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Civil War Separates Peuhl Children from their Parents in Yaloke, Central African Republic

aloke Boys Reunited with Their Family via UNICEF_CAR twitter account - Public Domain

Yaloke Boys Reunited with Their Family via UNICEF_CAR twitter account – Public Domain

Peuhl minorities of Islamic confession have been trying to escape anti-balaka militia since the beginning of the civil war in in the Central African Republic.  One of the camps where displaced Peuhl can find protection is the Yaloke camp by the Cameroonian border in the western region. The health situation in the Yaloke camp is critical where death rates is three times higher than other cities in the region. The refugees are not allowed to move out of the Yaloke Camp which has made it difficult for families to reunite.  The Reseau Des Journalistes pour les droits de l'homme EN RCA (The Journalist Network for Human Rights in CAR) reports on the situation:

Pour Moussa Saidou, deux de ses enfants l’ont quitté et se retrouvent aujourd’hui à Gamba. « Ils sont partis le jour de l’attaque qui a conduit à la perte de nos bétails. Ils ont fui dans la brousse pour se retrouver à Gamba avant de rejoindre Goré au Tchad, où ils séjournent pour le moment»

Moussa Saidou explains that two of her children have escaped and now find themselves in Gamba. “They left the day of the attack that led to the loss of our livestock. They fled into the forest to find themselves in Gamba before joining Gore in Chad, where they stay for now”.

Macedonian Journalist Describes How it Feels to be Subject of State Surveillance

Prominent investigative journalist Meri Jordanovska wrote a testimony about her experience on receiving evidence that she was one of allegedly twenty thousand individuals who have been subjected to state surveillance in Macedonia. In an op-ed on Balkan Insight, Jordanovska explains: 

Meri Jordanovska. Photo: Prizma Project. Used with permission.

Meri Jordanovska. Photo: BIRN Prizma Project. Used with permission.

Each report on one of my wiretapped conversations was true: the date, the story I was working on and the sources I was getting briefed by. Everything was correct. I am not sure I will get another “diploma”. This folder was more than enough for me to clearly see what is happening in my country.I can clearly see that someone knew in advance what story I was working on. Enough for me to conclude that my sources of information were endangered. Enough for the centers of power to be able to react preventively before the story was published. Enough to become aware, even though I had always suspected this, that some people know the problems of those closest to me – people who had shared personal matters with me over the phone.

Jordanovska received a file containing surveillance of her communications during a press conference by the opposition party SDSM, at which representatives of the party also revealed that journalists had been wiretapped en masse in Macedonia. Besides publishing several conversation as proof, twenty journalists were given folders with CDs containing their own files, leaked by sources from within the Ministry of Interior. Her text is also available in Macedonian and has been republished by several independent portals in her home country, including Mojot grad.

SDSM leader Zoran Zaev claims that National Security Services illegally targeted over twenty thousand people with the surveillance, which involved illegally recording and storing phone conversations of these individuals over at least four years. His party has not yet published a list of all the alleged victims, nor a list of the wiretapped phone numbers. According to SDSM representatives, these included both citizens of Macedonia and foreigners using local telecom services, including several diplomats.

Indigenous Activists Threatened and Attacked in El Cauca, Colombia

Several indigenous communities in Colombia continue to be victims of human rights violations and threats by paramilitary groups. Moreover, activists also report being attacked by public security forces and ESMAD, Colombia's mobile anti-riot squad, as exposed by Ama Pachamama in a Facebook post from March 11, 2015:

[...] A la fecha, se reportan 57 indígenas heridos, producto de agresiones directas de la Fuerza Pública; nueve heridos por artefactos no convencionales utilizados por el ESMAD; varios por arma de fuego disparada de manera directa.

La situación en la zona es denunciada como crítica, donde se informa la desaparición y posterior asesinato de dos comuneros a mediados de febrero, y que se relaciona con el actual y “continuo patrullaje de hombres armados, presuntos paramilitares en las Haciendas La Emperatriz y el Municipio de Caloto”. Y se agrava por los actos de estigmatización del alcalde de Corinto, Oscar Quintero, quien califica de manera permanente de “terroristas” a las comunidades, y por las amenazas a la vida que se dan a través de “la circulación de panfletos emitidos por grupos paramilitares – Rastrojos y Águilas Negras – anunciando limpieza social y amenazando de manera directa a organizaciones y dirigentes. Quienes tildan a la comunidad y sus dirigentes de ‘Roba tierras’.”

