Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sri Lanka Tamil Rioting, Plus Orania, Molossia, Gagauzia, Republic of Mill Valley, also Kurdistan and Kosovo Developments: The Week in Separatist News, 2-8 December 2012

Photo of the week: A celebration, in Gaza City, this week, of the “victory” of the recent (actually pretty disastrous, especially for Gaza) vest-pocket war between Hamas and Israel.
TOP STORY:
20 HURT, 4 ARRESTED AS POLICE, TAMIL STUDENTS,
& PARAMILITARIES FACE OFF IN SRI LANKA


In what is being called the worst flare-up of violence between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka since the 26-year civil ended in 2009, 20 Jaffna University students were hurt on November 27th in a clash with police.  The students were among a large crowd holding a candle-lit vigil for Heroes’ Day, which honors the civil-war dead of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.).  Two days later, students threw Molotov cocktails at the offices of Sri Telo, a paramilitary—made up of Tamils from India—which works closely with the Sri Lankan military.  This prompted police raids on Jaffna dormitories, and later four Jaffna students, including the president of the student union, were arrested on terrorism charges by the country’s Terrorist Investigation Department (T.I.D.) in connection with the attack.

The scene at Jaffna University this week
AFRICA


Jihadists Form Tuareg Militia to Prepare for International Offensive in Mali.  The “Sahara emirate” of the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (A.Q.I.M.) announced November 28th that it was forming a brigade of Tuaregs from the de facto independent Azawad republic in northern Mali, in anticipation of an African Union (A.U.) intervention to retake the territory, still in the planning stages.  The new 6th Brigade is to be called Youssef ben Tachfine and will be led by Tuaregs from the existing al-Ansar brigade.  The brigade is named for the 11th-century Berber warrior who conquered Andalusia (al-Andalus), in what is now Spain.  An expert on Sahelian jihadism, Iselmou Ould Emoustafa, said about these latest developments, “It’s clear that the creation of this brigade and the appointment of a Mauritanian a week ago to lead another brigade is part of preparations for the possible military confrontation with the African forces.”  Meanwhile, the United Nations’ under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous, said on December 7th that he does not expect an international effort to remove the Islamists from northern Mali until September or October of 2013.




Al-Qaeda Commander in North Mali Quits to Head New, Broader Terror Network.  The head of an Islamist militia in northern Mali, Moktar Belmoktar, has decided to leave his post as regional commander for the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (A.Q.I.M.) and head a new, broader terrorist franchise.  An associate of Belmoktar’s, Oumar Ould Hamaha, told journalists this week, “It’s true. It’s so that we can better operate in the field that we have left this group which is tied to the ‘Maghreb’ appellation.  We want to enlarge our zone of operation throughout the entire Sahara, going from Niger through to Chad and Burkina Faso.”  Belmoktar, who is originally from Algeria, is well known to international police, having been responsible for several kidnappings of Europeans in Mali, among other activities.


Mali, Senegal Mediated Secret Talks between Nigeria, Boko Haram, Press Reveals.  Media reported this week that several weeks earlier the federal government of Nigeria had held secret talks in Senegal with the Islamist terrorist network, Boko Haram, that has been terrorizing the predominantly-Muslim and shari’a-ruled north of the country.  The governments of Senegal and Mali—neighboring Muslim-majority nations—have been acting as mediators in the talks.  At the talks, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, refuses to accede to Boko Haram’s preconditions for full negotiations, which include release of prisoners and compensation and reconstruction for homes and mosques destroyed by the government.

