Archive for the ‘Embassy’ Category

Vietnam Envoy In Africa Arrested: Dealing in Banned Rhino

November 19, 2008

Vietnam says it will recall one of its diplomats from South Africa after she was filmed in an apparent illegal purchase of a rhinoceros horn.

A TV crew accompanying government investigators filmed an agent for a gang of poachers meeting the woman outside Vietnam’s embassy in Pretoria.


They filmed the agent handing the horn to the diplomat, who then took it inside the embassy building.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said it had recalled her to “clarify the affair”.

Vietnam’s ambassador to South Africa, Tran Duy Thi, told the BBC that action had to be taken.

Rhinoceros (file image)
Crushed rhino horn is prized in some traditional East Asian medicine

“She did it right at the front steps of the embassy,” he said. “You see, they filmed the Vietnamese flag as she was doing it – how shameful! There must be a sanction.”

More than 40 rhinos are said to have been killed in South Africa this year.

Conservationists say Vietnamese syndicates are heavily involved in the illegal trade of their horns.

Crushed rhinoceros horn is a prized ingredient in traditional East Asian medicine, where it is used to treat fever and high blood pressure.



American Aid Worker Slain in Pakistan

November 12, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An American aid worker involved in a U. S. government program to bring development to a lawless tribal region of Pakistan was assassinated in his car Tuesday morning as he went to work in the provincial capital, Peshawar.

The American, Steve Vance, and his Pakistani driver, were shot as their car approached the house in Peshawar where Mr. Vance ran a project to bring small-scale projects and jobs to the Federally Administered Tribal Area, a stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, his associates said.

Pakistani troops on patrol in the troubled Bajaur region in ... 
Pakistani troops on patrol in the troubled Bajaur region in September. Gunmen shot dead a US aid worker and his driver in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar on Wednesday, the US embassy and police said.(AFP/Pool/File/Aamir Qureshi)

The United States Embassy in Islamabad confirmed that an American citizen and his driver were killed in an attack in Peshawar. The embassy was coordinating with local law enforcement agencies to determine what happened, a spokesman, Wes Robertson, said.

By Jane Perlez
The New York Times

Pakistani officials in Peshawar said they did not know who was responsible for the shooting at around 8 a.m. in a residential area of the city known as University Town. The killings came after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded sports stadium in the center of Peshawar Monday night, moments after leading politicians of the city had left the arena.

The umbrella Taliban group, Tehrik-i-Taliban, claimed responsibility for the stadium attack.

Mr. Vance worked for part of an ambitious program run by the United States Agency for International Development to bring $750 million of development projects to the tribal region over five years, according to his associates who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak about the incident.

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Iran Marks Anniversary of U.S. Embassy Takeover

November 3, 2008

Demonstrations have been held in Iran to mark the 29th anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran.

The Islamic revolution in 1979 took over from the US backed regime of the Shah and installed the clerical rule of Ayatollah Khomeini.


Students stormed the US Embassy on 4 November 1979 taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

The hostages were released in 1981 and relations between Washington and Tehran have never recovered.

The old US embassy compound is now used by the Revolutionary Guards and the walls are plastered with anti-American slogans.

BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne says demonstrators made use of the traditional chant of “death to Israel, death to America”, but on a wet morning in Tehran, school children and students helped make up the numbers and only a few people seemed to be listening to the speeches.

“The evil power of Israel is waning” said one speaker, others launched long tirades against the power of the American government.

US Election

The anniversary comes as Iranians, like the rest of the world, await the result of the US election with high anticipation.

Our correspondent says that despite the rhetoric many, probably most Iranians long for a reconciliation with the United States.

Some demonstrators expressed a hope that it might become possible if Barack Obama becomes the next US President, he said.

Jon Leyne says that even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough, although there is no sign he is willing to make any of the compromises that would make that possible.

Tibetan monks hold anti-China protest in Washington

March 16, 2008
by Michael Mathes 

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Tibetans including robed monks protested at Beijing‘s embassy in Washington Saturday to decry China‘s deadly crackdown on demonstrators in their homeland.

