BEIRUT: Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) has said it will boycott this Sunday’s Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut.
The boycott is in response to “negative acts carried out by the host country, Lebanon,” said Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.
The GNA “decided to boycott the summit after it was revealed that the host country did not provide the appropriate climate in accordance with the obligations, customs and traditions of such summits,” he added.
Supporters of the Lebanese Amal Movement tore down the Libyan flag from between the other flags raised on poles on the road to the airport to welcome the delegations participating in the summit.
They replaced it with the Amal flag to protest the kidnapping in Libya of Imam Musa Al-Sadr, a Lebanese-Iranian philosopher and Shiite religious leader, and two companions in 1987.
Photos of Amal members tearing down and replacing the Libyan flag went viral on social media.
This prompted Libyan protesters to remove the sign of the Lebanese Embassy in the Libyan capital and raise their country’s flag at the embassy’s main iron gate, said Lebanon’s ambassador to Libya, Mohammad Sukaina.
“Lebanon is convinced that what happened in Beirut and Tripoli is neither directed against the people of Libya nor against the Lebanese people,” he told the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).
“We believe that the right, fair, and perhaps the only approach to establishing a good relationship between the Lebanese and Libyan people is that the competent authorities in Libya help free Imam Musa Al-Sadr and his companions.”
Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil sent a letter to his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Siala, expressing his regret that Libya will not participate in the summit.
Bassil also expressed his rejection of “the actions taken in Lebanon against Libya and its participation in the Beirut summit,” saying they do not reflect his position or his country’s.
Meanwhile, a debate in Lebanon over inviting Syria was settled by the supreme committee organizing the summit, which said: “Syria’s invitation is related to the decision of the Council of the Arab League and is not a Lebanese decision.”
In the halls of the summit’s venue, the flags of all Arab League member states were raised, including those of Syria and Libya, on Monday.
“The countdown to the summit has started,” said the summit’s media spokesman Rafic Chlala.
“The reconstruction of Syria is not on the summit’s agenda, but at the meeting of Arab leaders there may be decisions in this regard,” he added. “So far, this topic will not be discussed.”
The head of the committee, Antoine Choucair, said 24 items are on the agenda, and Lebanon wants to hold the event under the title “Prosperity for Peace.”
He added that Lebanese President Michel Aoun is considering an initiative inspired by the title, and will launch it during the summit.
The commander of the Lebanese Republican Guard, Brig. Gen. Salim Feghali, said it will be in charge of the summit’s security in cooperation with the rest of the security services.
He added that “500 officers and 7,000 soldiers will participate in securing the summit’s location as well as the road to the airport and the delegations’ accommodations.”
Feghali told Arab News: “The security forces will address the protests scheduled for Sunday… in a manner that ensures the safety of the summit.”
Brig. Gen. Joseph Al-Nahhas said: “The secure area will be closed starting Thursday midnight.”
He added: “The supreme committee has proposed to the caretaker prime minister, Saad Hariri, to make Friday a day off.” Al-Nahhas said Hariri had no objection to the proposal.
Meanwhile, the Civil Society Organizations Forum, hosted by the UN headquarters in Beirut, produced recommendations that will be submitted to the summit.
The forum’s organizers said the recommendations aim to “strengthen cooperation between governments and civil society, and provide an independent platform for civil society to allow experts to participate in and contribute to the development process.”
Manal Warde, Oxfam’s policy and campaigns manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said the forum aimed to influence the summit at a time when many Arab countries face public demands for democracy and economic reforms.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) said it expects the summit to “provide an opportunity to develop mechanisms for achieving the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.”
Sign language: Connecting people and cultures
The Deaf Friends team – KUNA photosSign language is a full-fledged means of communication for deaf people, depending on facial and body gestures that enable them to interact. The UN General Assembly set Sept 23 as the International Day for Sign Languages to highlight their importance, and how it was a major right for deaf…
The Deaf Friends team – KUNA photosSign language is a full-fledged means of communication for deaf people, depending on facial and body gestures that enable them to interact. The UN General Assembly set Sept 23 as the International Day for Sign Languages to highlight their importance, and how it was a major right for deaf people to have their own languages. The international day coincides with the establishment of the World Federation of the Deaf, founded in 1951.
“Sign language is multicultural and derived from the culture of every country,” said Hamad Al-Marri, President of Kuwait Sport Club for the Deaf. Marri, also member of the higher council for the disabled, told KUNA deaf people will be using their hands and other body gestures to express themselves. Every country has a unique sign language depending on its culture, he explained. “There is an international sign language, an Arab sign language and a unique local sign language.”
Arabic days of the week in sign languageMarri said many deaf people have occupied senior positions because they excelled in the use of sign language. He added he proposed to the Civil Service Commission for the appointment of people with sign language expertise in government departments to help the deaf. Marri said HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah instructed Kuwait National Guards personnel, when he was deputy chief of KNG, to learn sign language to communicate with the deaf.
