sources said that activists of the peace committee and fellow tribesmen of the Darikhel tribe, a sub-section of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, attacked foreigners residing in the area and killed 12 of them. One Afghan national and a brother of Saadullah were also killed in the cross-fire.
Reports said that rival groups had entrenched themselves and taken positions on hilltops. About 300 armed volunteers had blocked the Azam Warsak-Wana Road.
— By arrangement with The Dawn
London, March 7
Straw said the ability to speak English should be a prerequisite for Asian women wanting to settle in Britain, adding that an immigration procedure that necessitated speaking English was “one of the things we (the government) should be looking at” to foster Asian women’s integration into wider society.
The statement is significant as only last autumn Straw waded into the debate over whether Muslim women should wear the veil.
Straw told a conference in his Blackburn constituency: “One of the things we should be looking at is the subject of Asian women speaking English and whether we need to engage them and require them to speak English before they are given a settlement visa”. He also singled out Muslims as a group isolated from the rest of the society compared with other immigrants.
“There is a big cultural divide between Muslims and the rest of us, more than, say, with the Afro-Caribbean community,” Daily Mail quoted him
Blackburn councillor Yusuf Jan-Virmani while welcoming Straw’s comments, warned against singling out Asian women.
“I support doing something about it because it is important that people can speak the language when they go to the doctor or go shopping. There is an issue with people coming from India and Pakistan, but we also have Poles not speaking English. They all should learn our language before they come,” he said. — ANI
Toronto, March 7
Major had suggested that federal laws could be rewritten to make it easier for intelligence officers to pass along evidence of criminal conspiracies that they uncover through wiretaps made for other purposes.
At present, Canadian security agency (CSIS) doesn't always share such information with the police because of fears that, if the material becomes part of a criminal prosecution, the spy service will have to disclose everything it knows about a suspect in an open court.
Major had suggested that a mechanism could be worked out to allow public release of only the specific information needed for a prosecution, with the rest remaining secret. After its initial reluctance to disclose some of the secret documents relating to the 1985 Air-India bombing on grounds of national security, the Canadian government has indicated that it may soon release some of the classified information. — PTI
WW-II Sex Slavery
Tokyo, March 7
But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe again denied that Japanese soldiers had kidnapped the Asian women to force them to act as prostitutes during World War II.
Abe had stirred anger with remarks last week that seemed to question the state's role in the wartime brothels, although he had also said that the apology stood.
The 1993 "Kono Statement", named after the then chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono in whose name it was issued, had acknowledged the Japanese military's role in setting up wartime brothels and that many women had been taken to and kept in the brothels against their will.
"I have said that I stand by the Kono statement and there is no change to that," Abe had told reporters on Wednesday.
Abe touched off additional protests when he said that Japan would not apologise again over the sex slave issue even if US lawmakers adopt a resolution calling for an apology. The non-binding resolution introduced by US Congressman Michael Honda calls on Japan to unambiguously apologise for the suffering that thousands of Asian women had endured at the hands of its Imperial Army.
Elderly South Korean women who had served as "comfort women" had protested on Wednesday near the Japanese embassy in Seoul, while in Tokyo members of women's groups had gathered near parliament to lambast Abe's remarks and show solidarity with the victims. — Reuters
Cheney’s ex-aide Libby guilty of perjury
A federal jury on Tuesday found vice-president Dick Cheney's former chief of staff guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. faces a prison term of up to 25 years. He will be sentenced in June.
Libby was accused of lying to the FBI and a grand jury during an investigation into the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent.
Plame's husband, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, had criticised the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq in 2003. Libby's lawyers said they would ask for a new trial. Cheney's office released a statement saying the vice president was "saddened" for the Libby family.
Libby was found guilty of two counts of perjury, one of obstruction of justice and one of lying to FBI agents. He was cleared of a second charge of making false statements.
During the investigation of the leak of Plame's identity, Libby had told FBI agents and a grand jury that he had learnt of her identity from reporters. However, witnesses in the case said they had learnt of Mrs. Plame's CIA job from Libby.
Libby's defence said he had honest lapses in memory.
The prosecution was skeptical. "He claims he forgot nine conversations with eight people over a four-week period," prosecution lawyer Peter Zeidenberg said in his closing statement.
The defence argued, and some jurors agreed, Libby was a scapegoat for other key White House officials, including Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's political strategist. Bush "said that he respected the jury's verdict.
He said he was saddened for Scooter Libby and his family," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said he was "gratified" by the verdict, but that it was "sad" that "we had a high-level official... who obstructed justice and lied under oath."
Wilson and Plame, meanwhile, intend to pursue a civil lawsuit against Cheney, Libby, Bush, Rove and former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage.
The couple's attorneys said in a statement the civil lawsuit "hinges on whether or not the defendants violated the constitutional rights of Valerie and Joe Wilson by making those disclosures in a concerted effort to retaliate against Joe Wilson for revealing the falsity of the President's rationale for the Iraq war."
Wilson had been disptached by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons programme with uranium from Africa.
Washington, March 7
There have been several notable women leaders in various governments and opposition in Asia. Among the current lot are Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and India’s ruling Congress party chief
The Asian countries have seen a significant increase in women’s political participation in provincial governments via quota systems or under legislations, the Asia Foundation says.
India and Pakistan now have quotas ensuring women more than 30 per cent of seats in local governments while Indonesia has enacted laws encouraging a similar percentage of candidates in political party lists, according to Carol Yost, director of the foundation’s women’s empowerment programme.
In an assessment ahead of International Women’s Day tomorrow, the foundation has noted “important progress” in reform of laws and policies concerning women in the region as a result of global pressure as well as actions by Asian women groups themselves.
“The good news is, despite their under representation in national — level governments, women are nonetheless becoming a significant political force in many countries and are gaining ground — particularly at the local level,” Yost said.
“While there is still a long way to go to achieve parity, the overall trend in women’s full and equal participation in political processes and public life is positive,”
Across Asia, women hold an average of only 16.4 per cent of parliamentary seats and own around 30 per cent of small and medium enterprises, according to statistics culled by the non-profit foundation. — AFP