Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Week in Separatist News, 20-26 May 2012: Azawadis Unite, Scots Launch Campaign, Aborigines Declare Sovereignty, FIFA Team for Kosovo, Rohrabacher Backs SoCal Secession

Photo of the week:  Ukraine’s Rada (parliament) turned into a blood-spattered mosh pit on May 25th as lawmakers debated whether to grant Russian status as an official language in ethnic-Russian-dominated regions such as Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and even Kiev.  The brawl seemed to start after one parliamentarian said to another, “You’re a corpse.  You have two days left to live.  We will crucify you on a birch tree.”  Watch a video of the brawl here.  Also, you can watch a video of last year’s Ukraine Rada brawl, which involved smoke bombs, and the speaker of parliament being pelted with rotten eggs, here.  (See my blog article on a similarly contentious language-policy proposal in Latvia.  Also, see a story below, under “Asia—South Asia,” for a report and photograph of Kashmiri separatists throwing chairs at one another.)


Tuaregs and Islamists Bury Hatchet, Form Government for Azawad.  The largely secular Tuareg separatist militia, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (known by its French acronym M.N.L.A.), made a joint announcement with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militia Ansar al-Dine on May 20th that the two groups have agreed to share power in a government for the Independent State of Azawad, which declared independence from the Republic of Mali last month.  They named Belal Ag Sharif, head of the M.N.L.A.’s political bureau, as the interim head of state.  A former Malian military officer, Mohamed Ag Nejim, will be Azawad’s “general co-ordinator of army.”  Affairs will be run by a 40-member committee, with 20 seats each for the M.N.L.A. and Ansar al-Dine.  No countries yet recognize Azawad’s independence.  Also this week, Abdelmalek Droukdel, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, the Algerian-born commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (A.Q.I.M.), the organization with which Ansar al-Dine is affiliated, announced on the A.Q.I.M. website that its fighters throughout North Africa were at the disposal of Ansar al-Dine as needed, though they would operate under the A.Q.I.M., not Ansar al-Dine, banner when engaging in “global jihad.”  Droukdel added that Islamists in Mali ought to be working with, not against, Azawadi nationalists.  Meanwhile, the Islamists running Timbuktu announced May 23rd that the Islamic law (shari’a) under which Azawad is now governed means that football (soccer) will be banned.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawad declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on the Tuareg rebellion in the context of north–south conflict in the Sahel.)

The Islamists’ version of Azawad’s national flag (at least metaphorically)

Sanogo Loyalists Storm Palace; Mali’s President Beaten; Sanctions Loom.  Meanwhile, in the ethnic-Bambara-dominated southern third of Mali still under the jurisdiction of the central government, a day after the military junta leader, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, negotiated a transition to civilian rule with the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), hundreds of rioters stormed the presidential palace in Bamako May 21st and attacked the as-yet-powerless civilian caretaker president, Dioncounda Traoré.  The 70-year-old president was taken to a hospital with head injuries after being beaten to unconsciousness by the mob, then later evacuated to France for further treatment.  Ecowas the next day condemned “this attack, which it considers to be in defiance of its decisions”—implying that it suspects Sanogo and his loyalists orchestrated it.  The body threatened new sanctions, which the earlier decision had proposed lifting.  On May 23rd, a spokesman for the junta announced that Sanogo himself would be made interim president.  Meanwhile, José Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.), has announced that he will personally undertake an investigation of the human-rights situation in Mali.  Sanogo took power in a military coup d’état on March 22nd, creating a power vacuum enabling the northern two-thirds of Mali to secede two weeks later as the Independent State of Azawad.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawad declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on the Tuareg rebellion in the context of north–south conflict in the Sahel.)

Scores Dead in Clash at Burkina Faso Border with Azawad-Claimed Region of Mali.  Reports are still coming in on a violent clash between members of the Dogon and Peul ethnic groups in Burkina Faso near the border with the Republic of Mali.  The Peul transhumant herders of Burkina Faso are, through a binational agreement, allowed to use territory of the Dogon people over the border in Mali, but violence erupted on May 22nd over harm to Dogon croplands by Peul cattle, and raged for days.  As of this writing, the death toll was approaching 100.  The Dogon inhabit Mali’s Mopti region and some neighboring areas of Burkina Faso.  Mopti is claimed by the unrecognized Independent State of Azawad, but it is not clear how much of it they actually control.  Lack of central-government administration of the region may have contributed to the escalating violence.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawad declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on the Tuareg rebellion in the context of north–south conflict in the Sahel.)


Sudan Resumes Air Strikes on South Sudan.  In the ongoing war between Sudan and South Sudan, the South Sudanese government said on May 22nd that Sudan had been sending warplanes to attack its territory, again, over the previous two days, the first such attacks since May 9th.  The new aerial bombardments were focused on the Waragat region of the South Sudanese state of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal.  And Sudan claimed that on May 25th it had recaptured parts of Blue Nile state from what it claims are South Sudan–backed rebels, but South Sudan denies this.  The two towns in questions are named—I am not making this up—Soda and Jam.  The African Union’s Sudan point man, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, announced May 22nd that the northern and southern governments would meet again on May 29th in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in another attempt to salvage the peace.  (See my blog article listing the struggle over South Sudan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Polisario Promises to Liberate Spanish and Italian Hostages of al-Qaeda.  The Polisario Front, the separatist militia which runs part of the disputed territory of Western Sahara as the mostly unrecognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, promised on May 24th to risk the lives of some of its own soldiers by trying to liberate three European aid workers—two Spaniards and an Italian—who were kidnapped from a refugee camp in Algeria late last year.  Polisario is currently negotiating with their captors, a branch of the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (A.Q.I.M.), according to the Sahrawi prime minister, Abdelkader Taleb Omar, who spoke at a seminar in Madrid, Spain.  The three are believed to be currently under A.Q.I.M. guard in the Independent State of Azawad, which the international community regards as part of the Republic of Mali.

Map showing the current partition of Western Sahara

Envoy to Western Sahara Cancels Trip after Moroccan Complaints.  The United Nations announced May 18th that its envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, has cancelled indefinitely a planned trip there, after the Kingdom of Morocco announced the day before that it had lost confidence in him because his work was “unbalanced and biased.”  Western Sahara, a former colony of Spain, was conquered in 1975 by Morocco, its northern neighbor, which occupies most of the country still, in defiance of international law.  Ross has been the U.N. envoy to Western Sahara since 2009 but has yet to visit the disputed territory.

Nigeria Rejects U.S. “Favor” of Listing Boko Haram as Terrorist Organization.  The Federal Republic of Nigeria’s national-security advisor and its ambassador to the United States have both requested that the U.S. not put Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgency in the predominantly Muslim north of the country, as a so-called “foreign terrorist organization.”  Although they can hardly deny that it fits the letter of that description, Nigeria is worried that such a designation would complicate efforts to negotiate with Boko Haram and worries that the U.S. may be looking for an excuse to intervene in the increasingly unpredictable spread of Islamism in the wider region in places like northern Mali.  Nigeria’s minister of defense, Bello Mohammed, points out that Boko Haram does not operate outside of Nigeria.  (See my blog article on north–south divides in Africa and another listing northern Nigeria as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Berber Separatist Leader Visits Israel.  The Algerian folk singer Ferhat Mehenni, who is president of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (M.A.K.), a Paris-based organization which seeks an autonomous region within Algeria for the Kabyle, or Berber, people, visited Tel Aviv, Israel, this week to rally support for his cause.  Algerian politicians across the political spectrum called the visit an irresponsible attack on the country’s unity, and some called for his citizenship to be stripped.  Mehenni is also head of the Provisional Government of Kabylie, which operates in exile.  His son was assassinated in 2001, presumably by the Algerian government or its loyalists.

Ferhat Mehenni, folk singer and autonomy activist, with the Berber national flag

U.N. Urges Probe into Somaliland Land Riot, Death Sentences.  The United Nations’ special envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, asked May 18th for an investigation into last week’s land dispute in Hargeisa, the capital of the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland, which led to seven riot deaths and swift death sentences for 17 of the participants who squared off against the military in the mêlée.  The 17 are to be killed by firing squad.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Mombasa Republican Council Courting New Regions for Secession from Kenya.  In Tana River County in the Republic of Kenya’s Coast Province, locals are reporting that representatives of the Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.), which would like the predominantly-Muslim Coast Province to form an independent state, is setting up a local office in Madogo, in the county, and trying to rally support from local community leaders.  Elders and town councillors are asking for government help in keeping the M.R.C. out of their part of the province.

