The verdict came as a shock to many, as prosecutors had originally asked for a one-year suspended sentence. One judge on the panel said they handed down a harsher sentence because Purnama “didn’t feel guilt” and that his comments “caused unrest in society and wounded the feelings of Muslims.”
Ahok verdict highlights Indonesia strife
Outrage from Muslim community
The experts’ statement came the same day Purnama’s family made the unexpected decision to withdraw their appeal of the verdict.
“After a lengthy discussion we the family decided to withdraw the appeal,” said Purnama’s sister Fifi Lety Indra, who is also one of his lawyers. They had submitted the appeal only hours before.
The controversy ignited while Purnama was seeking re-election, when he charged his opponents of lying to the public by saying the Koran prohibited them for voting for someone who wasn’t Muslim. The comments led to calls from the country’s Muslim community for Purnama to be prosecuted.
Christians make up 10 percent of Indonesia’s population, which is predominantly Muslim. There are 250 million people in the country in total.
blc/se (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Supporters of jailed Christian governor Ahok rally in Indonesia
Thousands of protesters gathered in front of a Jakarta prison in support of the former Christian governor imprisoned for two years for blasphemy against Islam. The politician plans to appeal the verdict. (10.05.2017)
Court sentences Jakarta governor Ahok to two years jail for blasphemy
Jakarta’s outgoing Christian governor has been sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy over comments about the Quran. The trial was widely seen as a test of religious tolerance in Muslim-majority Indonesia. (09.05.2017)
Jakarta election a turning point for Indonesia
The Indonesian capital’s sitting Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, has conceded defeat in an election seen as a test for pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim country. Christina Schott reports from Jakarta. (20.04.2017)
Jakarta votes for new governor as incumbent ‘Ahok’ faces blasphemy trial
Unofficial polls indicate the election for a new governor in Jakarta will go to a second round. A blasphemy trial facing incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or ‘Ahok’ has overshadowed the campaign. (15.02.2017)
The world promised Yemen only half the aid it needs. Yet at the same time, arms sales to the warring factions are thriving. What is needed now is an arms embargo, writes Matthias von Hein.
Yemeni government troops are massively supported by Saudi Arabia
Every ten minutes, a child dies in Yemen – of preventable causes. After the Yemen donor conference, no one will be able to claim ignorance in this regard. The meeting in Geneva has, at least for a very brief moment, drawn attention to the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. By the end of the conference, of the aid required by the UN to avert imminent mass starvation this year, almost 50 percent had been pledged. Sure enough, that’s an achievement – previously, the figure had been 15 percent. But even if every dollar, every euro raised for the benefit of those who are suffering in Yemen is important: a “remarkable success” – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ assessment of the donor conference results – would have had to raise all of the required $2.1 billion (1.93 billion euros), and not just half of that amount.
Hunger as a weapon
Primarily, because the worst famine in the world today has been man-made for the most part. It’s because of war that one third of Yemenis are starving and two thirds of the country’s people depend on relief supplies. It is a war that sees hunger used as a weapon. It is a war that, only after the Saudi-led coalition intervened two years ago, escalated ethnic conflicts that had simmered for decades into a disaster.
DW’s Matthias von Hein
If nothing else, it is a war which generates huge profits – also for those who pledged relief money in Geneva: In 2015, when the wealthiest country in the Arabian peninsula started to bomb the poorest country in the region back to the stone age, arms worth in excess of 1.8 billion euros ($1.96 billion) were exported from the European Union to Saudi Arabia. In 2016, the German Ministry of Economy issued export licenses for weapons sold to Saudi Arabia worth more than 500 million euros ($544 million). This makes Germany a participant in this very dirty war. Matters are not helped by the fact that Great Britain, France and especially the US are also among those who, acting resourcefully and displaying high levels of entrepreneurial flair, make sure that the Saudi arms, bombs and missile depots remain fully replenished, despite constant deployment on a massive scale.
Truth be told, the coalition of the Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh is also fighting this war without any regard for the civilian population. However, one of the main causes of Yemen’s famine is the continuing Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemeni ports. The situation could even become dramatically worse because the Saudi-led coalition plans to launch an offensive against Hodeida, a Red Sea port held by the Houthi-Saleh bloc.
