Tolo News – Yamamoto asks Taliban to rescind their threat against journalists

Yamamoto says that media workers are civilians, and their rights must be protected

Kabul – Kabul province – Afghanistan, 27 June 2019. The UN Secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Tadamichi Yamamoto, in a statement on Thursday, condemned the Taliban’s threat against Afghan media and call for it to be rescinded.

Yamamoto said that freedom of the press is critical and that civilians should never be deliberately targeted with violence.

This week the Taliban publicly threatened to turn media outlets into military targets if they did not stop commercials which the group believes is against their fighters. The group has given Afghan media a one-week deadline to stop the ads.

“I unequivocally condemn this threat and call for it to be rescinded, as words must never be met with violence. The only acceptable challenge to words is to advance a better argument,” he said.

He said that international humanitarian law, which applies to all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, prohibits attacks against civilians at any time and in any place.

“Media workers are civilians, and their rights must be protected, especially their fundamental right to operate in an environment free from any threat, intimidation or undue pressure by any outside entity, including governments,” he said.

Yamamoto said that in the context of repeated threats by the Taliban, he is reminded that press freedom in Afghanistan is earned at an unbearable cost. “Many journalists have been killed in Afghanistan in calculated attacks. We cannot but feel indignation at these terrible acts,” he added.

He said that the United Nations recognizes that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work, and that they remain steadfast in collaborating with our national and international partners to protect journalists and to fight against impunity.

“Let us respect our collective obligations, regardless of who threatens or subjects journalists to intimidation or violence – to take practical steps to address those forces that menace the media,” he said.

Yamamoto said that the United Nations stands in solidarity with all media workers in Afghanistan.

“We will continue to support the Afghan government, consistent with its international human rights obligations, to implement measures that improve journalist safety and that foster an open media where no voice is silenced through fear,” he concluded.

This is the second time the group is threatening Afghan media. The first time, they threatened few media outlets over their reports on the fall of the city of Kunduz in northern Kunduz province back in 2016.

The group has given a week deadline to the media outlets to stop these advertisements.

The move by the Taliban was faced with immediate criticism by media supporting organizations. However, the Afghan government has not reacted to this issue so far.

Attacks on Afghan Media

In January 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying employees of Tolo TV, Afghanistan’s most popular private broadcaster, killing seven journalists.

The Taliban had said it bombed the bus because it claimed Tolo was producing propaganda for the US military and its allies.

Journalists in Afghanistan have been threatened or attacked not only by the Taliban but also by fighters from Daesh, government officials and powerful local figures unhappy with news coverage.

The press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 17 shows that the situation of media in Afghanistan has “worsened” as it has descended to 121 from 118 where it stood last year.

The organization has mentioned insecurity as one of the main reasons for an increase in violence against journalists in Afghanistan.

According to RSF, three journalists have been killed in Afghanistan this year.

The RSF says that for Afghanistan’s journalists, 2018 was the deadliest year since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

A total of 15 journalists and media workers were killed in a series of bombings that began early in the year, nine of them in a single day, the RSF says in a report on its website.

Many others were constantly threatened by the various parties to the conflict. The war imposed by the Taliban and Daesh and constant abuses by warlords and corrupt political officials constitutes a permanent threat to journalists, the media and press freedom in Afghanistan.

According to RSF, Women journalists are a favorite target and are especially vulnerable in those regions where fundamentalist propaganda is heeded.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/yamamoto-asks-taliban-rescind-their-threat-against-journalists

Sikh24.com – Special Sikh school to come up at Peshawar

Sikh24 Editors

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 27 June 2019. On the demand of Sikhs living in Peshawar, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s state government is going to open a community based school for the Sikhs in Peshawar. On June 24, the Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wrote a letter to the Executive Engineer to submit Detailed Cost Estimate of this project within two weeks.

Available information reveals that the Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reserved Rupees 20 million as a proposed cost of this project.

It is learnt that the concerned department has reserved Rupees 55 million in this year’s annual budget for the welfare of minorities living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Special Sikh School to Come Up at Peshawar

Ninove NMBS – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Ninove NMBS
16 June 2019


NMBS Station – Train to Denderleeuw


It is quite clear where we were !


