Saturday, October 20, 2012

Northern Mali and the Gates of Hell, Flemish Separatists Gain, Plus Bangsomoro, Jubaland, Zanzibar, Scotland, Nagaland, Brothels in Greenland: The Week in Separatist News, 14-20 October 2012

Photo of the week: Ebrahim Murad of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III, agreed to end hostilities with a formal peace deal on October 15th.  It will eventually create an enlarged and enhanced version of the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to be called Bangsomoro

TOP STORY:
FIRST SCOTLAND, THEN CATALONIA, THEN VENICE, NOW FLANDERS:
FLEMISH SEPARATISTS TAKE ANTWERP,
PUTTING PARTITION OF BELGIUM BACK ON THE TABLE


An influential Flemish separatist was elected mayor of Antwerp on October 14th, reigniting talk of a partition of Belgium along linguistic lines.  Bart De Wever, the mayor elect, is also president of the New Flemish Alliance (N.-V.A.), a political party which, under his leadership, triumphed with more votes than any other party in the 2010 federal elections but was just barely edged out of power by a coalition of smaller parties.  Because the country is so divided, a new (pro-unionist) government was not formed until more than a year and a half later, in December 2011 (as discussed at length at the time in this blog).  The current Socialist prime minister in that shaky coalition, Elio Di Rupo, is a member of Belgium’s French-speaking minority but is not ethnically Walloon; his parents are from Italy.  The Flemish nationalists also came out on top in local elections in three of Belgium’s five provinces that make up Flanders.  Shortly after his victory, De Wever said he wanted immediate talks with Di Rupi’s government on “confederal” reforms—decentralizing the already very-federal system still further, perhaps to its breaking point.  But then what to do about bilingual Brussels?  Watch this space.


AFRICA

Mali Islamists Say Hollande Intervention Talk Will “Open Gates of Hell” for French Expats.  In the wake of a United Nations Security Council resolution the previous day (reported last week in this blog) clarifying the conditions and timetable for an international military intervention in Mali, one of the two Islamist militias that rule the northern two-thirds of the country as the Independent State of Azawad announced October 13th that continued French government advocacy for an invasion would “open the doors of hell.”  Specifically, a spokesman for the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, known by its French acronym MUJAO, said that French citizens living in Azawad would not be safe, including six hostages held by Islamists in Mali.  Referring to France’s president, François Hollande, at that moment meeting with other Francophone leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) to discuss Mali and other matters, the spokesman, Oumar Ould Hamaha, said, “If he continues to throw oil on the fire, we will send him the pictures of dead French hostages in the coming days,” adding, “He will not be able to count the bodies of French expatriates across West Africa and elsewhere.”  Hollande said he would not be intimidated.


High-Level Delegates Meet Malian President to Discuss Military Intervention.  Delegates from the African Union (A.U.), the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), and the United Nations (U.N.) met with Malian leaders in Bamako, Mali’s capital, on October 19th, for a summit on if, how, and when to intervene militarily in the north.  Mali’s interim civilian president, Dioncounda Traoré, urged intervention as soon as possible.



Zanzibar Mob Says Cops “Disappeared” Muslim Leader; Minister Sacked for Secession Talk.  The predominantly-Muslim archipelago of Zanzibar, within the predominantly-Christian United Republic of Tanzania erupted in violence this week, with government sources reporting October 16th that rioters demanding a separate Islamic state for the islands burned tires and threw stones at police.  One policeman was killed “by a machete-wielding gang.”  On the same day, Zanzibar’s president, Ali Mohamed Shein, fired a cabinet minister for calling for Zanzibar’s independence.  Then, on October 18th, more street battles occurred, with rioters, some with machetes and balaclavas, looting and fighting police in anger over the sudden disappearance of the leader of the separatist group UamshoSheikh Farid Hadi, who was last seen on the 16th.  Abdallah Saidi, Uamsho’s secretary, said, “The fact that the police have quickly issued a statement denying any information about Sheikh Farid’s disappearance is very suspicious and has made us think perhaps they were indeed responsible.”


