United Nations, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — Pakistan called Tuesday for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying India's decision to strip its part of disputed Kashmir of autonomy poses "an imminent threat" to international peace and could lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Muslim-majority region.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi denounced "recent aggressive actions" by India's Hindu nationalist-led government, saying they "willfully undermine the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir."
Quereshi accused India in a letter to the council obtained by The Associated Press of implementing a "racist ideology" aimed at turning its part of Kashmir from a Muslim-majority into a Hindu-majority territory. "The Indian actions on Aug. 5, 2019 have opened the way for realization of this fascist policy objective," he wrote.
Quereshi warned that any such attempt "will evoke strong Kashmiri resistance" and "the anticipated massive repression by India's occupation forces will lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide."
He said the Security Council has "the obligation to prevent the recurrence of another Srebrenica and Rwanda," referring to the genocides in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995 and in Rwanda in 1994.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, whose country holds the council's rotating presidency this month, said members would discuss the letter.
"Poland believes that this can only be resolved by peaceful means and ... we are in favor of dialogue between Pakistan and India to sort out the differences," he said. "Strained relations between India and Pakistan negatively affect the whole South Asia region and may lead to serious political, security and economic consequences."
India and Pakistan, which both now have nuclear weapons, claim all of Kashmir and have fought several wars over the divided region.
With the end of British colonial rule in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan. The countries fought their first war over control of Kashmir, which had been a Muslim-majority kingdom ruled by a Hindu maharaja. The war ended in 1948 with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire that left Kashmir divided, with the promise of a U.N.-sponsored referendum on its "final disposition" that has never been held.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. Pakistan denies the charge and says it offers only diplomatic and moral support to the rebels.
On Aug. 5, India's government announced it was revoking Kashmir's special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood to a territory, which limits its autonomy and decision-making power and eliminates its right to its own constitution.
India has imposed a near-constant curfew and a communications blackout as it tries to stave off a violent reaction to the move. The unprecedented security lockdown kept people indoors on Tuesday for a ninth day.
Qureshi said in the letter to the Security Council that India's repression in Kashmir has intensified in recent months, "including through the use of draconian laws." He said that since Aug. 5, "the entire territory has been transformed into a massive military prison."
The Pakistani foreign minister warned that there is a "danger that India will provoke another conflict with Pakistan to divert attention from its recent actions" in Kashmir.
He pointed to what he called "fake news in India's controlled media mentioning 'terrorists' ready to enter occupied Kashmir across the Line of Control," the highly militarized frontier. This indicates "that India's reckless government intends to provoke another crisis with Pakistan, possibly through a 'false flag' operation," Qureshi said.
He said Pakistan did not want a conflict with India. "But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness. If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities."
Srinagar, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — The main city in the India-administered part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has turned into a vast maze of razor wire coils and steel barricades as drones and helicopters hover overhead.
Wearing flak jackets and riot gear, paramilitary soldiers carry automatic rifles and shotguns to control the network of checkpoints and barricades across roads, lanes and intersections in Srinagar. The few vehicles and pedestrians allowed through are regulated through this maze.
Although the 4 million residents of the Kashmir Valley, where an insurgency has simmered for decades, are used to blockades, the one imposed after the Indian government's surprise move last week to strip the region of constitutional privileges is something residents say they've never seen before. Amid the labyrinth whose entry and exit points are changed frequently, people find themselves disoriented in their own city, and struggle to memorize its frequently changing street map.
"This is so vast, so expansive," resident Zameer Ahmed said as he prepared to enter one barbed passageway. "The entire Srinagar city has been knitted in razor wire to seek our silence and obedience."
The lockdown in the Muslim-majority valley, the restive heart of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, has been in place since last week, when New Delhi scrapped the disputed Himalayan region's special constitutional status, taking away the final vestige of the political autonomy and privileged rights to land ownership and public sector jobs it was granted when the region joined the newly formed republic of India after independence from the British in 1947.
Since then, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over rival claims to Kashmir, with each left controlling a part of the region.
The Indian side has seen several uprisings, including a bloody armed rebellion launched in 1989 to demand independence or a merger with Pakistan. About 70,000 people have been killed in that uprising and the subsequent Indian military crackdown that left Kashmiris exhausted, traumatized and broken.
Even before India's Parliament voted Aug. 5 to strip Jammu and Kashmir's statehood and split it into two union territories, the central government imposed a curfew, suspended telephone and internet services and deployed tens of thousands of additional soldiers to the region — already one of the world's most militarized zones.
