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Archive for October 25th, 2010

Calls for FDLR Crackdown After Leader’s Arrest

Posted by African Press International on October 25, 2010

High-profile arrest marks new stage in ICC’s Kivu investigation, but
observers say it needs to be followed by further action to prevent more
atrocities.

Despite the recent arrest in Paris of a Hutu militia leader from the
Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, experts have warned that his rebel
group will continue to wreak havoc without a concerted effort to pursue
their leaders on the ground and their financial backers.

Callixte Mbarushimana, the executive secretary of Hutu militia the
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR, was arrested on
October 11 after the International Criminal Court, ICC, issued a sealed
warrant against him in late September.

The prosecution office of the ICC has indicated that more warrants are
likely to follow, in connection with crimes committed in the North and
South Kivu provinces of DRC.

“The arrest of Mbarushimana sends a clear message to perpetrators of
atrocities against the population that impunity is not guaranteed,” Guy
Mushata, a Congolese lawyer at the International Centre for Transitional
Justice, told Radio Okapi. “It is a message of relief to the population,
who consider there is a certain complacency or even complicity from the
international community.”

Raphael Nyabirungu, a legislator representing the territory of Rutshuru,
North Kivu, added that the arrest was a strong indication that the ICC
is now giving serious attention to the crimes committed in the Kivus.

Mbarushimana’s arrest follows those in November 2009 of then FDLR leader
Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy Straton Musoni.

Both men were detained in German and are now awaiting trial there for
atrocities committed in the eastern DRC.

Mbarushimana, a Rwandan national, has been arrested at the request of
the ICC and it is now up to the French courts to decide whether he can
be extradited to The Hague to stand trial. A formal hearing is scheduled
for October 20.

But while the arrest of Mbarushimana has an undeniably symbolic value,
experts warn that to have a real impact on the armed group’s activities
in the region, the ICC will need to go after commanders heading military
operations on the ground as well as those who finance them.

The FDLR is thought to rely largely on mineral exploitation in the Kivus
for its funding. In 2009, a panel of United Nations experts estimated
that the group was making profits “possibly worth millions of dollars a
year from the trade of minerals”. It also warned that the FDLR “has a
far-reaching international diaspora network involved in the day-to-day
running of the movement, the coordination of military and
arms-trafficking activities and the management of financial activities”,
calling on member states to take action against those violating
sanctions and helping to fund the FDLR.

Atrocities still continue to take place in eastern DRC. A particularly
brutal attack occurred in early August, when more than 200 women and
children were raped in Walikale, Masisi territory.

Victims have identified members of the FDLR as being responsible for the
mass rapes and the ICC has indicated it is investigating the abuses,
although the warrant issued against Mbarushimana does not include those
particular crimes.

Laura Seay, a DRC expert and assistant professor at Morehouse College in
Atlanta, says that while the arrest might demoralise other members of
the FDLR, it is unlikely to significantly disrupt the group’s structure.

“One of the reasons the [FDLR] movement has lasted so long is that it is
not dependent on one individual for its continuance,” she said. “It is
built around an ideology and a set of political goals rather than one
person’s charisma or vision.”

Indeed, Mbarushimana was appointed secretary-general of the movement
following the arrest of Murwanashyaka and Musoni last year.

At the time, Anneke van Wonderberg, a senior researcher for Human Rights
Watch, told IWPR that this underscored the importance of arresting
Mbarushimana, and warned of the movement’s resilience.

Now, while van Wonderberg welcomes the latest arrest, she thinks that
more should be done to shut down the movement’s core operations.

“We saw that the arrest of Ignace Murwanashyaka had a very small impact
on the ground and the movement adjusted quickly,” she said. “We cannot
stop at the political leadership. I hope that the ICC will issue arrest
warrants for the military leaders on the ground.”

Pascal Turlan, a senior advisor in the ICC’s prosecution office, says
that investigators have been looking closely at other FDLR leaders
during their research into atrocities.

Mbarushimana is the first person to be arrested in relation with the ICC
investigation in the Kivus and the first non-Congolese accused of crimes
committed in DRC.

He has already appeared before an international court regarding his
alleged involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when he was working
for the UN. He was subsequently acquitted and given compensation for
being unfairly dismissed, much to the consternation of some human rights
activists.

Mbarushimana’s arrest warrant links the FDLR to several attacks against
villages in the Kivus in 2009, accusing the militia of setting houses on
fires, murdering hundreds of civilians, raping and mutilating women,
sometimes cutting open their wombs to remove foetuses.

The FDLR leader is accused of contributing to planning those operations
in order to create a humanitarian crisis and put pressure on the Rwandan
and Congolese government for the purpose of obtaining political power
for the militia group.

Mbarushimana faces 11 counts of torture, rape and murder.