Sheikh Farid Hadi: Uamsho honcho AWOL
Kenyan Police Kill 2 in Arrest of Mombasa Separatist Leader; Collaborator Stabbed.  The crackdown by Kenya’s government against the predominantly-Muslim separatist Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.) following an M.R.C. machete attack on a government minister on October 4th (as reported at the time in this blog) intensified this week, with the arrest on October 15th of the M.R.C.’s supposed leader, Omar Mwamnuadzi, on weapons charges.  Two M.R.C. militants were killed and four police were wounded in the raid on Mwamnuadzi’s home in Kombani, in Coast Province, and one of the injured policemen later died of his wounds.  Later in the day, a local government official apparently suspected of having led the police to Mwamnuadzi was hacked to death outside his home.  Also this week, an official investigation was launched into the supposed M.R.C. financial ties of two businessmen and three members of parliament for the M.R.C.’s home Coast Province.  The five men supposedly paid legal fees, fines, and bail for arrested M.R.C. operatives.  And police in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on October 17th arrested a member of parliament elect, Sheikh Mohammed Dor, for alleged ties to the M.R.C.  He was released on bond.


Mombasa separatist leader Omar Mwamnuadzi.  Kenyan police said he wouldn’t come quietly.
Somalis Skeptical as Kenyan Military Denies Plan to Create Southern Somali Buffer State.  As the Kenyan military consolidates its control over the far south of Somalia since capturing the area’s main city, Kismayo, in September, some Somalis are worrying that Kenya’s intentions—originally to oust the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militia al-Shabaab from the Kenya–Somalia border regions, with help from Ethiopia, Somalia, and the African Union (A.U.)—also include the installation of a border-straddling autonomous region as a buffer between the two nations.  A Kenyan military spokesman, Maj. Emanuel Chirchir, called the fears “baseless and unfounded,” but media report on Kenyan plans “to install an administration in cooperation with a local clan that inhabits both the northeastern Kenyan border regions and Somalia’s southern provinces, with the exclusion or minor participation of other clans who form the majority of the provinces’ residents.”  Kenya has scattered al-Shabaab mainly with on-the-ground logistical support from another Islamist militia, the clan-based Ras Kamboni Brigades, who some fear will now rule the territory, with a continued Kenyan occupation presence.  One Somali analyst and researcher, Hassan Mudei, says, “If the Kenyan troops are seen as occupying forces, I believe they will never win the confidence of the local people, and the project would be doomed.”  The mostly ineffective government of the Federal Republic of Somalia opposes any plans to create a southern autonomous region, which would be called Azania or Jubaland.  An independent Jubaland was declared in this region in 1998, with Somalia’s deposed Communist dictator Mohamed Siad Barre’s nephew as self-proclaimed president.  It eventually was reabsorbed into the central government’s control, as was a later experiment, an autonomous Southwestern State of Somalia, which also folded.  In 2010, in response to the gradual takeover of southern Somalia by al-Shabaab, separatists launched the Jubaland Initiative and asked the central government in Mogadishu to grant them the status of a self-governing state, along the lines of Puntland or Galmudug to the north.  Instead, the Kenyan-led A.U. force invaded in October 2011.  Al-Shabaab still controls parts of the south, which it calls the Islamic Emirate of Somalia.




Pacified Buhoodle Warlord “Hagaltosie” Appointed to Somaliland Cabinet.  In the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland, President Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo this week appointed a former warlord from the recently pacified Buhoodle region the new minister of settlement.  The warlord, Suleiman Isse Ahmed Kara (a.k.a. “Hagaltosie”), was expected in August to be appointed , but that post was given instead (as reported on at the time in this blog) to a rival warlord, Keyse Abdi Yusuf.  Hagaltosie was the military commander of the brief-lived Khaatumo State, a.k.a. Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (S.S.C.State, which tried to establish itself in a disputed area of eastern Somalia before he and Silanyo signed a cease-fire in June (as reported at the time in this blog).


A Somali political cartoon mocking Hagaltosie’s new cabinet position.
Trust me, in Somali it’s really funny.
Puntland Nabs Ship Bringing Arms from Yemen to al-Shabaab.  Officials for the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia announced October 19th that their forces had intercepted a ship from Yemen that was bringing weapons to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militia al-Shabaab, which operates in parts of southern Somalia (see article above) and also in remote mountain areas of Puntland itself.  The incident suggests links between al-Shabaab and the al-Qaeda branch called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (A.Q.A.P.).

Bakassians Sue Nigerian Boundary Commission in Challenge to Cession to Cameroon.  A lawsuit was filed in a high court in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, on October 16th against the federal government’s National Boundary Commission (N.B.C.), which is charged now with finalizing the border with Cameroon after the cession to that nation of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula.  Maurice Ekong, whose organization the Save Bakassi Group is plaintiff in the case, said, “We believe that the N.B.C. is acting based on the ... pronouncement of I.C.J., both of which did not take into account the position of Bakassi people.”  He referred to the United NationsInternational Court of Justice, which ceded Bakassi to Cameroon in 2002.



