Saturday, August 18, 2012

Burma, Tibet, Kosovo, Naked Chick with a Chainsaw, Gorno-Badakhshan Crisis Ends, Jaz Coleman in Western Sahara, Palestinian Semen, Caprivi Strip: The Week in Separatist News, 12-18 August 2012

Photo of the week:  Whose hero is she?  Fans cheered this week at the London Olympics as Qieyang Shijie of China won a bronze in racewalking.  Or was that Choeyang Kyi of Tibet?  Fans couldn’t agree, but as far as Olympic historians can ascertain she is the first ethnic Tibetan to win an Olympic medal.


A Tibetan nomad set himself on fire on August 10th in the People’s Republic of China’s Sichuan province in protest over Chinese rule in Tibet, according to Free Tibet, an organization based in London.  The man, named Jopa, is 24 years old, and may not survive his injuries.  It was the third Tibetan self-immolation in China in the space of a week.  In Aba, the same prefecture as Jopa, a 21-year-old monk named Lobsang Tsultrim, had immolated himself four days earlier (a third Aba self-immolation could not be confirmed), and on August 7th, at a monastery in Gansu province, Dolkar Kyi, age 26, had used the same method.  The total self-immolations come to 40 in about a year and a half.  On August 13th, according to Radio Free Asia, the protests accelerated in Abe prefecture.  Two men, a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Lungtok and another Tibetan named Tashi, set themselves on fire, which resulted in a massive police intervention, a riot, four Tibetans being pulled from a car by riot police and beaten mercilessly, and one Tibetan protester being beaten to death.  Later, on August 15th, riot police opened fire on a crowd protesting a power plant in Choeten, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, killing one person.  Meanwhile, on August 12th the Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, announced an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with the self-immolaters, to be launched in New Delhi on September 3rd, the day after Tibetan exiles’ Democracy Day celebrations.  [Related articles: “China, Tibet, and the Politics of Reincarnation” (March 2012), “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]


Somaliland and Khaatumo Rebels in Sool Ink Peace Agreement, but Strife Goes On.  The Republic of Somaliland inked a peace agreement August 12th with leaders from the rebellious Sool region in an attempt to end many months of conflict in a part of the unrecognized republic that is criss-crossed with counterclaims by quasi-states and tribal clans.  According to a statement released by Somaliland’s foreign-affairs ministry, the deal involves the immediate release of 86 Sool militiamen captured during the last two years of skirmishes, mostly in the Buhoodle region (near the border with Ethiopia) and elsewhere, and concrete steps toward stability by local leaders.  But a mere two days later, media were reporting that rebels loyal to the supposedly-dismantled rival quasi-state—variously called the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (S.S.C.State or Khaatumo Statekidnapped four camel-driving nomads near Sool-Jogto, in Sool’s Buhoodle region.  The rebels, however, claim the four are soldiers in Somaliland’s military and that they are holding them captive in the town of Buhoodle pending the release of one Jama Kutiye, who they say is a political prisoner held by Somaliland.  Then, on August 16th, a water tanker was destroyed by a landmine in Sool.  Détente between Somaliland and a rival quasi-state centered on Soolbegan on June 28th, when Suleiman Isse Ahmed Kara (nom de guerre: “Hagaltosie”), S.S.C.’s supreme warlord, signed a “Reconciliation Declaration” with Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, Somaliland’s president.  Last week’s appointment of a Soodl rebel commander, Keyse Abdi Yusuf, as the republic’s Minister of State for National Reconciliation for Eastern Regions (as reported in this blog) accelerated the peace process.  To complicate matters, Sool is also claimed by the de facto independent Puntland State to the east (though Puntlanders have de facto given up on it).
  [Related articles: “Remembering Odumegwu Ojukwu: On Biafra and on an African Continent Riven by European Borders” (Nov. 2011), “Somalia the ‘Failed State’—So What Are Somaliland and Puntland? Chopped Liver?” (Feb. 2012), “Introducing the Republic of Wadiya” (May 2012), “Somaliland’s Own Mo Farah Clinches Olympic Immortality” (Aug. 2012).]

Gunmen Storm Puntland Jail in Attempt to Free Pirates.  The central jail in the Puntland half of the divided Somali city of Galkayo was attacked by gunmen August 12th in an attempt to free Somali-coast sea pirates held there by the de facto independent Puntland State of Somalia.  The jail break was unsuccessful.  Two of the attackers were injured and captured.  Galkayo is divided between Puntland and the similarly self-governing Galmudug State, which uses the southern half of the city as its capital.  [Related article: “Somalia the ‘Failed State’—So What Are Somaliland and Puntland? Chopped Liver?” (Feb. 2012).]

