Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Congo, Foreign Policy, Genocide, Libya, Rwanda, Uganda.
Tags: Africa, black caucus, Congo, ethnic cleansing, genocide, glen ford, human rights, roger hollander, rwanda, susan rice, uganda
Roger’s note: Susan Rice, who is Obama’s current nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, is appaently as hawkish as they come and would fit comfortably into a McCain or Romney Republican administration. To distinguish between Obama’s foreign policy and that of the Republicans would require a pretty powerful microscope. Elsewhere, Glen Ford compares her to Clearance Thomas. But she has served only under Democrat presidents. It’s called our two party system. Recent reports indicate that she holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline (cf. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/susan-rice-keystone-pipeline_n_2207861.html)
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford, Wed, 11/28/2012 – 13:14
“Susan Rice has abetted the Congo genocide for much of her political career.”
The invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo by U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda, in 1996, set in motion a genocide that left six million Congolese dead. Another wave of mass killings now looms with this month’s capture of Goma, an eastern Congolese city of one million, by “rebels” under Rwandan and Ugandan control. “People need to be clear who we are fighting in the Congo,” said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo. “We are fighting western powers, the United States and the United Kingdom, who are arming, training and equipping the Rwandan and Ugandan militaries.” The main player in suppressing information on Congo’s neighbors’ role in the ongoing genocide, is U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.
Rice has fought a two-front battle to protect Washington’s murderous clients, delaying publication of a UN Group of Experts report on Washington’s clients’ depredations in Congo, and at the same time subverting efforts within the State Department to rein in Uganda and Rwanda. Last week, Rice blocked the UN Security Council from explicitly demanding that Rwanda immediately cease providing support to M23 rebels who vowed to march all the way to Kinshasa, the Congolese capital.
Susan Rice has abetted the Congo genocide for much of her political career. Appointed to President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council in 1993, at age 28, she rose to assistant secretary of state for African affairs in 1997 as Rwanda and Uganda were swarming across the eastern Congo, seizing control of mineral resources amid a sea of blood. She is known to be personally close to Rwanda’s minority Tutsi leadership, including President Paul Kagame, a ruthless soldier trained at the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and mentored by Ugandan strongman (and Reagan administration favorite) Yoweri Museveni, who is believed to have pioneered the use of child soldiers in modern African conflicts.
“Rice said not a word about ethnic cleansing and racial pogroms against black Libyans and sub-Saharan African migrant workers.”
On the outside during the Bush years, Rice became a fierce advocate of “humanitarian” military intervention in Africa, urging air and sea attacks on Sudan and championing the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, in 2006. A senior foreign policy advisor on Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign team, Rice made it no secret she hoped to be named secretary of state. As UN ambassador, she is the administration’s top gun on Africa, the focus of her outsized aggressions. Rice is widely credited with convincing Obama to launch NATO’s bombing campaign for regime change in Libya. She parroted false media reports that Muammar Gaddafi’s troops were raping Libyan women with the aid of massive gulps of Viagra, refusing to back down even when U.S. military and intelligence officials told NBC news “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces have been given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas.” Yet, Rice said not a word about ethnic cleansing and racial pogroms against black Libyans and sub-Saharan African migrant workers, including the well-documented erasure of the black city of Tawergha.
Susan Rice’s “humanitarian” instincts, like her boss’s, are highly selective – so much so, that a genocide equal to or greater than the Nazi’s liquidation of European Jewry is invisible to her. More accurately, Rice labors mightily to render the genocide in Congo invisible to the world, suppressing release or discussion of reports on Rwanda and Uganda’s crimes.
“Rice labors mightily to render the genocide in Congo invisible to the world.”
The first document, a “Mapping Report,” described human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1993 through 2003. Finally published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in October of 2010, after long delays, the document specifically charges Rwandan troops with engaging in mass killings “that might be classified as crimes of genocide.” The more recent report by a UN Group of Experts concludes that M23, the Congolese “rebel” group that captured Goma, is actually “a Rwandan creation,” embedded with Rwandan soldiers that take their orders from Paul Kagame’s military. Uganda also supports M23.
Susan Rice, as an energetic protector and facilitator of genocide, should be imprisoned for life (given that the death penalty is no longer internationally sanctioned). But of course, the same applies to her superiors, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. One would think that the Congressional Black Caucus would be concerned with the threat of a second wave of mass killings in Congo. Not so. A Google search fails to reveal a word of complaint from the Black lawmakers about genocide in Congo or suppression of documentation of genocide – or much of anything at all about Africa since the death of New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne, ranking member of the House Subcommittee on African Affairs, in March of this year.