Northern Nigerian Cities Become Battlefields; 83 Dead in Bloody Week.  More than 83 people were killed in a week of violence in northern Nigeria that included open street warfare in Potiskum and Maiduguri and (see next article as well) large-scale massacres of Christians by Islamic extremists and tribal loyalists.  Fifteen separate explosions and much gunfire were heard throughout Maidiguri, capital of Nigeria’s Borno State, the center of Boko Haram Islamist terrorist activity, on the afternoon and evening of October 15th, and police locked the city down.  A school was set on fire in the mêlée, and earlier in the day a suspected Boko Haram member had shot dead a traffic policeman.  The anti-terrorist Joint Task Force (J.T.F.) later said that 24 Boko Haram members had been killed in the operation.  Earlier in the week, on October 12th, a former member of Oyo State’s legislature, Lukman Adigun, survived an assassination attempt outside a Maiduguri mosque, but two companions of his were shot and killed.  Four people were killed in the city in two different attacks two days later: a married couple and their child on their way out of a Church of Christ service were riddled with bullets by attackers who then escaped, and a traditional chief, Mala Kala, was shot to death by gunmen who stormed into his home and past his security guards.  A visitor in the home was seriously wounded.  Mala Kala is a close associate of an Islamic cleric, Umar Garbai el-Kanemi, the Shehu of Borno, who survived an attempted assassination by Boko Haram in July.  Mala Kala and Kanemi are “moderates,” which in northern Nigeria nowadays means that they follow the laws of Nigeria’s secular government.  Meanwhile, in Potiskum, in Yobe State, a bomb exploded on October 17th, followed by gun battles and soldiers raiding homes and even setting them on fire.  Reports filtering out suggested “several” dead and large numbers of public buildings torched in street warfare that escalated after an attack on a checkpoint.  The same day, a Church of Christ in Nigeria church building in Bauchi, capital of Bauchi State, was damaged by a bomb, but there were no casualties.



24 Massacred at Mosque in North-Central Nigeria; Boko Haram Suspected.  Perhaps as many as 50 militants surrounded a remote village in north-central Nigeria before dawn on October 14th and massacred at least 24 people, most while they were leaving a mosque.  The authorities sealed off the area around the village, which is Dogon Dawa, in Kaduna State.  The northern Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram is suspected.  On the same day, in Benue State, 30 members of the predominantly-Christian Tiv ethnic group were massacred by predominantly-Muslim Fulani herdsmen in a land dispute.


Aftermath of the mosque attack in Kaduna State this week
Soyinka Backs Achebe in Calling Biafra Strife Genocide.  The first African winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Wole Soyinka, spoke out this week and supported his fellow writer Chinua Achebe’s characterization of Nigeria’s violent suppression of the separatist Republic of Biafra in southwestern Nigeria in the late 1960s as genocide.  Achebe makes the accusation in his new memoir, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra (reported on earlier in this blog).  Soyinka, in an interview, referred to Igbos as “people who’d been abused, who’d undergone genocide, and who felt completely rejected by the rest of the community, and therefore decided to break away and form a nation of its own.”  Achebe is a member of the Igbo ethnic group that led the Biafran secession.  Soyinka is a Yoruba, from southwestern Nigeria.


Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka now agrees with Chinua Achebe
that Nigeria used genocide to keep Biafra from seceding.
Ex-Cop Claims Evidence Planted in South African Militia Treason Case; Mistrial Possible.  New statements have come out casting aspersions on the case against 20 South African white-supremacist militiamen convicted of treason this summer in Pretoria for an elaborate plot that included assassinating Nelson Mandela and driving blacks out of the country.  The statement, from a former policeman named Deon Loots, accuses Gen. Mark Hankel of South Africa’s Crime Intelligence Unit, which brought the case against the Boeremag militia, of planting evidence and eavesdropping on the defendants’ privileged legal consultations.  If taken seriously, the allegations could lead to a judgment of mistrial.

