KURDS IN SYRIA DECLARE AUTONOMOUS “ROJAVA–NORTHERN SYRIA”;
IRAQI KURDISH PRESIDENT PROMISES REFERENDUM BY OCTOBER
Members of Kurdish and other ethnic groups in the northern border region of Syria made another stab at a declaration of autonomy on March 17th with a vote to unify three different Kurdish-controlled “cantons” in a “federal democratic system of Rojava–Northern Syria,” rojava being the Kurdish term for “the west.” (It is in the western part of the Kurdish region, which also includes parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Azerbaijan.) The agreement was reached at Rmeilan, in northeastern Syria. The announcement also referred to preparations for elections and the establishment of a 31-member organizaing committee over the next six months. The Turkish, Syrian, and Iranian governments quickly denounced the declaration, as did the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) in northern Iraq, which closed its territory’s border with northern Syria, as well as a Kurdish organization aligned with moderate rebels in ongoing peace talks, the Kurdish National Council (K.N.C.). But the transnational National Congress of Kurdistan has offered its support. The large group involved in the process includes not only Kurds, but also Arabs, Chechens, Assyrians, Turkmens, and others.
Kurdish President Vows to Resign upon Independence, Sees Referendum within Months. The president of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.), Massoud Barzani, said in an interview on March 22nd that he plans to resign from office on the day that Kurdistan declares its independence. That he thinks will be soon, since he also claims that a referendum could be held before October. This comes amid a debate as to whether Barzani’s presidential term should be given yet another extension, something the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (K.D.P.), which Barzani leads, supports. He has been president since 2005. He also addressed Turkey’s recent wariness toward the K.R.G.’s aspirations to independence because of worries that it would inspire separatism in Turkey and Syria as well. “In the beginning,” Barzani said, “Turkey was against the federalism of Kurdistan, and look at our relations today. As long as the referendum is only for Iraqi Kurdistan, it has nothing to do with the Kurds in Turkey. So we do hope that Turkey understands and comprehends what Kurdistan is asking for.”
Kurdish Freedom Falcons Claim Ankara Bombing While War on Kurds Continues. A few days after the deadly car-bombing in Ankara, Turkey, on March 13th that killed 37 people, a small rogue militia called the Kurdish Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for the attack. The statement, printed on the TAK website, said it was retaliation for the Turkish military’s war against its Kurdish minority in the southeast, saying, “Those who live in Turkey should know that until the fascist dictatorship has been razed to the ground, human life is not safe.” The statement also named the female suicide bomber who led the attack, Seher Cagla Demir. The Turkish government claims Demir trained in Syria with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (Y.P.G.), which are allied with the main Kurdish insurgent army in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.). But the interior ministry blamed a March 19th suicide attack in a crowded part of downtown Istanbul on a Turkish citizen from Gaziantep (in the Kurdish region) who is linked to the Islamic State terrorist group (a.k.a. ISIS). Five people died in that attack and 36 were injured. Three of the dead and 11 of the wounded were from Israel. Turkish officials said on March 22nd that the fighting over the previous 24 hours had resulted in the killings of 23 P.K.K. rebels in southeastern Turkey. The statement said that eight had been killed in Şırnak province, three in Mardin, and 12 in Hakkâri. Police also arrested 19 members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.) on March 20th in the western city of Izmir. They were accused of planning riots for the upcoming Kurdish new year Nowruz the next day. Dozens were arrested in Istanbul the next day during a banned Nowruz celebration, with police firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds.
ISIS Shelling of Joint Iraqi–Kurdish Base Kills American Soldier. In northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, shelling by Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS) militants of an Iraqi military base resulted in the death of one United States soldier on March 19th. The American was training Iraqi and Peshmega (Kuridsh military) forces in preparation for an assault on Mosul. A Peshmerga spokesman emphasized that the fatality occurred in the Iraqi, not Kurdish, portion of the camp. It is only the second U.S. fatality in the war against ISIS, which is almost entirely an air operation. The same day, at least six ISIS fighters died in an air attack by the U.S.-led coalition in Gayara, south of Mosul.
New Catalan President Asserts Right to Unilateral Secession from Spain. The newly elected president of Catalonia said in an interview published March 17th that his autonomous region has the right to unilateral secession from the Kingdom of Spain. The president, Carles Puigdemont, who was elected in January, prefers a negotiated break, but said that “If Madrid does not want an accord and the majority of Catalans want an independent state, how can you avoid that?” Puigdemont added, in an interview with the Financial Times, that he rejects Madrid’s constitutional arguments: “In a mature democracy, what is legal is decided by parliament” (and here he means Catalonia’s, not Spain’s); “Our process is legitimised by parliament and by the ballot box.”
Cornish Nationalists Decry Merlin Carving on Cliff Face as “Disneyfication” of Heritage. The Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow is complaining to the government conservation trust English Heritage about a commissioned carving at the entrance to Cornwall’s legendary “Merlin’s Cave” inlet that they condemn as a “disneyfication” of Cornish heritage. The carving of the mythical wizard’s face on the cliff face is by Peter Graham, a local artist. “We have always had our doubts,” said a local politician, Andrew Long, “that English Heritage understand or care about Cornwall’s past and this example of vandalism is just another sign that the time for this organisation to be removed from looking afterour assets has now arrived.” In legend—or at least in retellings of it by Alfred, Lord Tennyson—the cave was where Merlin took the infant Arthur, future king of the Britons, to safety. The adjacent Tintagel Castle site is also connected to the Arthurian legends, and English Heritage calls it “the legendary birthplace of King Arthur.”
Sicilian Separatists Form “Federative Pact,” Plan Provisional Assembly, Election. Italian media reported in March on a “federative pact” between two groups pushing for Sicily’s independence from Italy. Gaetano Armao and Rino Piscitello of Sicilian Nation (Sicilia Nazione) and Francesco Perspicace of the Sicilian National Front (Fronte Nazionale Siciliano) signed an agreement of cooperation and called on other Sicilian separatist parties to likewise set aside their differences and join them. The new coalition group is to be named United for Sicily (Uniti per la Sicilia) and is planning to convene on May 15th a Sicilian National Assembly to choose a provisional president.
Prince of Seborga Fires Envoy to France after Apparent Cyber–Coup d’État. The elected prince of the diplomatically unrecognized city-state of Seborga, within northwestern Italy’s territory, suspended his official diplomatic representative in France on March 20th following what was being called an attempted non-violent coup d’état. The offending incident was the creation of a phony website purporting to be the official site of the Principality of Seborga. The site, which lists different cabinet ministers from the official ones, and links to a different constitution, was traced to Victorien Mentil, son of Marcel Mentil, who was named by Prince Marcello I in 2007 as the Seborgan liaison to France’s separatist Alsace region and was made the Seborgan diplomatic representative to the French Republic last year. Mentil has also been in charge of Seborga’s television station and football team. The crisis emerged shortly after an official visit by Prince Marcello and nine of his ministers to Ghaziabad, a suburb of New Delhi, India, to drum up interest in Indian tourism to Seborga.
