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Pakistan's war on Taliban swells refugee camps

Pakistan's war on Taliban swells refugee camps
Pakistan - Muhammad Khan is not sure who fired the mortar shell that nearly cost him his right arm.
But when he regained consciousness, the elderly farmer from the village of Badano knew that clashes between the Pakistani military and local Taliban militants had degenerated into a full-blown war, and it was time to leave.

"The Taliban was making trouble for us. Then the military helicopters and bombs came, exploding throughout the day," he said, showing his injured arm and a neighbor's crude stitch-work that saved the limb. "We were suffering from all sides."

Some 200,000 Pashtun tribal members have fled their homes in the past three months during an army offensive to expel Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in Bajur, a largely lawless area that borders Afghanistan and is rumored to be the hiding place of al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

Droves of displaced people are flocking to relief camps outside tribal areas for f…

Al Jazeera English - Americas - Chavez hails election victory

Al Jazeera English - Americas - Chavez hails election victory


Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has hailed the victory of his allies in local elections, praising the outcome as a sign of the strength of the country's democratic system.

"Who can say there's a dictatorship in Venezuela?" Chavez said on Monday.

"A new stage is beginning. For me, as the leader of the Venezuelan socialist project, the people are telling me: 'Chavez, keep on the same path,'" he said.

However, the country's opposition won five states and Caracas, the capital, out of a total of 22 state polls, gaining ground on Chavez's Socialist Party.

More than 65 per cent of 17 million eligible voters turned out to vote for governors, mayors and heads of regional councils in Sunday's polls.

Informed Comment: Wertheim: There is Racism and There is Racism II

Informed Comment: Wertheim: There is Racism and There is Racism II
After I wrote my article “There is Racism and There is Racism’’, I received quite a few often very emotional reactions. At the Trouw website, in personal emails and at any number of blogs. Some of the readers who responded are just as concerned as I am that the latest developments can lead to violence. The distinction I drew between the two kinds of racism and the mechanisms that go along with them have encouraged them in their efforts to head us all in a more peaceful direction. Others reacted with indignation. But all things considered, it is clear that a newspaper article like this about such a complicated issue can also evoke misunderstandings. . .

In your article in Trouw you agree with Harry de Winter, who compares Islamophobia to the Holocaust. That is total nonsense!

Harry de Winter compares Islamophobia to how the public mind set was primed for the Holocaust in the 1930s. How considerable percentages of the Europ…

 A Mere Atmospheric Change in Obama’s Foreign Policy: U.S. London-Based Pundits See Rather Continuity Than Change    : Information Clearing House - ICH

 A Mere Atmospheric Change in Obama’s Foreign Policy: U.S. London-Based Pundits See Rather Continuity Than Change    : Information Clearing House - ICHWe know in some detail of the willing and gratuitous support, which tens of millions of American citizens have bestowed on the White House and Congressional perpetrators of crimes against humanity. The Clinton Administration was freely re-elected in 1996 after deliberately imposing a starvation embargo on Iraq and mounting a relentless, unopposed bombing campaign on that devastated country for four straight years, leading to the documented deaths of over 500,000 children and countless more vulnerable adults. The majority of US citizens re-elected Bush after he launched wars which caused the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians, scores of thousands of Afghanis, thousands of Pakistanis, and after he gave full support to Israel’s murderous attacks on Palestinian civilians and the blockade of vital food, water and fuel to the occupied t…

 U.S. Would Control Profits from Iraqi Oil Exports Under Agreement    : Information Clearing House - ICH

 U.S. Would Control Profits from Iraqi Oil Exports Under Agreement    : Information Clearing House - ICH
"There's been no shortage of controversy surrounding what has been termed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the governments of the United States and Iraq. After battling away for most of the year at what the terms of the agreement should be, the text was at last finalized this month.



The terms of the agreement effectively allow the U.S. to continue to control billions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of exported Iraqi oil held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It also contains numerous loopholes that could allow the continuing long-term presence of U.S. military forces and would effectively maintain U.S. jurisdiction over crimes committed by American soldiers.



Iraq's cabinet approved the agreement a week ago with 27 members voting in favor, out of 28 ministers who were present, with nine ministers absent. It is now being debated in the Parliament.



Ab…

Informed Comment: Wertheim: There is Racism and There is Racism-I

Informed Comment: Wertheim: There is Racism and There is Racism-I
A new kind of racism is gradually emerging in the Netherlands. Not the classical contempt for others, but a cultural racism of distrust and fear.