Newly Found U.N. Files Exonerate Irish Diplomat in Congo’s 1961 Katanga Disaster.  An historian from Ireland says he has uncovered documents in the United Nations archives showing that the legendary Irish journalist and diplomat Conor Cruise O’Brien was unfairly made to take the blame for the a disastrous rogue U.N. operation in 1961 during the separatist rebellion in Katanga, in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The historian, Dr. Michael Kennedy, says that Operation Morthor, as it was known, was in fact authorized at the highest levels, but, after the U.N. secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld’s death in a Katanga plane crash two days later, O’Brien was scapegoated to preserve the martyred Hammarskjöld’s reputation.  As reported earlier in this blog, the U.N. is currently investigating Hammarskjöld’s death.  His plane went down on a crisis mission to Katanga, which Hammarskjöld, a fierce critic of Western corporate interests, suspected was a puppet state of powerful global, especially British, mining interests against the Soviet-backed Congolese regime of the time.   An investigation last year by the English newspaper The Guardian provided evidence that the plane had in fact been shot down by U.K.-financed mercenaries just across the border in the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, in the part that is modern Zambia, and that colonial authorities covered up the crime.

U.N. records now show his side of the story, too.
EUROPE

Cameron, Salmon Sign Deal; Scottish Defense Spokesman Wants to Stay in NATO.  With the United Kingdom’s prime minister, David Cameron, in Edinburgh on October 15th to seal an agreement with Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, on the 2014 independence referendum (see last week’s blog entry for details of the deal), Salmond’s defense spokesman called for an independent Scotland to stay in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), despite a plea last week (also reported on in this blog) from the Scottish Green Party to leave the treaty.  The spokesman, Angus Robertson, emphasized that the similarly progressive and nuclear-free neighbors Norway, Iceland, and Denmark find NATO membership—and Great Britain’s inclusion in it as well—crucial to their defense.



Cameron and Salmond shake on it.
Now the referendum campaigning begins in earnest.
Scots Novelist C. J. Sansom Rails against Independence Movement, Compares to Nazis.  The best-selling Scottish historical crime novelist C. J. Sansom, who is also half English, has come out guns blazing in opposition to Scotland’s independence, in a prereleased “historical note” appended to his novel Dominion, to be published October 25th.  In it, he writes that behind the “empty populist bonhomie of Alex Salmond, the prospective break-up of Britain is already creating a new culture of hostility and bitterness on both sides of the Border,” adding, “A party which is often referred to by its members, as the S.N.P. is, as the National Movement should send a chill down the spine of anyone who remembers what those words have often meant in Europe.”  The Scottish National Party, he says, “have never had any interest in the practical consequences of independence.  They care about the ideal of the nation, not the people who live in it.”  Dominion takes place in an alternate future in which the Nazis conquered the United Kingdom in the Second World War.  Another Scots writer, James Robertson, replied that Sansom “seems to be singling out the S.N.P. as particularly dangerous, whereas their history shows them to be one of the mildest-mannered of ‘national movements’ that ever existed.”


C. J. Sansom is the author, ironically enough, of Dissolution.
Former Scottish Nationalist Leader Gordon Wilson Calls Gay Marriage “Fascism.”  The former leader of the Scottish National Party (S.N.P.), Gordon Wilson, this week denounced same-sex marriage—the legalization of which is likely to accelerate if Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom—as a step toward “state fascism.”  Some polls have shown 65% of Scots favoring same-sex marriage.  Wilson led the S.N.P. from 1979 until the accession of Alex Salmond in 1990.

Sinn Féin Leader Calls for Referendum on Status of Northern Ireland.  The leader of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, told the Dáil, the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, on October 16th, that if Scotland can have the right to vote on its place in the United Kingdom so can the Irish people, and he called for a referendum on whether to merge Northern Ireland, currently part of the U.K., into the Republic of Ireland, ending a nearly-century-long partition of the island into Catholic and Protestant, independent and dependent, sectors.  The 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended most violent conflict in Northern Ireland allows for such a poll.  Adams said, “The British Union is now a live debating issue.”


Separatists Set to Gain in Basque Country Vote Next Week.  Polling in Spain’s autonomous Basque Country this week are indicating that the left-wing Basque coalition Euskal Herria Bildu, which advocates secession from Spain, is poised to come in second in elections to the Basque regional parliament on October 21st.  The Basque Nationalist Party, which is farther right politically and is content with enhanced autonomy, is expected to come in first.  But polls indicate that in Galicia, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey’s home country, Rajoy’s People’s Party (P.P.) is likely to be reelected.

See my separate blog article on issues facing Catalonia as it moves toward an independence referendum.