Biafra Zionists Apply to United Nations for Observer Status.  The Biafra Zionist Movement (B.Z.M.), a little-known separatist group in southeastern Nigeria, announced August 13th that it had, one week earlier, sent a formal application for membership in the United Nations General Assembly as an observer nation (the status accorded today to the Palestine National Authority and to international organizations and in the past to not-yet-member-states like Switzerland and Vatican City).  The B.Z.M.’s president, Benjamin Onwuka, a lawyer trained in the United Kingdom, sees his observer-status bid as a resumption of the Republic of Biafra’s quest for international recognition during the devastating Biafra War of 1967-1970.  Biafra, at the time, was only ever recognized by four other African nations, plus Haiti—and certainly not by the U.N., which is also certain, this time around, to file Onwuka’s letter in the round filing cabinet.  Last month (as reported at the time in this blog), Onwuka announced a planned declaration of independence for November 5th, amid high hopes for support from the United States—a speces of optimism that I can only speculate is the result of paint fumes.  At the time, a spokesman for the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the primary—and comparatively gradualist—proponent of Biafran independence in Nigeria today, said that they had been unaware of the B.Z.M. and had nothing to do with them.
  [Related articles: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012,” “Remembering Odumegwu Ojukwu: On Biafra and on an African Continent Riven by European Borders” (Nov. 2011), “Jihadists Imperil Nigerian Unity” (June 2012), “Ambazonian Separatists Focus on Bakassi Peninsula in New Push to Split Cameroon” (Aug. 2012).]

Biafra Zionists want U.N. recognition
41 Killed in Ongoing Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria.  The Nigerian military’s Joint Task Force (J.T.F.) killed 20 people August 11th in Nigeria’s far-northwestern Borno State who were suspected of being members of the Islamist militia Boko Haram.  The killings occurred in a shoot-out in Maiduguri, the state capital, after troops followed up on a tip by descending on a militant meeting in progress.  One soldier was also killed, and two others were injured.  Later, a Boko Haram statement said the 20 killed had all been civilians, not Boko Haram members.  In Gombe State, also in the northeast, gunmen trying to force their way into a Catholic church on August 12th killed one policeman and injured a second, while in Damaturu, in Yobe State, on the same day, militants ambushed and killed a policeman and nine soldiers while two Boko Haram fighters died in that incident and more than 30 were arrested—though some news sources do not mention the police and military fatalities.  On August 14th, three suspected would-be suicide-bombers died when the bombs they were carrying on their motorcycles detonated prematurely in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, while en route to a mosque.  In Maiduguri on August 15th, a commuter was killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint, while two suspected Boko Haram members were shot dead by police in a public market.  On August 16th, a community leader was shot to death outside a mosque in Maiduguri, while the same day in Jos, in Plateau State, a police station was damaged by a bomb which also injured one person.  Meanwhile, police authorities in Kogi State, in the Middle Belt religion, now say that the killings of 20 Christians at a church in Otite on August 5th (reported last week in this blog) were not the work of Boko Haram.  [Related articles: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012,” “Remembering Odumegwu Ojukwu: On Biafra and on an African Continent Riven by European Borders” (Nov. 2011), “Jihadists Imperil Nigerian Unity” (June 2011).]

Malian Woman in Injured in Crossfire as Civilians Battle Ansar al-Dine in Azawad.  Sporadic unrest by the civilian population continued this week in northern Mali against the Islamist militias that rule the vast territory of Azawad after hijacking the Tuareg majority’s successful secession from Mali in March of this year.  In Niafunké, in the far south of Azawad’s Timbuktu region, near the border with Mali proper, it was reported August 16th that locals had fought with Ansar al-Dine, the militia which controls the town, and a woman was hit and injured by a stray bullet in the violence.
  [Related articles: “Mali Becomes the Latest African Country to Split along North–South Lines” (Feb. 2012), “A New Country in Africa: Islamic Republic of Azawad” (April 2012), “Why It Matters What You Call Your Country: Cyprus vs. Northern Cyprus, Azawad vs. the Azawad” (April 2012), “Dream of a Tuareg State Fizzles: Is This the End of Azawad?” (July 2012).]

Mombasa Republican Council May Be Legal, but Its Slogans Are Still Crimes.  Last month the Kenyan government’s ban on the Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.) was ordered lifted by a high-court ruling (as reported at the time in this blog), but Kenya’s top prosecutor, Keriako Tobiko, warned M.R.C. leaders this week that, although their organization was now allowed to exist, it was still a crime to chant their slogan, Pwani Si Kenya (“Coast Province Is Not Kenya”), since calling for the break-up of the republic is still against the law.  Coast Province, with its main city Mombasa, is the most heavily Muslim portion of a country that is otherwise mostly Christian.  Is the government really going to make the high court have to set time aside to guarantee free speech again?

Ambazonian Activist in Cameroon Claims Bakassi Peninsula Is Separate State.  The Ambazonia People’s Congress (A.P.C.) has asked the national legislature to revisit the 2006 international agreement under which the Bakassi Peninsula was transferred from Nigeria to Cameroon.  The group’s head, Fon Gorji-Dinka, claims that the Bakassi region is technically a part of neither Nigeria nor Cameroon but in fact an independent state.  See this blog’s full article on this subject, with background and commentary.

