Somali Al Shabaab Rebels Threaten to Attack Kenya

Somali Al Shabaab Rebels Threaten to Attack Kenya

By Jared Kleinman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya – Somalia’s hardline al Shabaab rebels threatened on Thursday to attack neighboring Kenya following a crackdown on Somalis in the capital Nairobi, according to a recording posted on an al Shabaab Website.

The six-minute clip posted on the al Shabaab website stated, “We have arrived at the border, we will enter Kenya, and Inshallah we will get to Nairobi… when we get there, we will fight, we will kill, because we have weapons, enough weapons.”

Islamist al Shabaab have threatened to attack Kenya before, although anger has been rising over the past week among the Somali community after Kenyan security forces detained hundreds of Somalis living in a Nairobi suburb. Kenya rounded up and arrested several hundred Somali immigrants and refugees living in a mostly Somali neighborhood. Earlier this month, Muslim protesters clashed with police after Friday prayers, leading to one death and extensive property damage.

The Kenyan police crackdown followed a violent protest in Nairobi against the detention of Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, who was jailed in Britain for urging his audiences to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners.

The website said the message had been composed by militants annoyed by Kenya’s decision to deport the cleric and the deaths of protesters last Friday. The chaotic demonstration resulted in the death of at least two people during nearly nine hours of mayhem in the heart of the capital. The security forces conducted raids on Somali-inhabited in the capital and other major cities in the country, leading to arrest of more than 700 people, mostly Somalis.

Many of the marchers were Somalis and some waved a black flag identified with al Shabaab, a group seen by Washington as al Qaeda’s proxy in the Horn of Africa nation.

Reclusive al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Sheik Mukhtar Abdirahman Abu Zubeyr, was introduced on the recording by the men chanting. He is believed to be in close contact with senior foreign members of al Shabaab. The man they introduced called on Muslims in several sub-Saharan African nations to wage jihad, or holy war, against “infidels” and to destroy their interests around the world.

“Our brothers in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and Chad, you have a chance to join the jihad in the name of Allah. Don’t you know whoever does not join the jihad today, will never join?” the man said in Arabic. “If we live on or die, we are between two victories.”

For more information, please see:

CNN – Somali Rebel Group Threatens Kenya as Tension Mounts – 22 January 2010

Reuters – Somali Hardline Rebels Threaten Kenya Attack – 21 January 2010

Garowe Online – Al Shabaab Threaten to Attack Kenya Capital – 21 January 2010

Iranian Nuclear Plant to be Operational by 2011

By Bobby Rajabi
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

MOSCOW, Russia – On January 21 Iranian and Russian officials said that Iran’s first nuclear power plant will be operating by mid-2011. Russian officials confirmed that the nuclear reactor would be started to be built in 2010. The plant will be located in the Iranian city of Bushehr. Russia’s nuclear chief, Sergei Kiryenko, commented that “2010 is the year of the Bushehr.”

Kiryenko also said that “all the work is going as scheduled. The tests are a success.” The Director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, also commented on the plants creation. Salehi said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be operational by late September. He also explained that experts are conducting final tests and there would be no delays on the part of the Russians in the launching of the nuclear plant.

This development comes amidst rising tensions over Iran’s refusal to accept a proposal by the United Nations aimed at easing the international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA (nuclear arm of the united nations) plan calls for the Islamic Republic to ship low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment and then to France where it would converted into fuel for Tehran’s medical purpose reactor.

Iran’s refusal to accept this deal lead to Western nations in the UN Security Council to threaten to imposed further sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The other two members of the Security Council, Russia and China, have called for more restraint and patience. Iran insists that they only have peaceful intentions with their nuclear program. The West believes that these claims are a cover-up for a nuclear weapons program.

The Bushehr plant’s construction began in 1974 but was abandoned five years later after the Islamic Revolution led to upheaval in Iran’s government. Western companies reneged on their commitments and pulled out of the Islamic Republic and the project after political pressure from the United States federal government. Russia ultimately agreed to complete the project.

In 1992 the two countries signed a deal to complete the construction of the nuclear power plant. Russia started working on the plant in 1995 and its contract was estimated to worth close to one billion dollars. The plant was was originally scheduled to open in 1999 but has been repeatedly delayed.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant to Open in 2010 – 21 January 2010

Press TV – Russia: Bushehr Plant to Come on Stream in 2010 – 21 January 2010

RTT – Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant to be Launched by Mid-2010 – 21 January 2010

Washington Post – Russia Says to Start Iran Nuclear Plant in 2010 – 21 January 2010

South Korea Releases Report on North Korea’s Abuses

By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

SEOUL, South Korea– For the first time, South Korea’s government funded human rights watchdog, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK), released a report on the alleged human rights abuses in North Korea.

The report said that the number of North Korean political camps has declined, but it also detailed inhumane conditions like torture and executions of North Korean political prison camps where more than 200,000 people are estimated to be imprisoned.

NHRCK official said in the six political prisons in the North where people are held indefinitely, “Nearly every type of human rights violation has occurred in those political concentration camps including the secret execution of prisoners [without trial].”

North Korea incarcerates entire families for minor political wrongdoings by one particular member of the family, such as damaging Kim Jong-il’s photo or singing South Korean songs.  Defectors who try to escape to China or South Korea are also punished, and the punishments have grown harsher over the past three years.

Inmates are not given clothes or shoes, but are provided only shelter and food.  Conditions for female inmates are especially harsh as they are often called in by the authorities and sexually assaulted.

Importantly, NHRCK’s report reflects a change within the South Korean government.  In the previous two administrations, South Korea remained silent on the issues of North’s human rights abuses and avoided directly criticizing North Korea’s rights violations.