Cyrenaica Autonomists Put Up Candidates in Libyan Local Elections.  Libyans went to the polls May 19th in Benghazi, the main city in the eastern region of Cyrenaica and the former capital of the formerly independent Emirate of Cyrenaica.  The Cyrenaica Congress—which is supported by descendants of the Cyrenaican emirs and of the former king of Libya, whom Moammar al-Qaddafi deposed—put up candidates for city council, making the election a referendum of sorts on the Congress’s aim to return to the pre-Qaddafi loose federal system under which Cyrenaica had autonomy.  Election results have not yet been announced.  (See my blog article on Cyrenaica’s declaration of independence.)

1 Conviction, 1 Acquittal in Terre’Blanche Murder Trial.  The trial for the murder of the South African white-supremacist militant separatist Eugène Terre’Blanche (reported on earlier in this blog) ended May 22nd with the conviction of one of his farmworkers for bludgeoning him to death and the acquittal of the younger, 18-year-old defendant with only a housebreaking conviction.  Terre’Blanche, founder of the violent, right-wing Afrikaner Resistance Movement, was murdered in the sleep at the age of 69 with a steel pipe at his farm in Ventersdorp, North West Province (formerly Transvaal), in northern South Africa.  One controversial aspect of the trial was the defendants’ accusations that Terre’Blanche had sexually assaulted them, but the judge rejected that defense, concluding that the convicted killer, Chris Mahlangu, who is 29, had invented that claim after apparently finding semen on Terre’Blanche’s genitals after the killing.  The defense lawyers claimed that police or the prosecution had deliberately removed the alleged semen from the crime scene to prevent its analysis, a claim which the judge eventually rejected.

Eugène Terre’Blanche at a rally in the 1980s


Scots Officially Launch Independence Campaign amid Splits over Queen, Pound.  The Scottish National Party officially launched on May 25th its campaign for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom, which will be decided in a referendum in 2014.  But there are splits within the secessionist camp, with some objecting to plans by Scotland’s pro-independence First Minister, Alex Salmond, to retain the U.K.’s currency and—like Canada or Australia—keep Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.  The Scottish Green Party, the second-largest separatist party in Scotland, proposes an independent republic with its own currency.  A new poll shows 33% of Scots favoring independence, with 57% set against it.

Mladić Genocide Trial to Resume Next Month in Hague.  The trial of Ratko Mladić, accused of war crimes and genocide as commander of the separatist Republika Srpska forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s, is set to resume on June 25th, after a procedural delay (reported in this blog last week) on procedural grounds (related to the availability of evidence to both sides), it was announced May 24th.  Mladić is being tried by the United NationsInternational Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, an ad hoc international court which convenes in the Hague, in the Netherlands.

New Serbian President Must Balance Kosovo Policy and E.U. Hopes.  A former ultranationalist with ties to the notorious war criminal and dictator Slobodan Milošević defeated a moderate, the incumbent Boris Tadić, to become president of the Republic of Serbia on May 20th, disappointing those looking for reform and integration with Europe.  The new president, Tomislav Nikolić, favors Serbian membership in the European Union, but is also expected to take a somewhat harder line on the secessionist Republic of Kosovo than his predecessor.  (See my blog article on the Kosovo crisis.)

Tomislav Nikolić, Serbia’s new president

FIFA Grants Kosovo Its Own National Football Team.  The International Federation of Association Football (known by its French acronym FIFA) decided this week that the Republic of Kosovo, which is recognized as independent of the Republic of Serbia by only just under half of the world’s sovereign states, will be permitted to compete as a national team in international football (soccer) competition.  The Football Association of Serbia protested what it called “an unjustified decision which could have far-reaching consequences across the region.”  FIFA has 208 member states—more than the number of independent states (193) because some national subdivisions—such as Scotland, Puerto Rico, and Tahiti—have their own teams.  Meanwhile, Kosovar athletes are still awaiting a decision on whether they can compete in this year’s Summer Olympics in London.  (See my blog article on the Kosovo crisis.)

Indonesian Muslim Leader, in Kosovo, Urges Jakarta to Grant Diplomatic Recognition.  The leader of one of Indonesia’s largest Muslim societies, said May 18th during a visit to the Republic of Kosovo that his organization supports Kosovo’s independence and urged the Indonesian government to grant the country diplomatic recognition.  The leader, Din Syamsuddin, who is chairman of the organization Muhammadiyah, cited Indonesia’s 1945 constitution, which guarantees the right of peoples to independence and freedom from colonialism.  However, despite their constitution, Indonesia has repeatedly denied self-determination to people in the South Moluccas, Aceh, Timor-Leste, West Papua, and elsewhere.  But, Syamsuddin noted, Kosovo is predominantly Muslim and should be supported.  Only 91 states recognize Kosovo’s independence from the Republic of Serbia.  (See my blog article on the Kosovo crisis.)

Spain Gives 2 Basques 843-Year Prison Terms for 2002 Bombing.  In Spain, a court sentenced two terrorists from ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, “Basque Homeland and Freedom”), it was announced May 20th, to lengthy prison terms for a bomb attack against a Civil Guard residence compound in Santa Pola, Valencia, in 2002 which killed two civilians, including a 6-year-old girl.  The defendants, Óscar Zelarain and Antoni Otegi, were given 843 years each—the oddly high number being because of 51 charges of attempted murder, one for each of the people present on the city block at the time of the attack.  (See my recent blog article featuring a profile of the Basque separatist Idoia López Riaño, a.k.a. la Tigresa.)

Zelarain and Otegi in the dock.  They’ll be wearing different stripes soon.

Caucasus Emirate Operatives Given Sentences in 2009-10 Bomb Plots.  A court in Russia gave a 10-year prison sentence, a top-secret Russian federal court announced May 18th, to a planner of a foiled New Year’s Eve 2010 suicide-bombing of Moscow’s Red Square.  The defendant, Zeynap Suyunova, fled to Volgograd in 2010 after her accomplice died in an accidental explosion before being able to carry out the attack.  The plot had supposedly been hatched by Ibragimkhalil Daudov, a.k.a. Emir Salikh, a commander in the North Caucasus region’s separatist Caucasus Emirate movement, who was killed in a shootout with police in Chechnya in February.  Then, on May 22nd, it was announced that four plotters in the 2009 bombing of a train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, in which 28 people died, were given life sentences.  Responsibility for that attack was also claimed by the Caucasus Emirate.  The four defendants were all from the Republic of Ingushetia.

Russian Police Still Picking Off Militant Leaders in Dagestan; 5 Dead in Raids.  In a house siege May 18th in Makhachkala, capital of the Russian Federation’s Republic of Dagestan, Russian commandos killed a suspected co-plotter in the May 3rd suicide bombing in the city that killed 13 (reported on in this blog), while another surrendered.  The two men were holding women and children hostage in a private house before police negotiated the hostages’ release and the surrender of one of the men.  The second threw a grenade instead and was killed by the commandos.  On May 20th in Vinsovkhozny, Dagestan, according to Russia’s federal Anti-Terrorism Committee, police had killed the head of the local Khasavyurt gang, Aslan Mamedov (nom de guerre: Muas), who was also reportedly the third-ranking leader in the Dagestani branch of the separatist Caucasus Emirate movement, being “emir” of north Dagestan.  The Committee relished the “elimination of such an odious warlord.”  A second militant was also killed in that raid.  Two militants were also killed by police in the nearby village of Tukhchar.  On May 22nd, a police station in the “Black Stones” neighborhood of Makhachkala was attacked by unknown assailants in a drive-by shooting, killing two police and injuring three.  Meanwhile, a Russian bomb squad defused a powerful homemade bomb found just outside Malgobek, in the nearby Republic of Ingushetia, it was reported May 19th.  No further information was available.

Son of Slain Radical Dagestani Leader Shot in Moscow.  Murtuz Khachilayev, the son of Nadirshakh Khachilayev—a member of parliament for Dagestan and former head of the extremist Russian Muslims’ Union who was jailed for his ties to militant Wahhabism and later murdered in Makhachkala in 2003—has himself been shot in Moscow.  He was shot in the stomach, and his companion, Shamil Ichalov, was killed.  The police have no leads on his assailant.


Circassians March in Istanbul to Mark Genocide by Russia.  Thousands of Circassians and their supporters marched to the Russian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 21st to mark the 148th anniversary of what they call Russia’s genocide of Circassians, who were subsequently massacred and dispersed from their homeland on the Black Sea coast between the Crimean peninsula and the North Caucasus.  In particular, they object to Russia’s choice of Sochi, in Circassia, as the site for the 2014 Winter Olympics, “the symbol city of the genocide,” where the Ubykh subgroup of Circassians were essentially exterminated.  The Russian government warned the Turkish government that allowing such demonstrations harmed Russo-Turkish relations.  There are more than a million Circassians living in Turkey.

