Weekly Education Update
DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria
The implications of the UN Group of Experts report on the DRC continue to come to light. One-time NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, a Congolese native, has been implicated in a $10 million deal to sell 1,045 pounds of gold from eastern DRC to a Houston oil executive.
DRC’s Catholic Church accused Kabila’s government of “treachery, lies and terror” and has urged the electoral commission to fix the flaws in November’s elections or resign. As an extremely influential player in an overwhelming Christian country, this move is seen by many as a big step for justice. The Catholic bishop’s council said in a statement last Thursday, “We cannot build a state in a culture of treachery, lies and terror, of militarization and the flagrant violation of the freedom of expression.” The archbishop of Kinshasa Laurent Monsengwo also called on the Congolese population to initiate a campaign of disobedience until the election results are annulled. The full results of the parliamentary elections, which were due on Friday, have been postponed until the end of this week.
For almost a decade, concerns have been raised by human rights groups about the fate of Congolese who are refused asylum in the United Kingdom and return back home to the DRC. A recent report by Justice First called “Unsafe Return” highlights the fact that upon return Congolese are facing arrest, imprisonment, ill treatment and even torture. Many returnees had been imprisoned in the secret services prison of Kin Mazière. One refused asylum seeker was removed from the UK last March and when he arrived back in Kinshasa he was detained, taken to the secret services prison and tortured for three weeks. Another torture victim said, "The government in Congo views Congolese people deported back home from the UK as enemies. The guards who beat me kept saying to me: ‘You are a spy, give us information, why are you doing this to your country?’ I am in a lot of pain from the torture but I’m too scared to go to hospital in case someone recognizes me and I get taken back to detention.” This constitutes a massive human rights violation that must be addressed by the international community, especially in the wake of the controversial November elections. The likelihood that the use of torture has increased post-elections for opposition party supporters is high.
As a result of the financial crisis, governments attempting to curb deficits have decreased their contributions to the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other disease-fighting organizations. These cuts have very real implications; the Global Fund will not make any new grants in the new two years because of a decline in funding. This means that the 28,000 HIV-positive people who were meant to start life-saving ARV treatment by 2014 will not have access to drugs due to budget shortfalls. The US, Spain, Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Italy are among donor nations that have failed to commit to life-saving treatments around the world.
Rwanda has arrested four generals, accusing them of being engaged in business transactions with civilians in the mineral-rich east of the DRC. A diplomat told Reuters that this arrest was linked to the publication of the UN Group of Experts report, and this is the most high-profile military arrests since 2010.
Sudan, South Sudan
Heavy fighting erupted last week between Sudan’s army (SAF) and rebels in the border state of South Kordofan amid reports of civilians being killed in aerial bombardment. They started when SAF launched an offensive attack on the rebels-controlled villages of Buram and Tess, south of the state’s capital Kadugli and north of the borders with South Sudan. 16 villagers were killed and 26 wounded during the attack.
At least 55 are reported dead, 52 injured and 40 children abducted in Wek and Patuet payams [districts] following a retaliatory attack launched by youth of the Murle ethnic group on Wednesday, January 11, 2012.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has expressed concern over the ongoing cycle of retaliatory attacks against the Lou-Nuer community by the rival Murle community in Jonglei state following the withdrawal of the Lou-Nuer from Pibor county two weeks ago.
Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday dismissed U.N. and U.S. concerns about a mounting humanitarian crisis in two Sudanese border states, saying the situation there was "normal."
Jonglei state governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, said on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 that at least forty-six people were killed and seven wounded in Duk county following an attack late on Monday, January 16, 2012, by members of the Murle ethnic group.
The United States ambassador called the aid blockade imposed by Sudan “unconscionable and unacceptable,” claiming that 500,000 displaced people face famine if substantial international aid does not begin to flow by March.
The Arab League observatory mission which began a month ago is due to come to an end today, however League leaders are presently considering an extension to the mission for another month in consequence of continuing violence within the country. The League is now in the process of compiling the observer’s information and creating the mission’s report about conditions in Syria; Some 600 Syrians have been killed since the Arab League mission arrived.
Reuters reported on Thursday, via a Britain based opposition group, that 18 civilians had been killed on Thursday along with two Syrian Army officers killed in an ambush by opposition fighters. BBC News reported over 30 civilians had been killed earlier in the week, primarily in Homs, Hama and Idlib province. Further, eight civilians traveling in a minibus were killed in a roadside bombing, but responsibility for the attack remains unclear.
A ceasefire has been declared Thursday in the Syrian town of Zabadani between opposition fighters and Syrian security forces. Zabadani, under the control of the opposition, had become the site of fierce clashes throughout the past weeks but the deal now struck between the Syrian Defense Minister and local opposition leaders will pull both security forces and opposition fighters from the streets of the town.
Syrian Kurds have announced that they plan to hold a conference in the near future to address the disparate objectives of the Syrian Kurdish community and diaspora. Syrian kurds are concerned that as a minority group, that should violence in the country escalate, that Kurdish populations will be isolated and their interests subjugated.
On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad offered amnesty to those involved in protest and opposition activities, however violence and the targeting of opposition figures continues unabated throughout the country and some 35,000 people are estimated to remain jailed. In response to ongoing violence, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said “Today, I say again to President Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your people.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Wednesday that he would veto any proposed military intervention in the UN Security Council in Syria, and further stated that aiding the Syrian opposition could lead to “a very big war that will cause suffering not only to countries in the region, but also to states far beyond its boundaries”, and responded to criticisms that Russia continued to conduct trade with the Syrian government.
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 Kelley firstname.lastname@example.org
Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall email@example.com