Elizabeth II Marks Platinum Jubilee With ‘Queen Camilla’ Announcement

File photo of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in Glasgow on June 30, 2021, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week. AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday became the first British monarch to reign for seven decades, announcing her “sincere wish” that Camilla, the wife of her heir Prince Charles, should ultimately be known as Queen Consort.

Britain’s longest-serving monarch acceded to the throne aged 25 on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father King George VI.

She marked the historic date quietly at Sandringham, her estate in eastern England where her father died.

But in a major statement on the future of the royal family, the 95-year-old released a message to the nation, saying “it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort”.

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This means Camilla, now 74, would be crowned alongside Charles, now 73, and known to the public as Queen Camilla, royal experts said.

Charles said the couple were “deeply conscious of the honour represented by my mother’s wish”, which would accord Camilla the full title of a monarch’s wife.

He praised Camilla, saying: “my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout”.

The heir-to-the throne also paid tribute to the Queen’s “devotion to the welfare of all her people”, which “inspires still greater admiration with each passing year”.

The Queen said she hoped that when Charles becomes king, the British people would give him and Camilla “the same support that you have given me”.

Camilla was long vilified for her role in the break-up of Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana.

Recognising the sensitivities, when the couple married in 2005, the royal family announced she would be known as Princess Consort after Charles became king.

But she has gradually won plaudits as the future king’s loyal wife and Londoners who spoke to AFP welcomed the plan.

“I think she’ll probably be successful, maybe surprise a lot of the British public,” said John Bishop, a 72-year-old property company owner.

“She comes over well, and I think she’s a great, great support for Charles,” said Angela Roberts, an 80-year-old retiree.

“He will need it, he’s got a difficult act to follow, hasn’t he?”

 ‘Historic reign’

Stressing the Queen’s ongoing role, Buckingham Palace released a photo taken at Sandringham this week showing her working on one of her famous red dispatch boxes used for government business.

Behind her is a photo of her late father.

With the main Platinum Jubilee celebrations set for June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was looking forward to “when we will be able to come together as a country to celebrate her historic reign”.

He also praised the Queen’s “inspirational sense of duty and unwavering dedication”.

Four days of festivities are planned for early June, coinciding with the anniversary of her 1953 coronation, including a military parade and music concert, street parties, a nationwide “Big Jubilee Lunch” and a “Platinum Pudding Competition”.

During her reign, the Queen has remained a constant through periods of huge social and political upheaval — a living link to Britain’s post-war and imperial past.

In her message addressed to the public signed “Your servant, Elizabeth R”, the Queen renewed a pledge she first gave in a broadcast on her 21st birthday “that my life will always be devoted to your service”.

In September 2015, she surpassed Queen Victoria’s 63 years and seven months on the throne and, despite some health concerns over the past year, her latest message showed she is determined to continue her record-breaking reign.

After husband Philip’s death in April last year, the Queen returned to public and official engagements, including hosting world leaders at the G7 summit.

She was forced to slow down on advice from doctors, however, after an overnight hospital stay in October sparked public concern.

Since then, she has largely stayed at Windsor Castle and made few public appearances.

But on Saturday, the Queen held a reception for locals at Sandringham, reportedly her largest in-person public engagement since the autumn health scare.

AFP

Long Live Maradona! World Honors ‘Golden Kid’ One Year After Death

Walter Rotundo (C) poses for a photo with his twins daughters Mara (L) and Dona, named in honour of the football star Diego Maradona, in front of murals painted outside of Diego Maradona stadium in Buenos Aires, on November 16, 2021. TOMAS CUESTA / AFP

 

From a bronze statue unveiled in Naples to humble offerings of flowers at his childhood home in a Buenos Aires slum, people around the world mourned the death one year ago Thursday of football great Diego Maradona.

Fans, players, coaches, clubs, and loved ones paid homage to the man revered for his talent and adored for his grandiose life and legacy.

From Villa Fiorito, a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires where Maradona grew up, to Italy’s Naples, where he spent several years of his stellar career, and India, tributes abounded.

On football pitches in Argentina, players arranged themselves in a “10” formation to honor the famous jersey number of the man nicknamed the “Pibe de Oro” or Golden Kid, as fans chanted “Marado, Marado!”

Outside his humble childhood home, bouquets of flowers and messages piled up — one reading: “You gave us heaven.”

“Maradona was the voice of the Argentine people. We will miss him and love him all our lives,” said fan Jose Maria Fernandez, through tears.