Prince Michael of Romania Retires from Public Life at 94, Designates Daughter as Regent. The titular king of Romania, Prince Michael, has announced that he is retiring from public life. The prince suffers from leukemia and from epidermoid carcinoma. “In recent weeks,” read a statement issued by His Royal Highness’s office on March 1st, “we have received news of a serious medical diagnosis. This situation comes in the year when family and country are celebrating 150 years since the founding of the dynasty and the modern Romanian state. My daughter Margareta, the Custodian of the Crown, I am sure will find the wisdom and the strength to represent me and to carry out my public duties. I have asked the Royal Council to continue its mission and provide advise to the Custodian of the Crown.” Michael, who is 94 years old, reigned as King Michael I until 1947, when he was forced out of power by the Communists in Romania. He continues to insist that his abdication, because forced, is legally invalid. The monarch is a great-grandson of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, a cousin to five heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth II, and a member of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the deposed imperial house of Germany. His new regent, Crown Princess Margareta, is 66 years old. According to the Salic laws of succession in force during Michael’s reign, his heir would be the 63-year-old Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern, head of the former German imperial house, but a dynastic feud caused Michael to sever ties with his German cousins, rename his house the House of Romania, and designate Margareta his heiress, in accordance with more gender-blind rules in use in monarchies like Spain and the United Kingdom.
|Prince Michael of Romania (left)|
Hague Tribunal Grant Šešelj Medical Reprieve from Attending War Crimes Verdict. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (I.C.T.Y.) on March 16th relented and granted the ultranationalist Bosnian Serb warlord and Serbian Radical Party founder Vojislav Šešelj a medical reprieve from attending his own sentencing in the Hague, in the Netherlands, on war crimes and charges of crimes against humanity. Šešelj had earlier (as reported last month in this blog) publicly refused to cooperate with the court and said he would not attend. Šešelj was released in 2014 to undergo cancer treatment in his native Serbia, where he now lives.
Republika Srpska Said to Cook Bosnian Census Numbers, Concealing Bosniak Majority. A demographic expert in Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 16th accused the ethnic-Serb-run half of the country, the Republika Srpska (R.S.), of distorting the census numbers to make it seem as though Serbs have a larger share of the Bosnian population than they do. “The R.S. authorities,” said the expert, Tanja Topić, of Banja Luka, “are preventing some 300,000 to 400,000 mainly Bosniak [Slavic-speaking Muslim] residents from being registered as residents.” The situation is complicated by the fact that no objective, honest ethnic census has been carried out in Bosnia for decades—an awkward situation in a country where only a fragile truce among three carefully balanced populations keeps the country together. “If Bosniaks succeed in proving that they make up more than 50 per cent of the total population,” Topić said, “this will probably lead to them questioning the current legitimacy of the Dayton deal”—a reference to the United States–brokered 1995 agreement which handed Serbs half the country, including areas where they had successfully expelled or exterminated local Bosniak and Croat populations.
Kosovo Premier Admits Brother, Other Relatives Sought E.U. Asylum Last Year. The prime minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa, admitted in late March that members of his close family, including his brother and nephews and nieces tried to enter the European Union (E.U.) last year as refugees. They were among perhaps tens of thousands of Kosovars to flee poverty and violence in 2015 to try to establish residence in E.U. countries. They included Mustafa’s brother, Ragip Mustafa, who sought refuge in Germany partly so that he could seek treatment for a medical condition. Also in Kosovo, on March 17th, rioters damaged or set fire to to five government vehicles and four European Union (E.U.) ones in protests against Kosovar concessions to Serbia on the question of autonomy for majority-Serb municipalities. The torchings occurred in five different towns across Kosovo.
|Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visiting Kosovo this month|
Russian Court Finds Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko Guilty, Gives Her 22 Years. Russian authorities moved the captured Ukrainian air-force officer Nadezhda Savchenko from Rostov-on-Don, in southwestern Russia, to the capital of eastern Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (D.P.R.) and March 21st found her guilty in the Donetsk municipal court of accessory to murder and illegal border-crossing. Savchenko’s attorney, Mark Feygin, said his client planned to go on a liquid-free hunger strike in within 10 days unless she is extradited to Ukraine. Within days, she was given a 22-year prison sentence, despite loud objections from the European Union (E.U.), the United States, and many world leaders and rights organizations.
Donetsk People’s Republic Begins Issuing Passports; 6 Ukrainian Troops Killed. The Donetsk People’s Republic (D.P.R.), one of two pro-Russian rebel governments in Ukraine’s southeast, began issuing passports to its “citizens” on March 16th. Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the republic’s prime minister, was issued the first passport. He said that the passports will be required for voting in upcoming elections in the republic and can also be used as a visa to enter Russia. The D.P.R. was declared in May 2014 but is not recognized by any other recognized nation. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military announced on May 16th that six Ukrainian troops had been wounded in the previous 24 hours in fighting in the village of Novotroyitske, in Donetsk oblast. On March 18th, the D.P.R.’s defense ministry reported that three Ukrainian troops died and four were injured near Avdeyevka, near Donetsk, while trying to arm a drone with explosive devices.
Donetsk “Citizen” Arrested in Kharkiv for Stabbing Death of Ukrainian Soldier. Ukrainian authorities in Kharkiv, a government-controlled city in eastern Ukraine, arrested on March 21st a citizen of eastern Ukraine’s rebel capital Donetsk for stabbing a Ukrainian soldier to death and seriously injuring a second in a brawl in a café. The dead victim, aged 30, was a scout from the ministry of defense’s 92nd Brigade and died instantly on the scene. A murder conviction could bring up to 15 years in prison.
Insiders Say Kadyrov Will Stay On in Chechnya. The independent English-language Moscow Times newspaper on March 16th cited an unnamed source close to the Kremlin as saying that Russia’s government had two weeks previously reassured Ramzan Kadyrov that he would be able to keep his job as president of the Chechen Republic after his term expires this month and that “There are no doubts that Kadyrov will be reappointed.” The article also stated that President Vladimir Putin had been making Kadyrov nervous by ceasing contact with him for some time. “Kadyrov never intended to go,” the source is quoted as saying, “and certainly would know if a real plan to replace him existed.”
