Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scotland to Stay in NATO, Zanzibar Abduction Hoax, Rohingya Strife Re-Erupts, Siege in Tatarstan, Telugu Riot over Movie, 5 Tibetan Self-Immolations, Brazilian Indian Mass Suicide, Plus Curaçao, Nuwaubians, etc.: The Week in Separatist News, 21-27 October 2012

Photo of the week: In Quebec, Canada, Montreal police remove a member of the Ukrainian feminist activist group Femen from an Ikea store to protest the global chain’s capitulation to radical-Islamist sensibilities by removing women’s images from catalogues available in Saudi Arabia.  Note the fleurs-de-lis breast-paint.  (Yes, I realize that this is only tangentially related to separatism, but I’m trying to give readers what they want.)

The Scottish National Party (S.N.P.narrowly voted in a party conference on October 19th to keep Scotland in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if a 2014 referendum on independence from the United Kingdom should succeed.  But the party, voting 394-365, agreed that continued membership in NATO is contingent on the withdrawal of any nuclear forces from Scottish territory and waters.  The S.N.P.’s leader, Alex Salmond, had advocated staying in NATO, his argument being that fear of being left militarily vulnerable might be keeping some voters from supporting secession.  Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s minister of justice, articulated the position, saying, “We’re all against” Trident missiles; “but we have moved on from being a party of protest to being a party of power.  I have marched for C.N.D.”—referring to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament—“and I have protested against Trident and I am tired of marching.  I want a seat for our government in the situations of power.”  The U.K. has promised, however, to block an independent Scotland’s membership in NATO, whose rules would require it to reapply.  After the party’s decision, two members of Scotland’s parliament for Highlands constituencies, John Finnie and Jean Urquhartquit the party in protest.  A few days later, Salmond was dodging questions about rumors that he received legal advice to the effect that the European Union (E.U.) may make adopting the euro a condition for an independent Scotland’s “re”-admission to the E.U.

Alex Salmond

[For updates from Nigeria and Cameroon , including the Bakassi Peninsula and Boko Haram conflicts, see this week’s Nigeria Separatism Update.]

Kenyan Court Reinstates Ban on Mombasa Separatists; Warrants Issued for Leadership.  In Mombasa, Kenya, a high court has outlawed the popular separatist organization in Kenya’s predominantly-Muslim Coast Province, the Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.), which had had its ban lifted by another kcourt mere months ago, in July.  The magistrate, Stephen Riech, was responding to an appeal by the Kesnyan government.  Arrest warrants were immediately issued for those of the M.R.C. leadership that were still at large.  The M.R.C.’s leader, Omar Hamisi Mwamnuadzi, was arrested on October 15th (as reported on at the time in this blog), along with his wife, on weapons charges, but released October 22nd on the equivalent of $35,300 (U.S.) bond.  The weapons in question included (get this—you don’t hear this every day): “four bottles of petrol bombs, three Swahili swords, six knives, four arrows, two bows, two Maasai swords, one spear, and eight machetes.”  I wonder if he’ll tell the judge he was just planning to do a little yardwork?

The Mombasa Republican Council’s flag
Zanzibari Islamists Charged with Faking Leader’s Abduction to Spark Unrest.  Amid a new wave of separatist rioting in Zanzibar, police have issued warrants for leaders of the Islamist movement Uamsho (Islamic Revival Forum) for, police say, causing unrest by staging the phony abduction of a leading separatist cleric.  The story began with rioting by radical Islamists demanding secession from Tanzania (as reported on last week in this blog) dragging into its fourth day in Zanzibar by October 19th.  Young rioters threw stones and coconuts at police and were met with tear-gas attacks in reply.  (They should be careful about the coconuts.  Don’t they watch Gilligan’s Island?  Someone could get amnesia.)  There were also protests in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s mainland capital.  In both places, protesters railed were angry at the disappearance of a Zanzibarian cleric and separatist leader.  Late on the 19th, however, the leader, Sheikh Farid Hadi, who had been missing for days, was “freed,” but it is still unclear by whom or from where.  He heads the main Zanzibarian separatist group, Uamsho.  Then, by the 22nd, police were saying that Sheikh Farid had staged his own disappearance as a hoax—as they ascertained after they discovered him hiding at his private retreat, arrested him, and interrogated him for 10 hours.  Police say they unraveled the mystery after Farid’s driver gave conflicting testimony about his supposed abduction.  Arrest warrants were issued for the rest of Uamsho’s leadership, and by day’s end seven Uamsho leaders, including Farid, were in court facing charges that included incitement and breach of the peace.

