Pambazuka News 558: Angolan corruption, the climate crisis and elections in DRC
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Criminal complaint lodged against Angolan generals
Rafael Marques de Morais
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: You have recently filed a criminal complaint against a number of generals and people who have substantial economic and political influence in Angola for alleged crimes against humanity [PDF]. Can you explain who these people are and what crimes they are alleged to have committed?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: I lodged a criminal complaint against the shareholders of three private companies involved in diamond mining in Angola’s northeastern Lunda-Norte province. What happens is that two of the companies, Lumanhe and Teleservice, have as shareholders the most influential generals in the country, and they are among the top plunderers in the country, now vested themselves as businesspeople. The leading figure in Lumanhe is the Minister of State and Head of the Military Bureau of the Presidency, General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior ‘Kopelipa’, who is the president’s right hand man, in charge of the Angolan Armed Forces, the state security apparatus and the presidential guard.
There is also General Carlos Hendrick Vaal da Silva, Inspector-General of the General Staff of the FAA; General Armando da Cruz Neto, Governor of Benguela province; General João Baptista de Matos, former Chief of the General Staff of the FAA; General Adriano Makevela Mackenzie, Head of the Directorate for Training and Education of the FAA; and the brothers Faceira, generals Luís and António, who were respectively Army Chief of Staff and head of the Special Forces.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: What is the basis of your evidence?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: For the past five years I have documented cases of mass murder, torture and other heinous crimes committed by diamond companies and the private security companies they hired to protect their business interests. On 15 September 2011, I launched a book in Portugal documenting the abuses that took place in a period of 18 months, from June 2009 to early March 2011. It contains more than 100 cases of murder and over 500 of torture and other cruel acts. Furthermore, most of the surviving victims remain in the area and [are] willing to speak again, this time to the authorities.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Why have you filed these complaints on a personal basis? Is there no organisation in Angola that would take these up? Is it not possible to file a class action suit?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: It is my basic right as an individual, when I have evidence that there have been human rights abuses or other illegal doings, and this right is enshrined in the Angolan constitution.
It is also a way of reassuring the victims that it should be safe to talk to the authorities. Thus, 10 individuals who have experienced human rights abuses also joined me in filing the complaint.
There are many civil society organisations in Angola, but not one committed to researching human rights abuses and regularly disclosing its findings to the public. There is not one single organisation doing this kind of work on the diamond areas.
Should I cross my hands because civil society organisations have not come forth to do the job? Should I cross my hands because donors in the country look the other way and make trouble for those who insist in exposing such realities?
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Given the seriousness of the allegations you make, should these cases not be taken up by the state prosecutor rather than you taking this up as an individual?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: By filing the complaint to the Attorney-General of the Republic, I am handing over the cases to the state prosecutor, embodied by the Attorney-General of the Republic and his representatives.
The first time I filed a complaint, on 1 April 2006, the authorities simply shelved it without any due process. I simply handed over the evidence to the police and walked away. It will not happen this time. I will fight with my pen and my mouth against what I have documented to be crimes against humanity, which are committed every day in the Lundas.
I have relinquished jobs, basic conditions of work and financial security to let others play their part or for the authorities to be at ease in their obsession to strip me of the basics. But I cannot surrender my moral and civic duties upon having seen, witnessed and interviewed so many victims of the Angolan generals’ greed in continuing to enrich themselves through violence and atrocities.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: You have published a number of exposés about the collusion between the armed forces, members of the government and corporations. Can you explain for our readers the interconnections between these different parties?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: It all starts with the president who doles out state assets and business concessions to his family, top generals and members of government in a very transparent and illegal fashion. All investments above five million dollars need the approval of the Council of Ministers, and foreign investors are obliged to take in local partners who are put forward by the clientelist management-style of the president. The state security has a department in charge of proposing to the president who should get shares in what business ventures, by way of cementing the clientelist nature of his regime.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Don't you put yourself at personal risk by taking this on, especially given the fact that you have previously been harassed and threatened?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: Being silent is the biggest threat to one’s citizenry and human dignity. It is also my moral and civic duty to combat fear which, for decades, has paralysed Angolan society.
The time has come for the leaders to fear for their actions.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: What do you think the outcome of this is likely to be? Do you think the judiciary is sufficiently independent and courageous enough to try the case?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: First and foremost, there will be a pedagogic outcome. This is an initiative to promote the access of citizens to justice, and to set a new trend in which citizens strive to rescue the state institutions that are being used for the personal interest of the president and his generals.
The judiciary is not independent at all. But it can be challenged too, and this is a most needed course of action to avoid the troubles of the Arab Spring. I mean, Angolans can rescue the state institutions to discharge their duties in a manner that all citizens, including the president and the generals feel protected and deserving of fair trial.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Is there a particular reason for taking up these cases now?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: Yes. Prior to publishing the book, on 15 September, back in February, I handed the evidence I had collected to the relevant institutions to take action. I believed, because hardly anyone cares about the fate of those communities, that the government would be responsive and take measures to stop the senseless violence. Then, I learnt that everyone in government is afraid of the power the generals have, particularly on the president. So, I released the book in Lisbon, and upon returning to Angola, two months after I came to realise that the violence continues unabated.
Locals keep asking me when am I going to abandon them, or when will I be co-opted by the system or corrupted to be more explicit. They do not see my risks, the same way I ignored theirs when I asked them to share their stories with me. Once I even had a father and son-in-law telling me openly how the guards of Teleservice, a private security company owned by generals as well, forced them to sodomise each other upon learning of their kinship.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: If you don't get satisfaction from filing these complaints, what is your plan? Would you see yourself taking the matter up in regional courts or at an international level?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: As an individual, I take one step at a time.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Supposing that the judiciary allows the cases to be heard and let us suppose that they find against the defendants. What will be the impact, especially given the fact that these people are intimately linked to the government?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: It would just be doing its job, nothing else. It is the minimum the judiciary should be expected to do. We have had cases in which government officials were convicted of corruption by the Court of Accounts and then promoted by the president.
One must persevere in seeking justice.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: How do you think the media will portray what you are doing?
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: The interest of the remnants of the independent media in Angola is to inform the public about an intractable situation that very few want to address publicly.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: What other organisations in Angola, on the continent and internationally are you seeking to inform and what kind of support will you be looking for.
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS: I am not looking for international support. As far as human rights and democratisation are concerned, Angola remains a marginal case for the international community.
This is essentially a call for Angolans to understand that they should not expect any cavalry to come to their rescue. It is up to the citizens to come together, and press for the rule of law, justice and change, after 36 years with the same rulers. Along the way, I have been meeting incredible individuals at home and abroad whose personal support has enabled me to continue with my work, and against all odds. That is what matters the most!
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Download the criminal complaint [PDF] filed by Marques de Morais.
* Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist and writer with a special interest in Angola's political economy and human rights. In 2000 he won the distinguished Percy Qoboza Award for Outstanding Courage from the National Association of Black Journalists (US). In 2006, he received the Civil Courage Prize, from the Train Foundation (US) for his human rights activities.
* Rafael Marques de Morais was interviewed by Firoze Manji.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Capitalism vs. the Climate
cc J G L AThe 'real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system – one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power,' writes Naomi Klein.
There is a question from a gentleman in the fourth row.
He introduces himself as Richard Rothschild. He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland’s Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually “an attack on middle-class American capitalism.” His question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, DC, Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”
Here at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question. Like asking a meeting of German central bankers if Greeks are untrustworthy. Still, the panelists aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to tell the questioner just how right he is.
Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who specializes in harassing climate scientists with nuisance lawsuits and Freedom of Information fishing expeditions, angles the table mic over to his mouth. “You can believe this is about the climate,” he says darkly, “and many people do, but it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner, whose prematurely silver hair makes him look like a right-wing Anderson Cooper, likes to invoke Saul Alinsky: “The issue isn’t the issue.” The issue, apparently, is that “no free society would do to itself what this agenda requires…. The first step to that is to remove these nagging freedoms that keep getting in the way.”
Claiming that climate change is a plot to steal American freedom is rather tame by Heartland standards. Over the course of this two-day conference, I will learn that Obama’s campaign promise to support locally owned biofuels refineries was really about “green communitarianism,” akin to the “Maoist” scheme to put “a pig iron furnace in everybody’s backyard” (the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels). That climate change is “a stalking horse for National Socialism” (former Republican senator and retired astronaut Harrison Schmitt). And that environmentalists are like Aztec priests, sacrificing countless people to appease the gods and change the weather (Marc Morano, editor of the denialists’ go-to website, ClimateDepot.com).
Most of all, however, I will hear versions of the opinion expressed by the county commissioner in the fourth row: that climate change is a Trojan horse designed to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism. As conference speaker Larry Bell succinctly puts it in his new book Climate of Corruption, climate change “has little to do with the state of the environment and much to do with shackling capitalism and transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth redistribution.”
Yes, sure, there is a pretense that the delegates’ rejection of climate science is rooted in serious disagreement about the data. And the organizers go to some lengths to mimic credible scientific conferences, calling the gathering “Restoring the Scientific Method” and even adopting the organizational acronym ICCC, a mere one letter off from the world’s leading authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the scientific theories presented here are old and long discredited. And no attempt is made to explain why each speaker seems to contradict the next. (Is there no warming, or is there warming but it’s not a problem? And if there is no warming, then what’s all this talk about sunspots causing temperatures to rise?)
In truth, several members of the mostly elderly audience seem to doze off while the temperature graphs are projected. They come to life only when the rock stars of the movement take the stage—not the C-team scientists but the A-team ideological warriors like Morano and Horner. This is the true purpose of the gathering: providing a forum for die-hard denialists to collect the rhetorical baseball bats with which they will club environmentalists and climate scientists in the weeks and months to come. The talking points first tested here will jam the comment sections beneath every article and YouTube video that contains the phrase “climate change” or “global warming.” They will also exit the mouths of hundreds of right-wing commentators and politicians—from Republican presidential candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann all the way down to county commissioners like Richard Rothschild. In an interview outside the sessions, Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, proudly takes credit for “thousands of articles and op-eds and speeches…that were informed by or motivated by somebody attending one of these conferences.”
The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank devoted to “promoting free-market solutions,” has been holding these confabs since 2008, sometimes twice a year. And the strategy appears to be working. At the end of day one, Morano—whose claim to fame is having broken the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth story that sank John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign—leads the gathering through a series of victory laps. Cap and trade: dead! Obama at the Copenhagen summit: failure! The climate movement: suicidal! He even projects a couple of quotes from climate activists beating up on themselves (as progressives do so well) and exhorts the audience to “celebrate!”
There were no balloons or confetti descending from the rafters, but there may as well have been.
* * *
When public opinion on the big social and political issues changes, the trends tend to be relatively gradual. Abrupt shifts, when they come, are usually precipitated by dramatic events. Which is why pollsters are so surprised by what has happened to perceptions about climate change over a span of just four years. A 2007 Harris poll found that 71 percent of Americans believed that the continued burning of fossil fuels would cause the climate to change. By 2009 the figure had dropped to 51 percent. In June 2011 the number of Americans who agreed was down to 44 percent—well under half the population. According to Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, this is “among the largest shifts over a short period of time seen in recent public opinion history.”
Even more striking, this shift has occurred almost entirely at one end of the political spectrum. As recently as 2008 (the year Newt Gingrich did a climate change TV spot with Nancy Pelosi) the issue still had a veneer of bipartisan support in the United States. Those days are decidedly over. Today, 70–75 percent of self-identified Democrats and liberals believe humans are changing the climate—a level that has remained stable or risen slightly over the past decade. In sharp contrast, Republicans, particularly Tea Party members, have overwhelmingly chosen to reject the scientific consensus. In some regions, only about 20 percent of self-identified Republicans accept the science.
Equally significant has been a shift in emotional intensity. Climate change used to be something most everyone said they cared about—just not all that much. When Americans were asked to rank their political concerns in order of priority, climate change would reliably come in last.
But now there is a significant cohort of Republicans who care passionately, even obsessively, about climate change—though what they care about is exposing it as a “hoax” being perpetrated by liberals to force them to change their light bulbs, live in Soviet-style tenements and surrender their SUVs. For these right-wingers, opposition to climate change has become as central to their worldview as low taxes, gun ownership and opposition to abortion. Many climate scientists report receiving death threats, as do authors of articles on subjects as seemingly innocuous as energy conservation. (As one letter writer put it to Stan Cox, author of a book critical of air-conditioning, “You can pry my thermostat out of my cold dead hands.”)
This culture-war intensity is the worst news of all, because when you challenge a person’s position on an issue core to his or her identity, facts and arguments are seen as little more than further attacks, easily deflected. (The deniers have even found a way to dismiss a new study confirming the reality of global warming that was partially funded by the Koch brothers, and led by a scientist sympathetic to the “skeptic” position.)
The effects of this emotional intensity have been on full display in the race to lead the Republican Party. Days into his presidential campaign, with his home state literally burning up with wildfires, Texas Governor Rick Perry delighted the base by declaring that climate scientists were manipulating data “so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.” Meanwhile, the only candidate to consistently defend climate science, Jon Huntsman, was dead on arrival. And part of what has rescued Mitt Romney’s campaign has been his flight from earlier statements supporting the scientific consensus on climate change.
But the effects of the right-wing climate conspiracies reach far beyond the Republican Party. The Democrats have mostly gone mute on the subject, not wanting to alienate independents. And the media and culture industries have followed suit. Five years ago, celebrities were showing up at the Academy Awards in hybrids, Vanity Fair launched an annual green issue and, in 2007, the three major US networks ran 147 stories on climate change. No longer. In 2010 the networks ran just thirty-two climate change stories; limos are back in style at the Academy Awards; and the “annual” Vanity Fair green issue hasn’t been seen since 2008.
This uneasy silence has persisted through the end of the hottest decade in recorded history and yet another summer of freak natural disasters and record-breaking heat worldwide. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry is rushing to make multibillion-dollar investments in new infrastructure to extract oil, natural gas and coal from some of the dirtiest and highest-risk sources on the continent (the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline being only the highest-profile example). In the Alberta tar sands, in the Beaufort Sea, in the gas fields of Pennsylvania and the coalfields of Wyoming and Montana, the industry is betting big that the climate movement is as good as dead.
If the carbon these projects are poised to suck out is released into the atmosphere, the chance of triggering catastrophic climate change will increase dramatically (mining the oil in the Alberta tar sands alone, says NASA’s James Hansen, would be “essentially game over” for the climate).
All of this means that the climate movement needs to have one hell of a comeback. For this to happen, the left is going to have to learn from the right. Denialists gained traction by making climate about economics: action will destroy capitalism, they have claimed, killing jobs and sending prices soaring. But at a time when a growing number of people agree with the protesters at Occupy Wall Street, many of whom argue that capitalism-as-usual is itself the cause of lost jobs and debt slavery, there is a unique opportunity to seize the economic terrain from the right. This would require making a persuasive case that the real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system—one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power. It would also require a shift away from the notion that climate action is just one issue on a laundry list of worthy causes vying for progressive attention. Just as climate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right, utterly entwined with defending current systems of power and wealth, the scientific reality of climate change must, for progressives, occupy a central place in a coherent narrative about the perils of unrestrained greed and the need for real alternatives.
Building such a transformative movement may not be as hard as it first appears. Indeed, if you ask the Heartlanders, climate change makes some kind of left-wing revolution virtually inevitable, which is precisely why they are so determined to deny its reality. Perhaps we should listen to their theories more closely—they might just understand something the left still doesn’t get.
* * *
The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system. As British blogger and Heartland regular James Delingpole has pointed out, “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.” Heartland’s Bast puts it even more bluntly: For the left, “Climate change is the perfect thing…. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.”
Here’s my inconvenient truth: they aren’t wrong. Before I go any further, let me be absolutely clear: as 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists attest, the Heartlanders are completely wrong about the science. The heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels are already causing temperatures to increase. If we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain.
But when it comes to the real-world consequences of those scientific findings, specifically the kind of deep changes required not just to our energy consumption but to the underlying logic of our economic system, the crowd gathered at the Marriott Hotel may be in considerably less denial than a lot of professional environmentalists, the ones who paint a picture of global warming Armageddon, then assure us that we can avert catastrophe by buying “green” products and creating clever markets in pollution.
The fact that the earth’s atmosphere cannot safely absorb the amount of carbon we are pumping into it is a symptom of a much larger crisis, one born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract. But it is not just the atmosphere that we have exploited beyond its capacity to recover—we are doing the same to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mindset, which has so long governed our relationship to nature, is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.
So in a way, Chris Horner was right when he told his fellow Heartlanders that climate change isn’t “the issue.” In fact, it isn’t an issue at all. Climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas are no longer viable. These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress, unaccustomed to having our ambitions confined by natural boundaries. And this is true for the statist left as well as the neoliberal right.
While Heartlanders like to invoke the specter of communism to terrify Americans about climate action (Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a Heartland conference favorite, says that attempts to prevent global warming are akin to “the ambitions of communist central planners to control the entire society”), the reality is that Soviet-era state socialism was a disaster for the climate. It devoured resources with as much enthusiasm as capitalism, and spewed waste just as recklessly: before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechs and Russians had even higher carbon footprints per capita than their counterparts in Britain, Canada and Australia. And while some point to the dizzying expansion of China’s renewable energy programs to argue that only centrally controlled regimes can get the green job done, China’s command-and-control economy continues to be harnessed to wage an all-out war with nature, through massively disruptive mega-dams, superhighways and extraction-based energy projects, particularly coal.
It is true that responding to the climate threat requires strong government action at all levels. But real climate solutions are ones that steer these interventions to systematically disperse and devolve power and control to the community level, whether through community-controlled renewable energy, local organic agriculture or transit systems genuinely accountable to their users.
Here is where the Heartlanders have good reason to be afraid: arriving at these new systems is going to require shredding the free-market ideology that has dominated the global economy for more than three decades. What follows is a quick-and-dirty look at what a serious climate agenda would mean in the following six arenas: public infrastructure, economic planning, corporate regulation, international trade, consumption and taxation. For hard-right ideologues like those gathered at the Heartland conference, the results are nothing short of intellectually cataclysmic.
1. REVIVING AND REINVENTING THE PUBLIC SPHERE
After years of recycling, carbon offsetting and light bulb changing, it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis. Climate change is a collective problem, and it demands collective action. One of the key areas in which this collective action must take place is big-ticket investments designed to reduce our emissions on a mass scale. That means subways, streetcars and light-rail systems that are not only everywhere but affordable to everyone; energy-efficient affordable housing along those transit lines; smart electrical grids carrying renewable energy; and a massive research effort to ensure that we are using the best methods possible.
The private sector is ill suited to providing most of these services because they require large up-front investments and, if they are to be genuinely accessible to all, some very well may not be profitable. They are, however, decidedly in the public interest, which is why they should come from the public sector.
Traditionally, battles to protect the public sphere are cast as conflicts between irresponsible leftists who want to spend without limit and practical realists who understand that we are living beyond our economic means. But the gravity of the climate crisis cries out for a radically new conception of realism, as well as a very different understanding of limits. Government budget deficits are not nearly as dangerous as the deficits we have created in vital and complex natural systems. Changing our culture to respect those limits will require all of our collective muscle—to get ourselves off fossil fuels and to shore up communal infrastructure for the coming storms.
2. REMEMBERING HOW TO PLAN
In addition to reversing the thirty-year privatization trend, a serious response to the climate threat involves recovering an art that has been relentlessly vilified during these decades of market fundamentalism: planning. Lots and lots of planning. And not just at the national and international levels. Every community in the world needs a plan for how it is going to transition away from fossil fuels, what the Transition Town movement calls an “energy descent action plan.” In the cities and towns that have taken this responsibility seriously, the process has opened rare spaces for participatory democracy, with neighbors packing consultation meetings at city halls to share ideas about how to reorganize their communities to lower emissions and build in resilience for tough times ahead.
Climate change demands other forms of planning as well—particularly for workers whose jobs will become obsolete as we wean ourselves off fossil fuels. A few “green jobs” trainings aren’t enough. These workers need to know that real jobs will be waiting for them on the other side. That means bringing back the idea of planning our economies based on collective priorities rather than corporate profitability—giving laid-off employees of car plants and coal mines the tools and resources to create jobs, for example, with Cleveland’s worker-run green co-ops serving as a model.
Agriculture, too, will have to see a revival in planning if we are to address the triple crisis of soil erosion, extreme weather and dependence on fossil fuel inputs. Wes Jackson, the visionary founder of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has been calling for “a fifty-year farm bill.” That’s the length of time he and his collaborators Wendell Berry and Fred Kirschenmann estimate it will take to conduct the research and put the infrastructure in place to replace many soil-depleting annual grain crops, grown in monocultures, with perennial crops, grown in polycultures. Since perennials don’t need to be replanted every year, their long roots do a much better job of storing scarce water, holding soil in place and sequestering carbon. Polycultures are also less vulnerable to pests and to being wiped out by extreme weather. Another bonus: this type of farming is much more labor intensive than industrial agriculture, which means that farming can once again be a substantial source of employment.
Outside the Heartland conference and like-minded gatherings, the return of planning is nothing to fear. We are not talking about a return to authoritarian socialism, after all, but a turn toward real democracy. The thirty-odd-year experiment in deregulated, Wild West economics is failing the vast majority of people around the world. These systemic failures are precisely why so many are in open revolt against their elites, demanding living wages and an end to corruption. Climate change doesn’t conflict with demands for a new kind of economy. Rather, it adds to them an existential imperative.
3. REINING IN CORPORATIONS
A key piece of the planning we must undertake involves the rapid re-regulation of the corporate sector. Much can be done with incentives: subsidies for renewable energy and responsible land stewardship, for instance. But we are also going to have to get back into the habit of barring outright dangerous and destructive behavior. That means getting in the way of corporations on multiple fronts, from imposing strict caps on the amount of carbon corporations can emit, to banning new coal-fired power plants, to cracking down on industrial feedlots, to shutting down dirty-energy extraction projects like the Alberta tar sands (starting with pipelines like Keystone XL that lock in expansion plans).
Only a very small sector of the population sees any restriction on corporate or consumer choice as leading down Hayek’s road to serfdom—and, not coincidentally, it is precisely this sector of the population that is at the forefront of climate change denial.
4. RELOCALIZING PRODUCTION
If strictly regulating corporations to respond to climate change sounds somewhat radical it’s because, since the beginning of the 1980s, it has been an article of faith that the role of government is to get out of the way of the corporate sector—and nowhere more so than in the realm of international trade. The devastating impacts of free trade on manufacturing, local business and farming are well known. But perhaps the atmosphere has taken the hardest hit of all. The cargo ships, jumbo jets and heavy trucks that haul raw resources and finished products across the globe devour fossil fuels and spew greenhouse gases. And the cheap goods being produced—made to be replaced, almost never fixed—are consuming a huge range of other nonrenewable resources while producing far more waste than can be safely absorbed.
This model is so wasteful, in fact, that it cancels out the modest gains that have been made in reducing emissions many times over. For instance, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published a study of the emissions from industrialized countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol. It found that while they had stabilized, that was partly because international trade had allowed these countries to move their dirty production to places like China. The researchers concluded that the rise in emissions from goods produced in developing countries but consumed in industrialized ones was six times greater than the emissions savings of industrialized countries.
In an economy organized to respect natural limits, the use of energy-intensive long-haul transport would need to be rationed—reserved for those cases where goods cannot be produced locally or where local production is more carbon-intensive. (For example, growing food in greenhouses in cold parts of the United States is often more energy-intensive than growing it in the South and shipping it by light rail.)
Climate change does not demand an end to trade. But it does demand an end to the reckless form of “free trade” that governs every bilateral trade agreement as well as the World Trade Organization. This is more good news —for unemployed workers, for farmers unable to compete with cheap imports, for communities that have seen their manufacturers move offshore and their local businesses replaced with big boxes. But the challenge this poses to the capitalist project should not be underestimated: it represents the reversal of the thirty-year trend of removing every possible limit on corporate power.
5. ENDING THE CULT OF SHOPPING
The past three decades of free trade, deregulation and privatization were not only the result of greedy people wanting greater corporate profits. They were also a response to the “stagflation” of the 1970s, which created intense pressure to find new avenues for rapid economic growth. The threat was real: within our current economic model, a drop in production is by definition a crisis—a recession or, if deep enough, a depression, with all the desperation and hardship that these words imply.
This growth imperative is why conventional economists reliably approach the climate crisis by asking the question, How can we reduce emissions while maintaining robust GDP growth? The usual answer is “decoupling”—the idea that renewable energy and greater efficiencies will allow us to sever economic growth from its environmental impact. And “green growth” advocates like Thomas Friedman tell us that the process of developing new green technologies and installing green infrastructure can provide a huge economic boost, sending GDP soaring and generating the wealth needed to “make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive, and more secure.”
But here is where things get complicated. There is a growing body of economic research on the conflict between economic growth and sound climate policy, led by ecological economist Herman Daly at the University of Maryland, as well as Peter Victor at York University, Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey and environmental law and policy expert Gus Speth. All raise serious questions about the feasibility of industrialized countries meeting the deep emissions cuts demanded by science (at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050) while continuing to grow their economies at even today’s sluggish rates. As Victor and Jackson argue, greater efficiencies simply cannot keep up with the pace of growth, in part because greater efficiency is almost always accompanied by more consumption, reducing or even canceling out the gains (often called the “Jevons Paradox”). And so long as the savings resulting from greater energy and material efficiencies are simply plowed back into further exponential expansion of the economy, reduction in total emissions will be thwarted. As Jackson argues in Prosperity Without Growth, “Those who promote decoupling as an escape route from the dilemma of growth need to take a closer look at the historical evidence—and at the basic arithmetic of growth.”
The bottom line is that an ecological crisis that has its roots in the overconsumption of natural resources must be addressed not just by improving the efficiency of our economies but by reducing the amount of material stuff we produce and consume. Yet that idea is anathema to the large corporations that dominate the global economy, which are controlled by footloose investors who demand ever greater profits year after year. We are therefore caught in the untenable bind of, as Jackson puts it, “trash the system or crash the planet.”
The way out is to embrace a managed transition to another economic paradigm, using all the tools of planning discussed above. Growth would be reserved for parts of the world still pulling themselves out of poverty. Meanwhile, in the industrialized world, those sectors that are not governed by the drive for increased yearly profit (the public sector, co-ops, local businesses, nonprofits) would expand their share of overall economic activity, as would those sectors with minimal ecological impacts (such as the caregiving professions). A great many jobs could be created this way. But the role of the corporate sector, with its structural demand for increased sales and profits, would have to contract.
So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it’s not because they are paranoid. It’s because they are paying attention.
6. TAXING THE RICH AND FILTHY
About now a sensible reader would be asking, How on earth are we going to pay for all this? The old answer would have been easy: we’ll grow our way out of it. Indeed, one of the major benefits of a growth-based economy for elites is that it allows them to constantly defer demands for social justice, claiming that if we keep growing the pie, eventually there will be enough for everyone. That was always a lie, as the current inequality crisis reveals, but in a world hitting multiple ecological limits, it is a nonstarter. So the only way to finance a meaningful response to the ecological crisis is to go where the money is.
That means taxing carbon, as well as financial speculation. It means increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, cutting bloated military budgets and eliminating absurd subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. And governments will have to coordinate their responses so that corporations will have nowhere to hide (this kind of robust international regulatory architecture is what Heartlanders mean when they warn that climate change will usher in a sinister “world government”).
Most of all, however, we need to go after the profits of the corporations most responsible for getting us into this mess. The top five oil companies made $900 billion in profits in the past decade; ExxonMobil alone can clear $10 billion in profits in a single quarter. For years, these companies have pledged to use their profits to invest in a shift to renewable energy (BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding being the highest-profile example). But according to a study by the Center for American Progress, just 4 percent of the big five’s $100 billion in combined 2008 profits went to “renewable and alternative energy ventures.” Instead, they continue to pour their profits into shareholder pockets, outrageous executive pay and new technologies designed to extract even dirtier and more dangerous fossil fuels. Plenty of money has also gone to paying lobbyists to beat back every piece of climate legislation that has reared its head, and to fund the denier movement gathered at the Marriott Hotel.
Just as tobacco companies have been obliged to pay the costs of helping people to quit smoking, and BP has had to pay for the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, it is high time for the “polluter pays” principle to be applied to climate change. Beyond higher taxes on polluters, governments will have to negotiate much higher royalty rates so that less fossil fuel extraction would raise more public revenue to pay for the shift to our postcarbon future (as well as the steep costs of climate change already upon us). Since corporations can be counted on to resist any new rules that cut into their profits, nationalization—the greatest free-market taboo of all—cannot be off the table.
When Heartlanders claim, as they so often do, that climate change is a plot to “redistribute wealth” and wage class war, these are the types of policies they most fear. They also understand that, once the reality of climate change is recognized, wealth will have to be transferred not just within wealthy countries but also from the rich countries whose emissions created the crisis to poorer ones that are on the front lines of its effects. Indeed, what makes conservatives (and plenty of liberals) so eager to bury the UN climate negotiations is that they have revived a postcolonial courage in parts of the developing world that many thought was gone for good. Armed with irrefutable scientific facts about who is responsible for global warming and who is suffering its effects first and worst, countries like Bolivia and Ecuador are attempting to shed the mantle of “debtor” thrust upon them by decades of International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans and are declaring themselves creditors—owed not just money and technology to cope with climate change but “atmospheric space” in which to develop.
* * *
So let’s summarize. Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative.
More than that, climate change implies the biggest political “I told you so” since Keynes predicted German backlash from the Treaty of Versailles. Marx wrote about capitalism’s “irreparable rift” with “the natural laws of life itself,” and many on the left have argued that an economic system built on unleashing the voracious appetites of capital would overwhelm the natural systems on which life depends. And of course indigenous peoples were issuing warnings about the dangers of disrespecting “Mother Earth” long before that. The fact that the airborne waste of industrial capitalism is causing the planet to warm, with potentially cataclysmic results, means that, well, the naysayers were right. And the people who said, “Hey, let’s get rid of all the rules and watch the magic happen” were disastrously, catastrophically wrong.
There is no joy in being right about something so terrifying. But for progressives, there is responsibility in it, because it means that our ideas—informed by indigenous teachings as well as by the failures of industrial state socialism—are more important than ever. It means that a green-left worldview, which rejects mere reformism and challenges the centrality of profit in our economy, offers humanity’s best hope of overcoming these overlapping crises.
But imagine, for a moment, how all of this looks to a guy like Heartland president Bast, who studied economics at the University of Chicago and described his personal calling to me as “freeing people from the tyranny of other people.” It looks like the end of the world. It’s not, of course. But it is, for all intents and purposes, the end of his world. Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. There is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.
* * *
At the Heartland conference—where everyone from the Ayn Rand Institute to the Heritage Foundation has a table hawking books and pamphlets—these anxieties are close to the surface. Bast is forthcoming about the fact that Heartland’s campaign against climate science grew out of fear about the policies that the science would require. “When we look at this issue, we say, This is a recipe for massive increase in government…. Before we take this step, let’s take another look at the science. So conservative and libertarian groups, I think, stopped and said, Let’s not simply accept this as an article of faith; let’s actually do our own research.” This is a crucial point to understand: it is not opposition to the scientific facts of climate change that drives denialists but rather opposition to the real-world implications of those facts.
What Bast is describing—albeit inadvertently—is a phenomenon receiving a great deal of attention these days from a growing subset of social scientists trying to explain the dramatic shifts in belief about climate change. Researchers with Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project have found that political/cultural worldview explains “individuals’ beliefs about global warming more powerfully than any other individual characteristic.”
Those with strong “egalitarian” and “communitarian” worldviews (marked by an inclination toward collective action and social justice, concern about inequality and suspicion of corporate power) overwhelmingly accept the scientific consensus on climate change. On the other hand, those with strong “hierarchical” and “individualistic” worldviews (marked by opposition to government assistance for the poor and minorities, strong support for industry and a belief that we all get what we deserve) overwhelmingly reject the scientific consensus.
For example, among the segment of the US population that displays the strongest “hierarchical” views, only 11 percent rate climate change as a “high risk,” compared with 69 percent of the segment displaying the strongest “egalitarian” views. Yale law professor Dan Kahan, the lead author on this study, attributes this tight correlation between “worldview” and acceptance of climate science to “cultural cognition.” This refers to the process by which all of us—regardless of political leanings—filter new information in ways designed to protect our “preferred vision of the good society.” As Kahan explained in Nature, “People find it disconcerting to believe that behaviour that they find noble is nevertheless detrimental to society, and behaviour that they find base is beneficial to it. Because accepting such a claim could drive a wedge between them and their peers, they have a strong emotional predisposition to reject it.” In other words, it is always easier to deny reality than to watch your worldview get shattered, a fact that was as true of die-hard Stalinists at the height of the purges as it is of libertarian climate deniers today.
When powerful ideologies are challenged by hard evidence from the real world, they rarely die off completely. Rather, they become cultlike and marginal. A few true believers always remain to tell one another that the problem wasn’t with the ideology; it was the weakness of leaders who did not apply the rules with sufficient rigor. We have these types on the Stalinist left, and they exist as well on the neo-Nazi right. By this point in history, free-market fundamentalists should be exiled to a similarly marginal status, left to fondle their copies of Free to Choose and Atlas Shrugged in obscurity. They are saved from this fate only because their ideas about minimal government, no matter how demonstrably at war with reality, remain so profitable to the world’s billionaires that they are kept fed and clothed in think tanks by the likes of Charles and David Koch, and ExxonMobil.
This points to the limits of theories like “cultural cognition.” The deniers are doing more than protecting their cultural worldview—they are protecting powerful interests that stand to gain from muddying the waters of the climate debate. The ties between the deniers and those interests are well known and well documented. Heartland has received more than $1 million from ExxonMobil together with foundations linked to the Koch brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife (possibly much more, but the think tank has stopped publishing its donors’ names, claiming the information was distracting from the “merits of our positions”).
