India Elects First Female President

India elected its first female president, Pratibha Patil, on Saturday.  Ms. Patil, 72, was widely expected to win and had won almost two-thirds of the votes cast by federal and state legislators.  She had the support of the governing Congress Party and its political allies.  The election of a woman to the historically ceremonial post continues an Indian tradition of using the presidency to give a high-profile voice to disadvantaged groups.  Past presidents include Muslims and a Sikh, minorities among India’s dominant Hindus.

Women still face widespread discrimination in the workplace and at home.  Although one of India’s most powerful leaders  was the female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, many Indian families regard daughters as a liability because of a tradition requiring a bride’s family to pay a large dowry of cash and gifts.  Consequently, their education and overall health is often neglected, and thus women are still underrepresented in politics.

Ms. Patil’s election will make India the largest country to boast a female head of state.  She defeated the current Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, and will replace A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.  Ms. Patil’s campaign was not easy, however, with opposition politicians and the media scrutinizing her, her past, and her family.  Opponents said she lacked the national stature for the post and complained that her only qualification was her loyalty to the powerful Gandhi family. 

Ms. Patil received 2489 out of the 2706 votes cast on Thursday.  She will be sworn in as India’s 13th president on Wednesday, and will serve for a five-year term.

For more information, please see:

http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/21/1984713.htm?section=justin

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118504676893474168.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/world/asia/22india.html?em&ex=1185249600&en=7eb036a14c52eb06&ei=5087%0A

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-india22jul22,1,3238015.story?coll=la-news-a_section

The Race Against AIDS

By Myriam Clerge

Impunity Watch, Africa

During the 1960’s, Zambia was the third largest producer of copper and the richest country in the continent of Africa. However, with the world collapse of copper and the devastating affect of AIDS and malaria, Zambia has deteriorated into one of the poorest countries in the world. Millions live on only $1 a day.

Much of the country’s woes are blamed on AIDS, which has killed many of Zambian’s professionals and intellectuals. According to the UN, the average life expectancy for a man or woman is 38 and 37 years old, respectively. Given these statistics, many children are left orphans.

With the help of Bill Clinton and the UNITAID, an international drug funding initiative, the number of Zambian children under treatment has increased by 7,000.

The Bill Clinton Foundation has secured a deal with several drug manufacturers that will reduce the price of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, thereby saving the country over 100 million dollars within three years. A plan to battle the AIDS crisis has been in works for several years. Research in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa has showed that male circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection in males by 60%. Regardless, the rate of infected is disproportionately higher for women.

ADULT AND CHILD HIV RATES IN 2006

Living with HIV Newly infected Deaths from Aids
Sub-Saharan Africa 24.7m 2.8m 2.1m
World Total 39.5m 4.3m 2.9m

Source: UNAids, all figures estimates

For more information please see:

BBC – World ‘Losing Fight Against AIDS’ – 23 July 2007

Yahoo – Clinton Clinches Cheap AIDS Drugs Deal for Zambia – 22 July 2007

Yahoo – Zambia to Get Anti-AIDS Drug Boost From Global Fund – 19 July 2007

BBC – Country Profile: Zambia – 04 May 2007

Migrant Workers Mistreated in Dubai

    The Burj Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the world’s tallest tower at 512 meters.  Recently, it passed Tapai 101 at 508 meters.  The construction is ahead of schedule and still has another year and a half of construction.  It is being built by a migrant force of 4,000 Indians. The final completed height of the building is rumored to be around 700 meters tall.  Dubai has been growing at a tremendously rapid pace, because of the rising prices of oil.  As the oil has increased, it has poured money into United Arab Emirates, making it is the central business hub of the Gulf Region.

    The rapid growth of the United Arab Emirate region has created thousands of jobs for construction workers.  In response to the surplus in jobs, Dubai has responded by opening itself to many migrant construction workers, especially from South Asia, to fill the void.  However, since the workers are not United Arab Emirate citizens, they have not been protected by the government.  For example at the Burj Dubai, the 4,000 Indians have been working round-the-clock shifts in the brutal Dubai summer heat.  Also, the workers have no set minimum wages.

