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    Pambazuka News 732: Legislooters, axis of shevil and white terrorism

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    Buhari, ‘legislooters’ and the change agenda

    Chido Onumah and Godwin Onyeacholem


    cc NH
    Nigerian lawmakers will soon pocket $45 million as “wardrobe allowance.” All that - and a lot more - in a country with a minimum wage of about $80 and where more than half the states have not paid workers for months. Pathological greed!

    Wind the critically slurred legislative tape back to the first National Assembly of the Fourth Republic. It began sometime in 1999, you’d recall. That was the period the incautious yet irrepressible Chuba Okadigbo, then a brand new senator of our perpetually blighted Republic, first gave an inkling of what the legislators had in stock for an already battered people. A furniture allowance of N5m each had just been announced by one unfeeling government agency for 109 senators, and something a little less for their 360 equally rapacious partners stationed in the House of Representatives.

    “What!” Nigerians screamed in ear-splitting anger. They wondered why newly elected legislators would be asking for that much for their convenience in a country that had been robbed blind and severely wrecked by the retreating military oligarchy. Typical of him, Okadigbo – Oyi as he was then widely saluted by his admirers and subjects – poured cold water on the issue by declaiming flamboyantly that if anyone cared to know, he was not in Abuja to live like a cockroach. Since that open display of arrogant indiscretion, Nigerian legislators have not looked back in their avowed journey of mindless plunder.

    It has since assumed the tale of as you cut off their finger, they find new ways to adorn it with a diamond-studded ring, thus lending strong credence to the widely held view that more than being legislators, these so-called lawmakers are nothing but a terminally dependent class of Nigeria’s prebendal state. In their heedless quest for material and sensual pleasures, they have only stopped short of demanding from the state the power to keep permanent suites in the poshest hotels across the country for as long as their tenure lasts. And who says they won’t soon get to that point?

    So bad it is that even in this era of clamour for a decided “change,” they are not showing any faint sign of taming the odious grab-grab mentality. There is no other name for this kind of behaviour other than pathological greed. Stretching it further to accommodate synonyms in three local languages, the Yoruba would call it iwa wobia; in Igbo they would say it’s something like anyan ukwu, while the Hausa will see it as typical halin azzalumai.

    In a few days, these azzalumai of the 8th National Assembly will shamelessly stretch their hands to pocket about N9bn ($45million) – senate president, Bukola Saraki, says the figure is lower, without giving the real figure – courtesy of the Nigerian state, for what they call wardrobe allowance. Last week, it was reported that the preening new Senate President (the de facto President of the Federal Republic) was still operating from his personal residence because the N27.1bn naira ($135million) castles being built by the government for principal officers of the National Assembly were still under construction. All these in a country with a minimum wage of N18,000 (about $80); a country where more than half the states have not paid workers for months.

    Whatever the real figures of the official extravagance, it is one story that leaves a sour taste in the mouth. This shameless affront or iwa wobia by our certified anyan ukwus is coming at a time of intense expectation of total break from the ignoble past, a period when citizens are yearning for new ways of running public office in Nigeria.

    In this period of national emergency, of debilitating and fast dwindling national revenue, when an overwhelming population of government workers and their families are crying due to starvation occasioned by non-payment of salaries for several months, you would expect the legislators to say NO, not again; you would expect them to reject with unequivocal bluntness the imposition of any privilege, deserved or not, that seems to depict them as insensate gorgers. And this criminal and silly wardrobe allowance, certainly, is a typical example of that insensitivity.

    In 2004, Robert Rotberg, the US professor of governance and foreign affairs, among other qualifications, described the Nigerian leadership as “predatory kleptocrats” and “puffed-up posturers”. We now know the class that largely informed that unflattering but apt description.

    If the lawmaking business in Nigeria is truly about the people why, for instance, would a David Mark, a Bukola Saraki, an Ike Ekweremadu, a Yakubu Dogara, a Stella Oduah, a Remi Tinubu or any other legislator collect money from the state to clothe him/herself in these lean times or any other time for that matter? In the sixteen years of David Mark in the Senate (eight as Senate President) what sort of clothing has he not worn at the expense of the state that he would now again rely on the people’s money to replenish his stock? When will these people ever think of denying themselves some things in the interest of the common good?

    Why would a Bukola Saraki, who spent eight years as the governor of a state, been a senator for the past four years, and recently elected Senate President, not feel any scruple collecting money for what they call wardrobe allowance when there are hundreds of thousands of children orphaned by Boko Haram and homeless victims of unending ethnic/religious conflicts sleeping under sub-human conditions in makeshift Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the country without food to eat, not to talk of clothes on their backs? Who cares what legislators wear so long as at they make laws that will improve the lives of the people? They could go to the National Assembly naked for all we care! After all, most of them are flabby imposters and we don’t think their nakedness would excite anybody.

    Sadly, not a whimper yet of outrage from legislators including, Ben Bruce and the boisterous Dino Melaye, who so far have been most vocal in the ironically feeble crusade to trim the cost of maintaining lawmakers in the National Assembly. Although it’s heart-warming that the duo has expressed interest in reducing the cost of governance through personal sacrifices, they must focus on the attitude of the Senate in general and its leadership in particular, if they expect to be taken seriously.

    Riding around Abuja (from the National Assembly to his residence) in a black, expansive Mercedes Benz in a 15-car convoy that includes a bomb disposal vehicle, a state-of-the-art-ambulance, motorcycle outriders and a retinue of aides and security personnel, Saraki is already carrying on like a latter-day emperor, in blatant contrast to the “change” mantra on which his party, APC, campaigned and was voted in as the “governing” party.

    Saraki’s Maitama neighbourhood is daily assailed by the raucous blare of siren from his long and needless convoy. This obscenity, a throwback to the David Mark era, won’t be markedly different from what obtains in the neighbourhood of Saraki’s deputy as well as those of the Speaker and his deputy. Just imagine the cost of keeping these vehicles on the road and maintaining these retinues of aides and, of course, the inconvenience for ordinary citizens!

    If this is the “change” the APC talks about, then it means the “change” that brought it to power was a mere slogan. Nigerians were deceived to get their votes. President Muhammadu Buhari, the symbol of the leadership of Nigeria, surely has his work cut out for him. While we believe in the principle of separation of power, President Buhari must defy the so-called godfathers and show leadership because, in the end, he is the President of the Federal Republic.

    The last time we heard from him it was that his age might affect his performance. Mr President, you were not voted to represent Nigeria at the under-17 World Cup. You were elected president to lead. Apart from showing good example, all you need to do is put the right people in the right places (a test of that will be when you send your list of ministers to the Senate), empower state institutions to do their work effectively and take bold actions in the interest of the masses.

    The style of the present order must not be a carry-over of the abomination of the last 16 years. As a first step, the President should immediately meet with APC legislators in the National Assembly and impress on them the need to reject forthwith the satanic wardrobe allowance.

    * Chido Onumah and Godwin Onyeacholem wrote from Abuja and can be reached at [email protected] (@conumah) and [email protected]



    * Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

    The axis of shevil: Does Africa need Gayle Smith?

    What do Gayle Smith, Wendy Sherman and Susan Rice have in common?

    Alemayehu G. Mariam


    cc AP
    Without the support of America's top women Smith, Sherman and Rice, many African dictators would not remain in power for a single day. Smith's appointment to head USAID is a boon to the despots.

    This past Thursday, Gayle Smith who is currently Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council directed by Susan Rice, had her confirmation hearing to become the next Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

    It was not much of a hearing.

    She got a bunch of “softball questions”.

    Her prepared statement basically said she would save at least half the world if she snags the job. “USAID is uniquely positioned to flexibly respond to humanitarian crises with agility and to provide enduring leadership to solve the world’s most intractable development challenges,” declared Smith’s statement for the record.

    Mekonnen Getachew, an Ethiopian human rights activist, interrupted Smith’s testimony and was escorted out of the hearing room.

    Most of my readers are aware of my opposition to Smith’s appointment and Senate confirmation.

    I registered my principled objection to her confirmation in my May 12 commentary in The Hill. I argued Smith’s “long and chummy relationship with Africa’s strongmen will make her a weak advocate of human rights, the rule of law and good governance on the continent.”

    Most of my readers also know that over the past couple of months I had “locked horns” with U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

    In three weekly commentaries, I challenged Sherman to defend her preposterous and willfully ignorant claims that “Ethiopia is a young democracy” and that the May 24 election will be “free, fair and credible.”

    Sherman’s champions of “Ethiopia’s young democracy”, the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF), recently declared they have won 100 percent of all the votes they had counted in the May 24 election clenching all 442 seats.

    They are expected to make an announcement anytime that they have also clenched 100 percent of the remaining 105 seats. (It is rather amusing that Sherman’s champions could count and certify their election victory for 442 seats in three days but are taking several weeks to certify the remaining 105.)

    I correctly predicted a year ago that the T-TPLF would win the 2015 election by 100 percent!

    I just can’t wait to hear Sherman congratulating the T-TPLF on its 100 percent victory in an election that was “free, fair and credible”.

    Who said Sherman won’t be around to repeat her claim that “Ethiopia is a young democracy”!?

    The New York Times reported, “Obama’s Chief Negotiator in Iran Nuclear Talks Plans to Depart After Deadline for Deal”.

    The NYT did not mention a single word about Sherman’s monumental gaffe that “Ethiopia is a young democracy.”

    Obama’s said Sherman was “one of the most effective diplomats of her generation.” Effective or defective diplomat?

    If Sherman is “one of the most effective diplomats of her generation”, then Ethiopia is indeed a young democracy!

    The scoop about Sherman’s “resignation” at the end of this month is that she botched the Iran nuclear job just as she did the nuclear negotiations with North Korea during the Clinton Administration.

    According to one report, “While serving in the Clinton administration, Sherman was tasked with being part of the team that was supposed to stop North Korea from being able to obtain a nuclear weapon. Shortly after Sherman and the rest of the Clinton team inked the agreement, North Korea reportedly obtained nuclear weapons with relative ease.”

    Amazingly, Sherman was given the top job even though she “did not have any diplomatic experience prior to the talks that she led with North Korea”. No wonder she botched it.

    In the end, she became a victim of the Peter Principle. She reached her level of incompetence for the second time with the Iran nuclear job, and now, out the door!

    How does an “expert” in nuclear negotiations suddenly become a guru on Ethiopian elections?

    Well! Duh! How does a malaria research jockey overnight become the foreign minister of Ethiopia?

    Sherman was whipsawed by the Washington Post (WAPO) for her claim “Ethiopia is a young democracy” and the ruling regime will conduct a “free, fair and credible election” on May 24, 2015.

    In a rare editorial directed at a specific government official, WAPO pilloried Sherman for her “lavish praise” of a regime [TPLF regime in Ethiopia] that “has been stifling civic freedoms and systematically cracking down on independent journalism for several years… Since last year, members of opposition parties and their supporters have been arrested and harassed.”

    The WAPO editorial concluded the U.S. should come out of its fool’s paradise and fashion a realistic Ethiopia policy:

    “… But that does not justify make-believe statements or a go-softly approach that is not working. The United States should stop funneling millions of aid dollars to a regime that has continued to choke off the media, hamper the participation of opposition parties and silence its critics. If the election is not judged by independent observers to live up to Ms. Sherman’s billing, the administration should swallow her words — and change its approach.”

    In a letter to the WAPO editor, Sherman tried backpedaling. She effectively claimed she was misunderstood in what she said. What she meant was, “Ethiopia is a young country in terms of democracy and over time we hope the political system matures in a way that provides real choices for the people.”

    That is traditionally called diplomatic gobbledygook. I call it American diplocrisy.

    Most of my readers know I vigorously opposed the nomination of Susan Rice to become U.S. Secretary of State.

    Rice is currently Obama’s National Security Advisor. Gayle Smith, as mentioned above, currently serves under Susan Rice as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council.

    In my commentary, “The Tall Tale of Susan Rice”, I argued that if a confirmation hearing were to be held, “Rice will be exposed for what she really is — a grand obfuscator of the truth, an artful dodger and a masterful artist of political expediency and intrigue.”

    In my December 9, 2012 commentary, “Susan Rice and Africa’s Unholy Trinity”, I argued, “Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has been waltzing (or should I say do-se-do-ing) with Africa’s slyest, slickest and meanest dictators for nearly two decades.”

    Opposition to Rice’s nomination, particularly on her support for African dictators and her role in the post-Bengazi, Libya terrorist incident in September 2012, thwarted her ambitions for that coveted top job. On December 13, 2012, Rice withdrew her name from consideration to be appointed secretary of state.


    Why do I oppose the unholy trinity, the Axis of Shevil of Smith, Sherman and Rice?

    For the same reasons I oppose Africa’s unholy trinity, the Axis of Hevil: Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Meles Zenawi, the late leader of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front and others like them.

    In a 2012 report, Human Rights Watch described Zenawi’s regime: “Ethiopia has seen a sharp deterioration in civil and political rights, with mounting restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The ruling party has increasingly consolidated its power, weakening the independence of core institutions such as the judiciary and the independent media that are crucial to the rule of law.”

    In a 2014 report, Human Rights Watch described Paul Kagame’s rule in stark terms: “Rwanda under Kagame has no tolerance for dissent or political opposition. Years of state intimidation and infiltration have emasculated Rwandan civil society.”

    In a [url=
    ]2014 report[/url], Human Rights Watch described Museveni’s creeping repression: “After 27 years in office, President Yoweri Museveni’s government increasingly suppresses freedom of assembly, expression, and association while escalating threats to civil society.”

    Without the support of Smith, Sherman and Rice, these African dictators, and many others like them in Africa, would not remain in power for a single day.

    With the support of the Axis of Shevil and others like them, African dictators have been living high on the hog on the dimes of American tax payers.


    Is what’s good for filthy rich African dictators good for dirt poor Africans?

    Charles Wilson, the head of General Motors, during his nomination to become Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense in 1953, reportedly said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” In 2009, General Motors declared bankruptcy.

    What is good for African dictators is not good for America. What is good for African dictators is ABSOLUTELY not good for Africa and Africans.

    The morally bankrupt African dictators have bankrupted Africa, mismanaged and converted Africa’s natural resources and secreted hundreds of millions of dollars in off shore banks for their personal use. Ethiopians starve as the TPLF thugs wonder in amazement why the Ethiopian people can’t eat cake.

    With news of Gayle Smith at the helm of USAID, African dictators are rubbing their palms and drooling on their jackets at the very prospect of bleeding the American taxpayer. They are slobbering like hyenas snorting a whiff of carrion.


    When Gayle Smith takes over, USAID will be a chocolate factory for African dictators.

    In 2016, USAID will have some 22 billion in greenbacks to spread around the globe. A good 25 percent plus of it will go to line the pockets of African dictators.

    Gayle Smith confirmation will mean one thing: One small insignificant event for the impoverished people of Africa, one giant money-making opportunity for African dictators.

    There is no doubt African dictators will have a field day when Smith’s confirmation is finally announced.

    The T-TPLF will have a thug-fest in Addis Ababa.

    Kagame and his crew will be dancing the Watusi in Kigali.

    Museveni and his gang will be breakdancing to the tune of “Jambole” singing, “We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich!”

    African dictators win again!

    The day after Smith is confirmed, African dictators will make a beeline with their panhandles at the USAID HQ in Washington bleating for handouts and alms, “Baksheesh, Gayle! Baksheesh.”

    Is Gayle Smith’s appointment as USAID Administrator good for Ethiopia?

    Closer to the home front, it is a fact that Gayle Smith has been a dyed-in-the-wool TPLF supporter and employee of a REST (Relief Society of Tigray (Maret), an organization created and controlled by the late Meles Zenawi and his TPLF party, which won the May 24, 2015 election by 100 percent. (In 2010, Meles’ party won a similar election by 99.6 percent.)

    A May 1991 Christian Science Monitor report offers a perspective on Smith and her relationship with the TPLF. “One of the few Westerners who speaks the Tigre language and has had many contacts with Zenawi over a nine-year period, is Gayle Smith, an American who worked for Tigre’s relief agency, REST, during the 1985-6 drought.”

    Smith was a staunch defender and spin-doctor of Meles Zenawi.

    Smith tried to humanize the late cut-throat Marxist as a harmless ideologue. She said “many of Zenawi’s leftist statements are part of ‘a language that goes along with being a left-of-center guerrilla organization’”.

    Smith tried to paint Zenawi as a reasonable liberal democrat who “realizes only a broad-based coalition can govern Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic population.”

    As soon as Meles seized power, he cobbled together his own servile coalition and called it the “Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF). You can put lipstick on a pig, but at the end of the day it is still a pig. You can put lipstick on the EPDRF and call it a coalition representing the Ethiopian people. At the end of the day, EPDRF is TPLF in lipstick.

    Meles showed how committed he was to “broad-based coalition” governance when he implemented his grand plan to “kililistanize” Ethiopia into disparate “thugdoms”.

    Ultimately, Gayle Smith proved to be Meles Zenawi’s Leni Riefenstahl!

    In 2005, Meles Zenawi showed his true face when he ordered the massacre and shooting of hundreds of unarmed protesters following the election that year. As I always like to remind my readers, the Meles Massacres converted me from an armchair academic and litigious defense lawyer into a human rights advocate for Ethiopia and Africa.

    Meles Zenawi was never a “left-of-center” anything. He was a ruthless, cunning and slick-as-a-used-car-salesman Stalinist thug hiding under the skirts of the likes of Smith.

    In May 1990, exactly a year before Meles Zenawi and his TPLF thugs marched on the Ethiopian capital, Smith, the former REST employee, was pleading for severe sanctions against the military junta ruling Ethiopia at the time.

    In her testimony before Congress, Smith argued for “increasing pressure on the Mengistu regime” and recommended “expanded and sustained to the cross border operations in a comprehensive fashion to support the TPLF and EPLF”.

    Specifically, Smith recommended, “In particular, support to the cross border programs should include not only food but also the provision of trucks, spare parts, fuel, storage, medical and other emergency relief supplies and administrative costs.” She further urged the U.S. to “ensure that relief items originally consigned to the Port of Massawa for delivery after 8 February 1990 have been or will be re-consigned to the Port of Sudan.”

    In her earlier Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) analysis, Smith, just before she became a REST employee, explained that when the “Ethiopian famine burst on the scene in Tigray in late 1984, the second and third [famine relief] operations both began at Port Sudan and entered Eritrea and Tigray at points along the eastern Sudanese border. These were run by the Eritrean Relief Association (ERA) and the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), respectively.”

    What is amazing is the fact that the “food, trucks, spare parts, fuel, storage, medical and other emergency relief supplies” that were delivered in Port Sudan were being used to support Zenawi’s TPLF rebel army.

    What Meles Zenawi and his REST operation did with the relief aid they received in 1984-85 is a shocking story of theft and conversion of humanitarian relief for military purposes, including the diversion of food aid to feed Meles’ rebel army.

    I have documented the scope of that theft and misappropriation of humanitarian aid in my November 2014 commentary [url=]“TPLF Licensed to Steal”[/url].

    The compelling evidence is given by Dr. Aregawi Berhe, a founding member of the TPLF and once a comrade of Meles Zenawi. Dr. Aregawi explained the sophisticated aid scam used by Meles and the TPLF during that period in an interview with BBC’s Martin Plaut:

    “ … Sometimes we were using aid money to buy arms through secondary means. You come to the Middle East, you can buy arms if you have the money. So we were using some of the money to buy arms. You know this organization called REST, Relief Society of Tigrai. It was the humanitarian wing of the TPLF, and through REST aid money was coming to the TPLF. So when you get this aid money, you make a budget for relief, for the Front or to buy arms, medicine and so on. I would say we were relying on the aid money for sustaining the struggle.