“One would think that the Congressional Black Caucus would be concerned with the threat of a second wave of mass killings in Congo. Not so.”
Instead, incoming Congressional Black Caucus chair Marcia Fudge, of Cleveland, held a press conference with female Caucus members to defend Rice, “a person who has served this country with distinction,” from Republican criticism of her handling of the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. “We will not allow a brilliant public servant’s record to be mugged to cut off her consideration to be secretary of state,” said Fudge.
In the Congressional Black Caucus’ estimation, Rice’s “record” as chief warmonger in Africa and principal suppressor of the facts on genocide in Congo makes her a role model for African Americans, especially young Black women.
Her relationship to the women of Congo is more problematic. Said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo, which works tireless on behalf of victims of mass rape in eastern Congo: “Why should you want to help a Congolese woman who is raped, when your tax money is supporting the ones that are doing the raping? That’s a contradiction”
In the Age of Obama, the Black American relationship to Africa is suffocating from such contradictions.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Congo, Foreign Policy, Genocide, Rwanda, Uganda.
Tags: Africa, africom, antoine roger lokongo, Congo, genocide, kagame, museveni, roger hollander, rwanda, tutsi, uganda
by Antoine Roger Lokongo
Six million Congolese have died since 1996 so that western corporations could retain unfettered access to the region’s mineral wealth. Rwanda and Uganda turned the eastern Congo into a cauldron of death – with impunity, protected by their patrons, the U.S. and Britain. Although the evidence of Rwanda’s role in the Congo genocide is irrefutable, Tutsi strongman Paul Kagame’s regime “will simply get away with it and recommence again tomorrow – as long as minerals need to be supplied to the West.”
Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo Genocide
by Antoine Roger Lokongo
This article appeared in Pambazuka News.
“Britain, America and the European Union are now caught red-handed and cannot claim not to be aware of the plot of annexing eastern Congo to Rwanda and Uganda.”
The carnage that is lived daily by the Congolese people in eastern DRC is what the Congolese daily Le Potentiel calls a “forgotten genocide” by the will of the international community. In fact, the international community has witnessed the atrocities being committed in eastern Congo by both Rwandan Hutu and Tutsi armed groups, with the complicity of some Congolese, since the UN peacekeeping mission was deployed in the DRC over a decade ago.
Britain, America and the European Union can no longer turn a blind eye to the complicity of Rwanda and Uganda in both supplying arms and soldiers to Tutsi rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda (both him and his predecessors are already indicted by the ICC) in the troubled North Kivu of the DRC. Britain, America and the European Union are now caught red-handed and cannot claim not to be aware of the plot (of annexing eastern Congo to Rwanda and Uganda, encouraged by the Sudanese experience) that is being weaved by Rwanda and Uganda in the eastern DRC.
Three official reports issued by the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo as reported by the BBC, by Human Rights Watch and by the Congolese government (after conducting its own thorough investigation, including interviewing Rwandan fighters caught in the frontline) have all confirmed that Rwanda, for the umpteenth time, is yet again on the front line in eastern Congo. According to Congolese Minister of Information, Lambert Mende Omalanga:
“200 to 300 rebels were recruited in Rwanda in order to be infiltrated in the DRC. They underwent a brief military training before being deployed against the armed forces of the DRC.”
Anyway, for the Congolese people there was nothing new. A year before Rwanda joined the Commonwealth (November 2009), The Telegraph, a British daily close to the Conservative Party in Britain and therefore close to the British Crown, revealed that Congolese Tutsi rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda was recruited from the Rwandan army. Rwanda was therefore allowing its territory to be used as a recruiting ground for the rebel movement behind the DRC’s bloodshed, according to first-hand accounts and evidence gathered by The Telegraph.
“Rwanda, for the umpteenth time, is yet again on the front line in eastern Congo.”
A 27-year-old fighter in Nkunda’s movement said that he served as a platoon commander in Rwanda’s army:
“There are many former Rwandan soldiers with the CNDP [Gen Nkunda’s rebels]. When I was still in the Rwandan army, I was in touch with them. They wanted me to join the CNDP,” he said. “I decided to join them because fighting for the CNDP is like fighting for Rwanda.”
The US Department of State is said to have issued “a firm statement” warning governments against supporting rebel groups and mutineers operating in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo – without naming Rwanda. In a statement published on 6 June 2012 titled “Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” US State Department spokesperson Marck C. Toner, said:
“The United States is concerned by the continued mutiny of officers and soldiers formerly integrated into the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and now operating in North Kivu province as an armed group under the name M23, and by recent reports of outside support to M23.”