Circassians demonstrate in Istanbul

Deposed South Ossetian President Appointed Deputy Prime Minister.  Alla Dzhioyeva—who appeared to win the presidency in the de facto independent Russian puppet state of the Republic of South Ossetia last year in a disputed election and began serving her term, only to be deposed by thugs who raided her office beat her unconscious in February (as reported in this blog)—has been appointed deputy prime minister by her replacement, President Leonid Tibilov, Russia’s preferred candidate.  Dzhioyeva will be responsible for social affairs.  The announcement was made May 24th.  She accepted the post as part of aim of helping South Ossetia return to political normalcy.  Other opposition posts were also given posts in Tibilov’s new government.  Tibilov’s aim is to unite South Ossetia with the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, currently part of the Russian Federation.  (See my blog article on the disputed South Ossetian election.)

First 50 from Russian Troop Buildup Arrive in Abkhazia.  The first 50 recruits trained at a special military training camp in the Russian Federation’s nominally Circassian but ethnic-Russian-dominated Republic of Adygea have arrived in the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia to augment the Russian-manned military base there.  Over 1,000 new troops are to arrive by mid-summer.  Aside from Russia and a handful of other countries, the international community regards Abkhazia as part of the Republic of Georgia.

Abkhaz Police Find More Caucasus Emirate Arms Caches.  One of the suspects arrested May 4th in the alleged foiled Olympic terrorist plot against Russia (reported in this blog), Rustan Girsba, has led police in the Republic of Abkhazia to six more arms caches on May 22nd.  The caches included anti-tank grenade launchers, a flame-thrower, and lots of ammunition.  Girsba is the supposed leader of a militia called Abkhaz Jamaat, associated with the region’s Islamist separatist Caucasus Emirate movement.

Armenia Boycotts NATO Summit; No One Notices.  The Republic of Armenia refused to attend the summit meeting in Chicago, Illinois, this week of the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (of which it is not a member) over wording that it objected to on the question of territorial disputes.  The NATO joint declaration draft released before the summit said, “We remain committed in our support of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova and will also continue to support efforts towards a peaceful settlement of these regional conflicts.”  (NATO also condemned Russia’s support for the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.)  Armenia, which does not recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, felt the statement should have referred to the right to self-determination for regions such as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which seceded from Azerbaijan as an Armenian puppet state in 1992.  Armenia also boycotting this week’s Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, over the same conflict, and no one noticed that either.  (See my recent blog article on Armenian–Azerbaijani relations.)

The Dictator, Banned in Tajikistan, Now Edited for Uzbekistan.  After being effectively banned last week in the Republic of Tajikistan (as reported in this blog), the English film comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s new political satire, The Dictator, will now be shown in the Republic of Uzbekistan, but with twelve minutes edited out.  The film—in which Baron Cohen portrays Admiral General Aladeen, despot of the fictional Republic of Wadiya, in the Horn of Africa—is also banned in the Republic of Belarus.  His 2006 film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, evoked angry reactions in Central Asia for its portrayal of Kazakhstan as a dirt-poor, nuclear-contaminated wasteland full of bigots and perverts.  (See my recent blog article on the Republic of Wadiya.)

Israel Denies Planning to Send 20,000 Commandos to Cyprus.  In the wake of the Israeli air force’s May 14th violation of the airspace of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (as reported in this blog), Israel’s government was compelled this week to deny rumors circulated in a Turkish newspaper that the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had asked the Republic of Cyprus for permission to send 20,000 commandos to the island to protect a natural-gas terminal.  Turkey, which established Northern Cyprus as a puppet state in a 1974 invasion, is the only country in the world which does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus as the legitimate government of the entire island.  (See my recent blog article on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.)

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (in pink)

Kurdish Strife in Southeast Turkey Kills 15 as Police Search for Kidnapped Mayor.  One Turkish police officer, a civilian, and four fighters from Turkey’s banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) were killed on May 18th in what was only the beginning of an unusually violent week in the Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey, with 13 killed and 10 kidnapped.  On May 18th, P.K.K. fighters attacked a military outpost in Hakkari province, near the border with Iraq, killing a civilian construction worker and wounding three.  The same day, P.K.K. fighters set up a roadblock in Bitlis province and kidnapped six members of an anti-Kurdish village militia.  On May 20th, masked terrorists set a city bus afire in Istanbul, using Molotov cocktails, but the bus was evacuated and there were no injuries.  On May 21st, a Turkish police officer and four P.K.K. fighters were killed and four police injured in a skirmish with P.K.K. fighters in Diyarbakir province, where security forces were trying to track down a district chairman (mayor), Veysel Çelik, kidnapped by the P.K.K. on May 13th (as reported in this blog).  Also this week in Diyarbakir province, the P.K.K. kidnapped nine men and one woman and told residents of their village that the hostages would be killed if the snatching was reported to police.  On May 22nd, fighting between the P.K.K. and the Turkish military killed three P.K.K. fighters in Tunceli province.  Then, on May 23rd, the killing of a Turkish officer prompted a counterattack in Mus province in which one P.K.K. fighter was killed.  On May 25th, what at first appeared to be a bold suicide attack on a police station in Kayseri but later was being described as the culmination of a high-speed chase left one police officer and three militants dead and 19 injured, including children, after militants drove a vehicle into a police station, opened fire, and set off a bomb strapped to the chest of one of the militants.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings, plus another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle and a third featuring a profile of Dashni Murad, “the Kurdish Shakira.”)

Turkish Court Gives Legislator, Former Nobel Nominee 10 Years in Prison for Her Opinions.  A court in Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Republic of Turkey’s region of Kurdistan, sentenced Leyla Zana, a Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament who was once a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize to ten years in prison on May 24th for what the court called spreading propaganda.  The charges stem from speeches she made in 2007 and 2008 which the court considered in support of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  As a member of parliament, Zana will not need to begin serving her sentence until she leaves parliament.  Her term ends in 2015.)  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings, plus another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle and a third listing Kurdistan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)


Ankara Interior Minister Accuses Syria of Hosting P.K.K. Bases.  The embattled dictatorship of the Republic of Syria is allowing its territory to be used by fighters from Turkey’s banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) launching attacks in Turkey, according to the Turkish minister for the interior, Idris Naim Sahin, who cited Turkish intelligence in making the accusations on May 23rd.  Sahin even said that Bashar al-Assad’s regime is allowing the P.K.K. to virtually run some Kurdish towns on the Syrian side of the border.  In 1998, Turkey and Syria nearly went to war over alleged Syrian support of the P.K.K.  The Turkish government has over the past few months moved to the forefront of international opposition to Assad, at the same time that it has been building economic and political ties with northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) (see next story, below).  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings, plus another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle and articles on border conflicts between Turkey and Syria and on prospects for the partition of Syria.)

The flag of Kurdistan

Kurd-on-Kurd Violence on Rise in Syrian Civil War.  Kurdish activists in the diaspora are reporting fighting between opposing Kurdish factions in Syria’s ongoing civil war.  Most of the violence is between the Kurdish National Council (K.N.C.) and the Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.).  The P.Y.D. is affiliated with Turkey’s banned militant separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) and accuses the K.N.C. of being mainstream and conciliatory.  KurdWatch, an online news source, reports that some of the violence has been prompted by P.Y.D. supporters in Qamishli and elsewhere burning Kurdish flags and displaying portraits of Abdullah Öcalan, the P.K.K.’s imprisoned founder.  At least one activist has accused the Arab Shiite dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad of being behind the P.Y.D.’s provocations in order to divide Kurds.  The Turkish government opposes Assad and supports the mainstream opposition to the regime but has been waging a brutal war for decades against its own Kurdish population.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings, plus another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle and a third on prospects for the partition of Syria.)

Baghdad Warns Kurds over Turkey Oil Pipeline Deal.  Iraq’s central government on May 21st warned the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) in the country’s north not to go ahead with a plan announced the day before, under which the K.R.G. would bring its oil to the international market via Turkey instead of via the rest of Iraq.  A pipeline is to be built over the next 12 months to carry the oil.  Baghdad claims any such deals undertaken by the K.R.G. without Iraqi approval are unconstitutional.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings, plus another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle and a third on prospects for the partition of Iraq.)

Iran to Review Death Sentence of 2 Kurdish Brothers Arrested for “Fighting God.”  Under apparent pressure from international human-rights organizations, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be reviewing the case of two Kurdish brothers who were sentenced to death after their 2009 arrest for “anti-Islamic activities” and “fighting against God.”  One of the two brothers was a members of a Kurdish political party but neither was very politically active, though the father of one of them was a peshmerga (Kurdish rebel).  The men’s father, Iqbal Moradi, told media that the decision came after meetings between Kurdish lawyers, human-rights groups, and Iran’s deputy minister of justice, Ayatollah Amoli Larijani.  (See my blog article on this spring’s Kurdish uprisings, plus another article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle.)

On Video: Israeli Troops Standing By as West Bank Settlers Shoot at Palestinians.  Outrage flared in Israel and abroad after an Israeli human-rights group, B’Tselem, released a video clip showing Israeli Defense Forces standing by idly while Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank open fire on young Palestinian protesters throwing stones.  One protester was shot on the side of the head but was not killed.  (Watch the video here.)  (See my blog article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

South Yemen Separatists and Opponents Brawl on Reunification Anniversary.  In Aden, capital of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, a.k.a. South Yemen, supporters and opponents of a Southern re-secession collided violently on May 22nd on the anniversary of both the unification of north and south Yemen in 1990 and a failed secession bid on that date in 1994.  The two mobs were led by, respectively, Hirak, also known as the Southern Movement, and al-Islah, also known as the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, the current Republic of Yemen’s main opposition party.  Witnesses reported what appeared to be injuries as the two sides scuffled.  (See my blog article listing South Yemen as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

The former split


Sindhi Separatists Ambush Bus in Pakistan; 9 Passengers Killed.  The Sindhu Desh Liberation Army (S.D.L.A.) has taken responsibility for an ambush of a passenger bus in southern Pakistan May 25th which killed nine people and injured 12.  The attack occurred in the Kazi Ahmed district in the state of Sindh, which the S.D.L.A. would like to form a state independent of Pakistan.  The S.D.L.A. stopped the bus, boarded, and opened fire.  The attack came on the eve of a high-profile conference in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, in the north, on how to address the separatist insurgency in Sindh’s neighboring southern state, Balochistan.  Typically, Sindhi nationalists are less violent and organized than separatists in the neighboring state of Balochistan.  (See my blog article listing Balochistan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

General Strike, Army Dragnet Shut Down Kashmir Capital; Rival Factions Brawl.  Srinagar, the capital of India’s state of Jammu and Kashmir, was virtually shut down May 21st as Kashmiris closed up shops and businesses to mark the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of the Muslim cleric and separatist leader Mirwaiz Mohammed Farooq, whose killing is still assumed by many to have been orchestrated by the Indian government.  Indian troops set up roadblocks, curfews, and razor wire to prevent rallies and parades associated with the anniversary.  It also marks the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Abdul Gani Lone, another Kashmiri separatist leader killed during the same anniversary in 2002.  The following day, during an All Parties Hurriyat Conference seminar in the city on the Kashmiri independence movement, members of rival factions turned to fisticuffs and chair-throwing over the question of whether a United Nations resolution on Kashmir was applicable or not.

Rival Kashmiri separatist factions resort to throwing furniture

Golden Temple Memorial Construction Begins, Honoring Sikh “Martyrs.”  Construction began May 20th in Amritsar, the capital of India’s state of Punjab, for “martyrs” in the Sikh independence movement which convulsed India in the 1980s.  The memorial will be housed within the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site, which was stormed by Indian troops in a notorious massacre in 1984.  Sikhs were struggling to establish a separate state to be called Khalistan.  Meanwhile, an Indian newspaper carried an article accusing Pakistan’s intelligence agency of attempting to foment a resurgence of Sikh separatism.

Assamese Separatists Call Strike to Protest Gandhi Visit.  The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), which seeks independence for India’s far-eastern state of Assam, called for a May 26th shutdown of the state to protest the impending visit of Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of the assassinated Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who heads the Indian National Congress party.  ULFA said in a statement, “The shutdown is being called to protest against the Indian colonial occupation in Assam, and the government’s bid to set up nuclear warheads in Assam, for converting Assam to a thriving ground of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, setting up of mega-hydropower projects in collusion with big companies to exploit the water resources of the state, and the recent move to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre.”

Former Sri Lanka Army Chief Freed on Pardon, Vows Revenge for “Vendetta.”  The former commander of Sri Lanka’s army, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, left prison May 21st following a pardon from President Mahinda Rajapakse.  Fonseka was a key figure in the victory over the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in the decades-long civil war that ended in 2009.  In 2010, he ran against Rajapkse for president, criticizing him for not giving him enough credit for the victory and threatening to have him arrested if elected.  Fonseka is still presumed by many to have won the most votes, but Rajapakse was declared winner and promptly had Fonseka arrested on arbitrary charges related to offenses committed during the war.  “I will save the country,” Fonseka said upon his release.  “The people will correct the injustice caused to me.  I was a victim of a vendetta.”  (See my recent blog article featuring a profile of the Tamil activist Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, a.k.a. “M.I.A.”)

Sarath Fonseka


World Uyghur Congress Reelects Kadeer in Tokyo While Beijing Pouts.  The World Uyghur Congress reelected Rebiya Kadeer as its president last week during its fourth triennial meeting in Tokyo, Japan.  The Japanese government’s granting of a visa for Kadeer—a former political prisoner who defected from China to the United States—had caused an outcry from the government of the People’s Republic of China, which brands her a dangerous separatist (as reported last week in this blog).


Papuans Arrested in Vanuatu Protesting Ties to Indonesian Military.  “About two dozen” supporters of independence for the Indonesian-administered western half of the island of New Guinea were arrested in the Republic of Vanuatu last week for demonstrating against the Vanuatuan government’s military ties with Indonesia.  The group Solomon Islands for West Papua is now urging the Melanesian Spearhead Group (M.S.G.)—a regional body consisting of Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu—to take a stronger position against Indonesia, by admitting a West Papuan separatists group as an M.S.G. member.  The Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front, a militant pro-independence group in the French colony of New Caledonia, is already an M.S.G. member.  (See my blog article listing West Papua as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Aboriginal Conclave Issues Declaration of Sovereignty from Australian “Invader State.”  A May 25th press release from the Kuradji Aboriginal Embassy at Sandon Point, a northern suburb of Wollongong, New South Wales, announced the intention of Aboriginal leaders from across Australia, solemnized in the signing of a formal Act, to form what is to be called the National Unity Government of the Sovereign Union of First Nations Peoples in Australia.  The statement refers to the government of Australia as “the invader State” and called for the building of sovereign institutions by Aboriginal communities across the continent.  Among its resolutions is that “It is our inherent sovereign right to declare and advance our interests in all lands, waters, natural resources, subsurface and airspace as decreed by our DREAMINGS and songlines, through our obligation to Mother Earth and Creation.”

Amnesty International Wades into Debate on Australia’s Northern Territory.  Some Aboriginal leaders in Australia are taking umbrage with the 50th annual report on global human rights published this week by the London-based human-rights organization Amnesty International, which condemned the Australian government’s controversial proposal to extend paternalistic management of Aboriginal communities in the country’s Northern Territory for another 10 years.  Bess Price, an Aboriginal politician, said, “When Amnesty came to central Australia they were managed and guided around by the protesters,” adding, “Amnesty wants to keep us in ghettoes in the bush without individual rights, choices, and options.”  Amnesty’s position, however, is supported by the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and the Yolngu Nations Assembly.  (Elsewhere in its report, Amnesty, while also praising recent developments such as the bringing to trial of the Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladić (as reported last week in this blog), tallied ongoing human-rights abuses such as war crimes against the Republic of South Sudan by its former parent state, the Republic of SudanIsrael’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and other Israeli–Palestinian conflicts; and an escalation of repression of ethnic minorities in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) despite recent reforms and cease-fires.)

Bess Price

Aborigines Granted Title to Australia’s Largest Lake.  Australia’s largest (though usually mostly dry) lake, and the 18th-largest lake in the world, Lake Eyre, is now officially the territory of the Arabunna aboriginal people, according to a Federal Court decision announced May 22nd, which grants aboriginal title to 27,000 square miles around the salt lake in the state of South Australia, including a national park and the continent’s lowest point.  Aaron Stuart, chairman of the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation, told the media that visitors and tourists were welcome but boaters were not—an exception which is expected to lead to confrontations with indignant non-aboriginals.  Under the deal, which concludes a 14-year legal battle, the Arabunna are relinquishing their claim on the town of Marree, population 70.


Mexico Sets Aside Disputed Sacred Lands for Huichols after Anti-Mining Protests.  The government of Mexico announced this week that it would set aside a half-million acres of land in the State of San Luis Potosí for the Huichol Indians.  The area, known as Wirikuta, is sacred land whose imminent plunder by a Canadian mining firm, First Majestic Silver Corporation has led to nationwide protests.  First Majestic has withdrawn its concessions, and Mexico City says no new ones will be granted.

