Weekly Update from the STAND Education Team 8/26-9/1
Libya, Syria, DRC, Sudan
- Rebels in Libya, with support from NATO, captured most of Tripoli and attention shifted to recreating destroyed institutions.
- Protests broke out in the capital of the DRC regarding allegations of fraud in the preparations for upcoming elections.
- Over 26,000 South Sudanese have been displaced because of ethnic violence surrounding cattle raids in Jonglei State
Libya and Syria
- NYT reports that The National Transitional Council (NTC) has given Col. Muammar Qaddafi and forces, particularly those in Qaddafi’s home town of Surt which remains a loyalist bastion, an ultimatum to surrender to rebel forces. Negotiations between rebels and Qaddafi loyalists in Surt are reportedly ongoing.
- Col. Qaddafi remains at large, and his wife and three children along with their families were reported to have fled to nearby Algeria. Both Col. Qaddafi and son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi allegedly remain in Libya and have vowed continued resistance in released messages according to BBC News.
- As Libyan rebel forces consolidate control of the Libyan capital of Tripoli from forces loyal to Col. Muammar Qaddafi, BBC News, Human Rights Watch and Al-Jazeera report that evidence of several mass killings has been uncovered. Human Rights Watch reports that eighteen bodies were discovered outside of a building allegedly controlled by pro-Qaddafi internal security forces. Another seventeen bodies were discovered in an empty building in the Gargur district. In both cases, the nature of the gunshot wounds and survivor testimony indicates that the victims were civilians and opposition figures tortured and then executed by Qaddafi loyalists as they retreated from the rebel advance. HRW reports that several similar sites exist throughout the city but at present responsibility is difficult to assess.
- Libyan rebels have largely consolidated control of the Libyan capital, but the disparate rebel groups now face the task of maintaining order and returning basic services to Tripoli’s population.
- Amnesty International released a statement on August 31, concerning potential abuse of black Libyans by rebel forces. They have been the target of rebels because many were hired as mercenaries by Qaddafi.
- NYT reports that Iran’s foreign minister has released a statement calling upon Syria to recognize the “legitimate” demands of Syrian protesters and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Earlier in the week the European Union stepped up sanctions on Iran’s al-Quds brigade of the Revolutionary Guards Corp., alleging that Iranian group was aiding Syrian security forces.
- BBC News reports that Adnan Bakkour, Attorney General of the Syrian city of Hama,has released a video protesting the regimes crackdown and announcing his resignation. In the video, Bakkour details alleged human rights abuses, including summary executions, by Syrian security forces.
- NYT reports that on August 28 Turkish President Abdullah Gul stated that he has “lost confidence” in the Syrian regime.
- NYT reports that Syrian security forces have been conducting neighborhood sweeps in the city of Hama, arresting suspected protestors and opposition figures. Elsewhere in Syria, protestors have continued to rally despite violent reprisals by security forces.
- Despite record turnout for registration, officials now fear the November elections will be delayed due to spirally costs and the loss of voting equipment. Despite the state relying heavily on international aid in the 2006 elections, Kinshasa is expected to take the lead on ensuring the elections are free and fair while international organizations are backing off. This has already led to controversy; the international community fears the elections will not be legitimate or not even take place while domestic opposition parties are already accusing President Kabila of rigging the elections. Despite being only 3 months away from the election date, voting equipment such as ballots and booths have yet to reach the country. This has further increased the cost of the elections from $700 million originally to $1.2 billion. How the government will cover 70% of elections costs, as Kinshasa originally promised, is unclear.
- In response to allegations of fraud surrounding the elections, hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Kinshasa. Police fired tear gas in response until the protests ceased.
- Though debt is a universal problem, it is particularly accentuated in DRC. The debt burden of the country is now equal to its GDP at $13 billion, though international donors are now advocating for debt reduction for the country since it cannot handle a debt burden that exceeds $4 billion.
- Congolese authorities are investigating a MONUSCO driver accused of trying to illegally export minerals into Rwanda. Officials in the North Kivu province, an area known for its mineral abundance, say they stopped the driver last week and found 1,200 kilograms of casserite which is considered a ‘conflict mineral’ by international organizations. MONUSCO has spoken against the incident, saying it works hard to prevent trafficking of illicit minerals, and promising an internal inquiry into the breach of ethics. The man was sentenced to three years in prison.
- Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it submitted an official complaint to the United Nations Security Council, accusing South Sudan of causing instability in South Kordofan state, the latest sign of growing tension between the two nations. In response, South Sudan denied Sudan’s accusation, suggesting that the blame for South Kordofan’s troubles rests solely with Khartoum’s.
- A Dinka Ngok delegation from the dissolved Abyei administration last week held talks with the commander of the UN forces in the region nearly four months after North Sudan’s army invaded the disputed oil-producing region
- The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi urged the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to make the necessary concessions to end the current conflicts in Sudan and to achieve a democratic transition, after South Sudan seceded in July.
- President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Saturday ordered the release of all Sudanese journalists, saying Khartoum respects responsible freedom of expression. Witnesses said the decision to free about six journalists in detention came after he attended an annual function by journalists linked to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
- Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir announced a two-week unilateral ceasefire in Southern Kordofan state, a week after the U.N. called for an investigation into reports of violence and abuses there.
- The secretary-general of the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman, has fulminated against the rule of the National Congress Party (NCP) and revealed preparations to convene a summit between his party and rebel groups from Sudan’s western Darfur region.
- The United Nations estimates that 26,800 individuals in three villages have been displaced by recent ethnic fighting in South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei state. Violence erupted after a series of cattle raids in an effort to secure food resources during the driest months of the year.
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 Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall email@example.com