Thursday, December 11, 2008
UN Resolution 1325
In 2000, the UN adopted Resolution 1325, the first comprehensive call for the advancement of female participation in peacekeeping. Despite this, only two percent of current United Nations peacekeepers are women. Of these, only one percent has been placed in managerial and senior staff positions. As a result of this dismal record, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has come in for criticism from policymakers, practitioners, and advocacy groups alike. Involving women at all levels of policymaking and the military will facilitate an end to sexual exploitation, genocide, and many other crimes against humanity.
Since the early 1990s, a rising number of women have been subject to sexual harassment, rape, forced prostitution, and human trafficking as a result of armed conflict. The Beijing Platform for Action, at the 4th Annual Beijing Women’s Conference in 1995, introduced a socio-economic framework addressing violence against women in war torn regions. By bringing to light the reason why women should participate as peacekeepers, this framework formed the basis of the resolution.
In UN Mission to Haiti (1993-1996), the need for greater female representation increased as female uniformed peacekeepers were proven to be beneficial in conflict prevention and peace building. Compared to men, women peacekeepers posed less of a threat, provided a stronger sense of security, and communicated better with the local population, especially with women who were former rape victims. Women were also very useful for frisk searching since the majority in war torn areas are women and children.
Since 2000, the UN Inter-Agency Task Force to implement Resolution 1325 has coordinated an action plan meant to ensure the integration of gender perspectives in military and policy-decisions. Five years in, the number of women in war torn regions as victims continued to increase. Sexual exploitation and abuse cases by male peacekeepers in refugee camps become rampant. At the 2005 Security Council Debate on Women, Peace, and Security, Council President Minhea Loan Motac urged member states to accelerate the implementation of Resolution 1325, to reinforce women’s protection by ending the misconduct of male peacekeepers. Part of this problem is the fact that women are not visibly in peacekeeping policy. UN Deputy Secretary Jean noted that, “ on the ground, is a culture in which the overwhelming male peacekeepers are not trained to be sensitive to gender issues. Since the adoption, women have been marginalized by member states to participate as policymakers. Member states must double their efforts.” One success story can be seen in the UN Mission In Liberia, where women in leadership as policymakers helped to increase political participation in local elections. In 2007, Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf ensured that UN deployed its first all female military police to the country. So far, the presence of women uniformed peacekeepers has helped reduce rap crimes against and encourage more to take part in security reconstruction and join the Liberia National Police.
Despite the growing effort to increase female participation in peacekeeping, the current statistics do not represent significant improvement. For the past eight years, DPKO static’s indicate the tally of women participants remaining extremely low. As of April 2008, women accounted for only a small fraction of military personnel and police personnel combined, and less than one-third of international civilian staff members.
Recruitment and Retention Impediments: Gender Inequality and Discrimination
For the past several years, U.N. member states have continually failed to meet standards with regard to gender balance in the make-up of peacekeeping forces. Many have faulted the DPKO recruitment and retention system. The top contributing nations (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, & Nepal) have an extensive history of socio-economic, gender inequality. Traditional cultural and political values prohibit women from joining U.N. peacekeeping operations. The difficulty in recruitment stands from the traditional belief that women should be isolated from mainstream society, where they lack the opportunity to advance in political, social, educational, and cultural life. Women are taught to be subordinate to men and restricted to their households. For instance, Pakistani women (the second top contributing nation) have reported complaints that they are too isolated from the mainstream society. Cultural and political barriers prevent women from political participation and leadership, which also limits the amount of female applicants.
Gender discrimination is also a major issue for the retention system. For those women that are recruited in the system, the majority are likely to drop out before advancing from entry to mid-level positions. By the end of their duty, women are exhausted from gender discrimination. Many are too intimidated by the prospect of advancing in rank because of societal stigmatization. Few women advance to higher ranks or are appointed into senior staff positions. This year, only seven out of forty-seven women were appointed as Special Representative of Secretary-General Position (SRSG).
Increasing awareness through legislation mandating more recruitment missions is a great approach toward strengthening recruitment and retention. UN supporters and civil service groups must continue pressuring the Security Council to implement effective legislation that will guarantee female recruitment and encourage the Secretary-General to appoint more women to work as SRSGs and Special Advisors.
Funding is also an issue. Member states should provide the DPKO greater funding for recruitment deployments. Recruiters will work closely with local women-based groups to provide outreach programs that will promote more women in peacekeeping. Recruiters should advertise on popular radio and television programs, and highly surfed website pages. Public awareness should target all areas, especially women in rural areas that are at a great disadvantage with regards to access to technology. In rural areas, recruitment missions should provide open seminars in local communities, where they can circulate hard copy online applications.
To retain female employees, DPKO must increase awareness about all of the issues and challenges facing women within the organization as well as how to combat harassment and discrimination. If more women tend not advance after entry and mid level positions, a strong mentorship program will alleviate this trend. A mentorship program would provide the opportunity for women in higher ranks to work closely with lower level participants. Higher-ranking officials will provide effective guidance. Women in leadership positions can be looked upon as role models and can encourage more women to work confidently and with a peace of mind in the United Nations.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Piracy off the coast of Somalia is a growing concern for international trade. For the past couple of months, over 70 ships have been attacked by local Somalian pirates, that have obtain over 150 million dollars in ransom. As of November 2008, Somali pirates hijacked a Saudi Arabia's supertaker right off the the Gulf of Aden. This event truly convinced the world that piracy now threatens global seaborne assets. This week, the NATO alliances, the European Union, and U.S. collectively sent out naval troops to set up blockades.
Somalia's neighboring countries are also aggressively taken action in this matter. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi deployed troops to Somalia. Prime Minister Zenawi stated that the vessel attacks in the Gulf of Aden has dampened the Arab World's security. Ethiopia is willing to send out troops until the end of the year. Hopefully, the United Nations can deploy UN Peacekeeping troops. UN Peacekeeping Troops are perhaps more suitable for this crisis. UN Peacekeeping Troops will be able to peacefully end piracy and provide reconciliation.
The Mumbai Massacre is the most devastating event in India's history. About 160 people were killed and 360 were injured from the massive brutual attacks. Mumbai, the financial capital of India, is now wounded from terrorism. Domestic security and tourism is perhaps the biggest concern, especially for foreigners. Many survivors have reported that the gunmans were actually looking for people that had American and British passports. Deliberately, the gunmans attacked key tourist restaurants and hotels.
It has been only less than a month and the President-Elected Barack Obama is already challenged with global terrorism. President-Elected Barack Obama now has to pay even more attention to global terrorism. Already during the 2008 Thanksgiving Break, the Bush Adminstration is briefing Obama regarding India. Here is a a list of questions that may help for the time being. For instance, is Pakistan or Al-queda responsible for the Mumbai Massacre? What will the US do to soften tensions between India and Pakistan? What is will happen to India's economy during the global crisis? As of now, there are lots of unanswered questions floating around? After January 20, the Obama election will face multiply challenges dealing with international security.
The Obama Administration has a lot of homework. Terrorism in India is now the new issue on the agenda. Following after other important global policy issues such as, Global War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran's and North Korea 's potential nuclear activities, Piracy in Somalia, and Genocide in Sudan will be the remaining global security issues that will fall under Obama's administration umbrella.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
My name is Kambale Musavuli. I am the student coordinator for Congo Week. I want to share with you a very exciting development among students worldwide. It is called "BREAK THE SILENCE CONGO WEEK," October 19 - 25, 2008. But first, I want to share with you a bit about my beautiful home, the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire.
The Congo is a beautiful land of enormous wealth, straddling the Equator, right in the heart of Africa. It is known for its amazing rainforest, the second largest after the Amazon. It is also known for its resources, a gift from the Creator. It has the potential to be the Jewel of Africa with all the blessings it has from the Congo River, which can provide electricity to the whole continent of Africa. Its people are friendly, welcoming, and lovely. The children are just so joyful and always ready to learn. The people have one of the rarest entrepreneurial spirit. The Congolese are also a very resilient people through all the pain and suffering they have endured since the 1600s.
