Bainimarama Warns SDL Party

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – Fiji’s Interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, has warned ousted Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, that his SDL party might not be included in the proposed President’s Political Forum if the party continues to criticize the interim government.

Spokesman for the SDL, Ted Young, says it is nothing that has not been said before but his party is surprised by the response, “The threats of excluding SDL from the forum would be a very counter-productive move, in fact the forum will not achieve its purpose if the biggest political party is absent from the Forum and it will be an unwise move on the part of the interim regime and Bainimarama to exclude SDL.”

Mr. Young believes the threat is a reaction of comments made by Mr. Qarase who is in Australia. Mr. Qarase has been unable to leave Fiji since he was charged with abuse of office after his government was overthrown in December of 2006. However, the High Court in Fiji altered his bail restrictions this week, allowing him to travel abroad as long as he is in Fiji in early March for his case’s hearing. He is in Australia lobbying for support of the SDL party and visiting family.

Meanwhile, the Fiji political situation will be discussed at a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London next week. CMAG will meet in London next week to discuss Fiji and whether further measures need to be taken in light of the interim Government’s refusal to adhere to the May 1 elections deadline. Fiji was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth immediately following the 2006 coup.

For more information, please see:
Fiji Times – CMAG to discuss Fiji at London meet – 27 February 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Fiji interim regime threat undermines planned political forum – 24 February 2009

Fiji Daily Post – Qarase seeks help in Australia – 17 February 2009

World News Australia – Qarase free to visit Australia: reports – 12 February 2009

Filipino Radio Journalist Killed

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

Manila, PHILIPPINES
– Local radio journalist Ernie Rollins was killed at gunpoint Monday in Ozamiz City, in Misamis Occidental province of southern Mindanao.

International media groups urge that the murder be promptly investigated. “We firmly condemn the murder of Rollins, the latest victim of a culture of violence and impunity that has ravaged the media in the Philippines for too long,” said Reporters Without Borders. “The motive has not yet been established by the modus operandi indicates it was a contract killing ordered by Rollin’s enemies and carried out by professional hitmen.”

At 5:30 a.m., Rollins was on the way into work to host his program. He parked his car at a gas station in Barangay Talic when two men wearing ski masks approached by motorcycle. Rollins was shot three times in the body and a fatal shot to the head.

Ligaya, his partner, who witnessed the murder states, “I had not expected that Ernie would be targeted.” She then added that she believed that his outspoken commentaries against local officials might have prompted the attack.

Police superintendent Leonilo Cabug was placed in charge of the investigation.

Cabug and Misamis Occidental Governor Loreto Leo Ocampos stated that the murder was a “big blow and grave offense to press freedom.” They continued, “The dynamics of a democratic society hinge on the free flow of information, exchange of ideas, respect for one’s opinion and tolerance for the thoughts of others.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) believes that the date of the killing is of great significance. “There can be no greater irony than the timing of Rollin’s murder. He was killed on the 23rd anniversary of the Edsa People Power I uprising that supposedly restored the people’s basic freedoms, including (that) of expression,” said the NUJP.

Rollin was the first journalist killed this year in the Philippines. However, he was the 99th murder since the 1986, when the Philippines returned to democracy.

For more information, please see:

GMANews – Press Groups Condemn Killing of Filipino Radioman – 24 February 2009

Inquirer – Special PNP Unit to Probe into Rollin’s Slay – 25 February 2009

Reporters Without Borders – Popular Radio Journalist Gunned Down on Mindanao Island – 23 February 2009

Bangladesh Discovers Mass Grave at Border Guard Compound

By Pei Hu
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DHAKA, Bangladesh – The Bangladesh military discovered a mass grave in Dhaka holding 66 border guard officers killed by mutinous border guards.  Col Rezaul Karim, chief deputy of the elite Rapid Action Battalion force, told AFP “The bodies were buried underground in a makeshift grave near the hospital in the BDR headquarters compound.”

Officials say that at least 50 more people have been killed during the 2-day violent revolt.

Major General Shakil Ahmed, a commander of the Bangladesh Rifles border guards, was one of the dead bodies found inside the border guard compound. Many more guard officers remain missing. Hundreds of mutinous border guards fled after surrendering to the government. The mutinous guards agreed to lay down their weapons after the prime minister vowed to look into their grievances, which include demands for better pay.

Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina sent in military tanks throughout Dhaka to help stabilize the crisis. Bangladeshi authorities arrested 300 border guards believed to take part in the mutiny.

The rebellion happened this past Wednesday after failed negotiations with officials for better benefits for border guards. Border guards are responsible for securing the country’s border and providing backup the country’s army and police. There has been a long standing tension between the government and the border guards who complain they are treated as second class citizens to the Bangladeshi military.

After visiting the Bangladesh Rifles border guard’s compound, a government minister announced that the men responsible for the deaths of border guard officers would not receive the amnesty Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina previously offered.  “No one has the right to kill anyone,” the prime minister said.

The Bangladeshi government declared three days of official mourning, beginning Friday and ending on Sunday at midnight.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Bangladesh Troops Find Mass Grave– 27 February 2009

Economic Times – Mass grave discovered at BDR headquarters, 30 bodies recovered– 27 February 2009

VOA – Mass Grave Discovered in Bangladesh Border Guard Compound27 February 2009

Bangladesh Border Guards End Their Mutiny

By Pei Hu
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Government officials say that the Bangladesh border guards that rebelled against the government over conditions and pay have surrendered. The mutiny began on February 25th at the Dhaka headquarters of a paramilitary unit called the Bangladesh Rifles.  An army helicopter patrolling above the barracks was shot at and mortar rounds were also fired.

By the next day, the mutiny spread to 12 different towns and cities where border guards seized control of their barracks. Police chief of the Moulivibazar district told the AFP news agency that the border guards were “firing indiscriminately.” Reports said some border guards took their officers hostage, and in others they forced them to leave. Schools in Dhaka and the surrounding areas were closed for the day and mobile phone service was suspended across the country in a bid to stop the rebellion spreading.

A government spokesperson said the situation is now under control despite sounds of gunfire in the capital. The situation in other parts of the country, where paramilitary forces remain at large is still unclear.

The mutinous border guards were demanding better wages and new bosses. They surrendered after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned the guards would face “tough action” if they didn’t surrender. “Lay down your guns immediately and go back to barracks … Do not force me to take tough actions or push my patience,” she said. On Thursday, tanks rolled into the capital to backup. About 50 people have died in the violence.

Hasina offered to pardon the guards if they surrender and return to the post. A representative of the guards told the media they were surrendering because the Prime Minister agreed to look into their grievances.

There are 70,000 border guards in 42 camps across the country. The border guards are responsible for securing boarders and provide backup for the army and police.

Indian border officials told the media they will close their borders near Bangladesh and remain vigilant.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Bangladesh Guard Mutiny is ‘Over’– 26 February 2009

FT – Amnesty deal ends border guard mutiny in Bangladesh – 26 February 2009

VOA – Bangladesh Say Mutinous Guards Surrender– 26 February 2009

State of Emergency Regulations Will Continue in Tonga

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga – The Tonga Government says state of emergency regulations will be in place until people in the capital city center feel safe again.

Nearly three years ago, the pro-democracy movement in Tonga turned violent, causing the death of eight and destroying Tonga’s capital city, Nuku’alofa. The riots erupted after the Legislative Assembly of Tonga adjourned for the year without employing promised reforms.

Following the violence in 2006, the government issued a 30 day state of emergency, and has since renewed those regulations on a monthly basis.

The state of emergency regulations were expanded in September, giving Tongan police the power to stop individuals, search them without a warrant, and even enter into and seize evidence from any vehicle, ship, or aircraft.

Citizens complain that the regulations are too restrictive, while the Government contends they are necessary to ensuring security.

While Police Minister, Siaosi Aho, recognizes that the regulations have tainted the people’s image of the police and government, he also says there is no foreseeable end to the “special laws.”

“And this is one of the things that has convinced me that I should continue [with the emergency regulations] is the fact that the people had completely lost faith and trust in the police. We are running a programme now, strategically, to bring back this trust,” Aho said.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – Emergency powers in Tonga’s capital won’t go until people assure Government they feel safe – 25 February 2009

ABC Radio New Zealand – Tonga reimposes emergency regulations – 10 September 2008

AFP News Service – Tonga extends area under emergency powers – 10 September 2008

Freed Detainee Tells About Torture by U.S.

