“Pepper Spray” being added to the water cannon by police in Turkey

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The painful effects of being soaked in this toxic liquid last for hours.
The active ingredient in a pepper spray that contains OC is Capsaicin, which describes a complex of related components (C18 H27 NO31) named Capsaicinoids that all work together to produce the “pungency” or burning sensation on contact with skin or mucous membranes (eg eyes, mouth, nostrils).

All hot peppers contain Capsaicinoids. Capsaicin, the strongest and most common of the Capsaicinoid family, is so hot that single drop diluted in 100,000 drops of water will produce blistering on the tongue.

Capsaicin In pure form it is a white powder and has a Scoville Heat Rating of 16,000,000.

Keep an eye on Ghana

President Mahama of Ghana
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Turkish authorities fined a plane $ 1910 for stopping at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on the ground of missing documents. It was carrying 1.5 tons of gold as Ghana’s financial commitments to Iran.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama left Accra on late Sunday for a State Visit to Turkey.

About 60 Ghanaian Business Executives and Entrepreneurs drawn from various private sector institutions are currently in Turkey to participate in a business and investment forum organized as a part of President Mahama’s visit to Turkey.

President Mahama will also attend the 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, January 25 to Tuesday, January 29.

Three Ghanaian entrepreneurs each got $100,000 grants to boost businesses under a public-private partnership between USAID-Western Union. USAID raised $525 million from the private sector for African development

The implementation of Ghana’s first regulated Warehouse Receipt System has been made possible by technical and financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) and Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (ATP) projects.

It is initially expected that over 10,000 farmers in farmer-based organisations will benefit from the scheme. The GGC is already supporting these farmers through a programme supported by USAID-ADVANCE, including educating them on grain standards set by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA); grain quality assurance; use of formal contracts; and proper warehousing management practices.

Fruit Fair - Ghana

Fruit Fair – Ghana

Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has rolled out six projects to enable the Authority increase the performance of its Non-Traditional Exports (NTE) sector by 35.24 per cent this year.

The projects include Product Development, Strategic Marketing Agenda and Research, Capacity building for both Export-support Institutions and Exporters, Improved Traceability of Exported Products and a Services Export and Timely Trade Information Delivery scheme.

#Syria: #Refugee Crisis Deepens

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Photo: AP Number of registered Syrian refugees and country of asylum, as of Augist 2012

Since Syrian protests developed into a civil war, the entire region has experienced an exodus of refugees from the violence. More than 250,000 Syrians have registered in neighbouring countries with the UN High Commission on Refugees, while many have fled without registering, and more than a million are internally displaced.

Syrian refugee count. (Design by Farwa Rizwan/Al Arabiya English)

Complicating matters further, Syria has long been home to refugees fleeing other conflict zones in the region. Communities of Iraqis in Damascus and Palestinians near the south western border now find themselves uprooted for a second time.

Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq have opened their borders to many of those fleeing the Syrian conflict. Other governments and international agencies have responded with aid. But with approximately 50,000 fleeing Syria every month, more and more refugees risk the deprivation of shelter, food, security, and other basic human rights.

Urgent Plight of #Iran’s Journalists and #HumanRights Activists in #Turkey

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Respected United Nations General Secretary, UN High Commissionaire for Refugees and Respected Foreign Ministers of Countries who Support Human Rights :

Iranian journalists are amongst those who have become victims of human rights abuse, as a result of their work in promoting human rights in Iran and have been oppressed by Iran’s security agents and judiciary. Journalists’ writings and ideas for peace have made them targets for human rights abusers.

In recent years, some very disturbing stories have been reported on the status of independent media and journalists, which require urgent attention. The International Federation of Journalists and other human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have described the situation of journalists in Iran to be worrying and complicated and they have stated the intimidation of journalists in recent years has been the worst ever.

Reporters Without Borders have said Iran continues to have the largest number of journalists in prison and have named Iran as the biggest prison of journalists.

The increasing pressure on journalists by the security agents follows no laws and rules and this has forced many of them to leave their motherland, against their will, to seek refuge in neighboring countries and ask for asylum from UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Many are currently incarcerated and those seeking asylum face heavy sentences if they return to Iran.

It is with much sadness that I have learned many Iranian journalists who have fled to Turkey are living under very difficult conditions there. Many Human Rights and political activists as well as journalists face the same uncertainty.

Iranian security agents have threatened some of them on numerous occasions and caused them anxiety.

