PALESTINIAN PRISONER RELEASED FROM ISRAELI JAIL AFTER 40 YEARS

Karim Younis, one of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners, was released on January 5 after spending 40 years in an Israeli jail. The 66-year-old who holds Israeli citizenship was greeted by dozens of family, friends and supporters greeting him with Palestinian flags and national chants.  Shortly after his release, he visited his mother’s grave, who died eight months ago, and his father’s, who died 10 years ago. He was pictured holding the headstones and weeping. “My mother was an ambassador for all prisoners of freedom. My mother bore more than she could, but she chose to see me from heaven after a long wait,” he said from the cemetery.

Palestinian factions congratulated Younis on his release after serving more than four decades They issued separate statements. The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, pointed out that during his years of detention Younis embodied the most impressive forms of defiance, steadfastness and patience. His example, said Hamas, will remain a source of pride for every Palestinian, and an inspiration for further steadfastness until freedom and independence is won. The Fatah Central Committee, meanwhile, stressed that Younis’s legendary steadfastness set an authentic example for all the free people of the world who are determined to reject injustice, persecution and racism.

MORE CHILDREN SUFFERING FROM MALNUTRITION IN SOMALIA

The South West state in Somalia is the most drought-affected region in the country and Baidoa, the state’s administrative capital, has seen an increase in the number of children affected by the prolonged drought that is the worst in a generation. Hospitals and medical facilities in the city are overcrowded with children with severe acute malnutrition. Most are from low-income families and residents of internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in and on the outskirts of the city. More than 700 children have died in Somalia stabilization centres and medical centres due to drought-related illnesses and severe malnutrition, according to UNICEF. The UN Food Security Integrated assessment indicated that an estimated 8.3 million people, more than half of the country, will face the crisis or worse food insecurity between April and June 2023. A total of 1.8 million children, more than half of those in Somalia under the age of 5, are estimated to suffer acute malnutrition through July 2023. More than 514,000 children are likely to face life-threatening severe malnutrition, according to the UN.

TUNISIA’S 5 PARTIES REJECT GOV’T PLAN TO ‘LIQUIDATE’ OPPONENTS

Five Tunisian parties on January 4 expressed their rejection of the authorities’ plan to resort to Decree 54 to eradicate political opponents. In a joint statement the Workers’ Party, Republican Party, Democratic Current Party, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (FDTL) and Democratic Modernist Pole said: “Tunisian public was surprised by the decision to refer Ayachi Hammami, the coordinator of the defence committee for the dismissed judges, to investigation on charges of using communication systems to spread false rumours with the aim of attacking public security.” It added that these prosecutions “confirm the authority’s continuous endeavour to involve the judiciary and exploit it in political liquidations.” Tunisia has faced a severe political crisis since July 2021 when President Kais Saied monopolised power, dissolved parliament and held a referendum on the constitution.

IRAN WARNS FRANCE AFTER KHAMENEI INSULTED IN CARTOON

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on January 4 warned France, following a series of “insulting” cartoons published by controversial satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicting the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The French weekly published dozens of cartoons about Khamenei, which it said were part of a competition it launched last month to support anti-government protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September while in the custody of morality police. “The insulting and indecent act of a French publication in publishing cartoons against the religious and political authority will not go without an effective and decisive response,” Abdollahian warned. “We will not allow the French government to go beyond its bounds. They have definitely chosen the wrong path,” he added. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned French Ambassador Nicolas Roche.

TÜRKIYE AND BULGARIA INK NATURAL GAS AGREEMENT

Türkiye and Bulgaria on January 3 signed an agreement for the transmission of up to 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. The new deal covers a 13-year period, said Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez visiting the capital Sofia, hosted by his Bulgarian counterpart Rossen Hristov. Donmez added that such cooperation would contribute greatly to the natural gas supply security of Europe, along with Bulgaria. The gas deal was signed between the two countries by the general managers of the Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Company (BOTAS) and Bulgargaz. The deal comes a month after both country leaders and energy ministers met in Istanbul. “We are pleased that the topics discussed in Istanbul have turned into concrete steps in Sofia today, less than a month after our last meeting,” Donmez said.

MALAYSIA’S EX-PM PETITIONS UN FOR RELIEF IN CORRUPTION CASE

Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak on January 5 petitioned the UN, seeking relief in a multi-million dollar corruption case. Najib filed a petition with the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) “asking for a release or retrial” following a decision by Malaysia’s apex court last year sending him to prison for 12 years. He is serving the term in Kajang Prison, located in the Sungai Jelok area of Selangor province. His lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said: “Najib was asking the UNWGAD panel, comprising five experts on international justice, to rule that the Federal Court’s dismissal of his appeal on Aug 23, 2022 was unjust and flawed, and violated his basic rights as well as the Federal Constitution.” “The (Malaysian) Federal Court proceedings failed to accord him a reasonable opportunity to argue his case and denied his lawyers adequate time to prepare it.

JORDAN’S ISLAMIC FRONT CALLS FOR RELEASE OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, has called for the release of all prisoners of conscience, including those detained for protesting against price hikes. In a press release, the IAF said that all those arrested for taking part in the recent strike against the price hike of fuel were merely expressing their constitutional rights. The IAF specifically pointed to the case of Majed al Sharari, a former mayor of Maan city, stressing that the “page of political detentions, which have caused widespread tensions, must be permanently closed.” According to the press release, the IAF called on the country’s authorities to end the ongoing tensions which are a result of misguided policies and maladministration.

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