    “ We are talking about millions of dollars. I can cite you a concrete example. In 1985, when Tigrai was hit by a terrible famine, aid money was flowing through REST to the TPLF. So the MLLT (Marxist-Lennist League of Tigrai), and the TPLF leadership which is almost one and the same had to budget for $100 million U.S. dollars. I remember Meles Zenawi suggesting that 50 percent of that money should go to TPLF activities; 45 percent should go to MLLT organizing and 5 percent to support the victims…”

    In her eulogy of Meles at a church in N.Y. City in October 2012, Smith spoke of Meles Zenawi as a man “who was curious beyond imagination’.

    Smith praised Meles as the savior of Ethiopia. She said Meles brought development and progress to Ethiopia. He “stopped famine for the first time” in Ethiopian history. Ethiopia today is a reflection of Meles’ image, said Smith.

    In short, Smith said Meles was the Second Coming for Ethiopia.

    Smith did not mention a single word about Meles’ crimes against humanity committed in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, in Gambella Western Ethiopia, in Somalia during a three-year of a war of aggression and the hundreds of people he massacred after the 2005 elections.

    Smith did not mention a single word about Meles’ so-called anti-terrorism law which is nothing more than a dragnet to ensnare Meles’ opponents. She said nothing about Meles’ crushing suppression of the independent press.

    Gayle Smith’s whitewashed Meles’ record in office and concealed his monumental crimes against humanity by deceptive exaltation.

    Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth: “This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,/ Was once thought honest. /You have loved him well.”

    Comrade Gayle Smith so loved Comrade Meles Zenawi, the late tyrant whose name blisters our tongues today!


    Gayle Smith runs a web-based project called “Enough.”

    It is a project purportedly powered by moral outrage “over the world’s failure to stop the massacre of more than 800,000 innocent people in Rwanda” and inadequate “response to the current shocking bloodshed in Africa.”

    Incredibly, Enough proclaims it is “committed to bringing lasting change to these countries, where action and accountability are most urgent.” Accountability!? That’s like the fox guarding the hen house giving accountability for the chickens in the coop.

    How about accountability for the 800,000 victims of the Rwandan Genocide?

    Gayle Smith sheds crocodile (hyena) tears.

    The ultimate irony is that Susan Rice, Gayle Smith current boss in Obama’s NSA, in April 1994, when she worked for the Clinton Administration pretended to be ignorant of the unspeakable terror and massacres in Rwanda.

    Rice, as a “young Director on the National Security Council staff at the White House” was totally unconcerned about taking immediate action to stop the Rwanda killings. Rather, Rice was fretting about the political consequences of calling the Rwandan genocide, “genocide”.

    In a monument to utter moral depravity and conscience-bending callous indifference, Rice casually inquired of her colleagues, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ [to describe what is happening Rwanda in April 1994] and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [Congressional] election?”

    Rice later shed crocodile tears for having made her senseless statement while simultaneously claiming she does not quite remember making it.

    Lt. Colonel Tony Marley, the U.S. military liaison to the Arusha peace process (the Arusha Peace Accords which resulted in the 1993 agreement for power sharing between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda) who heard Rice make the statement was so baffled he observed, “We could believe that people would wonder that, but not that they would actually voice it.”

    I have extensively reviewed the evidence of Rice’s depravity in the Rwanda Genocide, which is available in my commentary, Susan Rice and Africa’s Unholy Trinity.

    Prompt U.S. humanitarian intervention could have significantly mitigated the Rwanda Genocide.

    Two decades after that genocide, President Bill Clinton said, “If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost…it had an enduring impact on me.”


    The tragic fact is that in less than 100 days, 800 thousand Rwandans had been exterminated as the world looked on with eyes wide open.

    For weeks during the genocide, Rice, her boss Anthony Lake and other top U.S. officials labored and agonized not to call the monstrous Rwandan genocide, a genocide. They continued to play their sinister semantic bureaucratic games to make sure there were no official references to “genocide”, “ethnic cleansing”, “extermination” and the like in connection with the Rwandan tragedy.

    But far from regretting her role in willfully underrating the Rwandan genocide and the massive and gross violations of human rights, over the past decade and half Rice has turned a blind eye, deaf ears and muted lips to extrajudicial killings, suppression of the press, decimation of opposition parties and imprisonment of large numbers of dissidents in Africa and aided and abetted Africa’s dictatorial trio, Kagame, Museveni and the late Zenawi. She has coddled, pampered, nurtured, protected and sang praises for these ruthless dictators.

    Gayle Smith’s website declares,

    “ Civilians continue to be the victims of widespread crimes against humanity in Sudan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Uganda, and the Horn of Africa. This rampant, man-made suffering warrants an immediate and robust response, yet inadequate attention from our world leaders allows these horrors to persist.”

    Pray tell, who are the individuals in power singularly responsible for the crimes against humanity in the Horn of Africa?

    What single individual and what single organization committed the worst crimes against humanity in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, in Gambella in Western Ethiopia, in street massacres of unarmed protesters in 2005 and untold crimes against humanity in Somalia?

    Let Gayle Smith answer that question.

    Gayle Smith now mounts her white horse and declares “Enough”. I say enough of hyena tears! Enough of Gayle Smith!

    Comes now Gayle Smith’s defender and acolyte.

    In an “Open Letter” in the Boston Review on June 15, 2015, Alex de Waal sang Smith’s praises and trumpeted Smith’s history of compassion and sacrifice in Africa.

    De Waal opened his “Open Letter” stating,

    “ We have known one another for almost thirty years, and been shaped by the same experiences of war and famine in Africa. We have shared the same commitment to the people of Africa, especially the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, in their times of greatest need. Allow me to contribute a few thoughts now that you are poised to become Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID.”


    Tweedle dee testifying for Tweedle dum! It’s true birds of a feather flock together.

    God, please save us from our self-appointed, self-righteous messiahs in our “times of greatest need”!

    Ethiopians who follow the writings of self-designated sycophantic cognoscente on the TPLF may remember Alex de Waal as a Meles apologist, propagandist and hagiographer (a writer of the lives of saint). De Waal’s brief hagiography and adulation of Meles Zenawi is available here.

    In his “eulogy” of Meles, de Waal wrote in the New York Times that he knew Meles as “Comrade Meles” who “rose to become first among equals… due to force of intellect.”

    De Waal worshipped Meles and was enchanted and manifestly impressed by Meles’ phrase mongering, which de Waal embellishes as and willfully mistakes for “force of intellect”.

    De Waal wrote, “Intellectual rigor was the hallmark of Meles’s many years in office… Meles declared that he would consider his government a success if Ethiopians were able to eat three meals a day. All his national policies were framed around the conquest of poverty.”

    Meles was a pedestrian philistine who was notorious for his intellectual pretensions. Meles was so diabolically cunning that he figured out a foolproof method of conning his Western donors, loaners and intellectual toadies. The absolute truth is that Meles was the consummate phrase (and hate) monger. Nothing more.

    De Waal claims Meles’ “national policies were framed around the conquest of poverty”. That is a damned lie!

    Meles’ national policies were framed first and foremost around lining his pockets and his cronies’ pockets by plundering the national treasury.

    For over two decades, Meles toiled day and night shredding Ethiopian identity and nationality, wrecking Ethiopian unity and institutionalizing the thugtatorship of his TPLF.

    But all that aside, I ask de Waal a simple question if the man he worships as a demigod achieved anything close to “success” by his own standards:

    “Are Ethiopians eating three meals a day, today?”

    Well! Well! Are they, de Waal?!?

    De Waal now presents himself as a witness for Smith. He sanctifies Smith. “No one should question your credentials.”

    I thought only the Pope’s credentials’ could not be questioned!

    For de Waal, no one should have questioned Meles Zenawi’s intellectual prowess or his credentials.

    By the same token, no one should question Gayle Smith’s credentials which she purportedly earned in “almost thirty years” of sacrifice and fighting against “war and famine in Africa.”

    No accountability for Meles. No accountability for Smith. No accountability for thugtators and their fellow travelers.

    De Waal should know that not only will we resolutely question Smith’s credentials and defend against any attempts to mythologize and canonize the “peas in the pod”, we will also question every policy and official action Smith takes as USAID Administrator.

    We live in America, not under some tin pot dictatorship in Ethiopia, Rwanda or Uganda.

    We will use every legal means available to us under American law to question Smith’s official actions and decisions, and even President’s Obama’s.

    “No one should question your credentials.”!!! For crying out loud, give me a break!

    Does aiding and abetting an organization that is listed on the Global Terrorism Database count as “questioning credentials”, de Waal?


    I have come to the conclusion that for the Obama Administration, Africa is a simple question of mind over matter. Obama does not care and Africa doesn’t matter.

    The evidence is incontrovertible that Obama is on the side of African dictators. But history is on the side of African peoples.

    Obama’s Africa’s “policy” is based on several assumptions:

    • The T-TPLF is cornerstone, the gravitational force that keeps the Horn of Africa from total implosion or explosion.
    • The fight against terrorism and promotion of human rights in Africa are mutually exclusive.
    • To vigorously insist the African dictators respect their citizens’ human rights will diminish their collaboration with the U.S. in its global war on terrorism.
    • The U.S. must assist, defend, tolerate and coddle repressive regimes in Africa because they collaborate on the U.S. war on global terror.
    • Dictatorships, not democracies, in Africa enhance and guarantee American security and preservation of national interests.

    These assumptions are false, misplaced and speculative at best.

    The whole terrorism thing is a “godsend” (I mean “devilsend”) for African dictators. It insulates them from accountability for all of the crimes against humanity they commit every day. America’s war against global terrorism has been a cash cow for African dictators.

    There is a big difference between assisting African dictators to fight terrorism and turning a blind eye, deaf ears and muted lips to massive and appalling human rights violations committed by these dictators. The U.S. can ill-afford to make human rights the sacrificial lamb on the battle field of counter-terrorism.

    Let me address the Obama Administration’s bedrock but almost paranoid assumption that without U.S. support of friendly African dictators, particularly in the Horn, the region and continent will go to hell in a hand basket.

    I know many who have long felt life under African dictatorships is as Dante imagined “life” in hell from the inscriptions on Hell’s Gate: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

    The Horn countries are in pretty bad shape, to put it mildly.

    The Obama Administration knows, but will never publicly acknowledge, that the Horn of Africa is like Humpty Dumpty who had a great fall and all the king’s men and horses could not put Humpty together.

    Somalia has been a clan-dom since the overthrow of the military strongman Siad Barre by a coalition of armed opposition groups.

    No one, not the clan leaders, not the war monger Meles Zenawi who waged a three-year war of aggression against the Somali people, not the African Union, not the United States of America or the European Union have been able to put Somalia back together.

    Ethiopia is a virtual Humpty Dumpty.

    The T-TPLF and its leaders have carved up Ethiopia into “kilils”, little ethnic homelands for the people of Ethiopia, just like they had it in apartheid South Africa.

    The T-TPLF has managed to make the Land of Thirteen Months of Sunshine, the Land of Kililistan.

    “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” wrote the old bard. But a Bantustan by its gentler and kinder name of Kililistan reeks to the high heavens.

    The T-TPLF that the U.S. “believes” is a force of stability in Ethiopia and in the Horn is actually the slow-burning fuse in the Ethiopian and regional powder keg.

    Meles Zenawi and his T-TPLF cabal have buried a timed powder keg (“nuclear option”) set to go off the day they are removed from power.

    The core belief of the T-TPLF is that if they can’t have Ethiopia for themselves alone, no one can have her. Blow her up into smithereens!

    But the T-TPLF should know one thing beyond a shadow of doubt. Their plans to blot out Ethiopia from the pages of history will never, never, never succeed!

    There reason is simple. There is power infinitely greater than the T-TPLF’s that “standeth behind the dim unknown and within the shadow, keeping watch above his own Ethiopia.”

    The U.S. paranoia that strongly supporting human rights in Ethiopia could somehow undermine the U.S. war on terror in the Horn and result in regional instability and conflict is not only unjustified, it is also silly.

    The implicit assumption in the U.S. position is that without the iron fist of the T-TPLF Ethiopia will be the next Somalia.

    The T-TPLF has done a pretty good job convincing the donors and loaners that as T-TPLF’s Ethiopia goes, so will the Horn of Africa. That is a bunch of horse feathers. (I did not say bull feathers.)

    There will always be pockets of terrorism in the Horn and elsewhere. That is a simple fact.

    The bulwark against terrorism in the horn is not and never will be the T-TPLF. The T-TPLF is a terrorist organization in itself. It is listed as such in the Global Terrorism Database.

    The T-TPLF is a regional menace.

    In 2007, the first full year of Meles’ invasion of Somalia, over 700,000 people were displaced from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. By 2008, 16,210 Somali civilians had been killed and 29,000 wounded directly as a result of Meles Zenawi’s intervention in Somalia.

    To assume or believe that the T-TPLF is the Horn’s safeguard against terrorism is to believe the fox is the guardian angel of the chickens in the henhouse.

    The removal of the T-TPLF from power in Ethiopia will help stabilize the country not destabilize it. It will not lead to disintegration. It will lead to democratic governance and integration.

    Crisis Group argues, “a violent power struggle [in Eritrea] could prove dangerous for the Horn of Africa and potentially for the Red Sea region”.

    The fact of the matter is that the Horn of Africa is a collection of miserably failed states. None of the donors, loaners and defenders of the Horn dictators are willing to publicly acknowledge that stark reality.

    With the exception of tiny Djibouti, the other four Horn states are in the top of the rankings of the 2015 “Failed States Index”.

    The number one failed state in the world is South Sudan, followed by Somalia at #2, Sudan at #4, Ethiopia at #20 and Eritrea at #24, out of 178 states ranked.

    For the U.S. to argue that strongly supporting human rights in these countries will destabilize them and cause strife is a reductio ad absurdum (silly). How could the Horn States be more failed than they already are?

    I want to specifically challenge the U.S. assumption on the T-TPLF as the linchpin of Ethiopian “unity” and political stability. That assumption underestimates the Ethiopian people and their history.

    Ethiopia will not disintegrate and dissolve into kililistans when the T-TPLF is swept up and junked into the dustbin of history where it belongs. Ethiopia will rise up from the ashes of T-TPLF’s kililistan. We call that “Ethiopia’s Tinsae (resurrection).”

    Ethiopia has maintained its independence for 3 thousand years. When Europe scrambled to carve out Africa in the late 19the century, Ethiopia unscrambled the designs of the European colonial masters. Twice, Ethiopia emerged victorious against an invading European colonial war machine.

    The self-serving messianic canard cultivated by the T-TPLF that Ethiopia will disintegrate without their iron-fisted rule is a transparent ploy to extend their rule with the support of the U.S. and others.

    If the U.S. continues to blindly support the T-TPLF, the Horn will be the site of a regional Armageddon. That is why the U.S. needs to pull its head out of the sand now and do the right thing before it is too late.

    The Washington Post recently advised the Obama Administration to change course in its editorial,

    With its ancient culture, strategic location and population of 94 million, Ethiopia is indeed key to the future of eastern Africa. But that does not justify make-believe statements or a go-softly approach that is not working. The United States should stop funneling millions of aid dollars to a regime that has continued to choke off the media, hamper the participation of opposition parties and silence its critics. If the election is not judged by independent observers to live up to Ms. Sherman’s billing, the administration should swallow her words — and change its approach.

    The U.S. must change its approach. It must now pursue a human rights agenda in earnest.

    WAPO was right in recommending a change of course in U.S. policy.

    What will the U.S. do when the T-TPLF is consigned to the dustbin of history?

    What will the U.S. do as the Horn continues to slowly crumble like a decrepit house?

    Will the U.S. undertake another ill-advised and surely to be ill-fated military adventure in the Horn?

    The U.S. spent trillions of dollars over the past decade to bring about stability in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Are any of these countries more stable than they were before U.S. intervention?

    If the Horn needs saving, it will be done by those sitting on the horns of the Horn dilemma.

    But the whole stability argument by the U.S. is hypocrisy based on a double standard.

    Robert Mugabe has been in power since 1980. That must mean Zimbabwe is “stable”.

    When Robert Mugabe “won” his presidential election in August 2013 by 61 percent, Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed that election as not “representing a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

    Last month Secretary Kerry wrote a letter to Paul Biya, the dictator in Cameroon, who has been in power since 1987. Cameroon must also be “stable”.

    Kerry told Biya, “on behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Cameroon as you celebrate your national day on May 20. Since independence, Cameroonians have sought to build a stable, prosperous, and democratic society. The people of the United States welcome your nation’s efforts to achieve this goal.”

    Biya is listed on The World’s 20 Worst Living Dictators and credited for an “innovation in the world of phony elections.” Biya “paid for his own set of international observers, six ex-U.S. congressmen, who certified his election as free and fair.”

    In April 2015, when Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan claimed reelection victory in the Sudan by a 94.01 percent, the “Troika” (U.S., U.K. and Norway) damned him for rigging the election. Bashir has been in office since 1989 when he led a military coup. Sudan must also be “stable”.

    When the T-TPLF reported a 100 percent victory a couple of weeks ago, the United States issued a Statement claiming it “remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.” That was all!

    But silence sometimes speaks louder than words.

    Legend has it that President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza that “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

    By the same logic, it appears Mugabe and Bashir are not “our S.O.B.s” but the T-TPLF “S.O.B.’s” are!?

    Last year, the U.S. worked behind the scenes to get Uhuru Kenyatta off the ICC (International Criminal Court) hook and escape prosecution for multiple counts of crimes against humanity.

    The fact of the matter is that African dictators do not strengthen American security. By propping up African dictatorships, Obama is weakening American security.

    America’s national interests cannot and must not be equated with the survival of ruthless, corrupt and repressive African dictatorships.

    As an Ethiopian American constitutional lawyer, it is humiliating for me personally to see America that honors democracy and fundamental human rights embracing African dictators whose lips drip with scorn for democracy and sneer and thumb their noses at human rights.

    I wonder why a nation that believes in human liberty has a need to go to bed with African killers, torturers and oppressors.

    Needless to say, assisting dictatorial regimes in Africa makes the Obama Administration an accomplice in their violations of human rights in Africa. America must separate itself and not passively or actively become a participant in acts of repression and brutality in Africa.

    It is becoming starkly clear to ordinary Africans that America’s moral posturing on human rights is laughable and a grand invitation for them to express their contempt and scorn for American values.

    President Jimmy Carter said, “America did not invent human rights. Human rights invented America.”

    Why can’t human rights re-invent Africa? Aren’t Africans humans?

    Let the good times roll at the 30th Reunion!

    2015 will be the 30th anniversary reunion of Gayle Smith and the TPLF. It was in 1985 that Smith worked for REST, the other acronym for the TPLF.

    Smith will certainly be confirmed. She will reign over the USAID.

    American tax dollars will be flowing to African dictators, and specifically to the T-TPLF, like the Mississippi river.

    But like Amos, I can see the day is fast approaching when “justice will roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” in Ethiopia and in the African continent. I can see that day coming.

    Is preservation of the thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front vital to American security? I’d say, “HELL, NO!”

    Gayle Smith’s answer will be, “ABSOLUTELY YES!”

    Well, the T-TPLF not only won its elektion with 100 percent in 2015; it now wins big time with the appointment of its former employee to lead the free Bank of African Dictators (BAD), a/k/a USAID.

    I will concede defeat for now.

    The T-TPLF and Gayle Smith have won.

    It will be like old times for Smith and the TPLF.

    I say let them have fun on the American tax payer’s dime.

    They had a good time shaking down humanitarian donors back in 1984-85.

    Now they will get another chance to shakedown the American taxpayer.

    Three decades later, the old crew is back together.

    I will be a good sport. I won’t rain on their parade.

    I will just say, let the good times roll!!!

    T-TPLF, Gayle Smith, let the good times roll!!!

    * Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino.



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    The ICC is now an instrument of imperialism

    Motsoko Pheko


    cc AFP
    Former US President George W Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair destroyed entire countries in their military adventurism. Yet they are free men enjoying their retirement without any fear of international justice. The ICC must have the substance and manifestation of justice and fairness.

    The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was to be an international tribunal and intergovernmental organisation that would prosecute all individuals for international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. One hundred and twenty states voted for it and China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, the United States of America and Yemen voted against. Twenty one states abstained.

