09 October 2014

Turkish soldiers do nothing to help Kurdish anti-IS fighters in Kobani

Seeing this image makes me so sad. The Turkish soldiers are RIGHT THERE yet they are standing by while people just across the border are being slaughtered. That is Kobani behind those soldiers, that is how close they are, that is how close reinforcements could be for the Kurdish fighters. And yet they battle on alone, aided by friends from another continent while their neighbours leave them to die. This doesn't just make me sad, it makes me mad and it disgusts me. 



Minister Timmermans: Zuurstofmasker gevonden bij passagier MH17

Minister Timmermans vertelde op woensdagavond 8 oktober 2014 bij televisieprogramma Pauw dat er bij een passagier van het neergehaalde vliegtuig #MH17 een zuurstofmasker is gevonden. 

Een YouTube video afkomstig van Pauw - Gemist waarin Minister Timmermans vertelt dat er een masker gevonden is:

YouTube: Roeland Roovers

Dat er een zuurstofmasker gevonden is bij een passagier betekent dus dat er voor in ieder geval een persoon genoeg tijd zat tussen de inslag van de raket en de dood om een zuurstofmasker om te doen. Genoeg tijd om te zien en horen wat er gebeurde, genoeg tijd om de armen uit te strekken, een masker uit de lucht te pakken en dat om te doen. Genoeg tijd. 

Oorlog is niet leuk of mooi of heroïsch. Wapens zijn gemaakt om levende wezens te stoppen, om anderen te doden. Mensen voelen en denken na, ook in hun laatste momenten. De treurigheid en de grote leegte die ik voelde toen ik hoorde over het neerschieten van vlucht MH17 komt nu weer terug. Dit is het echte gezicht van terrorisme en oorlog. Dit is de realiteit van een onschuldig iemand die in zijn of haar laatste seconden op aarde een zuurstofmasker omdeed om daarna te sterven. Ik krijg er de rillingen van.

The fight for Kobani

Dutch television news (RTL Nieuws) has just reported that a large part of the Kurdish city Kobani in Syria, right on the Turkish border, is now under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Volgens een andere functionaris hebben de terroristen enkele gebouwen aan de oostkant van de stad veroverd, ondanks de voortdurende luchtaanvallen door de Amerikanen. Er zijn ook berichten dat IS al een groot deel van de stad, zo niet het grootste deel, in handen heeft. Dat vertelt onder meer de vertaler van correspondent Roel Geeraedts. Die vertaler is een Koerd die uit Kobani komt.

Freely translated: One officer says the terrorists have captured several buildings on the east side of town, despite ongoing American air strikes. There are also reports that IS already controls a large part of the town, if not most of the town.

There has been fighting around Kobani for some time now, inside it since the last few days. The fighting has been going on for weeks, however now it seems to be just a matter of time before the city falls entirely, according to several sources, including CNN.

(CNN) -- U.S. airstrikes "are not going to save" the key Syrian city of Kobani from being overtaken by ISIS, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Wednesday.
"I think we all should be steeling ourselves for that eventuality," he told reporters in a daily briefing.
Heroic Kurdish men and women have been bravely battling Islamic State terrorists to keep Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) and the surrounding area in Kurdish hands. America carries out bombings, yet Turkey - from where they can SEE Kobani, sits back while IS slaughters the Kurdish people. The Blooomberg Review calls it as it is:

In blocking the resupply of the Kurdish fighters who are trying desperately to hold off a siege by Islamic State in Kobani, Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making a decision that may haunt Turkey for years to come.

Words not to be taken lightly. Turkey is a candidate for EU membership and a NATO member, yet such key humane values as helping your neighbour seem completely lost on them in this conflict. As ABC News reports:

Turkey is ambivalent about the fight across its border, because of its distrust of the Kurdish fighters protecting Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab. It views them as an extension of the Kurdish PKK, the rebel group that has waged a long and bloody insurgency against Ankara. In recent days, Turkish officials have emphasized that they view both the Islamic State group and the PKK as terrorist groups. 
Left unsaid is which group they view as the greater threat. But, Turkey's strict neutrality as the lightly-armed Kurds face annihilation speaks volumes.
Turkey's inaction as the Kurds face annihilation indeed speaks volumes. It disgusts me that a country looking to become a member of the European Union is apparently so far removed from basic values we hold dear in Europe. We care for others, we help them in time of need, we act to protect the weak from the strong and the oppressor, we fight together against totalitarian regimes - to me, those are key values that we hold dear in the countries that make up the European Union as a whole. Or maybe it is just me who holds those values dear, says a pessimistic voice in my mind.

