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Wednesday: April 2, 2014 

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Uganda (16)

Monday
Aug062012

"Saving the World From Madness" (REPORT) 

 

(Video: Sound bites from speakers at the UN WHO Meeting to launch the Quality Rights Tool Kit/NIA SPOONER)

By Dr. Judy Kuriansky

*Recently, the United Nations World Health Organization launched the Quality Rights Tool Kit, which supports countries in assessing and improving the quality of mental health care as a human rights condition. and civil society actors gathered together to lend their support to the project and to discuss how to promote the use of the Tool Kit in countries.  Dr. Judy Kuriansky was there to chronicle the discussion for HUMNEWS.

FACT:   Globally, one in four people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. Poor quality services and human rights violations in mental health facilities and social care homes are an everyday occurrence in many countries around the world. People living in mental health facilities are often exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment and many are subject to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. As a result, people with severe mental health conditions in some countries die as much as 10 years younger than the general population. (Source: WHO)

(DRAWING: ArtTherapy) “Derogatory words are used to describe us, such as mentally disturbed, having unsound minds, idiots, lunatics, imbeciles and many other hurtful labels,” declared Mrs. Robinah Alambuya of Uganda, to an invited audience of about 100 health professionals, UN agency officials, the UN Foundation academics, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, journalists and guests.  The diverse group was gathered at the Millennium Hotel Diplomat Ballroom in New York City, across the street from the main United Nations headquarters, for an event sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighting abuses in the mental health care system and to launch a landmark product, the WHO QualityRights Toolkit, to address the problem.

“These words and the beliefs from which they derive, devalue us and form the basis of discrimination and the loss of inherent dignity,” Alambuya said. 

SHOWING RESPECT

Representing African women and the voices of survivors of people with psychiatric and psychosocial problems in Africa, Alambuya made a plea for respecting those who deal with mental health distress. In her role as President of the Pan African Network of People with Psychosocial Disabilities monitoring inhumane health care systems, she applauded WHO’s efforts to insure those rights in her keynote speech.

The `Tool Kit' is an awareness and training campaign to provide the public, the private sector,  and government groups with actionable steps to stop human rights violations against people with mental health conditions, in order to improve the quality of care and to promote human rights as including mental health.

The recommendations can be implemented in developing and developed nations by all stakeholders, and even includes those with mental disabilities themselves.

"IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE"

Dr. Michelle Funk, Coordinator of Mental Health Policy and Service Development in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse department at WHO, pointed out the extent of the problem with "One in four people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime," she said.

Suicide is among the top three cause of death in young people aged 15-34 worldwide. Qualified caregivers are scarce with less than one psychiatrist serving 200,000 in almost half the world populations. Yet poor quality services and human rights violations are pervasive in social care homes and mental health facilities where patents are often exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment. And worse, to physical, emotional and even sexual abuse. 

“It is a scandal that still today many mental health facilities are places of violence and harmful treatments practices rather than places of care and support," said Funk. “One of the most important points to note about this tool kit is that it establishes the key standards that need to be met in all inpatient and outpatient mental health and social care facilities across the world.” She went on to praise the role of the governments of Spain and Portugal in providing funds to help produce the toolkit.

NOTABLE ADVOCATES

Panelists at the June 28th event represented a wide range of perspectives about the issue, including UN and government officials, an African woman with disabilities, and a former prisoner from the slums of India.

Hollywood film producer Gary Foster described his evolution to become a mental health advocate when producing the film “The Soloist“ - a true life story about a former cello prodigy who developed a mental health condition and became homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. Foster, who also produced “Sleepless in Seattle” and "The Score” spent time on skid row where he discovered that all people have “dream for success.”  

Serving as an important example of how the campaign goals can be accomplished, Ambassador Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez, Deputy Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the UN, described his government’s recent advances in ambitious health care reform, including a social development component with a human rights approach - pointing out how abuses of mental health are not an isolated issue, because mental health care extends to all facets of society, and is integrally tied to attitudes and poverty. 

Often times, people with psychosocial disabilities become homeless, are abandoned by their families, and are detained against their will by authorities - neglected in inferior conditions. Therefore, mental health services need to encompass access to decent work, education and quality of life. 

Panelist Julian Eaton, a psychiatrist and mental health advisor from the West Africa Office of CBM in Togo, discussed how "the value of technology in such a campaign, particularly the use of mobile phones, is revolutionary". 

The initiative builds on WHO’s Mental Health and Development Report, published in 2010 and is also based on the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which asserts that “human rights standards that must be respected, protected and fulfilled in all facilities”.

(Video: WHO)

A short film was shown of cruel and deplorable conditions in a care center, showing emaciated patients, chained to beds, crying out and lying in excrement. Ambassador Gonzalez pointed out that mental health workers themselves, who have to work in substandard conditions, are another victimized group. 

As a psychologist who has worked in many mental health institutions with psychiatric patients, I asked Michele Funk whether a solution would be to allot needed funds for improvements in these facilities.  “No", she responded, “They must be shut down, and new ones opened.”

CRITICS, SUPPORTERS

While generally lauded, the Toolkit is not without criticism.  Alambuya expressed concern about the emphasis on a medical model of service delivery that does not adequately take into account the social problems faced by persons with mental disabilities, saying, "The voices of people with disabilities must be heard, using the popular phrase, `Nothing about us, without us'”.

(PHOTO: Adolescents are generally perceived as a healthy age group; yet an estimated 10-20% of them experience a mental health problem/WHO)In a powerful close to the panel, Gregory David Roberts, speaking from personal experience of his being imprisoned and overcoming drug abuse, the author of the best-selling novel “Shantaram”  recounted the story of a fellow inmate - mentally challenged - who had been abused by the other prisoners; and who despite consistently smiled.  One day the man found unhatched eggs, and put them under his armpits until they hatched.  The baby pigeons became valued and protected in the jail, eventually taming hard-hearted cruel prisoners.  The experience prompted Roberts to learn lessons about his shame for not defending the man, and about the power of people of mental disability to transform others.

Roberts recounted another story of a mentally challenged young man who would have been arrested had it not been for the community people who chained him up near them, where he could be cared for and protected from arrest,  underscoring his point that community-based programs are key.

More launches of the toolkit campaign will be held to gain more visibility for the project.

“Everyone should have access to mental health care,” said His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly. Recommending mainstreaming of mental health care, he noted that his own state of Qatar introduced a resolution to the UN General Assembly to introduce and International Day of Autism"If we all consider human rights together," he said, “We can make a difference.”  

- Dr. Judy Kuriansky is the Main United Nations NGO Representative for the International Association of Applied Psychology and a member HUM's Board of AdvisorsA licensed clinical psychologist in the Departments of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University Teachers College, she is world renowned as a humanitarian who has led workshops on peace, trauma recovery, crisis counseling and on her unique East/West intervention programs around the world, from Argentina to India, Singapore, the Czech Republic, Israel, the UAE, and Iran. She has worked in disaster relief and psychological first aid at Ground Zero after 9/11, after SARS in China, bombings in Jerusalem, earthquakes in Australia and Haiti, the tsunami in Sri Lanka and the tsunami/earthquake in Japan, information about which is on www.DrJudy.com. An award-winning journalist and accomplished author, she is a tireless advocate for media which sheds light.

Friday
Apr202012

UGANDA - Two Views on Joseph Kony (PERSPECTIVE) 

"MY UGANDA" by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi

(Video PM Office, Uganda)

(HN, April 20, 2012) - Last Saturday April 14th,  the Prime Minister of Uganda Amama Mbabazi posted a video on YouTube entitled “Visible Uganda” aimed at what he says is correcting the inaccurate portrayal of Uganda resulting from the “Kony 2012” video by the Invisible Children Organization which over 100 million people worldwide have viewed and portrays Uganda as unsafe due to the activity of Joseph Kony's Lord’s Resistance Army.

The video recognizes that in the past Uganda did suffer atrocities as a result of LRA activity. Similar atrocities are very much a reality in neighboring countries tho, says the Prime Minister.  Further he goes on, "The government is determined, having suffered the ravages of Kony in Uganda not to let any other country or communities suffer the same”.

The video points out that Uganda is now a "thriving peaceful country" where the Peace, Recovery and Development Programme implemented by the Government has greatly assisted in the last 6 years of lasting peace, rejuvenation and rebirth of the Northern Region of the country where the LRA was most active.

(PHOTO: Prime Minister of Uganda, Amama Mbaba)“My Uganda is a country endowed with great resources and captivating natural beauty,” Mbabasi says. “My Uganda is a country that is poised to take off. We have registered success after success in the last 25 years and we are determined to build on this success to bring about in the next few years a new and prosperous nation.”

He invites people not only in Uganda but across the world to share their Ugandan experiences and he ends by saying, “That is my Uganda. Please tell us about your country”

--Source, Uganda Prime Ministers Office

###################################################################

Kony 2012 & Cover the Night - promoting international justice starts here at home

(Video Kony 2012)

By Noelle Jouglet

Over the last several weeks, our organization Invisible Children, has seen what is possible when you have the right idea at the right time…and have spent nine years unwittingly laying a foundation for it. 

Our idea was to make Uganda's Joseph Kony, the notorious head of the Lord's Resistance Army famous - not as a celebrity - but as an international war criminal who has committed mass atrocities with impunity for 26 years. 

We made a 29-minute documentary about what he had done and what policy experts and region leaders told us needed to happen if Kony was to be apprehended and his crimes permanently stopped.

(PHOTO: Joseph Kony/NNDB)We set an ambitious goal aiming to get 500,000 people to view the film before the end of 2012. Instead, it vastly exceeded our expectations. The film swept the globe and surged past 100 million views in a matter of days. 

But beyond the exposure for Invisible Children, and much more importantly, the global reaction to our film started real conversations about international justice, development work, Joseph

Kony, and whether there was any action—like a tweet—that was too small.   

In the weeks since the film’s release we’ve been amazed by the responses from middle schoolers who are bringing up Joseph Kony in their social studies classes and equally amazed that US Senators and Representatives are putting partisan politics aside for the sake of a conflict in one of the remotest parts of Central Africa

Between the House and Senate, 107 Members of Congress have signed onto bipartisan resolutions that call for robust U.S. support for regional efforts to protect communities and help bring Joseph Kony to justice.

Many have expressed surprise at Invisible Children’s apparent overnight success. 

But that is hardly the case. We have actually produced 12 documentaries and met more than three million people face-to-face during our 13 tours around the country where our representatives show our films at high schools and colleges and answer questions about the conflict. 

