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Features

African Currency Unit: An urgent question in the midst of the capitalist crisis

Horace G. Campbell

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91371


cc TD
There is enough research to show massive capital drain from Africa and that Africa is a net creditor to Europe and North America. Without an African central bank functioning under democratic control and a credible African currency, the drain of resources will continue to rob Africa the means to achieve development

When the Constitutive Act of the African Union was written to implement the Sirte Declaration, there were three financial institutions that were established to facilitate interAfrican trade. These were: the African Investment Bank (AIB), the African Monetary Fund (AMF) and the African Central Bank (ACB). It was agreed that it would be necessary to establish a single common currency in Africa in order to speed economic integration. The planning for the African Monetary Fund and for the African Central Bank was supposed to be a phased process alongside the process of the full unification of Africa, leading towards the Union Government of Africa.

When the Constitutive Act was written, there was no sense among the leaders of Africa that the capitalist crisis would bring down governments in Europe, spawn a Eurozone crisis along with the current currency war that is being waged against the poorer nations. Since the start of 2014 the world has witnessed a new battle ground as currency speculators put the reserves of poorer countries under pressure. The attacks on the currencies of societies such as Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, India, and others have reached the front pages of international news beyond the financial pages. What is clear is the predators on Wall Street are now attacking the currencies of the exploited world and nations with the smallest reserves have to dig into their reserves to fend off currency speculators as we are continuing to see the exchange rates of Africa under pressure. What is less clear in many countries in Africa and other parts of the Third World, though, is the ways in which this currency war is inextricably linked to the volatility of Wall Street. Neo-liberal interpretations of the world allow policy makers to promote prescriptions that exacerbate capital flight from Africa. The belief in markets is one myth that has suborned technicians in Africa to continue to support the political and military power of the USA. The assertion that the United States has a comparative advantage as an originator of high value quality financial assets can now be dismissed as the justification for supporting the military power of the USA.

It is within this context that it is urgent that Africa begins to work toward a single currency. One of the prior steps would be to establish the African Currency unit with strict benchmarks for the integration of Africa towards the adoption of a single currency.

STEMMING CAPITAL FLIGHT FROM AFRICA

Progressives in all parts of the world must have clarity on the phases of the Union government and the building of transparent and democratic leaders to stop the plunder of Africa alongside the massive capital flight from the continent. There is enough research to clarify the reality that there is a massive capital drain from Africa and that Africa is a net creditor to the states of Europe and North America. In short without the establishment of the African Central Bank that functions under democratic control, and a credible African currency the drain of resources will continue. The amount of documented evidence is well known. Research from the African Development Bank (AfDB) revealed in May 2013 that in the three decades from 1980 to 2009, African countries lost up to $1.4trn in illicit financial flows, known as capital flight. These figures from the African Development Bank are repeating the scholarly findings of James K. Boyce and Léonce Ndikumana that has been around for about twenty years. [1]

Since this kind of scholarship has been done, international financial institutions continue to preach about Millennium Development Goals without the necessary attention to the return of the illicit funds plundered from Africa. While African universities continue to focus attention on the so-called MDGs there is a conscious effort to divert attention from the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR). The ending of exploitation, the enhancement of the rights of African workers and farmers and popular democratic relations are all linked up with African control over her resources. In this context one of the most urgent political matters for the progressive forces is to end the capital flight from Africa and the seizure of African resources for external forces in alliance with African militarists. Capital flight from Africa ensures that there are no resources for infrastructure, for social development and programs and to provide for the needs of the majority of the African peoples.

Progressives and those working for the full unification of Africa should be promoting the process of establishing a common currency in Africa so that Africans no longer keep their foreign currency reserves in the US dollar, Euro or the pound sterling. Recently the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Carlos Lopes stated that Africans had over $200 billion reserves overseas. This is obviously a small amount and we do not have the figures for the amount of money that African oligarchs have stored in banks in Switzerland, Hong Kong, London, New York, Malaysia, Singapore and the offshore banks in the Caribbean.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM ASIA?

Carlos Lopes and the UNECA need to go to the next step for mandating think tanks, universities and policy makers and forces within the global African family to set up the political and technical stages for the convergence of currencies so that Africa establishes its own common currency moving in tandem in working towards a Union government. The process must begin right away with the establishment African Currency Unit. There would also be a clear path and date for the integration where there would be a single currency for Africa.

Africans can learn a lot from what is being done in the ASEAN societies where the first step of monetary integration has been placed on the table in the form of the Chiang Mai Initiative. This Initiative has laid the basis for a number of ventures such as bilateral swaps to protect the societies of East Asia from the Wall Street foreign exchange traders and to enhance regional trade. The planning for the Asian Currency Unit is following the lines of creating a firewall in Asia to protect the societies from the currency wars being waged by currency traders. Within Asean states bilateral pacts to swap and repurchase central-bank reserves have prevented the kind of raiding that went on at the time of the Asian financial crisis 1997-1998. These societies in Asia do not agree politically and have many differences but they are all agreed to establish various initiatives to ensure that their societies are not bullied by the IMF or the World Bank. Moreover, they have learnt the harsh lessons from 1997 when George Soros and other derivative traders undermined their currencies. The establishment of the Asian Monetary Fund and the Asian Bond Fund have been supported to escape the surveillance and strictures of the International Monetary Fund. Thus, the Asian Bond Market, the Asian Monetary Fund and the Chiang Mai Initiative are all steps on the road towards the single currency in Asia. In order to seal this pathway, they have now launched the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is to be concluded by 2015. In short, the citizens of Asia are now waiting for the collapse of the dollar to disengage from the International Monetary Fund and the raiding of currencies by Wall Street Traders.

AFRICAN CURRENCY UNIT NOW LONG OVERDUE

Despite the clear planning for Free Trade Areas in Asia, the levels of integration in Africa at the level of the people are in many ways more advanced than Asia. Traders in differing parts of Africa, especially women traders from West Africa, have demonstrated a certain ease in traversing the continent and doing business. The customs and immigration laws across Africa continue to hinder the free flow of goods, services and people. International capital and international capitalist can move freely across the lines drawn in Africa as borders, but the so called leaders continue to try to enforce laws that prevent the freedom of movement while they and their family illicitly export needed reserves from Africa.

The majority of African governments keep their reserves in dollars. Their membership of the IMF dictates the terms of their financial engagement with the international capitalist system. The US devalues the dollar by printing US $65 billion every month.Africans are losing in a number of ways but two are most blatant.

First, many African states keep their reserves in dollars and these are devalued under the Quantitative Easing of the USA dollar which permits the Federal Reserve of the USA to simply offload dollars on the world. In the past three years the US government has been printing over a trillion dollars every year. Second, foreign exchange reserves have to be used as a shock absorber during times of volatility when Central Banks have to use their reserves to buffer their currencies against sharp decline by buying even more US dollars to support their currency.

Another hidden side of the super exploitation of Africa emerges in the form of those central banks that are hedging against the dollar. Many of the oil producing states of the Middle East are hoarding gold because of the currency wars and the devaluation of the dollar. These societies support front persons in Africa that abet the flow of gold and diamonds out of Africa.

POLITICAL WILL AND THE INTEGRATION OF AFRICA

When one reads the statements of the economic planners one does not get a sense of urgency for the full integration of Africa and the building of a common currency. Hence, we have vision statements from countries stating that they will reach targets by 2030 or 2040 without reference to the current Eurozone crisis or the rigged stock market in the USA. Only recently Michael Lewis brought out another book about how the financial markets in the United States are rigged in favour of high-speed electronic trading firms, which use their advantages to extract billions from investors. [2] It is also well known that the real value of US stocks are overvalued because the Wall Street barons have been buying back their own stocks to make the US financial markets seem far more healthier than they are. It has been estimated that in the past 9 years, the barons of Wall Street have bought back over $4.21 trillion of their own stocks. [3] Over the last four years Matt Taibbi has been writing on the fraudulent operations of the Wall Street bankers and wonders out loud why these gangster bankers are not arrested. In penetrating, the mantra of Too Big to fail as Too Big to Jail, Taibbi has exposed the nature of the LIBOR scandal, the money laundering and other corrupt practices, Taibbi exposed how Wall Street killed financial reforms in the United States. [4]

In the present global crisis of capitalism, the Wall Street bankers are enjoying the support of the US military to prop up this currency so that the gangster bankers can carry out fraud while the currency traders raid those countries that have not established a firewall against the predators. When African leaders open discussions about the creation of the African monetary system and the African central bank, the think tanks and the US strategic planners descend on Africa to divert attention from real planning for the integration of Africa. However, what is uncontroversial is that the printing of dollars under the so called Quantitative Easing has placed the international monetary system in an even more precarious condition. The US capitalists are trapped by this QE policy. By printing dollars, the stock prices surge and Wall Street makes trillions in dollars. At the same time countries that have to keep their reserves in dollars are looking for alternatives.

The African peoples and societies have the economic resources for the establishment of a common currency. What is missing is the political will. We have to place this unification of Africa at the top of the agenda for Africa. It will not be necessary for all 54 countries to be part of this currency unit at the start. Because France dominates those countries that are in the CFA Franc zone, France remains opposed to the establishment of the African Central Bank and the Common Currency for Africa.

In this present capitalist crisis there are three alternatives for Africa:
1 Continue the fragmentation and disunity and Go down with the dollar and be the battleground for US finance capital.
2. Be the backstop for a dying EURO or
3. Unite the currencies of Africa to create one common currency and one government.

Serious African planners are working for the third alternative. Those with the political will have to take the lead to hasten the studies by the governors of the Central bank for the convergence process for the African Currency Unit.
There are so many institutions in Eastern, West and Southern Africa that can undertake these tasks.

A PHASED PROCESS

What we may have to do is to create the African Currency Unit for the regions of Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and those in ECOWAS who will join. Ultimately, the puppet states that are in the CFA franc Zone will be pressured to join. After the revolutionary process exhaust itself in Egypt, it will also join. At this moment the political will to create the common currency cannot wait on consensus. The foreign reserves of Africa are being devalued by Quantitative Easing and Africans have to work hard to break the Exorbitant Privilege of the dollar. [5]
It is in the interest of all to work for the new multipolar currency regime.
In Latin America, the peoples have on the agenda a common currency. The Europeans have created a common currency –the Euro- to break from the dollar. The Chinese are working for the convertibility of the RMB. The ASEAN countries are working for the creation of the ASEAN currency. Oil producers in the Middle East are looking for an exit from the dollar. What are Africans waiting for?

The Abuja Treaty was signed more than thirty years ago on June 3, 1991 in Abuja, Nigeria, to create the African Economic Community, and called for an African Central Bank to follow by 2028. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community with a single currency by 2023. The global capitalist crisis has demonstrated that long before 2023 Africa will have to create a common currency to withstand the current vicissitudes of the US financial markets.

END NOTES
[1] James K. Boyce and Léonce Ndikumana, Is Africa a Net Creditor? New Estimates of Capital Flight from Severely Indebted Sub-Saharan African Countries, 1970-1996, publication (Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 2000
[2] Michael Lewis, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, W. W. Norton, 2014
[3] Jason Zweig, Will Stocks Buy back bite Back, Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2014, http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/03/21/will-stock-buybacks-bite-back/
[4] Matt Taibbi, “gangster Banksters: Too Big to Jail, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214
[5] Barry Eichengreen, Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System, Oxford University Press, new York 2012


*Horace G. Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is also a Special invited Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of, ‘Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya’.


* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


EU-Africa summit may lead to increased imperialist interventions

Gathering in Brussels undermines African unity

Abayomi Azikiwe

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91379


cc CR
Thirty six African heads of state recently attended an EU-Africa summit on the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace.” Yet, behind the scenes the EU plans to deploy a thousand troops to join UN troops in the Central African Republic

A two-day conference on April 2-3 in Belgium was not attended by several key African leaders from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Eritrea and Sudan. The European Union (EU) by-passed guidelines set down by one of the leading organs of the African Union (AU), the Peace and Security Council, in convening and carrying out the summit.

Held under the theme of “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace,” advanced no real initiatives for the continent. At present the EU is deepening its military interventions on the continent and examining send soldiers into the volatile situation inside the Central African Republic (CAR).

It was reported by the conveners of the Summit that 36 African heads-of-state were in attendance. The AU has 54 members all of whom are independent with the exception of the people of the Western Sahara who are still under Moroccan occupation.

Morocco, which withdrew from the AU over the recognition of the Sahawari Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in the Western Sahara, along with Egypt, that was suspended in the aftermath of the military coup on July 3, 2013, were invited to the gathering. The EU announced earlier on that they would not in invite the AU as a regional body, but only individual African states.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was contemplating not to attend due to the visa denial of his security director. Eventually Brussels relented and granted the visa.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs principal secretary Karinja Kibicho told the Zimbabwe Herald that “The trip had earlier been cancelled by State House due to the unexplained refusal by Belgium to issue an EU travel visa to the head of presidential security. The refusal of a visa for a vital member of the Kenyan delegation sent the wrong signal that the EU is in a position even to dictate even the security arrangements of African heads of state.” (April 3)

This same article went on to say that “These actions in their totality make for an unfortunate precedent in the proper running of international relations. The government notes that if indeed the EU-Africa Summit is intended to advance mutual interests, such a worthwhile goal must be rooted in the recognition that Africa and EU countries are meeting in Brussels as partners and equals.”

President Joyce Banda of Malawi did not attend the summit either. Banda is the chairperson of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC).

SUMMIT COULD LEAD TO GREATER EUROPEAN MILITARY INTERVENTION

Prior to the convening of the EU-Africa Summit, a crisis gathering was held on April 1 involving the current political and security crisis inside the Central African Republic (CAR). 13 European states and 12 African nations attended pre-Summit talks along with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In the aftermath of this meeting, the EU announced that it was establishing a long-discussed military mission in the CAR. The plan is to deploy 1,000 EU troops which would join another 12,000 soldiers coordinated by the United Nations.

At present there are an estimated 8,000 foreign forces occupying the CAR including 2,000 troops from France, the former colonial power in the mineral-rich state. Despite the presence of French soldiers and 6,000 allied African troops, violence against the minority Muslim population is continuing.

Approximately one-quarter of the overall population of less than five million has been displaced. Thousands more people within the Muslim community remained trapped even in the capital of Bangui.

The new interim government of President Catherine Samba-Panza and Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke was installed in January after the forced resignation of Michel Djotodia who headed the Muslim-dominated Seleka Coalition. Seleka took control of the capital of Bangui in March 2013 after France refused to provide any security assistance to the ousted government of Francois Bozize.

EU Foreign Policy Minister Catherine Ashton indicated that the deployment of troops would take place in a relatively short time, although no firm date was set. According to Ashton, the EU has a firm "determination to take full part in international efforts to restore stability and security in [CAR's capital city] Bangui and…across the Central African Republic." (DW, April 1)

"It is vital that there is a return to public order as soon possible, so that the political transition process can be put back on track," Ashton said. Nonetheless, the enhanced intervention of France with the logistical support of the United States has worsened the security and humanitarian situation inside the CAR.

Food assistance pledged by the UN has not been forthcoming as Muslim shopkeepers and traders have fallen victim to the Christian-dominated Anti-Balaka militias who have facilitated the looting of businesses and the disruption of transport routes. The UN estimates that some 19,000 Muslims still remain in mortal danger while tens of thousands of others have fled to nearby Chad and Cameroun.

The presence of both Chadian and French troops has drawn widespread opposition throughout the CAR within both the Christian and Muslim communities. During the EU-Africa Summit, Chad announced that it was withdrawing its military forces from the CAR.

France has been accused of siding with the Christian community and not actively pursuing the armed Anti-Balaka militias. Chad, on the other hand, has been charged with favoring the Muslims in their efforts to transport people out of the capital and other areas where there have been violent campaigns against Islamic neighborhoods, mosques and businesses.

Chadian troops were accused in the shooting deaths of 30 CAR civilians. Chad denied that the events were unprovoked and that their forces were fired upon first.

The U.N. said that the response by the Chadian forces were disproportionate to the danger involved. Ban Ki-moon visited the CAR for the first time since the large-scale intervention of France and regional African peacekeeping forces on April 5 and warned that the country must not become another Rwanda where hundreds of thousands were killed twenty years ago.