Kurds fighting for their lives in don't need tanks, they need shovels. Hit oil and the sky will fill with jets in a heartbeat.

If this is what's needed for the Kurdish people to get the help and assistance - and yes, the boots on the ground - they so desperately need, what has the world come to?

07 October 2014

Vreedzame Koerden bestormen Tweede Kamer, vragen steun voor Kobani in Koerdisch Syrië

Nederlandse media rapporteert dat een groep van ongeveer honderd Koerden maandagavond het gebouw van de Tweede Kamer bestormd hebben. De Koerdische betogers vragen met hun actie aandacht voor de situatie in Koerdistan. Terroristische organisatie IS (Islamitische Staat / ISIS) voert momenteel aanvallen uit op de Koerdische stad Kobani in Syrië, dichtbij de Turkse grens. De Volkskrant meldt dat veel van de betogers in het gebouw van de Tweede Kamer familie en vrienden hebben in Kobani.

Teletekst meldt dat de betogers het gebouw inmiddels verlaten hebben na een gesprek met Kamervoorzitter Anouschka Van Miltenburg. Ook buiten het gebouw van de Tweede Kamer stonden mensen, volgens verschillende bronnen ongeveer 150 (Volkskrant) of "zo’n drie- à vierhonderd man - een eerste inschatting. Een derde daarvan is politieagent" (NRC.nl).

Den Haag is niet de enige plek waar gedemonstreerd werd. Koerdische betogers verzamelden ook in onder andere Wenen, Bern, Kopenhagen, Stockholm, Berlijn, Brussel en Parijs. Ook op social media is er veel ophef over en aandacht voor de verachtelijke aanvallen op Kobani, zie bijvoorbeeld #twitterkurds of #savekobani op Twitter.

Onder andere Turkije, Irak, het Verenigd Koninkrijk, Frankrijk, de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten, Qatar, Australië, Duitsland, de Verenigde Staten en Nederland zijn onderdeel van de internationale anti-IS coalitie. De coalitie is akkoord over en voert acties uit in Irak, echter is er internationaal veel debat over het in actie komen in Syrië.

De Telegraaf schrijft dat de PVV en het CDA ook Islamitische Staat doelen in Syrië willen gaan aanvallen: "Nederland beperkt de inzet echter tot ISIS-doelen in Irak, omdat er volgens het kabinet voor militair ingrijpen in Syrië geen internationale juridische basis bestaat."

Het bestrijden van IS in Syrië zou ook betekenen dat de coalitie meehelpt de vijand van Syrische president Bashar al-Assad te bestrijden. Het (indirect) helpen van een man die chemische wapens inzet tegen zijn eigen bevolking, iemand die qua acties net zo slecht is als de Islamitische Staat of Saddam Hussein, is zeker niet wat de coalitie zal willen. Echter zal het aanvallen van doelwitten in Syrië mijns inziens nodig zijn om IS compleet uit te kunnen schakelen. De terroristen uit Irak verjagen om ze in Koerdisch Syrië - waar Kobani ligt - hun gang te laten gaan kan geen antwoord zijn waar de anti-IS coalitie mee akkoord gaat. 

Wat mij betreft is het heel simpel: ALLE mensen verdienen leven, vrijheid, vrede en een bestaan zonder angst om uitgemoord te worden om wie je bent, hoe je geboren bent. Zeker de Koerden, mensen die al zo lang verachtelijk behandeld worden door onder andere (groepen uit) Turkije en Irak

06 October 2014

Kurdistan and the plight of the Kurdish people

After television, newspapers and social media reported about many #saveKobani demonstrations around the world yesterday and today, I got thinking about Kurdistan and the plight of the Kurdish people. It got me thinking that I want to do my bit to help, even if all I'm doing is writing a blog post.