When Invisible Children launches a new campaign, it’s not just the forty people in our San Diego office launching it, it's the millions we have met on the road.   

There were many celebrities that shared KONY 2012 in the first hours and days after its release through social networks and other means. We are so grateful that they used their influence to share the story, but I do not believe that those celebrities would have heard about the film if our core supporters hadn’t rallied around the campaign in their own local communities and shared it in such great numbers using their personal networks.

(PHOTO: Joseph Kony, center, in white/Guardian)The original goal of Cover the Night, as introduced in the KONY 2012 film, was to make Joseph Kony famous. That happened in a matter of days thanks to millions of people around the world who shared the KONY 2012 films. The event has expanded into a global day of action that actually started earlier this week with daily “missions” to engage our national and international leaders.

Tonight, Friday, April 20, 2012, we are earning the right to be heard globally by serving locally.

Everyone who wants to participate is encouraged to form a small team with friends, colleagues, or neighbors. Each team should volunteer in their own communities for a few hours (picking up trash, washing cars for free, donating blood, etc.) and then spend the evening promoting justice for Joseph Kony in creative ways (posters in the windows, sidewalk chalk, painting a mural, etc.)

What I’ve learned in the seven years that I’ve worked for Invisible Children is that a personal, human interaction is more valuable than a digital one. 

Every time. 

Cover the Night in its simplest form is an event that acts out that truth. We’re taking the anonymous conversation about a viral video into the streets where the relationships are formed and the future is forged.

We always tell our supporters, “You are more powerful than you think you are.” When they begin to believe that about themselves, amazing things start to happen. We’ve seen students wake up to their own power and begin organizing school-wide screenings of Invisible Children documentaries or donate $12 each month to our scholarship program. Other students call their senators and lead local lobby meetings. 

(PHOTO: Labuje camp, Uganda 2005 where 14,000+IDP's lived due to LRA activity/Wikipedia)There are thousands of these students out there–some of whom have grown up and become teachers or filmmakers in their own rights. They are the ones who will be leading the way tonight.  They may be young, but they can earn the right to be heard online and around the globe by acting offline in their own communities.

We know that these stories will be rolling in for weeks and Invisible Children will do its best to share those stories and amplify the life change that will come as a result of trying to promote justice for Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, a man whom many people had never heard of just six weeks ago. 

But rather than wait to hear the reports of life change, we encourage you to go out into your community tonight with your family or friends and experience it for yourself.

-- Noelle Jouglet is the Director of Communications at Invisible Children. Her editorial originally appeared on FOXNEWS.COM

Monday
Apr092012

Mr. Gay World Takes Africa by Storm as Controversy Continues on the Continent (NEWS) 

(PHOTO: A billboard advertises the Mr. Gay World finals at South Africa's Gold Reef City, Johannesburg, on Sunday/MABUTI KALI)(HN, April 9, 2012) - A 32-year-old New Zealand manager for a chain of stationery stores, won the title of Mr. Gay World during the final competition that ended late Sunday at the Gold Reef City resort in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The grand finale was hosted by local stars Soli Philander and Cathy Specific, who were joined onstage by the group African Umoja, and international performers such as Ukraine's top pop star, Kamaliya and guest artist Baby M from Japan, as well as local stars Terrence Bridgett and Alexander Steyn.

Andreas Derleth, 32, a German man who lives in New Zealand won the competition which included 24 other delegates from all over the world including:  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. Only three of them are from Africa and it's also the first time black Africans took part.

Founded in 2008, the Mr. Gay World competition was created as`a positive environment for gay men to share their stories. The winner would not only have the inner beauty of confidence, self-assurance, charisma and natural leadership abilities, but would also take care of his physical beauty.'

Prizes included $25,000 in travel vouchers to enable the winner to spread his message around the world.

Gay rights have been under pressure in many parts of the globe recently - Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East - but primarily in African nations where gay rights activists have been threatened and killed and where dozens of countries have passed laws banning homosexuality.  

Of particular concern in recent years have been attacks on lesbians sometimes called "corrective rapes."

(PHOTO: Lexus sponsors the Mr. Gay World contest, Johannesburg, SA/Mr. Gay World) Prominent African politicians ridicule gays and minor politicians grab headlines by proposing even tougher anti-gay laws.

In nations such as Uganda, Zimbabwe  and Ethiopia court battles and street clashes have defined the movement with strong feelings on both sides as the continent modernizes.

Therefore, many of the African participants faced the most intense discrimination and prejudice, though the location of the event took place in South Africa - the only country on the continent where gay marriages are allowed.

The bill of rights adopted after apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994 explicitly bans `discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation'. Same-sex couples can marry and adopt children in South Africa.

Originally, Africa was to be represented by South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, as a lack of sponsorship and funding prevented delegates from Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya from taking part.

But relentless government pressure on the Zimbabwean delegate, Taurai Zhanje, forced him to withdraw from the competition fearing the publicity was making life difficult for his mother. 

Namibia's representative, Wendelinus Hamutenya, was attacked in early December and landed in hospital but his family accompanied him to the airport for a warm send-off when he left for the competition.  "Bring the trophy home,"  Hamutenya's mother said to him.

Though he lost, a disappointed Hamutenya said he would nonetheless return to Namibia to fight "for gay rights and human rights."

Since becoming Mr. Gay Namibia, Hamutenya has lobbied for a repeal of his country’s anti-sodomy law. And he says, politicians have been receptive to his arguments.

The Ethiopian delegate, Robel Hailu, is a student in South Africa and after his candidacy was announced on Ethiopian radio a media storm broke out and his father cut off all communications.

(PHOTO: Andreas Derleth beat out 24 other contestants to be crowned Mr. Gay World/Mr. Gay World) It wasn't just African gays who faced difficulties this year however. The Chinese contestant was unable to come to Johannesburg because of anti-gay pressure there, organizers said. 

Mr. Gay World includes an essay test on the history of the gay rights movement. But the swim suit competition counts for more, according to the judges’ handbook. The seven judges from around the world include journalists and an actor.

South Africans Charl van den Berg and Francois Nel were Mr. Gay World in 2010 and 2011 respectively, bringing home the honor of winning a world event twice in a row.

"We look for the best man, whether he’s white or black or any other color," said Tore Aasheim, one of the Mr. Gay World organizers, adding he hoped more contestants from Africa would participate in future contests.

---HUMNEWS

Thursday
Apr052012

Kony 2012: Political Protest or Propaganda? (PERSPECTIVE) 

(Video: Kony 2012, Part 2, Beyond Famous)

By Bridgette Gamble

Over the past few days the Facebook and Youtube communities have proved that the power of social media is still quite overwhelming. A thirty minute documentary, known best as the Kony 2012 video, created by Jason Russell, is the source of all the internet mayhem and is a call to action against a rebel military group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), that has been fighting in Uganda since the 1980s.

The video names Joseph Kony as the main target, as he is the leader of the rebels in Uganda, and calls for American’s to “make him famous” by buying T-shirts, posters, bracelets, and making contributions to the Invisible Children organization that is behind the video.

(PHOTO: Jason Russell, Invisible Children, Kony 2012 producer/IBTimesJason Russell promises that the American people will stop Joseph Kony and his rebel army, and starts the 20-12 campaign. He swears to target 20 policy makers and 12 Culture makers to help him spread the word about Kony and make the people care; in order to keep American military advisors in Uganda to train their forces, therefore furthering the movement to capture Kony.

However, there seems to be a few things wrong with the facts at hand. First, reports from various newspapers state that Kony has not set foot in Uganda since 2006.

The video depicts the children of Uganda to be paralyzed with fear, as the camera crews follow a group called “The Night Commuters,” a group of children who travel from their homes at night to avoid abduction. Of course, every scene is filled with tears and heart-wrenching stories about lost loved ones, but the video shows one of Russell’s interviewees, Jacob, first as a young child and later as a grown man, around his twenties or so. The time gap between the shots of young Jacob and older Jacob is significant, therefore can we really be sure what happened in that time frame?

(PHOTO: Joseph Kony, centre, in white; surrounded by Lord's Resistance Army officers/Guardian)Not to mention the interview conducted with Kony himself, found on worldstarhiphop.com, in which Kony denies that the LRA has been involved with any of the alleged abductions, rapes and other heartless acts so vehemently protested and covered by the Invisible Children’s video campaign. Not only are the soldiers who appear in the video adults, but they attest with Kony that they have not abducted any children in the past.

When asked about the brutal mutilating of children’s faces, the rebel leader appears shocked as he answers. “I have not cut the faces of my brothers. I would not hurt my brothers, kill my brothers,” Kony said. He made it clear that he has been fighting for the freedom of Uganda, and feels he has posed such a threat that the Ugandan government is raining propaganda down on him in order to shut down the rebellion.

If we lay the fact that Kony may actually be an innocent man aside, we still have to assess the Invisible Children organization. Research drawn directly from the organization’s website shows that only thirty two percent of the millions of dollars they are raking in is actually sent to Uganda.

A look at the federal tax information raises the question, where exactly is our money going? It is not specified anywhere on the website (invisiblechildren.com), yet contributions in the form of donations and purchases of the “action packs,” posters, and t-shirts continue to pour in at overwhelming rates.

It is clear that somewhere along the lines, the truth is not being told. Either Kony is a malicious killing machine who rapes young girls and recruits boys for his army of wrong-doers, or there is quite a mountain of propaganda and slander crushing an innocent man’s name.

--- Bridgette Gamble is the Photography Editor at the The Knight Times Online John I. Leonard High School in Lake Worth, FL.  This article first appeared there.  

Thursday
Mar152012

Ugandans React with Anger to Kony Video (REPORT) 

By Malcolm Webb

Uganda has, in the last week, been propelled to the top of the international news agenda, for a brutal rebellion that has not operated in the country for the last five years.

On March 5, American charity Invisible Children posted a video on Youtube, entitled Kony 2012. The 30 minute film, narrated by one of the organisations founders, Jason Russell, campaigns for the arrest of Joseph Kony, the ICC-indicted Ugandan leader of the rebel Lords Resistance Army.

It went viral, and in nine days has attracted over 76 million views, along with a lot of support and also substantial criticism.

Critics argue that the film relies on footage nearly ten-years-old of children fleeing the LRA in northern Uganda, implying the situation remains the same to this day, and so failing to represent the real issues now facing post-conflict Northern Uganda.

