In this week’s PSR: Syrian crimes against humanity; Constitutional referendum in Equatorial Guinea; ANC leader suspended; Swaziland in economic trouble; Rio’s favelas raided; Colombian student strikes successful; “SlutWalk” reaches Lima; Crackdowns on Occupy camps; Australia to sell uranium to India; Burma separatists; Ai Weiwei pays bond; APEC forum in Hawaii; Neo-Nazi murders in Germany; Kazakhstan terrorism; Violence in Poland; Diplomatic tensions in Russia/Tajikistan; Oman Sultan negotiates hostage release; Saudi nuclear deal with S. Korea; Islamic party wins Tunisian elections; Singh meets Chinese Premier; Pakistan U.S. ambassador may resign; Sri Lankan former Army chief receives more jail time.

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PEACE & SECURITY REPORT
IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to brief busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community on pertinent global news, events, and trends.  Meticulously researched and written by IPSI, the PSR empowers us all to take a step back from our immediate deadlines each Friday and gain a greater understanding of the week's global events.
Featured Article   

Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Homs 
Human Rights Watch 

 

IPSI Featured Article ImageThe systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian government forces, including torture and unlawful killings, indicate that crimes against humanity have been committed, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch urged the Arab League, meeting in Cairo on November 12, 2011, to suspend Syria's membership in the League and to ask the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo and sanctions against individuals responsible for the violations, and refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The 63-page report, "'We Live as in War': Crackdown on Protesters in the Governorate of Homs," is based on more than 110 interviews with victims and witnesses from Homs, both the city and the surrounding governorate of the same name. The area has emerged as a center of opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The report focuses on violations by Syrian security forces from mid-April to the end of August, during which time security forces killed at least 587 civilians, the highest number of casualties for any single governorate.

Security forces have killed at least another 104 people in Homs since November 2, when the Syrian government agreed to the Arab League initiative for a political solution. Arab foreign ministers will meet in an emergency session on November 12 to discuss Syria's failure to comply with the Arab League initiative.

 


Africa
EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Opposition criticizes constitutional referendum
A vote held Sunday to amend the constitution of Equatorial Guinea was attacked as a sham by opposition groups inside and outside the country. Although the full text of the proposed amendments is difficult to obtain, many claim that the changes will be used to allow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to remain in power after his current term ends in 2016. According to critics, the amendments will also establish the office of a vice-president, to be appointed by President Obiang, who would assume power after the president steps down. The government reports that the amendments will pass with roughly 99 percent of the vote. Comment: President Obiang, Africa's longest-serving president, came to power in 1979 in a military coup. Transparency International and Freedom House rank Equatorial Guinea among the world's most corrupt states. (Reuters, PR Newswire, BBC, Voice of America)

SOUTH AFRICA: ANC Youth League leader suspended for five years
Last week, South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) announced the suspension of Julius Malema, the controversial leader of the party's Youth League, for five years. Malema was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute, notably for his call for regime change in neighboring Botswana. Malema is well known for championing the poor and advocating wealth redistribution policies, including nationalizing South Africa's mines. Comment: Although Malema will appeal the decision, many analysts believe the suspension will effectively derail his political career. Most experts agree, however, that Malema's message will continue to remain potent among the nation's poor. South Africa's unemployment rate is nearly 25 percent; according to the Institute of Race Relations, approximately 50 percent of the generation aged 25 to 34 will never work in their lifetimes. (SABC, The Citizen, Reuters, The Guardian)

SWAZILAND: Government approaches economic collapse
An ongoing financial crisis has rendered the Swazi government nearly unable to pay its monthly 64 million USD civil service wage bill. Last week, rumors that government workers would be paid their November salaries two weeks late sparked panic. A loan offer of 355 million USD from South Africa was initially rejected for its conditions of political reform, as were similar offers from the IMF and African Development Bank. The Swazi government has reportedly secured an emergency loan from unnamed private sources. Comment: Swaziland has been criticized for its poor fiscal management and autocratic government. Analysts estimate that, following current trends, government debt could more than double by March. The tiny country is the last remaining absolute monarchy in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati III's personal fortune is estimated to be over 200 million USD. (SABC, AFP, Reuters, BBC)