As a student, I see an opportunity for other students to work with the people of the Congo in our quest to regain sovereignty over our land. I see that higher education provides a stage for leaders of tomorrow to learn about my home, and establish a sustainable network that will provide the Congolese with genuine global partnership.
Students all over the world have the opportunity to engage in the most pressing issue of our lifetime. You can learn about the challenge of the Congo, which is both internal and external, and develop creative ways to work with the people of the Congo to resolve the conflict that has caused untold suffering. To achieve this goal, I am appealing to you to work with us to BREAK THE SILENCE around what is happening in my country.
In October 2008, students from the US, Canada, England, Belgium, Germany, France, Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, Korea, Ghana, Mali, South Africa, Columbia, and many other countries will organize events (films, lectures, demonstrations, and more) on their respective campuses dealing with the Congo situation. We are calling it "Break the Silence" Congo Week where we expect at least 100 countries and 1,000 university campuses to participate in a week of activities in solidarity with the students of the Congo.
The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo. The key organizers are students from North Carolina A&T , UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, University of Maryland, Howard University, Bowie University, and Cornell University.
Why the Congo?
As you may know, the Congo is the GREATEST humanitarian crisis in the world today where nearly 6 million people have died since 1996; half of them children 5 yrs old or younger and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped all as a result of the scramble for Congo's wealth.
The United Nations said it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two. However, hardly anything is said about it in the media or even among activists. Each month 45,000 people continue to die in the Congo. Figuratively, Darfur happens in the Congo every 5 1/2 months. Can you imagine 45,000 people dying every month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? This is literally what has happened and continues to happen in the Congo. There is a media white-out about Congo and no worldwide resolution to end the conflict and carnage taking place in this precious land.
I hope you will join me and other students throughout the globe in Breaking the Silence in the following manner:
1. Organize an event or a series of events during Congo Week. We can provide support with speakers, movies, and other materials.
2. Connect us with people in your network who may be interested in participating in this effort.
3. Help us reach out to universities and communities in your area or throughout the globe to participate. Our goal is to reach 1,000 campuses and 100 countries to participate in Congo Week.
4. Encourage your professors to teach a class on the Congo or request that you write your term paper on the Congo.
5. Participate in the CELL-OUT, a six-hour cell phone usage boycott, to raise awareness about the conflict in the Congo. Visit congoweek.org or call us at 1-888-584-6510.
6. For US residents, Contact your congressman to support bills in Congress on the Congo. Go here to find out more about the bills and contact your congresspersons.
7. Support groups in the Congo that are helping children get out of the mines and get back into schools.
8. Make suggestions as to how we can make the event a grand success.
Please forward this appeal to your colleagues, family, friends and loved ones throughout the globe and encourage them to join us in solidarity with the people of the Congo.
For more information call 1-888-584-6510 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Monday, August 18, 2008
US pressures Russia to diplomatically resolve conflict with Georgia. On August 15, Georgia signs ceasefire agreement, which mandates Russia to withdraw combat forces from Georgian territory, but allows Russia to remain peacekeepers in South Ossetia (neighboring area of Russia).
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insited that Russia wil sign the agreement in order to assure immediate troop withdrawal. However, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvill stated, " Georgia will never, ever surrender with Russia " and strongly believes that the West invited Russian aggression by denying NATO membership. However, President Bush stated under no circumstances, the US will not abondon allies with Georgia.
On Saturday, Russia signed ceasefire pact with the French. President Bush stated that Russia now has to be committed in withdrawing their forces.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By Scott Ritter
The war between the United States and Iran is on. American taxpayer dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian property destroyed. This wanton violation of a nation’s sovereignty would not be tolerated if the tables were turned and Americans were being subjected to Iranian-funded covert actions that took the lives of Americans, on American soil, and destroyed American property and livelihood. Many Americans remain unaware of what is transpiring abroad in their name. Many of those who are cognizant of these activities are supportive of them, an outgrowth of misguided sentiment which holds Iran accountable for a list of grievances used by the U.S. government to justify the ongoing global war on terror. Iran, we are told, is not just a nation pursuing nuclear weapons, but is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world today.
Much of the information behind this is being promulgated by Israel, which has a vested interest in seeing Iran neutralized as a potential threat. But Israel is joined by another source, even more puzzling in terms of its broad-based acceptance in the world of American journalism: the Mujahadeen-e Khalk, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group sworn to overthrow the theocracy in Tehran. The CIA today provides material support to the actions of the MEK inside Iran. The recent spate of explosions in Iran, including a particularly devastating “accident” involving a military convoy transporting ammunition in downtown Tehran, appears to be linked to an MEK operation; its agents working inside munitions manufacturing plants deliberately are committing acts of sabotage which lead to such explosions. If CIA money and planning support are behind these actions, the agency’s backing constitutes nothing less than an act of war on the part of the United States against Iran.
The MEK traces its roots back to the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeg. Formed among students and intellectuals, the MEK emerged in the 1960s as a serious threat to the reign of Reza Shah Pahlevi. Facing brutal repression from the Shah’s secret police, the SAVAK, the MEK became expert at blending into Iranian society, forming a cellular organizational structure which made it virtually impossible to eradicate. The MEK membership also became adept at gaining access to positions of sensitivity and authority. When the Shah was overthrown in 1978, the MEK played a major role and for a while worked hand in glove with the Islamic Revolution in crafting a post-Shah Iran. In 1979 the MEK had a central role in orchestrating the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and holding 55 Americans hostage for 444 days.
However, relations between the MEK and the Islamic regime in Tehran soured, and after the MEK staged a bloody coup attempt in 1981, all ties were severed and the two sides engaged in a violent civil war. Revolutionary Guard members who were active at that time have acknowledged how difficult it was to fight the MEK. In the end, massive acts of arbitrary arrest, torture and executions were required to break the back of mainstream MEK activity in Iran, although even the Revolutionary Guard today admits the MEK remains active and is virtually impossible to completely eradicate.
It is this stubborn ability to survive and operate inside Iran, at a time when no other intelligence service can establish and maintain a meaningful agent network there, which makes the MEK such an asset to nations such as the United States and Israel. The MEK is able to provide some useful intelligence; however, its overall value as an intelligence resource is negatively impacted by the fact that it is the sole source of human intelligence in Iran. As such, the group has taken to exaggerating and fabricating reports to serve its own political agenda. In this way, there is little to differentiate the MEK from another Middle Eastern expatriate opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, or INC, which infamously supplied inaccurate intelligence to the United States and other governments and helped influence the U.S. decision to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Today, the MEK sees itself in a similar role, providing sole-sourced intelligence to the United States and Israel in an effort to facilitate American military operations against Iran and, eventually, to overthrow the Islamic regime in Tehran.
The current situation concerning the MEK would be laughable if it were not for the violent reality of that organization’s activities. Upon its arrival in Iraq in 1986, the group was placed under the control of Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat, or intelligence service. The MEK was a heavily militarized organization and in 1988 participated in division-size military operations against Iran. The organization represents no state and can be found on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, yet since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the MEK has been under the protection of the U.S. military. Its fighters are even given “protected status” under the Geneva Conventions. The MEK says its members in Iraq are refugees, not terrorists. And yet one would be hard-pressed to find why the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees should confer refugee status on an active paramilitary organization that uses “refugee camps” inside Iraq as its bases.