    Human Rights Watch created a publication on the topic, “Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates.”  The report shows the slave-like conditions of the migrant worker.  For example, the average salary of the construction worker in 2006 was $106-$250 dollars a month, whereas the nation average salary for a person in the UAE, including the migrant workers, was $2,106 dollars a month.  The workers are being paid less than 10% of the typical salary for the country.  Also, it is common for employers to engage in “security” practices to ensure that workers do not quit such as withholding monthly salaries and denying the workers access to their passports.  The migrants work in poor conditions, causing premature deaths of the workers.  In 2005, 880 corpses of construction workers were returned to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh alone.

    The government has not protected the migrant construction workers.  In 1980, the UAE passed a law requiring the passage of a minimum wage, however, a law has never been passed complying with the regulation.  Also, the law does not allow a worker to accept a job at a rival company without the consent of his current employer, further tying down workers to bad jobs.  Additionally, the workers cannot assemble themselves into unions to create leverage to force employers to pay them, but instead, the workers who strike will be deported home.  The government has forced employers to pay back wages, yet have not yet publicly penalized an employer for withholding wages, giving the employers no disincentive to treating the workers badly.

    The workers need to be protected by the government.  They are a necessary resource for the UAE to continue to develop into the business capital of the Gulf Region.  The migrant construction workers must be given a minimum wage, and also more substantial rights to be able to protect themselves.   

Al-Jazeera. Burj-Al Dubai ‘world’s tallest tower’. 21 July 2007.
Human Rights Watch. Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates. November 2006.
Human Rights Watch. UAE:Worker’s Abused in Construction Boom. 12 November 2006.

Attackers kill Siberian environmental protester

Attackers raided a camp of environmental protesters, killing one person and injuring seven people.

More than 20 demonstrators had been camped out by a reservoir near Angarsk, about 2,600 miles east of Moscow, to protest nuclear waste processing at a state-owned Electrolysis Chemical Plant. Local police detained two suspects and identified 13 others.

Angarsk is about 60 miles from the southern end of Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Russia is setting up a uranium enrichment center at the plant to enrich uranium from Kazakhstan, a major uranium ore producer.

President Vladimir Putin proposed setting up the site as a way to provide uranium fuel to nations intent on building nuclear power plants, while making sure they don’t develop weapons programs.

The enriched uranium supply would be made available only to countries which have made nonproliferation commitments. These would include a pledge of no use for nuclear explosive purposes and acceptance of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

The demonstrators say Russia plans to become a center for processing and storing spent fuel from abroad, and that this plant could be part of the lucrative business.

For more information, please see:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070721/ap_on_re_eu/russia_demonstrator_killed_2

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/21/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-Demonstrator-Killed.php

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/07/21/world/main3085019.shtml

Charles Taylor Appointed New Lawyer

By Impunity Watch Africa

London lawyer Courtenay Griffiths was appointed on Tuesday to represent Charles Taylor against the charges of arming and supporting rebels who murdered, raped, tortured, and mutilated thousands during Sierra Leone’s 10 year civil war.  Taylor is the first African leader to stand trial before an international court and has plead not guilty to all counts.  Last month he boycotted the trial and fired his attorney, demanding that he receive more money to hire a new one.  The case has been postponed until August 20, although Griffiths said in an interview on Friday that he needed more time to study the “voluminous” case file and did not know when he would be ready.

Since June the court has steadily increased the amount of funds available to Taylor for his defense.  He is currently receiving $100,000 per month, which includes office space in The Hague, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  Griffiths has said that this amount may still not be enough and that he needs to evaluate what further investigations need to be carried out

Griffiths was born in Jamaica and raised in England.  He has previously worked on high-profile British cases, including the 1984 bombing by the Irish Republic Army of a hotel on the British south coast where then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was staying.   Griffiths has been appointed the chief attorney, along with two assistants, Andrew Cayley and Terry Munyard.  Many attorneys were interested, but Taylor chose these individuals after meeting with several.

For more information, please see:

Guardian – London Lawyer to Defend Charles Taylor – 18 July 2007

International Herald Tribune – London Lawyer Appointed to Defend Liberia’s Charles Taylor at War Crimes Trial– 18 July 2007

VOA – Three-Man Team Appointed to Defend Former Liberian President – 18 July 2007

Malaysia arrests blogger

The Malaysian government detained Nathaniel Tan under the Official Secrets Act for posting information on the Internet (www.jelas.info) the government considered sensitive.

His arrest was part of a government campaign to combat alleged to inaccurate information being spreading by bloggers.