The European Union for its part, is said to be “strongly concerned” about an army mutiny in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“The EU is strongly concerned by recent developments in the Kivus and the deterioration of the security situation. The current developments require the attention of all countries in the region. Recent cooperation between Rwanda and the DRC on this matter is necessary and positive. The EU is worried by information that this dynamic might be endangered,” Ashton said in a statement.
“Rwanda was therefore allowing its territory to be used as a recruiting ground for the rebel movement behind the DRC’s bloodshed.”
“The Tutsi continued to use the war against Hutu ‘genocidists’ as a pretext for occupying mining concessions and systematically exploiting them.”
Kagame, Museveni and their Western backers have been uncovered. The whole world can now see that they are the main force driving this conflict. As Jacqueline Umurungi writes, some of Kagame’s greatest admirers are Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz. American evangelist Rick Warren considers him something of an inspiration and even Bill Gates has invested in what has been called Africa’s success story. Yes, Western liberals, reactionary evangelicals, and capitalist carpetbaggers alike tout Paul Kagame as the herald of a new, self-reliant African prosperity. Britain annually subsidizes 50 per cent of Rwanda’s national budget. Now you understand why the war in mineral-rich eastern Congo never ends and why, mockingly according to the BCC, “there is no end to the tears in the DRC.”
What Kinshasa did was to integrate all the Tutsi Congolese into the national army, even those wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity like General Bosco Ntaganda, “who was born in Rwanda where he fought with the ethnic Tutsi rebels who brought current President Paul Kagame to power and ended the genocide in 1994,” according to the BBC. The CNDP (The National Congress for the Defence of the People or Congrès national pour la défense du people), a former rebel movement, was transformed into a political party and integrated into President Kabila’s coalition in power.
President Kabila put them in charge of military operations against Hutu militia accused of having committed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Kinshasa even made a deal with Kigali to allow the Rwandan army to enter Congo and hunt Hutu militia. By the way, The ICC recently confirmed the dismissal of charges against Callixte Mbarushimana, a Hutu, of responsibility for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009. Then the people of Congo realized that the Tutsi continued to use the war against Hutu “genocidists” as a pretext for occupying mining concessions and systematically exploiting them. That is why the Congolese Tutsi soldiers refuse categorically to be transferred to other parts of Congo to serve there. They just want to be posted in eastern Congo near the Rwandan border. But the Congolese army is supposed to be a national army, not an ethnic army. When President Kabila ordered the transfer of all soldiers from eastern Congo to serve in other parts of Congo, rumor went around that Ntaganda was going to be arrested and transferred to the ICC (Kabila has said he would be tried in Congo). He launched a mutiny known as the 23 March movement (a new name for the CNDP) because they joined the Congolese army under a March 2009 peace deal but have defected “complaining of poor treatment.”
Enough is enough. The well-armed and Western-backed Tutsi regimes of Rwanda and Uganda must understand that there is a saying which goes like this: “Lie! Lie! There will always be something left to lie about: the truth.” The “international community” will yet again confirm its complicity in the plot against the DRC if Rwanda and Uganda yet again get away with it this time. Is the ICC there just for Charles Taylor and Laurent Gbagbo, but not Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Museveni and Kagame?
 Le Potentiel. 2012. Face à l’indéniable implication du Rwanda dans la guerre au Kivu, les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne, l’UE… mis devant leurs responsabilités !, Kinshasa, 11/06/2012.
 BBC. 2012. Rwanda ‘supporting DR Congo mutineers. BBC News Africa. 28 May 2012.
 Smith, David. 2012. Rwandan military ‘aiding war crimes suspect’ in Congo – Human Rights Watch. The Guardian, World News, Rwanda. 4 June 20. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/04/rwandan-military-war-crimes-suspect
 Groupe L’Avenir. 2012. Est de la Rd Congo : Enfin le Rwanda démasqué. lundi 11 juin 2012. http://www.groupelavenir.cd/spip.php?article45903
 Le Potentiel. 2012. Face à l’indéniable implication du Rwanda dans la guerre au Kivu, les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne, l’UE… mis devant leurs responsabilités !, Kinshasa, 11/06/2012.
 Blair, David. 2008. DR Congo rebels recruited from Rwanda army. The Telegraph. 20 Nov 2008.
