Thursday, June 7, 2012

24/7 FrontLine Results - LPPNEWS

Syrian woman blogger gets human rights award

Syrian woman blogger Razan Ghazzawi has been honoured with this year's Human Rights Defenders at Risk award by the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders foundation, the group announced on Friday.
Ghazzawi, who has become a symbol of the Syrian uprising, is currently on trial before a military court charged with "possessing prohibited materials with the intent to disseminate them".
Front Line said she was presented with the award at a ceremony in Dublin's City Hall by Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Societies Foundations and a founder of Human Rights Watch, for her "exceptional contribution" to human rights.
Her colleague Dlshad Othman, who has himself been a target for the Syrian authorities because of his human rights work and had to leave Syria two months ago for his own security, accepted the award on Ghazzawi's behalf.
In a statement read out on Ghazzawi's behalf at the ceremony she said she saw the award as being was for all citizen journalists "who died trying to tell the world what's happening in Syria, when the traditional media have failed to do so".
"Syrian citizen journalists and filmmakers tell the revolution in all its colours, through the good times and the bad times. And many have died doing so," she said.
Ghazzawi and six other female activists were recently freed from detention.
They had been arrested during a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.
Her colleague and director of SCM, Mazen Darwish is currently being held in incommunicado in detention with four other colleagues.
Front Line said Ghazzawi is on trial because she used her blog and the power of social media to "expose the crimes being committed by the Syrian regime".
"The ongoing trial is an attempt by the Government to crackdown on free speech activists and restrict the flow of information out of Syria," Front Line said.
Front Line founder and executive director Mary Lawlor said the fact the foundation had received more nominations for the award that ever before - 107 from 46 countries - was a sign of the increased levels of repression faced by human rights defenders in many countries.
"Razan Ghazzawi is typical of the selfless courage shown by all the human rights defenders nominated for this year's award.
"She has challenged the repressive forces of the Syrian regime and has chosen not to hide behind a pseudonym but to speak out publicly. In doing so she has become a force to be reckoned with," Lawlor said.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising Ghazzawi, an English literature graduate from Damascus University, has become a symbol of the resistance to the repression by the Syrian Government.
Front Line said she is known for her fierce criticism of the government, mostly expressed on her blog Razaniyyat and via her twitter account @RedRazan.
Social networking sites have played a key role in mobilising the anti-regime protests which have swept Syria since March, 2010. Thousands of people have been killed, according to the United Nations, in Syria's crackdown on dissent.
Foreign journalists are mostly banned from covering the unrest, leaving the international media dependent on reports from activists and videos on YouTube and other Internet sites, posted at the risk of arrest.

Helicopter missing in Peru with 11 foreigners

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Snow and fog impeded efforts Thursday to locate a helicopter that went missing in Peru's highlands with 14 people aboard, including eight South Koreans and three Europeans. Authorities said the aircraft's emergency beacon indicated it was on rugged terrain.
The last communication with the helicopter owned by Cuzco-based Helicusco was late Wednesday afternoon as it headed for Cuzco from the town of Mazuco in neighboring Madre de Dios state, said police Gen. Hector Dulanto.
The helicopter was carrying eight South Koreans, a Swede, a Czech, a Dutchman and three Peruvians, two of them crew members, he said.
Police earlier said the aircraft's passengers were 11 South Koreans, two Austrians and a Peruvian.
The chopper was flying near Huallahualla, a town located at about 13,200 feet (4,000 meters) when communications were lost, said Dulanto, who was in charge of rescue operations.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the helicopter's distress beacon indicated it was near a peak called Apu Colque Cruz in Cusco's Quispicanchi province.
Dulanto said snowfall had prevented an overflight of the area but that a chopper provided by Helicusco had dropped a police patrol and a high mountain rescue team in the area to begin a search.
"It wasn't possible to locate the helicopter either by air or ground," he told The Associated Press. "The area has snow, 30 centimeters or more, which makes walking difficult. In addition, the fog is not allowing air patrols."
Helicuso did not identify the type of aircraft that was missing. It's website says it operates one craft capable of such a passenger load: A Sikorsky S-58ET.
An official at the Korean Embassy in Lima said those aboard were not tourists, but were involved in commercial operations.
The official, Kristel Velez, said no more information was immediately available but that two embassy officials had traveled to Cuzco.
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Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

Millions of Dollars of U.S. Gear to Combat IEDs Wasted in Pakistan

Millions of dollars of U.S. gear meant to combat the threat of roadside bombs is being wasted in Pakistan which refuses to let the equipment leave its customs warehouses.
The U.S. procured 110 IED jammers for the Pakistani military at a cost of nearly $23 million in 2009 in an effort to ease the threat of the improvised explosive devices that have been the main cause of U.S. casualties in neighboring Afghanistan and taken a toll on Pakistan authorities as well.
So far, not one of the jammers has been put to use, according to a report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office.
The GAO report found that "55 jammers were still in Karachi awaiting release from Pakistani customs, and the remaining 55 jammers were being kept in storage in the United States until the initial 55 were released."
Leaving the unused jammers in a Pakistani warehouse also raises the cost of the shipment since the U.S. must pay the storage fees, a GAO spokesman told ABCNews.com.
The U.S. has had difficulty getting Pakistan to accept additional gear meant to help Pakistan reduce the IED threat.
"Other U.S. procured counter-IED equipment under review and still in U.S. storage includes kits for use by combined explosive exploitation cells, explosive ordnance disposal items, and portable trace explosive detectors," the report states.
Despite the frustrations of getting Pakistan to accept the equipment, the U.S. is buying more remote-controlled IED jammers for Pakistan at a cost of $12.1 million, as well as $64 million worth of route clearance vehicles, according to the GAO.
Combating the construction and detonation of IEDs is a major concern for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In 2011, 16,500 IEDs were discovered or detonated against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. More than 80 percent of those bombs were made from calcium ammonium nitrate, known as CAN, a fertilizer that is made in Pakistan and smuggled into Afghanistan.
"Pakistan's ability to stem the flow of CAN and other IED precursors is a life and death issue for U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan," the GAO report said.
Nevertheless, the two countries' ability to cooperate on the issue has actually worsened since the U.S. assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
"U.S. agencies have encountered some challenges to providing assistance to Pakistan to counter IEDs, and events over the past 6 months have strained this important bilateral relationship," the GAO concluded.