January 12th, 2015

News Roundup: 14 December 2014 – 12 January 2015

News from HART:

– 123 individuals and organisations, including HART, have written to Ban Ki-Moon regarding the recent announcement by the ICC Chief Prosecutor that she is suspending new investigations in the cases of President al Bashir and those Sudanese officials indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

– HART Prize for Human Rights deadline coming close: 11:59 PM on the 16th February 2015! Do not miss your chance to win a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh OR a £500 cash prize! More about the prize here.

 

Burma

– According to the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), food supplies provided by the UN and NGOs that were to be delivered in October to internally displaced persons’ camps near Laiza, the headquarters of the KIO, never arrived. The KIO accuses the government of suspending these supplies. Thousands of refugees in displacement camps now may face severe food shortages during winter months.

– At the Myanmar People’s Forum, held on December 13th, various civil society organisations condemned the sharp increase in foreign aid as it has increased price of land and enriched “only cronies and those close to the government”, thus increasing the already wide income gap.

– On December 15th, state-run media reported that Kokang fighters in northern Shan State attacked an army outpost on the border with China leaving seven soldiers dead and 20 injured.

– For the first time since 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Burma had imprisoned journalists in 2014. The amount of journalists in state custody makes the country in the ‘top 10 list of worst jailers of journalists.’

– In a protest organized on December 23rd by local villagers in the Letpadaung who claimed that a Chinese-backed copper mine stole their land, a woman was shot dead, presumably by police forces, and 20 others were injured. Human Rights Watch blamed the Burmese authorities for their “abject failure” to resolve the land dispute.

– According to the Shan State Police Station, the members of the Shan State Army shot four members of the government’s Forest Department on December 27th.

– A confrontation between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army on December 28th left one person killed.

– On December 29th, the United Nations General Assembly approved a EU-drafted, non-binding resolution expressing concern for the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority and urging the Burmese government to give them full citizenship.

– On January 5th, President Thein Sein and Burma Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing held separate talks with ethnic armed group representative in Naypyidaw after a few troubled months. President Thein Sein expressed his hope for a national ceasefire accord next month. Representatives of leaders of Kachin Independence Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Karen National Progressive Party and Chin National Front did not join the meetings.

 

Nagorno-Karabakh

– Davit Babayan, spokesman of the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic welcomed the recent recognition of the State of Palestine by the European Parliament and expressed his hopes that soon the recognition of Karabakh would reach the states’ and international organisations’ platforms.

– Between 14 and 20 December 1,200 cases of ceasefire violation by the Azerbaijani side were recorded at the Line of Contact between the troops of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, with over 12,000 shots fired against Armenian defense guards. Between 21 and 27 December these numbers were reported to be 900 and 11,000 respectively, including an attack on the 25th of December on the NK Defense Army by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. On the night of the 7th of January over 400 instances of ceasefire violation by Azeri armed forces were posted, with over 6000 shots.

– Belarusian First Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Mikhnevich announced that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic would not become part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) after Armenia’s accession. Following earlier concerns over the question the Armenian part has made an official verbal statement.

 

Nigeria

– According to the data collected by the Council for Foreign Relations, between November 2013 and November 2014 there were 10,340 violent deaths linked to Boko Haram-related violence. In this same period 10,733 civilians were killed in Iraq according to the UN.

– 31 people were killed in a double bombing in Jos, the capital Plateau State, on December 12th.

– On December 14th, Boko Haram militants killed 32 people and abducted about 185 others (mostly women and young girls) in the town of Misa Gumsuri, Borno State. It took three days for the news to reach the state capital, Maiduguri.

– A car bomb blast on December 22nd in the city of Gombe, Gombe State, killed at least 15 people and left 21 wounded. Although no one claimed responsibility for the attack, Boko Haram is the prime suspect as they have previously attacked the Gombe bus station by using car bombs.

– On December 30th, Boko Haram fighters attacked the town of Kautikari, Borno State, leaving at least 15 people dead.

– Boko Haram militants entered the town of Malari, Borno State, on New Year’s Eve and abducted “over 40 male youths between the ages of 15 and 23”, according to a witness.

– A suicide bombing outside a church in Gombe, Gombe State, on New Year’s mass left 8 people wounded.

– On January 3rd, hundreds of Boko Haram militants attacked and successfully took over a military base of the Multinational Joint Task Force on the outskirts of Baga, Borno State. The insurgents then attacked Baga town. Some 2,000 people may have been killed in these raids.

