Weekly Education Update 3/15-3/24

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DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria

DRC 

Following Invisible Children’s video Kony 2012 surpassing the 80 million view mark, 34 senators introduced a resolution this week to condemn Joseph Kony and his 26-year campaign of violence, abduction and murder. The measure backs the effort of Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan to stop Kony and LRA violence, while it also symbolizes the continued commitment of the US to aid regional forces to stop the militia group once and for all.

The DRC will contribute forces to a 5,000-strong African Union military force today in Juba, South Sudan to hunt down Joseph Kony and the LRA. The force will bring together soldiers from the South Sudan, CAR and Uganda as well. 

UN peacekeeping troops are supporting a Congolese army drive against jungle-based rebel groups, including the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and the LRA, by the army (FARDC). However this drive is expected to displaced at least 100,000 people, as aid workers have warned this will trigger new waves of instability, violence and human rights violations. The drive began in South Kivu on February 15th; however it has been largely unreported until now as the FARDC moves towards North Kivu, which borders Uganda. The operation is, ironically enough, called Perfect Peace. 

The United Nations just released a report citing the widespread human rights violations, including killings, disappearances and arbitrary detentions, committed during November’s presidential and legislative elections in the DRC. The report documents the murder of at least 33 people by security forces in the capital of Kinshasa between November 26 and December 25 as well as the wounding of 83 others by bullets. 235 people were arrested during this time and arbitrarily detained, many also tortured while in confinement. The majority of these violations were committed by the Congolese Republican Guard, National Congolese Police or the National Intelligence Agency. Witnesses even were quoted as saying that bodies were dumped in the Congo River or buried in mass graves. There also emerged a pattern amongst the victims, as “the investigation also found that many of the victims of violations were targeted because of their affiliation to the political opposition part of Etienne Tshisekedi, the main opponent of President Joseph Kabila”. While the report calls on Congolese authorities to conduct independent investigation into cases of human rights violations and bring perpetrators to justice, the country’s justice minister has already rejected the report’s findings. The report can be found in its entirety here

After the first verdict was issued by the ICC last week against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo announced he will visit the DRC, thank Joseph Kabila for his support of the verdict and also to seek the immediate arrest of other indicted Congolese. Civil society groups in Kinshasa have called upon the government to arrest Bosco Ntaganda, allegedly Lubanga’s main accomplice, who has also been charged with committing mass murders in Ituri and Kiwanja in 2002 and 2009. 

A London-based oil company called SOCO International intends to engage in oil exploration in Virunga National Park in the DRC, which is both Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Virunga is a highly vulnerable ecosystem, serves as the source of the Congo and Nile rivers, and is home to many protected species including mountain gorillas. Global Witness said, “Undertaking oil exploration or exploitation on the ground in a UNESCO World Heritage site constitutes a breach of the Convention on World Heritage, as well as DRC’s own laws and constitution.” 

The New York Times reported on the continued debates around the complexities of Dodd-Frank section 1502 by the Securities and Exchange Commission, companies and human rights activists around the country. Currently, the debate revolved around who exactly is covered by the conflict minerals requirement. The law says that the minerals must be “necessary to the functionality or production of a product manufactured by” a company, which has raised questions over the scope and scale of the law as well as implications for cost. 

World Water Day on Thursday highlighted the need internationally to increase access to clean water, which is especially pertinent in the DRC where half the population of 66 million stick lacks access and one out of every five children under the age of 5 suffers from diarrhea. For the past year, the country has faced a deadly cholera epidemic with more than 22,000 reported cases and 500 deaths. 

Sudan, South Sudan

United Nations special envoy has warned of the possibility of a “large scale humanitarian crisis” in the word’s newest nation, unless resources are mobilized to ensure protection and safety of children returning from neighboring north. 

The United States announced that it is suspending $350 million allocated to Malawi through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) citing deteriorating human rights in the country.

Chiefs from the Lou-Nuer communities expressed their readiness to handover their guns peacefully to the authorities as part of the comprehensive disarmament taking place in Jonglei State in response to insecurity, cattle raiding and tribal feuds. However, South Sudan army has reported clashes with some armed youth of Lou-Nuer who are protesting the disarmament.

The University of Khartoum re-opened its doors on Sunday, March 18th after being closed for two months following clashes between police and students.

As Jonglei State’s disarmament campaign enters its first week, the process has been rocked by allegations that soldiers raped a women in Pariak village on Monday and that soldiers were also responsible for stealing money from Bor police station.

The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Mohamed Atta al-Moula Abbas revealed that the army along with reserve forces and NISS operatives repelled an attack on the oil-rich town of Heglig. Al-Moula said the attack was led by rebels based in the newly independent state of South Sudan adding that half the force came from Juba’s official army known as Sudan people Liberation Army (SPLA).

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has expressed concerns over recent inter-communal violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei State, urging the country’s leadership to restore security by tacking the root causes of the problem.

Syria

With the backing of the United Nations and Arab League, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in Moscow in an attempt to garner Russian support for the formation of a ceasefire in Syria. Annan will meet with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the terms and implications of such action by Russia.

Amid the renewed diplomatic overtures to end the unrest, now having reached over a year in length, violence by Syrian military and security forces and clashes withgovernment forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) continued unabated this week. Opposition sources reported some 10 killed in Homs by sniper and armored activity this week. The violence comes amid a continuing offensive by the Syrian army, which has made major gains over the course of the last month in securing and pacifying areas of both peaceful and armed resistance, through the use of widespread shelling and neighborhood sweeps which have utilized arbitrary killings and arrests to neutralize the populations capacity to resist.

The European Union announced Friday that it had placed a travel ban on Asma-Al-Assad British born wife of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, and also has freezed her international assets. The travel ban on Asma comes among an additional 11 other travel bans of Syrian nationals assigned by the EU.

The education update is produced every Thursday to update STAND members and the advocacy community about developments with regards to genocide and crimes against humanity.  For more information contact the following:

Education Coordinator: Sean Langberg education@standnow.org 

Sudan Education Coordiator: Emma Smith esmith@standnow.org

DRC Education Coordinator: Siobhan Kelley skelley@standnow.org

Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall tdolzall@standnow.org 

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