“According to our information, Mbarushimana has personally conducted
this campaign in agreement with other FDLR cadres and, as the
preliminary chambers concluded when it decided to issue the arrest
warrant, there are reasonable grounds to believe he contributed in
person to the elaboration of the plan. Therefore, he is criminally
responsible individually,” ICC advisor Turlan said.

Reached in Paris, Mbarushimana’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, indicated that
his client rejects all charges brought against him and “strongly denies
any involvement in the crimes” which he is alleged to have committed.
Mbarushimana has made an application for immediate release and will
plead against extradition to The Hague.

Melanie Gouby is an IWPR reporter.

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Blast victim hoping for treatment

Posted by African Press International on October 25, 2010

PAKISTAN: Sectarianism infects hospital wards

Blast victim hoping for treatment (file photo)

KARACHI, 24 October 2010 (IRIN) – Religious, political and ethnic divisions have claimed hundreds of lives in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, but also influence the chances of survival for the injured.

A doctor in the emergency ward of Civil Hospital Karachi, one of the city’s largest public hospitals, told IRIN: After a terrorism incident, we are under intense pressure. Earlier, we had the activists of various political parties threatening us in the emergency department to not treat the patients of their rival groups. They use all sorts of delay tactics, be it blocking the entrance to pounding on the doors and abusing the staff. Now, we also get calls [from the militants].

The doctor, who asked not to be identified, added: One ethnic-based party is so strong that it makes sure that the duty doctors are unable to carry out their work once the injured start arriving. We have doctors and other staff who are from that party within the premises. Time and again we have been told not to treat Pushtun injured, who are very easy to identify due to their language and beards. We already face a shortage of staff, medicines and medical equipment… Its just a mess here. [But] all professionalism and ethics aside, how can you expect me to save someone when my life is in danger?

According to a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report released in July, 260 people have been killed in targeted killings since January 2010. The number continues to rise with 50 people killed so far in the latest wave of violence following a shooting rampage in Shershah Market on 19 October.

Turf war

The nub of the problem in Karachi is the ongoing turf war between the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) for control of the coastal city. Both parties draw support from rival ethnic groups; the MQM’s vote bank is among largely Urdu speakers who migrated to Karachi after partition from India in 1947, while the ANP mainly represents Pushtuns.

Habib ur Rehman Soomro, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, acknowledged that sectarianism was rife in the health services. I will not deny this occurrence. I live in this city and I know how things work. Refusing and delaying treatment in cases of emergency, especially after incidents of ethnic violence and terrorism, is a crime but all this is happening… Now the situation is such that all public hospitals in the city have the offices of MQM, PPP [the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party] and if its a Pashtun-dominated area, ANP.”

Shams Khan was injured on 3 August in the violence that erupted after the killing of MQM leader Raza Haider, which claimed 45 lives.

I was shot in the leg by these boys near Lalo Khait. I made my way to Abassi Shaheed Hospital but they refused to treat me. I was practically thrown out of the facility by my beard as one of the doctors called me a Taliban. Bleeding, I made my way to JPMC [Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre]. I lost so much blood by the time the doctors attended to me. I now limp around and need a crutch to walk. The doctor told me that had I been treated earlier, it would not have happened.

Soomro told IRIN that doctors were under constant threat. Since the 1990s, there have been plenty of incidents of targeted killings of doctors killed on the basis of sect and ethnicity. Over 85 doctors have been murdered. First it was the Shia-Sunni issue, then the Pushtun-Mohajir issue, now its about sects. Its just insane. Political affiliations need to be removed.

A doctor at the JPMC, who asked not to be named, said: We have seen days where doctors were beaten by angry political activists as well as the family members of the victims after a bomb blast… This cycle of madness will not end.

sj/oa/cb source.irinnews

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Posted by African Press International on October 25, 2010

PAKISTAN: A guide to main militant groups

Bombings have allowed the militants presence to be felt across the country

ISLAMABAD, 13 October 2010 (IRIN) – There are at least nine major militant groups in northern Pakistan and the Punjab, battling the Pakistan army, US forces, and each other. Bombings of Sufi shrines in the cities of Karachi and Lahore this year – the hardliners response to that more moderate tradition within Islam – has added to the toll of violence.

Most of the armed groups operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Area and neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province are splinter groups from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). They have varying degrees of loyalty to leaders of the Afghan Taliban – notably Mullah Omar – but all share the same broad goal of Islamic Shariah rule for Pakistan, and the expulsion of US forces from the region.

An estimated 1.23 million people remain displaced as a result of the fighting between militants and the Pakistani army in the tribal territories that border Afghanistan. With the militarys focus shifting to flood relief, there is concern of a resurgence in violence.