Police arrested Tan and seized his computers. Tan also manages the website of the opposition National People’s Party. Police questioned Tan for four days of police.

Tan potentially faces a large fine and a mandatory one-year jail sentence if charged and found guilty under the OSA. The OSA has “vaguely worded definitions” of what constitutes an official secret.

Tan is well known in blogging community. He is noted for his criticism of government leaders. He had previously criticized minister Baharum and asked readers to “vote this guy out.” Baharum was investigated and cleared last week after allegations that he had received $1.6 million in bribes to release three convicted criminals.

Analysts see the government’s campaign as an attempt to instill fear and suppress attacks on national leaders, especially on Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi before of a general election expected later this year.

The ruling National Front coalition does not want to see a swing in voter support for the opposition party, which is promising more transparent government, affirmative action to help all Malaysians, and to end racially-discriminatory policies.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance and Reporters without Borders both urged the government to respect human rights and restrain the police. “By arresting [Tan], the authorities are trying to intimidate Malaysian Internet users and get them to censor themselves,” SEAPA said in a statement. “Until now, they had limited themselves to threats and abusive prosecutions. Now they have gone further and adopted a more radical form of repression.”

For more information, please see:

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38581

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=29966

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/IG20Ae01.html

Human Rights Watch Criticizes Child Soldiers in Chad

By Meryl White
Impunity Watch, Africa

In Chad, thousands of young boys are thought to be fighting in the national army, rebel and paramilitary group. Observers believe that there are between 7,000 and 10,000 child soldiers. The United Nations Security Council will meet in New York to discuss the issue of child soldiers in Chad.

Just a few days ago, Human Rights Watch criticized the government of Chad for not fulfilling the promise to release children from the national army. Human Rights Watch produced a forty six page report, “Early to War: Child Soldiers in the Chad Conflict,” which documents the use of young children in the Chadian army, its allied paramilitary militias and rebel forces in both northern Chad and along the eastern border with Sudan’s Darfur region. The report consists of interviews with senior officers in the Chadian military and current child soldiers

Presently, under a government deal, only four hundred children have been released from the military and sent to rehabilitation centers. These rehabilitation centers focus on efforts to change the children’s violent behavior. These centers were established by UNICEF, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund. The children follow a daily regimen of “prayer, rest, and play.” They play cards, play volleyball, and learn basic literacy. Furthermore, the boys learn anger management skills and learn to love their friends and family.

These child soldiers are expected to return to their families in a few months. Nevertheless, supervisors believe that for these boys, “the road back to normality will be a long one.” The boys will have to learn to cope with their reality without the use of violent tactics.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Chad Child Soldiers Scrutinized – 19 July 2007

HRW – Chad: Government Keeps Children in Army Ranks – 16 July 2007

HRW – Early to War: Child Soldiers in the Chad Conflict – 07 July 2007

BBC – Country Profile: Chad – 21 May 2007

Justice Delivered in Sierra Leone

By Meryl White
Impunity Watch, Africa

The United Nation’s war crimes court in Sierra Leone has sentenced three militia leaders for war crimes including rape, mutilation, and murder. Alex Tamba Brima and Santigie Borbor Kanu received a fifty year sentence, while Brima Kamara received a forty-five year sentence. Last month, these men were convicted of eleven of fourteen war crimes charges, including terrorism, enslavement, rape and murder.

All three men were senior members of the Armed Forced Revolutionary Concil, a militia that overthrew the Sierra Leone government in 1997. These sentences were the first assigned by the UN backed court since the civil war concluded five years ago. Moreover, these militia leaders are the first to be convicted of recruiting and training child soldiers.

When Judge Julia Sebutinde passed the judgment in the capital, Freetown, he stated, “The men committed “heinous, brutal, atrocious, crimes never recorded in the history of mankind.”

Presently, the defendants have the right to appeal their convictions. However, if they lose the appeal, they will serve their lengthy prison terms in Europe rather than in Sierra Leone due to safety concerns.

The UN backed court has indicted twelve criminals in connection with the Sierra Leone war. Liberian President Charles Taylor is accused of supporting the rebels. Currently, Mr Taylor is on trial in The Hague in order to prevent disruption in West Africa between Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Critics are skeptical of the UN backed court because they believe that the court has been “slow in delivering justice to the people of Sierra Leone.” For example, three indicted criminals in Sierra Leone died before their verdicts were ever delivered.

