Pambazuka News 554: After Gaddafi: Intervention and imperialism in Africa
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The execution of Gaddafi and the attempted humiliation of Africa
The inability of the Western media and other ‘information’ sources to manage the news of the execution of Colonel Gaddafi was compounded by the news, according to the New York based Human Rights Watch, that 53 supporters of the ousted regime were executed at a hotel in Sirte with their hands tied behind their backs (Huffington Post October 26, 2011). Wall-to-wall news bulletins of the demise of Colonel Gaddafi, which should have been a moment of victory for the imperial forces, have now turned into a public relations disaster and nightmare for those military planners who want to distance themselves from the gruesome details of the executions. These immoral and illegal actions by the military forces and private contractors in Libya backed by NATO were furthered with disrespect for religious and cultural traditions where the mortal remains of Gaddafi and his son, Muatassim, were kept in a meat freezer until the bodies started to decompose.
Finally a supposedly secret burial failed to resolve the tussle between those who had hijacked the body in the on-going struggle inside the National Transitional Council (NTC) between the three centers of power, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata. The factions fear each other and they have lost the one factor that united them, hatred for Gaddafi. With fear of other factions in the NTC, the Benghazi section is calling for the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of the no fly zone until 31 December 2011. There are members of the UNSC such as Russia who oppose this extension. The African Union must call for the immediate end to the mandate of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
It is now becoming clear that the Western leaders (especially those from Britain, France, Italy and the United States) used the cover of protection of civilian lives to go to Libya to carry out regime change. Gaddafi had vowed to fight to the end and he did. The destruction of Libya by NATO jets was totally unnecessary. Can the people of the West and their leaders say that Libya is now better off in October 2011 than it was in March 2011?
In a moment of revolutionary upheavals all over the world, the leaders of France, Britain and the United States intervened in Libya to divert attention from their problems and to derail the wave of revolutionary change that is now underway internationally. Italy, which is in the throes of a profound crisis, tagged along to protect its colonial heritage and oil contracts in Libya.
On Tuesday 25 October 2011 the Los Angeles Times reported that Libya had more than US$200 billion in reserves. As outlined in my article, ‘Global NATO and the Recolonisation of Africa’, it is no secret that leaders such as France’s Nicolas Sarkozy deeply want to get their hands on this money to save the banks in Europe and to save the Euro. But the crisis in the Eurozone area is too far gone and the depth of the structural and systemic crisis is too extreme to save the politicians who oversaw this military campaign inside Libya.
The NATO forces (meaning the countries of this Libya campaign) that were using international morality and international law to justify the recolonisation and destruction of Africa are now exposed. The attempt to humiliate Gaddafi was a failed effort to humiliate oppressed peoples and decent elements within the armed forces of these societies who are seeking another world. In this article, I seek to reconstruct the decision at the highest levels to execute Colonel Gaddafi and to analyse the urgency for organising to oppose the remilitarisation of Africa.
PLANNING FOR THE EXECUTION OF GADDAFI
When on Sunday 23 October 2011, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton said on the US television Channel NBC's ‘Meet the Press’ that she backed a proposal that the United Nations investigate Gaddafi’s death and requested that Libya's TNC also look into the circumstances, it was clear that the execution had backfired. This was the height of hypocrisy, or what would be called a pre-emptive strike on her own reputation. Under international law and the Geneva Conventions, Hillary Clinton could be held to account for her statements in Tripoli on 18 October when she called for Gaddafi’s capture or killing.
Security planners and military strategists of the Obama Whitehouse are now cowering in shame on the fallout from the failure of the Libyan quagmire and the exposure of the bankruptcy of the US military and imperial logic.
Back in March The New York Times reported that the National Security Council of the White House had debated the execution of Colonel Gaddafi. The article, ‘Before Qaddafi’s Death, U.S. Debated His Future’, stated that the White House considered ‘The killing of Colonel Qaddafi … [as] one of the three scenarios considered last Wednesday.’ The article in the Times also said, ‘Putting the colonel on trial, either in Libya or The Hague, was one of a host of situations for which the administration planned.’
The next day Colonel Gaddafi was killed. What is being asked all over the world is why kill him? Why not put him on trial, what is it that the western leaders do not want to come out in a trial?
GADDAFI’S ESCAPE FROM TRIPOLI
‘Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, one of the military leaders who survived the murder and execution of the Gaddafi entourage has revealed that Colonel Gaddafi had escaped from Tripoli to Sirte on 21 August. Reports in the international media are that the decision for Gaddafi to stay in Sirte was based on Muatassim, the colonel’s son. The report continued that Gaddafi’s son and the military entourage had ‘reasoned that the city, long known as an important pro-Qaddafi stronghold and under frequent bombardment by NATO airstrikes, was the last place anyone would look.’
In August 2011, after the capture of Tripoli by the Qatari Army, the British Special Air Service and private military contractors to Tripoli, there was euphoria at NATO headquarters. Having declared that Tripoli had been ‘liberated’, the NATO headquarters had been issuing communiqués since August that all Libya was about to be liberated. There was anxiety when there was stiff resistance in Sirte and every other day, NATO was declaring that Sirte was about to fall.
NATO, which had started the war under the pretext of responsibility ‘to protect’, had destroyed the most of Libya . From the nature of the resistance, NATO and their satellite intercepts had found out that Gaddafi was in Sirte, hence the NSC meetings and deliberations.
The New York Times’ report on the ‘Last Days of Gaddafi’ has revealed for posterity that:
‘The colonel traveled with about 10 people, including close aides and guards. Muatassim, who commanded the loyalist forces, traveled separately from his father, fearing that his own satellite phone was being tracked. Apart from a phone, which the colonel used to make frequent statements to a Syrian television station that became his official outlet, Colonel Qaddafi was largely “cut off from the world”.’
It was this satellite phone that was tracked so that when Sirte was bombed to smithereens, there was only one option left for Gaddafi, and that was to make a run to escape.
British news reports from both the Telegraph and The Independent UK since 21 August 2001 had been reporting that SAS and US Special forces were hunting for Gaddafi. British SAS forces and U.S. Special Forces had been scouring the Sirte area for Gaddafi, unable to find him.
According to these reports, when the resistance continued for two months, the British and US Special Forces on the ground disguised as Libyan NTC fighters had been coordinating the bombing campaign of Sitre. These SAS forces synchronised the bombing and one or two weeks before the execution, ‘NATO had pinpointed Gaddafi’s position after an intelligence breakthrough.’
Once the SAS and the coordinating forces confirmed Gaddafi’s position, ‘an American drone and an array of NATO eavesdropping aircraft had been trained on his Sirte stronghold to ensure he could not escape.’
This was when the debates on execution intensified and the drones were deployed to ensure that Gaddafi did not escape from Sirte.
US DRONES VS. FRENCH JETS
‘About two weeks ago, as the former rebels stormed the city center, the colonel and his sons were trapped shuttling between two houses in a residential area called District No. 2. They were surrounded by hundreds of former rebels, firing at the area with heavy machine guns, rockets and mortars. “The only decision was whether to live or to die,” Mr. Dhao said. Colonel Qaddafi decided it was time to leave, and planned to flee to one of his houses nearby, where he had been born. On Thursday, a convoy of more than 40 cars was supposed to leave at about around 3 a.m.’
With the voice recognition technology picking up any call made by Gaddafi, the drones were called in when the convoy carrying Gaddafi was pinpointed by the drone.
According to The Daily Telegraph (as reported by Empire Strikes Black):
’They built up a normal pattern of life picture so that when something unusual happened this morning such as a large group of vehicles gathering together, that came across as highly unusual activity and the decision was taken to follow them and prosecute an attack.
‘Electronic warfare aircraft, either an American Rivet Joint or a French C160 Gabriel, also picked up Gaddafi’s movements as he attempted to escape.’
Hilary Clinton had flown to Tripoli on Tuesday 18 October and from The New York Times report on the debate on Gaddafi’s future, Clinton made her position clear as reported in the international media when she declared that she wanted Gaddafi killed or captured.
Was this a clear message to the Special Forces on the ground that the NATO forces wanted Gaddafi killed? The Geneva conditions explicitly stated that prisoners of war should be humanely treated. In normal situations of the rule of international law this question of the manner of the execution would be taken up under the Geneva Conventions.
‘In a Toyota Land Cruiser, Colonel Qaddafi traveled with his chief of security, a relative, the driver and Mr. Dhao. The colonel did not say much during the drive. NATO warplanes and former rebel fighters found them half an hour after they left. When a missile struck near the car, the airbags deployed, said Mr. Dhao, who was hit by shrapnel in the strike. He said he tried to escape with Colonel Qaddafi and other men, walking first to a farm, then to the main road, toward some drainage pipes. “The shelling was constant,” Mr. Dhao said, adding that he was struck by shrapnel again and fell unconscious. When he woke up, he was in the hospital.’
Sensitive to the repercussions of this attack on the convoy, the British media declared early that the RAF had not been involved in the aerial attack. With great bravado, the French took credit for firing missile that stopped the car carrying Colonel Gaddafi.
French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet revealed that a French Mirage-2000 fired a warning shot at a column of several dozen vehicles fleeing Sirte.
MANAGING THE NEWS OF THE EXECUTION OF GADDAFI
It is now known that Gaddafi was alive after the airstrike by the French jets. With the clear mandate emanating from the discussions at the highest levels, the ‘NTC forces’ were on the ground to find the wounded Gaddafi. These newspapers would have the world believe that it was by chance that these ‘NTC’ fighters happened to find the wounded Gaddafi. Thanks to cell phone technology and alternative news sources, we know that when these ‘NTC forces’ captured Gaddafi, he was alive.
There are also visual images of the humiliation of the wounded Gaddafi and then later the dead body.
Once Gaddafi was executed with a bullet to the head, the great challenge for the NATO forces was how to manage the news of the execution, with the full knowledge that there were visual images of Gadddafi alive and then dead.
This was when the disinformation planners came up with the theory that Gaddafi was killed in crossfire. But the inconsistencies from the western news sources were so blatant that it was embarrassing for the psychological warfare experts of NATO. Was it crossfire, was it stray bullet, was it an assassination? There were too many cell phone images of what transpired for the western intelligence agencies to attempt to cover the clear violation of international law.
In this disinformation effort to convince the world that Gaddafi was killed in a crossfire or by a stray bullet, events were moving too fast so NATO could not control the disinformation and lies. Throughout the war, disinformation had been central to the operations.
As Lizzie Phelan had reported for Pambazuka News and other media, NATO had been willing and able ‘to not just fabricate events but to create.’ The fabrications now failed and it was clear that the manner of the killing of Gaddafi was meant to humiliate him. One does not have to support Gaddafi to realise that this kind of killing will not lay any basis for a society free from revenge killings. The disinformation backfired – even those who opposed the antics of Gaddafi in Africa were now opposed to the wanton disregard for international law.
From all corners of the world, NATO and the US Africa Command were being condemned. Despite efforts by western news agencies to place a microphone before those who would parrot the western line, the disregard for law and the hypocrisy of those who had used the mandate of the ‘responsibility to protect’ to carry out executions were too blatant. The Russians called for an end to the NATO mission and called for the UN Security Council to end the mandate of the no fly zone. At the United Nations, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who has repeatedly accused NATO of exceeding its UN mandate in Libya, has called for ending the mandate of the no-fly zone on October 31. Churkin said extending the UN authorisation beyond Monday October would be ‘unrealistic.’
In Africa, even those who had been opposed to Gaddafi, especially when he called his people rats, were now seeing the real criminal actions being carried out by NATO. Former Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu condemned the killing of Gaddafi, saying mob justice and violence should always be deplored.
‘The manner of the killing of Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday totally detracts from the noble enterprise of instilling a culture of human rights and democracy in Libya... the people of Libya should have demonstrated better values than those of their erstwhile oppressor.’
The same managers of disinformation realised that this manner of the execution revealed the true nature of the NATO/AFRICOM operations so the New York Times editorialised on October 20 that:
‘But a gruesome video broadcast on Al Jazeera – apparently showing him being dragged, beaten and then, perhaps, shot to death by armed men – is deeply troubling, if it is real.
‘Libyans must resist further reprisals and channel their passion into building a united, free and productive country. If not, they risk even more chaos and suffering.’
This same newspaper did not bring out whether there was any the role of US Special Forces and the British SAS on the ground, but from all corners of the world, there were now Human Rights reports calling for an investigation into the manner of the killing. Bloggers and articulate writers were reminding the imperialists that the Third Geneva Convention clearly states (article 13): ‘Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.’
The Fourth Geneva Convention (article 27): ‘Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.’
The discovery of the 53 corpses at the Mahari hotel, and another ten dumped in a nearby reservoir reveal a glimpse of the bloodletting and indiscriminate killings.
Africans from sub-saharan Africa were being particularly targeted and the opposition to the NTC intensified all over the continent, if not over the world.
CAN NATO CONTROL LIBYA?
From the start of the war against the peoples of Libya in March 2011, it became clear that the objective of the war was regime change. Those decent humans who had been offended by the leadership of the Libyan society calling their people rats and feared for a massacre were soon shown the reality that it was the NATO bombing that was a greater threat.
The NATO-led air campaign was launched in March under a UN mandate to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces trying to crush popular protests. It was clear that the objective of NATO was not to protect civilians and there was opposition to this NATO operation.
The destruction of Libya was meant to ensure greater western control over that society.
Throughout the war, the African Union spoke with one voice and called for a roadmap that would establish an inclusive government. Experience from Burundi and the work of the Nyerere and Mandela foundations point to the truth that it is in Africa where there is expertise to bring reconciliation. From the actions of the USA, France and Britain, they do not want peace and reconstruction in Libya. France continues to ensnare China in the spoils of war by promising reconstruction contracts. But if the BRICS societies support the African Union, there will be no contracts to be given out by France. National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil would like the UNSC to extend the mandate of the no fly zone on the grounds of controlling surplus weapons. However, Jalil has no means to exercise political leadership.
The NTC is divided. Three months after Tripoli was ‘liberated’ the leaders in Benghazi are still afraid to move to Tripoli. The Misrata elements of the ‘uprising’ hijacked the body of Gadddafi and kept the body in a meat freezer in Misrata. Humiliation was piled upon total disrespect for religious and traditional customs as the bodies were made a public spectacle. When the bodies started to decompose, they could no longer keep the bodies and Gadddafi and his son were buried in the desert.
AFRICAN UNITY CANNOT BE HALTED
Fifty years after Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961, we now have another gruesome execution of an African leader with the objective of halting the liberation and independence of Africa. In normal circumstances NATO commanders, United Nations personnel, point persons for the Arab League, and other imperial actors would be required to testify before an impartial enquiry in order to justify their role if any in these atrocities. It required the tenacious work of peace loving persons to ensure that Belgium and the USA were named as the murderers of Patrice Lumumba.
Today, international law can only be enforced by a new international alliance of societies that want to avoid total destructions.
In the midst of this crisis, the criminal actions carried out in Libya point to the reality that we are not in normal circumstances. How can the United Nations or NATO investigate crimes committed on their watch? Under the cover of providing security from the air for the TNC, NATO, the UN, and the other imperial actors in this campaign, granted themselves the alibi now being espoused for cold blooded murder. It is unthinkable to believe that NATO and the UN did not know what the NTC and other special forces were doing on the ground. Given the turn of events in Libya, which erupted in the cold blooded bloodletting, what seems to be emerging is some kind of sinister plot to obliterate any remnants of the former regime. There is no justification for such bloodletting. These people, including Gaddafi should have been captured and brought to trial under international law. International law cannot be exercised in a piecemeal manner to suit the whims and fancies of big powers. International law must be applied equally in all circumstances and in all areas of the world.
What has emerged in Libya is a double standard.
The same leaders who proclaim themselves as upholders of human rights applauded the humiliation and execution of Gaddafi. Decent human beings all over the world were outraged and it is now clearer that the decision to execute Gaddafi was made to silence one voice for anti-imperialism.
The execution had the opposite effect and the work for expelling foreign military forces from Africa will be now more intense.
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The top ten myths in the war against Libya
Maximilian C. Forte
Since Colonel Gaddafi lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a ‘success.’ They believe this is a ‘victory of the Libyan people’ and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the ‘responsibility to protect,’ for ‘humanitarian interventionism,’ and condemn the ‘anti-imperialist left.’ Some of those who claim to be ‘revolutionaries,’ or believe they support the ‘Arab revolution,’ somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of ‘truth’ that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya -and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.
These top ten myths are some of the most repeated claims, by the insurgents, and/or by NATO, European leaders, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and even the so-called ‘International Criminal Court’ - the main actors speaking in the war against Libya. In turn, we look at some of the reasons why these claims are better seen as imperial folklore, as the myths that supported the broadest of all myths - that this war is a ‘humanitarian intervention,’ one designed to ‘protect civilians.’ Again, the importance of these myths lies in their wide reproduction, with little question, and to deadly effect. In addition, they threaten to severely distort the ideals of human rights and their future invocation, as well aiding in the continued militarization of Western culture and society.
Just a few days after the street protests began, on 21 February the very quick to defect Libyan deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, stated: ‘We are expecting a real genocide in Tripoli. The airplanes are still bringing mercenaries to the airports.’ This is excellent: a myth that is composed of myths. With that statement he linked three key myths together - the role of airports (hence the need for that gateway drug of military intervention: the no-fly zone), the role of ‘mercenaries’ (meaning, simply, black people), and the threat of ‘genocide’ (geared toward the language of the UN’s doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect). As ham-fisted and wholly unsubstantiated as the assertion was, he was clever in cobbling together three ugly myths, one of them grounded in racist discourse and practice that endures to the present, with newer atrocities reported against black Libyan and African migrants on a daily basis. He was not alone in making these assertions. Among others like him, Soliman Bouchuiguir, president of the Libyan League for Human Rights, told Reuters on 14 March that if Gaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi, ‘there will be a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda.’ That’s not the only time we would be deliberately reminded of Rwanda. Here was Lt. Gen Roméo Dallaire, the much worshipped Canadian force commander of the UN peacekeeping mission for Rwanda in 1994, currently an appointed senator in the Canadian Parliament and co-director of the Will to Intervene project at Concordia University. Dallaire, in a precipitous sprint to judgment, not only made repeated references to Rwanda when trying to explain Libya, he spoke of Gaddafi as ‘employing genocidal threats to “cleanse Libya house by house”.’ This is one instance where selective attention to Gaddafi’s rhetorical excess was taken all too seriously, when on other occasions the powers that be are instead quick to dismiss it: US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner waved away Gaddafi’s alleged threats against Europe by saying that Gaddafi is ‘someone who’s given to overblown rhetoric.’ How very calm, by contrast, and how very convenient - because on February 23, President Obama declared that he had instructed his administration to come up with a ‘full range of options’ to take against Gaddafi.
But ‘genocide’ has a well established international legal definition, as seen repeatedly in the UN’s 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, where genocide involves the persecution of a ‘a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.’ Not all violence is ‘genocidal.’ Internecine violence is not genocide. Genocide is neither just ‘lots of violence’ nor violence against undifferentiated civilians. What both Dabbashi, Dallaire, and others failed to do was to identify the persecuted national, ethnic, racial or religious group, and how it differed in those terms from those allegedly committing the genocide. They really ought to know better (and they do), one as a UN ambassador and the other as a much exalted expert and lecturer on genocide. This suggests that myth-making was either deliberate, or founded on prejudice.
What foreign military intervention did do, however, was to enable the actual genocidal violence that has been routinely sidelined until only very recently: the horrific violence against African migrants and black Libyans, singled out solely on the basis of their skin colour. That has proceeded without impediment, without apology, and until recently, without much notice. Indeed, the media even collaborates, rapid to assert without evidence that any captured or dead black man must be a ‘mercenary.’ This is the genocide that the white, Western world, and those who dominate the ‘conversation’ about Libya, have missed (and not by accident).
2. GADDAFI IS ‘BOMBING HIS OWN PEOPLE’
We must remember that one of the initial reasons in rushing to impose a no-fly zone was to prevent Gaddafi from using his air force to bomb ‘his own people’ - a distinct phrasing that echoes what was tried and tested in the demonization of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. On February 21, when the first alarmist ‘warnings’ about ‘genocide’ were being made by the Libyan opposition, both Al Jazeera and the BBCclaimed that Gaddafi had deployed his air force against protesters - as the BBC ‘reported’: ‘Witnesses say warplanes have fired on protesters in the city.’ Yet, on March 1, in a Pentagon press conference, when asked: ‘Do you see any evidence that he [Gaddafi] actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?’ US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates replied, ‘We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that.’ Backing him up was Admiral Mullen: ‘That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.’
In fact, claims that Gaddafi also used helicopters against unarmed protesters are totally unfounded, a pure fabrication based on fake claims. This is important since it was Gaddafi’s domination of Libyan air space that foreign interventionists wanted to nullify, and therefore myths of atrocities perpetrated from the air took on added value as providing an entry point for foreign military intervention that went far beyond any mandate to ‘protect civilians.’
David Kirpatrick of The New York Times, as early as March 21 confirmed that, ‘the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaric behavior.’ The ‘vastly inflated claims’ are what became part of the imperial folklore surrounding events in Libya, that suited Western intervention. Rarely did the Benghazi-based journalistic crowd question or contradict their hosts.
3. SAVE BENGHAZI
This article is being written as the Libyan opposition forces march on Sirte and Sabha, the two last remaining strongholds of the Gaddafi government, with ominous warnings to the population that they must surrender, or else. Apparently, Benghazi became somewhat of a ‘holy city’ in the international discourse dominated by leaders of the European Union and NATO. Benghazi was the one city on earth that could not be touched. It was like sacred ground. Tripoli? Sirte? Sabha? Those can be sacrificed, as we all look on, without a hint of protest from any of the powers that be - this, even as we get the first reports of how the opposition has slaughtered people in Tripoli. Let’s turn to the Benghazi myth.
‘If we waited one more day,’ Barack Obama said in his March 28 address, ‘Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.’ In a joint letter, Obama with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy asserted: ‘By responding immediately, our countries halted the advance of Gaddafi’s forces. The bloodbath that he had promised to inflict on the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi has been prevented. Tens of thousands of lives have been protected.’ Not only did French jets bomb a retreating column, what we saw was a very short column that included trucks and ambulances, and that clearly could have neither destroyed nor occupied Benghazi.
Other than Gaddafi’s ‘overblown rhetoric’, which the US was quick to dismiss when it suited its purposes, there is to date still no evidence furnished that shows Benghazi would have witnessed the loss of ‘tens of thousands’ of lives as proclaimed by Obama, Cameron, and Sarkozy. This was best explained by Professor Alan J. Kuperman in ‘False pretense for war in Libya?’:
‘The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially -including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi….Khadafy’s acts were a far cry from Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Bosnia, and other killing fields….Despite ubiquitous cellphones equipped with cameras and video, there is no graphic evidence of deliberate massacre….Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The “no mercy” warning, of March 17, targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away”. Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight “to the bitter end”.’
In a bitter irony, what evidence there is of massacres, committed by both sides, is now to be found in Tripoli in recent days, months after NATO imposed its ‘life-saving’ military measures. Revenge killings are daily being reported with greater frequency, including the wholesale slaughter of black Libyans and African migrants by rebel forces. Another sad irony: in Benghazi, which the insurgents have held for months now, well after Gaddafi forces were repulsed, not even that has prevented violence: revenge killings have been reported there too - more under #6 below.
4. AFRICAN MERCANARIES
Patrick Cockburn summarized the functional utility of the myth of the ‘African mercenary’ and the context in which it arose: ‘Since February, the insurgents, often supported by foreign powers, claimed that the battle was between Gaddafi and his family on the one side and the Libyan people on the other. Their explanation for the large pro-Gaddafi forces was that they were all mercenaries, mostly from black Africa, whose only motive was money.’ As he notes, black prisoners were put on display for the media (which is a violation of the Geneva Convention), but Amnesty International later found that all the prisoners had supposedly been released since none of them were fighters, but rather were undocumented workers from Mali, Chad, and west Africa. The myth was useful for the opposition to insist that this was a war between ‘Gaddafi and the Libyan people’, as if he had no domestic support at all - an absolute and colossal fabrication such that one would think only little children could believe a story so fantastic. The myth is also useful for cementing the intended rupture between ‘the new Libya’ and Pan-Africanism, realigning Libya with Europe and the ‘modern world’ which some of the opposition so explicitly crave.
The ‘African mercenary’ myth, as put into deadly, racist practice, is a fact that paradoxically has been both documented and ignored. Months ago I provided an extensive review of the role of the mainstream media, led by Al Jazeera, as well as the seeding of social media, in creating the African mercenary myth. Among the departures from the norm of vilifying Sub-Saharan Africans and black Libyans that instead documented the abuse of these civilians, were the Los Angeles Times, Human Rights Watch which found no evidence of any mercenaries at all in eastern Libya (totally contradicting the claims presented as truth by Al Arabiya and The Telegraph, among others such as TIME and The Guardian). In an extremely rare departure from the propaganda about the black mercenary threat which Al Jazeera and its journalists helped to actively disseminate, Al Jazeera produced a single report focusing on the robbing, killing, and abduction of black residents in eastern Libya (now that CBS, Channel 4, and others are noting the racism, Al Jazeera is trying to ambiguously show some interest). Finally, there is some increased recognition of these facts of media collaboration in the racist vilification of the insurgents’ civilian victims - see FAIR: ‘NYT Points Out “Racist Overtones” in Libyan Disinformation It Helped Spread.’
The racist targeting and killing of black Libyans and Sub-Saharan Africans continues to the present. Patrick Cockburn and Kim Sengupta speak of the recently discovered mass of ‘rotting bodies of 30 men, almost all black and many handcuffed, slaughtered as they lay on stretchers and even in an ambulance in central Tripoli.’ Even while showing us video of hundreds of bodies in the Abu Salim hospital, the BBC dares not remark on the fact that most of those are clearly black people, and even wonders about who might have killed them. This is not a question for the anti-Gaddafi forces interviewed by Sengupta: ‘‘Come and see. These are blacks, Africans, hired by Gaddafi, mercenaries,’ shouted Ahmed Bin Sabri, lifting the tent flap to show the body of one dead patient, his grey T-shirt stained dark red with blood, the saline pipe running into his arm black with flies. Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed?’ Recent reports reveal the insurgents engaging in ethnic cleansing against black Libyans in Tawergha, the insurgents calling themselves ‘the brigade for purging slaves, black skin,’ vowing that in the ‘new Libya’ black people from Tawergha would be barred from health care and schooling in nearby Misrata, from which black Libyans had already been expelled by the insurgents. Currently, Human Rights Watch has reported: ‘Dark-skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans face particular risks because rebel forces and other armed groups have often considered them pro-Gadhafi mercenaries from other African countries. We’ve seen violent attacks and killings of these people in areas where the National Transitional Council took control.’
Amnesty International has also just reported on the disproportionate detention of black Africans in rebel-controlled Az-Zawiya, as well as the targeting of unarmed, migrant farm workers. Reports continue to mount as this is being written, with other human rights groups finding evidence of the insurgents targeting Sub-Saharan African migrant workers. As the chair of the African Union, Jean Ping, recently stated: ‘NTC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries. All blacks are mercenaries. If you do that, it means (that the) one-third of the population of Libya, which is black, is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them.’
The ‘African mercenary’ myth continues to be one of the most vicious of all the myths, and the most racist. Even in recent days, newspapers such as the Boston Globe uncritically and unquestioningly show photographs of black victims or black detainees with the immediate assertion that they must be mercenaries, despite the absence of any evidence. Instead we are usually provided with casual assertions that Gaddafi is ‘known to have’ recruited Africans from other nations in the past, without even bothering to find out if those shown in the photos are black Libyans. The lynching of both black Libyans and Sub-Saharan African migrant workers has been continuous, and has neither received any expression of even nominal concern by the US and NATO members, nor has it aroused the interest of the so-called ‘International Criminal Court’. There is as little chance of there being any justice for the victims as there is of anyone putting a stop to these heinous crimes that clearly constitute a case of ethnic cleansing. The media, only now, is becoming more conscious of the need to cover these crimes, having glossed them over for months.
5. VIAGRA-FUELED MASS RAPE
The reported crimes and human rights violations of the Gaddafi regime are awful enough as they are that one has to wonder why anyone would need to invent stories, such as that of Gaddafi’s troops, with erections powered by Viagra, going on a rape spree. Perhaps it was peddled because it’s the kind of story that ‘captures the imagination of traumatized publics’. This story was taken so seriously that some people started writing to Pfizer to get it to stop selling Viagra to Libya, since its product was allegedly being used as a weapon of war. People who otherwise should know better, set out to deliberately misinform the international public.
The Viagra story was first disseminated by Al Jazeera, in collaboration with its rebel partners, favoured by the Qatari regime that funds Al Jazeera. It was then redistributed by almost all other major Western news media.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, appeared before the world media to say that there was ‘evidence’ that Gaddafi distributed Viagra to his troops in order ‘to enhance the possibility to rape’ and that Gaddafi ordered the rape of hundreds of women. Moreno-Ocampo insisted: ‘We are getting information that Qaddafi himself decided to rape’ and that ‘we have information that there was a policy to rape in Libya those who were against the government.’ He also exclaimed that Viagra is ‘like a machete’ and that ‘Viagra is a tool of massive rape.’
In a startling declaration to the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Susan Rice also asserted that Gaddafi was supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape. She offered no evidence whatsoever to back up her claim. Indeed, US military and intelligence sources flatly contradicted Rice, telling NBC News that ‘there is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas.’ Rice is a liberal interventionist who was one of those to persuade Obama to intervene in Libya. She utilized this myth because it helped her make the case at the UN that there was no ‘moral equivalence’ between Gaddafi’s human rights abuses and those of the insurgents.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also declared that ‘Gadhafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms.’ She added that she was ‘deeply concerned’ by these reports of ‘wide-scale rape’. (She has, thus far, said nothing at all about the rebels’ racist lynchings.)
By June 10, Cherif Bassiouni, who is leading a UN rights inquiry into the situation in Libya, suggested that the Viagra and mass rape claim was part of a ‘massive hysteria.’ Indeed, both sides in the war have made the same allegations against each other. Bassiouni also told the press of a case of ‘a woman who claimed to have sent out 70,000 questionnaires and received 60,000 responses, of which 259 reported sexual abuse.’ However, his teams asked for those questionnaires, they never received them – ‘But she’s going around the world telling everybody about it…so now she got that information to Ocampo and Ocampo is convinced that here we have a potential 259 women who have responded to the fact that they have been sexually abused,’ Bassiouni said. He also pointed out that it ‘did not appear to be credible that the woman was able to send out 70,000 questionnaires in March when the postal service was not functioning.’ In fact, Bassiouni’s team ‘uncovered only four alleged cases of rape and sexual abuse: ‘Can we draw a conclusion that there is a systematic policy of rape? In my opinion we can’t.’ In addition to the UN, Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera said in an interview with the French daily Libération, that Amnesty had ‘not found cases of rape…Not only have we not met any victims, but we have not even met any persons who have met victims. As for the boxes of Viagra that Gaddafi is supposed to have had distributed, they were found intact near tanks that were completely burnt out.’
However, this did not stop some news manufacturers from trying to maintain the rape claims, in modified form. The BBC went on to add another layer just a few days after Bassiouni humiliated the ICC and the media: the BBC now claimed that rape victims in Libya faced ‘honour killings’. This is news to the few Libyans I know, who never heard of honour killings in their country. The scholarly literature on Libya turns up little or nothing on this phenomenon in Libya. The honour killings myth serves a useful purpose for keeping the mass rape claim on life support: it suggests that women would not come forward and give evidence, out of shame. Also just a few days after Bassiouni spoke, Libyan insurgents, in collaboration with CNN, made a last-ditch effort to save the rape allegations: they presented a cell phone with a rape video on it, claiming it belonged to a government soldier. The men shown in the video are in civilian clothes. There is no evidence of Viagra. There is no date on the video and we have no idea who recorded it or where. Those presenting the cell phone claimed that many other videos existed, but they were conveniently being destroyed to preserve the ‘honour’ of the victims.
6. RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT (R2P).
Having asserted, wrongly as we saw, that Libya faced impending ‘genocide’ at the hands of Gaddafi’s forces, it became easier for Western powers to invoke the UN’s 2005 doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. Meanwhile, it is not at all clear that by the time the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 that the violence in Libya had even reached the levels seen in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen. The most common refrain used against critics of the selectivity of this supposed ‘humanitarian interventionism’ is that just because the West cannot intervene everywhere does not mean it should not intervene in Libya. Maybe…but that still does not explain why Libya was the chosen target. This is a critical point because some of the earliest critiques of R2P voiced at the UN raised the issue of selectivity, of who gets to decide, and why some crises where civilians are targeted (say, Gaza) are essentially ignored, while others receive maximum concern, and whether R2P served as the new fig leaf for hegemonic geopolitics.
The myth at work here is that foreign military intervention was guided by humanitarian concerns. To make the myth work, one has to willfully ignore at least three key realities. One thus has to ignore the new scramble for Africa, where Chinese interests are seen as competing with the West for access to resources and political influence, something that AFRICOM is meant to challenge. Gaddafi challenged AFRICOM’s intent to establish military bases in Africa. AFRICOM has since become directly involved in the Libya intervention and specifically ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’. [url=http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/201104020071.html]Horace Campbell[/url argued that ‘US involvement in the Libyan bombing is being turned into a public relations ploy for AFRICOM’ and an ‘opportunity to give AFRICOM credibility under the facade of the Libyan intervention’. In addition, Gaddafi’s power and influence on the continent had also been increasing, through aid, investment, and a range of projects designed to lessen African dependency on the West and to challenge Western multilateral institutions by building African unity - rendering him a rival to US interests. Secondly, one has to ignore not just the anxiety of Western oil interests over Gaddafi’s ‘resource nationalism’ (threatening to take back what oil companies had gained), an anxiety now clearly manifest in the European corporate rush into Libya to scoop up the spoils of victory - but one has to also ignore the apprehension over what Gaddafi was doing with those oil revenues in supporting greater African economic independence, and for historically backing national liberation movements that challenged Western hegemony. Thirdly, one has to also ignore the fear in Washington that the US was losing a grip on the course of the so-called ‘Arab revolution.’ How one can stack up these realities, and match them against ambiguous and partial ‘humanitarian’ concerns, and then conclude that, yes, human rights is what mattered most, seems entirely implausible and unconvincing - especially with the atrocious track record of NATO and US human rights violations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and before that Kosovo and Serbia. The humanitarian angle is simply neither credible nor even minimally logical.
If R2P is seen as founded on moral hypocrisy and contradiction - now definitively revealed - it will become much harder in the future to cry wolf again and expect to get a respectful hearing. This is especially the case since little in the way of diplomacy and peaceful negotiation preceded the military intervention - while Obama is accused by some of having been slow to react, this was if anything a rush to war, on a pace that by very far surpassed Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Not only do we know from the African Union about how its efforts to establish a peaceful transition were impeded, but Dennis Kucinich also reveals that he received reports that a peaceful settlement was at hand, only to be ‘scuttled by State Department officials’. These are absolutely critical violations of the R2P doctrine, showing how those ideals could instead be used for a practice that involved a hasty march to war, and war aimed at regime change (which is itself a violation of international law).
That R2P served as a justifying myth that often achieved the opposite of its stated aims, is no longer a surprise. I am not even speaking here of the role of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in bombing Libya and aiding the insurgents - even as they backed Saudi military intervention to crush the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, nor of the ugly pall cast on an intervention led by the likes of unchallenged abusers of human rights who have committed war crimes with impunity in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I am taking a narrower approach - such as the documented cases where NATO not only willfully failed to protect civilians in Libya, but it even deliberately and knowingly targeted them in a manner that constitutes terrorism by most official definitions used by Western governments.