READ ALSOManchester United Reach Deal With Ralf Rangnick Over Managerial Position


View of a football with an image of late Argentine football legend Diego Armando Maradona during a homage on the first anniversary of his death, in Montevideo, on November 25, 2021.
Dante Fernandez / AFP

 

At the cemetery in Bella Vista, where his remains are, fans defied heavy rain to pay tribute at a giant graffiti inscription reading: “Here rests D10S” — a play on the Spanish word for god, “Dios.” Only family was allowed inside.

In Kolkota, India, a statue of Maradona was decorated with flowers, while in the southern Kerala state, fans gathered at a hotel where the footballer stayed in 2012 and which has become something of a shrine.

“We are all Maradona fans and we miss him a lot,” Ravindran Veleimbra, owner of the Hotel Blue Nile in Kannur, told AFP.

‘Football’s great god’ 

A life-size bronze statue depicting late Argentine soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona by Italian sculptor Domenico Sepe is seen outside the eponym stadium in Naples on November 25, 2021 in Naples.Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

In Naples, where Maradona is almost as much of an icon as in Buenos Aires, a bronze statue of the athlete was inaugurated outside the Napoli stadium — renamed in his honor following his death.

Another will be unveiled inside the stadium on Sunday so that “players will be able to touch the hands and feet of football’s great god,” said Napoli football club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Maradona died of a heart attack a year ago Thursday aged 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.

The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona, and Napoli star had long battled cocaine and alcohol addictions and was suffering from liver, kidney, and cardiovascular disorders when he died.

His death shocked fans around the world and tens of thousands lined up to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.

“It’s been a year since the world has been more horrible because you are no longer here,” Dalma Maradona, the star striker’s eldest daughter, wrote on Twitter Thursday.

‘Hand of God’ 

 

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A post shared by Pelé (@pele)

Brazilian football great Pele paid tribute to his fellow legend on Instagram, writing: “One year without Diego. Friends forever.”

And Lionel Messi, who captains the Argentine 11 like Maradona before him, wrote on social media: “Diego Eternal” with a photo of him wearing the national jersey with Maradona’s face on it.

He may be dead, but in Argentina, Maradona is everywhere — from ubiquitous murals to television series about his life and even a “church” bearing his name.

In a country where football is a religion, he is a god.

Maradona’s two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, which saw Argentina triumph over England just four years after the Falklands War, made him an instant hero.

He is perhaps remembered as much for his “Hand of God” goal — which illegally came off his hand in what he ascribed to supernatural intervention — as for his second in the same match against England, which would later become known as the “Goal of the Century.”

His rags-to-riches story, stellar sporting achievements, complicated life and dramatic death entrenched his place in the Argentine psyche.

Murals in Buenos Aires depict Maradona with angel wings, as a patron saint complete with halo and scepter, or kissing the World Cup.

Maradona’s name continues to make headlines as well, with Argentines closely following an investigation into his death in which seven caregivers, including his neurosurgeon, are charged.

A panel of 20 medical experts concluded in April that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and said his medical team had left his survival “to fate.”

The probe has been competing for headline space with the court case over an inheritance dispute involving two of Maradona’s daughters.

Adding to the news coverage, this week, a Cuban woman who had an affair with Maradona as a minor 20 years ago, accused him and his entourage of abuse, including rape.

AFP

FG To Give Imo $120m For Livestock Programme, Says Uzodinma

A file photo of Governor Hope Uzodinma.

 

The Federal Government will soon release $120 million to Imo State to support the state government’s livestock programme.

Governor Hope Uzodinma disclosed this on Friday during a broadcast to mark the nation’s 61st Independence Anniversary in Owerri.

He noted that the state has also been earmarked to receive $850 million to be distributed among seven states.

“Another benefit from the visit (President Muhammadu Buhari) is that the Federal Government has graciously included Imo State as a beneficiary of its special Agric Processing Zone Project for Livestock farming,” he said.

“Out of the seven states in the country that will benefit from a Federal Government  $850 million for the programme, Imo State is number two! Consequently, a whopping $120 million will soon be released to our state for the livestock programme.”

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The governor explained that the Federal Government has also listed Imo as one of the states to benefit from a $1.4 billion facility secured from the World Bank for urban and rural water development.

Speaking on security, Uzodinma said relative peace has been recorded in the South-Eastern state under his administration.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies for their “invaluable support to the state government in tackling the worst form of banditry and criminality ever witnessed in the state.”

