The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Weekly News Brief, September 11 to 18

A weekly roundup of the most important developments in the conflicts GI-Net and STAND follow across the world. This week: an African Union Panel on Darfur, further frustrations in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, attacks on humanitarian aid workers in eastern DR Congo, a car bombing in Afghanistan, and more.
Areas of Concern

·         The African Union Panel on Darfur, headed by former South African President Mbeki will deliver its recommendations on how to secure a peace in Darfur as well as assessing Khartoum’s prosecution of war crimes committed in Darfur.

·         President al-Bashir said that the October Doha peace talks will be the final set of negotiations in the Darfur peace process. 

·         JEM said that it will only discuss an exchange of prisoners and the return of the 13 expelled aid organizations at the upcoming talks and will reportedly not discuss a ceasefire.


·         Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) announced last Thursday his intentions to chair a hearing on improving US policy toward Burma, specifically focusing on sanctions policy.

·         Last Saturday, Burmese intelligence officers briefly detained Win Tin, a senior member of the National League for Democracy.

·         The chief executive of Total said last Friday that the company would not cease operations in Burma, responding to an EarthRights International report condemning Total’s tacit support for human rights abuses by the military junta.

·         The Burmese court hosting Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal has denied her entrance to the courtroom during the proceedings, according to a statement released by her lawyer on Tuesday.

·         China’s diplomatic clout over the Burmese regime is limited, according to a new report released by the International Crisis Group on Sunday. The report says that while China has leverage over the junta, the generals will not necessarily respond to Chinese pressure and that in order to change Burmese behavior, the West must engage with China in areas of mutual interest.

·         KNLA troops ambushed government soldiers near the Thai-Burma border on Sunday.

·         Human Rights Watch released a report on Wednesday documenting the extensive imprisonment of political opponents to the Burmese regime.


·         Ten civilians and six Italian soldiers were killed in a car bombing in Kabul on Thursday. 55 people were wounded in the blast.

·         A spate of violence broke out throughout Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 39 Afghan civilians and security force members in roadside bombings, suicide attacks and executions.

·         The International Council on Security and Development says the Taliban has a “permanent presence” in 80 percent of Afghanistan, with its influence spreading to previously peaceful northwest provinces.

·         Osama Bin Laden called the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan “hopeless,” according to an audio message released last Friday. Meanwhile, a top Al Qaeda commander called on the Taliban to kidnap foreign civilians in order to negotiate the release of Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners.

·         Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that more U.S. troops will likely be needed in Afghanistan to rout Al Qaeda and the Taliban.


·         More than 100,000 people have been displaced from Pakistan’s Khyber tribal agency in the FATA region since September 1. The displacement is blamed on fierce fighting between the Pakistani Army and insurgents in the region.

·         Last Friday the Pakistani army announced the capture of five Taliban militants, including a top commander, in Swat Valley. Meanwhile, reports of extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani military have surfaced, with scores of bodies dumped in the streets. Pakistani newspapers say at least 251 bodies have been found in the Swat region.

·         The International Institute for Strategic Studies has said Pakistan remains the biggest source of instability for Afghanistan, identifying Pakistan as a “key battleground” Al Qaeda.


·         The AMISOM headquarters in Mogadishu was the target of a suicide bombing, killing 14 peacekeepers, including their deputy commander. The attacks were reportedly committed using stolen UN vehicles.

·         The Martini Hospital in Mogadishu was shelled last Friday, killing eleven civilians. It is unclear whether the shelling was deliberate or who was responsible.

·         A U.S. military raid in Somalia last week killed a Kenyan linked to Al-Qaeda without harming any civilians, U.S. and Somali officials reported.

Sri Lanka

·         The U.N.’s senior political official visited Sri Lanka on Wednesday to discuss the conflict’s aftermath, urging the government to speed up its release of Tamil refugees and to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. The official is expected to tour the main detention camp on Thursday. 

·         In a harshening tone, the U.N. warned Sri Lanka last week that it will not indefinitely continue funding displaced persons camps and that its government must return the refugees to their homes.

·         Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has called on the West to stop criticizing Sri Lanka’s treatment of refugees and to start helping rebuild the post-war nation.

Around the World

South Sudan

·         At least 188 Sudanese civilians have been killed by LRA rebels since January 2009, primarily in Western Equatoria state. Food supplies have reportedly become a magnet for LRA fighters, according to UN Humanitarian Coordinator Ameerah Haq. According to the SPLA, the LRA is reportedly moving north towards Darfur.

·         The SPLM’s Minister for Legal Affairs said that referendum law discussions with the NCP “sound promising” and that the two sides have almost reached agreement on a majority vote to determine South Sudanese independence.

·         The UN regional coordinator for Southern Sudan said that while neither north nor south appear to want renewed conflict, progress needs to be made on the referendum law to ensure a peaceful outcome.

·         Up to 1.3 million people in South Sudan are food insecure. The insecurity, primarily caused by drought and local clashes, mainly affects those living in Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states.

·         South Sudanese living in Khartoum will reportedly be able to vote in the 2011 independence referendum, but it remains to be seen if other South Sudanese living in northern states will be allowed to vote.

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