Saturday, October 13, 2012

Scottish Referendum Deal, Catalan Showdown, Inner Mongolia Beauty-Pageant Protest, Moro Peace Treaty in Philippines, Plus Gorkhaland, Kosovo, Dimaland, Staten Island: The Week in Separatist News, 7-13 October 2012

Alex Salmond.  Nice tie.

U.K., Edinburgh Hammer Out Deal: Only 2 Choices on Ballot; Voting-Age Matter Deferred.  Details emerged this week about some features of the agreement reached between Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the United Kingdom’s “Scottish Secretary,” Michael Moore, on the shape and form of the planned referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence.  After days in which leaks indicated first one thing and then another, especially on the question of extending the voting franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds for the vote, it seems that that question will be left for Scotland’s parliament to decide.  The Scottish National Party (S.N.P.) has been arguing for the lowering of the voting age.  Even though only a quarter of Scottish teenagers favored independence in a recent poll (as reported in this blog), the separatists seem to think that demographic can be won over in time for the vote.  It has also been revealed that it will be a single-question referendum, also a demand of the U.K., as opposed to one which offers a third choice of simply enhanced sovereignty—nicknamed “devo max,” for maximum devolution—for the territory.  Again, the insistence on a three-choice ballot is an interesting choice for the Scots, since three-choice ballots, in places like Puerto Rico and Western Sahara, tend to split votes and result in status quo ante, and thus are preferred by the colonizing power.  But London seems to feel that having no “devo max”—which it also does not want—on the ballot means that most Scots will opt for the status quo—a gamble to be sure.  Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, on the other hand, seems to think that the status quo is so unlikely to win a plurality that no matter how things go he will at least have “devo max” and, at the most, independence.  The agreement will be signed October 15th when the U.K.’s prime minister, David Cameron, visits Salmond in Edinburgh.

Scottish Greens Back Yes Vote, but Want to Ban Nukes; Salmond Agrees.  The Scottish Green Party debated in Glasgow on the weekend of October 6-7 whether and under what terms to back Yes Scotland, the pro-independence organization established earlier this year by the territory’s ruling Scottish National Party (S.N.P.), and Alex Salmond, the S.N.P. leader and Scotland’s First Minister, turns out to be open to some of them.  Patrick Harvie, a Green member of Scottish Parliament for Glasgow and a co-founder of Yes Scotland, articulated the Greens’ conditions for sovereignty.  Among them, an independent Scotland would be a secular republic—with no established church, such as the Church of England is in the United Kingdom.  Also, with Scotland a republic, the Kingdom of Scotland, which was merged with the Kingdom of England in 1707 to form the U.K. but never formally dissolved, will go on the dustbin of history.  Harvie also looks forward to a nuclear-free Scotland outside of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a separate Scots currency (but never the euro), although the S.N.P. tends to favor keeping the British pound.  Harvie was pleased that the S.N.P.’s movement has not become “nationalist” and “has evolved into the sort of organisation it should have been from day one.”  Though supporting Yes Scotland formally, the Greens, unlike the S.N.P., have supported a multi-choice referendum (see above) and will have their own “yes” campaign while also joining the S.N.P. in urging a “yes” vote.  However, Salmond said the next day that the new constitution he will draft will ban “weapons of mass destruction” from Scottish soil and territorial waters.  “Greens are not nationalists,” Harvie said, “and we’re not motivated by devotion to one flag or another.  But we can see huge opportunities to make our country fairer and greener.”

Patrick Harvie, head of Scotland’s Greens, has put his weight behind independence.
Also controversially, Scotland’s S.N.P. secretary of health, Alex Neilsaid that he would push for an independent Scotland to reduce the period of time during which abortion is permitted—currently, under U.K. law, 24 weeks from conception.

