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LA Clippers owner receives lifetime ban from NBA for racist comments

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

File:Donald Sterling.jpg

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has received a lifetime ban from the NBA (National Basketball Association) and has been fined $US2.5million for his racist comments this week. Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, was overheard telling a woman, identified as girlfriend V. Stiviano, not to bring black people to games or associate with them.

The comments have caused an uproar, not just in the NBA, but within the Clippers team. In protest, players wore their warm-up jerseys inside out before their Game 4 playoff loss against the Golden State Warriors, while in other games throughout the league the San Antonio Spurs played in black socks and the Miami Heat practiced with their warm-up shirts inside out to mimic the LA Clippers.

Former NBA player Kevin Johnson, now mayor of Sacramento, said the league needed to hand out the maximum possible penalty. While NBA legend Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats said there is no room in the NBA, or anywhere, for this kind of hatred.

The conversation took place on April 9, when a man’s voice, later identified as Sterling’s, told the woman not to pose for photos with black men, including Hall of Famer Ervin “Magic” Johnson. Sterling goes onto say it annoys him that she has to promote her association with black people.

It isn’t the first time Sterling has caused controversy with racist comments. Back in 2009 he was sued by his former General Manager Elgin Baylor who criticised Sterling’s attitude and quoted him as saying “I’m offering you good money for a poor black kid” when negotiating a contract with Danny Manning.

The situation is far from over as Sterling is refusing to sell the team, and the other teams have lobbied against him to force him to sell. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver needs 75% support, or 23 out of the 30 teams, to force Sterling out of the league permanently.

“The fine will be donated to organisations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players’ Association” Mr Silver said.

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News briefs:June 16, 2010

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Australian Minister ‘leaks’ draft of anti-terror bill

Saturday, October 15, 2005Jon Stanhope, the Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister, has posted a confidential draft of the proposed Australian anti-terror bill to his website. Mr Stanhope says he hopes posting draft counter-terrorism laws on his website will open community debate about the issue and has stated that he will not comply with instructions from the Commonwealth to remove the document. The Australian Labor Party is backing his actions.

The main impetus for the action appears to be the short amount of time the Senate committee will have to debate the bill; just one day. In particular the Greens Senator Bob Brown has accused the Government of engineering the circumstances that only allow a one-day inquiry.

“It was an extraordinary premeditated attack on the Senate committee system and effectively made the committee system a farce,” said Senator Brown. Others, including the Australian Law Council, have expressed concerns about the scope of the proposed bill.

Prime Minister John Howard has defended the process, saying “It’s important for the security of Australia, it was unanimously agreed to by me with the eight Labor premiers and chief ministers, and we can’t have any undue delay that the legislation will be exposed for public scrutiny and it will reflect that agreement.”

Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Journalists have also criticised the proposed laws, saying that they will impede press freedom, “severely threaten Australians’ civil liberties and violate international law”.

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Sydney experiences hottest March day in 35 years

Thursday, March 22, 2018

On this Sunday, Sydney, Australia experienced its hottest March day in 35 years. Temperatures reached 40.5°C at Sydney Airport. This followed the two hottest March months in 1983 and 1965 whose maximum temperatures were 41.2°C and 41.1°C respectively, according to post-1940 climate data provided by Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The hot temperatures were caused by north-westerly winds which brought heat from the inside of the continent.

At the beaches any sea breeze was countered by north-westerly winds, and beach-side areas experienced 39°C. BOM reported NQ and NNW winds 20km/h to 40km/h with 40-60km/h gusts.

BOM recorded maximum temperature of 40.5°C at Sydney Airport (AP) weather station, Weatherzone reported. Wikinews obtained data from BOM that contained maximums for every 10 minutes that confirmed the maximum between 15:30 and 15:40 on the day. Wikinews also observed the temperature of 40.7C via a weather station at a residential property at 17:50 Sunday afternoon.

The present record occurred on March 18, more than a week later than the 1965 and 1983 records that had happened on the March 6 and March 9 respectively, according to the climate data published online at the BOM website.

On the hot Sunday, an out-of-control bushfire took place in Tarraganda and Tathra near Bega, southeast New South Wales. The bushfire damaged “dozens” of homes and crossed the Bega river on Sunday afternoon, The Guardian reported. New South Wales Rescue Fire Service issued an emergency warning to residents in Tathra, advising people to seek shelter.