For more information, please see:

BBC – First S Leone War Crime Sentences – 20 July 2007

BBC – Country Profile: Sierra Leone – 20 June 2007

Jerusalem Post – Sierra Leone War Crimes Court Hands Out Sentences – 20 July 2007

Japanese war orphans end suit

Approximately 2200 Japanese orphans who were abandoned in China following Japan’s defeat in World War II have agreed to accept a proposal from the government.  In the agreement, the government would provide more aid to the war orphans after dropping their compensation lawsuits.  The proposal comes in response to suits filed by the 2200 orphans.

The lawsuit accused the Japanese government of failing to adequately support them when they returned to Japan.  Many of the orphans are now sick and elderly, while struggling to survive because they cannot speak fluent Japanese.

Under the proposal on new livelihood support measures, the war orphans will receive a monthly pension payment of $535, an increase from the $178 they now receive.  Additionally, they will receive a special subsidy in place of welfare benefits, and the government will help cover their housing, medical, and nursing care.  In the proposal, the orphans will abandon their lawsuits against the government.

Thousands of Japanese children were abandoned in China by their parents as former Soviet troops closed in at the end of the war in 1945.  Many were adopted by the Chinese and were too young to remember their Japanese names or their biological parents. 

In 1972, approximately 6300 people, including 2500 war orphans, returned to Japan after Tokyo normalized ties with Beijing.

For more information, please see:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070709a2.html

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/07/japan-war-orphans-to-accept-aid-deal.php

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070709TDY01005.htm

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/07/09/ap3894912.html

Talks of Peace Amongst Violence

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

Early Wednesday night, the sky of Mogadishu was lit with explosions. Islamic insurgents carried out a massive attack against Somali troops in the capital’s biggest market, Bakara. The country has had little peace since the arrival of government backed Ethiopian troops. Bombs, attacks on government officials, assassination attempts, and wounded civilian are common situations in Somalia.

Wednesday nights attack began around 1:25 am, local time and lasted for approximately 45 minutes. Families were forced to sleep on the floor due to the heavy fighting and stray bullets. Halima Ahmed, a mother of seven, described it as the worst and most frightening night of her life.

This attack comes a few hours before a peace conference of more more than 1,200 delegates was scheduled to begin in the northern part of the capital. The historic conference has been long awaited. The delegates met to tackle an 11-point agenda aimed at ending Somalia’s violence. The 2009 election, clan arguments, and a new constitution are amongst the topics to be discussed during the conference.

Unfortunately, the conference itself was attacked and has been postponed. Six children, while playing soccer, were killed earlier today, when terrorists mortars exploded near the conference building. Mayor Muhamad Dheere said, “[terrorists] wanted to undermine the peace process and missed their target and killed children.” None of the delegates were injured.

The conference has been postponed several times due to fighting. According to Mohammad Hassad, a writer for the Associated Press, the Shabab, the military wing of the Islamist group, has threatened to disrupt the gathering saying anyone who takes part “is sentenced to death.”

For more information please see:

AllAfrica – Somalia: Heavy Gun Battle Rocks Magodishu Overnight – 19 July 2007

AllAfrica – Somalia: Peace Talks Under Mortar Attacks – 19 July 2007

BBC – Somali Talks Bomb Kills Children – 19 July 2007

Yahoo – 6 Children Killed in Somalia – 16 July 2007

Breaking News: Sentencing of Three Former Leaders of Sierra Leone’s Armed Forces Revolutionary Council

By Lindsey Brady
Impunity Watch, Africa

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in Freetown, has just handed down the sentences of Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanu.  Brima, thirty-five years old, and Kanu, forty-two years old, have been sentenced to jail for 50 years.  Kamara, thirty-nine years old, has been sentenced to jail for 45 years.

In June, each were found guilty of 11 of the 14 charges against them, including murder, rape, enlisting child soldiers, terrorism, and enslavement.

The men are former leaders of Sierra Leone’s Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which in 1997 caused a coup d’etat against then President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.  The AFRC allied itself with the rebel group the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and embarked on a terror campaign.  The rebels are believed to have been backed by Charles Taylor in exchange for Sierra Leone diamonds.  The civil war ended in 2001 leaving 120,000 people dead and thousands more mutilated.

