North Korea holds drill ‘simulating N-counterattack’

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led two days of military drills “simulating a nuclear counterattack”, including the launch of a ballistic missile, state media reported on Monday.

Kim expressed satisfaction over the weekend drills, which were held to “let relevant units get familiar with the procedures and processes for implementing their tactical nuclear attack missions”, said the report by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The drills were the fourth show of force from Pyongyang in a week and came during Freedom Shield, the biggest US-South Korea military exercise in five years. North Korea views all such exercises as rehearsals for invasion and has repeatedly warned it would take “overwhelming” action in response.

The weekend drills in North Korea were divided into exercises simulating the shift to a nuclear counterattack posture and a drill for “launching a tactical ballistic missile tipped with a mock nuclear warhead”, KCNA said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that the short-range ballistic missile flew 800 kilometers before landing in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan. They branded it a “serious provocation” that violated United Nations sanctions.

Kim said the weekend drills had filled the North Korean military units “with great confidence”, according to KCNA. He also noted that North Korea “cannot actually deter a war with the mere fact that it is a nuclear weapons state”, and that it could only reach its goals “when the nuclear force is… actually capable of mounting an attack on the enemy.”

Yang Uk, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the weekend drills demonstrated that North Korea’s nuclear posture was becoming “a little more realistic”.

“It seems North Korea is trying to show it possesses enough practical nuclear attack capabilities to conduct comprehensive tactical trainings for its frontline units,” he said. Seoul and Washington have ramped up defence cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from Pyongyang, which has conducted a series of banned weapons tests in recent months.

It has also pushed South Korea and Japan to mend fences over historical disputes and try to boost security cooperation.

On Thursday, North Korea test-fired its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, its second ICBM test this year.

That followed two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two strategic cruise missiles fired from a submarine last Sunday.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Monday over the ICBM launch at the request of the United States and Japan, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea’s nuclear claims cannot be taken at face value, said Leif Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

Photos published by North Korean state media showed Kim and his young daughter surrounded by uniformed officers watching the ICBM launch.

“If these firing drills were practice for real conflict, the leader would not be in the field with his daughter, posing with missiles for the cameras,” Easley said.

Analysts previously said North Korea would likely use the US-South Korea drills as an excuse to carry out more missile launches and perhaps even a nuclear test.

This is turning the Korean peninsula into “a flashpoint with higher potential for a nuclear war”, said Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies.


London police institutionally racist and sexist, major review finds

London’s Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic and unable to police itself, an independent review said on Tuesday, heaping pressure on the Met’s new chief to reform Britain’s biggest police force.

The review was commissioned by the then-head of the Met, Cressida Dick, in 2021 after a serving officer, Wayne Couzens, was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a young woman, Sarah Everard, in a case that shocked the country and put a spotlight on the force’s broader work culture.

But since then, another officer, David Carrick, was also jailed for life for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults stretching back two decades, and several other Met scandals have emerged.

“This report is rigorous, stark and unsparing. Its findings are tough and for many will be difficult to take. But it should leave no one in any doubt about the scale of the challenge,” Louise Casey, who led the review, said in its foreword.

Casey, a member of parliament’s upper house, found severe failings across the Met that required “radical” reform.

Asked if there could be more officers like Couzens and Carrick — who at one point served in the same armed unit protecting MPs and foreign diplomats — Casey said: “I cannot sufficiently assure you that that is not the case.”

“It is the police’s job to keep us safe as the public,” she said. “Far too many Londoners have now lost faith in policing to do that.”

The report, which identified “systemic and fundamental problems” within the Met including “inadequate management”, made 16 recommendations that would constitute a “complete overhaul”.

“We have found widespread bullying, discrimination, institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism, and other unacceptable behaviors,” the report said, adding “women and children do not get the protection and support they deserve”.

Failure to reform could mean the force, which polices more than eight million people over 1,605 square kilometers in the British capital, would be broken up, Casey warned.

“The bottom line is this if an organisation can’t fix itself then there has to change,” she told BBC radio.

But she noted: “The tougher thing is to ask the organisation to change its culture and to do a better job.”

The Met had failed to protect its female staff and the public from “police perpetrators of domestic abuse, nor those who abuse their position for sexual purposes”, her report stated.

“Time and time again, those complaining are not believed or supported. They are treated badly, or face counter-claims from those they have accused,” it said.

The 363-page review also said an “absence of vigilance” meant that “predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish”.

Racism also exists within the force, with discrimination “often ignored” and complaints “likely to be turned against Black, Asian and ethnic minority officers”.

