Weekly Update from the STAND Education Team
Libya, Syria, DRC, Sudan
• Libyan rebels, with NATO support, seize control of most of Tripoli
• President Obama calls for Assad to resign and issues new sanctions
• U.S. Ambassador to DRC affirms the U.S. will have limited engagement in upcoming elections
• Sudan Sentinel Project finds evidence of mass graves in Nuba Mountains and South Kordofan
Libya and Syria
• After a swift military offensive, Libyan rebels made significant gains in their effort to seize control of the Libyan capital of Tripoli from forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. New York Times reports that sporadic fighting and loyalist sniper activity continues in and around Tripoli, particularly in the district surrounding Colonel Qaddafi’s fortified compound of Bab-al-Abiziya.
• Colonel Qaddafi, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, remains at large. According to NYT and Reuters, Qaddafi has released several defiant statements since the 23rd of August, goading rebels on issues on unity and vowing to fight to the end, NYT also reports that NATO is providing the rebels assistance in their search for Col. Qaddafi. Al-Jazeera reports that the National Transitional Council (NTC) has placed a $1.7 million dollar bounty on Col. Qaddafi, aiming to expedite his capture.
• Considering the Syrian government continuing its violent crackdown on protestors, BBC news reports that the United States and European Union have proposed a UN resolution which would tighten sanctions on Syrian oil sales and the financial assets of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad and other elites in the Syrian regime.
• The move comes after President Obama and several other world leaders explicitly called for President Assad to step down. On August 18, the White House issued an executive order which strengthens US sanctions on Syrian assets, Al-Jazeera reports that the European Union is looking to pursue a similar course of action.
• On Tuesday, the United Nations Human Rights Council dispatched a team to investigate what it called “systematic human rights violations” by the Syrian government, with the UN claiming that some 2,200 civilians have been killed in the crackdown by Syrian military and internal security forces since the beginning of the protests.
• Al-Jazeera reported that Syrian security forces, including armored elements, have resumed their assault of the city Deir ez Zour.
• The upcoming November elections continue to heat up in DRC. With over 32 million registered voters, all eyes will be on DRC to ensure transparency and accountability. However questions of legitimacy continue to be raised, especially since the announcement by the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy that incumbent President Joseph Kabila will be their nominee. Although, Kabila has not announced his official candidacy, he is expected to accept the nomination. Kabila first came to power in 2001 following the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, and won Congo’s first democratic election in 2006. However, he remains a controversial player on the Congolese political scene as violence and rape perpetuated by militia and rebel groups has continues in the eastern region of the country despite the official end of the Second Congo War in 2003. He also recently proposed constitutional changes to make the presidential election a one-round, winner-take-all poll. Despite these factors, President Obama has expressed confidence in the country’s ability to hold ‘free and fair’ elections in November. U.S. Ambassador James Entwistle said recently, "Everything the United States is doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo is designed to help ensure that what happened in and to that country in the late ’90s and the early 2000s, statistically the worst war since World War II, is to make sure that it never happens again and to help them recover from it." How this will be implemented on the ground, however, remains a large question.
• The first democratic elections in 2006 were among the most expensive and expansive in Africa at the time with security before and during the elections provided by MONUSCO (the UN mission in DRC) and the international community providing 80% of election funding. The 2011 elections have so far been met with little international attention or funding, with only 40% of election funds donated at this time. This could by caused by donor fatigue or apathy, but it could prove to be an obstacle to legitimate elections in November.
• The debate over the actual affects of the Dodd-Frank provision on conflict minerals has continued since David Aronson’s Op-Ed in the New York Times "How Congress Devestated Congo" was published. Experts have come forward in favor of the piece, agreeing that section 1502 has created a de facto embargo on the mineral trade in Congo and has actually benefitted abusive military commanders, while others have expressed disagreement with the piece and believe section 1502 is creating tangible change on the ground. Opponents to the conflict-minerals only approach say there needs to be a more comprehensive reform narrative including the security sector, governance, and civil society.
Check out the following articles to track the debate:
Texas in Africa- (http://texasinafrica.blogspot.com/2011/08/dodd-frank-catastrophe.html)
David Aronson- (http://www.congoresources.org/2011/08/response-to-enough.html#more)
• The New York Times reported on August 24th that the Satellite Sentinel Project monitoring Sudan says it has found new evidence of mass graves in the Nuba Mountains region, where the government has recently waged a fierce campaign to stamp out rebels. The Enough Project updated their report saying that the Satellite Sentinel Project has confirmed the evidence of mass graves and systematic mass killings of civilians in South Kordofan.
• Sudan’s president Omar Al-Bashir announced a temporary ceasefire in the country’s war-stricken state of South Kordofan, two days after talks with the rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) dissolved in disagreement.. The armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has voiced skepticism in reaction to a truce declared by Sudan’s president Omar Al-Bashir in South Kordofan State, saying the move aims to deflect attention from abuses and an imminent military offensive.
• South Sudan’s army on Tuesday announced it expelled militia forces from the strategic town of Kaka, which was described as a major victory for the newly established state.
• An estimated 4,000 refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan State have arrived in South Sudan’s Unity State, according to the UN as fighting between Sudan’s military and the opposition group the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) enters its eleventh week.
The education update is produced every Thursday to update STAND members and the advocacy community about developments with regards to genocide and crimes against humanity. For more information contact the following:
Education Coordinator: Sean Langberg firstname.lastname@example.org
Sudan Education Coordiator: Emma Smith email@example.com
DRC Education Coordinator: Siobhan Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall email@example.com