Tuesday December 12, 2017
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Cabinet nod for no visa accord with Spain

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Indian_Diplomatic_PassportThe union cabinet gave its approval to the signing of an agreement between India and Spain on doing away with the requirement of visas for holders of diplomatic passports on Wednesday.

The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The agreement will facilitate visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passport of one country “while entering into, transiting through, exiting from or staying up to 90 days” in the territory of the other country, an official release said.

-(IANS)

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Catalonia Referendum: Over 3 lac People attended Sunday Rally for Spanish Unity

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Activists protest with a giant Catalan flag
Activists protest with a giant Catalan flag during a mass rally against Catalonia's declaration of independence, in Barcelona, Spain. VOA

Barcelona, October 30: An air of calm settled over Barcelona after hundreds of thousands of Catalan attended a rally Sunday for Spanish unity. The atmosphere of the rally was peaceful, as police helicopters monitored from above.

Amid a forest of Spanish national flags and chants of “Viva Espana,” protesters called for the jailing of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who on Friday issued a declaration of independence shortly before the Spanish government stripped Catalonia of its autonomy.

But the calm that followed the rally in the Catalan capital attended by an estimated 300,000 people had the quality of the stillness before a storm. Few are ready to hazard a prediction of how events in Catalonia may unfold in the coming days in a confrontation that has seen intransigence from both sides.

How Madrid starts imposing direct rule Monday on its restive northeast region, and how separatists respond, will determine the next phase in the month-long cat-and-mouse standoff between the politicians in Madrid and Catalan secessionists. Both appear to be banking on the other side tiring like a bull played by a matador.

But fears are growing the perilous confrontation, at times visceral and seamed with past historical grievances including from the era of Gen. Francisco Franco, will degenerate into violence, despite the separatists’ determination to remain non-violent and Madrid’s eagerness not to repeat the national police violence that accompanied an October 1 independence referendum.

“If Puigdemont takes part in these elections, he can exercise [his] democratic opposition,” said government spokesman Íñigo Méndez de Vigo. That suggests the implacable deputy Spanish prime minister, María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón, a 46-year-old former prosecutor who is charged with overseeing direct rule, is not planning to kick off by arresting Catalan separatist leaders, a move some analysts say would be inflammatory if it is tried.

Nonetheless, there will be several flash-points in the coming week that could push the confrontation, the worst political crisis to roil Spain since a failed military coup in 1981, down paths neither Madrid nor the secessionists want or could control, say analysts. They worry the type of clashes seen on October 1, when the national police and Civil Guard tried to distort the referendum, will be seen when Madrid decides to enforce direct-rule by closing down Catalonia’s parliament and regional government. “I really will be amazed if we don’t see more of that, sadly,” said Sally Ann-Kitts, a lecturer in Hispanic studies at Britain’s University of Bristol.

“All sides seem to be living in Wonderland,” according to John Carlin, who was fired from his job at the Spanish newspaper El País earlier this month over an article he wrote highly critical of the Spanish government for its response to the independence referendum.

In an article for the London Sunday Times, Carlin argued the biggest risk may come if the idea takes hold “among highly energized independence-seeking youth that they have been the victims of a Franquista coup d’état.”

Another risk is that provocateurs on either side, violent anarchists or hardline Spanish nationalists take advantage of the mess Catalonia is in and organize an incident to provoke a reaction from their opponents. On Friday young Spanish nationalists attacked a Catalan radio station.

Rival administrations

As things stand, Catalans will wake up Monday to two rival administrations in their region claiming legitimacy, the Puigdemont-led regional government and an emergency authority staffed by Spanish civil servants and led by Sáenz de Santamaría. On Saturday, Puigdemont defied the fact that he was formally dismissed by the Spanish government and urged Catalans to “defend” the new republic in a televised address.

Separatist leaders and their supporters appear determined to wear Madrid down much as a matador does with a bull by obstructing and resisting the orders issued by Madrid. “The only answer we have is self-defense – institutional self-defense and civil self-defense. I hope Catalans won’t be intimidated by Madrid,” says Abel Escriba, a pro-independence political scientist.

Madrid is banking on Catalonia’s 200,000 public employees and the executives of public companies in the region accepting direct-rule and ignoring the instructions of the Puigdemont-led regional government. The public employee, teacher and firefighter unions have proclaimed their members will ignore Madrid’s instruction.