NATO admitted to deliberately targeting Libya’s state television, killing three civilian reporters, in a move condemned by international journalist federations as a direct violation of a 2006 Security Council resolution banning attacks on journalists. A US Apache helicopter - in a repeat of the infamous killings shown in the Collateral Murder video - gunned down civilians in the central square of Zawiya, killing the brother of the information minister among others. Taking a fairly liberal notion of what constitutes ‘command and control facilities’, NATO targeted a civilian residential space resulting in the deaths of some of Gaddafi’s family members, including three grandchildren. As if to protect the myth of ‘protecting civilians’ and the unconscionable contradiction of a ‘war for human rights’, the major news media often kept silent about civilian deaths caused by NATO bombardments. R2P has been invisible when it comes to civilians targeted by NATO.
In terms of the failure to protect civilians, in a manner that is actually an international criminal offense, we have the numerous reports of NATO ships ignoring the distress calls of refugee boats in the Mediterranean that were fleeing Libya. In May, 61 African refugees died on a single vessel, despite making contact with vessels belonging to NATO member states. In a repeat of the situation, dozens died in early August on another vessel. In fact, on NATO’s watch, at least 1,500 refugees fleeing Libya have died at sea since the war began. They were mostly Sub-Saharan Africans, and they died in multiples of the death toll suffered by Benghazi during the protests. R2P was utterly absent for these people.
NATO has developed a peculiar terminological twist for Libya, designed to absolve the rebels of any role in perpetrating crimes against civilians, and abdicating its so-called responsibility to protect. Throughout the war, spokespersons for NATO and for the US and European governments consistently portrayed all of the actions of Gaddafi’s forces as ‘threatening civilians’, even when engaged in either defensive actions, or combat against armed opponents. For example, the NATO spokesperson, Roland Lavoie, ‘appeared to struggle to explain how NATO strikes were protecting civilians at this stage in the conflict. Asked about NATO’s assertion that it hit 22 armed vehicles near Sirte on Monday, he was unable to say how the vehicles were threatening civilians, or whether they were in motion or parked.’
By protecting the rebels, in the same breath as they spoke of protecting civilians, it is clear that NATO intended for us to see Gaddafi’s armed opponents as mere civilians. Interestingly, in Afghanistan, where NATO and the US fund, train, and arm the Karzai regime in attacking ‘his own people’ (like they do in Pakistan), the armed opponents are consistently labeled ‘terrorists’ or ‘insurgents’ - even if the majority of them are civilians who have never served in any official standing army. They are insurgents in Afghanistan, and their deaths at the hands of NATO are listed separately from the tallies for civilian casualties. By some magic, in Libya, they are all ‘civilians’. In response to the announcement of the UN Security Council voting for military intervention, a volunteer translator for Western reporters in Tripoli made this key observation: ‘Civilians holding guns, and you want to protect them? It’s a joke. We are the civilians. What about us?’
NATO has provided a shield for the insurgents in Libya to victimize unarmed civilians in areas they came to occupy. There was no hint of any ‘responsibility to protect’ in these cases. NATO assisted the rebels in starving Tripoli of supplies, subjecting its civilian population to a siege that deprived them of water, food, medicine, and fuel. When Gaddafi was accused of doing this to Misrata, the international media were quick to cite this as a war crime. Save Misrata, kill Tripoli - whatever you want to label such ‘logic’, humanitarian is not an acceptable option. Leaving aside the documented crimes by the insurgents against black Libyans and African migrant workers, the insurgents were also found by Human Rights Watch to have engaged in ‘looting, arson, and abuse of civilians in [four] recently captured towns in western Libya’. In Benghazi, which the insurgents have held for months now, revenge killings have been reported by The New York Times as late as this May, and by Amnesty International in late June and faulted the insurgents’ National Transitional Council. The responsibility to protect? It now sounds like something deserving wild mockery.
7. GADDAFI – THE DEMON
Depending on your perspective, either Gaddafi is a heroic revolutionary, and thus the demonization by the West is extreme, or Gaddafi is a really bad man, in which case the demonization is unnecessary and absurd. The myth here is that the history of Gaddafi’s power was marked only by atrocity - he is thoroughly evil, without any redeeming qualities, and anyone accused of being a ‘Gaddafi supporter’ should somehow feel more ashamed than those who openly support NATO. This is binary absolutism at its worst - virtually no one made allowance for the possibility that some might neither support Gaddafi, the insurgents, nor NATO. Everyone was to be forced into one of those camps, no exceptions allowed. What resulted was a phony debate, dominated by fanatics of one side or another. Missed in the discussion, recognition of the obvious: however much Gaddafi had been ‘in bed’ with the West over the past decade, his forces were now fighting against a NATO-driven take over of his country.
The other result was the impoverishment of historical consciousness, and the degradation of more complex appreciations of the full breadth of the Gaddafi record. This would help explain why some would not rush to condemn and disown the man (without having to resort to crude and infantile caricaturing of their motivations). While even Glenn Greenwald feels the need to dutifully insert, ‘No decent human being would possibly harbor any sympathy for Gadaffi,’ I have known decent human beings in Nicaragua, Trinidad, Dominica, and among the Mohawks in Montreal who very much appreciate Gaddafi’s support - not to mention his support for various national liberation movements, including the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Gaddafi’s regime has many faces: some are seen by his domestic opponents, others are seen by recipients of his aid, and others were smiled at by the likes of Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There are many faces, and they are all simultaneously real. Some refuse to ‘disown’ Gaddafi, to ‘apologize’ for his friendship towards them, no matter how distasteful, indecent, and embarrassing other ‘progressives’ may find him. That needs to be respected, instead of this now fashionable bullying and gang banging that reduces a range of positions to one juvenile accusation: ‘you support a dictator’. Ironically, we support many dictators, with our very own tax dollars, and we routinely offer no apologies for this fact.
Speaking of the breadth of Gaddafi’s record, that ought to resist simplistic, revisionist reduction, some might care to note that even now, the US State Department’s webpage on Libya still points to a Library of Congress Country Study on Libya that features some of the Gaddafi government’s many social welfare achievements over the years in the areas of medical care, public housing, and education. In addition, Libyans have the highest literacy rate in Africa (see UNDP, p. 171) and Libya is the only continental African nation to rank ‘high’ in the UNDP’s Human Development Index. Even the BBC recognized these achievements:
‘Women in Libya are free to work and to dress as they like, subject to family constraints. Life expectancy is in the seventies. And per capita income - while not as high as could be expected given Libya’s oil wealth and relatively small population of 6.5m - is estimated at $12,000 (£9,000), according to the World Bank. Illiteracy has been almost wiped out, as has homelessness - a chronic problem in the pre-Gaddafi era, where corrugated iron shacks dotted many urban centres around the country.’
So if one supports health care, does that mean one supports dictatorship? And if ‘the dictator’ funds public housing and subsidizes incomes, do we simply erase those facts from our memory?
8. FREEDOM FIGHTERS – THE ANGELS
The complement to the demonization of Gaddafi was the angelization of the ‘rebels’. My aim here is not to counter the myth by way of inversion, and demonizing all of Gaddafi’s opponents, who have many serious and legitimate grievances, and in large numbers have clearly had more than they can bear. I am instead interested in how ‘we’, in the North Atlantic part of the equation, construct them in ways that suit our intervention. One standard way, repeated in different ways across a range of media and by US government spokespersons, can be seen in this New York Times’ depiction of the rebels as ‘secular-minded professionals - lawyers, academics, businesspeople - who talk about democracy, transparency, human rights and the rule of law.’ The listing of professions familiar to the American middle class which respects them, is meant to inspire a shared sense of identification between readers and the Libyan opposition, especially when we recall that it is on the Gaddafi side where the forces of darkness dwell: the main ‘professions’ we find are torturer, terrorist, and African mercenary.
For many weeks it was almost impossible to get reporters embedded with the rebel National Transitional Council in Benghazi to even begin to provide a description of who constituted the anti-Gaddafi movement, if it was one organization or many groups, what their agendas were, and so forth. The subtle leitmotif in the reports was one that cast the rebellion as entirely spontaneous and indigenous - which may be true, in part, and it may also be an oversimplification. Among the reports that significantly complicated the picture were those that discussed the CIA ties to the insurgents; others highlighted the role of the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and USAID, which have been active in Libya since 2005; those that detailed the role of various expatriate groups; and, reports of the active role of ‘radical Islamist’ militias embedded within the overall insurgency, with some pointing to Al Qaeda connections.
Some feel a definite need for being on the side of ‘the good guys’, especially as neither Iraq nor Afghanistan offer any such sense of righteous vindication. Americans want the world to see them as doing good, as being not only indispensable, but also irreproachable. They could wish for nothing better than being seen as atoning for their sins in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a special moment, where the bad guy can safely be the other once again. A world that is safe for America is a world that is unsafe for evil. Marching band, baton twirlers, Anderson Cooper, confetti - we get it.
9. VICTORY FOR THE LIBYAN PEOPLE
To say that the current turn in Libya represents a victory by the Libyan people in charting their own destiny is, at best, an oversimplification that masks the range of interests involved since the beginning in shaping and determining the course of events on the ground, and that ignores the fact that for much of the war Gaddafi was able to rely on a solid base of popular support. As early as February 25, a mere week after the start of the first street protests, Nicolas Sarkozy had already determined that Gaddafi ‘must go’. By February 28, David Cameron began working on a proposal for a no-fly zone - these statements and decisions were made without any attempt at dialogue and diplomacy. By March 30, The New York Times reported that for ‘several weeks’ CIA operatives had been working inside Libya, which would mean they were there from mid-February, that is, when the protests began - they were then joined inside Libya by ‘dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers’. The NYT also reported in the same article that ‘several weeks’ before (again, around mid-February), President Obama Several ‘signed a secret finding authorizing the CIA to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels,’ with that ‘other support’ entailing a range of possible ‘covert actions’. USAID had already deployed a team to Libya by early March. At the end of March, Obama publicly stated that the objective was to depose Gaddafi. In terribly suspicious wording, ‘a senior US official said the administration had hoped that the Libyan uprising would evolve “organically”, like those in Tunisia and Egypt, without need for foreign intervention’ - which sounds like exactly the kind of statement one makes when something begins in a fashion that is not ‘organic’ and when comparing events in Libya as marked by a potential legitimacy deficit when compared to those of Tunisia and Egypt. Yet on March 14 the NTC’s Abdel Hafeez Goga asserted, ‘We are capable of controlling all of Libya, but only after the no-fly zone is imposed’ - which is still not the case even six months later.
In recent days it has also been revealed that what the rebel leadership swore it would oppose - ’foreign boots on the ground’ - is in fact a reality confirmed by NATO: ‘Special forces troops from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar on the ground in Libya have stepped up operations in Tripoli and other cities in recent days to help rebel forces as they conducted their final advance on the Gadhafi regime.’ This, and other summaries, are only scratching the surface of the range of external support provided to the rebels. The myth here is that of the nationalist, self-sufficient rebel, fueled entirely by popular support.
At the moment, war supporters are proclaiming the intervention a ‘success’. It should be noted that there was another case where an air campaign, deployed to support local armed militia on the ground, aided by US covert military operatives, also succeeded in deposing another regime, and even much more quickly. That case was Afghanistan. Success.
10. DEFEAT FOR ‘THE LEFT’
As if reenacting the pattern of articles condemning ‘the left’ that came out in the wake of the Iran election protests in 2009 (see as examples Hamid Dabashi and Slavoj Žižek), the war in Libya once again seemed to have presented an opportunity to target the left, as if this was topmost on the agenda - as if ‘the left’ was the problem to be addressed. Here we see articles, in various states of intellectual and political disrepair, by Juan Cole (see some of the rebuttals: ‘The case of Professor Juan Cole,’ ‘An open letter to Professor Juan Cole: A reply to a slander,’ ‘Professor Cole “answers” WSWS on Libya: An admission of intellectual and political bankruptcy’), Gilbert Achcar (and this especially), Immanuel Wallerstein, and Helena Sheehan who seemingly arrived at some of her most critical conclusions at the airport at the end of her very first visit to Tripoli.
There seems to be some confusion over roles and identities. There is no homogeneous left, nor ideological agreement among anti-imperialists (which includes conservatives and libertarians, among anarchists and Marxists). Nor was the ‘anti-imperialist left’ in any position to either do real harm on the ground, as is the case of the actual protagonists. There was little chance of the anti-interventionists in influencing foreign policy, which took shape in Washington before any of the serious critiques against intervention were published. These points suggest that at least some of the critiques are moved by concerns that go beyond Libya, and that even have very little to do with Libya ultimately. The most common accusation is that the anti-imperialist left is somehow coddling a dictator. The argument is that this is based on a flawed analysis - in criticizing the position of Hugo Chávez, Wallerstein says Chávez’s analysis is deeply flawed, and offers this among the criticisms: ‘The second point missed by Hugo Chavez’s analysis is that there is not going to be any significant military involvement of the western world in Libya’ (yes, read it again). Indeed, many of the counterarguments deployed against the anti-interventionist left echo or wholly reproduce the top myths that were dismantled above, that get their geopolitical analysis almost entirely wrong, and that pursue politics focused in part on personality and events of the day. This also shows us the deep poverty of politics premised primarily on simplistic and one-sided ideas of ‘human rights’ and ‘protection’ (see Richard Falk’s critique), and the success of the new military humanism in siphoning off the energies of the left. And a question persists: if those opposed to intervention were faulted for providing a moral shield for ‘dictatorship’ (as if imperialism was not itself a global dictatorship), what about those humanitarians who have backed the rise of xenophobic and racist militants who by so many accounts engage in ethnic cleansing? Does it mean that the pro-interventionist crowd is racist? Do they even object to the racism? So far, I have heard only silence from those quarters.
The agenda in brow-beating the anti-imperialist straw man masks an effort to curb dissent against an unnecessary war that has prolonged and widened human suffering; advanced the cause of war corporatists, transnational firms, and neoliberals; destroyed the legitimacy of multilateral institutions that were once openly committed to peace in international relations; violated international law and human rights; witnessed the rise of racist violence; empowered the imperial state to justify its continued expansion; violated domestic laws; and reduced the discourse of humanitarianism to a clutch of simplistic slogans, reactionary impulses, and formulaic policies that privilege war as a first option. Really, the left is the problem here?
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Maximilian Forte is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. His website can be found at http://openanthropology.org/ as can his previous articles on Libya and other facets of imperialism.
* This article first appeared on Counterpunch.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
How the West won Libya
They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway - an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein's "hole" - he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) "rebels". And then duly executed.
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a Libyan doctor who accompanied Gaddafi's body in an ambulance and examined it, said he died from two bullets, one to the chest, one to the head.
The TNC - which has peddled lies, lies and more lies for months - swears he died in "crossfire". It may have been a mob. It may have been Mohammad al-Bibi, a 20-year-old sporting a New York Yankees baseball cap who posed to the whole world brandishing Gaddafi's golden pistol; his ticket perhaps to collect the hefty $20 million dangled as the bounty for Gaddafi "dead or alive".
It gets curioser and curioser when one remembers that this is exactly what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before; Gaddafi should be "captured or killed". The Fairy Queenie satisfied Clinton's wishes, who learned about it by watching the screen of a BlackBerry – and reacting with the semantic earthquake "Wow!"
To the winners, the spoils. They all did it; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Pentagon and the TNC. From the minute a United Nations resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya became a green card to regime change, plan A was always to capture and kill him. Targeted assassination; that's Barack Obama administration official policy. There was no plan B.
LET ME BOMB YOU TO PROTECTION
As for how R2P ("responsibility to protect" civilians), any doubters should cling to the explanation by NATO's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen; "NATO and our partners have successfully implemented the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya." Anyone who wants to check NATO's protection of civilians just needs to jump on a pick-up truck and go to Sirte - the new Fallujah.
Reactions have been quite instructive. TNC bureaucrat Abdel Ghoga went Colosseum in the Roman Empire, saying, "The revolutionaries have got the head of the tyrant."
United States President Barack Obama said the death of Gaddafi means "we are seeing the strength of American leadership across the world". That's as "we got him" as one can possibly expect, also considering that Washington paid no less than 80% of the operating costs of those dimwits at NATO (over $1 billion - which Occupy Wall Street could well denounce would be more helpful creating jobs in the US). Strange, now, to say "we did it", because the White House always said this was not a war; it was a "kinetic" something. And they were not in charge.
It was up to that majestic foreign policy strategist, US Vice President Joe Biden, to be starkly more enlightening than Obama; "In this case, America spent $2 billion and didn't lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has in the past."
World, you have been warned; this is how the empire will deal with you from now on.
FEEL MY HUMANITARIAN LOVE
So congratulations to the "international community" - which as everyone knows is composed of Washington, a few washed-up NATO members, and the democratic Persian Gulf powerhouses of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This community, at least, loved the outcome. The European Union (EU) hailed "the end of an era of despotism" - when up to virtually Thursday they were caressing the helm of Gaddafi's gowns; now they are falling over themselves in editorials about the 42-year reign of a "buffoon".
Gaddafi would have been a most inconvenient guest of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as he would have relished recalling all the hand-kissing, the warm embraces and the juicy deals the West was begging to clinch after he was promoted from "Mad Dog" (Ronald Reagan) to "our bastard". He would also relish detailing all the shady backgrounds of those opportunists now posing as "revolutionaries" and "democrats".
As for the concept of international law, it lies in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Iraqi dictator Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner. Osama bin Laden was simply snuffed out, assassination-style, after a territorial invasion of Pakistan. Gaddafi went one up, snuffed out with a mix of air war and assassination.
Power vultures are congesting the skies. London-based Mohammed El Senussi, the heir to the Libyan throne (King Idris was overthrown in 1969) is ready for his close-up, having already established that he "is a servant to Libyan people, and they decide what they want". Translation; I want the throne. He's obviously the favorite candidate of the counter-revolutionary House of Saud.
And what about those Washington think-tank donkeys mumbling that this was the Arab Spring's "Ceausescu moment"? If only the Romanian dictator had improved his country's standard of living - in terms of free healthcare, free education, incentives for the newlywed, etc - by a fraction of what Gaddafi did in Libya. Plus the fact that Nicolae Ceausescu was not deposed by NATO "humanitarian" bombing. Only the brain dead may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO's "humanitarian" 40,000-plus bombing - which devastated Libya's infrastructure back to the Stone Age (Shock and Awe in slow motion, anyone?). This never had anything to do with R2P - the relentless bombing of civilians in Sirte proves it.
As the top four BRIC members knew it even before the voting of UN Resolution 1973, it was about NATO ruling the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, it was about Africom's war against China and setting up a key strategic base, it was about the French and the Brits getting juicy contracts to exploit Libya's natural resources to their benefit, it was about the West setting the narrative of the Arab Spring after they had been caught napping in Tunisia and Egypt.
LISTEN TO THE BARBARIC WHIMPERS
Welcome to the new Libya. Intolerant Islamist militias will turn the lives of Libyan women into a living hell. Hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans - those who could not escape - will be ruthlessly persecuted. Libya's natural wealth will be plundered. That collection of anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists will be a supremely convincing reason for the "war on terror" in northern Africa to become eternal. There will be blood - civil war blood, because Tripolitania will refuse to be ruled by backward Cyrenaica.
As for remaining dictators everywhere, get a life insurance policy from NATO Inc; Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh were clever enough to do it. We all know there will never be R2P to liberate the Tibetans and Uyghurs, or the people in that monster gulag Myanmar, or the people in Uzbekistan, or the Kurds in Turkey, or the Pashtuns on both sides of the imperially drawn Durand Line.
We also know that change the world can believe in will be the day NATO enforces a no-fly one over Saudi Arabia to protect the Shi'ites in the eastern province, with the Pentagon launching a Hellfire carpet over those thousands of medieval, corrupt House of Saud princes.
It won't happen. Meanwhile, this is the way the West ends; with a NATO bang, and a thousand barbaric, lawless whimpers. Disgusted? Get a Guy Fawkes mask and raise hell.
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* This article first appeared in Asia Times.
* Pepe Escobar is the author of ’Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War’ (Nimble Books,2007) and ’Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge’. His new book, just out, is ’Obama does Globalistan’ (Nimble Books, 2009).
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Gaddafi's murder and international law
NATO murdered Gaddafi
Demba Moussa Dembélé
The United States, France and Britain have finally achieved their goal in Libya: The assassination of Gaddafi! The lies being told to make us believe that it was the NTC forces that killed him are fooling nobody. What’s more, NATO admitted bombing a ‘pro-Gaddafi convoy’ on Thursday morning, and coincidentally a few hours later his ‘capture’ or ‘death’ was announced.
A COLD-BLOODED MURDER
There is little doubt that it was NATO, assisted by Western Special Forces, who killed Gaddafi in cold blood. Note that this crime took place two days after the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton’s visit to Tripoli, during which she said of Gaddafi ‘I hope he will soon be captured or killed’. This is therefore a state crime; the responsibility for which rests on the shoulders of Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, the main warlords of this western imperialist attack on a sovereign regime. Remember that since this attack was started, NATO have tried several times to kill the Libyan leader; including the bombing of his residence, as a result of which one of his sons and three grand-children were killed.
Therefore, this cold-blooded killing has exposed the barbaric, tyrannic and cruel nature of this imperialist alliance to the world. We need only look at the barrage of speeches of ‘satisfaction’ hailing from these leaders, some even claiming to be ‘proud’ to have played a part in this shameful killing. These western leaders have shown us their bloodthirsty, wicked and despotic natures. These are immoral individuals who will lie, kill and massacre without hesitation in order to achieve their ends.
THE COMPLICITY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
What is also obvious to the eyes of the world is the shameful role played by the United Nations. The Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon was quick to read a statement which spoke of ‘an historic transition’ for Libya, expressly offering the services of the United Nations in order to ‘help’ NATO and its mercenaries! We already knew that the UN had been complicit in the murder of an African leader, Patrice Lumumba, in the Congo in 1961. Yet we thought it was never to be repeated. The date, 20 October 2011 will therefore remain as another day of infamy in the history of the UN organisation.
WHAT FUTURE FOR LIBYA?
The physical elimination of Gaddafi will perhaps – and for how long? – put an end to the resistance against the occupation of Libya by NATO and its mercenaries. But we can safely say that the future doesn’t look particularly bright for the Libyan people. The country is already in the process of recolonisation. Neither NATO forces nor the Special Forces are prepared to leave Libya. The member countries of NATO who instated the NTC will make their demands, not only for the sharing and exploitation of natural resources, but equally and especially for the granting of ‘military facilities’, i.e. military bases on land, sea and air. Need I remind you that it was Gaddafi that closed the military bases operated by the Yankees after taking power in 1969?
Libya therefore risks being turned into a new colony, thus becoming a threat to its neighbours.
LESSONS FOR AFRICA
By daring to defy the imperialist NATO mob alone for months and without any support from an African state; even suffering betrayals like that of Wade, the Senegalese president, Gaddafi gave a master class to African leaders: a lesson in courage, bravery and dignity in the face of adversity. He had repeatedly said that he would never leave the land of his ancestors and that he preferred to die rather than to go into exile. He kept his word and became a legend. Right to the end, he refused to accept any ultimatum, any order from the Western dictators.
What a contrast with the behaviour of many African leaders, especially among those who were the first to betray him, such as Abdoulaye Wade. They suffer daily humiliation at the hands of their western masters, receiving warnings and orders about everything and nothing. They face the indignity and contempt of these masters. These are individuals who are prepared to satisfy the slightest whims of the latter. As rightly pointed out by the late Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo, people who can only imitate and obey do not deserve to be called ‘leaders’.
Gaddafi was certainly not a democrat, far from it. He was a dictator in many respects, a leader who was at times unpredictable. But he was a dictator who was enlightened, who loved his country and Africa. He felt Africa and had a vision and great ambition for her. No other African state leader has done as much to advance African unity for the independence and security of the continent.
This is why we can say that the fall and assassination of Gaddafi spells the end of efforts to form the United States of Africa, at least for the foreseeable future. The progress that was made in constructing an economically unified continent will undoubtedly be put on hold, or abandoned. This is true of the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and African Investment Bank. The latter was rightly to be based in Tripoli! Gaddafi was the driving force behind these projects and was ready to devote the country’s monetary reserves to them.
The TNC’s racist attitudes, illustrated by the massacre of black Libyans as well as nationals from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, demonstrate that the leaders appointed by NATO have priorities other than the construction of African unity.
The invasion of Libya by NATO’s member countries paints a bleak picture for the independence and security of the continent. It may open Africa’s doors wide to the AFRICOM project – the militarisation of the continent by the United States – which, until now, had not found a host country on African soil. Consequently, the taking-control of Libya by the West and the assassination of Gaddafi may signal the beginning of the militarisation of Africa and the hastening of its recolonisation.
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* This article first appeared in the French edition of Pambazuka News.
* Demba Moussa Dembélé is an economist.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Musings on the death of Gaddafi
‘All evils including Gaddafi have vanished from our beloved country!’ – Mahmoud Jibril, Prime Minister of Libya.
In thinking about writing this piece the thought crossed my mind ‘The tyrant is dead, Long live the tyrants!’ We all agree – well almost – that there is cause for celebration now that Muammar Gaddafi has passed to the beyond, so what else is there to say?
We can talk about the imperialists role in facilitating his demise and their future role in Libya – Firoze Manji describes his death as symbolic of ‘the final re-colonisation and occupation of Libya’ and reminds us of the importance of the huge water resources in Libya. What about the various Libyan militias for whom extrajudicial punishment has become part and parcel of the ‘revolution’? Is the TNC really in control – and the question which has bothered me for months: Who are they really? Reactionaries, monarchists, Islamists or a mix of all three? I’ve also wondered about Gaddafi himself and how despicable he was or was not, and what his death means for other dictators and tyrannical leaders.
Horrified at the manner of his death and that of his son, particularly the abuse beyond death, I was tempted to go down the self-righteous route because I am weary of actions of hatred, weary of killings, militarism and scenes of young men wielding automatic weapons as third arm extensions of their masculinities in the name of liberation and freedom – a word which means different things to different people. To the Libyan people, maybe freedom means the end of Gaddafi. But the notion that one will be free in an environment awash with weapons and blood lust now that he has gone escapes me.
On the verge of ambivalence I read Spiked editor Brenden O’Neill’s excellent critique of two sides of the Libyan coin – ‘The leeches and legalists squabbling over Gaddafi’. O’Neill asks who comes out worst: Is it western leaders trying to make ‘moral momentum’ and attempting to boost their failing ‘political existences’? Or is it the UN and liberal press who complain about the illegalities of his killings, forcing us all to witness the ensuing debate for the next ‘500 years’. His conclusion – that ‘it’s a close thing’:
‘We may never decide upon a winner in this competition of degraded responses to Gaddafi’s demise. But one thing is certain: the post-Gaddafi debate has exposed some serious rot at the heart of the Western political class. On one side, we have prime ministers and presidents leeching off the killing of a tinpot tyrant in the hope that it will secure them a paragraph or two, maybe even a mugshot, in future books on world history. And on the other side, we have an army of naysayers, risk-averse pen-pushers dolled up as men of principle, for whom no earthly event can be allowed to pass without becoming the subject of an interminable inquiry.’
Perhaps Gaddafi preferred the ‘literal lynch mob’ to the judicial one which surely awaited him, thinking that the former would be less humiliating. Perhaps he preferred to die at the hands of his own people in his own country, thus depriving the imperialists and self-righteous from ‘advertising their moral pre-eminence by interrogating him for years and writing endless articles about his evilness’.
I am not sure where this leaves me but I am thankful that across the world the ‘Occupy’ movement is spreading, as thousands and thousands of people engage in an awakening through peaceful but determined protests for change. At the same time there is much hypocrisy as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen remain under the rule of tyrants and murderers – yet the imperialists remain silent.
Here is what a few African bloggers had to say about Gaddafi’s demise and Libya’s freedom celebration:
From Cameroon, Innocent Chia of the Chia Report argues that when African leaders begin to respect limited terms in office, then they and Africans will earn the respect of peers in the world:
‘As Libya disposes of the remains of the Libyan autocrat, Muammar Kaddafi, and Cameroon ironically crowns dictator Biya in the days ahead, it cannot, nor must it, be lost on any right thinking person that it is easier to figure out one person than it is figuring a number of people.
‘Paul Biya has been representing (selling) Cameroon interests for 29 years! The upside of it is that he should be great at it because experience “is the best teacher”. Or is it not? Before we consider the question of whether experience/longevity is not the best teacher, it must be said of it that nurtures stability and continuity.
‘But stability and continuity, in business like in politics, are double edged swords. Opponents get to know very well who you are – including the strengths and weaknesses of the leader or regime. Such knowledge, in the hands of the enemy, becomes extremely important during negotiation.’
West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) interviewed Cameroonian political scientist, Guy Parfait Songue who believes Gaddafi was a great leader. If you can bear it listen to the full interview here.
‘Gaddafi spent most of his time, energy and money to unify Africa.
‘He says for some on the African continent, Gaddafi’s legacy is his struggle to create the United States of Africa, but to no avail.
‘Unfriendly to the word globalization and not fully convinced democracy is key to economic and social development, Cameroonian Political Science lecturer at the ‘Douala University, Songue argues that Africa has slipped 50 years backward in its decolonization process, with the death of Gaddafi.’
Zainul Mzige of Dewjiblog is also not happy to see the end of Gaddafi and complains that the media has failed to ‘show the kind giving Gaddafi we never heard’. A similar view to some depressingly misguided African Americans who took to the streets to mourn the man!
‘Gaddafi unlike most dictators I will refrain from naming them [why?] has shown his humane side, the very side we dream of seeing in other dictators who just talk and talk...’
Mzige then goes on to list ‘unknown facts’ such as no interest loans, homes for all, gifts to newly-weds, education and medical treatment and cheap oil. This is like saying I should be grateful if a rich person throws me a few dollars for food everyday while at the same time choking me with their foot!
The Moor Next Door (The ‘Brother Leader’ is dead. Let us not say ‘Long live the Brother Leader) quotes from the Economist:
‘He ruled unsparingly. In his Libya, dissent was punishable by death. A private press was forbidden, and political parties banned. Several dozen deaths a year of political opponents were attributed to his secret police, acting on tip-offs from the surveillance committees to which around 10% of Libyans belonged. In Abu Salim prison, on one night in 1996, 1,200 political prisoners died. If his enemies fled abroad, his hired assassins found these “scum” and killed them. The colonel’s writ, as recorded in his Green Book” of rambling political philosophy, replaced the rule of law.’
Egyptian Chronicles is unsympathetic to those non-Libyans complaining about the manner of his death or worse those who feel his provision of free health and housing somehow compensated for the violence he unleashed against his people.
‘Please nobody teaches the Libyans about POWs rights. The NTC told Qaddafi’s tribe that they can bury him as they want.
‘The Libyans have kept Seif Al Islam alive because unlike his mental sick father knows everything. The NTC is officially demanding the rest of the clan from Algeria and Niger.
‘The debate of the scenes of Qaddafi’s capture and corpse is still on. The UN is having a probe in his death. The Libyan people are now branded as barbaric, of course nobody likes to remember what the Italians did to Benito Mussolini.
‘Of course those who did not live under the rule of Qaddafi , who were not tortured or raped by Qaddafi’s troops , who were not forced in to exile or who did not see their beloved ones executed or killed by the Qaddafi’s regime in those bloody 42 years that sent Libya in to the dark ages , can say whatever they want. It is up to the Libyans not to anyone of us. Already I remember in my coverage for the Libyan revolution since February 2011, Libyans made it clear that he would not make it alive.
‘Already I am glad that it is finished like that because we do not anyone to have sympathy with him if he was put in a cage and faced a trial like Mubarak. Speaking about sympathy, Mustafa Bakry yesterday was mourning Qaddafi in his TV show just like a good orphan.’
Moving away from Libya and Gaddafi, Belinda Otis published a refreshing and inspiring interview with Sada Mire, the only Somaliland archaeologist whose task is to report on ‘Africa’s forgotten stories’:
‘Many people have an image of Africa or parts of Africa being very much the way they see it today, and that image is projected into the past. Slavery is projected into the past, colonialism and inferiority mentality is projected into the past. Poverty, drought and the problems we are aware of in the last two centuries are projected into the very far past. My research into heritage in Somaliland, Egypt and Kenya is about showing that this continent and the people living in the different regions may have not always been that way, good or bad. What I want people to know for example is that research is now showing that Africa was, if not the first place, one of the first places in the world to melt iron and be involved in iron production. We never had bronze, in other parts of the word, the typology is that first, you have Stone Age culture, then you have bronze and then iron. But inAfrica, we moved from Stone Age to iron at the same time others were using bronze before they knew about iron. So, I want people to know that Africa was at the forefront of technological development in the world and contributed not only slaves but technology and knowledge to other cultures. It was not just always the recipient that we know it as today.’
Finally Black Looks has a short report on the highly disturbing plans by Japan to export food from the Fukushima region to countries in the global south under the guise of development aid:
‘NHK [Japan National Broadcasting] reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is proposing to purchase industrial and canned fish products from disaster hit areas, Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate as “a means to tackle harmful rumor against their products”. The Ministry applied for a budget $65 million for this purpose under overseas development aid [ODA]. These products have a high risk of being contaminated yet the Japanese government are intending to send them to countries in the global south! Not done with killing their own people they now want to spread their nuclear death under the disguise of aid – in other words kill and make even more people really sick!’
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* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Francafrique goes democratique?
Several years ago, Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) published an article called ‘Propping Up Africa’s Dictators’. The article unpacked the basic commonly known building blocks for France’s Françafrique policy, ‘designed to create structural dependence and domination by reasserting geostrategic control over natural resources through the use of black ‘governors.’
The system, maintained through a mutually agreed upon, but nonetheless, secretive political economy, is sustained through several political, economic and other means, structured along agreements signed with former French colonies such as Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Togo, Cameroon, Djibouti, the Central African Republic, Senegal, and newer additions.
The basic premise was two-fold: Geostrategic control through military means and preferential access to African resources i.e.:
- Between 1997 and 2002, for example, France intervened over 34 times, 26 of which were conducted outside of the UN's umbrella. During the past five years, French military troops in Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic, Senegal, and Cote d'Ivoire have either increased or remained the same. France's Minister of Defense admits to 10,000 specialized soldiers active on the continent (2004-07)
- Clauses contained within the agreements also ensured that France was legally entitled to be informed of and maintain priority access to natural resources including uranium, oil, and gas. African governments were forbidden from engaging in military, trade, and other forms of cooperation with nations regarded as a threat to their former colonial overlord. France signed these Military Cooperation Agreements with 27 African countries from 1960s onward.
In 2008, for example, France under President Sarkozy deployed French soldiers based in Gabon, the official Francafrique hub under former lifetime dictator Omar Bongo, to rescue the throne of Chad’s dictator, Idris Deby. Meanwhile, the Elf Affair – oil for cash – ‘Europe's biggest corruption scandal’ since the Second World War, was centred in Gabon, intricately located in the Francafrique system.
‘The cause of poverty is very simple,’ said François-Xavier Verschave, former president of the French NGO Survie. ‘We have illegitimate governments which represent external interests. A number of these presidents are paid by Elf [the former French oil company later merged with TotalFina], for example. They serve Elf and France but not their own country. They get their medical treatment in France, their children study in France: they therefore don't concern themselves with health and education at home.’
So, to what extent was France, the first to send in troops and to recognise the transitional national council (TNC), involved in the dislocation of buffoonish Libyan dictator Gaddafi?
Libya hosts Africa’s largest reserves of crude oil, generating over US$40 billion last year. In 2009, France’s state-owned company Total, was forced to accept renegotiation of oil and gas, alongside other companies.
Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC), extended Total’s contract (Mabruk and al-Jurf fields) to 2032, but significantly diminished, for instance, access to oil and gas production.
According to a confidential document published by WikiLeaks (dated 2009), ‘Each consortium will take 27 percent of oil production, down from the 50 percent take they had under the previous agreement. For gas, the consortium will take a 40 percent share (down from 50 percent), which will be reduced in the future to 30 percent.’