According to the Imo governor, everyone in the state is a witness to the “savagery and cannibalistic brutality that defined the regime of violence and criminality that enveloped the state for some months in the recent past.”

Uzodinma warned that his administration will not tolerate anybody that attempts to foment trouble in the state, vowing to crush criminal elements.

He called on people of the state to support the security agencies and government by providing useful information to flush out criminals from their hideouts.

“Anybody who attempts to disrupt the peace of the state again may not live to tell the story. That is why it is important for parents and guardians to rein in their children and wards as the security agencies have our directive to deal decisively with those who may be tempted to foment trouble again.

“I have just inaugurated a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the security breaches in the state and come out with recommendations on what government should do to ensure that there is no recurrence of such.

“I believe that both the perpetrators and their sponsors would be unmasked for Imo people to know their enemies. But all of us have a collective duty to protect our state against renegades,” he added.

Poju Oyemade Asks FG To Invest In Education, Vocational Training

The Senior Pastor of The Covenant Nation, Pastor Poju Oyemade

 

The Senior Pastor of The Covenant Nation, Lagos, Pastor Poju Oyemade, has asked the Federal Government to invest in the nation’s education sector and the vocational training of Nigerians.

He made the call on Friday in Abuja during The Platform’s Independence Anniversary event, an annual programme that features professionals from different fields.

According to him, wealthy nations only focus on developing the skills of their citizens and those who are capable of doing things that only a few people on the earth can do.

Nations that have developed their citizens’ skills, he said, attract material capital with a special focus on the unseen while other countries focus on the seen.

“If we really know what the wealth is, then the first thing we will look at for in this country is our educational system,” he said.

“The second thing we will look out for is how much specialised vocational training is going to produce highly skilled people.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day Celebration In Photos

Oyemade, citing a recent report, said some countries (including Nigeria) have governing policies that give a negative intangible capital.

He faulted Nigerian politicians who only understand the language of power and how to sustain it, decrying the level of corruption level in the country.

“The only two things politicians – who are the decision makers – understand is how do we get to power and the second language they understand is, ‘if we are in power, how do we hold unto it?’” Oyemade said.

“This is the language and voices that politicians who can change things understand. Once they understand that these are the ideas that will make them gain power, they will implement them. It has very little to do with compassion but with power.”

Pastor Oyemade, who is the convener of the Platform, was the keynote speaker at the event.

Others speakers included the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole; Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Samuel Egube; and a former Chairperson of the Democratic Party (US), Donna Brazile,

Chief Economist with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Professor Fred Oyewale; the Co-founder/CEO of Indicina – a FinTech infrastructure start-up focused on Africa, Yvonne Johnson; a writer and accountant, Feyi Fawehinmi, were also part of the programme.

10-Year Memorial For Victims Of UN House Bombing In Pictures

Photos: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV

 

10 years after a car explosion rocked the United Nations House in Abuja killing at least 20 persons and leaving over 60 others injured, family members have gathered for a remembrance ceremony at the nation’s capital.

With teary eyes, wreaths were laid in honour of the deceased in front of the UN House on Thursday.

See photos below.

Osinbajo, Others In Owerri For Governor Uzodinma’s First Year Anniversary

People gather in Owerri on March 14 to celebrate the first anniversary of Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma.

 

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi among others on Sunday converged in Owerri to celebrate the first year anniversary of Imo State governor Hope Uzodinma.

Other governors at the Dan Anyiam Stadium -the venue of the event – include those of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello; Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ebonyi, Dave Umahi and other personalities.

Yobe State Governor and chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, was also in attendance.

Uzodinma was sworn in as Imo State Governor on January 15, 2020, by the Chief Judge of the state, Paschal Nnadi after the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

NBC Holds Sixth Annual Lecture 2020

Ekiti Broadcasting Service To Resume Operations After NBC Shutdown
File: NBC logo

 

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is holding its sixth annual lecture.

The event taking place in Abuja, the nation’s capital is to celebrate NBC’s 28th anniversary.

In attendance is the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Acting Director-General of NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba among other stakeholders in the nation’s broadcasting industry.

Sala’s Death: Family To Mark Anniversary In ‘Quiet Contemplation’

A picture shows flowers put in front of the entrance of the training center La Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre on January 25, 2019, four days after the plane of Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala vanished during a flight from Nantes, western France, to Cardiff in Wales. AFP

 

The death of Cardiff forward Emiliano Sala in a plane crash a year ago will be marked by his family on Tuesday in “private, quiet contemplation of their loss”, their lawyer said.