The MEK is behind much of the intelligence being used by the International Atomic Energy Agency in building its case that Iran may be pursuing (or did in fact pursue in the past) a nuclear weapons program. The complexity of the MEK-CIA relationship was recently underscored by the agency’s acquisition of a laptop computer allegedly containing numerous secret documents pertaining to an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Much has been made about this computer and its contents. The United States has led the charge against Iran within international diplomatic circles, citing the laptop information as the primary source proving Iran’s ongoing involvement in clandestine nuclear weapons activity. Of course, the information on the computer, being derived from questionable sources (i.e., the MEK and the CIA, both sworn enemies of Iran) is controversial and its veracity is questioned by many, including me.
Now, I have a simple solution to the issue of the laptop computer: Give it the UNSCOM treatment. Assemble a team of CIA, FBI and Defense Department forensic computer analysts and probe the computer, byte by byte. Construct a chronological record of how and when the data on the computer were assembled. Check the “logic” of the data, making sure everything fits together in a manner consistent with the computer’s stated function and use. Tell us when the computer was turned on and logged into and how it was used. Then, with this complex usage template constructed, overlay the various themes which have been derived from the computer’s contents, pertaining to projects, studies and other activities of interest. One should be able to rapidly ascertain whether or not the computer is truly a key piece of intelligence pertaining to Iran’s nuclear programs.
The fact that this computer is acknowledged as coming from the MEK and the fact that a proper forensic investigation would probably demonstrate the fabricated nature of the data contained are why the U.S. government will never agree to such an investigation being done. A prosecutor, when making a case of criminal action, must lay out evidence in a simple, direct manner, allowing not only the judge and jury to see it but also the accused. If the evidence is as strong as the prosecutor maintains, it is usually bad news for the defendant. However, if the defendant is able to demonstrate inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the data being presented, then the prosecution is the one in trouble. And if the defense is able to demonstrate that the entire case is built upon fabricated evidence, the case is generally thrown out. This, in short, is what should be done with the IAEA’s ongoing probe into allegations that Iran has pursued nuclear weapons. The evidence used by the IAEA is unable to withstand even the most rudimentary cross-examination. It is speculative at best, and most probably fabricated. Iran has done the right thing in refusing to legitimize this illegitimate source of information.
A key question that must be asked is why, then, does the IAEA continue to permit Olli Heinonen, the agency’s Finnish deputy director for safeguards and the IAEA official responsible for the ongoing technical inspections in Iran, to wage his one-man campaign on behalf of the United States, Britain and (indirectly) Israel regarding allegations derived from sources of such questionable veracity (the MEK-supplied laptop computer)? Moreover, why is such an official given free rein to discuss such sensitive data with the press, or with politically motivated outside agencies, in a manner that results in questionable allegations appearing in the public arena as unquestioned fact? Under normal circumstances, leaks of the sort that have occurred regarding the ongoing investigation into Iran’s alleged past studies on nuclear weapons would be subjected to a thorough investigation to determine the source and to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to end them. And yet, in Vienna, Heinonen’s repeated transgressions are treated as a giant “non-event,” the 800-pound gorilla in the room that everyone pretends isn’t really there.
Heinonen has become the pro-war yin to the anti-confrontation yang of his boss, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. Every time ElBaradei releases the results of the IAEA probe of Iran, pointing out that the IAEA can find no evidence of any past or present nuclear weapons program, and that there is a full understanding of Iran’s controversial centrifuge-based enrichment program, Heinonen throws a monkey wrench into the works. Well-publicized briefings are given to IAEA-based diplomats. Mysteriously, leaks from undisclosed sources occur. Heinonen’s Finnish nationality serves as a flimsy cover for neutrality that long ago disappeared. He is no longer serving in the role as unbiased inspector, but rather a front for the active pursuit of an American- and Israeli-inspired disinformation campaign designed to keep alive the flimsy allegations of a nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program in order to justify the continued warlike stance taken by the U.S. and Israel against Iran.
The fact that the IAEA is being used as a front to pursue this blatantly anti-Iranian propaganda is a disservice to an organization with a mission of vital world importance. The interjection of not only the unverified (and unverifiable) MEK laptop computer data, side by side with a newly placed emphasis on a document relating to the forming of uranium metal into hemispheres of the kind useful in a nuclear weapon, is an amateurish manipulation of data to achieve a preordained outcome. Calling the Iranian possession of the aforementioned document “alarming,” Heinonen (and the media) skipped past the history of the document, which, of course, has been well explained by Iran previously as something the Pakistani nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan inserted on his own volition to a delivery of documentation pertaining to centrifuges. Far from being a “top-secret” document protected by Iran’s security services, it was discarded in a file of old material that Iran provided to the IAEA inspectors. When the IAEA found the document, Iran allowed it to be fully examined by the inspectors, and answered every question posed by the IAEA about how the document came to be in Iran. For Heinonen to call the document “alarming,” at this late stage in the game, is not only irresponsible but factually inaccurate, given the definition of the word. The Iranian document in question is neither a cause for alarm, seeing as it is not a source for any “sudden fear brought on by the sense of danger,” nor does it provide any “warning of existing or approaching danger,” unless one is speaking of the danger of military action on the part of the United States derived from Heinonen’s unfortunate actions and choice of words.
Olli Heinonen might as well become a salaried member of the Bush administration, since he is operating in lock step with the U.S. government’s objective of painting Iran as a threat worthy of military action. Shortly after Heinonen’s alarmist briefing in March 2008, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, emerged to announce, “As today’s briefing showed us, there are strong reasons to suspect that Iran was working covertly and deceitfully, at least until recently, to build a bomb.” Heinonen’s briefing provided nothing of the sort, being derived from an irrelevant document and a laptop computer of questionable provenance. But that did not matter to Schulte, who noted that “Iran has refused to explain or even acknowledge past work on weaponization.” Schulte did not bother to note that it would be difficult for Iran to explain or acknowledge that which it has not done. “This is particularly troubling,” Schulte went on, “when combined with Iran’s determined effort to master the technology to enrich uranium.” Why is this so troubling? Because, as Schulte noted, “Uranium enrichment is not necessary for Iran’s civil program but it is necessary to produce the fissile material that could be weaponized into a bomb.”
This, of course, is the crux of the issue: Iran’s ongoing enrichment program. Not because it is illegal; Iran is permitted to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Not again because Iran’s centrifuge program is operating in an undeclared, unmonitored fashion; the IAEA had stated it has a full understanding of the scope and work of the Iranian centrifuge enrichment program and that all associated nuclear material is accounted for and safeguarded. The problem has never been, and will never be, Iran’s enrichment program. The problem is American policy objectives of regime change in Iran, pushed by a combination of American desires for global hegemony and an activist Israeli agenda which seeks regional security, in perpetuity, through military and economic supremacy. The specter of nuclear enrichment is simply a vehicle for facilitating the larger policy objectives. Olli Heinonen, and those who support and sustain his work, must be aware of the larger geopolitical context of his actions, which makes them all the more puzzling and contemptible.
A major culprit in this entire sordid affair is the mainstream media. Displaying an almost uncanny inability to connect the dots, the editors who run America’s largest newspapers, and the producers who put together America’s biggest television news programs, have collectively facilitated the most simplistic, inane and factually unfounded story lines coming out of the Bush White House. The most recent fairy tale was one of “diplomacy,” on the part of one William Burns, the No. 3 diplomat in the State Department.
I have studied the minutes of meetings involving John McCloy, an American official who served numerous administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, in the decades following the end of the Second World War. His diplomacy with the Soviets, conducted with senior Soviet negotiator Valerein Zorin and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev himself, was real, genuine, direct and designed to resolve differences. The transcripts of the diplomacy conducted between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho to bring an end to the Vietnam conflict is likewise a study in the give and take required to achieve the status of real diplomacy.
