Belgian government lies on sending refugees to torture in Sudan


Demonstration against Francken in Brussels, 30 December 2017, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Cabinet crisis is threatening in Belgium

Today, 11:45

In Belgium, high political play is being played and there is a threat of a cabinet crisis. It is about the position of junior minister for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken, who has already been discredited.

Francken of the New-Flemish Alliance (N-VA) is under fire because he is said have lied about expelling a group of Sudanese. Other parties want him to resign, but N-VA leader Bart de Wever threatens to pull the plug out of the government if Francken is sent away.

Torture

The N-VA politician as Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration is responsible for a group of Sudanese who were deported from Belgium to their country of birth last year. Francken decided to do so, even though he was warned by a committee that the refugees in Sudan might be tortured. … According to statements by the Sudanese in Belgian media, they were actually tortured after their return.

Other coalition parties charge him with the issue and say he lied to the parliament and the prime minister. They do not want to send Francken away, but believe that he should resign himself.

UPDATE: Francken’s coalition partners swallow their criticism.

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Ancient Sudanese goldsmith’s tomb found


This video says about itself:

Ancient tomb of gold worker found along Nile river

3 July 2017

The ancient tomb found on Sai Island seems to have been built for a man named Khnummose. His remains along with those of possibly his wife were buried there.

A 3,400-year-old tomb holding the remains of more than a dozen possibly mummified people has been discovered on Sai Island, along the Nile River in northern Sudan.

Archaeologists discovered the tomb in 2015, though it wasn’t until 2017 that a team with the AcrossBorders archaeological research project fully excavated the site.

The island is part of an ancient land known as Nubia that Egypt controlled 3,400 years ago. The Egyptians built settlements and fortifications throughout Nubia, including on Sai Island, which had a settlement and a gold mine. The tomb, which contains multiple chambers, appears to hold the remains of Egyptians who lived in or near that settlement and worked in gold production.

The artifacts found in the tomb include scarabs (a type of amulet widely used in Egypt), ceramic vessels, a gold ring, the remains of gold funerary masks worn by the deceased and a small stone sculpture known as a shabti. The ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis could do the work of the deceased for them in the afterlife. Some of the artifacts bore Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions that revealed the tomb was originally created for a man named Khnummose, who was a “master gold worker.”

The remains of Khnummose (which may have been mummified) were found next to those of a woman who may have been his wife. Some of the other people found in tomb may have been relatives of Khnummose, the researchers said, adding that they planned to conduct DNA analyses of the remains.

“We will try to extract ancient DNA from the [bones] of the bodies in question,” said Julia Budka, professor for Egyptian Archaeology and Art History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. “If the [ancient] DNA is preserved, this will help us a lot. Otherwise, it all remains tentative,” said Budka, who noted that the samples are already at the Department for Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.

The archaeologists said they aren’t sure how many of the bodies were mummified.

“The state of preservation is very difficult here,” Budka said. “I am waiting for the report of my physical anthropologists. For now, the position and also traces of bitumen speak for some kind of mummification for all persons in Tomb 26 who were placed in wooden coffins.” Bitumen is a type of petroleum that the ancient Egyptians sometimes used in mummification.

Many of the coffins are also poorly preserved, and it’s uncertain exactly how many of the people were buried in coffins, Budka said.

From the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen in Germany:

New Kingdom Egypt: The goldsmith’s tomb

July 21, 2017

Summary: Archeologists are studying the impact of intercultural contacts in Ancient Egypt. New excavations in Sudan have uncovered a tomb dating to around 1450 BC on the island of Sai in the Nile.

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich Egyptologist Julia Budka is studying the impact of intercultural contacts in Ancient Egypt. Her excavations in Sudan have uncovered a tomb dating to around 1450 BC on the island of Sai in the Nile.

A previously unknown tomb, some 3400 years old, has recently been uncovered on the island of Sai in the River Nile. It was in use for some time and contains the remains of up to 25 persons. Further analysis of the finds could elucidate the multicultural nature of the island’s population during this period.

The island was then located in Nubia, which was the primary source of gold for the New Kingdom of the Egyptian Pharaohs at that time. The tomb was most probably built for a master goldsmith by the name of Khnummose, and was discovered during excavations conducted by Julia Budka, Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Art. Investigation of the tomb’s contents and inscriptions has so far revealed that, following the conquest by the Pharaoh Thutmose III of the local African kingdom of Kerma, the local elites were rapidly integrated by the new regime. The earliest Egyptian-style burials on Sai date to the reign of this king.