 AfroAmerica Network. 2012. US Government Warns Governments Supporting Rebellions in DRC. 8 June 2012. http://bit.ly/Kvzquo
 Toner, Mark C. 2012. Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Press Statement. US Department of State, 6 June 2012. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/06/191902.htm
 AFP. 2012. EU ‘concerned’ over army mutiny in DRC. News24. 8 August 2012. http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/EU-concerned-over-army-mutiny-in-DRC-20120607
 Umurungi, Jacqueline. 2012. The Untold Stories: Again Rwanda is on the front line in the Congo Conflict.Who is fooling who? Inyenyeri News. NYENYERI NEWS, 28 May 2012.
 Hubert, Thomas . 2012. Havoc as Congolese flee the ‘Terminator’. BBC News Africa. 11 May 2012.
 BBC. 2012. Congo warlord Bosco ‘Terminator’ Ntaganda ‘replaced’. BBC News Africa, 8 May 2012.
 Reuters. 2012. ICC confirms release of Congo war crimes suspect.
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Canada, Tanzania.
Tags: Africa, african barrick gold, barrick, Canada, canada government, canada mining, fipa, gold mining, linda mcquaig, multi-nationals, multinationals, roger hollander, Stephen Harper, tanzania, tanzania poverty
While Canadians may think of ourselves as best known for owning the Olympic podium, among Africans we may actually be better known — and not particularly liked — for owning their natural resources.
Once beloved on the continent, Canada is no longer so fondly regarded in Africa.
The new, less enthusiastic view of Canada was vividly illustrated last month when more than 1,500 desperately poor Tanzanian villagers picked up machetes, rocks and hammers and stormed the mining compound of Canadian-owned African Barrick Gold.
The uprising — leading to the shooting deaths of seven of the villagers by police and security forces at the mine — is a startling reminder that theories widely held in the West about the benefits of foreign investment for the developing world are not always shared by people on the receiving end.
In theory, Barrick’s arrival in the 1990s has been a boon to the Tanzanian economy, pushing it toward development.
In reality, Tanzania has collected only a pittance in taxes and royalties from Barrick and other foreign multinationals through contracts that are shrouded in secrecy. So, although it sits on massive gold reserves worth more than $40 billion, Tanzania remains one of world’s 10 poorest countries.
A 2008 investigation funded by Norwegian church groups concluded that Tanzania collected an average of only $21.7 million (U.S.) a year in royalty and taxes on more than $2.5 billion worth of gold exported over the previous five years. The investigation also estimated some 400,000 Tanzanians, who formerly mined for gold with nothing but their own picks, shovels and ropes, have been left unemployed by the giant mining operations.
Two months after that report, a government-appointed commission headed by retired Tanzanian judge Mark Bomani strongly urged imposing higher royalties and taxes on the foreign mining companies.
With growing popular pressure for tougher legislation, the Canadian government intervened on the side of the multinationals, pressuring the Tanzanian government and parliament to oppose Bomani’s proposed reforms.
Officials from the Canadian High Commission launched an “intense” lobbying mission with Tanzanian legislators aimed at blocking the reforms, according to reports in the Tanzanian newspaper ThisDay.
Ottawa also sought to head off potentially tougher rules governing Canadian mining companies by pressing for stronger investor protections in trade talks with Tanzania, aimed at securing what Canada calls a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
“Canada’s objective in entering these negotiations is to secure a comprehensive, high-quality agreement to protect investors through the establishment of a framework of legally binding rights and obligations,” says a posting on the website of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
The FIPA is “purely an instrument aimed at protecting the interests of Canadian companies in Tanzania,” according to Zitto Kabwe, a Tanzanian parliamentarian.
All this seems to be a departure from the way Canada used to operate in Africa.
Back in the 1970s, Canada actually gave African countries help, teaching them how to negotiate better deals with foreign multinationals, says Linda Freeman, a political scientist at Carleton University who specializes in African political economy.
Today, Freeman notes, Canada is solidly on the side of the multinationals, pressuring vulnerable African nations to accept deals favourable to multinationals, with negative implications for their own populations.
Do Canadians care about any of this? Apparently not, according to Canadian parliamentarians, who last fall narrowly voted to defeat a private member’s bill aimed at holding Canadian companies operating abroad more accountable here in Canada.
The bill would have made a significant difference in how last month’s violence in Tanzania will be investigated, according to Jamie Kneen, with the Ottawa-based watchdog group Mining Watch.
The killings — and additional allegations of rape — are being investigated by Tanzanian police and by Barrick.
