February 19th, 2016
HART News Round-up 19/02/16
News from HART
- We have a new job vacancy for the position of Finance Manager at HART. Application deadline is on 7th March.
- Read the visit report from HART’s most recent visit to Sudan and South Sudan.
- HART will be at the London International Development Conference 2016 this Saturday – come and say hello if you are there!
- Do you have 2 minutes to help us out? Please complete this very quick feedback form to let us know how we can improve our communications.
- The deadline for the HART Prize for Human Rights is next week! If you’re aged 13-25 and passionate about human rights then you may be interested in a chance to win a number of prizes, including a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh. Deadline: 26th February.
— HART-UK (@HARTnews) February 4, 2016
- A new era dawns as Aug San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, sit as a majority for the first time in parliament.
- On Wednesday, 17th February, Suu Kyi and Burma‘s powerful commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, held their third post-vote meeting where important negotiations took place about the terms of the upcoming transition in April. Suu Kyi will have to share power with the military and is constitutionally barred from taking the country’s most powerful position herself. However, much speculation has centred on whether this constitutional clause might be sidestepped.
- As concerns Burma’s army chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, he is said to receive a five year extension. Burma’s opaque and imprecise constitution has confused lawmakers and experts on whether the army chief would need permission from the president, or a change of law, to obtain an extension as current regulations stipulate that the army chief will have to retire at 60.
- This week there have been both great advances and great setbacks in the progress toward national peace in Burma.
- On Thursday 18th February, the leaders of the ethnic armed group coalition, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) met in northern Thailand to prepare for peace negotiations with Burma’s incoming National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government.
- However, in contradiction with these efforts came the repeated violent clashes between the TNLA and the Restoration Council of Shan State since February 7th, displacing more than 5000 in northern Shan State. Local NGOs are struggling to deal with this sudden overflow of IDPs. In response to this, the Burmese army has launched assaults on the TNLA positions in Burma’s northeast in response to parliamentary calls for an intervention to end the fighting. This outbreak of violence poses a great threat to national peace and current peace initiatives.
- Meanwhile, the Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma’s Rakhine State are still stuck in camps in neighbouring countries and are subject to persistent suffering at the hands of abusive and opportunistic traffickers who are exploiting their vulnerability.
- Indian women in Pune are fighting for the right to enter temples that they have not been able to enter before. In the southern state of Kerala, women are also fighting tradition for the right to enter temples when menstruating, using social media to launch a #HappyToBleed campaign.
- Indian farmers resort to selling their own blood for money as persistent drought and unusually warm weather has left land unusable and farming unviable as a way to earn money.
- A $4 smartphone was launched in India this week. The phone is heavily subsidised by the Indian government and will have pre-installed apps for women’s safety. This phone has the potential to empower rural areas of India with new digital technology.
- Protests started at one of India’s top universities following the arrest of the president of the student union on charges of sedition.
- The Supreme Court of India has condemned the act of dedicating young girls as ‘devadasis’.
- The NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, has expressed concerns on behalf of the organisation over the tensions on the line of contact of the troops. NATO has also expressed their support of the Minsk Group’s efforts.
- An Armenian official has claimed that Armenia plans to adopt a more aggressive and active deterrence strategy in its standoff with Azerbaijani troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
- Other claims made today by a Russian government Internet portal have stated that Moscow has granted Armenia a $200 million loan for the purchase of Russian arms, to include Smirch rocket launchers, Igla-S air-defence systems, radar-jamming systems, sniper rifles, and armoured vehicles. The purchase of these types of weaponry would certainly fall in line with an active deterrence strategy.
- The Borno State government has started the relocation of the first batch of 602 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Government Girls Secondary School in Yerwa to Dalori resettlement camp, as part of plans for the re-opening of public schools which were closed as a result of Boko Haram insurgency in Maiduguri.
- A new report by UNICEF and International Alert, a peace-building group, has warned that freed Nigerian women that had previously been captured by Boko Haram are being rejected by their communities, alongside their children, due to social stigma.
- There have been discussions on whether services such as Facebook and Twitter should be regulated as a result of the telecom firm’s inability to earn revenue from them. Facebook records more monthly users in Nigeria than in any other African country.
- A Nigerian parliamentary committee has announced major anti-corruption findings in relation to a multi-billion-dollar crude oil swaps program with foreign companies.
- Vigilantes have reported that at least 30 people have been killed in fresh Boko Haram raids on two villages in northeast Nigeria.
- Fighting at a UN camp in South Sudan has left 18 people dead, including internally displaced people and workers from Médecins sans Frontières. The Malakal site is home to roughly a quarter of the 198,440 people who live in the UN’s six bases in South Sudan.
- There were clashes between the SPLM-IO and Government troops in Wau County (where HART has partners) on Wednesday.
- More than 86,000 people are currently in urgent need for food assistance in Duk and Twic counties of South Sudan’s Jonglei state.
- The Office of the President has denied media reports that a senior government official has stolen $1 million from the office.
- The Troika nations, which comprises of the United Kingdom, United States and Norway, will transport bodyguards of South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar to the capital, Juba, a senior diplomat disclosed on Monday.
- There have been conflicting accounts of a clash between the SPLA-N and Sudan Armed Forces troops in South Kordofan on Monday. The spokesperson for the SPLA-N told Radio Dabanga that several areas and villages in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan were subject of aerial bombardments over the past three days.
- Nuba Reports have released a video explaining the Sudan security budget after al-Bashir stated: “If 100% of the state’s budget was allocated to the army to secure the country then that is still not enough”.
- Controversially, Sudan received 100 million euros from the EU to address the causes of irregular migration and displaced persons.
- AUHIP has invited to the Sudanese government, the National Umma Party, the People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the Justice and Equality Movement, and the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Minni Minawi to a consultative strategic meeting in Addis Ababa in March.
- On Thursday 18th February, Ugandans voted in presidential, parliamentary and local elections for the third time since the restoration of multiparty politics in 2005.
- There has been a lot of unrest in Uganda this week in light of these elections underway, where President Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, faces his biggest challenge yet. While Museveni eyes to extend his 30-year rule, he faces, for the first time since his rise to power, not just one but several political opponents.
- In particular, Kizza Besigye who is the representative of the main opposition, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), has become Museveni’s main challenger at the polls.
- Earlier this week, violence erupted in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where police and opposition supporters clashed after Besigye was arrested and briefly detained on Monday evening, justified as “he did not stick to an authorised route” during a march with his supporters in Kampala that day.
- Besigye was then arrested again on polling day, as he went to investigate alleged ballot-stuffing in a house run by the intelligence agencies.
- Meanwhile, Ugandans waited hours to cast their votes in the presidential elections after lengthy delays, which are claimed to be due to the late arrival of voting materials, although some claim this was deliberately done to favour Museveni and frustrate voters, especially in urban areas where Besigye has proven to be particularly popular.
- Scepticism over the fairness of these 2016 elections heightened as social media was banned on polling day following a government-ordered shutdown of all social media apps and sites, to include Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. When questioned, Museveni claimed it was to stop people “misusing them” and “telling lies”. Social media has played an important role in these elections, as a number of trends on Twitter for example, such as #UgandaDecides, became a form of empowerment in the people’s fight for fair elections. Yet, despite these attempts to ban social media, Ugandans looked to bypass these blockages with free internet tools, including proxies and the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN), in an inspiring effort to fight for their right to freedom of expression.
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