The purpose, claimed the WikiLeaks memo, was the renegotiation of Total’s contract, part of, ‘the NOC's effort to renegotiate existing contracts to increase the Libya's share of crude oil production.’
‘An interesting potential corollary is that al-Jurf is reportedly the field from which Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, periodically obtains oil lifts, which he sells to finance his various activities.’
It is more than an allusion, therefore, that the French government suffered both a vast loss from the renegotiated contract, making room for other alliances (think China) to shore up global political capital. Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s son, no doubt, would have been a painful irritant with his brazen tendency for theft from an already diminished source.
Fast-forward to the current Libyan stance:
Gaddafi’s right hand man and chief of protocol, Nouri Masmari, travelled to France in mid-October (18) 2010, (allegedly) seeking medical assistance for his chronic illness. Masmari has long been considered the ‘keeper’ of Gaddafi’s secret, privy to all confidential information (and in charge of everything including catering for Gaddafi’s home).
Described by insider Maghreb Intelligence as, ‘joined at the hip with Libya’s leader’, Masmari was later spotted in French restaurants on the Champs Elysee with Libyan associates – allegedly including Fathi Boukrhis, Ounes Mansouri and Charrant Faraj – the key figures who would lead the revolution. The publication stated, ‘Mesmari sticks closely to his boss’s side so there’s some talk that he may have broken his long-standing tie with the Libyan leader.’
Though initially – and allegedly, travelling for medical reasons, Masmari would soon apply for political asylum in France while Gaddafi hastened to issue an arrest warrant. He would eventually be arrested on November 28 but was released in mid-December after an appeals court found the arrest to be ‘an irregularity’. Ironically, the French officials who arrested Masmari kept him under protective custody at the hotel of his choice.
Italian journalist Franco Bechis reported that while in France Masmari and associates received visits from French intelligence officials close to Sarkozy (some meetings allegedly witnessed between French secret service and Masmari occurred at the Concorde Lafayette hotel). Simultaneously, companies like Glencore and Cargill, facilitated by a French delegation, were reported to have begun inquiring about post-Gaddafi access to Libyan resources.
On December 23, Maghreb Confidential would report that he was preparing for a return to Tripoli; and that Masmari allegedly resumed his position as Gaddafi’s right hand.
On Sunday, February 20, the day the rebels drew force against Gaddafi, Masmari resigned. French newspaper liberation quoted Masmari (two days later) as standing in favour of the rebels, cautioning ‘they can take revenge against my family, but in the end my family is not better than the Libyans who died for freedom. They will also be on their list of martyrs.’ (Masmari’s daughters were later kidnapped.) Masmari’s position was taken up by Fawzi Omar Swei, friend of Saif al-Gaddafi.
Was Masmari working in alliance with the French?
According to the BBC, after meetings in Paris with Western and African representatives, France was the first to fire shots in Libya, destroying its target. In addition to reconnaissance over, ‘all Libyan territory’ – to save, in Sarkozy’s words, Libyans from the ‘murderous madness’ of Gaddafi – French jets ‘destroyed a number of tanks and armoured vehicles’, a defence ministry official told Reuters, adding that he could not immediately confirm the number.’
The US and UK supported the military effort considered an invasion, at the time, by the African Union, which proposed a peaceful measure that was dismissed by the UN Security Council (UNSC). Italy – state-owners of ENI – ‘offered the use of seven of its military bases which already house US, Nato and Italian forces.’
Now that Gaddafi has been removed, and oil and gas exploitation restarted, the Transitional National Council (TNC) – recognised immediately by France, and thereafter Western nations led by the US, has stated, ‘We don't have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,’ (Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO).
This neatly undercuts emerging governments that had benefitted from Gaddafi’s renegotiation of oil and gas contracts, example China, with 75 companies, 36,000 workers and 50 ongoing projects, in Libya. Similarly Russia’s Gazprom and Brazils’ Petrobas may be sidelined. Like China, Russia – a dissenting member of the UNSC, officially stated, as quoted by BBC, that they regretted the decision ‘by Western powers to take military action’.
Prior – under the old renegotiated contract, (2010) Italy (28 per cent) and France (15 per cent) received the lion share of oil exports. The US and UK, old foes of the Gaddafi regime, received just 3 per cent and 4 per cent with China acquiring 11 per cent. This is set to drastically change. France’s Total was the first major entity to restart oil production. New contracts are being negotiated with an entirely new set of Libyan figures – allegedly, those architects who owe France at least a significant loyalty for their role in the uprising, and later, instant legitimisation of the regime.
Reuters saw a letter between the NTC and French officials (Sarkozy) guaranteeing 35 per cent of oil to France in exchange for immediate access to Libyan funds (over 7.6 billion euros), siphoned offshore to French banks. The NTC denied the existence of it, with Mahmoud Shamam claiming such was ‘false’. Shamam and interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril were both mentioned in the letter.
Sarkozy claimed to the media, ‘In Libya, the civilian population, which is demanding nothing more than the right to choose their own destiny, is in mortal danger…It is our duty to respond to their anguished appeal.’
Francafrique goes democratique or just business-as-usual?
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* Khadija Sharife is southern Africa correspondent for The Africa Report, a contributing researcher for the Tax Justice Network and visiting scholar at the UKZN Center for Civil Society.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 ]http://bbc.in/uiE7cP Ibid
Earth Grab: Geopiracy, The New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes
It has now been 50 years since a human being first glimpsed the whole of Planet Earth, shimmering alone in the blackness of space. “The earth is blue. How wonderful. It is amazing,” reported Yuri Gagarin as the planet appeared in his porthole for the first time on 12 April 1961. Environmentalists subsequently argued that seeing the Earth as small and fragile, rather than large and unfathomable, would transform humanity’s relationship with our common home and give renewed impetus to the movement to save nature – and for some it did.
Paradoxically, though, for others the image of the whole Earth, now small enough to fit in an astronaut’s hand, suggested other possibilities for a new human relationship to a planet that some felt we were now able to grasp and alter. “We are as Gods and we might as well get good at it,” quipped Stewart Brand, editor of The Whole Earth catalogue, who first lobbied for NASA to release the photo of Earth from space and today advocates a package of nuclear power, GM crops, geoengineering and synthetic chemicals to steward that blue–green pearl.
The year after Gagarin’s historic flight into orbit, the head of US meteorological research, Harry Wexler, reported on proposals that might allow a single nation to transform the climate of that “whole earth” at one stroke, heating or cooling the atmosphere by deploying dust or ice into the sky. It was an early call for geoengineering – the idea of taking direct control of planetary systems. In Wexler’s imagination, at least, the Earth was now a small and tractable enough object to credibly consider altering it. In the years that followed more and more proposals to “manage,” “colonize” and “re-engineer” the planet came thick and fast. Where men seeking to grab power once looked to acquire territories and slaves, now the entire globe and its productive capacity was up for grabs if only we could imagine and invent the tools.
Those of us who have resisted corporate power while trying to protect the natural world are all too familiar with the arsenal of economic and technological tools that have since been developed to carry out ever-more fundamental grabs on this global commons: grabs on land, water, seeds and our cultural stories; patent grabs on the genetic parts of life; and, through nanotechnology, even grabs on the basic elements and atomic structures. There is a proper name for this process: piracy. The term “biopiracy” describes how applying monopoly claims and high technologies to the stuff of life is a profoundly unjust seizure of common goods. In these pages writers from the ETC Group have given us a new term, “geopiracy”, to describe the attempt by a few technocrats to hijack the functioning of our entire planet – whether by polluting the skies, changing the chemistry of the oceans or appropriating the fields, forests and algal blooms that regulate the biosphere.
These three groundbreaking reports pull back the curtain on disturbing technological and corporate trends that are already reshaping our world and that will become crucial battlegrounds for civil society in the years ahead.
Part 1, “Geopiracy,” raises the alarm that geoengineering proposals – once the preserve of mad scientists and sci-fi authors – are moving to the centre of political struggles to address the deepening climate crisis. Geopiracy describes how the world’s richest governments and industrialists are cynically using the siren call of a quick fix to sideline an equitable multilateral response – strengthening their geopolitical power in an already unequal world. Geoengineering is not only dangerous in the future because it might not work as expected, wreaking havoc on ecosystems and peoples lives, it is dangerous right now as an icon for a techno-fix approach, diverting political will and resources away from the real solutions at hand: peasant-based, soil-based agriculture and re- localised economies.
Geoengineering may be in vogue in the North but it is the people of the global South who will suffer the consequences if and when the climate engineers get their hands on the planetary thermostat. Turning down the heat in northern Europe might cause Africa and the Indian subcontinent to plunge into drought. Mixing biochar into the soil will require clearing the lands of the poor for the new charcoal plantations. Seeding the tropical oceans with nutrients ecologically disrupts a source of sustenance for fisherfolk.
It is the South also that is firmly in the sights of the new Biomassters, as described in Part 2 of this book. Once again the illusion of a technological fix – switching our petroleum-fuelled economy to a plant-based one – is music to the ears of northern technocrats searching for a way to resolve planetary crises to their advantage. Yet the plants themselves – now recast as lumpen “biomass” – are mostly in the global South. “The New Biomassters” details clearly why any shift to a biomass economy amounts to an assault on the peoples, cultures and ecosystems of the South that already depend on those plants. It links the current wave of land grabs in Africa, Asia and Latin America with this new bioeconomy agenda. It explains how the (again sci-fi sounding) new technology of synthetic biology in which geneticists reprogram living organisms to behave as microbial factories will facilitate the liquidation of ecosystems and the theft of livelihoods that the world’s poorest people depend upon. Capturing the planet’s plant life without tipping us deeper into ecological crises will require geoengineering of another kind – the formation of vast synthetic ecosystems that maximize biomass production to the detriment of everything else.
This last report, which makes up Part 3 of the book, “Capturing Climate Genes,” explores one strategy by which the Biomassters hope to secure that biomass production. The world’s largest agribusiness players, including Monsanto, BASF, DuPont and Syngenta, are pouring billions of dollars and claiming hundreds of patents on what they euphemistically call “climate-ready crops” – plants genetically engineered to withstand salty soils, hotter weather, flooded fields and other environmental stresses. Far from helping small farmers adjust to a warming world (something peasant farmers can organize to achieve by themselves), these crops will enable industrial agriculture to expand its plantation monocultures into lands currently not considered productive enough for that economic model – lowlands, wetlands, savannah lands and more. Such lands are not empty of people or nature. They are exactly the places where the world’s peasants, pastoralists and fisherfolk now survive, thrive and steward biodiversity. In truth these are not climate-ready crops – they are biomass-ready, land-grabbing crops. And in this case the grab goes deep. Amid the 261 families of patent claims made by the biomassters over “abiotic stress tolerance” are ownership claims that cut across all crop species, including claims on the very biomass itself. My own organization, Navdanya, has documented how farmers have already developed their own salt-resistant, drought-resistant and resilient traits in traditional crops. It is these traits and the farmers’ knowledge that the gene giants are endeavoring to steal. Piracy, once again, is actively underway.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, and eco feminist.
* ‘Earth Grab: Geopiracy, The New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes’ by Diana Bronson, Hope Shand, Jim Thomas, Kathy Jo Wetter is published by Pambazuka Press (ISBN 0-85749-044-3).
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Corporations want to get paid and they dont care who bleeds
Thats why my sneakers are made by children over seas
And their hourly wage is not enough to eat,
but companies get away because no one oversees.
man It’s about the G’s, better get em
Because I’ve seen the poor get ignored by the system.
But in reality I see the poor are the Victims
of this cannibal animal called capitalism.
Wheres the lack of division between the haves and the have-nots?
Chance to advance but they plan so you can not.
Get the jail route if you caught with that crack rock
get a bail out.... If your crimes are from bad stocks.
Cant stop trying to find answers
how can they deny coverage when they find cancer.
Tax breaks for the rich while the poor trying to by Pampers.
You cant prepare for the life after with your Blood Money.
Wall Street ruins lives for that Blood Money
In Iraq shoulders dying for that Blood Money
Politicians committing crimes for that Blood Money
Fox News telling lies for that Blood Money
We ignoring human rights for that Blood Money
The environment sacrificed for that Blood Money
We all going to pay the price for that Blood Money
Thats what they want from me
The Planet gets warmer cuz you filling up your Humvee
the cash from countries were kids going hungry.
Drug war in Mexico is getting kind of ugly
and we support it every time we buy a bag and puff trees.
You must see the terrorist that want to bomb you
get there money off the drugs you put in your nostrils.
And I support that Julian Assange dude
he showed us who we killing when we bring them bombs through!
Do what I’ve got to, I’m just tryna survive shopping that gross product from off of I-95
Because thats how we was brought up, how we was taught to survive
knowing we going to get caught up and locked up for our crimes
i’m from where the greed breed hopelessness
Politicians on the TV they dont think we notice it.
Give me a week of them Wall Street bounces
I’ll take it to the streets and feed homeless kids off of this BLOOD MONEY
The United States and the Lord’s Resistance Army
Gary K. Busch
US President Barack Obama said on Friday 14 October 2011 that 100 troops would help Uganda track down Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel chief Joseph Kony and other senior LRA leaders. This is interesting, indeed, but it is not news. The US has been among those who have been fighting LRA for over 15 years without any discernible success. The fight against the LRA has brought together in the US Congress a consensus from all wings of the political process - from one extreme to the other. The legislation was sponsored by Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold and involved almost every humanitarian NGO and outraged citizen groups arrayed against the depredations of the LRA.
The US has a very poor track record in attacking the LRA. An earlier US military co-involvement with Uganda’s army - Operation Lighting Thunder - in December 2008, was a disastrous failure, leading to additional massacres of Congolese civilians. There’s not a single place in Africa where US military intervention has resulted in a favourable resolution and restoration of peace and stability. It is not for the want of trying. There are around 2,500 service personnel permanently stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The Camp supports approximately 2,500 US, joint and allied forces military and civilian personnel and US Department of Defense contractors. Additionally, the base provides employment for approximately 1,200 local and third country nation workers. Camp Lemonnier provides, operates and sustains and supports regional and combatant command requirements; and enables operations in the Horn of Africa and nearby.
There are around 320 additional Special Forces personnel operating in West Africa, including three teams in the Niger Delta. The upsurge of Boko Haram violence in Northern Nigeria has attracted more. Others are working, with the Marines, in training exercises across Africa. There are three ‘Psychops’ groups operating in East Africa, especially in Kenya’s Northeast Frontier. This is in addition to scores of private military corporations (like Dyncorp or the several companies formed by retired US brass).
THE US IS AT WAR IN AFRICA
The US is at war in Africa. It has been at war as an integral part of the Cold War. It has had practical experience in African wars. America has been fighting wars in Africa since the 1950s - in Angola, the DRC, Somalia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti to name but a few counties. In some countries they used US troops, but in most cases the US financed, armed and supervised the support of indigenous forces. In its support of the anti- MPLA forces in Angola it sent arms and equipment to the UNITA opposition. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Larry Devlin of the CIA was an unofficial Minister of Mobutu’s government; the US ran its own air force in the Congo at WIGMO. US airmen supported the South African forces in Kwando, Fort Doppies and Encana bases in the Caprivi from WIGMO. At these bases one could also find soldiers from Southern Rhodesia (in their DC3s) and German, French, Portuguese and other NATO troops.
One of the largest of these bases was at Wheelus Field, in Libya. Wheelus Air Base was located on the Mediterranean coast, just east of Tripoli, Libya. With its 4,600 Americans, the US Ambassador to Libya once called it ‘a Little America’. During the Korean War, Wheelus was used by the US Strategic Air Command, later becoming a primary training ground for NATO forces. Strategic Air Command bomber deployments to Wheelus began on 16 November 1950. Wheelus became a vital link in SAC war plans for use as a bomber, tanker refuelling and recon-fighter base. The US left in 1970.
Another giant base was Kagnew Field in Asmara. The base was established in 1943 as an army radio station, home to the US Army's 4th Detachment of the Second Signal Service Battalion. Kagnew Station became home for over 5,000 American citizens at a time during its peak years of operation during the 1960s. Kagnew Station operated until 29 April 1977, when the last Americans left Kagnew Station.
However, with the end of the Cold War, the US has found itself fighting a much more difficult and insidious war; the war with Al Qaida. This is much less of a war that involves military might and prowess. It is a war against the spread of drug dealing, illicit diamonds, illicit gold and the sheltering of Salafists (Islamic militants) who use these methods to acquire cash which has sustained the Al Qaida organisation throughout the world. The political dichotomy between the Muslim North in Africa and the Christian/Animist South is not only a religious conflict. It is a conflict between organised international crime and states seeking to maintain their legitimacy.
There are now several ‘narco-states’ in Africa. The first to fall was Guinea-Bissau, where scores of Colombian cartel leaders moved in to virtually take over the state. Every day an estimated one tonne of pure Colombian cocaine is thought to be transiting through the mainland's mangrove swamps and the chain of islands that make up Guinea-Bissau, most of it en route to Europe This drug trade is spreading like wildfire in West Africa, offering remuneration to African leaders, generals or warlords well in excess of anything these Africans could hope to earn in normal commerce.
This burgeoning drug business was an offshoot of the political, economic and military connections which were made by Al Qaida in pursuit of their takeover of the ‘blood diamond’ business in West Africa. During the civil wars in Sierra Leone the Revolutionary United Front (‘RUF’) took over the diamond fields in the country; initially at Kono. The diamonds were mined by RUF rebels, who became infamous during Sierra Leone's civil war for hacking off the arms and legs of civilians and abducting thousands of children and forcing them to fight as combatants. The country's alluvial diamond fields, some of the richest in the world, were the principal prize in the civil war, and they were under RUF control for years. Small packets of diamonds, often wrapped in rags or plastic sheets, were taken by senior RUF commanders across the porous Liberian border to Monrovia, where they were exchanged for briefcases of cash brought by diamond dealers who flew several times a month from Belgium to Monrovia, returning to Pelikaanstraat in Antwerp.
Now the battle is with Al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM) which combines drug and diamond smuggling with terrorist acts. This battle has required a lot of troops on the ground, as advisers and trainers, as well as teams of DEA agents across West Africa.
BACKGROUND TO AFRICOM
These are not unique examples. According to a US Congressional Research Service Study published in November 2010, Washington has dispatched anywhere between hundreds and several thousand combat troops, dozens of fighter planes and warships to buttress client dictatorships or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries, almost on a yearly basis. The record shows that US armed forces intervened in Africa 47 times prior to the current LRA endeavour. The countries suffering one or more US military intervention include the Congo, Zaire, Libya, Chad, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only four overt military operations were recorded, though large-scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive. Under Reagan-Bush Sr. (1980-1991) military intervention accelerated, rising to eight, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa. Under the Clinton regime, US militarised intervention in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, 17 armed incursions took place, including a large-scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Rwanda genocidal regime. Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up long standing troubled regimes. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under Bush Jr. 15 US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa.
Most of US African outreach is disproportionally built on military links to client military chiefs. The Pentagon has military ties with 53 African countries (including Libya prior to the current attack). Washington’s efforts to militarise Africa and turn its armies into proxy mercenaries in protecting property and fighting terrorists were accelerated after 9/11. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a ‘strategic priority in fighting terrorism’. Henceforth, US foreign policy strategists, with the backing of both liberal and neoconservative congress people, moved to centralise and coordinate a military policy on a continent wide basis forming the African Command (AFRICOM). The latter organises African armies, euphemistically called ‘co-operative partnerships’, to conduct neo-colonial wars based on bilateral agreements (Uganda, Burundi, etc.) as well as ‘multi-lateral’ links with the Organisation of African Unity.
A typical building-block is the annual ‘Operation Flintlock’ exercises. In the midst of a major drive to increase security in Africa’s Saharan and Sahel nations, American, African and European military forces combine to engage in a version of Operation Flintlock; a series of multinational military exercises designed to foster and develop international security cooperation in North and West Africa. The latest exercises came at a time of growing concerns over large-scale drug trafficking in the region and kidnappings carried out by elements of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The manoeuvres are conducted as part of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
Twelve hundred soldiers participated in the latest manoeuvres, including 600 US Marines and Special Forces, units from France and Britain and smaller European contingents from Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. African countries with military representation included Mali, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, Nigeria, Chad, Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco. The exercises were headquartered out of a Multinational Coordination Centre set up at Camp Baangre in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou. Malian Special Forces received training in responding to hostage-taking operations (as carried out by AQIM). Many of the Malian participants were veterans of fighting Tuareg rebels in northern Mali. These ‘Flintlocks’, or the model, are replicated in Central Africa. The new AFRICOM program, of which the LRA initiative is a part, combines many of the US military programs from the past, including the JCET training and co-operation programs and the various ‘Operation Flintlock’ joint exercises.
- Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative/Partnership (formerly Pan Sahel Initiative) (TSCTI): targeting threats to US oil/natural gas operations in the Sahara region: Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Libya.
- Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA) (formerly African Crisis Response Initiative, or ACRI, a part of ‘Global Peace’ Operations Initiative, GPOI): Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
- International Military Training and Education (IMET) program: brings African military officers to US military academies and schools for indoctrination: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
- Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS) (formerly Africa Centre for Security Studies) and part of National Defense University, Washington: provides indoctrination for ‘next generation’ African military officers. This is the ‘School of the Americas’ for Africa. All of Africa is covered.
- Foreign Military Sales Program: sells US military equipment to African nations via Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The top recipients are: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
- African Coastal and Border Security Program: provides fast patrol boats, vehicles, electronic surveillance equipment, and night vision equipment to littoral states
- Combined Joint Task Force: Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Military command based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. It is aimed at putting down rebellions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Somaliland and targets Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.
- Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS): targets terrorism in West and North Africa. It is a joint effort of EUCOM and Commander Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean). Based in Sigonella, Sicily and Tamanrasset air base in southern Algeria Gulf of Guinea Initiative, the US Navy Maritime Partnership Program trains African militaries in port and off-shore oil platform security. It involves Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe and Togo.
- Tripartite Plus Intelligence Fusion Cell: based in Kisangani, DRC to oversee ‘regional security’, i.e. ensuring US and Israeli access to Congo's gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, and coltan. It involves Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and the United States.
- Base access for Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Locations (FOLs): provides for US access to airbases and other facilities in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Algeria.
- Africa Command (AFRICOM): Headquarters for all US military operations in Africa and involves negotiations with Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Djibouti, Kenya, and Libya. Only Liberia has said it would be willing to host AFRICOM HQ.
- Africa Regional Peacekeeping (ARP): liaison with African ‘peacekeeping’ military commands in the East Africa Regional Integration Team (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania); North Africa Regional Integration Team (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya) and Central Africa Regional Integration Team (Congo [Kinshasa], Congo [Brazzaville], Chad).
- South Africa Regional Integration Team: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola. West Africa Regional Integration Team: Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Western Sahara.
- Africa Partnership Station (APS): port visits by USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift. Part of US Navy's Global Fleet Station Initiative. Training and liaison with local military personnel to ensure oil production security in Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe.
UGANDA, THE DRC AND THE LRA
The African territory which includes Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC has been in virtually a state of war since 1995; that is at war with each other. This has engaged the national armies, militias, ‘civil defence’ groups, looters, pillagers, child abductors and abusers, rapists and murderers. This list is not mutually exclusive. Virtually every category contains most if not all of the sociopathic designations. One can add to this the United Nations Peacekeepers, whose range of social debilities accurately mimics those whose peace they are purported to be keeping.
Many legitimate questions have to be raised concerning this announced US deployment in Africa. Why now? Why is the US suddenly interested in being militarily involved in the pursuit of the LRA’s Joseph Kony, when in fact the most vicious period of LRA rampage are years behind? Why now when in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) worst atrocities occur daily; committed by militias far more brutal than the LRA, which were created and sustained by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. These two US-backed dictators have been able to siphon billions of dollars of Congo’s wealth by sponsoring mayhem - massacres, mass rapes, and mutilations - in the vast country through their allied militias. Rwanda still harbours one of the most sadistic of these killers, Laurent Nkunda.
Long considered one of Africa's most brutal rebel groups, the LRA began its attacks in Uganda more than 20 years ago. But the rebels are at their weakest point in 15 years. Their forces are fractured and scattered, and the Ugandan military estimated earlier this year that only 200 to 400 fighters remain. In 2003 the LRA had 3,000 armed troops and 2,000 people in support roles. Their history is brutish, violent and criminal.
Uganda is divided into several ethnic areas. For much of its political and colonial history the political elite have been drawn from the South and Central areas of the country. During Uganda's colonial period, the British encouraged political and economic development in the south of the country, as part of its divide and conquer policy, in particular among the Baganda. In contrast, the Acholi and other northern ethnic groups supplied much of the national manual labour and came to comprise a majority of the military, creating what some have called a ‘military ethnocracy’. The rise of Idi Amin delivered power to the North, mainly to the Acholis and Langas and the Southerners suffered. The North remained in power until the overthrow of Tito Okello regime in 1985, which came to a crashing end with the defeat of Okello and the Acholi-dominated army by the National Resistance Army led by now-President Yoweri Museveni in January 1986.
The Acholi are known to the outside world mainly because of the insurgency of the LRA led by Joseph Kony, an Acholi from Gulu. The activities of the LRA have been devastating within Acholiland (though they spread also to neighbouring districts and countries). In September 1996 the government of Uganda put in place a policy of forced displacement of the Acholi in the Gulu district into displacement camps. Since 1996 this policy has expanded to encompass the entire rural Acholi population of four districts - one million people. These camps have some of the highest mortality rates in the world with an estimated 1,000 people dying per week. The LRA has derived most of its support from the displaced and dominated Acholi people who have been driven from their homes and whose families remain in displacement camps.
Joseph Kony (born 1961) is the head of the LRA. He has declared that the LRA will conduct a political, military and spiritual campaign to establish theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments in Uganda. The LRA say that God sent spirits to communicate this mission directly to Kony. The LRA has earned a reputation for its untrammelled violence against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. The LRA has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2,000,000 people since its rebellion began in 1986. There were many international attempts at peace and an end to the abduction of children by the LRA between 1996 and 2001. All of them failed to end the abductions, rape, child soldiers, and civilian casualties including attacks on refugee camps. After the September 11th attacks, the United States declared the LRA a terrorist group and Joseph Kony a terrorist.
On 6 October 2005, it was announced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that arrest warrants had been issued for five members of the LRA for crimes against humanity following a sealed indictment. On the next day Ugandan defense minister Amama Mbabazi revealed that the warrants include Joseph Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti, and LRA commanders Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odiambo and Dominic Ongwen. On 28 August 2008, the US Treasury Department placed Kony on its list of ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorists’, a designation that carries financial and other penalties. In May 2010, US President Barack Obama signed into law the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, legislation aimed at stopping Kony and the LRA. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on 11 March 2010 with 65 senators as co-sponsors, then passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on 13 May 2010 with 202 representatives as cosponsors. In November 2010, Obama delivered a strategy document to Congress, asking for more money to disarm Kony and the LRA.
Following the breakdown of peace talks in late 2008, the National Security Council authorised AFRICOM to support a military operation (one of the first publicly-acknowledged AFRICOM operations) against the LRA, which was believed to be in the Congo at the time. AFRICOM provided training and US$1 million in financial support for ‘Operation Lightning Thunder’ - a joint endeavour of the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudan forces in Congolese territory launched in December 2008 to ‘eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)’. According to the United Nations, the offensive ‘never consulted with partners on the ground on the requirements of civilian protection’. Stretching over a three-month period, it failed in its mission and the LRA scattered and retaliated against the Congolese population; over 1,000 people were killed and up to 200,000 displaced.
Despite the severe civilian casualties and the Ugandan government’s poor human rights record, Resolve Uganda, the Enough Project and Invisible Children have been lobbying Congress for a renewed military operation to help the Ugandan government ‘finish the job’. ‘Given the close US relationship with key actors in “Operation Lightning Thunder” - in particular Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir - the United States is uniquely placed to support better targeted military efforts,’ wrote Enough and Resolve Uganda in a joint policy brief in January 2009.
In October 2011, Obama authorised the deployment of approximately 100 combat-equipped US troops to central Africa. They will help regional forces ‘remove from the battlefield’ Joseph Kony and senior LRA leaders. ‘Although the US forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense,’ Obama said in a letter to Congress.
There is no doubt that the LRA is a vicious, sociopathic organisation which engages in brutal behaviour. However, the people who are fighting the LRA have committed and continue to commit equally outrageous crimes and attacks of a similar nature, especially among the displaced wanderers of the Eastern Congo, but are feted and rewarded by the US Government for their willingness to provide mercenaries for the US War on Terror and the protection of the newly emerging oil industry in their countries. Unfortunately, the area in which the LRA conduct their atrocities is exactly where major new finds of oil have been discovered.
A brief timeline of developments in Uganda may assist in understanding the role of Yoweri Museveni and his brother, Gen Salim Saleh, especially in their wars against the DRC.
1962: Uganda gained independence from Britain, maintaining membership of the Commonwealth.
1966: Milton Obote becomes President of Uganda under the UPC.
1971: Obote is overthrown in a coup led by his military protégé Idi Amin.
1976: Amin declares himself President for life.
1979: Amin is toppled by a coalition of Ugandan rebels and Tanzanian troops.
1980: Obote wins elections and is once again President of Uganda.
1985: Obote is deposed and replace by General Tito Okello.
1986: Okello is deposed by the National Resistance Army (NRA), led by Yoweri Museveni. Museveni is declared President. Late 1980s: LRA is formed and begins rebellion against Ugandan government.
1996: Museveni wins presidential election with 75 per cent of vote.
1997: Ugandan troops support Laurent Kabila and help depose Mobutu Sese Seko of Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire).
1998: Ugandan troops intervene again in DR Congo, this time in support of rebels seeking to overthrow Kabila.
2001: Museveni again wins Presidential elections, this time with 69 per cent of the vote.
2002: 'Operation Iron Fist' is launched by Museveni aimed at wiping out the LRA for good.
2002: Government signs peace deal with Uganda National Rescue Front.
2003: Ugandan troops pull out of Eastern DR Congo.
2004: Government and LRA hold first face-to-face peace talks.
2005 (July): Presidential term limits are abolished. Results of a referendum are overwhelmingly supportive of a return to multi-party politics.
2005 (October): ICC issues arrest warrants for five LRA commanders, including Joseph Kony.
2005 (December): International Court of Justice in the Hague finds Uganda guilty of violating the sovereignty of DRC and orders them to pay compensation.
2006 (February): Museveni wins multi-party elections with 59 per cent of the vote, defeating Kizza Besigye, who receives 37 per cent of the vote.
2006 (August): LRA declares ceasefire, further peace talks are held throughout 2006 and 2007.
2008: LRA and government sign permanent ceasefire in February, in Sudan, however Joseph Kony fails to attend the signing of a peace agreement in November.
2008 (December): Uganda, DRC and Sudan launch joint military offensive against LRA rebels in DRC.
2009 (January): The LRA appeals for a ceasefire and in March Ugandan forces begin to withdraw from DRC.
2009 (December): Uganda prepares to send 4,000 more soldiers to Somalia. This follows a decision by the UN Security Council to increase the number of peacekeepers supporting the transitional government against al-Qaida-inspired rebels from 8,000 to 12,000.
2009 (December): According to a Wikileaks cable; the US told Uganda to let it know when the army was going to commit war crimes using American intelligence - but did not try to dissuade it from doing so, the US embassy cables suggest.
2010 (February): The anti-homosexuality bills and campaigns which propose to execute those caught in homosexual acts are continually and heatedly discussed in Uganda and the rest of Africa.
2010 (May): A proposed government bill which allegedly severely curbs press freedoms is debated.
2010 (11 July): At least 74 people were killed in the twin bombings in Kampala. The Somali Islamist movement al-Shabaab today took responsibility for the bombings.
2011 (February): Museveni wins another term in the February elections with 68 per cent of the vote, causing the opposition to declare the elections unfair after claims of voter bribery.
While the US lobby groups characterise LRA leader, Joseph Kony, as the spoiler who refused to sign a final peace deal, they fail to acknowledge that the Ugandan government itself has not yet signed the agreement. President Museveni has consistently thwarted peace efforts (1985, 1994, 2003) when he sensed that they did not serve his interests, which centre primarily on maintaining power. He has used his close ties to Washington to build and maintain a favourable image, hiring the DC lobby firm The Whitaker Group (TWG) to do his bidding. Between November 2006 and June 2007, Museveni paid the firm US$75,000 to publicise the government's commitment to peace. Jendayi E. Frazer, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Bush, now works for TWG under a US$1 million contract with the Ugandan Ministry of Finance. In an August 2009 Wall Street Journal editorial entitled ‘Four Ways to Help Africa’, she called on President Obama to ‘galvanize US efforts to end the militia violence of Rwandan and Ugandan rebel groups still operating in the Congo.’ As a paid consultant for the Ugandan government, Ms Frazer is clearly suggesting Museveni’s preference for a military solution.
In Acholiland, the heart of the conflict in northern Uganda, where the ethnic Acholi people have suffered attacks from both the LRA and the government’s army, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative expressed strong concerns about the military component of the bill and called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. ‘We applaud the commitment of the bill [in the US Congress] to bring about stability and development in the region,’ said the leaders in June 2009. ‘However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realised.’
THE RISE OF THE OIL BUSINESS
In 2009 Heritage Oil discovered oil in Uganda. The head of Heritage Oil is Anthony Leslie Rowland Buckingham, with an estimated £565m fortune. He’s also a former mercenary provider who hates being called a mercenary. In the 1990s he was a ‘security consultant’ and partner of private military provider Executive Outcomes. Executive Outcomes was founded in South Africa by Eeben Barlow, a former lieutenant-colonel of the South African Defence Force. The company claimed to provide military support to officially recognised governments only - or acted for corporations with the approval of these governments. Mr Buckingham is also a former associate of Simon Mann - the mercenary and heir to the Watney Mann brewing fortune who was jailed for more than 34 years for leading an attempt to oust Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. He was granted a presidential pardon on humanitarian grounds in November 2009.
Heritage sold off its oil interests in Uganda the next year and made £84m from selling Heritage’s oil its fields in Uganda to rival Tullow Oil for $1.45bn (£930m). Having offloaded its stakes in the Lake Albert fields, Heritage declared it would not be paying $404m capital gains tax due on the deal. Buckingham then cleared his men out of Uganda with military precision, leaving the problem for Tullow. Tullow had sold 30 per cent of its interest to a consortium of Total and China CNOOC, which has been blocked by the Ugandan authorities. The Ugandans have seized as ransom a field now owned by Tullow - the Kingfisher discovery area - and vowed to keep it until the tax bill is settled. No decisions have been made but the Ugandans have refused arbitration. The size of the Albert Graven discovery has proven to be much bigger than originally thought. The Ugandans are re-doing their oil code before the end of the year, upping their take on the oil revenues, and are preparing to allow more foreign oil companies to participate in the exploration. According to reports, Ugandan lawmakers opened debate on a motion to compel the government to stay the approval of the $2.9 billion sale of two-thirds of its stakes in Block 1, 2, and 3A.
The latest debate is still focused on tax disputes and graft allegations claiming that Tullow made extraneous payments to Ugandan government officials to sway key decisions in its favour. Tullow has vigorously denied the allegations. A vote on whether to delay the sale and for a moratorium on all new petroleum deals until a petroleum law has been enacted is currently before Ugandan lawmakers. The Ugandan lawmakers have voted to dismiss Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, foreign affairs minister, Sam Kutesa and internal affairs Minister Hillary Onek because of corruption. Museveni has told the Parliament that the documents proving the graft are ‘forgeries’ but they do not believe him. Moreover the Parliament is voting, despite party lines, against the Museveni efforts to take a personal share in the oil revenue. His suspension of term limits and the farce of the election in February have irritated many. He is under a great deal of pressure from his own party, not the LRA.
