Kosovo Declares Nobel Laureate Handke ‘Persona Non Grata’

Austrian author and laureate of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature Peter Handke gives a speech during a royal banquet to honour the laureates of the Nobel Prize 2019 following the Award ceremony on December 10, 2019, in Stockholm, Sweden. Anders WIKLUND / TT News Agency / AFP

 

Kosovo declared Peter Handke a ‘persona non grata’ on Wednesday in the latest protest against his induction as a Nobel literature laureate, barring the Austrian writer from a place he has visited numerous times.

The Swedish Academy’s pick for the 2019 prize has reopened old wounds in the Balkans, where many see Handke as an apologist for Serb atrocities during Yugoslavia’s bloody collapse.

One Nobel committee member resigned over the choice, while Tuesday’s award ceremony was boycotted by representatives of the embassies of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Turkey.

“Today I have decided to declare Peter Handke as not welcome in Kosovo. He is a non-grata person… Denying crimes and supporting criminals is a terrible crime,” Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli wrote on Facebook.

The writer is not popular among Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-majority, who fought Belgrade for independence in a 1998-99 war that claimed 13,000 lives.

But he was a frequent guest in the tiny Serb enclave of Velika Hoca, one of several small ethnic Serb communities scattered around the former Serbian province.

Handke has visited Velika Hoca at least five times and donated nearly 100,000 euros ($110,000) to the community of 500 people, whose village is nestled among the rolling hills of southern Kosovo.

“Even if there are big problems, I think life has a good rhythm here”, the writer said during a 2014 visit.

“I can be alone here. I can hide. I can walk very hidden behind the hills,” he added.

Barred from Sarajevo

Handke’s elevation to Nobel laureate has also been painful for many Bosnian Muslims, as he is accused of questioning the genocide in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serbs slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.

On Wednesday he was formally barred from Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, where the regional government said his appearance would “provoke the anger and humiliation” of war victims.

Yet he is still welcome to visit the Serb-run zone that spans nearly half of Bosnia’s territory — a legacy of the war that left the country carved up along ethnic lines.

On Tuesday Handke told RTRS, the public broadcaster in Bosnia’s Serb-run region that he would like to visit “in the spring”.

Handke has defended his work and denied any allegiance to the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Critics say Handke made his loyalties clear by speaking at the funeral of Milosevic, who died in 2006 while on trial in The Hague for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Handke’s 1997 book “A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia” was also accused of minimising Serb war crimes.

But among Serb fans, Handke is still celebrated for taking note of their suffering during the conflicts and challenging the narrative that Serbs were the sole aggressors in the wars.

In Belgrade, one politician suggested creating a human rights prize in Handke’s name on Wednesday.

Handke was one of “very few who searched for the truth during the 1990s,” said MP Mirjana Dragas, describing the author as a “brave, but above all great, novelist”.

Five Things To Know About The Nobel Literature Prize

 

The Swedish Academy will on Thursday crown two Nobel literature laureates after postponing the 2018 prize for a year to deal with the fallout of a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the venerable institution.

Here are five things to know about the Nobel Literature Prize.

Prestigious award

Each year, the Swedish Academy awards 16 prizes, the most famous and prestigious being the Nobel Literature Prize. The other Nobels — including the coveted Peace Prize — are awarded by other institutions.

In his 1895 last will and testament, Swedish scientist and philanthropist Alfred Nobel tasked the institution with awarding the Nobel Literature Prize each year.

Since 1901, four or five of the Academy’s 18 members have been elected to serve on its Nobel Committee for a three-year term, designated to sort through the nominations and provide the rest of the Academy with a shortlist of possible winners.

The nominees’ bodies of work are then studied and discussed by the entire Academy. The members hold a vote in October to choose the winner — the laureate must obtain more than half of the votes cast.

Following last year’s scandal, the Nobel Foundation that funds the Nobel Prizes insisted that five external people also join the Nobel Committee for at least 2019 and 2020.

350 nominees a year

The Academy’s archives are bursting with letters from the world’s most renowned literary figures nominating candidates.

Each year, the institution receives around 350 nominations submitted by those eligible to do so: former Nobel literature laureates, members of other countries’ equivalent academies, literature professors, and the heads of national writers’ associations.

Each one vaunts the talents of their candidate, some going so far as to slip in a little gift for Academy members — a gesture they typically frown upon.

To be valid, nominations must be presented or renewed each year and must be received by the Academy by January 31 at the latest.

