New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheidJanuary 21, 2014
It’s a sight to behold. Just off Lagos, Nigeria’s coast, an artificial island is emerging from the sea. A foundation, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor, stretches over ten kilometres. Promotional videos depict what is to come: a city of soaring buildings, housing for 250,000 people, and a central boulevard to match Paris’ Champs-Élysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. Privately constructed, it will also be privately administered and supplied with electricity, water, mass transit, sewage and security. It is the “future Hong Kong of Africa,” anticipates Nigeria’s World Bank director.
Welcome to Eko Atlantic, a city whose “whole purpose”, its developers say, is to “arrest the ocean’s encroachment.” Like many low-lying coastal African countries, Nigeria has been hit hard by a rising sea-level, which has regularly washed away thousands of peoples’ homes. To defend against the coastal erosion and flooding, the city is being surrounded by the “Great Wall of Lagos”, a sea defence barrier made of 100,000 five-ton concrete blocks. Eko Atlantic will be a “sustainable city, clean and energy efficient with minimal carbon emissions,” offer jobs, prosperity and new land for Nigerians, and serve as a bulwark in the fight against the impacts of climate change.
At least that’s the official story. Other facts suggest this gleaming city will be a menacing allure to most. In congested Lagos, Africa’s largest city, there is little employment and millions work and scavenge in a vast, desperate informal economy. Sixty percent of Nigeria’s population – almost 100 of 170 million people – live on less than a dollar a day. Preventable diseases are widespread; electricity and clean water hard to come by. A few kilometres down the Lagos shoreline, Nigerians eke out an existence in the aquatic slum of Makoko, built precariously on stilts over the ocean. Casting them as crime-ridden, the government regularly dismantles such slums, bulldozing homes and evicting thousands. These are hardly the people who will scoop up square footage in Eko Atlantic’s pricy new high-rises.
Those behind the project – a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, and a slew of African and international banks – give a picture of who will be catered to. Gilbert Chaougry was a close advisor to the notorious Nigerian dictatorship of the mid 1990s, helping the ultra-corrupt general Sani Abacha as he looted billions from public coffers. Abacha killed hundreds of demonstrators and executed environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who rose to fame protesting the despoiling of the country by Shell and other multinational oil corporations. Thus it’s fitting for whom the first 15-story office tower in Eko Atlantic is being built: a British oil and gas trading company. The city proposing to head off environmental devastation will be populated by those most responsible for it in the first place.
The real inspiration for Eko Atlantic comes not from these men but the dreamworlds of rampant capitalism, stoked by a successful, thirty year global campaign to claw back gains in social security and unchain corporations from regulation – what we now know as neoliberalism. In Nigeria, oil wealth plundered by a military elite spawned extreme inequalities and upended the economy. Under the IMF’s neoliberal dictates, the situation worsened: education and healthcare were gutted, industries privatized, and farmers ruined by western products dumped on their markets. The World Bank celebrated Nigeria; extreme poverty doubled. The most notorious application of the power of the Nigerian state for the interest of the rich came in 1990: an entire district of Lagos - 300,000 homes – was razed to clear the way for high-end real-estate development.
As elites in Nigeria and elsewhere have embraced such inequality as the very engine of growth, they have revived some of the most extreme forms of colonial segregation and gated leisure. Today, boutiques cannot open fast enough to serve the Nigerian millionaires buying luxury cars and yachts they’ll be able to dock in Eko Atlantic’s down-town marina. Meanwhile, thousands of people who live in communities along the coast expect the new city will bring displacement, not prosperity, says environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey. To get their way, the developers, backed by industry and politicians, have trampled over the country’s environmental assessment process. “Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion,” he says.
The wealthy and powerful may in fact take climate change seriously: not as a demand to modify their behaviour or question the fossil-fuel driven global economy that has made it possible, but as the biggest opportunity yet to realize their dreams of unfettered accumulation and consumption. The disaster capitalists behind Eko Atlantic have seized on climate change to push through pro-corporate plans to build a city of their dreams, an architectural insult to the daily circumstances of ordinary Nigerians. The criminalized poor abandoned outside their walls may once have served as sufficient justification for their flight and fortification – but now they have the very real threat of climate change as well.
Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – a vision of privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms. Protected by guards, guns, and an insurmountable gully – real estate prices – the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising. A world in which the rich and powerful exploit the global ecological crisis to widen and entrench already extreme inequalities and seal themselves off from its impacts – this is climate apartheid.
Prepare for the elite, like never before, to use climate change to transform neighbourhoods, cities, even entire nations into heavily fortified islands. Already, around the world, from Afghanistan to Arizona, China to Cairo, and in mushrooming mega-cities much like Lagos, those able are moving to areas where they can live better and often more greenly – with better transport and renewable technologies, green buildings and ecological services. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the super-rich – ferried above the congested city by a fleet of hundreds of helicopters – have disembedded themselves from urban life, attempting to escape from a common fate. 
In places like Eko Atlantic the escape, a moral and social secession of the rich from those in their country, will be complete. This essentially utopian drive – to consume rapaciously and endlessly and to reject any semblance of collective impulse and concern – is simply incompatible with human survival. But at the moment when we must confront an economy and ideology pushing the planet’s life-support systems to breaking point, this is what the neoliberal imagination offers us: a grotesque monument to the ultra-rich flight from responsibility.
Full article

