Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tutsis Mutiny in Kivu, Hamas Summer Camp, Iowa “Senator” in Rival U.S. “Govt.,” Libya Votes, Mladić Trial, Saudi Shiites, Forvik & Vojvodina Setbacks: The Week in Separatist News, 8-14 July 2012

Photo of the week:  Hello muddah, hello faddah, here I am at Camp Intifada.  Whatever happened to canoeing and volleyball?  There has been an outcry in Israel and Palestine about news coverage of youth summer camps being offered this year by the Islamic Resistance Movement, better known by its Arabic acronym Hamas, the jihadist terrorist group that governs the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories.  The theme of this year’s camp is “the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners”; activities simulate the tortures and deprivations undergone in Israel’s prisons, which hold thousands of Palestinian civilians—without charges or trial—in brutal conditions, sometimes for years, in violation of international norms.  Children at the Hamas camp undergo simulated interrogations, confinement, and tortures like being forced to walk on nails (see above).  Part of the purpose is to train campers to withstand interrogation and not incriminate relatives and neighbors under pressure (and let’s keep in mind that in Israel any Arab, of any age, grows up knowing he or she is subject without warning to arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, and probably even torture without any kind of due process).  Nasty stuff, to be sure, and it shines a weird light onto Hamas’s fetishization of brutality, but let’s hope the outcry over these simulated abuses doesn’t drown out the necessary outcry over the far realer abuses they mimic.


Tutsi Troops Mutiny in Congo, Seek Control of Kivu Region; Rwanda Blamed.  Fighting erupted this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s far-eastern North Kivu province between the central government’s military and a militia called M23, dominated by members of the Tutsi ethnic group, with the D.R.C. government claiming the rebels are backed by the D.R.C.’s long-standing enemy, the Tutsi-ruled Republic of Rwanda.  Some in the region are even calling for M23 to declare a Kivu Republic.  However, the D.R.C. and Rwanda have begun preliminary talks.  Rwanda’s government denies the accusations.  M23, formerly known as the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (National Congress for the Defense of the People, or C.N.D.P.), had been folded into the Congolese military under a March 23, 2009, peace deal (hence the name M23) but mutinied earlier this month, leading to the current conflict.  M23 has been taking over town after town in Kivu in recent days, sending over 5,000 Congolese, including soldiers, fleeing into Uganda.  By July 11th, the government claimed to have reclaimed the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja from M23, and the United Nations was committing more peacekeepers to the region, but the rebels are still feared capable of taking Goma, the regional capital.  In an emergency meeting on July 12th in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under African Union auspices, Congolese and Rwandan delegates joined those from the nine other member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (I.C./G.L.R.) in agreeing in principle to the assembly of an international military force to root M23 out of Kivu; the force would also target the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (F.D.L.R.), a D.R.C.-based Hutu militia.  Meanwhile, U.N. and Congolese forces have begun going after M23 with armed helicopters, as of July 12th, and the U.N. has positioned tanks in Goma as a protective measure.  Now Uganda’s government is negotiating with the D.R.C. directly about permission to send Ugandan troops into Kivu even before an I.C./G.L.R. force can be mobilized.  M23 is thought to be interested in controlling Kivu’s lucrative mineral trade and seeking vengeance against eastern Congolese Hutus, some of them refugees from the aftermath of Rwanda’s civil war in 1994, in which Hutus engineered a genocide of perhaps as many as a million of Rwanda’s Tutsis, about a fifth of Rwanda’s population.

Map showing the Kivu region and its position relative to other D.R.C. provinces (in green) and neighboring countries.

World Court Hands Down First Sentence Ever, to Congolese Warlord.  Meanwhile, in the Hague, in the Netherlands, on July 10th, the United NationsInternational Criminal Court (I.C.C.) handed down its first sentence ever, giving a 14-year-prison term to Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, founder of the Union of Congolese Patriots (U.P.C.), for conscripting child soldiers during the 2002-2003 Ituri Conflict in eastern D.R.C., between members of Lubanga’s own Hema ethnic group and the Lendu people.  Lubanga’s fellow accused, Bosco Ntaganda, remains at large and wanted by the I.C.C. and is believed to have been conscripting children in Kivu as recently as two months ago.  He is alleged to be the leader of the M23 mutiny that is convulsing the D.R.C.’s North Kivu province (see article above), though this is not confirmed.

Do not pass Goma, do not collect $200 ...

... and here’s how Africa’s other Balkanizing states—Nigeria, Mali, and Somalia—are doing (hint: not so great) ...

Fulanis Massacre over 100 Christians in Nigeria; Boko Haram Takes Credit.  More than 100 people were killed in Nigeria’s central, predominantly-Christian Plateau State in a July 7th attack by gunmen from the northern, predominantly-Muslim Fulani ethnic group—a tragedy compounded when two prominent politicians were killed in a stampede at a funeral for the massacre’s victims.  Within days, Boko Haram, northern Nigeria’s Islamist terrorist army, claimed responsibility.  Scores of Fulani herdsmen raided about 14 villages in Plateau, killing 80, including at least 50 who took refuge in a pastor’s residence in the village of Maseh that was then burned to the ground.  The following day, a Fulani raid on a funeral for some of the victims killed 22.  In that incident, two politicians—Sen. Gyang Dalyop Datong, a federal senator for Plateau, and the majority leader in the Plateau legislature, Gyang Fulani—died in the resulting stampede.  The final death toll from the massacre, aftermath, and reprisals, was estimated at over 200.  Both Datong and Fulani were members of the Birom, a predominantly-Christian ethnic group which holds most power in Plateau.  The Fulani have long-standing land conflicts with the Birom and are also the dominant ethnic group in the north, where the jihadist militia Boko Haram has been waging an intensifying campaign of terrorism against Christians.  The wave of violence led to an outcry in Plateau that the central government was doing little to protect citizens against ethnic and religious violence.  In their statement claiming responsibility on July 10th, Boko Haram stated, “Christians in Nigeria should accept Islam, that is true religion, or they will never have peace.”  (See last week’s special report in this blog on the Boko Haram insurgency, as well as my blog article listing northern Nigeria as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012,” and an article discussing Nigeria in the context of other north–south divides in the Sahel.)

Aftermath of an attack on a funeral in Plateau State, for which Boko Haram claimed responsibility

15-Year-Old Suicide Bomber Kills 5 in Northern Nigerian Mosque.  A suicide bomber narrowly avoided killing the deputy governor of Borno State, in the predominantly-Muslim far northeast of Nigeria, when he killed himself and five others in a mosque in Maiduguri, the state capital.  Six people were injured.  The bomber was described as being 15 years old.  The Nigerian government has alleged that the minority of terrorist attacks that target Muslims, rather than Christians, are, along with the anti-Christian attacks, the work of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, in attempts to whip up sectarian warfare.