This piece was previously published in:
http://panafricannews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/eu-africa-summit-may-lead-to-increased.html

* Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor of the Pan-African News Wire

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


How to win a war without a fight

The example of Russia in Crimea and the lesson for Africa

Jean-Paul Pougala

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91369


cc Wiki
Those who are fighting today against the splintering of Ukraine are the same as those who are working behind the scenes to break up Mali and who are financing the rebellions in eastern DRC in order to create a new republic in the Kivu tomorrow

What is being taught in military academies? Are you comfortably seated? I am going to take you on a virtual tour of strategic studies at a military academy. We will study the Ukrainian crisis based on a strategic studies textbook that is widely used for the training of the Russian and Chinese military, but also in a number of business schools across the world.

The book is called the Art of War, written by the Chinese strategist and tactician Sun Tzu (544-496 B.C.). The central principle of Sun Tzu’s model of military strategy is to use cunning to bring the enemy to lay down his weapons and surrender before the battle has even begun. In other words, according to Sun Tzu, the best military strategist is he who wins the war without having to fight, simply by using cunning, bluff and timely disinformation to confuse the enemy, giving him false hope at the start of hostilities only to completely disillusion him in the end.

Let us take the Ukrainian crisis as a case study, as is done in military academies. We will use the ten main strategies recommended by Sun Tzu to win a war without fighting, in order to find out who, in Ukraine, has the best chance of winning the current showdown between the United States of America and Russia.


1. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.’ Once you have identified the enemy’s plan you must constantly, in doing battle, give an impression that belies the bellicose attitude he expects from you in the circumstances. Thus, your counter-offensive must be invisible; you must know how to lie and above all give the enemy no chance to understand you or figure out your true reaction to his warlike intentions, of which you must always feign ignorance.

In this case, the objective of the West is to proceed from an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union to the adhesion pure and simple of Ukraine to the EU. But above all, it is to secure Ukraine’s adhesion to NATO in order to cut it off completely from Russia, the lease of the naval base of Sevastopol in Crimea to the Russian navy would thus not be renewed, depriving Russia of her rapid deployment capability in the Mediterranean in the event of a war with NATO, as in the recent intimidation operations in Syrian ports, when President Hollande advocated bombing the country, and in Egyptian ports following Morsi’s ouster, when the USA threatened to cut military supplies to Egypt.

President Yanukovych, Moscow’s man, feigned ignorance of the harmful consequences of signing the association agreements – and stopped at the last minute. That is when the West came into play, inventing a popular revolution. The Euronews television claimed that according to an intercepted conversation between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the 88 deaths on Independence Square were the work not of President Yanukovych but of the opposition paramilitary, backed by the members of the coalition currently in power in Kiev, in order to deal a fatal blow to a presidency that is hostile to the European Union and to NATO.

But how can they be so sure of it? This is what Euronews had to say on the subject : One or more of the snipers who fired on the militants on Euromaidan had occupied the headquarters of the National Bank of Ukraine in Kiev. There, investigators discovered spent casings corresponding to the bullets found in the bodies of the victims. Moreover, these were the same bullets that were used to attack the riot police and the opposition protestors. In all: 88 dead.

Russia looks on, aware of what is happening, invisible, inaudible, absent – and does not intervene. What it wants is to take back the entire Crimean Peninsula, but without a fight. How to achieve this? It is the West that will help her by playing a game of chess, without taking into account the pawns of the opponent, who is also playing, but secretly. And now, it is Sun Tzu’s second strategy that enlightens us regarding President Putin’s behaviour in this crisis.

2. ‘A victorious army first wins and then seeks battle; a defeated army first battles and then seeks victory.’ Sun Tzu explains that according to this principle, in war one attacks only when one is sure of winning. Otherwise, one waits as long as necessary for the situation to turn to one’s advantage.

Many western politicians, such as US Senator John McCain on 15 December 2013, passed through Maidan Square in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, to support and encourage the angry crowd, its anger well stoked and guided. On 19 February, our allegedly peaceful demonstrators launched an assault on the police. At the end of the riots there were 26 dead, including 9 police. And this is what President Obama had to say, in Mexico where he was on an official visit: “I want to be very clear as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we're going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors.” Later on, in the plane returning from Mexico, according to an AP release, it was Ben Rhodes, security advisor to President Obama, who talked to reporters on Air Force One, saying: ‘We consistently oppose any of the violence by all sides, but the responsibility is on the government to pull back its riot police, to call a truce and to engage in a meaningful discussion with the opposition about the way forward… because too many Ukrainians are feeling like their own aspirations are not being met in this government.’

These three American personalities had already fallen into the trap set by President Putin: they had clearly chosen their side. Through their actions and words they unwittingly acknowledged paternity of the demonstrations on Independence Square in Kiev. This acknowledgement was then used by Russia to discredit Western interlocutors following events that seem to have been totally unforeseen by both sides, but up to what point? We will see in the next strategy which side favours the ultimate goal over multiple pseudo temporary victories.

3. ‘For the skilful strategist, the main thing is victory, not a lengthy campaign.’ That is to say that for a good military strategist, what counts is the elements taken as a whole, it is the ultimate result of all the operations and not of sporadic little day-to-day victories. We have looked at the objectives of both sides: in the end, the West wants Ukraine to join NATO in order to deprive Russia of its access to the Mediterranean. Whereas Russia simply wants to annex Crimea to guard against such an eventuality. Indeed, Crimea is Russia’s sole access to warm water.

Elsewhere, to the north, it is cold sea and if the West were to start a war against Russia in wintertime all its ships would be blocked in the frozen waters of the Baltic or North Seas. It would be defeat before the battle had even begun. In the succession of events that took place in Kiev up to the ousting of the president, it was the West that seemed to hold the trump cards since it was the West that was dictating the pace, and even the choice of the new leaders, whom it speedily recognized. Even if they had just overthrown a democratically elected government, what did it matter? Democracy is a big lie that exists at the expense of those who believe in it. Especially since regular elections would take place in one year. And during negotiations President Yanukovych had accepted to bring these elections forward. Not fast enough for the West, which had him ousted barely 24 hours after the signature of this agreement with the opposition. Here, it is the West that entered into a lengthy campaign. Moscow was silent.

President Putin was stuck in Sochi for the Winter Olympics. Subsequent events show that this silence was calculated. Apparently, what interested him was the final victory and not the intermediate operations.

4. ‘He who is skilful at keeping the enemy on the move by holding out the prospect of an opportunity, ensures his superiority.’ According to Sun Tzu, you must always push the enemy towards greater mobility to lead him where you want him to go, in order to finish him off. On 6 February 2014, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland arrived in Kiev and met the three main Ukrainian opposition leaders: Oleg Tiagnybok, Vitali Klitschko and Arseni Iatseniouk, who subsequently became Prime Minister. The next day, in an interview with the daily Kommersant Ukraine, President Putin’s special advisor Sergey Glaziev stated: ‘As far as we know, Mrs Victoria Nuland has threatened to blacklist the Ukrainian oligarchs if President Yanukovych does not relinquish power to the opposition. This has nothing to do with international law. (…) It seems that the United States is counting on a coup. (…) The Americans are spending $20 million a week to finance the opposition and the rebels, including the delivery of weapons.’

Commenting on Senator McCain’s visit to Independence Square on 15 December 2013, Alexey Pushkov, a member of the Russian parliament (the Duma), told Kievski Telegraf, the Ukrainian daily: ‘Representatives of the European Union and of the United States are directly implicated in the political showdown in Ukraine. (…) Do they intend to establish a new colonial regime there?’

At this point we already observe that the Russians are creating a perfect diversion. Having pushed the Westerners to be more mobile and to travel several times to Kiev, whereas they themselves have not budged an inch from Moscow, they have been able to force the Americans to choose a priority: a change of power in Kiev. It is into this trap that the Russians will lead them and where they will occupy them for quite some time, while they are free to secretly put the finishing touches to the invasion of Crimea.

5. ‘The skilful strategist is so subtle that he has no visible form. The skilful strategist is so discreet that he is inaudible. Thus, he is the master of the enemy’s destiny.’ The skilful strategist eludes the enemy. He must communicate as little as possible and withhold information. When he does communicate, it is to convey unexploitable or false information to the enemy.

When President Putin gave his only press conference on 5 March 2014 exclusively for the Russian press, he swore on the head of his great-grandfather that he had no troops in Crimea. And that the military that were seen without national insignia on their uniforms were in fact local self-defence forces. Viewed from the West, this was a lie. But looking at it more closely, President Putin was merely conning them. And he supplied a capital piece of information that was not understood by Western strategists. Indeed, when he denied that there were any Russian, i.e. foreign soldiers in Crimea, he was telling them that, officially, Crimea was already Russian and that the forces present in Crimea could therefore not be considered as invading forces but as forces that were already at home, in their own nation, their own republic, hence the designation ‘local self-defence forces.’ Unfortunately, the subliminal message was not properly analysed and understood by Western ‘strategists’ who, instead of immediately looking into the Crimean situation, continued their posturing, as usual, talking of a Russian de-escalation of tension even though the latter had just informed them that they had already proceeded to the second half of the game to which the West had invited them.

In Paris, a conference on Lebanon was transformed into a discussion on sanctions that would be taken against Russia if it was not nice and did not remove its forces from Crimea and return them to their base.

The next day, in Rome, a conference on the chaos left by NATO in Libya was transformed into a debate to inform European public opinion that Europe really did intend to do something.

One continued to organize pointless conferences, to-ing and fro-ing between European capitals and Kiev, even though the barycentre of the crisis had already long moved from Kiev to Crimea. An extraordinary mini-summit on Ukraine was even organized in Brussels on 6 March and, right in the middle of the meeting, President Putin sent the participants a little present: the dispatch that arrived on news desks in Brussels at 12 o’clock, stating that the Crimean parliament had unanimously voted in favour of joining Russia and that a referendum would be organized to validate the vote barely ten days later.

6. ‘To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.’ A skilful strategist is not violent, he does not humiliate his adversary. He leads his adversary to transform himself and to recognize his inferiority. He thus has no need to fight. In Crimea, the Russian special forces arrived in uniforms without insignia and surrounded all the Ukrainian military bases, but without forcing the Ukrainians to leave their bases. The problem is that the regular occupants of those bases were no longer free to come and go. They had to choose: either they waited stoically for events in Kiev to produce a miracle to dislodge the Russians, or they surrendered. Many chose to surrender without even trying to defend themselves. In any case, they were not under attack.

At the same time, without even waiting for the referendum, at the airport in Sevastopol, psychological pressure was ramped up a notch: immediately after the vote of the Crimean parliament all flights to Kiev were scheduled as international flights. Ukrainian currency was progressively taken out of circulation and replaced with Russian roubles. For the first time in history one witnessed the faultless application of Sun Tzu’s theories: winning without a fight. The United States was completely taken in.

7. ‘In ancient times skilful warriors first made themselves invincible, and then watched for vulnerability in their opponents. Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent.’ A true strategist uses timing to win all his battles. His cunning makes him impervious to the threats and bellicose actions of the enemy. He thus becomes invincible. But it is not enough. He must win. For this, a skilful strategist must know how to wait for a moment of weakness of his enemy before taking action and delivering the coup de grâce. Once the annexation of Crimea was secured, Russia knew that the operation itself would drastically weaken the West in the operations to come. But the West mistakenly thinks that President Putin will stop at Crimea.

He knew that he had long been destabilizing his adversaries, who were incapable of innovative initiative. President Obama announced a series of sanctions, first on visas. It seemed like a bad joke. ‘In 1994, you forced Ukraine to get rid of its nuclear weapons, promising help in case of attack. And now that its territory is being dismembered you are threatening to withhold visas? What are you playing at?’ In reality, President Obama cannot do much. Right now the Russian president is the sole master of the game. He is holding all the trump cards. He can do as he wishes, when he wishes, and how he wishes. The worst of it is that all the gesticulating of the West merely shows how powerless it is.

First because it does not have the money to wage a war against a power such as Russia, but also because the slightest economic sanction will immediately backfire. For example, according to information published on 7 March 2014 by the French economic journal Challenge, as soon as President Obama threatened to freeze Russian assets, in a single day, on Thursday 6 March 2014 the Central Bank of Russia moved the gigantic sum of several tens of billions of dollars from accounts in the United States to Russia and various tax havens. If this kind of operation were to continue it could, in the medium term, lead to a veritable banking and financial cataclysm in the United States. It is a classic case of the biter bit.

Still on Friday 7 March 2014, the Bloomberg agency gave another analysis and forecast. Bloomberg reported that on 1 September 2013 Russia held $160 billion in banks in 44 countries, whereas on that same date, 24 countries had deposited $242 billion in Russian banks. Western countries can freeze up to $160 billion worth of Russian money. The Russians can freeze up to $242 billion worth of Western money. According to Bloomberg in Washington, the country that has the most to lose is France, whose banks have invested $50 billion in Russia, followed by the United States, whose banks have invested $35 billion in the largest country in the world, Russia, with its 6.5 million square miles.

Worse, once again according to Bloomberg, we have it from the mouth of Sergey Glaziev, the Russian president’s advisor, that in case of American sanctions Russia would be obliged to renounce the dollar in favour of other currencies and create its own payment system. (…) If the United States freezes the assets of Russian public institutions and private Russian investors, Moscow will encourage everyone to dump U.S. Treasury bonds. Moreover, if sanctions are imposed, Russia will have to renege on the reimbursement of loans from American banks.

The die is cast. Russia is invincible and has even identified the enemy’s weak spot. Consequently, the odds are that, after Crimea, it knows that it can annex first the former Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Ossetia, before swallowing all the Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine that voted for President Yanulovych at the last presidential election. Without of course forgetting the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldavia, at the border with Ukraine, which also has a Russian majority and since its independence, proclaimed in 1992, has been asking to join Russia. At this point we come to another of Sun Tzu’s strategies.

8. ‘You may advance and be absolutely irresistible if you make for the enemy's weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.’ To advance, you must avoid hand to hand combat with the enemy, and limit yourself to hitting him only there where he is unprotected. For strategic withdrawal you must place yourself in recesses unknown to the enemy or outside his control.

Since the blitzkrieg in August 2008 against U.S. ally Georgia, under Sakashvili, the conquered territories are the weak spot of the West. ‘You had led Georgia to believe that you could help it in case of war with Russia. And it did what you told it to do. When it was bombed, you didn’t show up. So, what is your word worth?’ Russia’s humiliation of little Georgia is a big stain on the United States’ credibility and, even today, the two disputed territories are in fact under Russia’s control. This is why it is easy to predict that these are the first territories that Russia will annex after Crimea. Again according to Sun Tzu, the easy victory over Georgia in just four days does not mean it should be repeated today in Ukraine. And President Putin is well aware of this.

9. ‘Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.’ Tactics and strategy must always be adapted to new situations. It is not because a solution worked once that it will always work. If one repeats the victorious tactics of the past one runs the risk of facing a seasoned enemy who has had time to study one’s strategy and how to deal with it. For a skilful strategist, each situation is unique and merits a unique strategy. While the Americans repeated the same costly recipe in Iraq and Afghanistan that they used in Vietnam, Russia avoided repeating in Ukraine the victorious tactics it had used in Georgia, with hundreds of shells shot from tanks and combat helicopters. Because obviously, whereas the American allies were unprepared in Georgia, it is unlikely that they would have been surprised and remained passive a second time. Indeed, we were told that American F16s were flying towards Estonian and Polish skies. Just as President Putin remained silent during the events in Kiev, before swallowing Crimea, today no one knows what strategy he has prepared for the Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine. Since Sun Tzu recommends that one should not repeat victorious strategies, one can wager that he has something completely different in mind for the eastern regions – but what?

10. ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’ The skilful strategist must always keep three things in mind: be master of the environment, the battleground, know the enemy in detail and know yourself in order to be able, above all, to detect your own weak spots before the enemy does. To be a strategist in the Russian secret service one must speak several languages, English among them. But all texts and communication among members of the FSB are coded exclusively in Russian. The CIA has a Russia department that cannot match the formidable strategic mastery of English by Russian spies. Or the Russian’s highly detailed knowledge of Americans. There is also a network composed of American Russians who hold American passports and can gain access to any post in the American administration.

This explains the impression that nothing the Russian president’s counterpart says surprises or upsets him. As for the environment, Russia is 6.5 million square miles, the United States half that. Whereas Americans in Russia are concentrated in a few big cities in the West, Russians in the USA are scattered throughout the country. They have become Americans for all intents and purposes. Russia need only study their behaviour to know all there is to know about Americans.