The 28-year-old striker was killed when the small plane taking him to join the then Premier League side after being bought from French side Nantes for £15 million ($19.5 million, 17.6 million euros) crashed off the Channel island of Guernsey.

There are still unresolved issues surrounding the player’s death, such as who was responsible for the crash in which pilot David Ibottson also died, and, above all, the payment of the 17-million-euro ($18.85 million, 17.6 million euros) fee agreed for his transfer.

British aviation accident investigators said Tuesday they would release their final report into the crash by the end of March.

In September, football’s world governing body FIFA ordered Cardiff, relegated last year to the Championship, to pay the first instalment of the transfer fee of six million euros. But the Welsh club has taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision is not expected until June.

The Sala family — who suffered another tragic loss when his father Horacio died of a heart attack three months after his son — said their priority was for a full inquest to take place so they could find out what happened on that fateful night.

“The Sala family will mark the anniversary of the untimely death of Emiliano in private, quiet contemplation of their loss,” the family’s lawyer in Britain, Daniel Machover, said in a statement.

“The family’s primary concern remains for the full inquest to take place as soon as possible so that they can finally learn the truth about what happened and ensure that no family has to suffer a similar preventable loss of a loved one.”

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said its investigation “is now at an advanced stage and we intend to publish our final report by the end of March 2020.”

Sala’s death will be commemorated by supporters in Cardiff on Tuesday and Nantes will remember their former player on Sunday when they play another of his former clubs, Bordeaux.

 ‘What a son he was’ 

The family — Sala’s mother Mercedes and his younger siblings Dario and Romina — told the BBC when they visited them in Argentina in late December they were overcome by the outpouring of grief and gifts they had received. Even Sala’s French hairdresser had paid the family a visit.

Mercedes said she used to go over to France every year to celebrate Sala’s birthday on October 31 and stay with him, bringing with her ingredients for traditional Argentinian dishes such as empanadas.

“He (Sala) was shy, but he would always stop, open the windows and start signing autographs and taking selfies,” said Mercedes.

“All those fans, today, are the ones that I want to thank because they are still sending me pictures I had never seen before.

“I receive so much stuff from France, from England, from the rest of Argentina.”

Dario spoke of how tight-knit a unit they were while Mercedes said she would speak with Sala as often as two or three times a day.

“There was distance, but it was like we were all together,” Dario said. “He’d ask me a lot about football, about the team, about his performances.”

Mercedes says she had never recovered from the death of her eldest son.

“I can’t say I found peace, unfortunately,” she said. “I’m still fighting.

“I am practically dead while living. It’s been a terrible, terrible year. I loved him so much. I would tell him every day… what a son he was.”

AFP

UNILAG Alumni Holds 50th Anniversary

The Alumni of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is currently holding its golden anniversary in Akoka, Yaba area of Lagos State.

The event has drawn participants including the immediate past Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, among others.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Can Achieve Top 70 Doing Business Index By 2023, Says Buhari

Yumkella, being the guest lecturer will speak on the topic, “How Nigeria can achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030.”

Other participants include the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer at Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane among others.

Hong Kong Protests Threaten China’s 70th Anniversary

Tear gas canisters are lobbed at protesters during clashes with police following an earlier unsanctioned protest march through Hong Kong on September 29, 2019.  Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

Fierce clashes broke out between protesters and riot police in Hong Kong on Sunday as thousands marched through the strife-torn city, during a day of global protests aimed at casting a shadow over communist China’s upcoming 70th birthday.

Beijing is preparing for huge, tightly-choreographed festivities from Tuesday to mark the founding of the People’s Republic of China, including a huge military parade that will revel in the country’s emergence as a global superpower.

But ongoing unrest in Hong Kong threatens to upstage those celebrations as the semi-autonomous city boils with public anger over the erosion of its special freedoms under Beijing’s rule.

Democracy activists in the financial hub had vowed to ramp up their nearly four-month-long campaign ahead of Tuesday’s National Day celebrations, which Hong Kong protesters have dubbed a “Day of Grief”.

Sunday witnessed the most intense clashes in weeks as police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at multiple locations during running battles with hardcore protesters hurling rocks and petrol bombs.

Using online forums and social media, protesters had called for “anti-totalitarian” rallies to be held around the globe. Marches were held in Australia and Taiwan, with more planned in some 40 locations across Europe and North America later in the day.

Clashes broke out before Hong Kong’s unsanctioned march had begun after angry crowds in the shopping district of Causeway Bay surrounded and heckled officers who were conducting stop and searches.

