the iraqi shia cleric al-sadr stages a sit-in in baghdad's heavily fortified green zone demanding government reforms. ♪ ♪ hello and welcome you are watching al jazeera live from our headquarters in doha. pakistan's prime minister visits some of the 70 victims of the bomb attack in lahore. brussels disburses right wing protesters marching for tuesday's attacks. plus. >> reporter: i am wayne hay reporting from the first dam to
be construct odd the lower mekong risk the controversial project but one that the laos government says has to happen to boost the economy. our top story. an influential iraqi shia cleric has stepped up a protest for political reforms by camping out inside baghdad's ford fight government area. he entered the green zone a week after thousands of his supporters began a sit-down protest outside. you met the prime minister hider al badi toll present his demands, to help tackle allegations of corruption. live now to baghdad and al jazeera's correspondent jane arraf. he's playing a canny game here. month big protests no big marches. just get the white plastic chair and you sit down an and say i am not moving. >> reporter: there have been actually huge protests in the
run up to this. you are right it wouldn't seem dematic aikman would simply walk in to the green zone and sit down but it's it is incredibly politically dramatic. he has been at the entrance of the green zone where iraqi government officials and foreign embassies are locates. he has been in that tent since he went in yesterday. telling the supporters that although he told them they should storm the green zone if a deadline wasn't reached for a new government. he was going to do it on their behalf. it was a very quiet sort of storming. he went in, but in very telling detail, he was greeted effusively by the head of security of the green zone who actually kissed his hand. so it's an indication of how much power this man actually has. now, today, he met with prime minister hider al badi last night and today his supporters say they will actually walk from sadr city in the rain and other
places. >> it's six weeks, at least six weeks since the prime minister said i will make changes, why are those changes not actually being delivered? >> reporter: that's the key question, it's not for lack of trying it seems by the prime minister, but this is a complicated political system that's been in place for the past 13 years since sadam hussein was toppled essentially and the government is basically shared between political parties. political party that his send to be tied to specific sets or he want anything groupings. those parties don't really want to give up the power that they have being able to affect ministers, so a al badi has been trying very hard to bring out a new cabinet. in fact he took office saying he hadn't chosen the cabinet ministers, he's not happy with them. but there is quite a lot of opposition. but what sad do the r has done r
militia leader who actually rows up, his followers fought against iraqi forces as well as american forces now he's part of the political mainstream. but there is always that threat there, that he could mobilize his supporters and they could actually provide more than political pressure for him. all that have creates a complicated political ahead plus fear here, peter. >> jane, thanks very much. families in villages north of mosul are being relocated as iraqi forces continue their advance towards the city. the offensive began on thursday. they have u.s.-led air support. funerals are being held for the victims of the suicide blast. at least 70 people died in an attack in a park. many children. the prime minister has visited victims in the hospital. we speak to kamal hyder right
now. why christians? it's such a small percentage of the population. >> reporter: it was easter. not just christians but muslims as well. this being a children's park it was an indiscriminate attack. one that brought condemnation from other countries as well. but the timing is essential because the group that carried out the attack said that they wanted to do this on easter day. >> is this a problem for the mime minister, canal? thikamal? this is his power base, if you will. >> reporter: it is indeed. if you look in to this particular attack carefully, it appears that the attacker came from sound punjab, there have been complaints that southern punjab has become a hot bed for
some of the taliban fighters who he is skaeupltd military offensively in pakistans trifle area along the afghan border. so major political challenge for him because his brother is the chief minister of the province as well. and this is the province where he got the most votes. one thing must be understood it's very difficult to stop a suicide bomber who is hell bent on blowing himself up. >> you have anticipated my next question, kamal. could or shut the authorities have anticipated this park on this particular day of religious celebration as a potential soft target? >> reporter: an suitsly. there iabsolutely.there is no qs no security present to be able to at least try to a stop the attacker or the perpetrator. there was none. so that of course leads to a big question as to how safe are
ordinary citizens and how easy it is for a group such as [ inaudible ] who took responsibility to carry out these attacks across the country. >> there are protests taking place outside the parliament as well in islambad. what's the nature of those demonstrations. well, this is an interesting story because you see what happened is if you remember last month the government hanged the perpetrator who murdered one of the governors of the province because he spoke out openly, he was critical of the country's blablasphemy allows. now when he was hanged the media was told to keep a blackout. the government didn't want this to become a big issue. 10s of thousands of people turned up for the funeral. so yesterday there was another prayer for him, again 10s of thousands of people gathered in the city, then all of a sudden in a spontaneous action they