A wealthy official like Kutesa, who claims innocence, is inevitably named in most corruption exposes as is Mbabazi, who is widely despised but retains Museveni’s favour. Whatever the case might be, and even if the documents were forged, there seems to be agreement that money changed hands. Some experts say these bribery scandals are the inevitable result of competition among the various oil companies looking to invest in Uganda, one of which is the Italian firm ENI. Although it won no contract with the government, it made news for its willingness to give incentives to Ugandan officials in exchange for a deal. Defending himself against the allegation in a WikiLeaks cable that ENI bribed him, Museveni said he had personally vetoed the ‘small’ Italian firm because a bigger company from China was on the horizon. Still, it has been said that well-connected officials in Museveni’s circle were bribed to act as fronts for foreign oil companies or to peddle their influence with the president.
Underpinning the Western interest in the region is the discovery of oil in Uganda and Mozambique, which have similar geological structures to Kenya, provoking interest by major foreign oil for exploration. In its latest report, ‘A Dash for Gas and Oil in East Africa’, Citi Group noted, ‘We have seen an acceleration in industry activity recently with multiple seismic programs being acquired, more intensive drilling campaigns planned over the next 12 months, and continued deal activity. Total also recently agreed on a farm-in with Anadarko and Cove for five offshore blocks, which highlights the interest of large-cap oil in the region. We see continued interest from the larger players to gain access to the region with a number of smaller players establishing interesting acreage positions.’
So despite the fact that Museveni has provided many of his troops as mercenaries in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and received hundreds of millions of dollars from the US Treasury for his efforts, the Uganda people are turning against him. The oil issue has become key in this dispute. Despite being a ruthless and corrupt dictator the US has decided to anoint his head with oil; perhaps hoping that Museveni will share the oil with the US. The situation with the LRA will never be solved militarily. It may be done through negotiations. The problem is that the US, throughout its history in Africa, has never actually tried diplomacy. If your only weapon is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
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* This article first appeared on Ocnus.net.
* Dr Gary Busch is editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations, www.ocnus.net.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 Lauren Ploch, Africa Command: US strategic Interests and the Role of the Military in Africa, Congressional Research Service. 16 November 2010.
 Richard Grimmett, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad 1798-2009 (CRS 2010).
 Source: Prof. James Petras, Global Research, 16 April 2011
 The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States (September 2002).
 Lauren Ploch, op cit esp pp19-25.
 Wayne Madsen, Africom, Opednews 3/1/08
 Branch, A. 2008. Against Humanitarian Impunity: Rethinking Responsibility for Displacement and Disaster in Northern Uganda. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 2(2): 151-173
 Philip T. Reeker (December 6, 2001). ‘Statement on the Designation of 39 Organizations on the USA PATRIOT Act's Terrorist Exclusion List’. US Department of State.
’LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009’. Resolve Uganda. 24 May 2010.
 Kavanagh, Michael J. (25 November 2010). ‘Obama Administration Asks for Funds to Boost Uganda's Fight Against Rebels’. Bloomberg.
 Uganda Conflict Profile, Peace Direct 9/11/09
 US legislation authorises military action against the LRA in Uganda, Samar Al-Bulushi, Pambazuka News 28/2/10
 Tony Buckingham, chief executive of Heritage Oil, Garry White, Telegraph 26/1/11
 Ugandan Parliament Blocks Foreign Oil Deals Amid Corruption Controversy, Rodney Muhumuza, Think Africa 14 October 2011
The quixotic invasion of Somalia will devastate Kenya
Let me start with a warning: This link contains very graphic, gory and disturbing images.
Those forlorn, bloated young corpses roasting in the scorching Somali sun could very well be the remains of recently expired Kenyan combat troops. There has been a lot of fervent flag waving, agitated anthem intoning and cheesy chest thumping over the last few days all across the country. Nairobi-based television anchors have exchanged their ill-fitting suits for equally bizarre military fatigues in a pathetic attempt to reprise the recurring martial misadventures of CNN and BBC superstars like Christiane Anampour, Nic Robertson et al.
The hyped-up Kenyan jingoism, misplaced machismo and boisterous braggadocio has left an overwhelming feeling ravaging through my body: A sense of nausea and profound disgust.
As our preening neo-colonial chieftains, who get their talking points from Washington, London ,Brussels and other capitals of the West, try to out-bush Bush and out-blair Blair in banging the drums of war and clanging the cymbals of foreign intervention , the hapless citizens are reduced to an abject bleating national choir of meek sheep endorsing every propaganda sound byte of the cynical warmongers in cabinet and the self-serving parliament.
But first things first. This war is unnecessary. It is illegal. It is fake. It is doomed to fail.
WHY IS IT UNNECESSARY?
What ostensibly ‘provoked’ the impulsive invasion of Somalia by armed-to-the teeth Kenyan military troops was a criminal act involving the kidnapping of a couple of foreigners by bandits who could even turn out to be Kenyans, the assumption that they are definitely Somali born, bred and based Al Shabaab militants notwithstanding.
The response which could have been apt was a police response; not an uncalled for massive military operation for crying out loud! The details of this suggested police intervention need not have precluded covert coordination with our security organs - Kenyan and non-Kenyan.
WHY IS THE WAR ILLEGAL?
The supreme law in Kenya is the constitution. What does the Kenyan constitution say? On state of emergency: ‘58. (1) A state of emergency may be declared only under Article 132 (4) (d) and only when – (a) the State is threatened by war, invasion, general insurrection, disorder, natural disaster or other public emergency.”
Role of the National Assembly: ‘95. (6) The National Assembly approves declarations of war and extensions of states of emergency.’
Term of Parliament: ‘102. (2) When Kenya is at war, Parliament may, by resolution supported in each House by at least two-thirds of all the members of the House, from time to time extend the term of Parliament by not more than six months at a time.’
Functions of the president: ‘132. (4) The President may – (d) subject to Article 58, declare a state of emergency; (e) with the approval of Parliament, declare war.’
Everyone knows what happened. The minister for internal security flanked by his ministry of defence counterpart informed Kenyans through a press conference that Kenya was at war, in total violation of the constitutional provisions.
WHY IS IT FAKE?
Because Kenyans have been lied to. Contrary to the impression that this is an angry national reaction to a recent provocation, the fact of the matter is that this military operation has been in the planning pipeline for quite some time. According to impeccable sources who are quite familiar with the inside workings of Kenya’s military, intelligence and security machinations, what is happening in Somalia is part of a detailed and coordinated Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGAD) joint intervention in Somalia with specific roles for Ethiopia, the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, the African Union troops and the Kenyan military.
A story published in the October 28, 2011 issue of the Africa Report cites the Kenyan political leadership at the highest echelons admitting that an earlier plan to go after Al-Shabaab covertly from Kenya using specially trained elite forces recruited from the Kenyan ethnic Somali population floundered after most of these recruits deserted after their training.
Far from this incursion into Somalia being propelled by a patriotic Kenyan desire to defend the country it turns out that we are just pawns in the larger US/NATO geo-political agenda to ‘stabilize’ the Horn of Africa region in line with the wider imperialist agenda of consolidating world monopoly capital which has of late been buffeted by a severe crisis in the United States itself, the meltdown of the Euro in Europe and growing protests by the burgeoning global Occupy Wall Street inspired citizen mass actions. There is a connection between the Kenyan military foray into Oddo, Kismayu and other towns and the NATO-led bombing of Libya and the ultimate brutal slaughter of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his loyalists in Sirte.
Closer to home, the military misadventure in Somalia may provide the excuse for some of these Kenyan political criminals in power to go for a horrendous cash grab to bolster the 2012 war chest for their various presidential bids.
Think about it: What is the least transparent aspect of the Kenyan budgetary process? Allocating funds to the military and national intelligence and security services. Using the guise and pretext of safeguarding some undefined ‘national security interests‘, the mandarins in the Treasury, the well-connected technocrats and ‘securocrats’ at the Department of Defence (DOD), the backroom boys at State House, the apparatchiks at the various party headquarters and the merchants of impunity in parliament and the errand boys in the civil service could very well conspire to steal billions of Kenyan taxpayers’ money with the excuse that these funds are paying for the operations in Somalia.
On a related note, a close friend of mine told me the other day that some of the ICC connected players in PNU and ODM are blackmailing Prime Minister Raila Odinga into being part of this Somalia circus because they hope to delay or even postpone next year’s presidential and general elections hoping to buy time in case any of the Ocampo Six are confirmed for trial at the ICC.
By declaring a conventional military offensive against a loose militia with a penchant for guerrilla tactics, it is apparent that the Kenyan government has not learned anything from the last 50 years of contemporary conflicts – from Vietnam, through Northern Ireland, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Eritrea, Uganda, Iraq to Colombia.
The Kenyan regime could prove very gullible ideologically to the machinations of Al Shabaab. Remember, Kenyans in the north and among sections of the country's Muslim population may be vulnerable and even receptive to overtures from pro-Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab elements who may portray the conflict with the Kenyan state in religious terms as a jihad against pro-Western infidels headquartered in Nairobi. There have been credible reports of Kenyans being recruited or acting as recruiters for both Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda.
Tactically it might not be very wise to unleash all this machismo and braggadocio with reckless talk of ‘bring it on’. Remember the kind of people who join outfits like Al Shabaab see themselves as martyrs to higher spiritual causes who are quite ready and more than willing to strap themselves with explosives and blow themselves up as suicide bombers, so it will take more than threats of tanks and fighter jets to cow them into abject submission.
Here is an excerpt from a Somaliland blog carrying an opinion piece by Dr Dirrir Ali, which might prove interesting reading for Kenyans:
‘Long before Restore Hope, the joint UN and USA humanitarian campaign in Somalia in early 1990s, a consultant to the UN on Somalia advised the USA administration to attempt everything else but not war with Somalis. In his opinion, war is the thing Somalis know best. The USA did not heed that precious advice and we all remember the way that campaign went wrong – it ended with the famous Black hawk down and that was the last USA chapter of waging war in Somalia – at least an open and all out ground war. That UN consultant is called Mr John Drysdale. He knew the closing stages of the campaign even before it was waged. He was not a fortune teller; Mr Drysdale was some one who had firsthand experience of what Somalis are capable of accomplishing in the war field. He was the British administrator of Somaliland more than four decades prior to the debut of that campaign.
‘The Ethiopians were not dissuaded by the US experience in Somalia. They did not either learn much from their centuries-old wars with Somalis and with the help of the US air power, they too attacked and captured Mogadishu, but their victory did not last long and they were also compelled to a humiliating withdrawal after Somalis taught them a lesson in urban and guerrilla warfare.
‘Now it appears that Kenyans did not learn much about the history of Somali warfare. In my opinion they too have made very bad miscalculations and do not understand that all Somalis are not the murderous Al-shabaab group and the Transitional Federal Government. The Somali population is not the weak and famine-devastated thousands that live in refugee camps in the old Northern Frontier District (NFD), which it self is a Somali region given to Kenya in the early 1960s, after Kenya gained its independence from Britain. NFD is one of the five Somali territories represented in the star on the Somalia flag. Besides NFD, the other four Somali territories are Somalia, The Republic of Djibouti, The self administered Somali region in Ethiopia and the Republic of Somaliland.
‘If Kenyans fancy to believe that they could win a war and defeat Somalis, it is passable for them to accept as true what they believe, but the truth of the matter is they are playing with inextinguishable fire – a greater Somali fire. Starting a war in this region can easily instigate Somalis to reclaim their Northern Frontier District (NFD). Therefore, it is my brotherly advise to Kenyans to withdraw immediately before Somalis beat the drums of war. Believe me that will not be a good sign for the Kenyans. To give you an example of what that could mean, the recent Kenyan civil unrest will feel just like a picnic in warm summer day on Mount Kilimanjaro.
‘Since its independence from Italy, Somalia is wounded by civil war, famine, terrorism and corrupt incompetent consecutive regimes, but Somalis are far from dead and are strong enough to inflict everlasting damage to an aggressor. They are also blessed with Muslim and Arab brethren, who will not hesitate to assist them to rebel all enemies from all Somali territories.
‘Kenyans have no business crossing the borders to Somalia; it is illegal under international law and it is morally wrong. If they have beef with Al-Shabaab then they must fight them in their own territory and not inside Somalia. Kenyans must not arrogantly over estimate their economic and military power and must keep in mind that only Somalis are capable of defeating Somalis and no body else. They must bear in mind that their country is very easily susceptible to fractures along ethnic lines. By starting a war with Somalis, the Kenyan economy and tourism industry can be devastated within hours. It must realize that it can not win the wars lost by super powers. Kenya must not be fooled by the guys who call themselves the TFG of Somalia; these guys lack morality, education, experience and live their lives under the protection of the Ugandan forces in their home – Mogadishu. They can be bought and sold in a junk yard. If the Kenyans trust the strategic analysis of these TFG guys then they are deficient in judgement.
‘Somalis know too well the illegal Somalia territorial waters concession made to Kenya by the illegal and morally corrupt TFG. Somalis are aware of the Azania project that is established by Kenyans through a mercenary force headed by Mr. Gandi, a power hungry opportunist. Somalis quite appreciate Kenya’s geopolitical ambitions, both short and long term strategies. By looking at realities on the ground, these Kenyan dreams are far from becoming true. Kenyan politicians must clear their heads of the myths and wrong assumptions. They are not able to conquer more territories from Somalis, but instead the Northern Frontier District might go back to the hands of Somalis.
‘In recent years Kenya has been enriched with the looting of Somalia in the pretext of international assistance through the NGOs mafia who consider the humanitarian assistance, war and drought confounded Somalis as their personal spoils of war. Not only that, but Kenya is also benefiting from Somalis who bring with them capital, technical and business expertise to that corruption-ridden East African country. Somalis have both directly and indirectly created jobs for millions of Kenyans. Thus, Kenya has benefited from Somalia more than any country in the world. For those simple reasons, Kenyans should be grateful to the Somalis and must not try to slaughter the goose that laid the golden eggs.
‘Kenya, and for that matter any other neighbouring country, must think twice before venturing to play with the Somali fire; it will never die out easily. Somalis might consider moving their businesses and investments from Kenya to neighbouring Republic of Somaliland and the Republic of Djibouti. Both Somaliland and Djibouti are eager to receive their Somali brethren and their investments with open hearts. The United Nations and the donor countries might also consider moving their offices to the more peaceful and politically stable Somaliland, since Kenya is not able to provide security to the foreign diplomats, expatriates and tourists in its country.’
On the broader geo-political front, the announcement by Saitoti, Haji and the warmongers in the Kenyan cabinet could be a stratagem signalled at the fascist US and NATO military-industrial complex that the Party of National Unity (PNU) side of the grand coalition government is gung-ho about the much discredited ‘war on terror’ with a view to gaining traction with the so called ‘international community’ (a convenient nickname for the Western powers) as a defender of ‘security’ and ‘stability’ of the restive East Africa and Horn of Africa region.
But this could backfire if the zealots in Al Shabaab appeal to their extremist allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan and nearby Yemen that they are under threat from a hostile client-regime in Nairobi, triggering a devastating wave of urban terrorist reprisals targeting civilian populations in places like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nairobi and the like, not ignoring business, infrastructure and military targets.
There are those who will react with shock at my views in this essay. Some will find me ,unpatriotic’. Some will scream that I be prosecuted for treason. Well, I am in good company.
The Chief Justice of Kenya Willy Mutunga was once detained without trial allegedly because he was deemed ‘unpatriotic’ by our retired dictator. Prime Minister Raila Odinga was almost hanged after being accused of treason. I was among dozens of peaceful pro-democracy social justice activists who spent long years behind bars on sedition charges because we dared to speak the truth to power.
We counterpoise our genuine love for our Motherland Kenya to the fake nationalism of the warmongers. Our commitment to the freedom and emancipation of all Kenyans from neo-colonialism and imperialism preceded, and will outlast, these synthetic screeches covering up the local elite's attempt to be the slaves of Uncle Sam and her NATO cousins in this part of Africa and the world. We will continue fighting for peace, democracy, equality, social justice and pan-African liberation in the spirit of internationalist solidarity and third world liberation.
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* Onyango Oloo, a Kenyan social justice activist, writer and former political prisoner and exile
* This article was published on his blog
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Kenya’s ICC trials a David vs. Goliath story
‘No one can compensate you for rape. No one can compensate you for infection with HIV. But there is a certain amount of peace only justice can bring. There are those of us who meet our perpetrators every day. Those who raped us are our neighbours. It’s tough knowing that they are still very safe from the arm of the law.’ Survivor of Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence
The most important story in Kenya’s history is currently playing out in the chambers and corridors of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This story encompasses all the other stories that have ripped great tears into our national fabric, going all the way back to British colonial rule. The stories of land – who gets it, who gets kicked off it. The story of ethnicity as destiny. The story of political dynasties – imperial monarchies in all but name. The overarching story of impunity for the rich and powerful.
The ICC Kenya trials are the stuff of epic poetry. There are heroes – the witnesses who have defied every kind of threat and intimidation to tell their stories of dispossession, rape, violence, loss of entire families, during Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence.
There are villains. The previously untouchable politicians and generals who planned and executed chilling campaigns of terror against vulnerable communities. Why? To protect what they considered their inalienable right to the spoils of political office.
In the past year, Kenyans have been treated to the ironic spectacle of our ruling elite displaying a newfound enthusiasm for local manufacturing. The millionaire ministers and MPs who travel in US-made Hummers and helicopters, wear shirts custom-made in London, smoke Cuban cigars, import their furniture from Sweden and their entertainment systems from Japan, holiday in Paris and New York, came out as fervent devotees of the ‘Made in Kenya’ label – but only when it came to justice.
The Kenyan government spent over Sh90 million on campaigns to convince Kenyans that trying the architects of the post-election violence at The Hague was somehow deplorable. Justice for the victims, they said, could only be delivered at home. Kenya should not shame itself before the world by seeking an international resolution.
Europeans may consume daily gallons of coffee and tea grown in the Kenyan highlands, eat fresh garden vegetables flown from the Rift Valley, on tables decorated with roses and carnations from the shores of Lake Naivasha. But the workers who pick the coffee, plant the vegetables, bear the rashes and sores on their skins from the toxic pesticides used on Kenya’s flower farms, must not be sullied by a foreign justice. These essential human cogs in the machinery of global consumerism could not possibly be served by anything but homegrown courts and legal processes.
Fortunately, Kenyans saw through the mendacity of this argument. Over a million signatures were collected in support of the ICC trials. Perhaps even more crucially, it became clear that Kenya’s government lacked the political will to set up the required tribunal in Kenya.
The stage was set for The Hague. One one side – six suspects, accused of “crimes against humanity.” Five of the most powerful men in Kenya and a vernacular radio journalist, alleged to have financed, trained and mobilized militia to terrorize communities from their homes, to burn and loot and rape.
On the other side – 350,000 Kenyans displaced from their homes and livelihoods. Over 3,500 Kenyans seriously injured. The families of 1,220 murdered victims.
It is a David and Goliath story. The Kenyan government anointed the six suspects as Goliath, by opening the national coffers to pay for their legal and PR teams. Planeloads of MPs flew to The Hague and threw lavish parties to ‘support’ the accused.
There were no entertainment budgets for David – the prosecution’s witnesses who were survivors of the post-election violence. These brave Kenyans, who had already endured great loss and pain, were now subjected to a battery of intimidation designed to silence them. Kenya has no witness protection program, and every witness has chosen to remain anonymous. But they still live with the daily fear of being ‘outed’ – with terrible consequences to themselves, their families and their communities.
The quest for justice in international arenas is not new in Kenya. During the state of emergency imposed by the British colonial regime from 1952 - 1960, imprisoned Mau Mau freedom fighters had the temerity to speak out about crimes committed against them. They wrote letters to the United Nations, to British MPs, to the British Foreign Office, even to the British monarch, outlining the tortures and abuses they suffered. ’Where does custration (sic) come from?” demanded one such letter. “Is this the British law or the Nazi law?’
Freedom fighter Wambui Otieno, raped in detention by a colonial officer, famously demanded of the British regime that her rapist be brought to trial. He was forced to return to England.
Before we were a country, we knew ourselves to be part of global movements for justice. Now we have come full circle – the poorest Kenyan can claim the gold standard of international justice that her own government has not afforded her. Can turn to the international statutes and conventions that Kenya is signatory to, and under them, seek redress for crimes committed against her.
What can the victims hope to gain in return for reliving the horrors, and risking their lives all over again?
In an interview with journalist Tom Maliti, on the ICC Kenya Monitor, the lawyer to the victims, Sureta Chana, said they seek, obviously, reparations. While stolen lives cannot be returned, compensation can be calculated for lost homes, land and property. However, there is no ICC protocol for awarding reparations to victims of crimes against humanity. Kenya may well be the test case that sets the precedent for future cases.
Equally important, and perhaps much more achievable, the survivors want an apology. They want to be seen as human beings. Human beings who matter enough to their country to merit recognition of violations against them. The import of this apparently simple longing is enormous, when we consider that to date, not a single politician or elected representative has expressed any remorse or regret to ordinary Kenyans for the post-election violence. The simple words: ‘I am sorry’, from a member of Kenya’s political class, would fundamentally alter our national DNA coding.
In 2009, I narrated a documentary, Burden Of Peace, that gave voice to Kenyan women survivors of the post-election violence. One testimony in particular left me lost for words.
‘Rosemary Akinyi is a 40-year-old widowed mother of five. When police broke down her door in Kibera, she begged them to spare her teen daughter and rape her instead. So they did. Rosemary knew that if she got medical help in 72 hours, she could avert tragedy. But at the time, there was no way out of Nairobi’s slums of death, ringed by police and paramilitaries. Today, Rosemary is infected with HIV.’
Major Gen Hussein Ali, one of the ICC Kenya suspects, head of Kenya’s police force at the time, is alleged to have given the police free rein to go on the rampage against vulnerable Kenyans like Rosemary Akinyi. His testimony to the Waki Commission, the precursor to the ICC trials:
‘My lords, I would do everything exactly the same ... I would not change a thing.’
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* Shailja Patel is a Kenyan activist, playwright and poet, who is the 2011 Letters To Dennis Brutus Poet for Poetry Africa. www.shailja.com
* This article was first published in the CCS KZN newsletter
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Powerful criminal networks hold Kenya hostage
Kenyans are seen to have a “business-as-usual” approach to corruption, but a new report published by the International Peace Institute shows that our extreme tolerance of impunity is having devastating consequences and is, in fact, undermining the State’s legitimacy.
Endemic corruption and powerful transnational criminal networks are “white-anting” state institutions and public confidence in them, says the report. These “termites” are hollowing out State institutions, thereby rendering them impotent.
Peter Gastrow, the author of the report titled “Termites at Work: Transnational Organised Crime and State Erosion in Kenya” [PDF], says that rampant corruption within the Police Force, the Judiciary and other State institutions has allowed criminals to penetrate political institutions.
Powerful criminal networks with links to Parliament currently pose a big threat to the creation of laws, policies and regulations that could help curb money laundering and drug trafficking.
Governments that lack the capacity or the political will to counter such penetration, he says, run the risk of becoming “captured states” – that is, states whose government structures have become captives of uncontrolled corruption.
If this goes unchecked, he warns, the criminal networks could penetrate the East African Community and cause havoc in neighbouring countries.
This could result in the kind of lawlessness that has turned countries such as Mexico and Colombia into murderous, violent places where drug lords and criminals hold organs of the State hostage, a scenario that is just too horrific to imagine.
The following highlights from the report are most worrying:
- Increased volumes of heroin from Pakistan and Iran, and cocaine from Latin America, are being transmitted through Kenya. At least 10 major international drug trafficking networks, headed mainly by West Africans, but also involving Kenyans, are responsible for the bulk of the cocaine and heroin trafficked into and through the country.
- Drug money is increasingly being used to attain positions of influence, particularly in politics.
- Militia groups in Somalia have started to profit from drugs trafficked into Kenya. The port of Kismayu in southern Somalia is used to import drugs into Kenya.
- Kenya is the biggest market for counterfeit goods from India and China.
- A Kenyan cartel comprising current and former MPs, activists linked to politicians – including a prominent businesswoman – and customs personnel are working with a network of Chinese, Somali and Pakistani criminals to smuggle drugs, counterfeits and other illicit commodities through the port of Mombasa.
- During the first nine months of 2010, at least 10 small arms seizures were reported on Garissa road en route to Nairobi from Somalia. The UN’s Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya is sometimes used as a storage facility by arms smugglers.
- Corrupt staff at the Dadaab refugee camp are involved in human trafficking and the sale of “slots” for refugees wishing to migrate to South Africa, Europe and the United States.
- Eastleigh in Nairobi is East Africa’s hub for the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of women and children. About 50 girls, mainly from Somalia are trafficked every week from north-eastern Kenya to Nairobi.
- In 2010, a staggering $2.1 billion found its way into the economy without the government being able to explain its source.
- Funds laundered from Kenya sometimes end up with al Shabaab in Somalia.
If no action is taken, there is a huge risk that Kenya’s State institutions will be eaten up from the inside by criminal elements. As a result, the legitimacy of the State will be undermined.
Kenya will crumble as criminals will be at the helm, making laws to suit themselves and bribing their way through murder, drug and human trafficking, sale of illicit arms and a whole range of criminal activities.
The report recognises that the current reforms in the Judiciary could restore the public’s confidence in government institutions.
However, these reforms must be accompanied by far-reaching steps to counter crime, corruption and impunity, including the appointment of special police taskforces to investigate these crimes and taking drastic action against those involved in corruption.
Unfortunately, the government appears unwilling – for whatever reason – to take these steps.
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* This article first appeared in The Nation.
* Rasna Warah is a columnist with the Daily Nation.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Fresh political storm for Western Sahara
Following Pambazuka News’ recent special Issue feature on the Western Sahara, a fresh political storm has broken out over the Western Sahara conflict, with the kidnapping of three humanitarian aid workers from the Sahrawi refugee camps on the southern Algerian desert border near Tindouf, during the night of last Saturday 22 October 2011. This is the first time hostage-taking has occurred anywhere near the Sahrawi refugee camps. (See: ’Three European aid workers kidnapped in Algeria’and ’European aid workers kidnapped in Algeria’
Rossella Urru from the Italian NGO International Committee for the Development of Peoples (CISP), Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincan from the Spanish Asociación de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Extremadura and Enric Gonyalons from the Spanish NGO Mundobat were kidnapped and one of their Sahrawi guides injured in Rabuni, one of the refugee camps which serves as the main Protocol centre for receiving and housing foreign visitors.
Morocco’s diplomatic and propaganda machine has revved into action again, whipping up its favourite allegations of links between the Polisario Front (the Sahrawi nomad’s Liberation Movement and UN-recognised legitimate political representative of the Sahrawi people) and Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM).
Since Saturday, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad Jimenez has appeared in Rabat, enabling Morocco’s sycophantics to trigger an exchange of speeches of mutual cooperation between the two governments, and allow Morocco’s propaganda machine to influence mainstream media to focus on Morocco’s favourite allegations against the Polisario Front.
Yet a large proportion of Spanish civil society remain empathetic to the plight of the Sahrawi and make up the majority of visitors to the refugee camps, particularly in the form of regional Spanish aid groups, family host-exchange programmes and medical teams. The historical context is that Spain was the colonial power in Western Sahara and did little to stop Morocco breaking the tenets of international law and defying the legal opinion of the International Court of Justice to invade Western Sahara as Spain withdrew in 1975.
Pambazuka readers can hear two alternative angles to Morocco’s preferred story, through the voice of a Sahrawi writer who has written this article from Rabuni, where the three aid workers were taken hostage on Saturday night. Firstly, we hear from Malainin Lakhal a different line of reasoning that unlocks the possibility of Morocco’s hidden hand as an orchestrated attempt to add further political pressure onto Algeria, discredit the Polisario Front, frighten the Sahrawi’s world-wide humanitarian campaigners and continue to embed the idea that the Polisario Front cannot control its own territory. This latter point is of damaging significance to the Polisario Front’s goal of securing the United Nations-led self-determination process to provide its Sahrawi population the right to vote for and choose Independence from Morocco’s illegal invasion and occupation of Western Sahara – Morocco’s vicious thesis here is to portray the Sahrawi as unable to run their own country. A range of similar questioning is also often discussed amongst the analytical circles of Western Sahara observers and academics. For instance Anthony Pazzanita’s 1994 [PDF] and updated 2011 articles that explore the various PR techniques that Morocco uses to penetrate its audiences, and Carlos Ruiz Miguel’s article [Spanish] examining ‘Morocco’s strategy’ of using terrorism to devise ‘a thousand and one operations’ to introduce this variable in the conflict.
Finally, we hear from Sabrina Tucci, a female visitor to the Sahrawi refugee camps working for the UK-based Sandblast charity. Sabrina shares an insight into the hospitality and security given to visitors to the camps, including the paradoxically tight controls on our movements in the camps to ensure our safety in a region that is politically tense from Morocco’s illegal invasion of the Western Sahara. Sabrina voices many of our thoughts, that we remain steadfastly assured that the Polisario Front and the Sahrawi people have every reason to ensure our safety as they lobby the United Nations to ensure that their fundamental human right to self-determination is fulfilled, in this ‘last colony’ of Africa.
As Malainin has written in his article, if any Sahrawi individuals were involved in Saturday’s kidnapping, then these are rare and ‘weak’ individuals, somehow persuaded by the kidnappers – it well known that Morocco uses another tactic of financial and material inducements to incite Sahrawi defections. Sabrina’s story shows how resolutely the majority of foreign visitors will continue to entrust their safety in the hands of the Polisario Front and the Sahrawi people. I have previously written an article for Jacob Mundy’s 2010 ACAS Bulletin ‘US militarization of the Sahara-Sahel’ [PDF} setting out why the Polisario Front has little to benefit from connections with ‘al-Qaeda’, contrary to Morocco’s imaginary notions.
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* Konstantina Isidoros is a PhD researcher at the University of Oxford.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Why does Spain need Morocco to free the hostages in Western Sahara?
Surrounding the efforts to locate the two Spaniards and the Italian nationals, kidnapped last Saturday 22 October 2011 from the Sahrawi refugee camps by an unidentified group, the Spanish minister for Foreign Affairs, Trinidad Jimenez, paid a sudden visit to Morocco on Tuesday and Wednesday, to meet with her Moroccan counterpart, El Fassi El Fehri and to meet the Moroccan prime minister and the king of Morocco, Mohamed VI, according to the Moroccan newspaper Al Alam, one of the monarchy’s state media outlets. The aim of the visit was to ‘debate about the bilateral relations, especially in relation to the cooperation in the field of security, illegal migration, and the international narcotrafficking’.
The Spanish minister further declared that her country relies on the solidarity of the Moroccan government. According to Jimenez, Rabat expressed willingness to cooperate in the efforts to rescue the three kidnapped victims, adding that the Spanish government ‘is building with Morocco wide relations of coordination with regards to the war against terrorism, and this is something that can be of a great help’ in this week’s unfolding events.
But of course, the very fact of organising such a visit (Jimenez’s first to Morocco and probably the last before the next elections) to discuss the mentioned subjects, and the choice of Morocco as a destination in the light of the recent kidnappings, supports the analysis we did in a previous article [Arabic], in which we wondered about the possibility of the involvement of the Moroccan secret services in this kidnapping that did not target the three kidnapped friends of the Sahrawi people as much as it targets the Sahrawi refugee camps and Polisario Front – especially that the latter is preparing its 13th Congress to take place in the liberated region of Tifariti this coming December.
Jimenez’s choice of Morocco to seek the help for the release of the three kidnapped Europeans cannot be coincidental. The current Spanish government is well positioned to know of the dubious relations that Morocco holds within the circles of the international crime and terrorist groups in the Sahel and abroad. Everyone will remember the accusations that were addressed to the Moroccan regime after the terrible terrorist attacks in Madrid that caused the defeat of the Popular Government of Jose Maria Aznar and his party in Spain. And that the Spanish Popular Party paid a heavy price for its opposition to the Moroccan thesis in Western Sahara because of its relatively active neutrality in the issue. And most important, everyone will remember that the government of Zapatero was then the biggest beneficiary of that tragic terrorist operation committed by some Moroccan terrorists. After all, Zapatero’s party won the elections mostly because of that terrible act.
On another hand, it has been widely written about following WikiLeaks’ revelations regarding the suspicious ties that the generals of the Moroccan king and his close circles have with the international networks of narco-trafficking and money laundering, linking criminal groups from Colombia and other Latin America countries to Moroccan authorities, crossing North Africa and Europe to reach Egypt and Israel passing through the countries of the Sahel, especially Mali and Niger. These networks, as many security experts say, are well used by the Moroccan secret services, which operate using many Moroccan terrorists and ‘connections’ to infiltrate terrorists groups stationed in the North of Mali.
From our perspective, one of the main goals of the Moroccan services from this peculiar relation with terrorism is to infiltrate the Sahrawi liberation movement, the Polisario Front, and the Sahrawi refugee camps, with the aim of generating problems for the Sahrawi authorities in these camps, which have been safe from any kind of security problems for the last three decades. Sahrawi refugees receive thousands of foreign visitors every year, from families to humanitarian aid workers, artists and musicians, academics and politicians from all over the world.
This said, we believe that this latest terrorist operation is aimed at targeting the Sahrawi national project, and targeting the humanitarian friends of the Sahrawi people so as to terrorise them and to force them to stop their support, humanitarian aid and political efforts in favour of the people of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.
We are concerned that this terrorist attack against the three friends of the Sahrawi people could be a first step in a set of ongoing operations to target Sahrawi refugee camps, and may target in a future stage not only our foreign visitors, but also some leaders and Sahrawi cadres, even ordinary citizens and refugees in an attempt to propagate fear and terror among the Sahrawi population, planting cynicism, doubt and pessimism in the hearts of the people to try to force us to give up fighting for the freedom of our country illegally occupied by Morocco.
On another hand, one can rightly say that this terrorist operation is no more than one aspect of the psychological war Morocco is waging against the Sahrawi people aiming at shaking their confidence in their political vanguard, the Polisario Front, but also shaking the confidence and maybe even belief in the reliability of the Sahrawi national goal – independence of our country, which is supported by the international solidarity movement and human rights campaigners. Morocco has repeatedly worked on aggravating tribalism/regionalism amongst Sahrawis, using all kinds of dirty tactics such as buying the allegiance of weak individuals, spreading inaccurate and poisonous information to discredit Saharawi activists, feeding individual struggles between Saarawis to create an atmosphere of disorder and lack of confidence, encouraging narco-trafficking and organised crime in addition to the regular spreading of inaccurate propaganda. All of these tactics, as it is well-known, have historically been used by all colonising powers against colonised and resisting nations.
Another indicator on the Moroccan-Spanish complicity in targeting the Polisario Front was proved when, on Tuesday in Rabat, Mrs Jimenez called on the UN to ‘assess the measures of security in the Saharawi refugee camps’. This claim was also echoed by her Moroccan counterpart, El Fassi El Fehri, who attributed to Algeria the full responsibility of the terrorist attack, and claimed that the region of Tindouf could not be reached by the terrorists unless Algeria and Polisario had allowed the attackers to cross the borders.
Perhaps El Fassi El Fehri means the Spanish authorities allowed the Moroccan terrorists to operate in Spain in the many terrorist attacks committed there during the last ten years? Or, that all the countries that were victim to terrorist attacks by al Qaeda or other groups were accomplices with the perpetrators? Claims such as El Fehri’s can only be qualified as absurd and unacceptable, besides the fact that experience has proved that no nation is safe from terrorist attacks, and no country can pretend to be able to face it alone or to fight against it and erase it.