To come back to Ukraine, the regions that interest Russia are the Russian-speaking regions, where the population is Russian and which Russia therefore masters, even sociologically. This is not the case of the USA, which, in Ukraine as in Afghanistan or Iraq, always gives the impression of engaging in potential war zones anywhere on the planet without ever mastering the terrain, as in a video game in which it is enough to replace one map by another and continue pulling the trigger - which has led to useless wars that have literally ruined the United States of America.

President Putin is well aware that the other side is playing it by ear, from Iraq and Syria yesterday to Ukraine today. Finally, with a confused American president who makes generic threats and is totally incapable of any initiative regarding Ukraine, if there is a master of the universe today in terms of military strategy, that master is Vladimir Putin. He knows his enemy, the USA, he knows the terrain, Ukraine, and he is aware of the new power of his country, the new military strength of the country since the war in Libya, which he mentions whenever he wants to mock American strategists who had thought they could establish democracy in Libya and are now organizing a conference in Rome to request the help of the Russians to straighten things out over there.

For his part, President Obama gives the impression of not knowing either his Russian counterpart or the complexity of the Ukrainian situation, otherwise he would not have suggested to those they had put in place in Kiev to ban the Russian language. Worse, he seems to be unaware of his own weakness, that of a ruined country that cannot offer anything to 47 African countries that he has invited to Washington, merely to mimic the encounters that are held every two years between African and Chinese leaders.

WHAT ARE THE LESSONS FOR AFRICA?

In a communiqué on 22 January 2014 the White House announced that President Obama had invited 47 African heads of state to Washington. He was careful to exclude three, from the Central African Republic, Egypt and Guinea Bissau, who were accused of taking power through coups, without benefit of elections. How to explain that in Ukraine the American administration itself is forcing the hand of Russia to recognize the new regime in Kiev that is also the result of a coup? Is a coup in Europe different from a coup in Africa?

On 17 February 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. The West applauded. Serbia brought the affair before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the judicial organ of the UN that ruled on the secession of Kosovo, validating it by its decision of 22 July 2010 in these terms: ‘the declaration of independence of Kosovo did not violate general international law, or resolution 1244 of the Security Council, or the Constitutional Framework.’ However, the ICJ added that it “is not required by the question it has been asked to take a position on whether international law conferred a positive entitlement on Kosovo unilaterally to declare its independence or, a fortiori, on whether international law generally confers an entitlement on entities situated within a State unilaterally to break away from it.”

Bernard Kouchner, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, was pleased with the ICJ’s decision and declared : ‘The independence of Kosovo is irreversible (…) This opinion clearly states that Kosovo's declaration of independence is not contrary either to international law nor to Resolution 1244 as France has always maintained and I am delighted.’

Question: Why is the West happy to encourage secession in Kosovo and in South Sudan yet pretends to be an ardent defender of international law and the intangibility of borders in the case of Ukraine? How is Crimea in Ukraine different from South Sudan or Kosovo? The answer is that there is one rule for some and another for the rest and that this is the stock in trade of some countries, the same who took it upon themselves to play policeman of the world and dole out good and bad points to the naïve candidates for democracy, all the better to despoil them. Contrary to what happens regularly in Africa, from Eritrea to South Sudan, Russia did not help Crimea to declare its independence but rather to join an already large entity. Any new independence weakens the country that loses a piece of its territory. But it also weakens a new state that is not viable.

Those who are fighting today against the splintering of Ukraine are the same as those who are working behind the scenes to break up Mali and who are financing the rebellions in eastern DRC in order to create a new republic in the Kivu tomorrow

Russia will continue to surprise the Americans. What message were the Russians sending to the Americans when they set the date of the referendum to validate the annexation of Crimea by Russia to coincide with the end of the Sochi Paralympics on 16 March 2014?

Unlike Russia, the strategies of the Africans are grossly predictable to their Western enemies. Insofar as they are capable of understanding that the West is the enemy of Africa. There is a real cultural and intellectual backwardness of the population in Africa that prevents it from understanding that it must establish a balance of power with the West in which its own standpoint would be taken into account. But this cannot happen in the classic relationship of institutionalized beggary in which the one who holds out his hand to receive is always the one who obeys.

This is why there does not exist in any African country a serious project to spy on the West. Africans mistakenly think that they are the friends of the Europeans and never ask themselves how the Europeans see them: as simple slaves, albeit very well educated ones. Western television stations may give the impression that they hate President Putin or Russia, but an element remains that no one can ignore: whatever their relations in the future, they will have to pay Russia due respect. They have already begun. To wit, the way everyone is beating about the bush over pseudo sanctions that never come about. It is because of this element of respect that I am paradoxically optimistic about the future of relations between these two enemies of today. I cannot say the same about Africa. In order to be respected we will have to stop holding out our hand, it is an indispensable condition before we even begin to talk about military strategy or spying on the Europeans.

Yaoundé, 8 March 2014

N.B: this text is protected by copyright and it is strictly prohibited to use it for commercial purposes such as publication in paid-for newspapers or on Youtube, without my written permission.

* This article was translated from French for Pambazuka News by Julia Monod.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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Caribbean Reparatory Justice Program: Ten Point Action Plan

Caricom Reparations Commission

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91378


cc FAQS
The Caricom Reparations Commission has outlined ten demands of the former European trading nations to pay reparations to them. Among the root causes of the current problems facing descendants of slavery and genocide in the Caribbean is the racial victimization that was engendered by enslavement of black people

INTRODUCTION:

In 2013 Caribbean Heads of Governments established the Caricom Reparations Commission [CRC] with a mandate to prepare the case for reparatory justice for the region’s indigenous and African descendant communities who are the victims of Crimes against Humanity [CAH] in the forms of genocide, slavery, slave trading, and racial apartheid.

This document, prepared by the CRC, proposes the delivery of this mandate within the formulation of the Caricom Reparations Justice Program [CRJP].
The CRC asserts that victims and descendants of these CAH have a legal right to reparatory justice, and that those who committed these crimes, and who have been enriched by the proceeds of these crimes, have a reparatory case to answer.
The CRJP recognizes the special role and status of European governments in this regard, being the legal bodies that instituted the framework for developing and sustaining these crimes. These governments, furthermore, served as the primary agencies through which slave based enrichment took place, and as national custodians of criminally accumulated wealth.

THE CRC ASSERTS THAT EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS:

- were owners and traders of enslaved Africans
- instructed genocidal actions upon indigenous communities
- created the legal, financial and fiscal policies necessary for the enslavement of Africans
- defined and enforced African enslavement and native genocide as in their ‘national interests’
- refused compensation to the enslaved with the ending of their enslavement
- compensated slave owners at emancipation for the loss of legal property rights in enslaved Africans
- imposed a further one hundred years of racial apartheid upon the emancipated
- imposed for another one hundred years policies designed to perpetuate suffering upon the emancipated and survivors of genocide
- and have refused to acknowledge such crimes or to compensate victims and their descendants.

CONTEXT

The CRC is committed to the process of national international reconciliation.
Victims and their descendants have a duty to call for reparatory justice. Their call for justice is the basis of the closure they seek to the terrible tragedies that engulfed humanity during modernity.

The CRC comes into being some two generations after the national independence process, and finds European colonial rule as a persistent part of Caribbean life.

The CRC operates within the context of persistent objection from European governments to its mandate. The CRC, nonetheless, is optimistic that the CRJP will gain acceptance as a necessary path to progress.

The CRC sees the persistent racial victimization of the descendants of slavery and genocide as the root cause of their suffering today.

The CRC recognizes that the persistent harm and suffering experienced today by these victims as the primary cause of development failure in the Caribbean. It calls upon European governments to participate in the CRJP with a view to prepare these victims and sufferers for full admission with dignity into the citizenry of the global community.

The CRC here outlines the path to reconciliation, truth, and justice for VICTIMS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS.

CRJP: TEN POINT ACTION PLAN

[1] FULL FORMAL APOLOGY

The healing process for victims and the descendants of the enslaved and enslavers requires as a precondition the offer of a sincere formal apology by the governments of Europe.

Some governments in refusing to offer an apology have issued in place Statements of Regrets. Such statements do not acknowledge that crimes have been committed and represent a refusal to take responsibility for such crimes.
Statements of regrets represent, furthermore, a reprehensible response to the call for apology in that they suggest that victims and their descendants are not worthy of an apology.

Only an explicit formal apology will suffice within the context of the CRJP.

[2] REPATRIATION

Over 10 million Africans were stolen from their homes and forcefully transported to the Caribbean as the enslaved chattel and property of Europeans. The transatlantic slave trade is the largest forced migration in human history and has no parallel in terms of man’s inhumanity to man.

This trade in enchained bodies was a highly successful commercial business for the nations of Europe. The lives of millions of men, women and children were destroyed in search of profit.

The descendants of these stolen people have a legal right to return to their homeland. A Repatriation program must be established and all available channels of international law and diplomacy used to resettle those persons who wish to return. A resettlement program should address such matters as citizenship and deploy available best practices in respect of community re-integration.

[3] INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The governments of Europe committed genocide upon the native Caribbean population. Military commanders were given official instructions by their governments to eliminate these communities and to remove those who survive pogroms from the region.

Genocide and land appropriation went hand in hand. A community of over 3,000,000 in 1700 has been reduced to less than 30,000 in 2000.
Survivors remain traumatized, landless, and are the most marginalized social group within the region.

The University of the West Indies offers an Indigenous Peoples Scholarship in a desperate effort at rehabilitation. It is woefully insufficient.
A Development Plan is required to rehabilitate this community.

[4] CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS

European nations have invested in the development of community institutions such as museums and research centers in order to prepare their citizens for an understanding of these CAH.

These facilities serve to reinforce within the consciousness of their citizens an understanding of their role in history as rulers and change agents.
There are no such institutions in the Caribbean where the CAH were committed. Caribbean school teachers and researchers do not have the same opportunity.
Descendants of these CAH continue to suffer the disdain of having no relevant institutional systems through which their experience can be scientifically told. This crisis must be remedies within the CJRP.

[5] PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

The African descended population in the Caribbean has the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases in the forms of hypertension and type two diabetes. This pandemic is the direct result of the nutritional experience, physical and emotional brutality, and overall stress profiles associated with slavery, genocide, and apartheid.

Over 10 million Africans were imported into the Caribbean during the 400 years of slavery. At the end of slavery in the late 19th century less than 2 million remained. The chronic health condition of Caribbean blacks now constitutes the greatest financial risk to sustainability in the region.

Arresting this pandemic requires the injection of science, technology, and capital beyond the capacity of the region. Europe has a responsibility to participate in the alleviation of this heath disaster.

The CRJP addresses this issue and calls upon the governments of Europe to take responsibility for this tragic human legacy of slavery and colonization.

[6] ILLITERACY ERADICATION

At the end of the European colonial period in most parts of the Caribbean, the British in particular left the black and indigenous communities in a general state of illiteracy.

Some 70 percent of blacks in British colonies were functionally illiterate in the 1960s when nation states began to appear. Jamaica, the largest such community, was home to the largest number of such citizens.

Widespread illiteracy has subverted the development efforts of these nation states and represents a drag upon social and economic advancement.
Caribbean governments allocate more than 70 percent of public expenditure to health and education in an effort to uproot the legacies of slavery and colonization. European governments have a responsibility to participate in this effort within the context of the CRJP.

[7] AFRICAN KNOWLEDGE PROGRAM

The forced separation of Africans from their homeland has resulted in cultural and social alienation from identity and existential belonging.
Denied the right in law to life, and divorced by space from the source of historic self, Africans have craved the right to return and knowledge of the route to roots.

A program of action is required to build ‘bridges of belonging’.
Such projects as school exchanges and culture tours, community artistic and performance programs, entrepreneurial and religious engagements, as well as political interaction, are required in order to neutralize the void created by slave voyages.

Such actions will serve to build knowledge networks that are necessary for community rehabilitation.

[8] PSYCHOLOGICAL REHABILITATION

For over 400 years Africans and their descendants were classified in law as non-human, chattel, property, and real estate.
They were denied recognition as members of the human family by laws derived from the parliaments and palaces of Europe.

This history has inflicted massive psychological trauma upon African descendant populations. This much is evident daily in the Caribbean.
Only a reparatory justice approach to truth and educational exposure can begin the process of healing and repair.

Such an engagement will call into being, for example, the need for greater Caribbean integration designed to enable the coming together of the fragmented community.

[9] TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

For 400 years the trade and production policies of Europe could be summed up in the British slogan: “not a nail is to be made in the colonies”.
The Caribbean was denied participation in Europe’s industrialization process, and was confined to the role of producer and exporter of raw materials.
This system was designed to extract maximum value from the region and to enable maximum wealth accumulation in Europe.

The effectiveness of this policy meant that the Caribbean entered its nation building phase as a technologically and scientifically ill-equipped- backward space within the postmodern world economy.

Generations of Caribbean youth, as a consequence, have been denied membership and access to the science and technology culture that is the world’s youth patrimony.

Technology transfer and science sharing for development must be a part of the CRJP.

[10] DEBT CANCELLATION

Caribbean governments that emerged from slavery and colonialism have inherited the massive crisis of community poverty and institutional unpreparedness for development.

These governments still daily engage in the business of cleaning up the colonial mess in order to prepare for development.
The pressure of development has driven governments to carry the burden of public employment and social policies designed to confront colonial legacies.
This process has resulted in states accumulating unsustainable levels of public debt that now constitute their fiscal entrapment.

This debt cycle properly belongs to the imperial governments who have made no sustained attempt to deal with debilitating colonial legacies.
Support for the payment of domestic debt and cancellation of international debt are necessary reparatory actions.

*Caricom Reparations Commission

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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Climate crisis is increasing insecurity

Farooque Chowdhury

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91380


cc NTEB
Underlying the current climate crisis that will worsen if not alleviated is the greed for greater profits, markets, fuel, and the rape of the earth’s resources. As this continues the ramifications will be increasing insecurity, competition and conflicts for water and scarce resources

Climate crisis generated increased insecurity is now boldly visible. IPCC, the global scientists’ panel on climate change, for the first time, has connected climate crisis to possibilities of conflicts.

The increasing insecurity is felt by the dominating global system and in concerned societies/economies.

Climate crisis has long ago reached the realm of geopolitics. Competition, geostrategy, and geo-tactical aspects are subtexts of climate crisis negotiations. A part of capital has already accepted the fact of climate crisis while a part is still busy with its dirty denial doings.

It’s the crook part of capital playing conservative. It’s the conservative character: deny changing reality, attempt to move backward, not only deny science, but also attempt to prove science wrong. Ultimately it comes to compromises or crashes down itself, a foolish consequence.

But geopolitics can’t rely on conservatism as reality is always changing, socioeconomic forces are confronting, and new forces are either emerging or changing position.

Or, geopolitics resorting to conservatism invites unhappy fate.

Not only geopolitics, security is also related to climate crisis. Actually, it’s the security of world powers that concerns the “guardians” of world affairs. Spheres of influence, countries/regions required for geopolitical “game”, are related to security concern of the world masters.

Citing the latest IPCC draft report AP on March 30, 2014 said: The climate crisis will complicate and worsen existing global security problems, such as civil wars, strife between countries and refugees. It will turn the reality more dangerous. Fights over resources including water and energy, hunger and extreme weather will destabilize the world.

Seven years ago, the Yokohama datelined AP report said, IPCC didn’t mention security issues. For the past seven years, social science has found more links between climate and conflict. Now, there are hundreds of studies on climate crisis and conflict.

The US department of defense in its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) has also related climate crisis to national security, terrorist activity, frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, defense support to civil authorities, undermining the capacity of domestic installations. (Steve Horn, March 5, 2014, “Pentagon Calls Climate Change Impacts Threat Multipliers, Could Enable Terrorism”)

It focused on the pressure on international governance that global warming will apply. “The pressures”, the report said, “caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.” (ibid)

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO in the UK, in its report The Gathering Storm: climate change, security and conflict identified climate crisis as a possible “tipping point” for conflict, particularly in already fragile, post-war states.

Inaction on climate crisis, the report said, is the world’s “gravest threat to human and national security”. It cited warnings by military experts: Violence could escalate as a result of ever scarcer resources.

The issue has been raised by others also. About two years ago, the African Union considered climate crisis a security threat. About a year ago, G-8 ministers had, broadly, the same opinion. Last week, the US and EU said climate crisis is a threat to security and economy. The crisis, the two powers consider, is a “risk to global security”.