Masked Men Beat Human-Rights Chief in Chechnya as Regime Crows Approval. The Russian head of an international human-rights organization was beaten and pelted with eggs by masked men in the middle of the Chechen Republic’s capital on March 16th, less than a week after a bus carrying members of the group was ambushed in a mass beating by similar armed men near the border with another Russian republic, Ingushetia. Igor Kalyapin, chairman of the Committee against Torture (CAT), was attacked at the entrance to a hotel in downtown Grozny by about 15 people in black masks, not long after being evicted from the hotel for criticizing Chechnya’s authoritarian president, Ramzan Kadyrov, and the republic’s heavy-handed police. “We could have protected him from attacks,” said, Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, the republic’s human-rights ombudsman; “We could have sat down and talked, held the event that he wanted to hold, shown him around”—but “Kalyapin must understand that if he constantly slings mud at the Chechen Republic, the young people here will not give him a warm welcome.” The central government of the Russian Federation, to which Kadyrov is only nominally loyal, the following day called the incident “absolute hooliganism” and directed the federal ministry of the interior to assert control if necessary.
|Chechnya tells Igor Kalyapin what it thinks about decadent, unpatriotic Western concepts like human rights.|
Lezgin Separatist Leader Found Murdered in Dagestan. The head of the Lezgin (a.k.a. Lezgian) ethnic minority’s main organization in the Republican of Dagestan in southwestern Russia’s North Caucasus region was murdered in his home, media reported on March 21st. The victim, Nazim Hajiyev (also spelled Gadzhiyev), was found dead of multiple stab wounds in his home in Makhachkala, the Dagestani capital. He headed the organization Sadval (“Unity”), which has advocated an independent Lezginistan in the Lezgin homeland straddling the border between Dagestan and Azerbaijan. Another Sadval activist, Ruslan Magomedragimov, was killed almost exactly a year earlier, also in Dagestan, on March 24, 2015. That murder has never been solved.
|Assassinated: Lezgin separatist Nazim Hajiyev|
3 Rounded Up in Dagestan for Islamic State Ties. The National Antiterrorist Committee in Russia announced on March 17th that three men had been arrested in the Republic of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus, for ties to the Islamic State terrorist group (a.k.a. ISIS). The suspects reportedly confessed and led security forces to a hidden cache of explosives. The three were arrested in the Khasavyurt district, near the border with the Chechen Republic, to the west.
BITS OF ASIA THAT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE PART OF EUROPE
Azerbaijan Blacklists Flemish Nationalists for Nagorno-Karabakh Visit. The foreign ministry of Azerbaijan has added the names of two Flemish nationalist politicians from Belgium who (as reported last month in this blog) visited the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic last month to its “blacklist” of those no longer welcome in Azerbaijan. The visit was organized by the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy. “By visiting the Azerbaijani lands occupied by Armenia,” a ministry spokesman, Hikmat Hajiyev, said, “these people support the unrecognized regime created on the occupied territories as a result of Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan and the bloody ethnic cleansing.” Meanwhile, the N.K.R.’s defense ministry said that two of its soldiers were killed on March 17th—along the tense border between the N.K.R. and Azerbaijan proper.
Georgia Considers Issuing Passports to Abkhazia, South Ossetia Residents. A Republic of Georgia official charged with the longer-term project of reclaiming the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia said on March 18th that his government was considering issuing Georgian passports to all residents in the two de facto independent territories, which are essentially puppet states of Russia. The official, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, deputy minister for reconciliation and civil equality, pointed out that Georgian passports offer more freedom of movement in western Europe than Russian ones do, to say nothing of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian passports, which almost no states recognize.
Turkish Official’s North Cyprus Passport Stamp Disrupts Refugee Deal on Greek Isle. The new agreement between the European Union (E.U.) and the Republic of Turkey on stemming the flow of Middle Eastern refugees into Europe hit an unexpected technical hitch on March 21st with the arrival of 25 Turkish interior-ministry liaisons in various refugee-swamped locales in Greece’s Aegean Sea islands. One Turkish official, arriving on the island of Chios, turned out to have a stamp in his passport from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (T.R.N.C.). Northern Cyprus is a Turkish puppet state, unrecognized by any other country, formed when Turkey invaded the mostly-ethnic-Greek-populated island of Cyprus in 1974. Greek law regards any passport with a T.R.N.C. stamp as invalid. The situation was smoothed over when Greek authorities hurriedly issued a “laisse passé” passport to the official.
Widow of Palestinian Escapee Who Died in Bulgaria Cries Foul. The widow of Omar Nayef, a 51-year-old escaped Palestinian convict who was (as reported in this blog at the time) assassinated on the grounds of Israel’s embassy in Bulgaria in February on March 16th, accused Israel’s government of not keeping her in the loop on the investigation. The widow and her two children held a protest outside the court of justice in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. “The authorities have not given us any details about the medical examination or released my husband’s body so I can bury him,” she said to a reporter, and she threatened to bring the matter before the European Court of Justice. She personally feels her husband was assassinated by the Israeli government. On March 21st, Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, said that he did not belief Nayef died from foul play, but the investigation is ongoing, he said.
3 Palestinians Killed as Wave of Knife Attacks against Israelis Continues. Two Palestinians, ages 19 and 20, were shot and killed by Israeli security forces on March 17th after stabbing and wounding a female soldier as she got off a bus near the illegal West Bank settlement Ariel. The Israeli military responded by putting their home village, Beit Fajjar, in lockdown. The following day, at Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem, a Palestinian was shot to death by an Israeli soldier during an attempted stabbing of him and another soldier. This came shortly after the arrest of two Palestinian teenagers armed with knives in the occupied West Bank. On the same day, a Palestinian woman was shot and killed by unidentified attackers who fired on her home in al-Yamoun, near Jenin, in the West Bank. Meanwhile, polls indicate that the portion of Palestinians in support of the wave of knife attacks has dropped from 57% to 44% in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, which is ruled separately by the Hamas terrorist group, that figure dropped only from 85% to 82%.
Morocco Pulls out of U.N. Peacekeeping in Protest over Ban’s Western Sahara Remarks. The Kingdom of Morocco announced on March 15th that it was reducing its contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony which Morocco now illegally occupies. The cuts would be in personnel and in monetary contributions, and the kingdom also threatened to pull all 2,300 of its troops currently serving in U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world. This follows a wave of official Moroccan anger over comments made by the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, last month, during a visit to a Sahrawi refugee camp just over the border in Algeria. Ban expressed sympathy for the Sahrawi refugees and those living under illegal occupation in Western Sahara and also met with the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (S.A.D.R.), which controls only a sliver of Western Sahara territory.
Toubou, Tuareg Delegates to Libyan Constitution Panel Demand Language, Other Rights. In Oman, delegates to Libya’s Constitutional Drafting Assembly (C.D.A.) from the southern Toubou and Tuareg ethnic groups said on March 20th that they would suspend their boycott of the proceedings if their communities were offered certain constitutional concessions. The delegates are asking for official status for the Toubou and Tuareg languages. Tuareg is closely related to the Berber, or Amazigh, language, spoken by many in northwestern Libya. They would also like guaranteed legislative and cabinet seats and the designation of Libya in the constitution as a “North African” country rather than an “Arab” one. Actually, few Arabs live in Libya: most of the country’s Arabic-speaking majority are ethnically Berber, often called “Arabized Berbers,” though a more generous definition of “Arab” is anyone who speaks Arabic. But all such niceties are mostly academic at this point while Libya’s territory is divided among two rival governments, plus large areas ruled by the Islamic State terrorist group (a.k.a. ISIS).
South Sudan Foreign Minister Sacked after Calling Abyei “Sudanese.” The ministry of foreign affairs for the Republic of South Sudan was forced on March 22nd to retract statements made that implied that residents of the disputed oil-rich Abyei district, on the border with the Republic of Sudan, were not South Sudanese. Days later, he was fired by President Salva Kiir. A statement signed by the foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin had said, in response to criticism of South Sudan’s human-rights record, that the Abyei resident Luka Biong, whom the South Sudanese government was persecuting for his criticism of a planned redrawing of South Sudanese internal boundaries, was a “foreign” Sudanese. Abyei has a mixed Arab and Dinka ethnic population, and it has never been permanently settled whether the square-shaped territory would be part of Sudan proper or of South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2012. Sudan now administers the territory. “The statement was issued by the government of South Sudan, not the ministry of foreign affairs,” said Mawein Makol, a foreign-ministry spokesperson. “There was a mistake in the statement and the minister of foreign affairs signed the cover of the statement without realizing the mistake but it has been corrected now.” The minister clarified that the official South Sudanese position is that Abyei is under “joint sovereignty” and that its population is “South Sudanese.”
Puntland Troops Kill Scores of Shabaab Militants; Mogadishu Rejects Blame for Influx. The armed forces of Somalia’s de facto independent Puntland State killed scores of jihadist militants on March 16th and 17th in their new offensive against the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab in their territory, according to government sources. Al-Shabaab retaliated over the night of March 18th and 19th with a raid on a security checkpoint in Bossaso, Puntland’s main port city, killing one and wounding a security officer and a civilian. Around the same time, in the village of Suuj, four militants were killed and four captured in fighting reported by Puntland authorities. On March 20th the military reported the deaths of 42 al-Shabaab fighters, and by the next day, in Mogadishu, Puntland’s information minister, Mohamud Hassan Soadde, was tallying 70 dead jihadists and 30 captured ones. Many of the captured were taken in Garacad, a town in Puntland liberated from the militants. But this all came amid accusations by Puntland officials that the internationally recognized Federal Government of Somalia (F.G.S.) in Mogadishu is behind the flow of al-Shabaab militants northward into Puntland. On the first day of fighting, Kenya’s government reported that Puntland forces had killed 30 militants. Puntland’s president, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, said that these successes demonstrated that his statelet could contain al-Shabaab without the assistance of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), led by Kenya and Ethiopia in cooperation with the F.G.S. Nonetheless, Amisom troops were reported to be on their way. The deputy prime minister of the F.G.S., Mohamed Omar Arte, said that al-Shabaab’s move into Puntland was in the first instance a sign of desperation, affirming Somalia’s success in ousting them from Somalia proper. After the accusations on March 16th about Mogadishu being responsible for al-Shabaab being in Puntland in the first place, Arte said the Puntland government’s comments were inaccurate and “unfortunate.”
|Captured al-Shabaab militants in Garacad|
Djibouti Accepts Blame for Naval Skirmish That Killed Somaliland Patrolman. The Republic of Djibouti apologized on March 19th to a lethal exchange of gunfire on March 14th between the Djiboutian coast guard and that of the de facto independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland. Djibouti’s minister of fisheries, Mohamed Somali, and Somaliland’s naval commander, Abdurrahman Shir, addressed a joint press conference in which the Djiboutian offered apologies on behalf of his government and offered compensation, acknowledging that it was Djiboutian vessels that had inadvertently strayed into Somaliland territorial waters. Although Djibouti does not formally recognize Somaliland, in most respects it treats it as a state independent of the internationally recognized Federal Republic of Somalia and its capital in Mogadishu. In the incident, one Somaliland coast guard was killed and two were injured when they moved in to rescue two fishing vessels taken into custody by the Djiboutian patrol. The incident occurred off the coast of the town of Zeila, in Somaliland’s Awdal state. Djibouti quietly runs a puppet state, the Saylac and Lughaye State of Somalia—nominally a pro-Mogadishu unionist entity—that controls some territory in Awdal.
Nigerian Army Chief Says Abia Massacre Being Probed, Claims Constitutional Immunity. A top military official in Nigeria said on March 17th that the army was investigating an alleged massacre of civilians in Abia State during February 9th protests (reported at the time in this blog) demanding independence for Biafra. Speaking in Enugu, the notional Biafran capital, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, said that whenever there was loss of life there would be an investigation. But he added, with chilling candor, that if anyone breaks the law, “there will be need for use of fire; in that regards, the issue of human rights does not apply. So, if you apply all the rules of engagement and you have course to open fire, you are protected by the constitution.” The group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), for its part, on March 18th rejected the Buratai investigation, saying it “is fundamentally riddled with conflict of interest and lacks the moral compass to conduct quality investigation in a case of this magnitude.” It referred to the army’s actions in Abia as “genocidal.”
Kanu and Co-Defendants Challenge Detention, Citing “Strange Procedure.” In the midst of his treason trial in Abuja, the Biafran independence leader Nnamdi Kanu and two co-defendants challenged their dentention at Nigeria’s court of appeal, calling it a “strange procedure.” The federal government urged the court to throw the appeal out. The two others are David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu. Their regular trial has been suspended pending an appeals-court decision. In other developments, Asari Dokubo, a former militant from the Niger Delta, called on Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, to free Kanu, who heads the organization Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB).
Former U.S. Congressman, Biafra Mercy-Flight Pilot Backs Vote on Biafran Independence. A prominent American ally of the Biafran cause explicitly called in March for an internationally guaranteed referendum on Biafra’s independence from Nigeria. Robert K. Dornan, a former United States congressman who represented Orange County, California, for the Republican Party, flew food-relief missions to Biafra during 1967-70 Biafra War, when he was in the Air Force reserve. “I was there piloting a dozen mercy flights to help feed starving Biafran children,” Dornan said in a recent statement submitted to the Organization of Emerging African States (O.E.A.S.). “It was an experience that stayed with me always.” He added, “No one wants to see another Biafran war. ... The timid leadership in the United States and the European Union has sadly neglected and sidestepped the Biafra issue. ... The Biafrans have known suffering and death and as a responsible witness to that holocaust, and as a Christian man of honor I add my voice to those calling for an internationally recognized referendum on the future of Biafra.”
Coca-Cola Denies Responsibility for Cans Sporting Biafra Independence Messages. The circulation on social media of Coke cans bearing the customized word Biafrans and the name of the jailed independence leader Nnamdi Kanu has prompted Coca-Cola to explain to media that it was making sure that no unauthorized customized cans were being produced—which still leaves unexplained the extent to which Coke or its factories might be involved in the labels. Biafran media have jumped on the story, claiming it points to the corporation’s support the cause of independence from Nigeria.
Biafra Youth Leader Claims Fulani Herders Who Attack Igbos Linked to Boko Haram. The deputy president of the Biafra Nations Youth League (B.N.Y.L.) said on March 18th warned herders from Nigeria’s northern and predominantly-Muslim Fulani ethnic group to halt their attacks on Igbos. The ancient enmities are involved are over grazing lands, but the B.N.Y.L. leader, Ebuta Takon, linked the Fulani to Boko Haram, the jihadist terrorist group which operates in northeastern Nigeria. “Boko Haram,” Takon said, “are now using the Fulani herdsmen to unleash attacks on our own people in our own soil. We know they are behind some of the gas explosions in most part of South East and South-South. It is evidence in what happened in Owerri sometime last year where a cripple [sic] was seen trying to set a fuel tanker that fell close to the Catholic Church ablaze, and the government has refused to link this attack to the Islamist expansionists. We understand their game and we will make sure that they don’t succeed.” He added: “Only an independent Biafran State will end these provocative attacks by Fulani herdsmen.” Meanwhile, the organization Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) urged Igbo people to boycott Fulani cattle products and rely more on the Igbo-based cattle industry.
Nigerian Chiefs Cite Rapes, Beatings, Detentions amid “Annexations” by Cameroon. More details are emerging about the bizarre developments in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state, just across the Cross River (Oyono River) estuary from southwestern Cameroon, where the chiefs of 16 villages on mangrove islands in the Mbo local government area signed papers ceding their communities to the Republic of Cameroon (as reported recently in this blog). Now it seems, according to a Nigerian National Boundary Commission (N.B.C.) fact-finding mission to Mbo, the Nigerian chiefs in question also accepted Cameroonian citizenship and are being used in a tax-collection (extortion) scheme. “The Cameroon gendarmes have placed taxes on all the communities,” said Chief Nyong Etim Efa, of the village of Abana. “In Abana, we are required to pay N500,000 per month. The last time they came to collect the money and found out that I didn’t convene a meeting to raise the tax, they raped my wife, beat me up, and later detained me in their cell. For our youths who tried to resist them, they cut their fishing nets into pieces and seized their outboard engines. We are traumatised by repeated molestations from the Cameroon gendarmes. We are seriously considering taking up citizenship in Cameroon since our Nigerian government cannot protect us.” It remains unclear to what extent these “annexations” are being orchestrated by the Cameroonian central government in Yaoundé. Other affected villages include Akpakanya, Akwa Ine Nsikak, Atabong, Ine Akpak, Ine Atayo, Ine Ebighi Edu, Ine Ekea, Ine Etakisib, Ine Inua Abasi, Ibekwe Ine Odiong, Ine Okobedi, Ine Usuk, Inua Mba, and Itung Ibekwe.
Phony “Human Rights Group” Exonerates Nigerian Army of Ogoni Massacre. A group called Citizen Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), referred to in Nigeria’s compliant media as “a human rights group,” held a press conference in Abuja, the capital, on March 21st to announce that after an investigation it has concluded that the federal military’s incursion into Ogoni territory in south-central Nigeria a month earlier, in which (as reported at the time in this blog) dozens were reported killed, was not what it seemed and that the Nigerian military had done nothing wrong. The only problem with this “finding” by a “human rights group” is that it is very difficult to find evidence for the existence of “CASER” other than this one press conference—the main thrust of which was to exonerate the Nigerian military. “We have called this press conference to denounce certain notions that are inimical to national interest,” said “CASER’’’s “executive director,” one Frank Tietie, namely “the notion that the Nigerian military causes problem [sic], kills and maims innocent Nigerians, which is so untrue.” Rather, Tietie said, “We found out that what happened on Feb. 22 in an Ogoni community called Yeghe was actually an encounter between certain cultists, who were followers of one Solomon Ndigbara, who actually engaged the army in a shootout”—referring to the former Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) rebel leader known by his nickname “General Osama Bin Laden,” whom the military manhunt had unsuccessfully targeted. Tietie said the video evidence showed that only three people died in the conflict, not 45 at the military’s hands, as claimed by others. This kind of “oversight” is what counts as justice and checks and balances in Muhammadu Buhari’s Nigeria.
Cabinda Separatists Claim to Have Killed 30 Angolan Soldiers in March So Far. Militants fighting for the oil-rich coastal exclave of Cabinda to secede from the Republic of Angola have killed about 30 Angolan soldiers so far this month, according to rebel reports. The claims, by the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), could not be verified. The death toll takes into account a March 13th attack which killed more than 10 and one on March 16th in Buco-Zau that killed 20. FLEC has been fighting for independence since the colonial ruler, Portugal, abandoned Angola to civil war in 1975.
Chagossians in Seychelles Plan to Sue British Government over Expulsions. Members of the British Indian Ocean Territory’s native Chagossian nation living in exile in the Seychelles announced on March 16th plans to bring legal proceedings against the United Kingdom for their expulsion from the Chagos Islands in the 1960s and ’70s to make way for what is now a United States and NATO military base in Diego Garcia, the largest island. Pierre Prosper, chairman of the local Seychellois Chagossian diaspora group, told the Seychelles News Agency that his community would be holding meetings to decide how to proceed. Of the 2,000 or so Chagossians dispersed worldwide, about half live in England, many are in Mauritius (which claims the archipelago), and the Seychelles are home to about 250 deportees and their descendants.
Balochistan Puts Bounty on Heads of 99 Separatist Fighters. The provincial government in Balochistan, in southwestern Pakistan, announced on March 17th that it was putting a bounty on the heads of 99 wanted criminals from five different “terrorist” organizations. All five are insurgent groups fighting for independence from Pakistan. The wanted men include Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, alleged leader of the Balochistan Liberation Front (B.L.F.), whom the government said last year that it had killed in an anti-terrorist operation. Other men on the list belong to the Baloch Republican Army (B.R.A.), Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.), Baloch Republican Guards, and Lashkar-e-Balochistan. The B.L.F. leader’s bounty is for 5 million rupees, the highest amount offered. Then, on March 23rd, Balochistan’s chief minister, Sanaullah Zehri, asked publicly for Baloch separatist leaders living abroad to return home and join mainstream politics. “The people, the government and the defense forces have won the war,” he said, “and those who wanted to impose their views through use of force are defeated and isolated” (oops, but see below).