The LRA now operates in the Central African Rrepublic, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, and is now thought to number no more than 300 fighters.

Invisible Children argue that they have the main facts correct, and that raising awareness is their primary goal, and a necessary step towards any further change.

Public screening

While Youtube, Twitter and Facebook have gripped Uganda's middle class in recent years - and social networking sites have been key forums for the many Ugandan critics of the Kony 2012 video - most people in rural areas, including post-conflict northern Uganda, are still excluded from the internet revolution.

That means many of Joseph Kony's thousands of victims, most of whom live in rural villages, have never even heard of Kony 2012, Invisible Children or even Youtube.

Invisible Children's publicity machine is immense. Aside from the millions of internet users it has reached, and Kony 2012 already being described by some as the most effective viral campaign in history, it must also be the first ever Youtube video to be publicly screened in the northern Ugandan town of Lira.

A local charity, the African Youth Initiative Network, thought that the communities worst affected by the LRA, when it operated in Uganda, also deserved an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about, and so organized the event.

It was heavily publicized on local radio stations, and a crowd of thousands turned up at the Mayor’s Gardens in the centre of Lira for the sunset screening.

Having heard so many great things about the film, the crowd’s expectations were high.

Angry and offended

People I spoke to anticipated seeing a video that showed the world the terrible atrocities that they had suffered during the conflict, and the ongoing struggles they still face trying to rebuild their lives after two lost decades.

The audience was at first puzzled to see the narrative lead by an American man – Jason Russell – and his young son.

Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.

One woman I spoke to made the comparison of selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11 – likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, however well intentioned the campaign behind it.

The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled.

It seems that the while the film has a viral power never seen before in the online community, it did not go down nearly so well with the very people it claims it is meant to help.

Originally published by AlJazeera under Creative Commons License 

Wednesday
Jan112012

Ending The LRA: Reason For Optimism And Political Commitment (PERSPECTIVE)

By Ned Dalby

Marie-Paul Kimakosa, 18, with 12 month-old son Emmanuel Mbolina, and Mado, 3 (sleeping). Formerly of Ngilima village, Marie-Paul lost her husband, her father, grand-father, grand-mother to the LRA. Two cousins have been kidnapped and not returned. She fled to Dungu where she has settled with other internationally displaced persons (IDP's). July 2011 PHOTO CREDIT: Oxfam International /via FlickrInfrequent observers of central Africa are startled and appalled to learn that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group that emerged in the late 1980s, is still killing. Forced into the border zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, its brutality can no longer be framed as political protest but rather survival by its own awful, time-tested method.

However, military and civilian efforts to stop the LRA are gaining momentum and there is now a precious opportunity to end the nightmare of thousands. To make the most of it, African leaders and foreign partners should commit to an immediate military push and measures to help traumatised communities recover in the long-term.

In late 2008 Joseph Kony, the group’s leader, refused to sign a peace deal with the Ugandan government. Talks collapsed and the Ugandan army botched a US-backed assault on the LRA’s camps in north-eastern DRC. Since then it has been trying to catch Kony and scattered, highly mobile groups of fighters in dense forest.

The political agendas of the region’s leaders have made a difficult job even harder. Since the LRA no longer presents an immediate threat to Ugandans, there is understandably little domestic pressure on Museveni to invest the men and money needed to complete the mission. He has prioritised other more politically rewarding goals, including his re-election in February 2011 and beefing up the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In mid-2010 he pulled out about half the troops assigned to the operation. The campaign of attrition became markedly more passive and for months was little more than a cordon preventing the LRA’s return to Uganda. Local armies meanwhile have neither the will nor the strength to protect their people, let alone hunt down Kony’s fighters.

The DRC’s tolerance of a Ugandan military presence on its soil has been exhausted. During the second Congo war (1998-2003) Uganda occupied part of Congo’s territory, plundered its natural resources and earned President Joseph Kabila’s lasting mistrust. A deeply engrained animosity has seen the Congolese army deny the Ugandans access to LRA areas and in October 2011 forbid them to leave camp, reportedly on pain of death. Most of the LRA is in the CAR but could cross back into Congo at any time and find safe haven.

The LRA is inevitably a low priority for the governments of Uganda, the DRC, CAR and South Sudan sitting hundreds of kilometres away in country capitals. But an outcry from local civil society and pressure from human rights groups, particularly in the U.S, has made it difficult for western partners to stand idle.

Under direction from Congress, the US. government has committed to using political, economic, military and intelligence means to eliminate the LRA threat. The deployment in late 2011 of about 100 troops to Uganda, a minority of which have now advanced to south east CAR to advise and assist the Ugandans, is the clearest expression of US commitment to the fight.

The African Union (AU) is also in the process of launching its “regional cooperation initiative” to end the LRA. The three countries affected by Kony’s violence pushed the AU to the fore hoping it would bring in more funding. Looking to promote African ownership, the US also encouraged it. The AU’s limited capacity and difficulty reconciling the demands of affected member states and those of its main backer, the EU, have delayed the launch. But in November 2011 the AU appointed a special envoy to muster political will on the LRA issue and plans to reframe the operation as a “regional intervention force” thereby investing it with greater legitimacy.

US support, the AU initiative and other international interventions have now advanced far enough to present a genuine collective opportunity to end the LRA in the near future and enable afflicted communities to rebuild their lives in the long-term.

The U.S. military advisers in the field have the chance to embolden and strengthen Ugandan operations, in particular by improving communications and coordination among the troops and with host armies. But they will not be there long; just a matter of months according to US officials. While their expertise is on hand, while most LRA fighters are in the CAR and while the dry season allows for easier movement, the Ugandans should launch a concerted military push against the LRA, at all times prioritising civilian safety and accepting strict accountability for their actions.

As an essential complement to military pressure, the UN mission in Congo uses leaflets and radio messages to persuade LRA fighters and captives to leave the bush. Defectors say it works. The UN should take advantage of a healthy appetite among donors for such non-military measures and expand and intensify them as quickly as possible.

The UN, present in DRC, CAR and South Sudan, should also agree with government, military and humanitarian actors on procedures by which escapees are debriefed, taken home and helped to restart their lives. It should iron out unnecessary delays and funding gaps to be ready for greater numbers in the future. Assisting returnees should dovetail with long-term government and donor plans for stimulating social and economic recovery in hard-hit, border-zone communities.

For these collective efforts to come off, regional leaders, Museveni and Kabila in particular, will need to show their commitment to military and civilian efforts and cooperate. In particular, Kabila will need to allow Ugandan operations on Congolese soil and Museveni ensure his forces behave with total professionalism. It falls to Francisco Madeira, the AU special envoy, western partners and the UN to work with both on these issues.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst, the AU should recognise the need to maintain political support among African leaders and international donors for comprehensive military and civilian efforts in the long-term, especially if domestic pressure sees the US reduce its role. This political commitment is critical to beating the LRA and enabling thousands of vulnerable families to live without fear.

Ned Dalby is Central Africa Analyst for the International Crisis Group.

- This article also appeared in AllAfrica.com

Monday
Jan022012

THE HUM - WORLD HEADLINES - January 3, 2012

Afghanistan 

(PHOTO: Uzbekistan's railway leading from Afghanistan to Mazar-e-Sharif. TOLO News) Afghan traders are to be hit with high extra fee to transport goods to Mazar-e-Sharif via Uzbekistan's railway

Algeria 

Report: Algerian troops kill leader of N. African al-Qaeda offshoot

Algeria sentences Qaeda leader to life

Angola 

First prison for young offenders starts functioning this year 

Argentina 

Pilot Project in Argentina Assists Victims in Reporting Rape

Dakar rider dies on home stage

Daily Dakar Diary | Day 1 - Comeback kid takes first stage

Azerbaijan 

Fairmont hotels goes for expansion to Azerbaijan

(PHOTO: Economist Dambisa Moyo. One of 5 Zambian women to watch in 2012. UKZAMBIANS) Bangladesh

Bangladesh out of piracy-prone nations' list 

Barbados

Barbadians win in Commonwealth short story contest

Legendary Barbados cinema closes

Benin 

Benin Metropolis Requires N200bn To Fix

Bhutan 

Internal audit on teacher nominations

Bolivia

Bolivia Officially Withdrawn from UN Drug Convention

Bosnia-Herzegovinia

Bosnia approves 2011 state budget to avoid collapse

Brunei Darussalam

iPad-wielded waiters will serve you

Burundi

Fish catches from Lake Tanganyika, Burundi going down

Cambodia

Asean Presidency a Chance for Improved Credibility for Cambodia: Analysts

Aquatic action ushers in the new year

Chinese firms eye $500m rice investment

Chile

Four of six wildfires in Chile reported to be under control

(PHOTO: British actor who played Darth Vader in Star Wars, Bob Anderson, dies. GALATIA FILMS)Christmas Island 

Carrot and stick to control refugees (Video)

Cocos Islands

Papers show: king had to go

Colombia 

Colombia, Followed by Mexico Lead in Number of Religious Workers Killed in 2011

Colombian law on victim compensation takes effect

Congo (DRC)

DR Congo beefs up security after deadly jail violence

UN report calls for action to clean up Congo’s minerals trade and end impunity

DRC Senate Chief Hospitalized in Paris After New Years Eve Attack

Croatia 

Croatia to withdraw genocide lawsuit - FM

(PHOTO: Textile makers are in the same turbulent boat as many other local exporters in Vietnam. VIETNAM INVESTMENT REVIEW)Cuba

Cuba, an Inspiration to LatAm, Says Nicaraguan President 

Cyprus

Cyprus Health Ministry to tackle faulty breast implants

Dumped baby shocks Cyprus 

Denmark

Danish monarchy polls as Europe’s most popular

Denmark takes up EU presidency with little sway on crisis

Ecuador

Ecuador vows to push Yasuni jungle protection plan

Egypt

Mubarak trial adjourns 

(PHOTO: World Record Ring set in Ukraine. SHRENUJ & CO.) El Salvador

U.S. Ambassador Leaves El Salvador

Eritrea

Role of Handicraft in Familiarizing Nation's Tourism Resources Stressed

Chinese group to pay $80m-plus for Chalice's Eritrean gold project

AfDB invests $19.2m into Eritrea’s education sector

Estonia

Forests are the key to Estonian growth (Perspective)

Ethiopia

Ethiopia, Japan sign water project agreement

Fiji

PM heeds call for education

France

French women groups protest FIFA decision to endorse hijab 

(PHOTO: Nicaragua Plans to Extend the San Juan River Dredging Operations on border with Costa Rica. DREDGING TODAY)French Polynesia