But the private member’s bill would have entitled villagers to a Canadian government investigation, with potential repercussions for Canadian companies found to have behaved improperly.
The tragic defeat of that bill — and the Harper government’s intense focus on championing rights for Canadian corporations — has left Canada flexing its muscle against some of the world’s most impoverished people.
© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2011
Linda McQuaig is a columnist for the Toronto Star.
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Human Rights, LGBT, Uganda.
Tags: Africa, Bible, bigotry, evangelical, fundamentalism, gay rights, homophobia, human rights, lgbt, religion, religious bigotry, roger hollander, uganda, valerie tarico
Christian extremists in Uganda’s parliament are hoping that hunger and high gas prices will provide the cover they need to finally subject gay men to punishment of biblical proportions. They haveintroduced a bill, up for vote on May 11, that seeks life imprisonment for gay sex and, for repeat offenders, the death penalty. Last year, similar legislation was averted by international outrage. President Museveni was afraid of losing valuable aid dollars, and after outcry arose across the West, with Barack Obama calling the law “odious,” Museveni prevented the bill from coming to a vote.
Stopping the bill was insufficient to save the life of one Ugandan,David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in January. Kato was Uganda’s most outspoken gay rights advocate and had received many death threats before he was killed. In the winter months before his death, one newspaper ran a front page photo of Kato with an anti-gay rant and a banner urging “Hang them.” Last spring I traveled in Mozambique, where a full-page article in a local paper interspersed Bible verses, exhortations to spiritual living, and similar anti-gay vitriol. Although leading fundamentalists like Albert Mohler appear increasinglyresignedto “tolerance” here at home, across Africa the marriage of Christianity and homophobia appears to be thriving—thanks in part to an American tendency to take our outdated wares and social movements overseas.
Two years ago, I wrote an article that asked, “If the Bible Were Law, Would You Qualify for the Death Penalty?” It described some of the thirty six causes for capital punishment listed in the Good Book, including cursing parents, witchcraft, being raped (only within the city limits), adultery, and of course, homosexual sex. Mercifully, even the most old school American Christians seem to ignore the Bible on these points. But one of the unfortunate consequences of Americans exporting biblical literalism to developing countries is thatpeople in those countries take the Bible literally– including the parts we all, missionaries included, wish they wouldn’t. In Nigeria, American Pentecostalism has fused with local animism and resulted in children being beaten and burned as witches, just like the Bible prescribes.
In Uganda, American evangelism may besimilarly responsiblefor Kato’s death and the proposed law. In March 2009, frustrated by their inability to block the gradual inclusion of gays in the universal human rights umbrella at home, Evangelical leaders traveled to Uganda and led incendiary workshops seeking to increase Ugandan fear that gay men are a threat to straight marriages and children. It would appear that Uganda’s already fractured and restive society is reaping what the American missionaries have sown: further contention and violence.
“I don’t want anyone killed,” said Mr. Schmierer, one of the Evangelical leaders who traveled to Uganda two years ago. “But I don’t feel I had anything to do with that [Kato's death].” Many evangelicals, those who see the Bible as literally perfect, find it almost impossible to imagine that the Bible itself could be responsible for inciting violence or that those who preach biblical inerrancy could be complicit in that violence. And yet other Christians, those who see the Bible as the imperfect record of the imperfect struggle of our spiritual ancestors, find this causal chain quite plausible. According to theologian Thom Stark (The Human Faces of God),the biblical record attributes divine sanction in places to some of the worst of Iron Age impulses, including human sacrifice. Unless we understand those writings in their human context we are bound to glorify passages that instead should teach us about the darkness in the human spirit. And glorifying human darkness puts us at risk of enacting it.
It is troubling that of the many offerings that might have been carried by American Christians to Africa in the service of theGreat Commandment, what has been carried instead are the seeds of homophobia—fear, hatred, and death. It will take many voices raised together to reverse the damage done by a few misguided missionaries. I hope those voices will be raised this week (petition here)and again next year, and for as many years as are needed until Uganda’s gay community can live in love and peace
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist. She is the author of ‘Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light’. She is also the founder of WisdomCommons.org.
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Human Rights, Nigeria.
Tags: Africa, chevron, environment, niger delta, nigeria, nigeria oil, protest, roger hollander, shell oil, women
In several separate incidents, Nigerian women have engaged in peaceful struggle against the oil multinationals wrecking their environment, livelihoods and those of their families and their future.