Unearthed Draft Trump Speech on Freed Libyan Bomber Taints Salmond.  Meanwhile, media in England this week revealed a chapter in the erstwhile troubled friendship between Salmond and the flamboyant American billionaire Donald Trump which they hope will embarrass the S.N.P. leader.  In 2009, Salmond tried and failed to recruit Trump to tamp down anger in the United States over the release of one of the Libyan terrorists in the 1988 airplane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed nearly 189 U.S. citizens.  During the controversy, after Scotland freed the only convicted plotter, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, on medical grounds, the S.N.P. drafted a statement for Trump to release to the public as his own words, in which he was to say, “As an American, I personally would sympathise with the U.S. families.  However, I am certain that the Scots issued this release for good reasons and ... it won’t stop my love affair with Scotland and the Scots.  No one should ever demean that country.  Too many Scottish soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan for the head of the F.B.I. to lecture Scots on fighting terrorism.”  But Trump refused, arguing that he would be “run out of New York” if he backed Scotland’s decision publicly.  At the time, the S.N.P. was helping clear the way for Trump to build a £750-million golf resort on unspoiled Aberdeenshire coastline—a deal that has since gone south, taking the Salmond–Trump bromance with it, after the Scottish government approved an offshore wind-farm to be built in full view of the links.  The pro-unionist Conservative and Labour parties made political hay from the revelation, with the Scottish Conservatives’ deputy leader saying, “Donald Trump, like most people in Scotland and almost everyone in the U.S., clearly realised the release of Megrahi was a huge mistake,” and Scottish Labour’s shadow justice minister saying, “It would appear the First Minister thought Mr. Trump had a favour to return, even if the U.S. tycoon didn’t agree.  It is extremely worrying that such close relationships between politicians and rich and powerful businessmen can affect Scottish Government policy.”

Donald Trump in Scotland
Battling Bonds: Roger Moore, Sean Connery Disagree on Scottish Independence.  It is well known that the Scottish actor Sean Connery is an ardent proponent of his home country’s independence.  In fact (as discussed in a profile of him in this blog), Connery, who is 82, lives in self-imposed exile in the Bahamas (boy, exile can be tough) and refuses to return to Scotland until it is free of the United Kingdom.  But now, this week, Roger Moore, age 84, Connery’s successor in the film role of the secret agent James Bondtold an audience at the Times Cheltenham Literary Festival in London that he disagrees.  “Scotland’s going to stay part of the U.K.,” Moore said, “despite the fact that Sean Connery wants it separate,” adding, “Of course I have great pride in being English.  We were brought up with the idea that ‘we are the best,’ which is not quite true.  I’m proud to be British.  I said English, but I meant British.”  The English novelist Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator, was also one-quarter Scots, and Bond himself, according to the novels, was of Scots and Swiss ancestry.

License to kilt.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

For the latest news from Nigeria (and Cameroon), including Boko Haram violence and the dispute over the Bakassi Peninsula, see this week’s “Nigeria Update.”

U.N. Security Council Gives Ecowas, Mali 45 Days to Submit Plan to Free Azawad.  The thousands who marched in Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali, on October 11th to demand military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to dislodge the Islamist militias that for months have been running the northern two-thirds of the country—known as Azawad—were vindicated the next day as the United Nations Security Council gave Ecowas and Mali 45 days to come up with a plan for military intervention to submit to the Council for approval.  Ecowas, for its part, is still waiting for a green light from the United Nations and from the Malian central government.

Thousands rallied in Bamako for Malian unity—i.e. the reabsorption of Azawad.
200 Timbuktu Women Rally against Shari’a Law in Islamist-Ruled Azawad.  About 200 women staged a rally on October 6th in Timbuktu, in the Islamist-ruled Independent State of Azawad, to protest the imposition of shari’a (Islamic law).  The jihadist militias that rule the territory, which comprises what the international community considers the northern two-thirds of the Republic of Mali, broke up the rally by firing shots in the air.  Reports also emerged this week that Islamists are compiling lists of women who have had children out of wedlock, raising fears that those women could be targeted for execution by stoning, as has happened to other women under shari’a in Azawad.