Hodeida, the eye of the needle
That port’s capacity has been dramatically reduced already due to Saudi airstrikes. In spite of that, it is still the central hub when it comes to supplying Yemen with food and relief aid. If the port comes under attack, the current mass starvation would turn into a death trap. The coalition’s argument – according to which Hodeida must be seized in order to halt arms supplies to the Houthi-Saleh bloc and force them to the negotiating table – is not convincing: the UN Special Envoy’s recent peace initiative was rejected by the Saudi-backed government of exiled president Hadi. And all ships approaching the port have been inspected by the coalition for quite some time already.
In this war, there can’t be any military victory – this insight was even shared by US Defense Minister James Mattis when he visited Riyadh recently. Those who care about the people of Yemen must, therefore, bring the warring parties to the negotiating table. To this end, pressure must be put on Riyadh, which, thus far, has rejected everything that didn’t amount to a capitulation of the Houthi-Saleh alliance. In this situation, an arms embargo targeting Saudi Arabia could be a start that’s long overdue.
Major pledging conference aims to bring relief to Yemen
A donors’ conference in Geneva aims to drum up billions to ease the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn Arab nation. Yemen’s conflict has left 18.8 million people in need of aid, the UN says. (25.04.2017)
HRW: Houthi rebels, allies using banned landmines in Yemen
HRW has accused Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen of using banned landmines. The use of landmines threatens the return of millions of displaced people to their homes. (20.04.2017)
New York – The UN Security Council called for stepped up efforts on Friday to defeat Boko Haram insurgents and Islamic State extremists in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region and tackle the humanitarian crisis that has left millions facing hunger and possible famine.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the UN’s most powerful body strongly condemned attacks by the militant groups and encouraged greater support to strengthen the capabilities of the multinational force trying to rout them.
It said the force needs logistical, mobility and communications assistance and equipment, and better ways to share information.
It expressed “grave concern at the ongoing terrorist attacks” by Boko Haram and Islamic State militants and at “the dire humanitarian situation across the region caused by the activities of Boko Haram.”
The resolution urged the immediate disbursement of the $458m in humanitarian assistance pledged for the Lake Chad region for 2017 at a donors conference in Oslo and called on those who haven’t donated to contribute urgently.
The Security Council visited the Lake Chad region in early March for a firsthand look at the impact of the extremist attacks and the humanitarian crisis.
Britain’s UN ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, said putting a spotlight on Lake Chad Basin isn’t enough.
“We will fail the people of the region if we do not respond to what we saw, if we don’t take tangible actions to bring real relief, real respite to the suffering, the hunger, the instability,” he told the council after the vote.
First and foremost, Rycroft said, the international community and the UN must scale up their response to the looming humanitarian disaster.
“If we act now, famine can be avoided,” he said.
To tackle the crisis, Rycroft said, the root causes must also be addressed including “economic inequalities, countering violent extremism, and empowering women.” And he stressed that humanitarian aid must be accompanied by economic development.
The chief justice suggested mediation would be the best way forward as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and other West African leaders head to the country in another attempt to end the deadlock.
But Mr Jammeh said his cabinet and the National Assembly would remain in place “to ensure the rule of law is upheld” pending the court’s ruling.
“[Under the constitution], only the Supreme Court can review our challenge and only the Supreme Court can declare anyone president,” he said.
The president lashed out at the UN, the African Union and the West African regional body Ecowas for their “hasty resolutions” given the peaceful nature of the dispute so far.
“Our review and investigation have revealed an unprecedented level of foreign interference in our elections and internal affairs. And also, a sustained smear campaign, propaganda and misinformation,” he said.
The Gambia would not allow any organisation, treaty or law to supersede its constitution, he added.
The 51-year-old leader also appointed a national mediator to meet “all parties to resolve any mistrust and issues” and draft an amnesty bill to ensure there was “no witch-hunt so that we can restore a climate of confidence and security”.
The Gambia, a popular tourist destination, has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965.
Table of results
According to the electoral commission’s final count:
Mr Barrow won 222,708 votes (43.3%)
President Jammeh took 208,487 (39.6%)
A third-party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 (17.1%)
Results were revised by the electoral commission on 5 December, when it emerged that the ballots for one area had been added incorrectly.