By Gabrielle Meury
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
LONDON, U.K.- Binyam Mohamed, a former British resident, arrived in London on Monday after his release from Guantanamo Bay. Mohamed is the first Guantanamo detainee to be released during the Obama administration. Mohamed is a native of Ethiopia who immigrated to Britain in 1994, was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002 and turned over to U.S. authorities a few months later. American officials accused him of traveling to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban, which he has repeatedly denied. He was initially charged with plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the United States and later with conspiring with members of al-Qaeda to murder and commit terrorism. All of the charges were eventually dropped.  The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been petitioning the U.S. government for Mohamed’s return since August 2007.
Mohamed stated, “It is still difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways — all orchestrated by the United States government.” Mohamed also stated that U.S. officials flew him to Morocco and that he was tortured there for 18 months. He said he was beaten and had his penis cut with a razor. He said he was then transferred to a CIA-run site in Afghanistan and was beaten there regularly before being moved to Guantanamo in September 2004.
U.S. officials have never acknowledged taking Mohamed to Morocco; Moroccan officials deny having held him. U.S. officials have also repeatedly denied torturing terrorism suspects.
Also in contention is the Pentagon’s recent review of conditions at Guantanamo. The Pentagon found that “all detainees are well protected from violence.” Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, the vice chief of naval operations, led a 13-day investigation at the military prison, interviewing staff and detainees and conducting announced and unannounced inspections round the clock. Human rights and civil liberties groups challenged Walsh’s findings. They have said that solitary confinement has led to the deterioration of the physical and psychological health of detainees, some of whom are force-fed because they are on hunger strikes.
A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only organization with unfettered access to the prisoners, said the group supports the recommendations for increased socialization for all detainees but disagreed with Walsh’s conclusion that force-feeding is in compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
For more information, please see:
Washington Post- Freed detainee in U.K. tells of abuse by U.S.- 24 February 2009
Associated Press- Former Guatanamo detainee enjoying freedom in UK- 24 February 2009
BBC News-  Release Binyam torture data– 24 February 2009

U.S. Court of Appeals Grants Fiji Family Political Asylum

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SAN FRANCISCO, United States – A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled that a California man and his family who fled Fiji in 1998 in response to racially motivated beatings and death threats are eligible for political asylum.  The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed rulings by immigration courts against Rajeshwar Singh, his wife, Mohini Lata Singh, and their two children.

Mr. Singh’s father was killed by native Fijians in 1987 and the Singhs were under pressure to vacate their leased land so natives could move in according to their lawyer, Ashwani Bakhri.  Mr. Singh, a cabdriver in Fiji, was locked in the trunk of his taxi in 1996 by passengers who rolled the vehicle into a ditch, seriously injuring him.  His wife and young children were also attacked.  The Singhs, of Indian descent, said the violence against them was by Fiji’s native majority, who control the government.

The federal immigration board ruled that the family had not been persecuted which made them ineligible for asylum because they could not show that the police were unable or unwilling to protect them.  In a 3-0 ruling the appeals court said Singh had complained to police about the violence and had received no response.

The court ruled, “We have previously recognized the indifference of authorities to violence against Indo-Fijians during the period at issue in this case.”  The judges said the Singhs had been persecuted because of their ethnicity and probably would be persecuted again if they were deported back to Fiji.

For more information, please see:

San Francisco Chronicle – Fiji fear leads to asylum win for local family – 23 February 2009

Fiji Times – Fiji family qualifies for political asylum, US court rules – 24 February 2009

Junta Released More Than 6000 Prisoners

By Ariel Lin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia


YANGON, Myanmar
– Junta released more than 6,000 prisoners after the United Nations human rights rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana concluded his visit last week.  Several monks and pro-democracy members were among released prisoners, a party spokesperson and a rights group said.  State radio and television reports prisoners were being freed because of their good conduct in jails.  These prisoners also would be able to participate in a general election planned for next year.

However, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Thailand-based rights group believes “it is just for show”.  “This group does not include any policy makers or other key players,” said Tate Naing, the group’s secretary.  National League for Democracy spokesperson Nyan Win said he was expecting to hear about additional NLD members freed.

