“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hundreds of Libyans handover their weapons

Associated Press, Osama Alfitory, Sep. 29, 2012

Libyan civilians turn in weapons to security forces in Benghazi, Libya, Saturday, 
Sept. 29, 2012. Hundreds of Libyans have converged on a main square in Benghazi
 in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons, some driving
 in with armored personnel carriers, vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft guns and
 hundreds of rocket launchers. The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted
 on a private TV station earlier this month. But the call may have gained traction
 in the wake of the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the
American  ambassador and three staffers were killed. The attack was followed by 
a popular uproar against armed militias which have increasingly challenged 
government authorities. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri)
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Hundreds of Libyans converged Saturday on a main square in Benghazi and another in Tripoli in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons, some driving in with armored personnel carriers, tanks, vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft guns and hundreds of rocket launchers.

The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted on a private TV station in August. But it may have gained traction in the wake of the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the American ambassador and three staffers were killed. The incident was followed by a popular uproar against armed militias which have increasingly challenged government authorities.

In response, the government has called on all militias to disband or join a command center coordinating between the army and the militias. The government had relied on many militias for security during the turmoil following last year's ouster and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Army Col. Omran al-Warfali said the turnout has been impressive.

"Hundreds of citizens came since the early hours of this morning to handover their weapons from all segments of society, men and youth, women, and even children came to hand over bullets they found it in the streets," he said.

Previously, the government had estimated that over 200,000 people in Libya are armed. It has attempted a number of disarmament schemes, including offering people jobs in exchange for handing over their weapons, or offering to buy guns. Those offers have shown few results.

A military official has been urging citizens in ads on a popular TV station to hand in their weapons. The station, Libya alHurra or Free Libya, showed live footage of Saturday's collection and transfer of weapons to military barracks.

Ahmed Salem, an organizer of the efforts in Benghazi, said over 800 citizens handed in weapons at the main collection point. Over 600 different types of arms were collected, including anti-aircraft guns, land mines, rocket launchers and artillery rockets.

Moussa Omr, a former fighter who lives on the outskirts of Benghazi and who fought against Gadhafi, said it was time to turn over his weapon to the state.

"When I saw the announcement on television I came to Benghazi with my wife and son to hand over my weapon to the national army because I want to move from the stage of the revolution to state building," he said. "I trust the national army. They have been with us on the frontline and I know them one by one. I don't need this weapon after today, the militias have been expelled from Benghazi and the national army will protect us."

Anger at the militias boiled over after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate.

Most of Libya's militias emerged during the eight-month war against Gadhafi, but others sprang up after the end of fighting last October. With the country trying to rebuild after the 42-year dictatorship, the groups paid little attention to successive interim leaders. They were accused of bullying citizens, operating independent prisons and holding summary trials for Gadhafi loyalists. Recently, Islamist-led militias have also attacked shrines, such as tombs associated with religious figures they consider counter to their strict interpretation of Islam.

Last weekend, thousands of protesters marched against the militias in Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising against Gadhafi, and stormed two of their compounds.

In Tripoli, at least 200 former fighters handed over their weapons, including two tanks, at the Martyrs' square in the city center. A cleric urged young fighters to give up their weapons. "The nation is built with knowledge not guns," he said standing in the square.

Associated Press Writer Esam Mohamed contributed to this report from Tripoli, Libya.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nigeria suspends Hajj flights over women deportation

BBC News, 27 September 2012

Related Stories 

More than 500 women from Jeddah
airport are to be deported
Nigeria has suspended all Hajj flights to Saudi Arabia after the authorities there deported more than 170 women who had arrived without a male escort.

About 1,000 Nigerian women intending to make the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca have been detained since Sunday.

A Nigerian government delegation is going to Saudi Arabia to complain.

There has been an understanding in the past that Nigerian women are exempt from travelling with a male relative - a requirement for women on the Hajj.

Nigerian diplomats say the agreement between the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Saudi authorities allows visas to be issued for Nigerian women going to Mecca as long as they are accompanied by Hajj committee officials.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says it is not clear if this action was taken as part of an effort to clamp down on people entering Saudi Arabia illegally to work.


Since Sunday, hundreds of Nigerian women - mainly aged between 25 and 35, according to Nigerian diplomats - have been stopped at the airports in Jeddah and Medina.