Hundreds of women took over the Escravos Chevron-Nigerian government gas pipeline project in mid-August 2010 over failure of Chevron and the government to address their concerns. The women demanded shore protection (oil company operations lead to erosion and loss of community land) and local electrification as well as jobs.
“The reason why we filed this protest is that the affected communities want shore-piling for erosion control. We also need step down line for industrial electrification for the entire Ugborodo communities”. -Chief Thomas Ereyitobi, Chairman of Ugborodo community
“In less than three years from now the surging Atlantic Ocean would have wiped away our communities from the face of the earth and in spite of our crying out loudly everyday in the media to call the attention of the Federal Government to our plight, the Niger Delta Ministry did not deem it fit to include the Ugborodo shore protection project in the recently advertised job showing clearly that we are not part of the Nigerian project.”
“The Sector 2 Commander admonished the troops deployed to the facility and other areas of the council area to ensure “the use of proper tactical, overt and covert operations to protect the vast infrastructure and equipment at the rig site as well as protection of the rig staff.”
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, LGBT.
Tags: Africa, anti-gay, donna bryson, gay activists, gay marriage, gay rights, human rights, lgbt, malawi, raphael tenthani, religion, religious bigotry, roger hollander, same sex
By RAPHAEL TENTHANI
Associated Press, May 18, 2010
BLANTYRE, Malawi — A judge convicted a gay couple in Malawi Tuesday of unnatural acts and gross indecency after a trial that drew worldwide condemnation of this southern African country’s colonial-era laws on homosexuality.
Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, had been jailed since their arrest Dec. 27, the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party that drew crowds of curious, jeering onlookers.
Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the sentencing will take place on Thursday. The couple could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
Hearings in the trial have drawn Malawians who have ridiculed the couple, an indication of views on homosexuality in this traditional society — and elsewhere in Africa.
Undule Mwakasungula, a gay rights activist in Malawi, said the couple’s decision to declare their relationship with an engagement ceremony, a first in Malawi, appears to have been personal, not political. Mwakasungula said others have been prosecuted under the law, but this case was different because the two men were open about their homosexuality.
“This is the most publicized case related to that penal code,” he said.
Mwakasungula said he did not know the couple before their arrest, but that he and other activists have supported them since. He said they were relaxed before the verdict, but concerned that if they were released, they could be attacked by Malawians who have threatened them.
Mwakasungula said activists had planned to take the two to a safe house if they had been found innocent, but that given the laws and the climate in Malawi, a guilty verdict had been expected.
“It’s a challenge in terms of us pushing for legal reform,” Mwakasungula said. “We can’t be using a law that was enacted in 1940.”
The verdict is “extremely disturbing,” said Michaela Clayton of the Namibia-based AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, saying it could encourage anti-gay sentiment in the region as well as set back the fight against AIDS. Gay people forced underground in Africa are unlikely to seek counseling and treatment for AIDS, she and other activists said.
Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries on the continent. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that would sentence homosexuals to life in prison and include capital punishment for “repeat offenders.” Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have carried out so-called “corrective” rapes on lesbians.
Clayton said gays and other minorities in Africa had in recent years become more assertive about their sexual orientation and about claiming their rights, which could have led to the backlash.
“We have to keep on being strategic about the way we push this agenda forward,” she said.
Priti Patel of the Southern African Litigation Centre, an independent rights group, said Monjeza and Chimbalanga could appeal on the grounds that the laws under which they were prosecuted violate the country’s 1994 constitution. But an earlier attempt by their lawyer to have the case thrown out on those grounds was rejected.
Malawi’s government has been defiant in the face of international criticism over the prosecution of Monjeza and Chimbalanga. Months before the verdict, Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto said it was clear the two had broken the law.
Malawi church leaders have backed the government, saying homosexuality is “sinful” and the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force Malawi to accept homosexuality. Malawi relies on donors for 40 percent of its development budget.
The controversy, though, has emboldened some human rights activists in Malawi. The Center for the Development of People was recently formed to fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities.
Associated Press Writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Civil Liberties, Health, Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: abstinence only, aclu, Africa, AIDS, Amie newman, constitution, faith based, first amendment, foreign aid, hiv, hiv prevention, HIV/AIDS, religion, roger hollander, USAID
The ACLU has waited long enough.On Thursday, February 18th, they filed a lawsuit
against USAID for refusing to comply with their Freedom of Information Act requests from July and September 2009, for documents related to USAID-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs abroad. The ACLU has patiently awaited documents that may help shed light on an audit
completed last year suggesting USAID is dispersing money, unconstitutionally, for religiously-based HIV prevention programs.