Barotse Monarchy Claims Independence from Zambia in Bold Press Release.  Even as Lozi people in Zambia’s Western Province prepare for violent conflict with the central government (as reported last week in this blog), the self-described Publicity Wing of the Royal Barotseland Government-in-Waiting on October 7th issued a public message titled “State of Affairs in the Nation of Royal Barotseland,” in which, the writers explained, they consider the homeland of the Lozi (a.k.a. Barotse) people now fully independent of the Republic of Zambia.  In March of this year, Lozi communities throughout western Zambia voted to annul the Barotseland Agreement of 1964.  This was the agreement between the Barotse king and the nascent Republic of Zambia under President Kenneth Kaunda which made Barotseland formally part of Zambia, but it was contingent on rights of autonomy which the central Zambian government has continued to withhold from the territory, which Kaunda renamed Western Province in a vain attempt to tamp down nationalist feeling.  The new statement argues that the 1964 agreement is voided and that Barotseland’s March 27, 2012, declaration of independence (reported on at the time in this blog) offered a 28-day rebuttal period which the Zambian government allowed to elapse; therefore, “we put it to the Zambian government that they have consented to our declaration,” adding, “It must also be noted that we the people of Barotseland are rebuilding our beloved country and nation which was destroyed and looted by the Zambian government under the Kaunda regime of the 1960s.”  The statement goes on: “We have now completed and fulfilled all requirements of our statehood, with the final one being the endorsement of our own transitional constitution.”  Citing a public-consultation process that has collected over 6,000 signatures, the statement asserts that “we can now proceed with the announcement and inauguration of the care taker government.  As you may know our transitional constitution does empower our Litunga (King), who shall forever be the head of state, to inaugurate the care taker government among other functions”—to include the “re-establishment of the police, establishment of the army, re-establishment of the central bank of Barotseland, appointment of ambassadors and high commissioners,” etc.

An expansive vision of Barotseland.
In reality, it is only the secession of Western Province that is on the table.
Kenya Cracks Down on Mombasa Separatists; M.R.C. Spokesman Arrested.  The Kenyan government cracked down this week on separatists from the Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.), arresting 16 suspects in Kwale, in Coast Province, on October 11th, and others elsewhere.  The Republic of Kenya’s minister for internal security warned the country on October 5th that the M.R.C., which advocates the secession of the predominantly-Muslim Coast Province, is planning on disrupting upcoming national examinations and elections.  “There is an election coming up,” the minister, Katoo ole Metito, said, “and we have intelligence reports showing that they have been going round the coastal region telling parents not to allow their sons and daughters to apply to be clerks in the ... registration voter exercise.”  Meanwhile, the spokesman for the M.R.C. was charged in court on October 8th with declaring that Coast Province is not part of Kenya.  The spokesman, Mohamed Mraja, denies the charges.

5 Hurt by Blast in Somaliland’s Sool Region; Governor Orders Ex-Governor Arrested.  Five people were injured in an explosion October 5th in Las Anod, capital of the recently-pacified Sool region, in a disputed area in the east of the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland.  Also this week in Las Anod, the governor of Sool, Mohamed Mahmud Ali, a.k.a. Jinn Yare, ordered the arrest of Harir Gadweine, former governor of the nearby Ayn (a.k.a. Cayn, a.k.a. Buhoodle) region, though no reason for the arrest has yet been given.

Puntland Police Shut Down Radio Station for “Destabilizing Peace and Stability.”  Police in the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia, on orders from the de facto republic’s ministry of information, on October 6th shut down a radio station for “destabilizing [the] peace and stability of Puntland” by spreading supposedly false news.  The station, Horseed Media, in Bosaso, on Puntland’s north coast, claims it never received the government’s letter of warning ahead of the raid.  Puntland’s authoritarian president, Abirahman Mohamed Farole, runs, thanks to the Federal Republic of Somalia’s blind eye, one of the most politically stable parts of the Horn of Africa, but it is marred by authoritarian overreach, and suppression of the press especially.


Paddy Roy Bates, a.k.a. Prince Roy of Sealand, Dies at 91.  See the full obituary on this blog.

Spanish Parliament Denies Catalans Right to Hold Independence Referendum.  The Spanish parliament voted on October 9th to block the Autonomous Community of Catalonia from holding a referendum on independence from Spain.  Catalonia’s own autonomous parliament voted last month (as reported in this blog) to hold a referendum on some unspecified future date, possibly soon after next month’s elections for the Catalan parliament.  The Republican Left of Catalonia party (E.R.C.) brought the question before the chamber by tabling a motion to permit Catalonia to hold referenda, but it was voted down 276-42, with no abstentions.  Already, however, Catalan separatist leaders are vowing to ignore the result and hold a vote on independence anyway.