2 Nigerians Charged with Ties to al-Qaeda in Yemen.  Two Nigerian men from Lagos, court documents revealed July 6th, were charged with ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (A.Q.A.P.) in Yemen.  The transcripts say the two were accused of gathering funds in United States and Saudi Arabian currency for A.Q.A.P., of which they are accused of being members.  If convicted, it would be the first concrete link between Boko Haram, northern Nigeria’s jihadist insurgency, and al-Qaeda cells outside Nigeria.

Biafran “Zionists” Plan to Secede in Fall, Hope for U.S. Help; 6 Igbos Hurt in Market Raid.  The Biafra Zionist Movement (B.Z.M.), which is a fringe group even within the political fringe that hankers to restore the disastrously brief-lived Republic of Biafra in southeastern Nigeria, announced July 10th that it will declare an independent Biafran Republic on November 5th.  Benjamin Onwuka, the B.Z.M.’s president, said he hoped for international backing for the secession, including from the United States, though there is no indication that the U.S. Department of State has the remotest interest in encouraging the partition of Nigeria.  “Biafra can only be achieved,” Onwuka stated, “when we secure the support of the United States of America; the day U.S.A. comes to our side, that day we shall be free from Nigeria; the story of South Sudan where a bloody civil war was fought for over 24 years is a typical example.”  Southeastern Nigeria, which is predominated by the Igbo nationality, attempted to break off as the Republic of Biafra in 1967, sparking a three-year-long civil war that left millions dead, some from the intentional blockade and starvation of Biafra by the Nigerian dictatorship.  It appears that the word Zionist in the B.Z.M.’s name invokes metaphorical notions of oppression and homeland rather than a specific link with the Jewish people.  But you never know; some nationalist groups get some crazy ideas sometimes.  Meanwhile, the same day, in Onitsha in Nigeria’s southeastern Anambra State, a more mainstream Biafran separatist group, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), ended up in a street battle with Ndi Mpiawazu, the “Anambra State Special Task Force against Street Trading,” after Ndi Mpiawazu raided a public market.  Six Igbos from MASSOB were injured in the incident, and a Ndi Mpiawazu bus was destroyed by fire.  (See my blog article on the legacy of Nigeria’s Odumegwu Ojukwu, founder of the failed Republic of Biafra.)

Mali Invasion Still Mulled as Last Secular Tuaregs Ousted, More Tombs Ravaged.  The United Nations (U.N.) on July 5th took up the matter of the Republic of Mali, including both the ongoing rule of the south of the country by a military junta after a coup d’état in March, and the increasingly fanatical rule by jihadist terrorists in the self-declared Independent State of Azawad in the country’s northern two-thirds.  The U.N., the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), and the African Union began an assessment July 6th of a military intervention in either or both conflicts.  Later, on July 7th, Ecowas, meeting in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, notified the Malian junta that it needed to form a national-unity government by the end of the month or risk suspension from Ecowas.  The group also called on the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) to investigate war crimes in Azawad, and Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaoré, who is also Ecowas’s lead mediator, added that a new Malian government must “confront the terrorist peril in the north.”  Meanwhile, following their iconoclastic rampage destroying ancient tombs in Timbuktu (the top story last week in this blog), in Azawad, and the loud international outcry it caused, the al-Qaeda-affiliated radical jihadist army Ansar al-Dine carried out its threat to continue smashing tombs and holy sites its strict version of Islam considers idolatrous.  On July 10th, Ansar al-Dine members with pickaxes and hoes demolished two more tombs at the 14th-century Djingareyber Mosque—all the time firing shots in the air to keep away anyone who might interfere.  The mosque and other sites are part of the Sufist tradition, one of the most liberal and mystical strains of Islam, and are a Unesco World Heritage Site.  And by July 11th, an Ansar al-Dine spokesman in Gao, Azawad’s largest town and the de facto capital, was saying that the last of the secular Tuareg rebels with whom the Islamists had struggled for control of Azawad “were driven out by the Islamists from their last bastion, Ansogo, situated 100 kilometers north of Gao. ... Now it’s finished; they have run off into the bush. ... Now our whole region is in the hands of Islamists.”  One witness who made the trip July 11th from the Niger border to Gao confirmed this, saying, “I didn’t see a single M.N.L.A. fighter.  They have all left.”  He referred to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, whose ethnically motivated declaration of independence from Mali in April was afterward hijacked by jihadists.  (See my blog article on Azawad’s declaration of independence, plus an article about Mali in the context of other north–south divides in the Sahel.)

Ansar al-Dine troops

Azawadi Islamists Break Off Talks with Algeria over Kidnapped Diplomats.  Negotiations for the release of seven diplomats from Algeria abducted April 5th (as reported at the time in this blog) in Gao, the largest city in the self-proclaimed Independent State of Azawad in northern Malihit a snag July 8th when the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the two Islamist militias apparently running Azawad, broke off talks.  They are demanding 15 million and the release of jihadists imprisoned in Algeria.  MUJAO is also holding three European aid workers who were abducted in October 2011 from a refugee camp operated by Western Sahara’s rebel Polisario Front.  The asking price for them is 30 million, which suggests troubling questions about the supposed value of members of different national and racial groups.

If You Can’t Lick ’Em, Join ’Em: Khaatumo Warlord Offered Somaliland Cabinet Post.  The military commander of the Khaatumo State of Somalia, also known as the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (S.S.C.) State, is reportedly due to receive a ministerial appointment in the government of the de facto independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland, signalling an end to the fiefdom’s experiment in independence, after signing a cease-fire last week with Somaliland, in whose territory it had tried to establish itself.  Khaatumo’s warlord, Suleiman Isse Ahmed Kara, better known by his nom de guerre Hagaltosie—who signed a “Reconciliation Declaration” with Somaliland’s president, Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, on June 28th in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (as reported last week in this blog)—was reported on July 11th to be in transit from Nairobi, Kenya, to Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, for further talks with Silanyo.  Just days earlier, on July 8th, in Sool, Khaatumo’s civilian president, Ahmed Elmi Osman Karash, had rejected media reports that the Khaatumo government was being dismantled, calling them “false propaganda aimed to demoralize the people.”  What Karash’s next career move will be is as yet unknown.  Khaatumo established itself earlier this year in borderlands disputed between Somaliland and the Puntland State of Somalia.  Its intent was not to secede, like Somaliland, but to become a constituent autonomous region of the Somali Republic, like Puntland.  But the Somali Republic’s dysfunctional and barely existent—but internationally recognized—Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) never gave Khaatumo its blessing.  Khaatumo’s brief existence as a sort-of country seems now to be ended.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Map showing the formerly claimed territory of Khaatumo State,
a.k.a. the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (S.S.C.) State of Somalia.
They never actually encroached anywhere near that far into Somaliland.

Somaliland Court Gives King Year in Prison for Criticizing President.  King Mahmoud Osman Buurmadow, a traditional clan ruler in the Sanaag region—which is in dispute between the de facto sovereign Republic of Somaliland and the fully self-governing but nominally unionist Puntland State of Somalia—was sentenced to a year in prison by a Somaliland court this week for “abusing national leaders”—i.e., apparently, accusing Somaliland’s president, Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, of mismanagement.  A second charge, of treason allegedly committed while King Buurmadow was visiting the United Arab Emirates, was dropped.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

His Majesty, King Buurmadow.
Doesn’t he know that in Somaliland the only lèse majesté is dissing Pres. Silanyo?