Bilkisu Nasidi, who travelled from the northern Nigerian city of Katsina, told the BBC that hundreds of women had been sleeping on the floor, did not have their belongings and were sharing four toilets at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

She said she was part of a group of 512 women being deported to five states in Nigeria on Thursday.

With many of them now facing deportation, she said the atmosphere at the airport was not good, and the women felt "victimised".

The main problem was that their surnames did not correspond with those of their husbands or male guardian on the visa documentation, she said.

It is a common practice for Muslim women in Nigeria not to take their husband's name.

"Honestly both governments are to blame, ours and theirs. They're telling us that our government has been aware of what are the requirements for the visa application and granting our visas," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme

"We're not happy about the situation - other than the Hajj we would not be interested in coming back to Saudi Arabia but unfortunately it is the holy land to us Muslims and we will have to look beyond the treatment and come back."

Nigeria's vice-president met the Saudi ambassador to Nigeria on Wednesday and gave him a 24-hour ultimatum for the situation to be resolved, the BBC's Chris Ewokor reports from the capital, Abuja.

The deportations have heightened concerns that the situation is threatening to develop into a diplomatic showdown, he says.

Nigeria's speaker of the house of representative is leading a government delegation - to include the foreign affairs minister - to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to resolve the situation.

More than two million Muslims are due to converge on Mecca for this year's Hajj, which is set to culminate over a four-day period somewhere between 24-29 October depending on lunar observations.

The Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able.

Related Articles:

Partial deal in Sudan peace talks

Deutsche Welle, 27 September 2012

For days the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan were locked in intense talks in Ethiopia. Now they have a partial economic deal but remain at odds on border issues.

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir spent several days at the negotiating table. On the agenda were at least nine issues which the heads of state could not agree on, including the important question of oil production. Both presidents were under great pressure from the international community and faced the threat of sanctions from the UN. 

Before South Sudan's independence,
 Kiir (L) once served as Bashir's (R)
Last weekend, the UN ultimatum to resolve Sudan's conflict passed without any meaningful results being achieved. The failure to reach a compromise led the two presidents to cancel their attendance at the UN General Assembly in New York.  Instead they carried on talking, trying to reach a deal that could see the resumption of much-needed oil production.

There were some agreements reached over disputed areas, including the setting up of a demilitarized zone, officials from both countries said on Wednesday evening. The deal was to be signed on Thursday in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

However, there was no agreement on the oil-rich border region of Abyei and other disputed regions along the 1,800 kilometer-long (1,118 miles) common border. Another contentious issue is the citizenship status of southerners in the north and vice versa. South Sudan declared itself independent in July 2011 after decades of civil war.

Still a long way to go

A partial deal means that both parties and the international community must be prepared for many more rounds of negotiations and possibly lengthy international arbitration, Sudan expert Karl Wohlmuth from the University of Bremen told DW in an interview. 

Civil war continues in the Nuba
mountains border region
"There are demarcation problems and there are disputed areas, there is a great number of problems.  Even if there is a positive agreement, it may take years for arbitration and for a settlement,.” Wohlmuth said. 

The partial agreement is likely to be only a first step on a long journey, agrees Wolf-Christian Paes from the Bonn International Center for Conversion( BICC).  "Are we really seeing both sides giving ground (which would, of course, be desirable)?  Or are we seeing, as has often been the case, that they appear to agree just to avoid UN sanctions, and  then, six weeks later, everything returns to square one because the underlying structural problems have not been addressed?" he asked.

China's role

Apart from African Union (AU) chief mediator Thabo Mbeki and the United States, it seems clear that China has also had considerable influence on the talks.

In the past week, Beijing's envoy to Africa, Zhong Jianhua, said he expected South Sudanese oil to start flowing in November. He gave the impression of being well informed and has visited South Sudan three times. Such interest is a sign of China's dependence on Sudanese oil, and the difficult position Beijing now finds itself in between Sudan (its former partner) and  South Sudan.

However, resumption of oil production by November is generally regarded as a very optimistic scenario.

Production plants are partially destroyed, pipes have been flooded with water and repair work will take ages. The Juba government will certainly be glad when the pumps come back to life. 

Violent protests against Sudan's
 austerity measures killed at
least 8 people
South Sudan's budget,which is 98 percent dependent on oil exports, was on the brink of bankruptcy. At the same time, the dissatisfaction of southerners has rapidly grown against a background of skyrocketing food prices and double-digit inflation.