Karadžić, on Trial for Genocide, Tells Court He Should Be Rewarded, Not Punished.  The notorious Radovan Karadžić, the psychiatrist turned Serb ultranationalist war criminal accused of committing genocide while president of the Serbian puppet state of Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s, opened his defense with a personal statement on October 16th at the United NationsInternational Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (I.C.T.Y.) at the Hague, in the Netherlands.  He called himself a “tolerant man” and said he did “everything within human power to avoid the war and to reduce the human suffering.”  He added, “Instead of being accused for the events in our civil war, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I’ve done.” Meanwhile, back in reality, the things that Karadžić has actually done include the massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.  Karadžić, who now faces 10 charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity, was arrested in 2008, in Belgrade, Serbia, where he had been living openly but under a series of assumed names, and has been in U.N. custody since.



The butcher of Srebrenica, waiting for his Nobel Peace Prize apparently
E.U. Cops Arrest 3 Albanians in Kosovo for Attacks on Serb Police.  Three ethnic-Albanian militants in the Republic of Kosovo were arrested October 16th and are “suspected of being members of a terrorist organisation which claimed responsibility for three attacks on Serbian police,” in the words of a press release from the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, known as Eulex.  The attacks occurred from May to October of this year in Dobrosin, in the Serb-ruled wedge of northern Kosovo known as North Kosovo, which lies outside the Kosovar government’s control.  A group called the Freedom Movement claimed responsibility for the attacks.  The men will be held on remand for a month.

Russia Threatens to Recognize Transnistria in Reply to Plans for Moldova NATO Base.  The Republic of Moldova was reported this week to be planning to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to establish a military base in its territory.  This prompted a Russian diplomat to clarify that, if Moldova “loses its sovereignty or neutrality”—presumably a reference to European Union (E.U.) candidacy or NATO membership—then the Russian Federation might grant diplomatic recognition to the Pridnestovian Moldavian Republic, known as Transnistria, a de facto independent, ethnic-Slav-dominated sliver of eastern Moldova occupied by Russian troops since 1990. Moldova is not a candidate for either E.U. or NATO membership, but Romania, with which many would like to see it reunify, is in both.



At Least 7 Dead in Ongoing Insurgent Violence in Dagestan.  At least seven people were killed in another violent week in the predominantly-Muslim and insurgency-plagued Republic of Dagestan, in southwestern Russia’s North Caucasus region.  First, a gun battle in the forests near Endirei killed three Islamist rebels and one federal soldier on October 13th.  Among those captured in the incident was a 40-year-old rebel originally from Tajikistan.  It was reported the next day that the imam of a mosque in the village of Uchkent, also in Dagestan, was shot and killed at home in his own yard by three masked men with automatic weapons.  Three days later it was reported that a military checkpoint was fired on by unknown gunmen, but the attackers were killed by return fire.  No further information, including the number of attackers, was available.

BITS OF ASIA THAT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE PART OF EUROPE


European Diplomats Tour Gorno-Badakhshan amid Scolding of Tajik Rulers.  Media in the Republic of Tajikistan reported this week that a delegation of European diplomats (not further identified) had visited the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (G.B.A.O.), the large territory in the east of the country where members of the Pamir minority suffered a lethal crackdown by Tajik security forces after the killing of a chief of secret police in July.  The European Union (E.U.) last month demanded that the Tajik government allow observers into the region.




Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria Sign Defense Pact in Sukhumi.  In Sukhumi, capital of the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia, a Russian puppet state which most of the world regards as part of the Republic of Georgia, the defense ministers of Abkhazia and its sister puppet state, South Ossetia, signed a defense cooperation pact this week with the Pridnestovian Moldavian Republic, known as Transnistria.  The agreement includes a commitment to cooperate in case one of the three nations is attacked.  Transnistria is a sliver of eastern Moldova, against the border with Ukraine, where Russian Federation troops maintain a de facto but diplomatically unrecognized statelet which seceded from Moldova after the fall of Communism in 1990.


Turkish Interior Ministry Investigates Police Chief for Suggesting Kurds Are Humans.  The Republic of Turkey’s minister of the interior began an official investigation October 12th against a local police chief in the southeastern Kurdistan region who expressed general feelings of sympathy for Kurdish deaths in the ongoing civil war.  In his original statement, the new police chief, Reccep Güven, who heads the department in Diyarbakır, said, referring to his time as a police officer in Diyarbakır in the 1990s, “I felt at that time that you are not a human being if you are not touched by the death of a terrorist on the mountain.  But if you cannot [prevent] a terrorist from killing people, including children, you are not a state.”  He called the ’90s a “dark era” of anti-Kurdish human-rights abuses in Turkey.