Protesters, many from Tibet, shout chants during a rally sponsored ...
Protesters, many from Tibet, shout chants during a rally sponsored by Amnesty International in 2007 outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. Tibetans including robed monks protested at Beijing’s embassy in Washington Saturday to decry China’s deadly crackdown on demonstrators in their homeland.
(AFP/File/Tim Sloan)

About 150 demonstrators, many draped in Tibetan flags or wearing prayer shawls, gathered in a park across the street from the embassy and chanted “Shame, shame, China shame” and “Stop the killings in Tibet.”

Tibet’s exiled government said Saturday that about 30 people had been killed during unrest in Lhasa. State-run Xinhua news agency earlier said 10 people died in the unrest, citing government officials from Tibet who blamed “mobs” for the violence.

Many protestors carried banners demanding China’s army leave Tibet or calling for scrapping of the Beijing Olympics, as monks chanted prayers for those killed in the protests in Tibet marking the anniversary of a 1959 uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

The embassy in a tony northwest Washington neighborhood was closed for the weekend, and a minimal city police force stood watch but was not seen intervening.

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China’s selection to host the Olympics
this summer has riled human rights
activists world-wide.

In this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities ...
In  this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities walk down an avenue, Friday, March 14, 2008, in Lhasa, Tibet. Police fired tear gas to disperse Buddhist monks and others staging a second day of protests Saturday in western China in sympathy with anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa, local residents said.(AP Photo/APTN)

Dalai Lama urges China to stop using force as several killed in Tibet

March 14, 2008

DHARAMSHALA, India (AFP) – The Dalai Lama said Friday he was “deeply concerned” over the situation in Tibet and appealed to China to “stop using force” several people were killed in the biggest protests against Chinese rule in two decades.

Tibetan Buddhist monks walk past police cars near Labrang Monastery, ...
Tibetan Buddhist monks walk past police cars near Labrang Monastery, Gansu Province. Gunfire was heard in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, according to the US embassy who citied several reports from American citizens.(AFP/Mark Ralston)

“I am deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests in many parts of Tibet, including Lhasa, in recent days,” Tibet’s exiled Buddhist spiritual leader said in a statement from India.

“These protests are a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance,” said the Nobel peace laureate.

“I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people.”

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Nepali police charge at demonstrating Tibetan monks and protesters ...
Nepali police charge at demonstrating Tibetan monks and protesters with batons at Baudha in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu March 14, 2008. The Tibetan refugees residing in Nepal were showing their solidarity with the demonstrating Tibetans in China. Shops were set on fire in violence in Tibet’s capital of Lhasa on Friday, China’s Xinhua news agency reported after days of rare street protests in the contested region.
REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar (NEPAL)

US warns Serbia on embassy damage

February 22, 2008
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – The United States bluntly warned Serbia against inciting violence after an angry mob protesting the independence of the former Serbian province of Kosovo stormed and set fire to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade on Thursday.

Serb students protest against Kosovo's independence in the ethnically ...
Serb students protest against Kosovo’s independence in the ethnically divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. The proclamation of Kosovo’s independence by ethnic Albanians on Sunday has been followed with growing anger among Kosovo’s Serb population.(AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

The attack played out live on television screens around the world and the Bush administration reacted with unusual sharpness, denouncing Serb authorities for failing to protect the compound from rioters who torched part of its main office building, causing undetermined damage and possibly the death of one person whose charred body was later found.

“Our embassy was attacked by thugs,” White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned from a trip to Africa. “We have made known to the Serbian government our concern and displeasure that their police force did not prevent this incident.”

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Rioters break into US Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia

February 21, 2008
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer 

BELGRADE, Serbia – Serb rioters broke into the U.S. Embassy Thursday and set fire to an office after a massive protest against Kosovo’s independence that drew an estimated 150,000 people.
Protesters attend a during mass protest rally against Kosovo's ...
Protesters attend a during mass protest rally against Kosovo’s declaration of independence in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. At least 150,000 Serbs gathered in central Belgrade on Thursday in a massive protest against Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Masked attackers broke into the building, which has been closed this week, and tried to throw furniture from an office. A blaze broke out inside one of the offices. Riot police drove armored jeeps down the street and fired tear gas to clear the crowd.

The neighboring Croatian Embassy also was attacked by the same group of protesters.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack strongly urged the Serbian government to protect the U.S. Embassy. He said the U.S. ambassador was at his home and was in contact with U.S. officials.

