In this week’s PSR: Justice needed in Ivory Coast; Cameroon election arrests; Suicide bomb in Somalia; Mapping tool for the LRA; DR calls for education reform; Honduras palm oil murders; Peru human trafficking; U.S. Occupy Wall Street Protests; Dam building suspended in Burma; PNG tribal violence; East Asian floods; Bulgarian anti-Roma protests; Putin calls for “Eurasian Union”; Gay pride parade banned in Serbia; Mosque vandalized in Galilee; Protestors in Saudi Arabia; “Flower of Syria” alive; Afghan/Indian strategic deal; War crimes trial in Bangladesh; Sri Lanka frees former LTTE rebels.  


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IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to brief busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community on pertinent global news, events, and trends.  Meticulously researched and written by IPSI, the PSR empowers us all to take a step back from our immediate deadlines each Friday and gain a greater understanding of the week's global events.


Featured Article  

"They Killed Them Like It Was Nothing" The Need for Justice for Côte d'Ivoire's Post-Election Crimes 



IPSI Featured Article Image On November 28, 2010, Ivorians went to the polls to elect a president, hoping to end a decade-long crisis during which the country was divided politically and militarily between the north and south. In the week that followed this run-off election, despite clear international consensus that Alassane Ouattara had won, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down. The post-election crisis then evolved from a targeted campaign of violence by Gbagbo forces to an armed conflict in which armed forces from both sides committed grave crimes. Six months later, at least 3,000 civilians were killed and more than 150 women were raped in a conflict that was often waged along political, ethnic, and religious lines.

Elite security force units closely linked to Gbagbo dragged neighborhood political leaders from Ouattara's coalition away from restaurants or out of their homes into waiting vehicles; family members later found the victims' bodies in morgues, riddled with bullets. Women who were active in mobilizing voters-or who merely wore pro-Ouattara t-shirts-were targeted and often gang raped by armed forces and militia groups under Gbagbo's control, after which the attackers told the women to "go tell Alassane" their problems. Pro-Gbagbo militiamen stopped hundreds of real and perceived supporters of Ouattara at checkpoints or attacked them in their neighborhoods and then beat them to death with bricks, executed them by gunshot at point-blank range, or burned them alive.


CAMEROON: More than 150 arrested before election
This past weekend, security forces arrested at least 150 activists staging a banned rally in the southern town of Buea. The Southern Cameroon's National Council (SCNC), whose goals include independence for the Anglophone south, marks October 1 as a symbolic date in which French Cameroon was forced to join with British Cameroon, denying southerners the right to self-determination. The arrests follow the blockade of a bridge to Douala, the economic capital, by armed gunmen the week before. Although the incident appears unrelated to the SCNC protests, it nevertheless contributed to heightened tensions in the country. Comment: Cameroon's presidential election is scheduled for October 9. President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, faces nearly two dozen challengers. He is widely expected to win another term; critics have already accused him of rigging the elections. (Post, Reuters, AP)

SOMALIA: Suicide attack in Mogadishu kills 70
More than 70 people were killed and 150 wounded on Tuesday when a car bomb exploded outside a government ministry in Mogadishu. Many of the victims were soldiers guarding the building, as well as students waiting at the education ministry to learn the results of a scholarship exam. Al-Shebab claimed responsibility for the attack; the Islamist group also threatened further violence and warned civilians to stay away from government offices and military bases. Comment: This is the deadliest incident since al-Shebab launched its insurgency in 2007. The group withdrew from Mogadishu this past August following an offensive by African Union forces. Analysts now anticipate that the lack of a military front will lead to more frequent acts of terrorism. (Africa Review, Reuters, BBC)

REGIONAL: New crisis mapping tool to monitor Lord's Resistance Army
Two U.S.-based nonprofits, Invisible Children and Resolve, have created a website to synthesize and distribute detailed information about attacks on civilians by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA Crisis Tracker combines information gathered from local organizations and a village-level radio network. The website includes a sophisticated map and data analysis, which its creators hope will provide an early warning system for threatened civilians. Comment: The crisis tracking tool was developed in part as a response to a raid in north-eastern Congo in December 2009 in which 321 civilians were killed. Due to the isolation of the village, the international community did not learn of the attack until March 2010. The LRA has terrorized communities in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan for more than two decades and is responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths. (BBC, All Africa, PR Newswire)