    The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002. Almost all African countries ratified the Rome Statute; the largest number to do so. They agreed with its objectives of punishing those who commit crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

    However, the ICC clearly targeted African leaders, turning a blind eye to countries like America and Britain, which committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in non-Western countries.

    When the International Criminal Court was debated in the South African Parliament on 19 June 2009, I participated as a member of parliament.

    “Madam Speaker, African leaders who have the propensity for tyranny and commit crimes against humanity must be severely punished in Africa through appropriate judicial institutions of the African Union. This is not to cast an aspersion on the integrity of the ICC.

    “It cannot, however, be disputed that sophisticated weapons of war that kill Africans in civil wars in Africa and elsewhere, come from foreign powers. These are proxy wars fought for foreign interests. The African Union must be careful that it does compromise the sovereignties of its member states in an international game, which is not clean and whose credo is ‘might is right’.

    “The Pan Africanist Congress [on whose behalf I was speaking] observes that there is still a great deal of selective morality and legality in international politics. For instance, America and Britain occupied Iraq and killed thousands of Iraq’s women and children under the false pretence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. But this did not attract the attention of the International Criminal Court. Former President George W. Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair were never summoned to appear before the ICC. A country like America has not even signed the Rome Statute.

    “Meanwhile former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who claims to have been initially supported by the American Government in his atrocities in Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been hauled before the ICC. Recently, another African leader in the DRC Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba is reported to have been arrested and sent to the ICC at Hague in the Netherlands to stand trial for alleged gross violations of human rights.

    “Sooner than later, the International Criminal Court will be full of violators of human rights from Africa, but none from Europe and America.”

    Thus far it is reported that the ICC has indicted 36 individuals. Those in the public eye have been Laurant Gbogno, former President of Ivory Coast, Maummar Gaddafi, President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy William Ruto and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. The Sudanese leader was the subject of media headlines in South Africa recently. There was an order on behalf of ICC that South Africa must arrest him.

    This was despite the fact that he had officially come to attend the African Union Summit and was not a visitor to South Africa. He, therefore, had diplomatic immunity according to the principles of international law. This was also in spite of the fact that since 2009, this African leader has visited a number of countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Egypt. These countries rejected the ICC request that they arrest the Sudanese president for alleged crimes in Darfur.

    The United Nations Security Council has been divided over the issue of crimes allegedly committed by Omar El-Bashir in Darfur. It is not clear why the ICC expected South Africa to arrest Al-Bashir. In December 2014 the ICC was reported to have suspended its investigations against this leader. Moreover, the African Union meeting in Kampala in 2010 reaffirmed that its member states must not co-operate with the ICC in the arrest of Al-Bashir.

    A judicial body must have the substance and manifestation of justice and fairness. It is difficult for fair-minded people and lovers of justice to ignore that not long ago, America and Britain invaded Iraq and sentenced to death its President Saddam Hussein for “weapons of mass destruction” his country did not have, except oil. The damage that American and British invasion has done has incubated the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). This has destabilised and created unprecedented chaos in the Middle East and poses danger to world peace.

    What about Libya? As a result of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, that was manipulated to invade Libya by America, France, Britain, Norway, Belgium, Denmark and Spain, Libya is today described as “a failed state”. Maummar Gaddafi had made Libya emerge in Africa as a home of citizens enjoying a “first world economy”.

    A British columnist Owen Jones has written, “Libya is a disaster we helped to create. The West must take full responsibility for it.”


    Why is the West having such a short memory of its own atrocities in Africa through slavery, colonialism and racism? Writing about the enslavement of Africans by European countries and their allies, the Rev. J.H. Soga has written, “Murder was the order of the day. Men, women and children were massacred, and the captives sold without regard to the ties of fatherhood, motherhood or offspring; the one ruthlessly torn from the other, as if the bond of love and compassion had no existence. Family on family, tribe on tribe were often completely swept away, not even an infant being spared; millions of the sons and daughters of Africa were sent to destruction as if they had been wild animals.”

    Corroborating this historical fact, Stanton A. Coblentz has recorded, “…villages had been left desolate . . . children had been orphaned, mothers wrested from their sons, sons from their mothers, husbands from their wives. For these strangers from across the waters were pitiless hunters – hunters of human beings.”

    In the “Belgian” Congo, “Each village was ordered by the Belgian authorities to collect and bring a certain amount of rubber. If they failed to bring the required amount, their women were taken away and kept as hostages . . . in the harems of government employees . . . if this method failed . . . troops were sent to the village to spread terror, if necessary by killing some of the men . . . they were ordered to bring one right hand amputated from an African victim for every cartridge used.”(As quoted in Introduction to African Civilisations by John G. Jackson page 310-311, also The Long Road to Humanity by Stanton A. Coblentz)

    The result, according to British philanthropist Sir H.H. Johnston, was the reduction of the Congolese population in the Congo from twenty million people to nine million in fifteen years.

    The worst known genocide occurred in Namibia in 1904. A well armed German army under General Lothar von Trotha drove Africans out of their land to the desert. Eighty percent of the Herero population perished there.

    It is a good thing for Africa and justice loving people of the world that that South Africa did not arrest President Omar Al-Shabir and handed him over to the International Criminal Court. This act would have caused an African wound of divisions and instability in Africa that would take very many years to heal, particularly because South Africa wrongly voted for the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which Western countries manipulated to kill Gaddafi and destroy Libya.

    The 21st century demands a new world order of peace, stability and prosperity for all nations of the world. The practice of Western countries to sweep their atrocities under the carpet and want to bully Africa and other nations of the world shall dig a grave for them sooner than later.

    Africa is against all kinds of tyrants and crimes against humanity. The way, the West goes about solving world’s problems and creating more terrorism and instability is endangering this world for mankind. All peace loving countries of the world must resolutely resist the ill-conceived and unjust approach by Western countries to world affairs.

    The International Criminal Court must go to the drawing board. It must do what the Rome Statute established it for or gave way for better things to be done for the happiness of mankind on this planet.

    * Dr Motsoko Pheko is author of several books and a former representative of the victims of apartheid at the United Nations in New York and at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva as well as a former member of the South African Parliament.



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    How the UN fails whistleblowers


    cc BFC
    Despite having clear policies to protect whistleblowers, the UN’s internal system of justice hardly implements those policies. Some whistleblowers have been fired or demoted; others have been subjected to subtle forms of abuse like non-renewal of contracts or sudden transfer to distant duty stations. Many others have been forced to leave the world body to save their livelihoods, health and reputations.

    [NOTE: This is a letter from the UN Whistleblower Coalition to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, who will be presenting a report on protection of sources and whistleblowers to the UN General Assembly in October.]

    Over the past decade the United Nations and its specialized agencies have established new whistleblower policies. Unfortunately, implementation is weak in many of the UN agencies and the policies themselves may lag behind best practice standards. In practice, it is our experience that the policies afford little meaningful protection for whistleblowers.

    As the case summaries below demonstrate, retaliation against whistleblowers can affect the entire UN system. Some UN whistleblowers have been fired or demoted; others have been subjected to more subtle forms of abuse like non-renewal of contracts or sudden transfer to distant duty stations; many face plain, simple harassment and intimidation. UN whistleblowers may also have their visas revoked or be required to flee the country where they are living and working as a result of the retaliation. Consequently, we can assert that fear of reporting wrongdoing is common.

    Because the UN enjoys extensive legal immunities, particularly with respect to personnel conflicts, staff members are not able to access national courts to resolve employment disputes. UN whistleblowers are therefore forced to go through lengthy, and often expensive, internal appeal processes that are compromised by a structural conflict of interest. The organization is a defendant in any case brought before its internal tribunals, at the same time that the tribunal is housed in, and funded by, the institution.

    Put simply, the UN system of justice fails whistleblowers, and most of us have been forced to leave the UN to save our livelihoods, our health and our reputations. The UN Ethics Office, which receives appeals for protection from whistleblowers, has substantiated retaliation in less than 4 percent of the cases that it has reviewed since its establishment in 2006 (the Office was contacted by more than 440 potential whistleblowers, reviewed approximately 120 cases and substantiated retaliation in 4 cases and one of those whistleblowers claims he was not adequately protected from retaliation). The two-tier internal justice system through which UN employees formally contest violations of their administrative rights has also failed to protect most whistleblowers. While the lower UN Dispute Tribunal (UNDT) has ruled in favor of some whistleblowers, the UN Appeals Tribunal (UNAT) has established a record of vacating these decisions on technicalities.

    UNAT appears to have a clear bias in favor of the Secretary-General. According to Office of Administration of Justice’s seventh activity report (1 January to 31 December 2013), 72% of appeals filed by applicants were rejected by UNAT, whereas only 18% of appeals filed by the Secretary-General were rejected. This pattern was also evident in UNAT’s most recent session, when it dismissed the majority of appeals filed by staff members and granted the majority filed by the Secretary-General. We are particularly concerned about UNAT’s record on whistleblower claims. In case after case, UNAT judges have ruled against the whistleblower. Even when UNAT decides in favor of the whistleblower, the Tribunal often reduces the compensation awarded by UNDT to an amount that fails to cover the full consequences of the retaliation. One particularly clear example is the Wasserstrom judgment described below. The Nguyen-Kropp & Postica, Hunt-Matthes, Rahman, Shkurtaj and Tadonki cases also demonstrate the Appeals Tribunal’s record of hostility toward whistleblowers.

    Whistleblower rights are human rights. Whistleblowers should be protected by the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, especially when they work for organizations charged with upholding those conventions. An organization should not be allowed to retaliate against whistleblowers with impunity simply because it is immune from national laws.

    We call on you to urgently review whistleblower protection for UN staff, and for those serving in affiliated specialized agencies and international organisations not protected by national laws. In the case of whistleblowers, this immunity can easily become raw impunity. Without proper whistleblower protection, wrongdoing at the United Nations—be it sexual exploitation, abuse of power, fraud or corruption—will be under-reported and will continue to go unchecked. There will be no accountability. This can only damage the UN's moral standing and, ultimately, its legitimacy.


    The enclosed document by the Government Accountability Project, a U.S. non-profit organization that helps whistleblowers, describes some of the shortcomings in the UN Secretariat’s whistleblower policy. In addition, our coalition would like to highlight the additional policy problems set out below.

    In January 2014 the U.S. Congress passed legislation that prohibits the allocation of 15 percent of its contribution to the United Nations Secretariat or any UN agency until the Department of State reports that the organization is implementing best practices for whistleblower protection, including: “(i) protection against retaliation for internal and lawful public disclosures; (ii) legal burdens of proof; (iii) statutes of limitation for reporting retaliation; (iv) access to independent adjudicative bodies, including external arbitration; and (v) results that eliminate the effects of proven retaliation.”[1]

    Currently, the UN clearly fails to meet three of these key standards. First, the UN does not offer whistleblowers access to external arbitration. Two UN whistleblowers – Khalilur Rahman from UNCTAD and Miranda Brown (formerly at WIPO and OHCHR) – recently requested access to external arbitration and they were both denied. The Office of the Secretary General wrote to each asserting that the UN internal justice system does not provide for such access. Secondly, the UN fails to comply with best practice statutes of limitation. Although the UN whistleblower policy says that whistleblowers have years to report retaliation, in practice they have only 60 days to challenge a retaliatory act through the organization’s justice system (the best practice statute of limitations is at least six months). The United Nations also has a poor record of protecting whistleblowers and of providing them with comprehensive relief that eliminates the effects of proven retaliation, as demonstrated by the cases below.


    The following cases show how whistleblowers protections in the UN system are implemented in practice. We would be glad to provide additional information about any of these cases upon request. Not all of these whistleblowers are members of our coalition, but they have authorized us to share their cases publicly.

    AICHA ELBASRI: (SECRETARIAT) Elbasri is the former spokesperson for the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). She claims that UNAMID and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations routinely misled the media and UN Security Council members by covering up atrocious crimes committed by Sudanese government forces, including ethnic targeting; forced displacement and bombing of civilians; systematic, mass rape; as well as attacks on UN peacekeepers. Elbasri resigned on April 2013 in protest and asked UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to investigate her disclosures, which failed to do so. On 23 June 2014, the International Criminal Court called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up a “thorough, independent and public inquiry” into Elbasri’s public allegations. Ban failed to meet this call, ordering instead an internal Team Review made up of UN staffers, lacking the required investigative expertise and independence. The Team concluded that in five instances UNAMID withheld from DPKO key evidence that establishes the responsibility of the government forces in crimes, including the massacre of up to 100 civilians, but failed to identify the Mission’s misbehavior and “lack of frank reporting” as misconduct. To this day, the UN refuses to make the full report public and to hold any senior UNAMID official to account.

    JAMES WASSERSTROM: (UN SECRETARIAT) Wasserstrom, an American citizen, was a senior official at the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) who disclosed a probable kickback scheme involving local politicians and senior UNMIK officials. After disclosing this, his assignment was not extended, his passport was confiscated, his car and apartment were searched, he was subjected to administrative and criminal investigations, and his photograph was placed at the entrances of his former workplace. The United Nations Dispute Tribunal found that the UN Ethics Office misapplied the burden of proof in his case and reached a “fundamentally flawed” conclusion when it failed to substantiate retaliation. UNDT ruled that the retaliation was so extreme that it violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2014 the UN Appeals Tribunal reversed UNDT’s judgment because it found that the case was not receivable because Ethics Office findings cannot be challenged before the formal justice system.

    KHALILUR RAHMAN: (UNCTAD/SECRETARIAT) Rahman’s case represents the first instance in which the UN Ethics Office confirmed retaliation. In 2010 the Office found that several high-level officials of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) retaliated against him for having reported serious misconduct by a senior official. The Office recommended that he be transferred and that disciplinary action be taken against the perpetrators. The Secretary General rejected this recommendation and ordered him to return to UNCTAD, even though UNCTAD said it could not protect him from retaliation. The UN refused to compensate him for his damages and failed to protect him from spillover retaliation. Although the retaliators were assessed minimal fines, one was promoted and both are employed by UNCTAD post-retirement. Rahman requested external arbitration in his case, but the Secretary General refused. He also appealed to UNAT the failure of the institution to restore him to the professional and financial standing he had prior to making protected disclosures. In judgment 2014-UNAT-453, UNAT dismissed this appeal. In response, George Irving, counsel for Rahman, said, “The UN missed the final opportunity to meet even the minimum thresholds of universally accepted best practices in this very first case of proven retaliation within the Secretariat. My client has been left worse off than his retaliators...”

    CAROLINE HUNT-MATTHES: (UNHCR/SECRETARIAT) Hunt-Matthes was a senior investigation officer with UNHCR’s Inspector General’s Office who reported, among other things: interference with an investigation of an alleged rape by a UN staff member; the failure to register a sexual harassment complaint against the High Commissioner; and the unlawful detention of refugees by senior UNHCR staff. After making her disclosures, she was fired with one day’s notice. The UN Ethics Office failed to find a prima facie case of retaliation in her case. UNDT issued a first verdict in her favor that was highly critical of the Ethics Office and a second verdict that found that she was retaliated against. In 2014 UNAT overturned the first verdict because the retaliation predated the establishment of the Ethics Office, and sent the second decision back to UNDT on a technicality. UNAT’s ruling ignored the fact that Hunt-Matthes’ request to the Ethics Office was made in 2006, after the new whistleblower policy went into effect. Moreover, she requested protection from ongoing retaliation that was occurring in 2006. Meanwhile, Hunt-Matthes continues to wait for relief after 10 years of legal battles.

    MS. X: (SECRETARIAT) Ms. X is an American who worked as a police officer with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), through a company under contract with the State Department. Ms. X made several disclosures, including one about potential sexual exploitation and abuse by UN police officers of women living in a camp for earthquake victims. In retaliation, she was given a negative performance evaluation, threatened with an investigation, and abruptly terminated. Ms. X filed a retaliation complaint with the UN Ethics Office, but it concluded that the UN whistleblower protection policy does not apply to police officers and that it could not protect her.

    MONCEF KATEB: (WIPO) Kateb was the former president of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Staff Council. He was dismissed in September 2014 after making several whistleblower disclosures, including about an illegal shipment of sophisticated IT equipment to North Korea. His dismissal was done in advance of WIPO's annual governing body meeting, where he was expected to criticize the controversial management style and behaviour of Director-General Francis Gurry. Both the special rapporteur and the UN staff union have issued a letter to the governing body of WIPO calling for Kateb's reinstatement, but he has not yet been reinstated.

    JAMES POOLEY: (WIPO) Pooley was a Deputy Director General of WIPO. He disclosed unchecked abuses of authority by the Director General (DG), Francis Gurry, to whom he reported directly. Mr. Pooley alleged, first, that DG Gurry violated procurement rules by ordering an internal committee to make changes to a competitive bidding process in order to favor a company run by a friend and fellow Australian. When the committee refused, Gurry cancelled the process and ordered that the contract be awarded directly to his friend’s company. Pooley also alleged that DG Gurry gave Swiss police stolen forensic evidence in order to incriminate staff members he suspected of criticizing him. Pooley was subjected to reprisal in the form of restriction on work travel, marginalization, exclusion from consultations and loss of responsibilities. He filed a complaint of retaliation as required under the WIPO policy, but because his term ended two months later, WIPO refused to consider it, since he was no longer a staff member.

    MIRANDA BROWN: (WIPO) Brown was the Strategic Adviser to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. She disclosed unchecked abuses of authority by DG Gurry, to whom she reported directly. Brown alleged that Gurry engaged in a pattern of degrading treatment, discrimination and abusive behavior towards staff. She also alleged that Gurry gave Swiss police stolen forensic evidence in order to extract staff members’ DNA and incriminate those he suspected of criticizing him. Brown was forced to leave WIPO. She moved to another UN organization, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), dropping two grade levels. Within days of being called to testify as a witness in the WIPO investigation, Brown’s contract at OHCHR was not renewed and when she appealed, she was advised that she would be transferred to Fiji (among the furthest duty stations from Geneva) with immediate effect.

    AI LOAN NGUYEN-KROPP & FLORIN POSTICA: (SECRETARIAT) In 2009 these investigators disclosed that the acting director of OIOS’ Investigations Division withheld and tampered with evidence in a case. The acting director subsequently expelled Nguyen-Kropp from her office and negatively influenced her performance evaluation. The Department of Management escalated the retaliation by initiating an investigation of Nguyen-Kropp & Postica and requesting that several intergovernmental organizations supply a specialist to lead it. Neither whistleblower was given notice or opportunity to respond. The Ethics Office found a prima facie case of retaliation, but failed to substantiate retaliation after an investigation. UNDT ruled in the whistleblowers’ favor, concluding that they were retaliated against and that “it is difficult to find a more direct causal link between a protected activity and an adverse action.” But in 2015, UNAT ruled that the case was not receivable and overturned UNDT’s judgment, leaving the whistleblowers without relief.

    GEORGES TADONKI: (SECRETARIAT) Tadonki worked for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as head of office in Zimbabwe. In 2008 he raised concerns about the humanitarian preparedness of the country and the severe risk of cholera there (an unmitigated cholera epidemic subsequently resulted that could have been addressed if the UN had heeded his warning). Tadonki was subsequently investigated, abruptly removed from the office, and told his contract was not renewed. UNDT found that he was retaliated against and referred several senior officials to the Secretary General for possible action to enforce accountability. Rather than discipline the officials, the Secretary General appealed to UNAT, which upheld the referrals and retaliation finding, but greatly reduced the compensation to an amount that was insufficient to eliminate the effects of retaliation.