Sheikh Farid Hadi’s perp walk
France, U.S. Plan to Send Surveillance Drones to Northern Mali.  An official from the French Republic’s ministry of defense told media in Bamako, Mali’s capital, on October 22nd that there were plans to cooperate with the United States to send unmanned, remote-controlled “drone” aircraft to conduct surveillance in the northern two-thirds of Mali run by Islamist militias as the Independent State of Azawad.  “It is no secret,” the official said, “there is military planning going on.  The European Union is conducting a scoping mission and looking to send a training team to help train the Malian army.  But the French are the nation with the most experience working here, and they see the terrorism threat more acutely than others.”  Meanwhile, credible reports by witnesses and others are telling of hundreds of jihadist fighters from Western Sahara and even as far away as Sudan arriving in Azawad to defend it from a foreign invasion, but the Tuareg nationalist army which was sidelined by the jihadists, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (M.N.L.A.), says those reports are false.

Azawadi Islamists Bulldoze More Sufi Tombs in Northern Mali.  Near Timbuktu, in the part of northern Mali run by Islamist militias as the Independent State of Azawad, militants with bulldozers demolished three Sufi tombs on October 18th.  The Islamists, who were from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Dine group, obliterated the resting places of at least three Sufi saints: Cheick Nouh, Cheick Ousmane el-Kabir, and Cheick Mohamed Foulani Macina.  A resident said, “They arrived aboard six or seven vehicles, heavily armed.  They flattened everything with a bulldozer and pulled up the skeletal remains.”  In Ansar al-Dine’s strict interpretation of Islam, Sufism is heretical and it is forbidden to build structures atop burial sites.  The group’s systematic destruction of Sufi tombs in and around Gao and Timbuktu followed closely upon the United Nations Cultural and Educational Organization (Unesco) declaring them an endangered World Heritage Site earlier this year.

... and in the “You Know You’re an Extremist When ...” Department ...  One of Osama bin Laden’s former senior advisors has spoken out against the Islamists running the de facto independent Azawad republic in northern Mali, saying, “I am against the way in which these groups have gone about establishing an Islamic state in northern Mali.  This undertaking will do far more harm than good to the Muslims and people in the sub-region.  It would be better to seek dialogue and find a solution jointly.”  The advisor, Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, parted ways with bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mahfouz Ould al-Walid.  Even he thinks the folks running northern Mali are bonkers.
Ethiopia Removes Head of Somali Region Accused of Running Paramilitary.  The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has removed the president of one of its constituent ethnically-defined provinces, the Somali Regional State, after numerous allegations and testimonies that he ran brutal militias and abducted and tortured opponents.  The president, Abdi Mohamud Omar, is said to be in charge of the Liyuu Police, a paramilitary that has made deadly forays into the neighboring Republic of Somaliland and elsewhere but operates mostly out of the nearby Afar Regional State, also part of Ethiopia.  Initially, the Liyuu Police were formed to counteract the influence of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (O.N.L.F.).  For the time being, Abdifatah Mohamud Hassan, the former deputy president, is heading the Somali Regional State.

After Kenyan Rout of al-Shabaab, Puntland Supports Autonomous Jubaland.  The president of the de facto independent Puntland State of Somalia spoke at Friday prayers in Garowe, the capital, on October 26th and praised the newly stabilized (but, sadly, still barely existent) Federal Republic of Somalia, while also calling for the reestablishment of an autonomous Jubaland State in the areas of southern Somalia where African Union (A.U.) forces led by Kenya recently took control from the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militia.  The president, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, said, “Puntland played an important in the national political process for Somalia and we appeal to the new Somali Federal Government to promote national reconciliation and state-building processes, such as the formation of Jubaland.”

E.U. Brings Somaliland into EUCAP Nestor Anti-Piracy Initiative.  The European Union (E.U.) announced this week that it is officially incorporating the unrecognized but de facto independent Republic of Somaliland into its EUCAP Nestor program for suppressing sea piracy off the Somali coast.  Somaliland’s foreign minister, Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar, called the agreement a milestone, especially given the context: a visit by the E.U.’s envoy to Somalia and Somaliland, Michele Cervone d’Urso, to Hargeisa, the Somaliland capital, to meet with the president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo.