Defendant in 1999 Caprivi Strip Uprising Acquitted by Namibia Court.  A leader in a failed bid to separate the Caprivi Strip from the Republic of Namibia was acquitted of all charges August 17th in a surprise decision by a court in Grootfontein in the nine-year-long trial (whose defense rested in February of this year, as reported in this blog).  The defendant, Rodwell Kasika Mukendwa, was one of 112 men facing treason, murder, or various other charges for a 1999 uprising by the Caprivi Liberation Army in which at least 11 people died.  There were two chief witnesses against Mukendwa, but one died and another reconsidered his cooperation, so there was not enough evidence to convict him.  The Caprivi Strip, also known as Itenge, is part of the homeland of the Lozi (a.k.a. Barotse) people that also includes the Barotseland region of neighboring Zambia, which has its own separatist movement.

8 More Boeremag Plotters Convicted of Treason for 2002 South African Coup Plot.  Eight more treason convictions were handed down in a Pretoria, South Africa, court on August 14th and 15th for members of the white-supremacist militia Boeremag, whose members plotted in 2002 to assassinate Nelson Mandela, overthrow the South African government, and instigate ethnic cleansing in what they called “Operation Popeye.”  The 12th and 13th convictions—out of 20 defendants total—are Dr. Lets Pretorius and Jurie Vermeulen.  Pretorius was the militia’s “medical commander.”  Then, on the 15th, Herman van Rooyen, a farmer from Bela Bela who was the Boeremag’s Limpopo commander and bomb expert, and Gerhardus Visagie, the group’s chaplain, were both convicted of high treason.  Visagie was convicted in absentia, since he is recovering from a back injury and from a heart attack that followed an escape attempt in a courtroom last year.  Then, on August 16th, treason convictions were delivered to Johan Pretorius, a physician; Johan’s brother Wilhelm Pretorius; Rudi Gouws; and Jacques Jordaan, a computer programmer.  The one remaining defendant, Kobus Pretorius, will hear his verdict on August 20th.

Missing Killing Joke Singer Jaz Coleman Alive & Well in Western Sahara—Maybe.  The lead singer of the British post-punk industrial rock band Killing Joke, Jaz Coleman, who went missing two weeks ago, disrupting plans for a tour with the Cult and the Mission, is reportedly “alive and kicking” in Western Sahara.  According to the band’s Facebook page, Coleman “appeared today from his retreat in the Western Sahara, bemused by all the fuss of his disappearance.”  Coleman, who is of part Bengali ancestry and was raised in England, reports that he is “living a nomadic existence” and working on three projects—a solo album, a television show, and a new book.  There has been no independent confirmation of his whereabouts, however, and Western Sahara—most of which is under brutal occupation by the Kingdom of Morocco and a sliver of which is held by rebels as an unrecognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic—is an unlikely place for someone of any means to choose as a quiet retreat.  [Related article: “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]

Jaz Coleman, former rock star, current Western Sahara nomad

Over 200 Basques on Hunger Strike in Spanish, French Prisons.  In Spain, 108 prisoners from the disarmed and mostly disbanded Basque separatist army ETA (Euskadi Ta Atanuskana, or Basque Homeland and Freedom) are on hunger strike, prison officials announced August 13th, and by the next day Herrira, the ETA prisoners’ advocacy group, said that 91 Basque prisoners in 23 different prisons in France had joined them.  The figure has now been put at over 200.  They are protesting the continued imprisonment of Jesús María Uribetxebarria Bolinaga, who is also on hunger strike.  Bolinaga is undergoing cancer treatment while imprisoned for murders and kidnappings in the pursuit of a separate Basque republic.  The Spanish government has said it will not negotiate the question with the hunger-strikers.
  [Related article: “The World’s 21 Sexiest Separatists,” featuring a profile of the Basque warrior Idoia López Riaño, a.k.a. la Tigresa.]

Sardinian Separatist Arrested for Tax Fraud.  On Sardinia, the vast Italian island in the Mediterranean which has shifted hands over the centuries and is at least as close culturally to Spain and Catalonia as to Italy, a separatist leader was arrested August 18th on charges of tax fraud.  The leader, Salvatore (a.k.a. Doddore) Meloni, was best known for founding, in 2008, a brief-lived micronation called the Republic of Malu Entu on the island of Mal di Ventre off the western coast of Sardinia.

Beating and Bombings Reported in Disputed North Kosovo.  Two ethnic Albanians were assaulted and severely beaten by at least eight Serbs on August 13th in the sliver of the Republic of Kosovo bordering Serbia proper, which Serbs dominate and run as a quasi-autonomous North Kosovo.  The same day, nearby in Mitrovica, the de facto capital of the disputed region, a government car was destroyed by a bomb, and the following day unknown assailants threw a hand-grenade at a tavern and cafeteria in the same town.  Most western European countries recognize Kosovo, whose majority ethnicity is Albanian, as independent, but the territory is still claimed by the Republic of Serbia.  [Related articles: “Balkan Semantics: How Kosovo Dropped Two Words and Serbia Gained Europe” (March 2012)“10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]