The U.S. embassy in Belgrade burns after masked attackers broke ...
The U.S. embassy in Belgrade burns after masked attackers broke into the building and set an office on fire at the end of a massive protest against Western-backed Kosovo independence, in the Serbian capital, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. More than 150,000 Serbs gathered at the rally vowing to retake the territory which is viewed as Serbia’s religious and national heartland.
(AP Photo)

More than a dozen nations have recognized Kosovo‘s declaration of independence on Sunday, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

But the declaration has been rejected by Serbia‘s government and the ethnic Serbians who populate northern Kosovo. Russia, China and numerous other nations have also condemned the declaration, saying it sets a precedent that separatist groups around the world will seek to emulate.

Earlier, police estimated that about 150,000 people had attended a rally in the Serbian capital. The crowd waved Serbian flags and carried signs reading “Stop USA terror.” One group set fire to a red-and-black Albanian flag. Most of Kosovo’s population is ethnic Albanian.

Muhammad From Pakistan: Musharraf Standing Up To Terrorists

February 20, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope you and your team will be alright.

There is still confusion in Pakistan as politicians have started another war for the power.

Some of the leaders including Mian Nawaz Sharif, whose party Pakistan Muslim League has won some seats in the election have demanded of President Musharraf to resign. I want to inform you some of the parties demanding Musharraf’s resignation are actually being supported by terrorists. They have been creating choas and anarchy in the country.

I will repeat my words that presence of Musharraf is essential for giving a crushing defeat to terrorists. Musharraf is the only hurdle in way of terrorists. The US must extend full support to the president.

According to media reports, the presidency has contacted with Co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari to discuss formation of the next government and future political scenario of the country.

Close aides of the president have contacted the PPP leader and offered cooperation from Muslim League-Q and MQM for formation of the next government, the President House sources said.

The presidential aides also tried to take Zardari into confidence. According to the sources, Asif Ali Zardari told them the government was failed to fulfill the understanding reached with Benazir Bhutto, now all options are open before him to take any decision. Zardari said he doesn’t have trust over the president house and he will decide future line of action after consultation with the party colleagues.

It is heartening to note that efforts by US, Britain and other western countries are underway for the formation of modern, liberal and democratic set up in the country following the announcement of general elections’ results. In this connection, the officials of US Embassy are contacting all the political leaders.

Co-Chairman, Pakistan People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari called on the US Ambassador, Ann W. Paterson and other officials here at US Consulate.

Caretaker Minister for Information, Nisar A. Memon and and General Secretary of Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Mushahid Hussain Sayed also met with the US officials.The US Consul General Bryan D. Hunt called on PML-N Chief, Nawaz Sharif and had an exchange of views with relation to the formation of central government.

“US, Britain and other western countries want to see a modern, liberal and democratic set up in the country,” said the diplomatic sources, adding, the objective of these meetings is to combine all the political forces for strengthening the democratic institutions of Pakistan.
The political parties have been urged to focus on the larger interest of the country rather than their personal interests and form a strong government that could complete its five- year term. The US senator used the word being used by you for Musharraf imperfect. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf displayed “a kind of grace in accepting” the defeat of his allies in elections, US senator and poll monitor John Kerry told reporters Wednesday.

“We would like to say he kept his promise to hold elections. Imperfect as it was, it produced results… and he showed a kind of grace in accepting what people had said,” Kerry said in New Delhi, a day after meeting Musharraf in Islamabad.

Dear Sir, I want to inform you confusion in the country will certainly be used by the terrorists for achieving their ulterior motives. They are still sitting in the tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border making plans for more attacks in the world.

Caretaker Interior minister Hamid Nawaz has said, “The backbone of terrorists had been broken in Pakistan”.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad – the interior minister said that no terrorist attacks would be possible in the country now, except in the tribal areas. He also said that a six point strategy had been prepared to maintain law and order and to route out terrorism from the country.

Dear Sir, the people of tribal areas will never your cooperation with them in the war on terrorism. You have done a lot for them.  They are glad you travel in safety.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad KhurshidKhar

Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan

Adopting Children From Vietnam Becomes Struggle

February 8, 2008

Sharon Chin, Reporting

ALAMEDA (CBS 5) ― Cheers and tears for George and Monica DiGioacchino and their nine-month-old son adopted from Vietnam. They arrived at San Francisco International Airport this week. At times they wondered if they would ever bring Patrick home.