London Olympic Park Terror Suspect Has Somaliland, al-Shabaab Ties.  A suspected al-Qaeda would-be suicide-bomber who was arrested near London’s Olympic Park this week had links to the unrecognized but de facto independent Republic of Somaliland.  The 24-year-old man, of unspecified national background and identified to media only as “C.F.,” was first arrested in 2008 for trying to travel to Afghanistan for terrorist training.  Those charges were eventually dropped the next year, but to avoid facing them he fled to Somaliland, where the United Kingdom’s Home Office suspects he fought on the side of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militants.  C.F. was arrested and deported to the U.K. in January 2011.  In May 2011 he was released on bail and became one of 9 people inducted into the new Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (T.P.I.M.) program, under which suspects are tracked electronically or saddled with internal travel restrictions.  In C.F.’s case, a global positioning system (G.P.S.) device he wears under court order notified authorities late last month that he was straying too close to the Olympic Park as he rode public transport en route to his attorney.  C.F. is due for a bail hearing on July 26th.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Puntland Assembly Asks Farole for Plan on Disputed City; Spy Chief Murdered.  On the heels of last week’s unanimous condemnation (reported last week in this blog) by the Puntland State of Somalia’s legislature of their president, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, for his negative reaction to the Republic of Somaliland’s détente with the Somali Republic, the chamber demanded July 8th in a nearly unanimous vote (two abstentions, no nays) that the government finally decide on a policy toward the city of Las’anod, a city controlled by Somaliland which Puntland currently claims.  Las’anod is the capital of Sool province and has been the focus of fighting between Puntland and Somaliland—an unrecognized but de facto independent republic.  Puntland controlled Las’anod until Somaliland captured the territory in 2007, causing an exodus of 50,000 residents.  (Another claimant to the Sool territory, the Khaatumo State, was apparently dismantled this week; see story above.)  The legislators have told Farole they would like either a plan to recapture Las’anod or a renunciation of Puntland’s claims.  Only a day earlier, Somaliland’s chief of intelligence for Sool emerged unharmed from an assassination attempt at his home in Las’anod.  The officer, Arab Qawdan (named in other reports as Arab Ibrahim), was not hurt, but his maternal uncle, Ahmed Khalif, a prisons officer, died and three were injured in the incident, in which a hand-grenade was lobbed at Qawdan’s home.  This is the second attempt on Qawdan’s life.  The first was in Las’anod in March 2011, in an incident that killed his predecessor as local intelligence chief, Assad Mire, whom Qawdan then succeeded.  Authorities arrested 10 people in the wake of the incident.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Pirates, al-Shabaab Suspected in Abduction of 3 Aid Workers in Puntland.  Two aid workers from Kenya and a Somali doctor (also identified as a Kenyan national) were kidnapped July 11th near Galkayo, in the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia, which is only nominally part of the dysfunctional, barely existent Somali Republic.  The kidnapping occurred near Baadweyn, about 50 kilometers north of Galkayo, in apparent Puntland territory.  (Galkayo itself is divided between Puntland and another pseudostate, the Galmudug State of Somalia.)  All three were employees of International Aid Services (I.A.S.), a charity based in Sweden.  A driver and two policemen, along with a fourth I.A.S. worker, were injured during the abduction, which was carried out by a 14-man armed gang in three vehicles.  Police suspect pirates, but have no firm suspects.  After the abduction, apparently, the kidnappers were chased by angry villagers to the southern part of Somalia’s so-called Mudug province, in territory governed by Galmudug State, where they escaped Puntland jurisdiction and melted into the desert.  Later, Puntland authorities revealed that the abductors had been aided by al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist army which controls much of southern Somalia.  The dysfunctional but internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) of the Somali Republic in Mogadishu then dispatched soldiers to try to rescue the aid workers, who they believed were being held  in Garaad, a town in Galmudug-governed Mudug.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)


Cyrenaica Federalist Violence Mars Libya’s First Free Elections.  Libyans went to the polls July 7th in the country’s first elections since last year’s overthrow of the dictatorship of Col. Moammar al-Qaddafi.  The milestone was marred by violence from various quarters, including most prominently those who demanding more autonomy for the oil-rich eastern region, Cyrenaica (also called Barqa), which enjoyed brief independence after the Second World War and autonomy in the loose federalist system under the United Kingdom of Libya that Qaddafi overthrew in 1969.  Following the trashing of election offices by Cyrenaican partisans (as reported last week in this blog), this week’s violence began July 5th with a 48-hour shut-down of at least three major oil terminals on the Cyrenaican coast by heavily armed activists demanding a greater share of Libya’s legislative seats for Cyrenaica.  The shut-down terminals are responsible for half of Libya’s oil exports.  (By July 9th, they had been reopened.)  The same day, a storage center for election materials was burned down in Ajdabiya, on the Cyrenaican coast.  On July 6th, a helicopter carrying election materials from Tripoli, the national capital, to the former Cyrenaican capital, Benghazi, made a forced landing after coming under anti-aircraft fire near its destination.  One passenger was killed.  Before voting began, the interim National Transitional Council (N.T.C.) that still rules the country announced, in a surprise concession to Cyrenaican federalists, that the panel responsible for writing a new constitution will be chosen in a special popular election rather than being appointed directly by the N.T.C., which is dominated by anti-federalists from the western Tripolitania region which was home to Qaddafi and most of his supporters.  On election day, some polling stations in Ajdabiya, in northern Cyrenaica, were closed, and a man was shot and killed by police there while trying to steal a ballot box.  Polling stations were also shut in the far-southern oasis towns of Jalo and Ojla, where federalists prevented an airplane carrying election materials from leaving.  In an attempt at reassurance, an N.T.C. spokesman said, “92% of voting centers are open.”  (See my blog article on Cyrenaica’s declaration of autonomy.)

Not everyone in Libya is on the same page.  A Berber flag (left) on display on voting day.
Cyrenaican separatist flags are rarely seen—mostly because the Emirate of Cyrenaica’s standard has been incorporated into the post-Qaddafi Libyan national flag (right).  (It was a Cyrenaican royal family that Qaddafi overthrew in 1969.)