Baloch Separatists Claim Government “Raids” on “Militants” Actually Target Civilians. In Pakistan’s Balochistan province, rights groups are disputing government accounts of raids against separatists and claiming they are actually part of an ongoing pattern of attacks on Baloch civilians. Pakistani officials say two different raids by Pakistani security forces on March 18th killed four Baloch separatist fighters and arrested a separatist commander. The four were killed in a shootout in Balochistan province’s Naseerabad district, which also resulted in 13 arrests and the wounding of the rebel unit’s commander. A raid in Panjgur resulted in the arrest of a rebel commander. On the same day, in Turbat, five Baloch suspects were rounded up and “arms and ammunition were also seized.” The Frontier Corps would not say which Baloch separatist group or groups were represented in the incidents. And on March 21st, 12 Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.) militants, including two commanders, were killed in a confrontation with the Frontier Corps in Kohlu district, according to officials. Baloch rights groups also report that government helicopter gunships were used against civilian populations during the Kohlu raids and that the 12 “militants’ killed were actually civilians killed in aerial attacks. The day before the March 21st raid, Baloch sources say, the military killed three Baloch civilians, including a 9-year-old girl in Kech district. The military said the two adults that died in that attack where members of the Baloch National Movement (B.N.M.), which the B.N.M. denies. The B.N.M. also reported the abduction of a civilian cousin of Karima Baloch, chair of the Baloch Student Organisation (B.S.O.). Other military abductions throughout Balochistan were reported as well.
Sindhi Separatists Call Shutdown Strike over Justice Delay in Killing of Party Leader. The separatist party Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (J.S.Q.M.) ordered a shutdown strike in the city of Hyderabad, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, on March 21st, to protest delays in the prosecution of a J.S.Q.M. figure’s killers. Masood Qureshi, the head of J.S.Q.M., which seeks the province’s secession from Pakistan as an independent Sindhu Desh, died on March 21, 2014, in a mysterious automobile fire. The authorities, J.S.Q.M. claims, have been impeding and delaying a proper investigation into what activists say was an assassination.
Britain Removes Sikh Separatist Youth Organization from Terrorism List. Both houses of the United Kingdom’s parliament voted in March to remove the International Sikh Youth Federation (I.S.Y.F.) from its list of banned organizations. The I.S.Y.F., which supports the creation of an independent state called Khalistan in Sikh-majority areas of western India, was added to the U.K.’s list terrorist organizations in 2001. The British minister of state for home affairs, Lord Bates, said, “ there is now not sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief that the ISYF is currently concerned in terrorism as defined by Section 3(5) of the Terrorism Act 2000.” The chair of the I.S.Y.F.’s umbrella group, the Sikh Federation (U.K.), Bhai Amrik Singh, said the I.S.Y.F. “has never been involved in terrorism. There is absolutely nothing wrong with peacefully campaigning for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan.”
Aide to Kashmir Separatist Leader Charged in Murder of Counter-Insurgency Officer. A close aide to the secretary of Kashmir’s largest separatist outfit was among six men charged on March 17th with involvement in the murder last year of counter-insurgency officer, Altaf Ahmed. The aide, Showkat Hakeem, a Muslim League leader, works closely with the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference’s secretary, Masarat Alam Bhat. The Muslim League is one of many separatist groups under the umbrella of the Hurriyat Conference, which seeks independence from India. The charges were filed in Bandipora, in northwestern Jammu and Kashmir. Members of the jihadist militia Lashkar-e-Taiba were also charged.
Indian Troops in Assam Arrests Separatist Bodo Militant Trained in Burma. In India’s Assam state, local police and the military arrested a Bodo militant in a joint operation on March 18th. The rebel, Daithun Boro, belongs to the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (N.D.F.B.), a banned organization. Weapons were recovered, and Boro, who had been trained in Myanmar (Burma), was charged with extortion and arms smuggling. The N.D.F.B. aims to separate the Bodoland region from India as a sovereign state. Bodos make up 5% of Assam’s population.
Gambia Resumes Ties with China, Leaving Only 3 African States That Recognize Taiwan. The Republic of the Gambia, a tiny sliver of a nation in West Africa, on March 17th resumed diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, two and a half years after withdrawing its diplomatic recognition of the Republic of China (R.O.C., a.k.a. Taiwan). “China and Gambia’s relations have turned over a new leaf,” said Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, in a meeting with Gambia’s foreign minister, Neneh Macdouall-Gaye. And Macdouall-Gaye went so far as to call for “the national reunification, peaceful reunification” between Taiwan and mainland China. Taiwan’s president elect, Tsai Ing-wen, responded to the development by saying that she hoped “the establishment of ties with Gambia is not a targeted move. At present, Taiwan’s diplomatic situation is not optimistic, and needs everyone to unite together to face up to it, to consistently protect our international space.” Gambia initially, in 1974, recognized the P.R.C. and then switched its recognition to Taiwan in 1995 before dropping Taiwan again in 2013. Next in Beijing’s sights is São Tomé and Príncipe, a minuscule former Portuguese colony off the West African coast, which is one of only three remaining African countries that recognize the R.O.C. instead of the P.R.C. The other two are hardly major powers: the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Republic of Burkina Faso.
|States that recognize the Republic of China (Taiwan) are shown in green. States in blue have officials ties with Taiwan that fall short of diplomatic recognition. States in grey recognize the People’s Republic of China instead of the R.O.C.|
University of Hong Kong Student Newspaper Publishes Independence Manifesto. The student newspaper at the University of Hong Kong ran an editorial in mid-March calling for independence from the People’s Republic of China. The publication, the Undergrad, published a special issue with an unusual 60-page manifesto that calls for the secession of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after 2047, the year when China is no longer bound by its 1997 agreement with the United Kingdom guaranteeing democracy and basic freedoms for the territory. “People have lost all their confidence in ‘one country, two systems,’” said the paper’s editor, Marcus Lau. “They want a genuine democracy. People don’t see themselves as Chinese. They see themselves as Hong Kongese. They don’t have much connection with China and they don’t share a sense of nationalist sentiment with China.”
Court Lets Hong Kong Autonomy Leader Attend Conference Hosted by Dalai Lama. The “localist” pro-autonomy hero of the February 8th “Fishball Revolution” uprising against China’s rule in Hong Kong had his bail extended on March 22nd so that he can address a human-rights conference in India. Ray Wong Toi-yeung, who leads the organization Hong Kong Indigenous, is due for his next court appearance, on charges of incitement of violence, on May 10th, but he has been awarded by the court special permission to travel abroad from April 26th to May 5th so that he can go to the conference, which is held at the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, home of Tibet’s government-in-exile. The special deal involves an extra HK$50,000 in cash. During the hearing, crowds outside the court demonstrated in favor of harsh sentencing for Wong.
Exposed as Chinese Front, Anti-Tibet Group Allied with “Negative” Deity Closes Doors. After being exposed by the Reuters news service as a front for the Communist Party of China, an anti-Tibetan organization called International Shugden Community (I.S.C.) halted its organized demonstrations against the 14th Dalai Lama and shut down all operations as of March 16th, including even its web site. Nominally, the group was part of a sect that worships the Tibetan deity Dorje Shugden, an entity that the Dalai Lama now calls “very negative, very harmful.” The Dalai Lama told a Reuters reporter after learning of the I.S.C. shutdown, “Your article was something complete, holistic sort of presentation, it was very helpful.”
China Releases 2 Tibetan Political Prisoners; Another Dies of Torture-Related Wounds. A Tibetan political prisoner was released in western China’s Sichuan province on March 20th after serving an eight-year prison term for pulling down a Chinese flag. But the prisoner, Ngoega (his full name), aged 61, remains bedridden with injuries to his back from torture suffered in prison. The next day, another prisoner, Joleb Jigme, was released by authorities in Sichuan after a seven-year prison term and returned to Ngaba (Aba) County, in one of Sichuan’s “Tibetan autonomous prefectures.” Jigme, a former monk was sentenced in 2009 for allegedly “revealing state secrets.” On the same day, in Serchen County, in the Tibet “Autonomous” Region, another former political prisoner, Gyaye Phuntsok, died at the age of 85. According to the Tibet Times, a dissident expatriate newspaper, Phuntsok had suffered from injuries sustained during years of torture in Chinese prisons.
Uyghurs among Dead in Indonesian Anti-Jihadist Manhunt on Sulawesi. In an anti-terrorism operation on the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, on March 15th, security forces killed two members of northwestern China’s Uyghur ethnic group during a hunt for jihadist militants, said Indonesian officials the following day. The two, along with three other Uyghurs who survived, were members of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (M.I.T.) militia, headed by Santoso (his full name), who is Indonesia’s most wanted man. The M.I.T. pledged loyalty to the Islamic State terrorist group in 2014. Still, the World Uyghur Congress (W.U.C.) tried to put an anti-Beijing spin on the developments, with a spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, saying, “Uyghurs cannot bear Chinese persecution, and are therefore forced to flee their homes to go all over the world. If there are individuals who have been involved in extreme behavior, Beijing should bear direct political responsibility.” The M.I.T. is believed to have a total of 30 members left.
West Papuan Rebels Attack Road Construction Crew, Kill 4. The West Papua National Liberation Army (W.P.N.L.A.) claimed responsibility on March 18th for an attack three days earlier on a road-building crew that killed four construction workers in Indonesia’s easternmost territory. Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the W.P.N.L.A., which is the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (O.P.M.), said, “We hope that with this action the Indonesian government can open up channels of dialogue to discuss the independence of Papua. If officials and citizens become victims, it is the fault of the government that does not give us freedom.” Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said that the road project would continue. He aims to build road links among all of the districts in the Indonesian-ruled western half of the island of New Guinea by 2018.
Kiwis Vote Narrowly to Keep Flag with Union Jack, Reject Silver Fern Design. Voters in New Zealand, according to preliminary results tallied on March 24th, decided narrowly to keep their current national flag, with the Union Jack and the Southern Cross constellation, over a snazzy new black, white, and blue design with a silver fern. The preliminary number was 56.6% opting to keep the traditional flag. The prime minister, John Key, a supporter of junking the old flag as colonialist and outdated, said, “Naturally, I’m a little bit disappointed. I always knew it was going to be a very tough thing to get more than 50 percent of people to vote for change.” The vote, however, was narrower than had been predicted: polls had shown as many as two-thirds of New Zealanders wanting to stick with the Union Jack design.
Tokelauans Ask for Seat at Table in New Zealand Climate Talks with Tuvalu, Kiribati. Officials from Tokelau, a self-governing territory of New Zealand, called on the Wellington government in March to do more to include Tokelauans in discussions on the urgent issue of climate change as it affects low-lying nations. Tokelau officials met with New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party in advance of a Labour delegation to the fully independent atoll nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati. “Why weren’t we the first that New Zealand looks to, especially when it wants to protect the Pacific from climate change?” asked Paula Faiva, a climate change manager who works for the Tokelau government. “Even putting New Zealand’s constitutional responsibility to Tokelau aside, we are on the front-line and just as vulnerable to the effects and impacts of climate change as Kiribati and Tuvalu.”
Indigenous New Caledonians to Outnumber Settlers by 2018 Referendum Deadline. A legal scholar’s demographic projections this month indicate that the Kanaks—indigenous people of New Caledonia—will outnumber Europeans and other non-Kanaks in the Pacific territory by 2018, the end of which year is the deadline for holding a referendum on independence from France. The deadline was set in 1998 in the Nouméa Accord, which ended a separatist insurgency in the archipelago. The population projection, by Mathias Chauchat, estimates that by 2018 New Caledonia will have 84,000 Kanaks and only 71,000 non-indigenous people—mostly French and other Europeans, plus some Polynesians and other Pacific islanders.
Native Hawai‘an Panel Decides Not to Ratify New Indigenous Constitution. The state-funded Native Hawai‘an organization Na‘i Aupuni backed away on March 16th from plans to vote on ratifying an indigenous constitution finalized in a conclave on February 27th (as reported at the time on this blog). “Na‘i Aupuni believes that it is the participants, those who prepared and voted on the document, that are best able to lead efforts in effectively sharing the proposed constitution with the community and ultimately arranging for a ratification process,” said Kuhio Asam, N‘ai Aupuni’s president. “The participants have evidenced a remarkable willingness and ability to identify leadership, build critical teams and respectfully support the voices of many divergent opinions. It is for these reasons that we are deferring to the ‘aha participants to further advance their work.”
