November 7th, 2014

Weekly News Round Up (7/11/14)

News from HART:

  • 6th November, HART issued a press release on Nigeria: ‘Recent attacks in northern states pose “a serious threat to the nation of Nigeria”, according to Baroness Cox’
  • On the HART blog: a new blog post by HART intern Edwin O’Connell analyses why Burmese Muslims should fear Islamophobia more than their government should fear al Qaeda.
  • Read our new monthly briefing on Nagorno-Karabach, made by HART intern Agnes Magyar.
  • Our reception with Dr SaSa, an inspirational doctor from a remote village in Chin State, Burma, will be held in two weeks time, on November 21st at Fielden House. For more information about the event, and to register click here.

 

Burma

  • Last Friday, in a first of its kind meeting, President Thein Sein’s government met with Nobel-prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the commander of the armed forces, General Min Aung Hlaing, and the speaker of parliament, Shwe Man. The quadripartite meeting addressed key political and social issues facing Burma, with no concrete successes however.
  • A new UN draft resolution, drafted by the European Union, urges Burma to stop aggressive campaign against Rohingya Muslims and to drop the notorious ‘Rakhine State Action Plan’. The nonbinding resolution, which is yet to be voted by the UN Human Rights committee, urges Burma to give “access to full citizenship on an equal basis.”
  • The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners and the Former Political Prisoners Society published on Sunday the names of 27 prisoners who, according to them, are still imprisoned despite their sentences were annulled. The list was submitted to the Scrutinising Committee for Remaining Political Prisoners.
  • In the eve of President Obama’s visit to Burma next week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published a report on Thursday on the situation in Burma. The report highlights the persistent discrimination of the Rohingya and encourages the President to flag these issues with his Burmese counterpart. The full report can be downloaded here.
  • The Harvard Law School published a legal memorandum on Thursday implicating top-rank military and government officials of war crimes and crimes against humanity for acts committed between 2005 and 2006. The memorandum can be downloaded here.
  • Fortify Rights, a human rights advocacy group, published a briefing today accusing Burma state security forces of complicity in and profiting from the increasingly lucrative maritime human trafficking and smuggling of Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine State.

 

Nagorno-Karabakh

  • Joint resolution AJR 32 supporting Artsakh Republic’s independence, self-determination and democracy, was passed both in the California State Assembly and California Senate, showing clear and overwhelming support for Artsakh in California. Following the vote, Aram Avetisyan, counsellor at the Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) in the USA, discussed the destructive effects of the hostile rhetoric and aggressive policies of Azerbaijani government for the peace process.
  • Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan accused Azerbaijan of continuing to keep the situation tense, as indicated by the increasing number of gunshots fired by Azerbaijani troops in the Karabakh conflict zone, despite statements made at the latest round of talks in Paris on October 27. He placed importance on confidence-building measures as urgent and primary condition of success.
  • The planned OSCE monitoring conducted on the 5th of November registered no ceasefire violations. However, the Azeri side did not lead the OSCE mission to its front-lines.
  • Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with UK Minister for State for Europe David Lidington on Monday. Lidington called for redoubled international effort to solve the Karabakh conflict, which had been continuing for too long, damaging regional and European stability. When asked, Minister Lidington rejected the possibility that UK economic interests in Azerbaijan would prevent objective reporting on the deteriorating human rights situation in Azerbaijan.
  • On Wednesday, at a joint press conference with Azerbaijani FM Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister Lidington said the UK was ready to assist conflict settlement only with recommendations and suggestions, without thus intervening in the negotiation process.

 

 

