Stories from Quick Reads and International Relations
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
Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev has written a letter to President Vladimir Putin, proposing amendments to the new data retention law and suggesting that Russians’ personal data could be stored abroad with the permission of the owners.
Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) reports:
Marinichev has proposed allowing foreign online companies to store Russians’ personal data in a country that is a signatory to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, according to Izvestia.
A total of 46 countries have ratified the convention, including Russia, the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as post-Soviet countries including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine.
“We don’t want to lose global online services, which will be unable to operate in Russia unless the law is amended. I suggest that amendments be discussed with the expert community,” Marinichev said, as quoted by Izvestia.
The data retention law that requires social networking sites and foreign companies providing Internet services (like airline tickets and consumer goods sales) in Russia to store Russians’ personal data on servers inside the Russian Federation, will come into effect on September 1.
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.
For the first time, Boko Haram conducted an assault on Niger's territory and the youth of Niger will not stand for it.
Boko Haram assaulted Bosso and Diffa, two towns in southeast Niger at the border with Nigeria but was repelled by Niger and Chad's army. Boko Haram lost an estimated 100 combatants in the clash but a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the city a few hours later, killing 5 civilians. The youth of Niger was prompt to react to the attacks. Niamey (Niger's capital) High school students got together to condemn the attacks on their country and express in Hausa their support to their troops fighting at the border:
Malaysia is the new chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the year 2015. This year is crucial for ASEAN as the region takes steps to achieve full integration as a united community. The new logo represents “harmony, close partnership and aspiration of the people from the ten ASEAN countries aimed at achieving the shared vision” of the community.
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:
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.
Oumar Ba discusses the historic trial of the former president of Chad Hissène Habré:
For the first time in history, a former head of an African state will stand trial in Africa, before an internationalized tribunal, the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegalese Courts. The EAC is an ad hoc court which is set up by the African Union under the principle of universal jurisdiction. It focuses solely on crimes of genocide, war crimes, torture, and crimes against humanity committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990. That happens to be the period of Habré’s tenure. The Chambers are made of judges of Senegalese nationality, nominated by Senegal’s Minister of Justice and appointed by the AU Chairperson.
If all goes as planned, the Habré’s trial will start in Dakar, this summer. Habré stands accused of crimes against humanity and torture during his rule in Chad in the 1980s. His reign was brutal, but he was literally “our man in Africa,” eager and willing to do for the CIA and the Reagan administration what no one else would.
David K. Deng argues that the African Union is failing South Sudan after deciding that the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) should not release its report:
On the evening of 29 January, African heads of state gathered in Addis Ababa for a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). Among the items on the agenda was a presentation by the chairperson of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS), former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. More than a year after the African Union (AU) announced its investigation into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan, the AUCISS was set to formally present its final report to the AUPSC.
Instead of Obasanjo, however, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who doubles as the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), walked to the podium and raised a motion to defer consideration and publication of the AUCISS report until peace is achieved, saying that it would jeopardise the ongoing IGAD-led peace process. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa seconded the motion, followed by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. With that, the matter was closed and a public release of the AUCISS report was put off indefinitely.
The AUPSC’s decision not to publish the AUCISS report casts doubt on the prospects for justice and accountability in South Sudan. It also raises questions as to whether the AU and IGAD are genuinely committed to ending the impunity that they themselves acknowledge to be a driver of violence in the country.
The AUCISS was formed in December 2013 with a mandate to “investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best ways and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.” Over the course of six months, from March to September 2014, the AUCISS interviewed hundreds of South Sudanese across the country and in the diaspora. Rumor has it that the report provides a detailed account of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by all sides in the South Sudanese conflict. It is even said to include a list of people responsible for atrocities, including senior figures from both sides.
On February 4, Boko Haram conducted a particularly gruesome attack on the town of Fotokol in Northern Cameroon, right across the Nigerian border. Hundred of civilians are feared dead, 81 confirmed so far by the Minister of Defense. Local Human Rights Organization believes that close to 370 civilians were killed. Local testimonies mention scores of bodies in the streets with their throats slit. The town of Fotokol has been subjected to battles between Boko Haram and Camerronian and Chadian armed forces recently: March 2014, August 2014 and October 2014. Cameroonian Blogger Noelle Lafortune reports that the attack signals that Boko Haram might be losing ground in the region:
Au front, la peur est en train de changer de camp. L'entrée en scène de l'armée tchadienne en appui aux armées camerounaise et nigériane semble être décisive, eu égard à la panique qui s'est emparée de Boko Haram. La puissance de feu des forces coalisées a mis en déroute Shekau et sa bande.
On the frontline, doubt might be switching sides. The emergence of the Chadian army in support of the Cameroonian and Nigerian military appears to be decisive, given the panic moves that has seemingly gripped Boko Haram. The firepower of the coalition forces routed Shekau (head of Boko Haram) and his gang.
The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.