    VESNA DZUVEROVIC: (UN-HABITAT/SECRETARIAT) After working for 5 years as a UN Volunteer, Dzuverovic was recruited by UN Habitat for a professional post of financial nature. When OIOS circulated a memo inviting staff to report on financial abuses - faced with daily irregularities that she could not stop - she went to OIOS, as advised by the UN ombudsman. A week after that she was transferred against her will, and then transferred again and again to new and different posts each year although her performance evaluations were always very good. Finally, her contract remained unextended only 5 months before she would have qualified for a UN pension. She followed all available internal staff-protection routes but in spite of their support, she has never been re-instated. In 2011 she contested before UNDT OIOS' refusal to investigate both her original disclosure and the retaliation she suffered (she claims that she was 'blacklisted,' as she has never been selected again for any position anywhere in the UN system, although she applied regularly and was fully qualified). UNDT found that her case was inadmissible for procedural reasons, but added a 16-paragraph recommendation asking the Secretary General to review it and “reassure whistleblowers that they are indeed protected.” Two years have passed, but the SG has yet to act on this recommendation.

    ARTJON SHKURTAJ: (UNDP) Shkurtaj disclosed financial and administrative irregularities in the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) operations in North Korea, including the apparent transfer of hard currencies to North Korean officials and entities in violation of UNDP regulations. Shkurtaj’s appointment was rescinded and he was barred from entering UN grounds. In 2007 the UN Ethics Office Director asserted that a prima facie case of retaliation existed. In response, the UNDP Administrator claimed UNDP was not subject to the Office’s jurisdiction and appointed an ad hoc panel. The Ethics Office reviewed the panel’s findings and recommended that Shkurtaj be compensated because UNDP released negative findings about him without notifying him or allowing him to respond. UNDT & UNAT upheld the Office’s recommendation, but UNAT reduced the compensation awarded to six months net base salary, which barely covered his costs, let alone the effects of retaliation. The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reviewed the case and concluded that UNDP “undermined its whistleblower protections.”

    CYNTHIA BRZAK: (UNHCR) In April 2004 Cynthia Brzak, a long-time UNHCR staff member and elected staff union representative, claimed to OIOS NY that she was indecently assaulted by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, and subsequently harassed twice by Werner Blatter, then-Director of Human Resources. An investigation by OIOS in May-June 2004 found a pattern of sexual harassment and misconduct by Mr. Lubbers, and misconduct by Mr. Blatter. OIOS recommended inter alia action against them, and that investigation findings be shared with UNHCR staff, but then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan decided the “allegations could not be substantiated,” the report was buried and the OIOS Director was hounded out of office. Lubbers eventually resigned in February 2005 when the UN and Dutch government called for him to step down, as he became a high-profile liability when the UN Oil-for-Food scandal broke.

    Largely due to her case, the UN General Assembly called for creation of the Ethics Office and whistleblower protection, resulting in issuance of ST/SGB/2005/21 in December 2005. When Ms. Brzak and Nasr Ishak (a senior UNHCR inspector perceived to have advised her) met with the then Ethics Office Director to request protection from ongoing retaliation, he told them they were “wasting his time,” even though it’s the Director’s duty to protect whistleblowers. Brzak and Ishak brought a case in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court in New York, in which they claimed retaliation and racketeering. It was thrown out there, then on appeal, as the Secretary General refused to lift diplomatic immunity to allow prosecution. Then, in October 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to examine the constitutionality of diplomatic immunity, rejecting their petition. Meanwhile, despite her post being targeted for cutting in May 2005 and retaliation that never abated, Ms. Brzak (and Mr. Ishak) managed to maintain employment. Ms. Brzak was hospitalized twice for service-incurred reasons recognized by the UN, and was forced to navigate new ‘procedural’ labyrinths that resulted in two-year delays handling her medical bills. Two years before mandatory retirement, she took UNHCR’s standard separation package after 30+ years of service.

    NASR ISHAK: (UNHCR) Ishak worked at UNHCR for nearly 30 years, holding various positions at Headquarters and in the field. In the 1980s and ‘90s, he became aware of cases of mismanagement and misconduct including rape, sexual harassment and exploitation, and even killing/needless loss of life of staff. Those crimes often involved or were known to the senior-most managers, who routinely escaped accountability in the context of a culture of silence and impunity. In 1992, as chairman of the UNHCR Staff Council, he blew the whistle on serious irregularities by the director of the Personnel Department. Although the said director was immediately removed from his position, Ishak was subjected to threats and retaliatory acts including by the then High Commissioner, who decided to suspend the implementation of Ishak’s duly-recommended promotion until he agreed to leave the Staff Council, a proposition which Ishak rejected. Ishak then established a UNHCR staff newspaper and was sued after the issuance of the first edition by a senior representative because the paper exposed that he was hiring his wife under a UNHCR-funded project and was letting her abuse staff and office resources.

    Ishak continued to report misconduct and to be subjected to retaliation, including tampering with his office and computer and the denial of a promotion. But it was the sexual harassment claims filed in 2004 against the then High Commissioner that brought retaliation against Ishak to a much more serious level (see the case of Cynthia Brzak), as he was perceived to have advised Brzak to file a formal complaint against the Commissioner. In 2009, Ishak was placed on medical leave and was hospitalized for a service-incurred health condition (for which an “Appendix D” claim was submitted). When he availed himself of the internal processes, UNHCR officials (namely the Ethics Office director, mediator, and inspector general/Investigation Section) failed to take appropriate actions. Ishak’s legal cases were subsequently reviewed by the UN Dispute Tribunal and were all summarily dismissed in an arbitrary manner by UNDT Judge Cousin (who was hired outside the rules established by the UN General Assembly). According to Ishak, the Judge manifestly violated his fundamental right to have his cases heard on their merits and threatened him. At the request of the representative of the Secretary-General, the Judge even fined Ishak over US$ 2,000 for exercising his right to pursue his case before UNDT. Ishak retired from UNHCR as of October 2013 without the settlement of his Appendix D claim.

    RASNA WARAH: (UN-HABITAT) Warah approached the UN Ethics Office, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat and the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) for protection against retaliation after she accidentally stumbled upon irregularities within her section at UN-Habitat, which led to retaliatory actions by her supervisors. The outgoing Executive Director of UN-Habitat said she could not take any action to address the misconduct, while the USG of UNON advised her to leave the organization and “take a break.” At the time, Warah had been shortlisted for a position within her section. During the interview, one of the interviewers asked her why she wanted to work for an organization she considered to be corrupt. This and other questions by the interviews were clearly intended to intimidate her. When Warah approached the UN Ethics Office for protection, the Office found that she engaged in a protected activity, but that her reports of misconduct were not a contributing factor to the alleged retaliation. Warah then pursued the case with the current Executive Director of UN-Habitat, whose office responded by saying that they had conducted investigations and found no wrongdoing. They did not say who was investigated and did not even interview Warah, which suggests that no investigation actually took place.


    [1] Section 7048 (a) (1) (b) of the 2014 U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Act.

    EU’s military strategy will intensify Mediterranean tragedies

    Nizar Visram


    cc SFM
    Europe and NATO are responsible for the huge crisis of refugees attempting to enter Europe. Having destabilised other countries through militarism and plunder of resources, they are now converting the Mediterranean Sea into a mass grave for poor people fleeing the turmoil they created.

    Some 3,500 people drowned at sea while trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2014, while 1,865 people have died so far in 2015. Such tragic deaths hardly make headlines, but there was a shockwave when, on April 19 this year, more than 800 migrants died when their overcrowded boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.

    According to an Amnesty International report, over 600,000 migrants asked for asylum in the EU in 2014, while 23,000 to 24,000 migrants tried to cross over to Italy since the beginning of the year. As the number of migrants soars, that of migrants perishing at sea has hit the roof.

    Things are bound to get worse before they get better. It is estimated that by the end of 2015, between 500,000 and one million refugees will cross the Mediterranean and land in the European Union. Regarding those who have died during crossing, these are the known cases, while many more having died in undetected vessels. The numbers are on the rise.

    Most of the migrants that risk the dangerous sea journey come from as far away as the Sudan, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Eritrea, Somalia, Senegal, Ghana, Afghanistan and Syria, running for their lives due to either foreign fuelled sectarian conflicts at home or pervasive poverty. They come from countries torn apart by war and violence.

    They have scraped together $2,000 for the trip across the sea on wobbly vessels, run by gangs of human traffickers. Many more come from countries that face serious internal crises intensified by western military interference.

    “The majority of those crossing the Mediterranean are taking terrible risks because they have to, not because they want to,” said Judith Sunderland, a senior Western Europe researcher at the Human Rights Watch.


    The coastguard of Italy, Malta and Greece have rescued thousands of such migrants from the hazard of the Mediterranean Sea. They have been feeling isolated and left alone to deal with what they termed “the cemetery of the Mediterranean Sea.”

    The EU put forward a proposal to rescue the African migrants, but the suggestion went under with a deadlock as to who is going to “share the burden.” The proposals included joint search-and-rescue patrols, establishing resettlement quotas.

    Some EU members such as France, Spain, and Britain rejected the idea of quotas for sharing migrants among them, while others suggested deploying military forces to Libya to keep migrants as far away from Europe as possible.

    The European Commission reacted to the boat tragedy with plans to set up offshore camps in Libya and Tunisia, to lock up and pre-empt asylum seekers before they cross the Mediterranean. It has been described ingenuously as “outsourcing border control and containment mechanisms to prevent departures.” Italy's foreign minister even called for air strikes in Libya against ISIL positions there.

    The general agreement among EU members is that something needs to be done, and their first proposal was to send more ships to the Mediterranean to ensure that fewer people die due to unseaworthy vessels crammed with their human cargo.

    On the other hand, some European bureaucrats are toying with the idea of military strikes to destroy smuggling vessels before they leave Libya. However, they have been cautioned by activists that the last thing the African refugees need is more assaults and bombing – especially coming from the very countries that they expect to beg for asylum.

    EU ministers sanctioned a plan for a new naval force to intercept smugglers before their boats reach Europe. It was reported that the EU parliament was drafting a United Nations resolution to authorize the deployment of military off the coast of Libya in order to “capture” and “destroy” the boats. The problem is that two rival “governments” in Libya have indicated their rejection of the plan, saying any deployment of troops to Libyan waters would be a violation of the country's sovereignty.

    Meanwhile, some European political parties have resorted to anti-immigrant and xenophobic tendencies to prevent immigrants from entering their countries, while deporting those who manage to sneak in. Italy's ultra-nationalist Northern League called on the authorities to stop “by any means” any accommodation of further refugees. The party said it “was ready” to take steps to prevent their arrival. Similarly, German refugee centers have been targeted with fire bombings, while ultra-right groups such as Pegida have conducted racist campaigns, attacking immigrants as “social spongers”. Such right-wing ultra nationalist groups have even received implicit sympathy from governing parties such as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).


    Meanwhile, it is revealed that the EU is planning a military strategy against the refugee transport networks in the Mediterranean. Documents disseminated by WikiLeaks say the operation contains “detailed plans to conduct military operations to destroy boats used for transporting migrants and refugees in Libyan territory, thereby preventing them from reaching Europe.”

    The whistleblower website exposed two classified documents, with the plan being approved by delegates of all 28 EU member states on May 18. The project has no well-defined “political end state”, which means they are looking at a sweeping military operation without an unambiguous end goal.

    In reaction to this, more than 300 European migration academics and scholars have condemned the EU's envisioned use of military might against migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean. They have come out against the EU's plan of military intervention against the boats crossing the Mediterranean. The academics argued that any attempt to justify military intervention by comparing the Mediterranean boats with the 18th century clampdown on the slave trade is “entirely self-serving” and based on “a parody of history.”

    It is widely believed that military action will do nothing to curtail the flow of immigrants escaping conflicts in their destabilized countries or looking for jobs. For them the long-term solution lies in social development of the countries they come from.

    Europe and NATO countries have to take responsibility. They can find money for global warfare, yet they can't find the money to rescue the refugees running away from the war zones.

    Meanwhile, the European Union foreign ministers have approved the launch of a military operation to stop human traffickers from bringing migrants.

    The ministers gave their approval for the mission to head into its Phase 1, which would see fifteen warships, two submarines and three maritime patrol aircraft carry out intelligence gathering operations with drones and helicopters in attendance.

    The European Union Naval Force Mediterranean Sea (EU NAVFOR Med) aims to target the smugglers in the Mediterranean. EU NAVFOR Med also envisages two follow-up phases, which require a United Nations Security Council Resolution and Libya’s approval. Phase 2 would see active intervention to board and disable smuggler vessels, while the third stage would extend these actions into Libyan territorial waters and possibly inside the country itself.

    Critics, however, insist that taking military action in Libyan waters or halting a vessel flying the country's flag without an international mandate would be in violation of the international law.

    What is needed is a total prohibition on the sale of weaponry to these countries. EU countries have to criminalize the arms trade, thus abolishing wars in countries such as Syria. It means investment in sustainable development, an end to plundering of resources. It means better education systems, better medical system and better shelters. Europe and NATO countries have to take responsibility because they have in one way or another created the current turmoil. They can find money for global warfare, yet they can't find the money to rescue refugees running away from the war zones.

    Apart from the influx of migrants from Africa, we have also to look at those coming from the Middle East. This is the direct result of the military invasion carried out by the U.S., and its NATO allies. They have sustained and shared the military operations in Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Yemen. As a result the Middle East and a large portion of Africa has plunged into disarray and disorder. It is estimated that by 2014 two million of the six million inhabitants of Libya had fled the country as a result of U.S.-French-British bombardments.

    The current U.S.-led drive toward regime change in Syria has immersed the country in total disarray, disorder and deaths, with the subsequent exit of an estimated four million refugees. Most of them fled to neighboring countries, while many others take the difficult and deadly path to Europe.

    Meanwhile, a new theatre is unfolding, with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia embarking on a new battlefront in Yemen. This is bound to lead to a great number of refugees seeking asylum.

    And so, as an increasing number of distressed citizens seek sanctuary in Europe, the EU is converting the Mediterranean into a graveyard, hoping that this will serve as a deterrent to others.

    *Nizar Visram, a free-lance writer, can be reached at: [email protected])



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    IDPs face increasing sexual violence in Mogadishu

    Abdifatah Hasan Ali


    cc XK
    Sexual violence remains one of the most pressing problems faced by the IDPs who live in insecure areas controlled by armed militias in the Somali capital. The rainy season has already started and those forcefully evicted by the government are once again suffering from the cold weather.

    In 2012, the Somali government released a statement ordering internally displaced persons living inside Mogadishu to move out of the city. At the time, the majority of IDPs were living in government-owned buildings which have not been maintained since the collapse of the government and the breakout of civil war in 1991. A minority voluntarily left the area while many fell victim to forceful eviction. All were not provided with alternative housing even though the government promised resettlement plans; that promise still remains unfulfilled.

    Apart from that, in most cases the evictees are not provided with official written notice and enough time to vacate the area and as a result their properties are destroyed. The government forces sometimes use bulldozers and other heavy equipment to demolish houses and the shops of the people. The ministry of interior has drafted an IDP eviction policy which has been approved at the ministerial level but not ratified by the parliament. This policy has never been observed whenever eviction takes place.

    As a result, IDP women in Mogadishu have become increasingly vulnerable to sexual violence since the recent unplanned and forced evictions which mostly target women and children who represent the majority of IDPs. I’ve helped document 35 cases during February and March for the Somali Women Development Centre (SWDC) as opposed to an average of 3-7 cases per month before.

    The evictees are currently without shelter and are seeking temporary shelter in the outskirts of the city in makeshift tents and as a result, they are extremely vulnerable to all types of violence as large families are now living in open lands or in congested houses due to lack of resources to live separately. Sexual violence remains one of the most pressing problems faced by the IDPs who live in insecure areas controlled by armed militias. The rainy season has already started and the evictees are once again suffering from the cold weather, children and aged the most vulnerable at this time.


    Among the cases I documented, there were 14 cases of young girls aged between 6 and 16 years. One of them is an 8-year-old who was raped by her uncle who was supporting her in the absence of her parents. The perpetrator is now detained in the central prison; however, the family of the survivor is facing threats from other family members who are close to the perpetrator.

    The majority of the survivors do not report their cases to police stations as they don’t have confidence in the mechanisms used by the police officers. For example, survivors were complaining about the lack of female police officers at police stations and their discomfort in discussing the incident with a male investigator. Due to this, many prefer to report their cases to legal aid providers instead. The culture of silence practiced in some areas of the country is still a major obstacle for women and girls. As a result of this, survivors are not comfortable reporting their cases due to fear from stigma. In Somalia if a girl is raped or experiences any other form of violence she faces both stigmatization and discrimination from her own family and from the neighborhood as well. As a consequence of this fear, several victims remain silent and developed STDs which are discovered only later.

    Also, the law enforcement and justice institutions have not taken serious action to prevent sexual violence, claiming that they don’t have the technical and financial capacity to tackle this issue. However, according to legal aid providers in Somalia, there is massive corruption within the justice system which sidelines cases of sexual gender based violence. Among the negative practices in the system includes focusing only on civil cases (land disputes) for financial interest rather than criminal cases which include rape cases. The disregard of the criminal cases is attributed to two reasons: - i) survivors have no money to pay in order for their case to be prosecuted ii) lawyers defending their cases are always from legal aid provider organizations who usually do not charge survivors.


    The recently appointed Attorney-General Mr Ahmed Ali Dahir has shown some positive attitude towards preventing GBV as he attended several workshops and forums organized by SWDC. Dahir has also had various meetings with the civil society and discussed with them the best ways of tackling this merciless violence against women at the grassroots level. Early this year, he appointed four female prosecutors for his office which marks the first time in Somali history of appointing females to this position. He vowed that he would try his best to use his power to ensure perpetrators of such violence are taken to court.

    On the other hand, the Somali government has yet to form the stipulated national human rights commission; however, there is a parliamentary committee on human rights which should be empowered to investigate such issues. A sexual offences bill has been recently drafted although it has not been yet been ratified by the parliament

    Whenever the prevalence of this sexual violence is raised by the civil societies at national level the government always argues that their first priority is security. Now the holy month of Ramadan is already here and the militant group has already warned that they will carry out attacks, explosions and assassinations.

    SWDC has been providing post-rape emergency assistance including basic contraceptive pills and pep kits to the affected victims. The survivors were also provided with psychosocial counseling and legal aid representation. Among the 35 cases reported and documented, nine were taken to court and are now in process.


    The campaign against sexual gender based violence should be joint and all concerned parties including civil society, women MPs, women-led organizations and other community-based organizations should play their respective roles in combating the impunity. The government should be a big part of this campaign and should come up with strong preventive strategies/approaches against this violence. Humanitarian agencies should also play their role in responding to the crises as a result of the unplanned evictions.

    * Abdifatah Hasan Ali is Somalia Country Coordinator for Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA).



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    Soweto Declaration

    From the 5th Africa Unity for Renaissance Conference


    cc SOGV
    This Declaration contains some of the salient ideas from delegates who hailed from across the continent, as well as from the rest of the world, to articulate what is required for the creation of a united, liberated, renascent and prosperous Africa.


    The 5th Africa Unity for Renaissance Conference was held in South Africa from 22 to 25 May 2015 in Soweto. The decision to hold the conference in Soweto, as well as to name this declaration after it, is symbolic of the ‘shift in the geography of reason’ that is required to bring about positive change given the realities of persistent inequitable spatial, economic and social relations in Africa. It is also befitting to remember Soweto’s sacrifice and rich history of resistance against apartheid. Delegates that hailed from across the continent, as well as from the rest of the world joined together with the South African participants in articulating what is required for the creation of a united, liberated, renascent and prosperous Africa.

    Each African Unity for Renaissance Conference has sought to capture and bring together some of the insightful articulations and deliberations made over three days into declarations, which have previously been called the Tshwane Declarations, and to disseminate the declaration to reach key thought and policy leaders. The Third Tshwane Declaration was delivered to all the delegates present at the OAU/AU Jubilee celebration in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    The organising partners from South Africa have worked consistently and with full collaboration in order to run these series of African Unity for Renaissance Conferences (AUR) with the clear objective of generating Pan-African education for the creation of substantive change to re-shape with unity and renaissance the free African future. They have now been invited to continue this work by formally organising themselves, as permanent network members and long-term collaborators, representing a diverse vitality of perspectives, under the name of the Africa Unity for Renaissance Network (AURNET). This galvanisation of these series of conferences into the Africa Unity for Renaissance Network (AURNET) is necessitated by the sincerity and commitment required to not only articulate but also to create the attainable reality of a strong and united Africa, where Africans are enabled to make real the futures that they wish to see for themselves, through their own immense strength, wisdom, collaboration, shared vision, project and sustainable solidarity. A true united African agency is still waiting to be made free from all kinds of external influences.