“[M]ilitary experts”, writes Sophie Yeo, “have reinforced that climate change could pose a threat to national security.” Retired US Brigadier General Chris King compared climate crisis to a “100 year war” without an exit strategy. (“Climate change is world’s ‘gravest security threat’ – report”, March 27, 2014)

Sir David King, the UK’s special representative on climate change, told MPs that climate change was an issue that needed to be “carefully addressed” by militaries across the world, due to their dependence on oil in conflict situations. (ibid.)

Militaries in a number of countries, as press reports say, have already started taking steps to face the crisis: a security risk. The steps range from relocation of bases to shifting of energy source, like, from hydrocarbon fuel to solar power.

No doubt, the steps will not be limited into the area of logistics. These will also cover areas of doctrine, strategy, tactics, training.

Now, the US president and EU leaders find, as the joint statement following their recent meeting said, climate crisis is going to make sustainable economic growth in their two regions an impossible task, and sustainable economic growth is not isolated from security. Now, they have “strong determination” to conclude a proposed UN climate deal in 2015.

One can expect a new US-EU climate crisis strategy facing the rest of the world. The two powers will be “intensifying their cooperation” in climate diplomacy. They will have their joint bargaining chips for the periphery in areas of trade, growth, and development. It will be the old game with a new name: green growth, green trade, green export, green development, green aid and green diplomacy for conflict resolution.
But as the basic structure, regimes, pattern and relations will not be changed a cynic might add: green exploitation, green plunder, green appropriation, green loan, green interest, green dominance, green aggression and green intervention – a green show of force.

“Green” will be there in the world system, and all the old regimes of trade, loan, the so-called development assistance/aid and “cooperation” based on a dominance-subservience relation will be there. The US-EU-Japan triad, as Samir Amin identifies, is there occupying the global throne.

Questions of security/insecurity thus move in two spheres: in the sphere of dominating powers and in the sphere of dominated societies/economies.

Security/insecurity of the dominating powers’ is in two areas: within their societies and in the sphere of their dominance.

With increased vulnerabilities in many areas, death, hunger, destruction and damage (cities, infrastructure, utilities, etc.), drought, heatwave, flood, water shortage (mainly in cities and for irrigation), scarcity of food (fish, livestock, etc,), poverty and poor, the “key risks” as the IPCC identifies, economies in the periphery face the question of security/insecurity from within and from outside: the dominating powers and their wars, aggressions, interventions.

People face insecurity as food and water securities are threatened, their livelihood turns vulnerable, they face uncertain destination. The increasing insecurity in spheres of life and livelihood cuts down their democratic and human rights.

Mismanaged water resource is one example.

Tension and conflicts at regional level lurch around with increased competition for receding water from trans-boundary rivers. It damages in economy, displaces population, and ignites war.

Already a number of river basins in Asia had/are having the experience. The 251-kilometer Jordan River, the 2,700-kilometer Euphrates, the longest river in Southwestern Asia, the 2,540-kilometer Amu Darya, the longest river in Central Asia flow with tension and conflict.

Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s competition for control of the Amu Darya water “developed” to Uzbek troops, as was reported, taking control of water installations in Turkmenistan.

Parts of South Asia also face competition for water.

At the seemingly “heart” of the problems are intensified farming, increased irrigation, new hydroelectric dams, increased demand for fodder, etc. But is there any connection between these problems that are affecting millions of people and creating a security situation?

A closer look will find a common pattern: on the one hand, broadly, capitalist mode of production, and on the other, victim of the capitalist mode of production. The latter is the “product” of the mode of production.

The system is ever “hungry” for expansion; and it’s anarchic; and it’s based on narrowly defined self-interest. Its type of production creates causes for deterioration of nature, biodiversity and climate. Deterioration of climate affects nature, biodiversity and living condition of all life, not only human life. It’s like a multiplying act.

Capital’s expansionist hunger devours, defaces, destroys and demolishes everything around; and these in turn creates pressure on land including forest, soil, grazing land, water, mountains, glaciers, population, etc.; and these in turn again create “pressure” on climate; and the security situation emerges.

At the same time, capital’s expansion requires war, aggression, intervention as capital requires “occupation”, in many forms, and “security” that “induces” use of force. The force requires unhindered movement to any corner of the world, desert or deep in forest, and the unhindered movement again requires force.

This pattern – war, show and use of force, permanent presence of force in parts of the world and unhindered movement of force – taxes nature and climate. Again, a “contribution” to climate deterioration is made by the system.

The extent and level of deterioration turns immense and serious when an entire economy bases its expansion on war – real and imaginary.

Inefficient use of resources – wastage – by the system presses nature and climate. The wastage occurs in production, distribution, manipulation, war, war efforts and war postures.

“At present, around 168 countries are estimated to suffer from land degradation, costing the global economy an estimated US$ 40 billion a year. Global soil erosion exceeds new soil formation by as much as 23 billion tonnes per year, or 1% of soil stock, a process described by some scientists as the ‘skinning’ of the planet.” (The Economics of Land Degradation Initiative study) However, the study finds, “crop yields worth US$ 1.4 trillion could be grown if sustainable land management practices are introduced around the world.”

“Up to 1.3 billion people may be exposed to longer-term food insecurity in 2050 in low-income economies (mainly in Africa), if their economic development doesn’t allow them to afford productivity improvements, cropland expansion and/or imports from other countries.” (Marianela Fader, Dieter Gerten, Michael Krause, Wolfgang Lucht and Wolfgang Cramer, “Spatial decoupling of agricultural production and consumption: quantifying dependences of countries on food imports due to domestic land and water constraints”, Environmental Research Letters.)

The study found: “A number of developed countries including the UK, the Netherlands and Japan are already unable to meet the food requirements of their populations. This reliance on imports looks set to become worse as population levels rise. However, unlike the developing countries, these nations will probably be able to buy their way out of the problem.” Currently, says the study, only 950 million people (16% of world population) use the opportunities of international trade for covering their demand of agricultural products.

The reality, as the study found: Even, countries considered advanced economies are facing the problem of food. And, the question: The rich can buy, import, food, but what shall happen to the poor?

These are only a few examples from thousands and thousands of inefficient use and distribution of resources, and inefficient use of resources is “party” to generation of inequality and disparity, and it’s capitalism that’s sustaining this inefficient, unequal system.

Today’s climate crisis thus has been created by the capitalist system, and it is aggravating the crisis with each passing day. The crisis, like Frankenstein’s monster, is now threatening the system, the creator of the crisis. The question of security/insecurity/threats is a burning example.

Why doesn’t the system change the process that has emerged as a threat even to its rule? It can’t.

Changing the process is the ultimate threat to the capitalist system as the step will accelerate its downfall – a change in the entire regime. So, the only alternative available to the system is manipulation, a conflict with reality.

Manipulation of facts, science, public opinion and public “mind” are indivisible part of the world capitalist system. The system’s entire publicity and propaganda exposes this. Climate crisis politics and climate crisis diplomacy of the system are part of the manipulation mechanism. But the magnitude of the threat being created by the crisis is compelling the capitalist system to identify the reality, and it’s, the insecurity situation, threatening people everywhere.

* This piece was previously published in: http://www.countercurrents.org/chowdhury310314.htm



* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Honduras: One year of resistance in Rio Blanco

Beverly Bell

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91370


cc PG
Despite U.S.-backed violence against them, indigenous communities are fighting back as multinational corporations encroach on their lands

‘Screw the company trying to take our river, and the government. If I die, I’m going to die defending life.’ So said María Santos Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous Council of the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Honduras.

April 1 marked one year since the Rio Blanco community began a human barricade that has so far stopped a corporation from constructing a dam that would privatize and destroy the sacred Gualcarque River. Adults and children have successfully blocked the road to the river with their bodies, a stick-and-wire fence, and a trench. Only one of many communities fighting dams across Honduras, the families of Rio Blanco stand out for their tenacity and for the violence unleashed upon them.

The Honduran-owned, internationally backed DESA Corporation has teamed up with U.S.-funded Honduran soldiers and police, private guards, and paid assassins to try to break the opposition. Throughout the past year, they have killed, shot, maimed, kidnapped, and threatened the residents of Rio Blanco. The head of DESA, David Castillo, is a West Point graduate. He also served as former assistant to the director of military intelligence and maintains close ties to the Honduran Armed Forces.

María Santos Dominguez’s prediction that she would die defending life almost came true. On March 5, seven people attacked her as she was on her way home from cooking food at the local school. They assaulted her with machetes, rocks, and sticks. When her husband, Roque Dominguez, heard that she was surrounded, he and their 12-year-old son Paulo ran to the scene. The men brutalized them as well. They brought a machete down on the child’s head, deeply slashing his face, cutting his ear in half, and fracturing his skull. Dominguez’s hand was severely injured, and he also suffered cuts to the face. (Friends of the Earth has organized a petition to urge the Honduran government to investigate, which you can sign here).

This was the second machete attack Roque Dominguez suffered since the community began its blockade. The first, on June 29, by several members of a powerful family allied with the dam company, left his eye, face, and hand mutilated. Days later, a soldier murdered María’s brother, Tomás Garcia, and shot his 17-year-old son, Allan, in the chest and back. The two bullets barely missed Allan’s heart.

Washington has admonished Honduran land rights defenders, even singling out the people of Rio Blanco. The U.S. ambassador to Honduras, in her remarks on International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2013, accused the Lenca community of trying to block development, and cited them as an example of people incorrectly taking justice into their own hands. And on June 28, 2013, according to the newspaper La Prensa, the ambassador called on the Honduran government to prosecute those who encourage small farmers to occupy lands. Weeks later, the Honduran court levelled exactly that charge, and others, against three leaders of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), of which the Rio Blanco community is a member.

The U.S. government has been a strong force behind the exploitation of natural riches on indigenous and small-farmer lands. In 2009, the U.S. contributed to a coup against President Manuel Zelaya, which was motivated in part to quash his support for agrarian reform and greater rights for indigenous and land-based peoples. President Obama backed the unconstitutional administration that followed as it gave corporations free reign for resource extraction, including granting 41 illegal contracts for dams. Many of those contracts are moving forward in today’s pro-business environment, in violation of Honduran and international conventions requiring free, prior, and informed consent by the indigenous peoples on whose territories the projects would be located.

During the period between the coup against Zelaya and today, the U.S. government has given not only political support to the anti-indigenous, law-violating administrations, but also almost $40 million in military and police aid—aid used for repression of citizens and for the so-called drug war. The United States also maintains six military bases in the country.

U.S. support also helped Juan Orlando Hernandez impose himself as president following the November 24, 2013 elections, guaranteeing an agenda of promoting multinational looting of natural resources. Though the elections were marred by violence, intimidation, and blatant fraud by backers of the ruling party—including the buying of votes, the counting of ballots from dead people, manipulation of the count, and the selling of election worker credentials—the U.S. ambassador called them transparent. Hernandez’s business-at-any-cost position was clear from his time as president of the National Congress, when he passed a law that gave mining corporations priority access to water over the needs of the people living in the area, and championed a law creating “model cities,” which essentially turn land over to corporations to manage. As president, Hernandez is now pushing forward these “Special Economic Development Zones.”

Freshly out of the hospital, María insists on returning to her home in Rio Blanco and continuing to fight the dam. Many have warned her of the dangers, but she is, to quote one human rights worker who knows her well, “so unbudging.”

COPINH issued a communiqué on March 6 that read in part, “We demand that the authorities not leave this case to impunity… as they have so many aggressions against many Lenca members of COPINH in Río Blanco. We demand justice and an end to violence and threats against the individual and collective rights of the Lenca People of Río Blanco.”

María said, “As Lenca people, these are our lands. Our ancestors fought to defend this land for us. We also have children and grandchildren, and we are going to defend this land for them.”

* Beverly Bell is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and Coordinator of Other Worlds. She has worked with indigenous movements in Honduras for 15 years.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.




Announcements

Call for articles: Africa and its diaspora in migration dynamics

2014-04-17

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/91397

Pambazuka News proposes to address migration dynamics in a special issue in late June. Analysis may include historical, cultural, economic, psychological, developmental, social, legal and political dimensions of this age-old phenomenon.

For a millennia migration was a natural phenomenon that marked the evolution of humanity. In their socio-economic and cultural dimensions, these population movements made current nations crucibles of co-existence of people, ethnic groups, communities of diverse cultural backgrounds, who find commonality in their desire for a decent life – free from hunger, need, exploitation, fear - for their children and themselves.

Yet, today many Africans across the globe and within African countries face political exclusion and rejection. Borders have become walls and the migrant, the refugee, Internally Displaced Person (IDP) is seen as the symbol of all evil (crime, violence, unemployment, etc.) and is often subjected to violent xenophobia or suspicion.

Africa is a continent that has experienced and continues to experience strong movements of migration. These migrations are often internal to the continent, motivated by political, economic and environmental reasons (drought and flooding), or reasons related to conflict (refugees ) etc. There is the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic that continues to internally displace people and create refugees in neighbouring African countries.

Although the continent has regional entities (ECOWAS, SADC, etc.) where conventions and treaties should facilitate the movement of goods and people, the violent outbursts of xenophobia, mass expulsions have become common phenomena, such as in South Africa in May 2008 when other Southern Africans such as Mozambicans, Zimbaweans and Somalis were attacked and killed. This anger was not directed at white immigrants from Europe or the former Soviet Union. Similarly, the decades of conflict in Somalia has led to Somali people being scattered not only in other parts of the world, but also in the East African region, where they have become victims of harassment of the police and intelligence authorities in Kenya. More importantly, it appears Somalis in Kenya are now seen as collaborators in terrorist violence as a result of the September 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack just as many Arabs were seen as “terrorists” in Western capitals soon after 9/11.

The borders of African states remains artificial lines resulting from colonization. On one side or the other of this line live the same people, with the same cultural realities and the same languages. This commonality could be a strong basis to promote the Pan-africanist ideal today, but policies of exclusion, regionalism and marginalisation are prevalent.

The drama of migration is tragically reflected in the shipwrecked boats and bodies that disappear into the Mediterranean sea, or wash up on Spanish beaches; or in the thousands of desperate migrants who regularly throw themselves on the barbed wire of Ceuta and Melilla. Such barbed wire, often electrified, is evident of Europe’s most violent method to barricade itself behind its borders. Israel, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are countries that are no different in their discriminatory practices and treatment of African migrants. Saudi Arabia is also distinguished by regular mass expulsions, rape and sexual harassment of Eritrean and Ethiopian women who seek work in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Migration remains an unstoppable global phenomenon and African populations are at the heart of this movement that will continue to shape the world. But surely if there was a genuine African Union as envisioned by Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara and many of Africa’s pioneering Pan-Africanist leaders, factors – such as political persecution, lack of economic opportunities, environmental disaster and conflict- that give rise to migration and IDPs would not disappear overnight, but would radically lessen?

Pambazuka News proposes to address migration dynamics in a special issue in late June 2014.

Analysis may include historical, cultural, economic, psychological, developmental, social, legal and political dimensions of migration.

Texts can also be in the form of a poem , a short story and testimonials.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF ARTICLES : Friday 13 June 2014.

LENGTH OF ARTICLES : Articles should be written in Microsoft Word, Font: Times, size 12 and be between 1000-3000 words

Please submit a biography of two lines at the end of your article and send it to: editor@pambazuka.org

Please send us your contribution.


PAMBAZUKA SPECIAL ISSUE: Africa in 50 years time – inventing a new Africa

2014-03-13

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/90936

What kind of Africa do women, youth, trade union activists, environmentalists, human rights, LBGTI and sex worker activists envision? What are the dreams of African writers, poets, scientists, engineers, agronomists, musicians for the continent in 50 years time? Pambazuka would like to hear from you.

On 25 May 2014 the African Union (AU) will be 12 years old, having been set up in Addis Ababa on 9 July 2002 to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The OAU waged a struggle for the decolonisation of the African continent from 1963 until it was supplanted by the AU.

In May 2014 Pambazuka News seeks to have a special issue on projecting into the future what Africa will look like in 50 years time. What kind of Africa do women, youth, trade union activists, environmentalists, human rights, LBGTI and sex worker activists envision? What are the dreams of African writers, poets, scientists, engineers, agronomists, musicians for the continent in 50 years time?