To qualify, nominees must still be alive, and, according to the strict rules laid out by Alfred Nobel, must have published a piece of work within the past year, though the Academy has occasionally strayed from that requirement.

Reserved and refused awards

A total of 114 people have won the Nobel Literature Prize. It has been awarded on 110 occasions, with two people sharing the prize on four occasions.

It has also been declined twice: In 1958 Russian author Boris Pasternak accepted the prize but was later forced by Soviet authorities to decline it, and in 1964, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre turned it down.

The institution, founded in 1786, chose to reserve the prize eight times: in 1915, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1936, 1949 and 2018.

On six of those occasions, the prize was delayed then awarded at the same time as the following year’s prize, as will be the case on Thursday.

France tops list

France takes the gold medal for the most Nobel Literature Prizes with 15 laureates, including the first one ever awarded, to Sully Prudhomme in 1901.

Tied in second place are the United States and Britain with 12 laureates each, including last year’s winner, Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, author of “Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go”.

In terms of languages, however, laureates writing in Moliere’s tongue find themselves outnumbered by those writing in Shakespeare’s, with 29 Anglophone authors honoured since 1901.

Scandals

The Academy has been rocked by several affairs in modern times.

In the name of the “independence of literature”, the Swedish Academy refused to condemn a 1989 fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie following the publication of his novel, “The Satanic Verses”.

Academy members were divided about whether to stand as neutral guarantors of the arts or as supporters of their fellow author.

Three members angered by the Academy’s chosen path of silence left their seats, though technically they were appointed for life and could not resign.

It was not until 27 years later, in 2016, that the Academy finally condemned the fatwa against Rushdie.

Then, in late 2017 and early 2018, it disagreed publicly about how to manage its close ties to Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, accused and later convicted of rape.

Arnault is married to Katarina Frostenson, a member of the Academy who later resigned over the scandal.

The rift exposed scheming, conflicts of interest, harassment and a culture of silence among members, leaving the Academy in disarray and forcing it to postpone the 2018 prize.

The Academy’s statutes have since been revised to increase transparency and allow members to resign.

Seven members quit the Academy in 2018 and have since been replaced.

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Sets Sail For NYC

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg walks along the quayside to board an electric powered RIB. KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / POOL / AFP

 

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg sets sail on Wednesday for New York, heading for a UN summit on a zero-emissions yacht skippered by a member of Monaco’s ruling family.

The 16-year-old Swede, whose school strikes have inspired children across the world to protest against global warming, refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.

But she has been offered a lift on the Malizia II racing yacht, along with her father Svante and a filmmaker to document the journey, that will allow her to attend the UN talks in September with a clear conscience.

The 60-foot (18-metre) boat is skippered by Pierre Casiraghi, vice president of the Monaco Yacht Club and a member of the principality’s ruling family, and German round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann.

The journey takes about two weeks — the yacht can travel at speeds of around 35 knots (70 kilometres an hour) but will be heading into the wind for much of the time so will be slower, and the captain wants a smooth ride.

“The objective is to arrive safe and sound in New York,” Herrmann told AFP as he made final preparations in the English port of Plymouth.

‘Pressure on people in power’

Thunberg has become a figurehead for climate action with her stark warnings of catastrophe if the world does not act now to cut carbon emissions and curb global warming.

Speaking to AFP before she set sail, the activist said: “Of course there are many people who don’t understand and accept the science.

“I will just have to do what I have always done — ignore them and just tell the science as it is,” she added in reference to her North American trip.

“We create an international opinion and movement so that people stand together and put pressure on the people in power.”

The yacht is made for racing, with foils, or wings, that lift it out of the water for a faster and smoother ride.

Inside it is sparse, fitted with high-tech navigation equipment, an on-board ocean laboratory to monitor CO2 levels in the water, and four bunks — Herrmann and Casiraghi will share one, sleeping in turns.

The toilet is a blue plastic bucket, complete with a biodegradable bag that can be thrown overboard, and meals will be freeze-dried packets of vegan food mixed with water heated on a tiny gas stove.

But state-of-the-art solar panels adorn the yacht’s deck and sides while there are two hydro-generators, which together provide all the electricity they need on board.

Thunberg has never sailed before this week, and got seasick on their first journey out of Plymouth on Monday, but said she was looking forward to the adventure.

The teenager, who has spent hours on trains across Europe to spread her message, was relaxed about the basic conditions.