Spain’s Falangists—a holdover from the days of Fascism—oppose any kind of separatism.
A few days later, on Spain’s national holiday, October 12th (the same as Columbus Day in the United States, celebrating one of the most bloodthirsty genocidal mass-murderers in history, who was in fact Italian), supporters and opponents of Catalonian secession held rival marches and demonstrations in Barcelona and other cities.

Ah, well, there’s a bit of craziness on both sides.
Some injuries were reported.
Hemorrhage to Catalonia: a pro-independence demonstrator after the rioting
Basques Protest Basque’s Extradition in Edinburgh; Ulster Shipping ETA Suspect to Spain.  Members of the Basque ethnic group and their supporters demonstrated in front of a courtoom in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 8th to protest the scheduling of a new extradition hearing for a suspected terrorist arrested in the city in July (as reported at the time in this blog) whom authorities would like to send back to Spain.  The suspect, Beñat Atorrasagasti Ordóñez, has his new hearing set for December 3rd.  Meanwhile, a court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, this week ordered the extradition of another suspected Basque terrorist to Spain.  This suspect, Fermín Vila Michelana, who is 42, faces charges for murder and terrorism connected to the recently disarmed and now mostly disbanded militia ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatusana, or Basque Homeland and Freedom), of which Ordóñez is also a suspected member.

Basques rallying in Edinburgh, Scotland, against an extradition
E.U. Enlargement Commissioner Tells Serbia Kosovo Partition Is off the Table.  Responding to Serbian insistence on September 21st (as reported at the time in this blog) that the only solution to the question of Kosovo was partitioning the territory, leaving the Serb-dominated North Kosovo formally out of the nascent republic’s jurisdiction, the European Union’s “enlargement commissioner,” Štefan Füle, a Czech, said after meeting Serbia’s president, Ivica Dačić, “Partition of Kosovo is not on the table.”  Serbia’s candidacy for E.U. membership is contingent on a resolution of the question of Kosovo, whose unilateral declaration of independence from the Republic of Serbia in 2008 was recognized by the E.U. and most of its member states (all except Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain).  But Füle said that, even without talks with Serbia, Kosovo itself could start down the road E.U. membership as early as June 2013 if other conditions are met.

In Kosovo, Serb Cemetery Vandalized, Serb Home Bombed.  A Serbian cemetery in a predominantly-ethnically-Albanian town in the Republic of Kosovo was found vandalized on October 6th.  The cemetery, in the village of Žač, had its gate torn out, its church demolished, tombstones damaged, and dead cattle strewn about.  Approximately a dozen Serbian families live in Žač, and there has been friction with the Albanian majority in the community.  Then, on October 10th, in Kosovska Mitrovica, the northern half of the divided northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica which serves as the de facto of the Serbian-backed enclave North Kosovo, a bomb was thrown into the yard of a Serbian home.  There were no injuries.  Then, the next day, two Serbs were attacked by three Albanians near Mitrovica, prompting a search by officers from the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (Eulex) of two nearby Albanian-owned homes, from which 82 weapons were seized.

A Serb cemetery vandalized in Kosovo
2 Serbian Police Checkpoints near Kosovo Border Attacked.  Two Serbian police checkpoints at the border between the Republic of Serbia and the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo, which Serbia still claims, were attacked on October 7th.  One was near the village of Dobrosin, in Serbia on the border with Kosovo’s far-eastern end and one near Podujevo, a northern Kosovo town a little farther from the border.  There were no reports of casualties, nor many details at all.

Road Dispute Pushes Moscow Suburbs to Secede from Russia, Waving Fascist Ukrainian Flags.  See this week’s full article on this development.

6 Militants Killed by Police in Dagestan; Chopper Bombs Militia’s Mountain Hideout.  A checkpoint in Buynaksk, in southwestern Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, was attacked by rebels on October 7th with grenade launchers and automatic weapons.  Interior-ministry officers returned fire, and there were no reports of any casualties.  The following day, a car stop in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, led to a shoot-out with police in which three militants were shot and killed.  Another militant died after resisting arrest in the village of Endirey on the same day, while other reports also mention a second militant killed by police in the capital on the 8th, as well as two mysterious explosions in the city that morning, which the Dagestani interior ministry later said were not terrorism-related.  Then, on October 9th, a Russian foreign-ministry helicopter bombed a militia’s mountain redoubt near Makhachkala, and on October 11th a siege of a militant hideout in Endirei, in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district, ended in the death of the 22-year-old militant holed up in the house.  One policeman was injured.