Zambian President’s Belittling of Barotse King’s Authority Reignites Popular Ire.  Members of the Lozi (a.k.a. Barotse) nationality in Zambia, whose territory, now called Western Province, was a separate colony, North-West Rhodesia, in the days of United Kingdom rule, reacted angrily this week to the Zambian president’s description of the Barotse king (litunga), Lubosi Imwiko II, as a “nobody” who lacks any real power.  On July 11th, the president, Michael Sata, responded to accusations from the Alliance for Democracy and Development (A.D.D.) that the central government was scheming to remove the king from power.  Sata’s riposte was, in part, “What powers does Litunga have that can be taken away?  The Litunga is just like any other Paramount Chief.  He does not have any special powers.  We only have five paramount chiefs in this country.”  In reply, the chairperson of the Barotse National Youth League (B.N.Y.L.), Alfred Litiba Nkhomesha, said, “President Sata has no powers in Barotseland at all.  Mr. Sata has to accept the fact that Barotseland has accepted the repudiation of” the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, which made Barotseland part of the newly independent Zambia.  In further fallout from Sata’s comments, there is a growing call for Barotses serving in public office in Sata’s Patriotic Front government to resign their positions, including cabinet ministers.  In March of this year, the Barotse Royal Establishment (B.R.E.) briefly declared independence from Zambia (reported in this blog at the time), but the move was rescinded after the B.R.E.’s chairman was arrested and interrogated by central-government authorities.

The Barotseland royal standard.  Yes, you’ve seen it before.  I just can’t get enough of this bitchen flag.

Little to Celebrate as South Sudan Marks First Year of Independence.  The Republic of South Sudan became a year old on July 9th, amid ongoing violence along the still ill-defined border with its former ruler, the Republic of Sudan, as well as a growing role of pro–South Sudan forces in the long-embattled Darfur region in the southwest of (north) Sudan.  The United States secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was instrumental in ushering South Sudan to independence last year after a referendum, issued a statement of congratulation, saying, “There are many challenges, but the South Sudanese people have repeatedly demonstrated their capacity to overcome great odds.”  (See my article listing the ongoing struggle over South Sudan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Opposition Leader in Sudan Arrested over Alleged Ties to Darfur Rebels.  Amid “Arab Spring”–style street protests over austerity measures in Sudan, an opposition leader was arrested at his home, without warrant, on charges of ties to rebels in the Darfur region, it was reported July 8th.  The politician, Kamel Omar, is accused of instigating unrest in Darfur as well as anti-government protests in the capital, Khartoum.


Mladić Trial Resumes in Hauge with Survivor Testimony, Halted for Illness.  After a procedural delay called in May (as reported at the time in this blog), trial resumed July 9th in the Hague, in the Netherlands, for Ratko Mladić, former commander of the Republika Srpska’s Bosnian Serb army in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s and the so-called “Butcher of Bosnia,” who is accused of war crimes including genocide, but the defendant’s alleged ill health has caused further delays.  The first witness gave three hours of testimony, including recounting narrowly escaping, at age 13, a massacre in Grabovica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which his father was killed along with 150 other Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men.  The next day, the court began hearing testimony from David Harland, a former United Nations Protection Force (Unprofor) officer, who verified that Mladić was in control of his followers and had threatened to kill civilians in 1993.  On Harland’s third and fourth days of testimony, however, proceedings were halted when Mladić, who is 70, said he was feeling ill, resulting in being rushed to hospital on July 12th but returning to court the next day.  Mladić is being tried under the auspices of the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (I.C.T.Y.).  At the very moment the opening testimony was being heard, hundreds lined the streets in Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, to pay respects to a convoy of trucks bearing 520 coffins of victims of the Bosnian War’s most notorious atrocity, the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, for which Mladić is considered responsible and in which more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians were murdered.  These remains were recently identified through D.N.A. testing and were eventually buried at a memorial near the site of the massacre.

Bosniak mourners in Srebrenica this week.  Convicting Mladić won’t heal all those wounds.

Serb Court Revokes Autonomy Given to Vojvodina under Former President.  The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia on July 11th invalidated 22 articles in the presidentially decreed “Law on Establishing the Jurisdiction of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina,” finding them unconstitutional.  Among the provisions the court struck down were the establishment of Novi Sad as Vojvodina’s capital and local authority over environmental, agricultural, and rural-development policy.  The autonomy provisions were decreed in 2010 by Boris Tadić, who was president of Serbia until his resignation in April of this year.  Tadić was a moderate who included supporters of Vojovidina’s autonomy in his coalition.  Vojvodina is one of two autonomous provinces in Serbia, the other being Kosovo, which has split off to form its own independent republic, unrecognized by Serbia.  Vojovodina is home to most of Serbia’s Hungarian minority and, along with the adjacent, Hungarian-dominated region of Transylvania (now part of Romania), it formed a brief-lived Banat Republic after the First World War.  Serbia’s new president, Tomislav Nikolić, has taken a much harder line on Kosovo and on decentralization of power in general.  The League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (L.S.V.) has asked Vojvodina’s government to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.  (See my blog article on the Kosovo conflict.)

The Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, in northern Serbia.

20 Police Hurt in Belfast Rioting; Cars Burned in Derry.  Twenty police officers were injured in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after a parade by the Orange Order on July 12th became a riot in which both nationalists (who want the territory merged with the Republic of Ireland) and unionists (who want to keep it in the United Kingdom) threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at police.  Police used plastic bullets and water cannons and arrested two people.  There were also Molotov cocktails thrown and cars set on fire in Londonderry (a.k.a. Derry), Northern Ireland’s second-biggest city.

An Orange Order parade under police protection in Belfast.

Scottish Judge Slaps Down Shetland Islands’ Self-Proclaimed Republic of Forvik.  A law suit by a self-styled breakaway nation in Scotland’s Shetland Islands resulted in a declaration that the tiny “republic” of Forvik is in fact part of the United Kingdom.  Lord Pentland, a Court of Session judge in Edinburgh, issued the pronouncement as part of a settlement against Stuart “Captain Calamity” Hill in his £23-million lawsuit against the Bank of Scotland.  Hill, who represented himself in court, was suing for restitution and damages for expenses and trouble incurred in paying off his credit-card debt, and, although he was seeking adjudication from a Scottish court, his defense argued that the Shetlands were not part of the U.K.  Lord Pentland called Hill’s arguments “null, invalid, and of no legal effect,” citing a 1468 transfer of the Shetlands to the Kingdom of Scotland, which was later absorbed into the U.K.  After shipwrecking on the 2.5-acre island of Forewick Holm in 2001, Hill, who is now 68, bought the entire island in 2008 and declared it the Crown Dependency of Forvik, claiming allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II and the same quasi-autonomous status as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man—though, in this latest incarnation, Hill is calling Forvik a republic.  He has argued that when Christian I, King of Denmark, pawned the islands to James III, King of Scotland, in the 15th century to pay for his daughter’s dowry, the transfer of sovereignty was not valid, making all the Shetlands—since Denmark no longer claims them—technically not part of the U.K.  Hill had another recent run-in with the law, in December 2011, when he was charged by the Lerwick County sheriff of driving his “consular vehicle” (a van) without proper registration.  After this week’s verdict, Hill was defiant: “My arguments regarding Shetland ran to 71 pages and 140 supporting documents.  The other side had just a single document, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.”  (See my blog article which discusses Forvik in the context of the Shetland and Orkney autonomy movements and Scottish separatism, plus an earlier blog article assessing legal and political aspects of Scottish independence.)

