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Quick Reads + International Relations

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Latest stories from Quick Reads + International Relations

Who Benefits from Trafficking Women from Madagascar to the Middle East?

Aaron Ross reports on his investigation in the heart of the ongoing human trafficking of young women from Madagascar to Middle Eastern countries:

For some enterprising businessmen, the collapse heralded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So-called placement agencies sprang up in Antananarivo and other cities across Madagascar, promising the good life in Middle Eastern “Eldorados,” where monthly salaries usually ran around $200. The agencies would pocket upward of $2,000 for each successful transaction [..] As Madagascar’s economy spiraled downward, the number of migrants grew anyway. Some headed clandestinely to Lebanon with the collusion of government officials. Of late, however, the most popular destinations have been Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Ross also details the consequences from of economic sanctions of the coup in his report. The topic was also discussed by national observers here.

East Timorese Protect Land Rights Against Australian Cement Plant Deal

The announcement of a new cement plant project by an Australian company in Baucau, northeast of East Timor, has led local community groups to set up a non-governmental organization “to protect and preserve the communities’ rights to their culture, development and traditional land rights.”

According to the community organization, Kapeliwa, the government of East Timor gave the largest construction company in Western Australia, BGC, permission to construct [tet] a cement plant with the annual capacity of 1.5 million tons in Baucau, as well as a license to extract limestone for 100 years. The construction project was awarded to the South Korean company POSCO E&C, from East Timor’s TL Cement (“a special purpose corporation wholly owned by BGC”), in December 2013.

Kapeliwa was publicly launched on April 19, 2014, by a group of intellectuals from Kaisido, Parlamento, Lialailesu and Osowa - four villages located in the northeast coast of Timor-Leste, Baucau district. The four villages, situated near the airport of the country's second city, are part of the administrative area of Suco Tirilolo, where the minority ethno-lingusitic community Uaima'a live.

In the first public meeting with the community members and leaders of the four villages, the group's founders presented the ”potential positive and negative impact of the proposed cement factory in and on Uaima'a land known as Kaisido.” The group claims that there is lack of information about this project and that there hasn't been a proper viability study for the development.

A 80 Year-long Wait: Niger Gets its First Train Station

On April 7, Niger inaugurated in the capital Niamey its first train station ever [fr]. The authorities already projected the construction of the train station 80 years ago but the project never took off. The event will kick start the construction of railroads between Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. Twitter user Tanoussou in Niamey posted a photo of the train station :

 

The Kidnapping Industry Takes Hold in Cameroon

The Matango Club blog reflects upon the kidnapping of two italian priests and a canadian nun [fr] on April 4, 2014 in Northern Cameroon:

 Pour l’histoire, les kidnappings de ce genre ne datent pas d’aujourd’hui. Rappelons que  dernièrement, le rapt du prêtre français Georges Vandenbeusch, 42 ans, a fait beaucoup de bruit. Il avait été kidnappé un 14 novembre 2013 dans son monastère, la paroisse de Nguetchewe, près de Koza, dans le nord du pays, à 700 kilomètres de la capitale Yaoundé, une zone considérée comme très dangereuse. Avant lui, le 19 février 2013, la famille Moulin-Fournier avait elle aussi été enlevée. Ces deux derniers kidnapping avaient connu un tapage médiatique international à tel point que les soupçons qui pesaient sur le groupe islamique Boko Haram ont fini par être confirmés par le chef Abubakar Shekau, leader du groupuscule depuis 2009.

Tout juste après la libération de la famille Moulin-Fournier, la presse camerounaise et beaucoup d’opinion diverses soupçonnaient le gouvernement camerounais d’avoir donné une rançon au groupe islamique Boko Haram pour la libération des français. Ces soupçons se sont encore renforcés lorsque la même France a encore eu maille à partir avec le kidnapping du prêtre Georges qui a été libéré quelque semaines après. Ces séries de rapts et de libérations à n’en plus finir font penser que c’est devenu un marché tant du côté du Nigeria que du  Cameroun.

 Kidnapping of this kind is not new in Cameroon. The abduction of French priest Georges Vandenbeusch, 42, made ​​a lot of noise recently. He was kidnapped on November 14, 2013 in his monastery, in the parish Nguetchewe near Koza, 700 kilometers north of the capital city Yaoundé, an area that is considered very dangerous. Before him, on February 19 2013, the Moulin-Fournier family were also kidnapped. These last two kidnappings were covered to a certain extent in the international media with suspicions aimed at the Islamic group Boko Haram. These suspicions were eventually confirmed by Boko Haram's leader since 2009 Abubakar Shekau.  Just after the release of Moulin- Fournier family, the Cameroonian press suspected that the Cameroonian government paid a ransom to Boko Haram for the release of the French hostages. These suspicions were further strengthened when France seems involved in the release of priest Georges Vandenbeusch some weeks later. These series of kidnappings and releases suggest that the kidnapping industry has become a booming sector in Nigeria and now in Cameroon as well.