New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheid
January 21, 2014

It’s a sight to behold. Just off Lagos, Nigeria’s coast, an artificial island is emerging from the sea. A foundation, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor, stretches over ten kilometres. Promotional videos depict what is to come: a city of soaring buildings, housing for 250,000 people, and a central boulevard to match Paris’ Champs-Élysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. Privately constructed, it will also be privately administered and supplied with electricity, water, mass transit, sewage and security. It is the “future Hong Kong of Africa,” anticipates Nigeria’s World Bank director.

Welcome to Eko Atlantic, a city whose “whole purpose”, its developers say, is to “arrest the ocean’s encroachment.” Like many low-lying coastal African countries, Nigeria has been hit hard by a rising sea-level, which has regularly washed away thousands of peoples’ homes. To defend against the coastal erosion and flooding, the city is being surrounded by the “Great Wall of Lagos”, a sea defence barrier made of 100,000 five-ton concrete blocks. Eko Atlantic will be a “sustainable city, clean and energy efficient with minimal carbon emissions,” offer jobs, prosperity and new land for Nigerians, and serve as a bulwark in the fight against the impacts of climate change.

At least that’s the official story. Other facts suggest this gleaming city will be a menacing allure to most. In congested Lagos, Africa’s largest city, there is little employment and millions work and scavenge in a vast, desperate informal economy. Sixty percent of Nigeria’s population – almost 100 of 170 million people – live on less than a dollar a day. Preventable diseases are widespread; electricity and clean water hard to come by. A few kilometres down the Lagos shoreline, Nigerians eke out an existence in the aquatic slum of Makoko, built precariously on stilts over the ocean. Casting them as crime-ridden, the government regularly dismantles such slums, bulldozing homes and evicting thousands. These are hardly the people who will scoop up square footage in Eko Atlantic’s pricy new high-rises.

Those behind the project – a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, and a slew of African and international banks – give a picture of who will be catered to. Gilbert Chaougry was a close advisor to the notorious Nigerian dictatorship of the mid 1990s, helping the ultra-corrupt general Sani Abacha as he looted billions from public coffers. Abacha killed hundreds of demonstrators and executed environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who rose to fame protesting the despoiling of the country by Shell and other multinational oil corporations. Thus it’s fitting for whom the first 15-story office tower in Eko Atlantic is being built: a British oil and gas trading company. The city proposing to head off environmental devastation will be populated by those most responsible for it in the first place.

The real inspiration for Eko Atlantic comes not from these men but the dreamworlds of rampant capitalism, stoked by a successful, thirty year global campaign to claw back gains in social security and unchain corporations from regulation – what we now know as neoliberalism. In Nigeria, oil wealth plundered by a military elite spawned extreme inequalities and upended the economy. Under the IMF’s neoliberal dictates, the situation worsened: education and healthcare were gutted, industries privatized, and farmers ruined by western products dumped on their markets. The World Bank celebrated Nigeria; extreme poverty doubled. The most notorious application of the power of the Nigerian state for the interest of the rich came in 1990: an entire district of Lagos - 300,000 homes – was razed to clear the way for high-end real-estate development.

As elites in Nigeria and elsewhere have embraced such inequality as the very engine of growth, they have revived some of the most extreme forms of colonial segregation and gated leisure. Today, boutiques cannot open fast enough to serve the Nigerian millionaires buying luxury cars and yachts they’ll be able to dock in Eko Atlantic’s down-town marina. Meanwhile, thousands of people who live in communities along the coast expect the new city will bring displacement, not prosperity, says environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey. To get their way, the developers, backed by industry and politicians, have trampled over the country’s environmental assessment process. “Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion,” he says.

The wealthy and powerful may in fact take climate change seriously: not as a demand to modify their behaviour or question the fossil-fuel driven global economy that has made it possible, but as the biggest opportunity yet to realize their dreams of unfettered accumulation and consumption. The disaster capitalists behind Eko Atlantic have seized on climate change to push through pro-corporate plans to build a city of their dreams, an architectural insult to the daily circumstances of ordinary Nigerians. The criminalized poor abandoned outside their walls may once have served as sufficient justification for their flight and fortification – but now they have the very real threat of climate change as well.

Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – a vision of privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms. Protected by guards, guns, and an insurmountable gully – real estate prices – the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising. A world in which the rich and powerful exploit the global ecological crisis to widen and entrench already extreme inequalities and seal themselves off from its impacts – this is climate apartheid.