Evi and her rucksack

Gent-Sint-Pieters
18 June 2019


Track 9A : Schaarbeek via Brussel


Track 10A IC train to Kortrijk


I have not seen these ancient units in Gent before

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Pakistan Today – Pakistan to celebrate Maharaja Ranjit’s Singh 180th death anniversary by unveiling life-size sculpture in Lahore

The statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be installed outside the Sikh Gallery of the Lahore Fort

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 26 June 2019. Pakistan will unveil a life-size sculpture of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 27, on the eve of 180th death anniversary of the Sikh ruler, in Lahore.

The statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be installed outside the Sikh Gallery of the Lahore Fort.

The life-size statue, pictures of which were released on social media, shows Maharaja Ranjit Singh, riding his favourite Arabic horse Kahar Bahar. The Arabic horse was gifted to him by Dost Muhammad Khan, the founder of the Barazkai dynasty.

According to local media, the one of a kind statue took eight months to construct and was made under the supervision of Faqir Khana Museum Director Faqir Saifuddin.

The sculpture is finished in fiber cold bronze material and matchless in its making when compared to other statues of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in this region, he told Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune.

In 2003, a 22-feet tall bronze statue of Ranjit Singh was installed in the Parliament of India in his honour. Not only in India but in a French town called Saint Tropez, that had military links with Punjab, installed a bronze bust of Ranjit Singh in 2016 and Maharaja is revered worldwide.

Ranjit Singh’s Lahore connection

Popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh had a long association with Lahore. Lahore was the capital of the Sikh Empire under the leadership of Ranjit Singh and is also his final resting place.

Before he took reigns of the Sikh empire, factionalism was rife in Lahore with different warring misls (groups) ruling different parts of the city.

He captured Lahore in the year 1799, which is also considered as the turning point for the Sikh Empire.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh unified all the warring misls into one empire. He also protected Lahore from invading Afghans and was responsible for the restoration of Mughal architecture in the city.

His samadhi (grave) is just next to the Lahore Fort.

180th anniversary celebrations

Pakistan on Monday issued visas to 463 Indian Sikh pilgrims who are going to that country to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The visas issued by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi are in addition to the ones given to Sikh pilgrims participating in the event from different parts of the world, it said.

The 463 Indian Sikh pilgrims will visit Pakistan to observe Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary from June 27-July 6.

Within the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, thousands of pilgrims from India visit Pakistan every year to observe various religious festivals and occasions.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/pakistan-to-celebrate-maharaja-ranjit-s-singh-180th-death-anniversary-by-unveiling-life-size-sculpture-in-lahore-1556718-2019-06-26

The Hindu – Stand up for religious rights: Pompeo

Rule of law, importance of civil society will allow Indians to flourish, says USA Secretary of State

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 26 June 2019. USA Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said here on Wednesday that it was necessary to speak strongly in favour of freedom of religion. Delivering a major policy speech at the end of his visit to India, Mr Pompeo emphasised the rule of law and importance of civil society that would allow Indians to “flourish”.

“India is the birthplace for four major world religions. Let’s stand up together for defence of religious freedom for all. Let’s speak up strongly together in favour of those rights. For whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off,” he said at the speech delivered at the India International Centre here.

He pointed out that both India and the USA had regard for ideas such as the rule of law and “respect for human dignity” as important for themselves. He referred to the common heritage of freedom struggle of both nations as an inspiration for both.

“India-USA relationship is based on solid foundation, rule of law and the importance of civil society. These ideals, they allow people to flourish. The Indian people believe in them and Americans believe in them as well,” said Mr Pompeo, arguing that both countries were meant to protect fundamental rights that he described as “inalienable”.

The speech comes just days after the annual report of the State Department pointed out that the actions and inflammatory speeches by members of the BJP at the Centre and various States had led to undermining of rights of the religious minorities. Mr Pompeo said he shared his vision with the Indian leadership during his conversations.

Mr Pompeo had introduced and launched the report on religious freedom in the State Department and had described freedom of religion as a personal priority for himself. The report had pointed out that repeated mob attacks and lynching, however, did not draw high-level political condemnation.

In the policy speech on Wednesday, the Secretary of State referred to the Preamble of the Constitution and how the phrase “We the People” refer to the struggle that led to the creation of the modern Indian state.

He used President Eisenhower’s comments to show that India and the U.S. were separated by thousands of miles of land and ocean but had similarities of conviction and ideas about what democracy should be.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/stand-up-for-religious-rights-pompeo/article28159719.ece