In this week’s PSR: India & Sri Lanka; Congo sexual violence; Senegal politics; New Somali PM; Zimbabwe to export diamonds; Brazil slum clean-up; Mexican drug wars; Venezuelan prison riots; Cambodia genocide trials; China/Vietnam tensions; South Korean refugee centers; New Belarus sanctions; Russian opposition party banned; BBC journalist detained; Bahrain opposition leaders; Anti-Israel app; Jail break in Yemen; Afghan troop withdrawals; India/Pakistan peace talks; Nepal’s human trafficking. 

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IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to keep busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community briefed 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.

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India has long been the country with the greatest influence over Sri Lanka but its policies to encourage the government there towards a sustainable peace are not working. Despite India's active engagement and unprecedented financial assistance, the Sri Lankan government has failed to make progress on pressing post-war challenges. Government actions and the growing political power of the military are instead generating new grievances that increase the risk of an eventual return to violence. To support a sustainable and equitable post-war settlement in Sri Lanka and limit the chances of another authoritarian and military-dominated government on its borders, India needs to work more closely with the United States, the European Union and Japan, encouraging them to send the message that Sri Lanka's current direction is not acceptable. It should press for the demilitarisation of the north, a return to civil administration there and in the east and the end of emergency rule throughout the country.  Read Full Report >>

DRC: Ex-rebels accused of mass rape
At least 60 women were reportedly raped in the eastern DRC town of Fizi between June 10 and June 12 according to aid workers from Médecins sans Frontières. The attacks are being blamed on a group of ex-rebels who had joined the Congolese Army but deserted in early June. The same group was also blamed earlier this year for the mass rape of at least 50 women on New Year's Day in Fizi. Meanwhile, four police officers were convicted June 23 for the murder of prominent human rights activist, Floribert Chebeya. Chebeya was killed on June 2 last year ahead of his meeting with the National Chief Police Inspector. Comment: The UN described DRC as "the rape capital of the world," and the conflict is notorious for rampant sexual abuse of women and girls. Activist Chebeya had founded the group "Voice of the Voiceless" that protested against the lack of civil liberties and persecution of opposition figures in DRC. (AFP, BBC, Guardian)

SENEGAL: President drops poll bill
President Wade withdrew a bill that proposed constitutional changes after Justice Minister Cheikh Sy announced the withdrawal of the draft legislation on June 23. Under the proposed reform, the proportion of votes required to win a presidential election and avoid a run-off would have reduced from more than 50 percent to 25 percent. The President also sought to create the post of the Vice-President. The bill sparked violent protests in the capital with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters; 100 people were reportedly injured including 12 policemen. Comment: Critics state that the bill would have provided an easy win in the elections for the incumbent President standing against a fractured opposition. They also feared that the President's son Karim Wade, already a powerful minister, would be appointed as the Vice-President. (BBC, France24, Reuters)

SOMALIA: New Prime Minister named
President Ahmed on June 23 named Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a Somali-American who holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Economics, as the new Prime Minister. He served previously as the Planning Minister in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Ali stated that he hopes to succeed in overcoming Somalia's economic crisis and insecurity. His appointment was made after the previous Prime Minister Mohamed stepped down as part of the UN-backed deal signed in Kampala last week. Comment: The TFG is marred by corruption and internal divisions. The UN-backed deal ended the infighting between President Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament Aden. They agreed to extend the government's term till August 2012 and also postponed elections until next year. (AP, BBC, NY Times)

ZIMBABWE: Monitoring body lifts ban on diamonds from Zimbabwean region
The Kimberley Process lifted the ban on the sale of diamonds from Zimbabwe's troubled Marange fields in a Kinshasa-based meeting this week, but stated they will continue to closely monitor exports. The decision allows sale of rough cuts from mines in the Marange region in eastern Zimbabwe. The ban was originally sanctioned after the Zimbabwe military took control of the fields in 2008. 200 people were reported killed and tens of thousands of small miners were forcibly evicted. Comment: The decision created a rift within the Kimberley Process; participating NGOs walked out ahead of the final decision protesting that Zimbabwe was yet to adhere to human rights standards. (AFP, Reuters Africa, VOA)

