Archive for the ‘Ethnie’ Category

USA: Anhaltender Widerstand

Donnerstag, März 13th, 2014

“Lakota vow: ‘dead or in prison before we allow the KXL pipeline’

Camila Ibanez | March 13, 2014

Lakota members marched during the annual Liberation Day commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre. (Deep Roots United Front/Victor Puertas)

Lakota members marched during the annual Liberation Day commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre. (Deep Roots United Front/Victor Puertas)


On February 27, Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement activists joined in a four-directions walk to commemorate Liberation Day, an event to mark the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. As they do each year, four groups gather to the north, south, east and west and then walk eight miles until converging on top of Wounded Knee, where they honor the fallen warriors and the tribe’s rich history of resistance.

“It is an acknowledgement of the resiliency of who we are as a people,” explains Andrew Iron Shell, an organizer and activist of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. “It gives permission and courage for our up-and-coming generations to face the challenges of their time.”

The history of the occupation began with a massacre more than 100 years ago. On a cold day in December 1890, the United States army killed 300 Lakota men, women and children in a massive shoot out after a member of the First Nations refused to give up his arms. It marked the first bloodshed on Wounded Knee – although there had been many massacres of First Nations people by the colonialists before it. The event was also considered the end of the Indian Wars.

Eighty-three years later, on Feb. 27, 1973, about 200 Lakota members took siege of the town of Wounded Knee. Reclaiming a location that was written in the history books as a place of defeat, the Lakota stood their ground. They were there in protest of a failed attempt at impeaching the tribal president at the time, Richard Wilson, who was known to be corrupt and abusive. Initially a protest against the tribal government, the occupation took a turn when U.S. police forces arrived. The protestors switched the occupation’s focus to the United States’ frequent violation of treaties.

The armed warriors maintained control over the town for 71 days while the FBI encircled them. At the final standoff, two warriors were killed, about 12 people were wounded and over 400 were arrested. The Oglala were able to harness national attention through their occupation, using the spotlight to question the United States’ treatment of First Nations people.

As history passed, later generations rarely heard about the occupation of Wounded Knee — or about first nation people at all. This skewed national memory should be unsurprising: When you have a society and a nation built upon the subjugation of people of color, you can expect nothing more than the constant erasing of certain histories.

Ongoing genocide

I recently visited Prisoner of War Camp 344, also known as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It wasn’t my first time in the sovereign Oglala Sioux Nation, but it was my first time joining in the ceremonies celebrating the 41st annual Liberation Day to remember the 1890 reoccupation of Wounded Knee.

The vibrant American Indian Movement flags waving in the harsh South Dakota winter wind reminded me of the old black and white photos I used to see in my history books. The Lakota would not disappear without a fight, regardless of what the United States’ intentions were. Children walked alongside elders who had taken part in the occupation, showing clearly the group’s intergenerational wisdom. These are children who are stripped of learning their people’s history in schools, but instead learn it through stories and dances. They are children who live in a sovereign nation that contains two of the poorest counties in the United States and who recognize the threats their families face every day.

One of these threats come from the so-called town of White Clay, Neb., where visitors can witness the way violence against the First Nations people has changed — but not disappeared — over the generations. Consisting of only 12 people and four liquor stores, White Clay was once part of a 50-square-mile buffer that prevented alcohol from entering the reservation. In 1904, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that removed 49 of those square miles. Since then, the town’s economy has been driven by the $4 million in alcohol sales to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There is no legal place to drink in or around White Clay: Alcohol containers can’t be opened on the property of the distributor, it’s prohibited to drink in the street, and the reservation is dry territory. Yet, somehow, the town of 12 people manages to keep four liquor stores open. Barely two miles from the reservation’s epicenter, and less than 200 feet from the dry reservation line, the town perpetrates a type of violence that is, on the reservation, known as liquid genocide.

The reason for this name becomes apparent when one examines the teenage suicide rate on the reservation, which is 150 percent higher than the U.S. national average for this age group. Many attribute this death rate to the sale of alcohol to minors, which White Clay store owners are known to do. The liquor stores also break the law by selling to intoxicated people, and by trading alcohol for pornography, sexual favors — including from minors — and welfare checks. The effects of free-flowing alcohol are devastating: On the reservation, 90 percent of all court cases are related to alcohol use.

Kate, a Tokala warrior, believes that alcoholism is part of a larger problem of the disappearance of indigenous culture. For her, the only way to live in the geographical region of Pine Ridge is the indigenous way. “We are the ones on the back roads, still chopping wood. We are living the way we used to live,” she said. “It’s not hardship; it’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Kate and many others know that alcohol was introduced to her people as a means to steal from them. Living deeply connected to the history of their nation, they believe that if they shake free of the colonized mindset, alcohol wouldn’t even be an issue.

Threats to the land

In addition to trying to close down White Clay, the Oglala Lakota Nation is actively fighting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through South Dakota en route to Texas. At two points it would even intersect with a pipeline that serves as a main water source for the Sioux Nation, affecting all of the Pine Ridge reservation as well as the nearby Rosebud reservation.

Advocates for the pipeline argue the pipeline is the safest way to transport crude oil. TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline, predicted that the first Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, would spill once every seven years. During its first year in operation, it spilled 12 times. The Lakota, along with other First Nations, have vowed to use direct action to stop construction of the pipeline.