Visiting Le Pen Meets P.Q. Youth as Péladeau, Other Quebec Politicians Shun Her. In Canada, the chairman of the separatist Parti Québécois (P.Q.), Pierre Karl Péladeau, hastened to distance his party on March 19th from reports that Marine Le Pen, who heads France’s neo-fascist opposition National Front (Front national, or F.N.) party, had met with youth identifying themselves as P.Q. “I was shocked,” Péladeau wrote in English on his Facebook page, “when informed ... today that people [appearing] as ‘Youth of the parti quebecois’ but Representative only of themselves and with no function in the party, met with the president of a political party French in visit to Quebec. On behalf of the Parti québécois, I would like to dissociate formally our training policy and its bodies of any activity or encounter, outcome of personal initiative, with representatives of this party whose history, doctrine and proposals are diametrically opposed to the values of the party Quebec.” Le Pen, in turn, emphasized in an interview that Péladeau does not speak for the whole P.Q. “The P.Q. is diverse and vast,” she said. “It’s not monolithic. There are some that have contact with us.” All party leadership in Quebec are refusing to meet with Le Pen. She used her time in Canada to speak out against Canada’s liberal immigration policy, its willingness to take in refugees from Syria’s civil war, the supposed decline of the French language in Quebec, and “multiculturalism” generally. “These issues scare Quebec’s political class,” she said, “even the so-called defenders of Quebec independence and culture. So be it.”
Two Parti Québécois Aides Swept Up in Anti-Corruption Dragnet. A wave of arrests by an anti-corruption agency in Quebec on March 17th included in its dragnet two aides for the Parti Québécois (P.Q.), an opposition party promoting independence from Canada. The two arrested—Ernest Murray and Gaspé’s former mayor, François Roussy—are among seven politicians charged with improper relations with Roche, a Quebec City engineering firm (now known as Norda Stelo) which used “straw men” to make illegal campaign contributions. Murray is accused of illegally soliciting contributions from Roche while he was a member of the former premier Pauline Maurois’s staff, and Roussy is accused of accepting a trip to France in exchange for acting as a go-between in contract bids while serving as an attaché for Gaétan Lelièvre, a member of Quebec’s National Assembly. They will appear in court April 20th in Quebec City.
Cliven Bundy Denied Bail; 2 Sons to Face Trial in Oregon Before Extradition to Nevada. A federal court in Nevada on March 17th denied bail to the racist Mormon rancher and anti-government militant Cliven Bundy as he awaits trial on conspiracy charges stemming from an armed standoff he led against Bureau of Land Management (B.L.M.) officers in 2014 at his ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada. On the same day, in Portland, Oregon, Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy were told by a judge that they and another defendant, Ryan Payne, would not be moved to Nevada to face trial for their roles in the Bunkerville standoff until after they have faced justice in Oregon for a 41-day armed standoff at a wildlife refuge in that state earlier this year. The argument is that their extradition to Nevada would violate their right to a speedy trial in Oregon.
Wildlife Refuge Occupier Arrested in Oregon after Threats to Shoot Police. Meanwhile, another participant in the Bundy family’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon earlier this year was arrested on March 16th in Mount Vernon, Oregon. The militant, Scott Willingham, of Colorado, who is 49, was nabbed at a motel armed with a semi-automatic rifle after threatening to “start shooting federal law enforcement officers.” He was arraigned the following day and held on $35,000 bail. Press photos during the occupation show him wearing the insignia of the Three Percenters, a radical militant anti-government group.
|Arrested: anti-government militant Scott Willingham|
Texas Nationalists, Citing FEMA Conspiracy Theories, Preempt Federal Flood Relief. Usually, when a town of 1,000 out in the middle of nowhere gets inundated with several feet of water in a massive flood, it’s the occasion for relief when the president declares your community part of a disaster area, qualifying it for relief from the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA). But not in Nederland, Texas, where flooding in late March prompted the Texas Nationalist Movement (T.N.M.), which advocates independence from the United States, to organize clean-up crews. The idea, acccording to one volunteer relief organizer, Brooklyn Callahan of Deweyville, is that local volunteers “want to get started before FEMA moves in because it will be harder for them to do so after that.” According to ignorant Tea Party folklore prevalent in the Lone Star State, FEMA does not simply organize disaster relief efforts: it is also a front used by the diabolical United Nations and the Muslim president Barack Obama to build concentration camps to house rounded-up Christian patriots. The T.N.M. in Deweyville is also organizing a silent auction and a benefit concert to raise money.
North Carolina High-School Students Arrested over “White Power” Flag Incident. In North Carolina, three high school students were charged with “disorderly conduct” for displaying a Confederate flag on the school campus and shouting, “White power!” A spokeswoman for the school district, Brunswick County Schools, confirmed that the students hung the flag on display and that one of them then wore it as a cape. According to accounts accompanying a video of the incident which went viral, first on Facebook, “When another student took it [the flag] down the boy wore it on his back and walked in the cafeteria. He walked back out to the outside eating area and screamed ‘white power’ several times. This same group of students have been seen stepping on chocolate milk cartons saying ‘white power’ repeatedly.”
Separatist Ex-Premier of Curaçao Appeals Bribery Conviction, Claims Political Persecution. A member of parliament and former separatist prime minister in Curaçao, a Dutch territory in the Caribbean, filed an appeal March 15th of his conviction on bribery charges a week earlier and his three-year prison sentence. Gerrit Schotte was found guilty of accepting money from a casino tycoon in another Dutch Caribbean territory, Sint Maarten, in exchange for legislative help during his 2010-12 term in office. Schotte is head of the pro-independence political party Movement for the Future of Curaçao (called, in the local creole language Papiamentu, Movementu Futuro Kòrsou, or M.F.K.). His girlfriend and business partner Cicely van der Dijs was given 18 months. Schotte claims the entire trial was an attempted by the government of the Netherlands to influence the upcoming elections, noting that a condition of his sentence is being barred from running for public office for five years. Schotte’s attorney, E. F. Sulvaran, says “the motivation of the persecution” of his client “is to eliminate him from the political arena.” A parliamentarian for the ruling pro-independence party Pueblo Soberano (P.S.), Elmer Wisloe, said that in his opinion Schotte does not need to resign, “but he must distance himself ... from parliament.”
Tamil Eelam Footballers Defeat Roma 4-1, Qualify for 2018 ConIFA Finals. A football (soccer) team representing Tamil Eelam, the homeland of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, qualified in March for the 2018 ConIFA World Cup. ConIFA is the Confederation of Independent Football Associations, an international league for aspirant nations and stateless peoples—with a heavy dose of neo-fascist revanchist republics and neo-Soviet puppet states thrown in as well. The Tamil Eelam Football Association (TEFA) made the cut with a 4-to-1 win against the team representing the Roma (Gypsy) people in a match played in Germany. TEFA players hail mostly from the Tamil diaspora in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. (For more on ConIFA, and on the controversy over their decision to allow the Russian puppet state of Abkhazia host their 2016 tournament, see my recent article from this blog.)
|ConIFA qualifier: the Tamil and Roma teams display their flags|
[You can read in detail about these and many other sovereignty and independence movements both famous and obscure in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar. The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]