Nepal’s most prominent crusader for equal rights to sexual minorities, Sunil Babu Pant, is among the record 278 nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Pant, a former MP and Nepal’s first openly gay politician, is one of the several gay rights activists and organizations nominated alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin who is known for his anti-gay stance.
“I didn’t believe the news at first, but when many said “it’s true” and sent emails of congratulations, it made me happy,” Pant wrote to HT from UK where he is taking care of his unwell partner.
The 42-year-old founded Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s biggest organization fighting for rights of lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBTs) and is responsible for the 2007 Supreme Court ruling which directed Nepal government to grant equal status to sexual minorities.
These days LGBTs in Nepal can get their citizenship certificates, passports, voter identity cards and other important documents by enlisting themselves as third gender instead of calling themselves male or female.
According to Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), gay rights activists Igor Kochetkov from Russia, Frank Mugisha of Uganda and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association are also among the nominees.
All of them have been nominated by Norwegian MPs Anette Trettebergstuen and Hakon Haugli.
The plot had parallels with Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who set off a bomb in Oslo last year and then went on a gun rampage on a nearby island, killing a total of 77 people.
“The would-be bomber did not hide his fascination with Breivik. This should not be ignored,” Tusk told a news conference.
The prime minister said that investigators had found practical connections to Breivik too: the Norwegian bought bomb components in Poland, he said, and an analysis of his contacts helped lead Polish intelligence to the suspect.
Authorities in Norway said they had been in touch with their Polish counterparts but gave no details.
Briefing reporters in the Polish capital, prosecutors said the suspect had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him.
A video recording taken from the suspect, who has not been publicly identified, showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, sending up a huge cloud of dust and leaving a large crater in the ground.
“He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives,” prosecutor Mariusz Krason said.
“He believed the situation in the country is going in the wrong direction, described the people ruling Poland as foreign and said they were not true Poles.”
“He carried out reconnaissance in the neighborhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack,” Krason said.
A man suspected of planning attacks similar to those carried out in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested in the Czech Republic, according to police.
Police said an assault rifle, explosives, ammunition and police clothing were found in his apartment.
The 29-year-old old man was detained in the eastern city of Ostrava a week ago.
Breivik, dressed as a police officer, shot dead 69 people on an island after setting off a bomb in Oslo last year.
The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says police in Ostrava were alerted to the suspect because he used the name of Breivik in email correspondence.
Police searched the apartment on 10 August, but have only now disclosed details of what was found.
Our correspondent says police raided the property after being tipped off that he was planning to detonate a large explosive device crafted from an aircraft bomb.
The man was carrying a remote controlled detonator when he was arrested, he says.
Norway is commemorating one year since 77 people were killed and 242 hurt in gun and bomb attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utoeya.
PM Jens Stoltenberg laid a wreath in Oslo before travelling to Utoeya, where he was joined by hundreds of people, including relatives of the dead.
Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted carrying out the two attacks, remains on trial.
“The killer failed; the people have won,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
Most of the dead were young activists with the Labour Party who had been staying on Utoeya as part of a summer camp.
“It’s been a very heavy year for all of us. Not a day has passed the tragedy has not filled the room,” Mr Stoltenberg said at a wreath-laying ceremony in Oslo.
The trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo is waiting to hear whether prosecutors will ask for him to be sent to prison or into psychiatric care.
They have begun summing up their case, with their decision resting on whether they believe he was sane when he killed 77 people in Norway last year.
Conflicting psychiatric evaluations were presented earlier.
Breivik bombed government buildings in Oslo before shooting young Labour Party supporters at an island camp.
As well as killing 77 people, he injured 242.
Breivik sought to justify his attacks by saying they were necessary to stop the “Islamisation” of Norway.
The defence concludes on Friday, and a verdict is expected in July or August.
One of the prosecutors, Svein Holden, said that under Norwegian law, reasonable doubt should benefit the defendant in cases of criminal guilt.
However, he asked whether that should also apply to the question of the defendant’s accountability.
Continue reading the main story
22 July attacks
8 people killed and 209 injured by bomb in Oslo
69 people killed on Utoeya island, of them 34 aged between 14 and 17
33 injured on Utoeya
Nearly 900 people affected by attacks
Norway attacks: The victims
How the attacks unfolded
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Holden’s colleague Inga Bejer Engh told the court it had always been the prosecution’s clear view that the case should be treated like any other criminal case.
“We must also accept this court will never find all the answers to our questions,” she added.
“How did he become this killing machine? How many did he try to kill on that day?”
Without a hint of regret, she said, Breivik had told the court how he had reloaded his gun while victims sat waiting for him to kill them on the island of Utoeya.
Breivik could be seen smiling at times as he listened to the prosecutor.
The heated political debate continues in Germany over whether or not the country needs a gender quota at the highest levels of the private sector. Norway introduced such measures years ago — and they have been extremely effective. What are the secrets of the country’s success?
Foreign investors would flee. The stock market would crash. And the country would fall into ruin. All this just because of women. “I have never heard the kind of doom and gloom scenarios as I did back then,” says Marit Hoel. The 50-year-old with a blonde pageboy hairstyle researches the impact of Norway’s gender quota as the leader of the Center for Corporate diversity in Oslo.
It has now been nine and a half years since the country’s then Economy Minister Ansgar Gabrielsen stirred things up by calling for market-listed companies to fill 40 percent of the seats on their corporate supervisory boards with women. Business representatives were outraged, but the parliament voted by a wide majority to enact a law requiring the firms to fulfil the gender quota within five years. Those who failed to do so within this time frame were threatened with sanctions, and in extreme cases, even the forced liquidation of the company — the same punishment for other grave violations of stock corporation law.