Progress in eradicating Elephantaisis

Gambia

Government to meeting with citizens in Diaspora

Gaza and West Bank

Prospects for Palestine in 2012 (Perspective)  

Germany

European Supervolcano Showing Signs of Life

Ghana

Ghana Removes Fuel Subsidy

Greece

Greece's recession refugees show it's time for a debate about good breeding (Perspective)

Guam

Guam collision rate twice US average

(PHOTO: Bootleggers in UAE who are supplying liquor to labour camps. SUPPLIED) Guatemala

Sinaloa Cartel Shifting Meth Production to Guatemala

Guinea-Bissau

UN Gen. Sec. Condemns Use of Force in Guinea-Bissau 

Guyana 

Pres. Ramotar makes stirring appeal for "genuine" govt-opposition cooperation

Guyana, Germany ink deal to protect Amazon  

Honduras

Holding Honduras accountable (Perspective)

India

A global university rises in one of India’s most remote corners

Made-in-India coffees are ‘instant' hit abroad

Landfill in Uran wetlands affecting migratory birds

India is the world's spam central

The Dalai Lama begins ten-day Kalachakra teachings

(PHOTO: A nurse at Mulago hospital, Uganda speaks to MPs about the countrys shortage of nurses. UGANDA HEALTH NEWS) Indonesia

New Skills Help Build a Better Life in West Java

Protesters chase parishioners over ‘friendly Islam’ sticker

Indonesian garbage helps save environment

Iran

Drilling 30 oil wells in Turkmenistan earns Iran $300 million 

Iraq

Iraq's Sunni muslim finance minister survives car bombing

Ireland

Internet freedom will be priority of Ireland’s OSCE leadership

Ivory Coast

TV Presenter Freed Conditionally After Being Held for Five Months

Jamaica

Jamaican Women to Watch in 2012

National development challenges facing the incoming government in Jamaica (Perspective)

(PHOTO: The musician Alison Andrews performs in Dubai. ALICE JOHNSON)Jordan

Oil will keep GCC warm if the world freezes over (Perspective)

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan launches environmental initiatives (Video)

Kenya

Ivory poaching on the rise thanks to Asian demand and a legal loophole

Kenya boat capsize near Lamu 'kills six'

Kyrgyzstan

1st VP congratulates Kyrgyz Prime Minister on election win

Macau

Macau assured of safe produce during Spring Festival  

Macedonia

Kiro Gligorov, architect of Macedonian independence, dies at 94

(PHOTO: A rural village in Zambia, struggling with urbanisation. MIRAM ZIMBA, TIMES OF ZAMBIA) Malawi

TransWorld Radio Malawi tagline changes

Malaysia

Malaysia preps for new Pinewood studio

Maldives

Green Muslims have been nominated as some of the most influential Muslim leaders of 2011

Malta

Maltese delegation to visit Saudi Arabia

Mauritania

Over one million Mauritanians could face severe food crisis - IFRC 

Mexico

Same-Sex Marriages Legal in Cancun

Micronesia

Micronesian college names new president

(PHOTO: From the `Light from Life' exhibition opening in the UAE. GULFTODAY) Mongolia

Second Mongolian-language TV Channel Begins Broadcast 

Boxers in Mongolia training

Morocco

Morocco still without cabinet, row over Islamist minister

Mozambique

Malawi to save millions from Mozambique railway line

Nepal

High alert sounded on Indo-Nepal border

UP district in India bans poultry imports from Nepal

Netherlands Antilles

(PHOTO: Rare sea turtles sightings around the island of St. Eustatius are at risk with new oil terminal planned. GOOGLE EARTH) New Worries About Oil Terminal Risks on St. Eustatius Island

Nicaragua

Nicaragua Plans to Extend San Juan Dredging Operations

Nigeria

Protests as fuel prices soar in Nigeria

Northern Mariana Islands

Crossed fingers for 2012 

Oman

Oman daily vows to appeal journalists’ jail terms

Palau

Palau enters race against climate change

Palau gets Solar Powered Airport

Panama

Differing views on repair time for Bridge of the Americas

Tourism boss wants extra $1 million for Carnaval

Panama Prepares Jazz Festival 

(PHOTO: UNICEF Nutrition Officer Dr. Rajia Sharhan holds a young child at a therapeutic feeding centre in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital . UNICEF) UNICEF Yemen 2011 HalldorssonPeru

Peru doubled organic exports over last 4 years

Weak Environmental Impact Studies for Mines

Philippines

Philippines to release funds for infrastructure projects

Tuberculosis in the Philippines: 10 things you should know 

Poland

EU champions Poland's space project

Puerto Rico

Not Yet a State, Puerto Rico Practices Good Governance (Perspective)

Qatar

Environmental Protest in Front of Qatari Embassy

Romania

The healthcare system in Romania is gravely ill

Poll: Romanians watch TV for business news, only 3% read newspapers and magazines

Amazing photos of Ice Hotel in Romania

(PHOTO: Mekong Delta Ports Need Dredging say authorities. DREDGING TODAY) Russia

Moscow to rank among world's ten biggest megalopolises in 2012

Rwanda

Rwandans Welcome HPV Vaccine Program

Saint Kitts & Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis Moves Closer to Wind Energy and Solar Power Goals

Samoa

Bad timing for some Samoans

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia to apply law for women only to sell lingerie

Serbia

Serbian drivers facing problems entering Croatia

Seychelles

The Seychelles Adds Guernsey TIEA

(PHOTO: A man works at a steel factory in Que Vo District, outside Hanoi . THAN NIEN DAILY)Slovakia

President Gašparovič says Slovakia will face difficult times ahead

South Africa

Thousands expected at ANC's 100th bash

South Sudan

UN: Up to 50,000 flee South Sudan tribal turmoil

Spain

Unemployed Spaniards set their sights on South America

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka plans to earn One Billion U.S. Dollars from tourism this year

Suriname

Suriname starts stabilization fund

Sweden

(PHOTO: Swedes choose social media over texting, FLICKR) Swedes choose social media over texting

Swaziland

Coca-Cola accused of propping up notorious Swaziland dictator

Syria

Assad cousin denied entry to Switzerland

Syria sought nuclear know-how from Pakistan's Khan in 1980, 2002

Comedy amidst Syrian tragedy

How is Syria affecting Arab business? (Perspective)

Taiwan

Runway at Taiwan's biggest airport set to re-open after repairs

Nuclear concerns dominate Taiwan environmental poll

Vice presidential candidates exchange fire over ability to govern

Gender equality department launched in Taiwan

Taiwan cuts compulsory military service to 4 months

(PHOTO: Kulwa Saimon (23), an aids patient in Tanzania and sucessful entrepreneur. IPP MEDIA) Lung cancer study makes gain

Taiwan cyclists set world record for mass bike ride

Tanzania

Farmers want compensation for crops affected by oil spill

Growers plan grand mango show in Dar Es Salaam

After admission, Kulwa lives well with HIV-Aids

Thailand

Global Chip Sales Down on Thailand Flooding

Thailand: 165 killed on roads over first three days

Honda scraps 1,000 flood-ravaged cars in Thailand

Mobile world gets ready for breakout year in Thailand

Poll: Corruption a major problem

The Arctic

Arctic mystery: What killed the ozone, and will it strike again?

Tonga

Tonga is worlds fattest country

(PHOTO: At left, ozone in Earth's stratosphere at an altitude of about 20 kilometers in mid-March 2011, near the peak of the Arctic ozone loss. At right, chlorine monoxide — the primary agent of chemical ozone destruction in the cold polar lower stratosphere — for the same day and altitude. NASA) Trinidad and Tobago

TV6 raid 'disappoints' press institute

Transparency body: Top cop must explain show of force at TV6

Tunisia

Tunisian Border Patrol Exchanges Fire with Armed Libyans

560 French PIP Breast Implants Implanted in Tunisian Women

Tunisia Celebrates Its Sense of Humor With Comedy Festival

Tunisia Repossesses Property of Ben Ali’s Son-in-Law in Canada

Turkey

Turkey's first hydrogen boat produced 

Number of Chinese tourists expected to increase in Chinese Culture Year in Turkey

Uganda

Government urged to recruit more nurses

Universities urged to emphasize marketable courses

Govt to develop a special needs education policy

Lower food prices push down inflation

Crime syndicate busted in Western Uganda

(PHOTO: Mysterious disease strikes Uganda. "The major symptom of the disease is the continuous nodding of the head")World Bank mineral development support to Uganda ends

Warid Telecom launches mobile money service (Uganda)

Mysterious disease hits Uganda

Ukraine

Ukraine foreign minister calls for more Saudi investments

Record Number of Diamonds Set in One Ring

United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi residents face threat of severe water shortage

UAE bands are finding their voice

Bootleggers active again in UAE labour camps

Interview: On a mission to conserve the environment

New Porsche Design BlackBerry in UAE

YahLive, Etisalat partner on satellite uplink services

No ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ for UAE movie fans

Plastic industry set to grow rapidly in Gulf countries

Emirates Steel eyes more expansion to reach 6.5 mln tpa

‘Light from life’ exhibition opens 

United Kingdom

UK prime minister tells country 2012 will be tough, promises to tackle financial excess

UK hopes for feel-good Games in austere age

Renewable energy boosts UK economy by £2.5bn

Facebook Blamed In A Third Of UK Divorces

Former Great Britain Olympic fencer and Star Wars actor `Darth Vader’ Anderson dies

UK: East Yorkshire farm benefits from sprouts bonanza

United States

Mosque Attack Stuns US Muslims

Three arrested in U.S. for selling stem cell ‘miracle cures’ for terminal diseases

The FDA Fast Tracks a Vaccine to Fight Pneumonia in Older Adults

Short Sales of Homes Increasing

IT companies feel the pinch as US holds back L-1 visas

Survey Declares Boston As America’s Drunkest City

Tennessee claims title of U.S. prescription drug capital

Americans deserve the deficit facts (Perspective)

New App Predicts Next U.S. President (Press release)

US Virgin Islands

(PHOTO: Remnants of an original sugar mill at the entrance to the Cruzan Rum Distillery. LAINE DOSS)oss Rum Diary: Touring the Cruzan Rum Distillery (Pictures)

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan in 2012, will increase funding for the construction of roads by 60.8%

Child 12 years old in Uzbekistan embarrass soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (Video)