The revolutionary Thomas Sankara heeded that: “we must dare to invent the future.” What future will Africans create in 50 years time? Will we continue to ape the intellectual paradigms of the West, in terms of economic models, fashion and style? Is this imitation an inevitable aspect of “globalisation”?

Edward Blyden and Kwame Nkrumah spoke of an “African Personality” in the nineteenth and twentieth century. In the 21st century how should this reconfigured “African Personality” be defined and project itself on the world stage? The AU uses the language of Pan-Africanism and the “African Renaissance” and it is necessary to ask if they are one and the same thing? More importantly, what are the goals of Pan-Africanism in 50 years time? What does a Pan-Africanist Africa look and feel like?

What institutional challenges face the AU in the next 50 years?

These are the issues and questions we hope the special issue will grapple with and address in articles. Poems, short stories and personal opinion pieces are welcome.

Please send us your contribution.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF ARTICLES: Friday 16th May 2014

LENGTH OF ARTICLES: Articles are to be written in Microsoft Word, Font: Times, size 12, and between 1000-3000 words

Please submit a two-line biography at the end of your article and send to: editor@pambazuka.org


AFRICAN ODYSSEYS AT BFI SOUTHBANK, APRIL – JUNE 2014

FEATURING LIVELY Q&As WITH THE FILMMAKERS FOLLOWING EACH SCREENING

2014-04-10

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/91306

The forthcoming African Odysseys programme will feature screenings of inspirational films by and about the people of Africa, followed by question and answer sessions with the film directors

Tuesday 8 April 2014, London.

BFI Southbank today announces its forthcoming African Odysseys programme, with screenings of inspirational films by and about the people of Africa including Comrade President (2012), Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution (2013) and the UK Premiere of I Am The Gorgon: Bunny ‘striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae (2013). Screenings will be followed by Q&As with the film’s respective directors Mosco Kamwendo, Bruce Paddington and Diggory Kenrick.

April’s screening will be a historical portrait of key Mozambique political figure, Samora Machel, whose life was cut short by a plane crash in 1986. Comrade President provides an insight into the complex challenge of leadership and looks a man whose fascinating life saw him go from training to be a nurse, to leading the liberation movement Frelimo, to eventually becoming Mozambique’s first president. Following the screening there will be a discussion with the director of this important film Mosco Kamwendo, producer Marilia Angove and Dr Ama Biney (editor PAMBAZUKA).

May’s African Odyssey selection is Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution; directed by Dr Bruce Paddington, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, the film marks the 30 year anniversary of the massacre at Fort Rupert. On 25 October 1983, Ronald Reagan sent 8,000 members of the US Armed Forces to invade Grenada, an island with a population of just over 100,000. They were responding to the execution of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop at Fort Rupert on 19 October 1983, a man who had led the island’s revolutionary regime for four years. That day saw over 100 civilians, many of them children, lose their lives and this extraordinary film charts the political struggle and the elation following the people’s brief revolution. Following the film there will be a panel discussion with Professor Gus John (author of ‘Time to Tell – the Grenada Massacre and After’), Michael La Rose (Chair, George Padmore Institute) and director Bruce Paddington.

June will see the UK Premiere of I Am The Gorgon: Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae. A must-see for music fans, I Am The Gorgon documents the life of legendary producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee, telling the story of Jamaican music through the life of this extraordinary man; from ska to rocksteady; dub to dancehall; from the backstreets of Kingston to the concert halls of the world. Director Diggory Kenrick and the film’s narrator, musician Dennis Alcapone, will take to the stage for a discussion following the screening.Please make any interview requests to: Liz Parkinson – Assistant Press Officer, BFI Southbank liz.parkinson@bfi.org.uk / 020 7957 8918

Event Listings:

Comrade President + Q&A
Zimbabwe-Portugal 2012 Directed by Mosco Kamwendo Running time 89 min
Samora Machel died in a plane crash in 1986. Cut down in his prime, he remains an intriguing figure in African liberation. While he was training to be a nurse, racist laws imposed by the Portuguese colonial government prompted him to join the liberation movement Frelimo, where he rose to become commander in 1970. He became Mozambique’s first President just five years later. Rebuilding the country along Marxist lines, Machel welcomed anti-apartheid revolutionaries fighting in neighbouring Rhodesia and South Africa. These regimes retaliated, and forced him to sign the controversial Nkomati Accord in 1984. This historical portrait provides insight into the complex challenge of leadership and the journey to freedom.

We hope to welcome the film’s director and wider team to participate in a post-screening discussion. Please check back nearer the time for confirmation. Tickets £6 Sat 26 Apr 26 14:00 NFT1
Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution + Panel discussion
Trinidad and Tobago 2013. Dir Bruce Paddington. 150min
On 25 October 1983, Ronald Reagan sent 8,000 members of the US Armed Forces to invade Grenada, an island with a population of just over 100,000. They were responding to the execution of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop at Fort Rupert on 19 October 1983, a man who had led the island’s revolutionary regime for four years. Dr Bruce Paddington, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, marks the 30 year anniversary of the massacre at Fort Rupert – a day that saw over 100 civilians, many of them children, lose their lives. His extraordinary film charts the political struggle and the elation following the people’s brief revolution, a revolution that ended in such tragedy.

The screening will include a panel discussion with with Professor Gus John (author of ‘Time to Tell – the Grenada Massacre and After’), Michael La Rose (Chair, George Padmore Institute) and filmmaker Bruce Paddington. This event is in association with the June Givanni Pan African Film Archive.
Tickets £6.50
Sat 17 May 14:00 NFT1
UK Premiere: I Am The Gorgon: Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae
UK 2013. Dir Diggory Kenrick. 86min. Digital
This documentary film about legendary producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee tells the story of Jamaican music through the life of one extraordinary man; from ska to rocksteady; dub to dancehall; from the backstreets of Kingston to the concert halls of the world. Lee worked with early pioneers such as Duke Reid and innovators such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Sly and Robbie, and his association with King Tubby in the 70s gave rise to the genre known as dub. Lee’s story involves politics, arguments, gangs and guns as Jamaican music spread from the ghettos of Kingston to the furthest reaches of the globe. We hope to welcome director Diggory Kenrick and the film’s narrator, musician Dennis Alcapone as well as assorted figures from Jamaican music scene, for a discussion around what will be a unique and musical event
+ Sound Business
UK 1981. Dir Molly Dineen. 43min
Late, great Mikey Dread narrates this original footage of the mighty Coxsone Sound System in the early 1980s. Director Molly Dineen will introduce the screening Sat 14 June 14:00 NFT1

Press Contacts:
Liz Parkinson – Assistant Press Officer, BFI Southbank
liz.parkinson@bfi.org.uk / 020 7957 8918 Ilona Cheshire – Press Officer, BFI Southbank
Ilona.cheshire@bfi.org.uk / 020 7957 8986

NOTES TO EDITORS:

African Odysseys has been running for 7 years and shows monthly film events by and about the people of Africa and its world diasporas. It is generated by a steering group of programmers and promoters, including David Somerset of BFI Education who initiated this unique strand of monthly contextualised events.

About the BFI

The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:  Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema  Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations.

Championing emerging and world class film makers in the UK investing in creative,
distinctive and entertaining work 
Promoting British film and talent to the world 
Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences

The BFI Southbank is open to all. BFI members are entitled to a discount on all tickets. BFI Southbank Box Office tel: 020 7928 3232. Unless otherwise stated tickets are £11.00, concs £8.50 Members pay £1.50 less on any ticket. Website www.bfi.org.uk/southbank

Tickets for FREE screenings and events must be booked in advance by calling the Box Office to avoid disappointment

BFI Shop

The BFI Shop is stocked and staffed by BFI experts with over 1,200 book titles and 1,000 DVDs to choose from, including hundreds of acclaimed books and DVDs produced by the BFI.

The benugo bar & kitchen

Eat, drink and be merry in panoramic daylight. benugo’s décor is contemporary, brightly lit and playful with a lounge space, bar and dining area. The place to network, hang out, unpack a film, savour the best of Modern British or sip on a cocktail.

There’s more to discover about film and television through the BFI. Our world-renowned archival collections, cinemas, festivals, films, publications and learning resources are here to inspire you.

***PICTURE DESK***

A selection of images for journalistic use in promoting BFI Southbank screenings can be found at www.image.net under BFI / BFI Southbank


PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Call for volunteer translators

2014-03-20

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/91035

Pambazuka News needs volunteers to translate articles. Published weekly in English and French, and every 15 days in Portuguese, our electronic newsletter sometimes translates articles from one language to another. Through this, we aim to break down language barriers, give more audience to relevant analysis for our contributors and encourage exchanges between linguistic communities in Africa and around the world. In this Pambazuka is unique.

To deal with our increasing translation needs, we are looking for volunteers to strengthen our team of volunteer translators who assist us in this task and contribute to what Pambazuka is.

We engage to sign all translated articles with the name of their authors.

If you are a student or professional translator, we are counting on you. Write to the editors at the following address: editor@pambazuka.org




Comment & analysis

Somalis: The cash cow of the Kenyan police

Badrudeen Shariff

2014-04-17

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91394

Badrudeen Shariff looks into some of the reasons for police corruption and unfair treatment of Somalis in Kenya – and questions whether giving fair treatment to police in the first place would not prevent such problems.

A story is told of two Somali women who visited Kijabe hospital for medical treatment. At the gate, they met a uniformed watchman. They underwent the usual security check up and proceeded to finish their business in the hospital. As they were waiting to start their journey back home, the watchman approached them and asked “Mama ni saa ngapi? (Mum, what is the time?). One of the women opened her purse and handed him a Ksh500 note. The watchman was surprised and delighted. He then said, “Asante sana mama, lakini nilikuwa nataka kujua ni saa ngapi?”(Thank you mum, but I was asking about the time). The women looked at each other and concluded that he was not satisfied with the amount already given. They added another Ksh1000. The watchman walked away surprised at the womens’ generosity. Unbeknown to him, the women were refugees from the camps, who had come to Nairobi through a UNCHR program. And they had assumed he was a police officer asking for a bribe.

The story reveals the uneasy relationship between the security apparatus and Somalis in Kenya. A mutual mistrust dates back to Kenyan independence, when the state ostracized the Somalis as third-class citizens. For a Somali to obtain a service from any government office, money must exchange hands. This is now an accepted norm. I remember when I was applying for a passport; I attached all my documents as required. The immigration officer started asking me questions such as: “What is your name? Which school did you go to?” I was incensed and told him that the information he was seeking was on the papershe held.. He replied, “These mean nothing; you could have obtained them from river road”. Eventually, and only after a fight, i obtained my travel document, but until today I have problems at the airport due to that passport: they had then used my documents to issue a new passport to someone who must have paid them, and issued me with a replacement passport. Even the dates of its first issue and its replacement are almost the same, raising suspicions. I am also regarded as a frequent traveller since I have a replacement passport, but there are no records to show that.

I had a similar story with the national identity card. When the people with whom I had applied were collecting theirs, I came to the registration offices to collect mine. To my surprise, my file had not even been forwarded to Nairobi. The reason I was given was that I had not signed. It did not matter that everyone else had “xxxxxx” in the place of a signature. Nobody had told me to sign anywhere. Only God knows the noise I made. This is simply one of the ways that officials make the process hard, to convince you to part with something - and I knew I was paying for not having paid a bribe.

So when I see Kenyans cheering the police crackdown and mass arrests in Eastleigh, which have targeted the Somali community in order to “flush out” terrorists, I cringe in pain. Any sane person would support an operation to rid criminals from our midst. But I can bet my life that the operation in Eastliegh will not rid us of any criminal. It is just a means for the police to extort money from both the criminals, and the innocent majority. Have you ever asked yourself why the police are always so trigger happy to conduct swoops in Eastleigh and Northern Kenya? It is all about money, and the perceived lower status of Somali citizens. In Baragoi, 40 police officers were massacred in a single day. Nothing was done. To the opposite extreme, in northern Kenya, one officer is killed and somehow that justifies the massacre of locals and collective punishment.

Most of those who were arrested paid for their freedom. The criminals would havebeen the first ones to pay up because they have financiers. Many people were not arrested from the outset, because they knew what they were expected to do. They paid up before “tufike mbele”. I know of someone who paid Ksh20,000 despite having all the requisite documents to show his citizenship. Most of those in the concentration camps in Kasarani are the poor who could not afford to bribe their way out.
The officers taking part in the operation are “kurutus” who had their pass out parade just a day before. They are young men and women who swore in front of the president to be of service to their country and people. I saw them yesterday with new and neatly pressed police uniforms. They had cheeky smiles on their faces and to the undiscerning eye, they looked happy in their service. I don’t know why, but maybe it was the allure of earning handsomely in their first assignment. Using new officers for such an operation was wrong. They have started their service on the wrong footing. They have tasted the sweetness of bribes, and they will never look back.

Rape, looting and harassments have been reported. We may not be able to verify all the reports, but it just takes one to look at what our officers did at the Westgate shopping mall in September. In the middle of a disaster, after a shooting by disguised gunmen, and in the glare of local and international media and with CCTV cameras mounted in the mall, our officers shamelessly looted the place. The government denied everything despite the overwhelming evidence. So there is very little to make me doubt when I hear that police officers in the ongoing operation found a lady alone in the middle of the night, and started harassing her sexually while mocking her: “Mrembo mzuri kama wewe unakaa peke yako”(How come you are alone and you are such a beauty).

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Those who killed innocent worshippers in churches need to be brought to book. It is the best we can hope for at the moment. But injustice cannot count as justice for another injustice.

Inspector General Kimiayo and his cohorts should stop abusing our intelligence and playing with our lives. If what they are telling us is true, where were they when Alshabab was migrating to Eastleigh? Why can’t somebody take responsibility? Why are we not asking questions instead of following these guys blindly? These are things that can be solved through proper intelligence and policework. But unfortunately, as journalist Boniface Mwangi said, intelligence gathering requires police officers with intelligence. Instead, we hire our officers based on a lack, rather than an abundance, of intelligence.. To have proper security we need to improve the conditions of officers who currently earn peanuts and live in squalor. Otherwise, they will continue taking bribes and harassing the innocent while working in league with criminals.

* Badrudeen Shariff blogs at http://badrudeenshareef.blogspot.com/

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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Induced and forced repatriation is ongoing in Kenya

Victor Nyamori

2014-04-17

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91393

Refugees in Kenya are often the victims of inhumane and illegal treatment by the government. Activists must work with the government to abolish the practice of forcible repatriation and to improve the pathetic conditions in refugee camps.

Despite scholars and human rights crusaders agreeing that repatriation should be voluntary, governments have defined and carried out repatriation in different formats.

One of these forms is ricochet repatriation: to do this, the government uses military personnel and security apparatus to compel fear in refugees. Truckloads of uniformed officers patrol the streets sending shivers among refugees and foreigners. It's a fact that most refugees in Kenya were victims of persecution in their countries of origin, whose agents are military personnel or armed groups and rebels. Seeing uniformed officers psychologically affects refugees, sending shivers of fear down their spines. This reminds them of persecution faced back home. Refugees who feel personally threatened by this will have no option but to seek to return to their countries of origin.

The second form of contemporary repatriation is relocation-stimulated repatriation: once the host government, that is, Kenya, decides to round up refugees scattered around a country and move them to camps, refugees decide whether to accept control by the host government or to try to elude the authorities and find a place to live away from other refugees. To avoid arrest and detention by the host government, most refugees would want to return back to their countries of origin.

It is not a new script that Kenya is employing. The call for refugees to return to areas not controlled by persecuting agents in the country of origin—or perhaps controlled by a rival political force or by local, foreign or international forces— was seen to work effectively in Tigray, Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Cambodia and Guatemala. Forced return of impressed refugees to a conflict zone was also seen in Khmer Rouge. Tanzania recently rounded a number of Rwandan refugees and forcefully returned them back to Rwanda on the on the claims of threat to national security.

Kenya’s Refugees Act of 2006 presents the Kenyan government with the responsibility of protecting a refugee who is not to be removed from Kenya or returned to any other country if such a measure is likely to put the life of such a person in jeopardy. Section 16 of the same act obligates the government of Kenya to protect the rights of refugees and their family members in Kenya in line with the obligations enshrined in the international conventions. On the other hand, section 21 of the Refugees Act allows the cabinet secretary to order the expulsion from Kenya of any refugee or member of his family if the cabinet considers the expulsion to be necessary on the grounds of maintaining national security or public order.