decided to march on islambad. the security forces were out numbered and out whited. these people were able to then come in to the red zone in islambad which had the country's parliament the supreme court. the military had i to be called in to secure the vital installations and buildings and we are hold that despite the fact that many of them withdrew overnight, after scuffles with the security forces that a few thousand still remain there. the their demands are something difficult to immediate because they want in position of sharia law. they want the perpetrator who killed the governor to be declared a martyr. want it to be a national heritage site a toll list of did he planned and something that the government cannot agree. >> kamal, thanks very much. there is huh been a prisoner swap between houthi fighters and saudi forces in yenemy of the a houthi official says the group released nine saudi soldiers in
exchange for 109 people who have been captured in southern yemen. the swap is part i've second round of talks between saudi arabia and the shia houthis. syrian government forces say they are now in full control of the city of palmyra. it is an important victory for president bashar al-assad. assad's ally, russia, says it will help to remove land mines. president putin has offered the help of experts from moscow to restore the historic sites damaged by isil fighters. the ceasefire in syria may be holding apart from isolated areas of fighting but the u.n. says not enough aid is getting through several towns and villages are still in effect cut off and we sieges. here is omar al saleh. >> reporter: the towns, one of syria's most devastated areas. it's 250,000 population have mostly moved away. just days before the truce started last month, people who stayed behind have lived under
this. and this. leaving behind a town in ruins and largely destroyed. >> translator: civilians took a break, bombardment has stopped. the regime used everything on us, barrels, rockets, everything. >> reporter: nothing is spared. many mosques were hit or damaged. at this catholic church, there is no easter mass this year. the worshipers have gone. but around 8,500 people remain in this rebel-held town. they have been stuck here since 2012. and now they are hungry and desperate. the world food program says people were forced to eat grass, families endured days without a meal. he is taking care of his plants.
he may be forced to eat them. >> translator: the bleeding has stopped. but we didn't get any aid. each minute passes we lose time in the besieged areas, when my children are losing their childhood. >> reporter: in turkey this opposition official says conditions are disastrous. >> it's catastrophic. there is a shortage of everything, food, medicine, milk. the regime wants to end the revolution in areas that surround damascus by forcing them in to submission using these tactics. >> reporter: they accuse the government of using starvation as a weapon. the u.n. is calling on the government to allow unrestricted as cesc to half a million syrians in besieged areas so far the government has refuse today give that permission. the u.n. says preventing aid is a violation of international l law. life under siege is hard.
but it goes on even without food, medicine and milk. omar al saleh, al jazeera. the greek authorities are continuing to move people from the main camp on the border with macedonia. officials say the flow of asylum seekers arriving on the islands has stoled slowed t slowed to as zeina khodr reports people are refuse to go leave as conditions get worse. >> reporter: yet again they make their way towards greece's border with macedonia. they have been told that the migrant trail to northern europe has reopened. these refugees and migrants packed their belongings, left their makeshift camps and walked for kilometers in the cold. >> translator: we are going because they are opening the boarder. we read it owe social media and on facebook pages of activists we were celebrating last night. >> reporter: but these people were not given the correct information. this is what they found when they reached here. dozens preparing to breakthrough greek police lines and push their way forward.
>> translator: this is the only hope we have left. they want to take to us military camps and the e.u. relow take program could take months or two to three years, i am confident we can get through because we are many. >> reporter: a few dozen did gather but didn't take long before they changed their mind. we won't be marching they said. not until the red cross is with them and there is a decision by the european unit i don't know let them in. these refugees and migrants know that crossing by force will not change anything. two weeks ago some of them managed to breakthrough a barbed wire fence, only to be arrested by macedonian authorities and sent back. instead they held peaceful protests in front of the world's cameras. in the hope that their voices will be heard and their suffering not forgotten. >> translator: we will endure the cold and stay even with no food we won't leave here our families are in europe already. we will stay here until we can cross. >> reporter: this is where they say they will wait while their
asylum requests are processed. they are now relying on activist to his support them. >> what is going on here is a tragedy for a whole continent who are renouncing to our history and humanity. >> reporter: the main road through which hundreds of thousands of migrant use to reach northern europe has been closed for weeks. there is no indication that will change. and more and more people are realizing that europe's open-door policy has been shut. zeina khodr, al jazeera. coming up here on al jazeera. we'll look at how the nigerian government's latest efforts to fight boko haram mean there is less food on the table. an expanded role for japan's military divides the nation. nation.