NSW Fire Rescue Service declared total fire bans and fire weather warnings in 11 areas of the state: Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Far South Coast, Monaro Alpine, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, North Western, Lower Central W Plains, Sthn Slopes and the Eastern Riverina.

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

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Australia/2006

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

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Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

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Annual Japanese whaling campaign kills 30 minke whales

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Japanese officials announced on Friday the country’s annual whaling expedition to the north-west Pacific Ocean has captured and killed 30 minke whales. This comes after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) banned Japan from continuing its Antarctic scientific whale hunting programmes in March this year.

The Australian and New Zealand governments had brought the Antarctic whaling issue to the attention of the ICJ earlier this year. The JARPA II whaling programme had been officially classified as scientific research, however when the programme had been investigated at the ICJ, the court decided there wasn’t enough science involved to justify it. They ordered Japan to stop whaling in the Antarctic, but this ruling only mentioned JARPA II — not the annual Pacific whaling hunts.

This has allowed whaling to continue in the north-west Pacific Ocean. Even after the court had ordered the termination of JARPA II, sixty per cent of Japanese citizens still believed scientific whaling should go on, as measured in a poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in April 2014.

This sentiment was echoed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently stated he intended “the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources.”

The International Fund for Animal Welfare says up to 200 minke whales can be hunted during the North Pacific expedition. Japan has maintained scientific whaling programmes intend to understand the global whale populations, with the research programmes aiming to prove the global whale population is sustainable, allowing commercial whale hunting to resume.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had also planned to petition the International Whaling Commission next year with a new Antarctic whaling proposal.

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UN releases first-ever human rights report on Kashmir

Sunday, June 17, 2018

On Thursday, the United Nations (UN) released its first-ever report for Kashmir, highlighting several incidents of alleged human rights violations in the last two years in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistani-administered areas of Kashmir, namely Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) denounced the 49-page report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling it “selective”, “malicious” and “fallacious”. The report mentions human rights violations including torture, enforced disappearances, sexual violations, administrative detention, violations on the right to health and education, lack of access to justice and arbitrary arrests and detention among others.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said he would urge the UN Human Rights Council “to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violation in Kashmir”. Hussein was not granted permission, by either India or Pakistan, to visit Kashmir for the report.

Per the report, Pakistan was asked to stop “misuse of anti-terror legislation to persecute those engaging in peaceful political and civil activities and those who express dissent.” In July 2016, Indian security forces killed the Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani, which led to protests in the Kashmir Valley. In response to the protests, Indian security forces fired metallic pellets, and their activities led to human rights violation, the UN report read. It also accused India of the unlawful killing of about 145 civilians since 2016. The report asked India to “fully respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law.”

The MEA issued a statement which read: “India rejects the report. It is fallacious, tendentious and motivated. We question the intent in bringing out such a report. It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative.” Per the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir it “is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India” while Pakistan’s constitution does not mention Azad Kashmir or Gilgit-Baltistan in its territories, but has a provision for relations with Pakistan subject to Jammu and Kashmir people’s decision to acceede to Pakistan. The MEA added in their statement, “Cross-border terror and incitement are aimed at suppressing the will of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, disrupting its political and social fabric and undermining India’s integrity”.

Unlike India, the report was welcomed by Pakistan. In a press release, the Foreign Office said Pakistan “welcomes the proposal by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a Commission of Inquiry for [an] international investigation into human rights violations” in Indian-held Kashmir.

Directing towards Indian authorities, the report asked to “urgently repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990; and, in the meantime, immediately remove the requirement for prior central government permission to prosecute security forces personnel accused of human rights violations in civilian courts”.

“The report violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan is in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian state through aggression. We have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to vacate the occupied territories. The incorrect description of Indian territory in the report is mischievous, misleading and unacceptable. There are no entities such as ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ and ‘Gilgit-Baltistan'”, India’s External Affairs ministry said in their statement.

The report was welcomed by some activists and leaders in Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir human rights activist Khurram Parvez welcomed the UN report. Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq wrote on Twitter, “People of Kashmir thank the U.N., especially the bold efforts of its HR commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, for its support to the right of self-determination.”

The Kashmir-conflict between India and Pakistan has led to two wars since their independence in 1947. Between 1990 and 2017, there have been about 69,820 militancy-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, and more than 41 thousand people were killed. In 2017, there were over 800 ceasefire violations along the heavily-militarised Line of Control in Kashmir between India and Pakistan.