Prepare for the elite, like never before, to use climate change to transform neighbourhoods, cities, even entire nations into heavily fortified islands. Already, around the world, from Afghanistan to Arizona, China to Cairo, and in mushrooming mega-cities much like Lagos, those able are moving to areas where they can live better and often more greenly – with better transport and renewable technologies, green buildings and ecological services. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the super-rich – ferried above the congested city by a fleet of hundreds of helicopters – have disembedded themselves from urban life, attempting to escape from a common fate. 

In places like Eko Atlantic the escape, a moral and social secession of the rich from those in their country, will be complete. This essentially utopian drive – to consume rapaciously and endlessly and to reject any semblance of collective impulse and concern – is simply incompatible with human survival. But at the moment when we must confront an economy and ideology pushing the planet’s life-support systems to breaking point, this is what the neoliberal imagination offers us: a grotesque monument to the ultra-rich flight from responsibility.

Full article

Thousands take to streets in Sudan; protest  violently shut down by government
September 20, 2013

Sudanese police used teargas to disperse thousands of protesters who set government buildings on fire in the biggest city in the western region of Darfur on Thursday, witnesses said.

More than 2,000 people took to the streets in Nyala to demonstrate against the killing of a prominent community member on Wednesday and deteriorating security in Sudan’s second-largest city, the witnesses said.

They set several government buildings and cars on fire and burned tires, blocking roads and prompting police to fire teargas. “The people want to overthrow the regime,” the protesters shouted before officers dispersed the crowd.

Authorities later issued a nightly curfew in the capital of South Darfur state, state news agency SUNA said, adding that Darfuri rebels were trying to exploit the situation and enter the city. The killing of the businessman by unknown gunmen was being investigated, it added.

"The problem of South Darfur is related to its security, and this won’t go away overnight," state governor Adam Mahmoud Jar al-Nabi told SUNA, blaming tribal violence.

Law and order have broken down in most parts of Darfur since mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003 against Sudan’s Arab-led government, which they accuse of discriminating against them. Khartoum denies this.

In July, fighting broke out in Nyala when two sets of security forces clashed after a person was killed at a checkpoint. Shops and offices of international aid groups were looted during the violence, which lasted several days, according to witnesses.

The fighting in Nyala has shocked diplomats because violence in recent years had been largely confined to rural areas of Darfur.

The International Criminal Court has indicted President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other Sudanese officials for planning war crimes in Darfur. Sudan has dismissed the charges as a political campaign against the African country.

Source

More than 300 imprisoned African migrants go on day 3 of hunger strike in Israel prisons
June 27, 2013

About 300 African migrants detained in the Saharonim facility in the Negev have refused their breakfasts for the third day, in protest of their arrest without a trial.

Due to this development, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) now treats their protest as a hunger strike. However, the IPS decided not to remove food products purchased by the detainees in the canteens from their cells in order to encourage the untried but imprisoned migrants to end their hunger strike.

Source

Here’s some context from The Guardian to illuminate further how Israel interacts with African migrants as a racist, colonial entity.

Got this in my email today:

Dear friends, 

We are elders of the Maasai from Tanzania, one of Africa’s oldest tribes. The government has just announced that it plans to kick thousands of our families off our lands so that wealthy tourists can use them to shoot lions and leopards.The evictions are to begin immediately.

Last year, when word first leaked about this plan, almost one million Avaaz members rallied to our aid. Your attention and the storm it created forced the government to deny the plan, and set them back months. But the President has waited for international attention to die down, and now he’s revived his plan to take our land. We need your help again, urgently.

President Kikwete may not care about us, but he has shown he’ll respond to global media and public pressure — to all of you! We may only have hours. Please stand with us to protect our land, our people and our world’s most majestic animals, and tell everyone before it is too late. This is our last hope:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/maasai_fb_dm_3/?bNDofcb&v=23793

Our people have lived off the land in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries. Our communities respect our fellow animals and protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem. But the government has for years sought to profit by giving rich princes and kings from the Middle East access to our land to kill. In 2009, when they tried to clear our land to make way for these hunting sprees, we resisted, and hundreds of us were arrested and beaten. Last year, rich princes shot at birds in trees from helicopters. This killing goes against everything in our culture.

Now the government has announced it will clear a huge swath of our land to make way for what it claims will be a wildlife corridor, but many suspect it’s just a ruse to give a foreign hunting corporation and the rich tourists it caters to easier access to shoot at majestic animals. The government claims this new arrangement is some sort of accommodation, but its effect on our people’s way of life will be disastrous. There are thousands of us who could have our lives uprooted, losing our homes, the land on which our animals graze, or both.

President Kikwete knows this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists - a critical source of national income - and does not want a big PR disaster. If we can urgently generate even more global outrage than we did before, and get the media writing about it, we know it can make him think twice. Stand with us now to call on Kikwete to stop the sell off:

This land grab could spell the end for the Maasai in this part of Tanzania and many of our community have said they would rather die than be forced from their homes. On behalf of our people and the animals who graze in these lands, please stand with us to change the mind of our President.

