PALESTINE VOTED INTO UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
AS NON-MEMBER “OBSERVER STATE”;
U.S., ISRAEL, CANADA AMONG FEW DISSENTERS IN 138-9 VOTE;
NETANYAHU STAMPS FOOT, TAKES BALL, AND GOES STWAIT HOME
The United Nations General Assembly (G.A.) on November 29th voted overwhelmingly to admit the State of Palestine as an “observer state,” meaning that, as a non-member state, it cannot vote and was not vulnerable to a veto by the one member of the U.N. Security Council that opposed the accession, the United States. But it counts as recognition of its statehood at the last remaining official level, marking the admission of the small nation, which has fought for independence for decades, into the international community at last. The vote in the G.A. was 138-9, with the U.S., Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, Panama, and four minuscule Pacific island nations casting the only “no” votes. Many Western nations friendly to Israel, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, abstained, but major NATO nations such as Spain, Italy, and France, voted with the majority. After the vote, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed to massively accelerate the building of armed settlements of ultra-Orthodox religious fanatics in Palestine’s partially-Israeli-occupied West Bank territory. But he had better be careful. After the vote, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was clear: as of that day, Palestine, including the West Bank, he said, is “a state under an occupation, and most of the world’s countries think so as well, voiding the Israeli claim that this is a disputed territory.” Things are different now, Bibi.
See yesterday’s article in this blog for full commentary on the U.N. vote.
Malaysia Eager to Open First Embassy in Newly Recognized Palestine. The prime minister of Malaysia, Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, said on November 29th that he would like his country to be the first to open a formal embassy in Palestine, once the United Nations General Assembly accepts the Palestinian nation as an “observer state.” Hamas, the Palestinian National Authority’s ruling party, reacted warmly to the suggestion.
Arafat Exhumed, Samples Taken; Will Be Tested for Radiation Poisoning. In Ramallah, on the West Bank, the body of Yasser Arafat, the former Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) chairman and the Palestinian nation’s most revered founder, was exhumed on November 27th and bone samples were taken to test a theory that he was poisoned with polonium radiation. The government of Israel is the natural suspect should it prove to have been a poisoning.
|The scene at Arafat’s exhumation this week|
Palestine Cause, Anti-Semitism Focus of Anti-British Football Hooliganism in Rome. The ethnic hatreds of the Middle East spilled over into European football rivalries this week as fans of Italy’s football club S.S. Lazio chanted anti-Semitic slogans and hoisted a “Free Palestine” banner and many flags during a November 22nd game in Rome against England’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Lazio fans chanted, “Juden Tottenham, Juden Tottenham,” an apparent reference to the Jewish component of the London-based team’s fan base. Before the match, held in Rome, about 50 men armed with knives, brass knuckles, and wrenches attacked Tottenham fans at a pub, resulting in a mêlée that injured 10 people. Both the World Jewish Congress and the Italian Football Federation condemned the events.
|Crowd at a football match in Rome which descended into anti-Semitic hooliganism|
Islamists Push Tuareg Secularists out of Another Town, Now Azawad’s Borders. One of the two Islamist militias that govern the de facto independent Azawad republic in northern Mali said on November 28th that it had wrested the town of Léré from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (M.N.L.A.), the secular Tuareg army that initiated the separatist war earlier this year. An M.N.L.A. spokesman, Mohamed Ag Attaye, conceded that after a five-day siege his group had retreated to a base 60 kilometers north of the town. Léré is near the border with Mauritania, in the far south of Timbuktu province, near the de facto border with the one-third of Mali controlled by the government in Bamako. The Islamist group, Ansar al-Dine, and its governing partner the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) now control all of the border crossings between the claimed territory of Azawad and the neighboring states of Niger and Mauritania.
Suicide Bus, Car Bombing Kills 15, Wounds 30 at Army Church in Northern Nigeria. A pair of suicide bombings demolished a church inside a military barracks in northern Nigeria on November 25th, killing at least 15 people. The attack, in Kaduna State, consisted of an explosives-loaded bus battering through the defensive wall, followed by a similarly bomb-laden Toyota Camry exploding 10 minutes later and killing many who arrived to help the injured from the first blast. At least 30 people injured. The Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram is suspected.