It is an internationally-known principle that repatriation should be voluntary in nature. The voluntary aspect ensures that refugees voluntarily accept to leave their host country without being induced or forced, as is the case in Kenya. This calls for a process that is safe and dignified. Safety encompasses the legal, material and physical safety of the affected group. Currently, the process being undertaken by the Kenyan government threatens the legal and physical safety of refugees. The decision to put over 2000 arrested refugees in concentration camps in urban areas is not a dignified process. Refugees are detained in police stations and in Kasarani Stadium with no properly treated drinking water or sanitation. They go hungry and do not have the space to relieve themselves. Men, women and children are detained in the same areas, which clearly goes against fundamental rights and freedom. Families have also been separated through these processes and children have been left unattended, thus raising their vulnerabilities to child predators.

Judging from how the process has been developing over a period of time, I know the government may not relent in this process in the coming days. I call on the international community and Kenyan civil society to change tack in dealing with this issue and to ensure continued service provision to vulnerable refugees. Wash services are required in the so-called detention camps operated by the Kenyan security forces in urban areas. Most arrests and detentions happen on Friday nights and as such, many persons are detained for over three days before being presented to a court of law. Tents, blankets and food rations are required in police stations and in Kasarani Stadium. Some persons who were arrested are on daily medications and failing to take the medications put them at more risk.

As efforts for advocacy continue both nationally and internationally, NGOs must ensure that persons of concern live dignified lives in police camps. Contingency measures need to be in place if the government moves to the extreme point of putting refugees in lorries and relocating them back to Dadaab and Kakuma.

Protection actors need to be on red alert, as such will be the beginning of risky protection affairs. Unaccompanied minors, separated children, the sick, the old and the disabled will be at high risk. Girls and women will also be vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse. This will be the point to work closely with the Kenyan government so as to ensure that at-risk individuals are protected. Failure to work with the government on these issues will mean that we are placing the lives of refugees in front of a firing squad. Protection services must continue. A task force comprised of government departments and humanitarian organizations will be required to steer these processes. Proper documentation before the process of relocation starts is very important. Most family separations happen during such relocations and if proper guidelines for identification, tracing and family reunification are not put in place, then we will face an imminent humanitarian crisis akin to those in the Philippines, Haiti and Rwanda. Protection monitors and community-based actors need to be trained in how to identify vulnerable refugees within groups and to understand how the community will participate in making sure that they benefit from all services provided during the process of relocation. Vulnerable persons like the old, sick and disabled should have someone appointed and designated to walk and assist them through the process. Women and children should also be protected, as some people take advantage of them in the guise of assisting them through the process of relocation. People should also be allowed to relocate with their property and early possessions. Protection is saving a life.

* Nyamori Victor is a lawyer and refugee protection practitioner. The views contained herein are personal and do not reflect the views of any institution or organization with which he is affiliated.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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Revisiting the question of radicalization and violence at the Kenyan coast

Hawa Noor Mohammed

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91376

Excessive government force and state assassinations in the name of counterterrorism have split the Muslim community in Kenya into moderates and radicals with differing interpretations of Jihad. Extremists attract especially impoverished youths who hold resentment towards the government as their communities continue to be marginalized and deprived

The 2 February 2014 raid on Masjid Musa Mosque (now renamed Masjid Shuhada - or the Mosque of Martyrs) in Mombasa to counter an alleged terrorist recruitment exercise has elicited divergent arguments from sections of the Kenyan populace. On the one hand, are those who defend the actions of the police saying they were justified in pre-empting a potential security threat while on the other, are those who accuse the Kenyan police of disgracing the sanctity of the Muslim place of worship and of continuously targeting Muslim faithfuls in their anti-terror campaigns. The whole issue has rekindled the debate about Kenya’s approach to the war against terror and violent extremism at the Kenyan Coast. It has also brought into question the nexus between religion and violence in Kenya. If – as is frequently stated – no religion supports violence as its mission, what then is the role and function of religion in violent extremism in Kenya, given that sections of Muslims at the Kenyan coast have backed calls for armed violence with Islamic teachings? At a basic level, do the circumstances at the Kenyan Coast necessitate calls for military jihad, as some would argue? The aim of this article is to examine the co-relation between religion and violence at the Kenyan Coast and within the context of increasing radicalization and violent extremism.

The Coastal region of Kenya is inhabited pre-dominantly by a Muslim population and has, for some time, been at the centre of separatist claims and allegations of neglect by the central government. The situation is compounded by the country’s role in the global war on terror. Muslims, especially from Kenya’s Coast, accuse the government of heavy-handed counterterrorism strategies, aiding and abetting renditions and state-sponsored assassinations of perceived radical preachers, among others. Following Kenya’s intervention in Somalia’s Juba region, the Coastal region of Kenya turned into one of the key targets for recruitment by the Somali-based al-Shabaab terror group. The subsequent police crackdown on alleged Muslim radicals, in turn, created religious tensions and ideological differences between Muslims in the region with some embracing extremist Islamic teachings while others like the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) condemning the use of mosques for what it called “utter illegality, criminality and un-Islamic actions.” Central to the ideological differences within the Muslim fraternity is the competing interpretations of Jihad between the so called moderates and radical religious groups. What then is Jihad and to what extent do conditions at the Kenyan Coast support calls for physical Jihad?

Jihad is a term that is often used interchangeably with “holy war.” It is an Islamic concept that literally means: to strive in the way of God. There are two versions of jihad: the greater Jihad (the inner spiritual struggle against one’s ego, selfishness, greed and evil) and the lesser Jihad (the physical outer struggle in self defense when a country in which Muslims reside is unjustly attacked or illegally occupied)[1].There is certainly the problem of interpretation but whereas both forms of jihad are permissible as per the Islamic teachings, the Quran places more emphasis on the inner spiritual struggle/strive of the soul to do good. In the recent past, however, there has been an apparent reversal in prioritization of the physical outer struggle in self defence over the inner spiritual struggle especially in the context of the global war on terror.

The physical jihad is outlined in sections of the Quran such as;

2:190 Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.

2:191 And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

2:192 And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

2:193 Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

It is, however, important to note that there are differing interpretations of the above verses and an emphasis that Quranic verses should be read together for proper meaning to be derived. Scholars argue that preconditions for physical Jihad are high such that an armed struggle can be sought only after all peaceful means of solving the problem have been exhausted [2]. It also has to be an act of self-defence, of the highly oppressed (including non-Muslims) and is worth only if the probability of success is high.

Furthermore, it is the responsibility of leaders (not individuals and organizations) with a religious mandate from the people to declare the physical jihad. Similarly, self-exposure to risk that could result in greater evil is equally prohibited but should the preconditions for jihad be fulfilled, attack against civilians, non-combatants, prisoners of war and the injured are prohibited. Muslim scholars maintain that the conditions for Jihad in Islam are compatible with international law on armed conflict. Radical Islamists, however, use the term jihad to generally mean defensive or retaliatory warfare against actors that they perceive to have harmed Muslims.

Overall, the legitimacy for “physical Jihad” as called for by some religious leaders at the Kenyan coast is contentious. It is worth noting that scholars also underline that an armed struggle was only ordained after 13 years of Muhammad’s prophet-hood (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and refer to the peace treaty of Hudaybiyya between Mecca and Medina as evidence that peace should always precede armed conflict based on the number of converts to Islam after the treaty.

In line with this, one can observe that, the Coastal region is underpinned by structural problems of marginalization which may have fostered resentment toward the central government. This problem of marginalization, however, is more national than regional and does not seem to mirror the conditions necessary for the declaration of Jihad. Nonetheless, for impoverished youths, the radical religious teaching provides them with affective gratifications and hope of changing their circumstances. The Kenyan government’s aggressive response to the situation has also not helped matters. Nor has the support base of the overall global war on terror which is already questionable from a basic human rights perspective. Government’s attempt at violent suppression also seems to lead to further violent resistance.

A solution to ideological wars stepped in structural conditions of poverty and deprivation lies in political processes and dialogue rather than on heavy-handedness. Kenya needs to take local, national lenses to look at the situation in the Coastal region rather than counter-terrorism lenses as well as proceed carefully in responding to increasing radicalization with the need to find viable, inclusive and fair economic and political processes. It is also important for respectable religious leaders to take the initiative to promote dialogue around the core values and commitments of Islam as a religion including on the concept of Jihad.

Hawa Noor Mohammed is a researcher based in Nairobi, Kenya.


* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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British teacher’s heroism versus Al Shabab’s barbarism

Bashir Goth

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91377

Al Shabab followers wake up every morning with a plan on how many lives they can take, not how many lives they would save. They read Quran and in their demented minds come up with wrong self-serving interpretations

Recently the British Daily mail carried the amazing story of a British teacher, Ray Coe, 53, who donated a kidney to his young student, a Muslim girl, Alya Ahmed Ali, 13. The story was emailed to me by a friend who also said in his email: “What would Al Shabab say about this act?” he added: “Before Allah, is it not better to save a life than kill one.” My reply to him after reading the story was: “Al Shabab would probably demand the girl be killed as she now carries an infidel’s organ in her body.” This is not an exaggeration as one would not expect a better response from a group that makes it their duty to extinguish life and everything beautiful in it.

As heroic as it is, the noble action of the teacher to donate his organ to the girl is also what we should expect from every person with decent upbringing, who learned as a child what it meant to be good and kind to your fellow human beings.

Mr Coe says while he was pondering the donation he remembered a verse from the Bible that says: "Maybe you were born for such a time as this". And he said: “It clicked and I knew then that it was right.”

We know and every Muslim knows that the Quran is full of similar beautiful verses that command its adherents to be kind and charitable. One of these verses says: “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul ... it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one, it is as if he had saved mankind entirely,” Al Mai’da, 32.

But the text is just a text as wise words can either be put to good use or construed in a distorted way by its followers. So while in the case of Mr Coe the line from the Bible brings the best out of him, it is unfortunate that the Quran has itself become a severely abused victim in the hands of its own people.

This British teacher saved this Muslim girl’s life not because he wanted to make a statement, not because he wanted to settle scores with anyone, not because he wanted to show that his religion is better than others, not because he wanted to convert the girl and change her religion, not because he thumped the Bible in the night and woke up in the morning with a vision to change the world, and not because he wanted to create a media stunt and grab headlines; but on the contrary this kind teacher, a special educational needs coordinator, thought only of what he could do as a human being to help alleviate the plight of little Alya and her parents, and he did the right thing. And as the school head teacher said: “Mr Coe has gone above and beyond the call of duty with this selfless and noble act.”

His only comfort was to see Alya’s reaction after he told her that he is going to be her organ donor: “When we told Alya, she just gave me a big squeeze and her face lit up. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of that,” he said.

However, in stark contradiction to the teachings of the Quran, Al Shabab followers wake up every morning with a plan on how many lives they can take, not how many lives they would save; they read Quran in the night and in their demented minds they come up with wrong self-serving interpretations. For them the Quran is not a holy book aimed at the betterment of life but a manifesto for war. While the British teacher made this great sacrifice to give life to a young girl, breaking all walls of division such as background, religion, and skin colour, Al Shabab and other extremist groups in the Muslim world every day slaughter their own country’s children, women and the elderly in schools, mosques, and restaurants. And while the smile of Alya brought tears to Mr Coe’s eyes, the grief of mothers and children who lost their loved ones in Al Shabab’s attacks does not bring tears to Al Shabab’s eyes but instead they shamelessly shout Allahu Akbar and invoke Quranic verses.

Given the choice to either go with Al Shabab of Somalia and other extremist killers in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt and elsewhere to wherever they go afterlife or to go with Ray Coe, it is clear who I would choose for company. And this is exactly in keeping with the true meaning of the Quran.
* Bashir Goth blogs at: www.hanua.blogspot.com

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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It’s wrong to advocate decriminalisation of mass murder and sexual violence

Obote-Odora Alex

2014-04-17

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91392

Thabo Mbeki and Mahmood Mamdani have argued for post-conflict political resolution which seeks to peacefully reconcile societies by treating both victims and perpetrators as survivors. But such a model is an insult to victims and promotes impunity rather than justice. The courts are indispensable tools of justice and reconciliation.

In an opinion article entitled ‘Courts can’t end civil wars’ by former South African president Thabo Mbeki and Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Makerere and Columbia Universities (published in the New York Times on 5 February 2014) the two argue that civil wars can only be ended through peace talks where former foes sit together at the negotiating table and hammer out political settlements. They suggest that the threat of criminal prosecution can stifle peace efforts, presumably because leaders and war lords facing possible life sentences before the International Criminal Court (ICC) calculate that they have nothing to lose by continuing to fight. Mbeki and Mamdani forcefully argue that the mass crimes committed during armed conflicts are political rather than criminal. They suggest it is preferable to suspend questions of criminal accountability until the underlying political problems are resolved. The argument fails to address the rights of victims and fair trial issues. It is a blueprint for impunity.

A public debate on 14 February 2004, organised by Kenyatta University and the Nation Media Group’s East African University Debate Series, posed the question: ‘Can courts end civil wars?’ At this debate, Mamdani argued for the decriminalisation of mass murder and drew a distinction between ‘criminal violence’ and what he described as ‘political violence’. Mamdani rejected what he termed a false divide between ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’, and submitted that there is a need for the recognition of victims, perpetrators and bystanders as ‘survivors’ who have to live together in peace. The lumping together of victims and perpetrators is particularly disturbing for victims of rape and sexual violence. Mamdani’s logic, that sustainable peace-making requires a ‘political process where all citizens – yesterday’s victims, perpetrators and bystanders – may face one another as today’s survivors’, may sound politically persuasive, but it is disrespectful to victims.

Mamdani’s other argument, that ‘in civil wars no one is wholly innocent and no one is wholly guilty [because] victims and perpetrators often trade places and each side has a narrative of violence’, is flawed. Victims of rape do not trade places with their perpetrators. My experience at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is that many victims of rape who testified at Arusha before the Chambers do not consider perpetrators to be survivors.

Mbeki and Mamdani’s arguments – that if the underlying motivation for mass murder, rape and sexual violence is political, then the resulting murder of innocent civilians must be treated as political rather than criminal, and that victims and perpetrators are all survivors – ignore the basic legal principles that govern proof of guilt and individual criminal responsibility for crimes committed during internal, armed conflict. Significantly, the fact that a perpetrator has a political constituency does not make their criminal acts legal. It is neither a lawful defence nor a reasonable excuse for a perpetrator of mass murder or rape to argue that they are a survivor by virtue of their political belief. The elements necessary to prove the guilt of the accused as well as the principles that govern culpability are based on law, not on the political constituency to which the accused belongs.

Mbeki and Mamdani’s reasoning, that ‘unlike criminal violence, political violence has a constituency and is driven by issues, not perpetrators’, tends to justify criminal acts such as those committed by General Mobutu of Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and General Amin of Uganda. These ‘leaders’ were responsible for mass murders in their respective countries yet, according to Mbeki and Mamdani, because they had ‘political constituencies’, they should not be held to account. Similarly, Rwanda’s genocide-era prime minister, Jean Kambanda, and Liberia’s wartime president, Charles Taylor, who both had ‘political constituencies’, arguably should have been included in the post-conflict political arrangement.

Second, Mbeki and Mamdani’s reference to South Africa, Uganda and Mozambique as examples of the irrelevance of courts in solving post-conflict political situations in Africa is disingenuous and misleading. In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) traded power for peace; the leaders of the apartheid government accepted freedom from prosecution for human rights abuses in exchange for power sharing. The ANC acquired power through peaceful and legitimate elections and few, if any, senior apartheid-era officials have been punished for the crimes committed during apartheid. It is too early to conclusively state whether the choice not to prosecute perpetrators has been a success. Only time will tell.

In Uganda, President Museveni recognised early in 1986 that the National Resistance Army’s (NRA) military victory did not translate into a political constituency. Museveni lacked political support in most of the country and, for the political survival of the National Resistance Movement, he absorbed all manner of suspects – including soldiers from the army of former president Idi Amin, responsible for mass murder under his rule. However, the absorption of these criminal elements did not end the armed conflict which continued in northern Uganda for a further 26 years. In that context, the absorption of suspects into government did not bring an end to civil war. Indeed, when it suited Museveni, he used the criminal process to solve his political problems. For example, he referred his political opponents to the ICC when it was convenient to do so. In later years, Museveni evolved into one of the greatest critics of the ICC. Ironically, President Museveni appears to recognise that both reconciliation and criminal accountability are necessary for maintaining political power, but not for dispensing justice. Hence, he regularly uses Military Tribunals to get rid of his military opponents, and the civilian courts against his political opponents.