Over the past 5 years, Budka has carried out parallel studies on three different Egyptian settlements that were established during the period of the so-called New Kingdom between 1500 und 1200 BC. The excavations on the island of Sai, which lies in what is now the Sudanese section of the Nile, not only provide insights into the relationship between the official representatives of the occupying power and the local Nubian population, they also demonstrate that the island was inhabited for longer than hitherto assumed.

“It had been thought that the settlement on the island was abandoned after the foundation of a new town at Amara West. Our finds, on the other hand, prove that Hornakht, one of Egypt’s highest ranking bureaucrats during the reign of Ramses II, not only had his official residence on the island, but was also buried there,” says Budka. This clearly shows that the town on Sai survived until about 1200 BC.

Bird-killing powerlines in Sudan


This 2015 video from the USA is called Birds of prey need power line protection.

From BirdLife:

How many more killer powerlines are there in Sudan?

By Prof Ibrahim Hashim, President of Sudanese Wildlife Society, 9 Jan 2017

Africa is powering up rapidly. Governments’ urge to develop economically and attract investments is immense. This push also involves countries along the Red Sea/Rift Valley Flyway Region including Sudan, where millions of migratory birds could be dying due to electrocution and collisions with electricity cables in an expanding power sector.

A preliminary report from recent surveys in Sudan has revealed that eight bird species have been mostly affected by the powerlines. These include Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Yellow-billed Kite, Abdim’s Stork, Grayish Owl, White-backed Vulture and Pied Crow. The surveys were conducted in Al Gazeira, Al Gadarif and Kassala States in June/July and December 2015, as well as January 2016. The powerlines surveyed in Kassala State proportionately recorded the highest number of birds killed. These surveys were commissioned through the Migratory Soaring Birds project of BirdLife International funded by GEF/UNDP.

In Al Gazeira, Al Gadarif and Kassala States, 988, 2120 and 383 poles were covered respectively in the survey. Individual numbers of birds killed along powerlines were 47 in Al Gazeira, 209 in Al Gadarif and 96 in Kassala. While keeping in mind that some of the dead birds could have already been scavenged upon, this translates to at least one bird being killed between every 10 electric poles within a short duration of time. Among the dead birds, 57 were killed through collision with powerlines and 295 killed by electrocution. A total of 278 deaths of migratory soaring bird individuals were recorded, hence, the most affected group.

Earlier in 2013, BirdLife International in collaboration with the national project Partner, Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS), organized a stakeholders meeting which involved the Sudanese Electricity Transmission Company (SETC) to create awareness on the Port Sudan “killer line” that had killed hundreds, perhaps thousands of Egyptian vultures Neophron percnopterus since its construction in 1950. The Port Sudan powerline has since been insulated. Further awareness has been done through World Migratory Bird Day events in the country supported by BirdLife.

The issue of bird deaths through energy infrastructure interactions in Sudan however remained a topic of interest from both the power utilities and the conservation community in Sudan. SETC has complained of interrupted power supply due to birds, whereas BirdLife and SWS aims at a sector reconciled with biodiversity conservation. The scale of the bird deaths remained unknown and it was difficult to arrive at any recommendations in addressing the problem. It was therefore, for this reason that a joint survey mission between SWS and SECT was deemed necessary.

The powerlines surveyed were of 33 kV and 11 kV types. They traverse habitat comprising 91% agricultural land, 7% residential area and 2% forests. With no tress for roosting available, birds perch on powerlines and get electrocuted, especially at higher elevation power structures. From the results of the survey, the effect of powerlines on raptors deserves attention: 57 Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni, 29 Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus, eight Red-necked Buzzards Buteo auguralis, five White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus and two Levant Sparrowhawks Accipiter brevipes were killed.

The results of this survey have been shared in a national workshop held on 17th May 2016. The workshop came up with the following recommendations, among others: a strengthened joint approach between SWS and SETC for greater results; more in-depth Environmental Impact Assessment studies and wider stakeholder involvement to ensure power sector development that guarantees safety for birds; more environmental awareness among the electrical engineers; immediate remedial measures to avoid more bird kills from existing powerlines; mainstreaming conservation considerations particularly of migratory soaring birds and the flyway in energy projects and programmes.

Such recommendations when implemented, would certainly deliver a win-win situation in Sudan and help the country in fulfilling her national and global mandates as enshrined in the international conventions such as Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and Convention on Biological Diversity.