For a nation whose land and sovereignty has been threatened for hundreds of years by U.S. politics, the Keystone XL pipeline is part of a long history of threats to the Lakota Nation – and to the earth itself.

“They want to get rid of the Lakota, the protectors of the earth,” said Olowan Martinez, an organizer in the Lakota community. “But what they don’t know is when they get rid of the Lakota, the earth isn’t too far behind. Our people believe the Lakota is the earth.”

President Obama is scheduled to be make a final decision on the pipeline by the middle of 2014. While the Lakota are hoping he will not approve the project, they are also getting ready to stand up and fight. During the Liberation Day celebrations, the Lakota’s dances and stories relayed messages about sacred water and Mother Earth. The tribe has also united with other First Nations to organize a three-day direct action training called Moccasins on the Ground, which was designed to prepare people to act if the pipeline is approved.

“Dead or in prison before we allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass,” the Lakota warriors, many mounted atop horses, repeated during the Liberation Day celebration. Their words carried the weight of 521 years, and counting, of lived resistance.”


(Quelle: Waging

Mali: Fette Beute

Montag, Januar 28th, 2013

“France launches bombing of northern Mali, with Canadian support


France, the former slave power of west Africa, has poured into Mali with a vengeance in a military attack launched on January 11. French warplanes are bombing towns and cities across the vast swath of northern Mali, a territory measuring some one thousand kilometers from south to north and east to west. French soldiers in armoured columns have launched a ground offensive, beginning with towns in the south of the northern territory, some 300 km north and east of the Malian capital of Bamako.

A French armoured convoy entered Mali several days ago from neighbouring Ivory Coast, another former French colony. French troops spearheaded the overthrow of that country’s government in 2011.

The invasion has received universal support from France’s imperialist allies. The U.S., Canada and Europe are assisting financially and with military transport. Earlier this week, Stephen Harper announced that Canada’s contribution would include the use of one C-17 military transport plane. 

To provide a figleaf of African legitimacy, plans have been accelerated to introduce troops from eight regional countries to join the fighting (map here).

“Islamist terrorists” etc., etc.

The public relations version of the French et al invasion is a familiar refrain. “Islamic terrorists” and “jihadists” have taken control of northern Mali and are a threat to international security and to the well-being of the local population. Terrible atrocities against the local populace are alleged and given wide publicity by corporate media. Similar myths were peddled by the warmakers when they invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

It is true that Islamic fundamentalists have ruled northern Mali with an iron hand since taking over in 2012. But the reasons for this latest intervention lie in the determination of the world’s imperial powers to keep the human and natural resources of poor regions of the world as preserves for capitalist profits. West Africa is a region of great resource wealth, including gold, oil and uranium.

The uranium mines in neighbouring Niger and the uranium deposits in Mali are of particular interest to France, which generates 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy. Niger’s uranium mines are highly polluting and deeply resented by the population, including among the semi-nomadic, Touareg people who reside in the mining regions. The French company Areva is presently constructing in Imouraren, Niger what will become the second largest uranium mine in the world.

Notwithstanding the fabulous wealth created by uranium mining, Niger is one of the poorest countries on Earth. As one European researcher puts it, “Uranium mining in Niger sustains light in France and darkness in Niger.”

Mali (population 15.5 million) is the third-largest gold producing country in Africa. Canada’s IAMGOLD operates two mines there (and a third in nearby Burkina Faso). Many other Canadian and foreign investors are present. 

A key player in the unfolding war is Algeria. The government there is anxious to prove its loyalty to imperialism. Its lengthy border with northern Mali is a key zone for the “pacification” of northern Mali upon which France and its allies are embarked.

Further proof of the hypocrisy of the “democracy” that France claims to be fighting for in Mali is found in the nature of the Mali regime with which it is allied. Often presented in mainstream media as a “beacon of democracy” in west Africa, the Mali government was little more than a corrupt and pliant neo-colonial regime before last year when the U.S.-trained and equipped Mali army twice overthrew it–in March and again in December. The Mali army now scrambling to fight alongside its French big brother was condemned and boycotted by the U.S., Europe and Canada during a brief, sham interlude of concern following the first coup.

Today, the Mali government is a shell of a regime that rules at the behest of the Mali military, the latter’s foreign trainers, and the foreign mining companies that provide much of its revenue.

The Touareg people

At the political heart of the conflict in Mali is the decades-long struggle of the Touareg, a semi-nomadic people numbering some 1.2 million. Their language is part of the Berber language group. Their historic homeland includes much of Niger and northern Mali and smaller parts of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Libya. They call themselves Kel Tamasheq (speakers of the Tamasheq language).

The Touareg have fought a succession of rebellions in the 20th century against the borders imposed by colonialism and then defended by post-independence, neo-colonial regimes. They are one of many minority nationalities in west Africa fighting for national self-determination, including the Sahwari of Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco and whose Sahwari leadership, the Polisario Front, is widely recognized internationally, and the Biafrans of Nigeria (whose story is told here and in a new book, ‘The Biafran War: The Struggle for Modern Nigeria,’ by Michael Gould).

The Tuareg were brutally subdued by colonial France at the outset of the 20th century. Following the independence of Mali and neighbouring countries in 1960, they continued to suffer discrimination. A First Touareg Rebellion took place in 1962-64.

A second, larger rebellion began in 1990 and won some autonomy from the Mali government that was elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1997. A third rebellion in Mali and Niger in 2007 won further political and territorial concessions, but these were constantly reneged. A Libya-brokered peace deal ended fighting in 2009.

The Mali state and army constantly sought to retake what they had lost. Violence and even massacres against the Touareg population pushed matters to a head in 2011. The army was defeated by the military forces of the National Liberation Movement of Azawad and on April 6, 2012, the MNLA declared an independent Azawad, as they call northern Mali and surrounding region. The Touareg are one of several national groups within the disputed territory.

The independence declaration proved premature and unsustainable. The MNLA was soon pushed aside by Islamist-inspired armed groups that oppose Touareg self-determination and an independent state. The army, meanwhile, continued to harass and kill people. A group of 17 visiting Muslim clerics, for example, were massacred on September 22, 2012.

According to unconfirmed reports, the MNLA has renounced the goal of an independent Azawad. It entered into talks with the Mali regime in December for autonomy in the northern region. A January 13 statement on the group’s website acquiesces to the French intervention but says it should not allow troops of the Mali army to pass beyond the border demarcation line declared in April of last year. 

Militarization of Mali and west Africa

Mali is one of the poorest places on earth but has been drawn into the whirlwind of post-September, 2001 militarization led by the United States. U.S. armed forces have been training the Mali military for years. In 2005, the U.S. established the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership comprising eleven ‘partner’ African countries-Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

The ‘partnership’ conducts annual military exercises termed ‘Flintlock.’ This year’s exercise is to take place in Niger and according to the January 12 Globe and Mail, “Canada’s military involvement in Niger has already commenced.”

Canadian troops have participated in military exercises in west Africa since at least 2008. In 2009, Mali was named one of six “countries of focus” in Africa for Canadian aid. Beginning that year, Canadian aid to Mali leaped to where it is now one of the largest country recipients of Canada aid funds.

In 2008, Canada quietly launched a plan to establish at least six, new military bases abroad, including two in Africa. (It is not known exactly where the Africa part of the plan stands today.)

War atrocities

Only days into the French attack, evidence is mounting of significant civilian and military casualties. In the town of Douentza in central Mali, injured civilians can’t reach the local hospital, according to Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders). “Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital,” said a statement by the agency’s emergency response co-ordinator Rosa Crestani.

The International Red Cross is reporting scores of civilian and military casualties in the towns coming under French attack.

Amnesty International is worried. Its West Africa researcher, Salvatore Saguès, was in the country last September and saw the recruitment of children into the Mali army. He is worried about retaliatory attacks by the army if it retakes control of the towns and cities it has lost, notably in the northern cities of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

He also warned of the plans to bring neighbouring armies into northern Mali. “These armies, who are already committing serious violations in their countries, are most likely to do the same, or at least not behave in accordance to international law if they are in Mali,” he said.

According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, the latest crisis has internally displaced nearly 230,000 Malians. An additional 144,500 Malians were already refugees in neighbouring countries.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards says half the population of the town of Konna, some 5,000 people, sought as French bombs threatened to fall by fleeing across the River Niger.

In an ominous sign of more civilian casualties to come, and echoing the excuses for atrocities by invading armies against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine in recent years, French military commanders are complaining of the difficulty in distinguishing fighters they are bombing from non-combatant populations. France’s army chief Edouard Guillaud told Reuters that France’s air strikes were being hampered because militants were using civilian populations as shields.

No to the war in Mali

The military attack in Mali was ordered by French President François Hollande, the winner of the 2012 election on behalf of the Socialist Party. His decision has been condemned by groups on the political left in France, including the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste and the Gauche anticapitaliste. The latter is a tendency with the Front de gauche (Left Front) that captured 11 percent of the first-round presidential vote last year.

Shockingly, the Left Front leadership group has come out in favour of the intervention. Deputy François Asensi spoke on behalf of the party leadership in the National Assembly on January 16 and declared, “The positions of the deputies of the Left Front, Communists and republicans, is clear: To abandon the people of Mali to the barbarism of fanatics would be a moral mistake…”

“International military action was necessary in order to avoid the installation of a terrorist state.”

His statement went on to complain that President Hollande did not bother to seek the approval of the National Assembly.

A January 12 statement by the French Communist Party (PCF), a component of the Left Front, said, “The PCF shares the concern of Malians over the armed offensive of the Jihadist groups towards the south of their country… The party recalls here that the response to the request for assistance by the president of Mali should have been made in the framework of a United Nations and African Union sponsorship, under the flag of the UN…”

Unlike the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in 2004, which the PCF and Socialist Party supported at the time, France and its allies did not feel the need to obtain a rubber stamp of approval from the UN Security Council this time in Mali. But doing so would not have changed the predatory nature of this latest mission, just as it didn’t in Haiti.

 A January 15 statement by the Canadian Peace Alliance explains, “The real reason for NATO’s involvement is to secure strategic, resource rich areas of Africa for the West. Canadian gold mining operations have significant holdings in Mali as do may other western nations…

“It is ironic that since the death of Osama Bin Laden, the US military boasts that Al-Qaeda is on the run and has no ability to wage its war. Meanwhile, any time there is a need for intervention, there is suddenly a new Al-Qaeda threat that comes out of the woodwork. 

“Canada must not participate in this process of unending war.”

That’s a call to action which should be acted upon in the coming days and weeks as one of the poorest and most ecologically fragile regions of the world falls victim to deeper militarization and plundering.


Roger Annis is a social rights and trade union activist in Vancouver, B.C. He can be reached at rogerannis[at]hotmail[dot]com



Siehe auch:

Frankreichs Militär mordet in Mali
Der Ali in Mali – Schnell mal Krieg machen

Myanmar / Birma / Burma: Skepsis trotz Wahlen

Sonntag, April 29th, 2012

“Was glänzt da im Land der Goldenen Pagoden?

Zu den aktuellen Entwicklungen in Burma

Von Sina Schüssler

Zeitenwende, Umbruch, Zeit des Erwachens, so werden die aktuellen Entwicklungen in Burma beschrieben. Dennoch, das ABER bleibt.

Denn es sind nicht nur die Gewalt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten, die Inhaftierung von politischen Gefangenen und die hohe Zahl an intern Vertriebenen, die besorgniserregend sind, sondern auch die Taktik der ehemaligen Militärs, die Zügel nicht aus der Hand zu geben und sich nur dort reformbereit zu zeigen, wo dies ihre Macht nicht gefährden kann.
Als die Militärregierung 2008 Wahlen angekündigte, war die Skepsis sowohl unter den Oppositionellen in Burma und im Exil, als auch von Seiten der westlichen Staaten erst noch groß. An eine wirkliche politische Kursänderung glaubte zunächst kaum ein Kritiker der Militärdiktatur. Nur Wirtschaftsunternehmen schienen mit der Ankündigung der Wahlen eine Chance zur Beendigung der Sanktionen und damit die Möglichkeit zum Ausbau der Wirtschaftsbeziehungen zu wittern. So besuchte eine hochrangige Delegation der deutsch-malaysischen Handelskammer Burma bereits Ende 2009 und sondierte den Markt für Handel und Investitionen.[1] Im Jahr 2010 waren es die deutschen Unternehmen Deckel Maho Gildemeister und Trumpf, die von Seiten der burmesischen Zivilgesellschaft im Exil unter Druck gerieten. Der Nachrichtensender Democratic Voice of Burma hatte diesen Unternehmen trotz der bestehenden Sanktionen die Verwicklung in das burmesische Atomprogramm bewiesen.

Ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung

Die Regierungswahlen, die schließlich im November 2010 stattfanden, wurden zwar besonders von den europäischen Staaten als Schritt in die richtige Richtung, jedoch nicht als ein grundlegender demokratischer Wandel betrachtet. Diese Einschätzung war dabei unter anderem durch die Boykottierung der Wahlen von Seiten der National League for Democracy (NLD) beeinflusst. Die NLD hatte ihre Teilnahme an den Wahlen auf Grund unfairer Wahlgesetze, welche die Militärs im März 2010 beschlossenen hatten, verweigert. Denn diese Wahlgesetze reservierten nicht nur 25 Prozent der Parlamentssitze für die (ehemaligen) Angehörigen der Militärregierung, wodurch Verfassungsänderungen blockiert werden können, sondern sahen auch vor, Strafgefangenen die Mitgliedschaft in politischen Parteien zu verbieten. Aung San Suu Kyi, sofern ihr Hausarrest als Gefängnisstrafe bewertet worden wäre, sowie die mehr als 400 inhaftierten NLD Mitglieder, hätten somit im Fall der Registrierung als Partei für die Wahlen von dieser ausgeschlossen werden müssen. Die Boykottierung der Wahlen stieß jedoch auch auf Kritik von unterschiedlichen Seiten: Für die Militärregierung bewies die NLD hiermit ihre fehlende Kooperationsbereitschaft mit der Junta. NLD Parteifunktionäre im Exil kritisierten die Boykottierung als das Fehlen einer politischen Strategie und auch aus den westlichen Staaten waren Stimmen zu hören, die hierin eine verpasste Chance zur Beeinflussung der politischen Verhältnisse in Burma sahen.

Die fehlende Regierungsbeteiligung von Aung San Suu Kyi und der NLD stellt jedoch heute für die nun formal zivile burmesische Regierung eines der größten Probleme dar. In der Burma-Strategie der EU-Staaten, der USA, Australiens und Kanadas nahm Aung San Suu Kyi stets eine prominente Rolle ein. So verschärften diese Länder die Sanktionen regelmäßig bei erneuten Übergriffen auf Aung San Suu Kyi oder der Festsetzung von ihr. Das formulierte Ziel der Sanktionspolitik seitens der Europäischen Union gegen Burma war es, so einen Beitrag zur Herstellung einer Demokratischen Ordnung und zur Achtung der Menschenrechte zu leisten. Als Kriterien für die Aufhebung der Sanktionen gelten dabei die Einbeziehung der demokratischen Bewegung und der ethnischen Minderheiten in das politische System, die Freilassung von politischen Gefangenen sowie ein Rückgang der Gewalt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten. Voraussetzung für die »Normalisierung« der Beziehungen zwischen Burma und den westlichen Staaten ist somit auch eine Regierungsbeteiligung der NLD. Kurz vor dem Besuch der US-Außenministerin Hillary Clinton im Dezember 2011 kündigte die burmesische Regierung das Abhalten von Nachwahlen für 48 von insgesamt 664 Sitzen an. Kann die NLD durch diesen Schritt an der Regierung beteiligt werden, scheint ein wichtiges Kriterium für die Aufhebung der Sanktionen erfüllt. Aung San Suu Kyi bestätigte die Teilnahme der NLD für die derzeit im April 2012 geplanten Nachwahlen, auch wenn ihr möglicher Einfluss im fast zu 90 Prozent von ehemaligen Militärs und der dem Militär nahestehenden Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) dominierten Parlament als gering zu bewerten ist. Mit den Wahlen 2010 und der Beteiligung der NLD an den Nachwahlen 2012 erfüllt die neue burmesische Regierung somit entscheidende Kriterien zur Aufhebung der Sanktionen. Die westlichen Staaten reagierten bereits auf diese Entwicklungen und zeigten ihre Anerkennung für diese Schritte durch die Besuche hochrangiger RegierungsvertreterInnen, sowie die Lockerung der Sanktionen.

Dennoch sind unbedingt weitere Schritte notwendig, bevor eine Aufhebung der Sanktionen ernsthaft in Aussicht gestellt werden kann. Kurz nach den Wahlen eskalierte zunächst der Konflikt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten. Bereits am Tag der Wahlen übernahm die Democratic Karen Buddhist Party (DKBA) die Kontrolle über die an der Grenze zu Thailand liegende Stadt Myawaddy; in Folge der dortigen Kampfhandlungen flüchteten mehr als 10.000 Menschen vorübergehend nach Thailand. Bereits im Vorfeld der Wahlen hatten sich die Kampforganisationen der ethnischen Minderheiten von Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon und Shan als Bekenntnis ihres gemeinsamen Kampfes gegen die Militärregierung in einer Allianz zusammengeschlossen.[2] Im Februar 2011 gründeten die Repräsentanten von 15 politischen bzw. bewaffneten ethnischen Gruppen den United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), mit dem Ziel, die Kooperation zwischen den ethnischen Gruppen zur Erreichung eines »wahren« demokratisch, föderalen Staates weiter zu verstärken.[3]

Am 12. Januar 2012 schloss die Karen National Union (KNU) eine Waffenstillstandsvereinbarung mit der burmesischen Regierung, die in den Medien als historisches Ereignis gefeiert wurde. Lokale Menschenrechtsorganisationen wie die Free Burma Rangers berichten jedoch trotz der aufgenommenen Gespräche über eine Fortsetzung der Gewalt in dem Gebiet der Karen durch das burmesische Militär.[4] Die Vertretungen anderer ethnischer Minderheiten, wie beispielsweise die New Mon State Party (NMSP), verweigern bisher jedoch die Aufnahme von Verhandlungen mit der burmesischen Regierung über Waffenstillstandsvereinbarungen, so lange die burmesische Armee ihre Angriffe gegen die Kachin fortsetzt.[5] Die NMSP beruft sich dabei auch auf die gemeinsame Erklärung des UNFC, in der festgehalten ist, dass zwar Gespräche zwischen Regierung und einzelnen politischen Vertretungen der ethnischen Minderheiten möglich sind, die Mitglieder der UNFC sich jedoch nicht durch bilaterale Friedensverträge spalten lassen. Der Konflikt zwischen Regierung und den ethnischen Minderheiten ist somit noch nicht geregelt und hängt, wie es in der UNFC Erklärung formuliert ist, vom glaubwürdig demonstrierten Willen der burmesischen Regierung ab, den Konflikt mit politischen anstatt mit militärischen Mitteln anzugehen und dementsprechend einen Friedensvertrag mit der UNFC bzw. allen ihren Mitgliedern zu schließen.

Eine große Herausforderung sind die 500.000 intern vertriebenen Menschen

Eine weitere Herausforderung in Burma besteht in der hohen Anzahl an intern Vertriebenen (Internal Displaced People: IDP), die auch durch die Kampfhandlungen der letzten Monate weiter angestiegen ist. Nach Angaben der Organisation Refugees International sind 500.000 Menschen in Burma intern Vertriebene. Internationale Hilfsorganisationen haben kaum Zugang zu den Konfliktregionen, so dass die IDPs dort bisher, wenn überhaupt, nur durch lokale Initiativen unterstützt werden konnten. Die eskalierten gewaltsamen Auseinandersetzungen zwischen der burmesischen Armee und der Kachin Independence Army (KIA) seit Juni 2011 haben verheerende Auswirkungen. So wurden in den vergangenen Monaten 50.000 Kachin vertrieben. Hinzu kommen die andauernden Menschenrechtsverletzungen von beiden Konfliktakteuren an der Bevölkerung sowie der Einsatz von Kindersoldaten und Landminen. Ebenfalls unklar ist bisher die Situation der politischen Gefangenen. Zwar hat die burmesische Regierung in den vergangenen Monaten bereits drei Mal so genannte Amnestien erlassen und Gefangene entlassen. Wie die Menschenrechtsorganisationen Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPPB) angibt, haben von diesem Schritt der Regierung allerdings kaum die politischen Gefangenen profitiert. So entließ die Regierung im Mai 2011 zwar 14.600 Gefangene, es handelte sich allerdings nur bei 72 von diesen um politische Gefangene. Auch unter den 6.359 im Oktober 2011 entlassenen Gefangenen, war nur eine kleine Anzahl von politischen Gefangenen vertreten, nämlich 241. Die dritte Amnestie vom 5. Januar 2012 brachte gerade mal 34 politischen Gefangenen die Freiheit. Zusätzlich hatten die freigelassenen politischen Gefangenen ohnehin ihre Haftstrafe fast verbüßt.

Vordergründig scheint es somit zunächst so, als sei die burmesische Regierung dabei, die europäischen Forderungen zur Aufhebung der Sanktionen zu erfüllen bzw. habe diese bereits zumindest in Teilen erfüllt. So wird die NLD aller Voraussicht nach in wenigen Wochen an der Regierung beteiligt sein, Verhandlungen mit den ethnischen Minderheiten wurden aufgenommen und erste Vereinbarungen geschlossen sowie politische Gefangene entlassen. Allerdings haben die ehemaligen Militärs ihre Zügel bisher nicht aus der Hand gegeben und entscheiden somit autark darüber, wem sie wie viele neue Freiheiten zugestehen und welche Veränderungen sie zulassen. Bisher gab es kaum strukturelle Veränderungen, die eine Herrschaft des Volkes garantieren und auch wenn eine Regierungsbeteiligung der NLD möglicherweise ein Schritt hin zu mehr Demokratie ist, wird ihr Einfluss dennoch gering sein, auch wenn es der NLD möglich sein sollte, alle freien Parlamentssitze zu gewinnen. Im Parlament hat das Militär seine Macht nicht nur durch die USDP abgesichert, sondern auch durch den 25-Prozent-Anteil des Militärs im Parlament, wodurch es diesen möglich ist, Verfassungsänderungen mit einem Veto zu verhindern.

Der Hoffnungsschimmer der politischen Veränderungen wird breiter

Dennoch ist es nicht nur das Gold der Pagoden, das dort in Burma glänzt. Der Hoffnungsschimmer der politischen Veränderungen wird breiter. Diese Hoffnung sollte jedoch das Urteilsvermögen nicht trüben. Denn es besteht die Gefahr, dass es sich bei den neuerlichen Entwicklungen nicht um politische Reformen, sondern ausschließlich um strategische Konzessionen handelt, die nur dazu dienen sollen, die Kritiker der burmesischen Regierung zufrieden zu stellen und somit zu positiven (Wirtschafts-) Beziehungen zwischen dem Westen und Burma beizutragen sowie die jahrzehntelange Sanktionspolitik zu beenden. Die Skepsis ist folglich durchaus berechtigt und so müssen die Entwicklungen in Burma, besonders in Bezug auf die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte und den Konflikt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten, genau im Auge behalten werden. Die Skeptiker dieser Reformbestrebungen sind sich dabei bereits einig: »Wir werden die burmesische Regierung nach ihren Taten beurteilen, nicht nach ihren Worten«, sagen hochrangige Offiziere der ethnischen Kampforganisationen ebenso wie der britische Außenminister.


[1] Lwin, Ye (2009): German Investors Cast Eyes for Myanmar, says UMFCCI,
in: Myanmar Times, (letzter Zugriff 12.01.2012)

[2] Weng, Lawi/Htwe, Ko (2010): Ethnic Armed Groups in Alliance Talks,
in: the Irrawaddy online, (letzter Zugriff 12.01.2012)

[3] Linn, Zin (2011): Burma‹s Ethnics Groups Established United Nationalities Federal Council,
in: Asian Correspondent, groups-established-united-nationalities-federal-council/

[4] Free Burma Rangers (2012): FBR Report. Ceasefire Talks and Ongoing Conflict Update from the Field. Karen State. 16. January 2012,

[5] Weng, Lawi (2012): No Ceasefire until Kachin Fighting Stops: NMSP,
in: Irrawaddy (letzter Zugriff: 20.01.2012).”

Die Autorin ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Zentrum für Konfliktforschung in Marburg. In ihrer Doktorarbeit beschäftigte sie sich mit dem burmesischen Oppositionsnetzwerk zur Förderung von Demokratie und Menschenrechten.

(Quelle: südostasien.)


Die aktuelle Ausgabe der Zeitschrift “südostasien”, aus der dieser Aufsatz stammt, kann in unserer Bücherei entliehen werden.

Rwanda: Kein Versöhnungswillen?

Dienstag, September 27th, 2011

“Silent sabotage: How the Rwandan peasantry is defying ‘reconciliation’

By Susan Thompson

Why would peasant Rwandans resist the government’s post-genocide reconciliation programme, particularly when so many people — donors, journalists, policy-makers and civil society representatives alike — see Rwanda as a peaceful, stable, development-oriented country in the midst of the violent turmoil of the Great Lakes Region?

From the perspective of the rural poor, the answer is that many of them consider the programme unjust and illegitimate as it works against their interests as peasants. This is an important point to consider given that peasants were the main actors in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide as both perpetrators and survivors. Incorporating peasants who lived through the violence of the genocide into the Rwandan policy as participating members is necessary to avoid future mass atrocity.

Rwanda’s programme of national unity and reconciliation is the backbone of the Rwandan government’s reconstruction strategy following the genocide in which civilian Hutu killed at least 500,000 Tutsi – though most estimates hover around a million. Introduced in 1999, the programme aims to create “one Rwanda for all Rwandans,” meaning the government actively seeks to undo Tutsi and Hutu ethnic labels in favour of an inclusive Rwandan one.

The government claims that the programme is successfully promoting ethnic unity as the basis of lasting reconciliation between the country’s main ethnic groups. From the perspective of Rwandan peasants I interviewed, the programme forcibly produces the appearance — but not the reality — of national unity and reconciliation.

Thus obedience to the dictates of the programme is frequently tactical, rather than sincere, as peasants employ various strategies to avoid participation. A look at the resistance of peasants to the programme opens up for analysis the extent to which the government’s rhetoric about delivering peace, justice, and reconciliation to Rwandans is reflected in the lived reality of the populace.

The mandatory activities imposed on peasant Rwandans in the name of national unity and reconciliation (such as the umuganda or community work days, the ingando citizenship re-education camps and the gacaca justice trials) prevent them from tending their fields and engaging in other life-sustaining activities.

That Rwanda’s rural poor do not support the programme of national unity and reconciliation may seem counter-intuitive to those who know of Rwanda’s admirable recovery from the violence of the 1994 genocide, particularly given the country’s impressive economic and institutional gains. Peasant Rwandans resist largely because the programme does not allow for frank or open discussion of how ethnic categories shaped the violence of the genocide, nor is there any official recognition of lived experiences that differ from the official version, in which only Tutsi were victims and only Hutu killed.

Nor does the government allow for public acknowledgment of the existence or experience of Tutsi and Twa perpetrators; Hutu and Twa rescuers; Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa resisters; or Hutu and Twa survivors. Tutsi are rightfully and correctly survivors of genocide, as they were targeted by virtue of their ethnicity, but all Rwandans are survivors of conflict, jostled and shaped by traumatic events over which they had little or no control.

Because the programme of national unity and reconciliation does not acknowledge the multitude of lived through experiences of Rwandans of all ethnicities during the genocide, peasant Rwandans I consulted understood well the risks of speaking out against the programme and so found subtle, indirect, and non-confrontational ways to avoid or subvert the demands of the programme.

A common tactic employed by peasant Rwandans is “staying on the sidelines,” and is embodied in an array of avoidance tactics to keep out of trouble with the local authorities. of all ethnicities shared this sentiment with me. For example, Aurelia, a 39-year-old Hutu widow, says that she actively tries to avoid her local official: “The best strategy is to avoid the authorities. When you see them, they make demands for reconciliation. [My official] knows that I lost all of my people [family members] during the events.”

Another common form of peasant resistance is withdrawn muteness. These are purposeful and strategic acts of silence that peasant Rwandans employ to defy the expectations of the programme in ways that either protect their limited resources or assure their dignity in their interactions with local officials. For example, Trésor, a 16-year-old Tutsi boy, described the purpose of withdrawn muteness as a tactic that sabotages government efforts to promote reconciliation: “Remaining silent is very rewarding because it angers local officials. They ask if we are stupid. They ask why we are so difficult. That is the point. The officials make us get reconciled but I just want to be left alone. Being silent is a good way to avoid the difficulties of life since the genocide. Silence helps us do that in ways that make sense to us, not to local officials.”

The truth is that peasant Rwandans feel that the programme makes their daily struggle to provide for survival more complicated. Rather than blindly or willingly accept state-led directives to reconcile with each another, peasant Rwandans recognise that the policy is yet another form of social control that they strategically avoid so that they can get on with more pressing matters of rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. Domestic and international actors that care about sustainable peace in Rwanda and in the countries of the Great Lakes more broadly need to consider the behaviour and attitudes of rural folk, lest they once again take up arms against neighbours, colleagues, and friends.

Susan Thomson is a researcher at the School of Critical Social Inquiry, Hampshire College, Amherst, USA “


(Quelle: The East African.)

Israel: Diskrimierende Sprachenpolitik

Donnerstag, September 8th, 2011

“Language becomes a political weapon in Israel

A plan to downgrade Arabic’s status as an official language underscores broader tensions within Israel

By Mya Guarnieri


Arabic is the mother tongue of 20 per cent of Israel’s citizens [Reuters]


Speaking to the US congress in May, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu boasted that his country is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, that it is the only place where Arabs “enjoy real democratic rights”.

It’s true that Palestinian citizens of Israel have some democratic rights, like the vote. But, as Netanyahu told congress: the “path of liberty is not paved by elections alone.” And the summer months have seen an acceleration of worrisome anti-democratic trends.

First, the Knesset passed the anti-boycott law, a move that was widely condemned as a strike against free speech and democracy. Even some of Israel’s staunchest supporters expressed concern.

Now lawmakers have introduced a bill that proposes to change the definition of Israel as “Jewish and democratic” to “the national home of the Jewish people”.

If passed, the legislation would become part of Israel’s Basic Laws, which are used as a working constitution.

Whenever a conflict between democracy and Jewish values arises, the new definition of Israel would allow courts and legislators to favour the latter. According to Haaretz, the proposed bill will also make halacha, Jewish religious law, “a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts”. And, in the spirit of favouring the Jewish character of the state over a state for all its citizens, the legislation would also downgrade Arabic from an official language to one with “special status”.