Kobani is a city in the Syrian part of Kurdistan, very close to the Turkish border. The Islamic State terrorist group has been trying to capture Kobani for weeks. Kurdish forces have bravely defended the city and their territory, however IS(IS) has been gaining ground. Turkey seems to be very intent on helping the Islamic State terrorist group. As ABC News reports:

Lightly armed Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani have for weeks held off an ISIS onslaught, but the battle has moved to the streets of Kobani as the president of Turkey warned today that the town was about to fall to the Islamic militants.
The fight for the Kurdish city and its surrounding villages has sent more than 160,000 Kurdish refugees streaming to the Turkish border when many have been prevented from crossing. 
Turkish tanks are poised along the border with their guns pointed toward Kobani, but the tanks haven't moved. Instead, Turkish authorities have been battling desperate Kurdish refugees trapped between ISIS and the border.

Let me repeat that: 160,000 Kurdish refugees streaming to the Turkish border, many have been prevented from crossing. Turkish authorities have been battling desperate Kurdish refugees trapped between ISIS and the border. Why is the world not jumping up and down in anger at Turkey? Why are Kurdish refugees, those fighting to save their people from murdering terrorists, people fleeing for their sanity and their lives, why are they denied safety in Turkey?

The world jumped up and down shouting "Save the Yazidi people" only weeks ago to forget about them almost as quickly. The world has also cried out for the Kurdish people in the past yet today refugees are trapped between ISIS and Turkey - one trying to behead you, the other leaving you out in the cold to be taken by those who will certainly behead you. Where is the outrage?

Twitter hashtag #Kobani

Through one of my best friends in high school, a Kurdish girl, I met many other Kurdish people, heard some of their stories. Each and every one of them was kind and friendly, many welcomed me into their homes and lives. Some were from the same area my friend and her family were from, others from all over Kurdistan. It's quite likely I met people who've been to Kobani, who knew people there, who were perhaps from there themselves. I'm glad that I don't have any faces or stories to link to the name of the city now under attack. It would hurt more that way to hear and read about what's happening. I wish the Kurdish fighters all the best, may there soon be many more boots on the ground to support their noble and heroic fight.

04 October 2014

"All Babies Are Cute" - Welcome to the world, Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher

World-famous celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are the proud new parents of baby girl Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher, as reported by several media outlets. Apart from seeing the parents on television and in movies I don't know much about them, nor do I need to. They're both good at what they do, that's what matters to me. I know I've enjoyed their work on more than one occasion. So, why am I commenting on their happy news?

The proud father posted a birth-notice online with eight baby photos, including one of a dog and one of a llama. I thought his words worth repeating:

Mila and I would like to welcome Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher to the world.  May your life be filled with wonder, love, laughter, health, happiness, curiosity, and privacy. 
Can you guess which one is ours, or does it really matter? All babies are cute. 
-Ashton 
Source: One of these is Mila and Ashton's baby....and her name is Wyatt, A +

What struck me about the first paragraph was the last word: privacy. Especially, how different their lives must be from mine (and those of so many) that it is necessary to include that specific word in this happy announcement. I've seen enough celebrities being chased by paparazzi (on television) to know that being followed by people with cameras everywhere you go can be very intrusive and dangerous too. No matter who their parents are or how good they are at their jobs, no child should be followed by strangers with cameras wanting to document their every move. I hope Wyatt Isabelle gets to live the life her father wants for her - including privacy.

"All babies are cute."

How true. It doesn't matter which of the cute babies is theirs because they are all cute and more importantly - they all look like babies. Wyatt Isabelle is (so I assume) healthy, whole, alive, her mother is doing well, her father is over the moon - That is what should matter, more than anything else.

01 October 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Speaks at UN General Assembly

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on 29 September 2014. The Times of Israel published the full text of his speech online. May the world listen, for a change, and see the truth of what Israel's Prime Minister is saying.

"Our hopes and the world’s hope for peace are in danger. Because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march. 
It’s not militants.
It’s not Islam.
It’s militant Islam. 
Typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one. Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds — no creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world."

