Italy’s Renzi hands in resignation amid political turmoil

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has handed in his resignation to Italy’s president, three days after losing a referendum he had staked his career on, the BBC reports.

He had promised to wait until the Senate passed the 2017 budget, which it did earlier in the day.

President Sergio Mattarella will start consultations with political parties over forming a caretaker government at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) on Thursday.

In the meantime, Mr Renzi is to act as a “caretaker prime minister”.

The consultation, which is due to end on Saturday afternoon, will look at where support lies for a new government, a presidential aide, Ugo Zampetti, told reporters on Wednesday.

Obama’s UN envoy refers to Armenian Genocide

Photo: AP

 

In a speech hailing the work of Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, Barack Obama’s U.N. Envoy Samantha Power lamented the injustices that continue to this day. Among these, she listed: “Genocide denial against the Armenians.” Power didn’t elaborate, the Associated Press reports.

The term has long been taboo for U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, who have instead talked of mass atrocity and historical tragedy. But Obama’s U.N. ambassador last week went further than her boss by describing the event as genocide.

According to AP, those five words risk infuriating Turkey, which has fiercely opposed any genocide reference and whose strategic role as a key American partner and NATO ally in an unstable part of the world has led U.S. officials to exercise extreme caution when referencing the century-old massacre. They’re also surprising given Power’s status as the nation’s second highest-ranked diplomat and what sounded like her implicit criticism of Obama.

When he first ran for president, Obama promised he would recognize the killings as genocide if elected. But he has repeatedly stopped short of doing so. Marking Armenian Remembrance Day in April, Obama called the killings the first mass atrocity of the 20th century and a tragedy that must not be repeated.

Before entering government, Power was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote extensively about America’s responses to genocide. Officials say she has lobbied hard behind the scenes for Obama to formally recognize the Armenian killings as genocide.

Kurtis Cooper, Power’s spokesman, said the genocide reference came in the context of honoring Wiesel’s life and were meant to “convince others to stand up, rather than stand by, in the face of systemic injustice, mass atrocities and genocide like the one he was forced to endure.” He said they don’t reflect a change in administration policy.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there has been no change in U.S. policy.

“The president and other senior administration officials have repeatedly mourned and acknowledged as historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and stated that a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests,” Toner said.

President Ronald Reagan in 1981 did refer to the “genocide of the Armenians.” But presidents since have avoided such language.

President Jimmy Carter came close to saying genocide in 1978 by describing a “concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people” and calling it “probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group.” He noted that unlike after the Holocaust, no justice occurred akin to the Nuremberg trials of top Nazi officials.

As a campaign surrogate eight years ago, Power released a video imploring Armenian-Americans to vote for Obama, saying he would follow through on his promise to talk frankly about what happened.

Thousands uprooted from rebel-held east Aleppo

PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

 

Thousands of civilians have left rebel-held eastern Aleppo districts, as the Syrian army continues its offensive to take full control over the city, the BBC reports.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said as many as 10,000 residents fled to government-controlled western areas and a Kurdish-run northern district.

Syrian state media put the number at more than 1,500, while Russia said that 2,500 civilians had left.

PACE co-rapporteurs carry out monitoring visit to Armenia

Giuseppe Galati (Italy, EPP/CD) and Alan Meale (United Kingdom, SOC), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Armenia, will make a fact-finding visit to Yerevan on 22-23 November 2016.

Discussions will focus on the electoral reform, the 2017 parliamentary elections, the implementation of the constitutional reform, including the reform of the government and judiciary, as well as the reform of the police and the establishment of an independent mechanism for complaints against the police.

In Yerevan, Mr Galati and Mr Meale are due to meet, in particular, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the President of the National Assembly, and the Minister of Justice. Talks are also scheduled with the Armenian delegation to PACE, the judicial authorities, and the Head of the National Police.

Pope Francis hosts members of German national team in Vatican

Pope Francis on Monday morning greeted members of the German national football team in the Vatican.  Germany beat San Marino 8-0 on Friday evening in the qualifying stages of their defense of the World Cup, Radio Vatican reports.

“I have often heard it said that your victories are team victories,” Pope Francis said, noting the official nickname of the German squad is Die Mannschaft (The Team).

“Truly, competitive sport not only requires a great deal of discipline and personal sacrifice, but also respect for others and team spirit,” – the Pope continued – “This carries you to success as ‘Die Mannschaft ‘ and at the same time causes you to recognize your responsibility on the football pitch, especially to the young people who often see you as role models.  It also causes you to make a mutual commitment to work together to support some important social causes.”