At checkpoints throughout Srinagar, police politely gave directions to a labyrinth whose entry and exit points are changed several times a day.
Mohammed Maqbool, an engineer, marveled at the blockade system, the most intricate he said he's seen in 30 years in Srinagar.
"This time they've put in place the smartest blockade ever," he said. "They aren't aggressive compared to the public uprising of 2016. If you must, they also allow you to venture out of home, yet they've throttled our voice by such a sophisticated blockade."
Razor wire divides neighborhoods, discouraging people from assembling. Some roads are blocked by perpendicularly parked armored vehicles or private buses. Because of the complexity of the security forces' one-way system, it is impossible to use the same route and return home from any particular destination, even if it is within sight.
"They've changed the road map of our city, trying to make us like strangers in our own neighborhoods," said Bashir Ahmed, a resident of downtown Srinagar.
"This is a drill about disciplining and regulating people's movement. This is to psychologically break people and teach them that they're not in control of their own bodies," said Saiba Varma of the University of California, San Diego, who is in Srinagar for post-doctoral research in medical anthropology.
"In Palestine, the (Israeli) blockade has restricted food and medicine. But here it's different. They're letting people eat but trying to control Kashmiri bodies, minds and spirits," Varma said.
Some of the restrictions have been lifted elsewhere in the region, such as the Hindu-majority area of Jammu, where people were seen cheering the move by the government in street celebrations last week.
Authorities have refused to share any details about the checkpoints or new methods used for the latest blockade. Government officials maintain that the situation is returning to normal, and that no one has died or been seriously injured in any of the sporadic protests that have broken out since the blockade began. Because of constraints on movement and communication, it was not possible to verify their claims.
Riverside, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — A driver stopped by police pulled out a rifle and opened fire, killing a California Highway Patrol officer and wounding two others during a shootout on a freeway overpass that left the gunman dead and sent terrified motorists running for cover.
Officer Andre Moye, Jr., 34, died in the gunfight as dozens of bullets flew late Monday afternoon in Riverside, east of Los Angeles. Two civilians received minor injuries.
The other officers were both shot in their legs, CHP Chief Bill Dance said Tuesday. One was in critical condition and the other was serious but both are expected to survive, he said.
The gunman was identified by the Riverside County coroner's office as Aaron Luther, 49, and authorities say he had a criminal record that included an attempted murder conviction in 1994.
Moye had pulled over a pickup truck and was doing paperwork to impound it when Luther, who was outside the vehicle, reached in, grabbed a rifle and fatally wounded the officer, authorities said. Moye was able to radio for help and other officers engaged in a "long and horrific gun battle," Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said.
Authorities said it was unclear what prompted Moye to stop the truck or for Luther to open fire.
Moye's flag-draped body was removed from a hospital and placed in a hearse Monday night. Motorcycle officers then led a procession as the hearse was driven to the county coroner's office.
"I am devastated by the tragedy," CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a tweet. Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday at the state Capitol.
Relatives said Moye had been with the CHP for about four years.
Dance said Moye was an "outstanding" officer devoted to public service.
"His mother told me this was his dream job and he loved going to work," he said. "It's what he always wanted to do."
He is survived by his wife, mother, father, stepfather, two brothers, two sisters and a large extended family, Dance said.
The gunfight occurred during the afternoon commute when traffic was heavy.
Jennifer Moctezuma, 31, of Moreno Valley, told the Los Angeles Times she was driving home with her 6-year-old twins when a bullet flew through her front windshield. Charles Childress, 56, a retired Marine also from Moreno Valley, was in the car behind her and led the family as they crawled to the bottom of a bridge to hide.
"He's my hero," Moctezuma said.
Luther's father, Dennis Luther, said he watched the events unfold on television. "It's hard. I love him. And I'm sorry for the policeman," he told KABC-TV. "I'm devastated. I just can't believe it."
After his truck was impounded, Aaron Luther called his wife to pick him up, his father said. When she arrived, the tow truck was there.
"She said she heard 'pop, pop, pop' ... gunfire, and then a bullet went through the windshield of her car," Dennis Luther said.
He said his son recently seemed depressed, was having knee pain and marital problems but was devoted to his children.
"He lived for his kids. That's what motivated him," Luther said. "So I don't know what overcame him. I mean, I wish I did know."
Jeffrey Callison, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Aaron Luther was sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder and an enhancement for the use of a firearm, as well as burglary charges. He began his sentence in 1994 and was paroled in April 2004.
Court records show Luther was arrested in 2007 on felony assault charges and took a no-contest plea deal that sentenced him to 90 days in jail. He also was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of driving while his license was suspended or revoked, records show.