Researched/Written by  Nori Kasting


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Calls for education reform
On Sunday, citizens marched in San Domingo to demand four percent of the GDP be invested in education. The march was organized by a coalition, Dignified Education, to pressure the current session of Congress to comply with a law already in place as they discuss the budget for 2012. Meanwhile, teachers successfully lobbied for increased salaries. Comment: The World Economic Forum's competitiveness index for 2011-2012 ranks the quality of Dominican primary education at the bottom of the list. Although the teachers were successful and the government agreed to increase salaries effective this week, current projections designate 2.7 percent of GDP for public education for the 2012 fiscal year. (Hoy, Dominican Today, El Nacional)

HONDURAS: Environmental initiatives lead to human right abuses
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will be holding a hearing this month to investigate the deaths of 23 Honduran farmers last summer allegedly killed while defending land they claim was illegally sold to UN-accredited palm oil businesses. This case presents controversy over whether carbon credits from the property will be up for sale through the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS). Comment: The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) report accuses UN-sanctioned palm oil mills of stealing farmland from local Hondurans and killing or wounding them when attempting to defend their property. The UN has not commented on the claim, but the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is weighing its validation process which originally accredited the plantations; a process criticized as "rudimentary, unregulated and badly documented". (New American, Guardian, Euractiv)

PERU: Trafficked victims saved
Last weekend in southeastern Madre de Dios, Peruvian police forces rescued an estimated 300 women illegally trafficked for sex, while detaining four suspects responsible for the activities. Many of the victims were minors lured with offers of employment, then forced into prostitution and servitude. Comment: This police operation was ordered in accordance with President Humala's policy of citizen security and defense of basic rights. The region of Madre de Dios is known for informal mining operations, which are directly tied to an increase in other illegal activities, such as brothels. Save the Children estimates that 1,100 underage women are being sexually exploited in wildcat mining camps in the area. (Peruvian Times, Latin American Herald Tribune, La Republica)

UNITED STATES: "Occupy Wall Street" spreads
On Saturday, 700 people participating in protests against Wall Street were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge for disorderly conduct. The location of these demonstrations has spread over the last three weeks to large cities along both coasts, including San Francisco, Boston and DC, as well as the Midwest in Iowa City and Chicago. The demonstrations are based on discontent with the financial sector, and remain peaceful despite crackdowns by police forces. Comment: This movement is gaining significant support, although the unifying message is not yet clear. On Thursday, Obama acknowledged the movement and its validity as he pushes for Congress to vote on the American Jobs Act. (Bloomberg, Huffington Post, NY Times, NBC)


Researched/Written by  Laura Castelli

East Asia
BURMA: Construction of Myitsone dam suspended
Last Friday, Parliament announced that it will suspend construction of the Myitsone dam on the Irawaddy River until 2015 when the current president's term ends. President Thein Sein acknowledged that public pressure played a role in this decision, saying that "Being the government elected by the people, it upholds the aspiration and wishes of the people." Comment: This is an interesting move by the new civilian government, and suggests that the new administration may diverge from the policies of unyielding repression associated with the previous military regime. Chinese officials have expressed disappointment over this decision as the dam, which would have provided electricity to southern China, was a joint project between Burma and China's state-run China Power Investment Company. China's increased investment in Burma in recent years has caused some anti-Chinese sentiment among the Burmese population. (Xinhua News, NY Times, BBC)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Tribal violence kills 15
Fighting broke out last Friday between the Agarabi and Kamano tribes in the small Eastern Highland town of Kainantu; 15 were killed and the Banana Block settlement was burned down. The violence was allegedly sparked by the Agarabi's perception that the Kamano are responsible for the area's recent crime increase. Comment: 100 police officers were deployed to the area and will stay there for at least three months to negotiate with the tribes and help ease tensions. Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is set to visit with Australian Prime Minister Gillard next week. Australia is expected to send $482 million in aid to Papua New Guinea from 2011-12. (Australia Network News, The Courier-Mail, BBC)

