Turkish Deputy PM Apologises for ‘Disproportionate Force’ Against Protesters
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç held a press conference on Tuesday to apologise for the “undue and disproportionate force” used by the country’s security forces against protesters in Turkey’s major cities. He was speaking after the death of 22-year-old Abdullah Cömert, an opposition activist, in the southern town of Antakya late on Monday, the second death related to the country-wide protests. Arınç, who is Turkey’s acting prime minister while Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is on an official visit to Morocco, said he would meet some of the organisers of the protests and raised the possibility of a referendum on the development of Gezi Park, which initially sparked the protests. “There is a need to communicate clearly, to remove the confusion in people’s minds. In line with this, today we will meet with the associations and representatives” said the deputy prime minister, adding that the government would inform the public on any future legislation. His words came after a meeting with President Abdullah Gül, who had said on Monday that that the protesters were only exercising their democratic rights. Arınç said the meeting was “positive” and that he had received “instructions” from Gül.
UN Reports ‘Increasing Brutality’ in Syria
United Nations investigators told the organisation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva that the “crimes that shock the conscience have become a daily reality” in Syria and that “humanity has been the casualty of this war”, with the country entering “free fall”. A report released by the investigators, led by Paulo Pinheiro, documented “war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations”. It cited the Syrian government’s use of thermobaric bombs against its people, which scatter a cloud of explosive particles that are detonated and send a blast of pressure and heat that incinerates those caught in the vicinity, sucking the oxygen from their lungs. “There is a strong element of retribution in the government’s approach, with civilians paying a price for ‘allowing’ armed groups to operate within their towns”, added the report. It also contained details of child soldiers under the age of 15, “a war crime that causes unspeakable harm to children and destroys families and entire communities”, said Pinheiro. “No one is winning”, he concluded.
British Soldiers Admit to Abusing Afghan Civilians
Two British soldiers who served in Afghanistan, and who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at court martial hearing in Sennelager, Germany, and admitted to abusing Afghan civilians during their tour of duty. One soldier said he pulled an Afghan boy’s hand towards his crotch, telling the child to “touch my special place”, in December 2011. He also admitted to insulting another child between October 2011 and January 2012. A piece of video footage presented in court showed a smiling Afghan boy offer his hand to the soldier, only to be insulted by the same serviceman. The child is then seen turning back in surprise. He was cleared of another two charges, including of forcing an Afghan girl to touch him on a separate occasion. A second soldier said he was involved in photographing an Afghan man holding a sign which said “silly Paki” at some point between October 2011 and January 2012. The two soldiers’ patrol commander was cleared of the charge of failing in his duty to deal with the offences. The first soldier was fined while the second had his rank reduced as punishment.
NHS Misses A&E Target; Waiting Time Is The Worst in Nine Years
The British National Health Service (NHS) has missed its waiting time target for dealing with accident and emergency patients in the first three months of the year, according to figures published today by the King’s Fund, making it the NHS’s worst performance in nine years. The number of people waiting more than four hours to be seen, diagnosed and treated has increased 39% to 313,000 when compared to the same period last year, making it a total of 5.9% of patients waiting more than four hours. The current requirement, relaxed from 2% in 2010, is that no more than 5% of patients wait more than four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged. It is the first time since the change that the target has been missed, indicating the pressure the health system is under despite the government making more funds available for the worst-hit areas. “This is no surprise,” said Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians. “Patients are presenting at emergency departments in increasing numbers because there is nowhere else they can go.” There have been cases of temporary waiting tents erected in car parks to prevent the A&E department from being overrun with patients. Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs warned that the NHS could “grind to a halt” due to the workload.