Northern Sudanese citizens have also taken to the streets to protest against rising living costs in major cities across the country.

In the view of Karl Wohlmuth, "Only if there is a comprehensive development program for the five border states in the north and five in the south, can there be lasting peace. All  other attempts will fail if we don't look at the whole border area."
The rebel factor

Parallel talks between representatives of the Sudanese government and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLA/M-North), allegedly supported by South Sudan, are also taking place, under the chairmanship of Ethiopia's new prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

In addition to the demarcation conflict, the rebel insurgency is the crucial factor, says Wolf-Christian Paes of BICC. "The question is whether it will be possible to come up with a package in which Juba no longer provides military support to the rebels."

Rebel attacks have also contributed to the worsening humanitarian situation. Concern has also been expressed by Germany's ambassador to the UN and acting President of the Security Council, Peter Wittig. "We urge both sides to take all necessary steps so that immediate help can be provided,"  he said. The population must be provided with food without delay "so that more people do not die."

Related Article:

IMF, World Bank agree $2.1bn debt writeoff for Guinea

Business Recorder, Wednesday, Asad Naeem, 26 September 2012

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank announced
their support Wednesday for a $2.1 billion debt relief plan for Guinea.

The IMF said Guinea had met the requirements on basic economic and social reforms to merit the writedown under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), aimed at helping countries get off the ground toward development while slashing their debt loads.

The plan would amount to cutting 66 percent of the West African country's future external debt burden, the IMF said.

Of the $2.1 billion, 70 percent comes from multilateral lenders like the African Development Bank and the World Bank, and the rest from bilateral and commercial lenders.

"Reaching the HIPC completion point represents an important achievement for Guinea. It reflects the significant progress made in economic management following the first democratic elections in December 2010," said Harry Snoek, the IMF mission chief for Guinea.

"Reaching the completion point will help Guinea allocate more resources for poverty reduction and economic growth.

"Sound macroeconomic management will remain critical after the completion point to make the most of Guinea's abundant mining resources and other growth potentials," Snoek said.

To merit the debt reduction, Guinea had to meet targets in building a macroeconomic policy framework, improving its poverty data collection, boosting primary school enrollment and immunization for children, and providing annual anti-corruption reports.

AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

Related Article:

Netanyahu 'working in every way' to prevent a nuclear Iran

AFP/Google, 26 September 2012 

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he was using all available means to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, on the eve of his address to the UN General Assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu (AFP/File, Gali Tibbon)
"As the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I am working in every way so that Iran will not have nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said in a statement released just before he left to address world leaders assembled at the United Nations in New York.

"Israel is a modern and strong state thanks to the strength and talents of its citizens and to our faith in the justice of our cause," he added.

Netanyahu is due to address the General Assembly on Thursday -- the day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who criticised a "continued threat by the uncivilised Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation".

There has been mounting speculation that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran's bunkered nuclear facilities.

The Iranian government faces mounting international pressure over its nuclear programme, which Western powers say hides a bid to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says the programme is for civilian power generation.

Related Articles:

9. It can be no other way—simply, this is the physics that governs life in this universe. As Earth continues apace into successively higher planes, nothing with low vibrations in any form—physical bodies, subversive plans, theft, dishonesty, unjust laws and imprisonment, bigotry, cruel customs and deeds—can survive.

10. Moving on, no, it will not be quite like religions being “totally discarded and replaced by universal laws in the Golden Age.” When the truths come forth that science and spirit are one and the same and that religious dogmas were originated by early leaders of church and state to control the masses, people whose consciousness has risen beyond the constraints of third density will adhere to the spiritual aspects of their respective religions and the devised, controlling aspects will fall by the wayside.

11. One of the truths to come forth is that Zionism, which by dark intent has been made synonymous with Judaism, actually is a bellicose political movement within the Illuminati, and its aim for more than six decades has been to create conflict and instability in the entire Middle East. Zionists, who have wielded powerful influence within and behind major governments and their military forces, do NOT represent the Jewish peoples in Israel or anywhere else. And, like all other Illuminati factions, they have been committed to that cabal’s goal of global domination.

