Burma Panel TONIGHT and News Update

Please join us tonight for our Human Rights in Burma event with Burmese/Rohingya activists, from 5-7 pm in Kehillah Hall, 2nd floor of Koret Pavilion (near Hillel)! Dinner will be served!
We’re going to be joined by some pretty awesome panelists, so it’ll be worth it to check it out. The details are here.

Although we didn’t have a meeting this week, Emily Witt was generous enough to give us a news update on Burma!

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Mini News Update and Movie

Since we had a lot on agenda last week, our news updates were very brief and cursory.

Syria update from  Syria deeply.

  • Bomb killed 8 people.
  • Kerry came out against Russia support of Assad
  • Obama mulling his options because things getting more extreme.

Congo

  • President Kabila signed Amnesty bill for M23 soldiers
  • Apple announced conflict free.

Burma – land protesters arrested

Sudan – new fighting in Malakal.

Also, please join us tomorrow from 7 to 9:30 pm for a screening in Cubberley Auditorium of “The Act of Killing,” an award-winning documentary on genocide in Indonesia. After the screening, there will be a panel discussion with Norman Naimark, Erik Jensen, Don Emmerson, and Diane Steinberg. Please find more information here at arts.stanford.edu!

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News Updates, 2/12/14

Burma

TIME story about how Women and civil society are coming together in Kachin state to demand an end to rape as a tool of war and abuses by military and police, and to hold perpetrators accountable in civilian court.

National Geographic Released a “Dreams of Burma” app that allows you to view photos on a virtual tourist trip of the country.

Human Rights held their annual board of directors event in Burma this past week and called for more media freedoms and a transparent investigation into the violence in Arakan State.

Mining by multi-naitonal companies threatens traditional livelihoods in remote areas of Burma.

Sudan

New peace talks

  • New peace talks to resolve crisis in South Sudan began in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday
  • 2 weeks since ceasefire signed
  • Peace talks will be on political dialogue and national reconciliation
  • Rebels agreed to continue talks with agreement that detainees would be released and Ugandan troops aligned with Salva Kiir will withdraw
  • Detainees are allies of Machar from SPLM

Opposition Threatens Boycott

  • Opposition had threatened Monday to boycott talks unless the following demands were met :
    • Withdrawal of government troops from UN camp in Juba
    • Release of four political detainees
    • Withdrawal of Ugandan troops fighting alongside Kiir army
  • The agreements already signed in January were for a cessation of hostilities and release of eleven other detainees

Humanitarian Crisis

  • World Food Program estimates 3.7 million people are in urgent need of food
  • WFP does not have guaranteed safe access to all areas of the country
  • Many checkpoints, frequent looting
  • WFP expects to reach fewer than half sites in need in Jonglei state (where 70% of population is suffering from “acute and emergency food insecurity”)
  • Worry about rainy season starting in April means that many parts of the country will become inaccessible

Syria

Russia wants “pragmatic” not humanitarian resolution

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  • Russian envoy is opposed to UN resolution on more humanitarian aid to Syria
  • Think that a security council resolution would be “politicized”
  • Without minimizing the “quite horrific” situation in Homs, Churkin claimed that “it is not a large-scale kind of a siege of the kind we’ve had in the course of history.” Asked about much-delayed efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, Churkin praised Damascus for its efforts.” –Basically Russia is still being very supportive of the regime

New Round of Syria Talks Off to a Slow Start

  • “Faisal Mekdad, called Tuesday’s meeting a “lost day” because the opposition had refused to discuss terrorism, the Syrian government’s priority for the talks.”
  • two sides “talking past each other”
  • U.S. says the regime needs to stop evading questions

Three Day Humanitarian Ceasefire
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  • Ceasefire in Homs to last through today
  • People evacuated, but many worried about leaving
  • Humanitarian aid allowed in but snipers have attacked aid convoys
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News Updates, 2/5/14

Burma

TIME magazine: There are now fixed ghettos that the Rohingya are being forced to live in with guarded gates that one has to obtain a permit in order to pass through. The article describes many of the early signs of genocide.
The Burmese government arrested 5 journalists for reporting on a secret chemical weapons facility and also arrested the family members of these journalists, including 3 year old girl.