Going back to the case of the three kidnapped Europeans, Spain will certainly opt for negotiations with the terrorists so as to release them, thanks of course to the ‘Moroccan connection’. Madrid will surrender to the conditions of Rabat as usual, and will start attacking Polisario Front and the Saharawi Republic in an attempt to show it as a weak political entity that is unable to protect its own territory. And this is a constant idea that has been defended by the Moroccan propaganda for many years, with the aim of selling to the world the story that Western Sahara can only be safe if Morocco controls it. Zapatero’s government owes to the Moroccan king such a service after all. We shall not forget that the Socialist Party will not win the coming elections, so it must end its term giving Morocco something.
Further, it is far probable that Spain will be forced to lay down arms in the future, even if the Popular Party wins. The Spanish governments knows well that the Moroccan monarchy can launch a real war against its European neighbours using narco-trafficking, terrorism and smuggling thousands of African illegal-migrants (tolerated in all the cities of Morocco waiting for the right moment to use them).
Nonetheless, the Sahrawi Republic should not be excused from failing its duty to protect its own friends, who visit our refugee camps throughout each year. The Sahrawi authorities know well that Morocco is waging a dirty war against the Sahrawi national political project and for this Polisario must adopt more vigorous measures of security to be ready for all possible scenarios that Morocco might be working on. In this respect, it is probable that the current terrorist attack is no more than a prelude to numerous other operations and propaganda to hinder the organisation of the Polisario Front’s 13th Congress in the liberated zone of Tifariti. The choice of attacking foreign aid workers is not a coincidence, Morocco wants to scare the friends of the Saharawi people from participating in the congress this December 2011.
Moreover, it is unacceptable to allow Morocco to commit all these crimes in total impunity. The international movement of solidarity ought to wage its own war of information to raise awareness about the conflict, and uncover the different Moroccan plans. Morocco must be brought to justice on its bad records of human rights violations, natural resources plundering, political oppression against Sahrawis and Moroccans. And before El Fassi El Fehri or Jimenez give advice and lessons to Sahrawis on how to protect their territory, they should first deal with their own internal failures and incompetence as two economically failed-states in the region and two States that failed to respect the international law in Western Sahara, which is another attack they make against the Sharawi’s hopes for independence of Western Sahara.
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* Malainin Lakhal is secretary general of the Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union, based in Rabuni, Sahrawi Refugee Camps
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Sahrawi camps not ‘dangerous’
Visitor rejects Morocco’s claim
The whereabouts of the three aid workers which have been kidnapped during the night between October 22 and 23 from a refugee camp in South Western Algeria are still unknown.
I have spent a month within the refugee camps in Tindouf. During this time I have moved between February 27, Smara and Dakhla camps and the Rabuni centre. Rabuni is the political hub of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) where foreign aid workers usually lodge. The centre also hosts the Red Crescent, AFAPREDESA and other organizations. During my stay in Tindouf my security has never been threatened; on the contrary my physical and mental wellbeing have been ensured on a daily basis. Anytime I needed to reach a place I have been accompanied by someone, be this a member of my Sahrawi family, my Sahrawi translator and members of Protocol, the administrative branch of the Polisario. The Sahrawi community as a whole took entire responsibility for my security. Even when wanting to make use of the female bath, usually at 3pm, I had someone local taking care of me. And when my Sahrawi sisters and I decided to take a night trip to the desert to watch the stars, once at the dunes, we have been reached, stopped and taken by police officers to the police station. I was shocked and scared at the same time. What did I do wrong? Why was I being put on a Toyota, taken to the police station and questioned? I have found the answer immediately after.
Foreigners working in the camps have no permission to leave, especially at night, if not accompanied by a member of the Polisario. This is one of the measures taken by the Front to ensure the wellbeing of foreigners carrying out work in Tindouf. My safety has been once more guaranteed. Before travelling to the camps I have met a representative of the Polisario Front in London who told me: ‘the camps are one of the safest places on this planet’. I feel I can still confirm this, despite what has happened to the three aid workers.
I have decided to go to the camps and work there (I have been interviewing policy makers, victims of human rights abuses, artists and human rights activists) to give visibility to the Sahrawi cause, to break the silence on the Sahrawi situation. The Sahrawi conflict is one of the less discussed worldwide. Sahrawi refugees have been living in the camps in South Western Algeria since 1975. The Polisario Front has sought independence for Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, since its annexation in 1975 by Morocco. Since the 1991 cease-fire with the Moroccan forces, the Polisario has also been campaigning for a referendum on the right to self-determination. The referendum, however, has so far been ostracised by the Moroccan government. Morocco claims that Western Sahara has historically been part of the Moroccan territory and considers autonomy under its sovereignty the only solution to the conflict. Western Sahara is renowned for its phosphate-rich territory and its fine fishing waters. Offshore oil deposits are also believed to be in the region.
The plight of the Sahrawi population in the occupied and the liberated territories as well as in the refugee camps are rarely the focus of political and media discourse. For instance, MINURSO, the UN mission in Western Sahara, is still the only UN peacekeeping mission without a mandate to monitor human rights, despite calls from organisations such as the Western Sahara Campaign.
The limited media attention comes not as a surprise given the on-going silence by the international community on the Sahrawi cause, the cause of the last colony of Africa.
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* Sabrina Tucci is a human rights campaigner. She worked in the Saharawi refugee camps on behalf of Sandblast Arts Charity between December 2010 and January 2011.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Ethiopia: Kangaroo justice for two Swedish journalists
Alemayehu G Mariam
The old adage is that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Could it be said equally that arrogance excuses ignorance of the law? Dictator-in-chief Meles Zenawi recently proclaimed the guilt of freelance Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye on charges of "terrorism" while visiting Norway. He emphatically declared that the duo had crossed into Ethiopia from Somalia with insurgents of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) as terrorist accomplices and collaborators: “They are, at the very least, messenger boys of a terrorist organization. They are not journalists. Why would a journalist be involved with a terrorist organization and enter a country with that terrorist organization, escorted by armed terrorists, and participate in a fighting in which this terrorist organization was involved? If that is journalism, I don't know what terrorism is.”
At a “court” hearing last week, Persson denied the charges: “My intention was to do my job as a journalist and describe the conflict. Nothing else. Not guilty.” Schibbye admitted “entering the country without proper documentation. For that I am guilty and I apologize to the government of Ethiopia. But I am not guilty of terrorist activity.” Shimeles Kemal, the “chief prosecutor” was full of hyperbole when he laid out his “legal” case in a press conference. He claimed the two journalists “entered the country with a gang of terrorists. They have even been trained in using weapons. They are accused of abetting and rendering professional assistance to terrorists. Their activities go a bit beyond just journalistic news gathering.”
Criminalizing, demonizing and dehumanizing journalists, opposition leaders and dissidents as “terrorists”, “insurrectionists”, “treasonous” traitors, etc. is Zenawi's signature M.O. (method of operation).When Zenawi jailed editors of several newspapers following the 2005 elections, he described them in much the same way: “For us, these are not just journalists. They will not be charged for violating the press laws. They will charged, like the CUD leaders, for treason.” This past June, Zenawi ordered the arrest and detention of two young and dynamic journalists, Woubshet Taye, deputy editor of the weekly Awramba Times and Reeyot Alemu, columnist for the weekly Feteh, on fuzzy accusations of terrorism. Last month, Zenawi's "chief prosecutor" ordered the arrest and detention of the distinguished Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega "for conspiring with terrorist organizations such as Ginbot 7 and other foreign forces who wanted to wreak havoc in the country through their terrorist activities.” When Zenawi wants to jail journalists, he simply brands them as “terrorists” or smears them with a similar label and carts them off to jail.
The Committee to Protect Journalists roundly condemned Zenawi’s statement as “compromising” the Swedish journalists’ human right to a “presumption of innocence and for predetermining the outcome of their case”. But much more is compromised, including the rule of law, principles of due process and fair trial, the universal principle that it is the accuser, and not the accused, who bears the burden of proof in a criminal case, the principle that guilt is proven in a court of law with an independent judiciary and not before a full court press or the court of international opinion. Ultimately, Zenawi’s statement compromised justice itself.
When Zenawi tagged these two journalists as “terrorist messenger boys” and “participants in the actions of a terrorist organization”, he had in fact sealed their fate and pronounced the final word in kangaroo justice. There is no way that Persson and Schibbye could possibly get a fair trial or not be convicted following such an outrageous and egregiously depraved statement by Zenawi.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOURNALISTS AND TERRORISTS
Zenawi sarcastically mocked the two Swedish journalists by rhetorically asking if what they did is "journalism, I don't know what terrorism is.” Zenawi is entitled to some basic clarification by means of concrete examples. War crimes (“the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military or civilian necessity [Geneva Convention]” are acts of state terrorism. So are crimes against humanity (“widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, murder, forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, [Rome Statute]”. The “systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective” by an “extremely powerful political police against an atomized and defenseless population” is plain old-fashioned terrorism that is familiar to the average Ethiopian citizen.
When journalists are embedded with a regular or an irregular military unit and go into a conflict or war zone, they are engaged in “combat journalism”. When journalists dig for facts in places where there is an official news blackout, they are engaged in investigative journalism. When journalists undertake dangerous assignments and cover stories firsthand from a war zone, they are often called war correspondents. When independent reporters, writers and photojournalists accept specific assignments to cover particular stories, they are engaged in freelance journalism. It is because of freelance journalists that the world has come to know so much about the war crimes and human rights abuses that took place in such places like Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia and many other places.
Oftentimes insurgent and rebel groups distrust professional journalists affiliated with established news organizations. They are more likely to cooperate with freelance journalists who often take great risks to their own safety to undertake firsthand investigations by entering a country at war or in conflict without a visa. Schibbye has been a foreign correspondent and freelance journalist for several newspapers, including The Times, Amelia and Proletären. He has worked in Algeria, the Philippines, Cuba, Syria and Vietnam, among other countries. Persson has worked with Kontinent, a Swedish photojournalist agency, for several years and taken many dangerous assignments in various countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Both are professional journalists, and until now have never been suspected of any terrorist activity or involvement of any kind by any other country or international agency.
THE HUMAN RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL
Zenawi seems to be uninformed, willfully ignorant or recklessly indifferent to the human rights of the two journalists. The fact of the matter is that Persson and Schibbye are presumed to be innocent of any and all charges of “terrorism” until they have been given a fair chance to defend themselves and their guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt by their accusers in court. *So says* the Ethiopian Constitution under Art. 20 (3): “During proceedings accused persons have the right to be presumed innocent.” *So says* the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) under Art. 11: “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defence.” *So says* the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) under Art. 14 (2): “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.” *So says* the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) under Art. 7 (b): “The right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court or tribunal.” Art. 13 (2) of the Ethiopian Constitution provides double guarantees: “The fundamental rights and freedoms enumerated in this Chapter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights covenants and conventions ratified by Ethiopia.” (Also art. 9 (4).) Ethiopia ratified the UDHR in 1948, the ICCPR in 1993 and the ACHPR in 1998.
Article 13(1) mandates Zenawi to respect and enforce the provisions of the Constitution, including Articel 20 (3). He violated his constitutional duty under Art. 9 (2) by publicly declaring the guilt of Persson and Schibbye and characterizing them as “messenger boys of terrorists”, “participants in terrorism” and terrorist accomplices before they have had a chance to present a defense and a determination of their guilt made by a fair and neutral tribunal.
The presumption of innocence is the “golden thread” in the laws of all civilized nations. It is the gold standard of fundamental fairness which places the entire burden of proof in a criminal case on the state. It is the singular duty of the prosecution representing the state to present compelling and legally admissible evidence in court to convince the trier of fact that the accused is guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Persson and Schibbye guilt is not to be proven in a press conference in Oslo or in the court of public opinion.
The presumption of innocence requires that there be no pronouncement of guilt of the defendant by responsible officials likely to have a role or influence the judicial process prior to a finding of guilt by a court. Even when prosecutors make statements concerning the defendant to inform the public on the status of their investigation or articulate their suspicion of guilt, they have a legal and ethical duty to do so in a factual manner and narrowly limited to the allegedly violated laws, while always exercising reasonable care not to unduly prejudice the defendant’s right to a presumption of innocence or improperly influence the fact finder.
TRIAL BY DIKTAT
Expecting a fair trial in kangaroo court is like expecting democracy in a dictatorship. Persson and Schibbye will be convicted by Zenawi’s diktat just as the journalists and opposition leaders were convicted before them. Following the 2005 election, Zenawi publicly declared: “The CUD (Kinijit) leaders are engaged in insurrection -- that is an act of treason under Ethiopian law. They will be charged and they will appear in court.” They appeared in "court" and were convicted. In December 2008, Zenawi railroaded Birtukan Midekssa, the first female political party leader in Ethiopian history, to prison on the bogus charge that she had denied receiving a pardon. She was not even accorded the ceremonial kangaroo court proceedings. Zenawi sent her straight from the street into solitary confinement by diktat and sadistically delcared: "There will never be an agreement with anybody to release Birtukan. Ever. Full stop. That's a dead issue." He "pardoned" her in October 2010. In 2009, Zenawi’s right hand man labeled 40 defendants awaiting trial “desperadoes” who planned to “assassinate high ranking government officials and destroying telecommunication services and electricity utilities and create conducive conditions for large scale chaos and havoc.” They were all “convicted” and given long sentences. For Zenawi, court trials are nothing more than circus sideshows staged for the benefit of Western donors who know better but go along to get along.
NO FAIR TRIAL POSSIBLE FORT THE SWEDISH JOURNALISTS IN KANGAROO COURT
Everyone knows the charge of “terrorism” against Persson and Schibbye is bogus. It is a trumped up charge made by prosecutors who are directed, pressured, threatened and politically manipulated. Everyone knows there are no independent judges who preside in cases involving defendants facing “terrorism” and other political charges. Everyone knows the so-called judges in terrorism “trials” are party hacks and lackeys enrobed in judicial regalia. This is not the conclusion of a partisan advocate but the considered view of the U.S. Government and various international human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch concluded in its 2007 report:
“In *high-profile cases, courts show little independence or concern for defendants’ procedural rights*… The judiciary often acts only after unreasonably long delays, sometimes because of the courts’ workloads, more often because of excessive judicial deference to bad faith prosecution requests for time to search for evidence of a crime.” The 2010 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices concluded: “The law provides for an independent judiciary. Although the civil courts operated with a large degree of independence, the criminal courts remained weak, overburdened, and *subject to significant political intervention and influence*.”
Everyone also knows that there is no such thing as the rule of law in Ethiopia because dictatorship is very antitheses of the rule of law. Zenawi's diktat is “The Law”, which trumps the constitution and all international human rights conventions. Ethiopia’s former president and parliamentarian Dr. Negasso Gidada described the so-called antiterrorism law as a tool of legalized terrorism which “violates citizens’ rights to privacy” and the “ rights of all peoples of Ethiopia…Such laws are manipulated to weaken political roles of opposition groups there by arresting and prosecuting them using the bill as a cover. Another major opposition leader, Bulcha Demeksa, described the same “law” as a “a weapon designed by the ruling party not only to weaken and totally eliminate all political opponents.” In other words, the “anti-terrorism law” under which the two Swedish journalists are charged is a weapon of mass incarceration and intimidation of political opponents and journalists, mass persecution of the political opposition and mass oppression of the civilian population.
THE SILENCE OF SWEDEN
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has been severely criticized for his apparent indifference and failure to help the two Swedish journalists or even publicly demand their release in light of the bogus terrorism charges. Critics argue that Bildt dragged his feet and failed to secure their release in the crucial first days of the detention of the two journalists because of a potential conflict of interest as the two journalists were also investigating the activities of a company affiliated to Lundin Petroleum, a Swedish oil group which has natural gas operations in the Ogaden. Bildt is said to have served as board member of Lundin Petroleum, prior to becoming foreign minister. In January 2009, Swedish International Development Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson issued a statement declaring that the “imprisonment of Birtukan Midekssa is a source of great concern both for her personally and for democratic development in Ethiopia. The scope for democracy and pluralism is shrinking in Ethiopia. The imprisonment of Mrs Midekssa and the recently adopted law regulating the activities and funding of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) are examples of this negative development.”
Swedish journalist and writer Bengt Nilsson has argued that Sweden for decades has turned a blind eye as its development aid has been used to support dictatorships and finance wars in Africa. The Swedish government’s “new policy for Africa” claims to be based upon “economic growth, deeper democracy and stronger protection of human rights as the basis for development in Africa.” How the Swedish government will “deal” its way out of the “crisis” of the two journalists will show if Sweden will continue to support African dictatorships or use it aid dollars to help democratize Africa and protect the human rights of the African peoples.
WHAT IS THE KANGAROO TRIAL OF THE SWEDISH JOURNALISTS REALLY ABOUT?
Back in August 2010, Zenawi announced he will close his embassy in Sweden because “there is no development cooperation program of any substance between us and Sweden. There is no major trading relationship between us and Sweden, and no significant investment coming from Sweden to Ethiopia. It was not worthwhile to have an embassy [in Sweden]”. Diplomacy for Zenawi is striclty business. Without being too cynical, one could surmise that the terrorism charge against the two Swedish journalists is intended to provide a diversionary cover for Zenawi’s real agenda. Given Zenawi's past M.O., it is manifest that he aims to use this opportunity to extract some major concessions from the Swedes: “If they want Persson and Schibbye freed, it’s gonna cost ’em. What are the Swedes willing to pay? How about reopneing the aid pipeline? After all, Ethiopia is the first country to have received Swedish aid back in 1954. How about some cash loans? Increased trade? Perhaps new investments? It is said that the largest investor in the whole of Sweden is an Ethiopian.” Let's make a deal!
There is no way Zenawi could jail Persson and Schibbye for fifteen years as terrorists. He will galvanize Swedish and European Union public opinion against him personally and very possibly trigger devastating sanctions that will completely paralyze his regime. Even the Americans who have been turning a blind eye for all these years may finally take a look and tell Zenawi enough is enough. So, there is no question that after the kangaroo court circus is over Persson and Schibbye will be released. As usual, Zenawi will grandstand and declare the two journalists have been pardoned and released after they admitted guilt, expressed remorse and so on. The Swedes and some of the Western countries will play their part and congratulate him for doing the right thing and acting magnaimously; and he will continue with business as usual—more Ethiopian journalists will be jailed and threatened, dissidents harassed and opposition leaders persecuted. But the lesson remains the same: By manufacturing a bogus crisis, Zenawi, true to form, would have once again outwitted, outfoxed, outsmarted, outmaneuvered, outpoliticked, outtricked, outfinessed and outplayed his timorous Western benefactors. As the old saying goes, one has to give the devil his due for a job well done! Bravissimo!
*Release all political prisoners in Ethiopia, NOW!*
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* Alemayehu G. Mariam is professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino.
* This article first appeared on openSalon.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
24 years since the assassination of Sankara
What an anti-imperialist torch has been extinguished!
What a revolutionary heart-beat has been stopped!
Across Africa the people, from Tunis and Ougadougou to Burkina Faso and Senegal, are fighting to force regimes to step down. The people are trying to rise once again from the slumber that made Senegalese communist activist Lamine Arfang Senghor say: ‘Blacks have been asleep for too long. But beware Europe! Those who have slept a long time will not go back to sleep when they wake up. Today, blacks are waking up.’
These people, as in Senegal, are legitimately in search of a collective way out from under-development. Dissatisfaction is widespread; people are saying: “I’ve had enough!”. In 2011 these people, who have seen their flesh branded with semi-colonial red irons, by 50 years of betrayal and the false promises of elites, , are now engaged in a process of questioning and rejecting that is tackling corrupt power head on.
The people have lost faith in their managers, the elites and the political class. That’s why it’s important to remind them that Africa has not only given birth to the likes of Bokassa, Mobutu, Houphouët, Senghor, Habré, Bongo, Eyadema, Ahidjo etc; it also gave birth to others, like Sankara, this son who was brutally taken on 15 October 1987, 24 years ago today.
It’s important to know that if today people have suffered for 50 years under leaders like Traoré, Diouf, Biya, Wade, Compaoré and Déby, it is because the worthy sons of Africa, of whom Sankara is the last in a long list, were assassinated by the former colonial powers and their African accomplices.
Um Nyobé assassinated in 1958. Félix Moumié assassinated in 1960. Osendé Afana assassinated and then decapitated on 15 March 1966. Mehdi Ben Barka, the Moroccan, disappeared in Paris on 29 October 1965, whose body has never been found. Outel Bono the Chadian assassinated on 26 August 1973 in Paris. Pierre Mulele assassinated on 2 October 1968. Mulele’s death was certainly the most cruel. While he was still alive, the fascist Mobutu dictatorship ripped off his ears, cut off his nose, amputated his arms and then his legs, before throwing the rest of his body into the Congo river in a sack.
These men were all assassinated by US-Afrique and Franc-Afrique; one agent Bourgi is still active today in French politics. A man who not only transferred funds to different members of his network, but also killed in Africa.
What did these men, among them Sankara, do, to all be assassinated in the days before and after independence, by a hideous and monstrous imperialism?
Sankara unmasked and denounced imperialism: “We encourage aid that stems from a desire to help. But in general, assistance and aid policy serves only to disrupt us, to enslave us, to disempower us. Debt is a cleverly organised reconquest of Africa, (…) so that each one of us becomes a slave to finance. It is a system that knows exactly what to offer. (…)These are good opportunities for investors. Debt is neo-colonialism, in which the colonisers have turned themselves into technical advisors, and they are the ones who propose these sources of funding to us.’ To put an end to this policy and regain independence, Sankara suggested a break with subjugation. ‘ We must proclaim that there can be no salvation for our people unless we turn our backs completely on all the models that they have tried to sell us for 20 years. There can be no development for us without this rupture’.
He set out and put in place a new way of doing politics, one that served the people rather than being self-serving, like the parasitic African proconsuls who stand in the way of development: ‘Popular Tribunals of the Revolution (TPR) were set up to judge publicly the misappropriation of public funds, the trials were public and broadcast on radio and television. The guilty were condemned to return the money stolen. The new way diminished the lifestyle of political leaders: Sankara and all the ministers drove a Renault 5. The luxury government vehicles were sold to build schools in villages. Ministers and officials on business travelled economy class and stayed in less expensive hotel rooms. Ministers received salaries at their starting level. Outcome: The budget, which had a one million deficit in 1983, had a two million surplus by 1985.
The past 50 years have shown, through the case of Sankara and other members of the Pantheon, that imperialism is more likely to forgive an attack against 38 out of 39 articles in a constitution than one thirty-ninth of its interests in Africa. ‘Streamlined imperialism’ looked for any way to stop the ‘wheel of history’, including the assassination of political leaders. It’s impossible to understand the current situation in our countries and political classes without a glance at the rear view mirror of history.
The natural course of endogenous development was arrested several times in Africa, by slavery, colonisation and semi-colonisation. And Sankara’s assassination was a way to nip development in the bud. Ironically, it is the lies of the assassins’ media that impose grids of racist readings on a supposed congenital inability of blacks for self-development and democracy, which they say could never be applied in Africa! The height of tragedy is that there are African elites who echo these claims!
That is why it is necessary for young people, women, ordinary people, the working classes, Pan-Africanists and revolutionaries to know Sankara’s name and his work and ideas. Beyond the extraordinary admiration his name evokes, particularly among the youth, there is also a fundamental issue: Know to understand; understand to act; act to change; change to escape under-development.
The attachment of youth and the people to Sankara contrasts with the attitude of our leaders and the political classes. Which political parties brief their members on Sankara’s story? Which political organisations celebrate Sankara in their training programmes? Who teaches the vision and action of Sankara? Who has a photo of Sankara in their home? Isn’t this significant that most of our ruling classes make no reference to Sankara?
What is the opposite of Sankara? It is a poltician who will live on taxpayers’ money, who will enrich himself on the back of the taxpayer, who thinks it is normal that because he is a leader, he should live in luxury that he wouldn’t have had as an ordinary person, who will act as an accomplice of big capitalist powers against the people.
The new type of leader our people are hungry for will be like Sankara, or will not be at all. In the face of the pessimism, fatalism and low self-esteem imposed by the domination of colonial and neo-colonial ideology that insists that Sankara is unique and impossible to replace, we say that Sankara is the logical outcome of imperialism that inevitably bring son the resistance of the people, and therefore inevitably creates Sankaras.
Sankara is an antibody created by our suffering continent sick with the cancer of imperialism: ‘(…) Every man, big or small,(…) is the sum and product of all the people in the womb in which he comes to life’, said Salvador Madariaga.
Thus was written the first 50 years of our independence. The first year of the second 50 is full of hope that history will be rewritten by the youth and by the people.
On the 24th anniversary of the Sankara’s assassination ‘there is an urgent need to revisit these historic events in the light of regressive changes that plague the African continent, black people and oppressed people in general, not only as historians but also to rearm a young generation of Africans wondering about the catastrophic fate of Africans and especially on the perspectives and alternatives that will renew social progress and national independence in Africa. It is to this reflection on the history of the struggle and on the future that you are invited.’(Fodé Roland Diagne, cité par Ferñent).
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* This article first appeared in the French edition of Pambazuka News.
* Guy Marius Sagna is a member of Ferñent/ Mouvement des Travailleurs Panafricains-Sénégal
* Translated from the French by Z. Rodrigues
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter - November issue
This month’s newsletter contains news of how, for the first time, an Israeli court has ordered the Government of Israel to grant asylum. Also in the issue are articles on resettlement in exchange for local asylum; UNHCR's incentive salary policy; human rights in Rwanda; child custody rights and UNHCR resettlement; resettlement, divorce and visitation rights and a profile of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project. The edition also includes opportunities, publications, announcements, news of petitions and resources.
The face and challenge of Muslim women’s movements
There are over 750 million Muslim women in the world and the question that often crops up is who speaks for them? Who leads them? This October about 200 Muslim women leaders from about 40 countries attended the ‘Muslim Women Leaders at the Frontline of Change‘ in Istanbul, Turkey, a conference organized by the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE).
In attendance at the third WISE gathering were women human rights activists, members of parliament, judges and scholars. Also gracing the event were female religious leaders from other faith groups keen on inter-religious dialogue in an increasingly intolerant world. A number of men, mainly Muslim, were also at the gathering including supportive husbands and imams from Afghanistan and USA, one of them being Imam Faisal who is the partner of the main engine behind WISE, Daisy Khan.
In Muslim women’s organizing, WISE is relatively youthful as an initiative. In many respects WISE is a post 9-11 initiative germinating from the undue attention the status of women across the Muslim world received prior to the military incursions in Afghanistan and Iraq. This, however, is but one aspect of WISE.
Essentially, WISE is the Muslim women’s response to global and political development geared at improving the status of Muslim women through activism and movement building. It is an example of how Muslim women are actively changing their predicament and taking charge of their destinies.
Another emerging transnational movement among Muslim women intellectuals, activists and social justice advocates is Musawah, a campaign for equality in Muslim personal law. Perhaps Musawah is one of the first initiatives to be started and or located outside the Arabian Peninsula or the West. In West Africa, Muslim women organize themselves in national federations as well as through a regional federation. East Africa does not have an overly centralized form of representation for Muslim women and there are a number of organizations, like Sahiba Sisters Foundation and Womankind Kenya, that work on development. Perhaps because of its history, South Africa has some dynamic forms of Muslim organizations addressing an array of social and advocacy issues.
While not visible to many social movements in Africa, Muslim women have tried to forge solidarity among themselves and with others with varying amounts of success. There are initiatives like the Sisterhood is Global Institute founded by immigrants and refugees from Iran and Afghanistan; Karamah, a rights based initiative mainly by lawyers and human rights advocates in the US; the International Committee for Women and Child which was an attempt by the International Council of Da’wah and Relief to engage women post the Fourth World Conference on Women; and Women Living under Muslim Laws, a solidarity network established in the 1980s which deals with the impact of the implementation of Islamic laws on women.
While there are national Muslim women’s organizations or councils in many countries with a sizeable Muslim population, the key difference between these and the organizations being featured is the level of agency women assume in initiating them. At the national level most organizations catering for Muslim women are appendages or wings of mainstream religious bodies. They were not created with the intention to radically address the needs or position of women. Rather, they were structured very much in line with the structure of mainstream political parties with social functions, not advocacy concerns.
New initiatives Muslim women have launched are aimed at recasting the role and status of women in Muslim societies especially after the passage of the Convention on the Elimination of all types of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Fourth World Conference on Women. Thus many Muslim women’s groups and organizations, like other organizations in the larger women’s movement, assumed a rights based approach to their identity and work. Locally and internationally this saw the emergence of independent women’s groups or organizations not affiliated to national councils or transnational Muslim bodies.
At the international level, however, women from the Arab world and South East Asia are overly represented in Muslim women’s movements, making them come across as the ultimate representation of Islam and Muslims. Yet there are millions of Muslims in Africa; in some countries they number more than the entire populations in individual Arab countries. At the WISE meeting, Africa was represented by Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Libya, Senegal, The Gambia, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa.
East Africa, particularly Tanzania, has one of the oldest Arab and Asian migrant populations in the continent. Yet it is rare for women, let alone Muslim women, from across these communities to meet, socialise and strategise as they would when in international spaces. This poses a challenge to women’s movement building, which ideally should begin from the ground and at a national level before it progresses as a regional or global movement.
Muslim women in Africa often have to contend with the perception that they are new converts to Islam and thus not authentic enough when compared to non-Africans. Such perceptions are prevalent among Muslims and non-Muslims alike even though Islam spread to other parts of Africa around the same time it spread to North Africa or the Indian subcontinent. Such a perception has probably prejudiced donors as well as Islamic foundations from giving to independent Muslim women’s groups in African countries the way they do in the west or in South East Asia.
Even though the dominant discourse with regards to Muslim women tends to be around dated cultural rules and practices, Muslim women activists are also preoccupied with contemporary questions affecting Muslim women. Thus the question of Muslim women’s leadership and political participation was a key topic for discussion at the conference in Istanbul. Specifically, participants addressed themselves to the recent announcement by the King of Saud Arabia allowing women the right to partake in municipal elections where they could contest and be eligible for nomination to the Shura Council.
Women’s rights activists from Saudi Arabia at the meeting cautioned on how to read this decision. As Nimah Nawwab, a women’s rights activist and renowned poet, noted that when the decision is considered in a context where men in Saudi Arab do not have extra privileges in this matter it is hardly exceptional. Women’s rights activists from Saudi Arabia noted that coming at the eve of the Arab Spring the announcement seeks to diminish the struggles waged by Saudi women for greater political representation long before the Arab Spring. Moreover, the king’s proclamation was announced a few days from the actual voting, which meant that women could not partake in any manner in present elections.
Saudi women tirelessly organised to pressure the government to address their demands for greater participation in the affairs of the country. The campaign to allow women to drive is one of the many campaigns through which Saudi women and men are staging acts of civil disobedience to protest against undue restrictions on their citizenship. The campaign for women’s political participation, the Baladi Campaign, is larger and grassroots based relying on a network of volunteers.
Fauwziah Al Hani, a social and human rights activist leading the Baladi Campaign that is working towards women’s full participation in municipal elections, explained how in a bid to pressure the government to respond to their demands women mobilized around the country presenting themselves at polling stations and demanding to be registered.
They also pursued other legal challenges to claim their rights. Two women, including Fauwziah, filed cases in their respective supreme courts against the minister responsible for municipal affairs for violating the Saudi constitution and international law in denying women the right to participate in the governance of their countries. The minister did not deny that women had a right to vote but claimed that the state was trying to put in place the necessary infrastructure and procedures to accommodate women in public life, at which the campaign offered the ministry their extensive network across the country to help put the machinery in place to facilitate women assuming the vote.
Nimah Nawwab observed that, faced with such pronouncements, the tendency is to be immersed in celebration when such proclamations are made even though they may not reflect the reality on the ground or translate into real change in the prevailing practice. Saudi Arabia is a context where women are faced with restrictions emanating from tribal laws and customs as well as a conservative interpretation of Islamic law. Laila Al Zwaini, a shariah scholar who has studied the application of shariah laws and rules in a number of Arab countries and Afghanistan, notes that in many instances tribal laws dominate and are justified as Islamic law making the understanding of shariah problematic. She notes that 80 percent of what informs shariah and the interpretations thereof are tribal values not sourced in the Quran.
The relevance of shariah in new political and social realities was also deliberated. Times have moved on, as noted by shariah court judge from Palestine Kholoud Al Faleh who gave vivid accounts of how she interprets Fiqh rules to respond to the reality in contemporary Palestine, especially with regards to the changing notions of the family where the effects of the occupation demands for flexibility to achieve justice. In this respect, it is not just the rules that facilitate this but also the process of adjudication itself. The judge gave an example of how having a female judge in shariah courts helps lactating mothers, for instance, to give evidence uninterrupted thereby maintaining the flow of proceedings, something that would have been hard if a male judge was hearing the case. The lactating mother would have had to excuse herself several times to attend to her child thereby compromising her evidence.
Muslim women are not only restricted by outdated rules and codes. The influence of political forces and big capital limits their ability to maneuvre in respect to women’s human rights. Fatma Ahmed from Sudan cautioned that while the phenomenon of female shariah judges is a positive step, it could also be used to further political interests. In Sudan, there have been many women in shariah courts but many are political appointmees and thus cannot be linked directly to emancipatory agendas.
Financing is another area where women’s interests can be compromised. A number of rehabilitated mosques in Tanzania, for instance, are funded by sources from the Arab world or by prosperous Arab and Asian businessmen. Some funding sources put conditions in the operation of the mosques that are counter-productive for women as worshippers or as citizens of a community. They may, for example, stipulate that mosques they fund should not allow women on the premises, conditions that local Muslims leaders agree to since in their mind prohibiting women from places of worship is insignificant compared to replacing a local imam with a foreign one.
There are therefore many examples in Islamic institutions where the fear of missing funds or compromising patriarchy takes precedence over the fear of God. According to Nevin Rada, an Islamic scholar based in Canada, Muslim leaders have unashamedly strived to violate basic Quranic injunctions and teachings in defense of patriarchy. Thus, while the Quran has exalted the leadership style of the Queen of Sheba, Muslim preachers regularly disparage her and instead praise Solomon whose leadership style was but authoritarian.
Sophia Abdi Noor, one of the only 22 female parliamentarians in Kenya representing a majority Muslim region, has suffered from such attacks. Speaking during a session dedicated to women in political office she revealed how her party dumped her during the 1997 elections even though she came first in her party nominations only because male leaders from her conservative region used religious arguments to influence the party’s leadership to drop her name. Even though she merited the nomination she was denied the opportunity to assume office solely because some men in her ethnic group and political party felt threatened and they used outdated arguments of cultural and religious sanctity to run her out of contention.
Likewise, in Tanzania during the 2010 general elections Muslim women in particular were dissuaded from running for office by religious figures who claimed that in Islam men are the natural and desired leaders because God willed it to be so. Such arguments were built on the concept of qawamah (protection) and taa (obedience) and served to silence any opposition to male usurpation of a right that belongs to both male and female citizens of a free nation and democratic community.
Such practices are not only in legal codes and practice but increasingly find themselves in cooperate practice. In an effort to conform to dominant Muslim practice it was revealed by Samiah El Moslimany, a participant from Seattle, Washington, that in the IT capital of the world, a mosque built by Microsoft staff put a number of restrictions on women from assuming various leadership portfolios there. This was done with the complicity of some women professionals who were worshippers in the facility because they have subscribed to the idea of male supremacy as something divine.
The relegation of women’s public role can also be subversively sabotaged. Participants, for example, noted how three of the 2011 Nobel Laureates are women, two being from Africa and one representing a Muslim majority country. In the so-called Arab Spring, be it in Libya, Egypt, Saudi, Tunisia and a year previously in Iran, women were at the forefront of demonstrations, mass mobilization and movements but sadly as these movements begin taking shape women’s visibility and inclusion is compromised.