Video Shows How the U.S. Dropped 2.5 Million Tons of Bombs on Laos

Mother Jones uploaded a video which simulates the 600 bombing missions conducted by the United States in Laos between 1965 to 1973 during the Vietnam War era.

Why Rwanda Accuses France of Aiding 1994 Genocide

As Rwanda pays tribute to the victims of the genocide 20 years after the tragedy, President Kagame states again that France must “face up to the difficult truth” of its role in the 1994 genocide [fr]. As a result of this statement, France has pulled out of the commemorative events and former Foreign Affairs Minister of France demands that president Hollande defends the Honor of France and its army.  Rémi Noyon at French site Rue 89 lists the reasons why Rwanda accuses again France of aiding the genocide [fr] :

 1) La France va « de facto » prendre le commandement de l’armée rwandaise face au rebelles du Front patriotique rwandais (FPR).

2) La France craint alors que l’offensive tutsi ne soit télécommandée via l’Ouganda par les Anglo-saxons, et ne vise à enfoncer un coin dans l’influence de la France sur la région

3) La France ne semble pas s’intéresser outre mesure aux négociations de paix.

4) Les soldats n’embarquent pas le personnel tutsi présent à l’ambassade de France (sauf une personne). Ils seront tous massacrés.

5) Quant à l’opération Turquoise, elle continue à diviser : elle a certainement permis de sauver des vies tutsi, mais l’armée est accusée d’être restée passive – et donc complice – face aux atrocités.

1) France commanded some branches of the Rwandan army against the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

2) France feared that the Tutsi offensive was remotely piloted via Uganda by anglophone countries and was intended to drive a wedge into the influence of France in the region. 

3) France did not seem overly interested in peace negotiations before the conflict.

4) The soldiers did not evacuate any  of the Tutsi staff present at the Embassy of France (except for one person). They ended all being killed.

5) As for Operation Turquoise, it continues to divide: it certainly saved Tutsi lives, but the army is accused of having remained passive – and therefore was accomplice – to the atrocities.

 

 

Taiwan's Sunflower Movement on Reddit

Four Taiwanese students joining the Sunflower Movement opened an Ask Me Anything on Reddit to answer questions regarding their protest against the closed-door trade deal with China.

Should Africa Learn From the Crimea Referendum?

“Is Crimea referendum a good model for Africa?” asks Richard Dowden:

Africa’s arbitrary borders, mostly drawn by people who had never set foot in the continent, have always been an obvious target for renegotiation. But Africa’s first rulers, who foresaw chaos and disintegration if the nation states were reconfigured, ruled it out. “Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State” was one of the founding principles of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of the African Union. Despite all the wars, internal and external, this principle has been pretty much adhered to by both presidents and people.

Loyalty to an African state is not always related to the ability of that state to make the lives of its people better. Patriotism, an emotional thing, does not take these benefits into account, even in countries where the majority of citizens are marginalised or oppressed by the government. Even in the catastrophic recent meltdown of South Sudan after just two years of independence, no one is advocating return to rule from Khartoum. In the dying days of Mobutu’s Zaire (now the DRC) I was astonished to find that people felt it to be a great country. I asked why Katanga, the rich south east province, didn’t secede – as it had in 1960. My suggestion was greeted with shocked surprise.

Creator of Quirky Movement Defends Kremlin Propagandist

A “Monstration” demonstrator in Novosibirsk, in 2011.

Artyom Loskutov, creator of the popular counter-culture art movement “Monstration” [see Global Voices report], made waves on RuNet by signing a letter in support of Dmitry Kiselyov, a journalist who many consider to be Putin's chief propagandist. Loskutov was one of several dozen Russian journalists who signed the letter [ru], which asks pointed questions about recent EU sanctions imposed against Kiselyov, and whether such sanctions constitute an attack on free speech.

Loskutov works for TV Rain, an opposition TV station currently facing financial difficulties because of censorship, and so seems like an odd candidate to voice support for Kiselyov. Popular photo-blogger Rustem Adagamov even tweeted [ru] that he wants to cancel his subscription to TV Rain and get his money back because of Loskutov's position. Loskutov defended himself in a Facebook post [ru], saying that his signature was not in support of Kiselyov, but rather in support of the principle of free speech and the rights of journalists. Many of his readers argued that free speech should not apply to “propagandists” like Kiselyov, launching personal attacks against Loskutov and continuing a long tradition of Russian liberal intelligentsia seeking out fifth columnists in their own ranks.

Why Filipinos Became Early Adopters of Western Music

Le Minh Khai refers to the book of D. R. M. Irving in explaining the long history of Filipino musicians playing Western music:

…there was a rich experience of musical contact and exchange between Spaniards and Filipinos that began not long after the Spaniards established their control over the Philippines in the sixteenth century.

Filipinos therefore learned Western musical forms long before many other peoples in Asia, and that to some extent can explain why they started to be sought after in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when aspects of Western culture started to take hold in other Asian societies.

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