The United Nations human rights rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana noting “The human rights situation in Myanmar is still challenging.”  During his visit, Mr. Quintana were not allow to meet with either Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition who is under house arrest, or Burma’s junta chief, Senior General Than Shwe.  Mr. Quintana’s mission to Myanmar is to push for the freedom of political prisoners – including Aung San Suu Kyi.  The Junta said that they would consider his recommendation, amending some national laws to be more in keeping with international standards.

At the same time, pressure is rising for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit Myanmar again.  Aung San Suu Kyi and others have written a letter welcoming a possible visit by the secretary-general to “discuss a broad range of issues,” U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari told reporters after briefing the Security Council on his recent trip to Myanmar.  U.N. Security Council members said they would support a visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

For more information, please see
:

AP – 19 political prisoners released from Myanmar jails – 22 February 2009

AP – Myanmar junta announces 6300 convicts to be freed – 20 February 2009

BBC – Burma rights still ‘challenging’ – 20 February 2009

Reuters – Political prisoners among 6,000 freed in Myanmar – 22 February 2009

Vestiges of Slavery Alive in the Caribbean

By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America


POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe – The Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe have seen turmoil in the past month due to protests over extremely low wages and high living costs. The weeks long protests are in response to the pervasive level of inequality in the economy of the islands with just one percent of the population, known as the bekes (the primarily white, elite slaveholder descendants), owning most of the industries and sources of economic clout in the islands. Many demonstrators, mostly afro-Caribbeans, believe that their current dire circumstances are a manifestation of the legacy of racism and slavery on the French colony islands.

France dispatched 450 riot police to tame the protests that have been characterized by gunfire, looting, arson, and the death of longtime activist and union member Jacques Bino, who was shot and killed in a housing project in Point-a-Pitre. Three police officers were also reported injured, one of whom was shot in the eye. Protest leader Domota said the violence was prompted by the police, who have been accused of harassing protestors with racist insults.

The social and economic disparities between the two groups runs deep according to recent statistics, with an unemployment rate of 23 percent and a poverty rate of 12 percent, compared to 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, on the overseas mainland of France.

Serge Romana, president of an association commemorating the abolition of slavery in the French territories, has said that French President Nicholas Sarkozy “must absolutely abolish all traces of neocolonialism and vestiges of slavery in the overseas regions.” This call for respect and equality has barriers in systemic processes, however, as beke Jean-Luc de Laguarigue has said: “Tensions have festered over generations because France and its islands have not explored the painful past…The protests are not a call for war, but for dignity.” He noted there was no known slavery museum in France and the subject is pretty much taboo in the educational system.

On Sarkozy’s part, he promised a $250 monthly raise for low-income workers and a lowering of prices on 100 products by 20 percent. Protest leaders and government officials are currently negotiating for lower housing, gasoline, water and electricity costs.

For more information, please see:

Houston Chronicle – Unrest in France’s Carribbean Islands Claims 1 – 18 February 2009

Associated Press – Unrest in Carribbean Has Roots in Slavery Past – 22 February 2009

Star Tribune –  On Martinique and Guadeloupe, Anger Over Soaring Living Costs Has Roots in Past Slavery – 22 February 2009

Ousted Chaudhry Says Reform Must Precede Elections

By Ryan L. Maness
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – Fiji’s Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, said that Fiji must sort out its governmental problems before holding elections.  He says that reforms must be put in place if Fiji is to avoid another political coup in the future.
According to Chaudhry, Fiji’s problems are ones of fundamental governance and that the people of Fiji must admit that these problems exist before progress can commence.  The solutions to these problems, he said, must precede a return to democratic rule.
“We’ve had it for so long, we need to solve those problems,” he said. “Otherwise we will always have a turbulent democracy here, we’ve had four coups and we don’t want that again.”
While he admitted that the overall return to democracy will take time, he said that a timeline should be put in place for the return.  “It does not really matter, so long as progress is being made and there is a timeline – reasonable and fair to those demanding elections immediately and those who are saying ‘Let’s wait and solve problems out and have elections’.”
Chaudhry was the prime minister of Fiji before being ousted by a coup in 2000.
For more information, please see:
Fiji Times – ‘Solutions before polls’ – 23 February 2009

Pakistan Agrees to Implement Sharia Law in Swat Valley Area

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia


PESHAWAR, Pakistan
– Pakistan has agreed to a peace deal with Taliban militants in the Swat Valley. The deal will lead to the enforcement of Islamic Sharia law in the Pakistan’s northwest region. In return the Taliban will lay down their arms permanently.