Congo

Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to President Joseph Kabila urging him to end impunity for M23 leaders and other perpetrators of serious human rights abuses. The letter referred to the recent surrender of M23 to the Congolese government and emphasized the need to prosecute the group’s leaders; more broadly, it reiterated of creating an institution within the Congolese government and supported by international actors whose sole purpose would be to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Such legislation is currently underway in Congo.

The Congo government announced its concern over recent reports that M23 has continued recruiting new members, presumably for a new round of insurgency.

Rwanda’s ambassador to the UN called Congo a “cry baby” for continuing to blame Rwanda for the problems within the DRC.

FDLR representatives announced that the group had begun to disarm and was prepared for talks with the Congolese government, but the UN peacekeepers in the DRC said that they had yet to see any signs of this disarmament.

Sudan

The UN recently asked $1.27 billion in funding for aid to South Sudan. However, this was greatly complicated by recent evidence of how much of the humanitarian aid supplies sent to the area are still being looted. A photo (below) of soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army wearing UNICEF backpacks intended for children heading back to school has made headlines, complicating the issue.

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers wearing UNICEF backpacks walk along a road in Mathiang near Bor on Jan. 31, 2014.

Also, in the same vein, according to UN officials, 4,700 tons of World Food Program food has been looted from warehouses across the country. Relations between South Sudan and the UN remain tense, as despite South Sudan President Salva Kiir  accusing the UN of being too involved in the government, they are trying to ask for even more funding. The increasing evidence of the out-of-control looting problem also casts doubt on their ability to create change.

The capital city of Sudan’s North Kordofan state, El-Obeid, has been repeatedly attacked by janjaweed militias. A local merchant was killed recently, sparking public demonstrations asking for retribution. The governor of North Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, has stated that he would help drive them out within 72 hours. Haroun himself, though, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes.

Syria

US Condemn Barrel Bomb Raids in Aleppo

  • Aleppo–key city in the north
  • has been divided since 2012 when rebels captured large areas
  • more than 150 killed in the past four days in a string of bombings
  • barrel bombs: oil drums/cylinders packed with explosives
  • Secretary of State Kerry calls it “latest barbaric act of the Syrian regime”

UN Releases Report Documenting Abuses of Children in Syrian Conflict

  • new report to UN Security Council presented last week
  • report says children that have been detained by government have been:
    • sexually abused
    • tortured
    • used as civilian shields
    • also have been recruited to fight with opposition
    • estimated at least 10,000 have been killed
  • Syria’s deputy foreign minister in Geneva:
    • blamed opposition forces
    • “I categorically deny there are any children being detained. Those are rumors.”

Syrian Opposition Disappearing from Facebook

  • the revolution has grown much beyond what the initial peaceful activists who utilized social media wanted
  • activists being martyred, journalists detained
  • it is no longer safe to post on Facebook or YouTube
  • Facebook has now barred dozens of pages for posting “graphic imagery” and “calls to violence”
  • Syrian Network for Human Rights had page closed down in October
  • Quote by Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook: “By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored.”

Other News:

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STAND-day Wednesday/Thursday

Please join us today for an Africa Table: “Our Land, Our Blood: The Politics of Land Privatization in Al Gazira, Central Sudan” by Nisrin Elamin in Encina Hall West 202 from 12 to 1 pm.

Then, we’re attending a Human Rights speaker series event by Sanela Diana Jenkins on Health and Human Rights in Burma from 5:30 to 7 pm in 200-205.

Of course, we have a STAND meeting tonight in the Haas Center at 9 pm!

And tomorrow from 7 to 9 pm, join us for our eagerly-awaited Human Rights and the Media event with Knight Journalism Fellow Kennedy Jawoko in the Kehillah Room on the 2nd floor of Hillel. Jawoko’s current work focuses on finding methods to train South Sudanese/East African journalists. This conversation will focus on the portrayal of human rights in international and mainstream media, through the lens of Jawoko’s work in South Sudan and elsewhere.

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