This week in conflict…
- The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative has recently launched its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), a new way to measure poverty in the world. The MPI expands on the previous Human Development Index (HDI) and includes 10 indicators of health (child mortality and nutrition), education (years of schooling and child enrollment) and standard of living (access to electricity, drinking water, sanitation, flooring, cooking fuel and basic assets like a radio or bicycle).
- The UN is set to transform the way it deploys peacekeeping missions around the world to ensure field operations have the support they need and to improve efficiency and effectiveness of services.
- The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that the Canadian Security and Intelligence System cannot rely on evidence obtained through torture. Hopefully this will have an impact on the practices of CSIS and the RCMP.
- Wyclef Jean from singing group the Fugees has taken legal steps towards running for President in Haiti. Many analysts predict that Jean could easily win the election due to his overwhelming popularity, particularly amongst young people.
- The US has acknowledged plans to attack Iran if needed to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons.
- An annual review process by the Office of the US trade Representative has placed several countries on a “priority watch list” for failure to properly enforce intellectual property rights, specifically in regards to pharmaceutical property. This process puts the manufacture of generic AIDs anti-retro-viral treatments at severe risk, which many NGOs have complained is in violation of the international right to health.
- A military lawyer is seeking to halt the trial of Omar Khadr, held in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. Khadr was just 15 when captured. His lawyer contends that the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals are unconstitutional because it created a second-class court system that applies only to non-US citizens. Khadr’s trial is to begin August 10.
- More than 30 US billionaires pledged to give away at least 50% of their wealth to charity as part of a campaign by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The Giving Pledge campaign does not accept any money, but merely asks the billionaires to make a moral commitment to give their wealth away to charity.
- California’s gay marriage ban was overturned by a federal judge on Wednesday in a landmark case that could eventually force the US Supreme Court to confront the question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed. Sadly, the right has taking to calling into question the bias of the judge who has been reported as himself homosexual. They are expected to appeal the ruling.
- In a similar move, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a law allowing same-sex marriages in Mexico City is constitutional. A car bomb exploded outside a police station in northern Mexico on Thursday, thought to be related to drug gang ambushes. There were no reported injuries.
- Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe denied plans to launch a military attack on neighbouring Venezuela. Recent tensions were sparked by Colombia’s claims that Venezuela was harbouring nearly 1,500 Colombian rebels.
- At least one farmer died in Peru on Tuesday when police cleared a protest roadblock set by coca growers. The government is making efforts to eradicate the coca plantations, which are used to make cocaine. Other protests later in the week saw hundreds of Peruvians sabotaging facilities at a foreign-owned gas pipeline and threatening to take more radical measures.
- In a groundbreaking pact, the Ecuadorean government agreed to UNDP’s proposal to refrain from tapping three major oilfields in the Amazon jungle for at least a decade in exchange for a economic partnership to invest in other resources.
- Violent protests in Bolivia came after the government enacted a new customs law that would punish those who smuggle goods with the same severity as drug traffickers. Another wave of protests in Potosi over regional border disputes over limestone deposits stranded hundreds of foreign tourists. The mining city’s residents went on a general strike for more government investment in their region.
- A suicide bomb attack in Yemen wounded 8 soldiers on Tuesday after an attack on security forces. Al Qaeda has been held as the main suspect of the bombing. The country’s Shi’ite rebels released 100 soldiers and pro-government tribesmen captured in last month’s clashes, a second move towards cementing a fragile truce in the north of the country. Three soldiers were killed at a checkpoint on Thursday in a suspected al Qaeda attack.
- A gunmen killed five police officers at a Baghdad checkpoint on Tuesday. The attacks took place just after mortar rounds had hit the area. A roadside bomb and then a car bomb killed 12 people and wounded at least 55 in a busy commercial area of Kut.
- Israel launched a series of air attacks against the Gaza Strip injuring many Palestinians, which they say was in response to a rocket that hit the city of Ashkelon on Friday. Another rocket, possibly coming from Egypt, slammed into a Jordanian Red Sea resort on Monday. It was thought that the rocket was supposed to hit a nearby Israeli resort but went astray. Another explosion, meant to kill the senior Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip on Monday, instead wounded at least 31 people. At least five rockets were fired at the southern Israeli city of Eilat in response. On Wednesday Israeli shellfire killed a Palestinian militant and wounded another on the Gaza strip in an attempt to stop a group of Palestinians who Israel claims had approached the Gaza border fence.
- Fighting erupted at the Lebanese-Israeli border on Tuesday between the Lebanese and Israeli armies. An Israeli patrol was said by the Lebanese to cross the border unannounced in order to remove a tree that was blocking their visibility, wherein, the Lebanese army began firing rocket propelled grenades. In response, the Israelis fired two missiles at a Lebanese army post killing at least 4 people. Israel claimed they were fired upon while engaged in “routine activity” and threatened retaliations against Lebanon should violations continue.
- Recent floods in the Koreas have led land mines from North Korea to wash ashore on South Korean riverbanks, and beaches, causing at least one death.
- Government troops fired into crowds of protesters demonstrating against round-the-clock curfews early this week in Indian-administered Kashmir, resulting in the death of at least 4 people. Violence has been escalating in recent weeks, with as many as 47 protesters killed in the last week.
- At least 80 people have been injured during textile workers protests in Bangladesh this week, demanding an increase of their minimum wage (currently around $24 a month) to a livable salary. The workers make clothing for international brands like Marks & Spencer, JCPenney, Wal-Mart and H&M.