 

South Sudan

– 14 December 2014 marked one year of violence on South Sudan. Please find a statement by President Obama and a report by UNICEF on this one year. An Oxfam report covering the same period predicts potential escalation of conflict in South Sudan, which threatens to push a million more into food crisis if fighting continues. Meanwhile the European Union has announced an arms embargo on South Sudan over its failure to resolve the country’s ongoing conflict, calling on the international community to also consider taking tougher action following the 12 months of political dispute.

– Another round of negotiations took pace in Addis Ababa, focused on a sustainable truce between the government and rebel fighters, mediated by IGAD. Despite some progress, the parties still had unresolved disputed over the question of two ministries. IGAD is already expected to convene another summit on the crisis in South Sudan, hosted by the Ethiopian prime minister. The dates for the meeting have not yet been set. Meanwhile the South Sudan Intra-SPLM dialogue which had been taking place in Arusha for quite some time now is set to resume again on the 5th of January 2015 with the three parties admitting to record good progress. Yet, South Sudanese rival parties continue to trade threats to wage an all-out war on each.

– The SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, has passed a resolution renewing its demand that president Salva Kiir steps down, despite previous indications by officials from IGAD that the two principal leaders agreed to work together for the sake of sustaining peace. The resolution declared president Salva Kiir illegitimate for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as detailed their ideas about the power share.

– At least 10 civilians were killed as they attempted to flee from Unity state’s capital, Bentiu, to Sudan. Rebels blame pro-government forces for these killings.

– It is announced that South Sudan will hold general elections on 30 June 2015. The president’s secretary said that rebels would be given amnesty to encourage the widest participation. The leadership of South Sudanese civil society alliance on Thursday called to delay election until the environment is conducive enough: “You cannot conduct elections when some of the people who are supposed to vote are living in the camps, some of the fled the country”.

– Diplomats and analysts have warned that there could be a rise in fighting as the dry season approaches, following the relative peace of the rainy season. At least 6 civilians died in the past couple days, rebels said.

– 9 January 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan. To commemorate this 4 distinguished panellists were invited to Chatham House for a discussion under the title under the title: Sudan and South Sudan. Reflecting on 10 years of the CPA. A summary can be found here.

 

Sudan

– The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced on December 12th due to the Security Council’s “lack of foresight on what should happen in Darfur, I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases.” Although further investigations have stopped, the charges against President Bashir were not dropped.

– On December 15th, the Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the UN Herve Ladsous told Reuters that the Sudanese government was asking an exit strategy “with a certain insistence and publicity which is a little bit special”, but highlighted that the UNAMID operation would not leave soon, as “we continue to see so much suffering” where “this year we’ve seen a further 430,000 displaced” in Darfur alone.

– According to a report released by Human Rights Watch on December 15th, “Sudanese government forces and allied militias are unlawfully killing and otherwise abusing civilians in government-held areas in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.”  HRW found that dozens of civilians and their relatives were subject to rapes, beatings and unlawful killings by army soldiers.

– Sudan’s Director General of Immigration Ahmed Atta Mannan signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ on December 23rd with the UNHCR allowing 500,000 South Sudanes refugees to stay and work in Sudan.

– The government of Sudan on December 24th ordered Ali al-Za’tari, UN resident coordinator at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Yvonne Helle, the UNDP’s country director, to leave the country within 72 hours for “insulting” the country and being “prejudiced” against its government.

– On January 4th Sudan’s parliament approved three constitutional amendments: 1) President al-Bashir will now appoint state governors instead of these being elected through universal suffrage; 2) transforms the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) into regular force to legitimise the creation of its militia the Rapid Support Forces (RSF); 3) includes the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur in Sudan’s constitution. The National Umma Party released a statement on January 7th rejecting these amendments as they are “a loss for the dignity of the Sudanese people.”

 

Timor-Leste

– Recent reports explore how removing judges, prosecutors and other court officers hampered Timor-Leste’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of domestic gender-based violence through criminalization and prosecution. Longer periods needed to investigate each case and a general lack of trust in the formal court system puts victims off from reporting cases.

 

Uganda

– Uganda’s parliament did not pass the new version of the anti-LGBT law before Christmas, despite earlier hopes for the contrary by members of parliament.

– Uganda’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) community launched their magazine, the symbol of their ‘Reclaiming the Media’ Campaign today. Bombastic Magazine is a compilation of stories, testimonies and opinions by LGBTI Ugandans, as a means to campaign to end violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people countrywide.

– Uganda’s military confirmed the identity of Lord’s Resistance Army rebel commander Dominic Ongwen who surrendered to American troops in Central African Republic.


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