Saturday, August 25, 2012

Scottish Referendum, M.I.A. & Assange, Rohrabacher on South Azerbaijan, Play-Doh and the Māori: The Week in Separatist News, 19-25 August 2012


Details emerged August 19th about the ongoing negotiations between the United Kingdom and Scotland’s ruling Scottish National Party (S.N.P.) on details of the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.  New developments include a possible deal by which the S.N.P.’s leader and Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, will choose the timing and wording of the referendum and can extend the votes to 16- and 17-year-olds in exchange for accepting Prime Minister David Cameron’s demand that voters be given only two choices: independence or the status quo.  Separatists prefer a three-way questionnaire, also including enhanced autonomy, out of hopes that the third option will split the anti-full-independence vote, since almost no one opposes enhanced autonomy.  The lowered voting age would also help the S.N.P., since younger Scots are more likely to favor leaving the U.K.  Meanwhile, the legal deadline expired on August 21st for Salmond to reveal what information backs his claims that Scotland would automatically remain in the European Union (E.U.) upon secession—following a freedom-of-information claim from opposition parties.  Now the S.N.P. may be slapped with a £100,000 fine.  [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).]


Ethiopia Prepares for Attack from Somaliland in Wake of Premier’s Death.  Thrown into a temporary power vacuum by the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on August 20th, the government of Ethiopia has deployed thousands of troops along its northern border with the Republic of Somaliland, which successfully seceded from the Somali Republic in 1991 but remains unrecognized.  Somaliland has responded with its own military high alert along their remote desert frontier.  The shared border is sometimes volatile, since the general region includes areas that are home to Afar rebels and Ogaden separatists, an Issa puppet state in western Somaliland under the control of Djibouti, as well as feuding Somali clans and, most combustible, the Sool and Buhoodle regions, which are claimed by three separate breakaway Somali states—Puntland, Somaliland, and the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn State (S.S.C.) (a.k.a. Khaatumo State).  Any of these groups might take advantage of Ethiopia’s transition of power to seize an advantage.  [Related articles: “Détente in Ethiopian Civil War—or U.S. Power Play in the Horn of Africa?” (Jan. 2012), “Somalia the ‘Failed State’—So What Are Somaliland and Puntland? Chopped Liver?” (Feb. 2012), “Somaliland’s Own Mo Farah Clinches Olympic Immortality” (Aug. 2012).]

Zenawi is mourned, but the power vacuum he leaves behind is feared.
Khaatumo Militias Now Divided between Allies of Somaliland, Puntland.  A rogue militia under the leadership of Lt. Mohamed Ali Afgaab has arrived in Garowe, capital of the Somali Republic’s fully self-governing Puntland State to announce that it was defecting from the militias remaining loyal to the nearly-defunct Khaatumo State—also known as the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn State (S.S.C.)—in an area claimed by both Puntland and the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland, and would now ally itself with Puntland.  Somaliland and Khaatumo signed a formal peace agreement on August 12th, but rogue Khaatumo militias are still holding on in the remote desert region.  Puntland in general has not pressed its claim on the Khaatumo region in recent months.  Meanwhile, also in Sool, unidentified militants abducted four students in the Togdheer region, but they were released after negotiations and delivered to Buhoodle elders.  [Related articles: “Somalia the ‘Failed State’—So What Are Somaliland and Puntland? Chopped Liver?” (Feb. 2012), “Somaliland’s Own Mo Farah Clinches Olympic Immortality” (Aug. 2012).]

Mystery Airstrikes Hit Puntland, Possibly Part of International Pirate Hunt.  The de facto independent Puntland State was hit by unidentified airstrikes on August 23rd, probably by international (i.e. Western) military forces trying to combat Somali Coast sea-piracy.  Residents of Qandala, near the very tip of the Horn of Africa, said the planes had been conducting some sort of surveillance on the region for days.  There were no reports of casualties.  [Related article: “Somalia the ‘Failed State’—So What Are Somaliland and Puntland? Chopped Liver?” (Feb. 2012).]