President of Uzbekistan Provides Tax Preferences to Media

Vanuatu

Vanuatu PM Reiterates Stand Against Corruption

Venezuela

Venezuela in debt no matter higher oil prices

MOVIES: Gustavo Dudamel returns to theaters

Vietnam

Vietnam private sector squeezed by rising costs 

Vietnam garment industry urged to focus on green energy

Exports braced to take hit in 2012

Vietnam: Plenty of good fruit but low prices

Vietnam imposes tariff on petrol imports

Vehicular fires continue in Vietnam, still puzzling

Mekong Delta Ports Need Dredging Program

Journalist arrested on bribery charges in Vietnam metro 

Vietnam levies environment tax on five product groups

The highlights of the Vietnamese games market in 2011 

Charity TV programme raises 6.6 trillion VND for the poor

Central Vietnam boast the most beautiful beaches in the country

Yemen

Eleven Yemeni coastguards drowned

Yemen to take part in GCC health ministers meeting

New island born in Red Sea

Interview: Rajia Sharhan of UNICEF Yemen on malnutrition

Zambia

Zambia releases Czech ‘spies’

5 Zambian Women to watch in 2012

NHA to build affordable houses countrywide

Jealous hubby to hang

Blast at Zambia steel factory injures 11

Support small-scale women miners urge banks for support

'Education key to curbing drug abuse'

Women's movement against death penalty

Freedom of Information law a reality - Lubinda (Perspective)

Challenges of urbanisation in Zambia (Perspective)

Music has transformed politics - Dr Kaseba (Perspective)

Zimbabwe

Media activist Moyse charged with undermining Mugabe

Zimbabwe's Health Ministry Targets Diarrheal Diseases in New Year

Armed Robbers Steal Diamond Ore from Marange Resources

ZRP calls for review of the Criminal Law, consider women as potential rapists

Govt needs to assists farmers to increase yield for wheat and maize: ZFU (Perspective)

Wednesday
Dec282011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/28/11

Afghanistan 

India, Iran to resolve crisis in Afghanistan

(PHOTO: Canada's 1915 IDP's in La Ferme, Canada. MONTREAL GAZETTE)Albania

 Ton of cannabis seized in Albania

Algeria

Turkey accuses France of genocide in Algeria

Angola

Government pledges to cultivate human rights 

Antigua & Barbuda

World Bank says climate change talks bring ‘good and bad news’ for the Caribbean

Argentina 

Five Argentines Die in Traffic Accident in Southern Brazil

Armenia

Armenian women’s national team beats Vietnam’s team

(PHOTO: Tariq Ramadan at the Toronto1 gathering. The convention lured an impressive galaxy of distinguished scholars, including Prof. Tariq Ramadan ONISLAM.NET)Bolivia

Bolivian Minister Highlights Economic Growth 

Brazil

Due to Too Little Structure & Too Much Pesticide Brazil Exports Less than 1% of Its Fruit

Cameroon

Eto'o launches mobile network

Chinese Goods Top Christmas Wish List In Cameroon

Canada

Toronto Convention Inspires Canada Muslims

Remembering the spirit of Canadians unjustly interned

China

Chinese dissident Chen Wei gets 9 years in prison

Snack makers face expired food probe

Facebook Follows Server Brains From Taiwan to China

Colombia

Colombia, The Netherlands  Sign Rivers Dredging Agreement

(PHOTO: In Cyprus, poaching of the Blackcap birds is surging in defiance of a European Union ban. József Szabó.)Congo (DRC)

Congo: What’s Rwanda got to do with it? Interview

Cyprus

Illegal bird trapping a surging problem in Cyprus

Egypt

Egypt’s Amina Diab forges ahead with handbag collection

From Burning Bodies To Burning Books: Egypt Becoming “House Of Dust’ (Perspective)

Equatorial Guinea

Seadrill semi-tender rig gig off Equatorial Guinea

Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Swedish journalists to spend 11years in prison

Finland

Finland Authorities Clear MS Thor Liberty With 11 Ukrainian Citizens On Board After Finding Explosives To Travel Again 

Guinea

Guinea to review mining contract – Mr. Alpha Conde

India

Guwahati campus to become operational next June, says TISS Director

Don’t write off the India story yet (Perspective)

Iran

(PHOTO: Taiwan election-inspired merchandise on display in a shop. CHANNELASIA.NET)Iran and Russia survey regional developments

Iran envoy:  Abducted engineers in Syria are safe and sound

Iran threatens to stop Gulf oil if sanctions widened

Stop worrying and learn to love the Iranian bomb (Perspective)

Japan

Anti-Whaling Activists Use Drone to Track Japanese Fleet

Japanese PM Noda in India on economic mission 

Jordan

Libyan health minister visits Jordan field hospital

Kosovo

Serbia returns to dominate Kosovo market

(PHOTO: Screen shot of Tunisia's new Islamic TV channel, "Al Kalam")Kuwait

Kuwait donates 1 million to support Gaza preschool children 

Second consignment of Kuwaiti fuel donation arrives in Benghazi 

Lebanon

Lebanese al Qaeda operative eulogizes Jordanian killed in Afghanistan

Libya

Aid workers in Libya ponder future role in oil-rich country

Benetton Donates UnHate Statue To Libyan Capitol

Malta

(PHOTO: S. Sudan, the planet's newest nation opens its embassy in Washington, DC this week. WASHINGTON POST) PM, wife unharmed as shots fired close to Girgenti Palace

Montenegro 

Montenegro police arrests 16 members of international drug trafficking ring

Morocco 

Journalist Denied Access Into His Office

On the Verge of a Clean Energy Transformation: Morocco

Myanmar 

Burmese embassy in Thailand appoints labour official

Niger

A 'children's crisis' unfolds in West and Central Africa's Sahel region (Press Release)

(PHOTO: A gorilla stops to groom a tourist in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. DISCOVERY NEWS)Nigeria 

Christians flee north as Nigeria mourns church bomb victims

North Korea

Web blackout helps North Korea craft new cult of Kim

Oman

Pirates Seize Enrico Ievoli Ship With Five Ukrainians On Board Near Oman

Philippines

The Rights of the Child (Perspective)

Russia

Egyptian Foreign Minister in Russia to discuss Syria crisis

Rwanda

Country Committed in Fight Against Climate Change - Kamanzi

(PHOTO: `Harare Beyond Words' opens at H Gallery, Bangkok Thailand Jan 5-30th, 2012)Saudi Arabia

AIDS patient sues Qunfuda hospital

KSA residents protest fines for 'wasting water'

Value of Saudi's delayed public projects hits $147bn

Mobile phone subscriptions in Kingdom up to 56.1m in Q3

'Hafiz' flayed for precluding job hunters above 35

Endless debate over death penalty (Perspective)

Senegal

EALA roots for disaster experts in the region

South Africa

SA envoy visits drug mules in Thailand jails

Discovery of world's oldest bedding in SA (VIDEO)

South Sudan

South Sudan’s entrance on world stage includes setting up Washington embassy

South Sudan: Africa’s next farming frontier

Creating a film industry in South Sudan from scratch

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Fresh Insights On Attempts To Join ASEAN – Analysis

Sudan

Steps to Launch the Sudanese Satellite

Swaziland

(PHOTO: First community of hackers, called Hacekerspace were found in Tunisia this week. Nawaat.org) Electricity consumers soon to decide on tariff hikes

Whoonga - a new social threat

Switzerland

Swiss village in uproar over asylum centre

Switzerland slips in global ranking

Switzerland to renew Turkish-Armenian mediation

Syria

Telecomix hackers helping Syrians detect and avoid government surveillance online

Syrian NGOs: A dual-use technology?

“30%” Syria Oil Production fall, Minister

Syria refugees find sanctuary in Libya

Taiwan

(PHOTO: Zimbabwe farmers tend their fields. IITA) Taiwan poll campaigns spark merchandise

New prevention policy needed for tuberculosis: medical expert

Renowned Taiwan Lantern Festival set to light up heavens on February 6

Taiwan monastery hopes to attract tourists to see Buddha's tooth

Tanzania

Diplomatic, Trade Row As Dar Blocks Ugandan Exports

Serengeti Investor Speeds Up Social and Economic Development

World Bank stresses improvement of public health facilities in Tanzania

Investor: Tanzania good for pay TV

Thailand

Thailand battles with post-flood clean-up (VIDEO)

Thailand wires up with free Wi-Fi

Thailand prepares to be cloud hub

Seventh Anniversary of Thailand's Boxing Day Tsunami (VIDEO)

Zimbabwean art show opens next week in Bangkok

The Arctic

NOAA issues draft study for Arctic Sea oil drilling

The Netherlands

The battle for free speech continues

Tonga

Tonga’s Speaker facing arrest when he returns to the country

Tunisia

First Community of Cyber-hackers Founded in Tunisia

Train Operators Join the National Wave of Strikes

New Islamic Tunisian TV Channel “Al Kalam” Announced

Douz: Gateway to The Desert

Air France launches new direct flights to Tunisia destination

Turkey

Tourists visiting Turkey hit 30 million this year, surpassing target

Turkey is the answer (Perspective)

Uganda

Man Groomed by Gorillas On Trek in Uganda

Activists oppose plan to build railway through national park

The Joys of a Christmas Celebration in the Village

A List of the Most Corrupt Would Help the Poor More (Perspective)

Time is now for Ugandans to rise against the cancer of corruption (Perspective)

Ukraine

Ukraine becomes the European capital of rabies

Russia, Ukraine do not envision gas war this year

Ukraine, Turkey sign visa-free travel agreement

United Arab Emirates

UAE pledges to bolster China-Arab trade relations

100 distressed overseas foreign workers in Abu Dhabi spend Christmas in shelter

UAE launches first association for policewomen in Arab world

Property market is being rebuilt in the UAE

Meet the UAE's Marathon Woman

Emirates Airline Launches U.S. TV Ad Campaign (VIDEO)

United Kingdom

UK businesses investing in social media for 2012

Morrissey named PETA UK Person of the Year

United States

U.S. population growth slows

America’s Best Kept Secret: Rising Suburban Poverty

U.S. gets holiday gift in the form of Occupy Wall Street (Perspective)

US needs to act as melting ice transforms Arctic (Perspective)

Uruguay

Uruguayan Economy Grows

Uzbekistan

No more panties in public eye in Uzbekistan

Venezuela

Venezuela: UN human rights experts voice alarm at extended detention of judge

Hugo Chávez claims that Venezuela's economic strengthening "is amazing"

Vietnam

Vietnam freezes oil product prices, eyes import tax on gasoline

Vietnam masterpieces in auction for the poor

New high-income consumers emerge in Vietnam

Endangered wildlife dealers arrested in southern Vietnam 

Virgin Islands

A windsurfing nightmare called Maho Beach

Western Sahara

U.S. foreign aid done right (Perspective)

Yemen

Yemen malnutrition data should "shock"

The Emergence of a New Political & Social Consciousness in Yemen (Perspective)

Zambia

Stray Dogs 'Besiege' Kapiri Mposhi, Spread Rabies

MTN Zambia deploys first solar-powered site

Zimbabwe

WFP buy local scheme helps farmers

Zimbabwe loses again on AIDS funding‏

Labour Law - Dilemma of New Employers

Friday
Oct212011

Great Game in the Horn of Africa (PERSPECTIVE) 

By Paul Mutter

Child soldier in Uganda, photo courtesy of UNICEFThe United States announced this past week that it is deploying a 100-man mission to assist the Ugandan government in tracking down the remnants of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a force whose bloody conflict with the Ugandan military has devastated northern Uganda and its environs since 1987.

