A summary of the news from the Sudans and the DRC the past two weeks. Click on the title for the full article.
SUDAN & SOUTH SUDAN
Sudanese Plane Crash Kills All Passengers, Including State Officials
“Bad weather conditions” are said to be the cause of the no-survivor plane crash in the mountains near Talodi that claimed 32 lives, including those of Sudan’s Ministers of Guidance and Endowments, Youth and Sports, and Tourism, Antiquities, and Wildlife. Other passengers aboard the downed flight heading for the Eid al-Fitr festival to celebrate the conclusion of Ramadan included members of the Sudan’s military, state security, and state media. Though Khartoum has accused rebels of killing a state official as recently as July, the crash is considered to be unrelated.
USJ Reports Sudanese Jails Now Free of Journalists; Activists Disagree
On August 20th, the Khartoum-controlled Union of Sudanese Journalists (USJ), which has reinforced journalists’ “nationalistic responsibility”, disclosed that all journalists who had been arrested during the country’s recent wave of civilian protests had now been released. Certain activists, however, claim that some journalists remain incarcerated and allege that an activist was released on the condition that he leave Sudan. Journalist Anwar Awad, who was arrested for 1 day on June 29th, has reported details of his own torture and consequential medical diagnoses, including a burst eardrum and a critical neck injury.
Human Rights Council
Following heated uproar surrounding Sudan’s nomination for a seat on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, Sudan’s UN Mission has indicated that “it is no longer interested in taking up” the position. Sudan had been systematically guaranteed its election as one of the five candidates nominated to assume five African vacancies on the Council. After the announcement, UN Director for Human Rights Watch Philippe Bolopion stated, “’The worst human rights offenders are slowly recognizing they are not welcome on the Human Rights Council.” The Human Rights Council, amongst other UN entities, has reportedly gained a reputation for electing nations into positions based on sequence rather than “on merit.”
UN: South Sudanese Troops Raping, Torturing, and Civilians
On August 24th, the United Nations accused South Sudanese troops of killing, raping, and torturing civilians in the Jonglei state. UN allegations over the period from July 15th to August 20th include “’one killing, twenty-seven . . . of torture or ill-treatment, such as beatings, and simulating drowning in some cases, twelve rapes, six attempted rapes and eight abductions.” The South Sudanese army, which was called upon to wage a national disarmament campaign following extreme ethnic violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle peoples in December, has been greatly denounced for its violence against civilians.
UN: Civilian Murders “Vicious Beyond Comprehension” in Eastern Congo
A United Nations report has disclosed that early August brought on a new wave of violence in the already-devastated North Kivu province, the site of the M23 rebel group’s “’systemic killings of villagers,’” said Roger Meece, special representative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Early findings imply that a substantial number of civilians, “mainly women and children, had been slaughtered.” A report that hundreds of civilians have been killed has not yet been confirmed. Despite the violence, the Congolese government has refuted recommendations for an armed African force to secure the area. Additionally, the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has reported that groups identifying themselves as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the DRC’s national military, and as Raia Mutumboki, a local militia claiming to protect civilians, have waged “45 attacks on 30 North Kivu villages since May.”
U.S. Manufacturers Mandated to Report Use of Conflict Minerals
On Wednesday, the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to implement regulations requiring public companies to report their dependence on Congolese minerals. The effort, which concerns products such as appliances, jewellery, and electronics, is preluded by the financial firm-regulating 2010 Dodd-Frank bill. While activists have applauded the move, industrial groups have criticized it for being “difficult to implement” and risking “’compet[ition] with foreign firms that are not subject to the same standards.’” Companies have until May 31, 2014 to disclose whether their products are conflict-free, or not financially benefiting militia groups in and around DRC.
August 19th marked World Humanitarian Day. In honour of it, check out Mia Farrow’s Tribute to Refugees, a photo montage.