- Afghanis rioted in Kabul setting fire to two US embassy vehicles after NATO SUVs collided with a civilian car killing a number of passengers. A suicide car bomber killed at least 5 children in the southern Kandahar province on Monday and more suicide bombers attacked an air base in Kandahar on Tuesday. A deadly attack on an Afghan-NATO convoy resulted in the deaths of at least 7 police officers. July was hailed as the deadliest month for American forces with a death toll of 66. The Dutch mission in Afghanistan has officially ended and their withdrawal has begun.
- Nepal’s parliament failed to elect a new Prime Minister on Monday for the third time in less than two weeks, further delaying a peace process that ended a decade-long civil war.
- Four people were killed in Turkey Monday night after Kurdish separatists attacked a police station with a rocket launcher and automatic weapons. Violence has been said to be increasing on military targets, with nearly 100 soldiers dead since calling off a unilateral ceasefire at the start of June.
- At least 70 people were killed in Karachi, Pakistan by violent mobs this week following the assassination of a member of the provincial Sindh Assembly from the Muttahida Quami Movement. A suicide bomber killed a police officer in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday, and wounded at least 4 other people; and at least six people were wounded after a grenade was hurled at a mosque during prayers later that evening.
- Another school attack in a kindergarten in China has led to the deaths of at least 4 people; one teacher and 3 children. This is the sixth in a string of school assaults this year. In an attempt to reduce crime, the poor in Beijing are being locked inside their neighbourhoods at night. Officials call the project “sealed management”.
- China is said to be developing an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 km.
- A battle between Indian police and Maoist fighters flared on Wednesday when a police patrol was ambushed in the central state of Chhattisgarh. No word on on the number of casualties has yet been released.
- The controversial death of Papuan activist Yawan Wayeni was broadcast over the internet, sparking outrage in Jakarta. Police officers taunted him as he lay dying from wounds they had inflicted upon him. The original story surrounding the death of Wayeni, who was killed almost a year ago, suggested that he had been shot while resisting arrest and died on the way to the hospital. Video shows that he was tied to a log and forced to chant before his abdomen was sliced with a bayonet.
- South Korea has begun naval drills of its western coast. North Korea warned that it will counter any reckless naval firing with strong physical retaliation.
- Two people died in a bombing at an airport in the Philippines on Thursday. 24 people were injured.
- Around 1,000 demonstrators were prevented from entering Bishkek to attend a rally in the capital on Thursday and another 3,000 demonstrators are said to have amassed near parliament. National Security Services said that the demonstrators planned to demand the installation of a local politician in a position of power or else seize power themselves. Later, the Kyrgyz authorities arrested opposition leader Urmat Baryktabasov and more than 20 of his supporters on suspicion of a coup plot.
- The UN extended its mission in Darfur, Sudan for another year on Friday until July 2011, while the government of Sudan responded by saying it will now monitor travel by UN/African Union peacekeepers. The South Sudan army (SPLA) recovered about 30,000 unauthorized weapons in the semi-autonomous regions. South Darfur’s government called on the peacekeepers to hand over six Darfuris, supposedly responsible for inciting last week’s violence in a refugee camp, who are sheltered in the UNAMID peacekeeping base. The government then denied all aid agencies access to Darfur’s Kalma camp on Friday. Stalled talks between Sudan’s rival northern and southern halves over the disputed oil-producing Abyei region could trigger new conflict in the region. Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) decided to suspend its medical care to the most violent region of Sudan after experiencing three separate attacks on its staff. Cattle raids killed at least 21 people on Wednesday in southern Sudan and in a separate incident, the LRA was accused of ambushing a truck.
- The UN reported that almost 90,000 people have been displaced following recent military operations in the DR Congo, with at least 6 civilian deaths. Fighting occurred in the Beni territory of North Kivu between the national army and the Ugandan rebel group ADF-NALU.
- Presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic have been postponed for a third time until January 23.
- Kenya has approved a new legal framework to replace its old constitution which has been in use since independence from British colonial rule in 1963. Ushahidi software was used to track irregularities.
- The European Union (EU) has decided not to extend its security forces reform mission in Guinea-Bissau when its mandate expires on September 30. Failure to respect the rule of law in the country since the April army mutiny has been cited as the reason.
- The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) found a former administrator guilty of genocide on Tuesday, for transporting soldiers to kill thousands of people he had promised to feed and protect during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Dominique Ntawukilyayo was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
- Rising vigilante violence in South Africa saw the death of at least five suspects this week. Police services say that nearly 5% of the nearly 50 homicides a day are the result of vigilantism.
- Lobby group Global Witness intends to sue the British government for failing to refer its companies and citizens who are violating United Nations resolutions on Congolese conflict minerals to a UN sanctions committee.
- A new security law signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev restores Soviet-era powers to the Federal Security Service (the KGB’s main successor agency), allowing Russians to face jail time for crimes they have not yet committed in an effort to combat extremism and terrorist attacks.
- Russia’s most wanted rebel decided to step down as leader of the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus due to health reasons, but then later denies quitting calling the previous video a falsification. Analysts are expecting the decision to contribute to increased violence in the area.
- Videos of French police violently dragging women and babies out of their homes after being evicted made waves in France. Many of those evicted are now reported to be living on the streets.
- Drug users and doctors legally prescribing substitution drugs to addicts, in an attempt to battle the growing HIV epidemic, are facing illegal police intimidation and imprisonment in the Ukraine. The country as also announced that they plan to close their top HIV/AIDs treatment centre this month.