Participants at the WISE conference noted how military actions in most Muslim majority countries were justified in the name of liberating oppressed Muslim women, but more often than not invading forces and countries have actively compromised the rights of women and relegated women to subsidiary status even in nations that previously pursued progressive agendas for women such as Iraq. It was once recognized as having one of the most progressive family code which was compromised under the West sponsored and supported new constitutional framework which privileges sectarian interests and not national interests. In such a political equation women become the bartering chip with which communities bargain their cultural autonomy.
How then do Muslim women rise above these limitations towards emancipation within a framework that is rooted in their religious legal tradition? Mufuliat Fijabi, a consultant on women’s rights in Nigeria, calls for a framework that will enable women to have claim and enforce their rights as it is possible under a rights based approach. Towards this end Laila Al Zwaini, a Muslim scholar who works on the intersection between customary law, Islamic law and human rights, recommends the need for a new methodology to guide the unpacking of dated Fiqh rules to address the situation at present, an approach currently being pursued by the WISE Shura Council.
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* Salma Maoulidi has been active in the larger women’s movement since the late eighties and studied Muslim women’s organizing since the mid-nineties.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Cape Town administration violates the rights of the poor
Apart from its postcard scenery, the city of Cape Town promotes itself as being the second-richest city and the second-largest centre of economic activity in South Africa. The City at the foot of Table Mountain has aimed to become a globally competitive city, with the highest standard in infrastructure to attract business. The living standards in the city are also portrayed as exceptionally good: On average, residents of Cape Town have access to the country’s best health, education and housing services.
However, while this is surely true for the inhabitants of the rich suburbs, it must sound like mockery to the inhabitants of the townships in and around Cape Town. Cape Town alone lacks about 400,000 houses and roughly half a million people have no access to basic sanitation. Corruption and self-enrichment of the political class also deny the poor their benefits in housing and infrastructure. Consequently, social conflicts are on the rise over goods and the delivery of services such as water, electricity and living space; and over resistance against forced evictions.
TALK WITH US, NOT ABOUT US
Autonomous and community-based movements, such as the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Mitchell's Plain Backyarder Association, the Mandela Park Backyarders and the shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo are part of the struggles in Cape Town and are all based on self-organisation and the shared understanding that the poor are the foundation and the intellectuals of their own struggles.
It isn’t merely the denial of public services but also ignorance and lack of respect, which increase anger and frustration in poor communities. Colin Graham from Mitchell's Plain, who supports the land occupants, comments: ‘The politicians take us for idiots because we live in huts and haven't got proper homes. Why do they use us, think that we are uneducated, stupid people and make empty promises? Holding our babies for the newspaper and afterwards they send the law enforcement to tear down the home of the baby.’
Shortly before the municipal elections in May 2011, the open toilet became a symbol for the violation of human dignity and the arrogance of those in political power. In Makhaza in Khayelitsha more than 1,000 toilet facilities were built by the government of Cape Town, without any sort of walls or barriers. Some of the inhabitants were forced to refrain from using their toilets or had to use them in full view of the public. Only because of protests lasting months and because of an order of the High Court of Cape Town, did the government agree to provide appropriate walls.
The court ruled that the implementation of human dignity as guaranteed by the constitution meant simply ‘that human beings be treated as human beings’ - and the open toilets were a violation of this fundamental right.
Mzonke Poni, chairman of Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape commented: ‘The City deals with the poor at a quantity scale and not at a quality level. This expresses itself in building open air toilets for the poor. Imagine building an open air toilet at the Cape Town beach promenade in Sea Point and forcing tourists to bring blankets along to visually protect themselves. That would be an embarrassment. But if given to the poor, the City sees no problem. They say: “we did deliver something; they didn't even have the toilets in the first place.” That is an insult to the poor.’
With the slogan ‘talk with us, not about us’, Abahlali baseMjondolo brings this all to a point. Instead of being confronted with a predetermined decision, the residents want to be taken seriously as political subjects and also want to be included in decision processes. According to Poni: ‘There is a lack of political will in terms of engaging with people directly. The people are not viewed as subjects, but instead as objects and passive recipients of service delivery by the City. And I have to say, it is very disappointing and frustrating to be treated that way in your own country.’
The occupation of an unused field by homeless people and backyarders in Tafelsig, in the Mitchell's Plain area of Cape Town, stands as an example for struggles countrywide. Ibrahim Abrahams was one of the occupants trying to defy the Cape Town winter by living in covered holes in the ground or in tents.
‘Before we used to stay in a house in a backyard with five unemployed people,’ he explains. ‘Although I don't have a roof over my head, it is easier for me and my family here on the field. I no longer have to ask others, but can take my life in to my own hands. On this field I have won happiness and freedom. We just want for the city to leave the field to us, so we can build our own home.’
The state’s housing system is opaque and inconsistent, failing to provide for fairly distributed housing facilities. Consequently, the hardship and desperation of the poor results in the occupation of land. ‘The people that are occupying this piece of land, people who despite the odds decide to go and sleep outside in the cold are not doing that by choice. The circumstances have forced them,’ comments Poni. He explains: ‘The waiting list is a disaster. We need a different system to distribute housing facilities. People who are living under pressurised conditions need to be prioritised. The City merely refers to the waiting list. But in that case, the people must at least be allowed to live in peace, where they are and where they want to stay. The land belongs to the people.’
REPRESSION AGAINST APPROPIATION FROM BELOW
The Democratic Alliance, the governing party in Cape Town, responds to the occupations with police repression and the criminalisation of the poor, instead of providing the highest standard of infrastructure as mentioned on the city's homepage. To that effect the City declared a policy of zero tolerance and founded the Anti-Land Invasion Unit in 2009, a specialised police squad with the task of preventing land occupations. During evictions the police use water cannons and rubber bullets, like on 15 May during the first evictions in Tafelsig.
The Anti-Land Invasion Unit also uses the tactic of daily harassment to force the occupants to abandon the field, as Peter Adams, on the waiting list for a house for 13 years, reports: ‘Thousands of people lived here in the beginning. Most people went back to where they used to live because they are afraid of the police repression. The law enforcement comes on a daily basis, they arrest us, take our covers. What are we supposed to sleep on? We are helpless and we can't fight them. Who are we that they just come and hit here? We also belong here in Cape Town.’
Who has the right to the City and access to what kind of living space is a disputed question in South Africa. Appropriating land encourages the development of communities from below who are independent and self-organised. This process could be supported und used for the betterment of the life of the poor by the government. Poni shares this view: ‘If a piece of land is not used, not earmarked for anything, people must be allowed to occupy that piece of land and to build their own structures. The city just needs to ensure that they are supportive of the people, to ensure that they don't build structures on wet areas or that they don't build structures too close to each other for example. The government should merely ensure that the community they are creating themselves will be better and safer than the current informal settlements, because the problems with the informal settlements in the townships are over-population, lack of streets and the hazard of shack fires.’
On 30 August 2011 the High Court of Cape Town passed a sentence on the occupation and a verdict against the occupants' right to stay on the field in Tafelsig. The process was accompanied by protests of outside the court. With reference to the waiting list, the judge approved of the City's eviction order and the occupants were told to leave the field. The judge also launched an investigation to identify 'ringleaders' of the occupation and bring them to account. This is an attempt to segregate the poor peoples’ movement and to criminalise individuals with the intention to discourage and prevent people from occupying land in the future.
The City has now offered occupants relocation to Blikkisdorp in Delft, which was primarily built as a temporary relocation area in 2007. It is regarded as an unsafe area and as an integral part of the City's strategy to evict 'unwanted' people and dispose of them there. This strategy is inhumane, sustains segregation and therefore is no way to solve any problems. This is also applicable for political priorities, which are in accordance with the current free market policies in South Africa, focusing primarily on the strengthening of competitiveness and therefore maintaining commitment to the interests of business and of the - mainly white - rich people.
ALUTA CONTINUA: THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
Poni describes the attitude of the government as follows: ‘Let us spend less time with the poor; one cannot solve their problems because they are too many and, their problems are too big. Let us spend millions and plant roses at upper suburbs of Cape Town so that when rich people drive they must smell roses and say that the city works for them. Go to Khayelitsha and give them the bucket system instead of toilet facilities, so when people drive there they must smell their shit. That is the reality.’
This reality results out of a politics which consciously puts up with an increase of the country's unequal wealth distribution and therefore leads to the rise and continuation of social struggles in South Africa.
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* This article was published in German in Analyse & Kritik, No. 564.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 cf. Romin, Khan/Ambacher, Jens Erik (Hrsg.): Südafrika. Die Grenzen der Befreiung, Assoziation A, 2010.
 www.khayelitshastruggles.com, Homepage of Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape
 All quotations are taken from interviews, conducted on 1 August 2011 in Tafelsig in Cape Town.
 Police brutality in reaction to service delivery protests is increasing during the last few years. A sad climax is marked by the death of Andries Tatane in April 2011 in Ficksburg.
 Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers (Ed.) (2010): No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, Pambazuka Press. The dwellers of Symphony Way in Delft in Cape Town are telling their story about their forced eviction to Blikkiesdorp.
What now, Libya?
The triumphalism with which the death of Muammar Gaddafi has been greeted by his opponents does not inspire confidence that the serious task of remoulding Libyan society to meet the challenges of the future, will be successfully met.
By summarily executing Gaddafi and reportedly, those of his supporters they could lay hands on, the new people in power have told the world that they are no better than the Gaddafi regime. Yet distancing themselves from Gaddafi-type practices would have been reassuring precisely because when Gaddafi threatened to overrun Benghazi and other towns and kill the ‘rats’ in them, a lot of people were disgusted by his threats.
Of course, when a man has been in power for 42 years, no one can blame people if they rejoice at his overthrow. But a nation is more important than the emotions of any of its constituent communities. In the end, all the communities will have to work together to prevent the nation from disintegrating or being recolonised. That is why it is important that triumphalism should be curbed. There can be no reconciliation otherwise, and if that happens, the Libyan nation is doomed. We have seen what sectarianism and ethnic antagonisms have done to Iraqi society. If the Libyans don’t learn from that, worse could befall them.
I advocate reconciliation in all seriousness because I witnessed emotional outpourings, akin to what is going on in Libya today, when President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown in February 1966. Like Gaddafi, Nkrumah had held Ghana in a firm grip, empowered to detain citizens without trial, and allowed by law to push his ideas down the throats of his people through the machinery of a ‘one-party state’.
As a result, the emotional release felt by his successors when they overthrew him, blinded them to many of the good ideas Nkrumah had propounded for taking Ghana out of economic under-development. For instance, at the time of his overthrow, Nkrumah was building huge silos at Tema port with which he hoped to store cocoa – Ghana’s principal export – when its international price fell too low.
Everyone with any common sense – not to say a modicum of knowledge about supply and demand – could have appreciated that the fluctuation of Ghana’s earnings from cocoa made this a priority project. Yet overseas cocoa interests used their governments – Western, of course – to ride on the crest of the emotions released against Nkrumahism – to stop the construction of the cocoa silos. Today, they stand in ugly formation on the skyline of Tema port, as an eloquent testimony to how a nation can be deceived to act against its own interests.
Well, Ghana is today as subject to the fluctuation of prices on the international cocoa market as it was 45 years ago. It’s as if time had stood still, as far as Ghana’s biggest export industry is concerned. Many other projects with which Nkrumah sought to achieve import-substitution, were similarly scrapped, instead of improvements being made to them, where the planning showed elements of potential dysfunction. Closing them down was a clear act of throwing the baby away with the bathwater. Due to the overflow of emotion prevalent at the time, the received wisdom was: ‘if it doesn’t work, it was because the Nkrumah government was corrupt. Throw it out.’
What one hopes the Libyans can realise is that the past cannot be rolled back. Whatever Gaddafi’s shortcomings, he is gone. His mistakes can, however, provide the means of building a new, stronger Libya, better placed to achieve its national objectives, because it has learnt lessons from its past. The most vital of these lessons is to resist the temptation to suppress the views of those in Libyan society who are opposed to the National Transitional Council (NTC). This body should always remember that the NATO countries whose support led to its own victory against Gaddafi’s forces, are made up of regimes that recognise opposition parties and accommodate the views of the opposition.
The NATO countries also allow freedom of speech, of assembly, and of religion. The new Libya can show its respect for the NATO countries by making sure that these rights are respected within its own territory. But at the same time, it should keep a wary eye on the NATO countries, some of which have hurriedly called upon their business communities to ‘pack their bags’ and go to Libya to look for huge profits because the new Libyan economy is open to them. For if the NTC allows the dismantling of Libyan companies, for the benefit of Western fortune-hunters, it will be sowing the seeds of a conflict that will dog the footsteps of future Libyan government, for many years to come.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Cameron Duodu is a writer and commentator.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Statement on British 'aid cut' threats to African countries that violate LBGTI rights
We, the undersigned African social justice activists, working to advance societies that affirm peoples’ differences, choice and agency throughout Africa, express the following concerns about the use of aid conditionality as an incentive for increasing the protection of the rights of LGBTI people on the continent.
It was widely reported, earlier this month, that the British Government has threatened to cut aid to governments of “countries that persecute homosexuals” unless they stop punishing people in same-sex relationships. These threats follow similar decisions that have been taken by a number of other donor countries against countries such as Uganda and Malawi. While the intention may well be to protect the rights of LGBTI people on the continent, the decision to cut aid disregards the role of the LGBTI and broader social justice movement on the continent and creates the real risk of a serious backlash against LGBTI people.
A vibrant social justice movement within African civil society is working to ensure the visibility of - and enjoyment of rights by - LGBTI people. This movement is made up of people from all walks of life, both identifying and non-identifying as part of the LGBTI community. It has been working through a number of strategies to entrench LGBTI issues into broader civil society issues, to shift the same-sex sexuality discourse from the morality debate to a human rights debate, and to build relationships with governments for greater protection of LGBTI people. These objectives cannot be met when donor countries threaten to withhold aid.
The imposition of donor sanctions may be one way of seeking to improve the human rights situation in a country but does not, in and of itself, result in the improved protection of the rights of LGBTI people. Donor sanctions are by their nature coercive and reinforce the disproportionate power dynamics between donor countries and recipients. They are often based on assumptions about African sexualities and the needs of African LGBTI people. They disregard the agency of African civil society movements and political leadership. They also tend, as has been evidenced in Malawi, to exacerbate the environment of intolerance in which political leadership scapegoat LGBTI people for donor sanctions in an attempt to retain and reinforce national state sovereignty.
Further, the sanctions sustain the divide between the LGBTI and the broader civil society movement. In a context of general human rights violations, where women are almost are vulnerable, or where health and food security are not guaranteed for anyone, singling out LGBTI issues emphasizes the idea that LGBTI rights are special rights and hierarchically more important than other rights. It also supports the commonly held notion that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’ and a western-sponsored ‘idea’ and that countries like the UK will only act when ‘their interests’ have been threatened.
An effective response to the violations of the rights of LBGTI people has to be more nuanced than the mere imposition of donor sanctions. The history of colonialism and sexuality cannot be overlooked when seeking solutions to this issue. The colonial legacy of the British Empire in the form of laws that criminalize same-sex sex continues to serve as the legal foundation for the persecution of LGBTI people throughout the Commonwealth. In seeking solutions to the multi-faceted violations facing LGBTI people across Africa, old approaches and ways of engaging our continent have to be stopped. New ways of engaging that have the protection of human rights at their core have to recognize the importance of consulting the affected.
Furthermore, aid cuts also affect LGBTI people. Aid received from donor countries is often used to fund education, health and broader development. LGBTI people are part of the social fabric, and thus part of the population that benefit from the funding. A cut in aid will have an impact on everyone, and more so on the populations that are already vulnerable and whose access to health and other services are already limited, such as LGBTI people.
To adequately address the human rights of LGBTI people in Africa, the undersigned social justice activists call on the British government to:
- Review its decision to cut aid to countries that do not protect LGBTI rights
- Expand its aid to community based and lead LGBTI programmes aimed at fostering dialogue and tolerance.
- Support national and regional human rights mechanisms to ensure the inclusiveness of LGBTI issues in their protective and promotional mandates
- Support the entrenchment of LGBTI issues into broader social justice issues through the financing of community lead and nationally owned projects.
Joel Gustave Nana, (French and English)
African Men for Sexual Health and Rights
UHAI- the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative
Tel: +254(020)2330050/ 8127535
African Men for Sexual Health and Rights – AMSHeR (Regional)
AIDS Legal Network (South Africa)
AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (Sub-regional)
ARC EN CIEL + (Cote d’Ivoire)
Arc en Ciel d’Afrique (Canada)
Centre for Popular Education and human Rights - CEPEHRG (Ghana)
Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (Ghana)
Coalition of African Lesbians- CAL (Regional)
Engender (South Africa)
Face AIDS Ghana (Ghana)
Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda)
Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe – GALZ (Zimbabwe)
Horizons Community Association (Rwanda)
House of Rainbow Fellowship – (Nigeria)
ICHANGE CI (Cote d’Ivoire)
Identity Magazine (Kenya)
IGLHRC Africa (Regional)
Ishtar MSM (Kenya)
Justice for Gay Africans (Diaspora)
Let Good Be Told In us (LGBTI) Nyanza and Western coalition of Kenya (Kenya)
Most at Risk Populations’ Society In Uganda (UGANDA)
Mouvement pour les Libertes Individuelles - MOLI (Burundi)
My Rights (Rwanda)
Network against violence, abuse, discrimination and stigma-Africa (Regional)
Nyanza and Western LGBTI Coalition of Kenya (Kenya)
Other Sheep Afrika (Kenya)
Pan Africa ILGA (Regional)
Queer African Youth Center Network QAYN – (Sub-regional – West Africa)
Rainbow Candle Light (Burundi)
Reseau Camerounais des Personnes Vivant avec le VIH – Recap+ (Cameroon)
Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme (Kenya)
Si Jeunesse Savait (Democratic Republic of Congo)
South African National AIDS Council – LGBT sector
Spectrum Uganda Initiatives – (Uganda)
Stay Alive Self Help Group (Kenya)
Stop Aids In Liberia
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) - Nigeria
The International Center for Advocacy on the Rights to Health -ICARH (Nigeria)
The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa)
Together for Women’s Rights ASBL (Burundi)
Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
Triangle Project (South Africa)
UHAI-the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (Sub-regional -East Africa)
Vision Spring Initiatives
West African Treatment Action Group (Sub-regional – West Africa)
Women Working with Women (Kenya)
Youth Focus (Uganda)
Angus Parkinson (British Citizen, Kenyan Resident)
Anne Baraza (Kenya
Anthony Adero (Kenya)
Ayesha Imam (Nigeria)
Barbra Muruga (Kenya)
Bernedette Muthien (South Africa)
Blessed B Rwomushana(Uganda)
Blessol gathoni (Kenya)
Brian Kanyemba (Zimbabwe)
Carine Geoffrion (Ghana)
Carlos Idibouo (Cote d’Ivoire)
Charles Gueboguo (Cameroon)
Chesterfield Samba (Zimbabwe)
Christian Rumu – (Burundi)
Cynthia Ndikumana (Burundi)
Cyriaque Ako (Cote d’Ivoire)
Daniel Peter Onyango (Kenya)
Daniel Peter Onyango (Kenya)
Danilo da Silva (Mozambique)
Denis Nzioka (Kenya)
Desire Kavutse (Rwanda)
Douglas Masinde (Kenya)
Francoise Mukuku (DRC)
Friedel Dausab (Namibia)
Gabrielle Le Roux (South Africa)
Gathoni Blessol (Kenya)
Geogina Adhiambi (Kenya)
Hakima Abbas (UK/Egypt)
Hameeda Deedat (South Africa)
Happy Kinyili (Kenya)
Ifeany Orazulike (Nigeria)
Jacqueline N Mulucha (Uganda)
Jane Bennett (Cape Town)
Jayne Annot (South Africa)
Jessica Horn (Uganda/UK)
Joel Gustave Nana – (Cameroon)
Johanna Kehler (South Africa)
Joseph Sewedo Akoro (Nigeria)
Julius Kaggwa (Uganda)
Julius Kyaruzi (Tanzania)
Kamariza Sandrine (Burundi)
Kasha Jacqueline (Uganda)
Keguro Macharia (Kenya)
Kene Esom (Nigeria)
Korto Williams – Liberia
Lillian Kwagala (Uganda)
Linda Baumann (Namibia)
Lourence Misedah (Kenya)
Mariam Armisen (Burkina Faso)
Marieme Helie-Lucas (Algeria)
Mia Nikasimo (African Diaspora)
Mmapaseka Steve Letsike (South Africa)
Mombo Ngua (Kenya)
Mwangi Forsyth-Githahu (Kenya)
Ndifuna Ukwazi (South Africa)
Ndikumana Pierre Celestin (Rwanda)
Ngozi Nwosu – Juba (Nigeria)
Nguru Karugu (Kenya)
Nicholas Mutisya Muema (Kenya)
Nicole Khanali (Kenya)
Olivier Irogo (Cameroon)
Paden Edmund (Tanzania)
Peter Wanyama (Kenya)
Phumi Mtetwa (South Africa)
Pouline kimani,Udada kenya
Prof J Oloka-Onyango (Uganda)
Prof Sylvia Tamale (Uganda)
Rena Otieno (Kenya)
Rowland Jide Macaulay (Nigeria)
Samuel Ganafa (Uganda)
Samuel Matsikure (Zimbabwe)
Sandrine Kamariza (Burundi)
Sibongile Ndashe (South Africa)
Sokari Ekine (Nigeria)
Sserwanga James (Uganda)
Stanley Muiga Wangari (Kenya)
Steave Nemande (Cameroon)
Stephen McGill (Liberia)
Thomas Mukasa (Uganda)
Tony Gatore (Burundi)
Wanja Muguongo (Kenya)
Wendy Isaack (South Africa)
Zawadi Nyong’o (Kenya)
Zeitun Mohamed Haret
Opposed to Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia
Statement from Kenyan writers and public intellectuals
We, the undersigned, register, in the strongest terms, our opposition to Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia.
We note that several months at minimum is required to plan a military operation that involves crossing borders. Therefore the reasons put forward by the Kenyan government for this operation are demonstrably false.
Statements from the French Government (see link below) and Medicins Sans Frontieres contradict the Kenyan Government’s allegation that Al-Shabaab is responsible for the kidnapping of Marie Dedieu and two other foreigners.
We will kill some Somalis and call them Al-Shabaab. We will all feel very Kenyan indeed.
They die, so we can create a national amnesia about 350,000 internally displaced Kenyans, missing World Bank monies, missing Education Ministry funds, the ICC-Kenya trials, 2012 elections, the implementation of our new constitution.
The army will claim, as invading armies always do, that they have courageously engaged the enemy, when they have really killed innocent civilians.
All of us are paying already for this bout of blood-thirst. We will go on paying, for many years to come. We will pay with our taxes, our un-built schools and hospitals, our unpaid teachers, our still-jobless youth, our rapidly deteriorating security situation, our shattered relationship with our neighbours.
We do not require the death of Somalis to know who and where we are.
SIGNED: (in alphabetical order)
Paul Mwangi Maina
Tom Maliti, Journalist
Dr. Firoze Manji
Dr. Wambui Mwangi
Benjamin Wambua Ndolo
France's statement on the death of Dedieu:
Japan: No to nuclear and export of contaminated food as aid
To women all over the world
Re: An Appeal from Japanese women to aim for a safe and secure world for our children without nuclear power plants and without fear of radioactive contamination
We plan to petition the Japanese government in an effort to stop "Exporting Nuclear Power Plants Overseas" and to stop "Exporting ODA Processed Food from the contaminated Disaster Areas "
1. STOP JAPAN FROM EXPORTING NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS TO NEWLY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
The Japanese government (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) is still going ahead with plans to export Nuclear Power Plants to Vietnam, Lithuania, Turkey, and Jordan even though the accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power Plant is not yet under control.
We learned from the accident that there is not 100% safety mechanism and if a big accident is occurred, it destroys people's life completely. Many Fukushima people have been deprived their lands, houses, jobs domestic animals and many other things as well. In Fukushima many children cannot play at the outdoor playground because of high-level radiation levels.
We don't want any more people, and especially any more children, anywhere in the world to have this kind of experiences.
2. STOP THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT FROM SUPPLYING DEVELOPING COUNTRIES WITH ODA PROCESSED FOOD FROM THE CONTAMINATED DISASTER AREAS OF GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs applied for a budget 65 million dollars for this purpose under ODA (Official Development Assistance) and they are planning to offer processed food such as canned Tuna from disaster areas (mainly Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate) to developing countries. According to the government, the processed foods will comply with Japan’s guidelines for maximum permitted levels of radioactive substances for foodstuffs. However, we worry about the guidelines because after the accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant the government increased the maximum upper limit for the radiation levels for water, milk and other drinks to 200Bq/L for cesium (in USA it is 0.111 Bq/liter; WHO standard 10 Bq/L) and 300Bq/L for iodine, and that for food to 500Bq/kg for cesium and 2000bq/kg for iodine (Codex standard 100 B1/L, in USA 170Bq/L).
In Japan now some people, especially mothers are requesting the government to reconsider the guidelines. Mothers and some specialists think that the radiation dosages of the guidelines are too high for children. In fact, even now many countries prohibit to importation of food from Japan because of radioactive contamination.
We will deliver our letter and petition to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano and Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Genba on 4 November 2011.
Please support us and add your name to our joint-signature letter and petition.
If you agree to participate in our joint-signature letter, please e-mail us with the following information: your name, country, organization and message for the Japanese government to ‘email@example.com’ by 1 November 2011.
And also, please use email to send your opinions to Japanese politicians or your government.
1. Stop Japan from exporting Nuclear Power Plants to newly developing countries
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano E-mail: email@example.com
2. Stop supplying processed food from the contaminated disaster areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake to developing countries as ODA.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Genba E-mail: email@example.com
Japanese women will sit-in in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry from 27 October to 5 November with the aim of eliminating all nuclear power plants in Japan.
We have decided we must take action.
Please join us. We will stand together to eliminate Nuclear Power Plants all over the world!
We can live happily without nuclear energy.
Your reply would be appreciated.
With best wishes,
Kaoru Izumi, Director of Shut Tomari, Co-Director of Save Fukushima Children Hokkaido, a former staff of UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Southern and East Africa Office, Zimbabwe and FAO HQ in Rome, and UN World Food Program (WFP) Staff in Zambia Office.
Yukie Tokura, STOP! Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, a former staff of a Japanese NGO (worked in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Tokyo).
Contact and inquiry: Yukie Tokura, STOP! Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +81-(0)90-4401-8774
Ethiopia steps up terrorism allegations against journalists
New York, 24 October 2011 - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi last week accused journalists in the country of being ‘messengers’ with ‘terrorist’ groups, while a state newspaper accused the chief editor of an independent publication of having terrorist ties and called on security forces to ‘take action’ against him. The Committee to Protect Journalists today said it condemns this campaign of intimidation against the private press.
In comments Thursday to Ethiopia's ruling party-controlled Parliament, Zenawi said many journalists in Ethiopia are working with ‘terrorist’ groups as ‘messengers.’ He claimed the government has evidence linking imprisoned journalists to terrorist acts and is aware of other journalists working in Ethiopia with terrorist ties, local journalists told CPJ.
Since June, government authorities have arrested six independent journalists on alleged terrorism charges including Awramba Times Deputy Editor Woubshet Taye, Feteh columnist Reyot Alemu, freelance journalists Eskinder Nega and Sileshi Hagos and two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye. Referring to Ethiopia's private press as ‘vagabonds,’ Zenawi accused the private press of not understanding their profession, according to local reports. Earlier this month in an interview with Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Zenawi said Persson and Schibbye were accomplices to terrorists and ‘are not journalists.’
Zenawi's remarks to parliament came one day after state-run daily Addis Zemen (‘New Era’) published a scathing attack against independent weekly Awramba Times in what appears to be part of prolonged smear campaign against the paper and its chief editor, Dawit Kebede. The Amharic-language daily published an opinion piece entitled ‘How long shall we tolerate violence-mongers,’ that urged security forces to ‘take action’ against Kebede, according to a translation of the article commissioned by CPJ.
The paper accused Kebede, a CPJ international press freedom award winner, of working with ‘terrorist groups’ and called on the government to revoke the conditional pardon that led to his release in 2007 after 21 months in prison - a stint that followed the 2005 post-election crackdown on Ethiopia's private press. The recent Addis Zemen comments are the latest installment in a series of articles critical of the independent weekly, according to local journalists. In July, Judge Muluken Teshale dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by Kebede and his Blue Earth PLC media company against Addis Zemen Editor-in-Chief Anteneh Haylu and the paper's publisher, the Ethiopian Press Agency, according to CPJ research. ’
This latest outburst by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is part of a systematic campaign to use allegations of terrorism to wipe out critical journalism in Ethiopia. The smear campaign by state media contributes to the climate of fear,’ said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. ‘Through this intimidation of the private press, Ethiopia is sacrificing its legitimacy as a democratic government.’ The entire staff of the former leading independent paper, Addis Neger, fled into exile in 2009 after Addis Zemen accused the paper of promoting anti-constitutional groups by covering the banned political party Ginbot 7.
First-ever legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-gay laws
For immediate Release
October 26, 2011
Kingston, Jamaica, Oct. 26 — At a press conference in Kingston today, Jamaican attorney Maurice Tomlinson announced that his organization, AIDS-Free World, has presented a first-ever legal challenge to the country’s anti-gay laws. AIDS-Free World has filed a petition at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of two gay men whose names are being withheld to protect their safety. A legal team assembled by AIDS-Free World argues that by criminalizing homosexuality under its constitution, Jamaica is in violation of international human rights law. (Details of the legal case and Commission procedure are available in a Q & A at www.aidsfreeworld.org.)
The so-called “anti-sodomy law” in Jamaica has cast a destructive pall over the lives of gay Jamaicans. It has fed a homophobic society in which gays and lesbians are harassed, mocked, vilified, beaten and killed simply because of their sexual orientation. Driven underground, many fear that seeking an HIV test will brand them as homosexual, and therefore criminal. The national prevalence of HIV is over 30 percent among men who have sex with men, compared to a rate of 1.6 percent in the general population. The petition establishes clear ties between the country’s active promotion of discrimination and its AIDS epidemic.
Tragically and unconscionably, the Government of Jamaica is determined to sustain its discriminatory legislation. The petition brought by AIDS-Free World makes clear that this law tramples on the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Jamaica is a party, and violates numerous guarantees contained in other international treaties that the country has signed and ratified. Jamaica’s law legitimizes abuses against homosexuals by state actors, including the police. It also encourages vigilante justice by private citizens, most of whom believe that the “anti-sodomy” law grants them permission to commit acts of violence against sexual minorities. Because the Government and its highest officials support and enable homophobia, the only possible way to end the persistent violation of the human rights of gay Jamaicans is to strike down the law as soon as possible and usher in an era of tolerance.
Because measures to reverse the homophobic legislation are unavailable within Jamaica, AIDS-Free World is bringing its challenge at the regional level, to the Inter-American Commission. If the Commission decides favorably, other countries in the region with similar anti-homosexuality legislation will be forced to take notice. In fact, it is the conviction of AIDS-Free World that a favorable outcome will have a dramatic impact on all countries that persist in the medieval persecution of their citizens on the grounds of sexual orientation.
There is great irony to the fact that the Jamaican legislation derives directly from the days of the British Empire. Despite being an independent country, Jamaica has not rid itself of the discriminatory shackles of colonialism. This is also true of some 40 other members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of countries once ruled by Great Britain. Hence, the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality is on the agenda of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that begins in Australia in two days’ time.
Mr. Tomlinson is joined in representing the petitioners by Lord Anthony Gifford, noted counsel on a similar and successful case before the European Court of Human Rights, and a formidable legal team assembled by AIDS-Free World Legal Director Betsy Apple that includes pro bono attorneys from the US firm Thompson Hine and the Law Center at Nova Southeastern University.
# # #
Tel: +1 (212) 729-5084 www.aidsfreeworld.org email@example.com
What makes Biya’s despotic regime tick
Review of ‘Au Cameroun de Paul Biya’
Peter Wuteh Vakunta
‘Au Cameroun de Paul Biya’ is Fanny Pigeaud’s autopsy of a malignant nation. In 276-pages, this French journalist attempts to provide answers to intriguing questions about Paul Biya’s 30-year anomalous rule over Cameroonians: Why has the country become one of the world’s most corrupt nations? What are the secrets behind Paul Biya’s longevity in power? Has Paul Biya been entrapped in the macabre intrigues hatched by the henchmen that surround him? Have forces beyond his control thwarted the accomplishment of goals he set for himself on accession to power in 1982? Was Paul Biya incurably bruised by the 6 April 1984 abortive coup? According to Pigeaud, Biya himself unravels the conundrum by describing himself as follows: ‘un brouilleur de cartes’, ‘fin statège’ and ‘maître dans l’art de gérer l’immobile’ (69) [card scrambler, cunning strategist, and maestro in the art of managing the unmanageable.]
Pigeaud depicts Cameroon as a terrestrial purgatory where things are topsy-turvy: endemic corruption, misappropriation of public funds, influence peddling, impunity, illegality, electoral fraud and gerrymandering, witch-hunting, and occultism are the stock in trade of the inhabitants of this strange clime. As she would have it, Cameroon is ‘un pays en mauvaise santé, sans projet, rongé par la corruption, le clientélisme, l’enrichissement illicit, et le manque de conscience professionnelle…’(41) [a country in poor health, with no future, enfeebled by corruption, populism, unlawful accumulation of wealth and absence of professional consciousness…]
According to Pigeaud, the dysfunctional state of Cameroon is attributable to a mix of internal and external factors. Foreign countries, she argues, continue to meddle in the internal affairs of Cameroon, exploiting her natural resources with nothing given in return. France continues to treat Cameroon as a post-colony. By standing behind Paul Biya, France ensures that its national interests are protected in Cameroon. Pigeaud notes: ‘le Cameroun constitue un marché pour ses produits et fournit d’importantes ressources, comme le gaz ou le pétrole’ (238). [Cameroon is an important marketing outlet for French products, and serves as a source of important resources, namely gas and oil]. She further points out that Biya has mortgaged Cameroon’s oil reserves to the French oil giant Elf by taking a US$45million loan from the company: ‘Elf a consenti le prêt à la SNH, gagé sur la production future du pays’ (148) [Elf granted the loan, using the country’s oil reserves as security].This is the reason why Elf is calling the shots in offshore oil exploitation in Cameroon and nobody can raise a finger.
The United States of America also takes some bashing from Pigeaud. In her own words, Cameroon ‘est devenu pour Washington un pays stratégique dans le golfe de Guinée, d’où provient 15% de ses ressources en pétrole. L’objectif des responsables américains est de faire passer ce pourcentage à 25% d’ici 2015’ (244) [Cameroon has become for Washington a strategic country in the Gulf of Guinea where she gets 15 per cent of her petroleum products. America’s goal is to raise this percentage to 25 per cent by 2015]. According to Pigeaud expatriate companies implanted in Cameroon indulge in corrupt practices aided and abetted by nationals.
Internal causes are legion but the most deleterious is impunity. Pigeaud describes the Biya regime as a gerontological oligarchy: Government of the elderly exclusively for the elderly: ‘La plupart des dirigéants d’entreprises publiques et des ministres nommés par le président ont souvent plus de 70ans’ (194) [Most company directors and ministers appointed by the president are often aged 70 or older]. She notes that in 2001 the Minister of Domain and Land Affairs Jean-Baptiste Beleokon was aged 79; the director of cabinet at the Presidency, Martin Belinga Eboutou, was 71; the Manager of the National Hydrocarbons Company (SNH), Adolphe Moudiki, was 73. In 2010, Felix Sabal Lecco, chairman of the board of directors of the National Communications Council (NCC), died in office at the ripe age of 92. Biya consistently flouts the law by allowing members of his close circle of friends and tribesmen to remain in office past the official retirement age. These golden agers are not there to serve the interests of the Cameroonian people; rather they are self-seekers. Pigeaud believes that ‘L’objectif de la petite élite dirigéante est de préserver ses privilèges…’ (189)[The goal of this small ruling elite is to preserve their privileges.]