Sending a relatively obscure official like Burns to “observe” a meeting between the European Union and Iran, with instructions not to interact, not to initiate, not to discuss, cannot under any circumstances be construed as diplomacy. Any student of diplomatic history could tell you this. And yet the esteemed editors and news producers used the term diplomacy, without challenge or clarification, to describe Burns’ mission to Geneva on July 19. The decision to send him there was hailed as a “significant concession” on the part of the Bush administration, a step away from war and an indication of a new desire within the White House to resolve the Iranian impasse through diplomacy. How this was going to happen with a diplomat hobbled and muzzled to the degree Burns was apparently skipped the attention of these writers and their bosses. Diplomacy, America was told, was the new policy option of choice for the Bush administration.
Of course, the Geneva talks produced nothing. The United States had made sure Europe, through its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, had no maneuvering room when it came to the core issue of uranium enrichment: Iran must suspend all enrichment before any movement could be made on any other issue. Furthermore, the American-backed program of investigation concerning the MEK-supplied laptop computer further poisoned the diplomatic waters. Iran, predictably, refused to suspend its enrichment program, and rejected the Heinonen-led investigation into nuclear weaponization, refusing to cooperate further with the IAEA on that matter, noting that it fell outside the scope of the IAEA’s mandate in Iran.
Condoleezza Rice was quick to respond. After a debriefing from Burns, who flew to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where Rice was holding closed-door meetings with the foreign ministers of six Arab nations on the issue of Iran, Rice told the media that Iran “was not serious” about resolving the standoff. Having played the diplomacy card, Rice moved on with the real agenda: If Iran did not fully cooperate with the international community (i.e., suspend its enrichment program), then it would face a new round of economic sanctions and undisclosed punitive measures, both unilaterally on the part of the United States and Europe, as well as in the form of even broader sanctions from the United Nations Security Council (although it is doubtful that Russia and China would go along with such a plan).
The issue of unilateral U.S. sanctions is most worrisome. Both the House of Representatives, through HR 362, and the Senate, through SR 580, are preparing legislation that would call for an air, ground and sea blockade of Iran. Back in October 1962, President John F. Kennedy, when considering the imposition of a naval blockade against Cuba in response to the presence of Soviet missiles in that nation, opined that “a blockade is a major military operation, too. It’s an act of war.” Which, of course, it is. The false diplomacy waged by the White House in Geneva simply pre-empted any congressional call for a diplomatic outreach. Now the president can move on with the mission of facilitating a larger war with Iran by legitimizing yet another act of aggression.
One day, in the not-so-distant future, Americans will awake to the reality that American military forces are engaged in a shooting war with Iran. Many will scratch their heads and wonder, “How did that happen?” The answer is simple: We all let it happen. We are at war with Iran right now. We just don’t have the moral courage to admit it.
Scott Ritter is a former U.N. weapons inspector and Marine intelligence officer who has written extensively about Iran.
Monday, July 21, 2008
U.S. aid to Africa is becoming increasingly militarized, resulting in skewed priorities and less attention to longer-term development projects that could lead to greater stability across the continent, according to a report released Thursday by the advocacy group Refugees International.
The report warns that the planned U.S. Africa Command, designed to boost America’s image and prevent terrorism, is allowing the Defense Department to usurp funds traditionally directed by the State Department and U.S. aid agencies.
A Pentagon spokesman did not return a call requesting comment. But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned this week against the risk of a “creeping militarization” of U.S. foreign policy and said the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries.
The Pentagon, which controlled about 3 percent of official aid money a decade ago, now controls 22 percent, while the U.S. Agency for International Development’s share has declined from 65 percent to 40 percent, according to the 56-page report.
“The danger is this strategy will not achieve the security objectives of addressing the root causes of terrorism,” said Mark Malan, author of the report. “And it certainly won’t address the developmental objectives of U.S. foreign policy.”
Refugees International, based in Washington, provides aid to refugees and advocates for solutions to end conditions that create displacement.
Malan said the militarization has been driven by the U.S. focus on counterterrorism, though the trend dates to the Cold War era. The more fundamental problem, he said, is a lack of consistent, coherent U.S. foreign policy attention to Africa…
BAGHDAD - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama met Iraq’s prime minister on Monday to get a first-hand assessment of security in the country and explain his proposals for troop withdrawals.
His visit thrusts U.S. strategy in Iraq and troop levels to the center of the November election race between the first-term senator from Illinois and Republican candidate John McCain.
Obama has called for the removal of U.S. combat troops within 16 months of taking office should he win the election. There are currently more than 140,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Iraqiya state television and witnesses said Obama met Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. There were no further details on Obama’s visit, which has been shrouded in secrecy for security reasons.
His planned stops in the country marked the second major leg of a war zone tour that opened in Afghanistan. The contrasts in tone and message were distinct.
Obama sees the battle against the resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan as America’s most crucial fight and supports expanding troop strength to counter a sharp rise in attacks.
Monday, July 14, 2008
On Monday, leaders from the world’s top industrialized nations met at the 2008 G8 Annual Summit in Japan expressing their concerns about the Zimbabwe presidential runoff and agreed to toughen financial sanctions. Last month, President Bush called the presidential runoff a “sham” for running such a ruthless and illegitimate campaign. During the meeting, Bush stated that if Robert Mugabe stays in power, Africa will suffer. Since President Bush feels that the election is a threat to peace and regional stability, U.S. now seeks for international intervention. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice urged for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that will protect human rights by ending Robert Mugabe’s regime from furthering corruption and violence. Secretary Rice believed to push forth broader and stronger international action, which will end the worsening pre-poll and ensure a free and fair presidential election.
The European Union also threatened to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. 27 European Union leaders drafted a statement against the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF), which included a plan of action against those who were responsible for conducting an impartial election and took part in the violence that killed more than 70 activists. At the meeting, European Union senior officials discussed their efforts in tightening sanctions on arms embargo and travel bans against Mugabe and his top officials. Italy Prime Minister, Franco Frattini proposed to withdraw all ambassadors from Zimbabwe. According to Timeline News, Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated, “There is a growing support for sanctions against the Mugabe regime being stepped up.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper told African leaders that they should move immediately to put an end to the illegitimate government. If not, the continent will hurt its ability to receive aid from industrialized nations. However, the African Union repeatedly opposed the sanctions. Senegal leader Abdoulaye Wade strongly believes sanctions would not change the regime and could create internal conflict. Enforcing sanctions immediately would not provide adequate time to possibly put together a meditation.
G8 leaders fiercely discussed their concerns to South African President Thabo Mbeki regarding his mediation efforts. President Mbeki insisted to not push forth sanctions because it will further economic hardships in Zimbabwe, which will cause a civil war. Instead, both parties should continue to seek quiet diplomacy. Mbeki strongly believes that there is still hope to negotiate a power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Unfornately, Tsvangirai refused to meet with Mugabe and Mbeki, which convinced G8 members that Mbeki is not the appropriate mediator.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe - The United States is developing penalties against the government of Zimbabwe, President Bush said Saturday, in response to the country's widely-condemned runoff election.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is accused of using violence to coerce people to vote for him in Friday's runoff, which was held after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the running amid cries of intimidation.
Bush, who called the election a "sham", said he is instructing his secretaries of state and treasury to develop penalties against Zimbabwe's government and its supporters.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
While we are eating our meals everyday, please be aware of how grateful you should be to have that advantage. Unfornately, this is very uncommon in Ethiopia.
Today, over 4.6 million Ethiopian children are suffering from starvation due to the lack of food, water, and poor health care. Also, an estimate of 1.6 million are affected by the HIV virus. These poor conditions have led a large portion of the population to die from malnutrion. The UN children's agency reported that these children urgently need emergency food aid because starvation will continue to spread from famine and drought. Late seasonal rains have caused dramatic food shortage, which is very critical because 80 percent of the people live off of agricultural consumption. For the past ten years, domestic production has fallen and is affecting 85 percent of all exports.
Poor health conditions have caused dramatic defects in growth. About 47% of Ethiopian children five years of age or younger are moderately to severely underweight, and 52% suffer from stunted growth. The life expentacy rate is 46 years old. (United States is 77 years old).