♪ ♪ welcome back. the top stories here on al jazeera. the iraqi shia cleric is on day two of a sit in protest in baghdad's green zona long with his supporters he's frustrated with what they are calling government inaction about the issue of corruption. funerals are being held in pakistan following a suicide blast in the city of lahore which left at least 70 people dealt. a sprinter group from pakistan's taliban said it carried out the bomb attack. syrian government forces say say they have won full control of palmyra with russian support. president paoutd inning has offered help to restore the saint chen city. police in bell yum used water cannon to break up a crowd
of pr protesters. paul brennan was there. >> reporter: sunday's intended memorial rally was already postponed but security was tied around the gathering place where so many have come to pay their respects since last tuesday. because while soldiers watched the mourners here, elsewhere special police units were launching more than a dozen new raids and arresting several new suspectsus. suspect. the postponement created a vac up which others were eager to fill. belgian national i was football casuals marched and muscled their way on to the steps which had become the focal point for the solidarity movement. >> just a statement to say we love belgian. belgium is our country. and europe, keep europe our own.
>> reporter: then the mood turned ugly. the sense of sorrow and grief which has been the overwhelming emotion here in brussels since the tuesday bomb attacks, giving way in toy small but very vocal minority to violence and anger. with water cannon and person spray police units pushed the group back towards the railway station where they disbursed but not before unfurling their banner one last time. ben january prosecutors have charged a man with terrorist murder and attempted murder. but still won't confirm belgian media reports that his full name. but more reports are emerging this refugee who has asked to remain anonymous arrived in belgium last year and remained in this park for several years and remembers the man coming to the park behaving stage strangely agitating and i using a mega phone to try to pro toke violence against supposed infidels.
>> he was stopped for two days by the police and then he came back with this microphones and he was yelling and talking a lot of things. and some people told me he was like trying to make -- gathering us to make force -- i don't know to -- >> reporter: violence. >> violence and stuff, yeah. and everybody was like, please stop it. and people was mad and especially the [ inaudible ] because they understand totally what he was saying. he was calling anybody not muslim infidel. and that's very [ inaudible ] or very size us or very [ inaudible ] because sunni muslims are shia muslims or whatever they don't call the other infidels and trying to make this kind of problems. >> reporter: but he has doubts whether this really is the third bomber the man in white on the airport cctv. but the picture in the cctv from the airport. >> it's not clear, it's not
clear. and it's -- he's a skinny guy and when they say it's him i was like, it's not possible or maybe because it's been six months. maybe he eat a lot of burgers. >> reporter: investigators have a long way to go before they complete the full picture of who was involved. paul brennan, al jazeera, brussels. the first meeting of the islamic military lines initiated by saudi arabia has wrapped up in riyadh the group was formed in december to fight what it calls terrorism. members vowed to target organizations such as isil how they are resource resourced and. the movement of cattle is being restrict ed in nigeria in a bid to cut off boko haram's money. they have been stealing live stock and using the proceeds to funds their attacks. the restrictions are having a negative affect on the area's meat industry. >> reporter: workers are preparing these animals for
slaughter. the last few weeks have been particularly tough for business at the main place. the number of animals brought here have significantly dropped. >> translator: we used to salute 250 cows a day now we only do less than 100. most of them we breed ahead home. >> reporter: that's because the government here in nigeria's borno state has restricted the movement and sale of cattle. it's honest to cut off boko haram's income. but also resulted in shortages and hikes in the prices of meat especially beef. the empty butcher's tables at this market reflect the mood. even the flies are noticeably fewer these days. smaller animals like ghost and sheep are brought in to fill the shortage. they, too, cost more now. butchers who try to rein business are improvising like this popular grill now mostly
sells chicken. >> translator: there are no cows i used to slaughter a whole cow. i am now reduced to selling mostly chicken. even those are hard to get. >> reporter: that's mainly because of the activities of boko haram in these rural areas. the shortages are felt most by end users households and restaurant kitchens like this. some can't afford to buy beef as they used to and that means people that work in the food industry are earn is less. the government says the restrictions are necessary but temporary. >> boko haram is the greatest [ inaudible ] they will continue to [ inaudible ] in an effort to remain on the radar of the international jihadist movement. we have to closely monitor and [ inaudible ] so they do not use live stock stolen from the countryside to regenerate. >> reporter: the government has set aside half a million dollars to truck in cows from other
states until the restrictions are lifted. which means that dealers and con symers will have to endure the hardship a bit longer. mohamed is writ. al jazeera, northeast it were nigeria. in el ahead doerr a video contributed to one of the main street gaines gangs there contains an offer to stop killing people in the government stops an offensive towards them. they say the killing will stop if the government cooperates. >> translator: we have ordered all of our people who are members of our gang to halt all types of homicides nationwide to demonstrate to the public, government, and international agencies in our country that there is no need to implement measures that only violate our constitution. a set of new laws is coming in to force in japan which will allow its soldiers to fight overseas for the if times since world war two.