Historically, Swat has been a religious holiday destination. Since 2007, it has been under Taliban control. As a result, thousands of people have fled and schools have been burned. Although female education, music and dancing have already been prohibited and executions have taken place, militants in the Swat Valley have been pushing for a stricter Islamic law.

“Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of Shariah (Islamic) law,” Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said. “If this really brings us the implementation of Sharia, we will fully cooperate with it.”

Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province Ameer Hussain Hoti, said, “[The deal] was reached after realization that it was the demand of the people.

The agreement will force the provincial government to implement Sharia law in the Malakand division, which includes the Swat Valley. Civilians have been caught in between the military and Taliban fighting. At least 1,000 have died and thousands have been displaced.

Some critics believe that the peace deal is the beginning of Taliban rule in Pakistan, saying the deal will encourage the Taliban in other areas of the country to take more severe action. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardaru said the Taliban had “a presence in huge amounts of land” in Pakistan and were trying to take over the county.

On the other hand, the government views it in strategy. The peace deal will stop the fighting in the Swat Valley area and thereby giving the government some breathing room.

Many people in the area prefer that the army retreat since they have failed to pacify Taliban insurgents and protect civilians.

For more information, please see:

Associated Press – Islamic Law to be Imposed in Parts of NW Pakistan – 16 February 2009

BBC – Pakistan Agrees Sharia Law Deal – 16 February 2009

Reuters – Pakistan:  Now or Never? – 16 February 2009

United States’ Lax Gun Laws Play Major Role in Mexico Violence

By Maria E. Molina
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Guns and ammunition going to Mexico from the United States has been fueling a war between drug cartels and law enforcement — a war that left thousands dead last year.

More than 5,000 people were murdered in Mexico last year alone, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and 95 percent of the weapons recovered from those killings were traced back to the U.S. This is because it’s easier to buy guns in the U.S. and smuggle them across the border than it is to get them in Mexico.

Guns are coming to Mexico from all over the U.S. The weapons and ammunition are being bought mostly from licensed dealers. Any adult with a valid ID and no criminal record can buy as many as he or she wants.

Another part of the problem is that the United States does not enforce a ban on importing assault weapons. The ban was implemented under the administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, and the U.S. government can enforce it under provisions of the 1968 Gun Control Act.  Many such guns are later smuggled south to arm Mexico’s ruthless drug cartels. The guns come to the United States from Europe and other places, and they make their way down to Mexico.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, has quietly abandoned the ban in recent years. The ATF declined to comment.  Mexico has long demanded that the U.S. do more to stop the flow of weapons south.

For more information, please see:

NPR – Guns From U.S. Play Key Role In Mexican Violence – 20 February 2009

Forth Worth Star Telegram – U.S. lawmakers want ban on importing assault weapons enforced – 19 February 2009

Associated Press – Lawmakers: US must enforce assault-gun import ban – 18 February 2009

US Will Move 8,000 Troops From Japan To Guam

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

OKINAWA, Japan – The US and Japan have signed the Guam International Agreement ordering the relocation of 8,000 US soldiers from the Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam by 2014.  Under the agreement, Japan will provide $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.3 billion it will cost for the transfer of the soldiers and for the building of housing on Guam, a US territory.

The Guam Landowners Association says it is opposed to the plan for military buildup.  The Association’s Antony Sablan says the people of Guam have not been asked if they support the move.  The soldier transfer will boost Guam’s population by ten percent.  Mr. Sablan believes Guam will lose land and part of its identity.  He said, “We are a foster child of a foster parent, where our resources are getting raped by our foster parent.  Somebody has to step up to the plate and take the step to say: ‘hey, you can’t take advantage of this small group of innocent people.'”  Mr. Sablan went on to say the international community should step in to protect the people of Guam.

Meanwhile, Guam’s Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to the population increase for what it will mean for Guam’s economy.  The Chamber’s chair, Frank Campillo says it will bring many opportunities.  Mr. Campillo explained, “We’ll see a huge amount of construction activity: we need to improve our island infrastructure, the streets, the waterways, the distribution of electricity, we need to build new housing.  We understand there’ll be between 8 and 10 billion dollars of construction activity.”