At Least 29 Killed in Violence in Northern Nigeria Linked to Boko Haram.  About six suspected members of Boko Haram killed five people in a drive-by shooting in Damasak, near the border with Niger in northern Nigeria’s Borno State, this week—including two bakers, an Igbo man, and two immigration officers.  Then, on December 1st in Chibok, also in Borno State, a group of suspected Boko Haram members went from house to house in a Christian neighborhood, setting houses on fire and slitting the throats of at least 10 people.  The following day, in Gamboru Ngala, Borno State, near the border with Cameroon, rebels killed five policemen in wide-ranging attacks on customs offices, a police station, and a church.  A pair of explosions on December 3rd—one outside a mosque in Kano, which killed two and injured four—and one in Maiduguri, the Borno capital, which was followed by a gun battle.  The next day, also in Kano, Boko Haram militants hurled bombs at a passenger bus, wounding two, and later in the day two traffic police were gunned down and killed in the street.  There was also an explosion at a police station in the town.  On December 7th, the federal anti-terrorist Joint Task Force (J.T.F.) reported that three days of operations against terrorists in different parts of Maiduguri had killed four Boko Haram sub-commanders, including two weapons-makers.  Two soldiers were wounded in the operations.  The day before, suspected Boko Haram militants in Maiduguri had killed a blind man in his home in front of his wife and children, also injuring the man’s son.  The man had been accused of informing to the police against Boko Haram.


States in Nigeria where shari’a (Islamic law) is imposed

Nigeria Listed as 7th Most Terrorism-Plagued Nation in World.  The Institute for Economics and Peace has listed Nigeria as the 7th most terrorism-plagued country in the world—a significant change from its ranking of 12th the previous year.  Ahead of Nigeria on the list are first-ranked Iraq, followed by Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Yemen, and Somalia.  Sudan is 11th, and Mali is only 34th.  In 2011, 437 people were killed in Nigeria in 168 terrorist incidents.


2 Biafra Separatists Escape from Policy Custody after Robbery, Are Recaptured.  Two men from the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), which seeks independence for southwestern Nigeria, were denied bail on December 3rd after they escaped from police custody on their way to prison and then were recaptured.  The two, Friday Nwafor and Emeka Okorie, were guarded by six police when they escaped and were originally facing charges of robbery.

21 Dead as Puntland’s Military Battles al-Shabaab Jihadists in Mountains.  In the Federal Republic of Somalia’s de facto independent Puntland State, militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated militia al-Shabaab attacked an army post and detonated a roadside bomb on December 4th, killing 12.  The incident occurred in the Galgala Mountains, a newly al-Shabaab-infested area.  The same day, seven al-Shabaab fighters and two Puntland troops were killed as an attack on a military facility was repelled, also in the same mountainous region.



Man Shot, Killed outside Mosque in Capital of Disputed Somaliland Province.  A man was shot and killed outside a mosque on December 4th by unknown in assailants in the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland.  The murder occurred in Erigavo, capital of Sanaag province, which is also claimed by the Puntland State of Somalia and loyalists of the disbanded Khaatumo State.  Last month, two were wounded in wide-ranging election violence in Erigavo (as reported last week in this blog).


Swedish Parliament Urges Sweden, Rest of E.U. to Recognize Sahrawi Republic.  The parliament of the Kingdom of Sweden on December 5th urged the government to grant diplomatic recognition to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (S.A.D.R.), which operates in a narrow strip of Western Sahara that continues to repel the forces from the Kingdom of Morocco that invaded the country after Spain ended its colonial occupation in 1975.  Parliament also encouraged the rest of the European Union (E.U.) to take similar action.  Of the 58 nations that diplomatically recognize the S.A.D.R., none is European, but 19 European countries, more wishy-washily, “support” Sahrawi claims on Western Sahara, including 13 E.U. member states (Spain and Sweden included), plus one non-European E.U. members state (the Republic of Cyprus).


