Weekly Education and Advocacy Update
International Funding, Sudan Letter, Sudan, DRC, Libya
International Affairs Funding
The State and Foreign Operations (international affairs) Budget (S. 1601) has been further delayed. Though a decision was expected this week, it now may not happen until later in the year. Disagreements are a large cause of the delay, including objections to the unanimous consent agreement to proceed to debate on the bill from Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), David Vitter (R-LA), and others.
In a letter organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, five former Secretaries of State (Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger) called on Congress to support the International Affairs Budget, warning that “now is not the time for America to retreat from the world.” As it stands now, international affairs funding is at risk for deep and disproportionate cuts.
Genocide Prevention Sign-On Letter
Last week, Senators Coons and Collins began circulating a letter around the Senate addressed to President Obama on genocide prevention. This letter, which closed for signatures today, urges the administration to develop the necessary tools to successfully avert mass atrocities and prevent the conditions that can lead to violence against innocent civilians. The letter also reiterates the principles of S. Con. Res. 71, which passed unanimously in the 111th Congress urging the administration to conduct an interagency review to evaluating existing capacities for anticipating, preventing, and responding to genocide and other mass atrocities. The following Senators signed on to this letter, as of 11:20am on the morning of November 17th:
- Coons [D-DE]
- Collins [R-ME]
- Wyden [D-OR]
- Casey [D-PA]
- Murray [D-WA]
- Bennet [D-CO]
- Udall [D-NM]
- Cardin [D-MD]
- Feinstein [D-CA]
- Durbin [D-IL]
- Lieberman [I-CT]
- Menendez [D-NJ]
- Lautenberg [D-NJ]
- Murkowski [R-AK]
- Levin [D-MI]
- Merkley [D-OR]
- Snowe [R-ME]
National Call-In Day for Syria
Today, STAND members and supporters across the country called their Senate offices to urge their Senators to support the Syria Sanctions Act of 2011 (S. 1472). This legislation aims to implement penalties in the US for all companies engaging with Syria’s petroleum sector. To add your voice to those who called their Senators today, please call 1-800-GENOCIDE or sign up to talk with your Senator in person at an in-district lobby meeting.
South Sudan’s army released 53 children from its barracks in Unity state on November 15th, following a forced recruitment earlier this year to help fight a rebellion. Child soldiers were used throughout the North/South civil war as well.
The British humanitarian agency Oxfam pulled its staff from South Sudan’s border region. It issued a statement that said, “New bombing raids and a buildup of troops along the border of Sudan and South Sudan over the past few days threaten to escalate what is already a significant humanitarian crisis in the newest country in the world.”
Civilians fled as bombs fell on a camp for displaced people in South Sudan, and President Salva Kiir accused the Sudanese government of planning to invade his newly independent nation. Senior United Nations officials sided with South Sudan in accusing Sudan of bombing a southern civilian encampment the day before. One United Nations official called for an investigation, suggesting that a war crime might have been committed. There have been calls for a no-fly zone.
The Sudanese government downplayed reports that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will soon file a new case with the judges against defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein. They maintain that is not Darfur related.
The African Union (AU) on November 16ht expressed deep concerns over escalating tension along the north-south Sudan border, the world’s newest international boundary.
Who will win the presidential elections in Congo? While analysts were quick to say Kabila, especially due to the fact that this election will be one-round only, however the results are still shrouded in uncertainty. Jason Stearnspointed out that the elections will be far more local this time, with some of the factors (such as East vs. West and anti-RCD vs. anti-Kabila) not impacting this round as much as the 2006 elections. While Etienne Tshisekedi has proved to be a viable candidate, it is still uncertain whether or not the change that some voters want to see is represented by any of the opposition party’s platforms.
Stearns also predicted a breakdown of the votes per region, with Kinshasa serving as the hub of opposition and Tshisekedi stronghold, while Katanga as Kabila’s home region is predicted to overwhelmingly support the incumbent. Other regions are more split, which shows that overall this should be a tight race between Kabila and Tshisekedi. Last minute endorsements or an opposition coalition could prove to be the deciding factor.