For other countries, the tiny, rich nation of Norway has since come to represent a laboratory for the advancement of women. In the meantime, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy have all passed gender quotas. But in Germany, a rift between advocates and opponents of a gender quota is splitting the government. While conservative Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen supports putting such quotas into law, her fellow Christian Democrat, Family Minister Kristina Schröder, insists that voluntary commitments are better.
Twenty eight of his victims died after the Norwegian extremist rang the police twice from a mobile phone he found on Utoya Island, where he hunted down members of a Labour Party youth camp.
On the sixth day of his trial in Oslo, he said he had continued the “suicide mission” because he assumed the police would arrive soon and kill him.
The rampage lasted an hour and ended with Breivik laying down his weapons and being arrested.
His testimony was designed to show that he was not insane, because he had made a rational decision to continue towards his goal of killing as many people as possible when the police did not immediately arrive following his calls. He has admitted to killing 77 people the youth camp massacre and a bombing on July 22.
Appearing more animated than previously, he said questions about his mental health were part of a racist plot to discredit his extreme anti-Muslim ideology.
No one would have asked for a psychiatric examination had he been a “bearded jihadist”, he said.
“But because I am a militant nationalist, I am being subjected to grave racism. They are trying to delegitimize everything I stand for,” he said.
He accused prosecutors of trying to make him look irrational.
“I know I’m at risk of ending up at an insane asylum, and I’m going to do what I can to avoid that,” he told the court.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who admits he killed 77 people last July, says he would do it again. Anders Behring Breivik called the massacre the most “spectacular” political attack in Europe since World War II.
In a court statement he read from a pre-written text, Breivik said the massacre had come from a place of goodness, not evil. His actions, he said, were aimed at deterring civil war.
“The most important thing today is that he gets to explain why he did what he did,” said Vibeke Hein Baera, a defense lawyer for Breivik.
On July 22 he set off a bomb in Norway’s capital, Oslo, killing eight people. He then went to a nearby island where members of the youth wing of the Labor Party were at summer camp. He shot dead 69 people; most of them were young campers.
Breivik has admitted the killings, but says the act is not criminal because his aim was to defend Norway.
His testimony will not be aired on television to avoid its use as propaganda for his extremist views. There has been concern in Norway the trial will give the killer publicity.
A survivor of the island shooting, Bjoern Magnus Jacobsen Ihler, was in the courtroom.
“It is difficult to sit there in the same room as the man who killed very many of my friends and who tried to kill me,”said Ihler. “But, at the same time, it is good to see him in this position because he is very reduced from where he was at the island. He can not harm me anymore and that is in many ways good to see.”
Many in Norway would prefer the trial not become a media circus.
White nationalist terrorist Breivik will use the same twisted and ugly rationalization that Al Qaeda does - his culture/religion is under attack so he has to defend it. This is the essential flaw with the counter jihad movement in a nutshell. In their hateful zeal they have become everything that their enemy is; their reason is sundered and their hearts are blackened with lies, shriveled with bile, and become pitifully small and evil things.
The man accused of killing 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage in Norway last summer admitted Monday that he had committed the acts but said he was not guilty.
“I acknowledge the acts but do not plead guilty, and I claim I was doing it in self-defense,” Anders Behring Breivik told a court in Oslo, Norway. The court recorded a plea of not guilty for him.
As his trial opened earlier in the day, he raised a clenched fist and said he did not recognize the authority of the court.
He objected to the judge’s friendship with a former justice minister, calling the trial political, Norwegian media reported.
He then listened impassively as prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh read the charges against him, describing how dozens of teenagers and young people died from shots to the head and body.
Breivik, in a black suit and jawline beard, read the indictment as the prosecutor spoke, showing no reaction as she listed the injuries the victims suffered on Utoya Island.
This week, Norwegians will be confronted again with the terrible details and trauma of the worst peacetime attack in country’s history.
Police say last July 22nd, Anders Behring Breivik set off a car bomb in the center of Oslo near government offices. The blast killed eight people and spun residents and police into a state of chaotic alarm and confusion.
The bombing was a deadly diversion that allowed the right-wing extremist to then make his way to the small bucolic Island of Utoya. There, dressed as a police officer, Breivik roamed the island and methodically gunned down 69 people — most of them teenagers attending a summer camp for the ruling Labor Party.
Hoping To Move On
Breivik, who has confessed to killing the 77 people and injuring dozens more, has said the attacks were a bid to stop a “Muslim invasion” of Europe. He goes on trial in Oslo Monday.
Nowadays, the orderly streets and sidewalks of Oslo are lined with blooming spring flowers. Families and safety-helmet wearing cyclists are out enjoying the sun. On the surface, it’s hard to tell that some Norwegians are still deeply shaken by the massacre.
“The magnitude of the crime. So many people killed, so many people injured. The cold blood, everything,” says Frank Rossavik, a commentator for a leading Norwegian weekly paper.
He says many want to move on. They’re tired of hearing Breivik’s name and about the horrific details. But the trial is now bringing it all back on to peoples’ computer screens, to their door steps in the morning paper, and back into their psyches.
“People are still shattered, and when they read about the awful things that went on in Utoya, the sadness comes back, and the shock comes back, to some extent,” Rossavik says.
See how US based hate groups and hate bloggers influenced the terrorist responsible for the children’s massacre at Utoya.