Journalist Killed in Somaliland Brings Somalia Total to 16 for 2012.  A 25-year-old television reporter for Universal T.V. of the United Kingdom was shot in the head and killed on October 23rd in a disputed area in the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland.  The journalist, Ahmed Saakin Farah Ilyas, is the 16th to be killed this year in the areas the international community regards as the Federal Republic of Somalia.  The killing occurred in Las’anod, in the Sool region, which is claimed by both Somaliland and the Puntland State of Somalia and is also the site of a recent secessionist movement by the so-called Khaatumo State.

3 Bombs Planted in Disputed Somaliland Region; 4 Injured.  Also in Las’anod, Somaliland, (see above article), authorities announced on October 25th the discovery of three bombs planted at an Islamic school and a public market.  The one at the school detonated and injured three police who were trying to disable it, plus a civilian.

Casamance Rebels among Suspects Rounded Up after Guinea-Bissau Coup Attempt.  In the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, 20 people were arrested this week following an attack on an army facility on October 22nd by military servicemen that is being called an attempted coup d’état.  While the presumed mastermind of the attack, Capt. Pançao N’Tchama, is at large, some of those arrested include fighters from the Democratic Forces of Casamance (M.F.D.C.), a rebel group fighting for the secession of the adjacent southern region of the Republic of Senegal.

Barotse King, Prime Minister Snub Zambian Vice-President on Visit; Prisoners Freed.  Both the prime minister and the litunga (king) of the separatist region of Barotseland, in western Zambia, refused over the October 20-21 weekend to meet with Guy Scott, vice-president of Zambia, who tried to cool the war of words between the Lozi (Barotse) people and the government by making a side trip during a visit to Mongu, capital of Western Province (formerly Barotseland).  Scott is a white African, of mixed Scots and English ancestry.  Meanwhile, 17 Barotse separatists charged last month with malicious damage to government property for publicly tearing up copies of a draft Zambian constitution (as reported on earlier in this blog) were freed on bail on October 16th by a high court in Lusaka, the Zambian capital.


[For updates on Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque Country, see this week’s Spanish Separatism Update.]

Belgian Premier Rejects Separatism, Populism as Way Out of Economic Crisis.  The prime minister of BelgiumEmilio di Rupo, a French-speaking Socialist, urged European leaders in Brussels this week to confront the continent’s economic crisis in a way that does not give quarter to populists and separatists.  He noted that 40 of Belgium’s 150 legislators do not want to preserve the country.  Thirty-nine of those are members of the New Flemish Alliance (N.–V.A.), who effectively put Belgium’s partition into Flemish and Wallonian regions back on the table last week (as reported in this blog) in an election in which the N.–V.A.’s leader became mayor of Antwerp.

Emilio Di Rupo wants Flemings and Walloons to stay together/
Serbian, Kosovar Premiers Meet in Brussels, Prompting Nationalist Rioting in Pristina.  The prime minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, and the prime minister of the de facto independent state Serbia still claims as its own, the Republic of Kosovo’s Hashim Thaçi, held direct talks for the first time on October 19th at the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels, prompting rioting by the opposition in the streets of Kosovo’s capital.  The meeting was overseen by the Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the E.U.’s highest ranking diplomat.  Lady Ashton, the who holds the title High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that she and the two leaders “will meet again soon ... to improve the lives of people and help solve problems and, in so doing, bring Serbia and Kosovo closer to the European Union.”  Though the meeting was in fact “talks about talks,” rather than talks themselves, and the two premiers did not shake hands.  Despite the unofficialness of the events, members of the small radical-nationalist opposition party Vetëvendosje! (“Self-Determination!”), which advocates union with Albania, staged violent protests in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, on October 22nd to protest what nationalists describe as capitulation to Serbia.  Banners were raised reading, “Unification with Albania instead of agreement with Serbia!”  Stones and tomatoes were lobbed at police, who responded with tear gas, and parliament was cordoned off after activists attempted to storm it.  Thirty-three people, some of them members of parliament, including Albin Kurti, Vetëvendosje’s leader, were arrested—Kurti only briefly.  More than 20 were hurt in the mêlée. Three days later, the United Kingdom’s foreign minister, William Hague, met with Thaçi in Pristina while on his way to another meeting in Belgrade and declared that, contrary to proposals by Serbia, Kosovo should never be partitioned.  “The map is finished in southeastern Europe,” he said.