North Kosovo
Ukraine to Extradite Chechen and Kazakh to Russia in Fishy “Assassination Plot.”  A court in Odessa, Ukraine, ruled this week that two suspects held on charges of plotting to assassinate Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in February (reported at the time in this blog), in what still smells like a Kremlin frame-up, will be extradited to Russia.  The court ruled on August 14th for the extradition of Adam Osmayev, an ethnically Chechen citizen of Russia, and the following day for that of Ilya Pyanzin, a citizen of Kazakhstan.  Just before elections in which Putin ended up reelected (Putin’s would-be assassins always seem to get caught just in time to help Putin’s image when it is most needed), two militants linked to the Islamist separatist Caucasus Emirate movement, which operates in Chechnya and elsewhere, were arrested in Odessa on suspicion of planning to plant bombs along one of Putin’s Moscow motorcade routes.  Pyanzin was arrested after an explosion in an apparent bomb-making laboratory in his Odessa apartment killed an accomplice.  That led police to Osmayev.  Both men told police they were in the pay of Doku Umarov (nom de guerre: Dokku Abu Usman), grand emir of the violent Caucasus Emirate movement and that they had also plotted the assassination of Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s Moscow-appointed authoritarian president.

7 Suspects Released as Search for Mufti’s Killers Continues in Tatarstan.  In the Republic of Tatarstan, in central Russia, seven suspects in the July 19th assassination (reported in this blog at the time) of one of the republic’s leading muftis and the attempted killing of another were released, it was reported this week.  One remains in custody.  The seven who were released are still on call for court summonses.  The search is still on for three other suspects, who are at large.  The Mujahideen of Tatarstan, a shadowy group linked to the Islamist separatist Caucasus Emirate movement, has taken responsibility for the attacks (as reported in this blog), which targeted clerics critical of radical Islam.  [Related article: “That Creepy Underground Islamic Cult in Tatarstan? Turns Out It’s Just a Split-Level—and the Kids Were Fine.”]

4 Die as Bombs and Drive-by Shootings Target Police in Dagestan.  A car bomb exploded in the Russian Federation’s Republic of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus, on August 14th, killing one policeman.  The blast occurred in Buinaksk.  The policeman died in a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack.  On the same day, a drive-by shooting in Khasavyurt, in Dagestan, killed two traffic police.  One of the attackers was killed in the ensuing shoot-out.  In the adjacent Russian republic, Ingushetia, militants attacked a restaurant in Nazran with a grenade-launcher on August 15th, causing a fire but no casualties.

Anti-Semitic Head of Hungarian Far-Right Party, Revealed to Be Jewish, Resigns.  In one of the most delicious developments in recent memory, Csanád Szegedi, a member of the European Parliament (M.E.P.) and leader of Hungary’s leading ultranationalist anti-Semitic political party, called Jobbik—the Movement for a Better Hungary, resigned his party posts on July 28th in the wake of revelations that he was himself Jewish.  The Internet rumors had been flying for a while, but in June a 2010 tape-recording surfaced in which Szegedi tried to bribe into silence a convicted felon who confronted him with the truth of his background.  Now Jobbik—which accepts the veracity of the tape-recording, though Szegedi rejects it on unspecified grounds—would like him to resign his parliamentary post as well.  Party leaders claim this is because of the bribery, not because Szegedi is a Jew; the bribes he is recorded offering include European Union (E.U.) funds and an E.U. job.  Jobbik is one of the few openly anti-Semitic parties in Europe—though there are far-right parties in every European country that employ anti-Semitic subtexts.  Szegedi once referred to Israelis as “lice-infested, dirty murderers,” and in 2007 he co-founded the Hungarian Guard, a neo-Nazi-style militia later banned by the Hungarian government.  Now, it is known that not only that Szegedi’s mother’s parents were Orthodox Jews, but that his grandmother, who is still living, is an Auschwitz and Dachau survivor whose entire extended family was exterminated by the Nazis.  Szegedi, for his part, has said that, even so, he considers himself “100% Hungarian” but with Jewish ancestry, rather than as “Jewish” per se.  Toying with such nuanced ways of defining one’s ethnic identity, alas, was not an option for the nearly half-million Jews Hungary’s Axis government rounded up and shipped to Auschwitz during the Nazi era.  [Related article: “Transylvanian Separatism Haunts Romania, This Time via YouTube” (Aug. 2012).]

Csanád Szegedi
Nude Pro–Pussy Riot Activist Chainsaws Kiev Memorial Cross for Stalin’s Victims.  Activists from the Ukrainian guerilla-theater feminist collective Femen, who have been vocal in support of the Russia’s anti–Vladimir Putin punk band Pussy Riot in their trial on hooliganism charges in Moscow, staged a controversial demonstration in Kiev, Ukraine, shortly before the announcement of the verdict.  Inna Shevchenko, a Femen member, on August 17th, cut down with a chainsaw a giant cross erected in 2005 as a memorial to Ukrainian victims of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.  Ukrainians across the political spectrum, including especially groups representing survivors of Stalin’s genocidal rule, expressed indignation.  Though Femen’s distaste for organized religion is well known (see a report, with photo!, in this blog on a protest action against the Russian Orthodox patriarch last month), the choice of this particular cross as a target is odd for an action meant to criticized Moscow’s authoritarianism.  But never mind, at least it gives this blog an excuse to include more pictures of bare-breasted women.  [Related article: “Olympic Update: Femen Protest, Bigoted Judokas, Sudanese Defectors” (Aug. 2012).]