Mali Names National-Unity Government; Diarra Stays on as Premier.  The Republic of Mali’s interim civilian president, Dioncounda Traoré, announced on August 20th the formation of a new national unity government.  Cheick Modibo Diarra will stay on as prime minister, and four women are among the 31 cabinet members.  The new foreign minister is Tieman Coulibaly, a member of the opposition (i.e. agains the current military junta) group Front for Democracy and the Republic (F.D.R.), but at least three new ministers—holding the defense, security, and territorial-administration portfolios, are linked to the junta.  Meanwhile, the governments of Guinea and Senegal have been blocking military shipments into Mali.  A full civilian transition is one of the conditions which Mali must meet to avoid foreign military intervention after a coup d’état in March and the secession of the northern two-thirds of the country in April as the Independent State of Azawad.  [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), “Mali Becomes the 92nd Country to Formally Recognize Kosovo ... or Not” (Aug. 2012).]

France, U.K. Building Airstrips to Prepare for Retaking of Azawad.  The governments of France and the United Kingdom have apparently authorized the construction of airstrips in Niger, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso to prepare for a possible air assault on the Islamist militias that run the northern two-thirds of Mali as the Independent State of Azawad.  But sources say such actions would be taken only under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

New Rule for Azawad: Only Un-Satanic Verses on the Airwaves.  The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, also known as MUJAO—which, along with another Islamist militia, Ansar al-Dine, has been governing the northern two-thirds of Mali as an independent Azawad—decreed August 22nd that all radio stations in Azawad are banned from playing any music other than Koranic verses.  “We no longer want Satan’s music,” their statement read.  “Western music is Satanic music.”

The now-marginalized and exiled National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (M.N.L.A.)
tries a little rebranding.
Eritrea Offers to Mediate between Sudan, Rebels in Blue Nile, South Kordofan.  The president of EritreaIsaias Afewerkihas offered to mediate talks between the Republic of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army’s northern chapter (S.P.L.M.–N) in order to end the war in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.  Sudan’s defense minister, Abdel-Rahim Hussein, has traveled to Asmara, the Eritrean capital, to discuss the plans.  South Kordofan and Blue Nile were, along with the Abyei district, parts of the original Republic of Sudan which could conceivably have been included in the South Sudan which voted for, and got, internationally recognized independence from Sudan last year.  The three areas were promised separate referenda so that they could decide which of the two Sudans to join, but the referenda never occurred.  The S.P.L.M.–N are fighting a largely losing insurgency in South Kordofan and Blue Nile to reject Sudanese rule.  Sudan’s government claims that South Sudan—whose new military is the old southern branch of the S.P.L.M.—covertly supports the S.P.L.M.–N, which South Sudan denies.  Meanwhile, a Russian plane carrying 32 Sudanese, including two cabinet ministers and 24 other government officials, exploded while landing in the town of Talodi, in South Kordofan on August 19th, killing all on board.  The plane was en route to a Sudanese military base for an Eid al-Fitr celebration.  The Sudanese government says that the crash was not in any way combat-related.  [Related articles: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011), “Olympic Update: Femen Protest, Bigoted Judokas, Sudanese Defectors” (Aug. 2012).]

12 Sahrawis in Western Sahara in Hunger Strike over Prison Conditions.  In Laayoune, a city in Western Sahara occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco, twelve Sahrawi political prisoners began a 48-hour hunger-strike this week to protest prison conditions.  The 12 strikers are serving three-year prison terms for clashes with Moroccan citizens in Dakhla last year, in which seen people were killed.  [Related article: “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]

Mombasa Separatists Disavow 23 Paramilitaries Arrested in Malindi.  In Kenya, the Mombasa Republic Council (M.R.C.) said on August 20th that it had no connection with 23 young fighters arrested two days earlier in Malindi for supposedly engaging in paramilitary training. The M.R.C. claims it uses only peaceful means in its push to establish Kenya’s Coast Province as a separate, predominantly-Muslim nation.

Last of 20 Boeremag Mandela Assassination Plotters Convicted of Treason in Pretoria.  In Pretoria, South Africa, the last of the 20 members of the Boeremag militia has received his conviction for high treason in a 2002 plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela and restore apartheid.  Kobus Pretorius got his conviction August 17th, though the verdict was originally to have been delayed till the 20th (as reported last week in this blog).

Pirates Abduct Cameroonian Prince on Disputed Bakassi Peninsula.  In a peninsula in southwestern Cameroon claimed by nationalists in Nigeria and which seceded earlier this month as an independent Republic of Bakassi, a Cameroonian prince was kidnapped on August 9th by “pirates” who are holding him, and a companion, for the equivalent of about $185,000 in ransom.  The kidnapping was not reported by media until five days later.  Meanwhile, the governor of Nigeria’s Cross River State, Sen. Liyel Imoke, on August 23rd urged the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments to find a way to resolve the injustices stemming from the 2006 International Court of Justice (I.C.J.) ruling which transferred the Bakassi Peninsula from Nigerian to Cameroonian administration.  For a full report on this week’s developments on the Bakassi Peninsula, see this week’s article “Southern Nigeria Splitting Apart Too as the Muslim North Burns.”

Primary School Torched by Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria; 2 Dead in Week’s Unrest.  Attackers suspected of belonging to the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram set a primary school on fire on August 20th in Yobe State in northeastern Nigeria.  Two other attacks in Yobe, against a Catholic church and a police station, were successfully repelled by police.  In Kano State, meanwhile, one person was arrested on suspicion of involvement in an August 19th attack on a military checkpoint.  In Biu, in Borno State, two worshippers were shot to death in two different mosques on August 21st.  Meanwhile, a Yoruba nationalist group called the Yoruba Unity Forum (Y.U.F.), declared publicly in Osun State on August 23rd that Boko Haram had better not dare begin infiltrating Yorubaland, in Nigeria’s southwest.  For a full report on this week’s developments in Nigeria, see this week’s article “Southern Nigeria Splitting Apart Too as the Muslim North Burns.”  [Other 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).]

Bayelsa Monarch Kidnapped amid Ethnonationalist Controversy; Another King Freed.  A clan leader of the Okordia clan in Bayelsa State, in southwestern Nigeria, was kidnapped this week.  The leader, known locally as a king, i.e. the Ibenanowei, His Royal Majesty Chief Richard Seiba, was taken out of his home in the Yenagoa district in the middle of the night of August 24th-25th.  Bayelsa is dominated by the Ijaw nationality and is the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan.  It has been the center of a controversy over its adoption of nationalist emblems (as reported in this week’s blog article “Southern Nigeria Splitting Apart Too as the Muslim North Burns”).  Meanwhile, another Bayelsa king, King Godwin Igodo of the Ebeni Ibe Atissa Kingdom, was released this week after 27 in captivity.

King Godwin Igodo
Biafra Zionists Accuse MASSOB of Assassination Plot.  Two groups pushing for independence of southeastern Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra engaged in a war of words this week, as the new Biafra Zionist Movement (B.Z.M.) suggested on August 21st that the longer-standing and more moderate Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) had ordered the killing or abduction of the B.Z.M.’s leader, Ben Onwuka.  MASSOB denies the claims.  For a full report on this week’s developments in Nigeria, see this week’s article “Southern Nigeria Splitting Apart Too as the Muslim North Burns.”  [Related article: “Remembering Odumegwu Ojukwu: On Biafra and on an African Continent Riven by European Borders” (Nov. 2011).]


Terminally Ill Basque Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike.  In Bilbao, in Spain’s Basque Country, about 1,000 people gathered August 18th to rally in support of more than 200 members of the now-disarmed separatist army ETA (Euskadi Na Askatusana, or “Basque Homeland and Freedom”) who are hunger striking in prisons in France and Spain in protest of the continuing detention of a terminally ill Basque prisoner, but the prisoner at the center of the controversy, Jesús María Uribetxebarria Bolinaga, has now ended his hunger strike and abandoned his cause.  The release of 13 other ill ETA prisoners have now been added to the protesters’ demands.
  [Related article: “The World’s 21 Sexiest Separatists,” featuring a profile of the Basque warrior Idoia López Riaño, a.k.a. la Tigresa.]

Spain Files Complaint with U.K. over New Gibraltar Fishing Restrictions.  The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, announced August 16th that the territory’s government would no longer issue licenses to fishermen from Spain and elsewhere to use waters in and around Gibraltar, overturning an agreement from earlier this month.  The following day the Spanish government filed a formal protest with the United Kingdom, which has sovereignty over the mostly-self-governing territory, a two-square-mile rock attached to the Spanish mainland.  Two members of one group, the Defender of Gibraltar Group, on August 17th handed out leaflets to tourists lined up for hours to cross the Gibraltar–Spain border, informing them, “This queue is brought to you courtesy of the oppressive politics of the Kingdom of Spain, who attempt to pressure a small nation of 30,000 into relinquishing their prosperity, their sovereignty, and their right to self-determination.  This is but one of their sordid tactics.”  The U.K.’s continuing rule in Gibraltar is a source of Spanish-British diplomatic friction, the more so when matters touch on Gibraltar’s marine boundary, which Spain insists extends only to the port itself, under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, when Spain ceded Gibraltar to the British Crown.
  [Related articles: “Prince William Lands in the Middle of a New Cold War over the Falklands” (Feb. 2012), “What Is a Colony? The United Nations’ Definition Needs an Overhaul” (June 2012), “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]

