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News from HART
• HART has signed a joint letter written by the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, in coordination with 15 other South Sudanese organisations and with the support of 5 international non-governmental organisations, to the African Union’s Commission of Enquiry regarding arms flows into South Sudan.
• On the HART blog: Agnes Magyar discusses the issues and problems involved in the reintegration of former-Lord’s Resistance Army child soldiers into Ugandan society.
• On Sunday, two major rebel groups operating in Shan State (the United Wa State Army and the National Democratic Alliance Army) issued a joint statement asking Burmese army to stop aggressions in southern Burma and in the Shan State to avoid further hindrances to the already shaky peace process. Reports of heavy shelling on Friday in Shan State confirm the Burmese army’s unwillingness to engage in genuine dialogue and commit to peace.
• Concerns of possible fighting in Kachin State have led more than 5,000 people to flee their homes in the past week, Radio Free Asia reports.
• According to Halim, a human rights watchdog based in Maungdaw, Rakhine State, a 35 year-old Rohingya trader was arrested and subsequently tortured to death by the Burmese Border Guard Police (BGP) on Monday. The BGP said that the man was allegedly linked to the rebel group Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), even though further investigations have made no such conclusions. This is one of the hundreds of arrests of Rohingya men alleged to be members of the RSO by the BGP.
• On Tuesday, the government ‘pardoned’ 3,073 prisoners, which includes 13 imprisoned due to ‘political offences’ and eight former senior military intelligence officers who served the formed ousted intelligence chief and PM Khin Nyunt, “on humanitarian grounds.” The move comes a month before a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders to be held in Burma.
• Reports allege that Rohingya Muslims who refused to register with immigrations, have been beaten by Burmese police in 30 different towns in Rakhine State.
• A recent in-depth study on sex workers aged above 40 in the Bijapur, Bagalkot and Belgaum districts reveals the terrible conditions these women live in. Conducted by Gangadhar Sonar, an academic of Rani Chennamma University, the study analysed hundreds of sex workers finding that 43% of 40+ aged sex workers were part of the Devadasi system, 20% were widows and 15% were women who had committed adultery and had been rejected by their families. Most women were reported to offer their services for as little as Rs. 10 (about £0.10).
• Following last weeks’ negotiations, President Bako Sahakian of Nagorno-Karabakh received a delegation of French town Bourg les Valace for the singing of a friendship declaration between the towns of Bourg les Valence and Shushi.
• Armenia’s signing of a treaty leading to its accession in the Eurasian Economic Union is planned for Friday. Commenting on the possibility of checkpoints at the Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh border, MP Galust Sahakyan said “Armenia’s progress cannot ever be achieved at the expense of prosperity and recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
• The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Defense Army reported on Monday that Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire approximately 200 times between September 28th and October 4th.
• Reports say that Boko Haram raided the town of Ngamdu, Borno State, and decapitated seven Muslims on the day that Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid al-Adha (a feast commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, upon God’s orders).
• The Director of Catholic Social Communication of Maiduguri Diocese, Rev. Gideon Obasogie, released a statement on Monday disclosing that 185 churches had been destroyed and more than 190,000 had been displaced in the diocese of Maiduguri alone.
• Leaders of Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Benin and Cameroon agreed to establish a multinational force to combat Boko Haram to be deployed within the countries’ national borders by November 1st, with a central command ready by the 20th of the same month.
• The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs revoked the order issued by the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development in mid-September that required all foreign workers to cease working for NGOs, government institutions and private companies by mid-October.
• The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, arrived in Juba on Sunday for a six day visit to verify the numerous allegations of sexual violence in the war-torn country. The visit was scheduled after the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) released a report in May highlighting the gravity of the situation, as “all parties to the conflict have committed acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women of different ethnic groups.”
• A report published by Oxfam, with the endorsement of over 35 humanitarian organisations, describes the gravity of the situation in the country due to the ongoing conflict: 1.7 million people (i.e. one in every seven people) have fled their homes already and more than two million are facing severe food insecurity.
• Reports of violence within camps for internally displaced peoples are increasing as the civilian population affected by the conflict become more frustrated with the current situation, that has no end in sight.
• A local radio station in South Sudan reported on Wednesday that rebel fighters have been recruiting and targeting farm workers in the Jirewa West village, in the Blue Nile State, in the busiest days of harvest, thus aggravating the starvation situation in the country.
• On Sunday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on the government of Saudi Arabia to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who is currently visiting the Kingdom to perform the annual hajj (pilgrimage), and surrender him. Bashir was the first sitting President to be indicted by the ICC and has two arrest warrants on counts of genocide and war crimes. Even though Saudia Arabia is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, it has obligations as a UN Security Council member, under Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005), to cooperate with the ICC.
• On Tuesday, Ibrahim Ghandour, the Government of Sudan’s chief negotiator, told the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) that the Sudanese government could not attend peace talks that were supposed to start on October 14th, as government negotiators would be involved in the preparation for the ruling National Congress Party’s general convention. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the main rebel group in the country, accused the government of aborting peace efforts and thus “mobilising for war.”
• Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste reportedly suggested that Timor-Leste should rejoin Indonesia.
• Thursday marked the 52nd year of Uganda’s independence from Great Britain. In his speech President Yoweri Museveni expressed his happiness in living in a peaceful Uganda for the first time in 114 years, following the LRA’s defeat and the disarmament of the cattle-rustlers in Karamoja. Museveni also encouraged his fellow African leaders to withdraw their ICC membership as “the court has no sense, only with an aim to target our leaders in the region.”