Pigeaud contends that the story of the ‘disappearance’ of a briefcase containing money destined for the national soccer team, the Indomitable Lions in1994, constitutes an eye-opening case of insolent impunity and shameless abuse of power by Cameroonian political leaders. Cameroonians would recall that in 1994 their government refused to disburse money to enable the national team to travel to the United States to participate in the World Cup quarter finals. Saddened by this turn of events, the then Minister of Youths and sports went on national television to launch an ‘Opération coup de Coeur,’ a nation-wide fundraiser for the Indomitable Lions. Cameroonians responded generously by donating 400 millions CFA francs.
Unfortunately, the money never reached the intended recipients – the Indomitable Lions. It was embezzled in its entirety. When questioned about the whereabouts of the money, the then Minister of Communications, Augustin Kontchou Kouomegni simply said: ‘l’argent s’est perdue quelque part dans le ciel entre Paris et New York’ (195) [the money went missing in the air somewhere between Paris and New York.] To date, no enquiry has ever been opened to investigate this eye-piercing story of brazen theft by Cameroonian ministers. On the contrary, a CRTV journalist who aired Joseph Antoine Bell’s criticism of Kontchou Kouomegni’s nonsensical remarks was suspended from his job.
‘Au Cameroun de Paul Biya’ is a rap on miscarriage of justice in Cameroon. Cameroonian courts are window-dressings at the beck and call of the executive branch of government. As Pigeaud opines, ‘La justice s’achète, se vend [Justice is bought and sold]. She describes Paul Biya and his spouse as outlaws who show total disdain for the rule of law. An example she gives is Chantal Biya’s Foundation, code-named La Fondation Chantal Biya [Chantal Biya Foundation]. The Foundation is portrayed in Pigeaud’s book as a gigantic fraud intended to embezzle national funds. In 2006, for example, Chantal Biya received the sum of 60million CFA francs from Feicom supposedly meant to finance a certain ‘Opération cartable’ targeting marginalized children of the South-West. God alone knows if this mission was ever accomplished or not. In 2001 she received the sum of 93.1 million CFA francs for a similar bogus project.
Biya’s government is described as a mafia regime steeped in the occult: ‘Le régime de Biya s’est peu à peu égaré pour ressembler finalement à une vaste organisation mafieuse’ (149). [Biya’s regime has gradually degenerated into the equivalent of a mafia.] Pigeaud notes that Cameroon’s most wanted Feyman[i], Donatien Koagne enjoyed the protection of Jean Forchivé, chief of secret police service. Thanks to Forchivé, this notorious conman was able to evade arrest on several occasions. Pigeaud posits: ‘Certains on vu derrière le soutien de Forchivé à Koagne, la volonté du régime de promouvoir la corruption, l’illégalité et l’argent facile…’ (150) [Some people view Forchive’s protection of Koagne as an indication that the regime desires to encourage corruption, illegality and ill-gotten wealth.]
‘Au Cameroun de Paul Biya’ heaps a ton of opprobrium on Cameroon’s security officers whom Pigeaud portrays as corrupt to the core. They aid and abet corruption, influence peddling, extortion and misappropriation of public funds: ‘Les forces de sécurité ont, elles aussi, développé de nombreuses activités mafieuses’ [Security officials have also created several mafia activities.] Because Paul Biya is also corrupt, he cannot put an end to corruption. As Pigeaud would have it,’ Si Biya arrêtait tous ceux qui ont volé, ce serait comme jeter une bombe dans sa propre maison. Il pourrait sauter avec’ (146) [If Biya were to arrest all those who misappropriated public funds, it would be tantamount to throwing a bomb in his own home. He could end up being blown into pieces in the process.]
‘Au Cameroun de Paul Biya’ is a lampoon on the politics of ethnicity. Like most African dictators, Biya has learned the ropes of divide and rule. The multiplicity of ethnic groups in the country (about 236 according some sources) has worked in his favor. He is an adept of the philosophy of politics of ethnic dribbling. In this light, Pigeaud observes that Biya ‘a exacerbé les clivages ethniques pour se maintenir et disqualifier les opposants.’[has exacerbated ethnic clivages in order to disqualifier political opposition and stay in power.]
Biya’s survival depends on what Pigeaud calls the ‘bétisation du pouvoir’ (134). [Beti stranglehold on power]. She contends that ‘La survie des Beti passe par le maintien au pouvoir de Biya…’ (134). [The survival of the Beti depends on Biya's longevity in power]. Biya’s political survival also depends on his ability to balkanise the English-speaking region of the country. He bounces off the Graffis against South-Westerners for political expediency. The schism he has created between Northwesterners and Southwesterners has enabled him to make political capital.In a similar vein, he uses the so-called ‘Complot bamiléké’ [Bamileke conspiracy] as an excuse to marginalize the Bamileke and keep them at arm’s length.
In a nutshell, several books have been written in an attempt to capture Biya’s personality, and the enigmatic aura that surrounds this African dictator (‘Le Code Biya’, 2009; ‘Paul Biya: Les secrets du pouvoir’, 2005; ‘Cameroun: Les crises majeures de la présidence Paul Biya’, 2007, etc) but Fanny Pigeaud’s Au Cameroun de Paul Biya surpasses them all. This veritable masterpiece towers over all others by virtue of its depth, matter-of-factness, and clarity of diction. Pigeaud sets out to inform the unapprised reader about what makes Biya’s despotic regime tick; she accomplishes her goal brilliantly. Her book is a treasure trove of political, socio-cultural and ontological information. It is a work that will stand the test of time. It is worth read.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Fanny Pigeaud’s ‘Au Cameroun de Paul Biya’ is published by Editions Karthala, (ISBN978-2811-105266).
* Dr Vakunta is professor at the United States Department of Defense Language Institute in Monterey-California.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Hypocrisy knows no limits
Obama celebrated the killing of Gaddafi. He did not talk about Gaddafi's cozy relationship with the US and the west for the past eight years, including torturing people for the CIA. On several occasions, the US administration said that revenge should not be practiced yet no western leader said a word about lynching happening daily in Libya. A Libyan rebel leader told Al-Jazeera that Gaddafi came out and greeted them but was shot anyway.
I spent two months in Libya (studying its fauna) and know how bad the regime was and I am certainly happy that his rule ended. Congratulations to the Libyan people. But we must be cautious. The US government considers this its first victory in getting a government moved from an erratic despotic western stooge to a government that will be (at least they hope) more reliably dominated and subjugated. My inside information tells me that they hope Syria would be next so that it will be two for two: Egypt and Tunisia changing from pro-US/Israel to perhaps a democracy (which would mean against US and Israeli interests) vs. Libya and Syria changing from unpredictable western allies to more predictable western puppets (not democracies).
Let us not forget that Bashar Assad (and before him his father) and Gaddafi were not bastions of support for Arab causes. After all, both had close CIA ties and were more than happy to receive and torture prisoners captured by US forces (a process known as rendering which was never stopped under the Obama administration). The Syrian regime was also an ally with the US in the destruction of Iraq (including the genocide of over one million civilians).
By US/Israeli calculations, if the Yemeni or Bahraini dictator is toppled first then the score will be 3:1 and they want Syria's dictator first. In their chess game, they are also trying to turn the loss of Tunisia and Egypt into a gain. The US and Israeli governments are meddling in Egypt and Tunisia to stop them from having governments that reflect the will of the people (including the people's will to boycott Israel and stop helping the US/Israeli designs). I think they underestimate the Arab people.
In Libya, they believe that Abdul Jalil will stay in his self appointed seat and then open the country (like Iraq) for Western oil exploits, for the US military base (closed in 1969), and establish friendly diplomatic ties with Israel (which already met with the so called national transitional council or NTC). The NTC is talking about elections ‘maybe in two years’ (in other words after they consolidate power and money and can manipulate the system). US lawmakers in congress are talking about Libya and Iraq paying (financially) for their ‘liberation’ and that they expect these countries to have friendly relations with Israel.
But there are already voices within Libya and Iraq who say ‘enough’. I think the Arab spring and Arab people will surprise the (Zionist) US foreign policy makers. Democracy is coming. Stay tuned.
PS: A note to my Kurdish friends and people with contacts in Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey: you do have a right to freedom and self determination but please do not (continue to) accept the recently offered support of the regimes in Damascus and Tel Aviv (both regimes have no future in the new democratic Middle East).
* This was also posted on the Popular Resistance blog.
Lion of Africa is killed in combat
Gerald A Perreira
“And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah ‘they are dead’. Nay, they are living, though you perceive it not…finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” Quran 3:169
Today, Friday 20 October 2011, our beloved Brother Leader and one of the world’s greatest freedom fighters, a revolutionary pan-Africanist, Muammar Al Gaddafi was martyred in combat by the North Atlantic tribes, organized under the banner of NATO, bolstered by the Arab sheikhdoms, including Al Jazeera’s boss, the Emir of Qatar, the pseudo-Islamic House of Saud and the US’s own hideous creation, Al Qaeda. These North Atlantic tribes constitute the same forces that have murdered our leaders, invaded our lands and plundered and ransacked our resources for more than 500 years. Muammar Gaddafi bravely stood against them all, making his last stand today, after a lifetime of struggle, in Sirte.
In the early 1980s, I was selected from the International Revolutionary Committees Movement to be a member of an international battalion to defend the Al Fateh revolution. I was also a founding member of the World Mathaba based in Libya. I am proud and honoured to have served under the Brother Leader and have had the opportunity to play a part in the noble struggle he represented.
I knew Muammar Gaddafi and the man I knew was no tyrant. He was brilliant and profound, a man of honour, courage, strength and great integrity. He spent his entire life fighting on the side of oppressed humanity – the poor and the powerless worldwide. He assisted all those who asked for help with their just struggles. His decision to assist was never based on Libya’s geo-political interests, but rather on the Quranic injunction which commands all Muslims to assist those fighting a just cause. Under his guidance, organizations and movements that had never before been included in any international formation, or given any international recognition or assistance, became members of the World Mathaba, including indigenous organizations from throughout the Americas and worldwide and groups such as the Rumanian Gypsies.
Muammar Al Gaddafi stood against all forces of tyranny, tirelessly campaigning for human emancipation and dignity from the age of 27, murdered in combat at his post, aged 69. The Lion of Africa is dead, but like the Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey before him, he has left millions of cubs in the bushes and in the desert. They can kill the man but they can never kill his profound ideas. His legacy is only made stronger by his martyrdom.
We, the millions worldwide, who loved him and supported him in life, will continue to fight on after his death for the noble cause he stood for. His martyrdom does not weaken us but only serves to inspire. We knew this man well enough to know that he would never run and would stand with his people at his post until the end. We salute his bravery, even at his advanced age, he never once wavered.
We say to the representatives of ‘the Beast’, Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron, Clinton who only a day ago ordered the murder of Gaddafi, and the Arab minions who gave credence to this war, that you will surely find your rightful place in the bowels of hell. You dared to take our most beloved and heroic African elder and murder him mercilessly and then show grotesque depictions of your evil deed on TV screens worldwide, and in the same breath preach democracy and civilization to us. With your murderous war machine you killed thousands in cold blood in Sirte and throughout Libya, hiding behind a few thousand rebel rats and lying to the world about a civil war and humanitarian intervention. You brazenly imposed a regime in Libya that is anything but democratic, but know this: the battle is not over – this struggle continues and with greater impetus following the martyrdom of our leader. The Muammar Gaddafi that I knew would not want us to mourn him but rather to organize and carry forward his mission. And make no mistake, as your empire crumbles, our day will come in his name.
On this day, on behalf of the Black Consciousness Movement of Guyana and in the memory of revolutionary Pan-Africanists Kwame Ture, Cleo Hancilles, Michel Kapel, Tim Hector and many other brothers and sisters who are no longer with us, all of whom loved Muammar Al Gaddafi and fought for the realisation of his vision, we send our deepest respect to his wife Safia Gadafi and his entire family. Our prayers are with you. He is father to us all – he called us his sons and daughters.
May he and all the martyrs from Libya and across Africa murdered with him rest in peace. Rest assured that their sacrifice will not be in vain. Tutashinda in his name (We will conquer in his name). Al Fateh Forever!
* Gerald A. Perreira is International Coordinator, Black Consciousness Movement Guyana.
Statement on the news that Muammar Gaddafi has been murdered
With every passing day the concepts of international morality and the rule of international law are being murdered in Libya! And so, if it turns out to be true that the British, French and American forces of NATO have finally succeeded in assassinating Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi -just as they have murdered thousands of his fellow citizens - this may well turn out to be the final nail in the coffin of the system of "international law".
The highest instrument in the entire edifice of international law is the Charter of the United Nations. And the second Article of that Charter lays down one of the fundamental rules of international law, as follows:- "All Members (of the United Nations) shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State....". The only exceptions to this sacred principle are where a nation uses force in self defence, or where the Security Council of the United Nations mandates the use of force in response to some breach of international peace.
So, in light of this sacred and fundamental principle, how could anyone with a modicum of intelligence or decency justify what Britain, France and the United States have done to the African nation of Libya over the past 7 months?
On the 17th of March 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution - Resolution 1973 which authorised member states of the United Nations to take "necessary measures...... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in (Libya)......... while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."2How, in God’s name, could the leaders of Britain, France and the United States justify taking such a defensive, humanitarian resolution, and twisting it into an evil instrument of aggression, murder and destruction?
No-where in Resolution 1973 were the U.S, Britain and France authorised to murder Muammar Gadaffi or his relatives! No-where were they mandated to invade Libya or to impose a so-called "regime change" on that country! No-where, in a resolution devoted to protecting "civilians and civilian populated areas" were they authorised to rain down 2000 pound bombs and cruise missiles on the largest and most densely populated civilian areas of Libya! No-where were they authorised to bomb Gadaffi’s home town of Sirte, a city with a population of 75,000 people, to the ground! No-where were they authorised to give comfort and support to racist Arab rebels who have initiated a genocidal campaign against dark skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans resident in Libya. And, perhaps most importantly, no-where were they authorised to re-impose on the world extreme forms of imperialist aggression and domination that we all thought had been consigned to the dust bin of history.
I cry shame on President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicholas Sarkozy!I cry shame on all the other cowardly, irresponsible world leaders who sat back and permitted this crime to be committed!
Their hands now drip not only with the blood of Libya, but with the blood of a thoroughly discredited and mortally wounded system of international law! They have all sewn the wind, and will surely reap the whirl-wind!
* David Comissiong is president of the Clement Payne Movement in Barbados.
Zimbabwe: Government rejects recommendations to human rights
The Zimbabwean government through its Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Hon. Patrick Chinamasa has only accepted 81 recommendations to improve the country’s precarious human rights situation and to improve compliance with international human rights instruments and obligations out of 177 recommendations which were tabled following Zimbabwe’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held on 10 October 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Africa: Plan to increase maternal, newborn and childhealth
African Speakers of Parliaments and Presidents of Senate have unanimously adopted a landmark resolution on a Declaration of Commitment to prioritise parliamentary support for increased policy and budget action on maternal, newborn and child health in African countries. The milestone Declaration of Commitment was adopted at the 3rd Pan African Speakers Conference 17 - 18 October, which was convened by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Africa: World Bank must put its money behind the rhetoric on gender equality
The World Bank has amplified its rhetoric on the importance of gender equality in the context of development in recent weeks by promoting its flagship World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development and launching its Think Equal social media campaign. Unfortunately, says this article in the London Guardian, for billions of poor women and girls worldwide, the bank's track record in promoting gender equality in its investments reflects an alarming gap between rhetoric and reality.
Cameroon: Women demand REDD+ involvement
Women in Cameroon have developed a vision for a gender-sensitive approach for their country’s nascent Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme. They have put together a roadmap to ensure that women are involved in the formulation of Cameroon’s national REDD+ strategy. The premise is that women should be given equal opportunities to learn about REDD+ initiatives, and their capacity strengthened so they can influence, participate in and benefit from the programme. The roadmap will be presented at the UN Climate Convention in Durban in December.
DRC: Women candidates needed
Women make up just 12 per cent of the roughly 18,000 candidates who will stand for election to parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo's 28 November elections. According to the Permanent Framework for Dialogue for Congolese Women, a gender equality pressure group, only 42, or 8.4 per cent, of the 500 members of the current National Assembly – the lower house of parliament – are women.
Global: Center For Reproductive Rights mapping of the world's abortion laws 2011
Since 1998, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has produced The World's Abortion Laws map to visually compare the legal status of abortion in different countries - and to advocate for greater progress in ensuring access to safe and legal abortion services for all women worldwide. Visit the website for more information.
Kenya: Her story wins
Through photography and video, Her Story Wins will document the personal stories of US & Kenyan women political candidates as they run for office in the 2012 elections. Her Story Wins will highlight the social and physical obstacles that girls and women face in translating leadership skills to political aspirations, and more importantly celebrate the valuable impact women have on their communities when they run for and get elected to office. Visit the website to find out more.
Niger: Princess and the mic
This video shows how African women have, for a long time, been taking a back seat in many aspects of life, but also that the trend is changing and now women are taking on men, even in such areas as the crowded entertainment industry in Niger.
Tunisia: Women activists accuse Islamist party of reneging pre-election promises
Tunisian women activists accused Ennahda party of giving false promises during its election campaign and reneging on them after winning a majority in the National Constituent Council in the first election the country witnessed after the ouster of President Zine Elabidine ben Ali’s regime. Those activists were particularly concerned about recent statements by Ennahda leader Rashid Ghannouchi on making some changes to the personal status law, particularly concerning the legalization of adoption and the ban on polygamy.
Egypt: Anger over Khaled Said sentence
Two police officers have been sentenced to seven years in prison for the assault that led to the death of Khaled Said, the young man whose murder in Alexandria has fueled the Egyptian revolution. Netizens are angry at what they describe as a lenient sentence and a slap to the revolution and its scream for justice, reports Global Voices.
Egypt: Blogger refuses military questioning, detained
Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has been to Cairo’s notorious C28 military prosecution headquarters to face charges of incitement to violence in the violent 9 October Maspero clashes between Coptic-Christian protesters and military police. Abdel Fattah, who rejects the notion of civilians being tried by military courts, has refused to be interrogated by military prosecutors as a matter of principle. He has also vociferously criticised the idea that the military prosecution should investigate the Maspero clashes, in which military police were directly involved.
Global: Commonwealth leaders fail to reach agreement on reform report
Commonwealth leaders have ignored warnings that their decaying association will die without urgent reforms and have failed to reach significant agreement on how to ensure its member nations abide by human rights principles and the rule of law. The development came Saturday, as the leaders spent the second day of their biennial gathering - known as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) - debating the merits of a report delivered by an advisory group established two years ago. But instead of endorsing the report, the leaders adopted a distrustful view about its contents - even deciding that it should be kept secret and not be published.
Kenya: Delayed justice for missing insurgency victims
Three years after her husband’s disappearance, Phyllis Chamnai Kipkeyo from Mount Elgon, Kenya cannot stop thinking about him. She does not know if he is dead or alive. All she knows is that he was one of the over 300 people said to have disappeared during an insurgency in the region between 2006 and 2008. The insecurity in the area began in 2005 after the militia group, Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF), was formed to seek redress for alleged injustices that occurred during a land distribution exercise in the Chebyuk settlement area. But by 2008 the SLDF had been accused of killing several hundred people, and committing offences such as torture, rape and theft.
Senegal: Dakar halts rights lobby boss' trip
Police authorities at the Leopold Sedar Senghor airport in Dakar have confirmed that they were preventing the secretary-general of the International Federation of Human Rights from entering the country. A statement issued by the rights group quoted the airport police as saying that Mr Paul Nsapu had been detained since Thursday. Since the beginning of the Arab upheavals, civil society and rights groups in Senegal have been facing difficult times with the regime of President Abdoulaye Wade over his bid for a controversial third mandate. Several rights activists have been beaten up, arrested and briefly detained during a string of public demonstrations that left scores injured and public and private property destroyed.
Sierra Leone: Amputees still waiting for reparations almost 10 years on
Cutting off peoples’ limbs - in most cases their hands - was one of the brutal strategies used by members of the Revolutionary United Front to terrify people to support them. Some 27,000 Sierra Leoneans are estimated to have been disabled or have had one or more of their limbs amputated during the 1991-2002 civil war. In 2004 the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC), set up to try to deliver accountability for human rights abuses, issued a report recommending that amputees, war widows, children, victims of sexual violence and the seriously war-wounded, should receive reparations in the form of free education for children, free health care and skills training to be managed by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA). But many have received nothing.
Somalia: Failing law leaves children unprotected in Somaliland
Child rights activists have expressed concern over the stagnation of a juvenile justice law in Somalia's self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland, where officials say an average of 200 children are detained every month by police. According to Khadar Nour, a child protection activist in the capital, Hargeisa, children are regularly detained for minor offences and 'end up being detained with adults because there are no rehabilitation centres for children or prisons for children'.
Uganda: Proposal to scrap bail could worsen abysmal prison conditions
Ugandan human rights activists are concerned that President Yoweri Museveni's proposal to do away with bail for people suspected of committing certain crimes could swell the country's already overcrowded prison system and exacerbate severe problems in delivering health services to inmates. Museveni announced the move to amend the Constitution and the Penal Code in May following 'Walk to Work' protests over high food and fuel prices. The proposed law would allow judges to deny bail for at least six months to people arrested for treason, terrorism, rape, economic sabotage and rioting.
Angola: Jimmy Mubenga remembered
Over 50 campaigners joined the family and friends of Jimmy Mubenga recently in a vigil on the first anniversary of his death. Mubenga died on 12 October 2010, after being restrained by private security guards from the company G4S on a BA flight at Heathrow airport during a deportation attempt to Angola. Jimmy's wife, five children and his wider family are still waiting, one year on, to see if the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will charge the three officers involved.
Côte d’Ivoire: Aid agencies take stand against forced IDP returns
UN agencies and NGOs are urging the Côte d’Ivoire government to reconsider its planned shutdown of sites for displaced people in the west in a bid to force them to return home. Some 18,455 internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain in 36 sites in the west, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates, while a further 169,486 are living in Côte d’Ivoire with host families. Teams are currently out verifying the latest numbers.
Kenya: IDPs plan big protest marches to press for overdue settlement
Trusted Society of Human Rights Alliance has said IDPs still living in camps will next week take to the streets to press the government to resettle and compensate them. The lobby’s chairman, Mr Elijah Sikona, alleged that IDPs have been turned into cash cows by some unnamed politicians who have also hatched a plot to buy their votes next year. 'We have close to 800,000 IDPs in camps and some politicians are using them as a tourist attraction to earn cash,' Mr Sikona claimed.
Niger: Migrants' return from Libya plunges families deeper into hunger
The families of 90,000 Nigerien migrants forced home because of the uprising in Libya face greater hunger and poverty now they no longer receive regular remittances, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) said. The men were mostly working on construction sites and farms in Libya, which borders Niger. An IOM poll showed 86 per cent used to send enough money to support five family members in Niger, and that their return had 'an overall negative impact' on the lives of hundreds of thousands of others living in areas hit by chronic food insecurity and underemployment.
Rwanda: UNHCR urged to review decision to withdraw refugee status
Reporters Without Borders says it fails to understand a decision by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to urge countries that have given asylum to Rwandan refugees to withdraw their refugee status by the middle of next year on the grounds that political life in Rwanda is back to normal. 'What normalization is UNCHR talking about?' Reporters Without Borders asked. 'President Paul Kagame was reelected with 93 per cent of the vote in 2010 in an election in which his main opponents could not take part. One is in prison and another is in exile and escaped an assassination attempt. The Rwandan authorities do not tolerate criticism. The independent press is harassed.'
South Africa: Deportation of Zimbabweans tearing families apart
Doreen Sibanda, 27, was among the first undocumented Zimbabwean nationals to be deported in early October 2011 after South Africa apparently lifted its more than two year moratorium on expulsions imposed following widespread xenophobic violence in 2008. 'I was on my way to the shops to buy porridge for my four-year-old son when I was stopped by the police [in the inner city Johannesburg suburb of Berea] who asked for my passport and residence permit. I lied to them that I had forgotten them at home but they never gave me a chance,' Sibanda told IRIN.
Sudan: End deportation of Eritreans, says Human Rights Watch
The Sudanese authorities are increasingly deporting Eritreans to their country without allowing them to claim asylum, Human Rights Watch said. On 17 October, Sudan handed over 300 Eritreans to the Eritrean military without screening them for refugee status, drawing public condemnation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Global: Widespread abuse of workers’ rights
More than a quarter of countries represented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth have failed to allow basic industrial rights for workers, the ACTU said. ACTU President Ged Kearney said a survey by the Commonwealth Trade Union Group showed workers’ rights were being ignored across the Commonwealth, with the worst abuses currently occurring in Fiji and Swaziland. The CTUG, representing over 30 million workers in 50 countries, is calling on the CHOGM to suspend Swaziland for wholesale violations of democratic rights.
Latest edition: emerging powers news roundup
In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up, read a comprehensive list of news stories and opinion pieces related to China, India and other emerging powers...
Durban climate negotiations meet won't be easy for India
India could find itself in a tough spot at the UN-sponsored climate negotiations in Durban, especially on the question of the legal nature of the global effort to deal with the climate change. At the pre-conference meeting this week, host South Africa made it clear that the Durban meet would find a "resolution" to the contentious issue of continuing with the Kyoto protocol beyond December 2012 and "agreeing" on the legal nature of a future climate change system.
South Africa ditches India, backs rich nations
India has suffered a setback at climate talks with its key ally South Africa endorsing the view of rich nations that the global climate agreement should be binding for all nations at a meeting last weekend. India had recently taken a decision not to support any binding emission cuts for developing countries and wanted resolution of intellectual property rights and equity issues, earning criticism from European Union and other rich nations.
China's proposal unveiled ahead of Durban climate talks
China will urge implementation of the Bali Action Plan and inclusion of all developed countries into the Kyoto Protocol at the next month's climate talks in Durban, South Africa, said a senior official. Describing the proposal as constructive, Chinese Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission Xie zhenhua said China's call to implement of the Bali Action Plan means the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol should be upheld, as a major disagreement in Durban may be focused on the issue.
BASIC countries to frame common position on Kyoto protocol
The Environment Ministers of BASIC countries — Brazil, South Africa, India and China — will frame a common position ahead of the crucial Durban climate conference due next month on several issues including the second commitment period of Kyoto protocol. Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan will visit Beijing on Monday to attend the ninth meeting of BASIC countries. It is mainly for preparing the negotiations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference. The climate conference in Durban will be held from November 28 to December 9, officials of the Environment Ministry told PTI.
2. China in Africa
Chinese, South African parliaments set up exchange mechanism
China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress (NPC), has launched a regular exchange mechanism with the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, according to top legislator Wu Bangguo. Wu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, hailed the establishment of the mechanism during a meeting on Monday with Nomaindia Mfeketo, deputy speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, who is here to inaugurate the program.
China makes single largest grain donation to Africa: official
China has delivered food donations worth 443.2 million yuan (69.58 million U.S. dollars) to the Horn of Africa which is suffering from severe drought and famine, a Chinese official said Sunday. "This is the single largest grain donation to foreign countries ever delivered by Chinese government since the founding of the People's Republic of China (in 1949)," said Lu Shaye, head of the Department of African Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
China, Angola pledge to expand cooperation
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan held talks with Angolan Minister of State Carlos Maria Feijo Tuesday in Beijing on expanding bilateral cooperation. "Angola is an important partner for cooperation between China and Africa," Wang said. China is ready to work with Angola to score new cooperative achievements in areas such as finance, agriculture, infrastructure and human resources, in order to bring bilateral ties to a new level, he said.
China to lend African firms another $1 bln
State-run policy lender China Development Bank will loan small and medium-sized African companies another $1 billion, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday. The new funds will increase to $2 billion a loan facility first set up in 2009 to help African firms, Liu Hao, deputy head of the bank's international department, was quoted as saying at a China-Africa forum in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
AU keen to work with China on agriculture
In addition to making much investment in infrastructural development, China is contributing to the development of Africa's agriculture, said Rhoda Peace Tummusimi, African Union (AU) Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Economy. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Saturday, the Commissioner said China is investing in the agriculture sector in Africa, where 80 percent of the population depends on the sector for livelihood.
China-Africa think tank forum holds first meeting
The China-Africa Think Tank Forum held its first meeting in east China on Thursday to discuss ways to promote political trust, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges between China and Africa. The three-day meeting, held in Zhejiang province's capital of Hangzhou, was attended by nearly 300 officials and scholars from China and 27 African countries, representatives from the African Union Commission and other regional organizations, as well as African diplomatic envoys to China, according to Zhejiang Normal University, the event's organizer.
Chinese, African universities to boost collaboration
The 2011 UNESCO-China-Africa University Leaders Meeting started on Monday in Paris at the headquarters of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, aiming to boost collaboration between Chinese and African universities. The two-day meeting drew 44 university presidents from China and Africa, and their discussion would mainly focus on how to further boost inter-school cooperation.
Chinese firm wins contract for S. Sudan’s new capital
Pan-China Construction Group, a Chinese company, has been awarded the lucrative contract to design Ramciel, the proposed location for South Sudan’s new capital, Sudan Tribune understands. The company reportedly beat off stiff competition from several bidders, including a South Korean firm, after they presented design proposals for construction of the new capital, which will be situated about 65 miles (105km) north of Juba, the country’s current capital.
3. In Other Emerging Powers News
Zimbabwe secures $300 mln Brazil farm loan: paper
Zimbabwe has secured a $300 million loan from Brazil to finance agriculture and boost crop production after successive years of food deficits, state media reported on Thursday. The loan is part of Brazil's aid programme for Africa, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said. Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the funds would be used to support farmers who have largely failed to get loans from local banks that are still recovering from a prolonged economic crisis.
4. Blogs, Opinions, Presentations and Publications
Exclusive Interview with Lu Shaye, Secretary-General of Chinese Follow-Up Committee of FOCAC and Director-General of Department of African Affairs at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The 8th Senior Officials Meeting of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on October 26 and October 27 this year. On the eve of this event, Xinhua News Agency reporter interviewed Lu Shaye, Secretary-General of Chinese Follow-Up Committee of FOCAC and Director-General of Department of African Affairs at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China outplays Europe, US in Africa
As India and China grow their economies, it is obvious they will not achieve their goals without access to the vast and untapped natural resources of Africa and Central Asia. The aim is to attain a standard of living for their 2.5-billion citizens that is both as high and utterly unsustainable as that long enjoyed by one billion Europeans, North Americans and Japanese.
Cameroon: Biya promises youth jobs after poll win
Cameroon's President Paul Biya promised more jobs for young people and said he would set Cameroon on the path to being an emerging nation in a speech after he was declared winner of this month's presidential election. Cameroon's supreme court said 78-year-old Biya was re-elected by a widely expected landslide in a vote that US and French authorities have said was marred by irregularities.
DRC: 18,500 in race for parliament seats
Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) has released the official list of the presidential and legislative candidates. There are less than 40 days to election day in the Central Africa state in the poll set for 28 November. According to the list released by CENI chairman Daniel Mulundaongo, 11 candidates will be running for president while a whopping 18,500 candidates will be contesting for the 500 legislative seats.
Liberia: Opposition to boycott run-off
Liberia's main opposition party says it is boycotting the November presidential election run-off unless a set of demands are addressed. George Solo, deputy campaign manager for the Congress for Democratic Change, said that the party is demanding that the head of the electoral body be changed. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the incumbent president, will face Winston Tubman in the 8 November run-off.
Malawi: ICC gives Malawi ultimatum over Bashir
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has demanded an explanation from Malawi on why it failed to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country. Malawi has been given up to 11 November 2011 to clarify why it failed to act on the court’s request when the indicted leader visited the country for the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) summit. The Registrar of the court had sent a letter to the Malawi Embassy in Brussels on 13 October, 2011 asking for its cooperation for the arrest and surrender of President Bashir in the event that the latter entered the southern African nation’s territory. The note was not answered.
South Africa: Recognising community voice and dissatisfaction
This publication is the result of a collective process of reflection on the meaning and implications of
community protests for local governance by the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN). The contributions 'seek to critically enhance government and civil society’s understanding of the importance of recognising community voice and dissatisfaction as a legitimate alternative to pre-defined and state-sanctioned modalities of public participation. The underlying concern is with the technicist, procedural and instrumentalist approach that has (by and large) come to underpin public participation in South Africa. The plea, therefore, is for more dynamic, more meaningful and more varied modes of participation to be nurtured.'
South Africa: When the alliance squabbles, SA's poor suffer
Numsa on Sunday cautioned against 'factional defences' by some leaders within the ANC-led tripartite alliance, at the expense of the poor. In a statement issued after its two-day national executive committee, Numsa said it was concerned with the reaction of working class formations - South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - in relation to the ANC Youth League's economic freedom march held this week. Earlier this week, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande urged members of the ANC Youth League not to participate 'any march that will not make a difference' in their lives.
South Africa: Zuma applauded for axing ministers
Political parties have welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s decision to axe Cabinet members Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Sicelo Shiceka. Zuma announced in Pretoria that Mahlangu-Nkabinde would be replaced as public works minister, and Shiceka as traditional affairs and co-operative governance minister. Zuma's government had been beset by controversy for several months. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had urged Zuma to take strong action against those involved in leases for police office space, as well as Shiceka for his abuse of public money.
Tunisia: Town calm following curfew
Calm has returned to the town of Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the Tunisian revolution, after an overnight curfew was imposed because of violent post-election protests, police said. The curfew - in effect from 7:00pm on Friday until 5:00am on Saturday - was imposed after hundreds of people marched on the Sidi Bouzid headquarters of the Ennahdha party. The crowd burned tyres and pelted security forces with stones following the announcement that Ennahdha had won last Sunday's national elections.
East Africa: Burundi most corrupt country, says corruption index
Burundi has retained the top position as the most bribery prone country in East Africa, according to the East African Bribery Index 2011. Burundi has a bribery prevalence level of 37.9 per cent up from 36.7 per cent in 2010, while Uganda and Tanzania have been ranked second and third at 33.9 per cent and 31.6 per cent respectively, both up from 33 per cent and 28.6 per cent in 2010.
Equatorial Guinea: US seeks $70m from African official
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, a government minister in the West African county, used his position to siphon millions of dollars for his own personal use, authorities said in two civil forfeiture complaints filed in US District Court in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The complaints say Mangue's assets can be forfeited because he engaged in misappropriation and theft of public funds for his benefit. The US government is seeking to recover $70 million in stolen funds from Nguema.
Africa: What does Gaddafi's death mean for Africa?
An AU expert with the South African Institute for International Affairs, Kathryn Sturman, says Col Gaddafi's death will have a profound effect on the AU. 'It's the end of an era for the AU. Libya was one of the big five [along with South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria] financial contributors of the organisation. It paid 15% [of its budget], and also the membership fees of countries in arrears, like Malawi,' Ms Sturman said.
Africa: Why new World Bank lending plan is bad
It's couched in 60 pages of near-incomprehensible economic-speak, but a radical World Bank plan to set up a new way to lend money to developing countries is being called a potential disaster for indigenous peoples, the environment and human rights, reports the London Guardian. The proposal, called A New Instrument to Advance Development Effectiveness: Programme-for-Results Lending (P4R), would lend money according to results achieved by projects.
Egypt: Drop dictator debt, activists say
Egypt has a budget deficit of nearly 10 per cent of GDP and the finance minister recently said that the country is on the brink of a liquidity crisis. Meanwhile, economic growth has slowed since the uprising, decreasing government revenues, while public sector workers around the country are striking to raise wages that have been stagnant for decades. Egypt is in a tight fiscal spot. But a group of Egyptian and international activists have a solution that would take pressure off the budget and at the same time undue the economic legacy of Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt regime. The Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debt, a coalition of civil society groups and concerned individuals, are calling for a comprehensive public debt audit with the eventual aim of debt forgiveness from foreign lenders.