But why now, in 2011, is the U.S. government making this commitment to combat the LRA?

The humanitarian impulse is certainly present among policymakers, if for no other reason than humanitarianism scores political points in Washington. Multiple human rights groups have been supportive of the announcement. The Ugandan government and people certainly desire an end to this conflict. As undemocratic as the Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni has proven, the state the LRA would establish—if we take stock of their rule over parts of northern Uganda—would almost certainly be an even more nightmarish place. Joseph Kony, the founder of the LRA who masquerades as a champion of his Acholi ethnic group and as a Christian mystic, has ordered the killing, maiming, and rape of tens of thousands of people across northern Uganda and neighboring countries. This “army” relies heavily on child soldiers and "concubines," young girls abducted from churches and schools to serve as servants and sex slaves.

Make no mistake: the LRA is an abominable threat to the Ugandan people—and to the people of Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic, countries the LRA moves in and out of seeking safe havens.

But we must not be blinded by the darkness of the LRA so much that we fail to see the tarnish that mars the U.S. and Ugandan governments’ joint interests in East Africa.

Why did Washington not intervene at any other point over the course of the LRA's horrendous, decades-long campaign in Northern Uganda, where civilians not caught in the sadistic sights of the LRA often found themselves in the crossfire between the terrorist army and the Ugandan military? George W. Bush sent advisers in 2008-9 to assist the Ugandan military in what is said to have been a botched capture operation, but why did it take five U.S. presidents to get to this stage—a stage in which the LRA has been, according to most reports, drastically weakened? What took Washington so long to finally accept this mandate, which human rights activists have been urging for years?

The Obama administration is not likely embracing a “Responsibility to Protect.” The sad answer is that only now, in the post-9/11 world, is there sufficient U.S. interest to risk getting "mired" in Africa. The unstated target of this 100-man deployment is, in fact, al-Qaeda.

AFRICOM and the Horn of Africa

The 100-strong force being sent to Uganda (ostensibly as advisers) will be overseen by AFRICOM, the new strategic command for Africa created by George W. Bush in 2007. AFRICOM provides billions of dollars worth of equipment to U.S. allies in Africa, as well as controversial training and intelligence-sharing programs, and even Special Forces deployments.

For AFRICOM, security imperatives intersect with economic ones. At AFRICOM's urging, for example, the U.S. military has designed war games involving the "fall" of Nigeria, the no. 5 source of U.S. oil imports, to insurgent forces. The United States has had a strategic interest since the 1990s in demonstrating its commitment to the security of Uganda, which has fought al-Shabab in Somalia and until recently bordered Sudan. Sudan, an Islamist pariah state and also an LRA supporter, is still on the radar for U.S. and Ugandan policymakers (especially with South Sudan's formation), but Somalia is the "new" looming terror threat, a "failed state" fought over by Islamist groups like al-Shabab and infiltrated by others. The United States asserts that a strong al-Qaeda presence there today has ill designs for the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Ethiopia, Kenya, and as we saw in 2010, Uganda.

The Ugandans did not pull out from Somalia following the 2010 Kampala bombings, though, and remain committed to maintaining a force there, something other U.S. allies in Africa have been reluctant to do. Those boots on the ground might go some way in firmly establishing a central Somalia government the United States and Uganda can live with. As Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institute has said:

To the extent the United States has any interest in Somalia being stabilized, it has an interest in seeing the Ugandan government able to keep its own country together, and able to keep it its own forces partially deployed to Somalia in order to help with that country where there have been al-Qaida related groups in the past.

The United States is waging a drone war in Somalia. Although it is not on the scale of the campaigns in Pakistan or Yemen, this may soon change. But with "Black Hawk Down" never far removed from Washington’s memory, sending troops into Somalia will be a hard decision for U.S. officials to make. Furthermore, the United States is, once again after its brief dalliance with "provincial reconstruction teams," no longer as interested in nation building as in effecting regime change and targeted assassinations. Uganda helps the latter along nicely in Somalia and may one day make the former possible there in concert with AFRICOM.

For now and for the foreseeable future, the Ugandan forces in Somalia are working in line with U.S. interests (as are the Kenyans, who this very Monday entered Somalia in force and are fighting against al-Shahab).

A War for Oil?

There are also economic considerations, though these may be secondary to security concerns. Uganda is indeed hoping to exploit newly discovered oil and gas reserves, and the government has undertaken a hurried development campaign. But the United States is not well-placed at this time to pursue energy extraction opportunities there: the UK-registered Tullow Oil, joined by the French Total AS and the PRC's China National Offshore Oil Corporation, holds the best energy extraction hand in Uganda today. The U.S. government is, naturally, keeping an eye on the sector, and as The Economist notes, "several jealous Western governments and companies want to stall China’s advance into the Congo basin, with its vast reserves of minerals and timber."

Whatever potential Uganda holds—in and of itself and as a gateway to the DRC—China's much stronger economic position in Uganda and the UK's ties to its former colony do not leave the United States much economic leeway besides foreign aid allocations at this point. But what is clear is that Washington’s commercial prospects in Uganda in the coming years will depend on the security situation.

Emboldening Museveni

Perhaps the most pressing issue for Ugandans, however, is the extent to which U.S. assistance might not only stir up a renewed conflict in the region but also embolden Yoweri Museveni—once hailed as an upstanding member of "a new generation of African leaders"—to further crack down on opposition politicians in Uganda, which until 2005 was an officially one-party state.

As Wikileaks disclosures show, the United States holds few illusions about the undemocratic and corrupt tendencies of Museveni and his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). "It appears Ugandan security services spend the majority their time tracking opposition leaders and critics of the NRM," reported a 2010 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.

Museveni's participation in the Second Congolese War, in which Ugandan military forces and their Congolese allies were accused of trafficking "blood diamonds" and committing human rights abuses, also damaged his international image. His questionable domestic record on both human rights and corruption issues has further soured foreign lenders and leaders toward him. The presidential election held in Uganda earlier this year delivered Museveni another stellar victory, though it was marred by accusations of intimidation on the part of the security apparatus and ruling party, accusations that the U.S. Embassy found credible in previous elections.

Protests against Museveni's policies have frequently turned deadly thanks to the intervention of the state security apparatus, and just days after the U.S. deployment was announced, Ugandan security forces arrested 45 "Action 4 Change" activists, 15 of whom will be tried for treason. If convicted, they will be subject to a death sentence.

Action 4 Change is a coalition of opposition parties, community organizers, and rights groups who have undertaken a series of "walk to work" protests to demonstrate against food and fuel price increases. The Ugandan government asserts that Action 4 Change members are not nonviolent demonstrators but disgruntled electoral losers plotting the overthrow of the government. And Uganda Radio Network reports that a 500-man Coalition for Stable Uganda (CSU), led by an NRM member, has been formed "to counter activities of [the] Action for Change Coalition" because "there is no doubt in [the CSU's] minds that the opposition actions are well coordinated with backing from other forces bent [on] destabilizing Uganda, loot[ing] property, and caus[ing] deaths."

This landmark U.S. assistance to Uganda against the LRA, simply by putting boots on the grounds, surpasses any past offers of foreign or diplomatic aid from U.S. officials. But will Washington pressure Museveni to clean up corruption or scale back his crackdown on Action 4 Change? That's the sort of discussion that needs to be happening.

- Paul Mutter is a graduate student at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus

Originally published by Institute for Policy Studies licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Sunday
Jun262011

Major Media Markets Big Winners at African Journalism Awards (REPORT)

By a HUMNEWS Correspondent in Johannesburg

(HN, June 26, 2011) -- Major media markets such as Kenya, Uganda and South Africa walked away with the bulk of the awards last night at the African Journalism Awards in Johannesburg last night.The African Journalism Awards gala in Johannesburg. CREDIT: HUMNEWS

The top prize winner was Fatuma Noor of The Star of Kenya, who was recognized for her hard work on a three-part series on the militant Islamic group in Somalia, al-Shabab. It was chosen from among 1407 entries from 42 nations across the African continent.

The series tells the story of the young men who give up their freedom abroad to return and fight for the ‘Al-Shabaab’ in one of the world’s most dangerous places on earth – Somalia.

Fatuma Noor was one of the 27 finalists at the Awards ceremony on Saturday evening and was a winner in the category ‘General News Award (Print).’

The Awards, which rotate location each year in tribute to their pan-African credentials, were held at a Gala ceremony hosted by CNN and MultiChoice. Established in 1995 in Ghana, the awards were co-founded by the legendary African photo-journalist "Mo" Amin.

Last night, Kenya alone received four awards, Uganda three and host country South Africa three. One sponsor of the event told HUMNEWS that the domination of larger media markets in the awards line-up is a trend that has held almost since the event was first hosted. He added that smaller countries may not have the capability to submit entries or that some works are produced in countries that have governments hostile to enterprise journalism.

Chair of the judging panel, journalist and media consultant Joel Kibazo said: “The judges were impressed with the high quality of entries to the competition this year, and this intrepid young journalist has shown great courage and determination in going the extra mile to tell this fascinating story. Fatuma Noor’s three-part series on the Al-Shabaab provides a detailed and personalised portrait of the young men who leave their comfortable western lives to join one of the world’s most ruthless militant groups in Somalia.”