But the tear gas fired by police only emboldened the crowds who then began walking through the streets in their thousands.

Running battles 

Some hardcore activists vandalised subway stations, tore down banners proclaiming the upcoming 70th anniversary celebrations and set fire to makeshift barricades.

Many marchers were holding so-called “Chinazi flags”, a version of the Chinese flag with yellow stars arranged in the shape of a swastika.

Police spent hours firing tear gas and rubber bullets at different locations across the city centre and were seen making multiple arrests throughout the day.

An AFP reporter witnessed masked men repeatedly beating pro-democracy protesters in the district of Wanchai using long sticks.

It was not clear if the men were police dressed as protesters, a tactic used by the force with increased frequency.

A member of the media was also attended to by volunteer medics after being hit in the face with a police projectile.

Hong Kong’s protesters have stepped up their international lobbying in recent weeks.

A 20-year-old student, who gave his first name as Tony, was waving a Ukrainian flag.

Many of Hong Kong’s more hardcore protesters have taken inspiration from the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution which ousted a pro-Russian president.

“We are hoping that if we connect to different parts of the world and fight against Chinese communism, we will win this movement,” he told AFP.

A 62-year-old protester, who gave his surname as Man, said he felt people’s livelihoods and freedoms had deteriorated since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

“I don’t want to topple the regime, but it definitely needs to changed,” he told AFP. “It needs to seek a reconciliation with the people.”

 Months of unrest 

Over the last 17 weeks, Hong Kong has witnessed the worst political unrest since its handover to China in 1997 with huge pro-democracy rallies as well as increasingly intense clashes between police and a minority of violent protesters.

The city’s summer of discontent was first triggered by an extradition bill to the mainland that has now been shelved.

But the movement has since morphed into a call for free elections and less intervention from Beijing.

On Friday and Saturday night, tens of thousands of people turned out for two peaceful rallies.

But there were brief clashes on Saturday night when police used water cannon and tear gas to beat back small groups of protesters hurling bricks and petrol bombs at a government building.

Students are planning a one-day strike on Monday while activists have called for people to dress in black on Tuesday.

Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, China has offered tiny Hong Kong certain liberties denied to citizens on the mainland -– including freedom of expression, unfettered access to the internet and an independent judiciary.

But the arrangement is due to expire in 2047 and many accuse Beijing of eroding some of those freedoms in recent years.

Protesters are calling for an independent inquiry into the police, an amnesty for those arrested and the right to elect their leaders — demands repeatedly dismissed by Beijing and city leader Carrie Lam.

On Sunday, Lam’s office announced she would be travelling to Beijing to attend the National Day celebrations.

AFP

India Marks 100th Anniversary Of Amritsar Massacre

Indian National Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (C), Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (3R), Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu (2R), Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar (5L in white) look at the guards of honour’s performance to pay tribute on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs memorial in Amritsar on April 13, 2019.  NARINDER NANU / AFP

 

Britain’s high commissioner to India laid a wreath on Saturday on the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre, one of the worst atrocities of colonial rule for which London is still to apologise.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as it is known in India, saw British troops fire on thousands of unarmed men, women and children in the northern city of Amritsar on the afternoon of April 13, 1919.

The number of casualties from the event, which galvanised support for independence, is unclear. Colonial-era records put the death toll at 379, but Indian figures put the number closer to 1,000.

Even 100 years on, Britain has still made no official apology and Dominic Asquith, high commissioner, on Saturday followed suit at the Jallianwala Bagh walled garden where bullet marks are still visible.

“You might want to re-write history, as the Queen said, but you can’t,” Asquith said.

READ ALSO: Israeli Spacecraft Crashes During Moon Landing

“What you can do, as the Queen said, is to learn the lessons of history. I believe strongly we are. There is no question that we will always remember this. We will never forget what happened here.”

In the memorial’s guest book Asquith, a descendant of Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908-16, called the events “shameful”.

“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet called the tragedy “horrific” and that the memory of those killed “inspires us to work even harder to build an India they would be proud of.”

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi was present in Amritsar and on Twitter called the massacre “a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle.”

In a visit in 2013 then British prime minister David Cameron described what happened as “deeply shameful” but stopped short of an apology.

In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the site but her gaffe-prone husband Prince Philip stole the headlines by reportedly saying that Indian estimates for the death count were “vastly exaggerated”.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the massacre was “a shameful scar on British Indian history”.

“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” May said, but she, too, avoided saying she was sorry.

Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab state, said May’s words were not enough.