To date, 57 indigenous protesters have been reported injured as a result of direct attacks by security forces; nine wounded by riot police using unconventional devices; several others deliberately shot at. The situation in the area is said to be critical. In mid-February, two villagers disappeared and were later murdered—all connected to the current “continuous patrols by armed men, presumed paramilitary agents in Haciendas La Imperatriz and the town of Caloto.” And this is aggravated by acts of intimidation against the mayor of Corinto, Oscar Quintero, who has called the actions a form of permanent ‘terrorism’  as well as by the threats to the lives of residents through the “circulation of flyers put out by paramilitary groups—the Rastrojos and Aguilas Negras—warning of social cleansing and directly threatening organizations and their leaders. Who branded the community and its leaders ‘land-grabbers.'” 

The Internet gave voice to the fear engendered by the Colombian paramilitary groups knowns as Águilas Negras and Rastrojos, who disseminate threatening leaflets designed to intimidate the social activists of the Cauca region. As a result, many users are condemning their actions and denouncing the situation on Twitter:

New massive threats by Aguilas Negras and Rastrojos in Bta and Cauca

Colombian paramilitary groups Rastrojos and Aguilas Negras are threatening the indigenous people fighting for land in northern Cauca with “social cleansing.” 

Paramilitary groups (Rastrojos and Aguilas Negras) are circulating flyers that directly threaten INDIGENOUS protesters.

Águilas Negras and Rastrojos, among the illegal organizations that most threaten activists in Colombia

For first time Aguilas Negras and Rastrojos sign joint death threat against indigenous leaders in Cauca

Bahrain Court Postpones Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab's Case to April 15

Nabeel Rajab, from Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nabeel Rajab, from Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A Bahrain court today [March 15, 2015] postponed its verdict in an appeal made by leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab against a six-month prison sentence until April 15.

The case concerns comments he made about ISIS on Twitter. Rajab was initially convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets that likened Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for fighters of the radical group ISIS.

Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights – not recognised as a legal entity by the government – was only released from prison in May 2014 after serving two years for “disrupting the public order.”

That sentence came after Rajab was arrested for trying to investigate human rights violations that took place during Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.

The tweet for which he was convicted suggested that Bahrain's security institutions had a number of staff that had joined terrorist groups, including ISIS.

Following today's hearing, Rajab tweeted to his 260K followers on Twitter:

The court has postponed its verdict in the Twitter case hearing, which was supposed to be made today, until April 15, while continuing to ban me from travel

Index on Censorship remarked:

More than 200 Academics Sign Statement Supporting Anti-Junta Professor in Thailand

Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Photo from Prachatai website.

Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Photo from Prachatai website.

More than 200 academics from all over the world have signed a statement expressing support to historian and college professor Dr Somsak Jeamteerasakul who was recently fired by Thammasat University. The Thai scholar, who has been teaching for two decades, is critical of the junta government which grabbed power last May 2014.

The statement urged Thammasat University and other higher education institutions to uphold academic freedom and free speech:

To think differently is not a crime. If one cannot do so within the walls of the university, spaces of learning and the pursuit of truth, then the space to do so outside those walls will dwindle as well.

Documenting the Systematic Decline of Women's Rights in Macedonia

Although southeast European countries are progressive in many other ways, the decline of women's reproductive rights in some Western Balkan countries has been a worrying trend. In Macedonia, several small protests have been held in recent years to demonstrate people's opposition to government involvement in determining public sentiment on issues like abortion and family planning, after the government implemented a national anti-abortion campaign that began in 2011.  

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“My body – my decision” sigh at a protest against new abortion law. Photo by Vanco Dzhambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

Recently, Macedonian equal rights activist Ana Vasileva, known as @Amateuress on Twitter, provided a lengthy overview of the systematic decline of women's rights in Macedonia on her blog:

In recent years Macedonia has undergone a very subtle, yet dreadfully pervasive deterioration of the situation with women's rights. Mainly unnoticed or overlooked, the government latched on the popular, deeply misogynist sentiment of the suffering mother (a metaphor often used for the country itself) and after the initial surge of promise with the introduction of the gender quotas in 2006 and the adoption of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, which paired with the history of equal treatment from the previous system led to even higher percentages in female representation in certain areas compared to the EU average[1], things started moving downwards steadily, without sufficient public resistance.