2 Militants Dead in Karbadino-Balkaria Siege.  Two Islamist militants were killed in the western North Caucasus region’s Kabardino-Balkar Republic, in southwestern Russia, on October 12th, after a police siege of a house.  The militants fled to the house after a shoot-out prompted by a police identification check in the republican capital, Nalchik.

Ingush Madrasah Teacher Killed; Confessed Killer Cites Sexual Harassment.  Meanwhile, in the nearby Russian Republic of Ingushetia, a 48-year-old Muslim religious leader, Yunus Akhilgov, was killed by unknown assailants in the village of Troitskaya on October 11th.  Later, police said a 53-year-old man confessed to killing Akhilgov, a madrasah teacher who the suspect said was harassing his 19-year-old son.

2 Extradited from Britain Plead Not Guilty in Connecticut to Aiding Chechen Rebels.  Running money, guns, and recruits to the Islamist insurgency is among the charges to which two men extradited from the United Kingdom pleaded “not guilty” on October 6th in a courtroom in New Haven, Connecticut.  The two men, Babar Ahmad, aged 38, and Syed Talha Ahsan, 33, are also charged with aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan after the United States military removed them from power with an invasion in 2001.  They are being tried in Connecticut because that is where an Internet service provider used in their operations was based.

Anti-extradition protesters on Britain.  Ahmad is accused of running guns to Chechen rebels.
French Police Arrest 4 P.K.K. Rebels, Including Suspected Leader.  In France, police arrested two Kurds, one a suspected leader of an overseas branch of Turkey’s banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), in Paris on October 6th.  Europe’s diaspora Kurdish National Congress on October 12th called the arrest of the leader, Adem Uzun, a “head-on attack” on the Kurdish people to satisfy the Turkish government.  The following day, two other P.K.K. suspects were nabbed, one in Évron in the northwest and another in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumone, a Parisian suburb.  Meanwhile, a Greek arms dealer regarded as a supporter of the P.K.K. was found dead in a hotel room in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, on October 9th.  The cause of death of the Greek, named Vlasis Kamburoğlu, is unknown.


New Georgian Government Pledges Softer Stance on Abkhazia, South Ossetia.  The newly elected government in the Republic of Georgia said this week that it would open dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two mostly-unrecognized Russian puppet states carved out of what most of the world still regards as Georgian territory.  Giorgy Volsky, an aide to Bidzina Ivanishivili of the Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia coalition, who won the presidency October 1st, told media, “The talks aim to establish strong relations with the parties and to start a direct popular dialogue,” adding, “We don’t think we should call them ‘puppet regimes,’” and he said Russia did not need to be part of the talks.  Ivanishvili, a billionaire, is perceived as being softer on Russia than his predecessor, Mikheil Saakashvili, who provoked a war with Russia over South Ossetia in 2008, which Georgia lost.

Suspected P.K.K. Terrorists Attack 10 High Schools in Southeast Turkey, Injure 5.  Coordinated attacks on 10 high schools in Diyarbakır and Şırnak provinces, in southeastern Turkey’s Kurdistan region, on October 9th injured two teachers and three students.  In most instances, Molotov cocktails and noise bombs were lobbed at the buildings.  In Diyarbakır, unknown attackers stormed the school and firebombed administrative offices.  Authorities suspect the banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  A security video camera captured images of a teacher trying to block an attacker from entering a hallway.  Meanwhile, a Turkish military helicopter crashed at Abali, in Diyarbakır province, on October 11th, killing one soldier and injuring seven.  It was an accident, not combat-related, but the heavy military presence in the province is because of the Kurdish insurgency.

A teacher scuffles with a Kurdish attacker in a school attack in southeast Turkey

Autonomous Kurdish Region in Syria Announces Formation of Protection Force.  The Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.), a pro-Kurdish group in northern Syria, declared October 4th the formation of Kurdistan People’s Army Brigades (known as Y.P.G.).  The new forces will protect Kurdish-dominated areas along the Turkish border which the embattled dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad relinquished in July, allowing the creation of a de facto West Kurdistan Autonomous Region (as reported at the time in this blog).  The quasi-state’s very existence has spooked the government of Turkey, which regards the P.Y.D. as an arm of Turkey’s own banned separatist army, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), so with the creation of the Y.P.G., all the pieces are in place for full Turkish intervention in an ethnic civil war in Syria.