Vetëvendosje! activists in Pristina
Vojvodina Police Arrest 5 Hungarian Neo-Nazis for Assault.  Five ethnic Hungarians belonging to extremist right-wing groups were arrested on the night of October 20-21 in Temerin, in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, an historically-ethnically-Hungarian part of the Republic of Serbia.  The men, who were drunk, shouted Nazi slogans, made Nazi-style right-arm salutes, and, after being tossed out of a tavern, assaulted two other men.  Hungarians make up only 15% of Vojvodina’s population today, but the province was once joined with Transylvania, the ethnic-Hungarian-dominated region in neighboring Romania, to form a German-allied Banat Republic after the First World War, before Vojvodina was absorbed into the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia.  Vojvodina is a flashpoint in the rhetoric of increasingly strident neo-fascist Hungarian militias in Romania (as discussed in a recent article in this blog).

Strasbourg Court Sides with Transnistria’s Moldovans over Russia’s Language Policy.  In Strasbourg, France, on October 19th, the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) ruled in a 16-1 decision to hold the Russian Federation culpable for depriving children of education in Transnistria by imposing chauvinistic language policies that prompted Moldovan authorities to shut several schools down.  The policy, in place since the early 1990s, requires Moldovan to be written in the Cyrillic alphabet, as it had been when Moldova and Transnistria were part of the Soviet Union.  Transnistria is an eastern sliver of the Republic of Moldova which seceded in 1990 as the still-today-unrecognized Pridnestovian Moldavian Republic (a.k.a. Transnistria) and is propped up and occupied by Russian troops.  In a statement, the E.C.H.R. “found that the separatist regime could not survive without Russia’s continued military, economic, and political support and that the closure of the schools therefore fell within Russia’s jurisdiction.”

3 Militants, 1 Policeman Killed in Gun Battle with Islamists in Tatarstan.  A gun battle broke out on October 24th in Kazan, capital of central Russia’s predominantly-Muslim Republic of Tatarstan, with police and security forces besieging an apartment building in Kazan where Islamist radicals were holed up.  The interior ministry reported that three militants, described as radical Muslims, were killed, as well as one officer killed and one wounded.  Or, as the Islamist radical Caucaus Emirate’s website put it, a little subjectively: “A member of the K.G.B. commandos gang was eliminated.  The Russian terrorist died in hospital of his wounds.  Another Russian terrorist one badly wounded, and later also went to his Master Satan.”  (Watch a video of the siege here.)  Authorities later linked the men in the siege to the coordinated assassination attempts (one successful) on moderate Tatar muftis in Kazan in July (reported at the time in this blog).

The siege in Kazan, Tatarstan
[For updates from the North Caucasus (Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Circassia), see this week’s Caucasus Update.]


[For updates from the North Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan), see this week’s Caucasus Update.]

Pamiri Warlord under House Arrest in Tajikistan Predicts Authorities Will Eliminate Him.  The former Pamiri rebel leader in the Republic of Tajikistan, Tolib Ayombekov, who was placed under house arrest after a government crackdown in July and August (as reported at the time in this blog), told interviewers this week that he doubted he would ever be brought to trial.  He is regarded as having been set up as a fall guy after the beating death of a secret-police chief in July, an incident which he and his militias may or may not have been involved.  Dressed in the trademark post-Soviet gangster regalia of a tracksuit and baseball cap, Ayombekov said from his home in Khorug, the capital of Tajikistan’s vast Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, that he predicted the government could one day, without warning, eliminate him without making it look like a murder.  After a failed ethnic uprising in the 1990s pushed Tajikistan into civil war, Ayombekov and his fighters were absorbed into the Tajikistani military as part of the truce.  For years, Gorno-Badakhshan remained mostly outside government control, ruled by his militias.  Ayombekov claims that the spy chief’s murder was merely an excuse to bring the region back under central control.  He said, “The whole community is scared.  The atmosphere here is worse than during the civil war.  Not even young children or old men are forgiving the central government.”