Kurdish Party Proposes 15-20 Autonomous Federal Regions for Turkey.  The Peace and Democracy Party (B.D.P.), a legal pro-Kurdish political party in the Republic of Turkey, this week revealed a proposal to reorganize Turkey into 15 or 20 autonomous regions with devolved parliaments.  Standing under a banner with the face of the imprisoned rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan at a party convention in Ankara over the October 13-14 weekend, the party’s co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, said, “If this formula is not accepted, then we can discuss autonomy for the Kurdistan region.  The demand for outlining a status and the demand for education in one’s mother tongue are both indispensible for the Kurdish people.  If these demands are not met, any other option will be unacceptable for Kurdish people.”  The Turkish government accuses the B.D.P. of being the political wing of the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).



Cheerleaders for Kurdish autonomy at the B.D.P. conference in Ankara
47 Killed in Kurdish Insurgency Violence across Turkey.  At least 47 people were killed in violence between the Turkish military and Kurdish separatists this week.  A village guard and a schoolteacher were abducted in vehicle stops by members of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) in Turkey’s southeastern Şirnak province on October 12th.   At least 17 Kurdish rebels were killed in a two-day battle with the Turkish military on October 12th and 13th.  That fighting took place in Hakkari province, along the border with Iraq.  No military casualties were reported.  Then, on October 15th, battles centered on Hakkari took the lives of one Turkish civilian, three members of the security forces (later rising to four, when one died of his wounds), and six Kurdish rebels.  By the next day, when battles were still ongoing, seven Turkish military were also injured.  Also on the 15th, in Mardin province, roadside remote-controlled bombs killed one police officer and injured three others.  A large battle with the P.K.K. in Hakkari province on October 16th and 17th left three soldiers dead and another injured and three P.K.K. fighters killed as well.  The following day, 12 Kurdish rebels were killed in what seems to be a continuation of the same battle.  And on October 18th 28 Turkish soldiers were injured by a remote-controlled bomb which also damaged an oil pipeline.  The P.K.K. has claimed responsibility.

MIDDLE EAST


Israeli Airstrike Kills Jihadist Network Founder; Rockets Fired from Gaza in Reply.  Two rockets were fired at Israel on October 14th from the Palestinian TerritoriesGaza Strip exclave, which is ruled by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, in retaliation for an Israeli Air Forces airstrike the night before that killed an alleged founder of the Hashura Council of the Mujahideen, part of the terrorist network Global Jihad.  Israel says the man, Hisham Saidani, was in the midst of planning an attack along the Israel–Egypt border in league with Salafist militants in the Sinai Peninsula.


Finnish Relief Vessel Bound for Gaza Vows to Pierce Israeli Blockade.  As this blog entry was being written, Israel’s navy, on October 20th, 30 nautical miles off the Mediterranean coast, was surrounding a Finnish humanitarian vessel sent to pierce Israel’s illegal blockade of the Palestinian TerritoriesGaza Strip exclave.  The ship, the Estelle, which is arriving after a stop in Crete, in Greece, earlier this week, is carrying two olive trees, 41 tons of cement, 700 footballs, as well as books, toys, and medical supplies.  Israeli authorities had threatened to take action to keep the ship away, and the government of Finland, which flags the vessel, says it will not intervene in the matter.  Two years ago, Israeli troops boarded a similar humanitarian vessel, the Mavi Marmara, and killed nine pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey, in what became a major international incident.



The crew of the Estelle
In 2008 Files, Israelis Counted Calories to Keep Gazans on Brink of Malnutrition.  An Israeli human-rights organization won a court battle to get a look at documents from 2008 in which Israel’s military calculated how many calories they should allow through the economic blockade of the Palestinian TerritoriesGaza Strip in order to fall just short of malnutrition.  The document titled “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip—Red Lines,” figures that at about 2,279 calories per Arab per day to avoid malnutrition (adjusted to “culture and experience,” whatever that means), no more than 106 trucks per day, five days per week, needed to enter the territory to feed its 1.7 million people.  Israel imposed the blockade after Gazans elected the terrorist group Hamas to govern the enclave in 2008, but they lifted much of the blockade two years later under international pressure.  The idea was that if the blockade made Gazans miserable enough—not starving, you understand, just, you know, hungry, because it’s not like the Israeli government are monsters or anything—then the people would turn agains Hamas.  Instead, it increased solidarity within the territory.

