Chinese Grinning Official on Trial For Corruption

By Kevin M. Mathewson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China — Yang Dacai, a Chinese official who sparked a national outcry after images showed him grinning while on the scene of a fatal bus crash, has pled guilty to corruption charges.

Mr Dacai said he used his legal income to buy the many watches he owned.

In Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court, Yang admitted to taking 250,000 yuan (40,518 U.S. dollars) in bribes.

Dacai is the latest Chinese government official to be ousted from his position by online whistleblowers.

His trial comes during growing public anger over the allegations of corruption in the Chinese government. A majority of the protests occur online with drives against corruption, and internet users increasingly pursuing those perceived as having done wrong through online exposure.

Dacai has been Nicknamed “Brother Watch” by internet users after images of him wearing various luxury watches circulated online. Dacai has been seen wearing 11 luxury watches; five of which combined are worth more than 300,000 Yuan (48,000 U.S. dollars).

Chinese citizens on the internet have argued that Dacai should not have been able to afford the watches on his salary as a civil servant.

However, Dacai has claimed that he “used legal income” to buy a number of watches, saying that the most expensive one he owned was worth 35,000 Yuan (5,500 U.S. dollars).

After an initial investigation, Dacai was removed as the head and chief of the provincial work safety administration and was dismissed from his post as a member of the Shaanxi Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Community Party of China (CPC).

Yu Guoming, deputy dead of journalism at Renmin University of China, said the positive response and timely punishment showed the authorities commitment to anti-graft campaigning and boosted the Chinese enthusiasm to root out corruption clues.

Last December, Yuan Zhanting, the mayor of Lanzhou, the capital of China’s relatively poor northwestern province of Gansu, was ridiculed after pictures surfaced of him wearing luxury watches. One of them, an Omega, worth 150,000 Yuan (24,000 U.S. dollars).

In recent weeks, there have been signs that this internet campaign has worried authorities, resulting in a number of journalists being arrested for “rumor-mongering”, one being a high-profile blogger.

For further information, please see:

BBC News – Trial for China’s ‘smiling official’ Yang Dacai – 30 August 2013

Yahoo! News – China’s ‘smiling face’ official on trial for graft – 30 August 2013

Channel News Asia – China’s ‘smiling face’ official on trial for graft – 30 August 2013

Global Post – China’s ‘smiling face’ official on trial for graft – 31 August 2013

As Violence in Central African Republic Escalates Refugees Flee to Airport

By Erica Smith
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

BANGUI, Central African Republic – More than 5,000 people, mostly women and children, have sought refuge in the main airport of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), after increased violence in the neighborhoods of  Boy-Rabe and Boeing. The refugees have blocked runways and flights have been diverted to neighboring Cameroon.

Refugees standing by a French armored personnel carrier at the airport in Bangui. (Photo Courtesy of Voice of America)

The CAR has become increasingly unstable since Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March. The new president and former rebel leader Michel Djotodia has so far been unable to stop rebel fighters from killing and looting citizens.

                The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has issued a statement calling for Djotodia and the government to restore order in the country. “We urge the authorities to use all means to stop attacks against civilians, restore security and protect the population,” said Liz Ahua, the deputy director of UNHCR’s Bureau for Africa.

                The UNHCR has reported that over the past ten days people have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, extortion, armed robberies, physical violence, restriction of movement, and looting. These actions have killed 10 so far in addition to numerous people killed outside the capital city by marauding rebel fighters.

                Many of the refugees inhabiting the airport are there not only for safety provided by peacekeepers but to protest the situation in their country. Residents of Boy-Rabe and Boeing say they have stayed at the airport to protest the lawlessness that has run rampant since March. “Our presence here at the airport has one goal – to get the world’s attention. Because we are fed up with these Seleka,” said Antoine Gazama told Aljazeera.

The African Union is deploying a 3,600 person peacekeeping mission in the CAR, incorporating a force of 1,100 soldiers already present in the country. French President Francois Hollande has called on the UN Security Council and the African Union to work to stabilize the CAR, warning that the country is at risk of completely collapsing. The CAR was at one point a French colony.

There are already more than 206,000 internally displaced persons in the CAR before the recent unrest and some 63,000 people have fled to neighboring countries. The fighting has eroded the humanitarian situation in the CAR, even the most basic services have been interrupted, affecting the entire population of 4.6 million people, half of whom are children.

For further information, please see:

Thomson Reuters — Former rebels sow terror in Central Africa Republic – residents — 30 August 2013

Voice of America — UN Agencies See Security Deterioration in CAR — 30 August 2013

Aljazeera — CAR protesters occupy Bangui airport — 29 August 2013

All Africa — Central African Republic: Thousands Take Refuge At Airport — 29 August 2013

All Africa — Central African Republic: Violence Displacing Bangui Residents — 29 August 2013

All Africa — Central African Republic: Amid Renewed Fighting UN Refugee Urges CAR to Protect Civilians — 29 August 2013

Despite Rescue, Child Soldiers Still Being Recruited in DRC

By: Dan Krupinsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo – Numerous armed groups in North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are still using over 2,000 children as soldiers, while the United Nations Children’s Fund continues its efforts to remove them from the battlefields and return them to their homes.

Soldiers of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo are pictured near Goma.

UNICEF’s demobilization and reintegration program had about 1,700 child soldiers between January and July. After that period, UNICEF condemned the disturbing increase of child victims that they have seen and have been reported for the duration of the conflict in North Kivu, which broke out in May of 2012 between Congolese armed forced and M23 rebels.

The use of child soldiers is prevalent in various regions across the entire nation. The UN mission in Africa recently announced the rescue of numerous child soldiers from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga armed group in the southeastern Katanga province.

While some of the children were as old as 17, others were as young as 8.  The 82 children were all reportedly recruited within the past 6 months.

Forty of the rescued children were reunited with their families immediately. The rest are currently receiving interim care while attempts to get them back with their families are made.

“We are extremely concerned by continued reports of active recruitment by Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga and other armed groups in eastern DRC,” said United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) chief Martin Kobler in a statement. “Children face unacceptable risks when they are recruited for military purposes. The recruitment of children, particularly those under 15 years of age, could constitute a war crime and those responsible must be held to account.”

According to the statement from MONUSCO, 163 children, including 22 girls, have been rescued from Mavi Mavi Bakata Katanga alone, since the beginning of the year. The rescues have been a combination of MONUSCO and child protection workers.

A MONUSCO peacekeeping force of nearly 20,000 troops is currently deployed in the DRC.

In late October of 2012, the government of the DRC and the United Nations signed an Action Plan, officially committing to end the recruitment and use of children by Congolese armed forced and security services.

The eastern part of the country, rich in minerals, has long been a site of violence and political and ethnic conflict. According to the United Nations, there are about 2.6 million internally displaced people and 6.4 million people overall in need of food an emergency aid.


For further information, please see:

All Africa – Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo Armed Groups Increase Child Recruitment – 29 August 2013

Al-Jazeera – 82 child soldiers rescued in DR Congo: UN – 17 August 2013

CNN – 82 child soldiers saved in Democratic Republic of Congo – 17 August 2013

Child Soldiers International – Democratic Republic of Congo