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‘Unlawful’: Metal pellets again used against Lebanese protesters | News



Beirut, Lebanon –  At least two Lebanese protesters were wounded by high-velocity metal pellets at a protest, adding to mounting evidence that security forces are using previously uncommon weapons that inflict serious, potentially deadly injuries. 

Florient Zwein, a French photographer, and an unidentified man were wounded on Tuesday by what appeared to be metal shotgun-fired pellets that Al Jazeera and many rights organisations have documented the use of several times in the past month. 

A Human Rights Watch investigation last month showed security forces used these pellets in several incidents against protesters in an August 8 protest in the wake of a massive Beirut explosion that killed 190 people, injured more than 6,000, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. 

Pellets fired by security forces caused severe injuries to people’s eyes, faces and bodies, as well as the heart and lungs of at least two patients, according to doctors Al Jazeera previously spoke to who said some of the wounded narrowly escaped death. 

Florient Zwein holds up a pellet that was fired at protesters by Lebanese security forces [Courtesy: Florient Zwein/Al Jazeera]

Lawyer Diala Chehade filed a complaint to the public prosecutor based on the injuries caused to protesters, and caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najem told Al Jazeera she called on the public prosecutor to open an investigation.

However, no developments have been reported since. 

All security forces – including the army, Internal Security Forces and the parliament police – have denied they used these munitions in the past. 

An ISF source again denied using them at Tuesday’s protest, telling Al Jazeera they only fired tear gas. 

The parliament police – security forces under the direct command of House Speaker Nabih Berri – could not be reached for comment. 

A senior security source recently told Al Jazeera attacks on protesters with metal pellets were committed solely by the parliament police. “Parliament police behave like a militia,” the source said. 

A bang, then pain

Zwein, one of the men injured on Tuesday, was taking pictures of protesters as they broke through a metal barricade some 200 metres (656 feet) from the Parliament building in downtown Beirut at about 6:30pm. 

After protesters’ burst through, he said a large amount of tear gas was fired at them. 

“I started walking away and heard two loud bangs, and then I felt something like pain,” Zwein, a 30-year-old French-Lebanese who came to Beirut from Paris to help out after the explosion, told Al Jazeera. 

Zwein said he felt pellets hit him twice, right after each separate bang. In total, he found five embedded in his body: one each in his neck, back and leg, and two in his left arm. 

He shared images with Al Jazeera showing the marks, in addition to one of the pellets he removed. 

Beirut pellet story

Florient Zwein said he found five pellets embedded in his body: one each in his neck, back and leg, and two in his left arm 
[Courtesy: Florient Zwein/Al Jazeera]

The second wounded man could not be identified or contacted by Al Jazeera. However, multiple witnesses could attest to him being injured in the area protests were taking place. These include a photographer on the scene, Layal Gebran, who took multiple pictures of him in front of the Parliament compound. 

Images time-stamped about 6:15pm show the man pock-marked with more than a dozen small, red wounds – injuries consistent with those documented among protesters since the August 8 protest when these wounds were first seen. 

“He had these wounds on his face, chest and arms,” Gebran said. 

The man was treated by the Lebanese Red Cross.

Beirut pellet story

The gate where Zwein was shot [Courtesy: Florient Zwein]

‘Indiscriminate, unlawful force’

Richard Weir, a Beirut-based crisis and conflict researcher with Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera the pellets are most likely fired from shotguns, but could also be released from small explosive devices similar to a grenade.

In both cases, this represents “inherently indiscriminate” force used against protesters. Meanwhile, the use of metal pellets in general is “an unacceptable means of applying force in these kinds of situations”. 

He said the decision by security forces to use these pellets repeatedly since August 8 is “clearly an inappropriate escalation in the use of force and is unlawful”.

“While security forces may be meeting additional violence from some protesters, the response can’t be unlawful and indiscriminate. It’s simply unacceptable,” said Weir.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

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