“You can’t really ask for that much if you get to sail across the Atlantic for free,” she said, adding: “I am grateful for what I have.”

US Rapper A$AP Rocky Released Until Assault Verdict On August 14

 

The Stockholm district court said Friday that US rapper A$AP Rocky should be released from custody, pending the verdict of an assault trial that has garnered global attention and stirred fan outrage.

The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, has been in custody in Sweden since he was arrested on July 3 after a street brawl, but on the last day of his trial the court decided to release him, pending the verdict.

“Rakim Mayers… (and the two others accused) are no longer going to be remanded in custody,” presiding judge Per Lennerbrant told the court, adding that the court’s verdict would be made available on August 14.

AFP

Small-Aircraft Crash kills Nine In Sweden

 

 

Nine people died Sunday when a small aircraft being used for tourism crashed in northwest Sweden, the regional authority said.

“The nine people on board are dead,” Gabriella Bandling, spokeswoman for the Vaesterbotten region, told AFP. She did not say who they were.

According to Swedish media reports, the plane was carrying people for a parachute jump but crashed a little after 2:00 pm (1200 GMT). The plane, a GippsAero GA8 Airvan, had taken off from Umea airport.

READ ALSO: At Least 50 Dead In Nepal’s Monsoon

Amateur footage posted online by the Swedish daily Aftonbladet shows the plane plunging from the sky in a vertical line.

“I heard a weird sound, which didn’t sound normal,” one witness, Peter Larsson, told the daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “I looked up and saw a plane spinning like a top.

“At first I thought it was an acrobatic flight but we quickly realised that something was wrong.”

The wreck of the plane has been found on an island in the archipelago south of Umea.

AFP

Sweden Court Turns Down Detained US Rapper ASAP Rocky’s Appeal

In this file photo taken on January 23, 2017 US rapper ASAP Rocky poses before the Christian Dior 2017 spring/summer Haute Couture collection on January 23, 2017 in Paris.
Patrick KOVARIK / AFP

 

Sweden’s Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by US rapper ASAP Rocky against his detention over a Stockholm street brawl despite his lawyer’s plea that the star was not a flight risk and protests by fans and leading hip-hop stars.

On Friday, a Swedish district court decided the 30-year-old, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, should be kept in custody while prosecutors investigate a June 30 brawl, thereby putting on hold the artist’s current European tour.

Mayers’ lawyer Henrik Olsson Lilja immediately challenged the decision but it was rejected by the court of appeals.

The lawyer told AFP his client subsequently lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court only accepts a fraction of cases submitted, taking only those it thinks will provide guidance for the lower courts.

The district court had agreed with prosecutors that Mayers was a flight risk and so should be kept in custody during the investigation.

But Olsson Lilja said the prosecutor had not justified the flight risk argument, and the continued custody also needed to be weighed against the consequences for his client — both issues that could interest the Supreme Court.

“They haven’t tried this issue in this way before,” he added.

However the request was promptly denied on Monday afternoon, with the Supreme Court stating that it found “no reason” to review the case, local media reported.

‘Free Rocky’

The district court’s decision means Mayers can be held in custody for two weeks, while the case is investigated. After that, it would require another hearing to extend his detention.

The rapper has already had to cancel shows in Norway, Poland, Ireland and Britain.

Fans, as well as fellow musicians, have publicly urged Swedish authorities to release the American entertainer.

Rapper Travis Scott shouted “Free Rocky” during his performance at the Wireless Festival in London, a festival where ASAP Rocky was scheduled to perform.

Others have taken to social media under hashtags like #FreeRocky or #FreeFlacko, invoking one of ASAP Rocky’s nicknames.

American hip-hop duo EarthGang, who have a concert in Stockholm planned for September, tweeted “#FreeFlacko or we boycotting Sweden”.

Brawl Caught On Video

Mayers was detained last week following an incident on June 30 which was partly captured in a video published by US celebrity news outlet TMZ.

The rapper, who was in Stockholm for a concert, can be seen throwing a young man into the street then aiming several punches at him while he is still down.

On July 2, Mayers posted his own videos on Instagram, which he said showed the lead-up to the clash.

In those, the young man can be seen arguing with the musician over a pair of headphones, and the artist repeatedly asks that the man and his friend stop following them.

Mayers was born in New York and had a breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape “Live. Love. ASAP”. He followed that up in 2013 with the debut album “Long. Live. ASAP”.