Crackdown on Protests in Quebec Boosts Separatist Prospects.  As protests over tuition increases in Quebec drag on, with increasingly violent confrontations with police and ever larger rallies bringing in other groups such as First Nations and environmentalist leaders, the pro-independence Parti Québécois (P.Q.) is also supporting the students and using the protests as a forum for its own message of secession from Canada.  A new law introduced this week which curtails the right to protest, introduced by the formerly separatist provincial premier, Jean Charest, who now leads the unionist Liberal Party, is only increasing public support for the students, and for the P.Q.

Canadian First Nations Leaders Ask Prince of Wales for Audience with Queen.  Representatives of Canada’s First Nations met on May 22nd in Ottawa with Charles, Prince of Wales, and indicated a desire to meet with Charles’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, next year to discuss treaties.  One Cree member of the delegation, Ovide Mercredi, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, told media afterward that he had suggested to Charles the date October 7, 2013, the 150th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a landmark document in Canadian aboriginal law which decrees that no territory is ceded to the Crown—or, by extension, to Canada—without treaty.  By that definition, many areas, for example nearly all of British Columbia, are not legally part of Canada.

The Great White Father steps down from his palanquin for a parley

Johnny Depp Adopted into Comanche Tribe.  While Elizabeth Warren’s run for Edward Kennedy’s seat representing Massachusetts seat in the United States Senate is being complicated by her dubious claims of American Indian ancestry, things got simpler for the actor Johnny Depp, whose claims of Cherokee and Creek ancestry were bolstered by his ceremonial adoption earlier this month by the Comanche Indian Tribe in New Mexico as an honorary member.  Depp will be co-starring as Tonto in the upcoming (2013) Jerry Bruckheimer film adaptation of the popular radio and television series The Lone Ranger.  The Oklahoma-born Comanche activist LaDonna Harris, founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity, hosted the adoption in a traditional ceremony at her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on May 16th.  “Welcoming Johnny into the family in the traditional way was so fitting,” said Harris.  “He’s a very thoughtful human being, and throughout his life and career he has exhibited traits that are aligned with the values and worldview that indigenous peoples share.”  Johnny Wauqua, chairman of the Comanche Nation, was also in attendance.  In the original 1930s radio series, Tonto was Potawatomi, even though that tribe lives mostly in Wisconsin, far from the stories’ American Southwest setting.  In the television series, Tonto was portrayed by Jay Silverheels, who was of Mohawk (Iroquois) heritage from Canada.

LaDonna Harris and Johnny Depp

Republican Lawmaker Tweets in Favor of Southern California’s Secession—from U.S.  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican who represents part of the United States’ most politically right-wing jurisdiction—Orange County, California—in the U.S. Congress, has attracted attention by announcing on his Twitter feed, in the context of a discussion of Balochistan’s struggle for independence from Pakistan, “If citizens of So. Cal want to leave US, then there should be a vote, & if majority agrees: bye bye,” adding, “If majority of citizens living on outer edge of any country vote separation they should get it,” and, “Specifically if citizens of SoCal vote independence or to become party [sic] of Mexico, then that is what should happen to So Cal.”  Various proposals have surfaced over the years to divide California into predominantly-Democratic and predominantly-Republican states, along north-vs.-south or coast-vs.-interior lines—including, last summer, a proposal by the Riverside County supervisor for a Republican-dominated State of South California.

One proposal for a separate State of South California

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

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Week in Separatist News, May 13-19: Mladić on Trial, Dalai Lama Poison Plot, Royal Catfight over Gibraltar, Israel Hunger Strike Ends

Photo of the week: Palestinian demonstrators mark Nakba Day, commemorating the expulsions at the founding of the state of Israel in 1948


Islamists in Azawad Block Aid Convoy to Timbuktu.  Ansar al-Dine, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militia which is doing much of the governing in the newly created, Tuareg-dominated Independent State of Azawad, on May 15th blocked the progress of the first aid convoy carrying food and medical supplies to the beleaguered Azawadi city of Timbuktu.  The group objected to the presence of women among the aid workers.  The international community regards Azawad as the northern two-thirds of the Republic of Mali.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawadi declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on Mali in the context of other north–south splits in the Sahel.)

Al-Qaeda Trainers Flooding to Azawad from Pakistan.  Testimony from locals on the ground in Azawad, as well as Algerian news sources, are reporting that the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (A.Q.I.M.)—the terrorist group that is governing Azawad with its affilitate militia Ansar al-Dine—is bringing terrorists from Pakistan to train recruits in weapons handling, money-laundering, and guerilla warfare.  These Pakistani jihadists apparently entered Azawad through Algeria.  Timbuktu’s mayor and local religious leader opposed to Islamist rule confirmed the reports.  This indicates that Azawad—like Sudan, southern Somalia, and Afghanistan before it—may be the new focus of Islamist terrorists looking to set up camp.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawadi declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on Mali in the context of other north–south splits in the Sahel.)

Citizens’ Movement Forms in Azawad to Resist Islamist Rule.  A new organization calling itself the Northern Citizens’ Collective announced its establishment in the self-proclaimed Independent State of Azawad on May 15th, aiming to resist “by any means” the rule by the Islamists al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Dine in the nominally Tuareg republic.  COREN stands for Collectif des Ressortissants des régions du Nord, the French name for the group.  Meanwhile, schools in Timbuktu and Gao, in the self-declared Independent State of Azawad, reopened May 7th for the first time since secession from Mali, but with a strict shari’a format: segregation by sex, full body and head covering for girls, and no more biology or philosophy.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawadi declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on Mali in the context of other north–south splits in the Sahel.)

Official Independent State of Azawad government vehicle

Ecowas Threatens to Reimpose Sanctions on Mali, Opens Talks with Islamists.  While still dragging their feet on whether to reimpose civilian rule in Mali and Guinea-Bissau with its 3,000-strong military force, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (Ecowasthreatened a renewal of sanctions May 14th against the military junta that has ruled Mali since March.  Ecowas lifted sanctions last month after the junta’s leader, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, promised a handover to civilian rule, but that has turned out to be mostly window-dressing—the junta still runs the one-third of Mali that has not seceded as the Independent State of Azawad—so they now may be reimposed.  And the foreign minister of Burkina Faso, an Ecowas member state, said May 17th that the organization is already engaged in talks not only with the Sanogo junta but with the Tuareg separatists and radical Islamist militias that have taken over the northern two-thirds of the country.  (See my recent blog article on the Azawadi declaration of independence, plus an earlier article on Mali in the context of other north–south splits in the Sahel.)

New Official South Sudan Map Includes Abyei and Heglig, Angering North.  A new official map of the Republic of South Sudan issued this month shows the disputed Abyei district and the Heglig oil fields—both claimed by the Republic of Sudan, from which South Sudan seceded last year with borders ill-defined—as part of the new country.  The Sudanese chairman of the joint committee from establishing the border said May 13th there was no basis for the inclusion.  The same day, Sudan’s government said it would not pull out of the disputed Abyei district until an administrative body is formed to prevent a power vacuum.  South Sudan has already pulled its forces out of Abyei following an internationally brokered agreement.

Civilians Flee Fighting in North Darfur; 12 Injured in University Brawl.  Fighting again is disrupting life in Darfur, in the Republic of Sudan, this time in the north of the territory, with the town of Tabet being emptied around May 10th because of fighting between the Sudanese government and rebels from the Darfuri-dominated Sudan Liberation Army (S.L.A.).  Government forces were also sending air strikes against the town, killing at least one person.  Meanwhile, 30 people, including elders and human-rights activists, have been arrested in South Darfur, where the S.L.A. briefly captured the town of Gireida, near Nyala, last week (as reported in this blog).  At nearby Nyala University on May 15th, students affiliated with Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (N.C.P.), attacked a student activist from the Sudan Liberation Movement (the S.L.A.’s political arm) with sticks and batons, leading to a campus brawl in which the N.C.P.’s campus office was burned to the ground.  The next day government security forces stormed the campus arresting and beating any students not loyal to the N.C.P.

The flag of Darfur

First Planeload of Displaced South Sudanese Flown Home from Khartoum.  The first 164 (out of about 15,000) stranded and displaced South Sudanese were transported from Khartoum, Republic of Sudan, to Juba, capital of the Republic of South Sudan, on May 14th as part of a plan to repatriate southerners stranded in the rump state after South Sudan seceded in July 2011.  The airlift was organized by the International Organization for Migration.  The program will continue at the rate of six such flights a day.