Nigeria

  • Last Friday, an explosion at a bus park in Gombe city, Gombe State, left 8 people killed and 46 injured, according to Gombe Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, however Boko Haram remains a prime suspect.
  • Following a failed attack by Boko Haram on Sabon Gari, in Damboa town of Borno State, members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) chased the insurgents, beheaded them and displayed their heads to the local residents “in order to encourage them to stand against the Boko Haram fighters, who are now destroying our villages”, according to a member of the CJTF.
  • On Saturday, Agence France-Presse received a video from Boko Haram in which the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, denied that there had been any ceasefire talks. Shekau called the self-proclaimed Boko Haram representative, Danladi Ahamdu, an “infidel”. The group’s leader also denied the release of the Chibok girls and said that they had “married them off.” The video and full English transcript can be found here.
  • After capturing Mubi, Adamawa State’s second largest city, Boko Haram implemented a strict interpretation of Sharia law and renamed the town ‘Madinatul Islam’ (i.e. The City of Islam). Reports suggest militants to have tortured university students, beheaded two local imams, killed a university lecturer and his family, and stoned some residents to death for having allegedly committed capital offences. Thousands were forced to flee to the neighbouring town of Yola or through the mountains into Cameroon.
  • On Monday, a suicide bomber targeted a procession of Shia Muslims, who were marking the ceremony of Ashura (a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Hussain, Prophet Muhammed’s grandson). Nigerian sources report the attack to have killed 29 and injured 80 others.
  • Boko Haram militants attacked Malam Fatori, a city in the remote northeast of Borno State, on Wendesday. Altough they initially faced resistance by the Multi-National Joint Task Force, the militants overran the town and shot civilians indiscriminately. 21 residents lost their lives.

 

South Sudan

  • Last Friday, the a senior World Food Program official warned that continued fighting throughout the upcoming dry season could leave millions facing sever hunger in 2015.
  • Over the weekend, rebels and SPLA soldiers fought in Dolieb, Upper Nile State. Both sides blamed each other for renewed violence in the state.
  • Juba Girls Secondary School students called on the government to enact laws that protect girls, and bring an end to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in the country. The girls were participating at a conference on SEA led by the government in collaboration with UNMISS, UN agencies and other NGOs.
  • According to Sudan Tribune, clashes in the cities of Bentiu and Rubkotna, Unity State, between the army and rebels have left one child dead and eight others injured.
  • Two suspected Sudanese government Antonovs dropped bombs in Raja County of Western Bahr al Ghazal, South Sudan, on Sunday morning wounding 16 people. Radio Tamazuj was informed that the county was hosting elements of the Justice and Equality Movement, a Darfour group opposing the Sudanese government. Raja County commissioner, however, claims that 35 were killed and 17 were injured.
  • The Irish government pledged on Tuesday to donate €2 million to help alleviate the situation in South Sudan, following President Higgins’ visit to refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia. Half of the money will go to organsiations operating with South Sudanese refugees in Gambella, and the other half will be delivered to programmes in South Sudan improving food security and assisting people in developing their livelihoods.

 

Sudan

  • Last Friday, the UN and AU joint peacekeeping mission (Unamid) deployed troops to the Kalma refugee camp in Nyala following reports that the Sudanese government would have sent troops to the camp in search of alleged rebels within the camp. Saleh Eisa Mohamed, Secretary-General of Kalma camp, denied the presence of rebel or armed forces in the camp.
  • Reports are emerging of the rape of over 200 women by Sudanese army soldiers in the village of Tabit, North Darfur, earlier this week. The commander of the soldiers who carried out the rape has apologised and recognised that his forces had “committed a mistake.” Tabit residents refused the commander’s apologies and asked the government for the creation of an independent investigation committee.
  • On Tuesday, Sudan’s Interior Minister Esmat Abdel Rahman said border crossings would only reopen after official border demarcation and the zero line had been identified. The border’s closing has hampered trade between the two Sudan’s, having negative economic effects in bordering areas.
  • On Wednesday, Sudan’s Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Hussein said South Sudan has refused to establish the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, agreed upon in September 2012. The border zone was created to prevent cross border attacks from rebels in both countries.
  • The EU Ambassador to Sudan Tomas Ulicny announced on Wednesday that the EU would donate $11 million to support development and humanitarian assistance projects in South Darfur.

 

Uganda

  • Teenage pregnancy among girls still at school, the leading cause for girls dropping out of education in Uganda, has largely been blamed on rape, defilement and poor living conditions. Education activists in Uganda are calling on the government to change the policy of preventing pregnant and nestling girls from sitting their final exams.
  • Despite the embarrassing defeat of the anti-gay law at the Constitutional Court in August, legislators say they are insistent that the law must be back as soon as possible. Kawempe South MP Latif Ssebaggala and several other legislators, including Vice President Edward Ssekandi, have been meeting since August with the intention of reinstating the law.
  • President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda gave a state banquet in honour of North Korea’s visiting ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam. Museveni made hostile comments against what he believes is Western imperialist policies in developing countries and during Kim Yong Nam’s visit praised Pyongyang for its fight against renewed hegemonic efforts by the declining former imperialist powers. Museveni is likely to seek re-election next year.


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