Arabic alphabets in sign languageDr Mohammad Al-Ramzi, a sign language instructor, said sign language “is rich, expressive and complicated just like the spoken language, and it has a grammar framework similar to all human languages”. Speaking to KUNA, Ramzi said Arab countries unified their sign languages in 1999 and a dictionary was published with more than 3,000 signs. Kuwait was the first country in the world to interpret three TV news bulletins. The bulletins were raised to eight per day in 2020, he added.
Ismail Karam, Technical Director at Kuwait Sport Club for the Deaf, said he learned sign language at Al-Amal (Hope) School for people with special needs, which he joined in 1960. After spending 12 years at the school, Karam graduated with the ability to write and sign. He then worked at the finance ministry’s printing press where he spent 30 years, during which he joined former classmates to establish the Kuwait Society for Deaf and Dumb in 1975. The society later changed its name to Kuwait Sport Club for the Deaf.
Al-Zahraa Al-Tamimi, member of the Deaf Friends team, said team members are teaching hearing-impaired people how to use sign language. The team, she told KUNA, sought to spread the use of sign language on social media, TV channels and public places. Kuwait is the second Arab country to introduce education of the deaf – the ministry of education issued a law in 1965 making it mandatory for people with special needs to get an education. – KUNA
Kuwaiti army chief, Australian commander discuss military issues
KUWAIT: Lieutenant General Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah receives Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison. – KUNAKUWAIT: Chief of the General Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sheikh Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah discussed with the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison important matters and topics of…
KUWAIT: Lieutenant General Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah receives Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison. – KUNAKUWAIT: Chief of the General Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sheikh Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah discussed with the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison important matters and topics of common interest, especially those related to the military. The general staff said in a press statement yesterday that Sheikh Khaled received Paddison along with his accompanying delegation during his official visit to the country.
During the meeting, the important matters and topics of common interest were discussed, where the chief of staff commended the depth of bilateral ties between both sides. The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army Lt Gen Fahad Al-Nasser, Australian Ambassador to Kuwait Jonathan Gilbert and several senior army commanding officers. – KUNA
Myanmar will not address world leaders at UN General Assembly
Russia and China have reportedly agreed to allow Kyaw Moe Tun to keep Myanmar’s UN seat as long as he does not speak during high-level meeting.No representative from Myanmar is scheduled to address the annual high-level United Nations General Assembly next week, a UN spokesman said, amid rival claims for the country’s UN seat in…
Russia and China have reportedly agreed to allow Kyaw Moe Tun to keep Myanmar’s UN seat as long as he does not speak during high-level meeting.No representative from Myanmar is scheduled to address the annual high-level United Nations General Assembly next week, a UN spokesman said, amid rival claims for the country’s UN seat in New York after a military coup deposed the elected government.
“At this point, Myanmar is not speaking,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
Myanmar’s current UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun – appointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government – had initially been expected to address the 193-member General Assembly on Monday, the final day of the gathering.
But diplomats said China, Russia and the United States had reached an understanding, where Moscow and Beijing will not object to Kyaw Moe Tun remaining in Myanmar’s UN seat for the moment as long as he does not speak during the high-level meeting.
“I withdrew from the speaker list, and will not speak at this general debate,” Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters the news agency, adding that he was aware of the understanding between some members of the UN credentials committee, which includes Russia, China and the US.
Myanmar’s military government has put forward military veteran Aung Thurein to be its UN envoy, while Kyaw Moe Tun has asked to renew his UN accreditation, despite being the target of a plot to kill or injure him for his opposition to the February coup.
UN accreditation issues are dealt with by a nine-member committee, whose members include the US, China and Russia. It traditionally meets in October or November.
Until a decision is made by the credentials committee, Kyaw Moe Tun will remain in the seats, according to the General Assembly rules. The same rule also applies to the representative of Afghanistan.
News of Kyaw Moe Tun’s absence on Monday comes as violence linked to the February 1 coup continues to displace thousands of civilians at home.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government was overthrown by the military in February, sparking a nationwide uprising that the military has tried to crush.
Attacks on the military have increased after lawmakers deposed by the generals called for a “people’s defensive war” earlier this month.
News of Kyaw Moe Tun’s absence on Monday comes as violence linked to the February 1 coup continues to displace thousands of civilians at home [File: Osamu Honda/AP]The latest violence was reported in Chin state and Sagaing region in the country’s northwest, with soldiers engaging in battles with armed local defence groups.
More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and nearly 8,000 arrested since the coup, according to local observers.
Coup leaders have defended its power grab by alleging massive fraud during elections in late 2020 which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won by a landslide.
On Thursday, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned of a human rights catastrophe under military rule in Myanmar and urged the international community to do more to prevent the conflict in the country from getting worse.
“The national consequences are terrible and tragic – the regional consequences could also be profound,” she said in a statement.
“The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.”