While violence has been reported in Kinshasa for months, other regions are now feeling the tensions surrounding the upcoming elections. Last week the popular singer Fabrice Mumpfiritsa was kidnapped by armed men from his recording studio on Goma. While he had previously supported Kabila, he recently began singing in praise of the opposition right before his disappearance. He was found by Monday in Goma, with the bruises of political violence.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Tshisekedi’s visit to South Africa, the country has just signed a major hydropower agreement with the Congo. The agreement plans to revive the Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River. South African President Jacob Zuma will visit the country on November 12th to sign a memorandum of understanding with President Kabila.
After the UN announced it documented 188 election violations linked to the electoral process, the State Department called on all political parties to abstain from the use of violence in the upcoming weeks.
Charities in the United Kingdom are calling for Britain’s Privy Council, a body that advises the head of state, to block Peter Grossman’s so-called vulture fund from taking $100 million from the Congo. Grossman’s vulture fund buys up the debts of developing nations cheaply than sues them for up to 100 times what they paid for them when Western nations then forgive the debt the countries owe. In this case, Grossman’s company paid $3 million for a debt Zaire owed Yugoslavia and now the country been told by courts in Jersey (a tax haven in the English Channel) that they owe $100 million to Grossman.
Tourists are flocking to Nyamulagira volcano in the Congo to see the most active volcano in Africa, paying up to $300 to be escorted to a viewing site in the national park.
BBC News reported Monday that seven Libyans were killed in inter-militia clashes around the oil-rich city of Zawiya with Al-Jazeera reporting a further 13 killed around Tripoli by Tuesday of that week. The National Transitional Council and militia fighters said that the dispute which caused the armed clashes had been put to rest over the weekend, but the clashes highlight concerns by both Western leaders and the NTC that the continuing autonomy of armed militia groups could be detrimental to the stability of the new Libyan state.
Reuters reportedTuesday on the continuing importance and dangers of the militias in maintaining order in the country while the still fragile NTC gradually asserts more direct authority. Mahmoud Jabril, who served as the National Transitional Council’s Prime Minister during the civil war, said on Wednesday that a “rapid vote” should be undertaken within six months to construct a new Libyan government, fearing the consequences of a prolonged power vacuum.
NYT reported Tuesday that in the fields of Zawiya and elsewhere, Libyan oilproduction has been rising back at a faster than expected rate, with Libyan officials estimating that pre-conflict levels of output will be restored by June. Libyan oil sites were largely spared of extensive damage during the civil war, both sides aware of their strategic and economic importance. However, challenges remain both in bringing back foreign workers and companies in a still uncertain political and security situation within Libya as well as the task of properly administering the vast oil network.
The European Union’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton visited Tripoli onSaturday to meet with the leaders of the National Transitional Council and discuss the future of the new Libya as well its relationship with the European Union. Aston was quoted as saying “’This is your country, We are here to help and support’, and also emphasized the vitality of women’s rights in the formation of a free, democratic Libyan state.
The president of Niger expressed concerns last Friday over the proliferation of arms and the threat ofarms trafficking stemming from the aftermath of the civil conflict in Libya. The President stated that Niger’s military has been involved in several clashes with arms traffickers attempting to cross the border, and has intercepted traffickers transporting surface to air missile systems which could potentially be sold to terrorist groups. The Qaddafi regime possessed some 20,000 missiles for man portable air defense systems, many of which went missing in the chaos of the civil conflict. US officials say that the majority of the weapons remain within Libya, but stress the importance of quickly securing Libyan weapons stockpiles.
Niger announced on Friday that one of Muammar Qaddafi’s sons, Saadi Qaddafi, would remain in that nationdespite calls by the Libyan government for his extradition. Saadi fled to Niger during the latter stages of the Libyan conflict, having earlier faced a United Nations travel ban along with other Qaddafi family members, as well as the freezing of their assets. Interpol similarly has placed a warrant for his arrest and extradition back to Libya should he enter the borders of a member state. Niger says it has granted Saadi asylum in their country on “humanitarian grounds”.
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