Exclusive: Men who fled own country after threats to out them have been detained in Australia
Ten years ago, police caught Iraqi Chaldean immigrant Rani Yousuf with a small amount of marijuana. He completed probation, paid fines, and the conviction was dropped from his record when he turned 21.
Still, earlier this year, Yousuf found his car surrounded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officers who arrested him again over the charge. He sat for months in a Michigan county jail facing the prospect of deportation to Iraq, a country he left at four years old. He has no family there, doesn’t speak Arabic, and is part of a religious minority targeted by extremists.
“As a Catholic who has tattoos of crosses, and Iraq being a Muslim country – they probably would kill me,” he said.
Yousuf is one of over 1,400 Iraqi nationals who the Trump administration is attempting to deport. Most of those are Chaldean – Iraqi Catholics – living in metro Detroit, which holds the world’s largest Chaldean population outside of Iraq.
The administration’s deportation efforts are viewed by many Chaldeans as a shocking “betrayal”, not least because many in the community have been enthusiastic supporters of Trump and voted for him in large numbers in 2016.
The generally conservative community with between 70,000 and 80,000 voters went big for Trump in the 2016 election in a state that he won by only 10,000 votes. They did so after Trump portrayed himself as a “savior” who would stand up for persecuted Christians. “Chaldeans For Trump” signs appeared at Trump rallies and in lawns in Oakland county, a wealthy metro Detroit area where the community is concentrated.
But just months into the Trump administration, Ice swept up 350 Chaldean men and Iraqi nationals. Now, some Chaldeans hold signs at protests reminding Trump “You vowed to protect us”.
“Some people thought ‘Here comes Trump who’s talking a good game about Christians in the Middle East who are being persecuted,’” said Edward Bojoka, a Chaldean immigration attorney. “A lot of people in the Chaldean community jumped on that and said, ‘Oh, he’s on our side’, and … some people feel like they were conned.”
But while there’s unanimous disappointment in the administration’s plan to deport Chaldeans, some Chaldean leaders say they still view Trump as a “friend”.
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia should be investigated over the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi because there is “credible evidence” that he and other senior officials are liable for the killing, according to a damning and forensic UN report.
In an excoriating 100-page analysis published on Wednesday of what happened to Khashoggi last October, Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur, says the death of the journalist was “an international crime”.
“It is the conclusion of the special rapporteur that Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,” she says.
Using recordings of conversations from inside the Istanbul consulate where Khashoggi was killed, her report pieces together his last moments, and how he was confronted by Saudi officials, one of whom said: “We are coming to get you.”
When Khashoggi refused to cooperate, a struggle can be heard, including heavy panting. The special rapporteur’s report concludes: “Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Mr Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag.”
Saudi Arabia dismissed the report. The minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, tweeted it was “nothing new … the report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations.”
The report highlights how critics of the kingdom are deliberately targeted, and comes amid a number of claims that Saudi Arabia has been using sophisticated surveillance spyware to hack the phones of journalists and academics.
The Guardian can now reveal it has been warned that its journalists have been targeted by a hacking unit inside Saudi Arabia.
Despite repeated requests to the Saudi authorities to address the claims, and to provide reassurance that no such operation is under way, the kingdom has refused to do so.
The UN report’s findings will heap pressure on the kingdom, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has repeatedly been urged to explain what he knew about the murder of Khashoggi.
The kingdom initially denied any involvement, and then described it as a rogue operation that the heir to the throne knew nothing about.
That is not the view of the special rapporteur’s report. Its main findings include:
• There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation, of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the crown prince’s.
A 10-year-old girl has died after undergoing female genital mutilation in Somalia, the first confirmed death in years in a country where complications from the procedure are generally denied, activists claim.
Deeqa Dahir Nuur was taken on 14 July to a traditional cutter in the her village of Olol, roughly 65km from Dhusmareb, in central Galmudug state.
The operation severed a vein, and when the family were still unable to stem the haemorrhaging two days later, the girl was taken to Dhusmareb hospital, where she bled to death, said activist Hawa Aden Mohamed of the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development.
The Galmudug state minister for women’s affairs visited the family in hospital to offer condolences and explain the risk of death in FGM operations.
But action over Deeqa’s is unlikely. “The woman who performed the operation has not been arrested, but even if she was, there is no law that would ensure she is punished for the act,” said Mohamed.
“It is difficult to estimate the number of girls who die due to FGM per month or per day because they are [sworn] to secrecy, particularly in rural areas. We only get to hear of the few cases of those bold enough to seek medical treatment in towns. But from the stories we do hear, they could be in their dozens.”
The death is the most high profile confirmed in Somalia, where 98% of women and girls are cut, the highest percentage anywhere in the world. Activists hope the publicity surrounding her death may help debunk myths in Somalia that FGM is safe.
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