Inna Shevchenko.  A few minutes later, this cross was down.

Militant Transylvanian Separatist Web Video Panics Romanian Government.  The interior minister of the Republic of Romania, Mircea Duşa, expressed worry this week that a new video that surfaced online advocating the violent secession of Transylvania is a matter of concern that should be discussed at high levels.  In the video, a marksmanship training camp is shown with the words, “We are from the Székely-Hungarian National Guard, designed to liberate Transylvania from Romanian occupation.”  (Watch the video here.)  See my full article on the subject for details, historical background, and commentary.


[For a full update on Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan, see “Kurdistan Update: Both Turks & PKK Claim to Control Şemdinli, Zaza MP Abducted, Donna D’Errico and Noah’s Ark” (Aug. 18, 2012).]

Gorno-Badakhshan Warlord Surrenders to Tajik Military.  Government forces in the Republic of Tajikistan scored a victory when the rebel leader Tolib Ayombekov surrendered to central-government forces on August 12th and urged his fellow warriors to lay down their weapons as well.  Ayombekov surrendered in Khorugh, capital of Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (G.B.A.O.), which forms almost the entire eastern half of the mountainous country.  The current conflict began July 21st (as reported at the time in this blog) with the beating death, in Gorno-Badakhshan, of the chief of Tajikistan’s secret police, prompting, three days later, a massive military offensive to round up the Pamir rebels the central government deemed responsible.  The death toll in that operation, officially 20, may actually be more like 100.  Ayombekov led a Pamir separatist insurgency in the early 1990s, after Tajikistan was freed from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), but a peace deal integrated him into the Tajik military structure—though with strong evidence that he continued to run his own militias and smuggling operations.  Now Tajik forces are reportedly beginning to withdraw from Gorno-Badakhshan, but as recently as August 11th there had been anti-government demonstrations there after civilians were killed at a military checkpoint.  Ayombekov is in the hospital and awaiting trial.

South Ossetia to Tie Up Loose Ends of Ethnic Cleansing, Erase Deserted Georgian Villages.  The president of the largely unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, has announced plans to demolish what is left of some ethnically Georgian villages in the republic which were abandoned during the ethnic cleansing during and after the brief 2008 war in which the Russian Federation secured the de facto independence of the territory from the Republic of Georgia.  Even the names will be erased from maps.  “We’ll build some new residential buildings here, too,” Tibilov said, “but the former villages will be completely removed, therefore there is no need to keep the names.”  [Related article: “South Ossetia Update: ‘Independent’ Elections in an ‘Independent’ State—Russian Style” (Dec. 2011).]

Abkhaz Police Kill Alleged “Georgian Saboteur.”  Near Primorsk, in the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia, police clashed with fighters that the authorities called “Georgian saboteurs” on August 13th, killing one of the Georgians.  Abkhazia, along with South Ossetia, seceded from the Republic of Georgia after the fall of Communism, and the two consolidated their still-largely-unrecognized independence in 2008 in a brief war between the Russian Federation and Georgia.  Three local residents were also arrested in connection with the incident.  Authorities also reported in this connection the kidnapping of a nine-year-old boy in a predominantly Georgian-populated region of Abkhazi, the Gali district, two days later.


[For a full update on Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan, see “Kurdistan Update: Both Turks & PKK Claim to Control Şemdinli, Zaza MP Abducted, Donna D’Errico and Noah’s Ark” (Aug. 18, 2012).]

10 Dead, 20 Arrested amid Crackdown, Attacks in Egypt’s Sinai.  The Egyptian military continued its crackdown on Islamist militias in the Sinai peninsula this week in the wake of a deadly attack on a border post August 5th at the three-way border between Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories’ Gaza Strip, in which 16 Egyptian border guards were killed (as reported last week in this blog).  An army rocket attack on the home of a suspected terrorist in al-Goura village in the north Sinai on August 12th killed seven people and injured one.  The same day, United Nations peacekeeping troops and Egyptian military checkpoints were attacked by gunmen, and three Egyptians died in a car chase.  Authorities have arrested nine Egyptians and 11 Palestinians in the Sinai, according to authorities on August 11th, all suspected of terrorism.  The Palestinians had apparently entered Egypt from Gaza through the system of tunnels running beneath the border but could not return because Egyptian authorities had closed them.  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]

Egypt cracks down in the Sinai
Palestinian Taxi Firebombed in West Bank; 6 Hurt.  Unidentified assailants presumed to be Jewish extremists threw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian-operated taxi cab in broad daylight just outside a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on August 16th, injuring six, including two children.  When hit by the firebomb, the taxi flipped and burst into flames.  The search for the perpetrators is ongoing.  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]