And scientists who present at Heartland climate conferences are almost all so steeped in fossil fuel dollars that you can practically smell the fumes. To cite just two examples, the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels, who gave the conference keynote, once told CNN that 40 percent of his consulting company’s income comes from oil companies, and who knows how much of the rest comes from coal. A Greenpeace investigation into another one of the conference speakers, astrophysicist Willie Soon, found that since 2002, 100 percent of his new research grants had come from fossil fuel interests. And fossil fuel companies are not the only economic interests strongly motivated to undermine climate science. If solving this crisis requires the kinds of profound changes to the economic order that I have outlined, then every major corporation benefiting from loose regulation, free trade and low taxes has reason to fear.
With so much at stake, it should come as little surprise that climate deniers are, on the whole, those most invested in our highly unequal and dysfunctional economic status quo. One of the most interesting findings of the studies on climate perceptions is the clear connection between a refusal to accept the science of climate change and social and economic privilege. Overwhelmingly, climate deniers are not only conservative but also white and male, a group with higher than average incomes. And they are more likely than other adults to be highly confident in their views, no matter how demonstrably false. A much-discussed paper on this topic by Aaron McCright and Riley Dunlap (memorably titled “Cool Dudes”) found that confident conservative white men, as a group, were almost six times as likely to believe climate change “will never happen” than the rest of the adults surveyed. McCright and Dunlap offer a simple explanation for this discrepancy: “Conservative white males have disproportionately occupied positions of power within our economic system. Given the expansive challenge that climate change poses to the industrial capitalist economic system, it should not be surprising that conservative white males’ strong system-justifying attitudes would be triggered to deny climate change.”
But deniers’ relative economic and social privilege doesn’t just give them more to lose from a new economic order; it gives them reason to be more sanguine about the risks of climate change in the first place. This occurred to me as I listened to yet another speaker at the Heartland conference display what can only be described as an utter absence of empathy for the victims of climate change. Larry Bell, whose bio describes him as a “space architect,” drew plenty of laughs when he told the crowd that a little heat isn’t so bad: “I moved to Houston intentionally!” (Houston was, at that time, in the midst of what would turn out to be the state’s worst single-year drought on record.) Australian geologist Bob Carter offered that “the world actually does better from our human perspective in warmer times.” And Patrick Michaels said people worried about climate change should do what the French did after a devastating 2003 heat wave killed 14,000 of their people: “they discovered Walmart and air-conditioning.”
Listening to these zingers as an estimated 13 million people in the Horn of Africa face starvation on parched land was deeply unsettling. What makes this callousness possible is the firm belief that if the deniers are wrong about climate change, a few degrees of warming isn’t something wealthy people in industrialized countries have to worry about. (“When it rains, we find shelter. When it’s hot, we find shade,” Texas Congressman Joe Barton explained at an energy and environment subcommittee hearing.)
As for everyone else, well, they should stop looking for handouts and busy themselves getting unpoor. When I asked Michaels whether rich countries have a responsibility to help poor ones pay for costly adaptations to a warmer climate, he scoffed that there is no reason to give money to countries “because, for some reason, their political system is incapable of adapting.” The real solution, he claimed, was more free trade.
* * *
This is where the intersection between hard-right ideology and climate denial gets truly dangerous. It’s not simply that these “cool dudes” deny climate science because it threatens to upend their dominance-based worldview. It is that their dominance-based worldview provides them with the intellectual tools to write off huge swaths of humanity in the developing world. Recognizing the threat posed by this empathy-exterminating mindset is a matter of great urgency, because climate change will test our moral character like little before. The US Chamber of Commerce, in its bid to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions, argued in a petition that in the event of global warming, “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” These adaptations are what I worry about most.
How will we adapt to the people made homeless and jobless by increasingly intense and frequent natural disasters? How will we treat the climate refugees who arrive on our shores in leaky boats? Will we open our borders, recognizing that we created the crisis from which they are fleeing? Or will we build ever more high-tech fortresses and adopt ever more draconian antiimmigration laws? How will we deal with resource scarcity?
We know the answers already. The corporate quest for scarce resources will become more rapacious, more violent. Arable land in Africa will continue to be grabbed to provide food and fuel to wealthier nations. Drought and famine will continue to be used as a pretext to push genetically modified seeds, driving farmers further into debt. We will attempt to transcend peak oil and gas by using increasingly risky technologies to extract the last drops, turning ever larger swaths of our globe into sacrifice zones. We will fortress our borders and intervene in foreign conflicts over resources, or start those conflicts ourselves. “Free-market climate solutions,” as they are called, will be a magnet for speculation, fraud and crony capitalism, as we are already seeing with carbon trading and the use of forests as carbon offsets. And as climate change begins to affect not just the poor but the wealthy as well, we will increasingly look for techno-fixes to turn down the temperature, with massive and unknowable risks.
As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed. And it will only get colder, as theories of racial superiority, barely under the surface in parts of the denial movement, make a raging comeback. These theories are not optional: they are necessary to justify the hardening of hearts to the largely blameless victims of climate change in the global South, and in predominately African-American cities like New Orleans.
In The Shock Doctrine, I explore how the right has systematically used crises—real and trumped up—to push through a brutal ideological agenda designed not to solve the problems that created the crises but rather to enrich elites. As the climate crisis begins to bite, it will be no exception. This is entirely predictable. Finding new ways to privatize the commons and to profit from disaster are what our current system is built to do. The process is already well under way.
The only wild card is whether some countervailing popular movement will step up to provide a viable alternative to this grim future. That means not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—this time, embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance and cooperation rather than hierarchy.
Shifting cultural values is, admittedly, a tall order. It calls for the kind of ambitious vision that movements used to fight for a century ago, before everything was broken into single “issues” to be tackled by the appropriate sector of business-minded NGOs. Climate change is, in the words of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, “the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen.” By all rights, this reality should be filling progressive sails with conviction, breathing new life and urgency into longstanding fights against everything from free trade to financial speculation to industrial agriculture to third-world debt, while elegantly weaving all these struggles into a coherent narrative about how to protect life on earth.
But that isn’t happening, at least not so far. It is a painful irony that while the Heartlanders are busily calling climate change a left-wing plot, most leftists have yet to realize that climate science has handed them the most powerful argument against capitalism since William Blake’s “dark Satanic Mills” (and, of course, those mills were the beginning of climate change). When demonstrators are cursing out the corruption of their governments and corporate elites in Athens, Madrid, Cairo, Madison and New York, climate change is often little more than a footnote, when it should be the coup de grâce.
Half of the problem is that progressives—their hands full with soaring unemployment and multiple wars—tend to assume that the big green groups have the climate issue covered. The other half is that many of those big green groups have avoided, with phobic precision, any serious debate on the blindingly obvious roots of the climate crisis: globalization, deregulation and contemporary capitalism’s quest for perpetual growth (the same forces that are responsible for the destruction of the rest of the economy). The result is that those taking on the failures of capitalism and those fighting for climate action remain two solitudes, with the small but valiant climate justice movement—drawing the connections between racism, inequality and environmental vulnerability—stringing up a few swaying bridges between them.
The right, meanwhile, has had a free hand to exploit the global economic crisis to cast climate action as a recipe for economic Armageddon, a surefire way to spike household costs and to block new, much-needed jobs drilling for oil and laying new pipelines. With virtually no loud voices offering a competing vision of how a new economic paradigm could provide a way out of both the economic and ecological crises, this fearmongering has had a ready audience.
Far from learning from past mistakes, a powerful faction in the environmental movement is pushing to go even further down the same disastrous road, arguing that the way to win on climate is to make the cause more palatable to conservative values. This can be heard from the studiously centrist Breakthrough Institute, which is calling for the movement to embrace industrial agriculture and nuclear power instead of organic farming and decentralized renewables. It can also be heard from several of the researchers studying the rise in climate denial. Some, like Yale’s Kahan, point out that while those who poll as highly “hierarchical” and “individualist” bridle at any mention of regulation, they tend to like big, centralized technologies that confirm their belief that humans can dominate nature. So, he and others argue, environmentalists should start emphasizing responses such as nuclear power and geoengineering (deliberately intervening in the climate system to counteract global warming), as well as playing up concerns about national security.
The first problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t work. For years, big green groups have framed climate action as a way to assert “energy security,” while “free-market solutions” are virtually the only ones on the table in the United States. Meanwhile, denialism has soared. The more troubling problem with this approach, however, is that rather than challenging the warped values motivating denialism, it reinforces them. Nuclear power and geoengineering are not solutions to the ecological crisis; they are a doubling down on exactly the kind of short-term hubristic thinking that got us into this mess.
It is not the job of a transformative social movement to reassure members of a panicked, megalomaniacal elite that they are still masters of the universe—nor is it necessary. According to McCright, co-author of the “Cool Dudes” study, the most extreme, intractable climate deniers (many of them conservative white men) are a small minority of the US population—roughly 10 percent. True, this demographic is massively overrepresented in positions of power. But the solution to that problem is not for the majority of people to change their ideas and values. It is to attempt to change the culture so that this small but disproportionately influential minority—and the reckless worldview it represents—wields significantly less power.
* * *
Some in the climate camp are pushing back hard against the appeasement strategy. Tim DeChristopher, serving a two-year jail sentence in Utah for disrupting a compromised auction of oil and gas leases, commented in May on the right-wing claim that climate action will upend the economy. “I believe we should embrace the charges,” he told an interviewer. “No, we are not trying to disrupt the economy, but yes, we do want to turn it upside down. We should not try and hide our vision about what we want to change—of the healthy, just world that we wish to create. We are not looking for small shifts: we want a radical overhaul of our economy and society.” He added, “I think once we start talking about it, we will find more allies than we expect.”
When DeChristopher articulated this vision for a climate movement fused with one demanding deep economic transformation, it surely sounded to most like a pipe dream. But just five months later, with Occupy Wall Street chapters seizing squares and parks in hundreds of cities, it sounds prophetic. It turns out that a great many Americans had been hungering for this kind of transformation on many fronts, from the practical to the spiritual.
Though climate change was something of an afterthought in the movement’s early texts, an ecological consciousness was woven into OWS from the start—from the sophisticated “gray water” filtration system that uses dishwater to irrigate plants at Zuccotti Park, to the scrappy community garden planted at Occupy Portland. Occupy Boston’s laptops and cellphones are powered by bicycle generators, and Occupy DC has installed solar panels. Meanwhile, the ultimate symbol of OWS—the human microphone—is nothing if not a postcarbon solution.
And new political connections are being made. The Rainforest Action Network, which has been targeting Bank of America for financing the coal industry, has made common cause with OWS activists taking aim at the bank over foreclosures. Anti-fracking activists have pointed out that the same economic model that is blasting the bedrock of the earth to keep the gas flowing is blasting the social bedrock to keep the profits flowing. And then there is the historic movement against the Keystone XL pipeline, which this fall has decisively yanked the climate movement out of the lobbyists’ offices and into the streets (and jail cells). Anti-Keystone campaigners have noted that anyone concerned about the corporate takeover of democracy need look no further than the corrupt process that led the State Department to conclude that a pipeline carrying dirty tar sands oil across some of the most sensitive land in the country would have “limited adverse environmental impacts.” As 350.org’s Phil Aroneanu put it, “If Wall Street is occupying President Obama’s State Department and the halls of Congress, it’s time for the people to occupy Wall Street.”
But these connections go beyond a shared critique of corporate power. As Occupiers ask themselves what kind of economy should be built to displace the one crashing all around us, many are finding inspiration in the network of green economic alternatives that has taken root over the past decade—in community-controlled renewable energy projects, in community-supported agriculture and farmers’ markets, in economic localization initiatives that have brought main streets back to life, and in the co-op sector. Already a group at OWS is cooking up plans to launch the movement’s first green workers’ co-op (a printing press); local food activists have made the call to “Occupy the Food System!”; and November 20 is “Occupy Rooftops”—a coordinated effort to use crowd-sourcing to buy solar panels for community buildings.
Not only do these economic models create jobs and revive communities while reducing emissions; they do so in a way that systematically disperses power—the antithesis of an economy by and for the 1 percent. Omar Freilla, one of the founders of Green Worker Cooperatives in the South Bronx, told me that the experience in direct democracy that thousands are having in plazas and parks has been, for many, “like flexing a muscle you didn’t know you had.” And, he says, now they want more democracy—not just at a meeting but also in their community planning and in their workplaces.
In other words, culture is rapidly shifting. And this is what truly sets the OWS moment apart. The Occupiers—holding signs that said Greed Is Gross and I Care About You—decided early on not to confine their protests to narrow policy demands. Instead, they took aim at the underlying values of rampant greed and individualism that created the economic crisis, while embodying—in highly visible ways—radically different ways to treat one another and relate to the natural world.
This deliberate attempt to shift cultural values is not a distraction from the “real” struggles. In the rocky future we have already made inevitable, an unshakable belief in the equal rights of all people, and a capacity for deep compassion, will be the only things standing between humanity and barbarism. Climate change, by putting us on a firm deadline, can serve as the catalyst for precisely this profound social and ecological transformation.
Culture, after all, is fluid. It can change. It happens all the time. The delegates at the Heartland conference know this, which is why they are so determined to suppress the mountain of evidence proving that their worldview is a threat to life on earth. The task for the rest of us is to believe, based on that same evidence, that a very different worldview can be our salvation.
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* This article first appeared in The Nation.
* Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, fellow at The Nation Institute and author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Trans-African climate caravan hits Nairobi
A sunny Sunday in mid-November. The hustle and bustle of bubbly, energetic young voices. Trumpets, saxophones and clarinets uniting in perfect harmony with the coordinated marching feet of the brass band in their green and gold uniform. Ugandan, Rwandan, Burundian and Kenyan flags fluttering, leading a peaceful procession of climate justice campaigners through the streets of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Those were the images and sounds which marked the Nairobi stopover of the Trans-African Caravan of Hope on 13 November 2011. Organized by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), working closely with its Kenyan chapter, the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG), the arrival of the Trans African Caravan of Hope and its caravanites to the homeland of Wangari Maathai and famous world beating athletes was a historic occasion full of colour as Kenyans from all walks of life came out to welcome their East African. The activists were on the 10-nation journey through Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to tell the African story of their united voice for climate justice.
Annette Linda Kagaaga from the Rwandan Environmental NGOs Forum said: ‘We are here as one East African voice. We are expressing our concerns how negative climate change is affecting our right to food.’
We spoke to upcoming Kenyan poet Joseph Gitonga and his friend Nelson Munyuawiki who were on hand at Nairobi’s Central Park where people had converged to welcome the caravanites before embarking on the procession and march to the Kenyatta International Conference Centre for a formal ceremony. They both spoke of the need to act in solidarity with all those fighting to protect the environment. Gitonga later presented an electrifying poem in tribute to the late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.
There was a very strong contingent of members of Bunge la Wananchi (the people’s parliament), one of Kenya’s most vibrant social movements.
Cidi Otieno, who was elected the president of Bunge in August, told us that the social movement had come to express its solidarity with the Trans-African Caravan of Hope because there was a need to take action to redress the negative consequences of climate change. Eric Omeny, another member of Bunge, said that ‘Bunge is interested in environmental activism and we see a link between our Unga Revolution — which is a campaign to reduce the prices of maize meal and other foodstuff – and the campaign by the broader climate justice movement for food security.’
Beatrice Karori, who serves on the Board of Bunge la Wananchi, told us that ‘I want to send a personal message to the Kenya government: It is time for climate justice! We must end the violation and pollution of the environment. Join us in telling the world that we must protect Mother Earth. Without the environment, there is no life.’
Later at the KICC ceremony to kick off the caravan journey from Kenya on its southwards trip to Tanzania, there were speeches, poetry, dancing, music and other presentations in front of a huge wall emblazoned with banners from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
The main event was anchored by the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG) and its funding partners Oxfam, Trocaire and Cafod.
There were speeches by John Kioli, KCCWG’s chairman, Leonard Habimana from Burundi and Charles Gahire from Rwanda. Gloria Najjuma from the Uganda Climate Action Network read out a joint statement with PACJA spelling out five demands: developed countries must provide adequate financial resources to address their climate debts and implement their commitments; global warming must be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius; the principle of a just transition must be strengthened and operationalised; developed countries must reduced their emissions by 50 per cent by 2017; and African countries must undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions.
Other speakers were Ali Dawood Mohamed, the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of the Environment and Mineral Resources, Ms. Sibongile Mabasa, a senior diplomat from the South Africa High Commission and Prof. Philip Kaloki, MP, who stood in to give the keynote speech on behalf of the guest of honour Kenneth Marende, speaker of the Kenya National Assembly who could not make it to the ceremony because of other commitments.
Mithika Mwenda, PACJA’s coordinator also delivered an eye-opening message to the assembled caravanites and their Kenyan supporters. Apart from the speeches two cultural performances stood out.
Sylvester Ole Mpusya, a young Kenyan musician of Maasai heritage who is also a pastor, gave powerful renditions of socially conscious songs on climate justice in Kiswahili and English based on his lived experience in the Mau, the hub of Kenya’s water tower which of late has been threatened by the rapacious activities of politically connected corrupt private developers and land grabbers.
Achieng’ Abura, one of Kenya’s best known musical divas and a trained environmentalist in her own right, regaled her listeners with a powerful performance in celebration and defence of Mother Earth.
The ceremony wrapped up with the official flagging off of the caravan by Prof Kaloki.
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DRC: Democracy at a crossroads
One election, two sources of legitimacy of power
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is organising its third ‘multi-party, democratic, free, fair and transparent elections’ on 28 November 2011, since gaining independence from Belgium on 30 June 1960.
The people of that vast mineral-rich country have many times demonstrated and confirmed their maturity by being willing to give power and legitimacy only to governments which they have elected through a multi-party, democratic, free, fair and transparent electoral process. Since the DRC's accession to independence in 1960, the people of the DRC have democratically elected leaders to whom they have conferred the legitimacy of power while retaining the right to hold those governments accountable. However, the facts show that the legitimacy of Congolese democratically elected leaders needs Western powers’ ‘rubber stamp’.
As soon as the Congolese people democratically elect their leaders and confer them the legitimacy to rule, pressure is immediately put on Congolese leaders to seek Western powers’ approval, by showing that they will attend to Western interests during their tenure of office. Failure to do so has often resulted in a chaos carefully orchestrated (sometimes in a hidden or covert way, sometimes in an open or overt way) and managed by the same Western powers in order to create a new undemocratic political order that would serve their interests. In doing so, Western powers constitute themselves into another source of legitimacy of power in the DRC, by hoisting to power Congolese leaders who are unquestionably ready to purchase such a legitimacy from them, in other words, ‘the men they can do business with’.
The long-suffering people of the DRC aspire for democracy, stability, development and peace not only in their own country but also in the Great Lakes Region as a whole. However, it seems that the ‘Democratic Republic of Congo’ is ‘democratic’ only in name, because the reality on the ground is otherwise. The Congolese people are determined to make democracy a reality in their country, but every time they have gone to the ballot box, democracy, stability, development and peace have always eluded them soon afterwards, like a game of snakes and ladder: Crisis – elections – crisis. This cycle seems to have become unbreakable because history is always repeating itself in an ongoing manner, since the DRC gained its independence from Belgium on 30 June 1960.
So far, the analysis of the situation in the DRC by the UN, Western media, Western academic circles, Western NGOs and Western governments has only focused on internal factors which rightly are the main sources of political and economic instability related to the legitimacy of power in the DRC – or the lack of it.
Yet, it is also necessary to critically examine the assumptions in the global system of economic and political relations and how these can be reviewed, revisited or re-looked at in such a way as to reach a new paradigm shift that will usher a new phase or concept of democracy and development in the DRC. It is basically to see where the power centres of the global village that our world has become lie, and what little choice for the diversification of economic and trade partners they leave to "poor" African countries such as the DRC. We also need to understand why their blame-game for under-development - which has, in a one-sided way, always targeted the deficiencies of the often "corrupt state" in Africa - needs to be challenged without leaving any taboo or any stone unturned.
After all, as the only superpower left, the United States of America – which did not participate in the Berlin Conference – is claiming the lion’s share of Africa’s resources, as Kintu (1997) suggests. According to Kintu (1997:1), the US’s desire to devour Africa was best explained by the late American Under-Secretary of State For Commerce, Ron Brown, while visiting Uganda. He told a dinner party audience that "For many years African business has been dominated by Europeans while America gets only 17% of the market. We are now determined to reverse that and take the lion’s share."
Why should democratically elected African governments give or let the US take the lion’s share instead of giving the lion’s share to the people who elected them? Which should come first – American interests or African people’s interests? What means will the US use to take the lion’ share? Is it possible to respect democratically established government in Africa and take the lion’s share at the same time? These are the questions that need to be asked.
It is worthwhile therefore to also look at both international and external factors that prevent democracy from gaining ground in the DRC, including the ever-changing new world order after the end of the Cold War, the current global financial and debt crisis affecting the Western countries, and the rise and rise of China. All of these have implications for the DRC, a very geostrategic country in the heart of Africa, a third of the size of China, abundantly endowed with of still unexploited strategic and priceless natural and mineral resources.
A brief summary of the history of democratic elections in the DRC, which has just celebrated its 51st anniversary as an independent and sovereign state shows that the DRC has had four head of states since its independence (two elected – Patrice Lumumba and Joseph Kabila). Mobutu made a coup d’état, while Laurent Kabila drew his immense legitimacy from the fact that he put an end to Mobutu’s 32 years of dictatorship, put the country back on track in order to subsequently organise elections.
THE LUMUMBA ERA
The resilient and hopeful Congolese people saw the first multi-party and democratic elections organised in 1960 as an opportunity to shake off the Belgian stranglehold and colonial yoke and rule themselves through democratically elected leaders in a unified country. They elected Patrice Lumumba, a powerful and charismatic leader, the first ever democratically and legally elected leader in the DRC.
Lumumba was determined to establish a democratic rule as he put it in his independent day speech:
"We are going to put an end to the suppression of free thought and see to it that all our citizens enjoy to the full the fundamental liberties foreseen in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. We are going to do away with all discrimination of every variety and assure for each and all, the position to which human dignity, work, and dedication entitles him…"
But ‘the too nationalist and panafricanist’ Lumumba was not given a chance to govern and to prove himself. Western powers used the ‘politics of no African leadership effective control’ in Congo; that is, elected or not, the US and its Western allies would not be prepared to let Africans have effective control over strategic raw materials. Just a few months after Lumumba became head of state, Belgium masterminded the mutiny of the army to justify sending troops to back the secession of the southern rich-in minerals Katanga province as well as the South Kasai province. Lumumba was eventually overthrown and assassinated on 17 January 1961. His assassination was the outcome of plots orchestrated by American and Belgian governments, which used Kasavubu, Mobutu and other Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed. Lumumba’s physical elimination had removed what the West saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo.
THE MOBUTU ERA
The strategy of putting ‘more amenable leaders in power in Africa’ and the politics of ‘using an African hand’ to neutralise a fellow African who is not complying, worked. Lumumba’s assassination was followed by the United Nations, the US and European support for a Cold War ally, Mobutu Sese Seko through whom Congo's rich resources would then cheaply be made available to them rather than used for Congo’s own people and development.
Mutiga (2004) states that Joseph Désiré Mobutu settled down into being ‘The United States of America’s Man in Zaïre’ – as President Ronald Reagan used to call him. Reagan also referred to Mobutu as ‘a friend of democracy and freedom’ and ‘a voice of good sense and good will’. President George Bush senior for his part called Mobutu ‘one of our most valued friends on the entire continent of Africa’. This is according to a 1989 report in the US Department of State Bulletin.
William D. Hartung (2009) suggests that the US accordingly prolonged the rule of Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko by providing more than US$300 million in weapons and US$100 million in military training. Mobutu used his US-supplied arsenal to repress his own people and plunder his nation’s economy for three decades, until his brutal regime was overthrown by Laurent Kabila’s forces in 1997.
With Lumumba’s death, the young Congolese democracy was decapitated by the same Western powers which preach democracy to Africa. The elimination of Patrice Lumumba had nothing to do with ‘Cold War politics’, as it is often argued, because post-Cold War legitimate African leaders, who, today dare to challenge Western hegemony in their countries immediately face the same fate as Patrice Lumumba (Laurent Kabila, Gbagbo, Gaddafi, etc.,).
LAURENT DÉSIRÉ KABILA, ‘THE MAN WHO HAD TO DIE’
In 1997, Laurent Désiré Kabila, a long-time Lumumbist guerrilla fighter, overthrew the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, thanks to America’s diplomatic support, as well as the military support of Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola. But as soon as he settled in Kinshasa, Laurent Kabila did an about-turn and began to review all the contracts that Mobutu had signed with Western multinational mining companies as well as those he himself had signed with American and South African mining companies when he was a rebel, arguing that he had no legitimacy for doing so at that time and demanding that they pay up-front for decades of future profits. Talbot (2001) suggests that Kabila had upset his military backers, who had brought him to power by reneging on deals to sell off mining concessions as well as by refusing to accept IMF proposals to pay off the country's huge debts incurred under Mobutu (more then $14 billion).
Lokongo (2001) states that Laurent Kabila had explained that ‘more than 30 years of African independence have offered to the world a sad spectacle of a continent looted and humiliated with the complicity of its own sons and daughters’, and expressed the wish ‘to see Africa entering the 21st century totally independent of foreign interference’ and declared that the battle for Congo’s independence and sovereignty was fought in the interest of Africa as a whole’. For Laurent Kabila, the DRC ‘has a vocation of exporting peace, development and security to the rest of Africa because a weak Congo means a vulnerable Africa from its centre, an Africa without a heart’. Laurent Kabila was eventually assassinated in the same circumstances as Patrice Lumumba was on 16 January 2001.
Laurent Kabila refused to be remote-controlled and proved to be independent-minded. The DRC was consequently plunged into a 10-year war of aggression in 1998 when the Rwandan and Ugandan governments supported by foreign powers invaded Congo, aiming to annex the mineral-rich eastern Congo to their respective countries (Martens 2002).
Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe backed Congolese government forces against Uganda and Rwanda troops who were masterminding so-called Congolese Tutsi rebels fighting for Congolese nationality and Congolese rebels; all this under the pretext of eradicating the Hutu militia group known as the Front de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), accused of having committed the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and who had crossed the border into Congo. After all, the FDLR are still operating in eastern Congo.
Braeckman (1999) argues that the right of hot pursuit, if applied, could have extremely serious repercussions for the whole region, since the extremist elements responsible for the genocide are not confined to the Congo. There are numbers of such groups in Tanzania, in the Central African Republic and throughout French-speaking Africa, not to mention the networks organised from Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. She concludes that Rwanda and Uganda were motivated by the lure of mineral wealth more than anything else because, according to her (2001), the reasons initially invoked for the war have faded to reveal the belligerents’ real motive – shameless plunder of Congo’s riches.
ENTER JOSEPH KABILA
President Joseph Kabila underwent a military training in China. His father Laurent Kabila too followed a military training in Nanjing military academy, China. Kabila junior took power after his father Laurent Kabila was gunned down ‘by his bodyguard in his office’ on 16 January 2001. He was then the head of the Territorial Army. Joseph Kabila faced many challenges. First of all how to get foreign troops out of the country, put an end to fighting and establish a cease-fire throughout the country, along with a transitional government, followed by the organisation of pluralistic elections. He signed peace deals both with Rwanda and Uganda and with the leaders of the various rebel movements. He accepted to share power with the latter during the transition in order to prepare for elections.
During the transition, various warring factions shared power under the ‘1+4 System’ (one president and four vice-presidents, the four being the leaders of the four main factions in the war, each responsible for a particular commission). They divided even state-owned enterprises and embassies among themselves, each faction managing its own share like a private business (although one could look at it as the price Congo had to pay for peace, hence the justification for Joseph Kabila’s ‘politics of concessions’).
The first electoral exercise was the constitutional referendum, which was held over two days, on 18 and 19 December 2005. In 2006, Joseph Kabila was democratically elected thanks to the international community’s financial and logistic support for the organisation of the elections. The elections were held as one of the best in African history. For the first time in 45 years since the murder of Patrice Lumumba, democratically elected institutions were put in place in Congo. The elections were held as a great achievement for and by the people of Congo.
Currently, in the DRC, the president is elected by absolute majority vote through a one round system to serve a five-year term according to the new constitutional voting reforms as AFP reported. This means the president can be elected without an absolute majority. The new rules which will apply in the November 2011 elections will mean that whoever gets the highest score in a sole round of voting will become president, regardless of the size of the score. The government says the change was introduced in order to save money and prevent street tensions that often come alongside a run-off, thus sparing the DRC the Ivory Coast-like post-election scenario. But the constitutional change has boosted the chances of incumbent Congolese President Joseph Kabila who was elected in 2006 through a two-round system.
DRC IS SLOWLY BUT SURELY OWNING ITS OWN ELECTORAL PROCESS
Congolese truly want to manage their own affairs. They have proven it this time by the fact that, the Congolese government will finance 60 per cent of the costs of the 28 November 2011 elections (during which 48 per cent of Congo’s 65 million people – that is 31,024,640 Congolese voters – already registered by the country’s National Independent Electoral Commission - will cast their ballots). The remaining 40 per cent of the costs will be met by external partners and the international community (USA, European Union, United Nations Development Program) – just like they did in 2006. If the government funds the whole electoral process, the ‘historically ever divided opposition’ will not accept it, suspecting the government to be pulling the strings behind the Independent National Electoral Commission. The international community has already announced that it will strictly monitor the electoral process to ensure peaceful, transparent and free elections.
CAN JOSEPH KABILA SAY ‘NO’ TO AN EXTERNALLY-IMPOSED WESTERN LEGITIMACY OF POWER IN THE DRC?
Strategically, ‘yes’. After what happened to Patrice Lumumba and Laurent Kabila, Joseph Kabila is perhaps aware that Western powers can remove him any time and replace him with another Congolese or even someone of Rwandan origin as president if he does not want to serve their interests best. So Joseph Kabila chose the strategy of the ever-flexible bamboo, which bends with the force of the wind only to recover its initial position when the wind has subsided.
At the beginning of his presidency immediately after the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila – whose first 10 trips did not take him out of Africa after inauguration and the 11th of which was to China as Martens (2002:284) suggests – Joseph Kabila decided to turn to the West, in order, as Braeckman (2011) suggests, to ‘purchase’ another round of external legitimacy from Western powers. Braeckman argues that Joseph Kabila won the 2006 elections partly because, after the assassination of his father who was disliked by Western powers, Joseph Kabila, from 2002 to 2006, used moderation and played a ‘re-assuring’ game with Western powers. He promulgated an extremely open and liberal Mining Code to foreign investors; he promised to privatise state-owned public enterprises and guaranteed that all the demands made by the International Committee in Support of the Transition (CIAT) would be met.
The CIAT was a diplomatic mechanism representing 15 states and international organisations that was mandated by the peace agreements signed between the warring parties in the DRC in December 2002.
Braeckman concludes that this, not only facilitated Joseph Kabila to win the 2006 elections following the ‘nod’ of Western powers, but also the discarding of his fiercest opponent, Jean Pierre Bemba. That is what Braeckman calls ‘Joseph’s Secret’, but that is also the reality behind elections and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
‘COUNTRIES DO NOT HAVE PERMANENT FRIENDS OR ALLIES, THEY HAVE ONLY PERMANENT INTERESTS’
Unfortunately, when Joseph Kabila turned to the Western powers for assistance after the 2006 elections, they said they had other priorities. Perhaps this was a wake-up call for Joseph Kabila. This is how, in an interview given to Gettleman of the New York Times, Joseph Kabila himself explained why he turned to the Chinese for help after being disappointed with the West’s empty promises:
‘We said we had five priorities: infrastructure; health; education; water and electricity; and housing. Now, how do we deal with these priorities? We need money, a lot of money. Not a 100 million U.S. dollars from the World Bank or 300 from the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. No, a lot of money, and especially that we're still servicing a debt of close to 12 billion dollars, and it’s 50 to 60 million U.S. dollars per month, which is huge. You give me 50 million dollars each month for the social sector and we move forward. Anyway, that's another chapter. But we said: so, we have these priorities, and we talked to everybody. Americans, do you have the money? No! Not for now! The European Union, do you have three or four billion for these priorities? No! We have our own priorities. Then we said: ‘why not talk to other people, the Chinese?’ So we said, [Chinese] do you have the money? And they [the Chinese] said, well, we can discuss. So we discussed’.
This interview suggests that Joseph Kabila turned to the Chinese only after seeking help from Western powers. That is exactly the dilemma Patrice Lumumba faced. Increasingly desperate, Patrice Lumumba went on an international trip to enlist Western support (including to Washington, London, Brussels…) to have Belgian troops who had orchestrated the secession of Katanga to leave immediately. He did not get the support he expected and turned to the Russians for help. He was immediately accused of being a communist and eventually assassinated.
Congolese leaders turn to other partners other than the ‘traditional Western partners’ because they are in need; and a friend in need is a friend indeed! They do not mean necessarily to play of the West against the East and so on. When Joseph Kabila turned to the West, the DRC was almost on the verge of bankruptcy. Reuters reported that the DRC’s foreign reserves, which stood at over US$225 million in April 2008, fell to just US$36 million in early February 2009. The World Bank reacted quickly and Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, the DRC’s World Bank country director, announced that the bank has proposed lending the country US$100 million in emergency funds from early March to help offset the effects of dwindling mineral export revenues, as Lokongo (2009) reported.
The question we want to deal with now therefore is: ‘What happened after Joseph Kabila turned to the Chinese in his country’s hours of needs?’
In the same interview given to Gettleman (2009:2), President Joseph Kabila himself confessed that he did not understand the resistance he has encountered from Western powers about the Chinese deal.
Global financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the Paris Club of Lenders put pressure on the DRC government to ditch the Socomin deal with China – a Beijing-based, joint-venture between the DRC’s Gécamines and a group of Chinese state-owned enterprises – as a condition to get its debt forgiven. Some Western donors said they supported the deal ‘in principle’ because it would give the DRC access to capital on a scale it could not receive from anywhere else. But, led by the Paris Club of creditors and the IMF, they raised objections to specific provisions.