“I’m very happy to come back with the rest of my family and start our life here,” George DiGioacchino said.

The Alameda couple legally adopted Patrick in Vietnam last October. But the American government refused to grant him a visa to come home.

“You’re panicking. And at that point, he’s very much your son,” Monica DiGioacchino said.

The couple got help from an immigration attorney and Senator Barbara Boxer’s office.

Immigration attorney Lynda Zengerle said, “Our adoption parents were told ‘If you just take your baby back to the orphanage and relinquish it there, give it up, kind of like taking a sweater back…'”

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Vietnam: Tet Offensive 40 Years Ago

February 5, 2008

By Uwe Siemon-Netto

Forty years ago today, I witnessed the start of the most perplexing development in the 20th century – America’s self-betrayal during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.

The reason why I have never ceased wrestling with this event is this: On the one hand, Tet ended in a clear military victory for the United States and its South Vietnamese allies, who killed 45,000 communist soldiers and destroyed their infrastructure.

On the other hand, the major U.S. media persuaded Americans that Tet was a huge setback for their country. As a result, Tet marked the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, which consequently ended in defeat when South Vietnam fell in 1975.

A parade to mark the 40 the anniversary of theTet Offensive ...
A parade to mark the 40 the anniversary of theTet Offensive is seen in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Friday, Feb. 1, 2008. The Tet offensive of 1968 was a massive attack by the North Vietnamese on Tet, lunar new year, and it was a turning point of the Vietnam War.
(AP Photo)

I was there, as Far East correspondent of the Axel Springer group of German newspapers, Jan. 30, 1968, when 85,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops struck 36 of the South’s 44 provincial capitals.

Two days earlier, a French officer in Laos had tipped me off that something spectacular was about to occur during the cease-fire for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. “You’d better return to Saigon,” he said.

At 3 a.m. on Jan. 31, I stood opposite the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, watching a fierce firefight between Marines and Viet Cong attackers, some of whom were already inside the Embassy compound.

Some days later, I was in the company of Marines fighting their way into communist-occupied Hué, Vietnam’s former imperial capital, 600 miles north of Saigon. We found its streets strewn with the corpses of hundreds of women, children and old men, all shot execution-style by North Vietnamese invaders.

I made my way to Hué’s university apartments to obtain news about friends of mine, German professors at the medical school. I learned that their names had been on lists containing some 1,800 Hué residents singled out for liquidation.

Six weeks later the bodies of doctors Alois Altekoester, Raimund Discher and Horst-Guenther Krainick and Krainick’s wife, Elisabeth, were found in shallow graves they had been made to dig for themselves.

Then, enormous mass graves of women and children were found. Most had been clubbed to death, some buried alive; you could tell from the beautifully manicured hands of women who had tried to claw out of their burial place.

As we stood at one such site, Washington Post correspondent Peter Braestrup asked an American T.V. cameraman, “Why don’t you film this?” He answered, “I am not here to spread anti-communist propaganda.”

There was a time when Hué was the most anti-American city in South Vietnam, to wit, a graffito outside the villa of the dowager empress, which read, “Chat Dau My” (cut the Americans’ throats). But this changed as a result of Viet Cong atrocities. Now the word “My” (American) was replaced with “Cong” (communists).

Many reporters accompanying U.S. and South Vietnamese forces realized and reported that the fortunes of war and the public mood had changed in their favor, principally because of the war crimes committed by the communists, especially in Hue, where 6,000-10,000 residents were slaughtered.

But the major media gave the Tet story an entirely different spin. CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite, for example, flew briefly into Saigon. When he returned to New York he told his 22 million nightly viewers:

“It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who have lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

In other words, Cronkite said, “Oops, we lost,” when, in truth, the biggest engagement in this war was militarily won. Two decades on, I was a chaplain intern in a VA hospital working with former Vietnam combatants. They were broken men. Most had been called baby killers on their return home. Their wives or girlfriends, and in some cases even pastors, had abandoned them.

Many had attempted suicide or withdrawn into the wilderness.

And almost all thought that their country, even God, had turned their backs on them. There was a time when I loved my craft as a reporter passionately. Vietnam changed this. It taught me the appalling consequence of journalistic hubris, which gave the media, meaning all of us, an enduring bad name.

Uwe Siemon-Netto is a guest lecturer in Lutheran theology at Concordia University in Irvine, California.