However, the recent assessment by NHRCK shows South Korea’s willingness to publically confront North Korea concerning its human rights abuses.

Nonetheless, this report comes amid new tensions where Pyongyang threatened Seoul with a “holy war” after reports came out regarding South’s contingency plan for resolving the current political, social and economic instability in the North.

NHRCK plans on translating the report into English and sending it to the UN Commission on Human Rights as well as other international organizations to bring awareness of the atrocities still happening in North Korea.

Some experts have criticized the NHRCK report saying that it may further deteriorate relations between the North and the South.  Seo Bo-hyuk, a professor in Seoul, voiced his concern saying, “A unilateral demand from South Korea could stifle the improvement of inter-Korean relations.”
For more information, please see:

AsiaNews – More than 200,000 political and religious prisoners in North Korea – 21 January 2010

Chosun Ilbo- Seoul Breaks Silence on N.Korea’s Human Rights Abuses – 22 January 2010

VOA – South Korean Human Rights Body Breaks Silence on Abuses in North – 20 January 2010

Updated Position on China’s Text Messaging Surveillance

By M.E. Dodge
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – The Chinese government continued to ease a six-month-old blackout on communications in the northwest region of Xinjiang by restoring some text-messaging services, according to the state news media, however, cellular companies in Beijing and Shanghai have been told to suspend text services to cell phone users who are found to have sent messages with “illegal or unhealthy content.” The effort is an attempt to further what the Chinese government calls, “a campaign against pornography.”

Originally, restrictions on Internet access, international telephone service and text messaging were put in place after ethnic violence last July killed at least 197 people and injured more than 1,700 in the regional capital, Urumqi. The government says it severed communications to ease tensions it claims were inflamed by social networking sites and text messages.

The increased surveillance of text messages is the latest in a series of government initiatives to tighten control of the Internet and other forms of communication. Since November, the government has closed hundreds of Web sites in the name of weeding out pornographic and pirated material.

Xinjiang, with its combustive mix of Han and Uighur ethnic groups, has been under a heightened state of security of internet access since the rioting, which was the deadliest outbreak in China in decades. But, in recent weeks, the authorities have begun to restore limited Internet service. It has allowed the region’s 20 million residents to view pages from the Communist Party’s main newspaper, People’s Daily, which is the official Xinhua news service. The ban has also been eased to allow access to two popular Web portals.

In response to scrutinized text messaging monitoring, Kan Kaili, a professor of telecommunications at Beijing University, called the routine surveillance of cell phone messages a violation of privacy rights and the Chinese Constitution. According to Kalli, “They are doing wide-ranging checks, checking anything and everything, even if it is between a husband and wife,” he said. Kalli went on to say that, the government had established no clear legal definition of unhealthy content. He also said commercial authorities such as phone companies, even though government-owned, should not be involved in checking the contents of private messages.

As it stands presently, according to China Daily, China Mobile will suspend the text-messaging function for phone numbers whose users are suspected of transmitting unhealthy content while the police evaluate the users’ messages. If the authorities clear a user of any violation, they will issue a certificate allowing text-messaging services to be resumed, the newspaper said.

For More Information, please see:

The New York TimesText Messages in China to Be Scanned for ‘Illegal Content’ – January 21, 2010

The Epoch Times China’s All-Out War Against Internet Freedom – January 20, 2010

United Press International – Text message censorship in ChinaJanuary 22, 2010

The New York TimesChina Restores Text Messaging in Xinjiang – January 17, 2010

Amnesty International Supports Scrutiny of Thailand’s Lese Majeste Laws

By Alok Bhatt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BANGKOK, Thailand – Numerous human rights groups and have been questioning and complaining against the trend of stringency in the Thai government’s superfluous enforcement of its lese majeste laws.  Lese majeste laws are those which punish citizens of a nation-state for speaking ill or somehow violating the dignity of the reigning sovereign of that particulate state. The recent excessiveness of indicting Thai nationals for speaking ill of King Bhumibol has been noted to exceed the limits prescribed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  In unreasonably enforcing its lese majeste, the Thai government has executed extensive monitoring practices which impinge upon the privacy of Thailand’s residence.  Being a party to the ICCR, Thailand violates the limits on punishing speech established by a collection of other nation-states.  Furthermore, the increase in indictments under the lese majeste creates conflicts with Thailand’s own constitution.Section 8 of Thailand’s constitution essentially affords the king inviolable status and grants him the greatest degree of reverence.  Any expressions, such as accusatory remarks or slander against King Bhumibol, can be punished by imprisonment for up to 15 months.  However, even more troublesome is the fact that nowhere in the legal codes of Thailand is there a definition or explanation of what sorts of statements constitute violations of the king.

Numerous individuals, from activists to news reporters, have been imprisoned.  The latest statistics from 2008 reveal that there are over 77 open cases of lese majeste cases.  The two latest alleged violators of Thailand’s greatly imposed  lese majeste law have  the possibility of serving between 10 and 16 years in prison.  A recent appeal in November 2009 reduced one man’s initial 12-year sentence to 2 years.

Much like the two new cases, many lese majeste violators are projected to come under arrest due to Thailand’s Compuer-Related Crimes Act.  Because of the lack of limitations delineated in Thailand’s bodies of law, there do not seem to be any legal restrictions concerning the extent to which Thailand law enforcement can censor and punish internet users who may speak badly of King Bhumibol.

Amnesty International has recently demonstrated its support for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s movement to establish a panel to carefully scrutinize the enforcement of lese majeste laws.