The evening also recognised Mahamud Abdi Jama as this year’s recipient of the Free Press Africa Award, for his work in Somalia. His situation was noted by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) in New York. He wrote a critical article about the government there and was jailed for just over a month and released when pressure was put on the government of Somalia.

Media freedom is still very tenuous in many markets on the African continent. Just last week, the CPJ reported that Ethiopian columnist Reeyot Alemu has been detained and held incommunicado. She is a regular contributor to the independent weekly, Feteh.

Even in host country South Africa, journalists tell HUMNEWS they fear a sweeping crackdown if a proposed draconian bill on secrecy passes the legislature.

(The Bill is a revised version of a 2008 piece of proposed legislation that was withdrawn after protests that it would give state bodies too much leeway to quash information. It establishes serious hurdles for the media and civil society to obtain information about official corruption mismanagement and government service delivery issues. It gives government officials wide powers to prevent disclosure in the interests of “national security” which is broadly defined to cover a vast array of information).

No mention of the legislation - initated by the administration of President Jacob Zuma - was made last night.

Other winners at the awards ceremony were:

ARTS & CULTURE AWARD

Kofi Akpabli, Freelance for DailyGraphic, Ghana.
Title: ‘What is right with Akpeteshie?’


DIGITAL JOURNALISM AWARD

The Dispatch Online Team on behalf of ‘The Daily Dispatch’ in South Africa.
Title: ‘Failed Futures’


ECONOMICS & BUSINESS AWARD

Sylvia Chebet and Kimani Githae, Citizen TV, Kenya.
Title:  ‘An uphill task’


ENVIRONMENT AWARD

Lamia Hassan, Business Today Egypt, Egypt.
Title:  ‘Washed up’


FRANCOPHONE GENERAL NEWS AWARD: PRINT

Rabin Bhujun, L'Express Dimanche, Mauritius.

Title: ‘Le vrai pouvoir des castes’


FRANCOPHONE GENERAL NEWS AWARD: TV / (RADIO

Claudine Efoa Atohoun, ORTB, Benin.

Title: ‘Le barrage de Nagbéto: Outil de développement ou source de nuisance’


FREE PRESS AFRICA AWARD

Mahamud Abdi Jama,Waaheen Media, Somalia.


HIV/AIDS REPORTING IN AFRICA AWARD

Beryl Ooro, K24 TV, Kenya.

Title: ‘HIV infection among senior citizens in Kenya’


MOHAMED AMIN PHOTOGRAPHIC AWARD

Norman Katende, freelance for The New Vision, Uganda.

Title:  ‘When death strikes’


PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE GENERAL NEWS AWARD

Selma Marivate, TV Miramar, Mozambique.

Title:  ‘O Movimento Rastafari em Mocambique’


RADIO GENERAL NEWS AWARD

Melini Moses, SABC, South Africa.
Title: ‘Hillbrow – Den of Iniquity’


SPORT AWARD

Kamau Mutunga, DN2 Magazine, Daily Nation, Kenya.
Title: ‘Soccer and Superstition (Animal body parts and snake blood on the pitch)’


TELEVISION – GENERAL NEWS – FEATURE/CURRENT AFFAIRS AWARD

Lindile Mpanza, e.tv, South Africa.
Title: ‘Silence of the innocents’


TELEVISION – GENERAL NEWS – NEWS BULLETIN AWARD

Farouk Kayondo, UBC, Uganda.
Title:   ‘Watching in the hood’


TOURISM AWARD

Benon Herbert Oluka, DailyMonitor, Uganda.
Title: ‘Why Ugandans would rather watch goat races than visit their national parks or heritage sites’

Tuesday
Jun142011

Sending Children to School in Uganda, Despite the Odds (PERSPECTIVE)

By Karen Snider

Asa and Titus PHOTO CREDIT: Brian PietersWhen tragedy strikes, I often hear people describe survivors as resilient. I’ve been thinking about what that means and whether that describes the children at an orphanage in Uganda which I support – are the children really resilient or are they mere survivors?

There are 85 children at the Nzirambi Talent Development Centre in Kasese, Uganda, and it’s not unusual for them to be ill at any given time. Just last month, eight newborns were hospitalized with pneumonia, malaria and/or extreme diarrhoea. One of the star students, Ellen, 16, who is in her first semester at senior school, nearly failed her classes because of pneumonia – without access to a doctor for a month.Ellen - PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Pieters

The reality is that children die of these illnesses at alarmingly high rates across much of Africa. In fact, the United Nations Children’s Fund states that four million children under age five die every year; of those, 1.5 million are from Eastern or Southern Africa.

The statistics are equally alarming in Uganda, which ranks as the 19th worst country in the world for child mortality where 188,000 children die every year before their fifth birthday.  At this orphanage, we’ve lost eight children in the last two years.

With those statistics in mind, it was a relief this week when I got news that all of the newborns who had been hospitalized had recovered and were back home. Ellen is also doing better and has returned to school.

Against all of the odds, these children survived.

But when I think of the older children at the orphanage, including Ellen, I think I understand more what it means to be resilient.

Currently, through the Nzirambi Education Fund, we are sponsoring five youth in their senior levels of school, each of them having been brought to the orphanage as a vulnerable baby.Brenda PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Pieters

Twenty years ago, there was no sponsorship program at the orphanage to provide funds and so the children didn’t always have access to healthcare or nutritious food.

There is no question the children carry emotional scars – this I know as they have shared tears with me telling me about parents lost to AIDS, a parent crippled in a car accident and a polygamous father who would not care for his only daughter after her mother died.

Still, they have thrived and managed to excel in their studies.

Now there are new obstacles for them at school: missing classes due to illness; no extra learning from teachers; overcrowded classes; and they are boarding for the first time away from the orphanage.

When Ellen was ill, I spoke to her by phone. She told me not to worry, that (despite illness so severe she was hallucinating) she will be fine – and more importantly, that she was eager for classes to start again. Before she even finished a round of antibiotics, she was on the bus for the six-hour ride back to school.

To me, that is what resiliency is about.

Doreen PHOTO CREDIT: Brian PietersTime and time again, it’s what we see across Africa and around the world when families are struck with disaster or facing extreme poverty. It’s about surviving the unimaginable and forging ahead -- hopeful, optimistic and eager for future possibilities.  

Just last week, the five youth we are currently supporting returned to school for their second semester. To give them a boost to make it through the school year, we are looking into the possibility of hiring a guidance counsellor who can check in on them to ensure they are healthy and doing well in their classes.  That way, if any problems arise – like one of them needing a doctor or extra tutoring – we can address it more quickly.

Veronica and Steven PHOTO CREDIT: Brian PietersThank you to those of you who continue to support the Nzirambi Education Fund. We've recognized the resiliency of the children and now we have an opportunity to truly help make their dreams come true. They so very much deserve the chance.

Want to be involved? Help send one of our children to school. Donate using PayPal on our blog http://africanwalkabout.blogspot.com or contact NzirambiFund@gmail.com. Also, you can join us on Facebook at http://groups.to/orphans

*After volunteering at the Nzirambi Orphans Talent Development Centre in Uganda, Karen launched an education fund to ensure the older children at the orphanage have access to education beyond primary school. To date, the Nzirambi Fund has paid for five youth to go to school. More funding is required to ensure that all of the 85 children at the orphanage will have access to higher levels of education.

Monday
May162011

Victory in Uganda Amidst Worsening Human Rights Situation (PERSPECTIVE)

By Sarah Gunther

Friday marked a victory for human rights activists in Uganda and the rest of the world, when its Parliament ended its session without voting on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

The proposed bill was an unprecedented and unconstitutional attack on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans gender and inter sex (LGBTI) community - and on Uganda’s citizenry at large. It would have criminalized the “promotion of homosexuality,” including the provision of health and other essential services to LGBTI people, with three years in prison, and punished “aggravated homosexuality,” which entails homosexual acts by “serial offenders” and those who are HIV positive with the death penalty.

It was no coincidence that the Ugandan parliament galvanized new energy to pass the bill last week, at a time when Ugandan citizens are protesting high food and fuel prices and the government is cracking down with violence, repression and disregard for the rule of law.

In fact, the renewed push to pass the bill during the last week of parliament was a blatant political tactic to divert attention from the deteriorating human rights situation affecting all Ugandans. Over the past month, President Yoweri Museveni has responded to peaceful protests over sky-rocketing commodity prices by arresting opposition leaders, teargassing bystanders and using live ammunition on crowds.

According to Human Rights Watch, Ugandan security forces have killed at least nine unarmed people during the protests, including three in the back as they fled.

Beyond this crackdown, Museveni’s government has done little to respond to the expressed needs of its citizens, who can’t afford food or other basic needs. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was nothing more than a hateful diversion.

There’s no question that the bill would have passed if it came to a floor vote. Museveni has publicly stated that he would veto the bill, but his government’s conduct of late makes it clear that he has no problem violating human rights to maintain power. Passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and pandering to the country’s hateful climate for LGBTI people would have garnered Museveni increased public approval at a time when he desperately needs it.

Uganda is a sovereign country and has the right to govern its own affairs. But the international community must not stand by while a repressive government opens fire on its people for peacefully protesting—and considers legislation that forces a mother, teacher or doctor to report her daughter, student or patient to the police simply for being who he or she is.

We must remain vigilant when the next session of Uganda’s parliament opens on May 18th, as it is likely, if not probable, that the bill will be re-introduced.

When I woke up on Friday to the amazing news that the bill had been defeated, at least for now, I started thinking about what made it possible and what lessons we might extrapolate for the human rights work that my organization, American Jewish World Service, supports around the world.

First, activists in Uganda built a remarkable coalition of organizations working in different sectors—human rights, HIV/AIDS, women’s rights, refugee rights, labor rights, LGBTI rights, and the list goes on. The notion that LGBTI Ugandans deserve the same rights as all Ugandans was not an uncontested idea in Ugandan civil society in October 2009 when the bill was first introduced. Building a coalition was no easy feat. But 28 organizations came together on the premise that LGBTI rights are not special, different or extra: they are human rights.

The victory in Uganda would not have been possible if LGBTI activists had been the only voices opposing the bill. Speaking from multiple perspectives, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law made the argument that the bill was unconstitutional, violated best practices in public health, and undermined civil liberties. The win underlines the importance of building social movements that transcend narrow identity-based rights claims and can gain new allies as a result. Activists in Uganda have shown us what that can look like.

