Weekly Education and Policy Update
Syria Bill, Girifna Action, Syria, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC
On Tuesday of last week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] introduced new legislation on the conflict in Syria, titled the Syrian Human Rights Accountability Act (S. 2034). This legislation calls for sanctions on US companies of sensitive technology to Syria, and would implement sanctions on specific people identified for engaging in human rights abuses and censorship. The bill expands on legislation Senator Gillibrand introduced last year (the Syria Sanctions Act of 2011, or S. 1472), which emphasized sanctions for US companies engaged in Syria’s petroleum sector. Both articles of legislation are currently active in the Senate.
Keep an eye out for further informational and advocacy materials on S. 2034 in the next week. In the meantime, please call 1-800-GENOCIDE and urge your Senators to co-sponsor these pieces of legislation as a way of showing their support for civilian protesters in Syria.
Last week, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested nine student activists, whose whereabouts are now unknown. Five of the students were members of the group Girifna, a non-violent, student-led, pro-democracy group, . The arrested students include the organization’s co-founder, Nagi Musa. Four other students have been arrested since that day, and Girifna also reported that Gasm Allah, the leader of Youth for Change, has been missing since Friday.
Please call the State Department’s Sudan office at (202) 647-4531 to demand a proactive response, and then tweet about your call at #FreeGirifna.
NYT Reports that the Arab League announced on Sunday that it was suspending its monitoring mission in Syria. Head of the Arab League, Nabil-al-Araby, stated that the escalation in violence undertaken in recent months by the regime has made the situation on the ground too dangerous forobservers to continue operating in Syria. The suspension
comes amid a flurry of League activity surrounding a condemnatory UN Resolution which the League is looking to propose within the next week. On February 1st, Al-Araby and Jassim Al Thani, PM of Qatar, stated that the United Nations Security council must take action to pressure the Syrian government into ending its crackdown, however both leaders expressed opposition to foreign military intervention. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has stated it will veto a proposed resolution relating to Syria that opens the door for sanctions or military intervention. Owing to these concerns, Security Council policy makers are now attempting to revise the resolution and potentially remove direct calls within it for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, to step down.
The past several weeks have been marked by a major escalation in violence by government security forces, as well as fierce clashes throughout Syria between regime forces and elements of the Free Syrian Army. BBC News reported Wednesday via opposition sources that some 43 people had been killed by security forcesthis week, with security forces using directing heavy artillery strikes upon the city of Wari Barada, killing 21. The United Nations has stopped attempting to estimate the number of ongoing deaths in Syria for a lack of clarity and reliability in sources, its final toll standing at 5,400 Syrians dead.
Sudan, South Sudan
Demonstrations against the newly appointed governor escalated resulting in the death of two people in South Darfur State.
South Sudan has threatened litigation against those who purchase its oil from neighboring Sudan after Khartoum reportedly sold crude seized from the newly independent state at millions of dollars discount.
Authorities in oil rich Unity State said Friday, January 27th that they had successfully closed down over 300 stations of oil wells in both Tharjath and Unity oil fields. Last week South Sudan announced it was stopping the export of its oil through north Sudan over a fee dispute. Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir, presidents of Sudan and South Sudan respectively, failed to reach an agreement on the terms by which Juba can export its oil through the north’s pipelines despite pressure mounted by African leaders present at the summit in Addis Ababa.
The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Saturday, January 28th announced that fighters from the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) launched an assault on the site of a Chinese construction company in South Kordofan. The governor of South Kordofan Ahmed Haroun announced the following day that 14 out of the 29 Chinese workers kidnapped by rebels from the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) have been freed following an operation conducted by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). China plans to work with South Sudan to safely retrieve the other workers.
At least seventy-six people, most of whom are elderly, women and children, have been killed in South Sudan’s Warrap State. Several others are reported to have sustained multiple injuries. Hundreds of cattle are also reported to have been stolen. Alison Manani Magaya, South Sudan’s interior minister, accused Khartoum of arming the militia responsible for the attack.
Mitt Romney on Tuesday accused the Sudanese government of committing atrocities throughout the country and vowed to hold it accountable.
WFP has released a report stating that up to 500,000 more refugees could flee into South Sudan from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states if Khartoum does not allow more aid into the area.
Opposition leader Etienne Tshisedeki continues to condemn the results of the presidential and parliamentary elections. He called for his party members who won seats to boycott parliaments, and he also called on his supported for a general strike on Monday in Kinshasa to protest his house arrest. However, the strike was met with mixed success. In cities like Mbuji-Mayi and Kananga, the strike was well followed and shops were closed. However in the capital city of Kinshasa, life continued as normal. One Kinshasa resident said, “If we strike, what will we eat? We Congolese survive from day to day, to strike would kill us.” In addition, the police continue to use tear gas and violence to disperse opposition supporters.
The electoral commission has finally announced the results of the parliamentary poll, where 18,000 candidates competed for 500 seats. According to the BBC, the results gave the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and its allies an absolute majority of about 260 seats in National Assembly, while the opposition party took about 110 seats. Check out Jason Stearn’s analysis of the resultshere.
The SEC is expected to finally publish the rules for section 1508 of Dodd-Frank on February 15th which requires companies track the use of conflict minerals in the production of consumer products.
The United National Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has committed $9.1 million to the DRC to fight off cholera, which continues to plague the country. 22,000 people have been affected by cholera in the past year, and over 500 people have died. The disease has broad impacts on communities, including agricultural livelihoods, school attendance and the general well-being of families.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) announced they have a new strategy to defeat Congo militia groups.The new US envoy to the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Barrie Walkley, met with Rwandan officials earlier this week to discuss strategies to defeat militia groups including the FDLR and LRA. He said, “I will concern myself with the region application issues as the FDLR, LRA, conflict minerals, security sector reform, the problems with armed groups in the region and violence again women. Issues of that sort will be my responsibility.” This new strategy hopes to maintain peace and security in the region, however MONUSCO has been met with widespread criticism in the past so how effective this move truly will be remains unclear.
African analysts and activists continue to be disappointed with President Obama, as policy towards sub-Saharan Africa continues to be a very low priority.In last week’s State of the Union address make no mention of the region whatsoever. Though Congolese Americans campaigned vigorously for Obama in 2008 and rallies for healthcare legislation, many are now disillusioned with American policy towards Africa.
The education and policy 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
Advocacy Coordinator: Maria Thomson firstname.lastname@example.org