Weekly Education Update
Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC
China, facing criticism for its veto along with Russia of a condemnatory action towards the Syrian regime in the UN Security council, has announced Friday that will send its Deputy Foreign Minister, Zhai Jun to the Syrian capital.While arguing against foreign intervention, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has called for the opposition’s “legitimate” desire for change to be respected. A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry stated “"I believe the message of this visit is that China hopes for a peaceful and proper resolution of the Syrian situation, and that the Chinese side will play a constructive role in the mediation.”
Amid continuing violence throughout Syria over the past week, UN Genera Secretary Ban Ki-Moon issued a condemnatory statement to the Assad regime while speaking to reporters in Vienna, saying “We see neighborhoods shelled indiscriminately, hospitals used as torture centres, children as young as 10 years old killed and abused. We see almost a certain crimes against humanity.” The statements come ahead of a coming vote in the United Nations General Assembly, with Arab League backing, calling for President Assad to step down and hand over power to his vice president. The Arab League has also called for a potential UN Peacekeeping force to be deployed in Syria.
Large scale violence has continued throughout the week in Syria, with BBC News reporting some 40 people were killed throughout Syria on Thursday. Along with continual shelling and military sweeps of the cities of Hama, and Homs, Syrian military and security forces have begun a major sweep in the Southern city ofDeraa. Further, a string of guerrilla have been conducted in cities throughout Syria in the last two weeks. On Saturday, a brigadier general and doctor in the Syrian army was killed by gunmen in an attack in Damascus. Two days prior, two car bombs exploded outside offices belonging to government security forces in Aleppo, killing 28. Responsibility for the attacks remains unclear.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has announced a referendum that will establish a new constitution and a multiparty system, however the date has been moved to February 26th in consequence of ongoing violence. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called the referendum a “farce”, stating “"How can you propose a referendum on the 26 February while at the same time continuing to attack your own innocent people in some Syrian towns?"
Sudan, South Sudan
Local officials have reported that at least 22 people were killed and 26 wounded in clashes between the Dinka Bor of Bor County and Murle ethnic group from Pibor County.
South Sudan officials have reported that they have started talks with the Djibouti government to build an alternative oil pipeline through Ethiopia and Djibouti. The South Sudanese oil lines were shut down after the cabinet of the new nation passed a resolution shutting down oil production over a transit fee dispute with north Sudan.
The UN released a report saying that they will need an additional $145 million to assist Sudanese refugees in South Sudan and Ethiopia fleeing conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
The government of South Sudan’s Lakes state has reported that 12 people were found dead on Saturday afternoon from a fire in the forest of Titagau payam [district] of Yirol East county.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing of a non-aggression and cooperation pact between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan and urged both countries to maintain the positive spirit that led to the agreement and abide by its provisions.
The United Nations Security Council voiced alarm at the rising levels of malnutrition and food shortages in parts of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, saying the situation could deteriorate further if international humanitarian personnel are not given access to carry out assessments and deliver aid.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has helped to launch the construction of a training center in the west of the country that is aimed at helping former soldiers disarm, demobilize and return to civilian life.
On Sunday, President Kabila’s chief adviser Augustin Katumba Mwanke was killed in plane crash, while his finance minister Matata Ponyo Mapon and roving ambassador Antoine Ghonda remained critically wounded. Katumba was regarded by many as “the power behind the throne” according to a leaked 2009 diplomatic cable during the WikiLeaks scandal. Summing up Katumba’s power, one Congolese senator said anonymously, “If you wanted to negotiate business and Kabila said ‘yes’, that was 50 percent. But if Katumba said ‘yes’, that was 100 percent.” President Kabila still has to navigate a political landscape where his party won fewer seats from before, meaning he must form a solid coalition government without the help of his top adviser. For more information on Katumba, check out Jason Stearn’s blog post here.
Though the DRC courts have upheld the election results, the US State Department has called on authorities in the DRC to release records from the election. The US State Department also released a press release stating that the US continues to closely monitor the electoral process and the hundreds of legal disputes against the legislative election results.
Seven international NGOs have urged the international community to take immediate action to uphold democracy and human rights in the DRC, as the situation in the country following the elections continues to deteriorate.
The DRC Ministry of Information has pulled three media stations off the air. Two of the media stations were close to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, while the other belonged to the Roman Catholic Church who has been vocal about the illegitimacy of the November elections. This represents just one more example of repression of the media and freedom of speech, which has been characteristic of Kabila’s regime.
The DRC Supreme Court has received over 500 appeals over the results of the disputed legislative elections in November. Despite widespread national and international criticism of the electoral process’ legitimacy, the court has not made any changes to the results. Many of Kabila’s critics accuse him of stacking the court with his supporters before the election in anticipation of the volume of appeals.
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) continues to have a huge presence in the country, with 18,997 uniformed personnel. Despite allegations of human rights violations and exploitation of national security elements by the forces, MONUSCO remains one of the longest running peacekeeping operations in the world to limited success.
Details are just emerging from the DRC today that police and local gangs have tear-gassed, beat and threatened protesters during a peaceful march organized by the Christian Council of Congolese Catholic Lay Apostolate (CALCC) in Kinshasa. Protesters who suffered violent attacks included both priests and nuns.
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 Kelley firstname.lastname@example.org
Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall email@example.com