At Least 35 Killed in Other Boko Haram Violence across Nigeria. The Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is suspected in several violent attacks across Nigeria this week. Boko Haram fighters attacked a tavern in Borno State on November 25th, killing two customers. Two police were killed in an attack on a police building in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on November 26th, in which militants freed several prisoners. Later, authorities raided suspected Boko Haram hideouts and rounded up more than 20 suspects in the incident, all in and around Abuja. The same day, in Borno State, suspected Boko Haram gunmen assassinated the head of the All Nigeria People’s Party (A.N.P.P.), Ahaji Tar Kusurambe Magumeri, who had just returned from a hajj (Muslim pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia. Two days earlier in Borno, two other prominent citizens were similarly assassinated: a businessman and a district head. Three people were killed in a militant attack on the village of Sho, in Plateau State, on November 27th. In another village, Heipang, 10 were killed in similar violence. Later, also in Plateau State, one militant was killed in a clash between patrolmen and Boko Haram fighters who opened fire on them. In Maidiguri, the capital of Borno State, a battle between the federal anti-terrorist Joint Task Force (J.T.F.) and Boko Haram left one soldier and three terrorists dead. Security forces arrested 31 people. Witnesses say civilians were also killed, and one witness described at least nine bodies lying in the street, including civilians. The next day, the town of Rann, also in Borno, was attacked by a battalion of Boko Haram fighters on motorcycles, attacking a primary school and government offices, blowing up communications towers, and killing five policemen.
|Aftermath of the attack in Abuja|
Puntland Presidential Guards Fire on Protestors, Killing 1, Injuring 4. In Gardo, near the very tip of the Horn of Africa in the de facto independent Puntland State of Somalia, demonstrators blockaded streets with burning tires on November 23rd day as Puntland’s president, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, and his convoy came through town. They were protesting his decision to extend his presidency by unilaterally postponing elections. Farole’s security detail opened fire on the protestors, killing at least one woman and injuring at least four people. One challenger for the presidency, Abdirahman Mohamed Hassan, speaking from Egypt, called it a massacre and called on Farole to step down. Two days later, according to reports, Puntland police killed three civilians in a mosque in the southern, non-Puntland-administered half of the city of Galkayo, which serves as the capital of the de facto independent Galmudug State. Police say they were responding to being fired upon when they entered the mosque.
|This week’s violence in Gardo, Puntland|
|Election violence in Erigavo, Somaliland (or is it Puntland? or Somalia? or Khaatumo?)|
Mthwakazi Liberation Front Unveils Flag for Future Republic of Matabeleland. The Ndebele separatists of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (M.L.F.) this week unveiled a design intended to serve as the flag of an independent Republic of Matebeleland if it succeeds in seceding from the Republic of Zimbabwe, whose brutal dictator Robert Mugabe is from the majority Shona ethnic group. As Paul Siwela, secretary general of the M.L.F. (and we can be glad that the Ndebele are not Muslim, or they might, like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines, be tempted to call themselves the MILF), explained the red stands for Ndebele martyrs, the shield, spear, and knobkerrie (war club) for the Matebele state’s military stand against the British in the 19th century, blue for the sky, white for peace and for warm relations with non-Africans, and black for the African people. He added, “All ethnic groups found in Matabeleland, including the Shona who desire to make it their permanent home, are entitled to be full citizens of the republic,” which the M.L.F. hopes to found in 2018.
|The newly unveiled flag of a future independent Matabeleland|
[For updates on Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia, see this week’s “Kosovo Update.”]
Mas’s Coalition Slips in Catalan Vote, but Leftist Separatists Gain; Referendum Likely. The landmark elections to Catalonia’s regional parliament on November 25th left the separatist ruling coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU, or Convergence and Union), with 12 fewer seats—now only 50 out of 135—meaning its leader, Artur Mas i Gavarró, will now have to join with other parties to push through his promised referendum on independence from Spain. A likely partner is the leftist pro-independence party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (E.R.C., or Republican Left of Catalonia), which came in second with 21 seats, up from a previous 10. That combination would give separatists a strong majority. Spain’s ruling People’s Party (P.P.) gained only one seat and now has 19.