In 2003, the United Nations launched a food relief program that helped up to 14 million people. At that time, Ethiopia experienced one of worst famines in the world. The Ethiopian government claimed that they were unable to provide relief to the people but still work to appeal to international donors. Currently, an estimated 300 million in emergency aid is reported to be required to overcome the problem which has now spread to all corners of the country. The UK has also offered 19.5 million in aid.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The article is here.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
On May 29, the UN honors its 60th Annual International Peacekeeping Mission Day, which was established by the General Assembly under resolution 57/159. International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers recognizes “ all men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN Peacekeeping Operations. For their high level of professionalism and dedicated and courage, and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.“ Currently, there are over 110,000 men and women that are serving in more than 20 Peacekeeping Missions. At the United Nations headquarters, wreathes were laid in memory of fallen peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving in United Nations peace keeping mission around the world. This year, 2,486 have been killed while on line of duty.
According to UN- Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Special Message, he recognized Peacekeeping Operations for their significant progress in the past five decades. Since 1948, International Peacekeeping Operations established 63 Peacekeeping Operations. More than 130 countries have participated in Peacekeeping deployments, mainly from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Jordan, Ghana, Uruguay, Italy, Nigeria, France, Senegal, Ethiopia, China, Morocco, Benin, Brazil, South Africa, Spain, Kenya, and Indonesia. UN Peacekeeping Forces consist of military observers, policeman, and civilian personnel. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations recruit civilians with various backgrounds since peacekeeping operations are responsible of restoring political systems, reforming judicial systems, and re-training the law enforcement.
Many countries have financially contributed to Peacekeeping Operations. Since the cold war, the Peacekeeping Costs have dramatically risen. Security Council members and additional UN members-states, Japan and Germany have maintained major financial contributions. Compared to other international peacekeeping forces, the UN Peacekeeping Operations is the largest multinational coalition, but maintains the cheapest budget. Last fiscal year, the UN spent up to 5.6% billion dollars.
Since the UN Peacekeeping has receive significant progress in participation and financial growth, peacekeeping operations has evolved into a stronger instrument in maintaining international peace and security. Most importantly, five decades of significant growth enable the UN to recruit more peacekeepers that are willing to sacrifice their lives. As a result, peacekeepers have been more equipped in meeting many challenges, such as maintaining ceasefires and border security, disarming former combatants, fostering reconciliation, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance, helping refugees, and displacing people to return home and ensuring conditions for democratic elections, the rule of law, and reconstruction of economic recovery.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - A special U.N. human rights investigator will visit the United States this month to probe racism, an issue that has forced its way into the race to secure the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
The United Nations said Doudou Diene would meet federal and local officials, as well as lawmakers and judicial authorities during the May 19-June 6 visit.
"The special rapporteur will...gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," a U.N. statement said on Friday.
His three-week visit, at U.S. government invitation, will cover eight cities -- Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Race has become a central issue in the U.S. election cycle because Sen. Barack Obama, the frontrunner in the battle for the Democratic nomination battle, stands to become the country's first African American president.
His campaign has increased turnout among black voters but has also turned off some white voters in a country with a history of slavery and racial segregation.
Diene, a Senegalese lawyer who has served in the independent post since 2002, will report his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year.
However, the United Nations has almost no clout when it comes to U.S. domestic affairs and is widely perceived by many as interfering. The United States is not among the 47 member states of the Geneva-based forum, but has observer status.
In a report last year he said Islamophobia had grown worldwide since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States, carried out by al-Qaeda militants.
A U.N. panel which examined the U.S. record on racial discrimination last March urged the United States to halt racial profiling of Americans of Arab, Muslim and South Asian descent and to ensure immigrants and non-nationals are not mistreated.
It also said America should impose a moratorium on the death penalty and stop sentencing young offenders to life in prison until it can root out racial bias from its justice system.
Racial minorities were more likely than whites to be sentenced to death or to life without parole as juveniles, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It monitors compliance with an international treaty which Washington ratified in 1994.
U.S. officials told the body, made up of 18 independent experts, that they were combating hate crimes such as displays of hangman's nooses and police brutality against minorities.
Some 800 racially motivated incidents against people perceived to be Arab, Muslim, Sikh or South Asian had been investigated since the September 11 attacks, they said at the time.
Substantial progress had been made over the years in addressing disparities in housing, education, employment and health care, according to a U.S. report submitted to the talks.
(Additional reporting by Matt Bigg in Atlanta; Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Jon Boyle)
Become a Friend of the Congo
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
For the past two weeks, natural disasters have completely disrupted the peace and killed thousands of people in Southeast Asia. In Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, the Nigoris Cyclone wiped out Yangon City and its surrounding areas, nearly leaving over 40,000 injured over 128,000 dead. Up to 2.5 million survivors were in an urgent need for food, water shelter, and medicine. A week after this devastation, a massive earthquake struck central China. As a result, over 15,000 people died. About 25,000 people are still trapped in fallen homes, schools, and cut roads. Both countries have been offered so much international aid from different nations. Initially, Burma restricted international help teams for more than a week. Burma's military tried to handle relief efforts on their own, but failed due to insufficient helicopters.
Today, China is making more progress than Burma. China has proven to better equipped in mobilizing massive rescue efforts. Chinese authorities have successfully sent thousands of troops and police officers to the epicenter. Unlike China, Burma’s crisis continues to worsen. The cyclone effects is perpetuating Burma’s water & air pollution, the spread of diseases, homelessness, and starvation. The UN predicts that the death toll will reach up 100,000 by the end of this month.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
On Monday, Kenya launched its first recovery stage, which is called Operation Rudi Nyumbani. Operation Rudi Nyumbani a.k.a. Operation Return Home is an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) resettlement, which authorized all refugees to return back to their homes after the post-election crisis. After the signing of the power-sharing agreement in February, both sides agreed that Kalenjin and Kikuyu ethnic groups must live in peace and harmony in order for Kenya to prosper.
During that Monday morning, buses and military trucks first headed to the Rift Valley to load thousands of refugees. Soldiers and police officers were sent as guard transporters to ensure that all IDPs were sent back to their homes with tight security. In addition, church leaders were sent as mediators. As a result, about 6,000 were returned back to Molo and 3,855 were taken back to Trans Nzola District.
Some survivors were thrilled to return home due to their horrible experience in the wet camps. Some stated that the wet camps were like prison. According to BBC News, Mary Wanbui, a Kenyan mother of five, quoted, "Look around this place, there are no toilets, bathrooms or anything else. it's been unbearable. For the last four months, we had to deal with crime, spread of diseases, and starvation.“
Although survivors are now authorized to return home, many people are still frustrated. Some people are returning back home to nothing. Others refused to leave the wet camps unless the government enforces improved security and compensation for all their losses. Unemployment and housing is the biggest loss for many survivors. Since the election crisis weakened the economy, Kenya now faces economic turmoil. Some of the top industries have suffered from high inflation and lost many workers. Many workers have went on strike and filed lawsuits. In terms of land property, homes or roof tops were burned down from repeated attacks. Homelessness has skyrocketed in rural areas. Many people are still reluctant from living with those people that have robbed them from their property, which had taken them generations to put together. Legislators now question on whether the government should rush the victims back to their homes is the most appropiate decision. Before returning home, the government should first listen to the grievances of those who were evicted. One victim quoted, “How can you go back to the same piece of land where your house was razed to the ground, your children hacked to death and your crops destroyed. Can you live in harmony with the very neighbours who destroyed your life?”
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Senator Barack Obama defeated Senator Hilary Clinton by seven votes on Saturday in Guam's Presidential Caucus.
According to the latest results, Obama won 2,269 votes, which is 50.1 percent. This places his total delegate votes at 1,736 delegates. Clinton finished with 2,257 votes or 49.9 percent. She currently has a total of 1,599 delegates.
