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Weekly News Brief: 01.12-01.19

In this week’s issue: Fighting breaks out between rebel factions in Darfur, the US imposes new sanctions on Burma, and the LRA continues to massacre civilians in eastern DRC.

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Rebels from JEM have clashed with former rebel Minni Minawi’s forces, causing civilians to flee to a nearby UN base where they were protected. JEM seems to have taken control of Muhajaria, a town in the western Sudan region of Darfur. This has led Darfuri former rebel leader Minni Minawi to accuse some countries of forming an international conspiracy to put Khalil Ibrahim in power.

Sudan’s army said on Wednesday it had bombed rebel positions in Darfur, a rare admission of air attacks in the western region. Ban Ki Moon condemned both the bombings and the rebel clashes.

Sudan detained opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi after he called on Sudan’s president to turn himself into the International Criminal Court. The indictment, which is expected soon, has been warned about by Sudan’s first Vice President Salva Kiir, two Sudanese organizations, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes.

At her confirmation hearing, Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she would focus on the Darfur crisis as top U.S. diplomat and the Obama administration was looking at a range of options. Obama’s UN pick Susan Rice has also made public statements on Darfur.


HBO has picked up the television rights to a movie called "Burma VJ" that uses underground footage of the 2007 uprising in Rangoon to tell the story of that time and Burma in general.

The US Treasury Department has applied new sanctions to two people and 14 companies. Freezing foreign assets and economic sanctions have been the prime measures taken by the US to oppose the military junta in Burma.

Thailand’s new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has openly called for a change in Burmese politics citing that the refugee crises Burma has created as vastly changed the region and needs to be addressed. There are currently about 4 million Burmese refugees in Thailand.

Washington based Human Rights Watch has issued a new report detailing how the human rights situation in Burma is getting worse, citing the recent upsurge in arrests of democratic activist in the nation along with the escalation of ethnic violence.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Human Rights Watch reports that the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has killed at least 620 people and abducted more than 160 children in eastern DRC since Christmas. The UN estimates that 567 have been killed and 115,000 displaced by the recent fighting. The killings escalated after the governments of South Sudan, Uganda, and DRC launched a joint offensive to capture LRA leader Joseph Kony. Check out the STAND Blog for commentary on this situation.

A break-away faction of the CNDP, led by one of Laurent Nkunda’s top commanders, General Bosco Ntaganda, announced on Friday that it was ready to end the conflict with government troops and reintegrate with the Congolese army. There has been no reaction from Nkunda as of yet, but it is suspected that much of the CNDP leadership is backing Ntaganda. Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator," has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes.

Peace talks, which resumed on January 7 in Nairobi, have been put on hold again to allow mediators for the CNDP and the DRC government to consult amongst themselves. AU mediator and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa noted that substantial progress had been made when both sides signed an agreement adopting ground rules to govern the next phase of dialogue.

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