At another level, Mbeki and Mamdani, perhaps by choice, ignore successful examples of the use of courts alongside reconciliation. In Rwanda, for example, the ICTR played a positive role. While the ICTR prosecuted those most responsible, the Rwanda government – through the Gacaca courts and the Reconciliation Commission – addressed the political causes of the conflict. In Sierra Leone, the government signed an agreement with the United Nations and established the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) to prosecute those most responsible for crimes committed during the armed conflict. The government also established a commission to address issues related to the armed conflict. Without an effective international criminal justice system, many of the top leaders and those most responsible for crimes in Rwanda and Sierra Leone would not have been arrested by the national governments and brought to justice.

Overall, it is my submission that international criminal law is not a stand-alone tool to address all issues relating to internal armed conflicts. It is only one of the tools, albeit an important one, in the tool kit. Professor Laura Nyantung Beny of Michigan University Law School is correct when she says: ‘Think Courts Aren’t Relevant? Ask the Victims’. It is to international criminal law that the victims turn when domestic courts are controlled by perpetrators and their agents. Mbeki and Mamdani are wrong in suggesting that when the underlying motivation is political, the resulting murders of innocent civilians are not serious criminal offences. Contrary to their submission, to decriminalise politically motivated crimes is to give a new lease of life to impunity. It is wrong for public intellectuals to advocate for the decriminalisation of mass murder, rape and sexual violence based on the political motivation of the perpetrators.

* Obote-Odora Alex is a Ugandan lawyer.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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The Habré affair : Why Chad cannot file a case

Reed Brody

2014-04-17

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91395

Chad accuses Hissène Habré of having looted the Chadian treasury upon fleeing the country, and with reason. But it is obvious that a legal entity, such as a company or a state, cannot be the victim of most serious violations of international law, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

On 25 February, the Republic of Chad announced that it had lodged a complaint against Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers. This initiative had no legal basis.

The Chambers were created to pursue and judge those most responsible for international crimes committed on Chadian territory during the regime of Hissène Habré, particularly crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

According to the Statute of the Extraordinary African Chambers, only “victims” of these crimes may initiate a civil suit. It is clear that a legal entity, such as a company or a state, cannot be a victim of most serious violations of international law. How could the agents of Hissène Habré’s political police have inflicted on the State the “arbatachar,” the sinister torture method infamous in Chad which consists in tying both the wrists and ankles together behind the back, thereby causing the chest to expand and arch.

Thus, as provided for in the Statute, “torture is intentionally inflicted on a person,” genocide is an act committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” and a crime against humanity is “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.” Without a doubt, the Chambers are competent to judge crimes committed against persons.

Likewise, war crimes such as voluntary homicide, torture, deportation, violation of prisoners’ rights, etc. can in no case make a state a “victim.” However, according to its lawyer, Chad “has decided to support the suits of other plaintiffs, but only as regards the financial chapter, because the financial loss is enormous.” The Chadian justice minister added: “In war crime there is also the notion of looting. When he fled, Habré did not forget to empty the state coffers.”

Chad has reason to accuse Hissène Habré of having despoiled it by looting the national treasury when he fled. The National Commission of Inquiry into the crimes and misappropriations of Hissène Habré claims, with cheques to prove it, that on the day he fled N’Djamena Hissène Habré embezzled 3.5 billion CFA francs. The distinguished jurist Mahamat Hassan Abakar, president of said Commission, even declared that “the amount taken from the public treasury by the former president at that precise moment [when he fled] represents only a portion of the embezzled money.”

These misappropriations could constitute serious financial crimes, but the latter are not within the remit of the Extraordinary African Chambers. “Looting” may indeed constitute a war crime, and a state can be a victim of it, but only if the perpetrator belongs to the “enemy” in the context of an armed conflict. Hissène Habré could not be the armed enemy of his own country: he was the Head of State. This is why no State has ever been admitted as plaintiff or victim in an international or mixed jurisdiction.

The Chadian government’s attempt to recover the misappropriated funds is legitimate. Hissène Habré left behind a ravaged country. But during 23 years Chad had – and still has – the possibility of submitting a case for misappropriation of public funds or corruption before the Senegalese common law courts. Shortly after the fall of Habré, Chad was able to recover the plane in which he fled. Why then did it not attempt to recover the misappropriated funds before?

Chad must not be a party to the court proceedings. If this country wishes to continue to cooperate with African law it must, among other things, hand over to a special jurisdiction the three wanted individuals still living in Chad: Mahamat Djibrine “El Djonto”, Saleh Younouss and Zakaria Berdei.

By all accounts the Extraordinary African Chambers have been doing a great job for over a year. Thanks to them, Senegal has become the epicenter of international justice in Africa. If Chad were a party to the proceedings before the Chambers – a first in the history of international criminal law ¬– it would damage the good reputation the Chambers enjoy internationally and where the evolution of international criminal law is concerned. Judge Cançado Trindade of the International Court of Justice wrote in the decision: Belgium vs. Senegal of 20 July 2012: “The emancipation of the individual with regard to his State constitutes […] the principle heritage of the consolidation of international law on human rights […]. Contemporary international criminal law, by focusing on individuals (torturers and their victims) takes this emancipation into account.”

The Extraordinary African Chambers were created to bring justice to the victims and promote reconciliation in Chad. This is the mission of the Chambers: to prosecute human beings for acts committed against other human beings. It is matter of individuals, not an affair of state.

* This article was translated from French for Pambazuka News by Julia Monod.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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Russia and the Ukraine crisis

The Euro-Asian project in conflict with the Triad imperialist policies

Samir Amin

2014-04-17

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/91396

Russia’s policy to resist the project of colonisation of Ukraine by western powers should be supported. The target of constructing a Euro-Asian community, independent of the Triad and its European subordinate partners, is a positive initiative

1. The current global stage is dominated by the attempt of historical centres of imperialism (US, Western and central Europe, Japan (called “the Triad”) to maintain their exclusive control over the Planet through a combination of:

a) so-called neo-liberal economic globalization policies allowing financial transnational capital of the Triad to decide alone on all issues to their exclusive interests.

b) the military control of the Planet by the US and its subordinate allies (Nato and Japan) in order to annihilate any attempt of any country out of the Triad to move out of their yoke.

In that respect all countries of the World out of the Triad are enemies or potential enemies. Except those who accept a complete submission to the economic and political strategy of the Triad. Such as the two new “democratic republics” of Saudi Arabia and Qatar! The so-called “international community” to which the western media refer continuously is indeed reduced to the G7 plus Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Any other country, even when its government is currently aligned, is a potential enemy since the peoples of those countries may reject that submission.

2. In that frame Russia is “an enemy”.

Whatever might be our assessment of what was the Soviet Union (“socialist” or something else), the Triad fought it simply because it was an attempt to develop independently of dominant imperialism/capitalism.

After the breakdown of the Soviet System, some people (in Russia in particular) thought that the “West” would not antagonise a “capitalist Russia”. Just as Germany and Japan had “lost the war but won the peace”. They forgot that the Western powers supported the reconstruction of the former fascist countries precisely to face the challenge of the independent policies of the Soviet Union. Now, this challenge having disappeared the target of the Triad is to destroy the capacity of Russia to resist to a complete submission.

3. The current development of the Ukraine tragedy illustrates the reality of the strategic target of the Triad.

The Triad organized in Kiev what ought to be called a “Euro/Nazi putsch ”. Yes they needed to achieve their target (separating the historical twin sister nations –the Russian and the Ukrainian), the support of local Nazis.

The rhetoric of the Western media, claiming that the policies of the Triad aim at promoting democracy, is simply a lie. Nowhere the Triad has promoted democracy. On the contrary these policies have systematically been supporting the most anti-democratic (in some case “fascist”) local forces: Quasi fascists in the former Yugoslavia –in Croatia and Kosovo-, as well as in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, Hungary for instance. Eastern Europe has been “integrated” in the European Union not as equal partners, but as “semi-colonies” of Western and Central European major capitalist/imperialist powers. The relation between West and East in the European system is somehow similar to that which rules the relations between the US and Latin America! In counties of the South the Triad supported the extreme anti-democratic forces such as, for instance, political ultra-reactionary Islam, and with their complicity, destroyed these societies: The cases of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya illustrate these targets of the Triad imperialist project.

4. Therefore the policy of Russia (as developed by the administration of Putin) to resist the project of colonisation of Ukraine (and of other countries of the former Soviet Union , in Transcaucasia and Central Asia) must be supported. The Baltic States experience should not be repeated. The target of constructing a “Euro Asian” community, independent from the Triad and its European subordinate partner, is also to be supported.

But this Russian positive “international policy” is bound to fail if it is not supported by the Russian people. And this support cannot be won on the exclusive basis of “nationalism”, even a positive progressive –not chauvinistic- brand of “nationalism”, a fortiori by a “chauvinistic” Russian rhetoric. Fascism in Ukraine cannot be challenged by Russian fascism. It can be won only if the internal economic and social policy pursued promotes the interests of the majority of the working people.

What do I mean by “people’s oriented” policy favouring the working classes? Do I mean “socialism”, or even a nostalgia of the Soviet system? This is not the place to re-assess the soviet experience, in a few lines! I shall only summarize my views in a few sentences. The Russian authentic socialist revolution produced a State socialism which was the only possible first step toward socialism; after Stalin that State socialism moved towards becoming State capitalism (explaining the difference between the two concepts is important but not the subject of this short paper). As of 1991 State capitalism was dismantled and replaced by “normal” capitalism based on private property which, as in all countries of contemporary capitalism, is basically the property of financial monopolies, owned by the oligarchy (similar, not different from the oligarchies running capitalism in the Triad), many coming out of the former Nomenklatura, some new comers.

The explosion of creative authentic democratic practices initiated by the Russian revolution was then after tamed and replaced by an autocratic pattern of management of the society, albeit granting social rights to the working classes. This system led to massive depoliticisation and was not protected from despotic, and even criminal deviations. The new pattern of savage capitalism is based on the continuation of depoliticisation and the non respect of democratic rights.

Such a system rules not only Russia, but all the other former Soviet republics. Differences relate to the practise of the so called “western” electoral democracy, more effective in Ukraine, for instance than in Russia. Nonetheless this pattern of rule is not “democracy” but a farce compared to bourgeois democracy as it functioned at previous stages of capitalist development, including in the “traditional democracies” of the West, since real power is now restricted to the ruling of monopolies operating to their exclusive benefits.

A people’s oriented policy implies therefore moving away, as much as possible, from the “liberal” recipes and the electoral masquarade associated with it, which claims to give legitimacy to regressive social policies. I would suggest setting up in its place a brand of new State capitalism with social dimension (I say social, not socialist). That system opens the road to eventual advances toward a socialisation of the management of the economy, therefore authentic new advances toward an invention of democracy responding to the challenges of a modern economy.

It is only if Russia moves along such lines that the current conflict between on the one hand the intended independent international policy of Moscow and on the other hand the pursuing of a reactionary social internal policy can be given a positive outcome. Such a move is needed and possible : fragments of the political ruling class could align on such a programme if popular mobilisation and action promote it. To the extent that similar advances would also be carried out in Ukraine, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, an authentic community of Euro Asian nations can be established and become a powerful actor in the reconstruction of the World system.

5. The remaining of the Russian State power within the strict limits of the neo liberal recipe annihilates the chances of success of an independent foreign policy, and the chances of Russia becoming a really emerging country acting as an important international actor.

Neo liberalism cannot produce for Russia but a tragic economic and social regression, a pattern of “lumpen development” and a growing subordinate status in the global imperialist order. Russia would provide to the Triad oil, gas and some other natural resources; its industries would be reduced to the status of sub contracting to the benefit of Western financial monopolies.

In such a position, not very far from that of Russia to day in the global system, attempts to act independently in the international area will remain fragile to the extreme, threathened by “sanctions” which will invigorate the disastrous alignment of the ruling economic oligarchy on the demands of dominant Triad’s monopolies. The current out flow of “Russian capital” associated with the Ukraine crisis illustrates the danger. Re-establishing a State control over the movements of capital is the only effective response to that danger.

FURTHER READING

Samir Amin, The implosion of capitalism; Pluto and MR Press, London and NY, 2014
Samir Amin, What “radical” means in the 21 st century; Review of Radical Political Economy, vol 45, n°3, 2013.
Samir Amin, The Democratic fraud; Monthly Review, NY, vol 63, n°5, oct 2011
Samir Amin, Unity and Diversity in the movement to socialism; Monthly Review, to appear in the June 2014 issue.
Samir Amin, Russia in the global system; translated from Arabic into Russian by Said Gafourov.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.




Advocacy & campaigns

An open protest to President Kenyatta on harassment of Somalis

Khalif Abdi Farah

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/91373

Ethnic Somalis in Kenya have always been the target of security operations resulting in serious human rights violations. That is what is currently happening again following attacks by suspected Al Shabaab militants. But not all Somalis are terrorists. The state should respect their fundamental rights as citizens

It’s with due respect that Somalis in Kenya, be they Kenyan Somalis, Ethiopian Somalis, Djaboutian Somalis or Somalia Somalis, would like to share the following with you and your government:

1. That Somalis are highly social beings who due to their land’s climatic condition and age-old lifestyle are highly mobile just like their cousins the ‘Fulani’ of West Africa;

2. Being the very bold and not strangers anywhere, coupled with their characteristic aggressiveness almost similar to the Kikuyus of Kenya, makes them viewed by other communities in the world including their distant cousins, as a proud and arrogant community who have no respect for others;

3. Given their strong social character and their business acumen, the Somali are an envy of many, more so the equally enterprising Kikuyus and Asians who view them with a deep-seated hatred;

4. Their strong adherence to the religion Al-Islam and the feeling of being the lawful custodians of the Al-Islam again makes them to be seen as a threat to other age-old religions like Christianity, Judaisim and the various forms of Asian worship:

5. The demeanor of being achievers in any place in this globe they live in, be it in Africa or elsewhere as businessmen, political personalities and executives again has drawn a deep-seated ill-feeling projected upon them in Northern America, Europe, Middle East and even at home here in Africa;

6. Their stamina to withstand tribulation and their strong coping mechanism to artificial and natural shocks has made them the envy of many who love to hate the Somali for no apparent reason but just as the old age Kiswahili adage goes ‘Hasidi hana sababu’ [Your hater need not have an excuse.]

7. When they get the opportunity to provide public leadership in Africa, Europe and America, the Somali leader is a visible personality who unfortunately becomes the envy of many. To mention just but a few fellows like Tanzanian Parliamentary Speaker Abdirahman Kinana, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Ahmed Diriye, General Mohamed of Kenya, the most transformative OAU Chairman of the cold war era who led to the liberation of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola and Mozambique; the late President Siyad Barre, the IGAD Secretary Mahboub Maalim of Kenya, Majority Jubilee party leader Aden Barre Duale, the innovative business guru President Omar Gulleid of Djabouti and President of the Ethiopian Somali region who fought generations-old secessionist the Ogaden Liberation Front Mr. Abdi Omar, the brave General Ali of Kenya, intellectuals like Dr. Umar Arte Galib, Prof. Gandhi, Dr. Rashid Abdi Aman; a Kenyan scientist, thousands of visible leaders with business empires across the five continents not forgetting Somali heroines like Ambassador Amina Mohamed among others.


8. Unfortunately here in our country Kenya, Somalis have never been viewed as bona fide citizens even after having gotten fully mainstreamed into the nation after the infamous Shifta war and many Somalis holding prime national positions since independence.

Mr. President, despite being loyal, transparent and committed public workers in Kenya, we are yet to be trusted and seen as any other citizen and the happenings of this week in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb, the foul and putrid comments from other Kenyan leaders, inform us to re-think our resolve of being Kenyans. Just like the Southern Sudanese who out of the marginalization they suffered from the North opted to wage an armed struggle against the North, the Somalis of Kenya, going by this trend could soon or later opt for secession from ill-willed Kenyans who have betrayed them and every morning see them as a band of evil parasites who should be gotten rid off.

The ethnophobic feelings against the Kenyan Somali have been extended with ruthlessness to our Somali brethren who sought refuge in Kenya after their country got destabilized by the post-cold war western mess in Africa. Curiously the non-Somali Kenyans do not project the same form of hatred against the Ethiopians, Sudanese, Congolese other non-Somali refugees. The government security seems to specialize in Somali subjugation, extortion, torture and killings.

