News (handpicked)

Ban Ki-moon speaks out against attack on Afghan leader

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned today's attack against Afghan President Hamid Karzai that occurred during a victory parade in the war-torn nation's capital Kabul, claiming the lives of two Parliament members and injuring nine others, including two Afghan National Police.

“The attack against the legitimate institutions of the Afghan state and the Afghan people is unacceptable,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued in Bern, Switzerland, by his spokesperson.

Reiterating the UN's support for the rebuilding of Afghanistan through “legitimate state institutions, in a manner that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable and that provides both justice and security,” he urged the international community and the Government to continue their cooperation towards reaching these goals, “undeterred by vicious attacks as the one today.”

The Secretary-General lauded the country's security forces for their quick response to the attack which averted more deaths and for protecting Afghan officials and foreign diplomats at the event.

He also sent his condolences to the families of those killed, wishes for a swift recovery to those injured and sympathies to President Karzai and his Government.

Source: UN


UN: Rights Council Fails Victims in Congo

UN: Rights Council Fails Victims in Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo Needs More Expert Help, Not Less

(Geneva, March 27, 2008) – The UN Human Rights Council’s failure to renew the mandate of the expert for the Democratic Republic of Congo is a betrayal of its responsibilities toward the Congolese people, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Human Rights Council should be expanding its work on Congo, not abandoning it. Congo urgently needs independent human rights expertise, which could help to save lives.
Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director
“The Human Rights Council put politics before people by deciding not to renew the expert mandate on the Congo,” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Downgrading the council’s work in Congo despite the recent rapes and killings is inexplicable and could have tragic consequences.”

The move to discontinue the mandate for an expert on the Democratic Republic of Congo was led by Egypt as coordinator of the African group. The African group has taken the position that human rights experts should only be appointed by the Human Rights Council when the government of the country at issue agrees the situation warrants such attention. This approach rewards non-cooperation with the council, Human Rights Watch said, and gives states responsible for serious human rights violations a veto over the council’s ability to fulfill its mandate.

In the past months, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila had privately indicated his support to diplomats for the renewal of the expert mandate. That pledge was not translated into action, however, and Congolese officials in Geneva lobbied for the mandate to end. Despite initial support for the mandate, European Union member states agreed to abandon it for a weak compromise that provides for a discussion on the human rights situation in Congo at the council only in March 2009.

“It’s shocking that states which supported continued work on Congo wouldn’t stand up and be counted,” de Rivero said. “Congo’s people can’t wait another year for the council and its members to show some backbone.”

The council’s decision flies in the face of the serious human rights violations that continue in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite historic elections in 2006, Congo’s human rights situation remains deeply troubling. In the past year alone, hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands of women and girls raped by militia groups and soldiers of the Congolese army. An estimated 30,000 children continue to serve as child soldiers in various armed groups.

In eastern Congo, the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Goma on January 23, 2008 raised hopes that the armed conflict would be contained, but tensions have again mounted as details emerged of renewed killing of civilians in the region. These add to the estimated 5 million civilian deaths throughout the country since 1998, a toll that makes Congo’s conflict more deadly to civilians than any other since World War II.

In western Congo, security forces used excessive force to put down at times violent protests by the political-religious group Bundu Dia Kongo, resulting in the deaths of at least 68 people, according to United Nations estimates. Thousands of people have been displaced.

Given the gravity of the human rights abuses in Congo, the continuation of the expert mandate should have been a foregone conclusion. In response to the egregious abuses in the eastern parts of Congo, Human Rights Watch has called for an additional special adviser to be appointed to monitor the human rights obligations of the Goma ceasefire agreement and assist the parties in bringing an end to such abuses.

“The Human Rights Council should be expanding its work on Congo, not abandoning it,” de Rivero said. “Congo urgently needs independent human rights expertise, which could help to save lives.”

Has Hugo Chavez thrown a lifeline to Ken Livingstone?

Has Hugo Chavez thrown a lifeline to Ken Livingstone?From
By Alek Boyd

10.04.08 | There are so many reasons why Londoners should boot Livingstone out of City Hall that is hard to enumerate all of them. In my opinion, near the top of relevance list, is Livingstone's cuddling of Venezuela's petro-caudillo Hugo Chavez, a failed coupster soon to be declared supporter of a terrorist organization by INTERPOL. Mind you, one key element in Livingstone's bid to win London's mayoral race is meant to be the environment. It does not bother him in the slightest, nor does it alert his daft opponents, that his militaristic chummy has pledged to build a 8,047 kilometers oil pipeline, through South American wilderness, from Caracas to Buenos Aires, which will destroy thousands of acres of rain forest. Neither does it trouble the communist mayor that Hugo Chavez heads one of the world's biggest, most polluting oil companies.