In particular, Pope Francis thanked the team for their support for the Sternsinger (‘Star Singer’) collection at Epiphany, where children from over 10,000 Catholic parishes all over Germany go door-to-door singing carols and collecting money, which is used to help children in poor countries around the world. The initiative was begun in 1959, and is now the world’s largest fundraiser by children, for children.

“This initiative shows how together we can overcome barriers that seem insurmountable, and which penalize needy and marginalized people,” – the Holy Father said – “In this way you contribute to building a more just and united society.”

Azeri forces shelling military positions in Karabakh

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces have been taking provocative steps last night and this morning, the NKR Ministry of Defense reports.

Starting from 12:15 today the rival has been shelling the military positions in the northeastern (Talysh and Yarymja) directions of the frontline, the Ministry said.

More intensive shelling has been reported in the direction of Yarymja village.

The front divisions of the NKR Defense Army are taking measures to pressure the activeness of the rival.

The NKR Defense Ministry declares that the Azerbaijani side bears full responsibility for the increased tensions at the line of contact.

Militants kill dozens at Pakistan police college

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

 

At least 58 cadets and guards have been killed after militants attacked a police college in the Pakistani city of Quetta, officials say, the BBC reports.

Three militants wearing suicide bomb vests entered the college late on Monday, reportedly taking hostages.

A major security operation lasted for hours and all attackers were killed.

No group has said it carried out the assault, but Quetta has seen similar attacks by separatists and Islamist militants in recent years.

Hundreds of trainees were evacuated from Balochistan Police College as troops arrived to repel the militants. Local media reported at least three explosions at the scene.

The police academy is home to hundreds of students and many of the cadets who died were killed in the blasts, said Major General Sher Afgan of the Frontier Corps.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights Produces Film about Armenian Genocide

Photos:  Armenian National Committee of Canada

 

Asbarez – In partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), the Armenian National Committee of Canada co-organized the premiere of the museum’s new film about the Armenian Genocide, “Acts of Conscience: Armin T. Wegner and the Armenian Genocide” on October 13th, 2016.

The event took place at the Armenian Youth Centre of Toronto and attracted hundreds of community members and supporters of the ANCC and CMHR. The event was also attended by Peter Farenholtz, Consul General of Germany in Canada, MP Arnold Chan. Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt and Chair of the Canada-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Councilor Jim Karygiannis, Toronto City Councilor, TDSB Trustees and a large number of activists.

After the screening of the documentary, the event featured a discussion with renowned Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, who narrated the short documentary which will play in the Museum’s “Breaking the Silence” gallery.

Subsequently, remarks were delivered by CMHR president and CEO, John Young, MP Arnold Chan – who also read a statement from The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau – and Councilor Jim Karygiannis, Toronto city councilor. Closing remarks were delivered by ANCC president, Shahen Mirakian. In his remarks, Mirakian said that it is only through our concerted efforts that we can stay true to our commitment and carry on the legacy of Wegner by standing up against any forms of injustice towards humanity.

The film “Acts of Conscience” looks at the genocide through the lens of Armin T. Wegner, a German war medic who photographed and documented atrocities against the Armenian-Christian minority that were occurring around him in the Ottoman Empire during the first World War – including forced “death marches” through the desert. In the 1930s, Wegner also voiced his opposition to the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazis and authored an impassioned plea to Hitler on behalf of the Jews of Germany.

Compelled by his conscience to take action despite great personal risk, Wegner’s story epitomizes the importance of efforts to combat the denial and minimization that often surround gross human rights violations.

An exhibit at the CMHR explores the efforts for recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Wegner and others. In 2004, the Canadian Parliament voted to officially acknowledge and condemn the Armenian Genocide.

The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.

Ombudsman urges support for Syrian Armenians

Armenian Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan has applied to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, the European Ombudsman Institute, the International Ombudsman Institute and the leaders of the International Committee of the Red Cross with a request to ensure the safety of Armenians in Syria and provide them with assistance.

In a letter to international structures, the Ombudsman has expressed deep concern over the casualties among Armenians as a result of shelling over the past months and has asked for a practical support on the part of the above-mentioned international bodies.

Egypt’s ‘Wintry Spring’ wins best short film award at Armenia festival

Egypt’s short film Wintry Spring (Rabie Chetwy) scooped-up the Best Short Film Award at the Sose 2016 International Film Festival, which took place between 23 and 30 September in Yerevan, Armenia, according to Ahram Online.

Released in 2015 and directed by Mohamed Kamel, the 16-minute film depicts a relationship between a father and his daughter Nour. In an apparently otherwise regular relationship and life, typical youth problems emerge with Nour and create a rift between the two.

The film screened across over 90 film festivals around the world and received many awards.

Sose International Film Festival highlights women’s rights in the language of art. This year the festival featured 104 films from 38 countries. For the complete list of winners click .