High-Ranking Lord’s Resistance Army Commander Captured in C.A.R.  A commander in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance ArmyCaesar Achellamwas captured May 12th by Ugandan soldiers in the Central African Republic, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, following a gun battle between Ugandan forces and about 30 L.R.A. fighters.  A Ugandan military spokesman called Achellam “a big fish.”  About 100 United States special forces are assisting a Ugandan-led multi-national force in hunting the 200-500 remaining members of the L.R.A., which began as an Acholi ethnic insurgency in northern Uganda.  As for Kony himself, recent reports suggest he is constantly on the move but currently possibly in southern Darfur, an area of the Republic of Sudan which has recently become a front in the war with South Sudan.

Caesar Achellam

European Union Bombs Pirate Bases in Galmudug.  One of several European Union warships off of the coast of the Horn of Africa launched helicopter air strikes on May 15th against an alleged pirate base near Harardhere in Somalia’s Mudug province.  Mudug is part of the self-governing Galmudug State of Somalia, a de facto independent state which has become a haven for pirates and which the international community recognizes as a constituent state of the dysfunctional, barely existent Republic of Somalia.  The E.U. says no Somalis were harmed, that the attack was coordinated with the “Somali government,” and that several pirate fast-attack craft were disabled.  These were the first E.U. air strikes in an anti-piracy effort dubbed Operation Atalanta.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Puntland Rejects Centralism of Draft Somalia Constitution.  A review committee for the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia announced on May 11th its opposition to the new constitution drafted for the barely-existent Republic of Somalia.  In particular, Puntland objects to articles reserving natural-resources legislation for the federal parliament in Mogadishu instead of to the regions and a requirement that presidential candidates relinquish foreign citizenship, which Puntland says discriminates against the vast Somalian diaspora.  Puntland submitted ten pages of requested changes to Somalia’s internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.).  Puntland has been de facto independent since 1998 but regards itself as nominally part of Somalia.   (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

2 Puntland Officials Assassinated in Bosaso.  Two government officials for the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia were gunned down and killed by masked assailants on May 10th in Bosaso, the republic’s chief harbor town.  The two men, walking to a café, were approached by two armed masked men.  After the first official was shot, the second official tried to wrestle the gun away but was himself killed in the struggle.  The assailants escaped without being identified, but in the ensuing city-wide dragnet, seven suspects with ties to the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terror network were arrested.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Firing Squad for 17 Somalilanders after Land-Rights Riot Kills 7.  A military court in the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland handed down 17 death sentences on May 16th after a deadly riot the day before in Hargeisa, the capital, between security forces and civilians protesting land-distribution policy.  The executions will be by firing squad.  Seven were killed in that incident, including three police officers as well as two bystanders hit by stray bullets.  28 demonstrators were captured—nine of whom had injuries.  At issue was land which once belonged to Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator of Somalia, now a military base.  Dozens of Somalilanders, taking to the streets on May 17th to protest the harsh sentences, were dispersed by riot police on May 17th.  (See my blog article on the fragmentation of Somalia.)

Mombasa Separatists Suspected in Attack on Kenya Election Office.  A bloody raid by unknown assailants on the Kwale offices of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (I.E.B.C.) and other sites left three people dead and several computers missing.  Some are suspecting members of the Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.), which has threatened to disrupt elections in Coast province, which they would like to carve off as a separate, Muslim-dominated nation.  But the police chief of Kwale—which is in Coast province—said it was too early to point fingers.  The M.B.C. denied involvement.

A rare image of the secessionist flag used by the Mombasa Republican Council

Angola’s Cabinda Separatists Hold Out Olive Branch.  United Press International is reporting that the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has announced the possibility of peace talks with the Republic of Angola.  FLEC is apparently interested in forming alliances with other groups coalescing in opposition to José Eduardo dos Santos, the military dictator who has ruled Angola since 1979 after leading a successful fight to secede from Portugal.  Cabinda, a tiny wedge of land separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s narrow access to the Atlantic Ocean, was a separate Portuguese colony from the rest of Angola before rebel militias, supported by Cuban forces, overran the territory to make it part of an independent Angola.  (See my recent blog article featuring a profile of the Angolan anti-colonial leader Queen Nzingha of Ndongo and Matamba.)


Mladić’s Bosnian War Crimes Trial Begins in the Hague.  The charges included genocide as Ratko Mladić, the Serb commander responsible for many of the atrocities in the Bosnian War in the early 1990s, including the 1992-96 siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, mostly under the auspices of the Republika Srpska puppet state, began his trial at the United Nations war-crimes tribunal in the Hague, in the Netherlands, on May 16th.  Mladić, who is 70 years old, was arrested in Serbia in 2011.  He began the trial with defiant gestures and flamboyant displays of contempt for the court.  The proceedings were temporarily delayed the following day, for procedural reasons.

Ratko Mladić on trial

Bossi Anoints Maroni Successor to Northern League Leadership.  Umberto Bossi, the flamboyant founder of the right-wing, xenophobic Lega Nord (“Northern League”), which would like northern Italy to secede as an independent state called Padania, announced in the party’s daily newspaper May 15th that he will stay on as the party’s ceremonial president after resigning amidst a corruption scandal last month (as reported in this blog).  However, the leadership will fall to his rival Roberto Maroni, who will be the new party secretary.  Maroni served as Italy’s minister of the interior from 2008 to 2011 when the League was a junior partner in Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling coalition.  Maroni’s formal installation is to happen at the party’s national congress, which begins next month.  The League fared badly in last week’s nationwide municipal elections.  (See my blog article on Bossi’s dream of a “Greater Padania,” as well as a recent article featuring a profile of Bossi’s son Renzo Bossi.)

Umberto Bossi and Roberto Maroni pledge allegiance to Padania

Basques Ready for Talks, but Spain and France Not Interested.  The separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) (“Basque Homeland and Freedom”) announced this week that it had formed a delegation which is now ready to negotiate with the governments of Spain and France.  ETA laid down its arms in October, and this month the International Verification Commission has concluded that ETA is honoring its cease-fire, but the two countries’ governments still refuse to negotiate with them.  Spain’s minister of the interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, specifically said Spain would “never” negotiate with ETA.  (See my recent blog article featuring a profile of the Basque separatist Idoia López Riaño.)

Spain’s Queen Boycotting Elizabeth II Jubilee over Gibraltar Dispute.  At the request of her government, Queen Sofía of Spain has cancelled a trip to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee over the disputed United Kingdom territory of Gibraltar, according to a Spanish palace spokesman on May 17th.  This follows a milder kerfuffle the week before, when Spain complained of a planned visit to Gibraltar, which is attached to the Spanish mainland, by Prince Edward.  (It was Edward’s nephew the Prince of Wales’s deployment to the Falkland Islands earlier this year which caused a similar, more serious diplomatic crisis, between the U.K. and Argentina.)  Spain also boycotted the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana over Gibraltar.  Gibraltar was formally ceded from Spain to the U.K. in 1713, and in 2002 Gibraltarians voted 98% against shared Spanish sovereignty over their territory (which London had agreed to, pending a referendum), in favor of the status quo.  The Spanish government, hypocritically, plays the other side in a similar tussle over the African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which it maintains as Spanish territory in defiance of claims by the Kingdom of Morocco.  (See my article discussing the Falklands, Gibraltar, and Ceuta & Melilla in detail.)

The Gibraltar flap could turn out to be Queen Sofía’s biggest diplomatic blunder
since she strangled two pandas to death during a state visit to China.

Russia Warns Kosovo against Training Syrian Rebels.  The government of the Russian Federation on May 14th gave a warning to the Republic of Kosovo—an independent state it does not diplomatically recognize—against offering training on its territory to forces participating in the uprising against the embattled regime in Syria, which is a Russian ally.  Three  delegates from the Syrian opposition arrived in Pristina, Kosovo, last month (as reported in this blog) to consult with Kosovars about overthrowing Bashar al-Assad.  But Kosovo’s foreign minister, Enver Hoxhaj, said this week that although Kosovo is “supporting very much their cause,” the Syrians are not receiving Kosovar training.  (See my blog article on the Kosovo dispute, plus an earlier article on the Syrian civil war.)

Russians Kill 9 Islamists in Dagestan, Including Several Most-Wanteds.  Russian police killed seven Islamist militants on May 11th in the Republic of Dagestan, including a traditional Islamic judge, according to the Russian Federation’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee.  The judge, Magomed Makhmudov, was on a terrorist wanted list and was killed in the firefight with the so-called “Kizlyar gang.”  Three police and four soldiers were injured.  On May 13th, media reported that Russian forces had also killed Sheikh Abdusalam, a native of Turkey and the leader of the “Sergokalinsky gang,” near Kich-Hamr and Utamysh in Dagestan’s Sergokalinsky district.  One special-forces officer was killed in that operation.  Among the militants killed this week was Shamil Gazimigamedov, the organizer of February 2011 terrorist attacks on Russian trains, and on May 15th a wanted terrorist leader and self-proclaimed Emir of Makhachkala, Hussein Mamaev, who uses the nom de guerre Hamza, was killed by Russian forces.  Mamaev was the alleged mastermind of the May 3rd double car-bombing in Makhachkala (reported on in this blog), which killed 13 people.  Islamists in Dagestan are fighting to create an independent Caucasus Emirate encompassing all of the North Caucasus.

One map of the proposed Caucasus Emirate

2 Get Prison for 2010 North Ossetia Suicide Bombing.  Two men accused of involvement in a 2010 suicide bombing of a market in Vladikavkaz, the capital of the Russian Federation’s Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms of 24 and 16 years, it was reported on May 17th.  The bombing killed 19 and injured more than 200.


Russia Reveals Aid for Countries Recognizing South Ossetia.  Those who have long suspected, or known, that the handful of countries that diplomatically recognize the Russian puppet states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were acting out of economic interest were vindicated on May 16th, when the Russian Federation’s ministry of finance released data showing cash payouts for Nicaragua and Nauru, two of the only six United Nations member-states that recognize the two Caucasus republics.  (The others are Venezuela, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu.)  Specifically, in 2010 Nicaragua, Nauru, and Kyrgyzstan shared a $50-million package of support from Russia for medicine, infrastructure, and education.  A Russian government spokesman denied any connection.  (See my blog article on last year’s disputed South Ossetian election.)

Comedy Film The Dictator So Funny It Is Banned in Tajikistan.  Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy  film The Dictator, in which he portrays Admiral General Aladeen, despot of the fictional Republic of Wadiya in the Horn of Africa, has been refused a distribution license in the Republic of Tajikistan.  A statement from Tajikistan said, “It’s wrong to compare us with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and with other countries.  We have a different mentality.  We’re not going to give Dictator a premiere because of these considerations.”  In 2006, Baron Cohen’s film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which portrayed Kazakhstan as a backward, nuclear-contaminated wasteland, elicited an angry reaction from that country’s government, though it is considered responsible for a sudden spike in tourism to Kazakhstan after its release.  (See my recent blog article about the Republic of Wadiya.)

Admiral General Aladeen arriving at the Cannes film festival

Azerbaijani Soldier Shot at Nagorno-Karabakh Border.  A 19-year-old Azerbaijani army private was shot in the head at the border with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, according to Azerbaijan on May 17th, and is in grave condition.  The Azerbaijani military says that the shooting was by Armenian soldiers across the cease-fire line.  The N.K.R.’s ministry of defense denied the charge.  Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian puppet state carved out of Azerbaijan by a war waged by Armenia, with Russia’s support, in the early 1990s.  (See my recent blog article on the geopolitical context of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.)

Rhode Island Recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.  The House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the constituent state of the United States with the smallest land area and the most lengthy appellation, formally resolved this week to recommend that the U.S. extend diplomatic recognition to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (N.K.R.), a puppet state of the Republic of Armenia conquered from the Republic of Azerbaijan after the fall of Communism.  (Read the resolution here.)  Rhode Island has a fairly substantial Armenian-American population.  It is so far the only state to pass such a resolution.  If recognized, the N.K.R. would be only the 161st-largest such country in the world, in land area, ranked between Qatar and the Republic of the Gambia.  Rhode Island, by contrast, if it were independent, would rank 168th, between Cape Verde and Samoa.  (See my recent blog article on the geopolitical context of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.)

The flag of Rhode Island

Turkish Fighter Jets Chase Israeli Plane out of Northern Cyprus Airspace.  The government of Turkey accused Israel on May 17th of violating the airspace of its unrecognized puppet state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, on May 14th.  An Israeli plane violated the republic’s airspace five times, causing Turkey to send fighter jets to chase it away.  Except for Turkey, the international community regards the de facto independent republic as part of the western-allied Republic of Cyprus.  The next day, the Turkish government warned Russian, Italian, Malaysian, and other foreign companies seeking licenses to extract oil and natural gas from Cyprus’s territorial waters to withdraw their bids or be banned from Turkish energy projects.  (See my recent blog article on Northern Cyprus.)

Iran Accuses Turkey of Hosting Azeri Separatists.  The foreign ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran is objecting to the Republic of Turkey’s supposed lack of neutrality toward its neighbor by allowing an organization called the National Council for Azeris to form on its territory.  The aim of the group, according to Iranian media this week, is independence for Iran’s ethnically Azeri provinces, adjacent to the independent Republic of Azerbaijan.  (See my recent blog article discussing Turkey, Azerbaijan, and South Caucasus geopolitics.)

U.S. Drone Intelligence behind 2011 Turkish Massacre of Civilians.  Video intelligence from a drone aircraft manufactured and supplied to Turkey by the United States is being implicated in a December 2011 airstrike by the Turkish military against its own people, which killed 34 civilians, according to sources in the U.S. Department of Defense who spoke with the Wall Street Journal.  At the time, the U.S. gave Ankara information about a suspicious-looking caravan of people and pack animals moving in Iraq toward the border with Turkey.  Apparently without requesting further verification, the Turkish air force bombed the caravan, assuming they were members of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  (See my blog article on the latest Kurdish uprisinga more recent article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, and another piece on prospects for the partitition of Iraq.)

Kurdish Rebels Kidnap Turkish Mayor; 4 Soldiers Killed.  Members of Turkey’s banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) kidnapped a mayor (district chairman) on May 14th, according to media.  Police are in the process of trying to track down the kidnappers and their victim, who is Veysel Çelik, chairman of Kulp district in Diyarbakir province, in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdistan region.  Later, on May 17th, the P.K.K. attacked a gendarmerie post in Hatay province, near the border with Syria, leaving three soldiers dead.  Four P.K.K. fighters were, according to Turkish media, “rendered inactivity”—which could mean either captured or killed.  The same day, the P.K.K. killed another Turkish soldier in Hakkari province.  (See my blog article on the latest Kurdish uprising and a more recent article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle.  Also, see my blog article on Turkey’s annexation of Hatay in 1939 and another article on the prospects for the partition of Syria.)

Mayor Veysel Çelik (right), before his capture by Kurdish rebels


Kurds Reject Iranian Accusation of Israeli Collusion.  The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) in northern Iraq on May 12th rejected recent accusations by the Iranian consul in Arbil that Iraqi Kurdistan was being used by Israel’s intelligence service to launch operations against Iran.  The K.R.G. added in a statement, “This is an attempt to draw Kurdistan into the fight between Israel and Iran, and we do not want to be part of this.”  (See my blog article on the latest Kurdish uprisinga more recent article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, and another piece on prospects for the partitition of Iraq.)

Iraqiya M.P. Promises Coalition with Kurds against Maliki.  A member of parliament from the Iraqiya bloc of political parties that represents Iraq’s large Sunni Arab minority said this week that his group is in the process of negotiating an alliance with the Kurdistan Blocs Coalition (K.B.C.) of parties to form a united front against the increasingly authoritarian rule of Iraq’s Shiite Arab prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.  The M.P., Talal al-Zubayee, said there would be an “announcement of a new alliance” soon.  Some Kurdish M.P.s denied Zubayee’s statement.  These developments come about two weeks after a high-profile summit (reported in this blog) in Arbil, in the autonomous Kurdish region, between non-Sunni leaders, including Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and Ayad Allawi, the head of Iraqiya.  (See my blog article on the latest Kurdish uprisinga more recent article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, and another piece on prospects for the partitition of Iraq.)

Widow of Kurdish Mayor Who Died in Jail Cell Rejects Probe Findings.  The widow of the district governor (i.e. mayor) of Sulaimaniyah, in Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdistan region, who died April 14th in a jail cell (as reported in this blog), has rejected the findings of an internal investigation that reiterates the Kurdistan Regional Government’s original finding that it was a suicide.  The widow, Sakar Jamal, says that if a court now mulling the matter does not probe more deeply, “then we will resort to international courts.”  Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, seems to support the family’s suspicions.  He says that there is no evidence that the mayor, Zana Hama Salih, was involved in the corruption of which he was accused and arrested in the first place and that the Asayish—the Kurdish security forces who ran the jail—are responsible for Salih’s death even if it was a suicide.  As reported earlier in this blog, there are also indications that some of the testimony against Salih was extracted through torture.  (See my blog article on the latest Kurdish uprisinga more recent article on shifting alliances in the Kurdish struggle, and another piece on prospects for the partitition of Iraq.)

Zana Hama Salih and Sakar Jamal, in happier times

Iran Reveals Balochistan Assassination Plot against Ahmadinejad.  The ministry of intelligence in the Islamic Republic of Iran revealed this week that in 2007 it foiled an assassination plot against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by southern Iranian terrorists.  Three suicide bombers were to attack Ahmadinejad as he gave a speech in Iranshahr, in Sistan and Balochistan province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan in the southeast.  The terrorists—four of whom were killed, along with four intelligence agents, as the plot was disrupted—were from the Jundallah (“Soldiers of God”) armed group, which supports rights for Iran’s Sunni Muslim minority and is linked both to al-Qaeda (weakly) and, much more solidly, to the United States–backed movement for self-determination for the Baloch people.  The Balochistan region also covers parts of Pakistan, where there is also a separatist movement suspected of receiving U.S. backing.  (See my blog article listing Balochistan as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Palestinians Commemorate 1948 Expulsions as Mass Hunger Strike Ends.  In the Palestinian Territories, ceremonies and protests marking Nakba Day on May 15th, standing for the 64th anniversary of the expulsion from their lands by Israeli settlers, also marked the end of a two-month hunger strike by more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s prisons.  In the deal, partly brokered by the government of Egypt, Israeli use of detention without trial and solitary confinement will be eased and some prisoners will be released, while Palestinians agree not to co-ordinate terrorist activities from prison.  Nakba Day marches in East Jerusalem involved rocks hurled at Israeli soldiers and tear gas and rubber bullets fired in return.  Many of the speeches and demonstrations focused on the issue of the millions of Palestinians living in exile as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.  Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, said, “Our message to the refugees is that we will not give up the right of return.  We will not accept any project that abandons the right of return or affects our sacred rights to the homeland.”  (See my blog article listing Palestine as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Nakba Day 2012

Former South Yemen President Touts Partition as Way to Defeat al-Qaeda.  The last ruler of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (a.k.a. South Yemen), before its reabsorption into the Republic of Yemen in 1990, told an interviewer on May 16th that the reestablishment of an internationally recognized South Yemen would be the world’s best bet to crush al-Qaeda in the region.  The former leader, Ali Salim al-Beidh, who held South Yemen’s highest political office, Socialist Party general-secretary, described today’s united Yemen as “a collection of tribal, military, and security cliques fighting over who’ll hold power” who are “not capable of building a democratic, civil state.  The northern mentality cannot live within a state, whereas the mentality of the south cannot live without one.”  (See my blog article listing South Yemen as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)

Yemen Separatists Seize 2 Army Bases in South.  Dozens of rebels believed to be part of the movement for South Yemen to reestablish a state separate from the Republic of Yemen raided and took control of two military outposts in Ad Dali’ province, in the south-central part of the country, it was reported May 12th.  The separatists also took control of the bases’ arsenals.  (See my blog article listing South Yemen as one of “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”)


6 Killed in Kashmir Border Battle.  A border clash along the “Line of Control” separating portions of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir administered by India from those controlled by Pakistan killed at least six soldiers on May 10th.  The battle occurred at Uri in the Baramulla district, near Srinagar, the Indian portion’s capital.  According to Indian reports, the incident began when forces from the Pakistani side tried to cross the border.  Then, on May 14th, separatist militants launched a grenade attack on an army patrol in Sangam, in Indian-controlled Kashmir, injuring four.

Kuki Separatists Stage General Strike in Northeast India.  An organization pushing for a separate state within India for the Kuki ethnic group launched a 72-hour general strike in all Kuki-populated areas in India, which stretch across several separate states in India’s ethnically diverse northeast.  One activist for the Kuki State Demand Committee (K.S.D.C.) reminded media of Kukis’ important role in the struggle for Indian independence and emphasized that Kukis wished to remain in India, but in their own state.

The flag of Kukiland.  No, really, I’m totally serious.  This is the flag of Kukiland.

Mizoram Police on Alert after Reports of Hmar Terror Plots.  Police in India’s far-northeastern state of Mizoram, near the borders with Burma and Bangladesh, are stepping up security after intelligence revealed violent plans by the Hmar People’s Convention–Democrats (H.P.C.–D.), which is fighting for an autonomous region for the tiny Hmar ethnic group in Mizoram.  Hmar are also found in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura.

Sri Lanka Uncovers Massive Tamil Tigers Arms Cache.  In Sri Lanka, security forces this week found an arms cache dating to the decades-long civil war which ended in 2009.  The cache was near a former bunker belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.), who fought for a separate state in the north.  An army spokesman said it was enough explosives to “blow up a town.”  (See my recent blog article featuring a profile of the Tamil activist Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam.)

Ottawa Demands Probe into Murder, Castration of Tamil Canadian in Sri Lanka.  The government of Canada this week demanded the Sri Lankan government investigate the murder of a Canadian citizen of Tamil ancestry in his native northern Sri Lanka the week before.  The Canadian, Andrew Mahendrarajah Antonipillai, who was 53 and lived in Montreal, Quebec, was killed and genitally mutilated (his penis cut off) by men in baclavas just outside Killinochchi, the former capital of Sri Lankan’s separatist Tamil minority.  Killinochcchi was also the site of former properties that Mahendrarajah lost during the decades-long civil war that ended with the Tamils’ defeat in 2009.  The properties included shops that were confiscated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.) during the war and are now owned by a Sri Lankan supermarket chain, among others.  A pro-L.T.T.E. website claims that Mahendrarajah’s movements were being monitored by Sri Lanka’s military intelligence service and that he had come into conflict with the military during attempts to build a home on what he claimed as his land.  (See my recent blog article featuring a profile of the Tamil activist Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam.)

Andrew Mahendrarajah Antonipillai (1959-2012)


Dalai Lama Tells British Press of Chinese Poison Plot.  The 14th Dalai Lama, on a visit to the United Kingdom this week, told a newspaper that the People’s Republic of China, which demonizes him for encouraging self-determination for Tibet, has been training female agents to pose as religious pilgrims seeking his blessing in order to poison him, though he admitted the reports were unconfirmed.  A Chinese state-run newspaper denies the accusations, pointing out that it hardly had need of such a roundabout method since the Chinese government could have the Dalai Lama killed whenever it wanted.  The Dalai Lama was in London to receive the Templeton Prize on May 14th.  (Coincidentally, the new satirical novel about United States–China diplomacy, They Shoot Puppies, Don’t They?, by Christopher Buckley, features a Chinese conspiracy to poison the Dalai Lama.)  Later, the U.K.’s prime minister, David Cameron, and his deputy, Nick Clegg, met privately with the Dalai Lama, angering Beijing.  (See my blog article on Buddhism and Tibetan self-determination, as well as a more recent article featuring profiles of three celebrity pro-Tibet activists.)

China Complains to Japan about Uyghur Summit, Visa for Dissident.  The People’s Republic of China lodged a formal complaint on May 14th against Japan for not only hosting the annual World Uygur Congress in Tokyo but for granting a visa (as reported last week in this blog) to a the Congress’s head, a Uyghur separatist living in exile in the United States whom Beijing regards as a dangerous separatist.  The activist, Rebiya Kadeer, was imprisoned in 2000 for “endangering state secrets” and later defected to the United States.  She also angered the Chinese government for visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors some Japanese war heroes who fought against China in the 1940s.  Many Uyghurs, who are indigenous Turkic-speaking Muslims of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China’s largest and westernmost province, would like to form a separate state to be known as East Turkestan.

Rebiya Kadeer

Roadside Bomb, Shooting in Southern Thailand Blamed on Malay Separatists.  Sixteen Thai soldiers were injured on May 14th when a military convoy was hit by a roadside bomb made of dynamite in Pattani, one of the provinces in southern Thailand where predominantly-Muslim Malays are fighting to form an independent state.  Also this week, a noodle vendor in a village in Pattani was shot and injured in a drive-by motorcycle shooting on May 12th, and on the same day M-16s were fired at a police checkpoint elsewhere in the province, with no injuries.

This week’s roadside bomb in Pattani


Police and Aboriginals Square Off in Queensland Protest Camp.  In Queensland, Australia, police used what was called “excessive force” to break up an Aboriginal protest camp in Brisbane’s Musgrave Park on May 16th, leading to a clash between about 80 protesters and about 200 armed officers with tasers.  The activists were protesting mining operations on Aboriginal land.  A march on the parliament building to protest the police brutality ensued.

Aboriginal activists and police square off in Brisbane, Queensland


Pataxó Indians Win Land-Rights Case against Ranchers in Brazil.  The Supreme Court in Brazil ruled this week in favor of the indigenous Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people in a long-simmering, occasionally violent dispute between settlers and indigenous people in the state of Bahia (a dispute reported on recently in this blog).  The court has ordered ranchers to remove themselves from Pataxó territory, in accordance with protections enshrined in Brazil’s constitution.

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

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