Overrall, the total count was more than 4,500 ballots. Each candidate only earned two delegates. Both candidates did not campaign in Guam. However, both Obama and Clinton promised Guamanians better health care plans. According to Pacific News, Obama stated during a phone interview that he would " support the rexamination of the $5.4 million Medicaid spending limited imposed on the terroritory and promise more medical providers. "
Also, Obama said to his voters that during his time with a U.S. military unit from Guam on a trip to Africa that his Hawai'i roots make him "especially sensitive" to the needs of islanders.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Havanna, Cuba- On Friday, President Raul Castro announced that Cubans are now authorized cell phone services. This is the first official change that shows that Castro's 76-year old regime is willing to lift a major restriction.
The next day, hundreds of Cubans brought cellular phones at local states-owned telephone offices. Before this week, only top government officials, foreigners, and foreign employees were allowed to use cell phones. Now, ordinary local people can purchase cheap pre-paid cellular phone plans. Since 1991, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A.(ETECSA) have only profited from limited customers. Now, ETESCSA are thrilled to work with more customers.
Also, Cubans are now allowed to buy DVD players, computers, and other electronic goods. However, ordinary people are still limited to internet access and home ownership.
President's Raul Castro new decision questions the Cuban government. Could this be the first step in completely revoluctizing Cuba's restrictive system. Already, the people of Cuba are excited for this new small freedom and hoping this could be a way of improving their lives.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The conflict arose in the Congo as a result of invasions by her neighbors, Rwanda and Uganda, first in 1996 and again in 1998. Both regimes are client states of the United States and their invasions were fully backed by the United States, Great Britain and international institutions such as the World Bank. American and Great Britain taxpayer dollars played a role in financing the invasions and subsequent human carnage, which continues to this day where 45,000 Congolese continue to die each month.
One would think all this has happened on another planet. At the root of the silence around this issue is the devaluing of Black bodies by both Black and White people alike. What is bewildering however, is how Black people in general and Black leaders and thinkers in particular do not see it in their interest to speak out against such carnage, especially when United States policy has contributed to the devastation in Africa’s most critical country.
Although our leaders often hold up Dr. King as a model leader who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Black leaders are not speaking out forcefully against the injustices in the Congo. Our scholars love to think they are the next W.E.B. DuBois but DuBois was a staunch Pan Africanist and intimately involved in what transpired in the African world. When it comes to Black folks of our age, their thinking appears to stop at the borders of the United States, even though we are living in the Internet age at a time when the world is more integrated than ever and what happens outside of one’s border has implications on a global scale.
Moreover, there is an unfortunate failure of our leaders and best thinkers to see that what happens to Black people throughout the world, especially in Africa, has an effect on what happens to Black people in America. If Black people are devalued in Africa, they will be devalued in America. The results are different but the implications are the same nonetheless. Devaluing of Black people in Africa results in mass death because of the continent's fragile societies. Devaluing of Blacks in America results in slow government action while grandmothers are stranded on roofs without food or water as a result of natural disasters such as Katrina. One would think that at the very least, self-interest would dictate that Black folks speak out the loudest, particularly when spectacular profits are made by American and other Western corporations in the midst of vast human suffering and carnage in the Congo.
Unfortunately, due to the stage of development of our leaders and thinkers, it wont be until White people start to say more about the greatest horror at the dawn of the 21st century that you will see our political, civil rights and other leaders and thinkers start to say something about this issue and offer prescriptions that will have been served up to them by White folks.
The ultimate reason for Congo being ravaged in the way it has in the past 12 years is a result of its enormous wealth. The Street.com dubbed it the Democratic Republic of Buried Treasure. Its natural wealth has been estimated to be equivalent to the GNP of the United States and the European Union combined. The central question in the Congo is who is going to control Congo’s wealth and profit from it; the Congolese or Western corporations? Congo is endowed with diamonds, gold, zinc, iron, timber, copper (used in our kitchen appliances and wiring in our homes and cars), niobium (key to the LCD panels in our computers and flat screen televisions), coltan (key to our cell phones, video games, air bags and braking systems in our cars, and many electronic devices), cobalt (key for jet engines, aerospace industry, United States military and central to the batteries in our cell phones, lap tops, and electric automobiles), and tin (key to the mother boards in our computers). Companies such as Microsoft, Panasonic, Nokia, Motorola, Hitachi, Cabot, Kemet, Eagle Wings, OM Group, H.C. Starck and many others benefit from Congo’s mineral resources that feed the devices that we all use in our daily lives. Yet we are silent while Black people continue to die on a Biblical scale. Instead of Congo being the economic engine for the development of Africa, it serves as a millstone around the continent’s neck.
Raising our voices can save lives and offer hope to our brothers and sisters fighting for human dignity. It does not cost us anything to say something.
Friends of the Congo
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
April 27, 2008 - Many voters fear the outcome of the 2008 Zimbabwe's Presidential Elections. For over 28 years, Former President Robert Mugabe's and the ZANU-PF party have ruled Zimbabwe. As a result, the country has suffered from economic and political turmoil. His opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai and his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) wanted to put a end to the corruption by running up against the ZANU-PF party. After waiting for a week for the 2008 election results, the opposionist party and the voters became very concerned that there were no announcements. Presidential candidate, Tsvangirai, believed that Mugabe strategically planned to delay the results. The following week, Tsvangirai and MDG party issued a complaint to the court as a way to force out the results of the March 29 election. Tsvangirai announced that he is not suprised that President Mugabe would try to use a presidential runoff vote to reverse its defeat in elections.
On Sunday, a recount of votes alledgely confirmed that Morgan Tsvangirai party won full control of the parliment. According to tally results, the Zimbabewan Sunday newspaper claimed that the election authorities confirmed that Tsvangirai won the majority. However, Zimbabwe election authorities will not reveal the results until later on this week.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission called for a regional meeting with both parties to discuss the post-election crisis. Before the new results are released to the public, both parties will be able to scrutinze the entire recount.
At the same time, violent uprises continues to spread riots. Hundreds of MDG supports have been attacked and burned out of their homes. About 250 law enforcement officers raided MDG party's headquarters in Harare. Several people have suffered from head injuries. Only 10 have been murdered.
The 2008 Zimbabwe Elections created a huge international outcry. Tsvangirai and his party called for the United Nations for further investigation. So far, Britain urged the UN Security Council to take part in the human rights abuse and to urged Mugabe to resign.
President George W. Bush greets the crowd at Zagreb's St.
Mark Square, Croatia, 05 Apr 2008
April 5, 2008 - President Bush celebrates Croatia and Albania for joining NATO at the 2008 Military Alliance Summit in Bucharest, Romania. On Friday, Bush publicly announced his rejoice for NATO’s newest members. Bush stated that NATO's newest members are significant in spreading Democracy and strengthening Western military protection. Bush promised that NATO would stand by Croatia and Albania if anyone endangered them.
Bush strongly believes the newest members deserve membership because they have continuously shown great contributions to NATO. Croatia and Albania have been very cooperative in NATO's support regarding the advancement of freedom and democracy while facing current political challenges. Their efforts in sending troops to Iraq and Afghanastan demostrated their profound committment to peace and security. Also, Craotia and Albania accession to NATO is marked as the sixth round of enlargement in NATO’s history. In 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia were admitted.
In the near future, Bush hopes for more southern European countries will join NATO, in particularly Macedonia. Currently, Macedonia has been not extended membership due to not meeting the criteria in the Membership Action Plan because of their difficulty in political reforms. In order for NATO to reconsider membership, Macedonia must settle their dispute with neighboring country, Greece. However, NATO is still determine to strategically help Macedonia to seek NATO membership.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
March 23- Authorities closed down Tibet's capital and sent in additional troops for rigid control after a violent uprise occurred from an Anti-Chinese protest group.