    The 5th Africa Unity for Renaissance Conference is also held at the time of the Diamond Jubilee of the Bandung Conference that created the non-alignment and third world route for stable and peaceful world order free from the domination of superpowers that created the Cold War. The world is still not secure, stable, predictable, peaceful, just, fair and sustainable. There is no end of history or clash of civilisations. What is missing is a real new history and civilisation to create a fully humanity anchored world. It is time to seize the moment in order to contribute by re-rooting humanity into the rich values of Africa to create a new history, culture and civilisation for peaceful co-existence for all in the world. The work that the AURNET will promote in the years to come with the African Unity for Renaissance Conference can provide the platform, space and road to produce through research the type of knowledge that will enhance a better understanding of how we can create a better future indeed for Africa and the rest of the world.

    The 5th Africa Unity for Renaissance Conference in Soweto was symbolic of this, as it worked against the stigmatisation of the area as one that is supposedly ‘high risk’ and sought to send the message that knowledge of and for Africa must be generated by undertaking reverse learning from the grassroots level from the townships. It is important to recognise that in order for emancipatory engagements to be relevant and effective, they genuinely need to originate from the observations, articulations, and realities of ordinary people and their lived experiences by acknowledging the improvement of their livelihood as powerful sources of resilience, innovation and inclusivity.

    ‘Africa 2015 and Beyond: Engaging with Agenda 2063’ provided the overriding concern to undertake deep reflections for the 5th African Unity for Renaissance Conference. Delegates had the critical opportunity to reimagine alternatives, to reject and unlearn the artificial and disempowering divisions imposed by both subtle and overt forms of colonially designed fragmentations that Africa has not removed yet to express its free and united agency. The strength of the African identity to be made by all is one that recognises and celebrates unity through diversity and complexity. The 5th African Unity for Renaissance Conference thus sounded out a powerful call for the acknowledgment of the unique ability of Africans to create new humanity, new history and new civilisation to correct all the remaining colonial mistakes and internal spatial divisions by re-imagining and creating more equitable and emancipatory realities, from Soweto, to the rest of Africa, and, indeed, the world. It is Africa’s time to re-launch a vast Pan-African education from Soweto to every part of the Africana world.


    1. Massive epistemicides of African knowledge have perpetuated negative narratives about Africa, which must be overcome through the acknowledgement and promotion of the positive contributions of Africa as the origin of humanity, civilisation, philosophy, science, mathematics, astronomy, education, arts and culture, and religion.

    2. Africa as the cradle of humanity, with its rich histories, philosophies and resistances, is uniquely positioned to create new, more inclusive and equitable humanities and realities. This knowledge must be reclaimed for the promotion of the dignity of all.

    3. The African values of Ubuntu, Ma ’at, Ethiopianism and Afrikology as well as the movements of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, can play a critical role in anchoring African liberation, development and prosperity on the known African deep values, principles, humanity and civilisation to realise the full wellbeing of all the people without any exception. Africa has rich resources which all the ordinary people have the full right to access and utilise for the wellbeing of all.

    4. There is an urgent need for the decolonisation and restructuring of entire educational systems, in order to realise the promises and potentials of African unity to change the present-day lack of African-centred knowledge systems.

    5. African people have resisted all forms of destructions and oppressions, including colonialism, cultural genocides, enslavements and imperialisms and these resistances must contribute to all Africans to unite in practice. There should be unity in rejecting the destructive experience by also uniting in recognising and building on the positive contributions, knowledge, histories, philosophies and sciences that Africans have made to be the first to create humans to all other inventions.

    6. While Africa has held a series of pan-African Congresses, has founded the OAU in 1963 and the AU in 2002, has had powerful and inspiring African liberation movements, and has won many battles against imperialist powers, full economic and political independence and freedom still remain a difficult challenge.

    7. The need for African unity has been declared since 1963 formally by the meetings and protocols of the heads of state and the ministers; but there has not been any systematic implementation of at least even in a few areas, such as for example an African trade and investment area, to produce positive examples. Unity is a process and on-going. Substantive commitment requires that action be taken to implement unity. The people in Africa must be involved in making African unity. The people have to make the African unity history.

    8. The AUR 5th Conference delegates said that 2063 for African Unity is too late. Africa must have united yesterday. If not yesterday, Africa must unite now. We need the African Agenda for realising African agency and unity for renaissance Now, Now and Now! If Africa does not unite now, how can we expect unity as late as 2063?

    9. Embracing African agency means rejecting a passive attitude to matters that affect negatively Africa and its people. The whole educational system should be guided by Pan-Africanism. The re-education of all by appreciating the African contribution to knowledge and building on this to create new knowledge is part of the work to unite Africa now and not tomorrow.

    10. While the AU, through its Agenda 2063, is attempting to envision a strong and prosperous Africa, African Unity cannot remain an ethereal and elusive promise for the future. This urgent struggle was begun many years ago and we have a duty to see this completed by changing the current functionalist perspective to unity with the substantive approach by recognising that colonialism did not come only for some Africans. It came for all opening for all Africans the opportunity to unite to remove it and other ills for good. Remain fragmented, African vulnerability continues; united Africa attains full freedom and independence for good.

    11. Africa is vast and powerful, with a rich abundance of resources. In this context, if efforts were intensified for the effective economic, social, political, and cultural cooperation between African countries, Africa would be enabled to create the massive structural transformation by removing for good of inequalities, unemployment and poverty and building the wellbeing of both people and nature...

    12. Africa has the ability to be a powerful innovator for emancipation and this agency can be realised through united efforts. Pan-Africanism remains an essential aspect for reimagining and creating the Africa that we all want to see built now and in 2063!


    1. The Africa Union must convince all the members to make the Month of May an African Liberation Education Month and recognise May 25 as Africa Liberation Day. African Liberation Day needs to be legislated as a day for all the people of Africa to join in re-education to build Pan-African unity and to promote full African agency.

    2. Models for the establishment of centres for education, where future teachers are trained to impart positive knowledge of Pan-Africanism to all children living in different African countries, as well as the Diaspora, need to be developed and implemented.

    3. Where incidents of xenophobia and Afrophobia occur, these acts demonstrate a failure of Pan-Africanism, both in terms of creating unity and a shared appreciation for one another’s humanity, as well as in terms of not having addressed continued poverty, inequality, lack of employment, being unemployable, desperation and lives lived without dignity. This should provide the clarion call to spread pan-African education across Africa, with this task of re-education being primary and urgent. All avenues for this task, including on-line platforms and others, should be explored, developed and implemented in order to address this problem.

    4. Realising a prosperous, yet non-exploitative Africa, through effective policy and practice, requires the increased communication and collaboration between African academics, governments, businesses, and civil society. Work that encourages these connections must be strengthened in order to create vital and united social, political, and cultural African economies, in which all sectors of the population are included.

    5. Civil service is service. Public servants must serve not try to be masters. Corruption must be eliminated. Within African leadership positions, public service and accountability to the people needs to be actively leveraged and engaged. In order to contribute positively to this work, and to hold leadership performance to account in terms of its service to the people, integrity, and honesty, the Africa Unity for Renaissance Network (AURNET) will create an African Public Service Index (APSI). Efforts to create public service training, actively promoting the values and benefits of Pan-Africanist alliances and highlighting the importance of creating independence from external sources of funding, will also be undertaken.

    6. Inter-African integration is still very limited with African trade and investment suffering from collaborative distance. There is an urgent need to redress this gap by promoting the comprehensive strengthening of inter-African economic, educational, social, cultural and labour related trade, exchange and investment. Further collaborations in the development of technology and infrastructure are also urgently needed.

    7. Africa is in a position to pioneer social entrepreneurship for prosperity and equality and to redefine development by building on the rich values and traditions that Africans have created. Africa does not need to catch up with anyone, but must rather create wellbeing by and through the deep-rooting of African knowledge which can serve as an example to the rest of the world.

    8. Both African leaders and the people must learn to walk the talk; they must attract the funding for African development not through loans, debt, or donor hand-outs, but rather, through contributions from their own resources. The reality of collaborative contributions for mutual development, as well as the rejection of external donorship and funding must become a reality now, not in 2063.

    9. Africa must fully invest in the capabilities and talents of her children in the Diaspora. African leaders and institutions must enhance Africa’s capacity to find African funds for building brain-gain and should establish African retuning talent infrastructure and funding.

    10. African unity is both necessary and sufficient to bring full political and economic independence .The AU/NEPAD must be encouraged to be active in the African Unity for Renaissance conferences to share together how all stakeholders can join contribute to transform Africa structurally and not just with issuing protocols that often remain unimplemented.

    11. There is a need to re-imagine Africa as an innovator and time to use Pan-Africanism to embed a total knowledge, invention, innovation, learning and competence building culture (KLIC). No pan-African unity means, no African agency; if there is no unity and agency, there will be no African renaissance for Africans to own their economy today and even in 2063! Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) should become like food and water for all the youth to be exposed and educated. All ministries of science and technology in Africa should begin to implement a strong African Research Area.

    12. The Africa Unity for Renaissance that started in South African can be used as an educational platform to create and inspire new pan-African thought leaders through the establishment of research programmes, academies, and partnership networks that include civil society, alumni, governments, industries, and universities. Such activities are integral to the creation of the Africa we wish to see. Engagement with agenda 2063 must continue to make African unity an everyday process not a prolonged projection after another 50 years.

    [NOTE: The Soweto Declaration was compiled by Prof. Mammo Muchie based on the submission of the recommendations from the participants of the Africa Unity for Renaissance 5th Conference. This Soweto declaration will be sent to the Africa Union Meeting in June to be held in South Africa. It will also be published and shared to reach as many Africans as possible.]

    US foreign policy a reflection of racism and national oppression

    Charleston massacre represents a long line of crimes against humanity that extend around the globe

    Abayomi Azikiwe


    cc JC
    Why is the American government constantly at war with one enemy or another abroad and at the same time failing to foster peace and stability inside the country? It has everything to do with US imperialist militarism around the world and systemic racism at home.

    [NOTE: This presentation was delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) which was held on Thursday June 18, 2015 at the Our Lady of Fatima Church located in Oak Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Azikiwe serves as an executive board member of the organization having previously occupied the positions of both chairperson of the board of directors and president during 2007-2014. Also speaking at this event was Dr. Saaed Khan, a professor at Wayne State University and a member of the MCHR Board of Directors.]

    We are here for our annual meeting in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR). Our yearly dinner was a resounding success in April with hundreds in attendance under the theme of the need to link various struggles against racism, economic exploitation and for social justice and self-determination for the majority of people who live within this society and the world.

    The topic this evening focuses on the relationship between United States foreign and domestic policy. Why is the government constantly at war with one enemy or another abroad and at the same time failing to foster peace and stability here inside the country?

    Today we witnessed the arrest of a suspect in the gruesome massacre of nine African Americans in one of the leading historic churches in the U.S. Even those within law-enforcement and the corporate media have characterized this incident as a hate crime.

    Obviously this mass killing was politically motivated. The most prominent person killed in the massacre was Pastor Clementa Pinckney who is also a State Senator in South Carolina. He was in a prayer meeting and bible study at the church when a white 21-year-old male entered and stayed for some time before declaring that he was there to kill Black people.

    Reports indicate that he had a criminal record for drugs and other offenses. His links to white supremacist organizations is being examined with each passing hour. He has been shown in a photograph wearing a jacket with the insignia of the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the previous settler-colony of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

    Ongoing problems of racist violence and other hate crimes are consistently ignored or played down in the corporate media. The administration of President Barack Obama has been rightly criticized for not addressing the continuing, and many would say, escalating phenomenon of racist violence, hate speech and institutional racism.


    This church where the shooting took place occupies a proud history in the legacy of African people in the U.S. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) was founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, Sara Allen, Absalom Jones and others in 1787 beginning as the Free Africa Society.

    When the church was formed the United States was in its infancy as a nation. The country had inherited the institution of slavery as an economic system. Slavery existed in the Northeast as well as the South. Africans who had accepted Christianity were still subjected to racism and sought to set up their own independent places of worship.

    In the Southeast during the later decades of the 18th Century an African Baptist Church was formed. Later in Philadelphia the AME Church went in the same direction. These places of worship did not just deal with the spiritual needs of the people but the desire for genuine freedom. The formation of the early African churches was in themselves acts of self-determination and defiance against slavery.

    Perhaps the most famous co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church was Telemaque, better known as Denmark Vesey. He was born in the Denmark colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean and later lived as a slave in Saint Domingo (Haiti). Reports of his life say that he was influenced by Africans in Haiti when the revolution erupted in 1791. He along with his master Vesey, had re-located to South Carolina by the late 1790s. He was able to win his freedom from slavery remaining in South Carolina and serving as a co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in 1818.

    In 1822 Denmark Vesey was the engineer of an elaborate plot to liberate his people from slavery. He had tried for many years to purchase the freedom of his wife and children yet the white slave masters would not free his spouse or children who were automatically placed in bondage following the rules of the system where the offspring would inherit the status of the mother.

    Vesey was influenced by developments in Haiti. The Charleston County revolt was scheduled to take place on July 14, Bastille Day in France. However, a decision was made by Vesey and his comrades at the Church to move the date forward to June 16.

    Demographically as a result of the slave system of agricultural production in Charleston, Africans far outnumbered whites in the area. Such a slave revolt would have sent shockwaves throughout the South and shaken the system to its core. Nonetheless, the plans for the revolt were leaked to the slave masters and Vesey along with many others were arrested, tried in a secret court and hanged.

    Many others were deported to Caribbean islands and other U.S. states. Morris Brown, another early leader of the AME Church was forced out of the state. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this horrendous act of hate last evening took place just one day after the 193rd anniversary of the plans for the Charleston Rebellion.

    Later in August 1831, Nat Turner in South Hampton County, Virginia, led another revolt which was not uncovered until the actual day of the uprising. Turner was also motivated by the Bible and notions of the fulfillment of prophecy.

    The Nat Turner Revolt led to the deaths of numerous slaveholders. Turner and others were eventually apprehended and brutally executed. Nonetheless, this rebellion created a reaction on the part of the slavocracy in the South resulting in the Abolitionist Movement being born. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was a desperate measure to maintain what even many slave masters knew was a dying system of exploitation.

    When John Brown attacked Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859, it represented the initial skirmishes of the Civil War which began in earnest in 1861 extending to 1865, breaking the back of the antebellum slave system and ushering in Reconstruction. The failure to build democracy in the aftermath of the dissolution of slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy is still with us today. It would take another century for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act to be passed.

    Nonetheless, today much of the turmoil inside the U.S. is related to the inability of the American system to eradicate institutional racism and national oppression.


    How do these historical developments rooted in slavery provide insight into modern U.S. foreign policy? Is there a direct link between the ongoing racial oppression and the character of Washington’s relations to the former colonial, semi-colonial and socialist states?

    All modern wars waged whether Cold or Hot have been directed against the states within the regions of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the former socialist countries of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the conclusion of World War II. Today we witness the re-emergence of another Cold War with the escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Yemen and other geo-political areas.

    In Yemen today, the Saudi Arabian monarchy is bombing the country, the most underdeveloped in the region. The Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance war against Yemen is in actuality a proxy war against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which had a popular revolution in 1979 in response to the U.S. support of a monarchy which repressed its people for decades. The nationalist government of Mohamed Mossadegh was overthrown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1953 simply because he sought to take control of Iran’s oil resources.

    In Palestine, the U.S. has supported the State of Israel which maintains its occupation after 67 years. The people of Gaza and the West Bank are daily subjected to the armed might of the Israeli Defense Forces and the police.

    These wars in Yemen and Palestine are supported through direct U.S. tax dollars and weapons. The F-16 fighter planes now bombing Yemeni residential, communications, transport and port facilities are produced in the U.S. The same is true of the Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), phosphorous bombs and other ordinances utilized by the IDF against the people of Gaza in Operation Protective Edge during 2014 right through additional attacks in recent weeks.


    In North Africa the situation is growing more desperate every week. Many of us have followed the tragedy of mass migrations where thousands have died just this year off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean in desperate attempts to reach Malta and Sicily.

    The current situation in Libya is a direct result of the CIA-Pentagon and NATO war of regime-change in 2011. There were over 26,000 sorties flown over Libya in 2011 and some 10,000 bombs were dropped on the North African state, previously the most prosperous on the continent under the Gaddafi government.

    In Libya today there are two contending regimes claiming legitimacy as the government. Human traffickers take advantage of the chaos to funnel migrants fleeing the impact of wars in Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Syria, and as far away as South Asia. The European Union and the U.S., which have initiated these wars, act now as if they have nothing to do with the current crisis. The EU response has been a military one which will only result in more deaths and displacement.

    Also in the region, the militarized regime in Egypt is another case of failed U.S. foreign policy. Since the late 1970s, Washington and Wall Street have funded the Egyptian government under the former President Hosni Mubarak right through the present junta led by military-turned-civilian ruler Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Thousands of Egyptians have been killed since the military coup in July 2013. The former elected President Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to death by a court that makes a mockery of due process.

    However, these failed policies continue unabated. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, the impact of U.S. foreign policy is still very much in evidence. Iraq is still at war and the administration of President Barack Obama is carrying out bombing operations against the Islamic State and re-deploying Pentagon forces ostensibly as advisers and trainers. This is the same president who ran for office in 2008 saying he would end the war in Iraq.

    The U.S. support of the armed rebels in Syria led to the formation of the Islamic State which has spread into Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Despite the spending of hundreds of billions during the Iraq war by U.S. tax payers carrying out a campaign of regime-change that met popular opposition, the country is still in deep crisis.

    The billions spent on weapons to arm the new Iraqi army which was crafted in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, have mainly been wasted through the capturing of these guns, tanks and other equipment by the Islamic State. At present U.S. warplanes are bombing their own weapons sent into the theater based upon untruths and psychological warfare against both the people of Iraq and the U.S.


    Therefore, we have much work to carry out in the upcoming year. Our organization faces the challenge of both addressing the need to cherish both lives here in the U.S. as well as throughout the world.

    Since August 2014 with the unrest in Ferguson, the incomplete revolution in racial equality has been further exposed for the world to see. The reluctance of the Obama administration to discuss race and to develop policies that specifically address the continuing disparate class and social divide in the U.S. has borne an ever worsening situation.

    Comments by Obama at the White House on events in Charleston seemed to focus more on the need for gun control. Although gun control is important, the underlying racial hatred and hostility is not fully explored.

    At the same time there is almost no debate over the redeployment of military forces in Iraq. There is almost no information about the ongoing war in Syria. Most people in the U.S. who watch the news originating from inside the country are barely aware of the war in Yemen and the role of Washington in this genocidal process.

    Consequently, we need to intensify our activism aimed at ending racism domestically and imperialist militarism around the world. These two imperatives merge when we look at the growing militarization of the police in the U.S. and the vast prison industrial complex.

    Many of the same weapons and tactics utilized in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia and Palestine are being unleashed against African Americans and others inside this country. Police kill African Americans and Latinos at an alarming rate and in most cases the authorities go unpunished.

    The massive impending evictions by Wayne County due to property tax foreclosures and the renewed water shut-offs of thousands in Detroit indicate clearly that the rebuilding of Detroit is taking place in contravention to the majority of people who live there. We must continue our vocal opposition to these crimes against humanity.

    We look forward to our new members of the board of directors. This is a working board that seeks to make a difference in the broader movement for social change in the U.S. and internationally. Let us move forward into the coming year with the necessary vigor and vision that will ensure the fundamental change that is needed in the present period.