BRAZIL: Police raid Rio slum furthering World Cup clean-up
The Mangueira favela, or shantytown, which is home to tens of thousands of residents, was raided by over 750 police and 100 marines with armed vehicles early Sunday morning, in the most striking move thus far to "pacify" the city before the 2014 World Cup.  The pre-announced raid was met with no resistance and completed without one shot fired as drug gangs had fled well in advance. The securing of Managueira favela, located near the famous Marancana football stadium, is the final link in a security perimeter authorities have established around the stadium. A Police Pacification Unit, (UPP) will be established in the favela and will work with security and social agents on an ongoing basis. Comment: Over the past two years, Rio authorities have set up 17 UPPs in an equal number of favelas resulting in a noticeable drop in crime.  With over 1,000 favelas in Rio, critics argue pre-announced raids allow criminals to take refuge and simply operate in other neighborhoods.  Around 20 percent of Rio's six million residents live in favelas. (Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian, Latin American Herald Tribune)

MEXICO: Zeta leader arrested over mass graves murders
On Friday, Mexican authorities arrested alleged drug cartel leader, 22 year-old, Edgar Huerta Montiel,  Montiel, who is a member of the Zeta cartel, claims he personally ordered and led the kidnapping of 72 Central and South American migrants last August in Northern Mexico, which left almost all victims dead; ten by his own hands. In the area of San Fernando where the migrants were found, authorities in the past two and a half months have unearthed almost 200 bodies from 47 mass graves. In recent years, violence and fear have plagued the state of Tamaulipas and areas near the U.S. border due to a turf war between the Zetas and former allies, the Gulf cartel.  Comment: Migrants are frequently seized by gangs hoping to extort money from victims' family members. Los Zetas were formed by deserters of an elite operations unit in the Mexican army in 1999. Additionally, Mexican authorities announced on Tuesday the arrest of alleged La Familia leader, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, which President Calderon has deemed "a big blow" to organized crime. (Latin American Herald Tribune, LA Times, Herald Sun, Guardian)

VENEZUELA: Troops battle to regain control of Venezuelan prison
Despite the efforts of 5,000 security forces along with the National Guard, a violent standoff continues in the El Rodeo prison outside of Caracas.  The violence, which has already seen the killing of two national guards and an unconfirmed number  of inmate deaths, began on June 17 during a weapons search in the Rodeo I prison and subsequently spread to the neighboring Rodeo II prison. Over 2,500 inmates have been evacuated and relocated to a separate prison.  Over 500 people, mostly mothers, wives and girlfriends, have gathered at the prison gates anxiously awaiting news of the status of loved ones as the situation inside remains unclear. Comment: On Sunday June 12, riots between rival gangs inside the prison killed 20 inmates. Venezuela's notoriously crowded prisons have suffered repeated violent outbursts as rival gangs often fight for control of cellblocks, weapons, and drug sales, which are viable with the help of corrupt prison guards. (Herald Sun, BBC, Amnesty International, Guardian, BBC, International Business Times)

Researched/Written by  Leah Cullins

East Asia
CAMBODIA: UN court begins second trial amid controversy 
On Monday, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) announced the beginning of hearings for its second case, known widely as "002". The UN supported court is tasked with trying those responsible for the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, where an estimated 1.7 million people perished. Case "002" will call four defendants to court: ex-president Khieu Samphan, former Foreign Minister leng Sary, his wife leng Thirith, and Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's right-hand man. In the five years since its inception the ECCC has succeed in closing only one case, convicting Kaing Guek Eav of crimes against humanity, in which they prescribed a 35-year jail term that was reduced to 19 years. Comment: The ECCC has been subject to criticism after two judges, one German and one Cambodian, hastily ruled out case 003, sparking concerns that the court was subject to "political interference" from the Cambodia Government where many ex-Khmer Rouge officials are now employed. Many Cambodians fear that justice will continue to elude the aging transgressors due to their deteriorating health and influence from political pressures from within the current government. (AsiaOne, Reuters, GlobalPost, VoA) 
CHINA/VIETNAM: Eleventh joint sea patrol concludes amid regional tensions 
This Wednesday, two Vietnamese naval boats and two People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) boats concluded a two-day joint naval patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin. This patrol was the eleventh since 2005, covering an area of more than 550 nautical miles along "delineated waters" between the two countries. Col. Nguyen Van Kiem, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Vietnamese Navy and commander of the naval ships on the patrol, commented on the exercise saying, "Respecting the signed agreements is one of the factors that will promote the friendly and neighborly relations between two countries and ensure sustainable stability and security at sea." Comment: Last week, China sent a patrol ship through the disputed South China Sea to "monitor security" after Vietnam held live fire naval exercises. The timing of this joint patrol is significant; however, the extent to which it may help alleviate tensions has yet to be determined. Inquirer, Asahi, ChinaDaily, VietnamNews, GMANews) 
SOUTH KOREA: Government announces plans to build new refugee center
On Wednesday, South Korea announced plans to open another North Korean refugee resettlement facility in Hwacheon to address the growing number of defectors coming to the south. The new facility will accommodate approximately 500 refugees while they are taught how to survive in the capitalist south. The spokeswoman for South Korea's Unification Ministry Lee Jeong-joo said, "The number of North Korean defectors keeps rising...the current Hanawon facility is on the verge of being overcrowded". The Hanawon facility in Anseong was already expanded once to accommodate up to 1,000 people. Comment: It is estimated that South Korea is home to over 21,700 North Korean refugees. As more continue to flee the northern regime, the south has been expanding the development of educational programs that will assist defectors in better assimilating into mainstream society. (AFP, Bernama, BBC

