New “False Positive” Allegation Investigated

New “False Positive” Allegation Investigated

By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Colombian Army Remove Body After Clash (photo courtesy of Colombia Reports)
Colombian Army Remove Body After Clash (photo courtesy of Colombia Reports)

BOGOTA, Colombia – According to Colombian media reports, authorities will investigate the case of an indigenous man found dead wearing a guerrilla uniform. Local community leaders claim that the situation is a “false positive” killing by the army.

Anderson Daugua, an indigenous villager, was found shot to death and “strangely” dressed in FARC clothing. Locals in the area say that Daugua was not part of the rebel group.

The body was reportedly found after a battle over the weekend between the Colombian army and the FARC in a rural area of Caloto. The battle left seven guerrillas and two military officers dead.

Rodrigo Rivera, Colombia’s Defense Minister, claims that Daugua was killed by members of FARC, who then staged the man in FARC clothing to make his death look like the army had executed the man and dressed him up as a guerrilla to increase the body count in combat.

Rivera told members of the press that the FARC staged the apparent false positive to discredit the Colombian military forces. “If we weren’t even able to collect our own dead and wounded, who would have had the time to dress someone up. I trust in the professionalism, decency and heroism of our armed forces. Of course our people know how these narco-terrorists of the FARC use lies to intent to disinform,” the Minister said.

The term “false positive” refers to a scandal in which some members of the armed forces were revealed to have murdered civilians and dressed them in guerrilla uniforms to increase kill counts.  There are currently hundreds of investigations ongoing to resolve these murders. Earlier this month, Colombian officials brought accusations against four members of the military, claiming that they had engaged in these “false positive” murders in 2002.

For more information, please see:

Colombia Reports – FARC Faked “False Positive” Killing: Gov’t – 25 January 2011

Colombia Reports – Authorities Investigate New “False Positive” Allegations – 24 January 2011

Latin America News Dispatch – Colombian Major and Four Soldiers Accused in “False Positive” Murders – 4 January 2011

The cost of love in Pakistan: electrocution by family

A teenage Pakistani girl was electrocuted by her family for marrying out of Caste (Photo courtesy of Rantrave)

By Joseph Juhn
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Asia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A teenage girl in Pakistan was electrocuted by her family members for falling in love with a man who comes from a lower caste, police said on Sunday.

Elders and relatives of Saima Bibi, 17, had a meeting with a village council, or panchayat, and came to conclude that an appropriate punishment for Saima for tarnishing the family name was death. Her guilt was falling in love with a man the family did not approve of.

“There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution,” said Zahoor Rabbani, the police from Bahawalpur district in east Pakistan where Saima was killed.

The incident prompted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yusuf Raza Gilani, who took “serious notice” of the “the sad incident of the killing of a girl by electric current on the orders of the panchayat”, to order police to immediately submit a report, according to his office.

However, such news is nothing new. Saima’s death is known as an honor killing in Pakistan, which is commonly practiced in rural areas where, under tribal customs for generations, getting married without family approval or having sex outside marriage is deemed a serious slight to the nor of the family or the tribe.

Hundreds of people, most of them women, are brutally killed in Pakistan in the name of “honor” every year. Notably, the majority of these victims come from poor, rural families.

According to Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission’s latest report, nearly 650 women were killed in that way in 2009. These women, if accused of fornication, are stigmatized as a “kari”, or “black woman,” and punishment by death of such women was justified under tribal customs.

Saima fell in love with her neighbor, Dilawar, and was in hiding in Karachi, one of Pakistan’s biggest cities for more than a month. When her relatives located her and persuaded her to return to her home on the false promise that they will approve of her marriage.

“Her father, uncles and other relatives later refused to fulfil her wish because they said the boy comes from a lower caste,” said Rabbani.

When she refused to marry another man chosen by the family, Saima was brutally murdered by her own family members.

Rabbani said Saima’s father and her uncle had been detailed after police raided her village home.

