The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Weekly News Brief, September 18 to 25

Areas of Concern

·         The government of Sudan is continuing to carry out attacks on the rebel faction SLM in northern Darfur.  Attacks in Jebel Marra resumed last Thursday and have continued.  At least 18 civilians were killed in the fighting.

·         The head of the Sudanese Bar association stated he would reject any African Union suggestions to create hybrid courts for war crimes committed in Darfur, because Sudanese law forbids the participation of foreign judges. Instead of hybrid courts, the chief prefers a South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  

·         The appeals chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) permitted pro-government Sudanese groups to submit observations regarding an appeal by the prosecutor for including counts of genocide against president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

·         This week President Obama delivered his first speech to the general assembly in which he addressed the issues in Sudan.  To read the full speech click here


·         On Wednesday, the Obama administration outlined its new Burma policy, which will include a combination of diplomatic engagement with the Burmese regime and continued economic sanctions. Aung San Suu Kyi endorsed the administration’s new policy on Thursday.

·         Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon released a statement on Wednesday following the UN Group of Friends on Burma meeting, in which he advocated for the release of political prisoners, national reconciliation, and respect for human rights in Burma.

·         Last weekend Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) met with Nyan Win, Burma’s foreign minister. Webb also announced on Tuesday that he would hold a Burma policy hearing on October 1. The Senator has been critical of the efficacy of current sanctions on Burma.

·         The Burmese regime announced the release of 7,114 prisoners, including at least 127 political prisoners.

·         Sayadaw U Pannya Vamsa, a Buddhist leader, is organizing a coalition of religious groups in opposition to the regime’s restrictions on religious practice. This comes as Human Rights Watch’s new report on how politically active Buddhist monks continue to be harassed and detained by the government.

Democratic Republic of Congo

·         In an interview with All Africa Media, John Prendergast explained the new strategy to de-link minerals from conflict in the eastern Congo by focusing on the end users of Tungsten, Tin and Tantalum to limit the economic benefits associated with state failure in eastern Congo.

·         The FARDC took control of three major FDLR bases in the South Kivu region of Fizi. Congolese forces also captured an FDLR brigade commander.

·         Despite the offensive against it, the FDLR remains a threat to eastern Congo and attacked five villages in the Otobora region of North Kivu, killing six civilians.Civilians have also fled the areas of Ikobo and Kisamba due to fears about FDLR reprisal attacks.


·         A confidential report to President Obama by Gen. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, warned that failure in Afghanistan is likely unless more troops are deployed. President Obama has said no more troops will be sent to Afghanistan without first settling on specific policy.

·        Afghanistan’s Taliban leader issued a statement last Saturday vowing that the defeat of foreign forces was imminent and warning Westerners not to accept President Obama’s justifications for war in Afghanistan.


·         The U.S. military shut down its largest detainee camp in Iraq, Camp Bucca, last Thursday. The closure is part of a process to hand over thousands of detained persons to Iraqi authorities. Bucca once held 14,000 detainees, many without official charges.

·         One civilian was killed and four wounded when a bomb exploded at cemetery last Sunday. A roadside bomb killed an 11-year-old boy, wounding two others, in northern Iraq that same day.


·         A suicide car bomb targeted a busy marketplace, killing at least 35 civilians, in the Kohat province of northwest Pakistan last Friday. Another suicide attack the next night at a security checkpoint in the same province wounded four civilians.

·         Suspected Taliban fighters bombed a primary school for girls in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday. There were no casualties since the school was closed for Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holy holiday.

·         Pakistani officials announced that another Taliban commander had been killed by a U.S. drone attack last week. He was considered by some as one of the top 10 most wanted Taliban officials. The Pakistani army also says it arrested a Taliban suicide attack mastermind in the Swat Valley on Monday.

·         The US Senate raised the amount of non-military aid to Pakistan to almost 1.5 billion dollars a year. The aid seeks to improve democratic and economic development and is particularly geared towards improving the Pakistani educational system. 


·         The United Nations is investigating the use of its vehicles in twin suicide attacks last Thursday against the AU’s peacekeeping base in Mogadishu, which killed 21 people, including 17 peacekeepers. The U.N. condemned the attack as “unacceptable.”

·         On Sunday, a top Islamist leader in Somalia called for more suicide attacks against AU peacekeepers.  

·         Al -Shabaab pledged its allegiance to Osama Bin Laden in a documentary video released Monday, in an attempt to recruit Somali youth to join the radical rebel group. The EU is worried that continued instability and growth of Al-Qaeda in Somalia could result in another situation such as in Afghanistan.

·         Elders say at least 17 people were killed in clashes between TFG forces and Islamic rebels on Sunday in the western border with Ethiopia.  Fighting between the two groups also broke out in southern Somalia on Monday.

Sri Lanka

·         U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe has expressed “strong concern” for Tamil refugees still kept in camps and has said not enough progress is being made to resettle them. Pascoe, who visited Sri Lanka last week, warned that the continuation of the camps is breeding resentment and putting reconciliation at risk. He also urged the Sri Lankan government to investigate human rights violations.

·         Human Rights Watch called on the G-20 to demand the closure of the IDP detention camps in Sri Lanka. In addition to the resentment caused by continued detention, civilians in the camps are at risk due to flooding associated with the coming monsoon, limited medical care in the camps, and reports of enforced disappearances of detainees.

·         Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, vowed that Tamil refugees would be resettled by the end of January, with at least 70 percent returned to their homes by late November.  

·         The Sri Lankan government announced it has raised $23 million to rehabilitate former Tamil rebels and is seeking foreign donations for more training facilities.

·         A Tamil legislator alleged last week that thousands of refugees the government had said it released from camps last week were actually moved to other detention centers.

Around the World
South Sudan

·         76 Dinka were killed and another 46 injured during an attack on the village of Duk Padiet in Jonglei state. Reports from the attack suggest that the village was not the target of a cattle raid as there were no cattle in the town at the time of the attack.

·         The Bishop of Tambura-Yambio called for international assistance to stop LRA attacks in Western Equatoria state. The LRA has recently carried out a number of attacks in Western Equatoria and appear to be moving towards Western Bahr el Ghazal.


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