12. Although Semites are of diverse national origins and religions, the Zionists have been successful in convincing many that “anti-Semitic” is exclusively prejudice against the Jewish peoples and opposition to Israel’s right to defend itself from its “enemies.” By means of that blatant distortion, they obtained not only world sympathy, but also massive defense funding from Israel’s allies, most especially the United States, all of which served to increase the Illuminati’s vast profits from their industrial-military machine.

13. In addition to controlling the masses through dogmatic teachings, religions have served the dark purpose of divisiveness to such an extent that it resulted in centuries of trauma and bloodshed. Witness the Crusades, wars between Catholics and Protestants, pogroms against Jews, executions of “blasphemous” individuals who refused to “recant.”  (Read More …)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Islam's age-old dogmas shape protests

Deutsche Welle, 26 September 2012

The demonstrators protesting against the abusive anti-Muslim film are shaped by conservative forces rooted in 19th century Islamic experiences, say scholars. But there are reform-oriented interpretations of Islam.

Anger and outrage can be spontaneous. But they can also be rooted in history, fed by extremely old cultural traditions. What seems to be impulsive fervor may also be tied up with feelings associated with certain religious ideologies. According to some Islam scholars, such patterns can be recognized in the recent demonstrations against the abusive anti-Islamic video released on the Internet.

Religious hardening

Consciously or unconsciously, the protesters are identifying with an idea of Islam largely developed in the 19th century, these scholars say. In his book "The Culture of Ambiguity - an alternative history of Islam," Thomas Bauer, an Islam scholar at the University of Münster in Germany describes how Islamic radicalization developed as a result of Western imperialism. 

There have violent protests against
the film in recent weeks
At the start of the 19th century, as the French took over Algeria, Lebanon and Syria and the British occupied Egypt and Palestine, they subdued the conquered peoples culturally as well as politically. The European empires were guided by a worldview that saw the inhabitants of these countries as second-class human beings.

Bauer argues that under the pressure of these new conditions, Islamic teachers transformed their loosely structured religion into an inflexible dogma. Ambiguities were replaced by strict ideological edicts that crystallized religious views to this day.

"While traditional Islamic scholars celebrated the diversity of interpretative possibilities of the Koran, today's interpreters, whether in the West or the East, whether fundamentalist or reform-orientated, believe they know exactly what the one true meaning of any particular part of the Koran is," writes Bauer. 

God's word

This hardening of positions has had consequences beyond religion that have fused religious and legal dimensions, says Bonn-based sociologist and lawyer Werner Gephart. This has created its own problems.

"In Western law, the distinction between law and religion is typical," says Gephart. "But in the Islamic tradition, not only are religious and legal norms summed up under the vague term 'Sharia,' so are elements of everyday life." This has turned Sharia into an ideological system that tries to regulate all aspects of life.

Sharia gains it power from the fact that its source - God's revelations - cannot be contradicted, says Gephart. "That means that there is always a spiritual dimension. If you want to read it from a legal point of view, it is an implicit will by which an entire social order can be organized by totalitarian means."

Power of conservative theology

The competition between different meanings of Islam is based on the fact that the interpretation of religious as well as secular texts can never be unambiguous. But in large parts of the Arab world, influential conservative theologists will not accept modern, historically-argued readings of the Koran.

No one knew this better than Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, an Egyptian reformer theologian who died in July 2010. Several years ago, Zaid was forced to leave Egypt after being accused of blasphemy. In an interview with Deutsche Welle shortly before his death, he explained why historical and critical readings of Islam are so fraught with difficulty. 

Zaid was an Egyptian scholar
exiled for his reformist views
"This method dramatically endangers the power of religious authorities," he said. "Because they give the individual more opportunity to interpret the texts less dogmatically. The religious powers have fought this ever since this kind of non-dogmatic Koran exegesis was developed, because it is of course a challenge, even a threat, to dogma."

Military and theological power

The dogmatic interpretation of the Koran, as it is taught at the famous Azhar University in Cairo, still has influence on a lot of Muslims. Relatively few people oppose this point of view.
One of them is Syrian philosopher Zadik Al-Azm. He says that in the Middle East, one has to decide whether one wants to live under the hegemony of the military or the Islamists. "For me it's clear: I want to live under military law," he told DW. "At least there I can sign petitions to suspend the law. But who would dare sign a petition calling for the suspension of divine law?"

