Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 25th 2015 Contents A19
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
BAGHDAD --- An Iraqi lawmaker
says US military commanders are
pointing fingers for their own failure
to properly support the Iraqi military
in the fight against the Islamic State
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter
stirred controversy Sunday morning
by claiming in a television interview
that Iraqi soldiers had superior
numbers but lost the city of Ramadi
to the Islamic State group because
they "showed no will to fight."
Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the
parliamentary defense and security
committee, calls Carter's comments
"unrealistic and baseless."
He said the US should bear much of
the blame for the fall of Ramadi for
failure to provide "good equipment,
weapons and aerial support" to the
soldiers. Now he says the US military
is seeking to "throw the blame on
somebody else." (AP)
Lawmaker slams US criticism of Iraqi military
Anti-US base protesters hold placards in front of the National Diet building during a rally in Tokyo, yesterday. About 15,000 Japanese
citizens set up a human chain around parliament against the the relocation of the US Army base in Henoko to Okinawa. AP PHOTO
KUALA LUMPUR---Malaysian authorities
said yesterday that they have discovered
a series of graves in at least 17 abandoned
camps used by human traffickers on the
border with Thailand where Rohingya
Muslims fleeing Myanmar have been held.
The finding follows a similar discovery
earlier this month by police in Thailand
who unearthed dozens of bodies from shal-
low graves in abandoned camps on the
Thai side of the border. The grim discov-
eries are shedding new light on the hidden
network of jungle camps run by traffickers,
who have for years held countless desperate
people captive while extorting ransoms
from their families.
Most of those who have fallen victim to
the trafficking networks are refugees and
impoverished migrants from Myanmar and
Bangladesh, part of a wave of people who
have fled their homelands to reach coun-
tries like Malaysia, where they hope to find
work or live free from persecution.
As Southeast Asian governments have
launched crackdowns amid intensified
international pressure and media scrutiny,
traffickers have abandoned camps on land
and even boats at sea to avoid arrest.
Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi
told reporters that police were trying to
identify and verify "mass graves that were
found" in the region near the Thai bor-
"These graves are believed to be a part
of human trafficking activities involving
migrants," he said, adding that police have
discovered 17 abandoned camps that they
suspect were used by traffickers.
There was no immediate word on how
many bodies had been recovered. Zahid
said that each grave probably contained
anywhere from one to four bodies, and that
authorities were in the process of count-
He said he was shocked at the discoveries,
because "just last week, we went there ...
to see for ourselves." He said he expected
more camps and graves to be found
"because they have been there for quite
some time ... We are still investigating, but
I suspect they have been operating for at
least five years."
Local media outlets said the graves were
found in two locations in the northern state
of Perlis. The state borders southern Thai-
land s Songkhla province, where at least
33 bodies were found earlier this month.
According to the Malay-language Utusan
Malaysia newspaper, police found 30 large
graves containing hundreds of corpses in
mid-May in forests around the Perlis towns
of Padang Besar and Wang Kelian.
The English-language Star Online said
100 bodies were found in a single grave in
Padang Besar. It said police forensics teams
had arrived there Friday night to investigate,
and the area had been cordoned off.
Human rights groups and activists say
the area on the Thai-Malaysia border has
been used for years to smuggle migrants
and refugees, including Rohingya Muslims,
a persecuted minority in Myanmar.
In many cases, they pay human smug-
glers thousands of dollars for passage, but
are instead held for weeks or months, while
traffickers extort more money from families
back home. Rights groups say some have
been beaten to death, and The Associated
Press has documented other cases in which
people have been enslaved on fishing boats.
Since May 10 alone, more than 3,600
people---about half of them from
Bangladesh and half Rohingya from Myan-
mar---have landed ashore in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Thailand. Thousands more
are believed to be trapped at sea in boats
abandoned by their captains.
Syria preparing for
counterattack on IS
DAMASCUS---The Syrian army is deploying
troops in areas near the ancient town of Palmyra
in apparent preparation for a counterattack to
retake it from the Islamic State group, an official
Governor Talal Barazi of the central province of
Homs, which includes Palmyra, told The Associated
Press Sunday that IS members have "committed
mass massacres in the city of Palmyra" since they
captured it on Wednesday. He said IS fighters took
many civilians, including women, to unknown des-
Activists in the town have said that IS fighters
have hunted down President Bashar Assad s loyalist
since taking the town, killing some 280 people.
Syria s Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi condemned
what he called "a massacre" in Palmyra blaming
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for such killings
because of their support for groups trying to remove
Assad from power.
Al-Halqi called on the international community
and all humanitarian organizations to pressure the
governments that support "terrorism" to stop their
support "as terrorism is posing a global danger."
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are main backers
of Syrian rebels and opposition groups.
Barazi, the governor, said troops are fighting
with IS gunmen in the nearby Jizl area. "There are
plans, but we don t know when the zero hour for
a military act in Palmyra," Barazi said without elab-
Meanwhile state-run news agency, SANA, said
IS members are still preventing people from leaving
Palmyra. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said
that along with its partners they are preparing aid
for some 11,000 people who fled Palmyra and sur-
A Facebook page used by IS to publish its state-
ment posted a photo of 20 Syrian soldiers in uniform
captured in Palmyra.
The capture of Palmyra has stoked fears that
the militants might try to destroy one of the
Mideast s most spectacular archaeological sites ---
a well-preserved, 2,000-year-old Roman-era city
on the town s edge --- as they have destroyed others
in Syria and Iraq.
In Qatar, the European Union s foreign policy
chief said the recent conquest of Palmyra and the
Iraq city of Ramadi by the IS group only increases
the need for greater political co-operation in the
face of the militant threat.
"Only a political solution both in Syria and Iraq
can provide a settlement for the crisis," Federica
Mogherini said following a meeting between officials
from the European Union and the six-nation Gulf
Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed
al-Attiyah defended the role of the US-led coalition
conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State
group. Qatar plays a supporting role in the coalition,
allowing forces to use its vast al-Udeid air base.
"We cannot say that the coalition is failing. No
the coalition is not failing but we have always said
that the air campaign is not enough."
Malaysia finds graves of
suspected trafficking victims
Links Archive May 24th 2015 May 26th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page