For more information, please see:

Reuters – Pakistani girl ‘electrocuted’ in honour killing – 23 January 2011

All Voices – Pakistani Girl Saima Bibi was Brutally Electrocuted to Death by her Family Members – 24 January 2011

The China Post – Pakistani girl ‘electrocuted’ in honor killing – 24 January 2011

Botswana’s Bushmen Denied Access to Water

By Laura Hirahara
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

Bushmen Mother and children in the Kalahari Reserve before eviction to a resettlement camp (Photo courtesy of Fiona Watson/Survival International)
Bushmen Mother and children in the Kalahari Reserve before eviction to a resettlement camp (Photo courtesy of Fiona Watson/Survival International)

Botswana’s Central Kalahari Bushmen are once again being forced from their ancestral lands as the country’s courts decide this week whether the Bushmen should have access to a local water supply.  Kalahari Bushmen are an indigenous hunter-gatherer people of the desert interior of Botswana.  They were evicted from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002 and allowed to return in 2006 after Botswana’s High Court declared their forced removal unconstitutional.  Since 2006, the government has banned the Bushmen from hunting in the reserve and denied them access to the only local well by sealing it, a well the Bushmen claim they have been using for decades.  Bushmen have to walk long distances, often outside the reserve, in order to collect water.

The government claims that allowing the Bushmen to draw from the well would be incompatible with the goals of the Central Kalahari reserve.  However, since the bushmen returned to the reserve, Botswana’s government has allowed the company, Wilderness Safaris, to build a safari resort complete with a pool, on the reserve.  Additionally, on the same day the Bushmen appealed the water decision in court last week, Botswana granted Gem Diamonds a 3 billion dollar contract to mine in the reserve.  Gem Diamonds and the government claim they have the consent of the Bushmen whose land they will be on.  Survival International, an advocacy group for tribal people, has been helping the Bushmen represent themselves in court.  On Wednesday, Survival Director Stephen Corry said, “How can people who are denied water to force them out of the reserve possibly be in a position to give their free and informed consent?”

Botswana’s actions regarding the Bushmen are drawing criticism from several organizations, including the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the U.N.  A U.N. official on indigenous people went so far as to say the conditions in the Kalahari Reserve are ‘harsh and dangerous’.  Survival International has increased its efforts to improve the life of the Bushmen.  The group is encouraging the international community to boycott Botswana tourism and diamonds until the Bushmen’s land rights are recognized by the government.  In a statement to Survival International, one Bushmen said:

We are still hoping, not to be given anything, but simply for justice and our rights. The government hopes that by denying us water, it will force us from the reserve once more[. . .] It must know[n] by now that we are determined to live with our ancestors on the land we have known since time began.

For more information, please see;

CNN- Leaked Cable: U.S. Envoy Criticized Botswana on Bushmen– 21 Jan., 2011

The Botswana Gazette- Survival Protesters Target International Tourism Fair in Madrid– 23 Jan., 2011 Kalahari Bushmen to Fight Court Ruling– 18 Jan., 2011

Independent Media Centre Australia- Botswana Approves$3BN Mine as Bushmen Water Case Gets Underway– 19 Jan., 2011

Mail & Guardian Online- ‘Thirsty’ Bushmen Go to Appeal Court– 21 Jan., 2011

Indigenous Residents Used as “Human Shields”

By R. Renee Yaworsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia—Eight people were killed in a clash between Colombian military forces and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC). The deadly conflict took place in Cauca, which is a province located in the southwestern part of the country. Cauca has been plagued with violence and human rights violations by frequent invasions by the FARC’s guerrillas. The Colombian army released information about the most recent clash between the FARC and the military on Sunday.

The battle between the military and the 6th Front of the FARC was sparked on Friday of last week. The site of the clash was a rural area located near Toribio and Caloto, two cities that are notorious for the fact that rebel fighters often target them.

Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera spoke out against the FARC on Saturday from Cali, the capital of Valle del Cauca province. Rivera accused the FARC rebels of abusing the indigenous people who reside in these areas. He added that the FARC use these civilians as “human shields” during clashes that occur between the rebel group and the armed forces. Rivera stated that acts such as these are major human rights violations.

Indigenous leaders from Cauca responded to the violence and Rivera’s statements on Sunday, stressing that Colombian soldiers have also used indigenous residents as “human shields.” The leaders told Caracol Radio that indigenous people living in Colombia are often caught in the cross-fire between the FARC and the government.

Indigenous leader Marcos Yule said on the radio that certain communities that have been caught in such fighting have declared “permanent assemblies” that will examine the conflict that is taking place. The assemblies will seek to encourage respect for indigenous individuals’ rights.

Of the eight victims who perished in the weekend’s violence, six were guerrilla fighters (FARC rebels) and two were Colombian soldiers. Approximately thirty guerrillas who were involved in the conflict scattered after the violence; according to the Colombian air force, the guerrillas were redeployed into other areas.

For more information, please see:

People’s Daily-6 guerrillas, 2 soldiers die in latest combat in Colombia-24 January 2011

Latin American Herald Tribune-Six Guerrillas, Two Soldiers Die in Fighting in Colombia-23 January 2011

Coffe Today-Six Guerrillas and Two Soldiers Were Killed in The Battle in Southwest Colombia-23 January 2011

Afghan Children Opium Addictions

David L. Chaplin II
Impunity Watch; Asia

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan – Within a little know Afghan province, Aziza, feeds her four-year-old son pure Opium for breakfast.

Afghan child working in an Afghan opium field
Afghan child working in an Afghan opium field

“If I don’t give him opium he doesn’t sleep,” she says. “And he doesn’t let me work.”

Many poor families, like Aziza, born to a family of carpet weavers in Balkh province has no education, no idea of the health risks involved or that opium is addictive.

“We give the children opium whenever they get sick as well,” says Aziza.

“People use opium as drugs or medicine. If a child cries, they give him opium, if they can’t sleep, they use opium, if an infant coughs, they give them opium,” reports CNNs Arwa Damon.

With no real medical care in these parts and the high cost of medicine, all the families out here know is opium.

Opium has become a cycle of addiction passed on through generations. The adults take opium to work longer hours and ease their pain.

“I had to work and raise the children, so I started using drugs,” she says. “We are very poor people, so I used opium. We don’t have anything to eat. That is why we have to work and use drugs to keep our kids quiet.”

The Balkin province is famous for its carpets. It’s so remote there are no real roads. The dirt roads that exist are often blocked by landslides.

The neighboring government-run drug therapy center is a four-hour drive away. But it has just 20 beds and a handful of staff to deal with the epidemic, says CNNs Arwa Damon.

“Opium is nothing new to our villages or districts. It’s an old tradition, something of a religion in some areas,” said Dr. Mohamed Daoud Rated, coordinator of the center. The center is running an outreach program to the areas that are most afflicted.

Most Afghans aren’t aware of the health risks of opium and only a few are beginning to understand the hazards of addiction.

“I was a child when I started using drugs” 35-year-old Nagibe says. She says her sister-in-law first gave her some when she was a young teenage bride, just 14 years old. Her children grew up addicts as well.

She has been clean for four months, hoping to leave the addiction behind, but every day is a struggle.

Three generations of one family, all struggling with a curse that afflicts well over one million Afghans.

A recent surge in opium prices could encourage Afghan farmers to expand cultivation of the narcotic crop and reverse advances in the fight against drug production.

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said, “If this cash bonanza lasts, it could effectively reverse the hard-won gains of recent years.”

For more information, please see:

CNN – Afghan infants fed pure opium – 23 January 2011

AOL news – Spike in Opium Prices Threatens Progress in Afghan Drug War – 20 January 2011

Top Wire XS – A Terrible Lullaby for Afghan Babies – 24 January 2011