“We are going to ask them to be professional and to continue to provide services for their citizens,” a Spanish official told VOA last week. The strategy is to be as light-touch as possible as the region is steered to the snap elections in December, which the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is gambling will go against the separatists.

A poll published by El Pais Saturday suggested a small majority of Catalans (52 percent to 43 percent) favour the dissolution of the regional parliament and the holding of the early elections. Fifty-five percent of Catalan respondents opposed the declaration of independence, with 41 percent in favour of secession.(VOA)

 

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Catalonia Protesters Demand Release of Separatist Leaders

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Protesters with ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flags
Protesters with ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flags pack the University square during a one-day strike in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona, October 18: Tens of thousands of people protested Tuesday night in Barcelona against the Spanish government’s detention of two Catalonia separatist leaders.

The demonstrators carried candles and banners demanding the release of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who are being held on possible sedition charges.

Prosecutors accuse Cuixart of the Omnium Cultural movement and Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly of provoking violence against police during a pro-independence march last month.

Catalan leaders have called the two political prisoners, which the government denies.

Earlier Tuesday, Spain’s top court ruled Catalonia’s independence referendum was illegal, saying that regional law backing the vote violated Spain’s constitution.

The Catalan government had passed the “self-determination referendum law” on September 6. Spain’s high court said the law must be suspended temporarily as it assessed the Spanish government’s opposition to it, but Catalonia went ahead with the referendum on October 1.

According to court regulations, the suspension was to last five months while judges come up with a ruling, but the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia claimed that the universal right to self-determination outweighs Spain’s laws.

Catalan government spokesperson, Jordi Turull, told reporters Tuesday Catalonia would not “surrender” its secession bid and reiterated calls for talks with Madrid on what he called “a democratic mandate” for independence.

Spain has given Catalonia until Thursday to reverse any moves it has made to secede or face direct rule from Madrid.

Catalonia, Spain’s most prosperous region, is home to 7.5 million people. Its capital, Barcelona, is one of Europe’s major tourist attractions. Catalonia has its own language and distinct culture and is deeply divided over independence.

The Catalan government said that 90 percent of Catalans who participated in the October 1 referendum voted for independence from Spain. Many opponents of independence boycotted the vote, reducing turnout to around 43 percent of eligible voters.(VOA)

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Indians Among Top Asylum Seekers in the World: International Migration Outlook 2017 Report

Asylum seekers from India are among the highest in the world as pointed out in International Migration Outlook 2017 report

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Asylum Seekers
Indians are ranked among highest number of asylum seekers. Wikimedia
  • The International Migration Outlook 2017 report concludes that asylum seekers from India are among the highest in the world
  • New Zealand has been the most preferred nation for asylum seekers from India
  • Resettlement and students overstaying their visas are the biggest reasons to this problem 

New Delhi, July 20, 2017: The International Migration Outlook 2017 report states that Indians are among the highest asylum seekers in the world.

According to the report, New Zealand has been the most preferred destination for asylum seekers. Nationals of India, China and Fiji were the highest asylum seekers in New Zealand between 2012-2016. In the year 2015-2016, a total of 340 people sought asylum in New Zealand, out of which the highest was from India (11%) followed by China (9%).

Other countries like Latvia, Japan, Slovakia, Finland, Australia, UK and the US also receive a high number of asylum seekers from India.

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Latvia is a small country in Europe with only 2 million population. Here too, Indians are the highest number of asylum seekers. In 2015-2016, out of 6,200 asylum requests, Indians were the highest at 18%.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has observed that Indians have sought asylum in 40 countries over the course of several years now. The two main factors for this is the fact that many students overstay their education visas and others opt for resettlement. Many people also choose to enter the high wage markets in abroad.

[bctt tweet=”Indians have sought asylum in 40 countries over the course of several years now” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

Jonathan Chaloff, International Migration Division’s policy analyst, said to TOI that students who have overstayed their visa have high chances of acceptance when they apply for asylum.

ALSO READ: 1,200,000 people applied for political asylum in Europe in 2016: EU Statistics Agency

Loyola College’s Head of Department, Social Work, Gladstone Xavier said about the asylum seekers, “They have to prove a threat to life because of race, religion, political belief, political affiliations or gender. If not, the Refugee Status Branch will turn down the request or keep the decision pending.” Mr. Xavier has worked with Sri Lankan Refugees in India.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394