Stories from Quick Reads and France
Former French Defense Minister Finds Excuses for the Alleged Rape of Central African Children by French Soldiers
Afrique Info reports that JP Chevènement, a former defense minister of France, stated on public radio Europe 1 on May 3 that the challenging conditions that French soldiers face in the Central African Republic could explain “behavior of that kind” (see video above). Chevènement was referring to the allegation of child sexual abuse by French troops posted in the Central African Republic. The allegations surfaced after disciplinary proceedings were taken against a United Nations employee accused of leaking the allegations to the French authorities.
A 13-year-old boy was killed by a shark on April 12 near Les Aigrettes on Reunion island.
Elio Canestri was a promising surfer and a member of the local surfing club. The local community is shocked by the tragic news. A Facebook page was set up to commemorate his life, with already more than 3,500 fans within a few hours.
Soon after the events, the local authorities activated the post-attack measures, which include specific fishing targets in the area.
Unfortunately, shark attacks have become a repetitive event on Reunion island: There have been 16 shark attacks off the island since 2011. In February this year, island authorities extended a law prohibiting swimming and other water-based activities except in special areas in response to the high number of attacks. The measure has resulted in a dramatic decline in tourism.
A shooting in a restaurant in Bamako, capital city of Mali, claimed the lives of five people on Friday night, March, 6. The attack took place around midnight in a restaurant called La Terrasse in Downtown Bamako and a dozen people are seriously injured. Two suspects are in detention and are being interrogated by security forces. A local officer reports that the two individuals were armed and hooded. One burst into the restaurant and opened fire. Three Malians, one French and one Belgian were killed. A local blogger posted a video of police forces as they come to investigate the crime scene:
Global Voices contributor Marc- André Boisvert wrote on Twitter that such an attack was inevitable, given that Mali is still trying to re-establish peace in the northern region:
— Marc-André Boisvert (@boisvertma) March 7, 2015
Philippe Paoletta, a resident of Bamako, agrees with Marc-André:
Everyone always thought this was bound to happen at some point in #bamako. Doesn't make it any less shocking or horrifying. Rip
— Phil Paɔlεtta (@philinthe_) March 7, 2015
All our thoughts are with the victims of the attack.
The third edition of the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy will kick off next week in Strasbourg, France.
The topic of the debates organized this year from Nov. 3 – 5 at the seat of Coucil of Europe will be: “From participation to influence: can youth revitalise democracy?”. The various labs will be live-tweeted under the hashtag #CoE_WFD. You can also follow the Council of Europe Twitter account @coe, and the dedicated blog. The debates will take various shapes. Various unconferences during the forum will report their findings on Nov. 4. The insights gathered during the World Forum meetings will be integrated in the future projects of the Council of Europe and its partners in the field of democracy and democratic governance. Furthermore, the Fringe Program will offer numerous events from conference and meetings to film festival and artistic performances, in various venues throughout the city from Nov. 1 to 9. Three Global Voices contributors will attend the forum.
Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]
A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.
On April 17, the French government unveiled a national campaign to combat racism and anti-Semitism in France. The objective of the campaign is to fight all prejudices, raise awareness and get citizens engaged in the conversation.
One hundred euros will be allocated over three years to educate and promote cultural diversity. The hashtag #planantiracisme (the plan against racism) was the number one trending topic on Twitter on the day of the announcement.
According to the Report on Racism and Antisemitism by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme CNCDH (National Comission on Human Rights), there was a 30% increase in racist acts in 2014 (from 1,274 in 2013 to 1,662 in 2014). Anti-Semitic acts went from 423 in 2013 to 851 in 2014, including the attack on the kosher store after the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
On April 2, 2015, at least 147 people were killed by gunmen on the campus of Garissa University in Kenya, according to Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre (KRCS). The center also reports that 79 people were injured and 587 people were evacuated at this stage.
The suspected mastermind of the massacre is the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
The tragic accounts of the shooting by survivors triggered a show of solidarity worldwide. The francophone world, still weary after the Charlie Hebdo attack, responded by showing solidarity with the Garissa victims on social networks with the hashtag #JesuisKenyan (to mirror the hashtag #JesuisCharlie). It was the second most trending topics on Twitter in France on April 3.
Here are a few of those posts:
— #BPM Nouveau single (@TEAMBEOZEDZED) abril 2, 2015
147 died in the horrific #terrorist attack against education and our future. Let's show solidarity #JesuisKenyan
Trop peu de médias ne parlent de l'attentat terroriste de l'université Kenyane, 147 morts ce n'est pas suffisant?! L'HORREUR #JeSuisKenyan
— Lorphelin Marine (@MarineLorphelin) April 3, 2015
Not enough talk in the media about the terrorist attack at the university in Kenya, are 147 dead not enough ?! HORRIBLE #JesuisKenyan
“Europe is fighting its own make-believe enemy”: This is the message that a dozen of associations in defense of migrants wanted to convey when they organized a human chain between the tramway station “Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights)” and the EU Parliament station in Strasbourg on November 26. In order to put Human Rights back at the core of Europe” and oppose the policy adopted by the European Agency of Border Control Frontex, protesters held signs that narrate the tragic plight of migrants trying to reach Europe. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to make the journey from their hometowns into Europe.
Here are a few photos of the event :
What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.
Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies) in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).
On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:
We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon.
The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.
To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.
The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.
The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.
The recent merger between French telcos SFR and Numericable is but another example of the broader trend that dominates today’s telecommunications market: operators are seeking to integrate their products in order to respond to their business clients’ growing desire for streamlined communications solutions. This merger also threatens the dominance of Orange, which – until now- has enjoyed a privileged position among corporate and business clients.
The merger is a major operation which is poised to radically transform the corporate telecommunications market. Each of the 2 companies already has a significant individual market presence and there have been no comparable upheavals since 2005, when Cegetel and Neuf Telecom merged to form Neuf Cegetel (which then became a subsidiary of SFR). Since 2010, many players have been ‘merged out’ of the telco market (the Club Internet, AOL, Telecom Italia and Cegetel brands, for example, have all been retired). This has been the market's way of responding to operators’ growing desire to at once be present in both the fixed-line and the mobile markets. The merger between SFR and Numericable falls neatly in line with this trend – it would appear that the companies are trying to merge in order to meet consumer expectations concerning price and simplicity.
This market pattern has also been driven by the fact that operators need to invest heavily in new infrastructure to maintain their quality of service. The SFR-Numericable merger, for example, will help both of the merging companies to meet their needs in this field. Lionnel Piar, Telecommunications vice-president at CGI Consulting stated :
Industriellement, ce qui est intéressant dans le rapprochement, c’est qu’on a d’un côté un SFR qui a plutôt des offres mobiles, et de l’autre un Numericable plus sur la partie câble. Avec ce rapprochement, on est plus dans la notion d’opérateur global qui va être capable de proposer l’ensemble des services à une entreprise.
From an industry perspective, the interesting thing about this merger is that, on the one hand, you have SFR which offers mainly mobile products; and, on the other hand, you have Numericable which is more about cable. With this merger, we are moving towards the notion of a unified operator which can single-handedly offer corporate clients a full suite of services.
And it is precisely this new notion that threatens the hegemonic dominance that Orange currently enjoys on the B-to-B market . Orange currently holds a 70% market share and, while SFR and Numericable currently hold 20% between them, the newly merged entity is hoping to attain 30%.