November 14th, 2014

Weekly News Round Up (14/11/14)

 

Burma

  • According to a statement released last Friday by Fortify Rights, a Bangkok-based group, Burma’s state security force are working directly with transnational crime syndicates in the trafficking of Rohingya Muslims. According to the group, authorities have gained as much as $7,000 per boatload in exchange for a passage out to sea.
  • According to U Sai Tun Yin, Chairman of the Northern Burma Committee of the Shan Nationalities Affairs, the Kachin Independence Army have not yet freed 200 Shan people who had been forcibly recruited in the KIA ranks.
  • The Sixth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit began on Wednesday in Nay Pyi Taw. Leaders from all over the world came to the country for the occasion. Amid rising concerns about the country’s stalled reforms, human rights groups worldwide have called for the leaders to address the issues facing the country.
  • The UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the country’s reforms but also “expressed concern about the Rohingya population, who face discrimination and violence. [Mr. Ban] encouraged the leaders of Myanmar to uphold human rights, take a strong stance against incitement and ensure humanitarian access to Rohingya living in vulnerable conditions.” Mr. Ban told leaders at the ASEAN summit that “whoever is eligible to be given citizenship … should be given citizenship equal to Myanmar people, without any discrimination,” and “for those people who may not meet the criteria, it is important that their human rights and human dignity must be fully protected.”
  • President Barack Obama, in an interview with The Irrawaddy magazine on Wednesday, also highlighted that “even as there has been some progress on the political and economic fronts, in other areas there has been a slowdown and backsliding in reforms.” Obama mentioned the repression of journalists, the stalled peace process and “the treatment of the Rohingya and other Muslim communities, who continue to endure discrimination and abuse” as key problems stalling the country’s reforms. In a press conference with Aung San Suu Kyi today, Obama highlighted once again that “discrimination against the Rohingya or any other religious minority does not express the kind of country that Burma over the long term wants to be.”

 

Nagorno-Karabakh

  • Armenia’s parliament will consider the bill about “Military and Political Principles of Armenia’s and Nagorno Karabakh’s security”, envisaging the recognition of independence of Karabakh and banning the establishment of border and customs stations of other countries and international organisations on the borders of Armenia and Karabakh. This is not the first time the bill is proposed by the Heritage party, however, in 2009 when it previously was debated, it got rejected.
  • Azerbaijani troops downed a helicopter, killing all 3 of its crew members, which the NKR Defence Ministry claimed belonged to its armed forces and was on training flight near the ceasefire line in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The defence ministries of both countries confirmed the incidence. The US, the EU, Russia, the NATO and European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) all echoed concerns of an escalation of the N-K conflict and urged peaceful resolution. Azerbaijan has since declared a no fly zone throughout the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

 

Nigeria

  • Last Friday, three suicide bombers were responsible for an explosion near a bank in the town of Azare, the second largest town of Bauchi State, killing at least twenty people. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Azare has been previously attacked by Boko Haram, who are the prime suspects. Following the attack, an agry mob of residents lynched two suspected Boko Haram members.
  • On Saturday, Boko Haram attacked Malam Fatori, Borno State, following their failure earlier in the week. This time, the militants successfully took over the town, forcing over 300 Nigerian soldiers to flee over the border into Niger. Dozens were killed and about 30 people were wounded.
  • According to the Bishop of the Maiduguri Diocese (Borno State), Rt. Rev. Oliver Doeme Dashe, his diocese is working with 26 of the 46 priests, as the others have been displaced or killed by Boko Haram insurgents. Bishop Dashe also highlighted that three deaneries of the existing six in his diocese had been occupied by Boko Haram as well.
  • A suicide bomber killed at least 47 people and injured other 97 in the Government Technical School in Potiskum, Yobe State, on Monday. Although no one vindicated both attacks, Boko Haram is believed to be behind both. Following the attack, the Yobe State Government has closed down all schools in the state indefinitely on Tuesday.
  • Boko Haram militantas overran Maiha Town on Monday. They did not encounter any resistance, as soldiers reportedly fled the town before the attack. A dozen of soldiers and two civilians were reported dead. On Wednseday, however, a group of local hunters, vigilantes and armed civilians recaptured the town killing at least 80 members of the militant group.
  • Adamawa State Governor announced on Thursday that the military have recaptured Mubi, Adamawa’s second largest town. However, following their loss, the militant group captured two other local government areas in Adamawa: Hong and Gombi.
  • Boko Haram militants retook Chibok again on Thursday night after killing an undefined number of civilians.