Tolib Ayombekov
Security Tight, Flags a Flashpoint at Turkish–Greek Cypriot Football Match in Nicosia.  In Nicosia, the capital of the ethnic-Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus, security was tight as a football (soccer) team from Turkey arrived for a match with a Greek Cypriot team.  500 police were on hand to monitor the crowd—which was separated into ethnic-Greek and ethnic-Turkish sections—for outbreaks of violence.  In negotiations between the football clubs and associations before the match, fans of the Istanbul-based Turkish team, Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü, were permitted to display, during the game, flags of the Cyprus Turkish Republic (formerly known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus), an unrecognized Turkish puppet state occupying the northern third of the island of Cyprus.  The Greek Cypriot team is Athlitiki Enosi Lemesou, or, as it is known, A.E.L. Limassol, representing Limassol, a Greek-governed town that is the island’s second-largest city.

Turkish fans waving the Northern Cypriot flag
Turkish Forces Battle Rebels in Kurdistan Region; at Least 49 Dead.  At least 49 people were killed in battles between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish military over this past week.  First, three Turkish police officers and three members of the banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) died over the night of October 19-20 in a battle along a highway in Hakkari province, in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdistan region.  Meanwhile, in Bitlis province, three pro-government village guards, who were Kurdish, were killed in a battle with P.K.K. rebels.  That incident also wounded three other guards and a Turkish soldier.  Then, on October 20th or 21st (reports differ), a natural-gas pipeline in Turkey’s Ağrı province was damaged by an explosion.  The provincial governor blamed the P.K.K.  Also on October 21st, the Turkish government announced that joint police and military operations over the previous five days in Hakkari province’s Kazan Valley, even using fighter jets and helicopters, had killed at least 40 Kurdish rebels.

400 Kurdish Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Rights Group Reports.  The Turkish Human Rights Association reported on October 22nd that as many as 400 Kurds in Turkey’s prisons are refusing food in a hunger strike over Kurdish rights and for conditions of the imprisoned founder of the armed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), Abdullah Öcalan.  About 70 Kurdish prisoners began the hunger strike on September 12th, and the numbers have grown since then.

Abdullah Öcalan’s original perp walk

Palestine Reschedules Try for Upgrade to U.N. “Member State” Status for November.  The chief negotiator for the Palestinian National Authority (P.A.), Saab Erakat, told interviewers in Ramallah, in the West Bank, this week that Palestine would apply next month to upgrade its status at the United Nations (U.N.) from “observer” to “non-member state.”  This plan—originally (as reported in this blog) scheduled for last month—is less ambitious than the failed bid in 2011 to apply for full membership in the U.N. General Assembly (G.A.), which was blocked by the United States’ veto on the Security Council.  The Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) has had U.N. “observer” status since 1998.  Palestine is diplomatically recognized by most of the world (133 sovereign out of, depending on how you count them, 193 sovereign states) and is treated as a de facto member state by U.N. institutions such as Unesco.  Should the vote succeed, Erakat said, “Palestine will become a nation under occupation.  The moment we get this, every single thing Israel does in East Jerusalem or the West Bank will become null and void.”  The U.S. has no veto in the G.A., which has authority over  upgrades such as the P.A. is planning.

6 Killed as Hamas, Israel Exchange Rocket Attacks, Bombs, Airstrikes.  Six people were killed in a series of retaliations between Israel’s military and rebel fighters inside the Palestinian TerritoriesGaza Strip exclave this week.  Rockets apparently fired from within the Gaza Strip on October 22nd prompted Israeli Defense Forces (I.D.F.) airstrikes—one on a supposed Hamas training camp in Beit Hanoun, and another at nearby Jabalya.  At Beit Hanoun, two Palestinians were killed and wounded two others.  In Jabalya, four were wounded.  An I.D.F. soldier was injured by a bomb planted along the border between Gaza and Israel on October 23rd.  Then, on October 24th, 60 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, wounding five people.  Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the bomb and the rockets, though the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.) claimed the October 23rd bomb as well.  Israeli airstrikes killed four Hamas fighters in retaliation.

Low Turnout in West Bank Voting; Rival Fatah Faction Gains in Jenin, Ramallah.  There was a disappointing turnout in local-council elections in the West Bank portion of the Palestinian Territories on October 20th, with only 55% voting.  The enclave’s ruling party, Fatah, did well in Hebron, Bethlehem, Kalkiya, Jericho, and Tulkarm, while a dissident Fatah faction came out ahead in Jenin, Nablus, and the Palestinian capital, Ramallah.  Hamas, the Islamist terror group which governs the Gaza Strip, boycotted the elections.

