BEIRUT: Syria’s civil registries recorded 68,000 deaths in the war-torn country in 2017, pro-regime daily Al-Watan reported its head as saying Thursday.
“Last year, we confirmed 68,000 without specifying the nature of their death and 32,000 this year,” civil registries chief Ahmad Rahal said.
He did not provide any additional details about those who had died, including in what part of Syria they had lost their lives or whether they had been victims of the ongoing conflict.
Thursday’s news come after activists accused authorities of quietly updating civil records to mark detainees in regime jails as “deceased” — some backdated by several years.
Human rights defenders say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in government jails across the country.
Relatives and advocates say they are often tortured, denied a fair trial, and deprived of contact with their families. But Rahal said employees at the civil record did not have a “missing” box to tick.
“If a document comes through from any government body — whether a hospital or another — to confirm a death, it is confirmed without specifying if they were missing or not.”
The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented around 400 cases in recent months, including those of nine children, where civil registry employees have told family members that their detained relative has died.
There could be further such instances which are yet to be documented. Around 80,000 remain forcibly disappeared by the government, the rights group says.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.
More than 33,000 were killed last year alone, including more than 10,000 civilians and 7,000 pro-regime fighters, it says.
During the first seven months of this year, at least 14,000 people lost their lives among them more than 5,000 civilians and 7,000 soldiers and loyalists.
Punjab: 358 newly-elected MPAs take oath!
LAHORE: As many as 358 newly-elected members sworn in during a maiden session of 17th Punjab Assembly here today.
Outgoing speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal administered the oath. Prominent among others who took oath include: Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Aleem Khan, Hamza Shehbaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Mian Mehmoodur Rashid, Shujaur Rehman, Ayesha Chaudhry, Chaudhry Zaheerud Din, Bilal Yasin, Nadeem Kamran, Irfan Doltana, Murad Ras, Dr Mukhtar Bharat, Hina Pervaiz Butt, Bushra Anjum Butt and Sania Ashiq.
The outgoing speaker felicitated the newly-elected members. Earlier, the first session of new assembly started at10.46 am behind its scheduled time with recitation from the Holy Quran and Naat-e-Rasool-e-Maqbool (SAWW). The members signed the roll of members in the register constituency-wise.
The outgoing speaker read out the procedure for election of speaker and deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly to be held on Thursday (August 16) at 10:30 am. The election will be through secret balloting.
The nomination papers for the slots were filed in the Punjab Assembly Secretariat. The PTI nominated Chaudhry Pervez Elahi as a speaker and Dost Muhammad Mazari as deputy speaker while PML-N nominated Chaudhry Iqbal Gujjar and Rana Ayyaz as a speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the majority party in Punjab Assembly has nominated Hamza Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of Punjab chief minister. Its rival, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, yet to name its candidate for the position.
PML-N leads with 127 seats in the assembly, while PTI is a close second with 122 seats, as per the ECP’s results of 294 out of 295 total seats.
Interim Chief Minister Punjab Dr. Hassan Askari and his cabinet members attended the session and welcomed the newly- elected MPAs.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Assembly staff welcomed the newly-elected members of the assembly with bouquets on their arrival to attend the maiden session of the 17th assembly.
The PA administration had also set up help desks for the members where each member issued his assembly card before joining the oath-taking session.
Prominent leader Chaudhry Nisar did not attend the session. Strict security arrangements were made to avert any untoward incident.
On completion of day’s agenda, the Chair adjourned the session till next morning on Thursday at 10:30 am.
Indonesia expresses support for Turkey, Erdogan
JAKARTA: The Indonesian Council of Ulama on Wednesday expressed strong support for Turkey against the United States’ recent economic attacks.
Head of the council’s external affairs committee, Muhyiddin Junaidi, told Anadolu Agency that they support Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stance against the U.S.
Stressing that the U.S. targeted Muslim countries and tried to curb Turkey’s power in the region, Junaidi said that Muslim world must use their own currency in trade among themselves against the U.S. dollar.
Junaidi praised Turkey’s economy and its commercial value and added that Turkey would overcome the U.S.’ attacks.
Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges.
Brunson’s charges include spying for the PKK — listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey — and the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.
Malik Rafique Rajwana resigns from the office of Governor Punjab
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana Wednesday announced to resign from the office.
Talking to media at the Lahore High Court Bar,Rajwana said he sent his resignation to President Mamnoon Hussain. He said that the party (PML-N) leadership entrusted him the responsibility which he tried to fulfill to the best of his abilities.
“Bar is my home and I have returned to it.I started my career with a black coat.Today I will wear it again”, he added.It is pertinent to mention here that Rafique Rajwana served as Governor for more than three years. He was appointed to the post in May 2015.