 

 

Sudan

  • A bomb exploded in a school in North Darfur, leaving 5 dead. Even though the UNAMID has taken recent steps to de-mine large tracts of land, many areas of Darfur remain littered with unexploded mines and other explosives due to the protracted conflict between rebels, government forces and allied militiamen.
  • Sudan’s representative on the AJOC (Abyei Joint Oversight Committee) lobbies to include Abyei, a region that remains disputed by Sudan and South Sudan, though its Dinka Ngok inhabitants in October 2013 held an unrecognized poll electing to join South Sudan, in the upcoming Sudanese election.
  • Mass rape allegations have been reported in a town in North Darfur. The UN-AU peacekeeping mission has now been authorised to investigate the allegations, which military spokesmen have denied. A UN report took note of the fact that the Government of Sudan initially denied access to the UNAMID to investigate these allegations and access to potential witnesses and victims was only allowed under close observation of Sudanese security officials. Witnesses and victims reported heavy military presence and an atmosphere of intimidation at the interviews. Many voiced their concerns about the way interviews were conducted when it was discussed by the UN Security Council and claimed it was not conductive to conclude that no sexual violence had occurred.
  • Sudan’s government and rebel group representatives from South Kordofan and Blue Nile resumed negotiation, having their eighth round of discussion from Wednesday on, in Addis Ababa as AUHIP mediators called for urgent end to the over 3 year-long conflict.
  • On Wednesday the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (SDDRC) launched the demobilisation exercise for combatants belonging to different former rebel groups in Darfur. The integration of the former rebels always has always believed to have delayed the implementation of the signed peace agreements in the past. UNAMID deputy force commander expressed their hopes that the current demobilisation exercise would serve as a driver for ongoing mediation efforts.
  • The National Consensus Forces (NCF) calls the Sudanese government to postpone the 2015 elections. The NCF stated it would boycott the elections, unless a full transitional government, elected in free, honest and fair elections, is implemented.

 

South Sudan

  • President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Rief Machar ended two days of talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Saturday and vowed an “unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities” in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states. However, government and rebel forces clashed in 3 states just days after this agreement. The warring parties blame each other for the fights. On Friday IGAD gave a 15 day time for the two parties to end conflict and warned that yet another violation would result in sanctions such as travels ban and arms embargo.
  • 700 metric tons of food assistance has arrived in South Sudan through Sudan marking the opening of a humanitarian corridor, the UN WFP reported. This supply could feed 45000 people for a month. The opening of a humanitarian corridor is of particular importance, as the road transportation of food supply is much cheaper than airdrops or airlifts.
  • Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) presented a power-sharing proposal at last week’s summit meeting of regional leaders in Addis Ababa. The proposal was rejected by heads of states and discussions about a transitional government continues, South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei reported on Tuesday. In August at a high-level meeting it was agreed that the new president would be head of state and government, and the newly created post of prime minister would hold no executive powers.
  • Six civilians got injured in a bombing raid in Upper Nile state, South Sudanese authorities reported, blaming the attack on Sudan.

 

Timor-Leste

  • In Timor-Leste poor access to clean water and sanitation is a serious nationwide problem, especially in rural areas, disproportionately affecting pregnant women and children. More generally, unsafe water and poor sanitation generates chronic health problems that slow productivity. In its 2011-2030 strategic development plan, the Timor-Leste government promises 24-hour piped water supply and sanitation to households in all districts, which, however, is received with scepticism by many who say the government is doing far too little to promote clean water.
  • The Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members are studying the possibility of Timor-Leste joining the organization. The membership of the country has been a matter of debate among the ASEAN members. The ASEAN has been inviting representatives from Timor Leste to its Regional Forum every year as a measure to encourage that country to participate in discussions related to opportunities and challenges faced by countries in the Southeast Asian region.

 

Uganda

  • A committee comprising of leading members of the Ugandan party has prepared a new legislations targeting LGBT people to replace the one struck down in August on technical grounds, following a global outcry. A human rights lawyer said the new bill appeared even worse, even more draconian than the law it was intended to replace by going into much greater detail about what activities are criminalized. Those activities include funding for purposes of promoting unnatural sexual practices -supposedly targeting those who support human rights groups who fight for LGBT rights.
  • Pepe Julian Onziema was given the Stonewall’s hero of the year award in London after battling anti-gay laws in the African nation despite threats to his life.
  • President Museveni initiated a health campaign in Uganda which uses sports and entertainment as a means to combat HIV/AIDS amongst the youth. The original idea has already been used, for example at the South Africa and Brazil football world cups. The program offers HIV screening, advice and counselling. The campaign has the backing of all United Nations organizations, the American Government and all the continental football bodies.


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