The past few months have shown very clearly that the 'Islamic State' does not care about Christians, Jews, Yazidis or Kurds. It does not even care about other Muslims who happen to think for themselves and disagree with the terrorist group's extremist views. American and British journalists were beheaded, simply for being who they were, because of the country they were born in. Countless non-Muslims living in Iraq and Syria have been slaughtered, their wives and daughters taken away by the militants, anyone who speaks up killed where they stand. Refugees number in the tens and even hundreds of thousands. And this could be only the beginning.

In the previous months, many people the world over took to the streets in pro-Gaza protests, in support of terrorist groups such as Hamas and IS(IS) and against Israel and the Jewish people. Images of crying women and bleeding children won the hearts and it seems the minds of people worldwide. The world rooted for terrorists who force civilians into becoming human shields, because their Public Relations machine produced images that touched the world.

Tell me - what would YOU do if terrorists attacked your country with rockets on a daily basis? Personally, I'd urge my government to do everything possible to defend its citizens, to stop those trying to kill and terrorise us, to end the attacks against us. I would urge my government to defend our country, to use any means necessary to ensure the safety of all the people.

Worse still, what would you do if those terrorists already lived in your country, were already among you? What would you do if they could strike at any moment? In the past few months, the streets of Europe and the western world were once again witness to those calling for the eradication of the Jewish people, western democracy, Christianity, you name it. Whether those people are ever officially seen as part of any terrorist organisation or not - what matters is that they agree with the likes of Hamas and IS(IS), with people who use inhuman means such as beheading, rape and slavery as tools of warfare. In the west, we like to think that we've moved beyond treating other people as less, using people as slaves, annihilating people simply because of who they are. We like to think that we are living in a democratic world where others see things as we do. Sadly, that is not the case and we need to realise that, before it is too late.

"When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. 
And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common:
  • Boko Haram in Nigeria;
  • Ash-Shabab in Somalia;
  • Hezbollah in Lebanon;
  • An-Nusrah in Syria;
  • The Mahdi Army in Iraq;
  • And the al-Qaeda branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.
Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shi’ites. Some want to restore a pre-Medieval caliphate from the 7th century. Others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the 9th century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their quest for supremacy. 
But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever-expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance — where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: Convert or die. 
For them, anyone can be an infidel, including fellow Muslims."

How true. And how sad that even after witnessing the atrocities of the past few months and years, so many will hear or read these words and think that Mr. Netanyahu is exaggerating. How many more attacks must there be before the world starts listening to Israel? How many more innocents must be killed by people acting in the name of Islam before all of humanity says: 'Enough, already!' and we all stop trying to subjugate and kill others? 

These days, many prominent Muslims are proclaiming that the "Islamic State" has nothing to do with Islam, something that seems a bit strange, considering the terrorist group's name... I understand the desire to distance oneself from mass-murder, the abduction of girls and women, the beheading of journalists. I hope this extends further, causes Muslims to look at their own religion and decide it is time for a revolution, for a new Islam that chooses moderation over terror, that blends faith and religion with the modern world in a way that allows Muslims to walk both the path of the world and the path of religion without the need for terrorism, murder, rockets or robbing others of their basic human rights. 

"As Israeli children huddled in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer: 
Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. 
Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles.
By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside-down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties, Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians – that a double war crime – Hamas is given a pass. 
The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere:
Use civilians as human shields. Use them again and again and again. You know why? Because sadly, it works.
By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the UN’s Human Rights Council has thus become a Terrorist Rights Council, and it will have repercussions. It probably already has, about the use of civilians as human shields. 
It’s not just our interest. It’s not just our values that are under attack. It’s your interests and your values."

Perhaps with the so-called 'Islamic State' killing left, right and centre, the world will finally wake up and see that no matter which terrorists kill people, which group claims responsibility for horrors or atrocities, innocents are still hurt, homeless, suffering, scarred for life, dead. Whether it is ISIS or Hamas or al-Qaeda or the Taliban killing people, they are dead nonetheless. Terror is terror, no matter what name-tag it chooses to use, no matter which specific agenda it claims to want to further.

  

The full text of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the UN General Assembly is available at the website of The Times of Israel.