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum Teaching, The Fear of God, Near-death Experience, God Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent CreatorGlobal Unity.... etc.) (Text version)

“.. For centuries you haven't been able to think past that box of what God must be like. So you create a Human-like God with wars in heaven, angel strife, things that would explain the devil, fallen angels, pearly gates, lists of dos and don'ts, and many rules still based on cultures that are centuries old. You create golden streets and even sexual pleasures as rewards for men (of course) - all Human perspective, pasted upon God. I want to tell you that it's a lot different than that. I want to remind you that there are those who have seen it! Why don't you ask somebody who has had what you would call a near-death experience?

(Subjects: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, ArabsEU, USIsrael, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

" ..... If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening. ....."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

UK spent millions training security forces from oppressive regimes

Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo received £2.4m in training and support for military and defence staff

guardian.co.uk, Diane Taylor, and David Smith in Johannesburg, Tuesday 25 September 2012

Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted for genocide, war crimes and
 crimes against humanity by the international criminal court. Photograph:
Ibrahim Usta/AP

The UK government has spent millions of pounds on training military, police and security personnel from oppressive regimes that have arms embargoes in place, the Guardian has learned.

In the last five years, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have received from the UK government £2.4m between them in training and support for military and defence personnel.

Sudan is the only country in the world where the sitting president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the international criminal court, while in Congo extensive human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killings and torture, have been documented.

The Enough Project, which works with the American actor George Clooney to expose human rights abuses in both Sudan and Congo, says the two countries are the scene of some of the world's most serious mass atrocities.

In information revealed in a freedom of information response from the Ministry of Defence a total of £75,406 has been spent on providing 44-week courses at the elite Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for Sudanese and Congolese forces. Other support includes military logistics, advanced command and staff courses, strategic intelligence and evaluating challenges to state sovereignty.

A total of £952,301 was spent on international peace support, which includes border security and stabilisation.

Much of the current focus of concern about human rights abuses in Sudan centres on conflict in the border areas with the newly formed country of South Sudan, such as Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains and South Kordofan, and the ongoing conflict in Darfur, where documented genocide shows 300,000 Darfuris have been killed and up to 4 million displaced. The Sudanese government has refused humanitarian aid access to the border areas.

In Congo many and varied human rights abuses have been documented, especially against opponents of the president, Joseph Kabila. A UN report earlier this year highlighted "serious human rights violations, including killings, disappearances and arbitrary detentions" during last November's presidential elections. At least 33 people were killed by government forces during the elections, and hundreds were arrested and said they had been tortured. A delegation of UK officials has been investigating claims of torture in Congo and is due to report back shortly.

A leading Sudanese exile based in the UK, Dr Gebreil Fediel from Darfur, is challenging the legality of the UK government's relationship with Sudan in the high court next month.

His legal team is bringing enforcement proceedings against the government for failing to provide him with protection under the refugee convention and travel documents to enable him to attend peace talks around the world. These talks aim to bring an end to the appalling human rights situation in Sudan. He is the leader of a major Sudanese opposition movement, the Justice and Equality Movement.

The high court judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams described the government's approach to Fediel as "unreasonably restrictive" in January of this year.

In a statement to the court Fediel accused the government of failing to provide him with protection because there was a deal between the two governments.

"I believe the government of Sudan is requesting the UK government to treat me like this for political reasons. Their decisions to exclude and restrict me are underpinned by political and intelligence considerations."

He expressed concern about the military support and training provided by the UK: "If it was and is the intention of the UK authorities to teach Sudan's police and security officers how to conduct these matters in a democratic manner, it has failed. The brutality and genocidal activities of government of Sudan state organs against its own citizens is widely documented."

In July the Foreign Office minister Lord Howell admitted about Sudan: "There is ample evidence that the military tactics being used raise concerns that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community may be being committed."

Fediel said that as well as the UK's provision of military support to his government the UK had also been providing support and training to Sudanese police and security officials. He said that in May a group of senior police officers came to the UK for training.

A letter from the former Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis in 2010 stated: "The UK has a large police support programme in Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Aaron Hall, the associate director of research for the Enough Project, said: "We would hope that any nation providing military and security support to these countries would have conditions attached to that support based on the adherence to international human rights laws and standards. If credible evidence exists that shows violation of those laws and standards whether within those countries borders or externally, we would urge those governments providing support to immediately suspend that support, and further to work with international and regional partners to hold those responsible for human rights abuses accountable for their actions."