The UN and Red Cross have appealed for civilians to be protected, as fighting in Syria’s Aleppo nears its end.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said people had “literally nowhere safe to run”.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm “over reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians”.
Thousands of people are trapped in just a handful of rebel-held districts, which are facing intense bombardment as government troops advance.
What is the situation in rebel areas?
It is hard to know exactly how many people are trapped in the besieged areas, although one US official with knowledge of efforts to secure safe passage for people in the city told the BBC that there were around 50,000 people.
Some residents have sent out messages saying they are crowded into abandoned apartments and rainy streets, unable to take shelter from the bombing, the New York Times reports.
Teacher Abdul Kafi Alhamado described on Monday how his district was densely packed with people who had arrived from other areas, and “bombs are like rain”, so there are “huge numbers of casualties”.
“People are running, they don’t know where, just running. People are injured in the streets, no-one can go to help them. Some other people are under the rubble, no-one can help them,” he told the BBC.
Many are said to be fearful about what will happen to them after the city falls, particularly after allegations by opposition activists that Syrian government forces have been carrying summary killings of rebels in neighbourhoods that were captured on Monday.
These claims appear to be backed up by the UN’s humanitarian adviser on Syria, Jan Egeland, who said they had received “detailed reports of massacres of unarmed civilians, of young men, of women, children, health workers”.
In western Aleppo, which is under government control, Syrian state TV showed footage of people celebrating at the prospect of an imminent victory.
How much of Aleppo remains in rebel hands?
Again, it is not entirely clear. Russia’s military, allied to the Syrian government forces, says 98% of the city is now back in government hands.
According to the AFP news agency, the rebels have control of just a handful of neighbourhoods, including Sukkari and Mashhad.
The Syrian army’s Lt Gen Zaid al-Saleh said on Monday that the battle “should end quickly”, telling the rebels they “either have to surrender or die”.
The British-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), has also said the battle for Aleppo “had reached its end”, with “just a matter of a small period of time” before “it’s a total collapse”.
What has been the reaction?
Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said “the secretary-general is alarmed over reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children, in recent hours in Aleppo”.
“While stressing that the United Nations is not able to independently verify these reports,” he said, the secretary-general had “instructed his special envoy for Syria to follow up urgently with the parties concerned”.
Meanwhile, the ICRC said a deepening humanitarian crisis could only be averted if basic rules of war and humanity were respected, warning “this may be the last chance to save lives”.
Mr Egeland tweeted that the governments of Syria and Russia were “accountable for any and all atrocities that the victorious militias in Aleppo are now committing”.
What do Syria and Russia say?
The Kremlin has hit back at Mr Egeland’s allegations, saying the atrocities “are actually being committed by terrorist groups”, by which it means the rebels.
“The fact here is he doesn’t talk about these atrocities, which shows that unfortunately he doesn’t have any information about the reality of the situation in Syria and Aleppo,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
The US said on Monday that Russia had rejected the idea of a pause in the bombing to allow people to leave.
The Russian Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides says it has helped 7,796 civilians leave rebel-held areas in the past 24 hours.
For much of the past four years, the city has been divided roughly in two, with the government controlling the western half and rebels the east.
Syrian troops finally broke the deadlock with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air strikes, reinstating a siege on the east in early September and launching an all-out assault weeks later.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that at least 415 civilians and 364 rebel fighters have been killed in rebel-held areas since 15 November and another 130 civilians have died in rebel rocket and mortar attacks on the government-controlled west.
Analysts say the fall of Aleppo would be a big blow to the opposition, as it would leave the government in control of Syria’s four largest cities.
“Credible reports” suggested that civilians in sub-districts around Mosul had been forced from their homes and relocated inside the city since the offensive began earlier this month, UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.
Men, women and children from 6,000 families were abducted in areas including Shura, she added.
“Isil’s depraved cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilian hostages to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations, effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields,” Ms Shamdasani added, using an acronym for IS.
She said the allegations had been corroborated by the UN but added that the true number might be greater.
The UN said last week so-called Islamic State was apparently not allowing families to flee for territory held by the Iraqi army outside Mosul and that civilians suspected of being disloyal to the group appeared to had been targeted.
The organisation added that only “modest” numbers of people had so far fled Mosul.