Researched/Written by  Nori Kasting

Americas
BRAZIL: Police secure favelas and drive out criminals
On Sunday, 1,500 police officers conducted a two-hour raid of three shantytowns (favelas) in Rio de Janeiro's largest slum, Rocchina. The slum is home to approximately 100,000 people living on the edge of some of Rio's richest neighborhoods, making it a lucrative location for drug cartels. The police operation managed to capture kingpin Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, widely known as "Nem," who tried to escape after the police operation was announced last Thursday. Comment: The Rio de Janeiro state government is planning the construction of permanent police substations in all favelas before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Operations to clear the favelas utilize the state police's Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) in order to establish a security presence and drive out heavily armed drug gangs. (Latin American Herald Tribune, BBC, Guardian)

COLOMBIA: Student education protests successful
After a month of university students striking against education reform, President Santos requested the repeal of the Higher Education Act, an amendment that would privatize funding of university education and charge fees for public education. Congress accepted the request for repeal on Thursday. The National Broad Student Council, organized to be the voice of protesters' discontent, issued conditions on Sunday including the withdrawal of the Higher Education amendment and the appeal for greater state funding for higher education to be allocated through inclusive political dialogue. Comment: The protests highlight the dedication of students to innovative non-violent techniques such as hugging riot police, organizing flash mobs, writing songs, among others. The student protests won the sympathy of a broad spectrum of the Colombian population, while also receiving support from the Colombian Federation of Educators and the United Workers Central of Colombia. It was this mass action that forced President Santos to reconsider his initial plan. (Semana, El Tiempo, Milieno, ICFC)

PERU: "SlutWalk" reaches Lima
On Saturday, more than 100 women marched through the streets of Lima denouncing gender violence, discrimination, and sexual abuse; in the first half of this year alone, Peruvian women have lodged 4,472 allegations of rape to the Peruvian Attorney General's Office. The protestors walked down one of the main avenues chanting slogans demanding respect for women, following the pattern of similar marches called "SlutWalks." Comment: The SlutWalk movement emerged after the Toronto chief of police, Michael Sanguinetti, stated at a conference that, "if women don't want to be victims of rape or sexual harassment, they shouldn't dress like sluts." Demonstrations have taken place throughout Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Nicaragua, South Africa, the UK, and now Peru. (Hispanically Speaking, Latin American Herald Tribune, Reuters)

UNITED STATES: Crackdowns on "Occupy" camps
Between Sunday and Tuesday, "Occupy" Movements around the nation faced a crackdown by police officers and local government officials, including at the movement's birthplace in New York City's Zuccotti Park. In addition, Atlanta, Portland, and Salt Lake City protesters were asked to leave their encampments, but it was in Oakland and Seattle that police used tear gas and stun grenades during the evictions. Comment: New York protesters returned to Zuccotti Park, but are not allowed to set up tents due to health and safety concerns; a decision that was recently upheld by a court ruling. The recent crackdowns across the country have caused movements that have not yet faced evictions, such as Boston, to pre-empt attacks by seeking legal measures for occupation. (Reuters, Daily News, Merco Press, VOA)

Researched/Written by  Laura Castelli

East Asia
AUSTRALIA: Gillard plans to lift ban on selling uranium to India
On Tuesday, in an opinion piece in The National Times, Prime Minister Gillard indicated that she plans to overturn the country's current ban on selling uranium to India. The policy currently prevents Australia from selling uranium to non-signatories of the Non-proliferation Treaty. A parliamentary vote is not required to implement this policy change. Comment: Gillard claims that lifting the ban would create jobs and promote economic growth. Australia contains almost 40 percent of the world's known uranium reserves, but supplies only 19 percent of the world's uranium market. India has welcomed the move. (Aljazeera, BBC, The Hindu, National Times)

BURMA: 10 people killed and 23 wounded in land mine explosion
On Sunday, 10 people were killed and 23 wounded when a land mine exploded in a house in Myitkyina in Kachin state. One of the victims was reportedly demonstrating how to arm the device when it exploded. Comment: Kachin state is home to several minority ethnic rebel groups, who are seeking greater autonomy from the government. Authorities believe that this incident may be connected to other land mine explosions in Mytikyina over the weekend, which are suspected to be connected to separatist groups. (Xinhua Net, BBC, CNN, New Light of Myanmar)

CHINA: Ai Weiwei pays bond to appeal tax charges
On Tuesday, Ai Weiwei deposited a 1.3 million USD bond into a Chinese government bank account to begin the appeal process against a charge of unpaid taxes. The government indicated that Ai would not be allowed to appeal the 2.4 million USD tax charge against him without first depositing the bond amount. Comment: The funds came from an estimated 30,000 supporter donations, which Ai has pledged to pay back. Some have claimed that he was illegally fundraising by using Weibo to request funds from the public. Ai has been an outspoken critic of China's communist government. (BBC, Global Times, Reuters)