During their trial, the men did not cooperate with the prosecution nor did they accept responsibility for their crimes.  However defense lawyer Kojo Graham had urged the court to consider reconciliation in sentencing.

It is believed that the men will serve their sentences in Sweden and Austria.

For more information, please see:

AllAfrica – Sierra Leone: Rebel Leaders Found Guilty in First Verdicts From UN-Backed Court – 20 June 2007

Reuters – Sierra Leone War Crimes Court Jails Militia Chiefs – 19 July 2007

VOA – Convicted Coup Plotters Face Sentencing in Sierra Leone – 19 July 2007

IOL News – Prosecution Seeks 170-Year Jail Terms – 16 July 2007

Civil Marriage in Israel

On July 18, Israel’s Justice Minister, Daniel Friedman, and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Amar reached agreement on legislation that would allow limited civil marriages in Israel.  Currently, there is a difference between the state’s and religious requirements to be considered Jewish.  Under Israel’s Law of Return a person needs only to have a Jewish grandparent to be considered Jewish.  However, according to religious authorities, a person needs to have a Jewish mother or convert to Judaism.  This difference leaves about 270,000 Israeli Jews unable to marry in their own country.

This limited bill will apply only to couples where both partners are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law.  However, many criticize that this law is too limited and many will still be forced to get married outside of Israel.  The proposed legislation does nothing to address marriages between a Jew and a non-Jew, gentile.  Therefore, while gentile couples and Jewish couples will be able to marry inside Israel, mixed couples will not.

In addition to the limited scope of the legislation, critics also state that the law may isolate and discriminate against immigrants.  Most of the people who fall between the state and Jewish law’s definition of Jew are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.  So this legislation marks a first step in recognizing civil marriages and expanding marriage rights.  However, more can be done to recognize full marriage rights of every Israeli citizen.

For more information please see:

Jerusalem Post:  “Amar OKs civil marriage for non-Jews”  19 July 2007. 

Ha’aretz:  “Bill would let non-Jews wed in civil ceremony”  19 July 2007. 

Ha’aretz:  “Government to support non-Jewish civil marriage law”  19 July 2007. 

Middle East Times:  “Limit civil marriage in Israel for first time”  19 July 2007. 

Ynetnews.com:  “‘Green light’ for civil marriage in Israel”  18 July 2007.

100 Palestinians trapped in Egyptian Airport

        Since the fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah thousands of Palestinians have fled to Egypt.  The number of Palestinian refugees in Egypt ranges from 4,000 to 6,000.  Egyptian President Mubarak stated that the refugees will remain in Egypt until the fighting subsides between the two factions.  Therefore, he has shut down Egypt’s border to the Gaza Strip, the Rafah Crossing.  He has also shut down air travel from Egyptian Airports to the Gaza trip, which has stranded passengers.

        Consequently, 100 Palestinians have been trapped in the Arish Ariport for about 20 days.  The Palestinians arrived at Arish from various countries. They had planned on stopping in Arish only to make their connecting flight to the Gaza Strip.  Therefore, they did not obtain visas to enter Egypt, because they did not think they would get stuck in the country.  These Palestinians have been forced into a small section of the airport, and have not been allowed to leave for any reason.  The Palestinians have tried to break free, but the police forcefully restrained the crowd, injuring three people.  One of the men told the Middle Eastern Times, “We are sleeping on the floor, we all share one toilet, [and] there is nowhere to take a bath or shower.”   Reportedly, they have survived on water and salt, and currently, have gone on on hunger strike. 

        The Egyptians’ rationale for shutting down the border travel is to protect the Palestinians.  The Egyptian government’s fear is that if the Palestinians enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing, they may be shot by Israelis or Hamas soldiers misidentifying them as smugglers.  The Egyptians have kept the border crossings to Israel open, but many Palestinians are hesitant to cross into Israel.  The Palestinians fear that the Israeli’s will cause them trouble or even arrest them.  Therefore, the Palestinians are stuck in Egypt for an indefinite period of time.  However, the Egyptians are trying to address the problem by setting up free health care facilities to treat the Palestinian refugees.   This help may be too little because 28 Palestinians have already died with health related issues, which could be compounded with thousands of Palestinians crowding the border towns seeking to entrance into the Gaza Strip. 