Basque Rebels Willing to Disband, but Demand Talks on Prisoners, Demilitarization. The leadership of the banned and now disarmed Basque separatist militia ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatusana, or “Basque Homeland and Freedom”) indicated this week its willingness to disband, but only if the governments of France and Spain meet certain conditions. Those conditions include the demilitarization of the Basque Country and a discussion toward the release of imprisoned members. But Spain’s ministry of the interior announced that the only announcement from ETA it wanted to hear “is the one that announces its dissolution,” rather than one that sets preconditions for it.
Separatists Plan for Tobacco-Free Scotland within 20 Years. The Scottish National Party (S.N.P.) announced this week that if Scotland gains independence in a 2014 referendum, it will join only two other countries, New Zealand and Finland, in committing to a tobacco-free nation. Those two countries have set target dates for the elimination of tobacco use—New Zealand in 2025 and Finland in 2040. The precise target date will be announced in the new year, but “within twenty years” is an estimate that is being floated about.
|Some pipes will still be allowed, presumably.|
Russians Free 3 Georgians Arrested in 2011 for South Ossetia Border Crossing. Three Georgian villagers who were arrested more than a year ago by Russian border guards for crossing from the Republic of Georgia into a territory Georgia still recognizes as its own, the Republic of South Ossetia, were freed on November 24th—or at least that is the version Russia and South Ossetia tell of what the men’s offense was. The three say that they were chopping wood when armed Russian troops arrested them on September 17, 2011, and took them to Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. Georgia’s ministry of the interior secured their release through negotiations.
[For updates on Turkey, see this week’s “Kurdistan Update.”]
[For updates on Iraq and Syria, see this week’s “Kurdistan Update.”]
[For updates on Palestine, see articles at the top of this page.]
Yemen Offers Southern Separatists Half of All Seats at Constitutional Summit. In the Republic of Yemen, the government has offered separatists who would like to revive the formerly independent South Yemen half of the seats at a planned and already-once-postponed constitutional convention and “reconciliation” summit. The Southern Movement and other southern separatists have not indicated whether this will lure them to participation in the talks. A new date has not been set.
Baloch Separatists Report 2 Activists Assassinated by Death Squad in Pakistan. Two men linked to the Baloch separatist movement were assassinated in Kharan, Pakistan, on November 27th. Basham Baloch, a spokesman for the Baloch Liberation Front (B.L.F.), said the two men were killed by a Pakistani government “death squad,” and that the head of the hit team was also killed in the skirmish. The events and circumstances have not been independently confirmed.
Tamil M.P. in Sri Lanka Threatens a Fast unto Death over Ethnic Divisions. A Tamil member of Sri Lanka’s parliament has told his colleagues that he is willing to go on a hunger strike, even if it leads to his death, in order to press parties in the ethnically divided nation to “achieve a lasting solution” to the crisis over power-sharing and reconciliation between the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist majority and its Tamil Hindu minority. The M.P., Selvam Adaikalanathan, is a member of the Tamil National Alliance (T.N.A.), which some see as a successor to the Tamil insurgency that fought in the 26-year-long civil war that ended in 2009 in the defeat of the Tamil separatists.
|Selvam Adaikalanathan is ready to fast to the death.|
20 Tibetan Students Wounded, 9 Arrested in Riots in Qinghai over Language Rights. Amid a sharp increase in self-immolations (see article below), at least 20 Tibetan students were injured—five critically—by police in a violent protest in Chabcha, Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in the People’s Republic of China’s Qinghai province, following the release of a government publication calling the Tibetan language “irrelevant” and self-immolations “acts of stupidity.” Over 1,000 students burned the books on November 26th and marched peacefully and ended up tear-gassed, with some beaten with rifle butts. At least four were arrested. Two days later, another group of students, from the same technical school, held a loud demonstration in front of the prefecture government offices. This protest, too, was met with tear-gas and beatings by police, and five were arrested. Riot-control explosives were also used.
Self-Immolations Rise Sharply: 11 Tibetans Set Selves Afire to Protest Chinese Rule. Following closely on a week that brought no fewer than five self-immolations in protest over oppressive Chinese rule in Tibet (reported on last week in this blog), a 19-year-old named Libong Tsering (also spelled Lubum Tsering) died from the grisly form of protest on November 22nd in Tongren county in Qinghai, followed the next day by the similar death of a 27-year-old Tibetan herdsmen named Dazheng in Qinghai’s Zekong county. The Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, also reported the deaths on the 22nd of Tadin Kyab, a 23-year-old ex-monk in Luqu County in Gansu province, and, the following day, of Tadin Dorjee, aged 29, in Qinghai—both by self-immolation. Those immolations were followed on November 26th by those of 18-year-old Kunchok Tsering in Achok, Gansu; 24-year-old Gonpo Tsering of Kanlho, also in Gansu; and a 17-year-old Buddhist nun named Sangay Dolma (also rendered as Dolmas) in Dokarmo, in Qinghai. On November 27th, Sangay Tashi, an 18-year-old, died from self-immolation in the Labrang area of the east of China’s so-called Tibet Autonomous Region. Around the same time, one Wang Gyal, a 20-year-old former monk, immolated himself in Sichuan province, and 24-year-old Kalsang Kyab immolated himself with kerosene in front of the town hall in Kangsa, in Sichuan. In the Tsoe region of eastern Tibet, Wangdhen Khar, aged 21, set himself on fire on November 28th, and two days later, a 29-year-old named Konchok Kyab, set himself on fire at a gas station in Akyid, Tibet. It is not clear whether he survived, since authorities took his still-smouldering body away. From November 26th to 29th, 60 Tibetans across Tibet and the culturally-Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Qinghai launched a three-day hunger strike in solidarity with the self-immolators. Participants included students, civil servants, writers, monks, and businessmen.
Shan M.P. in Burma Calls for More Federal System That Respects Minorities. A member of Burma’s parliament from the Shan ethnic minority called on November 26th for a more federal system that respects the rights of minority nationalities in the country, which is ruled by an ethnic-Burmese-dominated, half-heartedly reforming military junta under the name Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The M.P., Khun Tun Oo, heads the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) and asked representatives from other minorities, such as the Karen, Kachin, and Chin, to join him in his demands.
Karen National Union President Announces Retirement at Age 93. The chairman of the Karen National Union (K.N.U.), the main group pressing for secession from Burma of a Republic of Kawthoolei, announced on November 26th that he is retiring at the age of 93 to make way for a younger leadership. The chairman, Gen. Saw Tamla Baw, revealed his plans at the opening ceremony of the 15th K.N.U. congress in Hlaing Bwe. Some favor Gen. Mutu Say Poe as a successor, and Baw’s daughter Naw Zipporah Sein, the K.N.U.’s current secretary general, is also sometimes favored, mostly by hard-liners. Both Poe and Sein are supported by different brigades within the Karen National Liberation Army (K.N.L.A.).
|Saw Tamla Baw will be stepping aside.|
50 Gunmen Kill 3 in Indonesia Police Station; Free Papua Movement Faction Takes Credit. At least 50 attackers, armed with weapons ranging from firearms to bows and arrows, stormed a police station in a remote district of eastern Indonesia’s separatist Papua province on November 27th, killing three policemen—including the police chief, found hiding under a bed and shot without ceremony. On November 29th, Goliat Tabuni, chief of the local branch of the Free Papua Movement (O.P.M.), denied that the group had a role in the massacre, but the following day, Purom Okiman Wenda, an official from what is clearly a different faction of the militia said, “O.P.M. did the shootings. I led the shootings. We’re the pure O.P.M. We’re not Goliat Tabuni who only sits idly. We will continue to move.” He also said that “hundreds” of O.P.M. fighters had taken part in the attack. Seven suspects have so far been arrested. Meanwhile, the mainstream O.P.M. issued a statement on December 1st, considered the Papuan national holiday after a unilateral declaration of independence on that day 51 years ago, called for non-violent struggle to break free of Indonesia.
Texas Nationalist Movement Registers for Political Action Committee. The Texas Nationalist Movement (T.N.M.), the pro-independence group that got a boost from the wave of online separatist petitions in the wake of Barack Obama’s reelection last month (as reported on at the time in this blog), on November 27th filed an application with the Texas Ethics Commission for forming a political action committee (PAC) to be called T.N.M.-PAC., “for the purpose of supporting and endorsing candidates at all levels that are in-line [sic, as though it were a reference to in-line skates] with the mission, vision and values of the Texas Nationalist Movement.”
|One of this year’s most popular bumper stickers in Texas|
|The Aryan Nations leader Shaun Patrick Winkler in Idaho with his daughter, Hannah.|
Good God, people, doesn’t Bonner County have a Children’s Services Division?