In fact, when Joseph Kabila turned to the Chinese, Karel de Gucht, then Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs was so angry that he told President Joseph Kabila: ‘You are not going to give King Leopold II’s Congo to the Chintox!’ (Chintox is a derogative term for Chinese in Belgium). This revelation was made by Colette Braeckman, journalist of the Belgian daily ‘Le Soir’ and expert on the Great Lakes Region of Africa’s affairs, during a conference on the ‘50 years after its independence: Congo’s Renaissance’ she organised on 23 October 2010 in the Centre de Culture et de Congrès de Woluwe Saint Pierre in Brussels.
Schlamp (2011) reported that the ballots from the DRC’s 2006 election hadn’t yet been counted, but already Europe and America forged plans for whoever would win the election and become president. In two confidential meetings, representatives from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met with emissaries of the United States and the European Union to come up with the blueprint of a future Congolese government policy. The new president had either to agree to strict economic and political conditions or the Western powers would cut off aid to the strife-torn country (meaning they wanted a weak president). Luckily enough Joseph Kabila had China! Schlamp’s report clearly vindicates the title of this article – ‘One election in the DRC, but two sources of legitimacy’.
Joseph Kabila recently outlined some his achievements during his 10 year-long tenure of office, including the organisation of the first democratic elections in 46 years, the construction of new infrastructures thanks to the 'China-Congo Infrastructures for Minerals Deal', the restoration of peace and the reunification of the country. He even told the Congolese parliament to revise the 2011 national budget because the members of parliament allocated themselves more money than civil servants, the army and the police (so whom are they representing? The people or their own belly?), he ordered the suspension of illegal mining activities in Eastern Congo’s conflict areas but Rwanda and the London Stock Exchange felt the pinch. What happened? On 27 February 2011 Kabila’s residence in Kinshasa was attacked as a result by hundreds of assailants and gunmen ‘from outside the country’, 19 of whom were killed and eight loyalist soldiers were also killed. It was a failed coup attempt according to the official sources, as Hogg (2011) reported.
Western powers preach ‘democracy’ to African people. At the same time, they confiscate that democracy by confiscating African countries’ economic power by seeking to control Africa’s massive wealth and continue to keep Africa as ‘the assisted continent’ through the UN, NGOs, churches, IMF, World Bank … mechanisms. Or, if African countries have no economic power, we can deduce that there is no democracy in Africa. How would then democratically elected leaders who really want to develop their countries deliver wellbeing to their people who elected them without having full economic power? Those who are plundering Africa’s wealth are therefore confiscating democracy with the complicity of their ‘men in Africa’.
There is only one way forward for Africa in general and for the DRC in particular, since the DRC can never develop in isolation with the rest of the continent. African countries, to achieve true democracy, must first of all achieve a full economic independence following the merely political or ‘flag and anthems’ independence they have achieved, and democratise that economic power. To democratise economic power means that African countries must exercise their power to deal with the rest of the world only on their own terms for the benefit of their people. In order to redress the current balance of power which is not tilting in their favour, African countries must establish the rules of the game for their foreign partners to follow; they must come to develop their own technologies thanks to a ‘Win-Win-South-South Cooperation’ or WWSSC (because Western powers will never share their technologies with Africa for fear of losing control), in order to transform their own natural and mineral resources on the spot – including the manufacturing of arms to defend their political and economic sovereignty – and create not only jobs for their people but also markets on national, regional, continental and international levels. They can no longer afford to remain forever consumers of finished goods manufactured by others with Africa’s own resources cheaply looted through Western controlled mechanisms, including the IMF, the World Bank, the UN, Western NGOs or Western-controlled Catholic and Protestant churches...
The day the politics of ‘divide and rule’ used by Western powers will no longer work in Africa will mark the beginning of Africa’s renaissance. In the meantime, the DRC, above all, must not unravel – because if the DRC unravels, the whole continent will; making the words of the Martinico-French-Algerian revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon ring true. Fanon, as we know, once described Africa’s shape as that of a revolver with the Democratic Republic of Congo serving as the trigger.
The reality is that Western powers have a hidden agenda: To make of the DRC a ‘Western protectorate in Africa’ while the Congolese themselves want to make of the DRC ‘the China of Africa’. Who will have their way? The Congolese people of course but only if they are united; united in the framework of a united Africa.
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* This article was updated on 22 November 2011 at 08:50 (GMT).
* Antoine Roger Lokongo is a PhD candidate in the Department of International Relations, Peking University/ Centre for African Studies.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 De Witte, L. (2000). The Assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Paris: Karthala.
 Duodu, C. (2011) Patrice Lumumba - the Rise and Assassination of an African Patriot,[Online], Available: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/70268[20 Jan2011].
 Mutiga, M. (2004) ‘The Ugly Side of Ronald Reagan’, The Standard, 20 June 2004.
 ‘Zaire: The Rise and Fall of Mobutu’, Revolutionary Worker (20 April 1997 1997), #903, p.7).
 See: US Department of State Bulletin (1989) Visit of Zaire's president - Mobutu Sese Seko and George Bush addresses, includes related information – transcript, Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office).
 Hartung William D. and and Moix, Bridget (2009) ‘Report: U.S. Arms to Africa and the Congo War - World Policy Institute - Research Project’, World Policy Journal, Fall 2009.
 Talbot, C. (2001) The Congo: Unanswered questions surround Kabila’s assassination,[Online], Available: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/jan2001/cong-j25.shtml[25 Jan 2001].
 Lokongo, A.R. (2001) Media coverage of the Congo invasion: In the footsteps of Western interests?[Online], Available: http://www.lalkar.org/issues/contents/sep2002/congo.html[September 200].
 Martens, L (2002) Kabila et la Revolution Congolaise’, Bruxelles:Epo.
 Braeckman, C. (1999) ‘Carve-up in the Congo: Partition Poses as Protection’, Le Monde Diplomatique, October 1999.
 - See: ‘DR Congo to hold one-round elections in November’, AFP (15 June 2011). Kabila et la Revolution Congolaise’, Bruxelles:Epo; p.284.
 ‘DR Congo to hold one-round elections in November’, AFP (15 June 2011).
 Martens, L.; p. 284.
 Braeckman, C. (2011) ‘Comment les Américains suivirent le match Kabila-Kamerhe’, Le Soir, 6 février 2011.
 Gettleman, J. (2009) ‘An Interview with Kabila’, New York Times, 3 April 2009.
 Lokongo, A.R. (2009) Sino-DRC contracts to thwart the return of Western patronage[Online], Available: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/africa_china/54567[3 November 2009].
 Schlamp, H-J. (2011) ‘Congo’s Future: A Western Protectorate in Africa?’, The Spiegel, 17 August 2011.
 Hogg, J. (2011) ‘DR Congo exhibits hundred held for Kabila attack’, Reuters, 7 March 2011.
Tunisia: In the name of democracy
What secularists and women have to lose in the elections
Marieme Helie Lucas
On the eve of the elections in Tunisia that will shape the future of the country and even that of the Arab world as well, Western do-gooders and Islamic fundamentalists hand in hand rejoice in ‘Tunisia’s first free elections’ and its access to ‘ democracy’. The recent history of Iran and Algeria have taught us better… And women in Tunisia watch in horror the rise of Muslim fundamentalists, as a possible replication of the Algerian scenario of 1989 .
‘Until the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979, Tehran, Istambul, Beirut, Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Baghdad, Algiers, Tunis and any city in Morocco and even Tripoli, had among their populations the most secular elites…. How was the secular stamp rubbed out in most of these societies in the space of three decades?’, asks Saeed Naqvi in an article (‘Turmoil in the Arab World: Attack on Secularism’) published on October 20 in the Deccan Herald.
The answer is simple: ‘By terror’, by terrorizing dissenters,- as we have seen in Algeria, with 200 000 victims in ten years time in the 90s. As was the case in Iran. As is now going on in Tunisia.
Since the self immolation of young Mohamed Bouzidi on December 18, 2010, in protest against the situation of jobless Tunisian youth - moreover harassed by the police -, what are the facts that the international community and the Left at large chose to ignore or underplay ? The euphoria of ‘the people’s revolution’ systematically eludes the main question: who are ‘the people’? What are the political forces at work within it. Who were they, who are they in Tunisia today? Let us judge by their actions.
It took them less than a month after the first anti Ben Ali demonstrations to appear in the open:
Saturday, Jan 29: While thousands of citizens march peacefully ‘ for equality and citizenship’ and to demand secularism, here is a first hand testimony published on face book by a woman demonstrator; she describes how a group of youth ‘headed by a bearded man’, started chasing peaceful demonstrators, especially women; she herself is sexually assaulted and ‘beaten up with the wooden stick of a flag’, her colleagues are ‘beaten on their back while they try and flee, their banners are torn and some are slapped in the face’. She states: ‘These thugs demonstrated that these extremists are in no way the ‘democrats or moderates’ their leaders pretend they are, as is said in all the media’.
On March 21, Ms Belhadj Hamida, a jurist at the Cassation Tribunal in Tunis, and co-founder of the AI Tunisian section, participating in a conference in Algiers on women in the Tunisian revolution, declares that ‘What An Nahda says in public is a far cry from what it says in small meetings’. She denounces the ‘double speak’ of its representative. She adds that fundamentalists ‘put in question the personal status code which was adopted in 1956’. She warns that ‘ the An Nahda movement is growing bigger everyday and it already controls all the mosques in the country’. She also stresses that it ‘has financial means that no other party enjoys’.
Saturday April 9, ten thousands activists and supporters greet and acclaim Ghannouchi at the airport when he comes back from exile in London. He immediately starts touring Tunisia, holding public meetings in mosques. Let us note in passing that London housed numerous Algerian fundamentalists, and even refused for years to extradite to France one of the accused in the Paris metro bombing. Numerous fundamentalist publications were issued from the UK and spread all over Europe and the Arab world.
April 20, A large group of women’s organisations publishes a Women’s Manifesto for Equality and Citizenship, in which they state their position ‘against the reactionary voices which get at the rights that women already acquired, under the pretext of religious and cultural specificities, and which lock up identity in a fixed prescribed form’.
In May, the popular café Le Paon (The Peacock) is attacked and devastated. Similar attacks take place on brothels in Tunis, Sousse, Kairouan, ‘in order to purify our cities’. ( As a reference point, let us be reminded that attacks on women workers, branded prostitutes because they live alone without a guardian (wali) and earn their living away from their families, to ‘purify the city’ and ‘chase the devil out of the city’ were conducted since 2001 in southern cities of Algeria and continue to this day).
In Ariana, salafists raid the beach in Raouad, forbidding women to wear swimming suits.
In Ibn Sina (outskirts of Tunis), while families are celebrating the successes of their children in the baccalaureat exam (end of secondary school), groups of men armed with machettes forcibly enter houses in order to check whether alccool is served on the table.
After Yousra Fraws, lawyer and founding member of the AI Tunisian section, speaks on Al Jazeera, she receives more than 1200 hate messages on face book.
June 20: tourists are forbidden to access the Okba Ibn Nafaa mosque in Kairouan.
June 28, attacks on unveiled women, artists, bars, brothels, and hospital Charles Nicolle.
The group Echami, that brings together 80 organizations supporting freedom of expression, organizes a series of events titled ‘ Hands Off Creative People’ to support artists targeted by fundamentalists.
On July 1st in Kairouan, the Tunisian flag is lowered and salafists mount their black flag
In Menzel Bourguiba ( north of Tunis) several hundred fundamentalists attack a police station, beat up policemen, five of them seriously, and leave with looted arms and weapons. (A strategy that Algerian fundamentalists used since the 70s in order to prepare their armed uprising).
On July 2, An Nahda calls for demonstrations after the Great Friday Prayer in Sfax and Sidi Bouzid.
A sit in is organized on the steps of the City theater in Tunis to warn against ‘fundamentalism, extremism and violence’. Banners say: ‘No to Algeria of the 90s’, ‘ against any religious extremism’, ‘no to violence, yes to tolerance’.
On July 3, activists from the communist party ( POCT) are physically assaulted by Islamists to prevent them from holding a meeting in a sports hall in the poor suburb At’tadhamoun. Communists are called ‘ miscreants’ and aggressors chant that ‘ secularism is kofr’.
July 4: Lawyers are badly beaten up by Islamists that came to the Tribunal to demand the liberation of their fellow ‘brothers’ accused in the attack of Afric’Art cinema. The redactor in chief of the daily paper Ach Chaab ( Left) declares : ‘As such things are repeated so much and grow each time, one is scared to witness, plain and simple, the rise of fundamentalism’.
July 7, In the Zitouna mosque in Tunis, in front of hundreds of believers, the ulemas launch the attack on Nadia El Fani and call on the government to prevent ‘ attacks against the sacredness of God, and the dignity of the Tunisian people and its arabo-Muslim identity’.
On the same day, about a thousand people take to the streets in protest against fundamentalists’ violence against artists and intellectuals.
July 12: In poor suburbs of cities, En Nahda activists openly claim that a war is needed between believers and ‘impious’ people. Islamists take all possible advantages from the new freedom that was allowed after the fall of the Ben Ali regime. Everyday in the At’thamoun mosque, a self proclaimed veteran of the Afghan and Soudan wars, delivers its teaching to children. These self proclaimed imams are not even known to the Ministry of religious Affairs of which they depend in theory. In this area, veiled women are a majority. An Nahda controls the 380 000 inhabitants area, as well as the local Council of Salvation of the Revolution. They are extremely popular as people in this area are very poor and An Nahda activists go settle the unpaid bills of poorest families at the local groceries.
July 25: Attack on Afric’Art, a cinema hall that shows the documentary film by Nadia El Fani, initially entitled ‘Neither Allah nor Master’, renamed under fundamentalists’ pressure as ‘Secularity, Inch’Allah’(i.e. : if Allah wishes), where she declares herself an atheist and apostate. In protest against ‘ attacks against Islam’, Habib Beheldi, the owner of Compagnie Familiale Production who owns the cinema hall is punched on the eye. Film maker Nouri Bouzid, honored at the last Cannes Film Festival, is injured on the head after being beaten by an Islamist. ‘Infidels’ gathered to watch the film are sprayed with tear gas, demonstrators shout: ‘Tunisia is an Islamic state’.
Fundamentalists’ protests take place not just in Tunis, but also in Sfax ( south), Sidi Bouzid (center); in Bizerte ( north of Tunis) leaflets denounce ‘attacks on Islam and conspiracy with foreign political parties’.
Threatened from May onwards, Nadia El Fani declares in an interview on September 21 that she still puts hopes in the important urban middle class in Tunisia to prevent fundamentalists to come to power. She admits that non fasting people ( de-jeûneurs) now have to hide in Tunisa, which is new !, and dates this fundamentalist trend to the initial Ben Ali period when he allowed prayers to be called on national TV as soon as her got in power; while Bourguiba had opposed such concessions as well as special working hours during Ramadan, etc… Nadia El Fani now faces a court case in Tunisia: she is accused by fundamentalist lawyers, who nevertheless declare that they have not seen her documentary film, of ‘attacking the sacred, attacking good morae, attacking a religious principle’.
July 31, Giuliana Sgrena, a well known Italian journalist who befriended women in all the Arab world for decades, testifies to the fact that Islamists are ‘bolstered with money from rich oil countries’, that they’ increase their influence among the poor by offering financial support to women willing to leave their jobs and stay at home, and to men who grow their beards to show religiosity’. ‘ The Islamists also organize collective weddings, picking up the costs’. She acknowledges the fact that they are ‘becoming visibly aggressive, resorting to violence during demonstrations and threatening women’. Buying up the poor is a main strategy fundamentalists employed from Algeria to Turkey, to Bosnia…
On August 10, Giuliana Sgrena also notes that the number of veiled women is totally unusual in the streets of urban Tunisia. Women observers of the Tunisian elections process testify to the fact that, this week of late October, numerous women in niqabs stroll the streets, something never to be seen before in Tunisia. A Premiere !
October 7, University of Sousse , 150 km south of Tunis: After the university refused to register a totally veiled student, very violent demonstration of fundamentalists; they physically attack the General Secretary of the University, provoking panic and terror among teaching staff and students. In response, 200 women march to ‘denounce the retrograde forces and fanatics, to put an end to intimidation campaigns and to struggle against religious fanaticism’.
October 9 and 10, numerous acts of violence and intolerance take place: for instance customers in bars are beaten up in the suburbs of Tunis; a journalist from an Arabic speaking Daily records testimonies of victims and take photos; he concludes: ‘ their intention is to mark the new Tunisia with their seal, even if by force’.
October 14: Unprecedented threats on Nessma TV. 300 men attempt to set Nessma TV offices on fire in protest against its showing the French-Iranian cartoon film ‘Persepolis’ that describes the life in Tehran seen by a little girl. A huge demonstration gathering thousands of people starts from the Great Mosque El Fateh which is the rendez vous departure point of the March; they march towards Nessma TV. Police intervenes only when the march approaches the Prime Minister Office. The march lasts for two hours. People march Qur’an in hand, chanting ‘Allah Akbar’ and ‘ La Illah ila Allah Mohamed Rassoul Allah’. Shop keepers get scared and pull down the shutters over their windows. All along the march, more people join the demonstrators.
Posters were pasted on the walls of the city before hand, calling for ‘a popular demonstration after the Friday prayer, starting from mosques, and from universities, protesting attacks on God’.
Interestingly, Ghannouchi condemns the ‘attack’ in order to develop the image of An Nahda as a ‘soft’ Islamist party, Turkish AKP style (acceptable to the European Union?), but he also immediately issues a statement expressing astonishment at the timing of the film, stating that it was ‘inciting hatred’ and that Nessma TV should be condemned for that. The statement also urges the media to avoid ‘ provocation and sensationalism’. The President of the Channel apologizes for having shown the film…
October 16, the Aatakani march gathers 5000 people on avenue Mohamed V against ‘the wave of salafist violence’. It is the first time since the revolution that a demonstration gathers so many participants.
Zouari, the representative of An Nahda, declares that ‘secularists
want to force others to be secular’.
Can anyone now doubt what they are up to?
En Nahda has a huge network of influence developped during its 20 years underground and it can mobilize instantly through mosques. The party is extremely structured and well financed. The En Nahda weekly El Fajr (The Dawn) sells 70.000 copies per week. Not one party on the progressive and secular side can compete. It is chaos, with 10. 000 candidates, 1600 lists, 105 parties represented, most of them brand new to the ‘democratic’ game. As in Algeria in 1989, it is fundamentalists who are likely to be the only beneficiaries of the legitimate popular revolt against undemocratic governments.
Like other fundamentalist movements in other Muslim countries, En Nahda surfs on the wave of the legitimate discontent of the people, and recruits among them. Unemployment which was already 14% under Ben Ali, is said to have risen to 20%. Most unemployed youth only dream of leaving Tunisia, as was clearly shown by the number of boat people trying to reach Italy, in the days after the fall of Ben Ali.
Armed with the concepts of human rights, free speech, freedom of expression and democratic liberties, En Nahda aims at appearing perfectly innocuous and democratic. In front of the media, they are soft spoken and praise moderation, but they also have to satisfy their extremely conservative basis. Hence the discrepencies between the official discourse, the party meetings discourse, and the actions of their troops. ‘They are doing double speak and everyone knows it’, says Ibrahim Lataief from the very popular Radio Mosaique FM.
It is certainly time to reflect on democracy, its aims and means. And to see its limits. Courageous Tunisians dare spell it out: ‘July 24 (initial date planned for the elections) is a favor to En Nahda…/… It is suicide’, says a member of the Republican Alliance, “With En Nahda in power, it will be Iran’. He is echoed by Ibrahim Letaief from Radio Mosaique: ‘A democratic Tunisia depends on the banning of En Nahda’.
It is the democratic opening in Algeria that brought to power the FIS party at local level for one year before legislative elections were cancelled under pressure and street demonstrations from unions, women’s organisations and left parties – a fact generally hidden in the media reporting. In one year under the fundamentalist boots, people were scarred and wanted to step back. Easier said than done. Fascists usually don’t leave power easily. Classical fascisms such as Salazar’s in Portugal or Franco’s in Spain, but new forms of fascism too, such as Iran’s….
If democracy, defined as the power of the people expressed through its vote, i.e. parliamentary democracy, it is certainly far more just than monarchy or oligarchy. However let us not forget that Hitler was elected by the people, in a free democratic election. I have little doubt that the six million victims of its reign cared little about the democratic process that led to their elimination, and that they certainly deplored the failure of the undemocratic ‘coup d’état’ that planned to assassinate Hitler. Democratic means and processes can engender very undemocratic and unjust regimes.
Fundamentalists claim that ‘if (they) have the law of God, why would one want the law of the people? One must kill all these unbelievers’, as Algerian FIS n°2 Ali Belhadj said in 1989. Coming to power through democratic means and immediately ending any democratic process and representation, this is one of the strategies of fundamentalists.
Can ‘democrats’ the world over watch this in silence and clap their hands when anti-democracts win elections? I know there is no easy answer to the question I am raising here. But how long can one go on refusing to even address the issue? It is without any surprise, as we are by now used to these unholy alliances, that we saw the Guardian UK open its columns, on October 17, to En Nahda’s Ghannouchi who went on and on praising the democratic process in Tunisia. He concluded that in any case ‘democracy’ will be the big winner of these elections: ‘ a day to inspire all Tunisians, whether Islamic or secular: what is important is that democracy thriumphs’. Let us doubt it.
Tunisians in general but women in particular have everything to loose in the upcoming elections, whether En Nahda comes out with ‘only’ 20 or 25 % votes and hevily weight on the drafting of the Constitution, or whether they score more and become the absolute rulers of the new Tunisia.
Tunisia was - I think it is only fair to use the past tense now… - the first country in the Arab world to withdraw reservations to CEDAW that it already signed in 1980 ! They are ore than 20% of the MPs. Tunisian women have the right to vote since 1957.
Starting with independence (1956) and the coming to power of Bourguiba, women have been granted many rights, and personal status laws have continued to be improved till recently. Women have equal rights to pass on their nationality to their children, equal rights and responsibility in marriage and divorce, equal rights in guardianship of children and adoption, equal personal rights as husband and wife, including that to choose family name, profession, occupation, etc…, and near equal property rights. It is indeed the best situation for women in any given Muslim context today.
Nevertheless, women kept fighting for additional rights such as a status for unwed mothers, total equity in property rights, the repeal of the impossibility for Muslim women to marry non Muslim men and the repeal of the impossibility for non Muslim women to inherit from Muslim husbands (as a consequence, non Muslim women citizens in Tunisia do not have equal rights with Muslim women citizens). This inequality stems from article 2 of the Constitution which makes Islam the religion of the state. Women were and are till today calling for a change in the Constitution to make it entirely secular.
This is all what women have to lose, should fundamentalists come to power in Tunisia.
In the upcoming elections, women initially felt on the safe side as they thought they would have had 50% of candidates, however only 5% of them are heads of lists: there is now little chance that they will participate in and influence in any significant way the elaboration of the new constitution.
What is to be feared is, as Pervez Hoodbhoy recently said of the situation in Pakistan, that “Europe’s Dark Ages have descended upon us”. In the name of democracy.
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* Marieme Helie Lucas is an Algerian sociologist, founder and former international coordinator of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws network. Marieme is also the founder of Secularism Is A Women’s Issue.
* This article first appeared in Secularism is a Women’s Issue.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
To grasp things by the root: On Julius Malema
Julius Malema, unlovely as he is, is a symptom, a morbid symptom to be sure, of the crisis that we face. Any assumption that his effective expulsion from the ANC allows us to continue with business as usual will guarantee the emergence of more symptoms, different but equally morbid.
The real roots of our crisis lie in the fact that the post-apartheid deal has not only allowed elites to flourish while the people at the bottom of society have been pushed further into desperation but that it has also allowed contending elites to convince themselves that, despite the ongoing rebellion of the poor, politics is largely about their own internecine battles.
Of course all the protagonists speak in the name of the poor with the liberals arguing that the property rights and free markets that fuel their own aspirations are the only way to create jobs, ‘tenderpreneurs’ suggesting that their personal interests overlap with those of the poor and so on. The debates within the elite are far from irrelevant.
Whether we defend or roll back the democracy that we do have is no small thing. The seriousness with which we pursue the deracialisation of spaces of power is no trivial matter. But the reach of these debates is usually compromised, and seriously so, by the fact that underneath this merry-go-round millions of people remain locked out of real opportunities to access education, work, land, urban space, the legal system and the media.
We're not the first society to have had to come to grips with an unfinished transformation. The roots of modern democracy lie in the French Revolution and its meaning was best theorised in Germany. In 1842 Karl Marx, a young man with a PhD in philosophy, was wrestling with the German failure to repeat the French Revolution. He quickly realised that making the world more philosophical would require that philosophy be made more worldly, that it take its place in the actual struggles in the world. He saw that the state and capital both tended towards a repression of the political and, looking for what he called 'a third element', a constituent power, he first turned to the press arguing that the ‘free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of a people's soul...the spiritual mirror in which a people can see itself, and self examination is the first condition of wisdom.’
Marx hoped that ‘an association of free human beings who educate one another’ in an expanding public sphere could subordinate the state to rational, public discussion in a process of ongoing democratisation. But when, in the following year, the newspaper that he edited was banned Marx turned towards ‘suffering human beings who think’ and to the hope that ‘making participation in politics, and therefore real struggles, the starting point of our criticism’ could provide new grounds for commitment to democracy as a process of democratisation.
The philosophical dogma of the day, which is often the dogma of our own time, had argued that as a large mass of people sank into poverty they would become a rabble, a threat to society. But Marx insisted that ‘only one thing is characteristic, namely that lack of property and the estate of direct labour...form not so much an estate of civil society as the ground upon which its circles rest and move.’ Marx, always refusing to hold up abstract ideas of an alternative society to which actually existing struggles should conform, looked to the real movement of the working class, the male working class of parts of Western Europe, for principles to orientate future struggle and the material force to be able to realise them. True to his turn to a philosophy of immanence he insisted that theory, philosophy, can become a material force when it is formulated from the perspective of the oppressed and becomes part of their constituent movement but for this to happen it must be radical because: ‘To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man, the root is man himself.’
From the beginning the agency of women, people too poor to be workers and the world beyond Western Europe was erased. And Marxism would soon become a theory that invented a fantastical idea of a fixed meaning and trajectory for the working class, not to mention a theory of the ruthless exercise of state power. But Marx's choice still confronts any attempt to think through a democracy that is not realising its promise. Is it realistic to subordinate it to reason via the pure exercise of reason when both the state and capital tend towards an anti-political tendency to reduce the sphere of reason? Or must reason be meshed with the material force assumed by those that suffer and think so that it can enlarge the sphere of public and political reason?
Today the two primary lines of official access to democratisation are party politics and civil society. The fact that the government is elected is no small gain but the general hostility of the African National Congress (ANC) to popular organisation outside of its control, a hostility that is often violent, can no longer be denied. The violent hostility of the state, whether wielded by the ANC or the Democratic Alliance (DA), to popular action that challenges the iron rule of money is equally evident.
And the fact that from Cape Town to Durban mayors will insist, in writing, that if discussions with the organised poor do occur they must be restricted to questions of 'service delivery' shows, plainly enough, that there is no substantive right to challenge the development paradigms imposed from above. The hostility to the idea of democratic engagement along the vertical axis and of the sort that could be mutually transformative is clear. The things that matter are simply not up for open discussion with the people who, neither waged nor housed, most need democracy to be about more than the formal exercise of technocratic authority or the grubby informal negotiations that follow its elite capture.
Civil society has proven its mettle when it comes to battles like the defence of the freedom of the press. But when it comes to the battle to defend the right of poor people to organise freely it is largely absent. The problem here is not just a tendency to imagine freedom as bourgeois freedom but, also, the fact that civil society is often white dominated, foreign funded and a bourgeois rather than a popular project. It is vulnerable to claims, often but not always self-serving, of having no credible claim to represent the voice of the people.
Our crisis is not merely the inability of a set of liberal political arrangements to redeem their democratic promise. Our crisis is also that of a colonial society that can't fully escape the iron cage in which it was born. Almost exactly 50 years ago Frantz Fanon, the Martinican psychiatrist who joined the Algerian struggles against French colonialism, wrote Les Damnés de le Terre, The Wretched of the Earth, the book that inaugurated serious thinking about the politics of post-colonial societies. Fanon, dying from the leukaemia that had recently blinded him, dictated most of the book from a mattress on the floor in a flat in Tunis.
He had been the ambassador of the Algerian liberation movement to the newly independent countries of West Africa and had seen how national struggles had been captured by predatory elites, how they often took over aspects of the colonial state and dealt with the people in a manner not dissimilar to the colonial state as parties became a means of private advancement. He writes of scandalous opulence, grandiose buildings and increasing authoritarianism on the part of governments that hold their people in contempt, use the old party structures to hold them down and try to drug them with memories of the anti-colonial struggles. He shows how nationalism descends into ethnic chauvinism and xenophobia. The people are seen as an incoherent mass, a blind force, and their vocation ‘is to obey and to go on obeying.’
But ‘the struggle’ he writes, ‘goes on’. Like the young Marx he poses the free flow of ideas against the degeneration of the democratic promise and insists that the living human being, and in particular the outcasts, rather than an abstract ideal, be it philosophical or statistical, be the measure of society. For Fanon the first step is to get rid of the idea ‘that the masses don't understand’. He poses a return to struggle but, unlike the young Marx, there is no fetish of a particular class. For Fanon nationalism has to acquire a social consciousness rooted in the ‘moving consciousness of the whole of the people...the...coherent and enlightened action of men and women.’ The second struggle is not between national and social consciousness. It is to bring them together.
The idea that after Malema we can go back to business as usual will take us nowhere. Fighting rearguard actions in defence of the democratic gains won in 1994 is, while often very necessary, also not enough. If democratisation is to be an ongoing process, which it must be if we are to have any chance of resolving our fundamental problems, we have to look to a popular politics, firmly in the hands of ordinary women and men that holds the well being of human beings, and particularly those cast out of this order, as our real measure of progress.
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* Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University.
* This article first appeared on SACSIS.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
A history of US-sponsored violence in Haiti
How US has used military and money to destabilise nation
The United States has a long history of sowing violence in Haiti. Nearly 100 years ago, the Marines invaded Haiti and occupied the country for 19 years, over the course of which they killed thousands of Haitians who attempted to resist the repression. The pretext for the invasion was instability. But for the tens of thousands of Haitians who were dispossessed of their land by American businesses or who were put into forced labor, the true source of instability originated with their neighbour to the north. In order to protect its investments in Haiti and to ensure the country’s future ‘stability’, the United States created and trained a new Haitian army that would become infamous for its brutal repression of the population.
Three decades after the US left Haiti, it still continued in its support of a violent regime there. The dictator François Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, commanded a personal death squad, called the Tonton Macoutes, that murdered several thousand people and terrorised the population. Duvalier and their supporters were intent on protecting the interests of Haiti’s wealthy elite at all costs, and during their rule the gap between rich and poor widened. They were enabled by the United States, which sent the dictators tens of millions of dollars before their nearly 30-year rule ended.
Arising out of all the suffering caused by the regime — in true form to Haiti’s revolutionary roots — was a mass movement that sought to overturn the corruption and cruelty of the dictatorship. Having successfully driven the younger Duvalier out of power in 1986, this movement nevertheless weathered four more years of political, economic and social crises — crises inflicted by those who would have liked to see the continuation of dictatorship. But the call for equality prevailed: Haiti had its first democratic elections in 1990, and more than two-thirds of the people voted for a courageous priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to be their president.
During the first six months of Aristide’s term in office, major positive changes were already seen in Haiti. The crime rate dropped, the number of people fleeing Haiti as refugees dropped; the government launched a nationwide literacy campaign; Aristide expelled corrupt government officials, and he was arranging to more than double the minimum wage from $1 to $2.40 per day.
The president did his best to promote unity in the new Haiti. In good faith, he extended a hand to the Haitian army, but its top officers were still loyal Duvalierists. Less than eight months after President Aristide was inaugurated, the army — under the leadership of General Raoul Cedras — took over the National Palace. On September 30, 1991, these opponents of the mass democratic movement that brought Aristide into office staged a violent coup. They set up an occupation government, which the Haitian army vigorously protected. It is estimated that the army and death squads killed at least 5,000 people over the course of the next three years. Leaders of the coup, including Cedras, had been trained at the US rmya School of the Americas (SOA). In 1993, another SOA graduate, Emmanuel Constant, formed a new death squad; he later revealed that he was on the CIA’s payroll. The US-sponsored imprisonment, torturing and killing of people loyal to Haiti’s democratic movement continued nearly right up to the very end of the coup in 1994.
Upon Aristide’s return to his country in October of that year, the grassroots movement pressed forward in the face of continued pressure from the US to conform the Haitian economy to its will. In 1995, he raised the minimum wage from $1 to $2.40 per day. That same year, in a hugely popular move, Aristide abolished the military and transformed its headquarters into the newly created Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
Today, on the twentieth anniversary of the first coup, the US is funding another military occupation of Haiti. This one began over seven years ago, when a small group of armed assassins — some of whom had been trained in the US — entered Haiti through the Dominican Republic and initiated a spree of looting and killing. It was 2004, three years into Aristide’s second administration. To assist the paramilitary in its goal of overthrowing the government, the US kidnapped the president and his wife at gunpoint and sent in the marines. Falsely reporting the situation, newspapers like the New York Times said that Aristide voluntarily ‘resigned’. France and Canada also sent troops, and the United Nations quickly followed suit by sending a multinational military force, ostensibly to restore order.
Ever since, the UN has had a presence in Haiti of more than 9,000 troops and police; but they have been anything but peacekeepers. The long list of human rights abuses they have committed against the Haitian people — primarily the poor and supporters of Aristide — include rape, imprisonment without trial, and murder. Typically, the pretext for this occupation is ‘instability’ in Haiti, as is reflected in the name of the military force: the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (which also goes by the French acronym, MINUSTAH). The reality, however, is that the UN presence acts to legitimise a war on the people of Haiti that would like to see democracy. It costs over $700 million per year to fund MINUSTAH, and the US is the largest contributor to the organisation’s global bill by a large margin.