On Monday morning, the Tibetan exile group also known as the Buddhist Monks, launched deadly riots against Chinese rule. The Chinese government accused the exiled spiritual leader, , for plotting these violent riots. Allegedly, Dalai has been identified as the current leader and supporter of 3 decades of combative persuasion in gaining Tibet's independence.
The following day, Chinese authorities immediately closed down the city. The main streets are empty and reinforced with military and law enforcement officials. Streets are completely occupied with military blockades which are used to keep Tibetans in and reporters out of the area. Even at airports, Tibetan police turned away foreigners at the check-in counters.
These have no doubt caused critics to judge the state of China's affairs and the human rights issues surrounding the Bejing Olympics. The are scheduled to kickoff in two weeks. There have been rumors that possible boycotts may occur during the opening ceremony. To add insult to injury, the Chinese government is already being scrutinized for their involvement in the Movement.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The Congo is located in the heart of Africa, bordered by nine countries and boasts a land mass comparable to Western Europe, with a population of 65 million people. It is enormously endowed with vast natural wealth ranging from diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, uranium, coltan to timber, tin and fresh water.
Congo is also the place of the deadliest conflict since World Ward II, which has claimed at least 5.4 million lives in the past decade, half of the dead, children 5 years old and younger. Approximately, 45,000 Congolese continue to die each month. The overwhelming majority of the deaths have been a result of treatable causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.
One of the most shocking results of the conflict is the rape of hundreds of thousands of Congolese women and children. Children as young as 3 years old and women as old as 70, have been raped and sexually mutilated.
Two types of rapes are occurring in the Congo; the rape of the women and the children and the rape of the land. The two are inextricably linked as the scramble to control Congo’s natural wealth fuels the violence and mass rape.
As a global community of conscience, which stands for human dignity and the belief that it is the responsibility of each of us to protect the vulnerable among us; in this respect, we call for the following:
- Stop the Rapes in the Congo
- Stand in Solidarity with the women and children of the Congo
- Cease the Pillaging of Congo’s mineral wealth
- Appeal for Justice for the Congolese people
- Prevent intervention by Congo's neighbor countries
- Break the Silence in the corporate media about the source of the Congo conflict
- Protect the vulnerable populations in the Congo
- Acknowledge the Congo crisis as a world crisis
- Restore and Repair the lives of the women and children
- Join in Solidarity with women and children who are victims of war throughout the globe
Find out more about women in the Congo and their remarkable battle for human dignity.
Friends of the Congo
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
In January of 2008, President Hu Jiantou announced that China will remain close ties with Sudan. President Hu Jiantou argued that China needs to acquire foreign oil reserves in order to balance their energy consumption. China has invested billions of dollars in Sudan’s oil industry and is the major weapon supplier. These weapon deliveries include ammunition, tanks, helicopters, fighter aircraft, and antitank mines. The constant exchange of weapons is contributing to the 200,000 lives lost and the 2.5 million people that have been driven from their homes.
Beijing's determination to keep the 2008 Olympic Games from being tainted provoked the U.S. and many nongovernmental organizations to publicize China’s failure to take action. In May of 2007, 108 U.S. House of Representative members sent a warning that the Beijing Olympics could be endangered if China does not modify its trade policies with Sudan. Today, Mia Farrow started a campaign called, “Genocide Olympics,” which aimed to boycott the Beijing Olympics. Initially, Farrow called on corporate sponsors and celebrities to publicly denounce China’s actions in Sudan. Film Director, Steven Spielberg joined the campaign, which is very significant because he is the artistic adviser to China for the Olympic Games. Spielberg sent a rebuttal letter to President Hu Jiantoo, accusing China for being partially responsible for the killings in Darfur and asking the government to bring an end to the human suffering there.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
President Bush gave a speech in Kigali, Rwanda this week, calling for nations to increase their efforts to end the conflict in the Sudan's western Darfur region "once and for all".
The president has stated that he is frustrated that other nations have not been willing to work equally hard to end the conflict.
"The Rwanda people know the horrors of genocide," Bush said. "My message to other nations is: 'Join with the president and help us get this problem solved once and for all.' And we will help."
Shortly before his speech, President Bush met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame.
Rwanda was the first nation to deploy peacekeepers to the Darfur region in a joint mission. The U.S. has given $17 million dollars and trained 7,000 troops to help with the conflict. It has also committed $100 million in funding to help train peace keepers to the area.
"I'm not comfortable with how quickly the response has been," said President Bush.
Bush gave his speech after a visit to the Kigali Memorial Center. The Center discusses the genocide in 1994 that left over 800,000 Tutsis killed. Many were shot and hacked to death.
"It's a moving place. It can't help but shake your emotions to their very foundation," Bush said. "There is evil in the world and evil must be confronted."
With President Kagame next to him, President Bush described his reaction to what he'd seen, "I just can't imagine what it would have been like to be a citizen who lived in such horrors, and then had to, you know, gather themselves up and try to live a hopeful life," he said.
President Bush also discussed The Congo with President Kagame. Rwanda invaded The Congo in 1998, leading to the death of over 5.4 million people. Rwanda has been accused of plundering the resources of The Congo after the invasion.
Kagame and Bush spent a great deal of time discussing the peace accord after the war and ensuring its implementation.
"The most important thing is to get results for the agreement and that's what we discussed today, on how to help bring peace to this part of the world," Bush said.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Submitted by Friends of the Congo
Washington, DC - February 15, 2008 - As president George Bush travels to Africa, the world's attention will be focused on the countries that he visits; Rwanda is one of those countries. Rwanda and its leader Paul Kagame are deeply implicated in what the United Nations say is the deadliest conflict since World War Two. Rwanda's and Uganda's 1996 and 1998 invasions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which were backed and supported by the United States and other western powers unleashed untold human misery and suffering.
According to the International Rescue Committee, 5.4 million Congolese have died, 50 percent of which are children five years old or younger. Amnesty International has reported that tens of thousands of women have been raped, some victims as young as 2 years old and as old as 70 years. Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says the Congo conflict is one of the ten most underreported stories of 2007. In those fleeting moments when the conflict is reported, it is done without context and often presented as wanton killing by Africans perpetually doomed to committing insane acts of violence and atrocities without any mention of what fuels the conflict.
American, Canadian, and European corporations' pilfering of Congo's natural resources is inextricably linked to the heinous rapes and appalling deaths. Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reminded the world in his January 2008 interview with the Financial Times of London that "The international community has systematically looted the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and we should not forget that."
A myriad of reports since 2001 has documented the pillaging of the Congo by neighboring countries and western corporations and its role in fueling the conflict in the Congo. To the chagrin of many human rights groups and people of conscience throughout the globe, western nations have refused to hold their corporations accountable and put the necessary pressure on their client states of Rwanda and Uganda to keep their hands off the Congo.
Congo's gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, chromium, germanium, nickel, and uranium are central to the functioning of many modern amenities such as cell phones, computers, electronic devices, our children's video game consoles, kitchen appliances, automobiles, airplanes, and numerous other devices. Its rainforest, often called the World's second lung, is central to the world's battle against climate change. Undoubtedly we in the West are indirectly benefiting from the pilfering and the widespread killing in the Congo.
President Bush has an opportunity to say and do a number of things that can make a positive difference in the Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa.
1. Demand that Paul Kagame, a former Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military student, immediately cease his interference in the Congo.
2. Pressure Paul Kagame to open up democratic space in Rwanda and provide a path for the Hutu's in the Congo to return to Rwanda.
3. Call for a process of national reconciliation and justice throughout the entire Congo, not just in the east. Such reconciliation should institute a process where the victims of human rights abuses and atrocities are able to secure justice.
4. Call for U.S. and other western corporations who are poised to make spectacular profits in the midst of the rapes and killings to cease their pilfering of the Congo.