With hope and determination,

— The Maasai community of Ngorongoro District

Sources: 

Guinea protesters continue to clash with oppressive security forces
February 28, 2013

Guinea security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at thousands of anti-government protesters in the seaside capital Conakry on Wednesday in clashes that wounded more than two dozen people, sources said.

The violence in the West African state is a result of soaring tensions ahead of a parliamentary election the opposition says is being rigged by the administration of President Alpha Conde.

"We don’t know how it started, but the security forces charged the crowd and fired tear gas," said Ousmane Camara, a Conakry resident at the protest in the city’s Hamdallaye neighborhood, an opposition stronghold.

Another witness said security forces had wounded at least two people, including a child, with live rounds and were using truncheons to push back other demonstrators, who threw stones and chunks of concrete, and set fire to tires.

A security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that 16 police and gendarmes had been admitted to hospital with wounds after the initial clashes. Sources said injuries among the protesters were likely higher.

It was unclear if there were any dead, and witnesses said demonstrations were ongoing.

Guinea’s opposition coalition had called for widespread protests in Conakry after announcing last week it would boycott preparations for long-delayed legislative polls, claiming the run up to the vote was flawed.

The election set for May 12 is intended to be the last step in Guinea’s transition to civilian rule after two years under a violent army junta following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte in 2008.

President Alpha Conde won a 2010 presidential election in the world’s top supplier of bauxite, the raw material in aluminium, but delays in the legislative vote have deepened a political deadlock and led to intermittent violence.

The opposition says the elections commission chose the poll date unilaterally and that two companies contracted to update voter rolls have skewed the lists in Conde’s favor. They also want Guineans living abroad to be allowed to vote.

Thousands of people had participated in peaceful protests across Guinea last week in support of opposition demands. The parliamentary poll was originally due to be held in 2011 but has already been delayed four times.

Source

Who are the Tuareg? Background amid conflict in Northern Mali
February 19, 2013

FOR COSMOPOLITAN music lovers, the Tuareg people burst onto the scene in 2001 when their most prominent musical group, Tinariwen, kicked off an internationally acclaimed music festival outside of Timbuktu in the Malian desert. Ten years later, after playing over 700 shows in the U.S. and Europe, Tinariwen won a Grammy for “Best Foreign Language Album.”

But Tinariwen has an important history that dates back before 2001. Its members were part of the Tuareg resistance to the Malian government up until the 1990s. Most grew up in refugee camps after theishumar generation was forced out of the traditional Tuareg lifestyle by government action.

They became critical of their ancestors’ strict social hierarchies. But as Tinariwen became an international sensation, its members donned traditional Tuareg dress and helped to recreate images of a romanticized past.

With the crisis in northern Mali and the French government’s military intervention in its former colony, the Tuareg have become a focus of attention in the West in a new way. In both the mainstream press and in United Nations resolutions, they have been wrongly conflated with Islamic jihadists, while their legitimate grievances against the Malian government have been ignored.

A court in the Malian capital of Bamako issued arrest warrants last week for Tuareg leaders from both the Mouvement National de Liberation de L’Azawad (MNLA), the most prominent political Tuareg group, and Ansar Dine, an Islamist group, imported into northern Mali from Southeast Asia, with a particularly evangelical and sectarian Salafist history. These two groups are completely different in aim, origin and strategy, but the Malian state paints them with one brush.

The UN has already ducked the pressing economic and political questions facing residents of northern Mali by denouncing the right of the Tuareg to independence. France can’t be allowed to claim that military intervention is the solution to the “problem” in Mali—while it ignores the dire economic conditions at the roots of the discontent among the Tuareg.

THE TUAREG speak Tamasheq, part of the Berber language group. They are a majority Muslim group of a million-and-a-half people living in Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso. Historically nomadic and pastoralist, the Tuareg dominated the vast desert areas of these countries.

Now, because of a series of droughts in the Sahara, forced sedentariztion, restrictive land policies of the Malian state and state repression, they have become a migrant workforce in northern Africa. Some still practice pastoralism, but many more rely on urban jobs, remittances and state aid. Before the fall of the Muammar al-Qaddafi and his regime in Libya last year, some found employment in the Libyan state machine, including its military and security services.

Since military control of the Tuareg was never feasible because of the problems of desert combat, the Tuareg maintained a great deal of autonomy. They were exempted from mandatory military service and didn’t pay taxes. The colonial masters effectively allowed the practice of slavery to continue among the Tuareg.

For this reason, sub-Saharan Malians in the South resented the privileged position that the Tuareg were afforded by the colonial state. According to the historian Baz Lecocq, most of the Tuareg view French colonialism as a better alternative to administration by the central Malian government since independence.

The Tuareg are the dominant ethnic group in the desert and in Kidal, but are a minority even in the two biggest Northern cities of Mali, Timbuktu and Gao. Although they make up less than 10 percent of the Malian population, the nomads have had a disproportionate impact on the fortunes of the Malian state since its founding in 1960. (details in full article – link @the bottom of this page)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

TO CATEGORIZE a group of nomads as a “nation” may or may not be appropriate. It is an especially complicated question in post-colonial Africa, where colonial meddling in territorial boundaries forever changed power relations between indigenous groups.