REGIONAL: 600 Dead or missing from floods in Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, and Japan
Over the last four months, typhoons and monsoon flooding across South and Southeast Asia have killed hundreds. As of Tuesday, the death toll had reached 224 in Thailand; 150 in Cambodia, 11 in Vietnam, and 55 in the Philippines. Comment: The flooding has damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of rice fields and hundreds of buildings and temples. The 500 year-old Chaiwatthanaram temple, a UNESCO heritage site, is currently flooded as well. Regional damage is estimated to be over $1 billion. (AP, AP, AP, Reuters, Xinhua News, Xinhua News)

Researched/Written by Caitlyn Davis 

Europe & Central Asia
BULGARIA: Anti-Roma protests
On Sunday, over 2,000 Bulgarians demonstrated against corruption and organized crime, pinning blame specifically on the Roma population. What started as a local dispute about a young man being hit by a car driven by a relative of a Roma mafia boss became a nationwide protest movement, accompanied by increased violence against the ethnic minority. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed "deep concern" about the anti-Roma demonstrations and hate speech. OHCHR recommended authorities become more involved to fight against discrimination and protect minority groups. Comment: Other anti-Roma demonstrations have taken place recently in Hungary and the Czech Republic, a possible sign that anti-Roma sentiments are rising region-wide. Nationalist issues are expected to remain significant leading up to the Bulgarian presidential elections scheduled for October 23. (Balkan Chronicle, Reuters, UN News Centre)

RUSSIA: Putin calls for "Eurasian Union"
Prime Minister Putin announced that if elected as president next year, his first foreign policy initiative will be the creation of a Eurasian Union of former Soviet states. The existing customs union, founded in 2009 between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, would go through further economic integration by removing all barriers to trade, capital, and labor movement; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would also be invited to join the union in the future. Putin claims that the Eurasian Union would bring integration based on new political and economic values and become a bridge between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Comment: Ukraine and several other countries are unwilling to commit to the proposed union, opting instead to focus on strengthening ties with Europe. The West and many ex-Soviet nations remain skeptical about the creation of such a union and are suspicious of Russia's intentions. Putin has downplayed these claims, stating that the new union should not be associated with the Soviet Union and "it would be naïve to attempt to restore or copy something from the past." (The Moscow Times, RFE/RL, Reuters)

SERBIA: Government bans gay pride parade
Serbian authorities banned a gay pride parade that was scheduled for Sunday, citing fears for violence. Extremist and far-right organizations, including the ultra-nationalist group Obraz, called for action and protests against the pride parade. Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic indicated the reasoning behind the decision, saying he preferred to take responsibility for issuing a ban rather than allowing a "bloodbath on the streets of Belgrade." Comment: Last year, Belgrade held a gay pride parade where thousands of extremists and far-right groups clashed with police and gay pride supporters, resulting in 150 injured. The Serbian government's lack of action against right wing extremists has led political analysts to question the government's actual authority over the state. (Blic, BBC, EU Business)


Researched/Written by Erin Bobst

Middle East & North Africa
ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Unknown attackers burn down mosque
A mosque was set on fire in Galilee Sunday evening causing major damage to the interior and the destruction of holy books. The attack was blamed on anonymous "Jewish extremists" who left graffiti on the walls spelling out "Price Tag," "Revenge," and "Palmer." Asher Palmer, a Jewish settler, died in a car accident after Palestinian rioters threw stones at his car, according to police reports. The Israeli government officially condemned the attack. Comment: Fears of an escalation of violence are pervasive. Last month, two mosques were targeted after partial demolitions by the Israeli army in a Jewish settlement. On Monday, some 300 Palestinian protesters clashed with the Israeli security forces, who in turn used "riot control measures," to push them back into their village. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel National News, Ynet, Haaretz)