Tamil Activist Rapper M.I.A. Slips into Ecuadorian Embassy to Stand by Assange.  Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks and now a virtual prisoner in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he is protected as a political refugee, had an unexpected guest on August 19th as he delivered his defiant address from the embassy’s balcony: the Sri Lankan–British rapper Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A.  Arulpragasam was sneaked into the embassy by unknown methods and, via Twitter, released to the world the first images of Assange inside the embassy.  A London-born activist on behalf of autonomy for the Tamil Eelam region of northern Sri Lanka and southeastern India—and the daughter of Arul Pragasam, founder of the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students—Arulpragasam has collaborated with Assange before; she composed the theme song to Assange’s talk show World Tomorrow, which premiered earlier this year on the Russia Today global network.  She was also voted “the World’s Sexiest Separatist” by this blog in April 2012.  [Related article: “WikiLeaks Mulls Moving Its Servers to Sealand to Dodge National Laws” (Feb. 2012).]

M.I.A. gives her opinion of the Swedish and U.K. governments.
French Ministers Debate Roma Expulsions amid Human-Rights Outcry.  The cabinet of the French Republic held urgent meetings on August 22nd to discuss the government’s recent mass expulsions of Roma (Gypsy) people (as reported at the time in this blog) in Lille, Lyon, and Marseilles, with an attempt to deport them to Romania and Bulgaria.  Meanwhile, Amnesty International urged Paris to halt the expulsions immediately.  [Related article: “Toulouse Shooting Spree Deepens France’s Divisions” (March 2012).]

German Doctor Sues Rabbi for Circumcisions; Foreign Ministry Defends the Rite.  The legal and political crisis in Germany over ritual infant circumcision, a religious duty for Jews and Muslims, was revived August 20th when a doctor from Hesse pressed criminal charges against a rabbi for performing over 3,000 circumcisions.  The doctor, Sebastian Guevara [sic!] Kamm, filed the complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, citing health concerns only and claiming “the greatest respect for the Jews’ traditions.”  In reply, Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said on August 22nd that legal uncertainty for Jews and Muslims must be removed and their rights to their religious practices must be restored in order to preserve modern Germany’s reputation for tolerance.

Ukraine Delays Extradition of Chechen, Kazakh to Russia after Strasbourg Intervenes.  The Ukrainian government has put the brakes on last week’s court-ordered extradition to Russia of two suspects—a Chechen with a Russian passport, and a citizen of Kazakhstan—in a fishy “assassination plot” (reported on at the time in this blog) against President Vladimir Putin.  The extraditions are on hold pending a review by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, of an appeal filed by one of the defendants, Adam Osmayev, the Chechen.  The two men were arrested in February in Odessa, Ukraine, after an apparent accidental explosion in a home bomb-making laboratory.  Human-rights lawyers fear that the defendants would be at risk of torture and other abuse upon transfer to Russia.

Poll Reveals Separatist Feelings in Ethnic-Russian Parts of Ukraine.  A recent poll in Ukraine has revealed attitudes toward secession by residents of regions dominated by ethnic Russians.  Eight percent of residents of the Donets Basin (Donbas, to Ukrainians), the Russian-dominated eastern region, do not wish to be part of Ukraine.  (A 2011 survey even found that 40% of residents consider their ethnic identity to be “Soviet”!)  While 5% of residents in Ukraine as a whole wish Galicia (called Halychyna in Ukrainian), in western Ukraine, to separate, the figures were 10% in the Donets on the Galician question and only 1% in western Ukraine itself.  As for Crimea, which has a Russian majority and a Tatar minority alongside Ukrainians, and which was part of the Russian Federative Soviet Socialist Republic until Josef Stalin transferred it to the Ukrainian S.S.R. in 1954.  The survey was conducted between August 8th and 18th by the Rating Sociological Group.

Ukraine Casts Femen Dragnet in Retaliation for Destruction of Monument.  In Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv (Kyev), federal police blocked the offices of the feminist guerilla-theater activist collective Femen in response to the August 17th chainsawing of a giant cross erected in 2005 to commemorate the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s victims (as reported last week in this blog).  A Femen activist, Inna Shevchenko, had sawn it down to protest the trial of Russia’s dissident punk band Pussy Riot.  Authorities say that Interior Ministry troops are now trying to round up Femen members to press criminal charges.  [Related article: “Olympic Update: Femen Protest, Bigoted Judokas, Sudanese Defectors” (Aug. 2012).]