Map showing countries that have granted diplomatic recognition to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.  Different shades of green show countries currently recognizing the S.A.D.R.  Red and yellow countries have withdrawn or “frozen” their recognition.
All-White Micronation in South Africa Pledges Cooperation with Xhosa Community.  A self-proclaimed all-white mini-nation in western South Africa called Orania has initialled a pledge of cooperation with a neighboring Xhosa community, to be signed December 11th.  The agreement, which covers education, economics, and agriculture, represents a shift for Orania, which was founded by Boers (South Africans of Dutch ancestry) during the collapse of apartheid as the kernel of an envisioned, much larger white homeland.  An Orania government spokesman, Jaco Kleynhans, spoke of a hope “to establish a network of independent communities,” starting with Mnyameni, the Xhosa community, and Orania.  Though it issues its own postage stamps, currency, and passports, Orania, with a population of several hundred in a small plot of land in Northern Cape province, is not recognized by any other entity as a sovereign nation.


EUROPE

Serbian, Kosovar Premiers Agree on “Liaison Officers,” Border Opening.  In a summit in Brussels, Belgium, under European Union (E.U.) auspices, the prime ministers of Kosovo and SerbiaHashim Thaçi and Ivica Dačićreached key agreements on December 4th, including the appointment of “liaison officers” (not quite ambassadors) under E.U. auspices and co-management of their border, which will be formally opened on December 10th.  Serbia still does not recognize the sovereignty of Kosovo, which it claims as its southern province.  Meanwhile, in the Serb-dominated enclave of North Kosovo, which is outside Kosovar government control and administered through Serbian governmental institutions, Serb protestors for three days occupied and blocked a stretch of road at Jarinje which they oppose seeing transformed into a border crossing within what they consider one country.  After three days, the protest was called off for the time being.


Kosovo Serbs demonstrating at Jarinje, which they do not regard as a border town
Albania, Kosovo Call for Probe of Hague Tribunal as Haradinaj Eyes Premiership.  The governments of Albania and the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo called on December 2nd for an investigation into what they call the “tendentious and illegal role” of the international-tribunal prosecutor Carla del Ponte in her case against Kosovo’s rebel leader and later (briefly) prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, who was cleared of charges of war crimes last week (as reported in this blog).  He had been charged by the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (I.C.T.Y.) with murdering and torturing civilians in illegal prison camps during the Kosovo War in 1998-1999.  Meanwhile, on December 4th, Haradinaj himself announced his intention eventually to become Kosovo’s prime minister.


Ramush Haradinaj, who wants to follow in the tradition of George W. Bush and be re-elected head of state
even though everyone knows he ran illegal prison camps and torture chambers
Mysterious Arson, Bomb Attacks Rock Kosovo, North Kosovo Capitals.  Two mysterious explosions, one at a primary school, rocked Kosovska Mitrovica, the unofficial capital of the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo’s Serb-dominated North Kosovo enclave, which lies outside Kosovar government control.  There were no apparent casualties.  These blasts follow by two days two mysterious arson attacks on two government vehicles in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital.

Albania’s Premier Plans to Offer Citizenship to All Albanians in Kosovo.  The prime minister of the Republic of Albania, Sali Berisha, upped the ante this week after participating with the Republic of Kosovo’s premier last week (as reported in this blog) in a rally focusing on the two nations’ eventual reunification in a “Greater Albania.”  On December 4th, Berisha announced in a cabinet meeting that he intended to offer Albanian citizenship to any ethnic Albanians outside Albania, most of whom are in Kosovo, where they form the overwhelming majority.  He added that Albania and Kosovo should “feel as one” but have (for the time being?) two separate governments.


Albania’s prime minister, Sali Berisha, dreams of a “Greater Albania” that includes Kosovo.
As Moldova Drifts toward Brussels, Gagauzia Vote on Joining Russian Customs Union.  The parliament of Gagauzia, an autonomous region within the Republic of Moldovavoted on November 30th to schedule a referendum on whether it should join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan—even as Moldova itself positions itself for eventual membership in the rival European Union (E.U.).  Gagauzia timed the vote to coincide with a visit to Moldova by the chairman of the European CommissionJosé Manuel Barroso.  Earlier this year (as reported at the time in this blog), the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, as the scattering of tiny pockets of land in southern Moldova is officially known, gave notice that it might declare independence entirely if Moldova—a former Soviet Socialist Republic—and its neighbor Romania pursued the goal of reunification. (Moldova is historically part of Romania; the two speak closely related languages.)  The 140,000 or so Gagauz people—Eastern Orthodox Christian that speak a Turkic language and established a brief-lived Republic of Comrat for five days in 1906 in an uprising against Czarist Russia—will vote on the proposition on February 13, 2013.

Dutch Police Storm Island Resort, Round Up 55 Kurdish “Terrorists.”  About 150 police in the tiny village of Ellemeet (population: 180), on an island of reclaimed land off the southwest edge of the Netherlands, raided a vacation resort on December 3rd and arrested 55 Kurds accused of membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), a rebel army, based in Turkey, which is classed as a terrorist organization by the European Union (E.U.).  Police said the Kurds were using the resort to hold meetings and that the P.K.K. typically recruits Kurds in the Netherlands.


Murder of Journalist, Bomb Attack on Cabinet Minister Rock Kabardino-Balkaria.  A 28-year-old television journalist was shot and killed in the street on December 5th in southwestern Russia’s predominantly-Muslim Kabardino-Balkar Republic.  The journalist, Kazbek Gekkiyev, was on his way home in Nalchik, the republic’s capital, when he was shot dead in the street by two men.  A few hours later, a home-made bomb injured Kabardino-Balkaria’s deputy minister of transport, Vladislav Dyadchenko, when it detonated near his car.  He was taken to the hospital.


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

Georgia Denies Russian Request for Extradition of Chechen Separatist.  The Republic of Georgia refused this week to extradite a captured Chechen separatist to Russia, saying he would receive a fair trial in Georgia.  Days later, he was released on bail in Georgia.  The Chechen, Ahmed Chatayev, was captured during a deadly, drawn-out military operation in late August and early September in the Lopota Gorge on the border between Georgia and Russia’s Republic of Dagestan.  At least 11 people died in that operation, which seemed to involved jihadists from Russia’s predominantly-Muslim southwestern rim straying into Georgian territory, though the events are still shrouded in denial and rumor.  Georgia’s minister of justice, Tea Tsulukiani, said on December 4th that the denial of Russia’s extradition request was “a matter of principle for us,” noting that five Chechens Georgia had extradited to Russia in 2002 had to all practical purposes disappeared after being delivered to Russian authorities, their fates unknown.  “This tradition must be brought to an end,” Tsulukiani said.  Chatayev was a former aide and special envoy to Aslan Maskhadov, a late president of the exiled Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.



The Chechen separatist Ahmed Chatayev, speaking to reporters after his release on bail in Georgia,
will not be extradited to Russia.
2 Georgians Shot at by Unknown Gunmen Near South Ossetian Border.  A father and son riding in a car in the village of Koda, in the Republic of Georgia, were stopped by camouflage-wearing gunmen (other reports said they had Russian military uniforms) near the border with the separatist Republic of South Ossetia and then shot at when they tried to flee in the car.  There was also, around the same time, gunfire coming from the South Ossetian side of the border, but Georgia’s ministry of the interior indicated that that was unconnected to the shootings by the gunmen who stopped the Georgians’ car.


Azerbaijani Military Officer Hurt by Landmine at Nagorno-Karabakh Border.  The Republic of Azerbaijan announced December 4th that one of its military officers had been injured by a landmine on the border between the Armenian puppet state of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan proper.  The officer, Capt. Parviz Ismailov, was sent to the hospital for his wounds.

Turkey Launches Airstrikes on Kurdish Mountain Bases; at Least 13 Killed.  The Turkish military sent F-16 fighter planes from its base in Diyarbakır on December 1st to bomb rebel Kurdish positions in the Qandil Mountains near where Turkey, Iran, and Iraq meet.  The next day there was bombing by helicopter in the Kulp district of Diyarbakır province.  There were no reports of casualties, but the military said targets were hit.  Later, on December 5th, helicopter-gunship airstrikes in the Amanos Mountains, in Osmaniye province, killed 13 members of the banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), according to the military.  Five P.K.K. members were captured.



ASIA—MIDDLE EAST


Syria Bombs Disputed Kurdish Border Town; Turks Scramble Jets in Response.  Chaotic violence erupted again this week among Syrian and Turkish government forces and Kurdish and Sunni Arab rebel groups in Hasakah, a now mostly-Kurdish-run province in northern Syria.  Bashar al-Assad’s embattled Alawite (Shiite) Arab regime bombed the town of Ra’s al-’Ayn (called Serêkanî in Kurdish) on December 3rd, killing at least eight people and wounding at least 16.  Ra’s al-’Ayn is so near the heavily armed border with Turkey, that windows were shattered on the Turkish side and Kurdish refugees streamed over the border for medical treatment.  Turkey responded by scrambling warplanes.  If, as may soon happen, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), of which Turkey is a member, position anti-aircraft missiles along the border, this may create a de facto no-fly zone that will allow Kurdish and other rebels to resume full control of the province.



4 Kurdish Rebel Groups Form New Alliance to Fight Syrian Regime.  Four different Kurdish rebel groups in Syria met in Erbil, capital of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region this week to forge a new alliance which is now said to represent 70% of Syria’s 2 million Kurds.  The groups are: the Democratic Kurdish Party in Syria (Al Party), the Kurdish Union Party (K.U.P.), and two factions of Azadi, or the Freedom Party.  They will form by far the largest block in the fractious 15-member umbrella group known as the Kurdish National Council (K.N.C.).  But one organization outside the new alliance, the Kurdish Accord Party in Syria (K.A.P.), expressed concerns that the new grouping “will cause disagreements within the K.N.C.”  Notably, the Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.), which is linked to Turkey’s banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), is still outside the four-way alliance.


Kurds unite in a summit in Erbil, Iraq
Iraqi Authorities Bar Turkish Energy Minister’s Plane from Landing in Kurdish Region.  The Republic of Turkey’s minister of energy, Taner Yıldız, on a flight from Istanbul to Erbil, capital of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region—with which Turkey has warmer diplomatic relations and more lucrative economic ties than with Iraq itself—was turned back on December 4th by the central Iraqi government in Baghdad after being refused permission to land.  The manager of Iraq’s aviation authority said, “We haven’t forbidden any plane to enter our airspace, but we have special regulations and laws which organize the flight of certain planes.”  A spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) said that the regulations in question had been instituted the day before. Yıldız had been on his way to an energy conference.

Shiite Clerics in Iraq Issue Fatwa against Any Civil War against Kurds.  As the standoff between central government and Kurdish troops in northern Iraq drags on despite an agreement, leading Shiite Arab religious leaders in Iraq issued a fatwa (religious edict) this week, warning that a war between Arabs and Kurds would be disastrous and that moves in that direction are prohibited.  Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the Marja in Najaf added in the fatwa, which singled out Iraq’s increasingly authoritarian Shiite Arab prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, for criticism, that anyone who died in such a civil war would not be considered a martyr.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Shoot, Kill Young Man in Kurdish Capital.  Kurdish exile groups reported this week that members of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s feared élite Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution shot and killed a young Kurd in Sanandaj, capital of Kurdistan province.  The young man’s name was Nader Azadtornia.  After the killing, the Guards refused to let his family view the body.  The Kurdistan Press Agency (Kurdpa) counts 33 Kurds shot and killed in this manner since March of this year.

Israeli Soldiers Wound 11, Kill 1 in Gaza Strip Shootings.  Within mere hours of Palestine’s admission to the United Nations General Assembly (G.A.) as an observer state, members of Israel’s military opened fire on residents in an area of Palestine’s Gaza Strip exclave near Rafah, killing one.  The day before, as the G.A. was voting on Palestine’s status, 11 Palestinians were shot by Israeli soldiers in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

ASIA—SOUTH ASIA

Baloch Separatist Rebels Abduct 3 Policemen in Pakistan.  The Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.) has claimed responsibility for the abduction of three policemen on December 1st in Bolan, in southwestern Pakistan’s Balochistan province.  The three were kidnapped at gunpoint near a checkpoint.  A B.L.A. spokesman said the three men were guilty of aiding the military in anti-Baloch activities, including what he called genocide.



Balochistan province makes up nearly half of Pakistan’s territory.
2 Manipuri Separatists Arrested in India; Explosives Seized.  Two rebels from the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak), one of several factions seeking independence from India for the former princely state of Manipur, were arrested December 1st near the border with Burma.  Grenades and bombs were confiscated from the two men, who are suspected of having slipped into Manipur from bases in Burma.  There was a gun battle reported the same day between Indian soldiers and rebels near the Burmese border.


Flag of the former princely state of Manipur
Gun Battle in Assam Leaves 2 Rebels Dead near Meghalaya Border.  A gun battle between security forces and rebels from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), in far-eastern India, left two militants dead on December 1st.  The incident occured in Assam state, near the border with Meghalaya.

ASIA—EAST ASIA

Self-Immolations, Crackdown Continue: Monk Dies in Flames in Eastern Tibet.  The rising wave of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting China’s totalitarian rule in Tibet continued this week as Lobsang Gendun, a 29-year-old monk, set himself on fire in Golog Pema Dzong in eastern Tibet on December 3rd.  He died on the spot, and a scuffle ensued between Tibetans and Chinese police who were trying to remove his corpse.  Meanwhile, the Chinese crackdown continues, with four Tibetans arrested for having pictures of the 14th Dalai Lama in their cellphones.  The phones were being inspected to make sure that the four were not communicating with anyone outside the country.



Lobsang Gendun’s final moments
U.S. Diplomats Chides China on Tibetan Rights; Beijing Lashes Back.  The United States under-secretary of state whose human-rights portfolio includes Tibet said December 5th that the People’s Republic of China’s “increasingly severe government controls” were behind the wave of self-immolations and other unrest.  The diplomat, Maria Otero, also urged Beijing to allow more freedom of expression.  A spokesman for China’s ministry for foreign affairs, Hong Lei, responded angrily to the comments on December 7th.  “Tibetan people’s rights to participate in political affairs, use the Tibetan language, maintain their traditional culture and religious freedom have all been duly protected like other people’s in China,” Hong lied.  “Tibetan people’s freedom of expression and assembly and association are protected by the constitution,” he added, not noting the important fact that the one-party dictatorship does not implement rights enshrined in the constitution.  The Chinese constitution, in fact, guarantees all sorts of rights that the Chinese population has never enjoyed.

Bloodshed in Xinjiang between Uyghurs and Chinese over Price of Nutcake.  Violence broke out in China’s vast, northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region this week—over the price of nutcakes.  A fight broke out between villagers and 16 visiting Uyghurs who were accused of overcharging for nutcakes they were selling.  Two people were injured, a motorcycle was destroyed, and passions were further inflamed when police who intervened sided with the Uyghurs, who were compensated for damaged nutcakes to the tune of ¥160,000, about $25,000 USD—which is about 40 times the annual average salary in Xinjiang.  Doing the math, one Chinese microblogger calculated, “A piece of Xinjiang nut cake about 1.6 square meters in size cost RMB 160,000, which means about RMB 100,000 per square meter.  Every 1 square meter of Xinjiang nut cake can buy about 3 square meters of apartment in Beijing.”

1 Killed, 3 Wounded as Burmese Army Attacks Kachin Village, Retaliating for Ambush.  In Burma’s Kachin State, a military convoy was ambushed by the Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.) on December 3rd.  In retaliation, Burmese soldiers later opened fire in the village of Hpakant, killing a Kachin truck driver and injuring three others, including a six-year-old.

OCEANIA


Police and Papuan Separatists Trade Fire in New Guinea Highlands.  Less than a week after a massacre at a rural police station by Papuan rebels that left three policemen dead (as reported last week in this blog), hundreds of members of the Free Papua Movement (O.P.M.) besieged the town of Tiom in the remote highlands of Indonesia’s far-eastern Papua province on December 3rd as part of their campaign to bring independence from Indonesia for the western half of the island of New Guinea.  The siege resulted in an hour-long shoot-out with police.  There are no confirmed figures of casualties.

Indonesian Police Arrest Ukrainian Tourist for Shouting, “Free Papua!”  A tourist from Ukraine was arrested in Indonesia’s far-eastern Papua province after raising a fist and shouting, “Free Papua!” at a prayer service marking the 51st anniversary of Papua’s failed declaration of independence.  The Ukrainian, 36-year-old Artem Shapirenko, wearing a Bob Marley tee-shirt, was arrested in Manokwari, in the western part of Papua, which has been roiled for decades by a violent separatist insurgency.  He was questioned by police.


This Ukrainian learned that shouting, “Free Papua!” in Indonesia will get you arrested.
NORTH AMERICA

25% of Republicans Want Their States to Secede from U.S., Poll Says.  According to a new poll, one-quarter of members of the Republican Party want the states they live in to secede from the United States.  The new survey, from Public Policy Polling, comes on the heels of a raft of secession petitions, from all 50 states, that sprang up online in the wake of President Barack Obama’s reelection last month.  Meanwhile, in Georgia, the proportion of Republicans who favor secession is a whopping 42%, with only 42% of them opposing the idea.


Texas Nationalists Report 400% Spike in Membership Linked to Obama Reelection.  The most prominent political organization pushing for Texas to secede from the United States, the Texas Nationalist Movement (T.N.M.), said this week, without giving more specific figures, that its membership has increased by 400% in the past few months and especially since the reelection last month of Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the U.S.  Hits on their website have gone up 9,000%.  “It started mid-summer,” said Daniel Miller, the T.N.M.’s president, “we started noticing an uptick ... and then two weeks before the election, it just started going straight for the sky.”  As of this week, more than 118,000 people have signed an online petition, on the White House’s “We the People” petition web page, advocating independence for Texas (a phenomenon discussed earlier in this blog here and here).  T.N.M. is not a sponsor of that petitition.


Molossia Micronation in Nevada Throws Hat in White House Petition Ring.  The minuscule Republic of Molossia joined the movement to secede from the United States through a petition on the White House’s “We the People” petition web page, a movement that already has petitions from all 50 states.  The petition seeks to position Molossia as “a presidential republic in free association with the United States”—similar to the status enjoyed by, for example, the former U.S. overseas territories of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.  As of this week, the petition has only 176 votes, far short of the 25,000 required to elicit a formal response from the White House. “The Republic of Molossia,” the petition reads, “is a micronation, located within and surrounded by the United States.  We seek to enter into a Compact of Free Association with the United States, as a step toward eventual complete sovereignty.  We recognize and respect the United States as the home country from which Molossia was born in 1977, and wish to continue and formalize our current peaceful and fruitful relationship.  Engaging in a Compact of Free Association will prove beneficial to both nations and enable our peoples to enter a new era of growth and prosperity.”  Molossia consists of the home and front and back yards of Kevin Baugh of Dayton, Nevada, plus two other properties.  It changed its name from the Grand Republic of Vuldstein to the Republic of Molossia in 1999.




Novel by San Francisco Attorney Portrays Secession of Marin County Town from U.S.  An attorney in San Francisco, California, specializing in disability rights has just published a novel about the secession from the United States of Mill Valley, a landlocked Bay Area suburb (population: about 13,000) in Marin County.  The book, The Secession of Mill Valley, available only as an ebook from Amazon, is the second by Ray Bourhis (who also published Insult to Injury: Insurance, Fraud, and the Big Business of Bad Faith in 2005). He describes the political discontent expressed in the new book, saying that “our Country has been taken over by enormous multi-national corporations, indescribably wealthy individuals and powerful lobbyists.  The People have been lost in the shuffle.”



Quebec Victory-Rally Spree Killer Claims Jesus Christ Sent Him to Fight Separatism.  The disgruntled Anglophone fishing-lodge owner who opened fire at the separatist Parti Québécois (P.Q.) election victory rally in Montreal, Canada, in September (as reported at the time in this blog) has been sent for a psychiatric evaluation after a rant on December 7th in which he said that Jesus Christ had sent him to make war against separatists.  The shooter, Richard Henry Bain—revealed in the media this fall as a born-again Christian and hard-drinking group-sex aficionado (as reported in this blog) who has said he wants Montreal to split from Quebec and become its own, at least bilingual province (as reported earlier in this blog)—linked his comments to a more general xenophobia in the context of that day’s 71st anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.  When asked by a judge at a hearing whether he knew why he was there, he replied, “I’m a Christian soldier, and we will never surrender to fight the evil separatists.  I fight for freedom, democracy, justice, and to speak one’s mother tongue.”  Authorities still treat his shooting spree, which killed one and injured another, as a possible plot on the life of the P.Q. leader, Pauline Marois, now premier of Quebec.

Quebec Separatists Turn Anger on Canadian Flag in Montreal Demonstration.  Demonstrators advocating Quebec’s independence from Canada rallied on December 1st in Montreal—where most Anglophones in Quebec are concentrated—at city hall to denounce Canada’s vote against statehood for Palestine last week in the United Nations (U.N.) (reported on last week in this blog), support other independence movements around the world, and announce a “Maple Spring” revolution along the lines, roughly, of the ongoing “Arab Spring” movement.  Anglophone media expressed alarm over some demonstrators’ “desecration” of a Canadian flag, which was run over by a car.  The event was sponsored by three separatist groups: the Progressive Movement for Quebec Independence, DénonciNation, and the Rassemblement des Mouvements Indépendantistes Collégiaux.



Fate of the Maple Leaf at a Quebec independence rally
CENTRAL AMERICA & CARIBBEAN

White House Urges Puerto Rico Statehood While Separatists Question Vote.  President Barack Obama’s administration responded this week to last month’s vote (reported on at the time in this blog) in favor of Puerto Rico becoming the United States’ 51st state by urging Congress to provide Puerto Ricans “with a clear path forward” toward a change in their status.  But María de Lourdes Santiago, an incoming senator in Puerto Rico’s territorial legislature and vice-president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), called the referendum results into questions, noting that although 61% of voters who cast a vote on the question support statehood, the high number of abstentions on that question mean the plan might not have majority support.  Only just over 5% of voters supported independence, however.


Colombia Fumes as Nicaraguan Navy Moves into San Andrés Territorial Waters.  The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, said this week that his navy has taken up a full patrolling presence in the 120 square kilometers of waters around the disputed San Andrés y Providencia archipelago which the International Court of Justice (I.C.J.) in the Hague, in the Netherlands, awarded on November 19th to Nicaragua, at the same time that it affirmed sovereignty over the islands themselves to the country that has always administered them, the Republic of Colombia.  Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, Colombia’s president, has rejected the ruling, which in his view robs his country of its rightfully owned waters—and their lucrative energy reserves.  Santos has vowed to remove Colombia from the Bogotá Pact, the 1948 treaty (signed in Colombia, ironically) which commits Latin American nations to abide by I.C.J. rulings.  The archipelago is populated by Afro-Caribbean Raizals who seek more autonomy.




[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 sometime in 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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