He said “an unequivocal official apology” is needed for the “monumental barbarity”.

Singh said thousands attended a candlelight march Friday in memory of the victims ahead of a commemoration ceremony later on Saturday.

 High walls 

Around 10,000 unarmed men, women and children had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh walled public garden in Amritsar on April 13, 1919.

Many were angry about the recent extension of repressive measures and the arrest of two local leaders that had sparked violent protests three days before.

The 13th of April was also a big spring festival, and the crowd — estimated by some at 20,000 — included pilgrims visiting the nearby Golden Temple sacred to Sikhs.

Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer arrived with dozens of troops, sealed off the exit and without warning ordered the soldiers to open fire.

Many tried to escape by scaling the high walls surrounding the area. Others jumped into a deep, open well at the site as the troops fired.

One of several eyewitness accounts compiled by two historians and published in the Indian Express newspaper this week described the horror.

“Heaps of dead bodies lay there, some on their backs and some with their faces upturned. A number of them were poor innocent children. I shall never forget the sight,” said Ratan Devi, whose husband was killed.

 ‘Monstrous’ 

Dyer, dubbed “The Butcher of Amritsar”, said later the firing was “not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience”.

Indian newspapers this week repeated their calls for an apology for a massacre that Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war, called “monstrous”.

“But even in the centenary year of the massacre, Britain has refused to… take that important step,” the Hindustan Times said in an editorial. May’s statement was “perhaps qualitatively a notch stronger… but is far from enough.”

AFP

Rwanda Marks 25 Years Since Genocide

(From L) African Union chief Moussa Faki, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, his wife Jeannette (2ndR), and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker light a remembrance flame for the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 7, 2019.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Rwanda on Sunday began 100 days of mourning for more than 800,000 people slaughtered in a genocide that shocked the world, a quarter of a century on from the day it began.

President Paul Kagame started off a week of commemoration activities by lighting a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250,000 victims are believed to be buried, mainly from the Tutsi people.

They are only some of those killed by the genocidal Hutu forces, members of the old army and militia forces called the “Interahamwe”, that began their bloody campaign of death on April 7, 1994, the day after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu.

Some were shot; most were beaten or hacked by machetes.

The killings lasted until Kagame, then 36, led the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) into Kigali on July 4, ending the slaughter and taking control of the devastated country.

READ ALSO: VP Osinbajo Departs Nigeria To Attend 25th Commemoration Of Rwandan Genocide

Kagame, now 61 and who has been in power ever since is leading the memorial to the dead.

After lighting the flame, accompanied by his wife Jeanette, African Union chief Moussa Faki and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Kagame is expected to make a speech.

He will speak at the Kigali Convention Centre, a dome-shaped auditorium in the centre of the capital, a modern building emblematic of the regeneration of Rwanda since the dark days of 1994.

Kagame will then preside over a vigil at the country’s main football ground. The Amahoro National Stadium — whose name means “peace” in Rwanda’s Kinyarwanda language — was used by the UN during the genocide to protect thousands of people of the Tutsi minority from being massacred on the streets outside.

 Deep Trauma 

In past years, ceremonies have triggered painful flashbacks for some in the audience, with crying, shaking, screaming and fainting amid otherwise quiet vigils.

For many survivors, forgiveness remains difficult when the bodies of their loved ones have not been found and many killers are still free.

A quarter of a century on, the east African nation has recovered economically, but the trauma still casts a dark shadow.

Kagame has kept an authoritarian hold as he steers the small, landlocked East African nation through the economic recovery. Growth in 2018 was a heady 7.2 per cent, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Some 10 leaders are expected to pay their respects, mostly from nations across the continent.

Former colonial ruler Belgium is sending Prime Minister Charles Michel.

French President Emmanuel Macron is not attending but expressed his “solidarity with the Rwandan people and his compassion to the victims and their families” in a statement Sunday.

The statement said Macron would like to make April 7 a “day of commemoration of the genocide” in France, without giving further details.

At the ceremony, France is represented by Herve Berville, a 29-year old Rwandan-born member of parliament in Paris.

Rwanda has accused France of being complicit in the genocide through its support for the Hutu-led government and of helping perpetrators escape.

Paris has consistently denied complicity in the bloodshed, though former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 acknowledged France had made “serious errors of judgement”.

On Friday, Macron appointed an expert panel to investigate France’s actions at the time.

Macron is not the only notable absence; former ally Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is also not attending, amid accusations by Kigali that Uganda is supporting Rwandan rebels.

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AFP