In addition to local organizing, there’s no doubt that international activism played a critical role in killing the bill. In just the past few week, e-petitions from organizations like AllOut gathered millions of signatures, and domestic pressure in the U.S. and Europe encouraged dozens of legislators and government representatives to speak out against the legislation.

What’s been encouraging to me in the last week—in contrast to past moments during the nearly two-year fight to kill the bill—is the degree to which international actors took their lead from Ugandan activists. The Civil Society Coalition offered strategic guidance to advocacy organizations in the West, providing context by sharing its broader critique of the human rights crisis in Uganda, and helping us avoid playing into the government’s use of the bill as a distraction from its violence and repression.

AJWS believes that grassroots communities are best placed to envision, articulate and carry forward their own visions and strategies for social change. In the struggle against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it has been encouraging to see more and more international advocates respect the expertise and leadership of local activists in their own struggles.

There’s no question that the fight for human rights of LGBTI people in Uganda is far from over, and the country’s overall human rights situation is worsening with no end in sight. But victories are few and far between. This one is certainly worth savoring.

Sarah Gunther is the associate director of grants for Africa at American Jewish World Service, where she oversees a human rights grantmaking program with a focus on LGBTI communities in Uganda.

 

Tuesday
Mar292011

Gays in Africa: Only Protected on Paper (PERSPECTIVE)

Credit: The Red Room.orgBy Richard Pithouse

(HN, March 29, 2011) - It’s now almost three months since David Kato, a former teacher and a leading Ugandan gay rights activist, was beaten to death in Mukono Town in Uganda.

Kato was living in Johannesburg in the salad days of our new democracy and, inspired by the progress made here in recognising the legal right of gay people to an equal humanity, he became a key figure in the Ugandan movement when he returned home in 1998.

Homosexuality was first criminalised in Uganda in the 19th century under the British colonial occupation. That criminalisation of a mode of expressing love and desire that is part of all human communities across space and time was sustained and updated after independence in 1962. As the new century unfolded there were active attempts, often driven by senior politicians and clerics with the support of an increasingly rabid tabloid press, to create a popular moral panic about homosexuality.

Public vilification escalated and there were threats, calls for further state repression, censorship of gay people and organisations and a further tightening of a legal regime already so repressive that it carried a sentence of life imprisonment for certain forms of gay sex.

Of course the vilification of gay people by political elites was not unique to Uganda. In Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe’s public hostility stretched back to 1987 but reached a new level of intensity following his verbal attack on gay people at a book fair in Harare in 1996.

In Namibia Sam Nujoma began a campaign of demonization in 1995, the former Kenyan dictator Daniel arap Moi launched his first major attack in 1999 and here in South Africa Jacob Zuma made extreme homophobic comments on Heritage Day in 2006. In the same year Olusegun Obasanjo introduced a bill that aimed to further criminalise homosexuality in Nigeria.

The sobering reality is that homosexuality is illegal for men in 29 African countries and for women in 20 African countries. But while it is essential to take this reality seriously, it is equally important to put African homophobia in a global context - homosexuality is illegal in 80 countries across the world and in many countries where there is not a repressive legal regime discrimination and harassment remain rife. In 2009 Ian Banyham, a gay man in his 60s, was beaten to death by two young women in Trafalgar Square in central London. In California the right of same sex couples to marry was affirmed in June 2008 and overturned by a right wing campaign five months later.

But we do need to take the active mobilisation of homophobic sentiment by political leaders in our region seriously. The scapegoating of vulnerable minorities is a standard tactic used by political elites to deflect attention away from their own failures and compromises. And the masculinisation of politics that usually accompanies elite driven homophobia can be used to offer ordinary men some power and status amidst the wreckage of societies that offer no real hope for a decent life to most people.

The situation in Uganda is particular serious. In 2002 two women were arrested after the tabloid newspaper Red Pepper reported, hysterically, on their wedding. Their pastor had to flee the country. Four years latter the paper published a list of the names, workplaces and other information on 45 men it claimed where homosexuals. Many of these men were threatened and harassed.

In October 2009 Ugandan MP David Bahati introduced the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill which aimed to extend the criminalization of same-sex relationships and to introduce the death penalty for certain acts, to force Ugandan citizens to report any homosexual activity within 24 hours or face three years in jail, and to authorise the Ugandan state to extradite  its citizens having same-sex relationships outside the country.

In October last year the Rolling Stone , a tabloid newspaper, published names, photographs and addresses of 100 people it claimed were gay, including David Kato, along with a call for their execution. Kato and other activists took the newspaper to court and won the case in November. The newspaper was ordered to stop outing people and to pay compensation to the plaintiffs. Two months later Kato was attacked in his home by a man who smashed a hammer into his head twice and left him dead. Former Anglican Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, excommunicated for his principled rejection of homophobia, officiated at a tense political funeral. There is, at the moment, no certainty about who killed Kato and why, but in view of the way in which gay people have been vilified in Uganda, and his courage in opposing this, activists fear the worst and have been calling for a serious and credible investigation.

Here in South Africa our Constitution and our law offer some of the best legal recognition of the equal humanity of gay people and other sexual minorities in the world. We also have a vibrant gay movement and many straight people of real stature, like Desmond Tutu, who take an active and principled position on this issue.

But we have a President who has made his contempt for gay people clear. He did, under some pressure, and without the appearance of much conviction, go through the motion of condemning the arrest of a gay couple in Malawi. But his silence on this issue in the region has more usually been eloquently damning. In the religious sphere he has sought to shift the centre of political gravity from the progressive churches that opposed apartheid to towards the right wing and openly homophobic agenda of Ray McCauly and the National Interfaith Leadership Council. And, incredibly, he dispatched the notoriously and crudely homophobic Jon Qwelane to Uganda as the South African ambassador. And of course Zuma is not the only homophobe amongst our political elite. In March last year the then Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulu Xingwana, stormed out of an art exhibition at Constitutional Hill claiming that photographs of black lesbian couples by Zanele Muholi were “going against nation building.”

Muholi has documented more than 50 cases of violent hates crimes against black lesbians living in townships. Half of these women were raped and some of them killed. In 2006 Zoliswa Nkonyana was stoned to death by a mob of young men in Khayetlisha for being an “out” lesbian. Sizakele Sigasa, a lesbian activist, and her partner Salome Masooa were raped, tortured, and murdered in Meadowlands, Soweto in 2007. In the same year Thokozane Qwabe was found murdered in Ezakheni, Ladysmith and Simangele Nhlapo and her two year old daughter were raped and murdered and sixteen year old Madoe Mafubedu was raped and stabbed to death in Soweto. Eudy Simelane, who played soccer for the national side, was raped and killed in KwaThema, Springs in 2008. It is this reality and not the fact that some women find love and share desire with other women that is perverse.

Muholi’s photographs aim to “create a body of meaning that is welcomed by us as a community of queer black women” and to “ensure that those who come after us have ‘eyes to see’ the beautiful black marks of our existence and resistance.” Her work is entirely within the spirit of the Constitution. Xingwana’s comments were entirely opposed to the letter and spirit of that document which, what ever its limitations, certainly does reflect some of the aspirations to have come out of the best moments of the struggles against apartheid. But as much as it reflects some of those aspirations in principle the reality is that, as Muholi argues, in practice black lesbians are “only protected on paper.”

Legal activism is important and reaching agreements with states on commitments to human rights does sometimes offer a useful yardstick against which to measure the actions of governments and to leverage pressure against them. But the professionalization of activism after apartheid has led too many of us to accept that this should be the horizon of our commitment or that activism should be the preserve of NGO professionals. 

To have any hope of meeting the challenges of our times we need an embodied and popular practice of active, direct and practical solidarity premised on an ethic of immediate equality. We also need to develop an emancipatory vision for a society that can offer a dignified life for everyone, and a strategy to make real progress towards that vision. Right now this is not something that we can vote for. It is something that we have to work for and, when necessary, fight for, where we live, work, play and pray.

Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University. This article first appeared on the website of the South African Civil Society Information Service - SACSIS

Saturday
Jan152011

(EXCLUSIVE REPORT) As Landmark Secession Referendum Ends in Southern Sudan, Sudanese Diaspora in the U.S. Await the Outcome After Voting For Independence 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsfree video player

(HN, Jan. 15, 2010) – On Saturday, January 14, 2011 a group of Sudanese ex-patriates living in the Southern United States, travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to vote for the possible secession of South Sudan from Sudan.  HUMNEWS was along for the bus ride which ultimately led to South Sudan being voted into existence - creating the world's 238th nation territory. 

--- Max Ramming was along for the ride and here is his natural sound video piece, in the words and voices of those who experienced the event.

Tuesday
Nov022010

(Report) Job scarcity causes gender disparities in Africa, World Bank report reveals 

(HN, November 2, 2010) -- The US-based World Bank said in a study released on Tuesday in Maputo, Mozambique that gender disparities in African labour markets are caused by jobs scarcity and not discrimination while highlighting that investments in education and job creation are key to fostering gender equality.

The study analyses household survey data collected in the early 2000s in 18 countries across Africa, looking into gender dimensions in employment, unemployment, pay gap, as well as the role of educational attainment.

The survey shows that women’s participation rates in the labour market range from under 40 percent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda, to 80 percent and above in Burkina Faso, Burundi, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

For Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, women’s employment ratio over the survey period is 25 percent lower than for men, respectively at 53 percent and nearly 70 percent.

“We found little evidence to support the idea that labour market discrimination is a key explanation for gender gaps in underdeveloped economies, especially those whose job markets are small and can only supply formal employment for a minority of the population,” says World Bank Senior Economist Jorge Arbache, one of the book’s editors.

Arbache added that disparities are indeed greater in countries that have few job opportunities to begin with and, conversely, countries with the highest job rate for men are also those with the least gender disparities.

Another co-editor of the survey, Ewa Filipiak, project manager at Agence Française de Développement, said “ensuring women’s access to jobs is essential to the fight against poverty and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)... because it has been shown that well-paid jobs empower them to redirect spending on essential needs, notably in favour of children’s health and education.”

Survey data shows that on average the male-to-female earnings ratio is as high as 2.8 among individuals with no education, and as low as 0.9 among those with post-secondary education.

The authors therefore recommend that policy-makers adopt targeted measures that facilitate women’s access to education, such as conditional cash transfer programmes, that encourage families to enrol girls in schools.

The 18 African countries surveyed are Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia.

Case studies were conducted in the Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania while cross-country studies were done in Benin, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Senegal and Uganda.

- African Press Agency /APA-Maputo (Mozambique)