In an ad in de Volkskrant, a leading Dutch daily paper, on 17 March 2008 tv-producer Harry de Winter compared how people talk about Muslims in the Netherlands with anti-Semitism against Jews. In recent years, anyone who ventured to draw this comparison was viewed as a nutcase. Islamophobia was the justified fear of Muslims and didn’t have anything to do with something as awful as the Holocaust. But De Winter’s comparison pertains to the preparations, i.e. how the inhabitants of European countries were gradually persuaded in the course of the 1930s that there was something really not quite kosher about the Jews.

Calling what the Muslims are dealing with racism still encounters strong reluctance in present-day society. There is another reason why. Racism means systematically lookin…

ei: No free pass for Rahm Emanuel

ei: No free pass for Rahm Emanuel: "James Zogby isn't just an Arab American with an opinion. He is the president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a well-known writer, and an esteemed leader within the Arab American community. Many non-Arab Americans highly regard his analysis and look to his articles as a resource to understand the Middle East.

This is precisely why his latest article, 'Rahm Emanuel and Arab Perceptions,' published by The Huffington Post, is so disturbing. In the piece, Zogby tries to calm the fears of Arab Americans about United States President-elect Barack Obama's first appointment, Rahm Emanuel, to White House Chief of Staff. Zogby expressed shock and dismay that his constituency, once euphoric over the election of Obama, was now sending him angry and cynical letters. Zogby described the emails and calls to his office as 'troubled and troubling -- because much of the reaction was based on misinformation and because of what the entire e…

Ethiopia | Africa - Reuters.com

Ethiopia | Africa - Reuters.com: "NAIROBI, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Rampant piracy offshore and an advance by Islamist rebels on Mogadishu have put Somalia's long-running civil conflict in the global spotlight.

Here are some possible scenarios for the country.

ISLAMIST TAKEOVER?

* After a two-year insurgency, Islamist fighters are within nine miles (six km) of the capital and President Abdullahi Yusuf admits his Western-backed government is on the verge of collapse. The Islamists or aligned groups now control most of the south, except Mogadishu and the seat of parliament, Baidoa.

* The Islamists' momentum in recent months has led to some predictions of an imminent assault on the capital, where they launch regular guerrilla-style attacks on the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

* But the rebels are split. The most militant wing, al Shabaab, which is on Washington's terrorist list, is urging jihad, or holy war. Moderate elements in another faction, the Islamic Courts U…

The US will remain the single most important actor in 2025 but will be less dominant.

 US Global Trends Report: Key points     : Information Clearing House - ICH: "It will retain its considerable military advantages, but scientific and technological advances; the use of 'irregular warfare tactics' by others; the proliferation of long-range precision weapons; and the growing use of cyber warfare attacks 'increasingly will constrict US freedom of action'.

The US will still have a role to play as a 'much-needed regional balancer' in the Middle East and Asia, despite the recent rise in anti-Americanism.

It will also be expected to play a significant role in using its military power to counter global terrorism, and will be seen as key to finding solutions to climate change.

US policy is likely to be strongly determined by internal developments in a number of key states, particularly China and Russia."

blackagendareport.com - Freedom Rider: Obama and Lieberman: Two of a Kind

blackagendareport.com - Freedom Rider: Obama and Lieberman: Two of a Kind
Connecticut's Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman is an unrepentant proponent of United States government terror. He was enthusiastically in favor of the occupation of Iraq, advocating for war even before George W. Bush became president. Lieberman is the most vocal cheer leader for war against Iran, telling shameful lies about that nation in hopes of seeing the United States and Israel carry out a military attack. He is openly contemptuous of the rest of the Democratic Party, literally kissing Bush on the lips at the 2006 State of the Union address.

Whatever else may be said about him, Lieberman is not stupid. When he embarked on his plan to endorse John McCain, and disparage Barack Obama, his party's nominee, he did so believing that he would not pay a price for his actions. So great was Lieberman's confidence in his untouchability, that McCain considered choosing him as a running mate instead of Sara…

Ethiopia’s Green Famine by Susan Braden - The Globalist

Over the past month, I went back to Ethiopia, but this time to the Southern Nations Nationalities Peoples Region (SNNPR) in the Great Rift Valley below Addis Ababa.What I saw did not differ that much from what I had seen in the north two years earlier. Ethiopia’s Green Famine by Susan Braden - The GlobalistThe area is green, raining at times and crops are growing. Yet, people don’t have enough food to eat. To cope, families are reducing their daily intake of food and selling off their livestock.

Children are migrating to surrounding towns and cities to find work and food. Out of a population of 82 million people, 6.4 million are in need of emergency assistance, and approximately 84,000 children will require therapeutic feeding between now and the end of the year.

Another 7.2 million people are already receiving food assistance from the government’s safety net program. What is going on? Why are so many people going hungry?

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart -

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart -
On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, a record was set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a US Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001.

American planes have, in fact, taken out two brides in the last seven months. And don't try to bury your dead or mark their deaths ceremonially either, because funerals have been hit as well. Mind you, those planes, which have conducted 31% more air strikes in Afghanistan in support of US troops this year, and the missile-armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now making almost daily strikes across the border in Pakistan, remain part of George W. Bush's Air Force, but only until January 21, 2009. Then, they – and all the brides and grooms of Afghanistan and in the Pakistani borderlands who care to have something mor…

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart -

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart -
On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, a record was set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a US Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001.

American planes have, in fact, taken out two brides in the last seven months. And don't try to bury your dead or mark their deaths ceremonially either, because funerals have been hit as well. Mind you, those planes, which have conducted 31% more air strikes in Afghanistan in support of US troops this year, and the missile-armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now making almost daily strikes across the border in Pakistan, remain part of George W. Bush's Air Force, but only until January 21, 2009. Then, they – and all the brides and grooms of Afghanistan and in the Pakistani borderlands who care to have something mor…

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart -

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart - On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, a record was set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a US Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001.

American planes have, in fact, taken out two brides in the last seven months. And don't try to bury your dead or mark their deaths ceremonially either, because funerals have been hit as well. Mind you, those planes, which have conducted 31% more air strikes in Afghanistan in support of US troops this year, and the missile-armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now making almost daily strikes across the border in Pakistan, remain part of George W. Bush's Air Force, but only until January 21, 2009. Then, they – and all the brides and grooms of Afghanistan and in the Pakistani borderlands who care to have something mor…

The Raw Story | Documents linking Iran to nuclear weapons push may have been fabricated

The Raw Story | Documents linking Iran to nuclear weapons push may have been fabricated
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has obtained evidence suggesting that documents which have been described as technical studies for a secret Iranian nuclear weapons-related research program may have been fabricated.

The documents in question were acquired by U.S. intelligence in 2004 from a still unknown source -- most of them in the form of electronic files allegedly stolen from a laptop computer belonging to an Iranian researcher. The US has based much of its push for sanctions against Iran on these documents.

Dignity boat sails to Gaza - International Middle East Media Center - IMEMC

Dignity boat sails to Gaza - International Middle East Media Center - IMEMC: "The Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS) reported on Friday evening that “Dignity Ship” left Cyprus approximately at 6 P.M heading to Gaza. The ship carries on board 23 persons, including 12 parliamentarians, reporters, peace activists and Nazir Ahmad, a Labour member of the House of Lords in the UK.

Independent Palestinian Legislator, Jamal AL Khodary, head of the PCAS, stated that Clare Short, secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to May 2003, is also onboard the ship.

“Clare resigned from the government and from the Labour whip over the Iraq war and in 2006 and became an independent”, the PCAS reported.

EL Khodary added that the ship is expected to arrive at the Gaza port on Saturday morning. It carries onboard medical and surgical equipment.

He said that the previous three ships came to stress on the importance of breaking the unjust Israeli siege and in solidarity with Gaza…

Robert Fisk: Obama has to pay for eight years of Bush's delusions - Robert Fisk, Commentators - The Independent

Robert Fisk: Obama has to pay for eight years of Bush's delusions - Robert Fisk, Commentators - The Independent: "But Obama's not going to be able to make the break. He wants to draw down in Iraq in order to concentrate more firepower in Afghanistan. He's not going to take on the lobby in Washington and he's not going to stop further Jewish colonisation of the occupied territories or talk to Israel's enemies. With AIPAC supporter Rahm Emanuel as his new chief of staff – 'our man in the White House', as the Israeli daily Maariv called him this week – Obama will toe the line. And of course, there's the terrible thought that bin Laden – when he's not shopping at US military post offices – may be planning another atrocity to welcome the Obama presidency.

There is just one little problem, though, and that's the 'missing' prisoners. Not the victimswho have been (still are being?) tortured in Guantanamo, but the thousands who have simply di…

The National Interest

The National Interest
Although it is hard to imagine, Obama’s foreign policy could prove even worse than that of the Bush administration. He flirts with the notion that the guiding principal of U.S. foreign policy should be to promote, defend and enforce respect for “human dignity” in the world. As an operational concept, such a standard would have to improve several notches just to reach vacuous. At best, it would entail Washington becoming the nag of the planet, constantly hectoring other governments to improve their behavior. At worst, it could become an excuse for lavish foreign-aid expenditures and military interventions to protect the downtrodden in failed states or even in functioning countries with repressive regimes. Yet most of the probable arenas for such interventions entail little or no connection to America’s tangible interests. Instead, this country would embark on expensive and potentially dangerous humanitarian crusades that would bleed America’s armed forces and drain…

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/19/2008 | General who probed Abu Ghraib says Bush officials committed war crimes

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/19/2008 | General who probed Abu Ghraib says Bush officials committed war crimes: "WASHINGTON — The Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing 'war crimes' and called for those responsible to be held to account.

The remarks by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who's now retired, came in a new report that found that U.S. personnel tortured and abused detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, using beatings, electrical shocks, sexual humiliation and other cruel practices.

'After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes,' Taguba wrote. 'The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.'

ei: Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post

ei: Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post: "One of the most influential politicians and fundraisers in his party, Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of AIPAC's executive board just after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby's conference last June.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. 'We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror,' Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders 'was clearly justified as an application of Israel's right to self-defense' ('Pelosi supports Israel's attacks on Hamas group,' San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003).

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who ca…

     The Election: It Had to Be this Way   : Information Clearing House - ICH

     The Election: It Had to Be this Way   : Information Clearing House - ICH: "November 07, 2008 'Information Clearinghouse' -- The Democrats winning Congress and the White House just had to happen. If we are ever going to change this country from an empire to a representative democracy, we have to rid ourselves of the notion that one corporate political party can do anything toward that goal. Barack Obama will be the catalyst for a new movement, away from false hope and false promises, not because he will deliver to the people of this country anything worthwhile, but because he won’t. This will be the final nail in the coffin of our corporatist society.

There are so many so-called “progressives” that have believed that it was the Bush Republican neo-cons that have gotten us where we are. This is wishful thinking. The Democratic 110th Congress did nothing but rubber-stamp every bill that was put before it. Democrats have blindly caved in to fear of being called “anti-patr…

 The Promised Land?       : Information Clearing House - ICH

 The Promised Land?       : Information Clearing House - ICH
November 07, 2008 "Counterpunch" -- -- In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran whose father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin's Irgun forces during the Nakba and named his son after "a Lehi combatant who was killed" -- i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir's terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.

In rapid response to this news, the editorial in the next day's Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled "Don't pin much hope on Obama -- Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message". This editorial referred to the Irgun as a "terror orga…

US Strikes Afghan Wedding Party | Terrorism.

At Least 40 Civilians Killed as US Strikes Afghan Wedding Party | News From Antiwar.com
Afghan officials and local residents say that a US air strike struck an Afghan wedding party on Monday, killing at least 40 civilians and wounding 28 others (including the bride). The strike occurred in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar Province. Reporters on the scene say that villagers are still search the debris for survivors, and the toll is expected to rise even further.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that bombings were not the way to win the war on terrorism, and said he hoped President-elect Obama would make it a priority to stop killing Afghan civilians. US spokesman Commander Jeff Bender said an investigation is ongoing, and “if innocent people were killed in this operation, we apologize and express our condolences.”

This is the largest incident of US-inflicted civilian casualties in Afghanistan in over two months. In late August, a US air strike in Herat Province killed 90 civilia…

The punditocracy's Seven Biggest Blunders of the 2008 election | Salon News

The punditocracy's Seven Biggest Blunders of the 2008 election | Salon News
Oct. 23, 2008 | This has been a campaign season when the conventional wisdom has fared about as well as Bob Barr's prospects for moving into the Oval Office.

During the primaries, the political prediction business -- all those glib quasi-certainties spouted by TV talking heads and embedded in the opening paragraphs of newspaper and magazine articles -- gave us such fantasies as Rudy Giuliani masquerading as a serious presidential candidate and mistakenly consigned John McCain to the GOP dust heap. Remember when Hillary Clinton was prematurely anointed as the nominee or the dire warnings that a protracted Clinton-Obama primary fight would, in a typical burst of Democratic self-destructiveness, cost the party the White House?

Of course, that was all long ago and everyone involved in these bum calls has been sent to their rooms without supper. But what about the errors of the last two months -- the equally f…

Moscow Removes Ingushetia President - Yahoo! News

Moscow Removes Ingushetia President - Yahoo! News: "Spontaneous dancing broke out in the streets Thursday night in the tiny Russian republic of Ingushetia, which borders the troubled Chechnya region. The reason for the celebration was that Moscow had accepted the 'voluntary resignation' of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov. No part of the Russian Caucasus today has a political situation hotter than Ingushetia's, and no leader in the volatile region has been less effective and more embattled than Zyazikov.

Moscow had picked Zyazikov, a general of the FSB (the state security body that succeeded the KGB), in 2002 to replace then-Ingush President General Ruslan Aushev, whose 'fault' had been immensely popularity among his people and his opposition to the war in Chechnya. But under Zyazikov's tenure, Ingushetia has supplanted Chechnya as the permanent hub of anti-Moscow Islamist resistance in the Caucasus. Chechen rebels now wage hit-and-run attacks from the Ingus…

US still the villain in Iraq's former rebel bastion - Yahoo! News

US still the villain in Iraq's former rebel bastion - Yahoo! News: "Anti-American sentiment and distrust for Washington runs deep even among senior Iraqi officials in Fallujah.

'I want to see the Americans leave as early as possible,' said Mayor Saad Awwad Rashid, a man well respected in Fallujah for his pro-active approach to ease the daily problems of his constituents.

'People hate Americans, especially when they come to arbitrary arrests, including of women. I want the Americans to go out of Iraq. It does not matter who wins US elections. It is of no interest to us.'

The Sunnis of Fallujah, who have to carry special identity cards to move in and out of the city, also have no patience towards Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki or the security deal he is negotiating with Washington.

'We don't need Americans for three more years. We don't need SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement),' said Abdullah, referring to the security pact that will determine the prese…

Top Obama Adviser Has Long Ties to Neocons - by Michael Flynn

Top Obama Adviser Has Long Ties to Neocons - by Michael Flynn: "When Wolfowitz was tapped to head the State Department's Policy Planning Staff after the election of Ronald Reagan, he included Ross in his team of assistants, which, according to Mann, would go on to become, over the next two decades, 'the heart of a new neoconservative network within the foreign policy bureaucracy.'

Other Wolfowitz team members from that time included I. Lewis Libby, a Washington lawyer who later became notorious as the disgraced former chief aide to Vice President Dick Cheney; James Roche, President George W. Bush's Air Force secretary who resigned after being implicated in the Boeing tanker leasing scandal; Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the UN and post-invasion ambassador to Iraq; Alan Keyes, the perennial Republican presidential candidate; and Francis Fukuyama, the 'end of history' theorist and erstwhile neoconservative ally who turned against the faction after the …

Sixty refugees found dead on beach - Yahoo! News UK

Sixty refugees found dead on beach - Yahoo! News UK
Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the latest victims of the perilous smuggling route across the Gulf of Aden had set off from the Somali port city of Bosasso, fleeing war and poverty in their homelands.

In one of two incidents that caused the deaths, smugglers tipped the refugees into the sea at night after noticing lights on land and fearing they would be spotted by the coastguard, MSF quoted survivors as saying.

"They forced us into the sea, even if the water was too deep. Several people did not know how to swim and they drowned," one survivor said.

An eight-months pregnant woman was injured by the boat's propellor after being forced overboard.

In a second incident, MSF workers discovered a group who had made it to shore after their boat capsized. They said they had buried 23 fellow passengers.

"The boat was stuck almost upside down in the sand, not far from the beach. The fishermen were trying to find survivors unde…

Al Jazeera English - Africa - Somali fighters stone 'rape victim'

Al Jazeera English - Africa - Somali fighters stone 'rape victim'


A Somali girl who said she had been raped has been stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery, a human rights group has said.

Amnesty International said in a press release on Friday that the victim, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, had been 13 years old - not 23 as earlier reports had suggested.

Duhulow was stoned to death on October 27 by dozens of men in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses.

The armed group in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, Amnesty said.

"This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo," David Copeman, Amnesty International's Somalia campaigner, said in a statement.

Initial local media reports said Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty Intern…