7 Protesters Shot by Police as Unionists, Separatists Clash in South Yemen.  A clash by demonstrators and counter-demonstrators from the unionist and separatist sides prompted police intervention in Shabwah province, Yemen, in what used to be the separate republic of South Yemen.  At least seven civilians were injured by police bullets.



South Yemeni separatists state their aims
SOUTH ASIA

Leader of Pacified Tamil Tigers, Wanted in India, Freed from Prison in Sri Lanka.  The leader of the defeated and subsequently disarmed Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.), Selvarasa Pathmanathan, was freed from prison, the defense ministry of Sri Lanka announced October 17th, after three years in custody.  The L.T.T.E. renounced violence and dropped its demand for a separate country in the north of the island after the conclusion in 2009 of a long civil war that killed more than 50,000 people.  Pathmanathan, however, is still a wanted man in India, in connection with the L.T.T.E. assassination of India’s prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991.



An Interpol notice for Selvarasa Pathmanathan, using his legal name
Kashmiri Rebels Kill 1, Injure 2 in Hotel Shooting in Srinagar.  In Jammu and Kashmir, India’s main majority-Muslim state, one employee was killed and two others injured on October 19th when gunmen thought to be Kashmiri separatists stormed a hotel in Srinagar, the capital, and escaped before being identified.  Police are on a search for the killers.

Manipuri Separatists Stage General Strike in Northeast India; Bomb Plot Foiled.  Activists in far-northeastern India shut down Imphal, capital of Manipur state, with a general strike on October 15th to mark the date in 1949 when Manipur, formerly an autonomous princely state under British rule, joined India, the last princely state to do so.  With the state’s security forces on high alert, police announced October 19th that the day before they had intercepted a van filled with remote-controlled bombs destined for an Imphal terrorist attack.  The strike was organized by the Coordination Committee (CorCom), a coalition of seven rebel groups fighting for independence for Manipur.


Reports Conflict on Militant Faction Dropping Demand for “Greater Nagaland.”  A faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (N.S.C.N.), in India’s far-northeastern Nagaland state, this week were said to have dropped demands for a “Greater Nagaland” and vowed to accept the Indian constitution, prompting Nagaland’s home minister, Imkong Imchen, to say October 16th that a peace agreement to end the decades-long Naga separatist insurgency was near.  But T. T. Among, home minister of the faction, called N.S.C.N.–IM, denied the reports, saying, “No agreement was made by N.S.C.N.–IM.  If any agreement was arrived at, it would be made known to the public.”




EAST ASIA


U.S. Reveals Ambassador Locke Made Secret Visit to Tibet Last Month.  The United States’ Department of State revealed only this week that Gary F. Locke, the U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.), made a discreet visit on September 26th to a part of Tibet that is at the center of the recent wave of self-immolations and other protests of Chinese rule.  His visit was to Aba prefecture in Sichuan province, a part of western China that is culturally Tibetan (“eastern Tibet,” in the parlance of Tibetan nationalists), even though it lies outside the P.R.C.’s misnamed Tibet Autonomous Region.  Chinese government officials knew about the visit—and indeed facilitated it, maybe grudgingly—but have not commented publicly on it.  Locke, who is Chinese-American and a former governor of Washington State, said, “I was struck by the unique Tibetan culture and met many ethnic Tibetans to learn more about how they live and work, such as an 88-year-old monk at one of the monasteries I visited.  Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society.”


Ambassador Gary Locke, in a down-low visit to Tibet
Beijing Denies Request to Move Inner Mongolian Political Prisoner to Mental Hospital.  In the People’s Republic of China, the wife of a prominent Inner Mongolian dissident, Hada (his full name), says that her husband, who is being imprisoned in Inner Mongolia’s capital, Hohhot (as reported on a few months ago in this blog), is “in a very bad state” due to depression.  “The doctor,” said his wife Xinna (her full name), “suggested that he should be transferred to a mental health hospital, but they won’t allow that.  They don’t even give him toilet paper.”  Xinna herself  has spent the past two years in prison and under house arrest on fabricated charges of bootlegging CDs—obviously trumped-up since there is almost no such thing as enforcement of copyright laws in China.  Hada was convicted in 1996 of espionage and of ties to the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, an organization committed to ending Han Chinese oppression of Mongolians in the nominally autonomous Inner Mongolia region bordering Mongolia proper.