REGIONAL: Annual APEC forum held in Hawaii
This past weekend, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's (APEC) annual meeting was held in Hawaii. Representatives from Mexico, Canada, and Japan indicated their countries' support for the pacific free trade area, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which currently consists of four pacific countries, and five more are currently negotiating to join. President Obama criticized China's currency monetary policies as artificially keeping the yuan undervalued against the dollar. Comment: APEC consists of 21 members, but many non-member countries send representatives to observe the conference. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck chose not to attend in order to deal with the current flooding in Bangkok. (NY Times, Reuters, Washington Post, Aljazeera)

Researched/Written by Caitlyn Davis 


Europe & Central Asia
GERMANY: New evidence links murders to neo-Nazi group
On November 4, police found items belonging to a murder victim as well as videos with neo-Nazi propaganda ready to be sent to Islamic organizations in the home of two men who committed suicide. On Sunday, German authorities arrested Holger G. as an accomplice to 10 murders between 2000 and 2007 after new evidence surfaced. Holger G., Beate Z., a woman who turned herself in, and the two men involved were members of the National Socialist Underground, a terrorist organization uncovered last week. Comment: Chancellor Merkel made a statement expressing the shame of these murders happening in Germany and will create a far-right extremist registry for federal and state-level intelligence agencies to counter right-wing extremism. Police plan to reopen all unsolved cases that may have racist motives beginning in 1998. Of the 10 victims, nine victims were kebab vendors of Turkish and Greek descent; the last known victim was a German policewoman. (Deutsche Welle, AP, Reuters, BBC)

KAZAKHSTAN: Seven killed in Taraz
On Saturday, an Islamist militant in southern Kazakhstan killed four security officers and two civilians in a shooting spree, then killed another officer when he blew himself up. The attacker, Maksat Kariyev, was a known radical Islamist. It remains unclear if he was a member of the Islamist militant group Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate), the group responsible for other attacks in the region. Comment: The government passed new laws in October which tighten its control over religious groups. Jund al-Khilafah threatened violence unless the government repeals the law. The group claimed responsibility for two bombs that were detonated in western Kazakhstan on October 31; only the bomber was killed. (RFE/RL, Al Jazeera, Reuters)

POLAND: Violence on Independence Day
Last week, on Poland's Independence Day, violent clashes broke out during protests in Warsaw between far-right nationalists, the left opposition, and the police; more than 50 people - 40 of them police officers - were injured. Authorities arrested 210 people and charged 46 people for various infractions during the protests. Many foreigners joined the left "anti-fascism" protests documented by the arrest of 92 German citizens. Comment: Independence Day marches organized by nationalist parties have increased in size over the years, causing the left to stage opposition protests. This year, the left attempted to block the nationalist march, but police kept the two protests separate. Polish officials are using the marches and actions by authorities to analyze their security capabilities prior to hosting the Euro 2012 soccer championship. (Rzeczpospolita, BBC, AP)

RUSSIA/TAJIKISTAN: Diplomatic tensions rise over jailed pilots
Last week, two Russian pilots were sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for illegally flying into Tajikistan where they purportedly smuggled aircraft parts, including a disassembled engine. After the sentencing, Russian officials detained over 297 Tajik immigrants for allegedly violating migration rules. With pressure coming from Russia, Tajik prosecutors requested a reduction in the sentences, which have not yet been granted, and called for Russian authorities to arrest the pilots' employer, Sergei Poluyanov of Rolkan Investments. Comment: In March of this year, the Russian pilots were returning to Russia from a NATO supply mission delivering aid to Afghanistan when they had to land to refuel, but were detained by authorities. Russia began the first round of deportations to Tajikistan on Tuesday. They continue to deny that the crackdown is connected to the court ruling, claiming that it is a normal routine for the end of the year. (Moscow Times, RFE/RL, AP)

Researched/Written by Erin Bobst


Middle East & North Africa
OMAN: Sultan helps free hostages in Yemen
On Monday, three French citizens were released after being held hostage by an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-linked group since last May. The AQAP militant group agreed to free the aid workers after demanding a 12 million USD ransom. The amount actually paid for the release is unknown; however, the payment was reportedly made possible by the Omani authorities via a high profile Yemeni tribal mediator. Comment: Countries such as the U.S. and France do not negotiate with terrorist organizations; however, Oman has assumed a critical role in assisting those countries by negotiating and securing the release of western prisoners and hostages in the region. Two months ago, Sultan Qaboos paid for the release of two U.S. hikers held in Iranian prisons for two years. Both France and the U.S. have officially thanked Sultan Qaboos for his efforts. (Felix News, WSJ, Times of Oman)

SAUDI ARABIA: Government signs nuclear deal with South Korea
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear power generation agreement with South Korea to help meet the Kingdom's rising energy demand. The agreement aims at providing a "legal framework that strengthens scientific, technological and economic cooperation between the two nations, while reaffirming their desire to place the highest priority on nuclear safety and environmental protection." The kingdom has previously signed similar deals with Argentina and France to assist in developing the 80 billion USD civilian nuclear project. Comment: Saudi Arabia is seeking similar agreements with Britain, China, the Czech Republic, Russia, and the U.S. The U.S. Department of State plans on holding "exploratory talks" to assess the Saudi motivation behind developing civilian nuclear reactors. Analysts are linking the Saudi zeal for nuclear power to mounting concerns that Iran may be seeking to design nuclear weapons. (AFP, Jpost, Times of India, Reuters)

TUNISIA: Vast victory for the Islamic party
On Monday, the Islamic political party, al-Nahdha, won 89 of the 217 seats in Tunisia's new constituent assembly, based on official election results. According to the head of the Independent High Commission for the Elections, al-Nahda won 41.47 percent of the votes. Leading the new constituent assembly, the conservative Islamic party will meet with other parties for the first time on November 22 to draw up a new constitution. Comment: After being banned from political participation for almost 30 years, al-Nahda's victory received mixed reactions among the Tunisian population and the international community. Even though the conservative Islamic group promises democracy and equality, some critics fear that they will not keep their promises and suspect they will preach against the moderation rhetoric in their mosques. A recent comment by an al-Nahda politician, who is likely to become Tunisia's first democratically elected prime minister, caused uproar with liberal and secularist Tunisians. Hamadi Jebali, secretary-general of al-Nahda, described the party's victory at a rally in the city of Sousse as a promise for a "sixth caliphate." (Telegraph, Gulfnews, Tunisia Live, AFP, Barakish)

Researched/Written by Ibrahim Al-Hajjri


South Asia
INDIA: Singh meets Chinese Premier
Prime Minister Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on Friday on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bali. After the 40-minute meet, Singh stated, "We are committed to developing the best of relationships with China, and we should cooperate." Wen added, "There are enough areas in our world where India and China can enhance cooperation." Comment: The meeting is crucial since China and India have been involved in a war of words over resources in the South China Sea. China, which lays claim over the South China Sea, harshly criticized India in September over its move to explore oil in the maritime area on offer from Vietnam. (Hindustan Times, PTI, Rediff)

PAKISTAN: Ambassador to the U.S. offers to resign
On Thursday, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani offered to resign amidst controversy over a secret memo he allegedly wrote to former U.S. armed forces chief Mike Mullen in May this year. The memo purportedly stated that the civilian government in Pakistan was seeking help in preventing a possible coup following the Pakistani military's humiliation over the raid in Abbotabad that killed Osama bin Laden. Earlier on Wednesday, Mullen confirmed the existence of the memo, after initially denying receiving it. Haqqani has denied any involvement. Comment: Haqqani was a vocal critic of the Pakistani army prior to his appointment as ambassador. The controversy threatens to worsen relations between the Pakistan's civilian government and the Army. (Foreign Policy, NY Times, Pak Tribune)

SRI LANKA: Former Army Chief sentenced to additional prison time
On Friday, former Sri Lankan army chief General Sarath Fonseka was sentenced to three additional years in prison for breaching an emergency law. Fonseka was charged over a statement to a newspaper where he said that the defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajakse had ordered the shooting of LTTE leaders offering to surrender. Comment: Fonseka is currently serving a 30-month sentence on corruption charges. He was hailed a hero after the defeat of the LTTE in 2009 and entered politics following the end of the war. His relationship with President Mahinda Rajapakse deteriorated after his bid for the presidential post. Fonseka alleged that the court's verdict was not surprising since the President did not want him in active politics. (Colombo Page, Telegraph, Sri Lanka Guardian)

Researched/Written by Megha Swamy

November 18, 2011
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In This Issue
Featured Article
Africa
Americas
East Asia
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & N. Africa
South Asia

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Tags: conflict, nonviolence, peace, reconciliation, resolution, security, war

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