New Kurdish protection forces in Syria
Iraq Threatens Diplomatic Retaliation for Latest Turkish Air Rides on Kurds in North.  In addition to nearly daily shelling of government positions just over the border in Syria, Turkey’s military announced October 8th that it had launched two separate air raids across the border in northern Iraq, in an attempt to take out Kurdish rebels that threaten Turkey.  Having just announced on October 2nd (as reported at the time in this blog) that Turkey would have to halt such forays and also phase out its military bases in northern Iraq (first established decades ago at the invitation of Saddam Hussein), the Iraqi government took a stronger stance than ever on these latest sorties, saying, “These Turkish attacks on Iraqi territories are not acceptable and we will take the necessary diplomatic measures.”  So far, though, no response, negative or otherwise, from the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.), the autonomous entity which actually administers the area of northern Iraq in question.

Hamas, Israel Exchange Retaliatory Missile Attacks, Air Strikes.  In response to an Israeli air strike on October 7th on the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories, the Islamist terrorist groups Hamas—which governs the territory—and Islamic Jihad fired more than 40 rockets and mortars at southern Israel the next day.  One home was damaged, but there were no reported casualties.  The original strike injured two Gaza terrorists on a motorcycle, according to Israel.  Then, after the Gaza bombardment, the Israeli air force hit more targets later in the day, including a Hamas position, according to Israeli sources, in a Gaza City mosque.

The Gaza Strip this week
1 Killed, 4 Wounded in Separatist Attacks in Yemen.  One Southern Movement rebel was killed and another wounded in a separatist attack on a military checkpoint in Lahij province in southern Yemen on October 6th.  The next day, in ad-Dali’ province, just north and over the border in what was formerly North Yemen, separatists that were reported to be the same unit, armed with machine guns and grenades, attacked a government facility and injured three security personnel.  The Southern Movement is fighting to restore the nation of South Yemen which was dissolved when the two Yemens reunified in 1990.


Gorkhas Push for Own State If India Caves to Telangana Demand, but Vidarbhis Pessimistic.  The secretary general of Gukhta Janmukti Morcha (G.J.M.), a political party in India’s northeastern West Bengal state which represents the Gorkha and other Nepali-descended ethnic groups of the northern Darjeeling Hills region, announced on October 7th that if the central government meets the demands of activists in Andhra Pradesh to create a separate state, Telangana, for the Telugu-speaking minority (see last week’s report on the Telangana statehood movement), then “the G.J.M. will immediately resurrect the agitation for Gorkhaland.”  Starting in the 1980s, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (G.N.L.F.) pushed for an separate state within India to be called Gorkhaland, but the creation of an autonomous Gorkha Territorial Administration (G.T.A.) within West Bengal mostly put statehood demands on the back burner.  Meanwhile, advocates of the creation of a separate state out of Maharashtra’s landlocked Vidarbha region also reacted to the seemingly increasing likelihood of Telangana statehood, with the Vidarbha regional president, Deepak Nilawar, saying on October 8th, “Vidarbha missed the bus a decade ago when new states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand were carved out. Now, Telangana state is being considered. But thanks to the dominance of western Maharashtra leaders who know well that their future will be bleak if Vidarbha state is created, the statehood remains a distant dream for us.”

Map showing the proposed territory of Gorkhaland within the current West Bengal state
Bangladesh to Hand Assamese Separatist to Indian Authorities before Year’s End.  The government of Bangladesh told media this week that a top rebel leader held in prison there would probably be handed over to authorities in his native India before the end of the year.  The prisoner, Anup Chetia, is general secretary of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), which in 2010 dropped its demand for Assam state to secede from India, though violence continues.  He was arrested in Bangladesh in 1997.  Meanwhile, a hardline ULFA officer, Ramen Konwar (a.k.a. Partho Gogoi), surrendered to the Indian military in Dibrugarh, in Assam, on October 10th.  He revealed that he had been trained at camps over the border in Burma.