Demonstrations, Extremist Rhetoric Mark Palestinians’ al-Quds Day.  On the last Friday of Ramadan, August 17th, known as al-Quds Day in the Palestinian Territories, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest Israel’s ongoing blockade of the territories, its building of new illegal settlements on the West Bank, and its obstruction of Palestine’s status as a fully recognized state.  Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem—Islam’s third-holiest city, which was originally designated as an international zone in 1949 but was subsequently conquered by Israel and made its capital.  Supporters of Palestinian rights throughout the Middle East held events to mark the day.  Hezbollah, the Shiite Arab militia in Lebanon currently embroiled in sectarian warfare spilling over from Syria’s civil war, threatened to kill thousands of Israelis if Israel attacked Lebanon again as it did in 2006, and Iran’s unhinged, genocidally-minded president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, promised celebrants in Tehran “a new Middle East” with “no trace of Americans or Israelis.”
  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]

Israeli Soldier Who Gunned Down Gaza Civilians in Hamas War Let off Hook.  An Israeli army sniper was cleared August 12th of manslaughter charges in his trial for gunning down two female Palestinian civilians during the 2008-09 war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  The defendant, known only as “Sergeant S,” shot a 64-year-old woman and her 37-year-old daughter as they left a house waving a white flag.  Sgt. S will do 45 days in jail on an unrelated weapons charge, as part of the plea deal that saved him a manslaughter conviction.  In the winter of 2008-09, Israel launched a brutal war against Hamas, in retaliation for repeated rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. The Israeli response included helicopter-gunship airstrikes on civilian areas.  Hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians were killed.  Sgt. S’s charges were the only ones brought against any serviceperson for any of the killings of civilians in the war.  Getting a prosecution against anyone wearing a military uniform murdering civilians is tough enough in any country in the best of times; in Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu, it must be well-nigh impossible.  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]

Palestinian Suicide-Bomb Accomplice Sneaks Semen out of Israeli Prison, Becomes Dad.  Ammar Ziben, a 32-year-old Palestinian from Nablus, in the West Bank, is serving 32 life terms for helping Hamas carry out suicide-bombings in a Jerusalem market in 1997.  He has been in prison since 1999, but on August 13th he became the father of a baby boy Muhannad, born to his wife Dallal Ziben, even though Israel does not allow Palestinian prisoners conjugal visits.  The boy was born through artificial insemination (and also a sperm gender-separation procedure; Arab culture heavily favors sons).  It is not clear how the semen was smuggled out of the prison.  Whether inmates are allowed to meet with relatives through a chain-link fence rather than plexiglass, and whether Dallal was accustomed to merely mumbling or humming “goodbye” to guards as she left the building on prison visits would seem to be questions that could help get to the bottom of this.  Also, perhaps now prison staff will spend as much time inspecting the frosting on cakes going out of the prison as looking for metal files in the cakes that go in.
  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]

South Yemen Separatist Leader Arrested at Aden Airport.  Authorities in the Republic of Yemen—at least one can hope it was the authorities—arrested a southern secessionist leader as he stepped off a flight from the United Kingdom in Aden, former capital of South Yemen, on August 15th.  A fellow separatist waiting to greet him said that the leader, Ahmed Abdullah al-Hassani, was snagged by “a group of armed men” who boarded the plane, then “took him and disappeared.”  Yemen in South Yemen reunified in 1990 with the fall of Communism, but the Arab Spring revolts have revived the southern separatist movement.
  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]


TV Exec’s Brother Nabbed by Pakistan Secret Police over Ties to Baloch Rebels.  Secret police in Pakistan have abducted the brother of a prominent television producer, Razzak Sarbazi, in what observers can only imagine is retaliation for a recent telephone interview Sarbazi conducted with Dr. Allah Nazar, who is linked to the Baloch Liberation Front (B.L.F.).  The brother, Abdul Jalil, and a friend, Abdul Saboor, were, according to statements Sarbazi made to the press on August 13th, nabbed two days earlier by men in a police car at the Karachi zoo.  Sarbazi suspects the two men are in the custody of Pakistan’s shadowy Special Investigation Unit (S.I.U.).  A suicide-bombing at a checkpoint near Quetta, in northern Balochistan, killed five security officers, but it was as yet unclear of Baloch separatists were responsible.  Meanwhile, the Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.) is being named as a suspect in the planting of a bomb defused on August 13th by authorities near a mall in a suburb of Karachi, capital of the neighboring Pakistani province of Sindh.
  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012.”]