Nevertheless, the Tuareg share a language and a history, and see themselves as a coherent group. They are unquestionably oppressed by the Malian state. Between 1964 and 1967, they were subjected to a fierce campaign of forced sedentarization, away from their traditional nomadic lifestyle. In the tradition of the colonial masters, the Malian state continued to appoint Tuareg chiefs and leaders, overturning democratic choices made by Tuareg clans. The use of Tamasheq was forbidden in schools.

During the Tuareg rebellions of 1962-63 and 1990-94, the Malian army meted out brutal collective punishment. It was accused of poisoning wells and mass killings of both civilians and livestock. The Malian state declared certain desert areas “forbidden zones” and threatened to shoot anyone in those areas—a particularly damning policy against a people who depend on grazing livestock.

The Tuareg have always claimed a right to self-determination in the Azawad, the desert region of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. If part of this right rests on the claim that they have historically dominated the area, though, then that claim is complicated by the question of slavery.

The Tuareg practiced certain forms of slavery—very different, it should be noted, than chattel slavery in the New World—until Malian independence. Noble Tuareg families kept house slaves (“iklan”) and demanded tribute from “slave” agricultural villages. Historically, they had also been involved in trafficking slaves across North Africa. One element that spurred the Tuareg to rebel in 1962 was their desire to control their social hierarchies (and slaves) without intervention by the state in Bamako—which, unlike the French, undertook a serious effort to end unfree labor.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THERE ARE at least four forces fighting in northern Mali.

Beginning in November 2011, a series of high-profile kidnappings of Westerners took place in northern Mali. These kidnappings were either carried out by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or by forces affiliated with the Algerian secret service. (Anthropologist and United Nations consultant Jeremy Keenan believes Algerian forces have quite likely participated in high-profile kidnappings in the Sahara since 2003.)

Then in January 2012, probably emboldened by a new flow of arms to the region after Qaddafi’s downfall, Tuareg fighers began a series of skirmishes with the Malian military. Their chief aim was seemingly to wrest economic concessions from the state.

Into the fray jumped the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). These two jihadist groups have been joined by Ansar Dine, which is made up of ethnically Tuareg people, but should not be called a “Tuareg” group—it has its origins in Southeast Asia. After recruiting the prominent Tuareg leader Iyad ag Ghaly following the decline of the political Tuareg movement, Ansar Dine gained a significant Tuareg following. But its aims aren’t about overcoming the historic oppression of the Tuareg people, but rather a larger agenda of gaining dominance for Salafist Islam.

The total number of fighters between the three Islamist groups is probably about 2,000 people. The MNLA, the largest political Tuareg group, is now staunchly in opposition to these groups.

The Tuareg, like any other “nation,” is not a uniform group. Since the first uprising in 1962, it has been divided into factions—some want to take the claim of “self-determination” to its logical conclusion of political secession by any means necessary, and others want some type of autonomy, gained through negotiations with Malian state.

The latter forces won out. The MNLA that is dominant today claims the mantle of the Mouvement Frente Unite de l’Azawad, one of the most important groups that negotiated peace with the Malian government in 1996.

In 1996, the Bourem Pact ended the second Tuareg uprising. The Malian state, with the support of the international community, both states and NGOs, devoted some $9 million for a Disarm, Demobilize, Reintegrate (DDR) program that provided cash for weapons to the rebels, credits for small businesses and increased funding in infrastructure. Schools and health care centers were built, and an additional $150 million was pledged for reconstruction. The city of Kidal got electricity for the first time in 1996.

In return for their agreement to lay down arms, Tuareg administrators gained greater powers of self-governance. In addition to the DDR program and investment in infrastructure, several thousand Tuareg fighters chose to integrate into the Malian army. In exchange for giving up the armed resistance, the Malian army took them in as soldiers and paid them a regular salary.

With this history no doubt in mind, the MNLA today is fighting, in practical terms, for more economic aid and an end to state repression. In an obscure part of its website and in French, there is a demand for “sovereignty” and “self-determination.” But in a document called “The renewal of the Armed Struggle in the Azawad,” intended for an international audience, the MNLA emphasizes more pragmatic and practical demands: dialogue with the Malian state, an end to military killings and the intervention of the “international community.”

It is this “pragmatism” which has led the MNLA to accept French military intervention in northern Mali. According to Canadian socialist Roger Annis, the MNLA “entered into talks with the Mali regime in December for autonomy in the northern region. A January 13 statement on the group’s website acquiesces to the French intervention, but says it should not allow troops of the Mali army to pass beyond the border demarcation line declared in April of last year.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE TUAREG question is an international one. More Tuareg live in neighboring Niger than in Mali, and there, too, they have organized a movement against state repression—their most recent uprising ended in 2009.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou said, “The threats in Mali constitute a domestic security problem for Niger”—and sent 500 soldiers to the international peacekeeping force in Mali, imploring the international force to disarm the MNLA. The Niger government signed a deal with the U.S. to host a base for surveillance drones.