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    Closing the historical circle: White terrorism at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

    Ajamu Baraka


    cc TN
    African Americans are slowly coming to the conclusion that it does not matter whether it is the streets of Baghdad or Ferguson: the non-white-other is the enemy who must be stopped.

    “…It is time for you and me now to let the world know how peaceful we are, how well-meaning we are, how law-abiding we wish to be. But at the same time we have to let the same world know we’ll blow their world sky-high if we’re not respected and recognized and treated the same as other human beings are treated.” (Malcolm X)

    Two hundred years ago, it is quite likely that Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African who managed to purchase his freedom and co-found the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, met in the relative safe space of that church to plan the slave rebellion that marked his entry into history. Set for June 17 1822, his audacious plan was to free as many Africans as possible, commandeer a ship from the Charleston Harbor and set sail for the free territory of Haiti, which had defeated Napoleon’s army and established itself as the first African republic on the planet. After Vesey was betrayed and his plot uncovered, local whites burned the church to the ground, only to be rebuilt again by the Africans of Charleston.

    In what can be seen as a metaphor for the African American experience in the U.S., almost two centuries later, Dylann Storm Roof, a militant white nationalist, stood up in the sacred space of Emanuel AME church on June 17, the anniversary of Vesey’s planned rebellion, and unleashed a murderous attack on a small gathering of Black worshippers.

    This latest outrage followed on the heels of the execution of Walter Scott by a Charleston police officer a few months ago. The video of the Scott murder and the constant images of brutal cops behaving with an air of impunity as they murder and beat Black men, woman and children across the country have generated a growing sense among African Americans, even the pro-American apologists, that Black people are under a racist siege.

    Yet, for Dylann Storm Roof, the Black people in that church were the aggressors and he was the defender of white civilization, the “American” way of life and spirit that President Obama praised in his speech in Selma. Obama pushes the liberal version of the white nationalist narrative of inclusiveness and integration into the U.S. settler project by the subordinate racialized peoples, but Roof and many other white settlers are committed to upholding an unaltered view of the U.S. shared by the “founding fathers,” who established the U.S. as the first racist republic in history.

    Roof is reported to have said that black people are rapists and are taking over HIS country. While it is easy for everyone to condemn and even pathologize Roof for his views, an honest assessment of the racialized discourse used to mobilize public support for U.S. military interventions would reveal an ideological consistency between Roof’s fear and loathing of the non-European “other” and the messages conveyed in recruitment posters for the U.S. military that depict soldiers waging war in far-off places to protect OUR freedoms in the U.S. Military propagandists know that the representation of the “non-white other” informs the imagination of most Americans when they think of foreign threats to the “homeland.”

    A new generation of African Americans are slowly coming to the conclusion that it does not matter whether it is the streets of Baghdad or Ferguson -- they/we are the enemies, who, as Roof said, must be stopped.

    The irrational, violence-prone racialized “other” occupies a permanent space in the consciousness of so many in the U.S., which is why it has been so easy to mobilize public support for U.S. military interventions and campaigns of political subversion, from Iraq to Venezuela.

    Sermons have already started condemning violence in the U.S., while the U.S. continues to send arms to known Islamic extremists in Syria, provide logistical and political support to the Saudi’s brutal and illegal war in Yemen, arm and train neo-Nazi fascists in Ukraine while militarily pivoting to Asia - and no one in the corporate media will call it hypocrisy.

    Obama and the ruling class in the U.S. are not concerned with violence. Obama just wants to make sure that the violence is state-sanctioned. While he moralizes about gun violence and the availability of weapons, he continues to allow massive military arms to be passed from the federal government to police forces through the government’s 1033 program. And the fact that the U.S. is the biggest arms merchant in the world is information that Obama will never share with the public.

    Quotes by Dr. King about the need for a non-violent response to the racist assault we are under in the U.S. are once again being pulled out. The Dr. King quotes they don’t repeat, however, are those about the U.S. being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. And they certainly will not remind the people that Dr. King argued that the only way the U.S. might hope to cure itself of the maladies of racism, materialism and militarism is through a radical restructuring of society. No, we won’t hear that Dr. King, and few will know about Vesey and his connection to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. But we know Malcolm, and Malcolm’s words bring the clarity we need today to close the circle of struggle.

    * Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at



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    First Christopher Freeman annual lecture


    The first Freeman lecture will be held on 31 July 2015 in India. This year’s theme is “Chris Freeman's Enduring Contributions to the Economics of Innovation.”

    Considering the enormous contributions of Prof. Christopher Freeman (1921 - 2010) to the field of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, we, the Research Scholars at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, are glad to inform that we have decided to organize an annual lecture in honour of Prof. Christopher Freeman starting from 2015 onwards.

    The first Freeman lecture will be held on 31st of July, 2015, Committee Hall, School of Social Sciences (One) building at 2:30 pm. The lecture will be delivered by Prof Mammo Muchie. Prof. Muchie is a DST/NRF Research Professor of Innovation Studies at the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa; and Senior Research Associate at the TMCD Centre at the University of Oxford, UK. The Thesis Supervisor of Prof. Muchie was Prof. Freeman. This year’s theme of lecture is “Chris Freeman's Enduring Contributions to the Economics of Innovation.”


    Prof. Christopher Freeman (1921 - 2010), who died on August 16 aged 88, was a pioneer of the research field known as "innovation studies"; he was passionate in his belief that technology and innovation could make the world a better place, and that the "dismal science" of economics could be transformed into "the economics of hope". In 1966 Freeman was invited to set up a Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University, where, working with Geoffrey Oldham, he quickly built up an impressive array of talented researchers.

    In 1974 Freeman published The Economics of Industrial Innovation, which was to be the definitive textbook on the subject for the next 30 years. Along with colleagues in SPRU and Germany, Freeman founded the journal Research Policy, editing it for the next 30 years and establishing it as the pre-eminent journal in the field. In 1992 he published The Economics of Hope, and in 2001 he and Francisco Louça brought out As Time Goes By, revisiting and revising his ideas on long-term economic change. In 2003, SPRU moved into a new building, which was named the Freeman Centre in his honour. Freeman was awarded the Bernal Prize and the Schumpeter Prize. (The Telegraph, 7th Sep, 2010)

    Subject: First Chris Freeman Annual Lecture /CSSP/JNU, NEW DELHI

    “Chris Freeman's Enduring Contributions to the Economics of Innovation”


    To be Delivered By Prof. Mammo Muchie

    Prof. Muchie is a DST/NRF Research Professor of Innovation Studies at the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa; and Senior Research Associate at the TMCD Centre at the University of Oxford, UK.

    Prof. Christopher Freeman Annual Lecture is an initiative taken by the students of the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, to elucidate the enormous contributions of Prof. Christopher Freeman (1921 - 2010) to the field of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies.

    Date and Time: 31st July, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    Venue: Committee Hall, School of Social Sciences-I (SSS-I), JNU

    Contact details: Fayaz Ahmed Sheikh (Convener) [email protected], +91-7042220967. Kapil Patel (Co-convener) 9717716906, Anwesha (Co-convener) 9013002835

    Invitation to Apply: 2nd West Africa Executive Course on Human Rights and Drug Policy


    The University of Ghana School of Law, in collaboration with the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program and Open Society Initiative for West Africa, is inviting applications for its intensive 6-day 2nd West Africa Executive Course on Human Rights and Drug Policy to be held at the University of Ghana, Legon between July 27 and 1 August, 2015.

    The course aims at developing the competencies of the participants to support their home governments in adopting drug policies which are underpinned by public health and citizen security, anchored in evidence-based harm reduction approaches and backed by laws or practices that are human rights-compliant. A key character of the course is its inter-disciplinary focus, both of learning and problem-solving. It is designed for high-achieving personnel who are engaged, or are interested, in policy formulation relating to drug control generally.

    Candidates should be people who are highly motivated, inspirational and have the capacity to effect or influence change in their communities. All participants are expected to be fluent in both spoken and written English. No prior knowledge of human rights and drug policy is required of participants, though such knowledge may be an advantage. 30 participants who are West African citizens and reside in the sub-region shall be selected to take part in this course.

    Deadline for submission of applications is June 30, 2015. Applications should be submitted to the Admission Committee, West Africa Executive Course on Human Rights and Drugs Policy, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon by email at [email protected], accompanied by the following documents:

    a. Transcript (s) bearing academic qualifications. A minimum of bachelor degree in any field from a recognised university is allowed;
    b. Cover letter (1 page) – stating, inter alia, applicant’s leadership credentials, work experience, involvement in community or grassroots activities;
    c. Motivation letter (1 page) – outlining the reasons for wanting to take the course and how the knowledge acquired can be taken home and applied to effect change in policy on drugs control;
    d. 1-page outline of the drugs problems existing in the applicant’s country of origin of applicant;
    e. Letters of reference (2) – academic or work-related. Only selected applicants shall be notified. Notifications will be sent a week after the deadline. Women, youth and members of marginalised groups are encouraged to app

    Comment & analysis

    Land grabs in Liberia: The people rise up

    Ali Kaba


    The Liberian government’s refusal to recognize and respect rural people’s customary land rights is marginalizing and destabilizing local communities. The state has handed out millions of hectares to investors in recent years. Now emotions are flaring into full-scale conflict.

    The recent violence by community members against the Malaysian oil palm company, Golden Veroleum, in the presence of state officials in [url=file://localhost/(http/,]Butaw[/url], Sinoe County, has once again thrown the spotlight on the violence between communities and concessionaires. One interesting take-away from the incident is that tensions between communities on the one hand and government and concessionaires on the other hand are growing, creating what has the potential to become a ticking time bomb.

    Since 2010, serious incidents of community-investor land-related violence necessitating armed state security force’s involvement have erupted in many concession areas. Maryland, Nimba, Cape Mount, Sinoe, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Rivercess, Monsterrado, Bong – ten of the fifteen counties – have all reported violent land related conflicts (destruction of properties worth millions of dollars, allegations of torture by community members against state security forces, false imprisonment and other human rights abuses, and death), between communities, investors and the state. To put it more bluntly: growing tension stemming from large-scale land concessions indicates that violence and community anger may become an increasing consequence of bad faith concession operations in host communities and murky land transactions.

    One of the central causes of this community anger and violence is state denial of communities’ and families’ customary land rights. (The vast majority of Liberians rely on land held, managed and used according to customary norms and practices for their livelihood.)The state’s failure to protect and defend communities’ customary land rights stems from an age old practice, mixed with an appetite for quick, cheap land and resource rental fees, that the state – and by this I mean those in charge of administering affairs of the state – has an unaccountable control over the country’s resources, including its citizens.

    Firestone’s land deals and the Fernando Po crisis are good historical examples to draw from. Importantly, in recent times, between 2005 and 2013 alone, the government has ratified or signed into agreement several land based concessions, ceding away to concessionaires almost half ([url=file://localhost/(http/,]about 4 million hectares[/url]) of the country’s land, often without proper consultation with the people and communities living and making their livelihoods from the land being handed out. The Liberian government’s refusal to recognize and respect rural people’s customary land rights is marginalizing and destabilizing local communities. It has also contributed to poor working and living conditions and weak protection for workers and their families in concession enclaves, brewing distrust between communities and investors. Indeed, it is within these four million hectares that we are now seeing emotions flaring into full scale conflict and violence. .

    Furthermore, over a century of elite privilege has built in the state a patronage system to support an elite welfare system that rewards friends and families of the powerful, thus personalizing the state. One area this can be easily seen is around state processed private land claims. Laws like the now suspended Public Land Sale Act and accompanying instruments like Tribal Certificates and Presidential Signature to personalize public land (into private deed) have favored a few elites with close proximity to state power. Most large-scale public-to-private land transfers have tended to favor government actors. The recent infamous [url=file://localhost/(https/,]Private Use Permits[/url] (PUPs), which claimed almost a third of the country’s land space, is an extreme example of what is already unfolding all over the country. It is quite common to see members of the executive (president(s), ministers, directors of state-owned enterprises, county superintendents), representatives and senators, and members of the judiciary, along with their friends and family members, laying claims to huge tracks of lands all over the country.

    However, what is also clear – and is clearly reflected in recent violence in many rural communities across the country – is that the citizens have sufficiently shown to the state and state clients that these paternalistic patronage practices around land and natural resources are not only faulty as a principle of development but also defy the basic tenets of human rights. Importantly, it has led to intractable stalemates throughout the system, and in some cases, produce deadly outcomes.

    Against this backdrop, the recent violence in Sinoe should sound alarm bells for Liberian lawmakers, government actors, national stakeholders, and international partners. Genuine attempts at protecting and defending community land rights have the power to diffuse mounting tensions and restore peace. In particular, strong community land rights can help improve community cohesion, positive dialogue and communication within and between communities, a strong sense of citizenship, inclusion, ownership, a mutual investment climate, and successfully address the underlying drivers of conflict.

    To this government’s credit, it successfully drafted and adopted an excellent land policy in 2013 that formally recognizes customary land rights. The Policy, which has since been made into a draft Act and submitted to Liberian Legislature, mandates that: “Customary Land rights are equally protected as Private Land rights.” The land rights of the community as a collective and the rights of individuals, groups or families within the community are equally protected.

    But deeds, not words, can help fix the broken relationships between the state, communities and concessionaires. Sustainable peace in Liberia is possible, but realizing it requires radically transforming the way the state does business in Liberia. Heavy handed policing under the guise of development and maintaining public order will only worsen the tension. Concessionaires should be weary of the situation and consider measures to improve their relationship with communities where they operate.

    * Ali Kaba is a program manager and senior researcher at the Sustainable Development Institute, a Liberian non-governmental organization working to transform decision-making processes in relation to national resources. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Policy Studies (CERPS), a Liberian think tank.



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    Ending violence in schools and ensuring #JusticeForGirls in Africa

    Kimberly Brown


    Schools are places where girls should feel safe, supported and nurtured, rather than at risk of violence – particularly by teachers or school administrators, who owe them a particular duty of care.

    In 2010, two girls from Nakuru, Kenya, were raped by their teacher on several occasions, both at his home and at school. At first, the girls were too scared to talk, but after some time, they found the confidence to tell their parents what had happened. A criminal case ensued, but the teacher was acquitted – in spite of both strong evidence and eyewitness accounts.

    Thanks to the support of their families, the girls did not let this stop them from pursuing justice. Last month, following a case brought by the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) and a coalition of other rights groups, the High Court of Kenya awarded substantial damages to the girls and condemned the Kenyan Teachers Service Commission (TSC)’s failure to safeguard the girls from harm. The Court also declared that all schools and teachers are legal guardians of the children in their care and therefore have a duty to protect them from harm.

    This monumental victory for Kenyan girls has come not a moment too soon. Under our #JusticeForGirls campaign, which focuses on ensuring systemic change for adolescent girls, Equality Now has worked on several initiatives across the African continent and around the world. A key focus has been addressing sexual violence in schools, common in many countries from Egypt to Botswana, from Kenya to Sierra Leone.

    In Nigeria last year, while they sat exams, the Chibok girls were ruthlessly targeted by terrorist group, Boko Haram. In Zambia, we supported the 2008 case of a girl who was raped by her teacher. She faced enormous obstacles, but with our help, managed to take on the entire Zambian government and won. Girls are particularly at risk in countries with flawed and under-resourced justice systems, where a culture of impunity can often protect perpetrators and ‘conceal’ the violence which takes place. Far too often, this violence – or even the fear of violence – can deter girls from attending school.

    The right to education is a fundamental human right, enshrined in most national constitutions and paves the way for the enjoyment of other fundamental rights. The right to education is also a development goal, connected to the elimination of poverty, and a fundamental objective of the Beijing Platform for Action. Girls – and all children – should be able to achieve their dreams and ambitions and prepare for their adult lives. Yet, in Sub-Saharan Africa, due to many factors – including violence and discrimination – [url=file:///C:/Users/Mutanser/Downloads/33 million children in sub-Saharan Africa were out of school in 2012 - See more at: http:/]33 million children[/url] were out of school in 2012.

    Interestingly, in the recent judgements in Kenya and Zambia, the state was held accountable for its obligation to protect girls at risk of sexual violence, as outlined in the Maputo Protocol, which both countries have ratified. These decisions underscore the use of the international human rights framework to protect basic rights through national constitutions and laws – including the right to education, but also the need for states to take proactive measures to implement policies and procedures to prevent girls from being subjected to violence. However, the Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Women in Africa recently stated that despite the existence of such laws and ratification of legal instruments, prevailing cultural norms continue to determine the future of women and girls in many contexts.

    Schools are places where girls should feel safe, supported and nurtured, rather than at risk of violence – particularly by teachers or school administrators, who are obligated to provide them with a particular duty of care. This breach of trust and abuse of power is tremendously harmful and has a negative ripple effect for the health and future well being of not only the girls themselves, but on the entire community.

    Despite the uphill battle to ensure full education for all, we should also celebrate the positive change that is happening and the increasingly global trend of combating violence against girls in school in particular. Justice Mumbi Ngugi’s recent judgment in Kenya shows that what is needed is for the relevant education authority – in this case, the TSC – to “up its game with respect to protection of minors. It cannot shuffle paedophiles from one school to another, and finally, content itself with dismissals. It has to put in place an effective mechanism ... to ensure that no-one with the propensity to abuse children is ever given the opportunity to do so. Dismissal, and even prosecution, while important, can never restore the children’s lost innocence.”

    This is a message that every country can learn from.

    * Kimberly Brown works with Equality Now’s Nairobi office as legal consultant.



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    On the state of democracy in South Africa

    Steven Friedman


    South African democracy spans two very different worlds. In one, people complain loudly but enjoy full democratic rights – in the other, most remain unheard and battle for the right to speak. In both, life is difficult for those who do not conform.

    Among political scientists - and many of the South Africans who can speak - it is fashionable to label this country’s democracy a ‘party dominant system’. Democracy, is, in this view, limited by the iron grip of the African National Congress, which is said to dominate the political order because it wins repeated national elections. But this fails to explain why the governing party has almost no impact on some of the most important places in the country – those where the holders of economic and social power live.

    In the townships and shack settlements, the ANC may dominate although even there the reality is more complicated. But in the suburbs, it is hardly noticeable as a force in society or a factor in elections. The dominant party there is the Democratic Alliance although, as in the townships, the deeper reality is that particular interests dominate. In the townships, force may be used to get people to conform. In the suburbs, it is not needed – people fit in voluntarily.

    South African democracy is, therefore, built on at least two worlds – one dominated by the well-resourced and their favoured party, the other in which the ANC and local power holders who attach themselves to it hold sway. In one, residents speak and act as full democratic citizens – in the other, they may face violence if they do. The parallels with the pre-1994 period are clear: then too the suburbs were places where people could be heard, the townships places where force was used to impose silence. The pattern of the past continues, in a new form.

    None of this means that democracy is meaningless. Political freedom has enabled most South Africans to reclaim their dignity. It has placed a lever in citizens’ hands which can be used to send political power holders a message, as voters did in Marikana and Nkandla when they voted against the ANC, and to change lives: 3 million people living with HIV and AIDS are alive today because the politics which democracy allows enabled activists to win effective treatment at public expense.

    But it does mean that democracy is not yet able to change the social power inherited from the past which limits its reach in both suburbs and townships.

    In the townships, the ANC – despite the challenge of rival parties – continues to dominate elections. More importantly, public life in the areas where most citizens live is restricted by ANC functionaries or local power holders who use the governing party when it is convenient. They often use force, at times in concert with local police, to silence those who challenge their monopoly. The shooting of Andries Tatane is well known – other examples largely ignored by the media include the violence unleashed against the shack dweller members of Abahlali basemjondolo or the murder of union officials. But these are only extreme examples of the cost of challenging local power.

    Even if this constraint did not exist, many in these areas would find it difficult to make themselves heard, for the power balance is stacked against them: they often lack the resources and connections which the middle class use to make themselves heard. Local power holders impose an added barrier to realising democracy’s promise.

    Voters in these areas are not forced to vote for the ANC – when they want to ditch it, they do. But most find it difficult to make themselves heard in the crucial period between elections.