5. Declare that the natural wealth of the Congo belongs to and should benefit first and foremost the people of the Congo and not solely foreign multi-nationals.
Friday, February 8, 2008
South Africa’s energy crisis is a huge issue. The country consumes most of the electricity in the region. As a result of the shortage, the power supply has been unable to meet with growing consumption. During the winter seasons, South Africa suffered from constant blackouts due to the high demand of heater usage. Old electrical infrastructure is the main cause of the common blackouts. There are not enough modern power plants to provide electricity. Low use of energy slows down Africa’s economic growth and mitigates its ability to reach its long-term goals of poverty reduction. Africa needs more energy access, which will alleviate poverty by increasing local commerce, creating more jobs, enhancing incomes, and improving safety.
Low electrical access has turned away many foreign investors, donors, and tourists. In Tanzania, a non-profit organization from England donated computers to many school systems. Unfornately, low power hindered the students' ability to take advantage of the computers. Furthermore, Tanzania’s local power company has no desire to help provide the electricity in public schools. It has been over ten years since the company has actually visited the school system.
Today, a growing number of international groups have been involved in addressing Africa’s power shortage by providing reliable and commercial electricity. In 2007, the World Bank Group and the International Finance Corporation initiated a new project called Lightening Africa, which aims to provide more access to affordable modern lightening services. In this project, the goal is to provide more local entrepreneurs and business the chance to sell low cost, high quality lightening products. More than a dozen sponsor groups have provided funding for new affordable lightening advancements, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light emitting diodes(LEDs), which is guaranteed to provide durable, portable, and clean technology.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, recently held a series of meetings with African Heads of State during the 10th summit of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
During the meetings, Mr. Kaberuka stressed the importance of ending the crisis in Kenya and not losing the gains made over the past several years.
During his meetings with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Mr. Kaberuka suggested ways the bank could help end the crisis. In a joint statement with the World Bank, The African Development Bank stated the following:
"By our early estimates, the current situation could drive 2 million Kenyans into poverty, reversing the gains made over the last few years".
Both institutions went further, saying that they "support efforts by Mr. Kofi Annan and his team, under the African Union initiative, to bring all parties together to make credible and visible progress toward quick and peaceful reconciliation."
Additionally, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was in Kenya this week to put energy behind the efforts of Kofi Annan and his mediation talks.
Mr Ban made his appearance as France called for the UN Security Council to get more deeply involved in the Kenyan Crisis. Thus far, the crisis has left 850 dead and over 300,000 homeless.
Mr. Ban's message to Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga and the Kenyan people was simple: "It has to stop." His message was delivered in Nairobi and repeated several times.
At the same time Mr. Ban was speaking in Nairobi, Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Ross Hynes, was also getting involved Mr. Hynes stated that Canada can no longer engage in "business as usual" with the Kenyan government. He claimed that Canada would refuse contact with Kenyan leaders accused of disabling democratic institutions. He also said that they may even deny them visas to his country.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
In Nairobi, violence has continued to spread. Kofi Annan called for peace talks on Sunday between Kenya's feuding parties. The death toll for the past 3 days has crossed the 100 mark.
Nine people were killed in a slum district of Naivasha, raising the death toll in the area to 116.
In his sixth day in the region, former UN Chief Kofi Annan met in Nairobi with opposition leader Raila Odinga. Odinga claims that he was robbed in the presidential election.
Musalia Mudavadi, a member of Odinga's Orange Party Movement, said that some progress is being made toward having talks between Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki.
"Our side and the other side will appoint three negotiators and an additional person as a liaison person," Mudavadi said.
Since the election, which has received a great deal of international scrutiny, over 850 people have been killed. Over a quarter million people have been displaced from their homes.
Some say that old ethnic and land disputes have fueled some of the killing as well. Kibaki's tribe, the Kikuyu, have ben clashing with the Luo and Kalenjin groups that tend to support Odinga.
The international community remains concerned.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
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This is a statement from People Foundation, Inc, California. Over the last couple of days, we have seen Hon. Raila Odinga come to terms with the escalating loss of human lives in our country, and has consistently softened his stand towards a peaceful resolution to the current crisis. One thing that has aroused our curiosity is the posture that William Ruto has taken in the whole reconciliation process. We got concerned and embarked on a quick investigative research to unearth what is driving Ruto not to explore peaceful resolution to the social-political crisis going on in our country.
Let the truth be known that William Ruto is the man sponsoring the genocide operations going in Rift Valley through the Karamajong Guerilla Fighters, a militia with operations similar to the old known militia "the Shiftas" that fought Moi in the 1980s. Reliable sources indicate that Karamojong Guerrilla Fighters arrived in city of Eldoret where they mercilessly massacred hundreds of innocent people including women and children.
Recently Ruto was reported to be out of Nairobi, and could not attend the meeting between Raila and Kalonzo. We have established that Ruto was in Eldoret meeting with the Karamojong Guerilla Fighters. Ruto knew that the only way ODM could have access to adequate firepower (KEG) was to engage the Karamojong Guerilla Fighter who are obviously known to possess insurmountable quantities of AK-47, Automatic Rifles and other sophisticated small arms. It is important to highlight the fact that Karamojong communities are cousins with the Luos, and therefore, it is the same militia that is killing people in Nyanza.
It is therefore imperative for the government of the day to take decisive and conclusive action against William Ruto, and the perpetrators of genocide. We cannot afford to see one more live lost. We are also asking Hon Raila Odinga to disassociate himself with William Ruto and speak for peace and return of the nation to normalcy. Who knows whether the judicial process could over turn the ECK decision, and see a re-run of the presidential elections?
Karamoja, the nomadic pastoralists of Northern Uganda and Kenya have traditionally raided each other's livestock, an activity that flows naturally from their cultural frameworks for life. During the raiding season, the raid is typically followed counter-raid with considerable loss of life. Ever since they became neighbors, raiding has gone on intermittently, not only between Karamojong and Pokot, but also between them and Jie, Dodoso, Turkana, Samburu, Marakwet, Sapiny ot Sabawot, and Bukusu.
Before 1970s, Karamoja was peaceful, pastoral and traditional, but the years according to Mirzeler & Young (2000) ushered in the new era of guns. The proliferation of automatic rifles (Leggett, 2000) has unequivocally infected the Karamojong culture with ills of modern AK-47 raids, which currently pose the single greatest risk to the security of the northern region. Mirzeler & Young (2000) write that there are over 40,000 AK-47 in Karamojong community, while Gray (2000) estimates that there are over 100,000 automatic rifles in Karamoja. Firearms are not novelties for the Karamojong, they have enculturated them with very little fuss, just like other Iron implements, all of which are acquired from foreigners. The Karamojongs have possessed firearms since 1870 when the colonial government licensed some, and there have always been at least a few illicit firearms.
The community started acquiring sophisticated guns in large quantities in the 1970s following the routing of President Idi Amin's army in Uganda by an alliance of Tanzanian People's Defense Force and Uganda exiles (Mburu, 2000). One known major source was the Moroto barracks which the fleeing Ugandan dictator abandoned intact thus allowing the Karamojong to help themselves to unlimited quantities of rifles, small arms and ammunitions.
William Ruto, knowing very well that in the context of the Turkana and Karamojong people that the current governments in Kenya and Uganda are part of the insecurity problem, has incited the Karamojongs and other communities to violence, and secretly engaged the Karamojong Guerilla Fighters to inflict fear and suffering among the people in protest of the outcome of the just concluded general elections. To this end, Ruto should be apprehended as an underworld warlord who incites ethnic communities to arm and commit genocide like what recently happened in the church campus in Eldoret.
For those who think the government should not act decisively and conclusively with William Ruto should read (Romans 13:4) .. for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
People Foundation, Inc,
Advocacy Group 775 River
San Jose, CA 95136
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