For more information, please see:
Press TV – US to remove soldiers from Okinawa – 17 February 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Guam Landowners oppose US troop build up – 18 February 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Guam businesses eyeing benefits from the US marines relocating – 18 February 2009

Nuns Shot While Escaping War Zone in Sri Lanka

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia


TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka
– The Liberation Tigers Tamil of Eelam (LTTE) shot at civilians as they were fleeing the rebel controlled territory on Thursday.

Two days earlier the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped ferried 240 sick and injured people by boat from Puttumatalan, a village controlled by the Tigers. They were taken to Trincomalee, the eastern port. One of the passengers was Sister Mary Colostica, a 74 year old Catholic nun.

Colostica, along with five other nuns, guided at least 2,000 civilians from village to village in search of food and safety from the war. She gave a first hand account from the war zone.

“When we tried to leave, the LTTE didn’t allow civilians to leave and said only we can leave.” Colostica said. “So we stayed back with the civilians.”

The ICRC said that 16 patients were killed in firings on Monday and another 160 patients were carried from Puttumtalan on Thursday.

The military said it had set up a 7 mile safety zone encompassing Puttumatalan and other villages along the coastline.

Sister Mary was shot and treated for shrapnel wounds. “At least 10 to 15 people die a day and no one is there to bury them,” she said. “The LTTE fired from close to civilians. We had objected, but that didn’t work.”

Sister Louise said that the LTTE shot at people when they begged to leave, “When we tried to escape with civilians, LTTE had fired at me. I got shot in my leg.”

Human rights organizations estimate there are at least 250,000 civilians still trapped in the stronghold.

The Tamil Tigers have consistently denied accusations that they are forcibly keeping civilians inside their territory. Instead they claim that civilians remain of their own free will. Some, they say, even follow them.

The Sri Lankan government refuses to enter into a cease-fire. Both sides deny targeting civilians and blame the other for their deaths.

The LTTE has been fighting a 25 year war with the government in order to secure a separate homeland for the ethnic Tamils.

For more information, please see:

Aljazeera.net – Tamil Tigers ‘Shoot’ at Civilians – 12 February 2009

AsiaNews – Religious Personnel Under Wanni Bombings – 10 February 2009

Reuters – Wounded Sri Lankans, Nuns Make Narrow Escape From War – 12 February 2009

Another Journalist Attacked in Nepal

By Pei Hu
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KATHMANDU, Nepal – Gyanendra Raj Mishra, a program coordinator for Garima FM, an independent FM radio station, was shot and wounded in the town of Birguni. Unidentified gunmen riding a motorcycle shot and wounded Mishra while riding in Southern Nepal. Police say the attack on Mishra is the latest of a series of attacks on journalists in Nepal.

Mishra had just left work before he was attacked. He was passing by Narayani Rangashala, one of the most prominent public places in Southern Nepal.  Mishra was shot in the right hand by unidentified gunmen in front of dozens of witnesses. He was rushed to the Narayani regional hospital for treatment.

Shambhu Shah, a police spokesperson said “[Mishra’s] condition is not critical and he has returned home after treatment at a hospital.”

Police say the motive behind the shooting is unclear. The attack on Mishra is the latest attack on journalists in Southern Nepal. Uma Singh, a young journalist working in Southern Nepal was brutally stabbed to death.

Thousands of people have joined in Uma Singh’s funeral procession.  She had spoken about the plight of workers in south-east Nepal as well as gender and caste discrimination. In an interview last year Uma spoke about the difficulties of working as a journalist in Nepal.  Last month she was killed by a group of 15 men who attacked her with knives and sharp objects. Neighbors of Uma heard the killers say, “This is for writing so much.” The perpetrators are still at large.

Nepal’s media is frequently under attack when the country was at civil war in the 1990’s. Both the Maoist and security forces attacked journalists. Though the civil war ended three years ago and Nepal became a democratic federal republic, Nepal still remains deadly for journalists. Since 2006 four have been killed.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Thousands Mourn Nepal Journalist– 13 January 2009

Reuters –Journalist Shot and Wounded in Nepal– 20 February 2009

Times of India – Democratic Nepal Still Deadly for Journalist– 19 February 2009