India Agrees to Autonomous Region in Deal with Dimasa Rebels in Assam.  In New Delhi, the Republic of India and the government of Assam state signed a peace deal on October 8th with the Dima Halam Daogah (D.H.D.), representing the Dimasa ethnic group.  The agreement maps out a route to the establishment of an autonomous region in south-central Assam to be governed by a new entity to be called the Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (D.H.A.T.C.).  The D.H.D. has been waging violence since 2003 with the aim of an autonomous region to be called Dimaland, Dimasaland, or Dimaraji in parts of the states of Assam and Nagaland.

Map showing the location of the Dimasa people in India
Kangleipak Radicals in Manipur Vow to Fight On, Despite Cease-Fire.  Only weeks after a September 26th surrender by 114 fighters from over 20 ethnic rebel groups in Manipur state in far-northeastern India, one of the parties to the cease-fire, the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak), plus a related group, the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak–Progressive (Prepak-Pro), are saying that they will not abide by any agreement with the government and will intensify their struggle to restore Manipur’s independence. Prepak’s chairman, N. Nongdrenkhomba, said, “As long as the alien rule continues, the liberation movement will continue.  The problem will be resolved only when New Delhi along with its military withdraws from Manipur’s soil.”  Manipur was an independent kingdom before British colonial rule, and while in British India it was a self-governing “princely state” called Kangleipak.

A flag of the former princely state of Manipur.  Now that is a bitchen flag.
Geelani Was Offered Kashmir Premiership by India While in Prison, Memoir Reveals.  A preview of the second volume of the autobiography of the hardline Kashmiri separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, reveals that in the early 1990s, while he was being held in a prison in Jammu, the central government in New Delhi offered him the premiership of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s insurgency-plagued majority-Muslim northern state.  The memoir, titled Wullar Kay Kinarai, was published October 10th, but some excerpts were made available earlier.


China Cracks Down in Tibet Following Self-Immolation at Monastery.  Another Tibetan protester set himself on fire on October 6th in the eastern part of the People’s Republic of China’s misnamed Tibet Autonomous Region, prompting the tightening of a crackdown on the citizenry that involves greater surveillance and restriction of movement.  The activist, Sangay Gyatso, who was 27 years old, self-immolated near a monastery and died “shouting slogans,” according to reports, “for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.”  An exile group reports, “The Chinese security officials also attempted to arrest the Dokar Monastery monks responsible for taking care of ... and taking pictures of his charred body.”  Just as the final version of this blog was being written (on morning of October 13th), word came in of another self-immolation today: 52-year-old Tamdrin Dorjee, who is the grandfather of the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche, an important religious figure.  Dorjee, who set himself ablaze in Gansu province, died of his wounds.

Sangay Gyatso after his self-immolation
Mongolian Herders Hit Streets to Protest Chinese Beauty Pageant Mocking Ancestors.  The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (S.M.H.R.I.C.), a New York–based group which advocates abroad for the rights of the Mongolian ethnic minority in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, reported this week that Mongolian herders held street demonstrations on October 2nd to protest the Chinese government’s leasing of their ancestral grazing and herding lands to Chinese corporations.  Several herders were beaten by police during their march.  The protesters also objected to official Chinese disrespect to their tribal ancestors, in the form of a beauty pageant staged, without locals’s consent, in a desert area which used, as a backdrop, grotesque sand sculptures which the herders interpreted as parodies of their ancestral idols.

Daisy Dukes, American flags, and sand sculptures mocking Mongolian tribal ancestors—
a beauty pageant in the Chinese-pop-culture tradition of utterly baffling what-the-fuck randomness.
Human Rights Watch Urges Burma to Free Activists; War in Shan, Kachin Rages On.  The international organization Human Rights Watch (H.R.W.) on October 1st urged the government of Burma to drop charges against 13 Kachin activists for organizing a rally in Rangoon, the former capital, on September 21st, International Peace Day.  Over 1,000 people marched on that day, calling for an end to the government’s war against the Kachin minority.  It was the biggest public demonstration in the country since the “Saffron Revolution” of 2007.  Meanwhile, three Burmese soldiers were killed on October 8th in a battle with the Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.) in the Munggu region in northern Shan State.  Three Kachin men were arrested the same day nearby, on suspicion of K.I.A. membership.  On October 9th, 6 Burmese soldiers were killed and more than a dozen injured in fighting in western Kachin State, according to the K.I.A.