Location of the Crown Dependency of Forvik, a.k.a. Republic of Forvik, a.k.a. Forewick Holm

Wanted Basque Separatist Arrested in Scotland.  A member of the Basque separatist terror group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatusana, “Basque Homeland and Freedom”), was arrested July 13th in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The suspect, Beñat Atorrasagasti Ordóñez, was wanted under a Europe-wide warrant for transporting “material and persons between France and Spain for ETA,” according to Spain’s ministry of the interior.  He has been on the run since 2001.  (See my blog article listing the Basque warrior Idoia López Riaño, a.k.a. la Tigresa, as one of “The World’s 21 Sexiest Separatists.”)

Merkel Promises Federal Initiative to Override German Court’s Circumcision Ban.  The office of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, came down like a ton of bricks on a June 26th court ruling in Cologne (reported on at the time in this blog) that attempted to ban infant penile circumcision—a culturally and doctrinally central rite for both Jews and Muslims—as an unacceptable form of genital mutilation that violated the child’s fundamental rights.  Merkel’s chief spokesman called it “a matter of urgency” to pass legislation at the federal level to protect Jews’ and Muslims’ religious rights to ritual circumcision.

Northern League: That’s Not Bossi Holding Sword in Official Emblem!  The federal secretariat of the Lega Nord per l’Independenzia della Padania (“Northern League for the Independence of Padania”), the embattled former junior coalition partner in Italy, issued an official statement July 13th denying that its official emblem shows Umberto Bossi, its flamboyant and controversial founder, who resigned the party leadership in April (as reported in this blog at the time) amid a corruption scandal.  Some Lega Nord party branches had asked for clarification since the party has at times campaigned with an altered emblem replacing the legend Padania with the name Bossi.  That, however, was not an official emblem but one used merely for campaigning purposes.  The circular pointed out that the figure in the emblem, which has never been changed, is Alberto da Giussano, a 12th-century northern Italian warrior who led the Lombard League—the Medieval military alliance after which the Lega Nord’s precursor political party was named—against Frederick Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire.  His shield depicts the Lion of Venice, ducal standard of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, which flourished for a millennium before falling to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797.  Venice is the intended capital of the Lega Nord’s proposed Republic of Padania, but Venice and environs have their own independence movement.  Despite the denials, though, I think that guy looks kind of like Bossi, don’t you?  (See my blog article on Umberto Bossi’s dreams for a “Greater Padania” and another article listing Bossi’s son Renzo Bossi as one of “The World’s 21 Sexiest Separatists.”)

See the resemblance?  Oh, no, wait: Alberto da Giussano parts his hair on the left.

3 “Terrorist” Bombs Defused in Dagestan.  Three crude homemade bombs were defused by police and the military near Krasny Voskhod in the Russian Federation’s Republic of Dagestan, the Russian state-run news agency reported July 9th, thus heading off, authorities say, a terrorist attack.  One bomb was found along a roadside and two in a nearby forest.

Ooooops: Militant Killed in Ingush Police Raid Turns Out to Be Cop Too.  In the North Caucasus region’s Republic of Ingushetia, in southwestern Russia, anti-terrorism authorities raided an armed gang suspected of aiding militant separatists, it was reported July 12th.  One criminal was killed and four were arrested.  Meanwhile, the Ingush supreme court sentenced two militants from the Nazranovskaya Group to 14 and 15 years in prison for plotting attacks in 2009-10 aimed police and armored vehicles as well as civilian targets.  A day later, it emerged that three of the six gangsters were policemen, including the one that was killed.  It’s so hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys in the Caucasus.


South Ossetian Prosecutor Abducted, Killed; Former Prosecutor-General Confesses.  A public prosecutor in the de facto independent Republic of South Ossetia, which most of the world regards as part of the Republic of Georgia, was kidnapped July 9th and in the morning his dead body was found in Vanat, an abandoned village, with a gunshot wound in the temple and one in the chest.  The prosecutor, Roland Chitayev, had been involved in investigating the pseudostate’s deputy attorney general, among other controversial cases.  Shortly after, according to Russian media, two men were arrested: Arthur Agayev, an “officer of state protection,” and Ruslan Gabaraev, a former prosecutor general.  Gabaraev confssed to the murder but, according to the current prosecutor general, Merab Chigoyev, “cannot explain the motive for the crime.”  (See my blog article on South Ossetia’s recent contested presidential elections.)

Jailed Kurdish Militant Leader Holds Secret Talks with Ankara in Prison Cell.  Media reported this week that the imprisoned founder and spiritual leader of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), Abdullah Öcalan, has been meeting with representatives of Turkey’s government in his cell on the notorious İmralı island prison, in the Sea of Marmara (made famous in the book and film Midnight Express).  This follows rumors last week (reported on in this blog), which the government was quick to quash, that Öcalan’s transfer from İmralı was being planned.  Quoting a close associate of Öcalan named İlhami Işık, the newspaper Rudaw related on July 11th that Öcalan “is busy writing a roadmap for solving the Kurdish issue which consists of seven articles.  At the same time, he supports the statements of Leyla Zana”—referring to the Kurdish member of Turkey’s parliament who had a high-level meeting with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on June 30th (also reported on last week in this blog), shortly after having said publicly (as reported in this blog) that Erdoğan was the one person who had a good chance to resolve the Kurdish crisis.  Erdoğan, for his part, denied July 13th that talks with the P.K.K. were possible, saying his government would continue military operations against them until they disarm.  Meanwhile, a court in Istanbul ruled this week to release 16 suspects out of 193 who were indicted in April (as reported in this blog) for their ties with the allegedly P.K.K.-supporting civic group the Kurdistan Communities Union (K.C.K.) and whose trials began last week (also reported in this blog), including Büşra Ersanlı, an economics professor at Istanbul’s Marmara University, although, like 101 of the 205 currently on trial, they will be “tried without arrest”—i.e., apparently, released on their own recognizance.  Ersanlı had spent eight and a half months in prison without trial so far.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings and another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, plus another article listing Kurdistan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Kurdish Violence Leaves 10 Dead in Eastern Turkey.  In the Kurdish region in eastern Turkey, two village guards were killed July 6th by members of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), according to the government.  One member of Turkey’s military was injured in the incident, which occurred in Van province.  Then, on July 8th, the Turkish military reported that another battle with the P.K.K. left three rebels dead.  On July 11th, government and P.K.K. forces clashed in Bingöl province, killing five P.K.K. members—three women and two men.  At the same time, there were battles with Kurds in Hakkari province, including reports of army helicopters overhead and bombing lasting through the night.  On July 13th, three Turkish soldiers were wounded by a roadside landmine in Kahramanmaraş province while pursuing suspected P.K.K. perpetrators of an earlier attack.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings and another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, plus another article listing Kurdistan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)


Baghdad Fumes as Kurdish Region Begins Crude Exports to Turkey.  Northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) announced this week that it had already begun its threatened unilateral exports of its own oil resources to the Republic of Turkey, a move that the Shiite-Arab-dominated central Iraqi government in Baghdad had warned it would not accept.  In response, the Iraqi government said it reserved to itself, not to the K.R.G., the last say on oil exports and on its share of same.  A K.R.G. spokesman, Seerwan Abubaqr, said, “We started exporting limited quantities of crude oil to Turkey a few days ago.  The crude was being exported to Turkey so it could be refined into various products before being brought back to Kurdistan. ... If we need to, we will export oil to Iran. ... The central government has pushed us to do this.”  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings and another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, plus another another on prospects for the partition of Iraq.)