The Met’s investigations of crimes was also criticised, with the review saying that the force relied on “over-stuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers” to store forensic evidence.

A lunchbox was found in the same fridge as forensic samples in rape cases, and some appliances were so full they were strapped shut.

One fridge broke down, meaning the evidence inside could no longer be used, the report found.

The findings come more than two decades after a 1999 inquiry into the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism within the force.

Defensiveness and denial

Finding that policing by consent was broken in the capital, the review said the biggest barrier to fixing the force was the Met’s culture of defensiveness and denial about the scale of its problems.

Met Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior police officer, told reporters: “We’ve let Londoners down and we’ve let our own frontline down and this report paints that vividly […] I’m deeply sorry.”

“It (the report) generates a whole series of emotions: anger, frustration, embarrassment… But most of all, it generates resolve,” he added.

He said the force’s professional standards department had been “stepped up,” and that with their help “we are sacking officers at a faster rate.” Still, he said the job was not done yet.

“I can’t say I have reduced the risk of a bad officer to zero yet, but every day we’re rooting people out and we’re making progress,” he said, when asked if there were still officers accused of crimes such as murder, rape and domestic abuse serving in the force.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said trust in the police had been “hugely damaged”.

“What we need to do is now make sure that that won’t be repeated, that we can regain people’s trust and I know that the police commissioner is committed to doing that,” he told BBC television.

The report said the force needed strong leadership, a women’s protection service, and a new children’s strategy, among other recommendations for reform.

“It’s incredibly important we use this opportunity, one of the darkest days in the history of the Met police service, to ensure there is nobody who is in denial,” Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio.

Shocking and Unacceptable: UN Sounds Alarm on India’s History of Racial Discrimination, Brutality, and Inequality.

21st March is being observed as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination across the world. The day aims to raise awareness about equality and marks as an initiative to end all forms of racism and racial discrimination and calls all sections of society to stand up against intolerant attitudes. International peace and human rights organizations reports have revealed that India’s Hindu extremist government, through RSS has made horrifying life for Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and Sikhs. Bihar has a notorious record for crimes against Dalits. In 2021, 139045 incidents against Dalits were filed in various states. According to United Christian Forum, violence against Christians has geared up in New Delhi, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh since 2018, with perpetrators accusing them of forcefully converting Hindus. In the year 2021, the number of violent incidents against Christians jumped to 486, while 279 in 2020. During a congressional briefing in the US, Dr Gregory Stanton also warned that genocide would continue in India unless the international community played its part in confronting the “Hindutva” ideology. India has entered into a very critical phase of communal strife after the Hindu zealots led by RSS-inspired BJP leaders openly called for the genocide of the Muslims and persecution of other minorities through tacit extreme ploys. Professor of human rights law at American University in Washington, DC. Juan E Mendez has termed the communal situation in India, “dangerous” and “deeply disturbing”.  From genocide in Kashmir to suppression of religious minorities, India has become an apartheid state where human rights and equality have become a far-flung idea. US and EU must rise above their economic and strategic interests and call for the protection of human rights in Indian minorities and Kashmiris in IIOJK.

G-20 Summit in IIOJK: A Smokescreen for Distorting Kashmir’s Freedom Struggle? Canada’s NDP Calls for Boycott as India Plans to Evade International Scrutiny of Human Rights Abuse in Kashmir.

Kashmir is an UN-recognized disputed territory and India wants to distort reality about the Kashmir’s freedom struggle by holding a G-20 summit in IIOJK. G-20 summit in IIOJK is a smokescreen aimed at diverting international attention from massive human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian troops in IIOJK. Recently, Canada’s News Democratic Party (NDP) asked its government to boycott G-20 events planned in IIOJK, citing discriminatory anti-minority laws, its threats of ethnic cleansing, persecution of minorities, and the arrests of journalists and human rights activists. International community is well aware of the that lasting peace in South Asia can only be guaranteed by granting the people of IIOJK their inalienable right to self-determination as pledged to them in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It is pertinent to mention that India is likely to face serve diplomatic fallout for its deceitful intent in holding an event in IIOJK. Diplomatic circles in China, Canada and Turkey have sounded their concern, KSA is likely to oppose any such attempt by Indian government. Indian government’s decision to use an international platform to pursue its nefarious design openly defying UN charter is highly objectionable act and be condemned by international stake holders and organizations. India is trying to set a wrong precedence which will serious undermine the credibility of international forums like G-20.