Emir of Qatar Pays First State Visit by Anyone to Hamas-Ruled Gaza Strip.  For the first time since the Islamist terrorist militia Hamas took power there after a 2007 election, a foreign head of state has visited the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories.  Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, emir of the State of Qatar, crossed into Gaza via a border crossing with Egypt.  Qatar had already been a supporter of Hamas, but both the government of Israel and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority criticized the visit as lending the party legitimacy.

Palestinian children welcome the Emir of Qatar to Gaza.

Baloch Rebels Claim Bicycle-Bomb Attack That Killed 8 (Officially Only 3) Soldiers.  In Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, three members of the federal paramilitary Frontier Corps (F.C.) were killed and 10 people, including six civilians, were injured when a remote-control bomb on a bicycle took out a patrol convoy on October 19th.  The Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.) claimed responsibility.  The B.L.A.’s statement claimed eight dead Corpsmen instead of three.  Meanwhile, an F.C. officer was killed in an armed attack on a checkpoint in Dera Bugti, in Balochistan, on the same day, and five were injured.

Rival Chittagong Hills Factions Clash in Bangladesh, Leaving 1 Dead.  At least one person was killed after a clash between rival factions in southeastern Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hills region.  The battle involved the Parbotto Chôṭṭogram Jônoshônghoti Shomiti (P.C.J.S.S., or United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), which signed a peace treaty with the Bangladeshi government in 1997, and the United People’s Democratic Front (U.P.D.F.), which rejects the treaty and desires more autonomy for the Chittagong Hills region, which is home to Buddhist-majority tribal groups within a predominantly Muslim nation.  The army was deployed, and five people were arrested.

The five arrested in the Chittagong Hills
2 Islamists Killed in Kashmir Included 1 Linked to 2011 Delhi High Court Attack.   Two militants were killed on October 21st in Sopore, in the north of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s largest and most strife-torn Muslim-majority state.  They were members of the radical Islamist and separatist militia Lashkar-e-Taiba, and one of the men, named Urfi (his full name), was said to be linked to the attack on a high court in Delhi on September 7, 2011.  The other man, Abdullah Shaheen, was a citizen of Pakistan.  Lashkar-e-Taiba, meanwhile, has claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in Srinagar, Kashmir’s capital, on October 19th (reported on at the time in this blog), which killed one person.  Later, on October 27th, tear gas was used to disperse an anti-government riot by separatists in Srinagar, Kashmir’s capital.

Charges Dropped against Sikh Nationalists Arrested in 2005 for Advocating “Khalistan.”  A court in Amritsar, India, on October 22nd dropped all charges against 21 members of Dal Khalsa International, a Sikh separatist organization, who were first arrested in 2005 for “provocative speeches” arguing for an independent Khalistan.  They had been demonstrating to mark the 19th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, the Indian government’s deadly attack on Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site.  The charged included Dal Khalsa’s president, H. S. Dhami.

Flag of Khalistan
3 ULFA Fighters Busted with Weapons Cache in Assam.  In India’s strife-torn northeast, three fighters from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) were arrested on October 27th in Assam’s Goalpara district.  Large amounts of weapons were seized from them.

Telugu Nationalists Riot over Film Said to Parody Telangana Statehood Movement.  If you thought the movie Borat got people’s knickers in a twist ... activists throughout the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, in India, vandalized movie theaters in Hyderabad and other cities on October 19th and also attacked a film director’s office, burning posters and film reels. The film in question, Cameraman Gangatho Rambabu, which is in the Telugu language and had been released the day before, was perceived to mock the political movement to create a separate federal state for the Telangana region.  Members of the Telangana Joint Action Committee and the Telugu Desam Party claim that two characters in the film are parodies of Telangana separatist leaders.  Some dialogue offended Telugu nationalists as well.  The filmmakers promised to release an edited version to placate the protesters, but the groups demanded the entire film be banned.  The film has been pulled from theaters throughout the region to avoid unrest.