Iraq and its oil.

Iraqi Parliamentarian Touts Inside Info on Imminent Attack on Kurdistan.  A member of the Republic of Iraq’s parliament for the reformist Movement for Change party—which forms part of the opposition in the northern autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.)—told media this week that he has secret information convincing him that Iraq’s central government will attack Iraqi Kurdistan “in maybe less than a year.”  The M.P., Hakim Sheikh Latif, said, “My words are the result of certain things I have seen and heard in Baghdad,” and he also cited otherwise, to him, inexplicable build-ups of the half-million-strong Iraqi military—including the creation of armed paramilitary units in Kirkuk and other areas outside of the K.R.G.’s territory where Kurds would like to expand their autonomy.  The Movement for Change has remained neutral in the recent attempts to remove Iraq’s increasingly authoritarian Shiite Arab prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, from office through a vote of no confidence.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings and another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, plus another another on prospects for the partition of Iraq.)

Arrest of Radical Cleric in Saudi Arabia Sparks Deadly Shiite Unrest.  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the capture on July 8th of a radical Shiite cleric after a car chase and gun battle with security forces.  The cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, was wounded in the leg and is being charged with instigating an insurgency in Saudi Arabia’s vast Eastern Province, on the Persian Gulf, the province where most of the Shiite minority live.  In 2009, al-Nimr threatened secession from Saudi Arabia unless the government addressed problems of discrimination against Shiites.  Meanwhile, the same day, in Qatif, in Eastern Province, alleged rooftop snipers from the central government shot and killed two Shiites protesting al-Nimr’s arrest (though the Saudi government denied that it was snipers that shot them).  Those deaths in turn sparked a spiral of demonstrations, as thousands attended the July 10th and 11th funerals for the dead protesters—events marked by angry protests and, reportedly, the attempted firebombing of police cars.

Violence at a Saudi Shiite funeral

Police Kill 7 South Yemeni Separatist Marchers; Scores Wounded.  Marches in southern Yemen by separatists who would like to see the former South Yemen restored as an independent nation ended in violence July 7th when, according to witnesses, police, including a sniper, opened fire on demonstrators.  In Aden, the former South Yemeni capital, three protesters were killed and 17 people were injured.  Police claim that the protesters fired first and reported three injured police.  25 separatists were arrested.  In Sayoun, one person was killed and three wounded in a similar incident, and police also fired on protesters in Mukalla, with no casualties reported.  The marches were among many throughout the former South Yemen, involving tens of thousands of southerners commemorating a failed separatist uprising in 1994.  Then, on July 9th, two protesters were killed and another left “clinically dead” at a demonstration in Aden, followed, two days later, also in Aden, an incident in which police opened fire on protesters with snipers and machine-guns, killing one and wounding nine others.  South Yemen, known officially as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, existed for 23 years until the collapse of Communism—and, eventually, the implosion of its patron state, the Soviet Union—brought about its reabsorption by the Republic of Yemen in 1990.  (See my article listing South Yemen as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Israeli Air Strike at Hamas Target in Gaza City Kills 1, Injures 4.  An air strike by Israel on Gaza City killed one and injured four on July 12th.  Israeli authorities say the one fatality was a member of a “terrorist squad” of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the jihadist terrorist organization that governs the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories.  (See my article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Fatah Sets Local Elections for October; Hamas Won’t Allow Them in Gaza.  Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) successor organization that governs the West Bank, announced July 10th, after many delays, that it would hold Palestinian municipal elections on October 20th.  The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the jihadist terrorist organization that nominally governs the Gaza Strip under the umbrella of the Palestinian National Authority, with its capital at Ramallah in the West Bank, but has been de facto self-governing since 2007, declared in response that it would not allow local elections in Gaza on that date—deepening the split between the two territories.  (See my article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Abbas Approves Arafat Exhumation; Investigator Confident of Poisoning.  The office of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, announced July 9th that Abbas has given the go-ahead to the exhumation of the remains of Yasser Arafat, the revered former president of the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.), amid new evidence (reported on last week in this blog) that he may have been poisoned with the radioactive material, polonium, of which traces have been found on his clothing.  Dr. Abdullah al-Bashir, of Jordan, arrived in the West Bank to lead the investigation, and on July 12th said in a press conference in Ramallah, the Palestinian capital, that all signs pointed to Arafat’s death by poisoning.  But he said that the hospital in Paris where Arafat died in 1994—after being airlifted there from the West Bank, where he had been under military siege by Israel—was refusing to hand over its full report.  Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, has endorsed the idea of further testing of his remains, but his nephew voiced disapproval.  (See my article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Yasser and Suha Arafat

Israel Releases Palestinian Football Star after International Campaign.  A member of Palestine’s national football (soccer) team, Mahmoud al-Sarsak, was released in Israel on July 10th after three years’ imprisonment without trial, during which he went on hunger-strike for four months.  Sarsak’s situation had been the focus of an international advocacy campaign by football luminaries such as Eric Cantona and the president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), Sepp Blatter.  Sarsak had been accused of membership in the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad, which he denies.  Upon his release, he returned home to the Gaza Strip and received a hero’s welcome.  (See my article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Legal Panel Gives Thumbs-Up to Illegal Jewish Settlements in the West Bank.  A government-appointed panel of legal experts in Israel ruled, in a non-binding opinion released July 9th, that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was not an “occupation” and recommended a firmer official status for what international law and international opinion regard as illegal Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the report merited close attention.  (See my article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)


India Imposes Curfew on Kashmir for Martyrs’ Day, in Attempt to Head Off Unrest.  Authorities in the separatist, predominantly-Muslim Jammu and Kashmir state in northern India were under curfew and a riot-police dragnet on July 13th in an attempt to prevent widespread demonstrations and a general strike in Srinagar, the capital, for Martyr’s Day, commemorating the massacre of 22 Kashmiri Muslims in 1931.