Sweden Detains Rapper ASAP Rocky After Street Brawl

In this file photo taken on September 13, 2018 ASAP Rocky attends Rihanna’s 4th Annual Diamond Ball at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Swedish prosecutors on July 4, 2019, requested to keep American rapper ASAP Rocky in custody after he was arrested over a street brawl in Stockholm caught on video. PHOTO: Angela Weiss / AFP

 

A Swedish court on Friday decided to keep US rapper ASAP Rocky in custody on suspicion of assault after he was arrested in connection with a street brawl in Stockholm.

The artist was detained earlier this week along with three other people following the incident, which occurred on Sunday and was partly captured in a video published by US celebrity news outlet TMZ.

In the video, the rapper, who was in Stockholm for a concert, can be seen throwing a young man into the street then aiming several punches at him while the man is on the ground.

ASAP Rocky — whose real name is Rakim Mayers — on Tuesday posted his own videos on Instagram, which he said showed the lead up to the clash.

In those, the young man can be seen arguing with the musician over a pair of headphones, and the artist repeatedly asks that the man and his friends stop following them.

One of the four people arrested, a bodyguard who was also suspected of assault, was released Wednesday and the investigation against him was closed.

Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Karlsson on Thursday filed a request with the Stockholm District Court to keep the rapper and two others in custody owing to “a flight risk and a risk that if released, they could sabotage the investigation”.

The court said Friday it did not feel there was a risk he could sabotage the investigation but agreed there was a “flight risk”.

The prosecutor had originally asked the court to detain Mayers on suspicion of aggravated assault, but the court opted for assault, a less serious offence.

Karlsson told reporters following the decision that he still felt the incident amounted to aggravated assault.

“That’s because there are multiple people attacking a person that is lying down and that it seems they also used weapons,” Karlsson said.

Mayers can now be held in custody for two weeks while the case is investigated. After that, it would require another hearing to extend his detention.

The rapper was on a European tour and was scheduled to perform in Dublin and London this weekend.

He has already had to cancel shows in Norway and Poland.

Mayers was born in New York and had a breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape “Live. Love. ASAP”. He followed that up in 2013 with the debut album “Long. Live. ASAP”.

AFP

ASAP Rocky Arrested In Sweden After Street Fight

A$AP Rocky performs at The Armory on January 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

 

American rapper ASAP Rocky was arrested in Stockholm this week, suspected of aggravated assault, after a street brawl part of which was caught on video, Swedish prosecutors said Wednesday.

The incident took place on Sunday and was partly captured in a video published by celebrity news outlet TMZ.

In the video, the artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, can be seen throwing a young man into the street then aiming several punches at him while the man is on the ground.

READ ALSO: Kim Kardashian To Rename Shapewear Line After Backlash

Sweden’s Prosecution Authority said the artist had been arrested following the incident, on suspicion of aggravated assault, together with three other people. Of the three others, two were suspected of aggravated assault and one of assault.

On Tuesday, the rapper posted his own videos on Instagram, which he said showed the lead up to the clash.

In those videos, the musician repeatedly asks the young man and his friend to walk the other way.

Swedish prosecutors have until Saturday to decide whether to formally detain the artist. The Prosecution Authority told AFP they didn’t want to comment on the level of evidence since it was “too early in the investigation”.

ASAP Rocky was in the Swedish capital for a concert.

ASAP Rocky was born in New York and had his breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape “Live. Love. ASAP”. He followed that up in 2013 with the debut album “Long. Live. ASAP”.

AFP

Sweden Into World Cup Quarters With Narrow Win Over Canada

 

Stina Blackstenius scored the only goal of a cagey match as Sweden beat Canada 1-0 in Paris on Monday to reach the women’s World Cup quarter-finals.

The victory sets up a rematch of the 2016 Olympic final as the Swedes play Germany on Saturday in Rennes. Three years ago Germany won the gold with a 2-1 victory in Rio de Janeiro, though Blackstenius scored in that match.

Blackstenius scored the only goal in the 55th minute with a brave finish after a crisp Swedish counter-attack.

After that, the last-16 tie was once again a story of VAR. A review gave Canada a penalty, but Hedvig Lindahl, at full stretch, saved Janine Beckie’s driven spot-kick.

Then, referee Kate Jacewicz pointed to the spot after a foul by Ashley Lawrence, but the decision was over-ruled after VAR detected a Swedish offside in the build-up.

