This post was written by STAND’s Policy Intern, Rosie Berman. Rosie is a rising junior at Clark University where she studies Political Science and Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
A parliamentary committee has voted to retain a constitutional clause barring opposition leader and pro-democracy advocate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from standing for president. The clause bans anyone with non-Burmese partners or children from running. Suu Kyi’s late husband and two children are British citizens. Parliament must still vote on the ruling before it is final.
According to the United Nations, more than 86,000 people, the majority Rohingya, fleeing Burmese pogroms, have left by boat since the latest round of ethnic violence broke out in mid-2012. These refugees brave rough waters in barely seaworthy crafts to reach the supposed safe havens of Indonesia, Thailand, or Malaysia. However, upon reaching their new countries, many are sold to traffickers and used as forced laborers, often on fishing boats.
Hundreds of ethnic Palaung in Shan State’s Kutkai Township have fled their homes after the Burmese Army fired artillery on their village amid ongoing clashes between the military and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). According to TNLA spokesperson Mai Aie Kyaw, there were no TNLA troops stationed in the village, and that the artillery shelling appeared to be intended to scare Ton Pan’s civilian inhabitants. He added that all those who fled had sought refuge in a village nearby.
Central African Republic
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is appealing to neighbouring countries to keep their borders open and allow access to safe haven for people on the run from the Central African Republic. This appeal comes amid reports that Chad has recently turned back CAR citizens seeking safety at the Sido border entry point. Since the conflict began in 2012, around 226,000 people have fled to neighboring countries while an estimated 550,000 are displaced within the CAR.
Central African Republic Prime Minister, Andre Nzapayeke, called for a pause in his country’s civil war so citizens could enjoy the World Cup. He specifically appealed to young people to fully enjoy the event and warned them against taking part in the fighting. Prime Minister Nzapayeke later said that he hoped the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on June 28, will provide another opportunity to put the fighting on hold.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A report from the human rights group Freedom from Torture has found that security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are systematically raping President Joseph Kabila’s female opponents. The type of “crimes” the female political activists were punished for included storing and distributing political leaflets, banners and T-shirts and attending meetings and demonstrations. Rape by state security forces can be defined as an act of torture under international law.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) information minister says hundreds of rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) from South and North Kivu provinces have been disarming as part of the government’s program to improve security and stabilize the country. The government’s disarmament program is expected to last between the next two to three weeks, according to Mende. He says the administration in Kinshasa expects other armed groups to also disarm. As of now, about 15% of FDLR fighters are in Congolese government camps after they voluntarily disarmed.
Syria and Iraq
Syrian government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on opposition-held districts of Aleppo on Monday, killing at least 31 people including several children. Two bombs hit the Sukkari neighborhood minutes apart, the second catching those who had gone to the assistance of the casualties from the first. Human rights groups consider the regime’s use of barrel bombs against international law, as the bombs lack any guidance mechanism, causing indiscriminate casualties. Elsewhere in Syria, rebel shelling of a government-held area of the Idlib province killed 13 people, 8 of which were children.
The United Nations Human Rights chief, Navi Pillay, has said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS/ISIL) and their allies have almost certainly executed soldiers, military conscripts, police and others who had surrendered or had been captured, in several locations around Tikrit. Pictures posted on a Twitter account sympathetic to ISIL show masked fighters loading the captives on trucks before forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch with their arms tied behind their backs. The final pictures show bodies soaked in blood after being shot.
United Nations aid agencies have appealed for $1 billion to provide humanitarian aid to millions of South Sudanese affected by the conflict. The United Nations hopes to use this money to save lives, prevent a famine, and avert the loss of a generation of children and young people to this conflict.
South Sudan’s Vice President, James Igga, vowed in Kampala, Uganda, on Saturday, that Juba would neither accept President Salva Kiir to step down nor form a power-sharing interim government which would include the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM-in-Opposition). Rebel spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, claimed that Igga’s remarks were inconsistent with the agreed agenda currently on the table as well as the spirit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-mediated peace talks in Addis Ababa. A proposal for the two rival parties to negotiate a peace agreement within 60 days that would lead to formation of a transitional government– the composition of which is yet to be negotiated– is currently on the table.
The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mashood Baderin arrived in Khartoum on Sunday for a ten-day visit. Baderin said his visit to Sudan will discuss the reality of the human rights situation in the country and developments that have occurred, especially in Darfur and South Kordofan. He will will visit the states of South Darfur and Blue Nile and meet a number of state officials at the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, civil society organizations, and editors of newspapers. He will conclude his visit with a press conference.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, has accused Sudan of intensifying attacks on civilians in the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Power said that ground and air attacks have increased since April, with hundreds of barrel bombs and other explosives dropped on towns and villages, deliberately targeting hospitals and schools. She also condemned the alleged targeting of civilian aid workers, which she said would seriously violate international law if proven accurate.