Jovanka Savic, Fediel's solicitor, said: "There is an obligation under international law that requires states to bring to an end breaches of international law through legal means. This new evidence suggests that the UK is not helping to do this but is instead giving aid and assistance to the Sudanese government in a way that could be in breach of its international legal obligations. It is very concerning that support is being offered to DRC where many human rights abuses have been documented."

She said the UK's actions against Fediel, in preventing or restricting him from attending peace talks around the world, was helping to prolong the human suffering and conflict in Sudan.

"They are making this man's life very difficult for political and arguably illegal reasons," she said.

The government provided a response from four departments – the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development.

A spokesman said: "Strict criteria are applied to any training to ensure that it complies with overseas security and assistance human rights guidance. For each funding decision an assessment of the risk of human rights abuses is carried out. Her Majesty's government conducts continual assessment of its programmes and human rights compliance is a cardinal criterion of this.

"UK officials have contact with international criminal court indictees only when this is considered essential and on a case-by-case basis. No contact with President Bashir has come about as a result of these programmes."

However, the spokesman confirmed that some meetings had taken place between the previous and present ambassador to Sudan and Bashir. "The main occasions are when a British ambassador leaves or takes up their post in Khartoum."

The spokesman said that international peace support was delivered to UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan and South Sudan and funding was provided for the African Union panel leading the talks aimed at ending the conflict.

He confirmed that nine senior national police officers from Sudan visited London in May to learn about policing and human rights in the UK, two of whom held the rank of major general. "The officers met the Sudanese ambassador at his London office as a protocol courtesy." He said that community policing initiatives had been set up following the officers' return to Sudan.

The reaction from Africa

Studies have shown that Congolese soldiers are responsible for at least 60% of reported rapes in the country. Last year the UN implicated them in the rape of at least 121 women over three days in the village of Nyakiele, in South Kivu province. This came after the gang-rape of at least 47 women by government troops in North Kivu.

The UN's high commissioner for human rights has said: "The Congolese army remains responsible for a significant number of human rights violations, including sexual violence.''

The opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) was at the sharp end of last year's election crackdown and claims soldiers were used to intimidate voters and interfere with ballot papers. It expressed concern at the use of British resources to train and support the military.

Albert Moleka, the party's cabinet director and spokesman, said: "Training is a normal part of the co-operation of our two countries but we might say it is the responsibility of the DRC to use those who have been trained properly. That can only be done by a legitimate political authority. Unfortunately we don't have a legitimate political authority. There is a huge gap of mistrust between the army and the population."

He added: "In our experience it is the elite troops with the best equipment who are used against the population. I think military co-operation should be attached with strict conditions that ensure force is never used against the people. That is difficult for outside countries to monitor."

Moleka said there was a long tradition of Congo's military elite studying at academies in Britain and other foreign countries. "But when they come back, what functions do they occupy? How can they help their country? They're not given the opportunity to bring what they learn to change the attitudes and behaviour of the army."

The Congolese army, badly paid and fed, is still struggling to maintain discipline after the integration of a Tutsi rebel militia following a 2009 peace treaty. Yet the international community, including the world's biggest UN peacekeeping operation, has put faith in it to quell violence in the country's war-torn east.

In May, Human Rights Watch reported that Sudanese government forces were carrying out indiscriminate bombings and abuses against civilians in southern Kordofan. It called on Sudan to investigate the discovery of a cluster bomb in the region. Witnesses interviewed in Blue Nile also described serious abuses by the armed forces. The onslaughts have created tens of thousands of refugees living in appalling conditions.

John Ashworth, a church adviser who has lived in Sudan and South Sudan for three decades, said: "While one might argue that helping an army to maintain professional standards could improve their human rights record, this is clearly not the case with the Sudanese army, which continues to commit atrocities against civilians in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and continues to threaten its new neighbour, South Sudan."

Ishag Mekki, a Darfur refugee in Britain who campaigns for the region, said: "It is shame that the UK government behaves irresponsibly and assists a war crime government. It is an ethical matter not to stand firmly with victims of both countries. I am annoyed seeing ministers and government officials visit the UK on a regular basis for various businesses, but to train them is shocking. It means the people of Darfur will have to wait very long to persuade this government to change their mind."