The US finances the occupation of Haiti in other ways, as well. Last November, the Obama administration spent more than $9 million to hold deeply fraudulent elections in which the most popular political party, called Lavalas, was banned from participating. In protest, more than three-quarters of the electorate did not vote in the fixed runoff election held in February. It is well known in Haiti that the newly ‘selected’ president, Michel Martelly, was a proponent of the 2004 coup, that he is in favor of the United Nations and that he plans to regroup a new military. And certainly, Bill and Hillary Clinton — who have been encouraging and promoting Martelly — must be aware that he faithfully supported the Duvaliers.
Haitian and world history should make it clear that whenever the US invests so much money and such might, it is certain that there is something very valuable to gain — or to be lost. Since 2004 — in a repeat of the very first US occupation — wealthy foreigners have set up shop in Haiti and privatised key national resources. Last September, Martelly selected Bill Clinton — who is the UN special envoy for Haiti — to head his new advisory board on investment. One has to wonder what advice Clinton would provide, given that throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he helped Congress to debilitate the Haitian economy by flooding its markets with cheap US food, thus driving down production in Haiti.
Last month, during his Global Initiative forum, Clinton commended Martelly’s plan to open Haiti for business and for making it a ‘user-friendly place’. Clinton spoke of the potential to make fortunes in Haiti. For his wife’s part, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mediated a deal last year in which a South Korean clothing company would open sweat shops in Haiti. More recently, she expressed the United States’ full commitment to supporting Martelly. Apparently, the United States will wholly support the fraudulently elected president of an occupied country in which a documented war criminal, Jean-Claude Duvalier, goes about with impunity.
Currently in power in Haiti is an illegal, repressive government that owes its existence, in large part, to the United States. There is widespread concern that Martelly will make good on his announcement to reestablish the Haitian army, which Aristide disbanded during his first presidency, and which, as we mentioned before, had also been one of America’s pernicious creations. It is likely that foreign donors would have to fund the $95 million plan, which calls for creating a military of 3,500 soldiers who would eventually replace the UN. It also calls for a National Intelligence Service (SIN is the French acronym), that will deal with people and organizations accused of terrorism. To many in Haiti, it is clear that Martelly wants to revive the Duvalier death squads, who attacked anyone the dictators accused of Communism.
There should be little doubt about the use to which Martelly intends to put an army. As someone who has admitted supporting the last two coups, as a Duvalierist and a vocal opponent of the most popular leader in the country (Aristide), Martelly does not represent the aspirations of the majority but of a wealthy elite. As the Duvaliers before him, it can be surmised that he would use the army as an instrument of terror against the poor to consolidate his power.
The American government and its highest officials, including Obama and the Clintons — people who at some time or another claimed to represent the interests of American citizens — are doing shameful work in Haiti. With one hand, they make gestures toward those suffering from insufficient access to the very basic necessities of life; with the other, they are allotting hundreds of millions of dollars to bullets, guns, tanks, soldiers, prisons, and to undemocratic movements and governments.
Yet against all this, there is great hope in Haiti. The Aristide Foundation recently reopened its medical school with a tiny fraction of the money that has been spent on the occupation of Haiti. In 2004, the US/UN military force halted construction, dissolved the school and occupied it for three years before giving back control to the foundation. The reopening of the school is a sign that the people in Haiti will continue to stand up, though it may seem that they have been crushed down far as possible. This is not the kind of hope that comes from celebrity concerts or from Coca-Cola refreshments. It is the kind which springs from the memory that with collective struggle and a vision, change for the better can occur. At its source is the certainty that justice and truth are on one’s side.
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* Nia Imara is a member of the Haiti Action Committee.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
How USAID undermines democracy in Haiti
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is an arm of the US State Department. Founded in 1961, USAID serves as a ‘velvet glove’ for US foreign policy. The political bias of its operations in Haiti goes back decades. Here are ten things to know about USAID in Haiti:
1. USAID paid millions to Haiti’s ruthless dictator, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, aimed at shoring up US influence in the region after the Cuban revolution. Thirty to fifty thousand people were killed under Duvalier’s regime while aid funds were siphoned into the private coffers of the Duvalier family. Under Duvalier, assembly production for American corporations became the blueprint for Haiti’s economic dependence on the US. The formula, essentially unchanged to this day, backs Haiti’s ruling elite while turning Haiti into a low-wage export-focused economy that creates profitable business opportunities for foreign investors. Haitians call it ‘the death plan’.
2. USAID backed Duvalier's son, Jean-Claude ‘baby doc’, when he took over in 1971, with plans to promote Haiti as the ‘Taiwan of the Caribbean’. American taxpayers provided millions to build an infrastructure to lure US manufacturers to open assembly plants, taking advantage of Haiti’s high unemployment, political repression, and wages of 14 cents an hour. The consequences were profits for US business and the Haitian super rich. By the time of Duvalier’s fall, Haiti was the world’s ninth largest assembler of goods for US consumption, and the largest producer of baseballs.
3. USAID sabotaged Haiti's domestic food production. USAID has a major impact on Haiti’s economy, both directly and as an agent for big financial institutions like the IMF. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than Haiti’s food system. As recently as 30 years ago, Haiti produced most of its own food. Then, in the early 1980s, USAID undertook a plan to redirect Haiti’s domestic food production towards export crops. The idea, tied to Ronald Reagan’s Caribbean Basin Initiative, was to integrate Haiti into the world market via agro-industry and export manufacturing.
With full awareness of its dire impact on Haitian peasants, USAID experts set about to shift 30 per cent of Haiti’s cultivated land from food produced for local consumption to export crops. As Haiti's rural economy unravelled, impoverished peasants fled to the capital city.
Competition from cheap imports and the absence of policies to promote production led to a rapid decline in Haiti’s food production. By 2008, local food production amounted to 42 per cent of Haiti’s food consumption, compared to 80 per cent in 1986. At the same time the value of US agricultural exports to Haiti began to increase - from $44 million (1986) to $95 million (1989). Recently, USAID was helping agriculture officials boost Haiti's production of mangoes - for export to the United States.
4. USAID enforced trade liberalization policies that undercut Haiti's rice industry while promoting American rice. In 1986, USAID conditioned aid to the ruling military junta on lowering rice tariffs, while advising the government to remove the little assistance it gave to Haitian farmers. Haiti slashed its rice tariff from 35 per cent to 3.5 per cent (1986) and to 1.5 per cent (1995). Not only were Haitian farmers hurt, but American producers and grain sellers profited. Cheap, heavily subsidised ‘Miami’ US rice flooded Haitian markets, and Haitian rice production began to drop. Until the early 1980s, Haiti produced the majority of its own rice, but Haiti is now the fourth largest importer of American rice.
One beneficiary was the Rice Corporation of Haiti (RCH), owned by Erly Industries - a massive US agribusiness and the largest marketer of American rice. In 1992, RCH secured a nine-year contract to import rice from Haiti’s illegal coup government - a military junta responsible for the deaths of thousands of Haitians. RCH was managed at the time by the former director of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (1982-1988), with powerful friends in Washington like Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC).
Erly Industries gained another foothold in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake when USAID awarded an Erly subsidiary, Chemonics, the contract to implement the 2009 USAID ‘winner’ program. Chemonics is an international consulting firm that relies on USAID for 90 per cent of its business. Winner is another example of USAID’s reckless assault on Haitian agriculture. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Winner championed the introduction of Monsanto hybrid seeds at cheap prices to Haitian farmers, despite the recommendation of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture to halt all seed donations as both unnecessary and harmful. Winner undermines Haitian seed distribution networks, and will leave Haitian farmers dependent on Monsanto seeds when the program expires in 2015.
5. USAID ‘food aid’ is good for us agribusiness, not for Haitian farmers. Haiti’s domestic rice production was undermined even more by the vast amounts of ‘free’ American rice that USAID dumps on Haiti every year in the form of ‘food aid’. A recent report, ‘Sak Vid Pa Kanpe: The Impact of US Food Aid on Human Rights in Haiti’, explains how food aid is given to the poor as direct food assistance or sold by NGOs to support their overhead and operating costs, (a process known as ‘monetisation’). The report examines how US food aid benefits the American companies who provide and transport it, but has a negative impact on local Haitian economies which would benefit instead from agricultural assistance or cash to boost local production. In its most recent budget request, USAID proposed spending $1.2 billion globally on helping poor farmers grow more food, while asking Congress for $4.2 billion for food aid, almost all of which will be spent on purchases from American farmers.
6. USAID destroyed the Haitian creole pig. The 1982 swine flu outbreak in the Dominican Republic provided the justification for USAID to condemn Haiti’s 1.3 million pig population, promising to replace them with ‘better’ pigs. Over a period of 13 months, enforced by Duvalier militia, the Creole pig was wiped out. A Haitian woman recalls the era: ‘When the armed forces of Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime set about exterminating Haiti's Creole pigs, they would come to Haiti's rural villages, seize all of the pigs, pile them up, one on top of the other, in large pits and set fire to them, burning them alive.’ In monetary terms Haitian peasants lost $600 million dollars. Haiti’s former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide analyzed the outcome in his book, ‘Eyes of the Heart’, explaining the small, black, Creole pig was at the heart of the peasant economy and constituted the primary savings bank of the peasant population. Pigs were sold to pay for emergencies, special occasions and to pay school fees and buy books for the children. What followed was a 30 per cent drop in enrollment in rural schools, a dramatic decline in protein consumption in rural Haiti, and a negative impact on the soil and agricultural productivity. When ‘better pigs’ arrived from Iowa two years later, they could not survive Haiti’s rural life, requiring clean drinking water (unavailable to 80 per cent of the Haitian people), imported feed (costing $90 a year when the per capita income was about $130), and special roofed pigpens.
7. USAID has consistently opposed minimum wage increases in Haiti. In 1991, USAID used US tax dollars to oppose a minimum wage increase from $.33 to $.50 per hour proposed by the Aristide government, claiming it was bad for business. The agency also countered a plan for temporary price controls on basic food so people could afford to eat. According to secret State Department cables, after the 2010 earthquake, the US Embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi's, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to block a small minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest paid in the hemisphere. The factory owners, with backing of USAID and the US Embassy, refused to pay 62 cents an hour, or $5 per eight-hour day, a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian parliament in June 2009.
8. USAID promoted and funded the 2004 overthrow of the democratically-elected Aristide. While millions of American dollars have propped up Haiti’s dictators, aid shifted abruptly away from the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Under the guise of ‘democracy promotion,’ USAID and USAID-funded organisations like the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute, funnelled millions to organise political opposition to Aristide and build conservative alternatives aligned with US interests. After the 2004 coup, USAID funded the integration of former death squad forces into the Haitian National Police to quell resistance among Haitians to the illegitimate coup government. USAID paid millions to fund the fraudulent November 2010 and March 2011 elections that excluded Haiti’s largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, the party of President Aristide.
9. USAID extends its far-reaching influence in Haiti by funding NGOs (non-governmental organisations) which receive 70 per cent of their budgets from the agency. Over 10,000 NGOs operate in Haiti with authorisation to bypass the elected government and serve as a permanent form of ‘soft’ invasion. As far back as 1995, Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott reassured members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that, ‘even after our (military) exit in February 1996 we will remain in charge by means of the USAID and the private sector.’
10. USAID boasts that 84 cents of every dollar of its funding in Haiti returns to the US in the form of salaries, supplies, consulting fees, and services. As the lead US agency for Haiti reconstruction, just 2.5 per cent of USAID’s $200 million in post-earthquake relief and reconstruction contracts had gone to Haitian firms by April 2010. USAID paid at least $160 million of its total Haiti-related expenditures to the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, two US search and rescue teams and, in at least two instances, itself. US Ambassador Merten reported to Washington that the post-quake ‘gold rush’ was on, according to a secret cable that described disaster capitalists flocking to Haiti for contracts to rebuild the country.
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* This article was first published by the Haiti Action Committee.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
- Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (2000). Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization. Common Courage Press, pp 13-14.
- Center for Economic and Policy Research (2010). Haitian companies bypassed in favor of DC area contractors with poor track records. Available at: http://bit.ly/sSyWoh (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Center for Public Integrity, Windfalls of War: Chemonics, International. Available at: http://projects.publicintegrity.org/wow/bio.aspx?act=pro&ddlC=8 (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Partners in Health, RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights (December 2010). Sak Vid Pa Kanpe: The Impact of US Food Aid on Human Rights in Haiti. Available at http://www.chrgj.org/projects/docs/sakvidpakanpe.pdf (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Coughlin, Dan and Ives, Kim (2011). ‘Wikileaks Haiti: Let them live on $3 day.’ The Nation, June 1, 2011. Available at: http://projects.publicintegrity.org/wow/bio.aspx?act=pro&ddlC=8 (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- DeWind Josh and Kinley David H (1994). U.S. Aid Programs and the Haitian Political Economy: Export-Led Development. IN The Haiti Files, Ridgeway J (ed). Essential Books/Azul Editions. Washington, DC. P125
- Diederich, Bernard and Burt, Al (2009). Papa Doc and the Tonton Macoutes, 3rd edition. Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton, NJ.
- Doyle, Mark (Oct 2010) US urged to stop Rice Subsidies. BBC news, Latin America & the Caribbean. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11472874 (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Farmer, Paul (2006). The Uses of Haiti, 3rd edition. Common Courage Press.
- Flynn, Laura (Jan 2011). In Haiti, Reliving Duvalier, Waiting for Aristide. Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-flynn/not-even-the-past_b_813172.html (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Gros, Jean-Germaine. Indigestible Recipe: Rice, Chicken Wings, and International Financial Institutions: or Hunger Politics in Haiti. Journal of Black Studies 2010 40: 974 originally published online 29 September 2008. Available at: http://jbs.sagepub.com/content/40/5/974.full.pdf (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Haiti Info (Sept 1995) Vol 3, #24. Neoliberalism in Haiti: The case of rice. Available at: http://www.afaceaface.org/blog/2010/09/neoliberalism-in-haiti-the-case-of-rice/ (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Hallward, Peter (2007). Damming the Flood. New York: Verso.
- Herz, Ansel and Ives, Kim (June 16, 2011). Wikileaks Haiti: The Post Quake Gold Rush for Reconstruction Contracts. The Nation. Available at: http://www.thenation.com/article/161469/wikileaks-haiti-post-quake-gold-rush-reconstruction-contracts (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Katz, Jonathan (March 2010). Haiti Relief Money: Criticism of Nonprofits Abounds. Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/05/haiti-relief-money-critic_n_487976.html (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Kurklantzick, Joshua. (Dec/Nov 2004). The Coup Connection. Mother Jones. Available at: http://motherjones.com/politics/2004/11/coup-connection (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- McGowan, Lisa (January 1997). Democracy Undermined , Economic Justice Denied: Structural Adjustment and the Aid Juggernaut in Haiti. The Development Group for Alternative Policies, Inc. Available at: http://bit.ly/tgmhpL (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- NACLA (1995). Haiti: Dangerous Crossroads. South End Press, Boston, MA. Chapter 19, p. 190
- Quigley, Bill (April 2008). Thirty years ago Haiti Grew All the Rice It Needed. What Happened? Counterpunch. Available at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/04/21/the-u-s-role-in-haiti-s-food-riots/ (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Smith, Ashley (24 Feb 2010). Haiti and the AID Racket. Counterpunch. Available at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/02/24/haiti-and-the-aid-racket/ (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Weisbrot, Mark (14 Oct 2010). CEPR Co-Director Criticizes US Funding of Flawed ‘Elections’ in Haiti. Press Release. Available at: http://bit.ly/uz3c3T (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Weisbrot, Mark (10 Jan 2011). Haiti's Election: A Travesty of Democracy. The Guardian. Available at: http://bit.ly/tyqog0 (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
- Yaffe, Nathan. (June 2011) USAID's Assault on Haitian Agriculture. Haiti Justice Alliance. Available at: http://haitijustice.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/winner-bad-for-haiti/ (Accessed Nov 10, 2011)
Gaddafi’s assassination: Bombing Africa into ‘civilisation’
Nana Akyea Mensah
Mr Kwesi Pratt, Jnr, a leading member of the Socialist Forum and managing editor of the Insight newspaper, was certainly not amused at hearing the news concerning the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. News reports from Ghana read, ‘On Multi TV’s PM: Express programme on Thursday evening, Kwesi Pratt described the NATO-backed war against Gaddafi as a disgrace to the continent.’ On the same programme he said, ‘killing any head of state, whether he is a dictator or a democrat, is wrong, and what NATO has done is appalling, it’s disgraceful and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This is an assassination, this is illegal and this is an act of terrorism…’
‘Touching on the memory of Gaddafi, Kwesi Pratt intimated that “Gaddafi was an enigmatic figure. He was full of contradictions. He opposed the monarchy; he overthrew the monarchy, and gained respect for that: and then he sought to become a [monarch],” adding, “Gaddafi will also be remembered as a person who worked hard to uplift the living standards of the Libyan people.” He said the creation of a man-made river and other social interventions have changed the lives of Libyans and these are can be attributed to Gaddafi’s hard work.’
A key observation Kwesi Pratt also made which is the focus of this article, was that, ‘without the intervention of NATO, no force in Libya could have overthrown Gaddafi, let alone assassinate him. The rebels have been successful primarily because of the support they have received from NATO and that says something about the support that he has within Libya…’
As the facts begin to emerge, we learn that it has ‘been alleged that one of the security firms who provided mercenaries for the mission may have acted as a “double agent”, helping Nato to pinpoint Gaddafi’s convoy for attack, and that the dictator’s escape was “meant to fail’. In a post titledThe Dangers of Hiring BAE’s Mercenaries, emptywheel writes: ‘it is confirmed that the strike that resulted in the death of Gaddhafy was initiated, organized, coordinated and led by NATO and SAS forces. The attack began when Gaddafi was fleeing Sirte in a convoy of 75 vehicles. Drone pilots at Creech Air Force base in Nevada launched a round of Hellfire missiles from a Predator drone aircraft, destroying the lead vehicle and prompting a French bomber to release two laser-guided 500 pound bombs into the centre of the convoy. British SAS troops, meanwhile, coordinated the ground forces that eventually captured Gaddafi.’
David Williams gives a more detailed account here:
‘From the clear skies over Sirte, aerial surveillance which included RAF Tornado planes saw the large convoy emerging from Neighbourhood Two. Officials knew it was a high-value target because it was so big and they could detect command and control was active with it – giving them the right to attack it. First, a U.S. drone strike was called in with hellfire missiles and then French warplanes launched a second strike on the convoy as it sped west along the coastal highway. Last night 15 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns lay burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity sub station 20 yards from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte. They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels have assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader. Inside the trucks, still in their seats, were the charred skeletal remains of drivers and passengers killed instantly by the strike.’
‘Others lay mutilated and contorted strewn in the grass.’ The report continues, ‘There were some 50 bodies in all. Rebel commander Adel Busamir said those Gaddafi loyalists who remained alive had realised there was no escape and turned back. A wounded Gaddafi limped through some trees, fighters said, and sought shelter in a storm drain. Several bodyguards were with him. “At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use,” said rebel commander Salem Bakeer. “Then we went in on foot. One of Gaddafi’s men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me. Then I think Gaddafi must have told him to stop. ‘My master is here, my master is here’, he said. ‘Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded’.”’
‘“We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong? What’s going on?’.” At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said. He was then dragged 50 yards to a black Jeep and thrown on to the bonnet. Several rebel fighters surrounded him, beating him about the face, before he was shot in the stomach and head.’
Gaddafi was deliberately and illegally targeted for assassination:
‘On the 29th of April, 2011 at 11:15 AM, the attention of the Facebook Rally of the Coalition Against Foreign Intervention in Africa was drawn to a story posted on the web by Kirill Svetitskiy, in which he makes the claim that it has been “reported by anonymous official of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service that the special divisions and army units of France, Great Britain and USA will take part in the special operation aimed to assassinate informal Libyan leader before coming Monday, May 2, 2011.”’
I did not know what to make of it, so I sent the link to Crossed Crocodiles, a very knowledgeable Pan-Africanist analyst with a simple question: ‘Hi Xcroc, What do you make of this?’ His response was: ‘I have some questions in my mind about the site. It looks to me like an ad hoc site used to plant stories. But I’m not certain, and don’t know why or who. It will be interesting to watch what happens in Italy this week. I doubt we can find a trustworthy story about what is going on in Benghazi. But I’m trying to see if I can find out more.’
We were thus wondering what to make of it when we heard of a NATO attack on Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli in which his son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren were killed. Foreign reporters were shown widespread damage to the building, and Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said ‘The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives. The leader himself is in good health.’ Gaddafi’s wife was also unharmed, he said. ‘This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country,’ the spokesman added.
This came within hours of another bombing raid earlier at a radio station during what appeared to be a live broadcast by Gaddafi. The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Tripoli says that unusually the alliance issued its statement within hours of the strike, well aware of the political implications. The statement said: ‘NAPLES — NATO continued its precision strikes against Qadhafi regime military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening. “All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Qadhafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.’
‘Assassination of a head of state is illegal under international law, and forbidden by various US presidential orders. On the other hand, the targeted killing of those woven into the enemy chain of command is shrouded in legal ambiguity.
‘Given the personalistic nature of the regime, and the “all means necessary” clause in UN Resolution 1973, it might be argued that killing Col Muammar Gaddafi and certain members of his family – such as his son Khamis, commander of an elite military brigade – would be permissible, even if it posed a risk to those non-combatants around the regime. Legality, though, indicates neither legitimacy nor prudence. This strike, and the death of Saif al-Arab, have produced little military result at the greatest diplomatic and symbolic cost to Nato.’
‘Needless to say that this western effort at assassination and regime change is clearly illegal, in violation of international law, and of the UN resolution 1973. It once again raises the question about the International Criminal Court. Was the ICC created only to try Africans and Arabs? Posted by: ben | May 1, 2011 2:39:41 PM | 13: “Thanks all for the links. They provide food for thought. What is crystal clear here is this….The Global ruling elite have decided Mr. Q must go, & they will have their way. Truth, Law & Justice be dammed. Conspiracy? Nope, just the end result of too much power in too few hands.”’
Despite the neocolonialist excuses of humanitarian motives, the real motivations for the assassination keep popping up:
Wikileaks: Al-Qadhafi perceives himself as “a superman of history” and is not able to admit fault or weakness. Cosmetic attempts at economic reform are acceptable and help advance al-Qadhafi’s goal of reingratiating Libya with the West, but the shared assessment of Ghanem and el-Meyet is that meaningful economic and political reform will not occur while al-Qadhafi is alive. - Reference id aka Wikileaks id #161860, Subject: National Oil Corporation Chairman Shukri Ghanem May Seek To Resign Soon, Origin: Embassy Tripoli (Libya) Cable timeSun, 13 Jul 2008 14:47 UTC,
‘According to geological estimates, the subsurface running from Darfur in what was southern Sudan through Chad into Cameroon is one gigantic oil field in extent perhaps equivalent to a new Saudi Arabia. Controlling southern Sudan as well as Chad and Cameroon is vital to the Pentagon strategy of “strategic denial” to China of their future oil flows. So long as a stable and robust Ghaddafi regime remained in power in Tripoli that control remained a major problem. The simultaneous splitting off of the Republic of South Sudan from Khartoum and the toppling of Ghaddafi in favor of weak rebel bands beholden to Pentagon support was for the Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance of strategic priority.’
What do the Imperialists want? I think to understand this very well, we have to go back to ‘the first time, the two concepts—“Africa” and “U.S. national security” were “used in the same sentence in Pentagon documents”. Read carefully what Donald Norland, former US Ambassador to Chad told a Congressional subcommittee on this for an explanation from the horse’s own mouth:
‘Aside from the concern with terrorism, Africa’s oil has become an increasing attraction to the United States. In May 2001 the Cheney report warned that the U.S. would grow increasingly dependent upon foreign oil in the years to come and recommended that as a matter of policy the Bush Administration work to increase production and export of oil from regions other than the Middle East, noting that Latin America and West Africa were likely to be the fasting growing sources of future U.S. oil imports. Africa supplies about 15% of U.S. oil imports, but with African production growing at twice the global rate, it could be supplying the U.S. with as much energy as the Middle East within a decade. Three months later, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner declared that African oil “has become a national strategic interest.’
This statement is particularly noteworthy in that it uses the language of the Carter Doctrine in the Middle East, in which President Carter went on to declare that the US would intervene by any means necessary to protect its national interest in Middle Eastern oil. In April 2002, Donald Norland, former US Ambassador to Chad told a Congressional subcommittee: ‘It’s been reliably reported that, for the first time, the two concepts— “Africa” and “U.S. national security”—have been used in the same sentence in Pentagon documents.’ Having declared African oil to be of strategic interest to the United States, the Bush Administration has not taken the second step to actually apply the Carter Doctrine to Africa. This has left US policy open to criticism from both sides. The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on US policy in Africa has criticised it for failing ‘to make a geopolitical shift to pay sufficient attention to West Africa’s energy rich Gulf of Guinea,’ while others see a neo-imperial push unfolding in the sub-region.
There were hints of preparations two months before the Arab Spring began. The issue is not about the Arab Spring and whether or not Gaddafi was a dictator, it is about whether or not the NATO allies seek to gain Full Spectrum Dominance of strategic priority, in their renewed scramble for Africa’s resources with China. Libya became a target of opportunity, but the war is essentially a strategic threat to Africa’s prosperity and influence.
According to US Congressman, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), war had nothing to do with the ‘Arab Spring’ style protests which saw the toppling of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. There is strong evidence that it was probably planned long before the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ began:
‘On November 2, 2010 France and Great Britain signed a mutual defence treaty, which included joint participation in “Southern Mistral”, a series of war games outlined in the bilateral agreement. Southern Mistral involved a long-range conventional air attack, called Southern Storm, against a dictatorship in a fictitious southern country called Southland. The joint military air strike was authorised by a pretend United Nations Security Council Resolution. The “Composite Air Operations” were planned for the period of 21-25 March, 2011. On 20 March, 2011, the United States joined France and Great Britain in an air attack against Gaddafi’s Libya, pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1973.’ 
It is astonishing that, despite the gruesome and criminal manner with which it was carried out, Western democracies gloated over Gaddafi’s death.
A very apt reaction I found on the ‘reaction’ to the killing of Gaddafi by the US Secretary of State, was Is’haq Modibbo Kawu: ‘The American Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, on being told that imperialism’s “revolutionaries” organised in the Libyan Transitional Council, NTC, had captured and killed Moammar Gaddafi in Sirte, tried an uneducated re-interpretation of Julius Ceasar’s famous quote: “Veni, vidi, vici”, which translates from Latin to: “I came, I saw, I conquered”. Clinton’s naked gloating over the public lynching of America’s old adversary revealed the depravity of the leading politicians of the imperialist world, while underlining the length they will go to achieve their imperial aims in the contemporary world. It was clear that NATO’s “Operation Unified Protector” was not about implementing UN Resolution 1973, but as Thierry Meyssan, writing for Voltaire.org said, was “to overthrow a political system and to kill the leader, even if the assassination of a serving head of state is strictly prohibited by US law and universally condemned.”’
Yet these are the same people who claim to be bombing us into ‘civilization’ and wage wars for peace, democracy, and social progress! They could not even care to remember that they are giving the game away by this jubilation which throws into the air the thinly-veiled cover of promoting democracy, the rule of law, and the respect for fundamental human rights!
The entire intervention against Libya was driven by potential profits. Pierre Lévy quotes a 2007 speech by French president Nicolas Sarkozy: ‘Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.’
Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South (. . .) and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.’ 
Where is the international OUTRAGE and CONDEMNATION?
‘The USA has violated every law and convention known to man! How did a No Fly Zone turn into a license to obliterate a country? When did it become OK_ for America to simply invade a sovereign nation, kill thousands of civilians, destroy all its infrastructure, steal its wealth and murder its leader? Where is the international OUTRAGE and CONDEMNATION?’ 
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* This article first appeared on Pan-Africanist International.
* Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro, is the pen name of one of the founding members of the Pan-Africanist International - a grammar of Pan-Africanism, and its manners of articulation.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 Gaddafi’s death is an act of terrorism and an illegality – Kwesi Pratt, by Derick Romeo Adogla, Myjoyonline.com, Fri, 21 Oct 2011. See also: Gaddafi’s death is an act of terrorism and an illegality – Kwesi Pratt, General News of Friday, 21 October 2011
 James Corbett, The Assassination of Gaddafi, GRTV Backgrounder, November 1, 2011
 How a NATO air strike finished off Gaddafi, By David Williams , Last updated at 1:30 PM on 21st October 2011.
 Is NATO Trying To Kill Gaddafi? By Ali-Masmadi, Pan-Africanist International, May 2, 2011.
 Nato strike ‘kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi’, Libya says, BBC Online, 1 May 2011 Last updated at 12:08 GMT
 Nato strike ‘kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi’, Libya says, , BBC Online, 1 May 2011 Last updated at 12:08 GMT
 NATO strikes command and control facility in Tripoli, NAPLES, NATO, 01 May. 2011http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-A29434A7-58904AE4/natolive/news_72972.htm
 Nato strike ‘kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi’, Libya says, , BBC Online, 1 May 2011 Last updated at 12:08 GMT
 The Legal Logic Of Attacking Gaddafi, Moon of Alabama, May 01, 2011,
 National Oil Corporation Chairman Shukri Ghanem May Seek To Resign Soon, Wikileaks, id #161860, 08TRIPOLI227, Sun, 13 Jul 2008 14:47 UTC.
 F. William Engdahl, NATO’s War on Libya is Directed against China: AFRICOM and the Threat to China’s National Energy Security, Global Research, September 25, 2011
 Letitia Lawson, U.S. Africa Policy Since the Cold War, Strategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 1 (January 2007) US Naval Postgraduate School.
 November 2010 War Games: “Southern Mistral” Air Attack against Dictatorship in a Fictitious Country called “Southland” by Rep. Dennis J Kucinich, Global Research, April 15, 2011, The Observer.
 ‘We came, we saw, he died’, By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Vanguardngr.com, November 3, 2011.
 Total Victory In Libya, “The Jewel In The Crown” Is Libyan Oil, By Crossed Crocodiles | October 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm
 British Civilians for Peace in Libya, http://www.facebook.com/pages/British-Civilians-for-Peace-in-Libya/165918890129946
Political assassin robots flying in African skies
‘Somalia is a counterterrorism planner’s dream.
‘We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles … to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.’
‘… there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official US policy.’
These predator drones are now being deployed over East Africa and the adjacent waters, based by the were unarmed, and were part of anti-piracy surveillance. But that is only the toe in the door. The CIA uses these drones for extrajudicial killings in Pakistan, a country that is supposedly a US friend and with whom the US is not at war. In Pakistan the CIA is probably assassinating some genuine international terrorists. It may also be assassinating innocent individuals or local political leaders. The CIA appears accountable to no one in the US or the world at large for these actions. In all cases these are assassinations.
The CIA and the US Africa Command now appear ready to expand this predation in East Africa, most likely in order to continue efforts to destabilize Somalia (called ‘stability operations’). The US has been pushing the notion that Islamist fighters in Somalia are allied with al-Qaeda. There is no real evidence for this. But since it is repeated over and over in the US media, many people believe it. Just as the New York Times pushed the bogus story of weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war, it is pushing the supposed link between al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab.
From the United Nations: ‘US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN’s top investigator of such crimes said. ‘My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law,’ he [UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston] said.
‘The onus is really on the United States government to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary extrajudicial executions aren’t in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons,’ he added.
‘You have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws,’ Alston said.
Since August 2008, around 70 strikes by unmanned aircraft have killed close to 600 people in north-western Pakistan. ‘I would like to know the legal basis upon which the United States is operating, in other words… who is running the program, what accountability mechanisms are in place in relation to that,’ Alston said.
‘Secondly, what precautions the United States is taking to ensure that these weapons are used strictly for purposes consistent with international humanitarian law? Third, what sort of review mechanism is there to evaluate when these weapons have been used? Those are the issues I’d like to see addressed,’ the UN official said.”
More detailed information is available from the following sources:
AP: US drones protecting ships from Somali pirates
‘Military officials said Friday the drones would not immediately be fitted with weaponry, but they did not rule out doing so in the future. “Analysts said they expected the Reapers would also be used to hunt al-Qaeda and other Islamist militants in Somalia. While Moeller said the aircraft would ‘primarily’ be used against pirates, he acknowledged they could also be used for other missions. ‘The long-term solution to the piracy issue is basically [us] getting the conditions right in Somalia,’ he said.”
More information about the Reaper here: MQ-9 Reaper Hunter/Killer UAV
‘the [Reaper] aircraft can carry up to 14 Hellfire missiles, compared with two carried on the Predator. Reaper can stay airborne for up to 14 hours fully loaded. Trading off some of the missiles, Predator B can carry laser guided bombs, such as the GBU-12. MQ-9 is equipped with both Lynx II SAR and the MTS-B 20″ gimbal, an improved, extended range version of the MQ-9′s EO payload. The availability of high performance sensors and large capacity of precision guided weapons enable the new Predator to operate as an efficient ‘Hunter-Killer’ platform, seeking and engaging targets at high probability of success.’
The Wikipedia entry adds: ‘Then U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley said, “We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper”.’
The New York Times adds its voice to the war machine fear mongering: ‘In Somalia, a New Template for Fighting Terrorism.’ The NYT starts with the popular but unsubstantiated assertion that: ‘Al-Qaeda is working feverishly to turn Somalia into a global jihad factory’.
‘So a new template for fighting terrorism may be emerging as the United States shows less desire to get involved in the local intricacies of nation building and more interest in narrowing its focus to Al Qaeda.
To Mr. Nagl, in fact, Somalia is a counterterrorism planner’s dream, with its desert terrain, low population density and skinny shape along the sea; no place is more than a few minutes’ chopper flight from American ships bobbing offshore. ‘It’s far, far harder to do counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in Somalia,’ he said.’
And from an abstract of Jane Mayer’s article in the October 26th issue of The New Yorker: The Risks of the CIA’s Predator Drones: The Predator War: ‘Hina Shamsi, a human-rights lawyer at the New York University School of Law … said of the Predator program, ‘These are targeted international killings by the state.’
The Predator program, as it happens, also uses private contractors for a variety of tasks, including ‘flying’ the drones.
