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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Onward Christian soldiers: US filmmaker, self-styled revolutionary trains faithful to fight ISIS – Fox News


AN Egyptian court has declared Hamas a "terrorist" organisation, weeks after the Palestinian movement's armed wing was given the same designation, reports said.
A judicial source told AFP news agency that the court issued the verdict on Saturday, a ruling seen as keeping with a systematic crackdown on Islamist groups by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by two lawyers against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, rejected the court decision as "very dangerous."
"They are now saying that the [Palestinian] resistance and struggle against the occupation is a crime," he said.
The relationship between Egypt's authorities and the Hamas has soured since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt also banned since the military coup in 2013.
Since then, Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas of aiding armed groups, who have waged a string of deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
In January, an Egyptian court also declared Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam Brigades a "terrorist" group.
The case was based on allegations that al-Qassam staged attacks to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and carried out deadly operations in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, allegations that the group denied.
Source: AFP
Link:http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/egyptian-court-declares-hamas-terrorist-group-150228122454458.html

Egyptian court declares Hamas a 'terrorist' group - Al Jazeera


AN Egyptian court has declared Hamas a "terrorist" organisation, weeks after the Palestinian movement's armed wing was given the same designation, reports said.
A judicial source told AFP news agency that the court issued the verdict on Saturday, a ruling seen as keeping with a systematic crackdown on Islamist groups by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by two lawyers against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, rejected the court decision as "very dangerous."
"They are now saying that the [Palestinian] resistance and struggle against the occupation is a crime," he said.
The relationship between Egypt's authorities and the Hamas has soured since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt also banned since the military coup in 2013.
Since then, Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas of aiding armed groups, who have waged a string of deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
In January, an Egyptian court also declared Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam Brigades a "terrorist" group.
The case was based on allegations that al-Qassam staged attacks to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and carried out deadly operations in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, allegations that the group denied.
Source: AFP
Link:http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/egyptian-court-declares-hamas-terrorist-group-150228122454458.html

Onward Christian soldiers: US filmmaker, self-styled revolutionary trains faithful to fight ISIS – Fox News



JUST 12 miles north of the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, an American filmmaker and self-styled revolutionary is running a boot camp for Christians willing and able to fight for their lives and faith against the murderous Islamic terror organization.

Matthew VanDyke, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who escaped a Libyan prison after going there to help overthrow Col. Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, is helping to train hundreds of long-persecuted Assyrian Christians in everything from firearms to close quarters combat.

VanDyke, who founded the  security contracting firm company Sons of Liberty (SOLI), is working with an unnamed U.S. military veteran to get the Christian conscripts who range in age from 18 to 60 or older, ready to take on the ominous black clad army that lies dug in to Iraq’s second-largest city just over the horizon. Earlier this week, the first battalion of the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) graduated from the boot camp.

“It’s designed to help local sectarian forces in local communities facing threats of terrorism, insurgency or oppressive regimes to be able to defend themselves,” VanDyke told FoxNews.com from a base in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, where he hopes to help train 2,000 men. “It’s the step where the international community has failed or is moving too slow.”

The Assyrians, sometimes called Syriac Christians, belong to a variety of Christian sects and are a stateless ethnic group. One of the oldest civilizations from ancient Mesopotamia, they have their own culture, language and heritage sharply distinct from that of Arabian or Kurdish people. They speak a near-extinct language connected to Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, and remain stateless – over the years enduring immense persecution and land expropriations.

While the Kurds have proven a worthy adversary of ISIS, with their battle-hardened Peshmerga pushing back the terrorist army in cities and villages throughout northern Iraq and Syria, the Christians and other religious minorities including the Yazidis have been slaughtered, starved and sent fleeing throughout the region since ISIS broke from Al Qaeda and began establishing a so-called caliphate in the region a year ago. Iraq’s Christian population, which numbered 1.5 million in 2004, has dwindled in the face of the ISIS onslaught while, VanDyke charges, the world has stood by.

“The international system has failed [Christian] communities around the world in recent years,” said VanDyke, a 35-year-old Baltimore native who obtained a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s vaunted Walsh School of Foreign ServiCe before embarking on a mercurial career that has seen him film and fight throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. “Christianity is about to be wiped out in Iraq.

“They are down to less than 400,000. Many of those who have left will never return,” he continued. “They need to demonstrate that they can maintain and be responsible for their own security to encourage their people to stay – or else, within a couple of generations, there won’t be any Christians left in Iraq. This is their last chance.”

In December, the Assyrian Democratic Movement – the primary political party of Assyrians in Iraq – announced the development of the NPU, a militia made up mostly Christian volunteers. VanDyke said the Christians realized they had to fight for themselves when ISIS began a major assault on Christian-held areas of Iraq such as the Nineveh Plains last year and the Peshmerga withdrew without telling them.

“Some people woke up and looked outside and there was ISIS in their backyard, so they don’t trust anyone else but their own defense and nor should they,” VanDyke said. “They’ve had women kidnapped; their homes have been taken from them in the fight with ISIS.”

However, bringing this Christian group together and training them to take up arms has been something of a political challenge. VanDyke said that the minority faction was persistently denied requests by the Iraqi Central Government and Peshmerga to form their own force, so they began training covertly. With a nascent force now established and ready to fight the common enemy, any opposition from the Iraqi or Kurdish governments has dropped.

Klado Ramzi, an Iraqi Christian who serves on the NPU Leadership Committee, told FoxNews.com that the group’s goals go beyond just protecting its people and territory from ISIS, but include acquiring the long-term capability of defending itself.

“We have had roots in Iraq for thousands and thousands of years,” Ramzi said. “It is very important that we protect our language, our being. We respect all people in Iraq, but we refuse to be part of the fighting between Kurds and Arabs. We want to be independent and we need our own system of security for the NPU area.”

The Assyrian fighters supply their own weapons at the camp, which VanDyke began covertly in December. In addition to basic military training, VanDyke and his associates are helping leaders within the Christian communities forge international diplomatic connections, including with the U.S. State Department. Sons of Liberty bills itself as a full-service military training, consulting, support and security firm that seeks to “enable those abandoned by the international community to take action in defense of themselves and their people.”

In 2013, VanDyke released his first documentary, entitled “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution” with his own money and the goal of encouraging international support for Syrian rebels in the ongoing civil war. The film won more than 50 awards and has been shown at educational institutions and events around the world sponsored by organizations such as Amnesty International. His second documentary, “Point and Shoot,” which used footage VanDyke shot from 2007-2011, while motorcycling around the Middle East and North Africa as well as while in Libya.

His latest project, Sons of Liberty, relies on donations to provide training and aid, one reason he is no longer conducting the camp in secret. VanDyke said his goal is to redefine the security contracting industry “by challenging the mercenary model that has dominated it throughout history, by providing services and assistance for free to those in the greatest need of them.” In addition to funding, he seeks skilled ex-military operators and security contractors who can donate their skills to help train the Assyrians.

In its violent quest to take over cities and land, ISIS has intentionally persecuted religious minorities – kidnapping, murdering, raping, enslaving and torturing Christians. Just this week, Syrian activists said as many as 200 Christians had been abducted, including women and the elderly, from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria. The U.S. State Department condemned the attacks, and stated that hundreds more are trapped in villages besieged by ISIS operatives.

For now, VanDyke – who fought alongside rebels in Syrian more than a year ago, believes going into Syria is just too dangerous.

“The problem there is the level of betrayal,” he said. “There is a very high likelihood for anyone who goes there of being sold to militants by the very people you’re there to help and protect.” (Fox News – )

Link:http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/02/27/onward-christian-soldiers-us-filmmaker-self-styled-revolutionary-trains/

Jihadists Vow To Fight 'All-Out War'

Jihadists Vow To Fight 'All-Out War'

Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper Mar. 2-8, 2015
Link: http://mindanaoexaminer.com/jihadists-vow-to-fight-all-out-war/

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Sanchez Peak: General Santos City's highest spot



 (Photos by Cocy Sexcion)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – This southern Filipino city has been growing progressively with new businesses that are giving economic drive for the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” and has become a magnet for many people, investments, and opportunities.
These changes are re-branding General Santos into a highly-urbanized city. And because of the fast and constant progress, reaching that stage is inevitable. Being the beacon for investment and the hub for products and services coming from the entire Region 12, General Santos’ current state is perfect for these opportunities.
Despite all of these, General Santos has never lost its taste for tourism and adventure. In fact, some of the best trail and climbs can be found in the city or its vicinities. Don’t be a stranger. Explore General Santos and start with Sanchez Peak, the highest point in the city.
Rising about 800 feet above sea level, the Sanchez Peak offers a lofty and relaxing view of Gensan without even leaving the city. Sanchez Peak offers 360 degrees view of some diverse natural attractions that are surrounding General Santos. You have an unobstructed view of Mt. Matutum, Mt. Parker, Sarangani Bay, and some lower mountain ridges that surround General Santos City.  Municipalities of Alabel, Malapatan, and the town of Polomolok are also visible up there.
Sanchez Peak is located within the boundaries of Conel and Olympog, one of the few rural barangays in General Santos whose economy is primarily farming and other agricultural works. Residents here are very cordial and friendly; they will greet you with their signature, genuine Filipino smiles if ever you cross paths with them.
There are two trails going up to Sanchez Peak: One is in Purok Balakayo in Barangay Conel and the other one—almost adjacent to the former—is the Purok Balsinang in Barangay Olympog.
For starters, mountaineering experts would often suggest the Balsinang route. Even the pass’ terrain is steep, rocky, and ascending. The Balsinang entry is favorable because it has huge trees to shade you from the heat of the sun.
Although not passable by any type of vehicle, the said route offers a good view of General Santos and nearby areas while trekking it. Beginners are also recommended to take Balsinang to practice their strength and stamina.
Although the Balakayo route is passable by motorcycles or “habal-habal,” it is an open canopy area. That means that the pass has almost no trees to shield you from the sun.
Another uncommon route to Sanchez Peak can be found in nearby Polomolok, which is behind the Olympog-Conel Mountain Ranges. Experienced mountaineers can traverse the Balsinang Route towards Sanchez Peak in less than an hour. But if you are climbing the peak for relaxation and leisure, you can pound the trail at your own pace.
Take a rest under the tall coconut trees, drop your bags, and savor the cool, breezy air the place has to offer. Of course, you have to travel equipped with necessary mountaineering gears: tents, trekking apparels, water and liquid dehydrators, and food.
The secret to Sanchez Peak’s serenity and peace is found in the idea that it is considered a hermit’s place -a beautiful place devoid of the most common of amenities but where nature and man can come to silently meet and reorient themselves with one another.
The most suitable time to ascend is early morning, around 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and mid-afternoon, 3 p.m to 4 p.m. when there is a lesser battle with the scorching heat. But when you reach the top, everything is silent except for the strong gushes of the wind.
Why fly to Tagaytay or Baguio if you want to experience windy zephyrs and cool breezes? And Sanchez Peak can offer that at a minimal expense. When you want a heavy meal, you can have an order of a whole native chicken—cooked whatever way you want—for only P250 per kilo through the culinary services of Manong Jun and Mising Sanchez – owners of Sanchez Peak.
If you think you’re an experienced chef and confident in your cooking skills, you can buy the whole chicken at P180 per kilo. Manong Jun and Manang Mising also own a small, stand-alone store in Sanchez Peak where you can buy snacks and food.
Eating while bonding with friends and families is the perfect way to pass a day here in Sanchez Peak. Holding a cup of coffee while enjoying the grandeur of nature is the perfect way to expunge all your stress and travails.
Getting along with other hikers is also a nice thing to do. Up here, every individual has no trace of nuances. And in the stark height of Sanchez Peak, one of the best delights you can have is witnessing the gradual glowing of the city lights as the night takes over.
The streetlights shine like a million stars that illuminate General Santos. A romantic, gleaming testament that General Santos — throughout the years – has changed and improved.
Leana Margarita Nitafan Diaz, a regular trekker of Sanchez Peak, brought her friends to hike with her. “It was a really nice experience to hike here. Even if it is just my fourth time here, everything seems new,” Diaz said.
“I brought my friends here so that they can experience Sanchez Peak. I want to show them that  the adage ‘no pain, no glory’ is true,” she added.
For her friends, going to Sanchez Peak have given them the chance of tasting the best native chicken delicacies. For other hikers, it means quenching their thirst with the coldest and “most delicious” water they have ever tasted.
In the opinion of Manong Jun and Manang Mising, going to Sanchez Peak is the perfect thrill and adventure for city folk who love nature. “Many hikers are going here just to seek nature adventure. During holidays, summer breaks, and vacation, a quite number of people are going here for short excursion and voyage,” Manong Jun said. “In peak days, the number of hikers staying overnight here could reach 250-300.”
Manong Jun and Manang Mising oversee the maintenance and cleanliness of Sanchez Peak. Not business-minded in nature, they just want to take care of their precious property. They are also encouraging visitors to help them take care of the trails and the area.
As they say in the mountaineering and trekking lingo, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and bring home nothing but memories.”Sanchez Peak is a land given by the native Blaans here to my father. It is a proof of their camaraderie and friendship,” Manong Jun said.
Celebrations like Kalilangan can highlight Sanchez Peak as a piece of culture and history. Bonds and friendship between the Christians and Blaans were formed here. “Now, we are trying to preserve the neatness of the place; we always check the surroundings to pick dirt and garbage,” Manong Jun said.
“We are also seeking the help of the local government unit of General Santos City for the maintenance of Sanchez Peak. Of course, this (Sanchez) peak is the only treasure we can hand down to our children,” he added.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera has already expressed his support in promoting Sanchez Peak as a tourist destination. “Not all urbanized cities have this kind of landmark. Sanchez Peak is unique because the adventure and the nature that some people are just inside the city. In some other places, you have to go outside the city and spend more money just to experience an adventure like Sanchez Peak,” Mayor Rivera said.
“This is the reason why we are trying to preserve the environment of and around the Sanchez Peak with the help of Community Environment and Natural Resources Office and Waste Management Office,” he added.
Currently, boosting Sanchez Peak’s image to become a prime tourist destination is not being taken for granted. And as for every residents of General Santos, don’t be strangers in your land. Don’t leave and explore other places without even visiting the bounties teeming in General Santos. (Ian John Lagare)

Simbahan sa Basilan province pinasabugan


ZAMBOANGA CITY – Isang Katolikong simbahan ang pinasabugan sa lalawigan ng Basilan sa magulong Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Isang bomba na nakakabit sa cell phone ang sumambulat sa gate mismo ng Saint Peter Parish Church sa Lamitan City dakong alas 9.30 ng gabi nitong Biyernes. Sinabi ng pulisya at militar na walang sugatan o nasawi sa naturang atake.
Walang umako sa pagsabog, ngunit ilang beses ng tinarget ng Abu Sayyaf ang mga simbahan at pari sa naturang lalawigan na kalapit lamang ng Zamboanga City.
Agad naman kinondena ng mga religious leaders ang atake sa simbahan at naghigpit ng siguridad ang pulisya at militar.
Sinabi ni Parish priest Father Pascual Benitez sa Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines na posibleng siya ang target ang pambobomba. “So I was maybe the target because the bomb was placed on the gate which I used when I went out of the convent,” ani Benitez sa CBCP.
Ayon sa 40-anyos na pari, nasa kumbento ito at nanonood ng telebisyon ng maganap ang pagsabog. Nawasak rin umano ang gate ng simbahan. Natagpuan naman sa lugar ang basag-basag na bahagi ng isang cell phone na siyang ginamit bilang triggering device ng bomba.
Sa hiwalay na ulat naman ng Catholic media service UCAN, sinabi ni Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad na ito ay nalungkot at na-sorpresa sa naturang insidente at umapela na huwag idamay ang simbahan at palabasin na may hidwaan ang mga Muslim at Kristiyano sa Basilan.
“Let us not drag religion to let it appear that there is tension between Muslims and Catholics. Instead, we continue to work together for peace and harmony,” ani bishop.
Matatandaang ipinag-utos ni ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman ang isang all-out war laban sa Abu Sayyaf. Ngunit tinutulan naman ito ni bishop at sinabing hindi solusyon ang giyera sa problema.
“Waging an all-out campaign against the lawless elements in Mindanao is not the solution,” ani bishop. “Those perpetrators or lawless elements, we can’t do anything about them, run after them… Finishing them all? I think that is not the solution because that will just add more problems. I think the government must act like a mother that will look for aid in order to win their trust and confidence to the calls of law.”
“I have been in Basilan. Parang paulit-ulit na lang ang pangyarari. I think the approach should really be no longer through guns. I ask the government to really give more educational and livelihood programs to those areas, especially in Sumisip,” dagdag pa nito.
Ang Sumisip ang bayan ni Hataman sa Basilan. (Mindanao Examiner)

‘All-out war’ sa Mindanao kinondena


COTABATO CITY – Kinondena ngayon ng human rights group Suara Bangsamoro ang “all-out war” na kasalukuyang isinasagawa ng militar at pulisya kontra Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters dahil sa matinding epekto nito sa libo-libong sibilyan na patuloy sa kanilang paglikas sa North Cotabato at Maguindanao.
Sinabi ng grupo na maraming kabahayan ang nasira sa pambobomba ng militar sa bayan ng Shariff Saidona, Shariff Aguak at Datu Unsay sa Maguindanao nitong Pebrero 28 dahil lamang sa balitang naroon umano ang BIFF at ang bomber na si Abdulbasit Usman.
“Residents were forced to evacuate at 8:00 in the morning when the combined forces of the military and police started shooting at the community believed to having a presence of the BIFF.  Two hours after, the state forces started ground and aerial assaults destroying some houses of the residents,” ani Jerome Aba, ang tagapagsalita ng Suara Bangsamoro, sa pahayag nito sa Mindanao Examiner.
Ayon kay Aba, isang dosenang barangay sa bayan ng Shariff Saidona, Shariff Aguak at Datu Unsay ang lubhang apektado ng opensiba na ipinag-utos ni Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang.
Ang mga barangay ay ang sumusunod – (Shariff Saidona) Pamalian at Sharif Saidona Mustapha; (Sharif Aguak) Tina, Malingaw, Mungkas, Bagong, Maibunga, Kolumpang, Peking, Dagutom; at (Datu Unsay) Maitumaig at Iganagampong.
Ibinunyag pa ni Aba, na ginagamit ng militar ang mga lugar ng sibilyan bilang kampo ng 17 amphibian tanks at 26 na truck sa bayan ng Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
Tinawag naman ni Aba na “overkill” ang opensiba ng militar dahil sa kakaunting puwersa ngb BIFF kontra sa matinding firepower ng pamahalaan mula army at air force.
Wala naman inilabas na anumang pahayag ang 6th Infantry Division kaugnay sa opensiba nito sa naturang mga lalawigan. (Mindanao Examiner)

Russian opposition leader Nemtsov shot dead in Moscow – Al Jazeera


BORIS Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down near the Kremlin, just a day before a planned protest against the government.
Nemtsov’s death late on Saturday ignited a fury among opposition figures who assailed the Kremlin for creating an atmosphere of intolerance of any dissent and called the killing an assassination.
Putin quickly offered his condolences and called the murder a provocation.
Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, was working on a report presenting evidence that he believed proved Russia’s direct involvement in the separatist rebellion that has raged in eastern Ukraine since last April.
President Barack Obama called on Russia’s government to perform a “prompt, impartial and transparent” investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Obama called Nemtsov a “tireless advocate” for the rights of Russian citizens.
Nemtsov assailed the government’s inefficiency, rampant corruption and the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy, which has strained relations between Russia and the West to a degree unseen since Cold War times.
In an interview with the Sobesednik newspaper, Nemtsov said earlier this month that his 86-year old mother was afraid that Putin could have him killed for his opposition activities.
Asked if he had such fears himself, he responded by saying: “If I were afraid I wouldn’t have led an opposition party.”
Speaking on radio just a few hours before his death, he harshly criticised Putin for plunging Russia into the crisis by his “mad, aggressive and deadly policy of war against Ukraine”.
“The country needs a political reform,” Nemtsov said on Ekho Moskvy radio. “When power is concentrated in the hands of one person and this person rules for ever, this will lead to an absolute catastrophe, absolute.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Nemtsov a personal friend and a “bridge” between the two countries. He said on his Facebook page that he hopes the killers will be punished.
Nemtsov’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said the politician had received threats on social networks and told police about them, but authorities didn’t take any steps to protect him.
The Russian Interior Ministry, which oversees Russia’s police force, said that Nemtsov was killed by four shots in the back from a passing car as he was walking over a bridge just outside the Kremlin shortly after midnight.
Drive-by shooting
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Alexeyeva told reporters that Nemtsov was walking with a female acquaintance, a Ukrainian citizen, when a vehicle drove up and unidentified assailants shot him dead.
The woman wasn’t hurt and was being questioned by police.
Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian prime minister now also in opposition, said he was shocked.
“In the 21st century, a leader of the opposition is being demonstratively shot just outside the walls of the Kremlin!” Kasyanov told reporters as Nemtsov’s body placed in a plastic bag was removed on a rainy and cold night, as the Kremlin bells chimed nearby.
“The country is rolling into the abyss.”
Sunday’s rally was pushed to the city’s outskirts by the authorities, but Kasyanov said the rally organisers decided that they will stage a demonstration in the center of the capital to commemorate Nemtsov.
Officials’ failure to authorise it would be certain to cause anger and could lead to unrest.
Opposition activist Ilya Yashin, who last spoke to Nemtsov two days before the killing, said he had no doubt that Nemtsov’s murder was politically motivated.
“Boris Nemtsov was a stark opposition leader who criticised the most important state officials in our country, including President Vladimir Putin. As we have seen, such criticism in Russia is dangerous for one’s life,” Yashin said.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of backing the rebels with troops and sophisticated weapons. Moscow denies the accusations.
‘Contract killing’
Putin ordered Russia’s top law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe of Nemtsov’s killing.
“Putin noted that this cruel murder has all the makings of a contract hit and is extremely provocative,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. (Al Jazeera)
Link:http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/russian-opposition-leader-nemtsov-shot-dead-moscow-150227220848302.html

Erwiana’s former boss jailed for six years – SCMP

 




THE abusive former employer of Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was sentenced to six years in prison and fined HK$15,000 at the District Court this morning.

Handing down her sentence to former beautician Law Wan-tung, District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock said that the defendant’s attitude and behaviour were contemptible, and she had shown no compassion to her victims.
Woodcock said that this type of abusive conduct could be prevented if domestic helpers were not forced to live with their employers.
She also urged authorities in Hong Kong and Indonesia to investigate agencies which charged domestic helpers substantially for getting them a job in the city.
Law, 44, was convicted at the same court two weeks ago of 18 of 20 charges, eight of which accused the mother of two of assaulting and criminally intimidating Erwiana and and another Indonesian maid, Tutik Lestari Ningsih.
Law has been remanded in custody since the 16-day trial came to an end.
The guilty verdict came after Woodcock found Erwiana was “too simple” to lie about the abuse she suffered, including the time Law twisted a metal tube from a vacuum cleaner in the maid’s month, causing cuts to her lips. For this particular assault, Law was found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, the most serious charge of all.
The judge also found Law had punched Erwiana so hard that her incisor teeth were fractured. On another occasion, Law stripped the maid of her clothes in the bathroom, splashing her with cold water and pointing a blowing fan at her.
For the first time, the court was given a rare glimpse into the life of the defendant today, who previously chose not to come to her own defence in the open court.
Law’s lawyer Graham Harris SC said in mitigation that his client’s acts were not “one of the very worst of its kind”. He said that there was no evidence of permanent physical and psychological injuries.
“Instruments used in the case are not the instruments per se for the infliction of the injuries,” he added.
He submitted to court some case precedents in which hot irons and cutters were used against domestic helpers.
Harris also drew Woodcock’s attention to aspects of Law’s character that were not revealed during the trial. He said that she had contributed to charities “from her own resources” for many years. She made donations totalling HK$70,000 to organisations including Po Leung Kuk and Unicef, he said.
Harris said that Law had been “vilified, demonised and ostracised” since the case came to light. He added that Law was born and raised in Hong Kong, and received education up to Form 3. She was a beautician before getting married and becoming a full-time housewife.
Law stood impassively in the dock when the judge announced her sentence. Her lawyers said outside court that they had not decided whether to launch an appeal.
Speaking outside court, Erwiana said she was not fully satisfied with the length of Law’s “light” jail term but was pleased that she was going to prison.
She said that the six-year sentence suggested the government tolerated slavery and maltreatment of migrant workers.
“It is not OK … violation of our human rights is not OK. Slavery is not OK,” she said.
Erwiana backed Woodcock’s call for the government to scrap laws that domestic workers must live with their employers and the two-week rule, whereby helpers must leave Hong Kong within two weeks of termination of their contracts.
“I hope that the Hong Kong government will treat us domestic workers as workers,” she said. (South China Morning Post – Chris Lau and Thomas Chan)

Link:http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1724621/hong-kong-employer-who-abused-indonesian-maid-erwiana-jailed-six