Global: 'They’ve been bailing like hell and they’re failing'
In this video, John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author of 'The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences' discusses the causes of the current global financial crisis. 'You’ve all heard of the 700 billion bailouts…but the US government has so far committed over five trillion dollars to directly bailing out or providing a backstop to financial operations…you’ve probably only heard of the 700 billion…they’ve been bailing like hell and they’re failing…every part of the world is now in state of economic crisis.'
Global: From Egypt to Wall Street
This video on the rabble.ca website is about the moving visit of members of the Egyptian Revolution to Occupy Wall Street. It features Asmaa Mahfouz - the girl who helped spark the Egyptian Revolution through her famous youtube video, which went viral. The video clip is part of an upcoming feature documentary, 'Occupy Love'. http://www.occupylove.org
Global: Reporting the seven million mark
With 31 October marking the point at which the global population reaches a staggering seven billion, this National Geographic page collects a year's worth of reporting looking at all aspects of population growth - demographics, food security, climate change, fertility trends, managing biodiversity.
Global: Research reveals the companies that control the world
The idea that the few dominate the many will not come as news to those gathered either to occupy Wall Street or to occupy everywhere. But up until now it has been just an intuition that a few corporations control the world. Not any more. A team of Swiss mathematicians just proved that out of over 43,000 transnational corporations (TNCs), relatively few control almost 80 per cent of the global economy. Find out who has the power by clicking on the link to this www.truth-out.org article.
Global: The global debt clock
This debt map from The Economist shows the global level of public debt, broken down by country, percentage of GDP, public debt per person and annual debt percentage change. With public debt being at the centre of the financial crisis in Europe, the map offers a fascinating insight into the levels of public debt in some countries.
Côte d’Ivoire: Mental health gaps as conflict's horror lingers
Amid the still-visible damage from election unrest in Côte d’Ivoire’s main city Abidjan is another less tangible but very real form of destruction - psychological trauma. It is difficult to say how many people need mental health care after the recent unrest, according to health experts in Côte d’Ivoire; the health ministry says it has no such figures. But health workers and residents told IRIN people seeking help with conflict-related trauma have few places to turn.
Ghana: Breast cancer prevention stymied by stigma
Health officials in Ghana say breast cancer is a growing problem compounded by untrained medical practitioners, a lack of equipment, and unhealthy, sometimes fatal, cultural beliefs. Historically, breast cancer has received scant attention in this West African country. International donors and institutions have been focused on communicable diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. Despite the fact that, according to Ghana Health Services (GHS), non-communicable diseases are the leading causes of death.
Global: Times for zero death from tuberculosis, says Lancet
Tuberculosis is the main killer of people with HIV infection; drug-resistant strains continue to spread; and paediatric tuberculosis remains an area of neglect. In the past decade, the number of new cases of tuberculosis worldwide has barely declined, and the number of deaths remains catastrophic: more than 4,500 per day for this largely treatable disease. As a Lancet editorial has pointed out, 'A status quo in tuberculosis control is unacceptable.'
Madagascar: UN denies polio outbreak
The UN children's fund has denied that there has been a polio outbreak in the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. It said that its office in Madagascar had issued a statement last week that led to the mistaken belief there had been an outbreak of wild poliovirus. In fact the last such case was detected on the island in 1997, Unicef said.
Rwanda: Parents, teachers divided over condom initiative
A proposed initiative to distribute condoms to Rwandan secondary school students has divided parents, teachers and other members of society, with some cheering the plan and others concerned that teens are not mature enough to use condoms responsibly. Local NGOs, including Health Development Initiative (HDI-Rwanda), Rwanda NGOs Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion, and Association Ihorere Munyarwanda are fronting the initiative on the grounds that young people must be protected from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.
Uganda: Mothers-to-be most at risk from inadequate health budget
The shortage of health workers in Uganda is a 'crisis', says the Minister of Health, and activists say expectant mothers are bearing the brunt of the country's staffing deficiency. Just 56 per cent of Uganda's available health positions are filled. Parliament's recent refusal to reallocate part of the country's budget to hire more doctors, nurses and midwives has now become a rallying point for Uganda's maternal health advocates.
Global: Countries struggling to meet rising demand for secondary education
The global demand for secondary education has risen exponentially, says a new United Nations report, which adds that governments, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are having a hard time keeping up and many children are being left out. The 2011 Global Education Digest by the Institute for Statistics of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), says there are only enough seats for 36 per cent of children who want to enrol in secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa.
Malawi: University lecturers discuss Mutharika guarantee on academic freedom
Lecturers at Chancellor College, the main constituent college of the University of Malawi, were meeting Tuesday to decide whether the directive and assurances given by President Bingu wa Mutharika met their conditions in the eight-month academic freedom stand-off. In a surprise statement by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Mutharika said he was guaranteeing academic freedom within the conditions of service of the lecturers and ordered that four lecturers that were sacked at the peak of the wrangle be reinstated without any conditions.
Zimbabwe: Chinamasa attacks Tsvangirai on gay rights
Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has rejected calls by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to enshrine gay rights in a new constitution. Chinamasa told the BBC that gay rights could not be 'smuggled' into the constitution because most Zimbabweans opposed it. Earlier, Tsvangirai told the BBC that gay rights were a 'human right' that should be respected.
Africa: Access to energy and climate change
The briefing from the Arid Lands Information Network discusses how climate change is complicating the energy situation in many parts of Africa. For example, changing rainfall patterns have led to droughts, affecting hydropower generation in many countries. Countries need energy to increase economic production, which improves livelihood options for women and men. Energy is also needed to increase agricultural productivity, provide clean water and improve human health, and energy enables girls and boys to go to school.
Africa: Which nations, cities most at risk from climate change?
A third of humanity, mostly in Africa and South Asia, face the biggest risks from climate change but rich nations in northern Europe will be least exposed, according to a new report. Bangladesh, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are among 30 countries with 'extreme' exposure to climate shift, according to a ranking of 193 nations by Maplecroft, a British firm specialising in risk analysis. Of 30 nations identified in the new report as at 'extreme' risk from climate change, two-thirds are in Africa and all are developing countries.
Global: Biotech group bids to recruit high-profile GM 'ambassadors'
Europe's largest and most influential biotech industry group, whose members include Monsanto, Bayer and other GM companies, is recruiting high-profile 'ambassadors' to lobby European leaders on GM policy. Green MP Caroline Lucas said: 'This brazen attempt by EuropaBio to recruit covert "ambassadors" to "change the debate" on GM is yet further proof that the powerful GM lobby will stop at nothing to push its hugely unpopular and unnecessary products onto European citizens. We need far stronger regulation on corporate lobbyists across the EU to prevent this kind of insidious behind-the-scenes manoeuvring from seriously undermining our democratic system.'
Nigeria: Green revolution hopes pinned on cassava
Nigeria's drive to boost the quality and processing of cassava, launched two months ago as part of a larger plan to turn the country into a powerhouse for food production, now has a leading cassava scientist at its helm. But the approach to agriculture being adopted by Nigeria has been criticised by a board member of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for failing to acknowledge the needs and capabilities of peasant farmers. John Pickett, an IITA board member and a researcher at the UK-based agricultural research centre Rothamsted Research, was concerned that industrialising Nigeria's agriculture could have 'disastrous' consequences for its farmers. 'By and large it is just about making money out of industrial agriculture. I am not in any way convinced that the green revolution has much to offer the large majority of farmers in Africa.'
Africa: 'Agriculture: the centre link of sustainable development trinity'
Africa Farmers Statement On Rio+20
'Farmers represent 1/3 of the world’s population, 1/2 of its poor, and over 800 million of the hungry. As the planet’s primary ecosystem managers, farmers are best placed to ensure sustainable development and contribute to a green economy. However, there is a concern that today’s agricultural policy and governance fall short of contributing to sustained food security, eradicating poverty and catalyzing sustainable rural development. Yet African countries are primarily agricultural economies with 70% of the population engaged in agriculture.'
Africa: Are foreign investors colonising Africa?
Indian, Chinese and US companies are among many inking land-investment deals in Africa, including Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan, Mali, and Mozambique. According to a study by the US- based Oakland Institute, foreign investors bought or leased a land area in sub-Saharan Africa about the size of France in 2009 alone. On this episode of Al Jazeera's The Stream, a discussion takes place between
Indian author and media commentator Anand Giridharadas, the Oakland Institute’s Executive Director, Anuradha Mittal and Christine L. Adamow, Managing Director of Africa BioFuel, a US company invested in farmland in Kenya and Tanzania.
Namibia: Elite land grabbing and its impact on subsistence farmers
In this brief, researcher William Odendaal of the Land, Environment and Development Project at the Namibian Legal Assistance Centre, examines some emerging trends and dynamics in changing power relations in rural Namibian communities due to emerging new elites and the threats to subsistence farmers’ access to communal land and natural resources. 'Land enclosures mean that powerful individuals have appropriated communal land for personal use at the expense of many communal farmers who do not have sufficient access to grazing land.'
Tanzania: Land-related conflicts on the increase
Land-related conflicts are increasing in Tanzania where more than 12,600 such cases are recorded every year, if the last twelve months' figures are anything to write home about. Mr Godfrey Eliseus Massay, an official with the Land Rights, Research and Resources Institute (HAKI-ARDHI), has revealed that such land cases that were reported between mid- last year and June 2011 had reached 12,643.
Malawi: Agriculture running on the smell of an oil rag
Malawi's fertiliser subsidy scheme, credited for transforming famine-prone Malawi into an exporter of maize, is in danger. The executive director of the Malawi Economic Justice Network, Dalitso Kubalasa, explained the government's woes in précis.'Fuel and fertiliser are scarce because the suppliers can't get the forex needed to pay for the stuff. There's no forex in Malawi's banks because Malawi has allowed itself to become dependent on a single forex earner, tobacco, and the tobacco price slumped last year. The freeze in Western aid tied Malawi's other hand, as it were,' he said.
Eritrea: Golden Pen award for Dawit Isaak
'It is unknown if he is still alive.'
This year, 44 journalists have already been murdered, says the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), which launched a review of press freedom around the world during World Newspaper Week, held from 10 to 15 October in Vienna, Austria. During the events, which included its Congress and World Editors Forum, WAN-IFRA presented the Golden PEN of Freedom to Dawit Isaak, jailed in Eritrea since 2001. The Golden Pen of Press Freedom 2011 was accepted by Esayas Isaak on behalf of his brother, who has not been heard from since 2005. The Golden Pen of Press Freedom 2011 was accepted by Esayas Isaak on behalf of his brother.
Gambia: Justice minister confronted over missing journalist
The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) has challenged the Gambian Government to speak out on the whereabouts of journalist Ebrima Manneh. FAJ President Omar Faruk Osman and his Vice-President Foster Dongozi took Gambia’s Justice minister Edward Gomez to task over his government’s silence regarding the whereabouts of the journalist who disappeared in 2006. In an interview on 10 October with The Daily News, a Gambian newspaper, Mr Gomez had said the missing journalist was alive, without disclosing where he was.
Global: Free flow of information online vital for all
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, has urged governments to guarantee the free flow of information on the Internet, and to ensure that the Internet is made widely available, accessible and affordable to all. 'Governments are using increasingly sophisticated technologies and tactics which are often hidden from the public to censor online content and to monitor and identify individuals who disseminate critical or sensitive information, which frequently lead to arbitrary arrests and detention,' said La Rue, presenting his annual report to the UN General Assembly. In his report, La Rue explores how the framework of international human rights law remains relevant in determining what kinds of information can be restricted on the Internet and how such restrictions should be formulated and implemented.
Libya: Killing Gaddafi
This article from Media Lens looks at the mainstream media coverage of Gaddafi's killing. 'We suspect that most journalists are not actually unfeeling brutes. They are conformists wary of the high price they can be made to pay for even the suspicion that they might be "apologists" for an official enemy,' says the article in response to many of the crass headlines that have been seen in some newspapers.
Nigeria: TV journalist shot dead
Reporters Without Borders has called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the fatal shooting of Zakariya Isa, a reporter and cameraman for the state-owned Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, on 22 October. His murder has been claimed by Boko Haram, an armed Islamist movement operating in northern Nigeria.
Zimbabwe: Info laws to stay
The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa on 12 October 2011 said the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act will not be amended. In his concluding remarks in Geneva, Switzerland, on the occasion of the adoption of Zimbabwe's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report by the working group of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Chinamasa defended the two laws saying they were there to stay.
Botswana: WikiLeaks cables detail plans for US base
The Botswana government gave the United States the green light to explore the possibility of establishing an Africa Command (Africom) base in the country when the issue was raised four years ago, American diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show. The revelations could provide ammunition for the ANC Youth League in the disciplinary hearing by the ANC of league leader Julius Malema and other league officials. Malema has been charged in connection with his call for regime change in Botswana. He also described President Ian Khama as an imperialist puppet, in part in connection with claims that Botswana was talking to the US about an Africom base.
Chad: The case of Chad without Qaddafi
Qaddafi’s shadow will continue to be felt in Libya and neighbouring countries, especially Chad, says this briefing from the International Crisis Group. 'The upheavals that preceded and followed his fall have created new and potential problems, including massive displacement of populations; tribal tensions within Libya and racist attacks against nationals of sub-Saharan countries; a possible resurgence of Islamism; and the proliferation of fighters and weapons. It is too early to say whether the changes will evolve into medium- and long-term factors of instability in the region, notably in the Sahel and Darfur.'
Ethiopia: US launches drones
The White House has confirmed that the US military has unmanned drone aircraft in Ethiopia but says no strike missions are being launched from the east African country. The White House confirmed the drone flights out of an airfield in the city of Arba Minch after the Washington Post newspaper first reported the operation. The Post, citing unnamed officials, reported that the MQ-9 Reaper drones flying out of Arba Minch were armed, but the US government on Friday denied that they were.
Libya: Cycle of revenge hangs over fragile peace
Libya is plunging into a cycle of tribal violence and retribution which, if left unchecked, could undermine the authority of its new leaders, spur new forms of insurgency and throw the country back into chaos, says this Reuters article. More than a week after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, anger is on the boil again with what many Libyans see as the inability of the interim government to rein in its brigades and stop a wave of revenge attacks. The cycle of retribution appears already to have started. The town of al Jemel, a scattering of sandy homes in the palm-studded desert southwest of Tripoli, is one example. Residents said brigades from faraway Misrata had appeared at their doorstep a week ago, breaking into people's homes and looking for Gaddafi loyalists.
Somalia: Al-Shabaab says it killed 80 AU troops in blast
Two Al-Shabaab suicide bombers blew themselves up yesterday at an Amisom base in Mogadishu and conflicting accounts indicate anywhere between three and 80 Ugandan soldiers were killed. Late on Saturday, the militant group, which withdrew from the Somali capital in August, leaving a queasy security situation, claimed in a press statement that 'the Mujahideen stormed an Amisom compound, killing 80 Ugandan soldiers'. Uganda army Commander, Lt Gen Katumba Wamala, last night confirmed that a lunch-hour suicide attack on AU troops took place but but said only three soldiers perished and two were seriously injured.
Somalia: Kenya gets support of SA, Rwanda on Somalia action
Kenya has received the support of Rwanda and South Africa for its action in Somalia during separate meetings here between President Mwai Kibaki and Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. The three leaders, who met in Perth, were in the capital of Western Australia to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) held from Friday to Sunday. President Kibaki briefed his two fellow African leaders on the security situation in war-torn Somalia. President Kibaki also appraised the two leaders on the joint military operation that Kenya and the Transition Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia were undertaking to neutralize the insurgents of the Al-Shaabab militia inside Somalia.
Somalia: Kenyan air raid 'kills civilians'
A Kenyan air strike on a camp packed with displaced women and children killed at least three and wounded scores in southern Somalia, witnesses and an aid group said. The Kenyan army denied killing civilians and said that its strike on Sunday had taken out 10 fighters from the Islamist group Shebab, the main target of its two-week-old military operation in Somalia. Medecins Sans Frontieres said at least three were killed in the air raid on the camp with some 9,000 internally-displaced people and witnesses spoke of up to five victims following a strike residents said was conducted by a Kenyan warplane on the city of Jilib.
Sudan: Sudan armed Libyan rebels, says President Bashir
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says his country gave military support to the Libyan rebels who overthrew Col Muammar Gaddafi. In a speech broadcast live on state television, Mr Bashir said the move was in response to Col Gaddafi's support for Sudanese rebels three years ago. President Bashir said the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfuri rebel group, had attacked Khartoum three years ago using Libyan trucks, equipment, arms, ammunition and money.
Western Sahara: Algeria remains committed to referendum
'Algeria will remain committed to the principle of supporting the inalienable right of Sahrawi people to self-determination,' said Kamel Rezzag-Bara, founder member of the Algerian National Committee of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (CNASPS). 'Algeria will continue to supporting the fundamental right of the Saharawi people to self-determination through free, just and fair referendum,' Mr. Bara told Algeria Press Agency (APS) on the sidelines of the 2nd international conference on the peoples’ right to resistance: case of the Saharawi .
Zambia: We are so sorry, Sata tells Angola
In an extraordinary move, President Michael Sata has apologised to the government of Angola for what he said was Zambia's 'treachery' through its support of the rebel Unita movement of Dr Jonas Savimbi during the Angolan civil war. The apology came as Sata received the credentials of the new Angolan ambassador last week and was the first time Zambia had admitted to its part in the Angolan civil war. Subsequently, Sata sent Zambia's first president, Kenneth Kaunda, to deliver the apology in Luanda.
Africa: Making sense of mobile apps for Africa
This report by Balancing Act analyses the nascent apps ecosystem in Africa while providing an analytical framework allowing African mobile operators or other stakeholders to decide on what strategy to adopt regarding mobile apps.
Angola: Angola Monitor Issue 4/11
The Angola Monitor covers the politics, economics, development, democracy and human rights of Angola. It is published quarterly by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA). The latest issue covers the deportation of southern Africa civil society leaders, Angola’s hosting of the SADC Summit, rumours about whether President dos Santos will stand down before elections in 2012, objections to the proposed changes to electoral law, discussions with the DRC over oil, the sale of properties at Cidade do Kilamba, recent protests and the authorities response, the halting of evictions in Lubango, the conviction of a newspaper editor for libel and the recent floods in southern Angola.
Global: Funding policy changes push non-profits into business field
In the context of the South African government's relationship with non-profits, the author of this article writes that there is growing pressure on non-profits to operate more like businesses and generate ‘earned’ income. This is being felt worldwide as governments make massive spending cuts and philanthropic giving falls in the face of global recession. 'The problem with the income-generation imperative, however, is that NPOs are established to deliver services that do not generate income. They are inherently unsuited to business as they have social development priorities that limit profitability.'
Global: Gmedia centre, human rights and democracy
Gmedia Center is a Geneva based initiative whose overall objective is to empower media to further civil society goals on human rights and democracy. Gmedia Center will facilitate the necessary interaction between international actors and the media to enhance journalists’ capabilities in human rights reporting and maintain these connections through a global web community dedicated to furthering civil society goals.
Global: Rabble.ca occupy web page
This rabble.ca page contains the latest news on the global Occupy Movement. 'From Wall Street to Bay Street, and hundreds of cities and towns around the world, a movement is underway to reclaim the commons and to challenge corporate power.'
Global: Small grant competition call for applications
Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI)
LDPI is launching a Small Grants Competition Part 2: 2011-12. Grants of up to US$3000 per study are available to successful applicants who wish to undertake original field research, carry out follow up fieldwork on an ongoing related initiative, or write up a paper based on research that is being/has been undertaken on any of the following themes (or combinations).
LDPI Small grant competition Part 2 – 2011-12: Call for applications
A convergence of factors has been driving a revaluation of land by powerful economic and political actors. This is occurring across the world, but especially in the global South. As a result, we are seeing a dramatic rise in the extent of cross-border, transnational corporation-driven and, in some cases foreign government-driven, large-scale land deals unfolding worldwide. The phrase ‘global land grab’ has become a catch-all phrase to describe this explosion of (trans)national commercial land transactions revolving around the production and sale of food and biofuels, conservation and mining activities.
In-depth and systematic enquiry has become urgent and necessary in order to have deeper, meaningful and productive debates around this issue. This is the reason why the Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) has been launched and had sponsored last year a small grant competition. The latter was a huge success: we were able to fund 40 small grants. Many of these papers were later presented at the LDPI-organized international conference on global land grabbing held at IDS, Sussex in April 2011. The April 2011 was a major success, with 120 papers presented. Many of these papers have subsequently contributed inputs to various policy initiatives such as the UN Committee on Food Security (CFS) related studies and deliberations.
Several of the papers from the first round of small grant competition and the Sussex conference have been selected as contributions to three forthcoming journal special issues on land grabs: ‘Green Grabs: a new way of appropriating nature?’ guest edited by James Fairhead, Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones for release in March 2012, ‘The politics of global land grabbing’ guest edited by Ruth Hall, Ben White and Wendy Wolford for release in May 2012 – both in the Journal of Peasant
Studies (JPS), and ‘Governing land grabs’, guest edited by J. Borras, R. Hall, I. Scoones, B. White and W. Wolford for release in July 2012 in Development and Change. In early 2011, JPS released the 3-article Forum on Global Land grabbing with contributions from Klaus Deininger, Olivier de Schutter and Tania Li.
We want to continue building on this emerging body of literature on critical perspectives on global land grabbing. This is one of the reasons for the second round of small grant competitions 2011-12; this is the reason why we are holding an ‘LDPI conference on global land grabbing Part 2’ in October 2012 in Cornell University in New York. Further information about the latter will be released soon via: www.iss.nl/ldpi
LDPI is an ‘engaged research’ initiative, taking the side of the rural poor, but based on solid evidence and detailed, field-based research. In the LDPI we will aim for a broad framework encompassing the political economy, political ecology and political sociology of land deals centred on food, biofuels, minerals and conservation. Working within the broad analytical lenses of these three fields, we will use as a general framework the four key questions in agrarian political economy: (i) who owns what? (ii) who does what? (iii) who gets what? and (iv) what do they do with the surplus wealth that has been created? We will add two additional key questions, highlighting
political dynamics between groups and social classes: ‘what do they do to each other?’, and ‘how do changes in politics get shaped by dynamic ecologies, and vice versa?’ We will ask a range of big picture questions through detailed in-depth case studies in a number of sites globally, focusing on the politics of land deals.
Encouraged by the success of last year’s LDPI small grant competition, and confronted by the challenge of having a deeper understanding of the dynamics of land grabbing, LDPI is launching a Small Grants Competition Part 2: 2011-12. Grants of up to US$3000 per study are available to successful applicants who wish to undertake original field research, carry out follow up fieldwork on an ongoing related initiative, or write up a paper based on research that is being/has been undertaken on any of the following themes (or combinations).
For the 2011-12 small grants competition, we are particularly keen on themes around resistance and alternatives (see the first two sets of questions below) – although we remain open to broader topics around political economy, political ecology and political sociology:
· What are some of the relevant emerging alternatives from key actors? Are some of the traditional policies such as land reform, and some of the more recent alternative visions such as ‘food sovereignty’ (and ‘land sovereignty’) relevant and useful in protecting and promoting the interest of the rural poor in the midst of these (trans)national commercial land deals?
· What is the range of reactions from local communities to these investments? To what extent have agrarian political struggles been provoked by the new land investment dynamics? What are the issues that unite or divide the rural poor, organized movements, and rural communities around the issue of land deals?
· What changes in broad agrarian structures are emerging? Are these new forms of agrarian capitalism or repeats of the past?
· What is the nature and extent of rural social differentiation – in terms of class, gender, ethnicity – following changes in land use and land property relations as well as organizations of production and exchange?
· Have land deals undermined local level and national food security? How and to what extent? What have been the socially differentiated impacts on livelihoods by class, gender and ethnicity?
· What are the various competing policy and political narratives and discourses around the multiple crises of food, energy, climate and finance, and how have these shaped and been reshaped by the land deal politics? How and to what extent has (trans)national finance speculation played a role in land deals in the context of the convergence of food, fuels, climate and finance crises? What
narratives exist around ‘investment, growth and modernization’ versus ‘marginalization, displacement and impoverishment’, and so on?
· How have competing frameworks and views on land property been deployed by various camps around the contested meanings of ‘marginal lands’ (or, idle’, ‘waste’, ‘unoccupied’ lands)?
· What are the emerging trends around dynamics of power, elites and corruption; land as a source of patronage? How can we make sense of the politics of land deals in different contexts?
· Have development-induced displacement and dispossession occurred? How and to what extent and with what immediate and long-term outcomes and implications for rural livelihoods, including new rural refugees or internally displaced peoples (IDPs)?
· Have global land policies of different overseas development agencies (World Bank, FAO, EU, IFAD, and so on)contributed to facilitating/encouraging or blocking/discouraging land deals? What are the limitations of ‘code of conduct’, certification, regulation, information dissemination, and capacity-building strategies?
· What are the dynamics of international politics of land grabs in the broader context of energy, mining, forestry and conservation; and the role of big capital and powerful interests?
The research must be original, policy-relevant and based on detailed, case-specific field study. General review papers will not be accepted. Final papers will be around 10,000 words long, and guidelines for their production will be issued to successful grant holders. The final papers will become part of an international series (the LDPI working paper series) that will be published on the internet and widely disseminated among regional and international research institutions, donor community, policy maker’s circles, NGOs, and agrarian movements – with the possibility of more formal academic publication, either in an edited volume or a special issue of a journal.
To be eligible:
· The applicant must a doctoral or post-doctoral (graduating within the last five years) researcher
· Non-doctoral/non-postdoctoral researchers may apply but will have a different requirement – see further below.
· The research must be based on recent (over the last 5 years), field-based, site-specific research
Short proposals (500 words maximum) for the research/paper must be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 December 2011, together with a short CV (maximum one page, including the name of one referee). For non-doctoral/non-postdoctoral applicant, a longer
proposal is required, at 1,500 words, together with the names of two referees. A review committee, drawn from the sponsoring institutions, will award small grants in January 2012. Successful applicants will have until 31 July 2012 to complete a paper. All papers will be peer-reviewed and final versions will be submitted before 30 September 2012. Papers will be published (electronic format only) in the LDPI working paper series. Some papers might be selected for presentation at the LDPI Conference in October 2012 in Cornell University. Details about this conference will be released soon.
The ‘Land Deal Politics Initiative’ (LDPI) is initially a joint effort of Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS) and the Resource, Environment and Livelihoods (RELIVE) Research Cluster at the
International Institute of Social Studies (Saturnino ‘Jun’ Borras Jr. – the LDPI international secretariat, and Ben White), the Future Agricultures Consortium at the Institute for Development Studies
(IDS), University of Sussex (Ian Scoones), PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape (Ruth Hall), and the Polson Institute for Global Development at Cornell University (Wendy Wolford).
More on the LDPI can be found at the LDPI website: www.iss.nl/ldpi
For additional information, you may contact one of the workshop organizers:
· Saturnino (‘Jun’) Borras Jr., email@example.com
· Ruth Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Ian Scoones, email@example.com
· Ben White, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Wolford, email@example.com
South Africa: General grant proposal call – research projects
South African Foreign Policy Initiative (SAFPI)
A public call for proposals is underway to encourage individuals and organisations to apply for grants that provide innovative and critical analysis of South Africa’s foreign policy behaviour and impact. OSF-SA wishes to award grants to suitably qualified organisations and individuals that undertake empirically focused research projects on South Africa’s global role as it relates to the following issues:
- Deliberating South Africa’s 2nd year on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
- Understanding South Africa’s Role in Development Cooperation and the Implementation of
the Development Partnership Agency
- South Africa’s identity in IBSA and BRICS
- Comparing South Africa’s corporate footprint in Africa with BRIC partners:
Complementarities and Competition
- South Africa’s Foreign Policy after 2014: Continuity and/or Change?
Uganda: Report on NGO sustainability in Uganda
NGOs in Uganda continue to heavily depend on donations from foreign sources, says this report on NGO sustainability on the website of the Uganda National NGO Forum. 'Grants and donations to NGOs are still the primary source of income to at least 90% of NGOs. In 2010, there was a reduction in foreign grants inflow in Uganda owing to the global economic downturn and financial crisis and changes in development policies in previously major funding countries like Netherlands. Some traditionally financially sound NGOs were forced to scale-down significantly due to funding cuts.'
University of Oxford: Part-time Masters in International Human Rights Law
Admissions open for five scholarships for candidates from African Commonwealth countries
The Department for Continuing Education and the Faculty of Law at Oxford University are very pleased to announce that admissions are now open for five scholarships for candidates from African Commonwealth countries to study for the part-time Masters in International Human Rights Law at the
University of Oxford, starting September 2012. The course website can be found at http://humanrightslaw.conted.ox.ac.uk/MStIHRL/index.php and details about the scholarships, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, can be found on the Fees and Funding pages at http://bit.ly/ugKcPf
Global: False climate solutions exposed
Preparations for the Rio+20 meeting that could decide whether humans survive or not are hotting up. 1 November 2011 is the deadline for official contributions to its Zero Draft document but over the next seven months decision-makers and campaigners will need all the facts they can lay their hands on. 'Earth Grab - Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes' - essential, cutting-edge climate science in everyday language - is published this week (27 October 2011). The authors reveal information that the large corporations who profit from climate change do not want the public to know.
False climate solutions exposed
Preparations for the Rio+20 meeting that could decide whether humans survive or not are hotting up. 1 November 2011 is the deadline for official contributions to its Zero Draft document but over the next seven months decision-makers and campaigners will need all the facts they can lay their hands on.
'Earth Grab - Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes' - essential, cutting-edge climate science in everyday language - is published this week (27 October 2011). The authors reveal information that the large corporations who profit from climate change do not want the public to know.
'Earth Grab' analyses how Northern governments and corporations are cynically using concerns about the ecological and climate crisis to propose geoengineering 'quick fixes'. These threaten to wreak havoc on ecosystems, with disastrous impacts on the people of the global South. As calls for a 'greener' economy mount and oil prices escalate, corporations are seeking to switch from oil-based to plant-based energy.
The authors expose some truths behind the exploitation of biomass, which is far from the solution to environmental problems that many have claimed it to be. A biomass economy based on using gene technologies to reprogramme living organisms to behave as microbial factories will facilitate the liquidation of ecosystems. This constitutes a devastating assault of the peoples and cultures of the South, accelerating the wave of land grabs that are becoming common in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The book shows how the worlds largest agribusiness companies are pouring billions of dollars into, and claiming patents on, what are claimed to be 'climate-ready crops'. Far from helping farmers adjust to a warming world – something peasant farmers already know how to manage – these crops will allow industrial agriculture to expand plantation monocultures into lands currently cultivated by poor peasant farmers. They are not a solution to growing hunger, they will feed only the corporate shareholders' profits.
Eminent environmentalist Vandana Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, writes in her foreword that this research 'pulls back the curtain on disturbing technological and corporate trends that are already reshaping our world and that will become crucial battlegrounds for civil society in the years ahead'.
The book has already captured the attention of writer Naomi Klein, who writes that this 'crucial book reveals ... Indispensable research for those with their eyes wide open'. Campaigner George Monbiot adds that its exploration of 'three crucial issues which will come to dominate environmental and human rights debates in the coming years make it an essential resource for anyone trying to keep up with the times'.
'Earth Grab - Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes' is written by ETC Group, renowned for its research into biotechnologies, plant genetics and biological diversity, and for its analysis of the consequences of new technolgies for corporations and humans.
Published by Pambazuka Press, it is available from www.pambazukapress.org and all good bookshops.
Global: Hungry in the city
'Hungry in the City' is a collection of stories from people in developing countries around the world who explain how they are surviving in an era of higher food prices, inflation and hunger. These case studies are offered for use alongside articles on food price hikes, inflation, urban living and hunger.
Global: The Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation
The Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation is a comprehensive and cumulative website resource that provides continually updated cutting-edge knowledge, experience and lessons learned for those working in the field of transforming violent ethnopolitical conflict.
South Africa: The City as Newspaper
On 19 October, Chimurenga - a pan African literary & political magazine - released 'The Chronic', a once-off edition of an imaginary newspaper for the week of 18-24 May 2008, a time when xenophobic violence tore through South Africa. According to Chimurenga founding editor Ntone Edjabe, the newspaper issue seeks to 'travel back in time to stage an intervention in the past so as to reimagine the present'.
Campaigner – Central Africa
Amnesty International (AI)
About the role
We’re looking for a Campaigner to contribute to our campaign against human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Working at the International Secretariat, you will contribute to a range of projects, including our campaign for the protection of civilians involved in armed conflict. You will act as a focal point, providing advice and support to our worldwide membership, including devising campaigning strategies, preparing written and other campaigning materials and providing research support.
You will have excellent communication, campaigning and research skills and a demonstrable commitment to human rights. Ideally you will also have specialist knowledge of the DRC and experience of campaigning in a membership organization. While there is no line management responsibility, you will participate in coordinating the work of the team. Fluency in French and English is essential.
Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, fairness, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of almost three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.
For further information about this and our other current vacancies, and to apply online, please visit our website www.amnesty.org/jobs
Closing date: 9th November 2011
CVs will not be accepted.
Programme Director – Campaigns
Amnesty International (AI)
One year fixed term contract
For 50 years, Amnesty International (AI) has been at the forefront of human rights campaigning. Mobilising millions of people and making our shared views heard on issues as wide-ranging as they are important, our campaigns are worldwide movements. Your challenge will be to pull them all together.
About the role
This vitally important role will see you lead the development and delivery of a variety of diverse global campaigns. Working at a strategic level, you’ll make sure our key messages have the biggest possible impact. That means guaranteeing that our materials engage the right people and that our supporters and staff all speak with one voice. It also means creating campaign opportunities in response to external events and reacting quickly to crisis situations to keep our campaigns in the spotlight. Doing it well across such a broad spectrum takes in-depth impact evaluations, thorough risk assessment and risk management strategies and the expert management of people, budgets and expectations. More than that, it takes coordination and communication on a global scale. It’s not an easy job. But it is rewarding – ultimately, the decisions you make will help put a stop to injustice, inequality and the violation of the most basic freedoms.
Thanks to an impressive history of developing and delivering global campaigns, you’ll have honed your ability to make strategic decisions plus developed your staff, budget and stakeholder management skills. You’ll therefore know how to build relationships, put forward convincing arguments and influence people at every level of an organisation. More than that, you’ll bring us polished and adaptable presentation skills along with a talent for engaging a variety of audiences and media. You’ll also show sound judgement and be confident analysing the political landscape in terms of both short- and long-term campaigning opportunities. And, naturally, we’ll expect you to have an extensive, in-depth understanding of human rights issues.
Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.
For more information and to apply, please visit http://www.ai-isleadership.com
Closing date: 29th November 2011
Research and Campaigns Assistant: East Africa, based in London
Amnesty International (AI)
£30,444 per annum
About the role
We are looking a committed Research and Campaigns Assistant to work as part of the Eastern Africa team in the International Secretariat. The Eastern Africa team covers Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and Sudan. Responsible for managing efficient and effective administrative systems, you will monitor and gather information, be the first point of contact for handling enquiries and ensure that relevant developments in the region are brought to the attention of the right people. You will also assist in the production and distribution of research and campaign materials.
You will need proven administrative skills, specifically maintaining filing and retrieval systems and an ability to deal with large volumes of information including maintaining manual and computerized databases. You will also need to have good general knowledge of Eastern Africa, fluency in written and spoken English and a strong commitment to our aims. You’re an enthusiastic, lively team member, highly organised and comfortable with deadlines and creating strong lines of communication and robust administration systems for a team.
Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, fairness, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of almost three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.
For further information about this and our other current vacancies, and to apply online, please visit our website www.amnesty.org/jobs
Closing date: 13th November 2011.
CVs will not be accepted.
Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice
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