As a felon, Luther was not supposed to have a gun and his father said he's not sure how his son came to possess one.
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said traffic stops and domestic violence calls are the most dangerous situations for police.
"You have no idea who's in the car, what they're up to, whether they're armed," Pasco said. "A police officer stopping a car on the side of the road doesn't know anything about the driver."
Hong Kong, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — Flight operations resumed at Hong Kong's airport Wednesday morning after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence highlighting the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the Chinese city that's a major international travel hub.
About three dozen protesters remained camped in the airport's arrivals area, a day after a mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancelations. But check-in counters were open and flights appeared to be operating normally.
The airport had closed check-in for remaining flights late Tuesday afternoon as protesters swarmed the terminal and blocked access to immigration for departing passengers. Tuesday's cancelations were in addition to 200 flights backlogged from Monday.
Most of the protesters left after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts. Riot police clashed briefly with the demonstrators.
The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents. Airport security appeared unable to control the crowd, and paramedics later took both men away. Police have acknowledged using "decoy" officers, and some protesters over the weekend were seen being arrested by men dressed like demonstrators — in black and wearing face masks.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, identified one of the men as a journalist at the nationalistic Chinese tabloid.
"Fu Guohao, reporter of GT website is being seized by demonstrators at HK airport," Hu wrote on his Twitter account. "I affirm this man being tied in this video is the reporter himself. He has no other task except for reporting."
One protester used a U.S. flag to beat Fu as he lay on the floor. Other protesters and first aid workers attempted to stop some who tried to trample the man, while pro-democracy lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki crouched beside him and tried to calm the attackers. After a heated argument, protesters allowed ambulance workers to take the man away on a stretcher.
Hong Kong police said they arrested five people for unlawful assembly, assaulting police officers and possessing weapons.
The airport disruptions escalated a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.
The demonstrators are demanding Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down and scrap proposed legislation under which some suspects could be sent to mainland China, where critics say they could face torture and unfair or politically charged trials.
Lam has rejected calls for dialogue, saying Tuesday the protesters were threatening to push their home into an "abyss."
Washington, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — A top Trump administration official said Tuesday that the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants into the country is about "people coming from Europe" and that America is looking to receive migrants "who can stand on their own two feet."
The comments from Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, came a day after the Trump administration announced it would seek to deny green cards to migrants who seek Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance. The move — and Cuccinelli's defense — promoted an outcry from Democrats and immigration advocates who said the policy would favor wealthier immigrants and disadvantage those from poorer countries in Latin America and Africa.
"This administration finally admitted what we've known all along: They think the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people," tweeted former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate.
The administration's proposed policy shift comes as President Donald Trump is leaning more heavily into the restrictive immigration policies that have energized his core supporters and were central to his 2016 victory. He has also spoken disparagingly about immigration from majority black and Hispanic countries, including calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals when he launched his 2016 campaign. Last year, he privately branded Central American and African nations as "shithole" countries and he suggested the U.S. take in more immigrants from European countries like predominantly white Norway.
Cuccinelli said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday night that the Emma Lazarus poem emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty referred to "people coming from Europe where they had class based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class."
Lazarus' poem, written in 1883 to raise money to construct the Statue of Liberty's pedestal and cast in bronze beneath the monument in 1903, served as a beacon to millions of immigrants who crossed past as they first entered the U.S. in New York Harbor. It reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore."
Cuccinelli was asked earlier Tuesday on NPR whether the words "give me your tired, your poor" were part of the American ethos. Cuccinelli responded: "They certainly are. Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."
A hard-line conservative from Virginia, Cuccinelli was a failed Republican candidate for governor in 2013 after serving as the state's attorney general. He backed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for president in 2016 and for a time was a harsh critic of Trump.
He is one of a slew of immigration hardliners brought in by Trump to implement the president's policies. He was appointed to the post in June in a temporary capacity, which doesn't require Senate confirmation.
Trump, asked Tuesday about Cuccinelli's comments on NPR, appeared to back him up.
"I don't think it's fair to have the American taxpayer paying for people to come into the United States," Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One for Pennsylvania. "I think we're doing it right."
Immigrant rights groups strongly criticized the Trump administration's new rules for immigrants receiving public assistance, warning that the changes would scare immigrants away from asking for needed help. And they voiced concern that officials were being given too much authority to decide whether someone is likely to need public assistance in the future.
Another Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also condemned Cuccinelli's comments.
"Our values are etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty. They will not be replaced," she tweeted. "And I will fight for those values and for our immigrant communities."