Inna Shevchenko taking a chainsaw to a cross.
It didn’t free Pussy Riot, but it probably made her feel better.
16 Killed in North Caucasus Insurgency, Including 7 Police at Ingush Funeral.  16 people died over the course of the week in violence in the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus republics, which are plagued by a growing separatist Islamist insurgency.  In Sagopshi, in the Republic of Ingushetia, a suicide-bomber killed seven policemen and wounded 11 at a wake on August 19th for a fellow officer who had been shot and killed the day before.  An Ingush investigation later said that the culprits were “a criminal group that engaged in money laundering and financing militants,” but Kavkaz Center, a website associated with the Caucasus Emirate movement, claimed responsibility for the attack and even named the “Mujahid martyr.”  The same day in Khasavyurt, in Dagestan, two masked militants killed one person and injured eight when they opened fire in a Shiite mosque.  Rebels in the Republic of Chechnya attacked a police checkpoint at a village near Grozny, the capital, on August 17th, killing four officers.  Gunmen opened fire on a military checkpoint in Dagestan on August 20th, killing one, just hours after an attack on a military convoy in the Khasavyurt district.  Another Dagestani policeman was injured the following day in a shootout in Makhachkala that followed an attempt to search a militant’s car.  Also on August 21st, a 22-year-old militant was killed in an attack on a policeman in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic.  Then, on August 23rd, authorities reported that a soldier had been killed and three police injured in an attack by militants on a military checkpoint in Dagestan, while in Malgobek, Ingushetia, on the same day a policeman was abducted.

3 Would-Be Islamist Bombers Blow Themselves Up on Tatarstan Highway.  In the Republic of Tatarstan, which has recently become a new front in the Russian Federation’s Islamist insurgency, three suspected terrorists were killed August 20th in an apparent accidental detonation of handmade explosive devices that they were transporting in their car, on a highway near Kazan, the Tatar capital.  Authorities say that assault rifles and religious literature were found among the three men’s remains.  [Related article: “That Creepy Underground Islamic Cult in Tatarstan? Turns Out It’s Just a Split-Level—and the Kids Were Fine” (Aug. 2012).]


[For a full update on Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan, see “Carnage Continues in Turkish Kurdistan: Syria and Kurdistan Update” (Aug. 25, 2012).]

Assassination of Pamir Rebel Leader Inspires Mass Rallies in Tajikistan.  An opposition commander in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (G.B.A.O.), in the Republic of Tajikistan, was killed in his home in Khorugh, the G.B.A.O. capital, on August 22nd by unknown assailants who tossed a grenade into a window and followed up with a hail of bullets from automatic weapons.  The commander, Imomnazar Imomnazarov, who was confined to a wheelchair, was accused by the government of complicity in last month’s anti-government violence in the region.  This prompted a rally of about 100 angry Pamirs at the local Tajik government headquarters in the capital, to which riot police responded with live fire that injured two protesters.  This led to further demonstrations, with at least 30,000 attending, according to media, and by the day after the killing about 2,000 people had occupied the center of Korugh, which is on the border with Afghanistan, declaring, as one protester put it, “We’re here to show the authorities that you cannot kill us in our homes during the night.  As long as the troops remain in Gorno-Badakhshan, we won’t be leaving.”  But, by the 23rd, mediators had convinced the protesters to disperse.

Imomnazar Imomnazarov
Low Point for Nadir: Turkish Cypriot Tycoon Gets 10 Years for Larceny.  Asil Nadir, the 71-year-old Turkish Cypriot former tycoon of the global juggernaut Polly Peck, was convicted in London of stealing £29 million from his company and sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Nadir returned to the United Kingdom in 2010 after spending 17 years in the Cyprus Turkish Republic (formerly the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus), a puppet state covering the northern third of the island of Cyprus, recognized only by the Republic of Turkey.  [Related article: “Why It Matters What You Call Your Country: Cyprus vs. Northern Cyprus, Azawad vs. the Azawad” (April 2012).]

Asil Nadir, in happier times, cackling with diabolical glee as he contemplates his riches.
O.S.C.E. Slams South Ossetia for Plans to Erase Georgian Villages.  The High Commissioner on National Minorities for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (O.S.C.E.), Knut Vollebaek, spoke out August 22nd against plans by the de facto independent Republic of South Ossetia—which most of the world regards as part of the Republic of Georgia—to raze the remains of ethnically Georgian villages vacated by ethnic cleansing in the early 1990s.  Vollebaek also called for the restoration of property and the return of Georgian refugees.  Georgia is a member of the O.S.C.E. even though it is in Asia, but never mind about that.  [Related article: “South Ossetia Update: ‘Independent’ Elections in an ‘Independent’ State—Russian Style” (Dec. 2011), “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]

An abandoned Georgian village in South Ossetia
Israel to Recognize Georgian “Neutral Passports” for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  The State of Israel became the ninth country this week to recognize the “neutral passports” issued by the Republic of Georgia for residents of the de facto independent but largely unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Georgia still claims.  The other countries are Japan, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the United States, Bulgaria, and Poland.  [Related article: “South Ossetia Update: ‘Independent’ Elections in an ‘Independent’ State—Russian Style” (Dec. 2011), “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]

Azeri Teen Creates Video Game Based on War over Nagorno-Karabakh.  The Atlantic Monthly is reporting on a new video game developed by a 19-year-old Azeri called Under Occupation, in which a first-person shooter relives the war for the town of Shusha between the Republic of Azerbaijan and forces from Russia and Armenia in the early 1990s.  The developer, Farid Hagverdiev, is a student at the State Oil Academy in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital.  The battle of Shusha was a turning point in the Armenian-Azeri war, in which, after the fall of Communism, Armenia invaded western Azerbaijan and set up a puppet state called the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.  It is apparenty the first ever video game produced entirely by Azeris, and it is available online for free downloads.  [Related articles: “The Armenian Genocide Debate: Turkey, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Politics of Memory” (April 2012), “Massachusetts Recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh Republic!” (Aug. 2012).]

First-person shooter games come to the South Caucasus

[For a full update on Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan, see “Carnage Continues in Turkish Kurdistan: Syria and Kurdistan Update” (Aug. 25, 2012).]

U.S. Lawmaker Backs Azeri Secession from Iran, Unification with Azerbaijan.  A United States legislator, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, proposed in a July 26th letter (recently made public) to the secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, that the U.S. support the aspirations of Iran’s Azeri minority to secede from Iran and attach their region to the adjacent Republic of Azerbaijan to the north.  (Read his letter here.)  Rohrabacher also supports, toward that end, the proposal by some in the Republic of Azerbaijan to rename their country North Azerbaijan to emphasize the Azeri-ness of northern Iran.  Azerbaijan is a supporter of the U.S. and the West in its cold war with Iran.  Rohrabacher earlier (as reported at the time in this blog) voiced support for the secession of part of California as a separate, Republican-dominated State of South California.  [Related articles: “The Armenian Genocide Debate: Turkey, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Politics of Memory” (April 2012), “Massachusetts Recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh Republic!” (Aug. 2012).]

Crowds Stand by as Jewish Hooligans Beat Palestinian Boy into Coma in Jerusalem.  Police in Israel arrested seven attackers who brutally beat a Palestinian teenager into a coma on August 16th.  According to police, a gang of dozens of young Jewish men and teenagers were roaming the streets of central Jerusalem chanting anti-Arab slogans when they surrounded Jamal Julani, who is 17 years old, and beat him into unconsciousness.  Scores of bystanders watched and did nothing, according to news reports.  Some even harassed and interfered with rescue workers who came to help the victim.  One of the attackers, when brought into court on August 20th, told the judge, “He could die for all I care.”  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]

Jamal Julani survived Israeli hooliganism—barely.
Israeli Foreign Minister Calls for Ouster of Palestinian President.  The foreign minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, in an open letter to the “Quartet” of Middle East peace negotiators—the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Russian Federation—asked on August 22nd for aid in removing Mahmoud Abbas from the Palestinian National Authority’s presidency at the next elections, calling him “an obstacle to peace.”  A spokesman for Abbas called the statement an “incitement to violence.”  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]

South Yemen Separatist Nabbed at Aden Airport Released 3 Days Later, Unbowed.  A southern separatist leader in Yemen who was arrested by security forces at the airport in Aden, former capital of South Yemen, on August 15th announced three days later that he had been released.  The leader, Ahmed Abdullah al-Hassani, a former naval commander, who was snagged and whisked away in a car by armed men as he arrived on a flight from the United Kingdom, had been on his way to meet other separatist leaders.  After his release, Hassani told reporters, “The arrest did not affect our determination to struggle for the freedom and independence of the south.”  Later, on August 23rd, Yemeni police in al-Dhalea province battled secessionist militants in unrest following some pro-separatist activists’ arrests, with three civilians injured in the fighting.
  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]