“Moderate” Kashmir Separatists Decry Courting of Israeli Tourists.  Following last week’s fatwa by the radical jihadist group Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir against tourists in skimpy or tight-fitting clothing (as reported last week in this blog), the moderate faction of Jammu and Kashmir state’s umbrella separatist organization, the Hurriyat Conference, is now protesting the Indian government’s encouragement of tourism in Kashmir by Israelis.  Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the “moderate” faction’s leader, explained on July 6th, “Muslims all over the world have problem with Israel due to its aggressive policy toward Palestine,” adding, “Israel is one of the biggest enemies of Islam and we see a design in all this.”  Farooq went so far as to accuse Israeli tourists of being spies sent ahead of a planned Israeli invasion of Kashmir.  (If the so-called “moderates” are such pinwheel-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semites, one shudders to think what the radicals say on the topic.)  The Indian government has been trying to revive tourism in Kashmir, which is India’s only predominantly Muslim state.  Meanwhile, on July 7th, the Indian government reported that five rebels were killed and three houses destroyed in a three-day-long battle between the Indian army and separatists in Kashmir.  Four soldiers and a police constable were wounded.  Later in the day, separatists fired on an army convoy in Pampore in southern Kashmir, killing one soldier and injuring another.

Tamil Lawmaker Suggests Merging 2 Sri Lankan Provinces.  A legislator for the main Tamil party in Sri Lanka, the Tamil National Alliance (T.N.A.), said July 8th that the Tamil-dominated Northern and Eastern provinces of the country should be merged.  Other elements of Sri Lankan society call the merger idea a separatist plot.  The two provinces were merged in 1987 in a British-brokered agreement to end separatist strife, but the separate provinces were reestablished in 2006 by the supreme court.  A 26-year civil war between the Hindu Tamil minority and the Buddhist Sinhalese majority ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.).  (See my blog article featuring a profile of the Tamil activist Mathangi “Maya” Marulpragasam, a.k.a. “M.I.A.”)

Sri Lanka’s provinces


U.N. Refugee Commission Won’t Let Burma Palm Off Rohingya Problem.  The head of the military junta that rules Burma as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, President Thein Sein, proposed July 11th to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (U.N.H.C.R.) that the more 800,000 or so Rohingyas—disenfranchised Muslims in the country’s west—either be sent to a third country or be shunted into the care of the U.N.H.C.R.—i.e., put into refugee camps.  The agency’s high commissioner, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, rejected that suggestion, saying that the group were not technically refugees.  Last month scores of Rohingyas were killed and tens of thousands made homeless in a series of blood reprisals with the Buddhist community in the predominantly-Muslim Rakhine province.  Many Rohingyas are refugees from Bangladesh and their descendants, but some Rohingya communities have lived in Burma for centuries.  They are denied Myanmar citizenship—a point on which Burma told the U.N. this week it would not bend—and are considered by some measures the most numerous stateless people in the world.  (See my blog article on prospects for Burma’s ethnic minorities.)

Fighting between Kachin and Burmese Military Scuppers Peace Talks.  Fighters with the Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.) battled Burma’s military on July 6th and 7th, near the Kachin separatist headquarters in Laiza, in Kachin State.  A spokesman for the K.I.A.’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.), said the government provoked the incident.  Then, K.I.A. fighters also ambushed a seven-truck army convoy in northern Shan State on July 8th, destroying two trucks and wounding several soldiers.  On July 9th, the K.I.O. rejected an offer from the government—which rules Burma under the name Republic of the Union of Myanmar—to hold peace talks, because of what the spokesman called a renewed offensive against the Kachin.  Another reason given was that the proposed site for the proposed talks, Bhamo Township, is in government-controlled territory.  (See my blog article on prospects for Burma’s ethnic minorities.)

Burmese Judge Denies Medical Treatment to Kachin Tortured in Military Custody.  A judge in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma’s Kachin State, on July 11th denied medical treatment to a survivor of torture at the hands of the Burmese military.  The victim, Lahtaw Brang Shawng, was the focus of protests by more than 1,000 Kachin activists July 6th after his arrest June 17th for his role in the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.).  Shawng’s wife, Ze Nyoi, reports that he had scars from hot irons on his cheeks and cuts on his things when he appeared in court and that “he seemed in fear of everybody.  He seemed to have a mental illness.  When he was sitting in the court, he laughed by himself.  And he said he could not eat.  He said that when he ate, his throat hurt too much.”  (See my blog article on prospects for Burma’s ethnic minorities.)

Kachins protesting treatment of Lahtaw Brang Shawng

1 Killed, 1 Captured in Raid on Separatist Hideout in Southern Thailand.  Separatists who wish to form an independent, ethnically-Malay Muslim state out of the three southernmost provinces in the predominantly-Buddhist Kingdom of Thailand fought police July 11th in Pattani, one of the three provinces.  The incident began with a police and military raid on a hut where six separatist militants were reported hiding.  After a 15-minute gun battle, one militant was dead, one was arrested, and the other four had fled.  Grenades, explosives, firearms, and communications equipment were confiscated from the hut.  The provincial police chief said the dead man and the one that was arrested were both on his most-wanted list.


Australia Sets Aside Vast Desert Area as Warlpiri “Indigenous Protected Area.”  Aboriginal Warlpiri people and their supporters were celebrating July 10th near Alice Springs, Northern Territory, in the vast Tanami Desert of central Australia, after the Australian government agreed to a vast conservation area which will be maintained and run by aboriginal rangers.  The area, to be known as the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area, will be part of the Trans-Australia Eco-Link Corridor.  The area is 101,500 square kilometers, about the size of South Korea or Bulgaria and larger, for example, than the Australian state of Tasmania.

Australia’s Northern Territory, with indigenous protected areas (I.P.A.s) in red and the Southern Tamani I.P.A. as no. 51.

New Zealand Prime Minister Rejects Māori Marine-Tenure Claims.  The government of New Zealand rejected on July 8th indigenous Māori claims of ownership over aquatic resources, with Prime Minister John Key stating, “The basis of the claim from the Māori Council is that Māori own the water, and the government rejects that view.”  The dispute stems from the New Zealand Māori Council’s objections to a plan by the government to sell up to 49% of its shares in four energy firms, which the Council says would violate the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi.  Lawyers have expressed concern that Key’s off-the-cuff comments—which exceeded his authority—will unduly influence the Waitangi Tribunal, which is set to decide on the matter.  The Crown is looking into the possible impropriety of his comments.

Asian MILF All Hot to Bang Out Peace Agreement.  More than a quarter-million people attended a landmark assembly of leaders from the southern Philippines’ predominantly-Muslim Moro ethnic group on July 6th to 8th to discuss a looming peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  Both sides expressed optimism that an agreement could be reached.  The assembly was held in Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao province in the newly created Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  Meanwhile, the MILF has condemned a July 11th ambush by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militia Abu Sayyaf on Basilan Island in the ARMM which killed six rubber-plantation workers and injured 22 others.  (For more information on MILF, see  Oh, no, wait, sorry, that might not be the right link.)