Arabic is the mother tongue of 20 per cent of Israel’s citizens. It has been an official language of the land since 1924, when the British mandate set three: English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Linguistic marginalisation

When the state of Israel was established in 1948, English was struck from the books. While Arabic remained an official language, it has always gotten second class treatment- as have the citizens who speak it.

Many government forms – including those for Social Security and National Insurance – come in Hebrew only. Arabic-speakers are under-represented in the public sector. So if a Palestinian citizen has weak Hebrew, he or she may be deprived of services or benefits they are legally entitled to and desperately need.

The results are sometimes devastating.

In Lod, for example, 25 per cent of the population is Arab. But out of the city’s 50 social workers, only two speak Arabic and both are part time employees. After a rash of domestic violence left three Arab women from Lod dead, NGOs questioned the state’s commitment to protecting Palestinian citizens.

Could the deaths have been prevented by better access to resources?

Samah Salaime-Egbariya, the director of Arab Women in the Centre, points out the murder rate is lower in places where Arabic-speakers can get help. Speaking to Haaretz, she remarked, “In Jaffa, for example, there are more than a few problems, including violence and drugs – but why is it that no women have been murdered in Jaffa in the last 10 years? Because there’s cooperation there, and resources have been allocated by both the city and the Social Affairs Ministry.”

Those who speak Israel’s second official language sometimes face problems in the court system, as well. Thanks to a legal battle waged by Adalah, The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Arabic-speakers are entitled to a free translator. However, they do not receive this service automatically and must request it ahead of time. And, some Arabic-speakers remain unaware that they can get this help – I recently sat in on a court hearing during which a Palestinian man struggled to articulate himself in Hebrew.

Discrimination is written into the manual of a major coffee chain, Aroma Tel Aviv, which instructs employees to “speak Hebrew only” when customers are around. On numerous occasions, Palestinian citizens of Israel have found themselves fired from jobs for speaking their mother tongue.

Such incidents reflect Jewish Israelis’ deep discomfort with hearing Arabic. This phenomenon is so widespread and well-known that it was depicted in the Israeli version of The Office. After a Jewish employee worries that Abed, an Arab co-worker, is consorting “with the enemy,” the manager institutes a Hebrew-only policy. In a comic but poignant scene, Abed conducts business negotiations in Hebrew with another Arabic-speaker.

Double standards

Prohibitions against Arabic are sometimes found in Israeli schools. In Yafo, a principal has forbidden Palestinian citizens from speaking their mother tongue. Students of Russian origin, however, are free to converse in their first language.  

Sawsan Zaher, an attorney with Adalah, points out that even Arabic-speakers in the Arabic school system face language-related problems.

Earlier this year, the Arab Cultural Association reported that the textbooks used by Palestinian citizens of Israel have over 16,000 grammar and spelling errors. Mistakes appeared in math, history, geography books and those used to teach the Arabic language itself.

This leaves Arab students doubly disadvantaged-they learn a damaged version of their mother tongue and, because most Jewish Israelis don’t speak Arabic, they are forced to speak in a second language, Hebrew.

“International law obliges the state to respect the minority’s language,” Zaher says, adding that Israel’s 1953 public education law also requires the state to acknowledge the language and culture and religion of minorities.

The error-ridden textbooks, then, represent a violation of both international and Israeli law, according to Zaher. “You cannot acknowledge and respect a defective language,” she says.

Because Israel has long neglected Arabic and its speakers, Zaher doesn’t feel that downgrading the language’s status will result in practical changes.

What is alarming is that the legislation is proposed as a Basic Law and Basic Laws will eventually form the constitution of the State of Israel.

“Language is an important indicator to see whether or not a state is acknowledging the minority,” Zaher explains. “You set the status of a language in the constitution. [The proposed bill] would mean that there would be no recognition of Arabs as a national minority and that they would not be able to get suitable protection as according to international law.”

That the legislation was introduced a month before the United Nations vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state is significant, Zaher adds.

“It could be viewed as another attempt to respond to the Palestinian move in September,” she says. “Like, ‘Okay, you want your own state? Then Israel will be the state of the Jewish people and others will be marginalised more and more…”

Recognising a certain group’s language means recognising the existence of the group itself. Conversely, Zaher explains, “If [Israelis] want a state only for the Jewish people, they have to undermine Arabic.”

As this undermining and marginalisation has been going on for years, perhaps the Knesset’s latest move represents a step towards a more honest Israel – one that no longer pretends that being both a Jewish state and a democratic state for all of its citizens is possible.

At least the world will know, at last, what it’s dealing with.

Mya Guarnieri is a writer based in Tel Aviv.

You can follow Mya on Twitter @myaguarnieri

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.”


(Quelle: Al Jazeera.)

Israel / Palästina: Die Unbeugsamen von al-Araqib

Dienstag, September 6th, 2011

New AIC Film – Sumoud: The Struggle for al-Araqib

Tuesday, 06 September 2011 15:45 Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Israel has demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib nearly 30 times in the span of one year. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, residents have rebuilt their homes and have vowed to remain on their ancestral lands.



Israel has demolished the “unrecognised” Bedouin village of El Araqib some thirty times in the past year (photo courtesy of Negev Coexistence Forum)


Sumoud: The Struggle for al-Araqib is the story of their ongoing fight for recognition, equality and the right to live with dignity and in peace.
Expected release: Fall 2011.



(Quelle: The Alternative Information Center.)