Kamtapur Rebels Go Underground to Regroup.  In India, colleagues said this week that senior leaders from the Kamtapur Liberation Organization (K.L.O.) have eluded police and gone underground again, with plans to start a fresh movement.  The five leaders include Tom Adhikary, who was released from prison in 2011 as part of an amnesty for political prisoners.  K.L.O. demands include a political reconciliation that will allow their “chief,” Jibon Singh, to come in from the cold.  Kamtapur is the name for a proposed federal state within India, to be created out of northern portions of West Bengal and part of Assam.  The area is home to the Rajbongshi people.

Flag of the Kamtapur Liberation Organization
Kashmir Mob Attacks Police with Rocks, Bombs, Angry over House Arrests.  Three people were injured in attacks on police by angry mobs in Kashmir on August 20th during Eid al-Fitr celebrations.  Three police and an unspecified number of protesters were injured, and a police vehicle was set on fire.  The crowds, wielding stones and Molotov cocktails were angry over the ongoing house arrest of separatist leaders in what is India’s only Muslim-majority state.  The leader of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had been arrested August 17th outside his home in Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital, as he was heading to a mosque to lead prayers. Geelani has been under house arrest on and off for months, out of intermittent fears that he will contribute to unrest.  He was not allowed to attend his son’s wedding in June.  Meanwhile, police announced August 21st that a cell of the Kashmir Islamic Movement had been broken up in Srinagar, with two arrested and a cache of weapons seized.  Police link the cell with murders of police and attacks on a local politician and a religious leader—cases they now call “solved.”

Poll Shows Gap between Baloch and Pashtun on Independence from Pakistan.  37% of members of the Baloch nationality favor independence of the province of Balochistan from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  The figure was lower among the province’s Pashtun minority, with only 12% favoring separation.  But two-thirds of Balochistan’s residents, including 79% of Baloch and 53% of Pashtun people, favor more autonomy for the province.  The poll was conducted July 20th by Gallup.
  [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]


Thailand Admits Negotiations with Southern Muslims Rebels.  The Kingdom of Thailand announced August 16th that the government’s negotiations with Muslim insurgents from the south of the country were already underway.  Negotiating with the separatists represents a recent reversal of policy.  Yutthasak Sasiprapa, the deputy prime minister tasked with southern security, said, “Right now are holding peace talks with different insurgent groups, but we are still not clear what they want.”  Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, are home to predominantly-Muslim Malays who wish to form a separate state.

Burmese Junta Sets Up Commission to Investigate Rohingya Violence.  The military junta in Burma, which calls the country the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, established this week a new commission to investigate the ethnic violence in June which killed probably at least 100 but possibly as many as 1,000 or so members of the Rohingya, a marginalized, disenfranchised, predominantly Muslim population in western Burma.  The commission is also tasked with determining possible “ways for peaceful coexistence” between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya, whom the United Nations (U.N.) has called the largest stateless population in the world.  The killings sparked a wide international outcry, mostly from the Muslim world.  In Burma’s former capital, Yangon, however, about 50 Buddhists gathered to hold a rally against U.N. assistance for the Rohingya.  One of their signs read, “Stop Creating Conflicts.”  This was apparently not a satirical publicity stunt by pro-Rohingya activists trying to portray Buddhists as bigots.  These were actual Buddhist bigots.  [Related article: “The Moment Burma’s Ethnic Minorities Have Been Waiting for” (Jan. 2012).]

Burmese Army Displaces 500 Kachin Villagers; K.I.O. Welcomes Refugees from China.  In Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar), the military moved heavily into a jade-producing region in western Kachin State this week, causing over 500 villagers to flee.  By August 19th, the refugees were taking shelter in Baptist and Catholic churches in Hpakant.  More than 100 troops were reported by the next day to be preparing for an assault on Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.) positions near the village of Maw Mau Bum.  Meanwhile, the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.) has given in to pressure from the People’s Republic of China and said it would welcome back 4,000 Kachin refugees currently living in camps just over the border in Yunnan province—to be moved to a K.I.O. camp on the Burmese side of the border.  But Human Rights Watch (H.R.W.) said on August 24th that China was forcibly repatriating scores of Kachin over the border and directly into war zones.  [Related article: “The Moment Burma’s Ethnic Minorities Have Been Waiting for” (Jan. 2012).]


