Anti-Taliban Tribal Figure Killed In Pakistan

Anti-Taliban Tribal Figure Killed In Pakistan

By Michael E. Sanchez
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia


KHAR, Pakistan-  Shahfur Khan, a key anti-Taliban tribal leader was assassinated Friday in a roadside bombing, the latest in a series of attacks against pro-government militias in the area of northwestern Pakistan.  

Mr. Khan was returning to his home to receive guests after prayers marking the start of the Muslim festival of Eid al- Adha when the explosion occurred, which killed him and wounded three others, according to local officials Jamil Khan and Abdul Malik.  Jamil Khan, a local administrator said “The tribal leader was killed on the spot and his colleagues were seriously wounded in the blast.”

After his predecessor was killed with at least 14 other people in a suicide bombing last year,   Khan emerged as a militia leader in the Mamund area of the Bajur tribal region.

Violence has increased in Bajur and other northwestern tribal areas along the Afghan border since the army launched an anti-Taliban offensive in South Waziristan in mid-October.  A military statement on Friday said that over Fifteen Taliban fighters were killed in operations over the previous day in South Waziristan.  Pakistani troops took control of three significant militant strongholds in the Bara area of Khyber tribal region, where another 15 insurgents were killed.

Authorities also found the bullet-riddled body of another tribal elder, Ameer Saiyed who was seized from his home late Thursday in an attack that also left his son dead.  Authorities found the father’s body Friday near his home in Wali Kor village, the official said.  

The government has bolstered their military campaigns by assisting tribal leaders and supporting local militias to battle the Taliban.

These militias, also known as lashkars, have drawn comparisons with government-backed groups in Iraq known as Awakening Councils.  These groups have been credited with beating back the insurgency there.  The lashkars however, are less organized and the tribesman use their own aging weapons.

Traditionally, tribal elders have had massive influence in northwestern Pakistan but have increasingly been targeted by al-Qaida and Taliban fighters as they joined forces with the government.

For more information, please see:

Associated Press- Key Anti- Taliban Figure Assassinated in Pakistan– 27 November 2009

Time of the Internet- Insurgents Kill Two- Anti Taliban Elders– 27 November 2009

BBC News- Anti-Taliban Elder Killed in Pakistan – 27 November 2009

UN Helicopter Attacked in DR Congo

By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

KINSHASA, DR Congo – A UN helicopter flying over northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) on Thursday was fired at, injuring five people on board.  This is the second time this week that gunmen fired at UN helicopters.

According to MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, the helicopter was in the town of Dongo in Equateur province delivering supplies to twenty recently deployed Ghanaian peacekeepers.  Five of the thirty onboard were injured and the pilot quickly took off and landed in neighboring Republic of Congo instead.  Upon arrival in Republic of Congo, those injured were tended to.

The helicopter “was attacked while it was on the ground.  It seems there were five people wounded but their lives are not in danger,” said MONUC spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai.

Armed movement Patriots-Resistance of Dongo claimed the attacks.  The movement, in a confused statement, denounced MONUC’s alleged “complicity” with Rwandan occupation forces, or “Mafia-like imperialists,” who the movement alleges is in the area.

“The Patriots-Resistance have again inflicted a resounding failure on the occupation forces and have retaken the town of Dongo.  A MONUC helicopter engaged in the fighting was hit by our fire,” said Patriots-Resistance spokesman Ambroise Lobala Mokobe.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack that left three peacekeepers, a member of the Congolese national police, and a civilian pilot wounded.

“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of the DRC to ensure that the perpetrators of the attack against MONUC are held accountable,” said his spokesperson.

Additionally, the Secretary General has charged MONUC with assisting the government in protecting the civilian villagers in Dongo, and has encouraged the government to move toward a peaceful resolution of these violent clashes.  He has pledged MONUC’s assistance to the government in reaching a peaceful end to the violence.

The fighting in Dongo escalated last month when over 100 people were killed, including forty-seven policemen.  The local Lobala and Boba tribes are fighting over fishing rights.  At least 50,000 people have fled their homes because of the violence.

For more information, please see:

Xinhua – UN Chief Condemns Attack on UN Helicopter in DR Congo – 28 November 2009

AP – UN Helicopter Attacked in DR Congo; 4 Wounded – 27 November 2009

UN News Centre – Ban Deplores Attack on UN Helicopter in DR Congo – 27 November 2009

AFP – Armed Group Claims Firing at UN Chopper in DR. Congo – 26 November 2009

Reuters – Congo Gunmen Fire at U.N. Helicopter, Five Wounded – 26 November 2009

UN Expert Calls for End to Inhuman Practices Following Stonings in Somalia

By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Following the recent stonings in Somalia an independent UN expert called for an end to the “cruel, inhuman and degrading” practices taking place there.

Shamsul Bari, the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, said the executions by flogging and stoning highlight the “deteriorating” human rights situation in this country.

“I strongly condemn these recent executions by stoning in Al-Shabaab-controlled areas of Somalia,” he said.

According to the strict interpretation of Sharia law (Islamic law) that Al-Shabaab follows, one can be found guilty of adultery if he or she has an affair and has ever been married, even if divorced.  An adultery offense is punishable by stoning to death.  An unmarried person who has sex before marriage is liable for 100 lashes.

Last week, a 20-year-old divorced woman from a small village near the town of Wajid (250 miles from the capital of Mogadishu) was buried up to her waist and stoned to death in front of a crowd of about 200 on the public grounds.  Her boyfriend was sentenced to 100 lashes.