Lack of security in Turkey has caused me to write this letter to you, so that Iranian journalists and human rights activists who are residing in Turkey can be helped by whatever means possible and transferred to safer countries.

If we can support human rights, then we must support human rights activists too, who truly have paid the price for their beliefs with their lives and freedoms to make the voices of the victims of human rights abuse heard.

It is very sad that the renowned Iranian Journalists, Hadi Nili, who for years has been harassed and interrogated by the intelligence ministry agents, has remained in Turkey for over two years and has not been able to reach freedom.

Truly, the ongoing uncertainty and overdue stay of such people and others, whom I will name below, in an unsafe country for them, like Turkey is just, added torture for them.

Behrooz Samad Beigi has been living in a worrying condition for more than 13 months.

Hamid Mafi and his wife, Maryam Akbari, have been living in terrible conditions for more than 10 months and have been threatened on numerous occasions.

Ehsanollah Mehrabi and his wife have been exiled to a village near Syria and their situation is very worrying.

Mehdi Tajik Ghashghaei, one of the seasoned Iranian journalists has got to wait for his first UN interview until July 2013.

Alireza Firouzi, a young tireless human rights activist has to wait until February 2013 for his case to be heard by UN officials.

Also Mr. Farhad Nouri Koochi entered Van in Turkey on 09/21/2011. Subsequent to his 
registration with UNHCR on 09/16/2011, his first interview was 
scheduled for 12/16/2011. However, due to the earthquake in Van, his 
interview was cancelled.  Unfortunately, Mr. Koochi still has NOT 
heard anything from UNHCR regarding rescheduling his interview date.

 Mr. Koochi is a human rights activist and an active member of the
Nematollahi Gonabadi Dervishes, and administrator of  Nematollahi Gonabadi Order News Site “Majzooban Noor”,  a recognized religious minority Sufi 
group that has been subject to mass arrests and persecution in Iran.

Unfortunately there are a lot of Human Rights activist, like Mr. Babak Ejlali and Homayon Naderifar, who need to your help.

Let me emphasise again, if we are able to defend the rights of journalists and Human Rights activists, we should defend them wherever and whenever we can. Today these people need our help. I ask you to help these people by transferring them to a safe country and improving their situation, so that they can continue to help improve the situation of their people.

With much gratitude,

Mohammad Mostafaei

Human Rights Lawyer and Activist

 

cc: Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch

Reporters Without Borders

International Pen

Committee to Defend Journalists

International Federation of Journalists

 

via Urgent letter about five journalist and several Human Rights Activist in Turkey.

Yüksekova: Living smuggled lives

May 2010: 50,000 protested against military operations in Yüksekova [photo: haberruzgari..com]
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We had almost no idea what we would find when we hit the road for from Van to Yüksekova, a district in the eastern Hakkari province. We were headed for a district notorious for incidents of terror, violence, illegal protests and closed shutters. Our intention was to closely observe how people in Yüksekova really think, feel and live, alongside the incidents that occupy TV screens and newspaper columns practically every other day. We were mostly shocked, in the negative sense, by what we found there. Our first impression was surprise at the geography of the place. Yüksekova is surrounded by mountains, nourished by pure rivers and green uplands. Most of the surrounding mountains are higher than 3,000 meters and are home to glacial lakes. Yüksekova itself is situated on a plain as high as 2,000 meters. Its neighbors are Van’s Başkale district to the north, Iran to the east, Iraq to the south and Hakkari’s capital to the west. The district is home to more than 100,000 people.

Traveling through Yüksekova, we notice luxurious cars in need of urgent maintenance driving on the roads. Most of the cars carry number plates from Ankara or İstanbul rather than Hakkari. One resident explained it this way: “When we travel to western cities, people despise us due to the number plates belonging to eastern cities. Therefore we prefer to carry the plates of Ankara or İstanbul.”

According to some, the luxurious cars in poor and underdeveloped Yüksekova are thanks to fortunes made in drug trafficking. Yüksekova was once a transit point for illegal drugs coming from Afghanistan and Iran to be sent onwards to Europe and Russia. According to rumor, many people made huge fortunes by assisting the drug barons, and some of them later left Yüksekova for big Turkish cities. Currently hundreds of people are imprisoned in Hakkari Prison on charges of drug trafficking, and official records estimate that around 2,000 people are addicted to drugs in the area. Addiction is an open wound for Hakkari; there are few opportunities for treatment and rehabilitation.