Both sides came into the knockout rounds after losing dead rubbers to finish second in their groups. Canada went down 2-1 to the Netherlands. Sweden fell 2-0 to the USA but rested a host of usual starters.

READ ALSO: Women’s Cup: England Beat Cameroon, Advance To Quarter-Final

The Swedes made five changes for a match that kicked off with the temperature tickling 30 degrees Celsius.

Neither side managed a shot on target in the first half.

Christine Sinclair, chasing the all-time women’s international scoring record, had one shot, early in the second half, a 25-metre free-kick that curled gently wide.

Sweden took the lead on the counter.

Kosovare Asllani ran onto a long pass down the left, paused and then curled the ball behind centre-back Shelina Zadorsky and into the path of Blackstenius. The centre-forward hit the ball first-time from just inside the box and before being clattered by Zadorsky and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. The shot looped off Labbe and into the net.

Canada responded with a burst of frenzied pressure and were rewarded on 68 minutes when Desiree Scott met a weak clearance from a corner with a volley that struck Asllani on the arm.

Manchester City’s Beckie drilled her penalty low to Lindahl’s right, but the Chelsea goalkeeper hurled herself across the goal to save.

Then VAR denied the Swedes a penalty.

Canada pressed desperately but the nearest either side came to a goal was when Scott cleared Asllani’s volley off the line after a Swedish corner.

Sweden Reopens Rape Probe Against Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange/ AFP

 

Swedish prosecutors said Monday they were reopening a 2010 rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“I have today decided to reopen the investigation … There is still probable cause to suspect that Mr Assange committed rape,” the deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, told reporters.

AFP

Six Killed In Road Crash In Sweden

The scene of a bus accident (file photo)

 

Six Swiss nationals were killed in a road accident in Sweden’s far north when the minibus they were in collided with a truck, Swedish police and Swiss officials said Sunday.

The cause of the accident, which occurred in the early hours of Saturday near the town of Kiruna, was not yet known, Swedish police said.

Switzerland’s foreign ministry confirmed the six dead were Swiss nationals, and that a seventh Swiss person in the minibus was injured.

All of them were born in the 1990s, Swedish police said.

According to Swedish media reports, the minibus crossed over into oncoming traffic in a curve and collided head-on with a heavy truck carrying a load of iron ore.

The truck driver was not injured.

The Kiruna region in the Arctic Circle, which lies some 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) north of Stockholm, is popular with tourists seeking out pristine wilderness, the Northern Lights, and a nearby ice hotel.

AFP

Six Face Terrorism Trial In Sweden

Sweden

 

Six Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals living in Sweden went on trial in Stockholm on Monday accused of financing terrorism, three of them also charged with planning a terror attack.

“If the terrorist crime had been carried out, it could have seriously hurt Sweden,” the prosecution said in its charge sheet.

The first day of the trial focused on the prosecution’s claim that the six men sent funds to Islamic State (IS) to finance its terrorism operations.

The prosecution argued that one of the men, 34-year-old Akromion Ergashev of Uzbekistan, sent almost 18,000 kronor (1,750 euros, $2,000) to a middleman in Turkey, who in turn sent it to two IS supporters in Syria.

The prosecution presented chats on encrypted mobile phone apps and account statements as evidence.

The other five suspects were identified in court documents as Uzbek nationals Bakhtior Umarov, 30, Gulom Tadjiyev, 39, Shoahmad Mahmudov, 24, and David Idrisson, 46, and 39-year-old Kyrgyz national Atabek Abdullayev.

Abdullayev, Idrisson and Umarov are also accused of planning a terror attack in Sweden.

The prosecution believes they acquired large amounts of chemicals to make explosives, as well as gas masks, walkie-talkies and other military materials as part of their plot.

Photographs of crowded locations in Stockholm were found in some of the suspects’ phones, suggesting they may have been possible targets, according to the prosecution.

During a police raid in Stromsund, 600 kilometres (375 miles) north of Stockholm, in late April, neighbours told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper they saw police removing about 15 large plastic chemical containers from a shed on an empty property.

One of the suspects is also believed to have been in contact with Rakhmat Akilov, a radicalised Uzbek asylum seeker who mowed down pedestrians in Stockholm with a stolen truck in April 2017, killing five people.

Akilov was sentenced to life in prison in June 2018.

All six reject all of the charges against them.

The trial is taking place at a special high-security Stockholm courtroom, with the defendants sitting behind a bulletproof glass wall.

AFP