    Ironically, in the suburbs, where no-one forces anyone to obey, the dominance of one party and one view of the world is far tighter than in townships. On the surface, voting trends are similar: in Johannesburg’s last local election, both the ANC and DA won 80%-90% of the vote in their strongholds. But the DA areas also house domestic workers, most of whom do not vote DA: so the official opposition is probably winning more than 95% of the vote among those who own or rent property in their areas.

    Uniformity of thought in the suburbs is also more pronounced, as a glance at mainstream media shows: there is consensus that all ills are caused by the governing party; politicians and government are all-powerful while corporations and professionals are powerless; and that townships and shack settlements are of interest only when they disturb suburbanites by protesting. Those who challenge the first two are silenced by ridicule rather than force. Ironically, the suburban elites who impose this groupthink routinely berate township dwellers for ‘unthinkingly’ choosing the wrong party.

    Suburban dominance is powerful because it succeeds in presenting its world as everyone’s world. So powerful that those who claim to challenge it – social justice activists and organisations – repeat many of the assumptions of the suburbs even as they claim to oppose them. There are many examples but one will suffice. A sure path to denunciation by activists is to suggest that it is fair to fund Gauteng motorways by tolling those who can afford to own vehicles while exempting those who don’t: and so ‘radical’ activism embraces the interests of suburban car owners. A look at social media – often regarded as the forum in which all citizens speak although at the very most they are used by one in five people – shows how the suburban view dominates even among many who claim to be on the left.

    What might change these patterns? One important start would be a social justice activism which recognises how deeply trapped in the suburbs it still is and commits itself to breaking out. That could begin a challenge to the social and economic patterns which restrict democracy here – one which would recognise that our problem is not that democracy has failed, but that it has not yet been fully tried. We need the freedoms won in 1994. But we need to ensure that they are available to all.

    * Steven Friedman is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg. This article first appeared in SACSIS.



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    Government needs to do more for the Youth

    Oliver Meth and Gerard Boyce


    As South Africa celebrates 39 years since the June 1976 Soweto Uprising, more needs to be done to ensure that young people are educated, employed and empowered.

    South Africa’s Class of 1976 changed the course of our history by rising up and leading the vanguard for equal education and racial equality. Like them, young people today are faced with multiple risks. For instance, they are vulnerable to health risks such as HIV and AIDS. Teenage pregnancy and substance abuse are other major threats, whilst rates of depression are increasing. Disappointingly too, racism and discrimination are still rife twenty years after the transition to democracy. Few would dispute, however, that the single greatest threat facing young people today, and by extension the country as a whole, is unemployment.

    It was not supposed to be this way. The government vowed to make reducing unemployment a priority. Leaders promised six million jobs yet unemployment still increased considerably, from 3 million to 3.4 million during the period 2009 to 2013/2014. Bleak reading though these statistics are, it is not merely a question of numbers. It is about the lives, career aspirations and futures of hundreds of thousands of young people who are eager to embark upon productive and meaningful adult lives, but find that they cannot.

    Politicians were supposed to partner with young people to address the root causes of the problems that concern them. Instead, they appear to be marginalised from discussing their challenges in decision-making forums and from helping devise solutions thereto. Exclusion only breeds hopelessness. When you’ve repeatedly been promised a better future but are poorly educated, unemployed and foresee little prospect of finding decent work or feel that your voice will not be heard, despair sets in.

    Living on the periphery of a society that persists in categorising them according to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity or class, they continue waiting, struggling, crying, hustling, dying and even killing while nursing dreams of a better life, stoking ambitions and grappling with fears as they navigate an uncertain future in a society that reflects the divisions of a previous era and the actions of earlier generations. Consequently, members of the generation in whom are vested the greatest hopes of nation-building and transformation, still cut their identity in a society not of their own making.

    It is widely believed that young people possess vast potential to contribute to their own well-being and that of other South Africans. In order to realise this potential, however, policymakers have to come up with new ideas that are different to the tired promises that politicians are so fond of spouting.

    The first step to coming up with a solution is to identify the nature of the problem: the absence of sustained economic growth and limited job creation. These are essential to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.

    Even if this situation were to change, it would be necessary to address the structural constraints imposed on a large, poorly educated, mostly black population, who do not possess sufficient social capital to access employment opportunities that would enable them to obtain workplace skills, work experience and permanent placement.

    Enhancing access would require the rollout of targeted state interventions. Without these many young people will remain trapped in poverty and be unable to actively contribute to the socio-economic and political changes that are pre-requisites for the transformation of South African society. While government has successfully undertaken several high profile infrastructure projects – South Africa hosted a very successful World Cup in 2010, put a satellite in space, and built a world-class passenger-rail service in the richest province - it has performed less admirably when projects require regular, on-going contact with a large number of end users, in areas like education and skills development, for example.

    Its performance in these areas could be improved by eradicating nepotism and corruption, or by appointing skilled people in key positions at local government level. It goes without saying that, for a ruling party that is showing increasing signs of paranoia about its position in the run up to next year’s municipal elections, doing so is likely to improve its standing among younger members of the electorate.

    In conclusion, the situation of young people today is dire. But now, as in 1976, young people are still our greatest hope for effecting genuine societal transformation. As we embark on a new period of youth policy development, it is critical that the powers that be bear this in mind when engaging with young people; and when devising plans to build their capacity, they do so by supporting multiple, diverse and innovative interventions that bridge the gaps between government, civil society and business and ensure deep accountability. For ultimately, securing possibility, affording opportunity and empowering the youth to act as change agents is the critical task which will define the broader situation of the country as a whole.

    * Oliver Meth is a Social Advocacy Journalist and Gerard Boyce is a Researcher at the University of KwaZulu Natal School of Economics and Finance.



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    Double talk from Washington

    Hama Tuma


    America knows pretty well that the regime in Addis Ababa is dictatorial and repressive down to its core, but US officials will never say so openly. Ethiopia is an important ally for the pursuit of US interests in the region.

    Strange as it may seem, there are times when I sympathize with official America, like one feels sorry for a mother of serial killers. After all, they are criminals of the worst kind but still her children; and mothers’ love knows no bounds. America is a messed up mother who has given birth and succor to murderous dictators in many African countries. At the same time, it pretends to be the fountain of democracy and the disparity is tearing her apart, making her hypocritical, killing her not so softly. Or making her issue press releases that pass the realm of the bizarre, go to newspeak and double talk and ridicule her to no end in the eyes of the world.

    The recent State Department statement on the crude joke of an election in Ethiopia (the ruling party won by 100%) is a case in point. The United States commends the people of Ethiopia for their civic participation in generally peaceful parliamentary and regional elections on May 24, said the press release. In real talk this is supposed to say we did note that the participation was low and the soldiers and security forces out on the streets surpassed the number of the voters. A country with no independent civic organizations or rights is what Ethiopia is as Washington very well knows.

    The PR went on to state: “We acknowledge the National Electoral Board’s organizational efforts and the African Union’s role as the only international observer mission on the ground.” In other words, we regret the fact that the regime refused to allow foreign observers to come in and blocked local observers from doing the task. And the PR goes on to praise the election process in a country where the election law favors the ruling party and the electoral board is one hundred per cent controlled by the regime. What is funny (and sad) about the official statement is the fact that its second paragraph contradicts the first one and makes it clear that not only a real and fair election did not take place but could not ever take place under the given circumstances. The US State Department does know the regime in Addis Abeba is dictatorial and repressive down to its core but as the officials like to say it is their vassal and needed in the troubled region; so the PR goes on to prattle about democratic institutions in Ethiopia and other such ghost stories. Pathetic.

    Back when Orwell (who was according to one report a government informant himself) wrote of Newspeak the world was surprised and also shocked by the 1984 story. Actually, 1984 and Newspeak arrived long before that date and we are now in 2015 when double talk/newspeak is flourishing. I had tried to call it Afrispeak too in reference to African dictators and their unfunny double talk . Torture has become enhanced interrogation, preemptive strike has replaced unprovoked attack. Killing a human being is now a takedown, ethnic cleansing replaces outright genocide and weird is covered up as unique. Double talk can be used to avoid being rude and obnoxious or sometimes to be politically correct. American double talk is often to cover up the truth and delude and dupe people. Firing workers comes out softly as downsizing, a shoddy good passes as pre-owned.

    Some dictionaries define double talk as follows:

    1. Meaningless speech that consists of nonsense syllables mixed with intelligible words; gibberish. 2. Deliberately ambiguous or evasive language. Also called doublespeak. 1. rapid speech with a mixture of nonsense syllables and real words; gibberish 2. empty, deceptive, or ambiguous talk, esp. by politicians.

    It would be giving honor to the US press release if we were to call it gibberish.

    Bush was worse but then he had problems of capacity but Obama is no exception in double talk. Collateral damage is still covering up the killing of innocent civilians; regime change is overthrowing a regime that does not accept American diktat; a freedom fighter is a terrorist serving American interests and a terrorist anyone opposed to it. Moderate forms are fanatics that do not call America an enemy. The same double talk defined a communist during the Cold War. In Ethiopia, we have wax and gold but it is not the same thing really as double talk. It came out of hiding one’s message and meaning, often out of fear of repression–the wax being the obvious meaning and the gold being the real one. America’s statement is not wax and gold as its attempt to hide its unabashed and condemnable support for the regime in Ethiopia is hardly covered up by its feeble attempt at criticism (itself diluted and contradicted by the concluding statement of support for the regime and its non-existent democratic institutions). Let us say America is being held back to avoid saying it has failed miserably, ill advised instead of very, very bad and plain robber capitalist. In Israel, settlements are called facts on the ground and as Nabeel Abraham said demographic factors is the latest Israeli newspeak for keeping the Arabs from outnumbering Israeli Jews.

    The tyrannical regime in Ethiopia and its late dictator were adepts of double talk. The street smart thug called Meles Zenawi wove words to sound intelligent without saying anything–vintage gibberish. When he let his forces loose and invaded Somalia (to serve western interests we must add) he denied doing that, only admitting “we did cross the border with our soldiers”, no invasion please. A bankrupt economy with more than 80% of the people below the poverty level and starving was named a double digit growth miracle. People shot by the police were fools who intercepted the bullets. Ethnic discrimination is self-determination in practice, corruption comes out as an exaggeration and any dissent is terrorism or being anti-peace. It has worked for the regime as those swallowing its lies line hook and all want to be deceived. It serves their purpose. Lies are always believed when the listeners want to be fooled or duped.

    Double talk is disastrous when used to cover up crimes. Democracy in Ethiopia is a cruel joke on the vast majority of Ethiopians. Obama opened up the White House to a number of African dictators and tried to salvage his conscience by keeping Mugabe way from the US-Africa conference. Who were invited? The mass murderer Obiang, the despot Jammeh of Gambia, the kleptocrat Paul Biya, the Angolan dictator, the Ethiopian stooge, and more. Obama’s speech was an unmitigated disaster. He claimed he supports gay rights and embraced the dictators who would cut off any gay head with joy like the blood thirsty US ally Saudi Arabia. Jammeh has poisoned to death around 1000 people accused of witchcraft. Blaise Compaore, an Obama guest, has now been overthrown much to the joy of the people of Burkina Faso. American double talk and double standards needs many books. As someone put it, Kerry is just kerrying-on along the anti-African treacherous path hobnobbing with dictators from Djibouti- Ethiopia to West and central Africa.

    * Hama Tuma is an Ethiopian writer,poet and political activist. He can be reached at [email protected]



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    From Cape to Cairo: Africa rising with Tripartite Free Trade Area

    Odomaro Mubangizi


    The newly signed Tripartite Free Trade agreement bears great opportunities, especially in the areas of information technology, agriculture, social and intellectual capital. However, as with previous and future agreements its success depends highly on political will and stability in the countries involved.

    It is official—Africa now has the largest trading block just launched on 10 June 2015 in Egypt with the signing of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). This free trade area is comprised of 26 countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The TFTA has an estimated 600 million people that will fuel business in this massive regional block—the largest on the African continent. This is an exciting development. There has been a lot of negative publicity on the African continent: Boko Haram, Al Shabab, war in South Sudan, protests and violence in Burundi, and refugees from Africa drowning at the coasts of North Africa. With this TFTA in place and waiting to be operationalized, nobody should still doubt that Africa is rising.

    But what should we expect from this regional integration architecture? What needs to be done right for Africa to benefit from this development? Africa has had similar exciting developments in the past only to turn into white elephant projects: OAU; Lagos Plan of Action; and NEPAD. Afro-pessimists might be saying in whispers: “We have had similar grand visions before.” TFTA, it seems to me, is different a ball game and might turn Africa’s fortunes around if right steps are taken. I will suggest some new areas that need to be explored for Africa to maximize gains from a free trade area of this great magnitude.


    Cecil Rhodes who had a dream of connecting Cape to Cairo with his imperial ambition had a point. The regions of Southern, Eastern and Northern Africa are home to the longest and largest rivers on the continent: Limpopo, Zambezi, Nile, and Congo. Moreover, there are numerous lakes, that make the region have great potential for water transport and hydro-electric power stations. If you have transport and electricity, then you have the basic ingredients for industrialization.

    The other related infrastructure is road network from Cape to Cairo. There is the famous Great North Road that connects the Southern Africa region to Eastern and Northern Africa. If this road system is supplemented by air travel - given that the region has the best airlines with Kenya Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airlines - there is no reason why this free trade area cannot enjoy unprecedented economic boom. Jobs and markets will be in abundance.

    But infrastructure these days is not limited to transport and electricity, it includes ICT—mobile and internet connectivity. Fiber optic cables are already installed in some countries of Eastern, Southern and Northern Africa. Internet access is improving rapidly. With ICT infrastructure e-learning, e-commerce and e-governance are possible. The region is also home to great ICT innovations such as M-pesa in Kenya, apps to light school bags with solar power that enable school kids to study at night, a device to drive away lions from cattle at night, mobile apps to inform rural farmers of prices of food items, etc. E-medicine is also beginning. A surgeon can easily carry out an operation at Nairobi Hospital while on a computer screen in Kampala or in Mumbai. Unfortunately, some rather conservative folks are hesitant to embrace new technologies especially in e-learning. While some suffer informania (excessive preoccupation with ICT with its fascinating gadgets), others suffer from technophobia (excessive and irrational fear of ICT with its exciting gadgets). Both extremes can be avoided. With free trade, these innovations will find their way in some of the less innovative and conservative countries in the region.

    ICT has also enabled online media outlets that make news accessible and affordable. Social media is on rise and political campaigns and business deals are handled through twitter, facebook, Youtube, whatsapp, etc. How are mobile phones changing people’s fortunes across the African continent? Research indicates that sub-Saharan Africa is home to the fastest growing mobile region in the entire world during the last five years. As mobile services become increasingly more accessible and poorer people can afford them, mobile subscribers are likely to hit more than half-billion. Figures showing the mobile phones revolution in sub-Saharan Africa are staggering[1] :

    - $84 billion mobile industry is projected to invest in capital expenditure between 2015-2020
    - 2.5 million people worked directly in the mobile ecosystem in 2013
    - 5.4% of sub-Saharan Africa’s overall GPD was contributed by the mobile industry in 2013 and it is projected to reach 6.2% in 2020
    - 40% of the region’s population has mobile subscription

    For these exciting developments to be evenly spread in the region, respective governments need to put in place enabling legislation and policies that liberalize the airwaves and telecommunications industry. But this begs the crucial question whether one can liberalize airwaves and telecommunications, and the whole ICT infrastructure without at the same time opening political and economic space.


    South Africa has the top 10 universities in Africa. The Eastern Africa region has an upsurge of universities with some countries such as Kenya and Uganda having over 40 universities each. Some of these universities are faith-based such as the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Uganda Martyrs University, St. Augustine’s University (in Tanzania) and many more. There is a great deal of human capital trained in these numerous universities which, if visa restrictions were not an obstacle, would turn the region into an intellectual hub of Africa. There are some countries that lack skilled workforce such as Rwanda who have benefitted from the highly trained personnel within the region. Others might be still protecting their few jobs instead of opening up to boost their economy.

    For this intellectual capital to be put to maximum use, educational policies in the region will have to be harmonized. Students and teachers should be able to move freely in the region, and educational standards should be harmonized to reduce bureaucracy related with academic papers verification. Talk of regional integration usually focuses more on commodities and goods, but equal attention needs to be paid to intellectual property or intellectual capital. We live in a knowledge-based economy and yet little attention is paid to knowledge production.


    Eastern, Southern and Northern Africa is a region teaming with diverse cultures, religions and tourist attractions. Rather than being a source of tensions and conflicts, these diverse cultures and religions can be a source of wealth, if they are connected to tourism. Cultural and sacred tourism are areas yet to be explored in other parts of Africa as it has been done in Ethiopia. In some countries where tourism has been given serious attention such as Kenya, the sector brings in a lot of income for the country. This is an area where this region has a comparative advantage: mountains, rivers, lakes, wild life, rare plant and bird species, etc.


    This is Africa’s most neglected sector and yet it employs more than 70% of the population on the continent. Food security is still a pipe dream and yet the Southern and Eastern Africa region has excellent climate and rich soils, that with some extra irrigation and enhanced soil fertility, the region would be a bread basket for the whole continent and have surplus for export. African governments have not given sufficient funding for agricultural innovation.


    All these good ideas of infrastructure, intellectual capital, social capital, tourism, agricultural innovation will not bring about sustainable development in the TFTA, if they are not accompanied by good governance and peace. Opening borders to regional trade requires a minimum of democratic values, free press, freedoms of association and assembly and rule of law. Why would someone invest in a country that is prone to armed conflict?

    The African continent is currently embroiled in a debate on “third termism.” One wonders whether those clamoring for a third term and removing constitutional restrictions on presidential terms, are honest. Some of the constitutions that provided for presidential term limits are hardly 20 years. What has changed in these countries that necessitates removal of term limits? Why is it that whenever there are state-inspired constitutional reforms, they are geared to chocking democratic space instead of widening it? The claim that citizens are demanding the removal of term limits contradicts the spirit that initially called for term limits. If a leader is genuinely for term limits, there is no way, citizens can force him or her to stand for another term. The claim that “it is not me, but the citizens who want a third term” does not sound convincing. If a leader were to come out clean that he/she does not wish to stand for a third term as some have done like Nelson Mandela in South Africa and others in Botswana, Zambia and Malawi, no amount of pressure from the citizens would prevail.

    The constant cry is that good leaders are not known by how long they stay in power, but by what systems they leave in place after their term has ended. It is institutions that build sustainable states not individual leaders with all their good intentions. What does it benefit a revolutionary party to be in power for decades and only to disintegrate after the strong man who held it together has gone? Let us hope that the Tripartite Free Trade Area will not turn into a Tripartite Free Tyrannical Area.

    Of course, there are security concerns. The region is also home to Islamist militant groups that are causing untold suffering. Regional integration of this magnitude can potentially reduce insecurity if the respective countries agree on some security architecture for the region. SADC has such a mechanism. Militant groups will also try to take advantage of the free movement of goods and people. However, the best security is the citizens, if they feel included in the development agenda. One way to tackle insecurity is equal distribution of power and resources. If the Free Trade Area becomes a zone of the privileged few elite, then the many unemployed youth will have reason to get recruited by militant groups.

    The TFTA is a welcome step for Africa and hopefully by 2017 the continental Free Trade Area treaty will also be signed. Africa is rising and will continue to rise but the priorities of infrastructure, intellectual capital, agriculture, governance and rule of law will have to be taken care of.

    * Odomaro Mubangizi (PhD) teaches philosophy and theology at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis Ababa, where he also serves as Dean of Philosophy Department.

    [1] See, “Mobile Phones Changing Lives in Africa” in The East African June 12-16, 2015, 24.

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    Senator Meredith’s problems are not a cross for the Afrikan community to bear

    Ajamu Nangwaya


    Politically aware members of the Afrikan Canadians should not be embarrassed by the alleged behaviour of a man who supports a capitalist system and the exploitation of the natural resources of Afrika by imperialist foreign interests.