Means of existence: smuggling

As we tour the streets, we form an impression of the levels of unemployment in Yüksekova. We see dozens of children and young men sitting on the pavements, selling smuggled cigarettes. People seem willing to talk to us when we tell them we are journalists. They complain that the biggest problem they face is unemployment. But when we want to talk about acts of terrorism in the region they become uncomfortable. They say they feel trapped between the state and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Most of them tell us their region needs peace and stability.

The main means of existence in Yüksekova is smuggling. Many types of goods are smuggled inside the district from Iran. Among them are tea, cigarettes, oil, rice and sugar. People living in Yüksekova prefer to purchase smuggled goods because they are much cheaper.

One person interviewed by us, Ali K., told us people would starve to death if they did not sell smuggled goods because they have no other way of making a living. “We feel as if we are living smuggled lives. We would starve if we do not sell those [smuggled] goods. I do not have a profession and I am uneducated. There are six people at my home whom I have to look after. What else can I do?” he said. Other than smuggling, people earn their living through commercial activities, but most shop owners complain that economic conditions are not good because they are often forced to close their doors during illegal protests organized by PKK supporters against the government. One shop owner said he was not allowed to open his shop for around 100 days last year. “Shop owners do not have any chance to say ‘no’ if they are ordered to close their shutters. Some shop owners challenged protesters [who are PKK supporters] and then we all witnessed what happened to them. Now we cannot take the same risk,” he told us. If a shop owner refuses to shut down his business during the protests, his shop is usually attacked with Molotov cocktails or hand grenades by protesters.

1990s still a nightmare for locals

One major problem in Yüksekova is the bitter memories that linger from the 1990s and continue to haunt locals today. The 1990s saw the height of Turkey’s struggle with PKK terrorism, during which the Turkish military tried to resolve the problem through violent and anti-democratic measures. Back then many villages in the eastern and southeastern provinces were evacuated for security reasons. Many people were killed, and their perpetrators were never caught. Locals say almost every man who was born in Yüksekova in the 1970s and 1980s had trouble with police or military officers in the 1990s. They were reportedly beaten and even tortured in police custody. Now they have difficulty in trusting security forces.

Under the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in recent years security forces have adopted relatively peaceful and democratic methods in fighting terrorism, but locals in Yüksekova still hesitate to trust the police and military. As we continue to talk to Yüksekova residents, we hear tales of the bitter times they went through in the past. Residents say at least one person in every family in their district fell victim to an act of terror. Some were killed by the Turkish military during clashes as members of the terrorist PKK, some by terrorist groups after refusing to cooperate with them against the military.

Locals are worried that their children will go to the mountains to join the PKK one day. Children as young as 13 have become PKK members, and according to locals 40 percent of those who go to the mountains are female. Many young people are reputed to join the PKK to “become heroes.” For others, becoming a member of the terrorist organization is a way to “escape unemployment.” Bodies of terrorists killed on the mountains in the military’s counterterrorism operations are brought to Yüksekova and buried in elaborate funeral ceremonies with the attendance of huge crowds.

Children become politicized at a very early age here. Seeing us walking in the streets with cameras in our hands, children pose for the cameras with a “V” sign and start chanting PKK slogans. For most of them, throwing stones at police officers during illegal protests is like a game. Every year dozens of young children are taken into custody across Turkey for participation in illegal demonstrations and for attacking security forces with stones.

There are around 32,000 students in Yüksekova. Most of the schools were built in 2005. The district needs more schools, but even more urgently it needs teachers. Teachers who are appointed to Yüksekova are said to hope for appointment to another place once they arrive in the district due to poor conditions here. They are required to stay at least five years in the district before being transferred to another location, but they usually find alternative ways for re-appointment before the five years are over.

A modern hospital was built in Yüksekova around two years ago by order of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The hospital is one of the few things that puts a smile on the faces of locals in the district. People are happy to be treated with modern methods at the hospital. In addition, the construction of an airport in the area is still under way, and the government plans to complete it by 2013, although the PKK is engaged in efforts to force the government to suspend construction. Many construction machines have been set on fire by the terrorist group. In addition, the PKK has spread rumors that the government is planning to use the airport for warplanes that will hit PKK camps in northern Iraq. Some people believe the rumors and say they are against the completion of the airport.

Although educational activities have long been neglected in Yüksekova, there are ongoing efforts to increase the level of education in the district. The private Yüksekova College is like a shining star in the region. The school has 195 students and is mostly attended by children of civil servants and military and police officers.

Today’s Zaman.