Daily Star Egypt. Palestinians Trapped in Arish Airport go on Hunger Strike. 9 July 2007.
Middle East News. Palestinians Trapped for Weeks in Egypt. 17 Jul 2007.
News24.com. Palestinians Trapped. 17 July 2007.
People’s Daily Online. Egypt to provide free treatment for stranded Palestinian patients at Rafah crossing. 16 July 2007.

Peace for Sudan?

By Impunity Watch Africa

Two recent developments provide hope that peace will come to Sudan, although many problems still lie ahead.

On Sunday, at an international summit to push peace in the Darfur region, the Sudanese government agreed to meet rebel groups that have so far refused to join peace talks.   If the meet does in fact take place, it will be an important step towards re-starting peace negotiations that stalled last year following the unpopular Darfur peace agreement.  The non-signatories to that agreement will meet the first week of August to prepare a unified position for talks with the government in late August or early September.   Negotiations will be tough, with agreements needed on how much to compensate families driven from their land, how to protect them when they return home, and how to disarm the militias.

In another positive development, a huge underground lake has been found in the Darfur region, prompting many scientists to claim that it may help end the conflict in the arid region.  Boston University researchers discovered the lake and plan on drilling 1,000 wells in the region.  Many analysts say competition for resources between Darfur’s Arab nomads and black African farmers is a big force behind the conflict.  The director for Boston University’s Center for Remote Sensing, Farouk El-Baz, said that “access to fresh water is essential for refugee survival, will help the peace process, and provides the necessary resources for the much needed economic development in Darfur.”  The lake was discovered using radar data, and it is believed to be the size of Lake Erie – the 10th largest lake in the world.

However, a draft Security Council resolution to authorize the deployment of a joint UN-AU peace-keeping force in Darfur has been opposed by Sudan and South Africa. The objection is over a sanctions clause in the resolution.  Sudan’s Ambassador to the UN said the resolution should be more Sudan-friendly and drop the “irrelevant and alien issues” such as the threat of sanctions.   Last month, the Sudanese government agreed to allow the hybrid force into the region.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Security Council to approve a draft resolution to get the approved peacekeeping force on the ground as soon as possible.  UN reports have stated that security on the ground is deteriorating, with a rise in attacks on aid workers and peacekeepers. The hope is to get forces on the ground by September or October, in order to help the small AU force that is failing to stop the violence.  Since the start of the Sudan conflict, 200,000 people have died and more than 2 million have been displaced.

For more information, please see:

AllAfrica – Darfur Resolution Opposed – 18 July 2007

BBC – Water Find ‘May End Darfur War’ – 18 July 2007

Washington Post – Scientists Find Lake Remnants in Sudan – 17 July 2007

LA Times – Sudan Agrees to Meet with Rebels – 16 July 2007

Hunger Marchers Subdued and Arrested By Police in Nigeria

By Meryl White
Impunity Watch, Africa

Presently, one out of every three Nigerians are malnourished. On a daily basis, over 46 million people go to bed hungry despite the fact that Nigeria is Africa’s most oil rich nation.

Action Aid, a non-governmental organization involved in development work, organized a march in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to raise awareness “about widespread hunger in Africa’s most populous nation.” At Friday’s march, participants hoped to present petitions to President Umaru Yar’Adua and government officials to encourage implementation of new laws and policies to help end hunger.

An organizer of the march described the situation in Nigeria as “their hunger is an indictment of those who have more than enough to eat in a country with more than enough resources and potential to banish the hunger it breeds.”

On Friday, the marchers became rowdy and played loud music. Environmental policy protection officials became disturbed when marchers littered the ground with discarded polythene bags. Marchers ignored attempts from the environmental officials, and the police were called to the scene. Ultimately, the police dispersed hundreds of campaigners with teargas and arrested twenty one individuals. The march was deemed illegal as organizers never obtained a permit from the board.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has attempted to obtain comments from the leader of the mobile police team on the action of his men. However, all attempts by news agencies have been rebuffed by the police leader.

For more information, please see:

Angola Press – Police Stop Nigeria Hunger March – 17 July 2007

BBC – Police Stop Nigeria Hunger March – 16 July 2007

Daily Triumph – Hunger march protesters, teargased, 21 arrested – 13 July 2007

BBC – Country Profile: Nigeria – 29 May 2007