Pascal Kambale, DRC country director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, said: "I don't think this is appropriate at all. The Congolese army badly needs complete reform and western donors – including the UK – have completely failed on their promise to help the Congolese government's effort to reform its army. Throwing this kind of big money into training not only is not in line with security sector reform programmes. It is also counterproductive because it comforts the Congo government into its lack of interest in reforming its army."

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Britain urged to investigate toxic waste scandal

Deutsche Welle, 25 September 2012

Greenpeace and Amnesty International have called for a criminal investigation into Trafigura, the multinational company behind the 2006 dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast.

On the night of August 20, 2006, waste-disposal trucks spread out in the port city of Abidjan, looking for somewhere to dump 500 tons of highly toxic oil waste. The smell of onions and burnt tires wafted up from the trucks as they approached the city dump, prompting locals to block the access route and force the drivers to leave. Instead, the drivers began dumping the waste at random sites around the city.

The black sludge contained a mixture of petrochemical waste and caustic soda, a toxic blend that caused the deaths of at least 15 people, while another 100,000 fell ill. Hospitals in Abidjan reported cases of diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, and nosebleeds, as well as skin and lung burns.

The trucks belonged to a contractor hired by British oil trader Trafigura.

For the past three years, Amnesty International and Greenpeace have been interviewing the victims, the doctors and the original drivers of the waste disposal trucks. They released their findings Tuesday (September 25), and are calling on the British government to open a criminal investigation into Trafigura's actions.

Dumping waste in Africa

The oil waste was originally created at sea, when Trafigura picked up low-grade gasoline and refined it on board a ship. The ship then traveled to the Netherlands for treatment - but Trafigura executives found the costs in Europe to be too high, and pumped the waste back onto the ship. It then left Dutch waters and headed for Ivory Coast, where a company offered to treat the waste for a drastically reduced price.

Carrying Trafigura's toxic load, the Probo Koala left Dutch waters and
headed for the Ivory Coast

In 2010, a Dutch court fined Trafigura 1 million euros ($1.28 million) for illegally exporting highly toxic sludge to Ivory Coast. The company has also compensated about a third of the victims, and reached a settlement with the Ivory Coast government. But in their report, entitled "The Toxic Truth," Amnesty International and Greenpeace wrote that the company has never been held accountable for its actual role in the dumping.

Audrey Gaughran, the director of the Africa department at Amnesty International, told DW in an interview that this goes to the heart of one of the big issues in this report. "When you've got human rights and environmental damage caused by actions that cross country jurisdictions, and you've got a multinational company like Trafigura involved, you have to look at opening prosecution in different jurisdictions."

She explained that in this case, the decisions were made in Britain, the waste was exported from the Netherlands and the impacts were felt in Ivory Coast. "All of those countries have signed international laws meant to prevent exactly this kind of thing from happening - toxic waste going from developed countries and being dumped in Africa," Gaughran said.

The campaigners have also called into question a deal signed by Ivory Coast giving Trafigura sweeping legal immunity from prosecution in exchange for a monetary settlement. Gaughran explained that this can happen when poor nations are in crisis, and need the funds being offered.

Demand for court action

In a statement sent to DW, Eric de Turckheim, an executive board member of Trafigura, denied responsibility and said the report "contains significant inaccuracies and misrepresentations." Turckheim accused Amnesty and Greenpeace of oversimplifying difficult legal issues, and of drawing "selective conclusions."

In response to Amnesty's wish to reexamine the immunity deal, Turckheim wrote that courts in five jurisdictions had reviewed different aspects of the incident, along with connected settlements, which he described as evidence that "the right judicial scrutiny" had been applied.

"Many different authorities and countries were involved and there is little doubt that mistakes were made and we believe that everyone involved would have wanted to see things handled differently," Turckheim said.

Trucks illegally dumped waste in and around Abidjan, including here
at Akuedo village

Full disclosure

In their study, Amnesty and Greenpeace wrote none of the states involved have forced Trafigura to disclose information about the contents of the waste and effects of exposure. In their interviews, they discovered this was one of the main concerns of the victims in Abidjan.

"They still have questions about whether there are any long-term impacts for them," said Amnesty's Gaughran. Her group wants to see Ivory Coast set up an ongoing health study, with the help of the Netherlands and Britain.

Gaughran explained that Greenpeace and Amnesty have made recommendations for the future of hazardous waste treatment, calling for full accountability and - if laws have been breached - strong, cooperative action between national governments.

"It will show that governments are serious about preventing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste."