Why do women in war suffer so much?
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Friday, November 18, 2011
These two men have a some things in common even as relationships between Libya and Liberia waxed and waned:
1. The two countries are always mixed up - I'm almost always mistakenly referred to as a Libyan rather than a Liberian.
2. There were both African Presidents who came to power by military coup d'etat (even though Doe's was bloody and Gaddafi's was nots).
Related News Link
Death of rebel who caught Gaddafi stokes Libya tensions
Libyan President says attack that killed U. S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was planned Terrorism
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Pause for a moment, when you switch on your live TV or search the internet for news on Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Egypt, what do you see? Who has the spotlight? Well, ...it's mostly men. Does it cross your mind when you think about it? Where are the women and children? Are they equal stakeholders in this so-called race for freedom and justice? Are they impacted by such violent conflicts? If so, are their rights being protected? Let's see if I can muster any motivation from you to consider questioning about the state of women and children in Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Egypt amidst these conflicts.
Arab Muslims, who arrived in the 7th century, exerted the most influence and established themselves permanently in Tunisia. Like any other original people, the Berbers resisted Muslim's language and religion, but their ability to exercise full control was overcome by the arrivals of the Bedouin tribes from the east which added more strength to Muslim influences.
After transitioning through medieval times as well as surviving Italian and French invasion in 1881 - fast-forward to 1920, the creation of the Destour Party - a nationalist movement led by Habib Bourguiba - fueled a series of tension in Tunisia, one of which resulted in Bourguiba's arrest in 1952 after Tunisia fell under Vichy's rule during World War II. Three years after Bourguiba's arrest, a wave of violence between the French and Tunisians ensued. France later granted Tunisia independence on 20 March 1956 "crowning" Habib Bourguiba as the first prime ministers.
Worth noting, is how interestingly similar African leaders are. Regardless their geographical location, background or race, they somehow manage to exhibit similar leadership qualifications as is seen with Bourguiba and Ben Ali. After 31 years of domination, in November 1987 Bourguiba was "removed" by Zine el Abidine Ben Ali who has become the center of attraction today (for repeating the exact same thing Bourguiba did) having served five consecutive terms - a total of 23 years.
Today Tunisians as rural farmers, mountaineers, city dwellers and human rights activists refused to remain passive. As they mount the streets to protest Ben Ali's "undemocratic" endless repression, corruption and economic malaise, the Jasmine Revolutionists are exposed to serious injuries and death. Although Ben Ali has fled the country, one big question remains, will his departure bring lasting solution to Tunisia's leaders (men) propensity to abuse power?
Same ole, same ole! Almost the same story retold three times, except that the locations are different. Egypt proudly known as the birth of civilization, culture and history is at its worse state now. President Hosni Mubarak who succeeded Anwar Sadat after he was assassinated in 1981, have clung unto "sweet power" for three decades. He is infamous for paying diplomatic visits to four US presidents - Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. At this point, these visits tell it all with regard to the sheer length of time an African male leader can grip power without conscience or empathy. But that's not the end of the story.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
When I was asked to comment on Restrepo several thoughts ran through my mind. Rather than recount “annoying” scenes as critics usually do, I decided to reflect not only on the implications of my initial reaction to intermittent outburst of laughter in the room during the viewing of the documentary on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at the George Washington University but to also scan the internet to explore what others are saying about the film. Even though, the Sundance 2010 Award winning documentary appears to receive “thumbs up” from supposedly American populace, below are few random quotations I stumbled upon whilst doing a mini-research:-
“The film provides insight into the soldiers and their environment, but it is its own paradox: The more it reveals, the more mysterious and puzzling the war becomes.” August 20, 2010; Rotten Tomatoes.
“Still, my guess is that anyone who sees Restrepo with an open mind will come out saying, I learned something I didn’t know. Reminding us how much we don’t know, how much our beliefs are based on assumptions and leaps of faith — isn’t that what docs should do? It may even be worth going to the theater to see some unchoreographed, unfun violence that really happened.” Margaret Harrison, September 8, 2010.
“The old men are skeptical of both Kearney’s pledge and the presence of his troops in their lives… But Kearney insists that everybody focus on the task at hand… The Americans need cooperation. The villagers need the Americans to understand that the price for cooperation is likely to be Taliban reprisals. The picture that emerges is of war that, if not unwinnable, is a Sisyphean battle in a country made almost entirely of hills and boulders.” Wesley Morris, July 2, 2010.
Collectively, these reviews highlight the unadulterated aspects of the footages, the strong camaraderie exhibited by young immature boy soldiers, likability of heroic American redeemers of uncivilized Afghani villagers versus the devilish not-deserving-life enemies – the Talibans. Nevertheless, what is missing is Afghanis’ perspective with regards to how Americans audaciously invade their country, branding locals as insurgents. At this juncture the meaning of “insurgent” is noteworthy. According to Dictionary.com in international law, insurgent is “a person or group that rises in revolt against an established government or authority but whose conduct does not amount to belligerency.” Thus, considering this definition, Americans are the insurgents making the reverse invalid and unfounded.
Whilst most Americans usually display either a strong sense of patriotism, hypocrisy or shear ignorance with regards to their government’s insurgency against Afghanistan; the crux of the matter lies only with the hope inherent with time. This "hope-with-time analogy" will potentially confirm the conventional belief that society is progressing towards global justice and that tolerance for human rights is flaunted in our so-called new world order. But the reality that injustice and inequality is at the hands of “international human rights gate-keepers” is clearly observed in the statement below:-
“By any reasonable measure, Mugabe has committed crimes against humanity justifying an international response. The United States should propose that the UN Security Council use its authority under the Rome Statute to authorise International Criminal Court claims of crimes against humanity (A case for intervention).” John Kraemer and Larry Gostin, January 5, 2009 - Guardian. Though the above statement is written in a completely different context, by analogy it can be compared with similar analysis drawn from Restropo. In that, it is mind boggling to process thoughts on how anyone could turn blind eyes to their own “sins” but yet have the audacity to accuse another of similar “offences”?
In summary, I emphasize that among the numerous other emotions and thoughts I had gathered whilst sitting in Room 213 of the Elliot School of International Affairs, issues of restoring justice to innocent victims of invasion, cultural disrespect and gross human rights abuse by America overwhelmed me. I asked whether American citizens as well as local human rights organizations could seek and access appropriate avenues (e.g. Court systems in American) and/or regional institutions (Inter-American Human Rights Commission) to file complaints on behalf of innocent civilians of Afghanistan who perceive that their rights have been violated due to America’s occupation? Due to the United States conscientious refusal to sign on to the Rome Statue, it is almost impossible for anyone to bring a case of war crimes against them to the International Court of Justice, certainly not women and children as they are completely absent both from the “war front” and amongst local community members, yet they implicitly disproportionately bear the adverse effects associated with war and conflict. Your thoughts are welcome.
Friday, January 22, 2010
According to BBC Country Profile, SADR came under Spanish rule in 1884 and later became a Spanish province in 1934. Though a former Spanish colony, SADR is currently occupied by Morocco even after Morocco (and Mauratania) were rejected claims to sovereignty of SADR by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1975. This was the beginning of Sahwaris on-going struggle for self-determination and independence sparking the formation of the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement set up in May 10, 1973. In protest to the ICJ's decision, King Hassan II ordered a "Green March" of over 300,000 Moroccans in November 1975. Though Spain and Mauritania eventually backed down, Mororocco will continue to claim complete control over Sahrawi people.
Between 1978 until now, the Polisario Front have engaged in both low and high-grade war against Morocco. Ongoing conflicts between Polisario and Morocco have resulted in some 100,000 refugees along the Algerian/Mauritanian borders. In part, lack of recognition of SADR from the UN and other politically charged relationships between Morocco and the United States, research information as well as media attention on SADR are almost non-existent. SADR is not included in the United Nations High Commission for Refugee reports, neither does the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre document anything on the status of refugees and displaced Sahrawis. Moreover, most internet sources pertinent to SADR/Western Sahara, rather than focusing on the grave human right violation of this group of people with respect to modern day colonization; emphasis is put on the UN failed missions in convincing Morocco to leave SADR.
According to Freedom for All, there are about 95,000 Sahrawis refugees residing in Tindouf Refugee camp in South-West Algeria. Union de l'action feminine (UAF) asserts that "women and children in the camps are deprived of their most fundamental rights...[they are] compelled to work beyond their capacities and a great number of them have been tortured and beaten... women lost their husbands, killed in the Polisario jails...children are manipulated for political purposes and are used to ask for humanitarian aid that is embezzled by the Polisario separatists..." Many are denied access to health as the camp one hospital facility with minimum supplies are under staffed and incapaciated. Access to education beyond grade school is difficult but for few scholarships program (e.g., he Cuban government). Even with these setbacks, Peace Women confirms that Sahrawi women are not only in charge of their lives but are the champions of propagating high quality education to the rest of their community. Since the war between Morocco and Polisario (1975) a Sahrawis born then have been forced to grow up in barbed wire refugee camps. Many who ran from Morocco to Polisario camps for refuge, have been separated from families they left in Morocco for well over 30 years.
Whilst some argue that Polisario is responsible for these human rights abuses of women and children, others purports that the Moroccan government is to be blamed for denying Sahrawis their right to self-determination and independence. Yet others argue that, the reason for encaging such nomadic group of people by Morocco has to do with SADR's richness in phosphate oil, fish and other minerals. If Polisario truly did not want some closure to this ordeal then they would not have signalled their readiness to accept UN plans to resolve the issue in 2004. Morocco's rejection of this plan forced James Baker, former UN Special Envoy, to resign in June 2004 making the UN process a deadlock.
No progress have been made since talks resumed between Morocco and the Polisario Front in March 2008 in New York, with Mauritania and Algeria in attendance. In January 2009 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed US diplomat Christopher Ross as his new special envoy to deal with Western Sahara. On April 20, 2009, the Security Council extended the mandate for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for another year. The unanimously backed Resolution 1871 calls for continued negotiations surrounding a lasting political solution, including self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
Today, very little is known of the plight of the Sahrawi people partly due to elfishness, greed, discrimination and double standards in the international legal order. It is important that, as a global community, we maintain consistency in advocating for everyone's rights as enshrined by international law. I hope the media and other humanitarian advocacy groups will see the need to include the people of Sahrawi in their campaigns and awareness projects globally.
Compiled by Veronica Fynn
Sahrawi Demonstration Against Norwegian Oil Hunt
Sahrawi Protest Norwegian Fisheries
Western Saharan Refugees Reach Out to the World
Refugees Return to the Sahara After Cuban Education
Saturday, October 24, 2009
According to France 24 in the midst of "blood bath and harrowing tales" an estimated 30 women have allegedly being brutally raped by soldiers. Stories from eyewitnesses, survivors and others:
"They raped me. I went out of the stadium naked, naked, naked," a political activist said (quoted from France 24)
"I went back behind the gate, I found another soldier there. He took his gun (…) and he forced it into the vagina of a girl,” an eyewitness said (quoted from France 24)
"Group rape, rape in broad daylight on a pitch…really that is unusual in Guinea… and that is worrying. They are afraid to come and even we are not very comfortable talking about these rapes because we worry about the consequences of speaking out," a doctor said, (quoted from France 24)
“I can’t sleep at night, after what I saw, and I am afraid. I saw lots of women raped, and lots of dead.” said one middle-aged woman (quoted from New York Times)
"I saw a women who was stripped naked...They tore off tore off her clothes. They surrounded her. They made her lie down. They lifted up her feet, and one of the soldiers advanced. They took turns." (quoted from Politics Daily)
"I affirm, in categorical fashion, that women were raped, not just one woman," said Mamadou Mouctar Diallo, 34, an opposition leader (quoted from Feministing)
" They especially tore into the women. They were seeking to humiliate them" said former opposition prime minister, François Lonsény Fall (quoted from Feministing)
Compiled by Veronica P. Fynn
Amid the Blood Bath, Harrowing Tales of Rape
Outcry as Dozens are Killed at Conakry Protest
The Coup Seen from "Baghdad"
Mon Pay Va Mal
Scores Killed at Guinea Protest
New York Times
Sunday, September 27, 2009
With the "ending of the islands decades-old civil war" came "illegal hostages" of Tamil civilians by the government. On September 11, 2009, amidst international concern for over 300,000 Tamil civilians, the Government of Sri Lanka sent home 9,920 villagers that were being held for "screening." The Associated Press writer, Bharatha Mallawarachi reports that "these displaced ethnic Tamils were confined to overcrowded, military-run camps with poor sanitation and restricted movements."
Apart from creating hundreds of thousands of refugees, and internally displaced persons, Sri Lanka's war has attracted criticism from human rights groups because of their abductions and recruitment of children under 18 years of age as child soldiers - a blatant violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Optional Protocol. Human Rights Watch reports that "despite promises to investigate abductions of children by the pro-government Karuna group, Sri Lankan authorities have taken no effective action and abductions continue...the armed opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also continue to recruit children in Sri Lanka and use them as soldiers." From 2003 to 2008 UNICEF recorded over 6,000 cases of child recruitment by rebel groups in Sri Lanka, the Economist Reports on July 16, 2009.
As caring citizens of the world, the least we can do is at least inform ourselves about the plethora of injustices and inequalities existing in such a disparate world. To sit supinely and do nothing is a moral offense!
Written by: Veronica Fynn
November 10, 2009: Landmines, Unexploed Ordnance a Barrier to Return
Official Website of the Sri Lankan Government
Life as a Sri Lankan War Refugee
Sri Lanka War
"Sri Lanka War on Tamil" - Hunting the Tigers
Sri Lanka Photo Gallery by National Geography