Researched/Written by  Matthew McGrath 

Europe & Central Asia
BELARUS: EU places new sanctions on Belarus; Protests spread across the country
EU foreign ministers agreed to extend sanctions against Belarus on Monday, adding more names to the growing list of officials with travel bans and asset freezes. For the first time, the EU targeted Belarus' business sector and imposed an arms embargo on any "materials that might be used for internal repression." The statement condemned the deterioration of democracy, human rights, media freedom, and the rule of law in the country. On Wednesday, thousands of people responded to an online campaign and defied the authorities' strict warnings, taking part in silent protests in Minsk and more than 30 other cities across the country to express discontent with President Lukashenko's policies. Approximately 450 people were arrested, including at least five journalists. Comment: This was the fourth consecutive Wednesday that protests were organized via the internet. Last week, Lukashenko blamed journalists and "outside forces" for the country's economic problems, and vowed to maintain the current socio-economic model. He has vowed to "strike hard" against any further protests. There has been a wide consensus among EU member states that action must be taken to address the situation in Belarus, but some members led by Italy and Latvia have been reluctant. The new sanctions come only 3 weeks after Belarus asked the IMF for a rescue loan amid a growing financial crisis. (Naviny.byRIA NovostiDeutsche WelleRFE/RL
RUSSIA: Opposition party barred from elections
Russia's Justice Ministry said Wednesday the new opposition People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) would be denied registration due to "inconsistency in the party's charter and other documents filed for the official registration." The party's leaders accused the authorities of being politically motivated and using various technicalities to stop opposition parties from challenging Prime Minister Putin's ruling party. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed concern with the decision, saying, "The difficulties faced by political parties in registering for elections effectively constrain political competition in Russia, reduce the choice available to its electorate and show that there are real obstacles to political pluralism in the country." Comment: Parliamentary elections are due to take place in December, with presidential ones to follow in March. Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Milov, Vladimir Ryzhkov and Mikhail Kasyanov founded the party in 2010 and said it would announce its presidential candidate in the summer of 2011. The decision to deny the party's registration came just days after President Medvedev repeated his call for greater political competition in Russia. (RIA NovostiMoscow TimesRFE/RLBBC
TAJIKISTAN: BBC reporter charged with extremism and denied lawyer
On Saturday, the Tajik State Security Service officially charged BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov with inciting religious and racial hatred, participating in an organized criminal group, and extremism. Usmonov was arrested last week on suspicion of belonging to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a non-violent Islamic organization that is outlawed in Tajikistan. He can legally be kept in custody for up to 18 months before a trial, and he is being denied access to a lawyer or doctor. Journalists for the BBC held a vigil on Wednesday to demand his release, saying the allegations are groundless and that he is being targeted for his critical reporting. Comment: Usmonov was critical of the government's crackdown on religious organizations. Over 500 people have been jailed for membership in Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the past ten years. The government frequently harasses journalists and brings lawsuits against independent media. (EurasiaNetCentral Asia NewswireAsiaOneAFP)

Researched/Written by  Mark Simeone

Middle East & North Africa
BAHRAIN: Court orders life sentences for eight opposition leaders 
On Wednesday, the National Safety Court in Manama ordered eight Shia opposition leaders to life in prison for their roles in the uprising last February and March. The protest leaders were found guilty of plotting a coup against the current monarchy and having "links to outside terrorist organizations." 21 others received sentences between two and 15 years on affiliation charges.  These sentences are part of a series of trials facing an estimated 400 activists, politicians, and doctors who were involved with the peaceful protests calling for reform.  Comment: The recent court's decision was received with shock and anger from the predominantly Shia Bahraini public; organized protests soon followed demanding the release of the leaders.  Last week, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa promised to conduct national dialogue with the opposition, in an attempt to easy foreign diplomatic pressure against human rights violations. (Aljazeera, Elaph, Gulfnews, Euronews)