The report, filed by the Office of Inspector General, surveyed 9 out of the 10 faith-based organizations using USAID funds and stated clearly that USAID-awarded funds were being used for religious activities.
For example, USAID monies fund abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for African youth that include “Biblical stories and religious messages.” What do these look like?
One curriculum, used for HIV/AIDS prevention education, includes an optional psalm for self-reflection: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”
The take-away concept the curriculum sums up: “God has a plan for sex and this plan will help you and protect you from harm.”
While it is important to recognize cultural mores when crafting curricula, these messages do more harm than good. Rates of HIV and AIDS throughout Africa vary greatly but sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by AIDS than anywhere else in the world. Religious messages that reinforce harmful cultural and social constructs are far from useful – if God has a plan for sex, how does this help young people protect themselves against HIV and AIDS – especially young women who more often than not are not, in developing nations, the final arbiters when it comes to protecting themselves against HIV or pregnancy.
The ACLU, in its complaint, calls these USAID funded programs “an unconstitutional expenditure of federal tax dollars” through PEPFAR (the program President Bush created to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic – President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and notes that, by definition, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs withhold life-saving information on contraception and condoms.
“In the face of a growing global HIV/AIDS crisis, USAID is not only violating basic constitutional principles by promoting government-funded religious activities, it is unconscionably putting young people’s health and lives at risk,” said Rose Saxe, staff attorney with the ACLU AIDS Project.
USAID regulations related to the dispursement of funds for faith-based organizations are clear:
Organizations that receive direct financial assistance from USAID under any USAID program may not engage in inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization, as part of the programs or services directly funded with direct financial assistance from USAID. If an organization conducts such activities, the activities must be offered separately, in time or location, from the programs or services funded with direct financial assistance from USAID, and participation must be voluntary for beneficiaries of the programs or services funded with such assistance.
The ACLU also notes, in its complaint against USAID, that the Office of Inspector General’s report found that the government agency “has a history of unconstitionally funding religious abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in developing countries.”
In African nations, in particular, using U.S. government funds to craft and disseminate HIV/AIDS prevention programs that include strong religious messages — and let’s be honest, we’re talking about strong fundamentalist Christian messages which reinforce strict gender roles on women and do not acknowledge the range of gender and sexual identities — seems particularly terrifying given the more recent reports of escalating violence and threats in the form of anti-gay bills, in Uganda, Rwanda and other African nations, that clearly arose from the intimate relationships between religious fundamentalists in the U.S. and these African nations.
HIV and AIDS prevention messages must impart life-saving information to young people. If the United States is, with one hand, attempting to address the continuing spread of HIV and AIDS in developing nations by providing government funds for prevention education and on the other hand disseminating powerful religious messages that only foster harmful gender and sexuality constructs that stand in the way of healthy behaviors and prevention, we’re constantly taking one step forward and two steps back.
U.S. taxpayers need to know how our money is being spent. The ACLU is doing its part to push for transparency:
“The United States government cannot be in the business of exporting religiously infused abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that we know fail to give young people the information they need to stay healthy,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “It is essential that the government provide all of the information it has about these programs so that the public has a full accounting of how taxpayer dollars are being spent.”
Amie Newman is Managing Editor of RH Reality Check.
Posted by rogerhollander in Religion, Women.
Tags: Africa, Bible, bishop tutu, Jimmy Carter, koran, mary robinson, muhammad, mysogyny, nelson mandela, nicholas kristof, quakers, religion, roger hollander, st. paul, the elders, wilbeforce, women, women's liberation, women's rights
NYT – January 10, 2010
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Religions derive their power and popularity in part from the ethical compass they offer. So why do so many faiths help perpetuate something that most of us regard as profoundly unethical: the oppression of women?
It is not that warlords in Congo cite Scripture to justify their mass rapes (although the last warlord I met there called himself a pastor and wore a button reading “rebels for Christ”). It’s not that brides are burned in India as part of a Hindu ritual. And there’s no verse in the Koran that instructs Afghan thugs to throw acid in the faces of girls who dare to go to school.
Yet these kinds of abuses — along with more banal injustices, like slapping a girlfriend or paying women less for their work — arise out of a social context in which women are, often, second-class citizens. That’s a context that religions have helped shape, and not pushed hard to change.
“Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified,” former President Jimmy Carter noted in a speech last month to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Australia.
“The belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God,” Mr. Carter continued, “gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo.”