    The news of Canadian Senator Don Meredith’s expulsion from the parliamentary caucus of the ruling Conservative Party of Canada based on an allegation of sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl was greeted with shame, embarrassment and deep disappointment from some members of the Afrikan-Canadian community, which they expressed on social media; a collective “what a shame” reverberated on Twitter and Facebook.

    Meredith’s fall from grace is seen as a collective one, because these characters see his presence in the Senate as a collective achievement and symbol of social or political possibilities for the whole Afrikan-Canadian community.

    It is high time for the community to become more politically sophisticated in its understanding of politics and representation. Many Afrikan-Canadians need to abandon the empty and useless politics of symbolic political representation.

    It is this same line of thinking that had Afrikans in Toronto cheering for the appointment of Deputy Chief Peter Sloly as police chief in spite of his strong support of carding.

    The appointment or election of one person to a seemingly powerful position is not a substitute for policies and programmes that substantively improve the economic standing of the working-class majority.

    The publisher/senior editor Arnold Auguste of Share newspaper is on-point with his expectation of Afrikan people in responsible positions:

    “It is time we stop supporting people just because they share our skin colour. We need more than that. We need to know that they share our values; our concerns; our fears, our sense of place in this society and, when placed in a position to make a difference, are willing to step up.”

    Senator Don Meredith is a politically conservative politician who went to Ottawa to execute the Harper government’s economic and social agenda that has been detrimental to the welfare of the working-class, Afrikans and other racialized peoples, Indigenous peoples, women, the environment, trade union members, students, retirees, unemployed and the socially marginalized Canadians in general.

    Meredith is not on record opposing any of the anti-people laws of the right-wing regime in Ottawa.

    Senator Meredith and his Conservative colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate promote the economic and political interests of the capitalist class at home and abroad. Senator Meredith went before the national convention of the Akwa Cross Association of Canada extolling the virtues of the predatory Canadian companies that are operating in Nigeria.

    He also praised the Canada-Nigeria Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. It is a bilateral trade treaty like others signed with a number of Afrikan countries, which puts Canadian companies in a position to “sue a government if it expropriates a concession, changes investment rules or requires value added production take place in the country,” according to foreign policy commentator Yves Engler.

    Canadian mining companies have an unsavoury reputation in Afrika for their involvement in human rights abuses, labour exploitation and environmental destruction. Actually, the exploitative activities of Canadian firms are encouraged by the Harper regime through its opposition to passing a law that would regulate their operation in the global South.

    The politically aware members of the Afrikan working-class would not be embarrassed by the alleged behaviour of a man who supports the exploitation of the natural resources of Afrika by imperialist and capitalist foreign interests.

    On the domestic front in Canada, Senator Meredith is an unabashed supporter and booster of capitalism. This political position is inconsistent with the interests of the Canadian working-class in general and the Afrikan-Canadian working-class in particular.

    It is important to note that it was the need for a servile and dependable labour force by an emergent (mercantile) capitalism that led to the enslavement of Afrikans in the Americas. Even today, the workers from the Afrikan community in Canada are among the most exploited sections of the national labour force.

    Neoliberal capitalism in Canada has intensified the economic hardship faced by the people of Canada, especially for Afrikans, other racialized peoples and the Indigenous peoples. The Stephen Harper government, with the support of Senator Meredith, has been shredding the social safety and attacking trade unions that are supposed to operate as instruments of working-class resistance.

    Given the lower income and sparse wealth of Afrikan-Canadians, they need a social welfare infrastructure that provides adequate income when unemployed, a livable income when receiving social assistance, access to a good public pension income, strong funding of public or social housing, and adequately funded social services.

    Senator Meredith’s political agenda is in line with that of Harper when it comes to the social safety net. Even when the good senator is supportive of the federal government providing assistance to single working individuals, lone-parent families and people with disabilities, he is in full alignment with the Harper regime’s copying of the Elizabethan Poor Laws’ idea of only helping the deserving poor.

    Meredith’s Income Inequality and Wealth Statement that was delivered before the Senate supported the use of tax benefits to direct income to poverty-stricken sole-parent households and single working individuals.

    The provision of a publicly-funded national childcare programme, a guaranteed annual income, relaxing the restrictive eligibility rules of the Employment Insurance plan and increasing its benefits level, and allocation of robust funding to social housing would go a long way toward eliminating poverty. This policy direction would be too good for the socially-marginalized.

    There are petty bourgeois admirers of Senator Meredith in the Afrikan community who point to his advocacy for Afrikan youth, participation on a number of police-created community liaison committees, advocacy for the acknowledgement of Afrikan-Canadian veterans, and support for the recognition of the late Lincoln Alexander.

    It certainly does not take a lot to politically impress some political actors. The members of the Afrikan-Canadian working-class need adequately funded social and income security programmes and a strong social safety net. Symbolic political representation is useless to their material needs.

    Given the direction of the policies favoured by Senator Meredith and them not being beneficial to most members of the Afrikan community, there are no logical reasons for it to feel shame over the predicament of this conservative politician. Ideologically-speaking, Meredith is a class enemy of the Afrikan-Canadian working-class majority.

    * Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator, organizer and writer. He is an organizer with the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence.



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    Books & arts

    Damned if we don’t: Ahjamu R. Umi’s prescient liberation literature

    Michelle Renee Matisons


    Umi communicates a straightforward political message: People have the right, even the duty, to defend themselves and their communities against racist terrorist violence. And white people should not sit by idly, but instead, join this struggle.

    Lately, there’s been much discussion about U.S. racism in the mainstream media, as the Rachel Dolezal scandal, that preoccupied so many cable news hours, gave way to the disgusting news about the white supremacist terrorist, Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black congregation members in a legendary Charleston, South Carolina, church. What to do?

    Activist and novelist Ahjamu R. Umi has been resisting the tide of candle-holding and hand-wringing in the face of white supremacist murder through a plot of his own design that is thoroughly responsive to this society's racist past and present and the living principle of self-defense popularized in the Black Power era. A consideration of social media posts following the Charleston terrorist attack reveals many people are exhausted by the same old means (protests, vigils, petitions, and more legislative efforts) to address rampant state-sponsored racist violence. What would self-defense look like today? How do we even begin to imagine it?

    All-African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) member, Umi, has a gift for imagining it. His prescient plotline predicts recent racist violence, as his novels -- Find the Flower that Blossoms (2010) and The Courage Equation (2014) -- are generally set in the Obama years and address just this desire for dignified self-defense. Providing a racially diverse crew of characters, from Adisa Omawale, an Oakland trained African guerilla soldier, to Ashley Summers (later Boahinmaa Omawale), a white woman from Oregon who becomes Adisa's wife, and many other dynamic friends and comrades, Umi communicates a straightforward political message. People have the right, even the duty, to defend themselves and their communities against racist terrorist violence. And white people should not sit by idly, but instead, join this struggle.

    While many have relegated U.S. based self-defense struggles to the dustbin of history, Umi keeps the fighting dream alive in his literary trilogy (the trilogy's last novel is in progress). Sure this is fiction, but the principles and tactics exhibited throughout the novels are far from mere products of the imagination. With no spoiler alert needed, the major plotline is that Adisa leads a housing diversification project, relocating 800 Black residents from Los Angeles to central Oregon, that spawns a new racist organization -- the Patriotic Front (PF). The PF has skinheads working with local cops to terrorize the town's new Black residents. While one PF member and one cop get some prison time for the murder of Ashley's best friend, the antagonism between the anti-racist and neo-Nazi forces continues almost unabated throughout the novels' all too familiar race war climate.

    There are many page-turning twists and turns that lead Adisa and Ashley/Boahinmaa Omawale from Oregon, after confronting skinhead violence that leaves Ashley's best friend dead, to the Bay Area, where Ashley attempts to recover from post-traumatic stress induced alcohol and sex addictions. After they settle in Ghana, where the couple opens a school/ community center for village residents, events back in the U.S. force a full-blown confrontation with racists relocated in the American South.

    Book one, Find the Flower that Blossoms, provides a rather harrowing, bottoming out ride through Ashley's addictions, and she thankfully comes out on top; the Omawales make serious cash (which funds the Ghana school and other ventures) by penning a best-selling, celebrity-inducing memoir about Ashley’s Oregon experiences and her California-based recovery process. Find the Flower that Blossoms is a solid read that introduces our main power couple and their struggles for intimacy and social acceptance as an (always controversial) inter-racial couple, and it raises numerous issues related to handling racist violence in the context of multi-racial organizing in a "colorblind" society.

    The 537-page book two, The Courage Equation, is a must read tour de force for anyone seeking a literary treatment of internal gender-based power struggles in a present-day context of guerilla struggle against neo-Nazi racism. (Book two can stand on its own, but I recommend reading book one first because it introduces the main characters and offers some critical insights.) One of Umi's goals is to show how the group gets stronger as its female members seek equal participation in decision-making and fighting. He tackles gender dynamics and rape culture quite thoroughly, without sacrificing the group's big picture mission to eradicate the Patriotic Front, once and for all, and establish and evolve healthy counter-institutional alternatives to the empty decadence of the U.S. status quo.

    In addition to this pro-woman perspective that centralizes inter-racial friendships/love relationships and transnational anti-racist organizing, Umi paints quite a utopian picture of life at the Ghana compound; everything at the Omawales' school is run democratically, modeling the socialist economic values advanced by the A-APRP. Umi introduces readers to the organization's principles in a less than heavy-handed way, as political positions and analyses are laced into a larger and quite captivating epic struggle-style tale about the battle between the PF's terrorist forces of evil and the A-APRP's socialist forces of good. This may be the old "Good vs. Evil" story structure, but it's interpreted through a radical political lens with an unusual narrative strategy.

    This whole project is refreshing, as Umi, an African male author, takes up the first person narrative voice of a simple country girl turned resilient freedom fighter. How experimental is that? And Umi's experiment pays off as he carries this narrative perspective with few glitches in book one. While exhibiting determination and strength of character in the first book, you can look forward to how Boahinmaa really comes alive in the second book. Again, without giving anything away, I'll just say Boahinmaa proves herself a great lover and fighter alongside her diverse crew of comrades in struggle -- including a few rehabilitated young female PF members. (One distinctive place where Umi’s compassionate vision is found is in the support shown these ex- PF characters as they seek to transform their views and lives.)

    Also, Adisa, and a few of his fellow Oakland soldiers, models quality personal and political skills as he fights his own ingrained sexist urges for control over his wife's and other women's behavior. This isn’t so easy to do, as Adisa also serves as one of the lead guerilla tactics trainers for the entire group. But he manages to adjust because he’s a true revolutionary, and you know what Che Guevara said: “The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

    When book three is completed, we can expect more engrossing character depictions, plot twists, and humor (such as Umi's city manager/white supremacist murderer -- Lou Rallig -- who brings Spam on a picnic date with an undercover Boahinmaa), while being prodded to imagine a (Spam-free) world where transnational organizations create counter-institutions that nurture revolutionary aspirations and revolutionaries' dreams.

    If all these murders by cop and racist terrorist acts have got you down, I highly recommend Umi's freedom fighter novels (both are available through Amazon.) They'll make you feel the popular conviction that not only is another world possible, it is, in fact, necessary. Umi's novels remind us we are surely damned if we don't fight back against this racist violence. If you agree, you are damned if you don't seek some inspiration from Ahjamu R. Umi’s liberation literature.

    * Michelle Renee Matisons, Ph.D., is completing her first novel entitled "Left to Our Own Devices," which is set in the Florida panhandle. Her recent articles, focusing on public education and policing issues, have appeared in Black Agenda Report, Z Magazine, Counterpunch, AlterNet, The Fix, and The New Jersey Decarcerator: Michelle can be reached at [email protected]



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    Campaigner - Nigeria

    Location:Nigeria, Various Type:Permanent Working Hours:35 Salary:Competitive

    A I

    Amnesty International


    cc A I
    Amnesty International (AI) is establishing an office in Nigeria. We are seeking a proven expert on Nigeria, to lead on the development and implementation of campaigning strategies, and to manage and coordinate action on human rights concerns that ensures a lasting impact.


    In this key role, you’ll be responsible for designing and coordinating our campaigns on Nigeria, working with researchers, legal specialists and capacity builders to build an integrated strategy for change. You’ll also provide advocacy support to Amnesty colleagues and activist partners across the region and globally. You’ll certainly make a valuable contribution to effective management of our campaigning work, but we’ll also expect you to be self-sufficient; carrying out day-to-day admin, finance and impact reporting.


    Proven campaigning skills, impartial political judgement, excellent communication skills, coupled with strong strategic thought and an open and result oriented approach to your work are essential. So is specialist knowledge of Nigeria. Expertise in one or several human rights issue relevant to West Africa region would be an asset. You must have first-hand experience of Nigeria and awareness and understanding of its cultures. Fluency in English is essential.


    Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. We reach almost every country in the world and have:
    - more than 2 million members and supporters who drive forward our fight for rights
    - more than 5 million activists who strengthen our calls for justice

    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, fairness, freedom and truth wherever they're denied. And whether we're applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we're all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    Closing Date: 10th July 2015

    For more information and to apply, please visit:

    Finance and Office Manager – Nigeria

    Location:Various, Nigeria Type:Permanent Working Hours:35 Salary:Competitive

    A I

    Amnesty International


    cc A I
    Are you a fantastic accountant or office manager with a love of social justice? Then we want to hear from you! We are looking or talented individuals who share our passion for human rights and our desire to see positive change in Nigeria, to help grow our new office in Abuja.

    Around the world for over 50 years, we’ve been campaigning for human rights wherever justice, freedom and truth are denied. We’ve reshaped policies, challenged governments and taken corporations to task. In doing so, we’ve changed thousands of lives for the better.


    Taking control of all things finance and operational for our new office, you’ll play a key part in shaping our new office. Implementing our global policies and putting in place local processes and systems will be instrumental to our initial and ongoing operational success. As you would expect, you will be monitoring budgets, regularly reporting to management and ensuring we meet all the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements. As well as managing payroll and cash flow, you’ll have responsibility for facilities management, legal compliance, IT and a range of HR functions. This will include securing visas for international staff, commissioning training and ensuring HR best practice.


    A qualified accountant and experienced office manager, you’ll be an expert when it comes to preparing and monitoring budgets and overseeing the smooth day-to-day management of an office. More than being methodical, organized and flexible, you’ll be confident in your ability to get an l office up and running, thanks to a history of putting in place and managing financial, administrative, HR, IT and legal systems. You’ll also be well-versed in HR, customer focused and fluent in both English and a local language . Indeed, you’ll already have local contact networks in tax, immigration and with service contractors, along with a knowledge of local contract law. You will be technologically-savvy
    About us:
    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they're denied. And whether we're applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we're all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.
    Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity.

    We reach almost every country in the world and have:
    • more than 2 million members and supporters who drive forward our fight for rights
    • more than 5 million activists who strengthen our calls for justice

    Closing Date: 10th July 2015

    For more information and to apply, please visit:

    Position: Grants and Compliance Manager

    Location: Dakar, with regular international travel Deadline: 11 July 2015


    Trust Africa


    c c TA
    The goal of the Grants and Compliance Manager is to ensure smooth running of TrustAfrica’s grants administration and other compliance processes. S/he will maintain up to date grant records, ensure adherence to established industry standards and TrustAfrica’s policies and procedures; provide periodic analysis of TrustAfrica grants for internal and external audiences and technical assistance to grantees on all TrustAfrica grants related policies and procedures.

    Suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for a vacancy that has arisen at TrustAfrica.

    Position Title: Grants and Compliance Manager

    Reports to: Executive Director

    Supervises: Grants Compliance Associate

    Liaises with: All Staff

    Job Location: Dakar, with regular international travel

    Deadline for application: 11 July 2015

    About TrustAfrica: TrustAfrica is an independent foundation that works to secure the conditions for democratic governance and equitable development on the continent. We work principally through collaboration and partnership with like-minded institutions and donors. Led by Africans, we convene dialogues, catalyze ideas and provide grants and technical assistance to organizations working to advance these goals.

    Specific Responsibilities

    Working closely with the program team and the finance department, and under the supervision of the Executive Director, the Grants and Compliance Manager will do the following:

    1. Manage the grants work-flow process through the lifecycle of all grants and assure compliance with grant-making policies and procedures;

    2. Competently manage the grants database to keep track of all grants. Update the database and also re-design, build forms and templates to optimize its full capabilities;

    3. Prepare grant contracts and edit grant memos. Make sure that grant contracts are kept up to date and grant extensions and close-out letters are issued;

    4. Work with the finance, program team, and operations to ensure compliance across grant-making functions;

    5. Contribute to strategic thinking to ensure that the grants administration policies and procedures are in line with the strategic visioning of the organization;

    6. Contribute to the updating of the grants section of the program manual, including designing and updating materials on procedures and ensuring the organization is up to date with new trends and policies of the international grants management field;

    7. Oversee the review of grant files for compliance with reporting and payment schedules. Work with the finance and program team to prepare the annual audit;

    8. Serve as the point person to grantees and partners on all grants management issues. Provide advice, conduct trainings and workshops to provide technical assistance associated with grants procedures;

    9. Provide training and supervision to the Grants Associate.

    Qualifications and Skills

    This position requires strong technical grants management skills. In-depth knowledge of regulations and guidelines governing the processing of grant applications and related documentation is essential. The specific qualifications, skills and competencies include:
    1. Advanced university degree preferably in Law and at least five years of successful grant-making experience;

    2. Demonstrated knowledge of grants preparation and management; contract administration and compliance with standard requirements;

    3. Excellent knowledge of data management information systems, especially knowledge and understanding of Grants Software and Excel;

    4. Good computer skills and a strong knowledge of programming strategies;

    5. Ability to function independently, take initiative, and handle multiple tasks simultaneously, with prompt follow-through and careful attention to detail, to organize information quickly and easily;

    6. Strong communication skills and fluency in English and French (written and oral), including editing skills;

    7. Strong interpersonal skills, a helpful and personable attitude, evident desire to assist staff and grantees, and an ability to work as a member of a team;

    8. Commitment to TrustAfrica’s core values of equity, transparency, accountability, and integrity.

    How to apply

    Interested candidates should submit the following application materials in English: a cover letter, a detailed CV describing your professional experience, and contact information for three references.

    Only complete applications will be considered.

    Applications can be submitted to: [email protected]

    Please include your telephone number and Skype in your cover letter and indicate the job title in the subject of your email.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. No phone calls please.

    TrustAfrica is an equal opportunity employer. Women and individuals from Africa and the diaspora are encouraged to apply.

    Press Officer - East Africa

    Location:Nairobi Type:Permanent Working Hours:35 Salary:$68,699

    A I

    Amnesty International


    cc A I
    This is a new post based in Nairobi that will take strategic ownership of Amnesty International’s media strategy across East Africa, creating awareness of human rights as well as bolstering support for Amnesty International and shaping a better future for those in need. You will drive media coverage across national, regional and international media in order to promote Amnesty International’s campaigning, research, advocacy and growth objectives. You will provide communications that help to develop the human rights agenda and raise awareness of Amnesty International’s work in this important region.


    You are passionate about Amnesty International’s aims and are experienced in the media industry. You have a strong news sense and know how to place a story to achieve maximum impact. With a background in journalism or public relations in an international setting, you’ll have a detailed knowledge of East Africa and a strong network of media contacts across the region. You will have experience in developing strategies and running successful media events and will combine sharp news skills with a good understanding of human rights that will enable you to deliver prompt and impactful media response to world events. You will be part of a new team to be based in Nairobi covering research and campaigns and will work closely with other communications colleagues and with the media programme in London.


    Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. We reach almost every country in the world and have:
    more than 2 million members and supporters who drive forward our fight for rights
    more than 5 million activists who strengthen our calls for justice
    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, fairness, freedom and truth wherever they're denied. And whether we're applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we're all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    Closing Date: 12th July 2015

    For more information and to apply, please visit:

    Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

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