ISRAEL: Government asks Apple to remove an anti-Israel app
On Tuesday, Israel's Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, asking him to remove an application called "Thirdintifada" from the online App Store. Edelstein argues the app is anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic, and warned of the "application's ability to unite many toward an objective that could be disastrous." The Thirdintifiada, a free app, provides information for its users on protests and allows them to organize their own.  Apple responded to the Israeli request and removed the app on Thursday.  Comment: Last March, the Israeli government successfully convinced Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to delete a group also called "Third Intifada," which consequently was recreated numerous times under different titles. The aim of these groups is to recreate an uprising against the Israeli forces, similar to the past intifadas of 1987 and 2000, which resulted in thousands of Israeli and Palestinian casualties. (JTA, RT, Alwafd, CNN, BBC)

YEMEN: Dozens of extremists escape jail in al-Mukalla
After an alleged attack on a southern Yemen prison, over 60 al-Qaeda militants escaped to surrounding mountains on Wednesday.  A Yemeni official announced one soldier was killed and two others wounded as a result of the militant operation.  Another unidentified source suggested that after the attack, the prisoners escaped through a 45 m tunnel dug from under the prison grounds.  After the breakout, security forces attempted to recapture the prisoners killing three and capturing two; an estimated 57 militants remain at large. Comment:  A similar incident occurred in 2006, where the now AQAP leader Nasir Al-Wuhyashi and 22 others managed to escape from a prison in Sana'a.  This week's escape allowed an estimated one dozen of al-Qaeda's most dangerous terrorists to escape.  Al-Mukalla prison, located in the southern province of Hadhramaut, is home to over 100 convicted militants.  In the last few weeks, al-Qaeda, utilizing the political turmoil and crippled military, have intensified their operations in the southern region seizing key locations such as the city Zinjibar. (AFP, Bloomberg, Aljazeera, Reuters, WP)

Researched/Written by Ibrahim Al-Hajjri

South Asia
AFGHANISTAN: Four countries announce troop withdrawals
On Thursday, French President Sarkozy announced the withdrawal of French troops in Afghanistan by mid-2012. The announcement comes in the wake of President Obama's Wednesday speech which declared 33,000 troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan beginning in September of 2012. President Karzai commended the news announcements, while the Taliban spoke out against the news calling the moves "symbolic" and warning of continued threats against occupying forces. Comment: The moves to withdraw troops were also followed by announcements from Britain and Germany. Although many experts believe gradual troop withdrawal is beneficial, the question remains unanswered as to what Afghanistan's fate will be. (BBC, Financial Times, Pajhwok, Voice of America)

INDIA/PAKISTAN: Hopeful for progress during peace talks
On Thursday, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao met with her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir to resume peace talks. In February, the countries renewed relations for the first time since the 2008 Mumbai attacks and held the first round of peace talks. Foreign Secretaries from both countries are hopeful the talks will help resolve issues involving terrorism, border security, and the land dispute over Kashmir. Indian Foreign Minister Krishna noted that the government was hopeful talks would, "narrow [the] trust deficit and pave the way for normalization," of relations between the two countries. Comment: The meeting between the secretaries will also help pave the way for the Foreign Ministers' talks set for July. India's largest concerns, particularly in the wake of the recent Mumbai trials, revolve around terrorism emerging from Pakistan and national security. Both parties shared their optimism regarding the talks and hoped to build greater confidence. (Hindustan Times, NDTV, Reuters)

NEPAL: New documentary to show human trafficking
CNN is set to premier a documentary this weekend which follows Hollywood actress and activist, Demi Moore, as she travels to Nepal to fight human trafficking. According to a U.S. State Department report, each year, 10,000 to 15,000 Nepalese women and girls are trafficked abroad and exploited.  In addition, the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 women and girls become domestic slave laborers each year. Comment: Nepalese activist Anuradha Koirala, also shown in the documentary, works to remove children from the sex trade and was recognized as CNN's 2010 Hero of the Year. In a recent interview she noted that "the girls we find are from six years, up to 16 years." Activists hope the documentary will bring light to the tragic nature of this epidemic and help put an end to human trafficking in Nepal and elsewhere. (CNN, CNN Freedom Project, Nepal Monitor)

Researched/Written by  Kamila A. Badat

June 24, 2011
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East Asia
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