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Phuket Gazette World News: UK detains partner of Snowden journalist; Mega-mall planned for concentration camp site; Mexico captures cartel head

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Britain detains partner of journalist linked to Snowden
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: British authorities used anti-terrorism powers on Sunday to detain the partner of a journalist with close links to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who has been granted asylum by Russia, as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport.

The 28-year-old David Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald who writes for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, a report on the Guardian website said.

A British Metropolitan Police Service spokesman said a 28-year-old male had been detained at Heathrow airport under provisions of the 2000 Terrorism Act. That law gives British border officials the right to question someone “to determine if that individual is a person concerned in the commission, preparation or execution of acts of terrorism.”

Snowden faces criminal charges in the United States after leaking documents disclosing previously secret U.S. internet and telephone surveillance programs. Russia rejected American pleas to send Snowden back to the United States for trial, instead granting him a year’s asylum on Aug. 1.

Rio de Janeiro-based Greenwald has interviewed Snowden and used 15,000 to 20,000 documents that Snowden passed to him to reveal details of the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance methods.

Miranda was returning to Brazil from Berlin and was in transit at Heathrow, Greenwald said in a column posted on the Guardian website. He said British authorities seized his partner’s laptop, cellphone and USB sticks.

“This was obviously designed to send a message of intimidation to those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ,” Greenwald wrote, referring to Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters.

Brazil’s government complained about the detention of Miranda at Heathrow for nine hours incommunicado under the British anti-terrorism law.

“This measure has no justification since it involves an individual against whom there are no charges that can warrant the use of this legislation,” the Brazilian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Mega-mall planned for concentration camp site
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Lucija Rajner last saw her father, Vladislav, on November 14, 1941, through a barbed-wire fence at a concentration camp in Belgrade.

That autumn, Rajner and her mother passed food, letters and bedding to him, until a guard told them he wouldn’t need such supplies anymore. Rajner never learned his fate, but assumes he died the same way as 6,000 other Jews and 1,500 Roma who passed through the camp – gunned down or gassed en masse.

The cluster of warehouses that formed the camp known as Topovske Supe still stands; rubbish litters the floors and graffiti scars the walls.

A small plaque is all that marks the location’s dark history. It was screwed to a crumbling brick wall in 2006, when most of the land had already been sold for 27 million euros ($35 million) to a retail tycoon who plans to spend 160 million to turn it into the biggest shopping mall in the Balkans.

Rajner and a small group of historians and activists say the destruction of Topovske Supe is emblematic of how far Serbia still has to go in recognizing the Holocaust on its soil.

“I don’t know why the state shows this kind of disrespect to things which should not be forgotten,” said 79-year-old Rajner.

In a region dotted with memorials to Partisan battle victories, the 70,000 Jews who died in Yugoslavia during World War Two were subsumed into the narrative of Yugoslav victims of fascism, part of the doctrine of ‘Brotherhood and Unity’ propagated by Josip Broz Tito to diminish national and ethnic differences within the federation he ruled from 1945 to 1980.

After Estonia, Serbia was the second Nazi-occupied territory in Europe to be formally declared ‘free of Jews’ in August 1942, when 90 percent of the country’s 16,000 Jews had perished.

With Tito’s death, unity gave way to the virulent nationalism that would eventually tear Yugoslavia apart, and Serbia began stressing the suffering of Serbs at the hands of Nazi puppet rulers in Croatia.

Victims

“Serbs traditionally perceive themselves as the victims,” said historian Jovan Byford.

“They’d be very willing to talk about the Holocaust if you ask them about the Holocaust in Croatia, because the dominant narrative there is that Serbs perished in Jasenovac with Jews,” he told Reuters, referring to the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia where thousands of Serbs were killed.

“But if you ask them about Serbia, it is a remnant of how things were seen in the communist era, in which there was no recognition,” he said.

Serbia hopes to start talks on joining the European Union in January next year, a process that will require more work in resolving regional tensions two decades since Yugoslavia’s descended into war. But, Byford said, it may also bring pressure on Serbia to confront the fate of thousands of Yugoslav Jews.

“There will be pressure to construct a Holocaust memorial and to include the Holocaust in school curricula,” he said.

Serbia is a signatory to the non-binding 2009 Terezin declaration, committing to return property to the families of Holocaust victims and to ensure mass graves are identified and protected. But implementation has been stalled.

Serbia lags behind several of its neighbors in recognizing the crimes committed against Jews on its soil. Neighboring Hungary, Croatia and Macedonia each have museums dedicated to the Holocaust. A small museum in Serbia, founded in the 1960s, looks at the general history of Jews in Yugoslavia.

To its opponents, the shopping mall is all the more galling given who stands behind it. Miroslav Miskovic, head of the Delta empire behind the project, is one of the richest men in the Balkans and a symbol for many Serbs of the murky nexus of politics and business that has dogged the country since the days of strongman Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s.

Miskovic made a fortune during Yugoslavia’s collapse despite international sanctions on Serbia and a permanent state of crisis. He thrived further under the democrats who replaced Milosevic in 2000.

Then in December last year, police arrested Miskovic on suspicion of fraud. He posted a record $16 million bail in July pending trial. Delta and Miskovic have denied any wrongdoing.

Asked about Topovske Supe, Delta points to its choice of Israeli architecture firm MYS to work on the project, having been involved in another Delta shopping mall in Belgrade.

Culture of forgetting

Delta Real Estate vice president Vojislav Glavinic told Reuters MYS would work with the Jewish community and the Israeli embassy to design a memorial that would be “visible and representative”.

Glavinic said in a statement that Delta expected to have the necessary building permits from the city government by the end of the year.

But the project could yet run into opposition from Serbia’s Agency for Protection for Cultural Monuments, which says it has not received an application from Delta for permission to build.

“As the institution whose mission is to save, conserve and p

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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