Going My Way? Dangerous Curves in the Philippines! Get Your Kicks on the MILF Highway!  In the Philippines, authorities reported on August 18th that a major length of highway in Mindanao, in the predominantly-Muslim south, had been closed because of attacks by a rogue faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (known as the MILF), an insurgent army struggling for a separate Islamic state in the southern Philippines.  To learn more about territories controlled by the MILF, please go to

New Zealand Preschools Phasing Out Playdough to Steer Clear of Māori Taboos.  Nursery schools and kindergartens across New Zealand are beginning to ban the use of playdough (as colorful modeling clays are sometimes called, after the brand name Play-Doh).  The reason is that many members of the country’s indigenous Māori people find the idea of playing with food culturally offensive and object to the fact that playdough is made from edible (or at least nontoxic) compounds.  Some of the controversy erupted last week, when a Christchurch day-care center posted a photo on its Facebook page of the leafy end of a celery stick being used as a paint brush.  Playdough appears to be widely reviled by Māori, but the celery brush is a grey area, since it was the generally uneaten part of the stalk which was being used as a brush.  As one Māori put it, playing with food “is bad tikanga, and there’s families out there that are lacking food.”

When the Māori say don’t play with your food, they mean it.

3 Aryan Brotherhood Members Charged with Torture, Murder in Texas Trailer.  In Texas, police have begun investigating the alleged July 7th death by torture of a man that appears to have been targeted by members of the Aryan Brotherhood in North Texas for falsely boasting to be a member of the group.  The victim, Earnest Ray Lackey, age 34, was killed in a trailer in Tarrant County, just north of Fort Worth.  According to police, Lackey was hogtied in the trailer and tortured for hours while two women were confined to a back room but still able to hear what was going on.  Three men—Staten “Monster” Corbett, Jimmy “Jimbo” Riddle, and Ronnie Freeman—are now being held on murder charges.  The Aryan Brotherhood, a white-supremacist militia founded in California prisons in the 1960s.  It is still largely a phenomenon of prison culture, especially active in Texas.  Meanwhile, an Aryan Brother in Pasadena, California, John Oliver “Fish” Manning, was given a nearly-30-year prison sentence for a 2009 shooting.

Ernest Ray Lackey, tortured to death by Aryan Brothers
New Mexico Aryan Nations Member Arrested for Double Murder.  In New Mexico, a member of the white-supremacist group Aryan Nations was arrested August 23rd after a manhunt and a standoff with special-weapons-and-tactics (SWAT) police unit in Albuquerque.  He is charged with the murder of an Albuquerque resident and her nephew.  The suspect, Brian Pulliam, age 38, is being held without bail.  The victims, Kirsten Landeau and Dillon Cearfoss, had been found dead two days earlier.

[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.]

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    With regard to the top story regarding a Scottish Independence Referendum it is clear from the wording that you have swallowed the inaccuracies emanating from a number of UK sources. Do a bit of research and you find this -

    'greater power can only be granted to Scotland by the UK Parliament and here there is potential for conflict. To take the extreme example, constitutional matters are reserved but it is hard to see how the Scottish Parliament could be prevented from holding a referendum on independence should it be determined to do so. If the Scottish people expressed a desire for independence the stage would be set for a direct clash between what is the English doctrine of sovereignty and the Scottish doctrine of the sovereignty of the people.'

    SOURCE: 'The Operation of Multi-Layer Democracy', Scottish Affairs Committee Second Report of Session 1997-1998, HC 460-I, 2 December 1998, paragraph 27.

    Earlier this year seven experts on Scottish Constitutional Law stated that:

    "Contrary to the views of the UK Government and a number of influential commentators, we believe the legality of a referendum Bill passed under the Scotland Act as it currently stands is a more open question than has been generally acknowledged."

    SOURCE: 'The Herald', Saturday 11, February, 2012.

    The referendum WILL be held in the autumn of 2014.

    'Separatists prefer a three-way questionnaire,'

    There's that bogey word 'separatist' again. No we don't - a straight 'Yes/No' or 'Agree/ Disagree' is our preference but the matter is currently out to consultation of the Scottish people at present.

    With regard to 'secession' I am currently in the middle of writing a multi-part blog post titled 'Scottish Independence is restoration NOT secession' the first three parts of which have been posted to my blog 'The "Sanitization" of Scottish History' -


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon