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HRW urges Sudan not to use lethal force against protesters | News

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Human Rights Watch has urged Sudan‘s government to show restraint and not use lethal force against protesters during the weeks-long demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir.

The New York-based group, citing estimates from independent groups, said on Monday that Sudanese forces have been using tear gas and live ammunition against protesters, killing more than a dozen people. 

The statement came ahead of renewed protests on Monday, with demonstrators in the capital, Khartoum, expected to try to march on Bashir’s palace to demand he step down. 

Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, vowed in a meeting with police commanders on Sunday that his government would not tolerate any attempt to undermine the stability and security of Sudan, according to the state news agency.

He also sought to justify the killing of protesters, quoting from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, according to a video clip of his comments.

“It’s deterrence to others so that we can maintain security, which is a valuable commodity and, God willing, we will not risk the security of the citizens or the nation,” said Bashir.

“The objective is not to kill the protesters, but … to safeguard the security and stability of citizens.”



Jehanne Henry, associate director at Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said Bashir’s speech appeared to “justify excessive use of force instead of condemning this brutality”.

“With more protests planned, Sudanese authorities should send an unambiguous message to all security forces to respect the rights of protesters and not to use lethal force,” he added. 

Amnesty International has said it has “reliable reports” that 37 protesters were killed in the first five days of protests, which began December 19.

The government has acknowledged 19 deaths.

The protests were sparked by an increase in bread prices, with demonstrators rallying against the government tripling the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three ($0.02 to $0.06).

Since then, demands have widened to include calls for Bashir’s resignation. 

Sudan is facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation despite Washington lifting economic sanctions in October 2017.

Inflation is running at 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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