Human Rights Flashpoints – October 20, 2009

What’s Up This Week:

  1. Afghanistan: Elections Run-Off
  2. Angola: Humanitarian Crisis
  3. Upcoming This Week

Afghanistan Elections – Take Two
On Sunday, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) announced the results from its fraud investigations regarding the August 20th Afghanistan presidential elections.  The commission’s conclusions invalidated nearly one million votes cast as fraudulent, with 210 out of the 350 polling stations marred by fraud.  As a consequence, incumbent President Hamid Karzai’s margin of victory has diminished to below the 50% vote threshold necessary for an outright win forcing him to concede to a run-off election against opponent Abdullah Abdullah on November 7th. 

Prior to the announcement of the November 7th run-off, there were concerns that violence between Abdullah’s Tajik supporters and Karzai’s Pashtun supporters would erupt. Although Abdullah had previously stated that he would urge calm among his supporters, the apprehension that a Karzai victory would result in violence in the northern part of the country remained.  Fueling the potential for ethnic clashes, a Balkh province governor previously accused Karzai’s government of distributing weapons to northern Pashtuns in the event of post-recount conflict.  

Worries that a run-off election could be as flawed as the first presidential election linger.   More importantly, politicians have already expressed concern that the run-off election has the potential to incite violence between Pashtuns and Tajiks, potentially causing more instability and violence in the region.  There is also fear that the Taliban in Afghanistan could be strengthened by looming uncertainty with regard to the presidential elections. 

Overheard

I hope that the international community and the Afghan government and all others concerned will take every possible measure to provide security to the people so that when they vote, that vote is not called a fraud – Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

The United Nations will do its utmost for the conduct of the second round of elections scheduled for 7 November 2009 in a free, fair, transparent and secure environment  – Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

Must Reads

Angola: Humanitarian Crisis Looms

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned of a humanitarian crisis in Angola today, after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has expelled tens of thousands of people to Angola. The forced returns came in retaliation to the waves of expulsions of large numbers of Congolese from Angola since December 2008.   Tit-for-tat expulsions escalated over the last months. Since August 2009, 32,000 Angolans were being repatriated to Angola, and about 18,800 Congolese nationals were kicked out from Angola.

Following a needs assessment by UN agencies last weekend in Angola, UNHCR was ringing the alarm bells today:

According to the initial assessment, there are close to 30,000 people living in and around three overcrowded reception centres in Cuimba (11,000 people) and Mama Rosa (some 18,000 people) respectively at 30 and 8 kilometres from the DRC border. Their most pressing needs are shelter, food, medicine and sanitation facilities. The supply of clean water is insufficient. Some of the expelled drink from the nearby contaminated rivers. Among the interviewed over the weekend in one of the makeshift camps at Lendi near Cuimba which hosts around 5,800 Angolans, many families reported cases of diarrhea and vomiting. In the same camp, most of the population is sleeping in the open air.

Must Reads:

Upcoming

Human Rights Flashpoints is a weekly column about countries at risk of escalating human rights violations and is brought to you by AIUSA’s Crisis Prevention and Response  team

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11 thoughts on “Human Rights Flashpoints – October 20, 2009

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  2. Dear Cristoph Koettl,

    As always, you are accurate about the week's flashpoints. But focusing on flashpoints, as you know so well, simultaneously poses the peril of perpetually ignoring the less flashy crises the corporate media never focus on, & which are therefore in more urgent need of our attention. Since i never see AI address these particular emergencies & violations i must bring them up here, outside the issues that get saturation coverage.

    1. The imprisonment of the Cuban Miami 5 has been going on for months. As we all know, Miami is a hotbed of US – assisted Cuban emigre plots to hit Cuba with terrorist attacks, in exactly the same way as the Contras waged a war of violent sabotage against Nicaragua with the same backers. One head of this hydra is Luis Posada Cariles, the man responsible for the midair destruction of a Cuban plane & the deaths of its 73 passengers. 5 Cuban men investigating this terrorist network in defence of their homeland have been imprisoned in the USA in trials which have flagrantly & even publicly violated their rights, even as Posada Cariles gets US Government help to evade extradition to Venezuela from where he escaped. It is time for AI to raise the emigre / FBI curtain & open a campaign for the release of the 5 railroaded & wrongfully imprisoned men.

    2. While some Western NGOs talk of genocide in Darfur, violence has come to a halt there despite the continuing hype. Rather, it is in the Ogaden that Ethiopian death squads are, with Western help, conducting a war of annihilation against the Somalis with total impunity.This is an ignored but ongoing genocide the media & rights organisations are overlooking, just as they overlooked the sri lanka butchery until nearly its end .We urgently need a campaign on this exploding issue by AI.

    3. In Yemen the government is waging a war of attrition agsainst the Shia Zaidi people of Saada. And when the Zaidis escape across the border to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi govenment, in complete violation of international law & human rights conventions, is driving the fleeing people BACK to the war zone in Yemen. i've never heard of AI raising the issue of Saada with the Saudis or the Yemenis, & it is time to change this ghastly record of silence.

  3. Dear Cristoph Koettl,

    As always, you are accurate about the week’s flashpoints. But focusing on flashpoints, as you know so well, simultaneously poses the peril of perpetually ignoring the less flashy crises the corporate media never focus on, & which are therefore in more urgent need of our attention. Since i never see AI address these particular emergencies & violations i must bring them up here, outside the issues that get saturation coverage.

    1. The imprisonment of the Cuban Miami 5 has been going on for months. As we all know, Miami is a hotbed of US – assisted Cuban emigre plots to hit Cuba with terrorist attacks, in exactly the same way as the Contras waged a war of violent sabotage against Nicaragua with the same backers. One head of this hydra is Luis Posada Cariles, the man responsible for the midair destruction of a Cuban plane & the deaths of its 73 passengers. 5 Cuban men investigating this terrorist network in defence of their homeland have been imprisoned in the USA in trials which have flagrantly & even publicly violated their rights, even as Posada Cariles gets US Government help to evade extradition to Venezuela from where he escaped. It is time for AI to raise the emigre / FBI curtain & open a campaign for the release of the 5 railroaded & wrongfully imprisoned men.

    2. While some Western NGOs talk of genocide in Darfur, violence has come to a halt there despite the continuing hype. Rather, it is in the Ogaden that Ethiopian death squads are, with Western help, conducting a war of annihilation against the Somalis with total impunity.This is an ignored but ongoing genocide the media & rights organisations are overlooking, just as they overlooked the sri lanka butchery until nearly its end .We urgently need a campaign on this exploding issue by AI.

    3. In Yemen the government is waging a war of attrition agsainst the Shia Zaidi people of Saada. And when the Zaidis escape across the border to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi govenment, in complete violation of international law & human rights conventions, is driving the fleeing people BACK to the war zone in Yemen. i’ve never heard of AI raising the issue of Saada with the Saudis or the Yemenis, & it is time to change this ghastly record of silence.

  4. Afghanistan Elections Update
    On Monday, presidential run-off candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, demanded that the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, replace the country's head of the Independent Election Commission by his deadline of Saturday, October 31st, arguing that the top elections official was biased and incapable of remaining neutral during the upcoming run-off elections. Abdullah also requested that three cabinet ministers be suspended until the election was completed. As part of his ultimatum, Abdullah said he would suspend all relations with the IEC if his request wasn't fulfilled by Saturday. There has also been speculation that if his demands aren't met, he could pull out of the November 7th run-off election, although Abdullah has not said what actions he will take if his request is not heeded.

    In response, Karzai rejected the calls to fire or suspend the elections officials and ministers stating that they had not done anything illegal to warrant any action. There is concern that the current stand-off between the two presidential candidates could amount to more violence in the region.
    On a positive note, following the UN’s request for action to prevent fraud in the upcoming run-off elections, the administration has agreed to remove more than 200 election officials.
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP502465http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=3270

  5. Afghanistan Elections Update
    On Monday, presidential run-off candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, demanded that the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, replace the country's head of the Independent Election Commission by his deadline of Saturday, October 31st, arguing that the top elections official was biased and incapable of remaining neutral during the upcoming run-off elections. Abdullah also requested that three cabinet ministers be suspended until the election was completed. As part of his ultimatum, Abdullah said he would suspend all relations with the IEC if his request wasn't fulfilled by Saturday. There has also been speculation that if his demands aren't met, he could pull out of the November 7th run-off election, although Abdullah has not said what actions he will take if his request is not heeded.

    In response, Karzai rejected the calls to fire or suspend the elections officials and ministers stating that they had not done anything illegal to warrant any action. There is concern that the current stand-off between the two presidential candidates could amount to more violence in the region.
    On a positive note, following the UN’s request for action to prevent fraud in the upcoming run-off elections, the administration has agreed to remove more than 200 election officials.
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP502465http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=3270

  6. Afghanistan Elections Update
    On Monday, presidential run-off candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, demanded that the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, replace the country's head of the Independent Election Commission by his deadline of Saturday, October 31st, arguing that the top elections official was biased and incapable of remaining neutral during the upcoming run-off elections. Abdullah also requested that three cabinet ministers be suspended until the election was completed. As part of his ultimatum, Abdullah said he would suspend all relations with the IEC if his request wasn't fulfilled by Saturday. There has also been speculation that if his demands aren't met, he could pull out of the November 7th run-off election, although Abdullah has not said what actions he will take if his request is not heeded.

    In response, Karzai rejected the calls to fire or suspend the elections officials and ministers stating that they had not done anything illegal to warrant any action. There is concern that the current stand-off between the two presidential candidates could amount to more violence in the region.
    On a positive note, following the UN’s request for action to prevent fraud in the upcoming run-off elections, the administration has agreed to remove more than 200 election officials.
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP502465http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=3270

  7. In response to the earlier comment on which situations are mentioned in my weekly column: It wouldn't be a problem to list 20 countries every week, there are enough conflicts going on in the world. My column is of course not comprehensive. I try to focus on one or two countries a week, mostly situations that have a potential for escaltion (e.g. upcoming elections) or that are currently experiencing an escalation (e.g. recently in Honduras). I normally don't include a situation like the arrest of individuals, on which our Individuals at Risk campaign might potentially work on. I also normally don't write about ongoing, protracted conflicts, but rather try to to focus on a couple of hot spots that experience a spike in violence or human rights abuses. I appreciate the feedback, though.

  8. Afghanistan Elections Update
    On Monday, presidential run-off candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, demanded that the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, replace the country’s head of the Independent Election Commission by his deadline of Saturday, October 31st, arguing that the top elections official was biased and incapable of remaining neutral during the upcoming run-off elections. Abdullah also requested that three cabinet ministers be suspended until the election was completed. As part of his ultimatum, Abdullah said he would suspend all relations with the IEC if his request wasn’t fulfilled by Saturday. There has also been speculation that if his demands aren’t met, he could pull out of the November 7th run-off election, although Abdullah has not said what actions he will take if his request is not heeded.

    In response, Karzai rejected the calls to fire or suspend the elections officials and ministers stating that they had not done anything illegal to warrant any action. There is concern that the current stand-off between the two presidential candidates could amount to more violence in the region.
    On a positive note, following the UN’s request for action to prevent fraud in the upcoming run-off elections, the administration has agreed to remove more than 200 election officials.

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP502465.htm
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32708&Cr=afghan&Cr1=

  9. In response to the earlier comment on which situations are mentioned in my weekly column: It wouldn’t be a problem to list 20 countries every week, there are enough conflicts going on in the world. My column is of course not comprehensive. I try to focus on one or two countries a week, mostly situations that have a potential for escaltion (e.g. upcoming elections) or that are currently experiencing an escalation (e.g. recently in Honduras). I normally don’t include a situation like the arrest of individuals, on which our Individuals at Risk campaign might potentially work on. I also normally don’t write about ongoing, protracted conflicts, but rather try to to focus on a couple of hot spots that experience a spike in violence or human rights abuses. I appreciate the feedback, though.

  10. Thank you Cristoph for your pertinent comments.i know your column has to focus on the really dominating issues, & you're doing vital work as i see it.

    Perhaps, then, your Africa team can activate on the Ogaden, & your Middle East people can focus on Saada ? it is time.

    As for the Cuban 5, your comment makes me feel you are unfamiliar with the case, which is not about the "arrest of individuals", but about totally unjust & engineered convictions & ongoing prison sentences. There's a law breaking black hole long operating in Miami in the Cuban emigre community with FBI / US government backing, & it will come to vitiate more than just its base city. Such things don't stay localised. Sooner or later AI will be forced to look at the case of the Cuban 5.

  11. Thank you Cristoph for your pertinent comments.i know your column has to focus on the really dominating issues, & you’re doing vital work as i see it.

    Perhaps, then, your Africa team can activate on the Ogaden, & your Middle East people can focus on Saada ? it is time.

    As for the Cuban 5, your comment makes me feel you are unfamiliar with the case, which is not about the “arrest of individuals”, but about totally unjust & engineered convictions & ongoing prison sentences. There’s a law breaking black hole long operating in Miami in the Cuban emigre community with FBI / US government backing, & it will come to vitiate more than just its base city. Such things don’t stay localised. Sooner or later AI will be forced to look at the case of the Cuban 5.