Judge Sheikh Ibrahim Abdirahman, who works for Al-Shabaab militant group, said she was guilty of having an affair with an unmarried 29-year-old man and giving birth to his stillborn child.  That made her guilty of the offense.

This is believed to be the second woman stoned to death by Al-Shabaab for committing adultery.

Last year a 13-year-old girl was stoned to death for adultery after she was gang raped.  Islamist militants, however, said she was older and married.  She was buried up to her neck and stoned to death by 50 men in front of a crowd of 1,000.

Earlier this month a man was stoned to death for adultery.  His pregnant girlfriend awaits the same punishment but has been spared until she gives birth.

Somalia’s moderate Islamist president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed believes Al-Shabaab is ruining Islam’s image by killing people and harassing women, saying, “Their actions have nothing to do with Islam.”

Bari has urged all Islamist groups and religious leaders to follow their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws.

For more information, please see:

UN News Centre – Somalia: UN Expert Urges end to Inhuman Practices After Recent Stonings – 27 November 2009

Examiner – Al-Shabab Stoning Men, Women, Children in Somalia – 21 November 2009

Al Jazeera – Somali Woman Stoned to Death – 19 November 2009

AP – Somali Woman Stoned to Death for Adultery – 18 November 2009

BBC – Somali Womand Stoned for Adultery – 18 November 2009

Palestinians Reject Israel’s Temporary Freeze Offer

By Meredith Lee-Clark

Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East


JERUSALEM, Israel/West Bank – An offer by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a ten-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank has been widely rejected by Palestinian lawmakers.


Prime Minister Netanyahu made the offer official after it was approved by his security cabinet on November 25. Netanyahu said that the move was a “very big step towards peace,” and said that he hoped the Palestinians and leaders from the Arab nations would take similar meaningful steps.


Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat quickly discounted Netanyahu’s characterization of the offer, instead calling it “propaganda.” Erekat said he believed the offer was aimed more at appeasing the Americans, rather than the Palestinians. The administration of American President Barack Obama has put pressure on Netanyahu’s government to make a serious effort to restart peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Peace talks broke off at the start of the military action between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009.


Hannah Ashwari, a member of the Palestinian legislative council, also denounced the Israeli announcement, saying the freeze would not actually stop settlement construction in Palestinian territories. The Israeli temporary freeze would not include construction projects that have already begun, nor any construction in East Jerusalem. Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.


“If you accept the fact that Jerusalem is excluded it means you have tacitly accepted that Jerusalem has been annexed by Israel,” said Ashwari.


The proposed settlement freeze has also drawn intense criticism from right-wing Jews in Israel. During a meeting for the ruling Likud party on November 28, many rank-and-file members lambasted the decision, blaming the Obama Administration, whom they see has forcing Netanyahu to halt settlement construction. One member called the Obama Administration “the worst regime there ever was for the State of Israel,” another said the settlement freeze was a “disgrace.”


Under the 2003 Middle East peace plan known as the Roadmap, Israel agreed to stop all settlement construction, while the Palestinians agreed to dismantle militant groups.


For more information, please see:


Ha’aretz – Likudniks Blast “Enemy of the Jews” Obama Over Settlement Freeze – 29 November 2009


Ma’an News Agency – Fayyad: World Should Demand Full Settlement Freeze – 29 November 2009


Palestinian News Agency – Palestinians Shun Israeli Settlement Restriction – 28 November 2009


Al Jazeera – Palestinians Reject Israeli Offer – 26 November 2009


Christian Science Monitor – Israel Settlement Freeze: Benjamin Netanyahu Promises 10-Month Halt, Angering Allies – 25 November 2009

Lebanese Women Subjected to Violence

By Brandon Kaufman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BEIRUT, Lebanon-According to Amal Ftoumi, media coordinator with the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women (LCRVAW), women in Lebanon find themselves largely unprotected from domestic violence.  In fact, some studies estimate that up to ninety percent of women in Lebanon are subject to some form of violence.  Ftoumi fears that few of the women dare to speak up even though they may be facing serious situations of physical abuse.

Ftoumi notes that the hurdles facing women who seek help against violence are enormous.  As she has said, “Society does not approve of women complaining about their husbands.  It is a woman’s job to be there for her husband, which makes it very difficult for women to stand up to abuse.”  Furthermore, many feel that a woman’s chances of receiving fair treatment in a court case are very remote.  Under Lebanese law, domestic violence cases are to be dealt with by one of the country’s religious courts.  Nonetheless, as Ftoumi contends, most, if not all of the country’s courts, rule in favor of men.

According to Zoya Rouhana, the director of an organization that stands against the exploitation of women, “Domestic law is treated in the same way as violence on the street.  It does not take into consideration that the woman has to go back to the one who attacked her in the first place.”  In addition, Rouhana notes that many women are afraid to take their case to court out of fear that they will lose their children.  It is fairly common that Lebanese courts give custody of the children to the husband.  To counteract this, Rouhana says that many women choose to keep silent about the violence even if that means enduring life with their abusive husbands.

On December 2, the Lebanese Parliament is scheduled to hold a session and discuss the possibility of creating a special court to deal with cases of domestic violence.  Additionally, another fundamental change being sought by the parliament is the specific naming of domestic violence as a crime in Lebanese law.

For more information, please see:

Daily Times- Day for End to Violence Against Women Marked– 25 November 2009

The Daily Star- Drive to Protect Women Picks Up Momentum– 25 November 2009

The Daily Star- Lebanese Women Bereft of Protection– 25 November 2009