SAUDI ARABIA: Protesters clash with security forces
In the eastern governorate of Qatif, dozens of protesters, reportedly using machine guns and Molotov cocktails, exchanged fire with security forces on Monday night, causing injuries to three civilians and 11 police officers. The protests erupted in the predominantly Shia city of al-Wamiyah amid continuous call for the ouster of the Sunni governor Mohammed bin Fahd, and demands for political reform. Comment: The Saudi interior ministry blamed the unrest on a "foreign country," without specifying the name. Some analysts believe that Iran controls the protests in the eastern part of the Kingdom, and that "Iran is trying to export its problems to avenge what happened in Bahrain, and reduce pressures on Syria." The Syrian regime lacks Saudi Arabian support, yet maintains good relations with Iran. (Alert Net, Saudi Gazette, Telegraph, Aljazeera, AFP)

SYRIA: Woman thought dead appears on national television
On Tuesday, Syrian state television aired an interview with a woman who was allegedly found decapitated, armless, and skinned in a morgue last month. Zaynab al-Hosni shocked the public with her appearance, as she was reportedly tortured to death during the government crackdown on protests. Before her surprise appearance, al-Hosni was regarded as a heroic symbol of the uprising, dubbed "the flower of Syria." In her statement, she explained that she had to run away from home and stay with a relative because her brothers were abusing her. Al-Hosni's family confirmed that it was in fact her that was interviewed on TV. Comment: Analysts believe that the Syrian government aired the interview in an attempt to embarrass foreign media like Aljazeera and Alarabyia for their coverage of the events in Syria; however, there remains skepticism by anti-Assad activists regarding the veracity of the story. While some believe that the Syrian TV interviewed an al-Hosni look-a-like, others demanded the government to disclose whose body was mutilated, the cause of the death, and why the family was informed that she was the victim. (AFP, BBC, NYtimes, Aljazeera)

Researched/Written by Ibrahim Al-Hajjri

South Asia
AFGHANISTAN/INDIA: Karzai visits India, countries sign strategic deal
On Wednesday, President Karzai ended a two-day visit to India, his second this year, resulting in a wide-ranging strategic pact allowing India to train and equip Afghan security forces. During the visit, Karzai also emphasized growing economic and security ties with India. The two countries also discussed the recent spike in violence in the region and the impending international troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Comment: India spent $2 billion in the past two years on Afghanistan reconstruction; however, India's involvement, vis-à-vis Pakistan, is extremely sensitive due to the region's volatility. Both India and Pakistan are suspicious of each other's intentions in neighboring Afghanistan. The timing of the pact is significant since Afghanistan recently accused the Pakistani intelligence services of being involved in the killing of its former President, Burhanuddin Rabbani. (AFP, NY Times, Times of India)

BANGLADESH: War crimes trial begins
On Monday, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh charged its first suspect for excesses committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Delawar Hossain Sayedee, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was charged on 20 counts including crimes against humanity and war crimes. Sayedee denied all charges. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch stated that the trials needed procedural changes in order to meet international standards. Comment: The government set up the ICT in March last year to prosecute Bangladeshis accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces in committing crimes during the war. Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, gained independence in 1971 in a bloody struggle that killed 3 million people. The trial begins after a 40-year delay caused primarily by divisive internal politics. (BBC, Daily Star, Time)

SRI LANKA: 1,800 former rebels freed
Last Friday, the Sri Lankan government released 1,800 former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels who had been held in a military-run rehabilitation center since the end of the civil war in 2009. The former LTTE cadres - the largest group yet - were reunited with their families in a ceremony attended by Western and Indian diplomats. President Rajapaksa stated that the former rebels, both men and women, were given vocational training to help them reintegrate into society. Comment: The rehabilitation program is run by the country's Rehabilitation and Prisons Reforms Ministry. According to official sources, Rs. 750 million were allocated for its programs this year. 11,700 LTTE cadres surrendered to security forces in the final phase of the war. Sri Lanka was under increasing pressure from human rights groups to either charge the detained or release them. (AFP, AP, Colombo Page)

Researched/Written by   Megha Swamy


October 7, 2011
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