Mr. Carter, who sees religion as one of the “basic causes of the violation of women’s rights,” is a member of The Elders, a small council of retired leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela. The Elders are focusing on the role of religion in oppressing women, and they have issued a joint statement calling on religious leaders to “change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.”
The Elders are neither irreligious nor rabble-rousers. They include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and they begin their meetings with a moment for silent prayer.
“The Elders are not attacking religion as such,” noted Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and United Nations high commissioner for human rights. But she added, “We all recognized that if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.”
There is of course plenty of fodder, in both the Koran and the Bible, for those who seek a theology of discrimination.
The New Testament quotes St. Paul (I Timothy 2) as saying that women “must be silent.” Deuteronomy declares that if a woman does not bleed on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” The Koran stipulates that a woman shall inherit less than a man, and that a woman’s testimony counts for half a man’s.
In fairness, many scholars believe that Paul did not in fact write the passages calling on women to be silent. And Islam started out as socially progressive for women — banning female infanticide and limiting polygamy — but did not continue to advance.
But religious leaders sanctified existing social structures, instead of pushing for justice. In Africa, it would help enormously if religious figures spoke up for widows disenfranchised by unjust inheritance traditions — or for rape victims, or for schoolgirls facing sexual demands from their teachers. Instead, in Uganda, the influence of conservative Christians is found in a grotesque push to execute gays.
Yet paradoxically, the churches in Africa that have done the most to empower women have been conservative ones led by evangelicals and especially Pentecostals. In particular, Pentecostals encourage women to take leadership roles, and for many women this is the first time they have been trusted with authority and found their opinions respected. In rural Africa, Pentecostal churches are becoming a significant force to emancipate women.
That’s a glimmer of hope that reminds us that while religion is part of the problem, it can also be part of the solution. The Dalai Lama has taken that step and calls himself a feminist.
Another excellent precedent is slavery. Each of the Abrahamic faiths accepted slavery. Muhammad owned slaves, and St. Paul seems to have condoned slavery. Yet the pioneers of the abolitionist movement were Quakers and evangelicals like William Wilberforce. People of faith ultimately worked ferociously to overthrow an oppressive institution that churches had previously condoned.
Today, when religious institutions exclude women from their hierarchies and rituals, the inevitable implication is that females are inferior. The Elders are right that religious groups should stand up for a simple ethical principle: any person’s human rights should be sacred, and not depend on something as earthly as their genitals.
Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment.
Tags: 2 degrees, Africa, carbon, carbon emissions, carmon emitters, climate, climate change, copenhagen, elliott verreault, g77, global warming, kyoto, Lumumba Di-Aping, neo-colonialism, roger hollander, thrid world, two degrees
“$10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins”.
December 19, 209
Yesterday in Copenhagen, where leaders have come together to discuss the fate of the climate, lead G77 negotiator, Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, broke down in tears. To a small group of press and civil society supporters, he divulged that many African negotiators, pressured by developeing countries, and some succumbing to their own self-interest, were ready to sign a weak deal.
What would a weak deal look like? A deal that locks Africa and the rest of the world into a 2 degree, 450ppm scenario — what President Nasheed of the Maldives, and now many African civil society leaders call a “suicide pact.”
He did not start his speech immediately. Instead he sat silently, tears rolling down his face. He put his head in his hands and said “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The room was frozen into silence, shocked by the sight of a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting such strong emotion. He apologised to the audience, but said that in his part of Sudan it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”
Di-Aping first attacked the 2 degrees C warming maximum that most rich countries currently consider acceptable. Referring continuously to science, in particular parts of the latest IPCC report (which he referenced by page and section) he said that 2 degrees C globally meant 3.5 degrees C for much of Africa. He called global warming of 2 degrees C “certain death for Africa”, a type of “climate fascism” imposed on Africa by high carbon emitters. He said Africa was being asked to sign on to an agreement that would allow this warming in exchange for $10 billion, and that Africa was also being asked to “celebrate” this deal.
He explained that, by wanting to subvert the established post-Kyoto process, the industrialised nations were effectively wanting to ignore historical emissions, and by locking in deals that would allow each citizen of those countries to carry on emitting a far greater amount of carbon per year than each citizen in poor countries, would prevent many African countries from lifting their people out of poverty. This was nothing less than a colonisation of the sky, he said. “$10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins”.
Calling the current deal that was being proposed “worse than no deal”, he called on Africans to reject it — “I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace.” Africans had to make clear demands of their leaders not to sign on. He suggested a couple of slogans: “One Africa, one degree” and “Two degrees is suicide”