Philippine President Announces Final Peace Deal with Hot Horny MILF Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  The president of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III, announced October 7th that a final peace agreement had been reached with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the predominantly-Muslim separatist rebel group that, for your information, was calling itself MILF long before that term took on a second meaning in American slang, so stop snickering every time I say that.  The deal is expected to be signed in Manila, the capital, on October 15th, but there are some details still to be worked out.  Essentially, the agreement is to pacify the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by bringing in hold-out rebel groups like the MILF (I said stop snickering!) and others and rename it Bangasamoro.


Defendant in Quebec Victory Rally Shootings Arrives in Court Wounded, Blames Guard.  In Canada, Richard Henry Bain, the disgruntled Anglophone Quebec fishing-lodge owner who took out his rage against Francophones with a shooting at the separatist Parti Québécois election victory rally in Montreal last month, killing one and injuring another, showed up in court in Montreal on October 11th with two wounds on his head, saying only, “A guard pushed me.”  His defense team is asking for an investigation of the incident.

Alaska Militia Member Given 5 Years for Insurrection Plot.  A member of the radical individual-sovereigntist militia called the Alaska Peacemakers Militia was given a five-year prison sentence on September 24th for his role in a plot to assassinate government officials.  The defendant, Coleman Barney, age 38, from the city of North Pole, near Fairbanks, was convicted in June of mostly weapons-related charges in the plot.  Barney filed an appeal on September 26th.  Two co-conspirators, Francis “Schaeffer” Cox (founder of the militia) and Lonnie Vernon, will be sentenced November 19th.  The Alaska Peacemakers Militia believes that the United States government should be abolished if gun rights are violated.

Members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia
Ian, Darryl, but No Second Darryl on Ballot for New Hampshire Independence Party.  Two candidates, known locally as “Ian and Darryl” (not to be confused with the Vermont backwoodsmen “Larry, Darryl, and Darryl” from The Newhart Show (see below)), declared this week that they are running for office on the ticket of the New Hampshire Liberty Party, a libertarian, Tea-Party-style movement which seeks independence for New Hampshire.  Ian Freeman is running for state representative for the district that includes Cheshire and Keene, while Darryl W. Perry is running for Cheshire County register of deeds.  Freeman, who co-hosts a local radio show, and Perry, former chair of the Boston Tea Party National Committee, are two of the three men who founded the N.H. Liberty Party a few short weeks ago (as reported at the time in this blog).

Live free or die.
Hammerskins “Hatecore” Music Festival Held without Incident in Idaho.  In Idaho, a music festival featuring the “hatecore” or “white power” rock music propagated by the Hammerskins white-supremacist network linked to a massacre (reported on at the time in this blog) at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this August came and went without incident this week, despite fears (reported on last month in this blog) by authorities who anticipated trouble from revelers or counterdemonstrators or both.  The “Hammerfest 2012” festival, held October 6th on private property near Melba, in Canyon County, near Boise, did not advertise its precise location ahead of time, saying only that it would be “in Boise,” but police say they had no trouble locating it and monitoring events closely.

The “Hammerfest 2012” white-power music festival came off without a hitch (not counting trailer hitches).
Staten Island Republican Raises Issue of Secession from New York City in Debate.  A Republican state senator representing Staten Island, New York, Andrew Lanza, raised the question of taking the borough out of New York City in a televised debate on October 12th with his Democratic opponent, Gary Carsel.  “Why shouldn’t Staten Island control its own destiny?” Lanza said, but Carsel called the idea a “pipe dream.”  Staten Island is the least populous, most suburban, most geographically distant, and most Republican of the five boroughs—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are the others—that make up New York City.  A secession movement picked up steam in the 1990s but has languished since then.

Staten Island’s flag.  Good God, my eyes hurt.  Change the font, please.
(That reminds me, see my favorite blog, Bad Flags.)
(And don’t the seagulls sort of serve as an unwelcome reminder that most of Staten Island
consists of garbage landfills?)
[You can read more about these and many other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]

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