Don’t mess with Filipina MILFs

Manila Sows Further Confusion over Missing Jordanian Reporter.  The Republic of the Philippines’ secretary of the interior, Jesse Robredo, told media this week that negotiations were ongoing for the release of three journalists, including a Jordanian, held by a separatist Islamist group, but then he changed his mind, denied he had made that statement, and said that there were no negotiations and that no ransom, as a matter of government policy, would be paid.  As reported earlier in this blog, the journalist, Baker Abdulla Atyani, who is from Jordan, is Southeast Asia bureau chief for the news network al-Arabiya and was last seen on June 12th on the island of Sulu (a.k.a. Jolo), in the Philippines’ southern Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), with his two Filipino technical crewmen, en route to report on either the Abu Sayyaf or the Jemaah Islamiyah jihadist militia, or both.  The government has issued a series of conflicting comments on his whereabouts and status.


Charest Wants September 4th Election, but Trails Parti Québécois in Polls.  A Montreal newspaper said July 11th that the premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, wants to call a provincial election for September 4th, but polls are showing his Liberal Party narrowly trailing the Parti Québécois (P.Q.), which would like the province to secede from Canada.  Charest’s office has not commented on the newspaper’s report.  The P.Q. rose in public opinion this spring by siding with students in ongoing unrest in Quebec over tuition costs and other issues.  (See my blog article on language policy in Quebec.)

Amid Fears of More Barricades, Sliammon Narrowly Approve Treaty.  After dissidents in a coastal indigenous village in British Columbia, Canada, blocked a polling station June 18th (as reported at the time in this blog) out of a belief that the Tla’amin Nation’s sovereign territory was being sold out, voters in the community, Sliammon, near Powell River—on the province’s rain-drenched and thus hilariously misnamed “Sunshine Coast”—narrowly approved the contentious treaty on July 10th.  With 308 votes needed, the treaty supporters sneaked by with 318 votes to 235, or 51.7% of the community’s 615 eligible voters.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.), after facing criticism for standing by on June 18th as sovereigntists barricaded the polling station, had been threatening arrests if there was a repeat of such incidents in this week’s repeat vote.  Sliammon, home to about 1,000 aboriginal people of the Salish group, was engaged in negotiations for a treaty for 18 years until last month, when an agreement was initialled with the Canadian and B.C. governments to give the Tla’amin $30 million in exchange for all but 8,300 hectares of their vast, resource-rich territory—territory which, without a treaty, is legally not part of Canada.  Defenders of traditional land rights blockaded the polling station with vehicles, causing it to be called off.  Meanwhile, the dissident group, called Protectors of Sliammon Sovereignty, went to court July 9th to try to have the vote delayed, calling the treaty agreement “rushed” and “sloppy.”  They claim they will continue to pursue the legal battle against the terms of the treaty, as well as the circumstances of its passage, with apparently rampant corruption and vote-buying.

Protectors of Sliammon Sovereignty

Toronto Honors “Republic of Rathnelly” with New Street Signs.  New city-government-installed street signs in a tiny wedge of the South Hill neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario, will honor a 1967 movement to create a “Republic of Rathnelly” there.  During the counterculture era, and coinciding with Canada’s centennial, the district of mostly academicians and artists declared independence, crowned a queen (which would make it a monarchy, not a republic, but never mind), anointed a poodle its chief executive, formed an “air farce” consisting of 1,000 helium balloons, and issued passports.  The republic was named after the birthplace in Ireland of one of the neighborhood’s early founders.  Secession-themed street fairs are still held bi-annually in Rathnelly.  Some of the new signs will sport the republic’s coat of arms.

Iowa Senate Candidate Quits Race to Join Crackpot Parallel U.S. Government.  A candidate for the state senate in Iowa, Randi Shannon, has now dropped out of the race so that she can devote attention to her new post as a United States senator for ... the Republic for the united States of America.  No, that is not a misprint, not even the lowercase u in united.  The R.u.S.A., based in Alabama (see a website associated with the movement here), is an outgrowth of the radical libertarian “individual sovereigntist” movement increasingly popular among right-wing extremists, especially after the election of an African-American president in 2008.  Their worldview holds, based on an extremely wonky and ill-informed reading of constitutional history, that in 1871 the United States became an illegitimate corporation and that after that point public political life—elections etc.—was under the auspices of this new entity—which by right should only administer the District of Columbia—but that the original, up-until-the-1860s United States of America, in which the constituent states were sovereign republics, is still legally valid, but dormant.  R.u.S.A. followers are assembling their own legislative and executive institutions as a rival U.S. government.  It is probably no accident that the end of slavery just happens to coincide with where these folks things started to go bad and that D.C., the only majority-African-American constituent jurisdiction of the U.S., is the focus of their enmity.  Shannon—who is from Coralville, Iowa—has now positioned herself, after consulting with other R.u.S.A. activists in Georgia, as a U.S. senator for Iowa.  (Read her spectacularly ungrammatical and mispunctuated July 4th letter of resignation here.)  The Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.), which investigates hate groups, has recently called attention to the R.u.S.A. movement, including members’ run-ins with the law—such as Monty Ervin (a.k.a. “Monty-Wayne, of the family of Ervin, sovereign Most Christian Prince”), a heavily armed survivalist now convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion; an R.u.S.A. “ambassador” in Arizona who was shot and killed after assaulting a police officer; the R.u.S.A.-linked murder of two police in Arkansas in 2010; and a former R.u.S.A. “congressman” who was found dead with his 9-year-old son in their incinerated West Virginia trailer home, an apparent murder-suicide.  In this year’s Republican primaries, Shannon backed—you’ll never guessRon Paul.

Alternative United States senator Randi Shannon, posing next to a lovely painting depicting George Washington and his horse praying that America will not one day get taken over by right-wing wackos.

Vast Arsenal Returned to Exonerated Hutaree Militia Member in Indiana.  An Indiana truck-driver named Thomas Piatek, who was a member of an amateurish anti-government insurgency, the Hutaree Militia, was able to reclaim his armory on July 6th in Hammond, Indiana, after a judge in March dropped charges against him of plotting to overthrow the United States government (as reported at the time in this blog).  The militia was broken up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2008.  The word Hutaree means “Christian warrior” in the group’s private jargon.  Their motto is, “Preparing for the end times battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive,” and among their aims was the creation, from six rural counties in Michigan, of an independent but anarchistic territory to be called the Colonial Christian Republic, ruled only by God’s law.  Although the three German shepherds confiscated from him will not be returned, the personal weapons he reclaimed this week included 41 guns and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as crossbows and swords.  Piatek said he does not rule out one day joining a militia again, and his lawyer, Arthur Weiss, stated, “This is a victory for the Constitution.”

An actual Hutaree Militia wedding photo.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blew an I.R.S. agent’s head off.

Rocker Ted Nugent Hypes Southern Secession after Health-Care Ruling.  The aging rocker Ted Nugent—known for his right-wing views in books such as God, Guns, and Rock ’n’ Roll and Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto—has added his voice to the secession chatter unleashed by the United States Supreme Court’s June 28th decision upholding most of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  In a July 6th opinion piece in the right-wing Washington Times (founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church), Nugent called Chief Justice John Roberts a traitor and opined, “Because our legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government hold the 10th Amendment in contempt, I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

Ted Nugent.  You’d never know he was from Michigan.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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