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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

'Di was murdered because she planned to expose UK's role in arms trade'

London, June 1 (ANI): Princess Diana was murdered because she planned to expose Britain's role in the deadly arms trade, according to a leading defence lawyer.

Buzz up!Michael Mansfield QC claimed that she was planning to publish a diary replete with details of those closely involved with British land-mine manufacturing.

"Everyone remembers she raised the profile of the land mines.

"Everybody is aware that the British involvement in the arms trade, particularly land mines, is and was a huge vested interest.

"It seems to me she had planned various visits. She had already been to Angola and she was going to Cambodia.

"A large number of land mines had been manufactured by the British. She claimed she had an explosive diary in which she was going to expose the people most closely involved in the British arms trade," The Daily Express quoted him as saying in the Hay Festival in Powys, Wales.

Mansfield said her anti-land mine campaign and plan to reveal the secrets behind the trade were "not unrelated" to the car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997 that killed Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed.

He also spoke of a witness who claimed that the diary existed along with a missing box of papers that could contain crucial information.

He told a Spanish newspaper, "Diana had given interviews attacking the Royal Family but what most annoyed the authorities was that she became very actively involved in the campaign against land mines."

A spokeswoman for Princes William and Harry said they had "no comment" on the latest allegations surrounding their mother's death. (ANI)
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New £16m Hindu temple opens in Wembley

By Catrin Nye
BBC Asian Network

Wembley's newest looming landmark has opened it doors after 14 years of construction.

It is the £16m Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir, which loosely translates as the all-inclusive temple.

There is none of the metal core most buildings have and, instead, it has been built using ancient techniques based on Hindu scriptures.

The method dates back thousands of years and was used to construct the world famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Many of the temple's component pieces have been hand carved in limestone in the tiny town of Sola - located in the Indian state of Gujarat - before being flown over and pieced together in the UK.

There were also 41 marble deities made in India especially for the mandir.

The temple covers 2.4 acres (9,700 sq m) on the Ealing Road and, at its highest point, is 66ft (20m) tall.

Its bright sand-coloured walls stand out in stark contrast to the unassuming surroundings.

A ceremony called Pran Prathistha was held to "infuse the spirit of God into the statues" as part of the temple opening.

A VIP opening was then held with donors, sponsors and local dignitaries in attendance.

Ajay Jobanputra is governor of Shri Vallabh Nidhi UK (SVNUK), the charity which raised the funds to build the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir.

He hopes the temple will provide a place of worship for all Hindus and welcome those of other faiths.

"Famous spiritual leaders and forms of Gods from other religions are featured in the carvings such as Mother Teresa, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (a Sikh Guru), Meerabai, Lord Swaminarayan and many more.

"It's about showcasing the importance of respect, love and compassion for all religions, making the temple dynamic and universal.

"The message being promoted is of Vasudev Kutumbakaum, a Hindu term to describe the world as one big family."

The chief priest at the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir is Dr Raj Pandit Sharma, who said the new temple may stand out as a structure but it fits in with the eclectic local community.

"I think it will add to the charm of the area," he explained.

"Ealing Road already has mosques and churches and I think this temple will stand out as something unique that can be seen from some distance.

"I would hope that anybody who comes to the temple would find it a place where they will feel relaxed. It's like a sanctuary of peace amongst the bustling heart of London."

Special events

Each morning there will be prayers at the new temple in line with Hindu tradition.

It will house special events for such occasions as Diwali and Navratri as well as annual religious functions to celebrate the birth of Hindu saints and Gods like Jalaram Jayanti (Saint Jalarambapa) and Janmasthami (Lord Krishna).

Mr Jobanputra says the temple is expected to draw crowds from across London and visitors from much further afield.

"We're estimating around 400 to 500 local people will visit us during the weekdays and double that on weekends.

"We also expect visitors from other parts of the UK and Europe.

"We have already had visit requests from Spain, Portugal and Switzerland."
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Unresolved Land Disputes Rising: Rights Coalition

Rights groups say they are concerned with a spike in reported land disputes that have gone unresolved under the current law.

The increasing number is because the government is providing economic land concessions while powerful government officials are also seizing land from the people, Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum, told reporters Tuesday.

Land disputes reported to NGOs under the umbrella organization climbed 27 percent in 2009, from 173 cases in 2008, and another 32 percent in in first five months of 2010, according to the NGO Forum.

Nun Pheany, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, denied the reports that land disputes were increasing. The ministry received 5,000 complaints since the beginning of 2009 from 24 provinces and municipalities and has resolved 70 percent of them, he said.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the Coalitions of Civil Society Organizations said most land dispute cases were still unresolved.

“Most land dispute cases involve companies including both local and foreign investment companies as well as wealthy and powerful people,” the group said. “They affect large number of families and are mostly disputed with companies who obtained an economic land concession. It’s worth to note that in the past, land dispute cases usually involve dealing with violence and end up unresolved. Only few cases have been settled legally.”

The statement of concern comes ahead of a large donor meeting scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The coalition recommended more participation of poor communities in land decisions, fair resolution and compensation in existing land disputes, a stronger resolution mechanism, a cease to arrests made in land disputes and the empowerment of authorities to solve land dispute cases.
“Please stop using the military or police forces to protect the company,” the group said.
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NGOs Call on Donors To Strengthen Conditions

Cambodian Non Governmental Organizations workers shout slogans during a demonstration in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Leaders of Cambodia’s leading development organizations said Tuesday they want the international community to put conditions on development aid pledges, which are expected to be more than $ 1 billion when they meet with senior government officials this week.

A donor meeting Wednesday and Thursday will focus on the government’s national development plan, which is expected $6.2 billion over the next five years.

The meeting, officially known as the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum, gathers Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cabinet with representatives from the US, the European Union, China, Japan, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, UN and others.

Local and international non-governmental organizations will also be represented by NGO Forum and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

“We request international donors to present the list of recommendations on what to demand from the Cambodian government before agreeing to provide future development aid,” Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of NGO Forum, a consortium of development organizations, said. “We have concerns over the management of land and natural resources, which the government and the donors should think about deeply.”

Much of Cambodia’s annual budget is supported by aid from other countries and larger development banks and agencies. In recent years, that has included large aid packages from China, who Cambodian officials say grant money without the conditions typically imposed by the West.

“The stance of the NGOs is of reflection and discussion,” Chhith Sam Ath said. “We don’t want to prevent development aid. We welcome the aid, but we want the aid provided to Cambodia to be used directly and effectively.”

Aid conditions have nettled Cambodia’s leaders in the past, although some critics say the donors do not use enough leverage to push the government to do more to fight corruption, poverty and human rights abuses.

Ahead of this week’s meetings the outspoken critic of Cambodian policies, Global Witness, called on donors to do more.

“The Cambodian government has been promising to reform for years, but nothing had changed,” Global Witness Campaigns Director Gavin Hayman said in a statement Tuesday. “Our latest report shows that the political elite has no intention of loosening its stranglehold over the country’s natural resource wealth. Donors simply cannot continue to turn a blind eye.”

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said the donors should “put condition pressure on the government for providing aid to end human rights violations and evictions, as well as recommend to the government legal and judicial reform and anti-corruption [where] reform is slow.”

“The donors should have influence or power over the Cambodian government to respect human rights and democracy,” Hang Chhaya said.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development organization, said the government’s policy to promote gender equity has not been effectively implemented.

“So we would like the government and the donors to take care of solving the challenges to women, like poverty, low education, domestic violence and trafficking,” she said.
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