Over 30,000 Assamese Stampede out of South Indian Cities, Fearing Violence.  The recent and ongoing sectarian and communal strife in India’s far-northeastern Assam state (reported recently in this blog) spilled over in an unexpected way into the far south of the country, as thousands of residents of Bangalore, in Karnataka, and Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, fled the city August 15th and 16th in the face of rumors that Indians from the northeast who are living there would be the targets of violence—violence by Muslims, in most versions of the rumors.  6,800 Karnatakans of Assamese and other northeastern ancestry jammed onto trains to leave the city on the 15th, reaching a total of 30,000 that had left by August 18th, while nearly half of Hyderabad’s 1,700 or so Assamese fled that city within the space of a few days.  Chennai and Pune were also each reporting a mass exodus.  Police have stepped up patrols to reassure the population, and Karnataka’s chief minister, Jagadish Shettar, announced, “The entire government is with you.  We will protect the interests of the northeast people.”  The best thinking is that some “stray incidents,” as Shettar put it, against Assamese residents snowballed into more frightening rumors.  The state’s home minister also threatened legal action against those spreading rumors knowingly.  Meanwhile, in Assam itself, violence ground on this week as attackers threw acid on a rickshaw carrying an ethnic-minority family in Kokrajhar district, injuring nine, on August 16th, while in Kamrup vehicles were burned and elsewhere a bus was set on fire and a wooden bridge destroyed by arson by a mob.  Police are in full force in Assam and using tear gas to control mobs, but things are expected to get more tense when the trains teeming with Assamese arrive from Bangalore and Hyderabad.  Talk about out of the nonexistent frying pan into the actual fire.

Let’s get the fuck out of Bangalore before the shit hits the fan!
Kashmiri Politician Says Hindu Nationalists Crawling in Bed with Separatists.  The political advisor to the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the Republic of India’s only majority-Muslim state, lashed out August 11th at the right-wing Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.), India’s second-largest party, which he accuses of making cynical common cause with a spectrum of anti-status-quo Kashmiri parties, ranging from separatists to the more mainstream Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (P.D.P.).  The advisor, Devender Singh Rana, called it an opportunistic ploy to seize power from the Indian National Congress party nationally and, in Kashmir, from Rana’s own moderately autonomist Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Party.  Rana said the B.J.P.’s senior leader, Ram Jethmalani, had recently met with representatives of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the P.D.P.’s leader, in Srinagar, Kashmir’s capital, in pursuit of the coalition.

Bangladesh Nabs Madrasa Teacher Said to Be Recruiting Rohingyas to Kashmir Cause.  In Bangladesh, police on August 16th arrested a man said to be a member of a Kashmiri separatist militia in the country to recruit Rohingyas to carry out terrorist operations in Bangladesh.  The man, Moulana Mohammad Yunus, a 48-year-old madrasa teacher, was arrested in Dakka, Bangladesh’s capital, on a tip.  Yunus is said to be one of the “top-most leaders” in the Bangladeshi chapter of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a radical Islamist Kashmiri separatist group which operates mainly in the Indian-governed part of Kashmir.


Burmese Parties Demand Removal of U.N. Envoy Probing Rohingya Abuses.  Members of 24 different political parties in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) met with a United Nations (U.N.) envoy August 10th demanding the removal of Tomás Ojea Quintana, the U.N. Human Rights Commission rapporteur assigned to investigate the ongoing plight of western Burma’s disenfranchised and predominantly-Muslim Rohingya people.  Quintana, who visited Burma’s Arakan (a.k.a. Rakhine) state last week (as reported in this blog), called for new probes into the situation, having concluded that human-rights abuses against Rohingyas “include the excessive use of force by security and police personnel, arbitrary arrest and detention, killings, the denial of due process guarantees, and the use of torture in places of detention.”  The parties called his conclusion biased toward the Rohingya—who bore the brunt, in June, of a deadly cycle of reprisals with local members of Burma’s Buddhist majority.  Meanwhile, officials in Burma reported August 11th a fresh round of violence in Arakan, with 13 killed and the burning down of 300 houses and a rice mill.  [Related article: “The Moment Burma’s Ethnic Minorities Have Been Waiting for” (Jan. 2012).]

U.N. in Burma Can’t Reach 65,000 Displaced Kachin Who Need Aid.  The United Nations (U.N.) said this week that more than a third of the 65,000 or so members of Burma’s Kachin minority nationality who are internally displaced and in need of relief aid cannot be reached.  The statement was made by Aye Win, the U.N.’s main information officer for Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar), who blamed Burma’s military, which has been at war with the Kachin for decades, for the obstruction.  The U.N. has also asked the Burmese government to allow aid workers greater access to Arakan (a.k.a. Rakhine) State, in the west, home of the disenfranchised Rohingya minority.  Meanwhile, there were reports that, in Kachin State’s Mohnyin district on August 11th, Burmese soldiers gang-raped the 14-year-old daughter of a village chief from the Shan nationality, another ethnic group that has been at war with the Burmese government for decades.  [Related article: “The Moment Burma’s Ethnic Minorities Have Been Waiting for” (Jan. 2012).]

Parti Québécois Promises to Toughen French Language Laws If Elected.  The leader of the separatist Parti Québécois (P.Q.), Pauline Marois, promised a crowd in Montreal August 12th that, if elected in September, she would toughen Quebec’s laws limiting the use of English.  Currently, firms with more than 50 employees must conduct business in French.  Marois wants to lower than number to 10, as well to strengthen the position of workers who want to conduct work in their native French and require immigrants in Quebec to attend francophone junior colleges, rather than allowing them to choose a language of instruction.  The P.Q. is currently leading in the polls against the currently governing Liberal Party of Quebec.
  [Related article: “Quebec Cracks Down on Crimes against the State—Like Playing Hopscotch in English” (Nov. 2012).]

Pauline Marois promises to crack down on Anglophones
Missouri National Guardsman Gave Neo-Nazis Paramilitary Training, Trial Reveals.  In Florida, court documents unsealed as part of the ongoing trial of members of the white supremacist militia called American Front revealed this week that, according to the testimony of an unnamed member of the Missouri National Guard, he provided training to American Front members who were preparing for what they believed to be a coming race war in the United States.  In 2011, the guardsmen traveled to Florida and trained members in assault rifle skills and hand-to-hand combat, for which he was “patched”—militia jargon for being given a patch as a token of initiation into the group.  The ex-guardsman testified that he had become involved in a movement to “protect the White race” while on a tour of service in Iraq in 2008.  He now considers himself a “lone-wolf skinhead,” not affiliated with a particular militia.  He is the second Missouri guardsman outed as a white-supremacist.  The other, in March, was removed from an honor guard that performed at military funerals after his neo-Nazi ties became known.  Unlike the first, the unnamed, second guardsman is cooperating with the Florida investigation to avoid charges.  [Related article: “Vast Arsenal Returned to Exonerated Hutaree Militiaman in Indiana” (July 2012).]

Scottish Separatist Charged in Pennsylvania for Campus Bomb Threats.  In Pennsylvania, in the United States, a 64-year-old activist for the independence of Scotland was charged with emailing bomb threats that terrorized the University of Pittsburgh in March and April of this year, resulting in 100 evacuations on campus.  The defendant, Adam Stuart Busby, age 64, who is currently in jail in Dublin, Ireland, sent the emails using computer servers in the Netherlands and Austria.  He promised to end the bomb threats if the university chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, withdrew a $50,000 reward for information leading to the bomber.  Later, in June, he made bomb threats against courthouses in Erie and Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Busby is a member of the Scottish National Liberation Army, which is a banned militant group in the United Kingdom.  He has no actual connection with the university.  It was not immediately how or when Busby would be brought to Pennyslvania to face the charges.
  [Related articles: “Succession or Accession—Could Scotland Leave Britain but Stay in Europe?” (Jan. 2012), “Orkney—the Next Dubai? Further Reflections on Scottish Independence” (Feb. 2012),  “Celts, Cypriots, Aborigines Raise Stink at Olympics: Ethnonationalist Protest Update” (July 2012).]

Didn’t anybody tell this moron that there’s already a referendum scheduled?
Los Angeles Neighborhood Wishes to Join Culver City.  A group of residents in the small Southern Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, is accelerating a new push to leave the City of Los Angeles and join Culver City.  Their motivations include taxes and the differences in the quality of the infrastructure between the two municipalities.  Culver City, nicknamed “the Heart of Screenland,” is almost entirely surrounded by Los Angeles.  At five square miles, it mainly owes its existence to M-G-M Studios, which is based there.  Meanwhile, the Holmby Hills neighborhood of western Los Angeles is threatening to join the much more prosperous City of Beverly Hills.

Redrawing some Los Angeles boundaries
Megadeth Guitarist Says Obama Staged Sikh, Colorado Massacres to Push Gun Control.  Who says artists tend to be liberal, or even that they tend to be smart?  We have reported on this blog in the past about Sean Penn’s pinheaded opinions on the Falkland Islands dispute and Ted Nugent’s Cro-Magnon conservatism.  Now Dave Mustaine, lead guitarist and lead singer of the heavy-metal band Megadeth, said this week that the United States president, Barack Obama, staged the July 20th movie-theater massacre in Colorado and the August 5th mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin (reported on at the time in this blog) in order to advance gun-control legislation.  “Back in my country,” he told the audience during a concert in Singapore, “my president, he’s trying to pass a gun ban, so he’s staging all of these murders, like ... Aurora, Colorado, all the people that were killed there, and now the beautiful people at the Sikh temple.  I don’t know where I’m gonna live if America keeps going the way it’s going because it looks like it’s turning into Nazi America.”  In the actual, real world in which most of us live, the Republican Party has won the gun-control battle for the foreseeable future, and no Democrat dares suggest, even as innocents are gunned down by maniacs daily, that any gun controls be implemented—though far-right paranoid folklore tends to maintain otherwise.  Mustaine’s love for the “beautiful” Sikh people is, I suppose, commendable, given that in 1988 he told an interviewer, “It makes me sick to think we have assholes in this country letting fucking Mexicans in.”  Mustaine, who was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, now calls himself a born-again Christian.  He supported the loathsome and repellent Rick Santorum, the openly bigoted, paleo-Catholic theocrat from Pennsylvania, for the Republican nomination earlier this year.

Dave Mustaine—even stupider than he looks
[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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