In February last year PDVSA and GLA officials signed an oil deal. Livingstone's propaganda arm reported "The historic deal means London's bus fleet will use subsidized oil from Venezuela - leading to a massive 20 per cent reduction in the price of fuel." This is a blatant and demonstrable lie, for Venezuela is not providing subsidized oil to London's bus fleet (TfL), but rather it pays TfL, in cash, a 20% 'subsidy' of oil expenditure incurred by its contractors. Alas Chavez's charity gets Venezuela absolutely nothing; GLA and TfL officials can't even explain coherently what it is expected of them in return, though they praise Chavez's fake achievements with total conviction. Livingstone's publication also lies about the total number of beneficiaries of the programme. The pdf linked is worth a read, for it shows how those in charge of implementing the programme have, in the words of Tony Arbour, discriminated against poor Londoners: "the Mayor is distinguishing, as they did in Victorian times, between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. You have made it quite clear in the way that this money is being allocated that people who are on Jobseeker's Allowances are undeserving but people who are not looking for work are deserving."

Livingstone however, in his desperate bid to cling to power at any cost, has pledged today that "he will seek to use £14m of funding provided by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to subsidize public transport for failed asylum seekers." Does this new announcement means that a consultation process has been held with either Hugo Chavez or his cronies? If so, how come British and Venezuelan media have failed to report it? Who gave Livingstone the right to use Venezuelan money for political gains?

Londoners should note that despite the political capital that could be obtained, Livingstone failed to register his directorship of the Venezuela Information Centre, a propaganda outlet operated by GLA staff in City Hall, which is, presumably, oil deal's quid pro quo.

Welcome Andrea Victoria

We welcome our new HRD member Andrea Victoria!

Welcome Andrea Victoria

We welcome our new HRD member Andrea Victoria!

Welcome James M Nordlund

We welcome our new HRD member James M. Nordlund

Welcome Conor Nugent

We welcome our new HRD member Conor Nugent

Ethiopian Military Atrocities in Somalia

The Renewed Ethiopian Military Atrocities in Somalia the UN is Unwilling to Condemn

Press release from: Somali Diaspora Network

(openPR) - Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 24 December 2007: Once again, the Ethiopian military and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have intensified their campaign of indiscriminate shelling, systematic killings, detainments, and utter destruction resulting in the deaths, injuries, and maiming of many civilians, mainly women and children and renewed forced exodus of Mogadishu civilians.

According to the United Nations, the increased violence of the past weeks has caused the forced exodus of an estimated additional 100,000 civilians, mainly women and children, as such adding another layer of complexity to the alarming humanitarian crises already underway as an estimated over one million internally displaced Somalis are suffering from lack of basic services essential to their survival.
On October 30, 2007, 40 international NGOs have released a joint statement ominously warning against a gathering cloud of humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia urging the international community to respond to this man-made calamity as the Ethiopian forces and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) callously prevent the delivery of food aid, and bluntly stating that “there is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in South Central Somalia”. The United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, noted trucks carrying relief supplies to southern and central Somalia are often faced with up to 200 different roadblocks. [Source: VOA 10/26/2007]

Ethiopia’s invasion and occupation of Somalia is a flagrant violation of the provisions of Resolutions 1725 (2006) and 1744 (2007)). Ethiopia also willfully violated the UN Charter, Article 2 (1) that describes the UN as being an institution “based on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members.” Furthermore, Article 2 (7) clarifies that nothing in the UN Charter authorizes intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.

The Brutality of the occupation has been described as the worst atrocity of the Somali civil war:
According to The Hague Conventions, Article 23: “It is a war crime to launch an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population in the knowledge that such an attack will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians”. Moreover, the Geneva Conventions are part of U.S. law- being ratified by Congress and by the President. Therefore Ethiopian leaders and their Somali counterparts could be found guilty of war crimes under the War Crimes Act of 1996 which carries the death penalty for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The Ethiopian occupation forces have been committing gross human rights violations, indiscriminate shelling and targeting of civilians, targeted assassinations of those opposing the occupation, and rape thus creating poisonous environment where perpetual war in the Horn is not unfathomable.

These gross human rights violations have created the humanitarian tragedy currently unfolding in Somalia. The complacency of the international community at large and the United States and the UN Security Council in particular have resulted in failure to bring this calamity to the forefront, let alone prevent its continuation. A disaster Alex Perry of Time magazine describes as being “on a par, in numbers and acuteness, with Darfur. The U.N. says 1.5 million people need assistance, of which a mere 60,000 are getting it.” [Source: Time Monday, Nov. 12, 2007].

It is within that backdrop that the Somali Diaspora Network (SDN) condemns the global complicity that made it possible for Ethiopia to invade in the first place and the lack of action and outrage from the UN and the larger the international community.

We regard this silence tantamount to support of the atrocities committed by the Ethiopia’s occupying force. It is particularly egregious since the United Nations and Unites States provide financial and diplomatic support to the TFG in whose name these atrocities are being committed. SDN calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, the Africa Union, and the United States to:

• Intervene immediately to stop the bloodshed, the displacement of civilians, and further destruction
• Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately withdraw all its forces from Somalia without precondition or delay

• Facilitate all inclusive dialogue among warring groups and the formation of unity government followed by free and fair elections
• Bring to justice those who ordered or implemented the massacre and the forced displacement of civilians

Somali Diaspora Network (SDN)
P.O Box 2690 - Merrifield, VA 22116-2690
Contact: Hassan Warsame
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ABOUT SOMALI DIASPORA NETWORK (SDN) – SDN is a grass-roots organization committed to advocate on critical policy matters pertaining to Somali-American interest and issues of concern through communication and information sharing, raising public awareness, and educating the public and government officials.

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