Niger, like Mali in the period before the latest crisis, had adopted a strategy of trying to assimilate the Tuareg, integrate them into the state (a Tuareg was appointed Prime Minister in 2011) and grant limited economic concessions. Large uranium mines in Niger represent huge potential profits for French companies, as well as geopolitical power. Thus, France and Niger’s ruling elite both want stability.

Despite incredible mineral wealth, Niger’s gross domestic product per capita is around $374, according the World Bank. Mali’s is around $669, despite huge gold reserves.

So while it is right in a sense to talk about a “nationalist insurgency,” it is important to note that Tuareg poverty is, more than anything else, the driving impulse for a people who have learned that armed struggle works in wresting economic concessions from the state.

This is important to recognize because Western governments and the UN have spent a lot of time “rejecting” the Tuareg’s right to self-determination. In July 2012, UN resolution 2056 stated, “reiterating its categorical rejection of statements made by the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) regarding the so-called ‘independence’ of northern Mali, and further reiterating that it considers such announcements null and void.”

By pretending that the Tuareg are simply focused on the creation of a separate state, Western governments can ignore their more immediate demands. They can ignore the real crisis—that 400,000 northern Malians have been displaced from their homes.

Source/Full Article (parts were removed for reduced Tumblr sizing)

Happy Imperial New Year! The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.December 24, 2012
Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.
Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.
Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.
According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much.
"If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared," Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, tells the AP. "But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order."
Additionally, the AP says that US troops will head specifically to Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger in order to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda linked groups. Americans will also train and equip forces in Kenya and Somalia, reportedly, in order to stand up to al-Shabab militants. Despite the troops being deployed to more than half of the countries in Africa, though, the AP reports that Uncle Sam will try to avoid giving the impression that the United States is leaving a substantial footprint across the continent.
"The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,"explains Rodriguez. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.”
Sources speaking with the AP say that the United States has already prepared nearly 100 different exercises and training programs to conduct with African troops during the coming year.Source

Happy Imperial New Year! The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.
December 24, 2012

Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.

Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.

Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.

According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much.

"If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared," Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, tells the AP. "But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order."

Additionally, the AP says that US troops will head specifically to Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger in order to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda linked groups. Americans will also train and equip forces in Kenya and Somalia, reportedly, in order to stand up to al-Shabab militants. Despite the troops being deployed to more than half of the countries in Africa, though, the AP reports that Uncle Sam will try to avoid giving the impression that the United States is leaving a substantial footprint across the continent.

"The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,"explains Rodriguez. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.”

Sources speaking with the AP say that the United States has already prepared nearly 100 different exercises and training programs to conduct with African troops during the coming year.

Source

The People’s Record Daily News Update - Whose news? Our news!

November 20, 2012 

Here are some stories you may not otherwise read about today:

  • Ethnic Somalis are being targeted in Kenya after a bomb attack, suspected of being committed by an ethnically Somali Kenyan, killed 9 people. Somalis who fled to Kenya to avoid the violence and dangerous conditions of Somalia are being blamed, with angry mobs breaking into their homes, burning their possessions and violently attacking them. 

Follow us on Tumblr or by RSS feed for more daily updates. You can also like our Facebook page for related content. 

When you are tortured … they beat and beat you until everything is pain. Until there is so much pain that you give up thinking it will stop. In fact you stop hoping it will stop… . Then suddenly, one day, your cell opens and in comes a “nice” fellow who offers you a cigarette. For him you will do everything, anything.

[A Sinhalese] General told me that counter-insurgency is just like that except that instead of giving pain to a person you give pain to a whole community until it too stops hoping it will stop and starts only hoping for the lesser pain. Then you come in as the “nice fellow” and offer them a cigarette, or a constitution, and they will do anything for you.”5

What Sivaram described is strikingly reminiscent of the current situation in northwest Pakistan. Drones may have proven unreliable as tools of precision warfare, but they have yielded unexpected dividends as vehicles of state terror. Although the details of drone strategy remain secret, it appears that the US is consciously using “collectivized torture” as a means of coercing popular consent, not only in Pakistan but also in Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, North Africa, and other flashpoints of resistance to US domination.

Botswana court rules: women have right to inherit property
October 16, 2012
In a landmark ruling Botswana’s High Court on Friday affirmed women’s inheritance rights for the first time, up-ending a male-dominated system that had prevailed in the thriving African nation.
The court ruled that local customary laws - giving a son preferential rights to inherit the family home Ä are not in line with the country’s constitution, which guarantees gender equality.
“It seems to me that the time has now arisen for the justices of this court to assume the role of the judicial midwife and assist in the birth of a new world struggling to be born,” said judge Key Dingake.
“Discrimination against gender has no place in our modern day society,” he said, urging the government to take all discriminatory laws off the statute books.
The case had been brought in 2007 by a group of sisters, all aged over 65, whose claim to family property is challenged by their 63-year-old nephew, and the High Court began hearing it in May.
Two of the women were in court to greet the ruling with cheers and broad smiles.
“Tonight I will sleep like a baby!” declared 79-year-old Edith Mmusi.
While there was jubilation from the applicants, their lawyer and sympathizers, the defendant Molefi Ramantele said the court had undermined the country’s culture.
“This is a sad day for me, I am saddened by this ruling. People should learn to respect our culture,” he said.
According to Tswana custom the family home is either inherited by the first-born or last-born son, depending on tribe.
A series of lower courts and the government rejected the women’s case.
Attorney General Athalia Molokomme earlier argued that “Botswana being a culturally inclined nation” meant that scrapping customary inheritance laws was not in line with the “public mood.”
“The public interest… always has to be a factor of consideration,” she said.
But Friday’s judgment was welcomed by advocacy groups, who declared it a victory for a region where women are too often treated as second class citizens.
According to advocacy group Social Watch, sub-Saharan Africa is among the world’s most inequitable regions.
While the gender gap in Botswana is narrower than the global average, activists say significant legal, economic and cultural hurdles remain.
“We are celebrating victory of women, this is the best judgment ever,” said Priti Patel, deputy director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.
Source

Botswana court rules: women have right to inherit property

October 16, 2012

In a landmark ruling Botswana’s High Court on Friday affirmed women’s inheritance rights for the first time, up-ending a male-dominated system that had prevailed in the thriving African nation.

The court ruled that local customary laws - giving a son preferential rights to inherit the family home Ä are not in line with the country’s constitution, which guarantees gender equality.

“It seems to me that the time has now arisen for the justices of this court to assume the role of the judicial midwife and assist in the birth of a new world struggling to be born,” said judge Key Dingake.

“Discrimination against gender has no place in our modern day society,” he said, urging the government to take all discriminatory laws off the statute books.

The case had been brought in 2007 by a group of sisters, all aged over 65, whose claim to family property is challenged by their 63-year-old nephew, and the High Court began hearing it in May.

Two of the women were in court to greet the ruling with cheers and broad smiles.

“Tonight I will sleep like a baby!” declared 79-year-old Edith Mmusi.

While there was jubilation from the applicants, their lawyer and sympathizers, the defendant Molefi Ramantele said the court had undermined the country’s culture.

“This is a sad day for me, I am saddened by this ruling. People should learn to respect our culture,” he said.

According to Tswana custom the family home is either inherited by the first-born or last-born son, depending on tribe.

A series of lower courts and the government rejected the women’s case.

Attorney General Athalia Molokomme earlier argued that “Botswana being a culturally inclined nation” meant that scrapping customary inheritance laws was not in line with the “public mood.”

“The public interest… always has to be a factor of consideration,” she said.

But Friday’s judgment was welcomed by advocacy groups, who declared it a victory for a region where women are too often treated as second class citizens.

According to advocacy group Social Watch, sub-Saharan Africa is among the world’s most inequitable regions.

While the gender gap in Botswana is narrower than the global average, activists say significant legal, economic and cultural hurdles remain.

“We are celebrating victory of women, this is the best judgment ever,” said Priti Patel, deputy director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

Source

Togo authorities clash with protesters for second day

August 23, 2012

Togolese security forces clashed with protesters in the capital Lome for a second straight day Wednesday, with officers firing tear gas on demonstrators who responded by throwing rocks and burning tyres.

Protest organizers reported that several dozen of their supporters were injured and arrested, adding that a third day of protests would not go ahead as planned on Thursday because the authorities had executed “a takeover by force”.

Roughly 2,000 people gathered in Lome for the second day of anti-government demonstrations organized by Let’s Save Togo, a coalition of civil society and opposition groups, ahead of parliamentary elections expected in October.

Security forces fired tear gas on protesters on the first day of rallies on Tuesday and did so again not long after Wednesday’s march began.

"The security forces cracked down on us. They beat us. It is a takeover by force. For us, it’s finished, there is nothing left to say," Ajavon told journalists. "No demonstrations tomorrow."

He said despite changing their protest route as demanded by the authorities, opposition supporters were still met with tear gas.

According to Ajavon, the government has demonstrated that it will not allow peaceful rallies and so the population must pursue other ways to bring about change. An AFP correspondent reported isolated violent exchanges between demonstrators and the security forces in Lome’s Be neighborhood earlier Wednesday, with opposition supporters throwing rocks and burning tyres.

Last week, the west African nation’s government banned street demonstrations in commercial centers, setting up a showdown with the coalition, which had already announced the protests.

The government says commercial centers were made off-limits because security and public order were difficult to maintain in such areas, but the opposition have denounced the move as a bid to stifle critics.

Some of the opposition are seeking a delay in the polls to let reforms take effect first, while others also want changes to the electoral code passed by parliament to be repealed on the grounds they were not made properly.

Togo has been run by the same family for more than four decades. Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled the country for 38 years with an iron fist until his death in 2005. Shortly after his death was announced, the military installed his son Faure Gnassingbe as president. He has since won elections in 2005 and 2010.

Source

South Africans seek answers after deadly mine protest

August 19, 2012

South Africa is still reeling after a shootout between police and striking miners left 34 people dead last Thursday. That episode at a platinum mine rocked world markets. But in South Africa, the incident could also signal a major social shift in a nation that is still coming out of the shadow of apartheid.

"Violence."  "War."  "Massacre."   

Those are just some of the headlines in South African newspapers days after police and angry miners confronted each other at a platinum mine, leading to a deadly shootout.
Thursday’s incident at the Lonmin platinum mine has reverberated throughout Africa’s largest economy, and internationally as well.
After more than a week of violence there are now 42 dead workers, two dead policemen and a burning question: what does this mean for South Africa’s biggest industry, and its people?

“I think this also provokes a crisis for who we are, the levels of inequality in our society, how is it that this brings to the fore so graphically how the third-biggest provider of platinum in the world, Lonmin, located in the JSE [Johannesburg Stock Exchange] and the London stock exchange, which pays its CEO and executives exorbitant amounts of money, and yet the very people who dig platinum out of the ground live in the most awful of conditions. The conditions, how women are treated, all of these things, suggest that this society is riven by inequality,” he said. “How can you, after 18 years after the democratic transition, not address the basic elements of this kind of stuff?”

Unrest began last week when 3,000 workers walked out over a pay dispute. Over the next few days, eight workers and two policemen were killed in clashes. The shootout on Thursday killed 34 more.

In South Africa, considered one of Africa’s most stable nations, the Sowetan newspaper warned in an editorial that the nation could “see a snowball effect of this massacre.”

Source

Uganada’s protest movement shifts away from urban centers
July 17, 2012
Uganda’s anti-government protesters are shifting their rallies to villages with asmaller police presence. The protesters have been combated with heavy police brutality in the capital city in their campaign against the misrule of the country’s long-serving leader.
Instead of tear gas and batons encountered in Kampala in the past, protesters are met with apparent indifference in the countryside. Rallies in rural areas went ahead undeterred in recent days, but protest leaders caution that it might also be because it is more difficult there for the government to quickly mobilize resources such as anti-riot police or tear gas.
The village rallies come at a time when the party of President Yoweri Museveni — who has been in power for more than 25 years — is suffering defeats in by-elections in places where it was once hugely popular. Museveni’s party, already distracted by a power struggle over who might succeed the leader when he leaves office, has lost five of six electoral contests this year.
Museveni’s opponents are eager to try him even harder in his own backyard, western Uganda, the scene of boisterous rallies that the police failed to block this and last week.
“We are fighting for change,” Ingrid Turinawe, an opposition activist who has become one of Museveni’s most vocal critics, said in an interview Monday.
“We have achieved a lot since we started,” raising awareness and encouraging Ugandans to stand up for what they want, Turinawe said. In villages now, people “are more alert and ready for the struggle. The ones in Kampala are intimidated,” she added.
Opposition activists with the group Activists for Change, or A4C, started a protest movement in April 2011 against Museveni, who had just won re-election but whose government the activists accuse of massive corruption and economic mismanagement.
The activists called their campaign Walk to Work and staged a series of popular protests in which they walked the streets of Kampala, gathering supporters along the way. One such protest is depicted in the photograph above.
Photo source
Source

Uganada’s protest movement shifts away from urban centers

July 17, 2012

Uganda’s anti-government protesters are shifting their rallies to villages with asmaller police presence. The protesters have been combated with heavy police brutality in the capital city in their campaign against the misrule of the country’s long-serving leader.

Instead of tear gas and batons encountered in Kampala in the past, protesters are met with apparent indifference in the countryside. Rallies in rural areas went ahead undeterred in recent days, but protest leaders caution that it might also be because it is more difficult there for the government to quickly mobilize resources such as anti-riot police or tear gas.

The village rallies come at a time when the party of President Yoweri Museveni — who has been in power for more than 25 years — is suffering defeats in by-elections in places where it was once hugely popular. Museveni’s party, already distracted by a power struggle over who might succeed the leader when he leaves office, has lost five of six electoral contests this year.

Museveni’s opponents are eager to try him even harder in his own backyard, western Uganda, the scene of boisterous rallies that the police failed to block this and last week.

“We are fighting for change,” Ingrid Turinawe, an opposition activist who has become one of Museveni’s most vocal critics, said in an interview Monday.

“We have achieved a lot since we started,” raising awareness and encouraging Ugandans to stand up for what they want, Turinawe said. In villages now, people “are more alert and ready for the struggle. The ones in Kampala are intimidated,” she added.

Opposition activists with the group Activists for Change, or A4C, started a protest movement in April 2011 against Museveni, who had just won re-election but whose government the activists accuse of massive corruption and economic mismanagement.

The activists called their campaign Walk to Work and staged a series of popular protests in which they walked the streets of Kampala, gathering supporters along the way. One such protest is depicted in the photograph above.

Photo source

Source