It’s quite painful when Somalis get punished for all acts of terror by the Al-Qaeda and their off shoot the Al-Shabaab just because the Al-Shabaab are Somali, without caring that Somali refugees are also running away from the terror groups with more heinous attacks committed in Somalia than anywhere else. Do not forget that there could be many Kikuyus, Kambas, Luos, Mji kenda and Luhyas in the ranks of the Al-shabaab but unfortunately only the Somali bear their brunt!

It’s quite obvious that Kenyan Somalis will never be accepted in your country as citizens if you, Uhuru Kenyatta, can four decades down the line accelerate the hatred and terror your father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, inflicted upon the Somalis through massacres and putting them in concentration camps for the simple reason that they wanted self-determination. Indeed the reasons for secession are even stronger and justified now.

We therefore strongly ask the Somali nation in Kenya to start deliberating over their future and the sooner you take a strong position devoid of self and myopic interest, the better. I will definitely take the first step as we liberate the Somali from this unwarranted neo-colonialism so precariously hanging over their heads!


Khalif Abdi Farah alias ‘Firimbi’
Northern Forum for Democracy


Don’t vote for these messiahs

Ayanda Kota

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/91374

We have the vote but the political parties do not represent the aspirations of the people, writes Ayanda Kota, founder of the Unemployed People’s Movement.

Elections should be a season of hope. Steve Biko declared that our fight was for an open society, a society where the colour of a person's skin will not be a point of reference or departure; a society in which each person has one vote.

We have the vote but the political parties do not represent the aspirations of the people. Millions of black people remain poor and oppressed. When we organise outside of the ANC we are violently repressed.

This election is not the season of hope. It is the season of deception, slander, gutter politics and lies. There are campaigns to encourage our people, and in particular young people to vote. We are being told every day that voting is the way to express our hopes and to build a better society. Politicians are leaving the comfort of their fortresses and frequenting our townships. They all say that they are disgusted that we are still living below the poverty line in squalid conditions, with no water and electricity. They all say that voting is the way to restore the dignity of our people.

Those who claim to be so disgusted with how the people are living include the same ones that have been stealing from the people. There is the Nkandla Chief who has made his own family rich while the rest of us remain poor. There is also Malema who dismantled a house of R4m to build a mansion of R16m.

Another feature of our politics is that it has become about messiahs. John Block tells us that walking with Zuma is like walking next to God. According to Andile Mngxitama Julius Malema has become Maolema. Helen Zille has been given the name Nobantu (people's person).

In the black consciousness movement we read a lot. Some of us started as teenagers. At a young age we read Frantz Fanon's warning about leaders that send the oppressed to their caves and tell them to leave politics to the professionals or the messiahs. We understood clearly that a radical politics is a democratic politics and that a democratic politics is a politics in which the oppressed control their own organisations and participate in all decision making.

The media also reduce us to spectators of politics rather than participants in politics. We are reduced to those who must clap hands and cheer for our 'leaders'. At times the noise is so high that you hardly hear your leader.

We are in the struggle to kill the idea that one kind of person is superior to another kind of person. We want to abolish racism. But we also want to abolish the idea that politics is about choosing between Zuma, Zille and Malema.

The formation of the Black Consciousness Movement in this country was a realisation by black people that we could no longer stand and be spectators of the game we are supposed to be playing. This election season continues to demonstrate the relevance of Biko's teachings. We are expected to cheer the politicians as they play the game. We are expected to cheer the BEE millionaires as they play the game. If we want to play the game ourselves we end up like Andries Tatane, the Marikana martyrs or Nkululeko Gwala and Nqobile Nzuza.

Today our generation has to encourage people not to accept the hardships that they are facing. We have to find a way, even in the environments we are forced to live in, to have hope for ourselves and our country and to organise to confront oppression. That is what black consciousness is all about. It is not about supporting one corrupt messiah against another corrupt one. It is about taking a side with the people.

After the murders of Tatane, the Marikana miners, Gwala and Nzuza it is immoral to vote for Zuma. After Nkandla it is immoral to vote for Zuma. After Blikkiesdorp and Hangberg it is immoral to vote for Zille. After Malema forced his way into the leadership of the ANC Youth League and he and his friends plundered the organisation, as well as Limpopo government and the National Youth Development Agency it is immoral to vote for him too. Zuma must go on trial for Marikana and Nkandla. Zille must go on trial for Hangberg. Malema must go on trial for his plunder and unpaid taxes.

But corruption and repression are not our only problems. There is no doubt that the ANC is rotten but it is a grave mistake to divorce corruption from the rotten form of crony capitalism that we have in South Africa. Both the ANC and the DA are proponents of the kind of capitalism that always makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. They are both proponents of the Youth Wage Subsidy which is a false solution to unemployment. We need a subsidy for the people, not for capital.

The EFF say that they will nationalise the mines and run them for the people. But no one in their right mind can trust Malema to run the mines for the people.

We have to ask ourselves why it is that we now have the vote but there is no one to vote for. Maybe the reason is that the political parties are all funded by elites and so they all work for elites. We need to change the system in which the parties are funded. All parties should receive the same funding from the state and there should be no secret and private funding.

Elections should be an opportunity for the people to choose their representatives from amongst themselves. What we have today is a system whereby we can only choose which group of rich people, working for the big capitalists, we want to rule us.


OAU students union elections and management’s vicious interference

Democratic Socialist Movement

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/91375

To blacklist students is not only a witch-hunt aimed at preventing activists from holding union offices but also a calculated scheme to weaken the OAU students’ union and establish it under the direct manipulation of the university administration

Recently, the Obafemi Awolowo University management, through the Division of Students Affairs, sent a blacklist to the electoral commission and expressly ordered that those whose names are on the list must not be allowed to vote, be voted for, or act as agents in the forthcoming union elections. Five students are affected by this vicious list, and the only offence they have committed is their participation in the genuine struggles of students for unbanning of their union. For OAU administration, dissenting opinions over unlawful proscription is not allowed, and hence criminal. For us in the DSM, this blacklist is only a witch-hunt aimed at preventing student activists from holding union offices. It is also a calculated scheme to weaken the OAU students’ union and establish it under the direct manipulation of the university administration. We condemn this undemocratic, unlawful and vicious interference of OAU management in the internal affairs of a students’ union. We call for the conduct of elections in line with the provisions of the union constitution and decisions of the congress of students.

First, that OAU administration is establishing this disenfranchisement through a kangaroo indictment is unintellectual. In the opinion of the administration, indictment is not to make a formal accusation against someone, but to presume that the alleged is guilty before the charges are substantiated. This is the height of intellectual contradiction in an institution of learning, where regards for democratic laws and dissenting views should have been entrenched. However, we in the DSM are not surprised that the OAU management is wielding another instrument of jackboot absolutism to prevent questions and checks on its oppressive activities.

This was the same management that constructed a N500 million swimming pool when the university water supply system remains unclean and diseased, amid wide condemnation. Prevention of student activists, who have boldly condemned such impropriety of spending and policies, from holding union offices is meant to further sustain arbitrary and corrupt policies of the university administration. This will also ensure that the union itself is tied to the apron string of the university management, while the right to protest obnoxious policies of the university administration will be criminalized.

For us in the DSM, a union that cannot advance the interests of its members is irresponsible. And this is the reason why the affairs of such a union should be determined by members of the union, and not forced down its throat by a self-serving university authority. The OAU students’ union has a constitution which has articulated procedures for election, and a legislative organ which is the congress. Hence the right of members to vote or to be voted for is a subject for determination by the students, and not the university administration. If Nigerians do not condemn and resist this arbitrary imposition, then the OAU management – and other university managements – will see student unionism as a system of secondary school prefecture. This fact is observable in the current National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), whose leaders have turned into cronies and sycophants of corrupt politicians. While Ife student unionism still jealously guides the philosophy of students as an instrument against oppression and anti-people policies, the current effort of the university administration threatens the further existence of this tradition.

The DSM calls on peace-loving Nigerians, alumni of OAU and ex-students’ leaders to call the OAU administration to order and stop its excessive interference in the forthcoming students’ union elections. Witch-hunting students for taking dissenting opinion over an unlawful proscription of the union is inimical to intellectual growth and damaging to the future of Nigeria.

We call for protest messages and petitions to the university management.

You can send your messages to the management of OAU through these lines: Vice-Chancellor: 08037211502; Dean, Students’ Affairs: 08037271817; Vice Dean, Student Affairs: 08066066540; Registrar: 046-550180; V.C’s email: taleomole@yahoo.com

Signed,
Adabale Olamide
General Secretary




Obituaries

Norman Girvan: The passing of a true Caribbean patriot

Movement for Social justice

2014-04-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/obituary/91372

The Caribbean has lost a fighter and believer in social justice, one who knew that another world is not only necessary but possible! The working people and poor have lost a true friend!

The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) mourns the passing of a true Caribbean patriot, Professor Norman Girvan. Professor Girvan has contributed immensely to the struggle for social justice, equity, the improvement of the well being and dignity of the ordinary Caribbean man, woman and child and the sovereignty of the region.

While a Jamaican by birth, Professor Girvan has throughout his adult life been a Caribbean man. Thus his entire academic experience has been lecturing at the University of the West Indies – first at the Mona campus and later at the St. Augustine campus. He was a member of the seminal New World Group in the ‘60’s and later a founding member and former President of the Association of Caribbean Economists (ACE) which brought together leading economists from every territory in the region and from across all the language areas. Professor Girvan extended his public service from his native Jamaica, where for a number of years he headed that country’s National Planning Agency, to the region, serving as Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States, headquartered here in Port of Spain. Since that time he and his family have made Trinidad their home. Professor Girvan’s contribution to regional integration is legion, beginning with studies on regional resource use in the 60’s and early 70’s to the very important study on the implementation of the Caribbean Single Economy for Caricom, a work that has never been implemented, much to the region’s loss.

Professor Girvan’s name is highly respected throughout the region not only for his academic work as the Caribbean’s foremost political economist, but as one who has championed progressive causes. He has been a friend of the Cuban revolution and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. He was in the forefront of the campaign against the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and Cariforum (Caricom plus the Dominican Republic) which he saw as an affront to Caribbean sovereignty and our ability to determine our own economic development. He supported the struggle by the Haitian people to end the UN occupation by MINUSTAH troops and most recently, he championed the cause of the Haitian descendents born in the Dominican Republic and denied citizenship by the country of their birth. Professor Girvan was also a highly respected Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General with regard to the Venezuela- Guyana border dispute.

In this regard, Professor Girvan was not simply an academic but one who recognised that his intellectual talents and skills should be used in the interest of the ordinary men and women, the workers, farmers, poor – those who traditionally do not count. He was one of the few intellectuals who maintained this position throughout their life. For Norman this was not about occasional charity, it was a revolutionary duty! In this regard he must be counted together with Walter Rodney – his colleague in the famous study group organised by CLR James in London in the mid 1960’s when they were students in England.

Norman Girvan was a wonderful human being, one of the finest examples of a person that has walked the Caribbean. He was always prepared to give of his time and talent to NGOs, the labour movement,


international organisations and networks, and lectured and shared his ideas with as many people as time would permit. Professor Girvan set up his own website and through this use of social media provided a wealth of information and generated debates around important social, political and economic issues. He worked with the late Angela Cropper and Dennis Pantin around sustainable development and chaired the Cropper Foundation. He mentored a younger generation of activists and developed with them the ground breaking “Carib 1804 Voices” – an on line journal.

Norman Girvan was simply one of best sons that Jamaica and the Caribbean has produced!

He endured the pain of his tragic accident which occurred while he was vacationing in early January this year in Dominica with his family. For the past three months, though completely immobile, Norman’s mind was as active as ever and his spirits were always high. We had all hoped and prayed that he would be able to overcome the terrible injury that he had suffered, but sadly this was not the case.

The Caribbean has lost a fighter and believer in social justice, one who knew that another world is not only necessary but possible! The working people and poor have lost a true friend! Academia has lost one of its most fertile minds! The MSJ has lost a comrade! And his family has lost a father and husband. To Jasmine, his wife, and to his children we express our very sincere sympathy and extend our solidarity.

We celebrate his life! We thank him for all that he has contributed to so many! And in the words of that great Guyanese poet, Martin Carter, we say:

“Dear Comrade
If it must be
you speak no more with me
nor smile no more with me
nor march no more with me
then let me take
a patience and a calm
for even now the greener leaf explodes
sun brightens stone
and all the rivers burn
now from the mourning vanguard moving on
dear comrade I salute you and say
death must not find us thinking that we die”

Farewell, Norman, rest in peace! Your work is done. You did it exceedingly well and it will live on for generations to come! A Luta Continua!

Movement for Social Justice


David Abdulah
Political Leader




Jobs

Campaigner – Sudan and South Sudan

$45,621 per annum Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Amnesty International

2014-04-11

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs2/91307


cc A I

The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. In order to be effective, Amnesty International’s (AI) International Secretariat needs to change how we work. That’s why we have opened a Regional Office in Kenya. And why we need your campaigning expertise with us on the ground.
ABOUT THE ROLE

Our South Sudan and Sudan Campaigner will tackle issues like protection of civilians in armed conflict, criminal justice reform, and freedom of expression and association. As a Campaigner, you can expect to have a direct impact on these key areas, as well as on our overarching regional campaigning and research strategies. Focusing mainly on South Sudan and Sudan you’ll develop effective, strategic campaigning plans and work with both AI colleagues and external partners to deliver them. You’ll also create clear and compelling campaigning materials for a range of audiences, writing reports and public statements, making videos and web features, and raising awareness and mobilizing our members to effect human rights change. And you’ll constantly look for ways to improve your work too, researching effective campaigning methods, monitoring impact and staying up to date with the latest human rights developments.

ABOUT YOU

A practised campaigner, you’ll know how to create successful campaign strategies and build awareness through powerful actions and recognized techniques. You’ll also understand the importance of flexibility and be ready to adapt and evolve your plans. We’ll expect you to understand human rights and the political landscape within the East and Horn of Africa, both in general terms and specifically, with knowledge of South Sudan and Sudan and key thematic areas. You’ll be able to translate that knowledge into campaign materials and creative initiatives that inspire activism online and off, and have the fluency to express complex ideas in English and Arabic. You’ll have a network of civil society and government contacts and the clout to represent AI to audiences ranging from civil society groups and governments to our global membership. Beyond that, you’ll be a real team player relishing close collaboration with our researchers, colleagues and partners.

ABOUT US

Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.


To apply please visit https://careers.amnesty.org/vacancy/598/description/


Closing Date: 11th May 2014


Researcher – Sudan

$64,951 per annum Location: Nairobi, Kenya

A I

Amnesty International

2014-04-11

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs2/91308


cc A I

The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. In order to be effective, Amnesty International’s (AI) International Secretariat needs to change how we work. That’s why we have opened a Regional Office in Kenya. And why we need your campaigning expertise with us on the ground.

ABOUT THE ROLE

Our Sudan Researcher will tackle issues like freedom of expression and association, human rights abuses in armed conflict and international justice. In order to get the word out about these violations, we need expertly developed research and campaigning strategies. And in this key role, that’s exactly what you’ll deliver. Your work will primarily focus on Sudan and thematic areas. As well as developing specific research projects and strategies, you’ll lead our monitor, research and investigations into human rights developments yourself – both at your desk and in the field. Ready to lead assessments of crisis situations and able to prepare thorough security assessments and political briefings, you’ll work as part of a team to make sure our hub research function is as flexible as it is effective. You’ll also understand that building a strong contact network and representing AI externally are central to ensuring your research has impact, as is the credibility and accuracy of your reports.

ABOUT YOU

A tried-and-tested human rights researcher, you’ll have specialist knowledge of Sudan and thematic areas, plus a well-developed understanding of human rights issues and the political landscape in the sub-region. You’ll have proven your ability to write and adapt research materials for a range of audiences too, and be confident communicating AI’s message externally, both in English and Arabic. And in addition to your meticulous research skills and sharp political judgement, you’ll know how to engage with survivors of human rights abuses. You’ll be an effective multi-tasker able to meet deadlines and manage priorities, and know how to work effectively in a team. Crucially, you’ll have an unwavering committed to human rights.

ABOUT US

Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.


To apply please visit https://careers.amnesty.org/vacancy/370/description/


Closing Date: 11th May 2014





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