Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan flag carriers divert all flights over Iran

UNTV News   •   January 8, 2020   •   406

Bangkok Desk – The flag carriers of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan said Wednesday they would divert flights over Iran’s airspace in face of its escalating tensions with the United States.

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and China Airlines were among various carriers who announced they would stop flying through Iran on the same day Tehran attacked a military base in Iraq housing US troops.

“In view of the latest developments in the region, all [Singapore Airlines] flights in and out of Europe will not be flying over the Iranian airspace. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the Singaporean carrier said in a Wednesday statement to EFE.

It was confirmed that the airline’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot would also avoid Iran. Developments came shortly after the United States Federal Aviation Authority banned US airlines from overflying Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia, following days of escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The conflict between Tehran and Washington was further fueled Friday following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, a top general of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

After Wednesday’s missile attack, Malaysia Airlines released a statement announcing its intentions to avoid Iran’s airspace.

“Malaysia Airlines does not fly over the airspace of Iraq on its flights to/from London, Jeddah and Medina. Due to recent events involving Iran, Malaysia Airlines will be avoiding the conflict airspace of Iran,” the airline said. “Safety is of utmost importance to Malaysia Airlines.”

The airline is among the more cautious carriers following high-profile incidents that marred its operations last decade, including a March 2014 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was struck by a missile while cruising over eastern Ukraine during the ongoing War in Donbass.

The attack on flight MH17 killed all 298 people on board, only four months after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared over the Southern Indian Ocean with 239 passengers on board.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines, said it would avoid both Iraqi and Iranian airspace.

“In light of the events in the region, all China Airlines flights bound to Europe will not overfly neither the Iranian nor Iraqi airspace. We will continue to attentively monitor the situation and will adjust the flights in consequence,” a spokesperson for the carrier said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Ukranian International Airlines Boeing 737 carrying 176 people crashed and killed everyone on board after taking off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, according to the Middle Eastern country’s emergency organization. EFE-EPA

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U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran’s Soleimani an ‘unlawful’ killing

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Thursday (July 9).

The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani’s convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The attack violated the U.N. Charter, Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.

Callamard presented her findings to the Human Rights Council, giving member states a chance to debate what action to pursue. The United States is not a member of the forum, having quit two years ago.

Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran’s campaign to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq, and built up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. Washington had accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

The Jan. 3 drone strike was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defence as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country, Callamard added.

Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi air base where U.S. forces were stationed. Hours later, Iranian forces on high alert mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran.

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over Soleimani’s killing and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on June 29, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

Iran’s arrest warrant for Trump is a ‘propaganda stunt’ —U.S. official

UNTV News   •   June 30, 2020

U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook said on Monday (June 29) that an Iranian arrest warrant for President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani was a “propaganda stunt”.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr announced the warrants, asking Interpol for help, according to the Fars news agency.

Hook speaking in Saudi Arabia alongside Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir, said: “This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace, or promoting stability. It is a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously.”

The United States and Interpol both dismissed the idea of acting on such a warrant.

The United States killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, with a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3. Washington accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action. He said Iran had asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Trump and the other individuals the Islamic Republic accuses of taking part in the killing of Soleimani. (Reuters)

(Production: Mohammed Benmansour, Matthew Stock, Aiden Nulty)

Coronavirus outbreak inspires bursts of mask fashion creativity in Indonesia, Malaysia

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Designers in Indonesia and Malaysia are adding their artistic touches to reusable face masks, providing essential supplies and style and uniqueness amid the pandemic.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s print shop had been losing business throughout his country’s mass-scale restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but thanks to a new product introduced in May, lost business has been “recovered”.

Sugandi’s shop has been printing customers’ faces onto reusable face masks so that they can “look like themselves” when wearing it.

Each of the reusable masks takes around 30 minutes to produce, and cost 50,000 Indonesian rupiah ($3) each. The print shop has received hundreds of orders.

Wearing a face mask remains a mandatory practice across Indonesia.

In neighbouring Malaysia, textile designer Hafiz Drahman has utilised traditional designs from around the region to create colourful cloth masks with interchangeable filters.

In particular, Hafiz uses Batik, which is a traditional Javanese art that uses wax and ink to decorate cloth, and is derived from the Javanese word “titik,” meaning “dot”.

“So, as a designer, I saw that as an opportunity to use the cloth that I had, that is Batik textiles, and turn it into face masks,” Hafiz said from his workshop in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.

Although face masks are not compulsory in Malaysia, people are encouraged to wear them to protect themselves in public areas.

Hafiz currently sells his masks at 20 ringgits ($4.68) each.

Indonesia currently has 50,187 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,620 deaths, the highest total in Southeast Asia, while Malaysia has recorded 8,600 cases and 121 deaths as of Friday morning (June 26). (Reuters)

(Production: Yuddy Budiman, Embrahim Harris, Angie Teo)

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