It can arguably be claimed that the ploy began with the anti-abortion posters and newspaper ads which started littering the public space out of nowhere circa 2006-2007 without anyone claiming responsibility for them…

Film Documents Alleged Human Rights Crimes by Peru's Military in the 80s

Recovering Latin American historical memory and raising awareness of the atrocities committed in the past are crucial steps to take in order to ensure they are never repeated and that, instead, we continue to work towards strengthening our democracies. To that end, film can play a crucial role in compiling testimonies that constitute our collective memory, in this case the history of Peru.

Spanish filmmaker Luis Cintora unveiled his new documentary at the Latin American Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival. It recounts the alleged crimes committed by the Peruvian army in their fight against the militant group Shining Path from 1983-84 in the Ayacucho region. The documentary “Wecome to Los Cabitos” features testimony from survivors, relatives of missing persons, academics and soldiers, who provide moving testimony about the alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated on the former military base.

Documentary filmmaker reveals that young people in #Ayacucho are unaware of the era of terror.

It is not the first time that the Spanish filmmaker has focused on this dark period in Peru's history. In 2012 he made “The footprints of the Shining Path“, which explores the shadow cast by this violent organization on the country's collective memory, one which not surprisingly elicits conflicting emotions.

Filomena Sanchez disappeared in Huanta in 1988; they found her body among the cadavers uncovered in the Los Cabitos barracks.

One more from the PROTERRORISTS, based on the CVR [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report.

Open Letter Asks UN Human Rights Council to Probe Abuses in Vietnam

An open letter signed by 27 groups and 163 individuals is asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe the human rights abuses committed by the Vietnamese government. The signatories are also demanding the removal of Vietnam's membership in the UN human rights body.

We urge member states to vote against Vietnam based on its continuing rampant human rights violations. It is time for the Vietnamese government to learn that it can no longer escape accountability.

Some of the violations allegedly perpetrated by the government include the persecution of bloggers, censorship, religious oppression, wrongful convictions, abuse of political prisoners, and harassment of activists.

Bahraini Human Rights Defender Awaits Sentence

Nabeel Rajab is scheduled to be sentenced in a case brought against him by the Bahraini government on March 15, concerning comments about ISIS that he made on Twitter. Convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets likening Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for ISIS fighters, Rajab was initially sentenced to six months in prison. His sentence is being re-issued following a judicial appeal made by his legal defense in early February.

Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (dissolved and declared an illegal entity by the government), was released from prison in May 2014 after two years’ imprisonment for “disrupting public order.” Rajab was arrested and jailed following his efforts to investigate human rights violations surrounding Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.

Mexican Protesters Show Creative Activism

@faeriedevilish, blogging for Infoactivismo, reflects on the need to be creative in communicating our protests. Along those lines, the author explains the importance of creativity while referring to protesting events in Ayotzinapa, where photocopies of the victims’ faces were used to attract and generate awareness about the terrible incidents.

Fotografía extraída del blog Infoactivismo, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Infoactivismo. Used by permission.

Illustrators not only made use of online resources to get the public's attention, but the streets also took the leading role for young people's creativity. 

En una ciudad en la que la proliferación de marchas lleva en el mejor de los casos a una saturación, y en el peor de ellos, a prejuicios de clase, hacer que las marchas de Acción Global Ayotzinapa dieran incentivos para seguir participando fue un reto gigantesco.

Y es que marchar es del Contingente Carreola. Marchar es usar tu talento para incidir – como los jóvenes de la ENAP que pintaron las caras de lxs desaparecidxs en Reforma, lxs estudiantes de la Nacional de Música que marchaban interpretando música. Marchar es de quienes cuentan del 1 al 43, y de quienes cambian los dichos machistas por versiones feministas.

Marchar no es aburrido ni tedioso: es una forma de participación social que, de hecho, puede ser bastante divertida.

In a city where a proliferation of marches can either fill the streets or lead to class prejudices, it was a huge challenge to have the Ayotzinapa Global Action encourage further participation. 

The march is lead by the Stroller Contingent. Marching uses your talent to have an affect on people, such as the kids from the National School of Plastic Arts who painted their faces reflecting the people who disappeared during the Reform period, and students from the National Conservatory of Music marched while playing music. The march has people from ages 1 to 43 and those willing to change their chauvinist remarks for more feminist ones. 

Marching isn't boring or tedious. It's a way to participate in something social and fun. 

You can follow Infoactivism on Twitter

This selected article participated in the 42nd edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV on February 9, 2015.

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