the bill has been approved. despite strong opposition. rob mcbride now from tokyo. >> reporter: it is an issue that has provoked demonstrations on the streets. and fierce debates in the japanese parliament. opponents say changes that will allow japanese soldier to his fight overseas undermine article 9 of japan's unique constitution, that commits the country to pacifism. >> there is no way you read article 9 of the constitution and reach the conclusion rationally that the same article that has banned japan exercises its right of collective self-defense for decades in the post war period, all offed all n reaching the opposite conclusion. the new laws give a new interpretation to collectively herself defense allowing japan's soldiers a more robust role in peacekeeping missions and to
work more closely in overseas operations with troops from its ally, the united states. opponents fear that could draw japan in to foreign wars. the prime minister shinzo abe says giving the military a more assertive role is long overdue. especially after the nuclear and missile tests in nearby north korea since the start of this year. >> it is a change that we are facing in the security environment in northeast asia. i think that there has been emerging awareness and understanding among the japanese people for the utility and effectiveness of this law. >> reporter: the opposition parties believe abe's ultimate goal is to change the constitution itself, which was adopted after world war ii and which renounces the path of militarism. now do that, his ruling coalition must win enough seats in upper house elections this summer. given what's at stake, his opponents have promised a fight. if. >> if we succeed in apprising
the ruling parties and it's' allies from obtaining a 2/3 majority in either of the two houses that means abe won't be able to move ahead with his revisionist agenda. >> reporter: japan struggles to define its role in the world is far from over. rock mcbride tokyo. this dam is the first of its kind to be built on the lower mekong river its construction is ahead of schedule could generate electricity earlier than expected but opponents say not enough research has been done on its potential environmental impact. wayne hay now reports. >> reporter: in a remote part of northern laos. preparations are well underway to harness the might of the mekong river. this dam is around 60% complete. and is one of nine dams they are planning to billed. the communist government wants to become the battery of southeast asia by exporting
electricity. >> we want to develop hydropower as fast as practical but we will be very responsible. but there have been many critic who his same the damn will block sediments carrying vital nutrients downstream and could be a major impact on fish species. the developers of this project say they made many modification to his make it more environmentsly friend life. including having fish-friendly turbines and more access points to enabling migratory fish to swim through. if they can't, people's livelihoods will be affected. the mekong base sin regarded as the largest infant fishery in the world. >> that also affects the culturally, socially, it really would change people's life in very fundallal way fund fundamed irreplaceable ways.
>> reporter: boats can pass through, build by a thai company for $3.8 billion. it's a run of river design as pieced it a storage damn meaning a large reservoir isn't needed. but the upstream water level has rizen and 3,000 people have been relocated and given new houses by the government. complete with electricity. >> translator: it's more comfortable for us now because in the past there was no infrastructure. we had to use a small generator for electricity. >> reporter: the government acknowledges the impact of building a damn like this, but it believed hydro power is vital to help bring the country out of poverty. >> if there are impacts, how do you mitigate them? is it acceptable? at the same time, you have to maximize the benefits. >> reporter: it's scheduled to start generating election tritt at this by the end of 2019. that could be brought forward meaning they will be able to start turning the power of the mekong in to had money sooner
than expected. lots more news for you whenever you want it, do check it out it's always there on our website aljazeera.com. you can talk to everyone on our program teams via facebook and 30 as well. or you can tweet me and i'll tweet you back. [ ♪ ] hello. i'm richard gizbert and you're at the listening post. it's paris all over again in