IRIN provides a Whos Who? guide to Pakistans main militant groups:

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan

Area of operations: Traditionally, the Mehsud group of the TTP, which operates from bases in the tribal territory of South Waziristan; has spearheaded militant operations across the north. This changed after the death of leader Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone strike in August 2009. The TTP has since splintered, with new leader Hakimullah Mehsud operating mainly from his native Orakzai Agency. Other Taliban factions are based in the Khyber Agency and, according to media reports, in southern Punjab.
Targets: Pakistani military personnel and civilians – typically suicide bombings of markets.
Support base: The Mehsud tribe and other tribes loyal to it assisted by foreign militants.

Mullah Nazir Group

Area of operations: South Waziristan
Targets: The Pakistani military and civilians, as well as US forces in Afghanistan.
Base of support: The Wazir tribe near the town of Wana. The group maintains good relations with the Haqqani Network (see below) and has ties to Mullah Omar.

Turkistan Bhittani Group

Area of operations: South Waziristan
Targets: Mainly engaged in a battle with the TTP after splitting from its former ally Baitullah Mehsud in 2007. It is believed to have occasionally targeted US forces in Afghanistan but not Pakistani military personnel or civilians.
Base of support: The Bhittani tribe is the main source of support for leader Turkistan Bhittani. There have been suggestions the group may be backed by Pakistani forces against the TTP.

Haqqani Network

Area of operations: North Waziristan
Targets: Almost exclusively US forces in Afghanistan.
Base of support: The Zadran tribe in Afghanistans Khost Province.
Widely respected as powerful Mujahedin by tribes across the north since the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet forces. Support from al-Qaeda and foreign militants; has ties with Mullah Omar, but plans strategy independently.

Gul Bahadur Group

Area of operations: North Waziristan
Targets: Pakistani forces in North Waziristan and US troops in Afghanistan
Base of support: The Wazir and Daur tribes in North Waziristan, especially near the town of Miram Shah.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (North)

Area of operations: All tribal territories, but especially Kurram and Orakzai where there is a Shia population – a minority Muslim sect.
Targets: Pakistani civilians, especially Shias, and military personnel. Attacks on Western nationals in Pakistan.
Base of support: Mainly anti-Shia militant groups from Punjab.

Lashkar-e-Islam

Area of operations: Khyber Agency
Targets: Pakistani civilians
Base of support: The hard-line Deobandi Muslim sect; locked in a battle against militant rivals for control in Khyber.

Ansar-ul-Islam

Area of operations: Khyber Agency
Targets: US forces in Afghanistan
Base of support: The Deobandi and Barelvi sects – especially less hard-line factions. Engaged in battles in Khyber with rival militants.

Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi

Area of operations: Swat Valley, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province; attempts to assert influence in Dir.
Targets: Pakistani civilians – especially government figures, including teachers – and military personnel.
Social roots and base of support: Disillusioned members of Pakistani religious and political parties. The group was set up in 1992. Its involvement in more widespread militancy began after 2002, when key leaders were imprisoned after participating in `jihad in Afghanistan. It has split into various factions since then.

Groups in Punjab

The southern Punjab is a poverty-stricken, orthodox region – much like the north – but the rise of militant groups has followed a slightly different trajectory. Fierce anti-Shia sectarianism, and ‘jihad aimed at Indian-administered Kashmir, is high on the agenda of these groups.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Punjab)

Area of operations: Countrywide
Targets: Shia Muslims, non-Muslims, foreign nationals, state security forces
Base of support: Sectarian groups in Punjab. It first emerged in the Punjab in the 1990s.

Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan

Area if operations: Countrywide with a concentration in the Punjab
Targets: Non-Muslims and the Shia minority
Base of support: Other sectarian groups and hard-line Muslim factions.

Jaish-e-Mohammad

Area of operations: Mainly Indian-held Kashmir and Afghanistan; some role in fighting in north. Headquartered in the southern Punjab
Targets: Indian forces, Western nationals, non-Muslim Pakistanis
Base of support: Backing from hard-line Muslim factions involved in violence in northwest Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.

Lashkar-e-Taiba

Area of operations: Based in Punjab. Operates in Indian-held Kashmir and possibly Afghanistan
Targets: Mainly Indian targets
Base of support: Pro-`jihad and hard-line Muslim groups. Allegations of links to Pakistani intelligence agencies by media. Heavily involved in post-flood relief work and other charitable work.

Sources:
Hassan Abbas: The Battle for Pakistan: Politics and Militancy in the Northwest Frontier Province, The New America Foundation, 19 April 2010
Syed Saleem Shahzad: Taliban Wield the Axe Ahead of New Battle, The Asia Times, 24 January 2008
Brian Fishman: The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict Across the FATA and NWFP, The New America Foundation, April 2010
Jane Mayer: The Predator War, The New Yorker, 26 October 2009
M. Ilyas Khan: With a Little Help From His Friends, Karachi Herald, June 2004
Ahmed Rashid: Descent into Chaos, Viking 2008
Articles in: The News International, Dawn, Newsline, 2007-2010

kh/oa/cb source.irinnews

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