According to a new study by the New America Foundation, the number of drone strikes has gone up dramatically since Obama became president. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the defense contractor that manufactures the Predator and its more heavily armed sibling, the Reaper, can barely keep up with the government’s demand.
There is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official U.S. policy. Somalia will make a convenient African practice field for targeted killings by robot assassins. There is no government to stand up for the Somali people in this, especially as the United States claims to be the one standing up for Somalia. As Mr. Nagi said above, Somalia is a counterterrorism planner’s dream. As long as Somalia is kept destabilised, a.k.a stability operations, it will be an easy target. Now, in 2011, Predator Reaper drones are killing people in Somalia, working with an invading force from Kenya, fulfilling all the speculation and predictions here.
Somalia is just the beginning, it may have oil, but it looks like there is a lot more oil in the African great lakes region, beginning with the recent finds in Uganda. Southern Sudan has oil and is the site of US corporate and international land grabs. The DRC has vast quantities of minerals including 80 percent of the world’s coltan. Its mineral resources are considered a US strategic interest. That is why the US helped overthrow Lumumba and installed Mobutu, dismissing Mobutu’s 30 years of failed government as an African problem. For US purposes, Mobutu was a success; he was a faithful client. When he was no longer useful, the US helped overthrow him.
The term terrorist is evolving to mean anyone who questions or stands up to the US in its quest to co-opt and control oil, minerals, and other natural resources, or who stands up to the forces of global capitalism. A ‘terrorist’ is a political or economic opponent, only a few of them have violent intentions towards the US.
A robot assassin looks like just the tool to eliminate an obstructive political opponent. It appears risk free and cost free to the US. Few outside the neighbourhood will care about the collateral damage, the many innocent civilians killed at the same time. The term terrorist is necessary to give political assassination a figleaf of legality.
From Africa comments:
‘… US targeted killings of Al Qaeda terrorists is a legal act of self defense under international law. (You can get a free pdf download, here, at SSRN, ‘Targeted Killing in US Counterterrorism and Law.’
‘US law and regulation contains a ban on ‘assassination.’ Assassination in that specific legal sense is prohibited – but also not defined in US law or regulation. However, successive administrations dating from the 1980s have taken the position – for example, the speech in 1989 to which the article refers – that a targeted killing is not (prohibited) ‘assassination’ if it meets the requirements for self-defense under international law, including self defense against terrorists.’
The Reaper may be a perfect tool for global capitalism to assassinate and decapitate any growing movements and civil society groups with economic or democratic aspirations. Jeremy Keenan reminds us that an estimated 55 percent of the world population is left out of global capitalism, neither producers or consumers. Many of these live in Africa. If these people continue to be marginalized, the profits and benefits will continue and increase for the elites controlling their resources now. So the elites have strong incentives to prevent and crush democratic movements.
Jeremy Keenan describes this use of the war on terror and the reason for the Africa Command in: Demystifying Africa’s Security: ‘[The] Bush administration decided to use a military structure to secure access to and control over African oil and opted to use the GWOT as the justification, rather than acknowledging that US military intervention in Africa was about resource control.
… emphasizing the threat posed by the marginalised and excluded, Africa’s ‘dangerous classes’, and the role of aid and ‘development’ … merging the development and security agendas so that the two have become almost indistinguishable
The securitisation of Africa has been further promoted by drawing attention to the association between underdevelopment and conflict and the various discourses on ‘failed states’, which, in no time at all, were linked directly to the 9/11 attacks. It took only a few steps – from ‘poverty’ and ‘underdevelopment’ to ‘conflict’, ‘fear’, ‘failed states’ and the black holes of the ‘ungoverned areas’ – to recast Africa as the ‘Heart of Darkness’ and to transpose the global war on terror (GWOT) into its vast ungoverned spaces: the DRC, Sudan, Somalia and EUCOM’s infamous ‘swamp of terror’, the Sahara.
Far from bringing ‘peace and security’ to Africa, AFRICOM is directly instrumental in creating conflict and insecurity. Social scientists unfamiliar with the new ‘security development’ discourse may find its emphasis on ‘security’ and ‘development’ seductive. What more does Africa need? However, as Abrahamsen (2005) has already pointed out, London and Washington have used this discourse to link Africa’s underdevelopment with the threat of terrorism. And the regimes of Africa have followed suit: many are now using the pretext of the GWOT to repress legitimate opposition by linking it with ‘terrorism’. Above all, the ‘security-development’ discourse explicitly links Africa’s poor, her ‘dangerous classes’ as Abrahamsen calls them, the marginalised and excluded to international security ‘problems’ and ‘terrorism’.
And so the war on terror becomes the war on the poor and marginalized, the ‘dangerous’ classes. Keenan gives us a number of examples of countries in Africa where this is already happening. If the US is using the Reaper to kill, and is not engaged in open war with a country, it is using the Reaper as a tool of political assassination, killing opposing leaders and their families to control the economy and the politics.
This article was originally written in 2009. It is even more true today.
* This article first appeared in Pan-Africanist International.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
China’s meddling exacerbates Somali anarchy
Ismail A Mohamed
The opaque and peculiar interventions of the Chinese government and companies in Somali affairs have been evident cross the country and will exacerbate the precarious situation even further. Though it is hard to comprehend as an outsider what sparked such interventionist policies, certainly demand for energy, minerals and raw materials are the possible catalysts among the many unknowns lurking in the horizon.
The advent China’s warships off the coast of Somalia in 2009 to protect its commercial vessels from the pirates marked the Asian giant’s entry into the fragile Horn of Africa nation. The quest of any emerging power has been to go beyond its borders to protect its strategic national interest; to shape, influence and even conquer new territories. The crisis in Somalia has given China an opportunity to test its might and fulfill its ambitions.
General Chen Bingde, the chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, suggested May to the international community to attack pirates’ leaders on land in order to dislodge them from their bases. But the pirates have no permanent bases and such a colossal error of judgment will cause collateral damage to the coastal communities. Yet China is against any military interventions in the world except the one in Somalia.
Geopolitics is never static; it correlates with capitalism. Until the recent past the relationship between the two countries has been friendly, a mutual understanding based on respecting each other’s internal affairs. However the new menacing, opportunistic approach of the dragon has changed all that. It seems Somalia is cursed for its strategic location. Visible and invisible conspiring forces are working tirelessly over its disintegration to divide it into a smaller semi-autonomous regions. China has played an active role in that strategy. It has funded, according to Wikileaks cables in 2010, the creation of Azania or Jubaland, to create a buffer zone to protect Kenya from the radical group of Al Shabaab. Azania was known to the Chinese as Zésàn by the 3rd century CE; even the name has Chinese background.
The trilateral agreements among Ethiopia, China and breakaway state of Somaliland vindicate the illicit activities of the Chinese in Somalia. According to reports, Hong Kong-based PetroTrans Company Ltd signed a deal with the Ethiopian government to purchase gas and oil over a 25-year period. The Chinese company will invest close to $4 billion in developing oil and gas reserves in blocks 3, 4, 11, 15, 12, 16, 17 and 20 in the Ogaden region. The Somaliland port of Berbera will be used to export the gas and the oil. Somaliland is not recognized country internationally; it does not have any legal jurisdiction to make such agreements under the international law.
Even in the hour of need when Somalia is ravaged by drought and famine, China has contributed the least, commensurate with its wealth. The majority of the pledges it made to famine victims in the Horn Africa went to Kenya and Ethiopia, even though the epicenter of the crisis is in Somalia. China needs to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Somalia, just as it does not like any intervention in its thorny issue of Taiwan.
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* Ismail A Mohamed writes about piracy and Horn of Africa’s current affairs.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
US Africa Command a tool to recolonise continent
The USA Africa Command, which America calls ‘Africom’, is a military structure of the Defence Department of America. Africom was formed in 2007 during President George W Bush’s second term of office. That was two months after America had bombed a small African country, Somalia, destabilising it to the ashes it is today and to the danger it now poses to Africa and international trade. The coast of Somalia is infested with sea piracy and kidnappings. This is as a result of the earlier American invasion of Somalia, in pursuit of its illegitimate economic interests in Africa. The political instability of Somalia has now caused the problem of ‘terrorism’ for East African countries such as Kenya.
In October 2011, the Institute of Security Studies held a seminar in Pretoria, South Africa, on United States’ security policy in Africa and the role of the US Africa Command. The main speaker was the American Ambassador to South Africa. He presented what was a ‘non-military insider’s perspective on the United States’ Africa Command.’ This way he was supposedly to ‘separate facts from fiction and rumours and deal directly with misconceptions and misapprehensions about Africom.’
The American apologists of Africom suggested that the creation of this American military structure under the American Defence Department ‘has turned out to be different from what the USA government had originally envisioned and what the United States of America had originally perceived, having quickly foresworn locating its headquarters in Africa.’
It seems that even in this 21st century the United States of America government does not respect the sovereignty of African states and the territorial integrity of the continent. If it did, it would know that Africans have national and continental interests and the right to protect them. Assistance should be solicited. Those who need assistance know what kind of assistance they want. The United States of America has no right to prescribe Africom on Africa even at the expense of dividing Africa and weakening the African Union. America wants its own interests to prevail over those of Africa.
Africans have a painful history of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, racism and colonialism by nations that claim to be ‘civilised’ but have behaviour that is contrary to civilisation. They dehumanised Africa’s people and saw nothing wrong with that. They have never shown any remorse for their inhuman deeds to Africans or offered any reparations for the colossal damage they inflicted on Africans. America’s persistence to impose Africom on Africa proves this beyond reasonable doubt.
UGANDAN OIL AND AMERICAN TROOPS TO ‘HELP’
Uganda suffered unspeakable atrocities under Idi Amin’s government that was installed by Britain under Prime Minister Edward Heath. The British government did not like the socialist policies of President Milton Obote. Idid Amin killed many Ugandans. They included the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum.
After the overthrow of Idid Amin, there emerged Joseph Kony, leader of what he calls the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony has murdered thousands of Ugandans. This included kidnapping hundreds of Ugandan children who he forced to join his army to fight the Ugandan government. Many of those children were killed in the senseless war. This has gone on for over 20 years.
The US government never approached Uganda or the African Union or its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, to ask how the United States could help. Now there is discovery of oil in Uganda. Almost immediately, there are reports that US government has sent an army to Uganda to find Joseph Kony and rescue Uganda’s children. Why did America not make this offer long before Uganda discovered this oil wealth? Acquisition of Africa’s resources is the chief purpose of Africom, not the development of Africa.
WILL US ALLOW RUSSIAN OR CHINESE ARMY INSIDE AMERICA?
Some African countries have been threatened with sanctions and ‘regime change.’ One of them is Libya, where Colonel Maummar Gaddafi was killed under the dark cloud of NATO and United States of America. When Africans raise concerns about ‘Africom’ they are said to suffer ‘misconceptions, misapprehensions, rumours, and fiction.’ Now, is the United States of America government prepared to allow Russia or China to establish their own ‘American Command’ and call it ‘Americom’ in pursuit of their national interests in America? How would Americans react to this? Would they go to the streets and say, ‘Welcome messiah!’
Anyway, the architect of ‘Africom’ President George W Bush has said that the United States’ Africa Command ‘will co-ordinate all United States security interests throughout Africa.’ If this is not imperialist arrogance and contempt for the sovereignties of African States, then the proponents of ‘Africom’ must be sent to a mental hospital for treatment.
VICE ADMIRAL MOELLER HAS SPILLED BEANS ABOUT AFRICOM
Vice Admiral Moeller was the man President George W Bush entrusted with the mission of Africom. Moeller knew that mission in and out. At the United States’ Africa Command Conference held at Fort McNair on 18 February 2008, this American head of ‘Africom’ declared that, ‘Protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market is one of Africom’s guiding principles.’
Admiral Moeller specifically cited ‘oil disruption’, ‘terrorism’ and the growing influence of China as a major challenge to United States’ interests in Africa. Africom is organised by the office of the Under-Secretary of Defence for Forces Transformation Resources and National Security Policy at the National Defence University Fort McNair, Washington D.C.
Africom serves the interests of the United States of America. Africa does not need ‘Africom. Africom is a jackal in sheep’s clothing. A jackal cannot be entrusted with the security and lives of sheep.
WHAT AFRICA NEEDS TO PROTECT HER INTERESTS
What Africa needs is a mechanism to respond to peace missions in Africa to stabilise this continent politically, for rapid economic development, control of her resources and speedy technological advancement of her people. The solution to Africa’s problems lies in strengthening the African Union and accelerating the economic development of Africa. Africa’s underdevelopment was brought about by the Trans Atlantic Slaver Trade and colonialism, which subsequently enriched and developed European countries and underdeveloped Africa.
Sir Winston Churchill admitted this fact when he said: ‘Our possession of the West Indies gave us the strength, the support, but especially the capital wealth, at a time when no other European nation possessed such reserve, which enabled us to come through the great struggles of the Napoleonic Wars...but also to lay the foundations of the commercial and financial leadership which when the world was young ... enabled us to make our great position in the world.’
America and NATO have the worst records in their dealings with the African people. Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with the connivance of the US and Belgian governments. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown with the assistance of America’s CIA. In recent years the American government and its British ally have plotted ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe.
In Libya it is America and NATO that bombed the country and got Colonel Muammar Gaddafi killed. This has happened inside Africa. How much easily and frequently will this happen, now with the Africom operating inside this continent? America has sophisticated weapons and intelligence gathering that Africa cannot match at presently.
The ill-intentions of the USA and its NATO allies towards Africa were exposed recently when these allies made it impossible for a delegation of the African Union to enter Libya to mediate and bring peace to Libya between the rebels and Gaddafi’s government. America and NATO treated the African Union with contempt and disdain. They literally sabotaged the AU efforts to bring peace to Libya as well as to Ivory Coast.
Africom will destroy Africa. Africom will undermine the United Nations and the African Union. It will deeply divide Africa into moderates and militants. Africom is a handy imperialist tool for ‘regime change.’ It will be used to install puppet governments on the African people to serve the interests of imperialism.
What Africans need is the collective defence of Africa against imperialism. This means increasing Africa’s military capability to defend Africa’s interests against external aggression. All African states have a national and continental obligation to refuse the presence of Africom on the African soil. African leaders who play the American Africom game are digging a mass grave for African people and their children. Such leaders are a security risk for the people of Africa and of African descent.
They cannot advance Africa economically and technologically, control Africa’s riches, use them for Africans and defend Africa’s people from those who still see Africa as a place of their enrichment and think the raw materials of this continent belong to them. Imperialism is becoming more dangerous and desperate. This is its last kicks before it crumbles. Its economies are in a shambles. Imperialist countries are heavily in debt. ‘Africom’ is a tool to save an anachronistic, decaying, vile system of ruthless economic oppression. The youth of Africa must rise and protect the riches of Africa for the benefit of Africa’s people. Africa’s youth wherever they may be must defend what is theirs by all means necessary.
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* Dr Motsoko Pheko is author of several books and a former Member of Parliament in South Africa.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Horace Campbell: Nanking and the lessons of genocide
The city of Nanjing in the People’s Republic of China stands as one more monument to genocidal thinking and genocidal actions. Far more important, however, is the reality that with new thinking, it is possible to reconstruct society and to create new humans. From Nanjing one can see the great possibilities for healing after wars if humans step back from the social system and ideas of human hierarchy that inspire genocidal politics and genocidal economics.
This week, I have been visiting Nanjing, formerly known as Nanking. This city sitting on the eastern end of the Yangtze River carries with it hundreds of years of transformation and politics of Chinese society and culture. Emperors had made this one of the historic capitals. After the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and after Ching Kai Shek became the leader of the Republic of China, Nanking was the capital of all of China. This city, now a vast conurbation of close to 8.5 million citizens, is the home of the mausoleum of Sun Yat Sen. Sun Yat Sen is a national hero of China who is revered by socialists and capitalists of Chinese origins at home and abroad. Located in the south eastern area of the present People’s Republic of China, Nanjing is a city rich with history, art, museums, industries, libraries, universities, lakes, mountains and most important people who now thrive to make a good life. Yet, these people live with the memory of one of the most horrific genocides of the 20th century.
After the 1911 revolution, the nationalists were seeking to consolidate power. In the midst of the last depression, the imperial forces of Japan invaded China in 1931 and fought to subjugate the Chinese people for 14 years. As one component of this subjugation by this imperial army, there was an attack on the Nanking. These Japanese imperial forces overran Shanghai in 1937 and proceeded to capture the capital, Nanking in 1937. On 13 December 1937, the Japanese army occupied Nanking and over a period of six week to eight weeks slaughtered over 300,000 persons in an orgy of rape, theft, arson and other unspeakable crimes against humanity. Nancy Chang chronicled the heinous deeds in the book, ‘The Rape of Nanking: The forgotten Holocaust of World War II’.
On the first page of the book she wrote:
‘The chronicle of humankind’s cruelty to fellow humans is a long and sorry tale. But if it is true that even in such horror there are degrees of ruthlessness, then few atrocities in world history compare to the intensity and scale of the Rape of Nanking during World War II.’
The book then goes into great details of the military machinery and the kind of training in a society that can create humans who would kill and rape as the Japanese did in China. African people who have endured the enslavement and genocidal atrocities of colonial capitalism can easily relate to the efforts of Iris Chang to communicate to the world the need to step back from the kind of society that trains some humans to think of others as sub-humans. More recently, the experiences of Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia reminded us that colonialists did not have a monopoly on genocidal thoughts and actions. African despots, militarists and genocidaires could be as efficient as the Europeans and the Japanese in committing genocide, as we saw in the case of Rwanda. When one gets through the book on ‘The Rape of Nanking’ and follows the history, it is hard to disagree with her assessment that Japanese soldiers carried out an orgy of cruelty seldom if ever matched in world history.
Her passion to expose this genocide begged the question; where are the African intellectuals who will still document the millions slaughtered? First Nation peoples in the USA continue to hold rituals and ceremonies to educate the young of the longest and probably the most systematic history of extermination after the Columbus ‘discovery’ of the Americas. The Jewish survivors of European modernity have been dogged in their work to ensure that Jewish children never forget the Nazi Holocaust. The Armenians have made the question of the Turkish genocide of 1915 the number one issue of their foreign policy.
Yet, in the case of the ten millions slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo, there is the civilisation narrative now buttressed with the aid and humanitarian discourse to cover up colonial crimes. Throughout Africa, whether it is the case of the millions massacred by the British or the Portuguese, or the crude atrocities of France, the European states and societies continue to teach their children that colonialism and slavery were undertaken to ‘civilise’ the peoples of Africa. Of these European states, it is the Germans who have acknowledged the crimes of genocide in Namibia and have publically apologised for the genocide of the Herero. In Japan, there is still denial about the genocide at Nanking and the textbooks in Japan, like the schoolbooks in most of Western Europe, continue to cover up and distort the real events in Nanking in 1937. Denial is one of the most important aspects of genocidal thinking.
IRIS CHANG BROKE THE SILENCES ON NANKING
European efforts at silencing the genocidal past and the exploitative present are not unique. Up to the present only a few Japanese admit to the heinous crimes committed in China. Iris Chang’s testimony is like a wakeup call for humans everywhere in this moment of depression.
Tens of thousands of young men were rounded up and herded to the outer areas of the city, where they were mowed down by machine guns, used for bayonet practice, or soaked with gasoline and buried alive. For months the streets of the city were heaped with corpses and reeked with the stench of rotting human flesh.
If these details were not horrific enough, the chapters on the rape of women were even more sickening. Iris Chang summed up the rape like this:
‘The Rape of Nanking should be remembered not only for the number of people slaughtered but for the cruel manner in which many met their deaths. Chinese men were used for bayonet practice and in decapitation contests. An estimated 20,000-80,000 Chinese women were raped. Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts and nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced, such as hanging people by their tongues on iron hooks or burying people to their waists and watching them get torn apart by German shepherds.’
The tales of this genocide were so gruesome that Iris Chang took her own life after writing this book; she passed away at the young age of 36.
VISITING THE NANJING MASSACRE MEMORIAL HALL
I visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall on Sunday and if one was overwhelmed by the details of the book of Iris Chang, the actual scene of where thousands of bodies were buried brought the reality home. Even before entering the Memorial Hall there are the numbers 300,000 emblazoned twice on the wall. These numbers were to be placed in proper perspective when one visited the exhibits of the bombings, the rapes, the shootings and the weeks of terror endured by the citizens.
One could see the care historians and city elders in Nanjing have taken to preserve the memory of this atrocity by the way in which the Memorial is organised, recreating the history in a manner that placed emphasis on the class base of the crime. While the political leaders of Japan and the imperial apologists cover up the horrors of Nanking, there is a plaque on the outside as one is leaving signed by citizens of Japan who expressed sorrow for the crimes of their government. These citizens from Japan have joined with millions who believe that the Massacre Memorial Hall should be a symbol for building peaceful relations between peoples.
The Nanjing Memorial Hall was built by the Nanjing Municipal Government in 1985 and has since been enlarged and renovated. It is a site where everyday hundreds of Chinese visit and take in the architecture, sculptures and videos that are used in the 28000 square meters of space to illustrate what happened during the Nanking massacre. Before entering the exhibition halls there is the feeling of reverence. The memorial consists of three major parts: Outdoor exhibits, sheltered skeletal remains of those who were massacred, and an exhibition hall of historical documents. As one walks through the exhibitions of the scenes of mass slaughter, killing contests, bayonetting, stabbing and rape, one asks the question, what kind of society produces humans who are capable of such crimes? Yet, in the midst of this horror there were humans who did all that was possible to save others. The diaries, pictures and articles written by those who established the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone reminded us that the world knew what was happening and stood by, just as they did during the Nazi Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.
This exhibition is hard to take in because after walking through the site of the videos and documents one is again outdoors where there are three groups of carved reliefs and 17 small tablets upon which the major sites and historical facts of the massacre are carved. These carvings are surrounded by trees and cobblestones, the wall upon which the names of the victims are listed. Even without the benefit of understanding the Chinese language, the message is unmistakable, there is an atonement tablet, which together with the images and names forms a permanent and moving record of the raping and murder. There is the area which is also called a ‘pit of ten thousand corpses’, where one can see the bones and other remains of those who perished.
Fittingly, outside the exhibition hall there is a very large sculpture of Iris Chang, the Chinese American who dedicated her life to bring to the English-speaking world the horrors of the Rape of Nanking. She was as much a victim of this Holocaust as the more than 300,000 people who perished in the eight-week period. The Japanese were defeated and driven from China after 1945 but they have left a permanent statement on the nature of the crimes of imperialism.
THE QUEST FOR PEACE
The last exhibit is the flame of peace with the words that call on humans to shun war as the way to solve social problems. There are words printed to the effect that peace and development is the common theme of the human beings. ‘People in Nanjing, having had much suffering from wars, cherish even more peace and life, and they are dedicating themselves to the construction of a New Nanjing.’
When one finishes this exhibition and memorial hall, then the logic of the idea of ‘Peaceful development’ espoused by the present leadership of China can be placed in a wider context. The major limitation of this orientation is that the political leaders ignore the real economic war that is now being fought with the implications for militarism. It is Helmut Schmidt, the former Chancellor of Germany who has been continuously warning that if war comes in the 21st century, it will be more deadly and more brutal than the wars of the 20th century. By denying the history of the Rape of Nanking, the current leaders in Japan are accomplices in reproducing genocidal histories.
At the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, one of the most important aspects of the programme of Action was for the rewriting of the history of the world so that humanity could heal from genocidal histories and the accompanying prejudices that emanate from these histories. The struggles over the depiction of other peoples in Asia in Japanese textbooks give more reason for a renewed effort to retreat from the texts and discourses that cover up and celebrate genocide.
There are some leaders who delude themselves that they can fight wars and kill without losing their own citizens. As I was walking through this Memorial Hall and saw images of the senseless bombings of the Japanese, I could not but reflect on the over 40,000 bombing missions against the people of Libya this year. The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, who made the statement about fighting wars without casualties could not fully understand the moral vacuum in which he was trying to sink the people of the United States. Fortunately, at this very same moment there is a massive social movement that is willing to revisit the entire history of the United States, including the crimes committed in the name of freedom and democracy.
There are many lessons that we can take away from the ongoing struggles of the meaning of the Rape of Nanking. The most important lesson is that any society that seeks to instill patriotism, blind political obedience and jingoistic pride will train young men to be sadistic murderers. The second lesson is that international tribunals, military courts such as Nuremberg, the Rwanda tribunal in Arusha or the International Military Tribunal for the Far East that tried the Japanese will not bring out the information necessary to ensure that the mantra of ‘Never Again’ has meaning. One only has to examine the relationship between Israel and Palestine to grasp the fact that new thinking is needed even for those who suffered from genocidal crimes in the past.
The third important lesson is that the cover up of genocide is infectious and can be used as a military trigger in the coming era of depression, militarism and creeping wars. The forces of peace in Japan need to be more aggressive so that there is a true history of the role of the Emperor and the Japanese state so that there can be a frank accounting of the past with the appropriate apology so that those who continue to maintain that the war against China was justified will be isolated.
Reparative justice can serve as the basis for a new sense of healing internationally. The people of Nanking have moved on. The colonial name of Nanking has been replaced with the name of Nanjing and after the revolution of 1949 this city has been growing with pride. Although in Nanjing one does not feel the brashness of Shanghai, one gets the feeling of great accomplishment when one enjoys the cultural symbols of independence and self-confidence in this city.
Oppressed peoples everywhere can learn a lot from the reconstruction of Nanjing. In particular, mendicant Africans who seek to turn Goree Island (Senegal) and Christianburg Castle (Ghana) into tourist ventures must begin to learn that the most important audience for understanding the meaning of slavery and genocide in Africa are the African peoples, not tourists. Whether in Rwanda, Burundi, Angola or in apartheid South Africa there is a dearth of leaders who have a grasp of the history of their societies in order to give confidence to the young.
Do Africans have to await the era of socialist reconstruction before there are memorials to honour those who perished in the genocidal colonial wars? Unfortunately, Africans have to endure this leadership until they are removed because so many of these leaders want to ‘develop’ in the image of those who committed crimes in Africa.
The visit to Nanjing is one more reminder that the question of genocide is linked to the wider ideological struggle to prevent war. During the last capitalist crisis, politics became militarised and racialised as workers became frustrated and turned to extremist leaders. Hitler set in motion the forms of economic engagement that required the physical elimination of competition. When competition becomes militarised, there will be war. As the technocrats are placed ion power in Europe and ‘austerity’ measures are being imposed, humanity needs to remember the consequences of the last capitalist depression.
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* Horace Campbell is professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. See horacecampbell.net. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’ and a contributing author to ‘African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions’. He is currently a visiting professor in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Ethiopians: November is to remember!
Honouring martyrs for freedom felled by Zenawi regime
Alemayehu G. Mariam
REMEMBER JUNE AND NOVEMBER 2005
‘The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it,’ cautioned Albert Einstein. Because Germans who could have done something did not, on 9-10 November 1938, the Nazis killed nearly 100 innocent Jewish people and arrested and deported 30,000 others. They also burned thousands of Jewish synagogues and businesses. That was Krystallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). It was the forerunner to the Jewish Holocaust.
On 6-8 June and 1-4 November 2005, following the Ethiopian elections, scores of unarmed men, women and children were killed by security personnel loyal to the ruling regime. An official inquiry commission established by dictator Meles Zenawi documented that 193 unarmed Ethiopians demonstrating in the streets and others held in detention were intentionally shot and killed by police and paramilitary forces and 763 others wounded. The commission completely exonerated the victims and pinned the entire blame on the police and paramilitary forces and those who had command and control over them:
‘There was no property destroyed [by protesters]. There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade (as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs). The commission members agreed that the shots fired by government forces were not to disperse the crowd of protesters but to kill by targeting the heads and chests of the protesters.’
To testify against evil is the moral and civic duty of the living. Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and the man the Nobel committee called the ‘messenger to mankind’, reminds us all that as the survivors of the victims of evil we have to make a choice: ‘For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future.’
For the past five years, I have sought to testify against evil by bearing witness for the victims of June and November 2005, and for Ethiopia’s youth of today and for the children who will be born tomorrow. In 2007, I appeared in the court of world opinion and testified for the first time on behalf of the innocent victims of crimes against humanity. I testified for them in 2008. I testified for them in 2009, and again in 2010. I shall continue to testify because that is my way of making the ‘world a less dangerous place’ for the powerless, the voiceless, the hopeless, the vote-less, the defenseless, the nameless, the faceless, the jobless, the foodless, the landless, the leaderless, the homeless and the parentless. It is also my way of making the world a more accountable place for the conscienceless, the ruthless, the merciless, the remorseless, the reckless, the senseless, the shameless, the soulless, the thoughtless and the thankless.
The high and mighty who reigned over the 2005 massacres now sit ensconced in their stately pleasure domes drunk with power, consumed by hate and frolicking in decadence. They look down swaggering with hubris, sneering at justice, scorning the truth and desecrating the memory of the innocent. But recent history teaches a harsh lesson: ‘Truth and justice will not forever hang on the scaffold nor wrong cling to the throne forever.’ Justice shall ‘roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’
As we remember the martyrs of June and November, let us also remember the debt of gratitude we owe our Ethiopian heroes who stood up for justice and truth in revealing and documenting the horrific stories of the 2005 massacres. These monstrous crimes against humanity would have been swept into the dustbin of oblivion and lost in the mist of time but for the courageous and meticulous investigations carried out by Inquiry Commission chairman and vice chairman and former judges Frehiwot Samuel and Woldemichael Meshesha, lawyer Mitiku Teshome and human rights investigator/defender Yared Hailemariam. These individuals chose to testify and paid a high personal price for telling the gut wrenching, heartbreaking and mind bending truth about the massacres. They now live in exile facing extreme hardship, separated from their families and unable to pursue the professions they cherished so much.
When the modern history of Ethiopia is written, their names will be listed at the very top for displaying courage under fire, hope in the face of despair, bravery in the face of personal danger and unflinching fortitude in the face of extreme adversity. I can only offer them my profound thanks and express my deepest appreciation for what they have done. An entire nation, indeed an entire continent, owes them a heavy debt of gratitude: ‘Never have so many owed so much to so few!’
REMEMBER MARTYRS OF JUNE AND NOVEMBER 2005
On May 15, 2005, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared a state of emergency in Ethiopia and brought all security and military forces in the country under his personal command and control: ‘As of tomorrow, for the next one month no demonstrations of any sort will be allowed within the city and its environs. As peace should be respected within the city and its environs, the government has decided to bring all the security forces, the police and the local militias, under one command accountable to the prime minister.’
On June 6-8 and November 1-4, 2005, the following individuals were gunned down by state security forces in street demonstrations or trapped in their cells at Kality Prison just outside the capital, Addis Ababa. The victims enumerated below are included in the Testimony of Yared Hailemariam, investigator for the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) and human rights defender in exile, before the Extraordinary Joint Committee Meeting of the European Parliament on Development and Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Human Rights, ‘Crimes Against Humanity in Ethiopia: The Addis Ababa Massacres of June and November, 2005’.
The number of victims reported in the Inquiry Commission report list only those casualties for the particular dates in June and November. There is undisclosed evidence by the commission, which shows a much higher casualty figure than those reported if other dates in 2005 were included. No one has yet to be held accountable for these crimes against humanity. In fact, there is a confirmed list of at least 237 policemen who actually pulled the trigger to cause the carnage, and all of them are still walking the streets free today.
Our heads bowed in honour and respect for these martyrs, our hearts filled with the hope of justice to flow like a mighty stream and our minds resolved in steely determination, let us read out the names of the victims and reflect on their sacrifices for the youth of Ethiopia today and the children who will be born tomorrow:
1. Shibre Delelegn, age 23, female, shot in the neck and killed.
2. Yesuf Abdela, age 23, male, student at Kotebe Teachers’ College, shot in the back with two bullets and killed.
3. Hadra Shikurana, age 20, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
4. Nebiy Alemayehu, age 16, male, 10th grade student, shot in the chest on the way to school and killed.
5. Yonas Asseffa, age 24, male, shot through the right ear and killed.
6. Dawit Fekadu, age 18, male, shot in the chest and killed.
7. Melisachew Demissie, age 16, male, 6th grade student on the way to school to take his examination, shot in the forehead and killed.
8. Wessen Assefa, age 28, male, a trader, shot in the chest and killed.
9. Zulufa Surur, age 50, female, a mother of seven shot in the back while standing in the doorway of her house and killed.
10. Fekadu Negash, age 22, male, shot in the chest and killed as he stood near his residence.
11. Abraham Yilma, age 16, male, brother of Fekadu (victim no. 10), upon hearing that his brother was shot by the police, Abraham ran to aid his brother. As he lifted up his dying brother to help, a policeman shot him. Both brothers died on the scene.
12. Biniyam Dembel, age 19, male, shot and killed.
13. Negussie Wabedo and Mohammed Hassen, ages unknown, male, both individuals were shot in the forehead and killed.
14. Beliyu Dufa, age 20, male, shot in the chest and killed.
15. Redela Kombado, age 26, male, an assistant to a taxi driver, shot in the chest and killed.
16. Milion Kebede, age 30, male, a cashier with Anbessa city bus, shot and killed on the way to work.
17. Getnet Ayalew, age 24, male, first shot and wounded in his right thigh. As a friend was helping him to reach a safe place, the policeman realized that he was still alive and shot him in the abdomen for the second time. The friend ran away terrified. When Getnet’s family members came, the policeman took aim and threatened to shoot them if they tried to help him. He bled for about half an hour and died in the hospital.
18. Wassihun Kebede, age 22, male, shot in the head and killed.
19. Dereje Damena, age 24, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
20. Esubalew Ashenafi, age unknown, male, shot and killed near his home.
21. Addisu Belachew, age 23, male, a businessman and father of 3 children, shot in the eye and killed.
22. Legesse Tulu, age 64, male, a carpenter and father of five, shot and killed as he looked for his son.
23. Jafar Seid, age 28, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
24. Ashenafi Derese, age 22, male, shot and killed near his home.
25. Girma Alemu, age 38, male, shot the chest and killed.
26. Meki Negash, age unknown, male, shot and killed while going to mosque at Sebategna Agip.
27. Desta, age 28, female, (her father listed at #28) shot in the chest and killed.
28. Beliyu Bayu, age 20, male, shot in the left side of his body and killed.
29. Endalkachew Megersa, age 18, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
30. Demeke Kassa, age 24, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
31. Anwar Kiyar Surur, age 20, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
32. Kasim Ali, age 23, male, shot in the forehead and killed.
33. Berhanu Aynie, age estimated 20-25, male, shot and killed in front of Addis Ketema School.
34. Imamu Ali, age 21, male, shot and killed.
35. Ermias Fekadu, age 20, male, shot and killed.
36. Aliyu Yusuf, age 20, male, shot and killed.
37. Tesfaye Delgeba, age 19, male, shot and killed.
38. Habtamu Amensisa, age 30, male, shot and killed.
39. Gezahegn Mengesha, age 15, male, shot and killed.
40. Asnakech Asseffa, age 35, female, shot and killed.
41. Rebuma Eshete, age 34, male, shot and killed
42. Samson Negash, age unknown, male, shot dead killed. (Police record number 13097.)
43. Fekadu Haile, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
45. Fekadu Hailu, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 13903.)
44. Mubarek, shot and killed. (Police record number 00426)
45. Beyene Nuru Bizu, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00437.)
46. Abebe Antenehi, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00441.)
47. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00447.)
48. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 57351.)
49. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00429.)
50. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00438.)
51. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00425.)
52. Unidentified, shot and killed. (Police record number 00432.)
53. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00428.)
54. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00450.)
55. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00431.)
56. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00430.)
57. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00436.)
58. Mitiku Wendima, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 00427.)
59. Tesfaye Adane Garo, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
60. Tadele Kambado Awel, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
61. Mubarek Mebratu, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
62. Meteek Zeleke, age 24, male, shot and killed.
63. Kibret Edelu, age 45, male, shot and killed.
64. Mekoya Mebratu, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
65. Alemayehu Zewde, age 25, male, shot and killed.
66. Fekadu Amele Delgae, age 32, male, shot and killed.
67. Mesaye Adiss, age 30, male, shot and killed.
68. Beailu Tesfay, age 22, male, student, shot and killed.
69. Siraj Nure, age 18, male, student, shot and killed.
70. Abebech Bekele, age 57, female, shot and killed.
71. Etenesh Yimam, age 52, female, shot and killed while protesting the arrest of her husband, a CUD member.
72. Giksa Tolla Setegne, age 18, female, 6th grade student; shot and killed.
73. Kebneshe Melke, age 50, female, a mother of 5 children; shot and killed.
74. Abyaneh Sissay, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
75. Tsegahun W/Michal, age unknown, male, college student, shot and killed.
76. Yassin Nuredin, age 10, male, shot and killed while playing football.
77. Kebede Bedada, age 20, male, college student; shot and killed.
78. Tadele Shere, age 28, male, daily laborer; shot and killed.
79. Jaqema Bedane, age 20, male, student, shot and killed.
80. Hassen Dulla, age 70, male, shot and killed.
81. Hussen Hassen, age 30, male, shot and killed.
82. Elfnesh Tekele, age 35, female, shot and killed.
83. Belaye Dejene, age 15, male, shot and killed.
84. Teshome Addis, age 71, male, shot and killed.
85. Bademaw Mogese, age 20, male, shot and killed.
86. Dessalgne Kende, age 20, male, shot and killed.
87. Yesuf Mohammed, age 20, male, shot and killed.
88. Mulu Muche, age unknown, female, shot and killed.
89. Zemedhun Agedw, age 18, male, shot and killed.
90. Tewodros Zewde, age 17, male, shot and killed.
91. Sintayehu Estifanos, age 14, male, student, shot and killed.
92. Tewodros Kebede, age 25, male, shot and killed.
93. Ambaw Legesse, age 60, male, shot and killed.
94. Zelalem Ketsela, age 31, male, shot and killed.
95. Degene Yilma Gebre, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
96. Melaku Mekonnen Kebede, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
97. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 359180.)
98. Mebratu Wubshet Zewide, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
99. Mitiku Zeleqe, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
100. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 359180.)
101. Yohannes Hailu, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
102. Walye Hussen Melese, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 21520.)
103. Haile Girma, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
104. Sintayehu Wubet Melese, shot and killed.
105. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
106. Fikremariam Kumbi, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
107. Kassa Beyene Rora, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
108. Ayalewu Mamo, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
109. Mulualem, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
110. Getu Shewangizawu, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
111. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 21526.)
112. Henok Qetsela, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
113. Alemayehu Afa Zewude, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
114. Unidentified, age unknown, male,shot and killed. (Police record number 21760.)
115. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 21761.)
116. Tieizazu Welde Mekuriya, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
117. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 21763.)
118. Tewodros Gebrewold, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
119. Fikadu Made, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
120. Shewarega Bekele, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
121. Mesfin Gebrewold, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
122. Bisrat Tessfaye, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
123. Shemsu Kelid, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
124. Eyob Gebremdihin, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
125. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 13087.)
126. Unidentified, age unknown, male, shot and killed. (Police record number 13088.)
127. Abaynehi Sara, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
128 Admassu Tegegne Ababe, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
129. Habtamu Zegeye, age unknown, male, shot and killed.
MASS KILLINGS AT KALITI PRISON ON NOVEMBER 2, 2005
(Prisoners massacred while trapped in their cells.)
1. Tteyib Shemsu Mohammed, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection.
2. Sali Kebede, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
3. Sefiw Endrias Tafesse Woreda, age unknown, male, charged with rape.
4. Zegeye Tenkolu Belay, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
5. Biyadgligne Tamene, age unknown, male, charges unknown.
6. Gebre Mesfin Dagne, age unknown, male, charges unknown.
7. Bekele Abraham Taye, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism.
8. Abesha Guta Mola, age unknown, male, charges unknown.
9. Kurfa Melka Telila, convicted of making threats.
10. Begashaw Terefe Gudeta, age unknown, male, charged with brawling [breach of peace].
11. Abdulwehab Ahmedin, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
12. Tesfaye Abiy Mulugeta, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection.
13. Adane Bireda, age unknown, male, charged with murder.
14. Yirdaw Kersema, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
15. Balcha Alemu Regassa, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
16. Abush Belew Wodajo, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
17. Waleligne Tamire Belay, age unknown, male, charged with rape.
18. Cherinet Haile Tolla, age unknown, male, convicted of robbery.
19. Temam Shemsu Gole, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
20. Gebeyehu Bekele Alene, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
21. Daniel Taye Leku, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
22. Mohammed Tuji Kene, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
23. Abdu Nejib Nur, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
24. Yemataw Serbelo, charged with rape.
25. Fikru Natna’el Sewneh, age unknown, male, charged with making threats.
26. Munir Kelil Adem, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism.
27. Haimanot Bedlu Teshome, age unknown, male, convicted of infringement.
28. Tesfaye Kibrom Tekne, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
29. Workneh Teferra Hunde, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
30. Sisay Mitiku Hunegne, charged with fraud.
31. Muluneh Aynalem Mamo, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
32. Taddese Rufe Yeneneh, charged with making threats.
33. Anteneh Beyecha Qebeta, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection.
34. Zerihun Meresa, age unknown, male, convicted of damage to property.
35. Wogayehu Zerihun Argaw, charged with robbery.
36. Bekelkay Tamiru, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
37. Yeraswork Anteneh, age unknown, male, charged with fraud.
38. Bazezew Berhanu, age unknown, male, charged with engaging in homosexual act.
39. Solomon Iyob Guta, age unknown, male, charged with rape.
40. Asayu Mitiku Arage, age unknown, male, charged with making threats.
41. Game Hailu Zeye, age unknown, male, charged with brawling [public disorder]
42. Maru Enawgaw Dinbere, age unknown, male, charged with rape.
43. Ejigu Minale, age unknown, male, charged with attempted murder.
44. Hailu Bosne Habib, age unknown, male, convicted of providing sanctuary.
45. Tilahun Meseret, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
46. Negusse Belayneh, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
47. Ashenafi Abebaw, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
48. Feleke Dinke, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
49. Jenbere Dinkineh Bilew, age unknown, male, charged with brawling [public disorder].
50. Tolesa Worku Debebe, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
51. Mekasha Belayneh Tamiru, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism.
52. Yifru Aderaw, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
53. Fantahun Dagne, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
54. Tibebe Wakene Tufa, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection.
55. Solomon Gebre Amlak, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism.
56. Banjaw Chuchu Kassahun, age unknown, male, charged with robbery.
57. Demeke Abeje, age unknown, male, charged with attempted murder.
58. Endale Ewnetu Mengiste, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
59. Alemayehu Garba, age unknown, male, detained in connection with Addis Ababa University student demonstration in 2004.
60. Morkota Edosa, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.
‘I remember the killers, I remember the victims, even as I struggle to invent a thousand and one reasons to hope. Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair. Hope is possible beyond despair.’ Elie Wiesel
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* This article first appeared on AL MARIAM'S CORNER.
* Alemayehu G. Mariam is professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Saharawi political prisoners on hunger strike
Twenty-four Saharawi human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, who are to appear before a Moroccan court-martial, are on hunger strike since 31 October, after being one year imprisonment without appearing before a court.
The 24 Saharawi prisoners are demanding their right to a fair trial or to be unconditionally released, and that their rights are respected within the prison. They were arrested since November 2010 because of their participation in a peaceful protest-camp that more than 20,000 Saharawi civilians organsed on 10 October 2010 before the Moroccan army violently dismantled it on 8 November 2010, killing two Saharawis at least, injuring hundreds, and arresting more than 200, before starting to release them and keeping this group of 24.
Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa. It is colonized by Morocco since 1975 after a tripartite agreement Rabat signed with Spain (the former colonial power and Mauritania to divide the country and its people in two parts: the north to be given to Morocco while Mauritania takes the southern zones, and Spain keeps economic privilege in exploiting fishing resources.
The Saharawi liberation movement, POLISARIO, fought a 16-year guerrilla
war against Morocco since the first days of the invasion and succeeded to convince the international community to intervene in 1991. The UN and the OAU (now AU) have in fact brokered a peace plan and a cease-fire, that was enforced in September 1991, promising the Saharawi people to vote in a referendum on the self-determination ofthe territory as it is usually done in cases of decolonization.
The UN doesn’t recognize to Morocco sovereignty over Western Sahara, but it still fails to force the implementation of its own laws because of the French strong support to the Moroccan colonial thesis in the last colony in Africa.
International human rights organisations periodically condemn Moroccan human rights abuses against human rights defenders, protesters, Saharawi students and prisoners, but France refuses to allow any kind of protection by the UN to the Saharawi civilians.
France has in fact opposed UN Security Council attempts to mandate a UN mission on the ground to be in charge of monitoring and protecting human rights. This mission, constituted since 1991 to monitor the cease-fire and prepare for the organization of the referendum, is impotent in the face of the Moroccan police abuses.
Morocco detains 64 Saharawi prisoners of conscience, including eminent human rights defenders such as Naama Asfari, arrested on 7 November 2010 and never brought before a court to date. Naama is among the group that will be brought before the Moroccan martial court sometime in future.
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* Malainin Lakhal is secretary general of the Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Cash-crop colonialism and the attack on African agriculture
In 1769, J. H. Bernardin de Saint Pierre, a French royal officer, said he was not so sure that coffee and sugar were ‘really essential to the comfort of Europe’. But he was certain that these two crops ‘have brought wretchedness and misery upon America and Africa. The former is depopulated, that Europeans may have a land to plant them in and the latter is stripped of its inhabitants, for hands to cultivate them.’
About two and a half centuries later, in 2011, Africans are producing, more or less, the cash crops they were forced to cultivate during the time of Bernardin de Saint Pierre: cocoa, coffee, sugar, peanuts, cotton, rubber, tea, palm oil, timber and tobacco.
The violence of the old colonial system keeps resurfacing in the bleak faces of malnutrition and hunger.
For example, millions of Africans are desperately malnourished and hungry in the horn of Africa. In August 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations reported that 12 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda required ‘emergency assistance’. The UN News Service repeatedly emphasizes the ‘acute malnutrition’ and ‘dire’ famine conditions in Somalia.
Somalia is not merely starving but, since the early 1990s, is without a government. Warlords have divided the country into satrapies, some fighting a jihad against Christians and Americans in particular; others armed by America track down and kill those supporting the Islamists fighting the United States. The CIA is using Somalia to wage a proxy war against ‘terrorism’.
Despite these cycles of hunger and violence, business as usual and warfare dominate Africa. Without Russia funding wars against capitalist America in Africa, most African states have turned to the exploitation of their natural resources with borrowed money and ideas from the West. And since they have very little to export save their rare minerals or petroleum, Africans continue the colonial tradition of cash cropping. However, cash crops for export take more and more of the best land from local food production, forcing peasants to bring additional marginal land under cultivation. In addition, Western experts and their governments are convincing Africans to industrialise their agriculture.
In fact, just like the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1940s and after spearheaded the making of Mexican farmers in the model of Iowa farmers, now the Gates Foundation is in charge of an even more destructive practice for Africa: embarking on the road to genetic engineering whereby African or imported crop seeds will have their natures scrambled before they reach the soil, becoming products of Monsanto. Mike Ludwig of Truthout has documented  how Monsanto and Gates Foundation ‘push GE crops on Africa’.
Africans eat mostly imported wheat, corn and rice, though rice in West Africa is at the heart of peasant farming. About half of the African people eat roots, tubers and plantains.
The Europeans heaped scorn on the fantastic variety of Africa's indigenous cereals. They classified the African grains as cattle feed. That is why - and not so much because of urbanisation, perishability of food or labour requirements - many of the 2,000 varieties of indigenous grains, roots, fruits, and other food plants have been ‘lost’, at least from the daily diet of most Africans.
But these foods still exist in Africa and they are the answer to the tremendous food insecurity of so many millions of human beings in both Africa and elsewhere in the world.
In a 1996 study, ‘Lost Crops of Africa’, the US National Academy of Sciences says that Africa's native cereals like rice, finger millet, fonio, pearl millet, sorghum, tef, guinea millet and dozens of wild cereals, present a ‘local legacy of genetic wealth upon which a sound food future might be built’.
Africa's cereals are also tolerant of heat, cold, drought, water logging and infertile land. They are also nutritious and tasty. Thus, these African native cereals do what genetic engineers dream of doing to wheat, rice and corn.
The Academy of Sciences study says that Africa's ‘lost’ plants may benefit more than Africa because ‘they represent an exceptional cluster of cereal biodiversity with particular promise for solving some of the food production problems that will arise in the twenty-first century.’
The worst of those ‘problems’ is the narrow base of biological diversity afflicting American crops. In their relentless search for crops to fit giant machines, huge farms and profit, American scientists and agribusiness men rely on a handful of crops for most of the country's food. The Academy had this tragic reality in mind in praising the ‘lost’ cereals of Africa.
These crops of Africa present Africa and the rest of the world with a great opportunity to join the African peasants, who still use many of these indigenous food plants, in building Africa's food security around Africa's own food, people and culture.
Convinced of the science and justice for food security for Africa, I tried to do something about it. This was 1996 when the Academy study came out. I was then working for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It happened that, in 1995-1996, EPA seconded me to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in New York. UNDP is the UN agency for uplifting poor people out of poverty, or so I thought.
I focused on the Academy report. In a memorandum of 16 April 1996, (‘Food Security for Sub-Sahara Africa’), I urged the UNDP to adopt the findings of the Academy study, translating them into policy. This meant the UNDP siding with the peasants and traditional, not industrialised, agriculture. But the UNDP is not in the business of revolution, so it ignored my recommendations.
When I returned to the EPA, I made another effort to convince policy makers in Washington, DC, of the wisdom of the Academy report on Africa. In 1998, I met the director of global programs of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), an organisation of the State Department. The senior official of USAID was a Harvard professor of anthropology. When I explained that the Academy report had an answer for helping Africa out of famine and hunger, he said to me I was dreaming. ‘Don't you watch TV,’ he asked me. ‘Don't you know that all that president Bill Clinton cares about is Monica Lewinsky?’
I told the professor that the sexual interest of Clinton was none of my business. I said Clinton might be convinced of doing something of great importance for Africa - and America. But the professor would have none of this.
Despite this disappointment, I talked to two officials at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy about helping Africa fight hunger. I volunteered to prepare a briefing for President Bill Clinton. I proposed a small project costing a few million dollars. This would involve duplicating seeds and distributing those seeds for growing food. I was certain such a gesture might be just what we needed to set the course for a different strategy for development in Africa.
I never heard from those officials.
Probably the UNDP, USAID and White House bureaucrats figured out my innocent project had deeper implications: the dismantling of the colonial cash cropping culture - and the distribution of that cash crop land to the peasants.
Clearly, coffee and sugar made Africa very unhappy. The French observer of the mature, but beastly, colonial system, Bernardin de Saint Pierre, was right: Europe and the Europeans in America, tore Africa to pieces for their pleasure. In the Congo, for instance, Belgian and French soldiers and agents of cash cropping companies carried ‘fire and sword from one end of the country to the other’ in order to force the Africans to work rubber.
An African writer and observer of the evolving colonial system, Chinua Achebe, captured in 1959 the anguish of Africa when he said, ‘all our gods are weeping’. Foreigners disrupted the peasants' sacred farming with cash cropping and forced them to abandon their ancestral gods.
It would not be easy for Africa to return to her pre-colonial culture. The entire international system would oppose that kind of metamorphosis. Even scrapping sub-Saharan Africa's plantation agriculture alone would cause alarm (and even violence) in Europe, North America and Africa (and probably panic in the international system's powerful agencies like the World Bank, UNDP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Trade Organisation).
Yet, cash cropping for the benefit of a few Africans and foreigners ought to find no more room in Africa. Only then, the gods of Africa would cease weeping - and the lengthy process of reconstruction might have a chance to heal the enormous wounds of foreign domination and ruthless colonialism.
Besides, self-sufficiency in all matters of importance and food self-sufficiency in particular, is of crucial importance. Aristotle called that autarkeia, autarchy, self-sufficiency and thought it was both an end and the best of state policies.
In Africa, agriculture will nurture freedom and democracy when all land from the cash crop plantations passes on to the peasants. In addition, giving land to the African peasants is certain to inspire their distant relatives in the United States, the threatened black family farmers, to keep fighting for their land and freedom.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* This article first appeared on Truthout.
* Evaggelos Vallianatos is the author of 'This Land is Their Land' and 'The Passion of the Greeks.'
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 J. H. Bernardin de Saint Pierre, ‘A Voyage to the Isle of France, the Isle of Bourbon and the Cape of Good Hope; with Observations and Reflections Upon Nature and Mankind’ (London: J. Cundee, 1800) 119-120.
 National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, ‘Lost Crops of Africa’ (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996), p. 1.
 National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, ‘Lost Crops of Africa’ (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996), p. 15.
 E.D. Morel, ‘The Black Man's Burden’ (first published in 1920, reprint, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969), pp. 128-132.
 Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’ (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1959), pp. 142-186.
 Aristotle, ‘Politics’ 1253a2, tr. H. Rackham (Loeb, 1998).
Call for submissions: The Contemporary Relevance of Steve Biko
Steve Biko Foundation
Fahamu Pan-African Fellows graduate
Weapons of Mass Construction: MBBC E-Learning Platform Launches
Weapons of Mass Construction: MBBC E-Learning Platform Launches!
The Movement Building Boot Camp (MBBC) online platform is an e-learning space for African activists doing progressive work around sexuality, gender, justice and rights. It features training guides and knowledge resources to support creative thinking, strategising and discussions among activists working for social transformation inclusive of issues of sexuality and gender identity. The training resources are organised around three intersecting pillars: Concepts (theoretical frameworks for understanding our world), Practice (activist tools and methods) and Self (individual and collective well-being and security). The site is intended to support self-organised learning and training. The materials are designed to be directly downloaded and used by individuals and activist groups. It includes training modules to help facilitate your own training or learning. The library contains references and materials for further reading. Content created for this site is available for free under a Creative Commons license that allows it to be used for non-commercial purposes. In the spirit of movement building, please do let us know how you are using the materials, and if you would like to contribute information for the site.
Russia's slow engagement hinders marriage
Kester Kenn Klomegah
Over two decades China has made a huge success in implementing its long-term strategic foreign policy while Russia is still struggling to engage Africa. A critical assessment shows that Russia's problem of winning Africa back stems primarily from lack of political will and concrete policy agenda. After the collapse of the Soviet system, Russia revised its foreign policy concept, which underlines new
directions to develop political contacts and expand economic cooperation, but in the case of Africa, policy implementation has been slow and most often with little vigour and business-like flavour.
Speaking in an exclusive interview on 12 October with the Voice of Russia, the Echo of Moscow and the Radio of Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed his listeners that ‘the main thing is to develop mutual economic ties, something that is yet to be implemented as far as our relations with African nations are concerned. Our trade turnover with African countries currently stands at $4 billion, while China's trade turnover with these countries amount to $120 billion.’
According to transcript remarks at the reception on the occasion of African Day in Moscow in May 2009, Lavrov had said that ‘the trade volume over grew noticeably to over $8.2 billion and added that widening political dialogue, strengthening the traditionally friendly relations and expanding many-sided cooperation with them remains a priority in Russian foreign policy.’
Previously, in 2008, the former Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Saltanov, in his annual report put trade volume between Russia and sub-Saharan Africa at $1.9 billion. The same year, the aggregated trade turnover between China and African countries totaled almost $110 billion, while its direct investments on the continent stood at $10 billion.
A study of Russia's trade statistics between 2001 and 2011, for instance, shows that only little progress has been achieved within a decade as compared to China. Worthy to say that Chinese products are visible in African markets and African traditional goods are also found in China, unlike the current situation between Russia and Africa.
Professor Alexei Vasiliev, former Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Relations with African Countries, frankly pointed in his article to Valdai Club that Chinese presence in Africa has many faces and includes the provision of grants and loans; rail and highway construction; construction of power plants, housing construction, shopping malls, schools, and hospitals; arms supplies; tens of thousands of Africans studying in China; regular summits and mutual visits at the highest government level.
Vladimir Putin visited a few selected African countries in 2006, and only once, during his entire two terms as Russian president, and that was followed three years later (in June 2009) by Dmitri Medvedev. These official visits, indeed, marked Russia's interest in reviving relations with African countries and in key areas of economic relations, but unfortunately achievements fell far below expections. Soon, we expect drastic political changes both in presidency and primiership, as cabinet head Putin is yet to visit the continent to promote needed economic diplomacy.
Compared to China over the same period, two terms of Putin and one term of Medvedev, one can imagine the number of visits by Chinese leaders to Africa and the number of projects undertaken there. Within a decade, China successfully organised at the ministerial and heads of states levels three Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) where in it outlined many bilateral cooperation agreements, ranging from political dialogues, trade, investment, mineral exploration, agriculture, education and youth exchanges.
As Lavrov indicated in his interview the vast difference in Russia's and China's levels of economic engagement with Africa, the landscape for engagement continues to change in favour of China simply due to the fact that China has indiscriminately fixed thousands of economic projects throughout the continent both at the private and state levels.
Obviously, both Russian and African policy experts have acknowledged that Russia's investment, so far, is a drop of water in the African ocean. Experts have further explained that during the Soviet era, it had more than 350 Soviet enterprises and well-functioning Soviet cultural centres, but these were shut soon after the Soviet collapse in 1991. China then capitalized on Soviet's exit out of Africa and began to implement its African policy.
Buziness Africa's policy survey on Russia and Africa, polled between June 2010 and June 2011, has shown that nearly 80 percent of the respondents said Russia's policy problems in Africa was significantly due to absence of a concrete African agenda, while 65 percent of the respondents indicated that Russian authorities lacked the will power and interest in prioritising Africa. While some say Russia, exceptionally rich in mineral resources, is limited by financial resources in its policy pursuit in Africa, others still believe that Russia, as big as China and with vast resources, should be active in Africa. China has nearly 1.4 billion population and Russia has only 143 million.
The authorities in Kremlin, high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economic Development, researchers at the Institute for African Studies under Russian Academy of Sciences, directors of Russian NGOs and some Russian politicians in the State Duma and Federation Council have treaded softly with words and well-structured phrases such as: Russia needs to focus on and deal with its post-Soviet internal economic problems; Russia has its own policy approaches; and another popular phrase that Russia is not competing with China in Africa.
Exactly ten years ago, Professor Vladimir Shubin, Deputy Director of the Institute for African Studies told me in an interview that ‘as to the policy failures, perhaps, we have to point to the lack of deep knowledge of African conditions, especially at the initial stage of the involvement which sometimes resulted in suggesting (or agreeing to) unrealistic projects on the continent.
‘Any person who knows Africa and its potential can say that the economic cooperation has lagged behind. But some steps are evidently overdue, but finance seems to be the main obstacle to successful development of economic ties. A lot in future will depend on supply of Russian citizens with genuine, adequate and objective information about modern Africa, and here both state and private mass media linger a lot,’ Shubin added in his interview with me.
But, suffice to say that Russia has 38 embassies operating in Africa and, on the other hand, Africa maintains 36 embassies in Moscow. Russian diplomats use the media to support their work while African diplomats don't even imagine how media, as a useful tool, can help to strengthen their work in the Russian Federation.
The pitfalls in Russia-Africa diplomacy have to be equally shared. We have to blame and criticise African diplomatic representatives for their deep slumber and ineffective work too. Interestingly, there haas emerged a bitter joke about African ambassadors and diplomats in Moscow which reflects the reality. ‘Some of you are not accredited to Russia, but only to the African diplomatic corps and GlavUPDK Cultural Center.’
The recurring tendency is, while some of the embassies are actively promoting their countries' economic interests and are winning friends for Africa, others are hardly visible. Leaders of African countries should also learn to knock on the doors of Russian authorities with potentially viable proposals that are mutually
beneficial for both partners, Russian experts suggested.
Nevertheless, Russia has a lot that can be offered to African countries. Putin has one of the important tasks of strengthening the bilateral actions aimed at promoting opportunities for trade and capital investment in African countries and in Russia, in order to create the best possible conditions for Russian and African
entrepreneurs in their efforts to develop mutually beneficial economic relations.
Many potential African exporters still harbour negative perceptions about Russia and its market often comparing it to export opportunities offered by the United States, Europe and now new attractive conditions by China. Experts say Russia's market is still not opened and business approaches are still not explicitly understandable for African exporters.
Catherine Grant, Programme Head Economic Diplomacy at the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), an institution that provides analysis, promotes dialogue and contributes to African policy making in a dynamic global context, told Buziness Africa in an interview from Johannesburg, South Africa: ‘The trading links between Africa and the US are well-established and American Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) has been able to build on those through offering preferences for some products. There are additional challenges with regards to Russia, such as the language and an unfamiliarity with the culture. And, I think it is not so much that Russia is perceived as not open for business but traders are unsure of how to get into the Russian market.’
She, however, suggested the following points with regards to increasing trade and economic cooperation between Russia and African countries: to increase trade, Russia could consider offering preferential market access to products from African countries. This has been done by China and other trading partners. It would be mutually beneficial if the preferences were given on products that Russia does not produce itself. Reduced tariffs would bring down the costs for Russian consumers.
In June 2009, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba suggested to Medvedev to consider opening Russia's market for African produce and services – a proposal that has still not been raised for serious discussion in Moscow. On the other hand, Medvedev said Russia would also like to see ‘a considerable share of Russian companies on the African market’, and that many foreign companies, particularly from the US and China, are currently operating in Africa.
There are various ways to open the market for Africa. One surest way is to use the existing rules and regulations. The preferential treatments for agricultural products which currently exist but Africans don't use them. Then, Russian authorities should make it possible for individual African countries to negotiate with the Russian government for their products to enter the market. Further to that, the African regional economic blocs can be useful instruments because these important blocs can work with their counterparts to facilitate trade between Africa and Russia.
The Kremlin needs to thoroughly study China's positive experience of aggressive expansion of its zones of economic and geopolitical influence in Africa. This valuable lesson is needed for the right positioning of Russia and effective protection of its strategic national interests not only in Africa, but also in other regions of the world. In order to assess the implications of the Kremlin's influence, one is required to look at the depth and width of Russia's engagements on the continent.
And thus discussed so far, of course, one cannot fail to recognize notable overall efforts by Russian authorities to engage Africa, but there seems the need for a more vigorous and in-depth dialogue at an enlarged Russia-African Economic Partnership Forum through which to draw up a long-term and comprehensive Russia's policy agenda for Africa.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Kester Kenn Klomegah, a former editorial staff of The Moscow Times, is a keen foreign policy observer and an independent researcher on China's and Russia's policy in Africa.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Eni misled shareholders over gas flaring in Nigeria
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Eni misleads shareholders over end to gas flaring in Nigeria
Italian oil major Eni is misleading shareholders over the company’s commitment to end gas flaring in Nigeria, according to a new report  by an international delegation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), following a recent fact finding mission to the Niger Delta. Gas flaring is illegal in Nigeria.
The report, entitled The reality behind EU ‘energy security’, examines the environmental and social devastation caused by European oil multinationals Eni, Total and Shell in Nigeria.
Internal documents obtained by the delegation reveal that Eni was warned in 2005 by its consultants that gas flaring has “adverse”, “long-term” and “irreversible” impacts on health and the environment. Despite being aware of the ongoing dangers, Eni continues to flare gas. In May 2011, Paolo Scaroni, ENI’s chief executive assured shareholders during ENI AGM that the company planned to reduce flaring in its oil operation at Kwale to “zero” by June 2011 and the company has since stated: “We do not flare gas”. However, the delegation documented ongoing flaring from at least five “flare stacks” at the Kwale processing plant . Contrary to what ENI declares on its website , gas flaring is continuing also at Ebocha oil facility .
The delegation also documented the extensive damage caused by leaking oil pipelines and forced displacement. The community of Goi has been forced to abandon its land because of major recent oil spills in from 2004, 2008 and 2009, by Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell. In 2006, Total reportedly forced local residents in Egi off their land. Total’s divisive practices have increased inequality and fuelled conflict in Egi, leading to the deaths of two people and wounding of several others.
Affected communities are demanding that the companies should be held accountable, provide adequate compensation for the damage caused and restore the land. A local resident told the delegation: “We want our land back. Nothing good came out of petroleum exploration. Petroleum can’t give us food. We want the oil to remain in the ground”
“European companies are causing havoc in the Delta”, says Godwin Ojo, Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. “They operate double standards here, different from what obtains in Europe. They must be held accountable by home governments, law makers and judiciaries in their home countries such as Italy, France, UK and The Netherlands”.
“It is vital that UNEP’s emergency measures and recommendations for cleaning up the Delta and protecting human health are implemented”, say Nick Hildyard from The Corner House, one of the members of the delegation. “Environmental audits are needed in all the territories where oil exploration is taking place. The oil multinationals, their home states and the Nigerian government all bear heavy responsibility for the environmental devastation in the Niger Delta” 
The delegation also recommended a major rethink of the European Union’s so-called ‘energy security strategy’. “The EU is the world’s largest energy importer. Twenty per cent of the oil traded internally is coming from Nigeria”, said Elena Gerebizza. “Yet despite the clear imperative to keep fossil fuels in the ground if catastrophic climatic climate change is to be avoided, the European Union intends to rely on importing fossil fuels for decades to come. The EU’s ‘energy security’ policy is not only killing Nigerians: in the long term, it is jeopardising everyone. Priority must be given to a just transition away from fossil fuels.”
Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, (CRBM), Elena Gerebizza, +39 3406705319, email@example.com
Environmental Rights Action, Godwin Ojo, +2348135208465, firstname.lastname@example.org
Platform, Ben Amunwa, +44(0)7891454714, email@example.com
Les Amis de la Terre, Ronack Monabay, +33(0)638898105, firstname.lastname@example.org
 The report is based on an international delegation fact-finding visit to Nigeria.
Organisations backing the report include: Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM), Corner House, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Les Amis de la Terre and Platform. http://bankwatch.org/sites/default/files/energy-security-nigeria.pdf
 Environmental Impact Assessment of Idu field further development project by NAOC, September 2005. http://www.crbm.org/EIA_IDU2005.pdf
 Response to Eni shareholder Osayande Omokaro, dated June 8th 2011.
 Page 1 and 17, La Repubblica, L’onda nera che soffoca il Delta del Niger. 2nd October 2011.
 For photographic / video evidence, follow this http://www.crbm.org/Gas%20flaring%20at%20Kwale%20flowstation_September24th%202011.jpg
 “The Ebocha Early Gas Recovery project is part of a programme launched by the Nigerian Federal Government to exploit the obligations of international oil companies to supply gas for internal consumption. The completion of this project has resulted in the termination of gas flaring at the site thanks to the recovery and compression of associated gas (previously flared)”. http://www.eni.com/en_IT/eni-world/nigeria/local-development/local-development.shtml
 For photographic evidence, see the picture on the front page of the report.
 A recent survey by the United Nations Environment Programme documented widespread pollution from oil exploration in the Delta, with levels of cancer-causing byproducts over 900 times the tolerance levels set by the World Health Organisation. See http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/OEA/UNEP_OEA.pdf
The case for the return of The Luzira 7
The Kenyans detained in Uganda on terrorism charges
Muslim Human Rights Forum
P. O. Box 43802– 00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (020) 445445, 353 7836, 357 3644
Nelleon Place, Rhapta Road, Westlands.
November 14th 2011
Hon. Moses Wetangula EGH MP
The Minister For Foreign Affairs
Government of Kenya,
MEMORANDUM: THE CASE FOR THE RETURN OF THE LUZIRA 7 – THE KENYANS DETAINED IN UGANDA ON TERRORISM CHARGES
On 11 July 2010, two suicide bombings were carried out in two locations in Kampala, where large numbers of people had gathered to watch the 2010 football world cup final match. The attacks left 75 dead and 70 injured. Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militia soon publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks, stating that they were in retaliation for Ugandan support for the AMISOM mission in Somalia. In the days immediately following the attacks, the international community pledged support for the Ugandan investigation, and Ugandan and Kenyan police made several arrests. However, the security response soon appeared to grow heavy-handed, involving a range of serious human rights abuses by security forces.
Eight Kenyans were transferred from the country to Ugandan custody without any recourse to due process circumventing the laid down extradition laws. The Chairman and Executive Director of this organisation Mr. Al-Amin Kimathi and a human rights lawyer retained by us to monitor the proceedings of their trial were themselves arrested and illegally detained when they arrived in Uganda on September 15 2010. Mr. Kimathi was to remain in custody for one year charged with the same offences as his clients. The charges were eventually dropped on September 15 when he and one of his clients Mohamed Adan Abdow were set free. The lawyer Mr. Mbugua Mureithi was deported to Kenya after 5 days of incommunicado detention.
There are seven Kenyan citizens remaining in remand custody at the Luzira Upper Prison in Kampala. Six of these men were illegally rendered from Kenya to Uganda with no judicial process. One was transferred from Tanzania without being allowed to exhaust his appeal rights and in contravention of Tanzanian and international law. Despite condemnation of the renditions from a variety of sources including two Kenyan High Court judges, the British Ambassador to Kenya and the Kenyan Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, no steps have yet been taken to seek a remedy for the violations and request the return of the Luzira Seven to Kenya.
IN A NUTSHELL
- There are now twelve defendants held at Luzira Upper Prison in Kampala in connection with the July 2010 Kampala Bombings.
- At an arraignment hearing on Tuesday 13 September, two of the defendants entered guilty pleas and have now been sentenced.
- Prosecution evidence has been served on the remaining defendants, and the trial is currently slated to start on Tuesday 15th November,at the High Court in Kampala before Mr. Justice Owiny Dollo.
- Seven Kenyans (Omar Awadh, Idris Magondu, Hussein Hassan Agade, Mohammed Hamid Suleiman, Yahya Suleiman Mbuthia, Habib Suleiman Njoroge, and Mohammed Ali), three Ugandans (Isa Ahmed Luyima, Hassan Harun Kuyima and Abubakari Batematyo), and one Tanzanian (Hijar Selemani Nyamandondo), have each been charged with three counts of terrorism (under ss7(1) and (2)(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002), 75 counts of murder (contrary to ss188 and 189 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120), and nine counts of attempted murder (under s204 Penal Code Act Cap 120).
- One Ugandan (Muzafar Luyima), has been charged with being an accessory after the fact, under Sections 28(1) and 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002.
- Ugandan Idris Nsubuga - charged with the above three counts of terrorism, 75 counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder – has pleaded guilty and received a sentence of twenty-five years in prison.
- Ugandan Muhamoud Mugisha pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism contrary to Section 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002, and received a sentence of five years in prison. The remaining defendants, including all seven remaining Kenyans, have pleaded not guilty.
THE LUZIRA SEVEN
The Seven Kenyans are:
Omar Awadh Omar,
Idris Magondu (also known as Christopher Magondu)
Hussein Hassan Agade,
Mohamed Hamid Suleiman,
Yahya Suleiman Mbuthia,
Habib Suleiman Njoroge and
Mohamed Ali Mohamed
They all allege a range of serious abuses:
- They were all rendered with no judicial process from Kenya to Uganda.
- All of the above allege excessive use force during arrest in Kenya, and incommunicado detention and denial of access to lawyers and family members whilst detained in Kenya.
- All of the above allege incommunicado detention in Uganda, denial of access to lawyers during initial detention, abusive interrogations, conditions of confinement amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and some allege torture.
- Mohammed Ali Mohamed was arrested and detained incommunicado in Tanzania prior to his transfer to Uganda.
- Mohammed Ali was denied access to a lawyer and denied consular assistance during his initial detention in Tanzania.
- Mohammed Ali Mohamed alleges that he was tortured, and that some of his family members were tortured, in Tanzania.
- Mohammed Ali Mohamed was transferred to Uganda before being allowed to exhaust his appeal rights in Tanzania, in contravention of Tanzanian and international law.
The purpose of an extradition process is for states to ensure their citizens will be given due process and have their human rights respected if they are to be transferred to another jurisdiction for prosecution. Most justifications of rendition involve examples where it is impractical or impossible to go through an extradition process, for example where a suspect is in a “failed state”, or a state with no extradition agreement with the state seeking extradition. This is not the case with Kenya and Uganda, which are neighbouring states with an extradition agreement and friendly relationships. Thus, the choice of rendition rather than extradition of Kenyan nationals to Uganda raises many questions about the credibility of the case against them. In addition, the range of violations alleged by the Kampala Seven casts serious doubt upon the credibility of the Ugandan case.
WHAT THE KENYA GOVERNMENT CAN DO:
Participating in the detention in Kenya, and rendition of Kenyan citizens from Kenya to a foreign state is a violation of Kenyan constitutional law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Kenya acceded in 23 March 1976 (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which Kenya ratified on 23 March 1997 (CAT), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which Kenya ratified on 23 January 1992 (African Charter).
- The Kenyan government must immediately make representations to the Ugandan government to seek the return of all Kenyans held in Kampala in connection with the July 2010 bombings.
- The Kenya government can open up charges in Kenya for its citizens for the alleged offenses perpetrated on Kenyan soil and even those allegedly committed in Uganda or anywhere else within the East African Community as Kenya domestic law, the constitution of the Republic of Kenya and International laws provide for such trial.
SPECIAL PLEA FROM THE MUSLIM HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM (MHRF).
It is the considered view of MHRF that as the governments in the region combat the growing threat of terrorism they need to clearly demonstrate a commitment to the upholding of the human rights of the citizenry, the rule of law and humane practices and tamper their fight against terrorism with justice. Clearly Kenya needs allies in its current campaign against the Al-Shabab militia in the entire Muslim community. It therefore needs to disabuse the community of the strong notion that it is being targeted unfairly and being discriminated against in counter-terrorism efforts. Undoing the injustices and wrongs committed in the current and past campaigns will send a clear message and win the government the support it requires in its anti-terrorism campaign from both within the Muslim community and without. Returning the Kenyan detainees from Uganda, freeing them or arraigning them in Kenyan courts will certainly have that positive effect. It will also inspire hope and confidence in the government’s ability to protect its citizens from injustices and deliver justice without discrimination along religious, ethnic, racial or class differentiations.
MHRF therefore urges the government of Kenya to urgently petition the Ugandan government to return the Kenyans held at the Luzira Upper Prison awaiting trial for the July 7, 2010 Kampala Bombings.
For Muslim Human Rights Forum
Mob: 0754 238 772
0721 324 186
cc. Minister for Internal Security and Provincial Administration
Office of The President,
The Attorney General
Minister for Defence
Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Minister for Immigration and Registration of Persons
The Director of Public Prosecutions
The Commissioner of Police
The Permanent Secretary, Internal Security and Provincial Administration
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Russell Tribunal on Palestine calls for pressure on Israeli government
From 5 to 7 November 2011 the third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which I attended, took place in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was established in March 2009 following the Gaza war, and its procedures and aims were modelled on the Tribunal on Vietnam, held in London in 1966. The third session of the Russell Tribunal focused on the question of whether the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinian population meets the international definitions of apartheid. The Tribunal’s website was hacked during the session, disrupting the flow of information.
Following introductory remarks by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Tribunal heard evidence from witnesses who included victims of apartheid in South Africa. For the Palestinian side, testimony was given by Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Jamal Jumaa, a Stop the Wall activist, amongst others.
During the testimony of Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, we learned that a complaint had been filed with the Knesset Ethics Committee calling for her citizenship to be revoked because of her participation in the Tribunal. We must protest against this.
Experts in international law such as John Dugard from the United Kingdom, Raji Sourani from Gaza and Lea Tsemel from Israel gave their legal views on the discrimination against the Palestinian population. On 7 November the jury presented its conclusions: it found that the treatment of the Palestinian population by the Israeli state meets the definition of the crime of apartheid under Article 2 of the UN Convention on Apartheid and Article 7 (2) (h) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The jury took the view that the Jewish and Palestinian populations are two distinct ‘racial’ groups in a sociological sense. The policy of ‘targeted killings’, torture and deprivation of liberty through policies of arbitrary arrest and administrative detention were among the inhuman acts of apartheid cited by the jury. The jury also found that the systematic human rights violations that prevent the full and equal participation of the Palestinian population in political, economic, social and cultural life constitute acts of apartheid, as does the continuous violation of civil and political rights, such as rights to movement, residence, free opinion and association. These violations are systematic and in some respects also institutionalised, the jury found.
Some laws in the Israeli legal system, such as the law on citizenship, afford the Jewish population preferential status over the Palestinian population, the jury stated. In the West Bank, all Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, while Jewish settlers in the West Bank are subject to civil law and civil courts.
Freedom of expression has been infringed by the Nakba Law, for example, which prohibits public remembrance of the forcible expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948. According to Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli co-initiator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, in 2011 alone the Knesset has already discussed and in some cases adopted 16 racist bills which discriminate against the Palestinian population.
In its recommendations, the Tribunal urges the international community to cooperate in exerting pressure, within the framework of international organisations and multilateral and bilateral treaties, to ensure the Israeli policy of apartheid is ended. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is urged to accept jurisdiction for the complaint submitted by the Palestinian Authority in January 2009 concerning alleged war crimes committed during the Gaza War.
* Annette Groth is a member of the Bundestag, Berlin, Germany. email@example.com She is spokeswoman on human rights for the Left Party.
International award for Guinea-Bissau environmentalist
The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award - Management
Ms Augusta Henriques, Secretary General, TINIGUENA, Guinea-Bissau
The Ramsar Award for Management is given to Ms Augusta Henriques for her central role in the foundation of the NGO Tiniguena (“This Land is Ours”) in 1991 and for her long-term leadership and work with communities towards the creation of a Community Marine Protected Area at Urok Islands – the first marine protected area recognized by the Government of Guinea-Bissau. In the Bijagós Archipelago, Ms Henriques created this community marine protected area, comprised of mangroves and tidal flats and home to many bird and other species, among them marine turtles and manatees.
Ms Henriques has carried out exemplary and innovative work with local communities to maintain the local culture and allow it to evolve, and at the same time to ensure sustainable livelihoods. The system of community management promoted by Ms Henriques and Tiniguena has in particular enabled the replenishment of the fish stocks. She has been very attentive to the involvement of all stakeholders at of all levels of society, including women and youth. Dialogue between all villages of the archipelago is one of the keys to the success of Ms Henriques, as it has helped the local community members to reach a common understanding of the rules for access and use of the area and its resources. Central to Ms Henriques’ work is the importance of empowerment of the local populations in the management of their natural resources, the successful inclusion of government institutions, exchanges with similar projects in the region and fundraising with international institutions.
Ms Henriques has put Ramsar principles at the heart of her work and has collaborated with the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Guinea-Bissau. In her country and in the region, she has been working in partnership with some of the Convention’s IOPs and other international organisations such as IUCN, Wetlands International, WWF, and the Banc d’Arguin Foundation (FIBA). She has played an important role in establishing a network of marine protected areas in West Africa, and in a programme for coastal and marine areas conservation. Her innovative approach, intelligence, tireless effort and her dedication make Ms Henriques one of the major figures of environmental conservation in Guinea-Bissau and in West Africa.
Swazi student leader nominated for student peace prize
The Student Peace Prize attempts to shed light on and increase recognition of the work of the students who are given the award. “Where other peace prizes that go to established personalities light up a lit room,” the website of the Student Peace Prize states, “the Student Peace Prize puts a spotlight on young persons that still work in the dark.”
Maxwell Dlamini has been nominated by Danish solidarity organisation Africa Contact, his nomination being further endorsed by the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), the All Africa Students Union (AASU), the student representative body at the University of Marburg and the Free Education Movement Marburg.
The reason given for Maxwell’s nomination, according to the letter Africa Contact sent to the Student Peace Prize Secretariat in Norway, was that he had “done important work to promote peace, democracy or human rights,” because his “struggle for free education, recognition of students’ rights, democracy and human rights in Swaziland does not receive the attention and recognition that it ought to,” and “because he has selflessly put aside any fear for his own safety in his and his fellow students’ struggle.”
The letter pointed specifically to the impact of Maxwell Dlamini and SNUS on the February 2010 student boycott and demonstrations in demand of free education in Swaziland, and on the April 12 Uprising in 2011 – one of the largest ever protests for democracy and socio-economic justice in Swaziland’s history. Swaziland is a corrupt and undemocratic absolute monarchy on the verge of economical collapse.
Additionally, the nomination recognised Maxwell’s bravery in the face of the Swazi regime’s brutal clamp down on all opposition to its rule. “Maxwell has been detained, threatened, beaten and tortured on several occasions by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces,” the letter said.
“He is presently languishing in prison, after having been detained, tortured, and forced to sign a confession to being in possession of explosives prior to the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising.” Several prominent members of Swaziland’s democratic movement have referred to these allegations as “ridiculous”.
The winner of the 2013 Student Peace Prize will be announced in the autumn of 2013, the selection being administered by a committee of Norwegian students’ representatives and a group of experts, including two members of the Norwegian parliament, a journalist employed at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, and a former chairwoman of the Norwegian national film institute. The prize has previously been awarded to students and student organizations from Burma, East Timor, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Western Sahara
Why Ghana musn’t give in to superstition
In November 2010, the Ghana newspaper with the largest circulation, the Daily Graphic, carried a heart-rending report about how an old woman, obviously suffering from dementia, had lost her way in the port city of Tema and entered the home of people she did not know. She was discovered in one of the bedrooms of the house, and since no-one knew who she was – and she didn’t look like a burglar – it was concluded that she was a ‘witch’ who had been ‘flying’ to rendezvous with others, had ‘run out of gas’, and had landed in a room that wasn’t hers.
Eventually, a Pentecostal priest came on the scene and decided that what the old woman needed was ‘exorcism’. They needed olive oil for this, but since there was none available, they decided to use kerosene instead. Somehow, the kerosene caught fire and the old woman was burnt alive. She died as she was being conveyed to a hospital by passers-by who took pity on her.
The old woman’s photograph appeared in the Daily Graphic and so, for a while, there was general interest in her case. Then she vanished from the news, just as she had vanished from life. A few of the people who were present when she was burnt alive were arrested and taken to court. But, as usual, their case was ‘postponed’. I haven’t read anything more about it. Yet Ghanaian journalists have a very high opinion about themselves and award one another prizes at the end of every year. I hope that when the get together this year, they will award one of their news editors a prize in the category of ‘Least Followed-up Story’.
I was musing about this the other day when another story caught my eye. The Ghanaian Chronicle, which carried the story, reported that: ‘A woman in her eighties, suspected of being a witch, was found naked yesterday, in the middle of heaped stones at the Military Dogs Training School compound in Accra, by some soldiers who were on their daily patrol duties’.
Like the ‘witch’ who was burnt to death, this woman too was probably in a hallucinatory state when she was found. But neither the soldiers, nor the police to whom she was referred, were of any help to her. A Red Cross official did take her to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital. But the medical assistant on duty allegedly ‘refused to admit the hapless woman.’
The Red Cross official next drove her to the Mamobi Polyclinic. Here too, nurses on duty as well as a doctor sighted by The Chronicle, refused to attend to her. Their contention was that ‘they needed a “police extract” [report] before they could attend to her.’
This story shows that apart from being callous, Ghanaian officialdom is hemmed in by red tape. When a sick human being reaches a hospital or clinic, the first thing to do is to provide that person with emergency care or first aid. But apparently, not today’s Ghana. First, there must be a ‘police extract’, because no-one wants to be responsible for having brought the woman – in case there is money to be paid as medical fees. Yet, our intellectuals boast to one another that we have a traditionally ‘humanitarian attitude’ to life, due to our ‘extended family’ system.
Rubbish. To many of our people, politics is now engaged in almost solely for personal gain, not to be used to serve the larger society. Ghanaians have thus transformed themselves into followers of the ‘market economy’, in the process of which they have, in my view, made themselves a disgrace to both their nation and humanity. And this in a country whose people could once hold their heads up proudly and say, ‘We are Ghanaians and proud of it.’
Another possible explanation of the attitude of the officials who refused to help the old woman is that they probably believed she was a ‘witch’ and deserved whatever she got. Some might even have feared that of they went near her, she would do them harm through witchcraft. That is also a load of rubbish. Enough money has been spent on educating Ghanaians for them to allow themselves to fall prey to all manner of superstitious beliefs. The number of ‘priests’ who ply their trade on the street corners in Ghana, suggests, however, that religious terrorism is hiding thinly beneath Ghana's social fabric, waiting to erupt into barbarous behaviour at the least opportunity.
The Ghana Ministry of Health should immediately instruct its hospital staff that accident and emergency sections of hospitals are meant to try and save the lives of people brought there, whether they have money to pay medical bills or not. If it does that, it will communicate a message to the hospital authorities that the nation of Ghana values its citizens and that anyone who will be seen to have neglected a person who has been injured in an accident, or other emergency, will have the nation to answer to. For a nation is as good, or bad, as the citizens whose lives it values, or does not value.
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* Cameron Duodu is a writer and commentator.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Thoughts on Algeria and the Arab Autumn
A response to David Porter
Marieme Helie Lucas
I read with great pleasure David Porter’s article, ‘The long shadow of Algeria on the Arab Autumn’, on the web site of Pambazuka News. For so many years, most articles on Algeria in English speaking media described FIS and the fundamentalist Muslim Right in general as victims of the state (which they may be at points; so were the communists and the Berberists), thus denying their direct responsibility in many targeted assassinations and massacres of citizens; dated the beginning of armed violence to the 1990s; and ignored both the political agenda of FIS and the fate of terrorised ordinary people of Algeria.
The article by Porter rightly dates the beginning of Islamist violence to the 1960s when Nahnah, then head of the Algerian Hamas, was sentenced to prison after organising and participating in guerrilla actions. It was also when Islamist groups prepared for their armed uprising: they attacked quarries to rob explosives and army barracks to rob arms. Everybody in Algeria still remembers the assassination of a dozen of just drafted (military service is compulsory in Algeria) young soldiers aged 18 in an army barracks in Guelma. It would have been worth indicating that this type of action just started in Tunisia, where a group attacked a police station and walked away with the weapons.
The article is also right in pointing at all the bending and bowing to fundamentalist demands by the successive Algerian governments, including passing the infamous family code that reduces women to the status of forever minors.
The piece does not charge the government with crimes committed by the armed fundamentalist groups, as most English language literature does.
I could continue listing other good points this article makes, unlike the vast majority of books and articles on Algeria produced in English for the past 20 years. However – nobody’s perfect – some important aspects of what was and is happening are missing and some erroneous statements and assumptions are made.
The Algerian government is repeatedly labelled ‘ the military government’. Please note that the army has never been directly in power – not even now, nor during the ‘dark decade’ of the 1990s – but indeed it is true that no government could stay in power without the army’s approval and support. Hence, all our successive governments since independence in 1962 have been backed by the army, from Ben Bella, to Boumedienne (both of them brought to power through direct military coups), to Chadli, to even the most honest of them all Boudiaf, etc…
Then how come only the present one is branded ‘military’? Why not all of them? Why such an obviously one-sided and partisan stand? Whose political interests does this exclusive label serve? Could it be, by any chance, because this is the one government which repressed fundamentalists, while the previous ones ‘only’ repressed the left? (Shame on me for even suggesting such a thing …!)
The article also hints several times at the possibility that GIA and other armed Islamist groups were manipulated by the government, as if they were used to fit into a plot for keeping in power.
That armed groups and/or their leadership and their affiliated front parties may have been infiltrated is a truism: which opposition is not? That, at points, there may have been attempts to manipulate them is equally obvious: which government does not do that? But are we saying that Algerian Islamists, and Islamists the world over, are created out of the blue, tailor-made to suit governments’ political needs and are puppets in the hands of their governments? (or of ‘imperialism’, for that matter – not denying that both undemocratic governments and imperialism attempt to use them?). Let's be serious: aren't we entitled to produce our own Far Right movements? That this worldwide ‘internationale’, the only one in existence today, with a clear Far Right political agenda, is only a product of manipulation? That seems quite a far-fetched bow to the ‘conspiracy’ theory.
Besides, I would not think that any attempt by the Algerian government to infiltrate and manipulate the FIS/GIA/AIS etc… affected in any way either their stated political agenda of theocracy or their means of achieving their goals by terror: one can see them at work everywhere in the Muslim world today.
This accusation, in fact, sends us back to the usual ‘who kills in Algeria?’ – a question that ran throughout the 1990s in the international media that aimed at making the government, its police and army responsible for the crimes fundamentalist armed groups announced in advance in their communiqués, committed and then claimed in their publications and via their leaders’ press conferences...
I am sorry that the author of this article who initially seems to clearly draw the respective responsibilities of the government (fierce repression) and the armed groups (assassinations and massacres of civilians) does not see that hinting at manipulation manages again to put into question the responsibility of Islamist armed groups and to charge the government of crimes committed by these groups.
Regarding the elections and their cancellation in Algeria it would be important to note that, like in Tunisia, many citizens just did not bother going to vote. As a consequence, both the FIS and EnNahda won the elections with the actual approval of less than 25 percent of registered voters. (In the case of Tunisia, one wonders whether it was deliberate that people could not take leave of absence from their jobs on that day).
It is worth analyzing the various reasons for this widespread abstention, since we see it being repeated from Algeria to Tunisia, and may be to Egypt too. On the one hand, just like in France in 2002 (when socialist Jospin was ousted in the first round of the presidential elections, leaving Chirac – right – face to face with far right Le Pen of the National Front), in the first round of the legislative elections in Algeria, people showed their despise of politicians and parties by not going to the booth; in the same line, several opposition parties (including the FFS, which, the author fails to mention, later supported FIS – using the short sighted logic ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’) had called for a boycott of the elections.
But what I think is really at stake is our own capacity to deny the fundamentalist danger, till it is far too late. It was true of Algeria in 1991, as well as of Tunisians in 2011. It may be true of Egyptians too.
I remember talking to friends in Algiers on the eve of the elections and predicting the worse: they laughed at me. From the late 1970s onwards, Iranian women alerted the Algerian women’s groups of what they saw as warning signs of the growing influence of fundamentalists; Algerian women were nearly offended: ‘How could we, the daughters of the glorious liberation struggle, be compared to Iran? No, not in our revolutionary country!’
I was among those who alerted Tunisian women’s groups of the rise of fundamentalism during the 1990s: many Algerian intellectuals took refuge in Tunisia and were threatened there by the Muslim right. Tunisian women had a very similar reaction: ‘Not in our country, they are marginal, we have the most progressive laws for women, etc…’
No later than three weeks ago, the same happened with Egyptian friends in Cairo: ‘No, ‘the people’ are in control!’ Which people? What don’t they see, beyond this implicitly liberal definition of people as a ‘mass of atomized individuals’, the far right fundamentalist parties in hiding?
Stubborn, I still try to warn my Senegalese friends of the progress that fundamentalists make in their country; but so far they say: ‘Our culture is different, Senegalese women are far more freer than women in the Maghreb, etc…’
Was Cassandra feeling as desperate as I do? Were the anti-Nazi Germans feeling the same? In all these countries, our denial of the actual balance of forces stems from an incredible political arrogance, which Iranian women lefties who fought against the Shah and promoted the Ayatollah describe very well – today !…
What is really missing with regard to the cancellation of the legislative elections in Algeria is that, after the first round which clearly indicated that fundamentalists were likely to win, even if that was thanks to massive abstention and to the manipulation by FIS MPs of the recasting of electoral constituencies to the benefit of FIS, people who had already lived under their boot for one year (after FIS won the local elections and took over in numerous villages and towns) were really scared. They suddenly wanted to avoid further disaster: progressive people took to the streets, calling on the government to stop the electoral process: there is a wealth of written and filmed documentation on women’s organisations, unions, secular parties demonstrating and being interviewed before the cancellation of the second round of the elections – and many of these actors are still alive to be interviewed.
However, this is hardly ever mentioned in the international media. Why? Does it make us automatically supporters of the regime? No, indeed not. I regret that the author calls it so lightly a ‘lesser evil’ that our undemocratic governments scared people with, to induce them into accepting their rule: concerned people have the right to consider that however right-wing and repressive Margaret Thatcher’s government was, they would, given a choice, rather live under her boots than under Hitler’s. That was the real risk and people just measured it at the last minute: they took to the street and demanded the cancellation of the elections.
Does it make us opponents of democracy? No. But it raises embarrassing questions: a tough one is the limits of ‘democracy’. If it is understood in the restrictive sense of parliamentary democracy, as it often is, it is a better system than a monarchy or an oligarchy: ‘one ‘man’(!) one vote’. But if it is understood as a system that is supposed to bring about broad social justice, then we have to consider the historical fact that sometimes people vote for Hitlers, and that this can by no means be as a step towards democracy, even if elections were free and fair. The six million victims of Hitler’s reign will no doubt approve my stand.
If Tunisia, Libya and Egypt fall into the hands of the Muslim right and far right, if women’s rights and citizens’ rights are curtailed in the name of religion, if non-voted divine laws take precedence over voted ones, this will not be democracy. The number two of FIS, Ali Belhadj, announced in 1990 that, should FIS win the elections there would be no more elections because ‘ if you have the law of God, why would you need the law of the people? One must kill all these unbelievers’. Opposing these views, be it through the cancellation of an electoral process, could hardly be equated to standing against democracy.
What are the alternatives to such a dilemma? At the very least, democrats should discuss the issue without being simplistic or politically blind. Last but not least, the women are not there at all in this article. Isn’t it a big lapse, when one knows they have been the primary targets of fundamentalist parties and of the government bending to fundamentalists’ diktats when their legal rights were curtailed with the 1984 family code? And that they have also been specifically targeted by armed fundamentalist groups, when they were publicly named in a ‘communique’ as a category for targeted assassinations? Thousands of them were killed, not for anything they were specifically doing (unlike men who were assassinated because they belonged to another of the targeted categories, namely journalists, intellectuals, artists, women and foreigners), but just because they were women. One can give up journalism or painting to save one’s life, but how does one stop being a woman?
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* Marieme Helie Lucas is an Algerian sociologist, founder and former international coordinator of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws network. Marieme is also the founder of Secularism Is A Women’s Issue. http://www.siawi.org
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Song of the wretched
Mphutlane wa Bofelo
We have no stereos
Droning love ballads
To lull us from our reality
The only music we
Know is the wordless symphony
Of the buzzing stars
The bright eye of the night
Candles our hope
We don’t know
Of lamps and globes but
We know the colour
Of the moon
The only show
Our eyes can
Afford us is
Of the rising sun &
Of the falling night
Think of furious clouds
When you scoff
At our unkempt hair
We have no conditioners
We breathe the air
As pure as it is
Or as dirtied
As industrial filth
& human greed
Spews refuse to us
Above our heads
There is no ceiling
To confine our home
To some territory
The whole earth is our house
The entire universe is
The habitat of our dreams
Our roof the open sky
Tell us of no limit
We squat with antelopes
In the grass & hop
With frogs in dongas
We snore with crickets
On the roadside
& fly with birds
In our dreams
We are swallows
In our imaginations
We are friends to rain
In our guts we are eagles
We prey on your waste
We land on your dustbins
Call us scavengers
We eat what you eat
We are what you feed us
We pounce on your leftovers
We clear your debris
We clean up your mess
We are the décor on city pavements
You dust up your conscience
With a show of sympathy
Every surplus cent
You throw at us
Give you pleasant dreams
We are the eye-sore
Of suburban bliss
We are the toast
Of welfare programs
We are the facts & lifeblood
Of relief projects
We are the sights
The subjects of research
We are part of the discourse
We are in the theories
An integral part of the subaltern
We are quoted among the wretched
We are mentioned among the damned
We are stated among the poors
We are cited among the marginalised
We are part of the terminology
We nourish the development discourse
We feed the machine
The beast thrives on us
We are in the text books
We are not the authors
We don’t know about copyrights
We are the subjects
We are the toast of politics
We are in the economics
We are in the songs
We feed the poetry
We are in the paintings
We are in the photographs
We are the subject of art
We feature in the films
We are not film stars
We don’t know about royalties
We have no stereos
Droning love ballads
To lull us from our reality
The only music we
Know is the wordless symphony
Of the buzzing stars
The bright eye of the night
Candles our hope
We don’t know
Of lamps and globes but
We know the colour
Of the moon
The only show
Our eyes can
Afford us is
Of the rising sun &
Of the falling night
* Mphutlane wa Bofelo is author of 'The Way of Love - Poetry and Reflections inspired by Rumi and Other Sufi Poets', 'Bluesology and Bofelosophy - essays and poems', 'The Heart's Interpretor', 'Remembrance and Salutations', and 'The Journey Within: Reflections in Ramadan'.
Egypt: Tahrir at night
Eleven people were left dead in Egypt as protestors against continuing military rule clashed with police in and around Tahrir Square. This informal video captures some of the scenes from Tahrir Square.
Global: KPFA Africa Today interview with William Minter
This KPFA Africa Today programme with Walter Turner features an interview with William Minter, editor and producer of the valuable web site Africa Focus. He discusses his life's work in media and information regarding Africa.
South Africa: 'Free Media, Free Minds'
Cape Town Community TV together with the support of AIDC and FES have produced 'Free Media, Free Minds!' - a 13 part TV series focusing on aspects of media freedom and the free flow of information in South Africa. The show is broadcast across Cape Town and live streamed on the internet every Monday at 19h00 and broadcast again every Sunday at 16h30 from the 7th November 2011 to 5th February 2012. Visit Cape Town Community TV for the schedule.
Pambazuka News 213: Durban climate change conference: Africa demands equity and justice
Zimbabwe: Mugabe cornered at summit
Regional leaders meeting for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Angola cornered President Robert Mugabe and told him Zimbabwe could not hold elections without reforms that would guarantee free and fair elections. He was also told last week the region would not accept violent elections. Mugabe suffered a double blow at the summit after his plan to have South African president Jacob Zuma toppled as facilitator to the Zimbabwe crisis was thrown out by SADC leaders, who felt Zuma had done well in trying to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Global: World Bank's gender WDR: too little, too late?
The World Bank’s flagship annual publication pushes gender equality up to the Bank’s agenda, but critics express concern about its implementation and unwillingness to consider gender a women’s rights issue. The World Development Report (WDR) 2012: Gender Equality and Development – the first to focus on this issue – was released in September. It documents progress in narrowing gender gaps in education, health and labour in the past 25 years and maintains the Bank’s past approach to gender as an economic issue, stressing that greater gender equality 'can enhance productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions more representative'. However, the WDR recognises that economic growth does not always lead to gender equality. Female mortality, school enrolment and earnings are some of the areas identified where gender gaps are still most significant.
Southern Africa: 'Women play crucial development role'
'At UN Women we are working with five governments in the sub-region in a pilot programme to see exactly what women are doing to get out of poverty. Most of these women are in what is called the informal sector, and their work is not recognised. The women who kept the Zimbabwe economy going at the lowest point in its history are not recognised even today. Yet they ensured the survival of their families and the economy,' says the head of UN Women in Southern Africa, Nomcebo Manzini, in this interview with Business Report.
Uganda: Single mothers left behind in flooded swampland
Life in Bwaise – a slum on the outskirts of the capital of Uganda – has never been easy. But increasingly erratic rains over the last three years have brought constant floods to the former swampland. Residents who can afford to are moving out, leaving the poorest – often single mothers and grandmothers – behind.
Zambia: Silence puts women's lives at risk
Unsafe abortion is a serious problem in Zambia. National figures do not exist, reflecting the low status of the issue, but research suggests thousands die every year attempting to terminate their pregnancies. These deaths account for 30 per cent of an excessively high maternal mortality rate of 591 deaths per 100,000 live births. Girls and young women under 19 years old account for a staggering 80 per cent of these deaths.
Angola: Local authorities disrupt civil society event
On 9 November 2011, local authorities in Benguela suddenly withdrew their support and disrupted an arts and culture event organised by the NGO OMUNGA that was scheduled to start the following day. OMUNGA is a human rights group based in the province of Benguela that promotes street children rights, children and youth protagonism, community and civil education. Furthermore, on 11 and 12 November, the police intervened again and forcibly interrupted two OKUPAKALA events that were taking place in different parts of the city, namely Damba Maria and Catumbela. The organisers then transferred the event supposed to take place in Catumbela to another location, but the police contacted them and ordered not to continue with the event.
DRC: Male rape in the DRC
They are men who have lost all pride and self-confidence and who have been left severely traumatised by their experience. At the medical centre in Uganda where they are being treated, they talked candidly about the crimes carried out against them. 'In the past, I thought that it was only females who were raped but not men. I cannot understand myself today. I feel pain all the time in my anus and bladder. I feel like my bladder is full of water. I do not feel like a man. I do not know whether I will ever have children,' said John (not his real name), a 27-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who is just one of possibly thousands of victims of male rape as civil wars and tribal conflicts continue unabated across Africa.
Egypt: Activists continue to push against military trials
The No Military Trials group has stepped up the momentum in its campaign, presenting family members of military detainees at a conference chaired by Mohammad Abd Al-Qaddous of the Journalists’ Syndicate. Ahmad Darrag of the National Gathering for Change, who this week rejected a summons to appear before the military prosecutor in relation to the Maspero killings, also spoke. Close relatives of a dozen prisoners condemned or under trial by military courts spoke at the conference, and many more family members were in attendance.
Libya: World powers urge fair trial for captured Gaddafi son
World powers have urged Libya to work with the International Criminal Court and ensure a fair trial for Seif al-Islam, son of slain leader Muamar Gaddafi who was arrested after months on the run. Seif, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in crushing anti-regime protests, was captured in Libya's far-flung Saharan south early on Saturday in a trap set by fighters of the Zintan brigade.
Nigeria: Sexual slaves evacuated from Mali
Nigeria has evacuated from Mali 104 of its citizens, mostly women, either made to work as 'sexual slaves' or suspected of involvement in human trafficking, officials said. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) evacuated 93 alleged victims of human trafficking, nine suspected traffickers and two babies, the agency's head, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, told reporters.
Africa: AU, WB launch remittances database
The World Bank and the African Union have taken steps to lower the cost of sending remittances to and within Africa by launching an online database that will help increase transparency about prices and stimulate greater competition among service providers. The database, Send Money Africa, is a years-in-the-making partnership between the Bank, the African Union Commission, and donors. Through its interface, migrants can compare the cost that remittance service providers charge to send a particular amount to a given country. 'Send Money Africa will stimulate competition among the service providers and ultimately induce a reduction of the costs. As a result, remittance senders and recipients will benefit from transparent, efficient, less costly remittance services,' said Richard Cambridge, Manager of the Africa Diaspora Program in the World Bank’s Africa Region.
Africa: Mixed migration between Horn of Africa and Yemen reaches record high
The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Yemen by boat was 12,545 last month - the highest monthly total since UNHCR began compiling data about the mixed migration route between the Horn of Africa and Yemen in January 2006. As well as exceeding the previous record of 12,079 arrivals in September, the October total brings to 84,656 the number of people who arrived in Yemen by sea between the start of January and the start of November - more than the earlier annual record in 2009 of 77,000 people.
Djibouti: Migrants risk all for 'better life'
Thousands of migrants traverse the road between Djibouti’s capital, Djiboutiville, and the coastal town of Obock carrying little more than a bottle of water and the hope that they are heading towards a better life. They pass through an arid landscape strewn with volcanic rock that sustains little life besides the occasional pastoralist and his goats. Temperatures average around 34 degrees Celsius in winter and in summer can reach 52 degrees. It is just one leg of a journey that, for most, started in Ethiopia or Somalia and for the fortunate ones will end with a well-paid job in Saudi Arabia.
Egypt: Egypt prepares to forcibly return Eritreans
Human Rights Watch has urged the new government in Egypt against deporting Eritrean asylum seekers who are currently being detained in the North African country. The international advocacy group said Egyptian authorities are preparing to forcibly return a group of 118 Eritreans including recent deserters from the Eritrean Army; accusing Cairo of renewing the trend of mass deportations it exercised in 2008 and 2009. In most cases Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers upon return are immediately thrown to secret detention centers where they are subjected to severe torture and other in-human treatments, the human rights group says.
Kenya: Cholera outbreak hits largest refugee complex
Heavy rains and an outbreak of cholera in Kenya’s Dadaab complex is exacerbating the situation in the overcrowded refugee camp, where aid efforts were already hampered by insecurity, the United Nations reported. There are now 60 cases of cholera in the camps, including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death, according to Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Kenya: Insecurity undermines aid access in Dadaab
Humanitarian activities in the world’s largest refugee complex have been restricted to essential services amid worsening security exemplified by the 13 October abduction of two Spanish aid workers and the earlier abduction of a Kenyan NGO driver in the eastern Kenyan facility. All but critical food, water, health and nutrition and some child protection services are suspended, as is the registration of new arrivals in the Dadaab complex.
South Sudan: UNHCR concerned about thousands of refugees in border areas
The UN refugee agency has expressed concern about the security of thousands of refugees in South Sudan border areas as fighting in neighbouring Sudan continues to drive civilians across the frontier. 'UNHCR is working to move these refugees away from the border and to safer areas of South Sudan because of concerns about security,' the agency's chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told journalists in Geneva.
Tunisia: Migrant opinions of the Arab Spring
The Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region has been (and remains) a fascinating testing ground for the media and politics and has inspired, among numerous other independent productions, a documentary film that features the voices of North African and African immigrants living in Italy. Called #Revolution, this short video was filmed in Padua and Bologna by citizen-reporters belonging to the Voci Globali association.
Latest edition: emerging powers news roundup
In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up, read a comprehensive list of news stories and opinion pieces related to China, India and other emerging powers...
1. China in Africa
AU Chief meets with a senior Chinese official in Ethiopia
The African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Jean Ping on Tuesday met and held talks with a high level Chinese delegation led by Jiang Yaoping, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce. The discussion between the two sides was mainly focused on the cooperation between China and Africa in different sectors. Ping said AU is ready to do all possible to further strengthen its ties with China.
Sino-African roundtable talks mull closer economic, trade cooperation
The Second Roundtable Conference on Sino-African Cooperation was convened in the city of Wanning in south China's Hainan Province from Nov. 10 to 11. The roundtable talks, which focused on China's African foreign policy as directed through non-governmental channels, is a strong complement to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), said Ji Peiding, former vice foreign minister and president of the Association of Former Diplomats of China. More than 400 former diplomats, politicians, researchers and entrepreneurs from China and nearly 40 African countries attended the conference.
China, Zimbabwe pledge to seek practical cooperation
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday pledged to develop stronger practical cooperation with Zimbabwe during a meeting with visiting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Calling Mugabe an old friend of China, Xi said the 87-year-old is a renowned leader of national liberation movement in Africa and has made great contributions to China-Africa relations. Xi said China would like to promote cooperation with Zimbabwe in trade, agriculture, mining and infrastructure and seek closer coordination in international affairs.
China to lend Ethiopia $100 mln: Xinhua
China is set to loan Ethiopia $100 million and donate a fleet of 90 vehicles to help the African state complete its water supply projects, the Xinhua state news agency said. China's Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Yaoping and Ethiopian Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed signed a deal for the loan on Wednesday, Xinhua said. It did not say when the money will be disbursed.
2. India in Africa
India, South Africa to cooperate in SME sector
India and South Africa Tuesday agreed to boost trade and investment and further strengthen bilateral cooperation in micro, small and medium enterprises sector. Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya M. Scindia held bilateral talks with visiting South African Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabethe to discuss the areas of business cooperation. During the discussions, Scindia reiterated the offer of India's full cooperation for the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector in South Africa, according to the official statement released after the meeting.
Africa-India economic mission brings agri-experts together
EMRC International and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) are partnering once again for the second edition of the Africa-India Economic Mission to be held in Hyderabad, India from 11-16 December 2011. With the aim to bring African and Indian decision-makers, experts and business people together, the Africa-India Economic Mission will give participants access to India's leading institutes and foremost agricultural equipment, irrigation and crop corporations, providing a basis for potential business partnerships, with a focus on public-private sector corporation.
3. In Other Emerging Powers News
Brazil ties to benefit COMESA– Ngwenya
COMMON Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya has said cooperation with Brazil will greatly benefit the regional body as the country has scored tremendously in the area of economic development. Speaking when he received credentials from Brazilian Ambassador to Zambia Ana Morales as COMESA Special Representative in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Ngwenya said Brazil was the seventh largest economy in the world in nominal Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) terms with a GDP of US $1.65 trillion, a land mass of 8.51 million square metres and a population of 199 million people.
Brazilian mission to visit Mozambique, Angola and South Africa
A business mission of 53 companies organised by the Brazilian government plans to begin a tour of Mozambique, Angola and South Africa on 21 November, an Apex-Brasil official said Friday in Sao Paulo. Ricardo Santana, Image and Market Access coordinator for the Brazilian Agency For Export and Investment Promotion (Apex-Brasil), told Portuguese news agency Lusa that the mission would be in Mozambique on 21 and 22 November and from 23 to 25 in Angola and after a free weekend would head on to South Africa from 28 to 30 November and then return to Brazil.
No BRICS expansion wanted for now – Brazil
Brazil does not want to see the "BRICS" group of emerging countries enlarged for the time being, but does want the developing world to be given a greater say in international bodies, the country's foreign minister said on Wednesday. Antonio Patriota told Reuters in an interview that the BRICS grouping -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- was fine as it was, brushing off a suggestion Indonesia may be admitted to the club.
Obama calls for China, India action on climate
US president Barack Obama Wednesday said he would be pushing for greater efforts by emerging economies on global warming at coming climate talks in South Africa, which he warned would be a "tough slog". Obama described Australia's carbon tax, passed into law last week, as a "bold strategy" to tackle pollution and said he would be advocating that countries like China and India take greater responsibility at Durban.
4. Blogs, Opinions, Presentations and Publications
US, China in Sudan great game
In 1898, amid the age of imperialist acquisition, Great Britain and France confronted each other at Fashoda in the Sudan. The two powers almost went to war but happily, diplomacy prevailed. Today, amid fierce global competition for commodities and regional influence, the US and China are facing each other in several parts of the world and the oil-rich Sudan may become one of the more complex and portentous sites of this contest. Recent fighting there is drawing greater attention to the region.
China rearms Zimbabwe's army
The Zimbabwean Defence Force has just taken delivery of 20,000 AK-47s, reports the Southern Africa Report. The arms were delivered from China via a circuitous route, avoiding countries such as Mozambique and South Africa where unions (not governments) have prevented arms shipments from reaching Zimbabwe before. But where and on who is the ZDF planning to use all these shiny new weapons?
Crisis exposes EU hypocrisy on China aid
On November 3, Chinese President Hu Jintao stated that China will continue to provide greater amounts of financial help to other developing countries. This pledge was made at this year's G20 summit in France. Hu stated that development loans will mainly go toward the improvement of infrastructure. He also stated that between 2010 and 2012, China will provide Africa with $10 billion in the form of soft loans, the bulk of which will go to infrastructure. Such pledges are made against a backdrop of the withdrawal of US aid to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and a begging letter to the Chinese government from the debt-ridden eurozone. In such a context, it may be harder for foreign governments, the traditional donors within the global aid framework, to criticize the scope of foreign aid and export finance being offered by China to developing countries.
Angola: Is the Angolan Spring blossoming?
Partly inspired by the Arab Spring, partly by their own experiences of living abroad, but mostly by what they say is utter frustration about the huge inequalities that divide Angola, an emerging youth protest group has no fixed political affiliations and no formal leadership, says this IPS article. Starting off with just a dozen people, their support base has grown rapidly, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, and in October they mobilised some 700 people to walk down a main street in Luanda carrying placards saying 'Down with the dictator' and '32 years is too long'. Pedro Seabra, a researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security in Lisbon said: 'Angola is still a very long way off from any sort of Arab Spring but these protests are very new for Angola and very significant. Things are definitely staring to change.'
Egypt: Cairo clashes cast doubts over Egypt vote
Protesters calling for Egypt's military to hand over power have beaten back a new raid by security forces to evict them from Cairo's Tahrir Square after more than 48 hours of violence in the heart of the Egyptian capital. Security forces fired tear gas and attacked a makeshift field hospital on Monday morning, while protesters broke up pavements to hurl chunks of concrete at police. Egypt's health ministry says at least 22 people have been killed and 1,500 wounded in clashes between government forces and protesters in Cairo and other cities since Saturday, raising concerns over the conduct of parliamentary elections due to begin on 28 November.
Egypt: New electoral system explained
thedailynewsegypt.com has a useful article on Egypt's election system. The first parliamentary elections following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak are expected to attract an electorate that traditionally boycotted elections. Over 18 million Egyptians voted in a referendum in March, an indication of voter confidence in a new era free of the rigging and electoral fraud that tainted the previous one. However, voters are concerned that they will find it difficult to figure out the system, which could ultimately spoil their vote.
Kenya: No ruling on election date
Kenya's newly-constituted Supreme Court on Tuesday 15 November refused to rule on a date for next year's elections, stoking voter unease over moves by the government to amend a polling timeline already endorsed by a referendum. Under the constitution adopted last year, Kenya was due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 August 2012, the first polls since a disputed vote in 2007 after which more than 1,220 people were killed and 350,000 displaced. The post-election violence is being investigated by the International Criminal Court.
Morocco: Activists call for poll boycott
Thousands of pro-democracy activists demonstrated in Morocco's largest city calling for a boycott of parliamentary elections less than two weeks away. The demonstrations comes as a parliamentary delegation from the Council of Europe noted there was little enthusiasm in the country just two weeks before the election and said there was worry about the level of participation.
South Africa: Sexwale’s prospects dive after Malema ruling
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s support for African National Congress (ANC) Youth League president Julius Malema may see his presidential ambitions collapse as he is frozen out of the camps of both President Jacob Zuma and those seeking to oust him. Mr Malema, who faces suspension of five years from the ANC, is likely to sink Mr Sexwale’s aspirations and those of many senior politicians if he fails in his desperate campaign to retain his membership. Mr Malema’s known backers include ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, former MP Tony Yengeni, veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mr Sexwale, Northern Cape chairman John Block, and Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale.
Tunisia: Forming of new government delayed amid a new wave of strikes
After 23 October elections to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly, strikes have broken out in numerous sectors, including airport, postal and oil workers, against poor wages and working conditions. These strikes underscore popular opposition to the entire political establishment, which has still not succeeded in assembling a government based on the elections, says www.wsws.org The 23 October poll gave the right-wing Islamist party Ennahda the most seats in the 217-member Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is tasked with drafting a new constitution and appoint an interim government.
Africa: Mining profits soar, but Africans are still poor
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, the top 40 mining firms enjoyed a 1,900 per cent cumulative increase in net profits in the six years between 2002 and 2007, says Yao Graham, the co-ordinator of Third World Network-Africa. 'But very little of this additional income and profits went to the mineral exporting African countries, thanks both to the lopsided fiscal terms enjoyed by mining firms, and to their use of tax avoidance schemes such as doing business with shell companies in tax havens.'
Africa: Who will benefit from Africa's largest hydropower project?
At double the size of China's Three Gorges Dam, the 40 GW Grand Inga hydropower project, to be built on the Congo River under an agreement between the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, will be the world's largest by a wide margin. It will increase Africa's electricity generating capacity by one-third. But as IPS News reports, as is unfortunately typical with many big-push style projects in the developing world, the local people will likely get little of the electricity produced by the Grand Inga. Instead, the power transmission lines are expected to go towards mining and industrial facilities, towards the big cities in South Africa and Egypt, as well as possibly being exported to Europe.
Angola: Tables turn as Portugal visits cap in hand
The world-turned-upside-down of the European debt crisis reached a new extreme last week when Europe came pleading for lucre where it once only seized it: Africa. The hands-out visit of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho of Portugal to its former colony Angola was a milestone of sorts. 'Angolan capital is very welcome,' Mr. Passos Coelho said in Luanda, the capital city. That may be an understatement: the former colony’s cash could be essential as Portugal is forced to sell off state-owned companies after a bailout this year, reports the New York Times.
DRC: Vulture funds preying on world's poorest countries
Britain is being urged to help close down a legal loophole that lets financiers known as 'vulture funds' use courts in Jersey to claim hundreds of millions of pounds from the world's poorest countries. The call came from international poverty campaigners as one of the vulture funds was poised to be awarded a $100m (£62m) debt payout against the Democratic Republic of the Congo after taking action in the Jersey courts. Vulture funds legally buy up worthless debt when countries are at war or suffering from a natural disaster and defaulting on their sovereign debt. Once the country has begun to stabilise, vulture funds cash in their cheap debt deeds, at massively inflated cost to the countries.
Ghana: President flips the finger at IMF over Chinese loan
The President of Ghana, John Evans Atta Mills, intends to pull Ghana out of the International Monetary Fund in a final bid to end moves by the Christine Largarde-led funding agency to suffocate the US$3 billion loan the NDC government wants from the China Development Bank (CDB). With just a little over a year left of its four-year mandate, and following what appears to be deep-seated challenges that have crippled the roundly marketed STX housing project, analysts say the Mills government badly needs huge foreign capital injection if it is to honour a string of mouth-watering campaign promises on whose back it rode to political power in January 2009.
Ghana: Taxes on mining companies to be hiked
Ghana will seek to boost revenues from its mining industry next year by hiking taxes, according to a text of the 2012 budget delivered to parliament. The corporate tax rate on miners will increase to 35 per cent from 25 per cent and a separate 10 per cent tax on windfall profits will be introduced, according to the text.
Global: Occupy Wall Street is 'so important because it is in the heart of empire'
In this video interview, renowned Indian writer and global justice activist Arundhati Roy joined www.democracynow.org in the studio to talk about the Occupy movement. 'What they are doing becomes so important because it is in the heart of empire, or what used to be empire,' Roy said. 'And to criticize and to protest against the model that the rest of the world is aspiring to is a very important and a very serious business.' She also discussed her new book, 'Walking with the Comrades', a chronicle of her time in the forests of India alongside rebel guerrillas who are resisting a brutal military campaign by the Indian government.
South Africa: Euro crisis impacts trade
South African exports to Europe - a major trading partner - had been hit hard not only by the slump in demand associated with the euro-zone debt crisis, but also by the volatility of the rand, which undermined the competitiveness of local enterprises, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has said. The shaky outlook for exports to Europe could contribute to lower economic growth in the coming year, torpedoing the government’s ambitious plans to boost job creation and reduce poverty. The Treasury cut the economic growth forecast for this year to 3,1 per cent in the medium term budget policy statement last month, and its expectations of it rising to 3,4 per cent next year could prove too optimistic if Europe’s debt crisis pulls that continent into a recession.
South Africa: New national development plan punted
National planning commission chairperson Trevor Manuel has handed over a development plan to President Jacob Zuma that deals with nine national issues that the commission has identified as the country's top priorities. The nine challenges are: Too few people work; The standard of education for most black learners if of poor quality; Infrastructure is poorly located, under-maintained and insufficient to foster higher growth; Special patterns exclude the poor from the fruits of development; The economy is overly and unsustainably resource intensive; A widespread diseased burden is compounded by a failing public health system; Public services are uneven and often of poor quality, Corruption is widespread, South Africa remains a divided society. Visit this Mail and Guardian plan to download the full 430-page plan.
Zambia: Mine royalties doubled
Zambia’s recently elected government is to double royalties on copper mines, it announced as it unveiled its 2012 budget, which aims to back its election pledge of distributing more equitably the southern African state’s mineral wealth. Alexander Chikwanda, finance minister, said he proposed to increase the mineral royalty rate to 6 per cent from 3 per cent for base metals, including copper, and from 5 per cent for precious metals.
Ethiopia: MSM and HIV conference ahead of ICASA
A pre-conference on men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa and HIV is planned to take place in Ethiopia ahead of the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). The full-day event will feature presentations from more than 15 of the continent’s top experts on the health and human rights of sexual minorities. The pre-conference will offer a opportunity for experts as well as developing practitioners to cultivate new partnerships, network, build skills, share best practices and conduct hands-on learning.
Kenya: Doctors issue strike threat
Doctors in public hospitals are demanding a 400 percent pay increment. This is one of the resolutions by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), which has threatened to call a strike over poor terms of service. The union also wants its members compensated for working at odd hours.
Malawi: Painkillers prescribed for malaria amid drug shortage
Malawi is experiencing a drug shortage as the country’s international donors remain reluctant to release aid meant for the health sector. About 60 million dollars in funding has been withheld amid allegations of pilfering and corruption in the procurement of drugs at government’s Central Medical Stores. The Central Medical Stores procures and distributes drugs to government health facilities.
South Africa: No political will to support generic medication
South African health experts are calling on governments to use legally available mechanisms to promote the production or import of generic drugs in their countries. Pharmaceutical patents continue to drive up drug prices, making it expensive to treat patients. This often leads to limited access to health care, especially in developing countries where the disease burden is high, but public health budgets remain low, experts said.
South Africa: Zimbabwe deportations raise health concerns
SECTION27, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, Sonke Gender Justice Network
'We write to you at this critical juncture to alert you to the potential individual and public health consequences which may ensue from the implementation of the immigration policy to deport. Our organisations are greatly concerned that, with the lifting of the moratorium and the resumption of deportations of Zimbabweans, there will be inevitable dire health consequences which will arise as the deportation process intensifies.'
Swaziland: Cash crunch 'critical', AIDS spending hit
A budget crunch in Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, has reached a 'critical stage' with the government struggling to maintain spending on HIV/AIDS, education and the elderly, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday. In a damning assessment of the landlocked southern African nation, the IMF said proposed spending cuts had been undermined by 'overruns' in defence outlays, leading to a 2011/12 budget deficit projection of 10 percent of GDP.
Zimbabwe: 207 typhoid cases amid heat wave
Health authorities say 207 cases of typhoid are being treated in Zimbabwe’s capital after a prolonged spell of unusually hot weather amid acute water shortages. Harare city council health director Dr. Prosper Chonzi says no deaths have occurred so far in the monthlong outbreak. He said the disease will be difficult to contain in impoverished townships relying on water from shallow, makeshift wells and marshlands.
DRC: Millions miss out on basic education
Access to basic education in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains poor, with up to seven million children across the vast country out of school - despite a 2010 government decision to make primary education free. DRC is still struggling to overcome the effects of wars that raged between 1996 and 2003, compounded by continuing violence in the east of the country and decades of corruption and poor governance. The seven million figure was contained in the preliminary findings – reported by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - of a study conducted by the DRC government with the UK Department for International Development and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Kenya: Lecturers' strike suspended
A week-long lecturers' strike has been suspended to allow pay negotiations between the government and university unions. Labour minister John Munyes announced that the tutors are expected to resume teaching immediately and talks will begin in two weeks. Under the agreement, the Ministry is supposed to initiate the consultation process with the Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Service.
Cameroon: Gay rights lawyer warns of rise in homophobia
The Cameroon government has introduced a bill to the national assembly that would give formal, political backing to section 347 of the country's penal code that criminalises consensual sex between adults of the same gender. 'It's getting worse,' Cameroonian lawyer Alice Nkom told the Guardian during a visit to London. 'These laws are illegal – the declaration of human rights is part of our constitution – but the judges still apply them. It's very difficult to prove you have had sex. Under the procedural code you cannot be put in jail unless caught in delecto flagrante.'
Nigeria: Tightening the noose on gay rights
Rights groups in Nigeria fear a same-sex marriage bill being discussed in parliament could boost already prevalent discrimination against homosexuals. The bill goes much further than banning same-sex marriage; it threatens to ban the formation of groups supporting homosexuality, with imprisonment for anyone who 'witnesses, abet[s] or aids' same-gender relationships, and could lead to any discussion or activities related to gay rights being banned.
South Africa: Proposals to combat hate crimes
The activism and advocacy team of Cape Town LGBTI grouping Free Gender have submitted proposals to the South African Police Services (SAPS) aimed at combating hate crimes. The proposals include the creation of a ‘Task Team’ at the local level to include Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu, quarterly workshops and/or discussions with officers ‘on the ground’ and display of the ‘Pledge to Eradicate Hate Crimes Against Lesbians’ in all police stations in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu to remind police officers and the general public of SAPS commitment to ending discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation.
Uganda: UN Global Fund cuts ARV cash
The Global Fund has denied Uganda $270m (about Sh700b) needed to put over 100,000 more people on lifesaving ARVs because the country’s policies are deemed harsh on sexual minorities. The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need. The Uganda government’s New Vision newspaper reported today that the Aids control manager in the Ministry of Health, Dr Zainab Akol, had said the rights of minorities were derailing the fight against HIV/Aids.
Africa: Nile, Limpopo at risk from climate change
Climate change is likely to lead to increased average rainfall in the world's major river basins but weather patterns will be fickle and the timing of wet seasons may change, threatening farming and foodstocks, experts say. Furthermore, some river systems in Africa - southern Africa's Limpopo, north Africa's Nile and West Africa's Volta - are set to receive less rain than they do at the moment, hitting food production and fuelling international tensions.
Egypt: Community fight to close petrochemicals plant
Damietta locals have vowed to continue their sit-in against MOPCO petrochemicals company despite a decree by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to shut down the plant. One protester was killed in a military crackdown on the sit-in, according to eyewitnesses. Protesters are demanding that governorate officials finally heed their calls to shut down the factory, which they say is 'deadly and hazardous' to residents, marine life, as well as agricultural.
Global: Analysts predict collapse of carbon market
European Union carbon prices could shed some 70 per cent from current levels, as the bloc struggles with a mounting debt crisis and a glut of supply in the carbon market is unlikely to disappear until 2025, analysts at UBS said. The investment bank also said the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS), the 27-nation bloc's main policy tool to fight global warming, 'isn't working' because carbon prices are 'already too low to have any significant environmental impact'.
Global: Coal power offsets and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
Climate Justice Now Statement
A report published by the UNFCCC’s expert panel shows that coal power plants that receive climate finance through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) may receive millions of artificial carbon credits under current rules. CDM Watch and Sierra Club call on the CDM Executive Board to exclude this project type from the CDM at the upcoming climate change conference in Durban. 'The study results show unequivocally that coal projects do not belong in the CDM,' says Eva Filzmoser from CDM Watch. 'We are now calling on all decision makers to act swiftly and decisively to stop these harmful projects from receiving revenue from the CDM, a mechanism whose aim is to deliver "clean development".'
Global: Strengthening resistance to the system
Friends of the Earth International statement in support of the 99%
'We cannot expect the same global market model that has caused climate change, ecological destruction and poverty to solve the problems we are facing today . We must work together to strengthen our resistance to this system. We must work to create new, transformative economic models that promote our collective prosperity, social equity and real environmental sustainability. We strongly believe that an alternative system must be created, and it must include both environmental and economic justice at its core. We must create economies not for profit, but for life.'
Global: World carbon dioxide emissions data by country
A reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions is not only the goal of environmentalists but also of pretty much every government in the world. The map available through this weblink is produced by the Guardian UK. It shows a world where established economies have large - but declining - carbon emissions. The new economic giants are growing rapidly.
Kenya: Legislation needed on climate change
A group of African farmers, pastoralists and campaigners just left on a road trip to South Africa for the 17th Conference of Parties discussions in Durban. Organised by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, this group will pass through 10 African countries creating awareness on climate change. This will culminate in a petition being presented to President Jacob Zuma expressing Africa’s concerns about climate change. Kenya’s position in the talks is not clearly defined. In fact, Kenya is not known to have a position of its own as far as climate change discussions go.
Mali: Farmers mobilise to find solutions against land grabbing
More than 250 participants, mainly representatives of farmers’ organisations, from 30 different countries, gathered in Nyéléni Village, a centre for agro-ecology training built in a rural area near Sélingué, in Mali, to participate in the first International farmers’ conference to stop land grabbing. The Nyéléni village is a symbolic place, where the first international conference on Food Sovereignty was held in 2007. For three days, from 17 - 20 November, participants exchanged their experiences and created alliances to stop the global land grab.
Global: The WTO and the food crisis agenda
This briefing note offers a preliminary assessment of the compatibility between the WTO and efforts to protect the human right to adequate food as part of the post-crisis food security agenda. Existing WTO rules do include certain flexibilities for States to pursue food security-related measures. From a right to food perspective, certain elements of the draft modalities in agriculture are an improvement on the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), most notably proposed changes to the green box criteria on public stockholding for food security. However, many of these modifications to the AoA are relatively modest and even these are by no means assured with the outcome of the Doha Round highly uncertain.
Ghana: Civil society coalition launches campaign to bring transparency on the airwaves
Civil society organisations in Ghana, including the Media Foundation West Africa (MFWA) on 15 November launched the Coalition for the Transparency of the Airwaves (COTA) in Accra, to ensure openness and accountability of the electronic media in the country. The coalition is made up of regional, national and district organisations under Ghana Community Radio Network, Ghana Journalists Association, Legal Resources Centre and Participatory Development Associates and MFWA.
Kenya: Draft Data Protection Bill critically limited
ARTICLE 19 says the Draft Kenya Data Protection Bill 2009 currently undergoing internal review and stakeholder consultation is critically limited and calls on the Constitution Implementation Commission to revise it to be in line with acceptable international standards on the right to freedom of expression and freedom of information. Over 70 countries have now adopted data protection laws covering the collection and use of personal information. Over 50 of those countries also have freedom of information laws.
Liberia: Court gives Liberia broadcasters second chance
All three private radio and television stations shut down by the Liberian Government have been reopened. Love FM/TV, Power FM/TV and Kings FM/TV were ordered closed by the Justice ministry on the eve of the presidential runoff election for broadcasting messages mainly by the opposition Congress for Democratic Change, which eventually boycotted the polls.
South Africa: ANC attempts to steamroll Secrecy Bill, again
Right to know activists were astounded when the Secrecy Bill returned to the National Assembly last week, making empty words of the ANC's promises of public consultation on the Bill. The ANC withdrew the Bill from the National Assembly agenda on 19 September, purportedly to allow the ANC to hold public consultations on the Bill. Yet the Bill was debated on Wednesday 16 November without a single public meeting having taken place. Civil society groups, however, continue to insist that the Bill presents a threat to democracy and the citizen's right to know.
Zimbabwe: Two journalists arrested and charged with theft and defamation
Nevanji Madanhire, the editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Standard newspaper, and reporter Nqaba Matshazi, were arrested in Harare on Tuesday 15 November and charged with theft, unlawful entry and criminal defamation. It is believed the journalists were taken to the Harare Central Police station. The duo’s arrest is over a story Matshazi wrote on 6 November that claimed a new health insurance firm, Green Card Medical Society, was reportedly on the brink of collapse. The story claimed that the company’s expenditure outstripped its income.
Africa: Sub-Saharan sanitation targets 'two centuries away'
It will take two centuries for sub-Saharan Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, according to NGO WaterAid, which calls on national leaders to commit 3.5 per cent of their annual budget to the sector. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are being sidelined as governments concentrate on health and education, says the WaterAid report. Meanwhile, people’s lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation services is holding back social and economic development in the region, costing around 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) every year.
Global: The global social crisis
This UN Report on the World Social Situation explores the ongoing adverse social consequences of the ongoing financial crisis. The global economic downturn has had wide-ranging negative social outcomes for individuals, families, communities and societies, and its impact on social progress in areas such as education and health will only become fully evident over time. During times of financial and economic crisis, households often adopt coping strategies, such as making changes in household expenditure patterns; however, these can negatively influence education, health and nutrition outcomes, which may lead to lifelong deficits for the children affected and thus perpetuate the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Swaziland: Government fails to pay Aids orphans
Swaziland's government has failed to pay more than $10m (£6.3m) in grants to Aids orphans because of its financial crisis, an IMF official has said. Swaziland has the world's highest HIV/Aids rate, leaving some 69,000 orphans. The IMF's Joannes Mongardini said the government should cut its wage bill to ease its financial crisis.
Egypt: Renewed protests, simmering tension
Clashes are continuing in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, between riot police and protesters demanding that the ruling military quickly announces a date to hand over power to an elected government in some of the worst unrest since the country's revolution. Police fired tear gas canisters and protesters threw rocks on Sunday morning as thousands remained on the streets overnight in and around central Cairo's Tahrir square, the focal point of the 18-day uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in February. Essam Sharraf, Egypt's interim prime minister, was set to host an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the unrest.
Ethiopia: Ethiopian troops 'enter Somalia'
Residents say a large number of Ethiopian troops have crossed into neighbouring Somalia, just weeks after Kenyan forces entered the country to pursue al-Shabab fighters. 'The Ethiopian troops, which are in convoys of armoured vehicles, come to us today, crossing from Balanbale district on the border,' Gabobe Adan, an elder in the central town of Guriel told Reuters.
Mauritania: Army 'kills Qaeda chief in Mali'
Mauritanian forces killed a top official of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) during an air raid into Malian territory, a Mauritanian security source said. Mauritanian national Teyeb Ould Sidi Aly allegedly headed operations carried out with explosives-filled vehicles against Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and the French embassy in Nouakchott.
Somalia: Kenya appeals for US report
The Obama administration is considering 'an urgent appeal' from Kenya for US intelligence and logistical support for its military operation in Somalia, the Los Angeles Times reported. The newspaper characterised Kenya’s Somalia operation as 'faltering' but cited no specific sources, even though Kenya UN ambassador Macharia Kamau did visit Washington to seek US backing for Operation Linda Nchi. Mr Kamau had earlier told nation.co.ke that Kenya would welcome an international blockade of Kismayu, the southern Somalia port through which the Al- Shabaab derives much of its revenue. The US has publicly expressed reluctance to undertake such a blockade.
Somalia: Shabaab bashes Kenya-Israel security pact
A spokesperson for the Somali militant group al-Shabaab said that Kenya's prime minister recently visited Israel to seek assistance in 'destroying Muslim people and their religion'. The office of Kenya's prime minister said on Monday 14 November that Kenya received the backing of Israeli leaders to help Kenya fight what it called 'fundamentalist elements'. Kenyan Prime Minster Raila Odinga visited Israel on and sought help building the capacity of his country's security forces.
Southern Africa: Piracy pact between SA, Moz and Tanzania
The United States ambassador to Mozambique has saluted an anti-piracy agreement signed between South Africa and Mozambique last week which presages an accord with Tanzania. South Africa's defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu signed a memorandum of understanding with her Mozambican counterpart Filipe Jacinto Nyusi. The two countries applauded successful patrolling activities off the central Mozambican coast and decided to involve Tanzania - north of Mozambique - in their activities.
Durban climate justice
Activist information for COP17
This durbanclimatejustice.wordpress.com website is designed to provide logistical support for climate justice activists attending the COP17. With information on events, venues, actions, and essential activist advice on a cheap curry and decent beer after a long days changing the world.
Global: CDM Watch
CDM Watch was re-established in April 2009 to provide an independent perspective on CDM projects, methodologies and the work of the CDM Executive Board, which is supervising the CDM. The ultimate goal is to help assure that the current CDM, as well as a reformed mechanism post-2012, effectively results in emission reductions that are real, measurable, permanent, independently verified, and that contribute to sustainable development in CDM host countries.
Global: European Geosciences communications fellowship
The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is offering fellowships for journalists to report on ongoing research in the geosciences. Successful applicants will receive up to €5k to cover expenses related to their projects, including following scientists on location.
Global: Using citizen media tools to promote under-represented languages
Join New Tactics, Rising Voices, Indigenous Tweets, and other practitioners for an online dialogue on Using Citizen Media Tools to Promote Under-Represented Languages from 16-22 November 2011.
Global: Celebrating Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela: past, present and future
The aim of this policy brief is to argue that the celebration of only the ‘positive’ aspects of Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela’s persona is an injustice to his contribution to South Africa history. What should rather be celebrated is Madiba in his totality, including his weaknesses and faults. It is submitted that ‘Our Madiba’ should be put in proper historical context, so that the world can best appreciate and celebrate Mandela in his totality for his contributions to world peace in the past, present and future.
No REDD Papers: Vol. 1
Global Justice Ecology Project
Global Justice Ecology Project has just published the No REDD Papers, Volume 1. 'Your future, our climate and Indigenous Peoples are threatened by a devious false solution to climate change called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Unfortunately, industrialized countries, oil companies and other climate criminals that are trashing the planet have absolutely no intention of drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions necessary to truly address climate change.'
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