2 Civilians, 1 Militant Shot, Killed in Southern Thailand Rebel Violence.  In southern Thailand’s Narathiwat province, where ethnically-Malay Muslim rebels are fighting for a separate nation, two civilians were shot and killed October 12th.  One, a 60-year-old man, was riding a motorcycle when he was shot.  His wife was injured.  Earlier in the day, a 58-year-old rubber tapper was ambushed and killed near his plantation.  Malay militants are suspected.  Later, on October 15th, a police gun battle in Narathiwat province with a wanted member of the separatist militia Runda Kumpalan Kecil (R.K.K.) resulted in the militant’s death.


Burmese Soldiers Attack Chinese Refugee Camp, Kachin State Village.  Burmese troops, according to reports, fired arms across the borderm with China’s Yunnan province at a camp for Kachin refugees on October 16th, hitting “several” people, including a four-year-old.  The same day, the Burmese military launched a two-day attack on a village in Kachin State, killing three civilians, injuring three, and sending hundreds fleeing.  Two members of the Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.), which is fighting to secede from Burma, were also killed.  Many residents of the village, Maw Mau Bum, had only recently returned home from a refugee camp, believing it to be safe.



A victim of the latest violence in the Burmese war with the Kachin
David Thaw, Hero of Karen Struggle in Burma, Dies at 65.  Those in the struggle for independence for the Karen people of Burma are mourning David Thaw, a founding member of the Karen National Union (K.N.U.) and secretary of the K.N.U. Peace Committee, who died in Yangon (Rangoon), Burma, on October 14th.  He was 65 years old.  Thaw was instrumental in recent high-profile negotiations with the military junta that rules Burma under the name Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

OCEANIA


Indonesia Destroys Giant Cache of Arms from Former Aceh Rebels.  On Indonesia’s Sumatra island, security forces on October 17th destroyed nearly 1,000 firearms confiscated or surrendered over the past seven years from former members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (G.A.M.).  The G.A.M. ended their insurgency against the Indonesian government in 2005, but many brigades are still armed.


NORTH AMERICA


Hollande Receives New Quebec Premier in Paris, Says, “I Choose Continuity.”  In what has become a political ritual for Quebec separatists, the newly elected Parti Québécois (P.Q.) premier, Pauline Marois, met at the Élysée Palace in Paris on October 17th to hobnob with the French Republic’s new president, François Hollande.  Officially, France is opposed to the province’s secession from Canada, but the French leadership has always had warm direct relations with Quebec, with some officials advocating independence but presidents and prime ministers falling just short of it—especially after the kerfuffle in 1967 when President Charles de Gaulle told a crowd in Montreal, “Vive le Québec libre!”  Marois, though a separatist, heads a minority government and does not plan an independence referendum so long as that situation prevails.  Hollande, for his part, when asked if he was less unionist than his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, said only, “I choose continuity.”



Pauline Marois and François Hollande
Manitoba Chief, on Iranian TV, Accuses Canada of Ongoing Genocide.  Two former chiefs from Manitoba caused a political scandal in Canada this week by accepting an invitation to visit Iran and then in a television interview accusing the Canadian government of ongoing genocide.  Appearing October 14th on Press T.V., the state-run news channel, Terry Nelson, a former chief councillor for the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, an Ojibwe community in southern Manitoba, said that the high imprisonment rate for aboriginal women was “part of the ongoing effort by the Canadian government to exterminate us.”  He also referred to Indian reserves as “concentration camps.”  He appeared alongside Dennis Pashe, of the Dakota Tipi reserve, also in Manitoba.  Some First Nations leaders joined in the condemnation of Nelson’s language: Kenneth Chalmers, chief of the Birdtail Sioux First Nation in Manitoba, rejected the invocation of the Nazi Holocaust, saying, “It’s totally different.  We’re not lining up for gas chambers.”  Nelson had already courted controversy by claiming that “Jewish media” were behind criticism of his decision to visit Iran.


Terry Nelson
Greenland Mulls Allowing Brothel for Chinese Guest-Workers in Remote Village.  A hotelier in Maniitsoq, Greenland, Søren Lyberth, has proposed a brothel in the town to reap some local economic benefits from the United States aluminum firm American Alcoa’s plans to bring 2,000 low-wage laborers from China to build a new plant there.  The plan would almost double the town’s population during the construction project.


Pleasure palace: what happens in Maniitsoq stays in Maniitsoq
[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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