The offending film
Karnataka Cabinet Minister Urged to Resign after Calling for Separate State.  A cabinet minister in Karnataka state, in southern India, is being asked to resign after calling for a separate state within India for his home region in the north.  Umesh Vishwanath Katti, who is the state’s minister of agriculture, said that northern Karnataka should be its own state by 2020, mainly for administrative reasons.  He envisioned a better-run India with 50 or more states, instead of the current 31.  Karnataka’s population is about two-thirds Kannada, an ethnic group that speaks a Dravidian language related to Tamil and Telugu.  Katti said later that he stood by his comments, adding, “I am not worried even if I lose my ministership.”

Accessory to Suicide Attack on Sri Lankan Army Commander Given 35 Years in Prison.  In Sri Lanka, a Tamil man named S. Suriyakumar was given 35 years in prison on October 23rd for aiding and abetting a female—and pregnant—Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.) suicide bomber the attempted assassination of the Army commander (and later presidential candidate) Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka in 2006.  Nine people were killed in the eventual attack, but without harming Fonseka.

Sarath Fonseka: his would-be assassin finally receives justice.

5 More Self-Immolations in Tibet, amid Reports Beijing Killed Man Planning Another.  Tibetan exile information networks are reporting that a 57-year-old Tibetan man who had been planning to immolate himself to protest Chinese rule over the region has disappeared and may even have been killed by Chinese authorities.  The man had arrived in Siling, in the north of the People’s Republic of China’s misnamed Tibet Autonomous Region, and, according to a well-connected Tibetan exile who spoke to Voice of America, “Chinese security personnel murdered Dorjee Rabten in Siling’s ‘Pachen’ guest house” on August 23rd.  The source, Gyaltsen Choedak, went on, “The Chinese security official called Dorjee Rabten’s elder son, Drukjham Gyal, and told him that he should come at once to pick up the body,” but the son received only ashes, and a warning to keep silent.  If true, the events would confirm an escalation in China’s crackdown on Tibetan activists and on self-immolators in particular.  Meanwhile, there were five more self-immolations in Chinese-occupied Tibet, all in Tibetan areas of Gansu province.  A man in his fifties named Dhondup (his full name) set himself on fire on October 22nd at the Labrang Monastery, two days after another self-immolation near the same monastery.  The next day, also near Labrang, Dorje Rinchen, age 58, immolated himself along a roadside near the police station.  These three Gansu self-immolations are among seven in Tibet in the past month alone.  There were two self-immolations on October 26th in Amuquhu, in Gansu’s Xiahe County: a 24-year-old farmer, Lhamo Tseten, who burned himself at a military base, and a Tibetan in his early 20s named Tsepag Kyab who did the same at a bus station.

Dorje Rinchen’s last minutes
2 Dead, 3 Wounded in Uyghur Axe Attack on Police, Prompting Chinese Crackdown.  The World Uyghur Congress, an exile group based in Munich, Germany, reported this week that house raids and attacks on protesters in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China on October 19th had involved an unknown number of deaths and injuries.  The clashes and crackdown occurred in Korla, in central Xinjiang (known to Uyghur separatists as East Turkestan), where, according to media, three Uyghurs attacked a group of policemen, who then opened fire on their attackers.  One attacker was killed, another was injured, and two policemen are in critical condition, one nearly losing his arm—bolstering rumors that it was an axe attack.  The incident followed other unrest in Korla and Kashgar, including the distribution of anti-Chinese leaflets.  Dilxat Raxit, the W.U.C.’s spokesman, said, “The local authorities have enforced a news blackout since the clashes took place, and have been conducting raids.”

112 Dead in New Eruption of Buddhist–Muslim Violence in Burma.  In western Burma, where a cycle of violence between disenfranchised Rohingyas, who are Muslim, and members of the country’s Buddhist majority left scores or hundreds dead and tens of thousands homeless in May and June, 112 people have been killed in a new round of violence which began on October 21st, with scores wounded and almost 2,000 (mostly wooden) homes burned to the ground.  The violence first flared in Minbyar and Mrauk-U, two remote townships in Rakhine (a.k.a. Arakan) State, by the border with Bangladesh, but then spread.  The first three killed in this cycle of violence were one Buddhist man and two Muslim women.  Muslims have borne the great brunt of the unrest.

The unofficial flag of the Rohingya people
Burmese Troops Invade Kachin Village, Round Up Men, Expel Villagers.  Reports filtered out of Burma’s war-torn Kachin State this week that an entire village’s population had been forced to flee violence and threats by government troops.  The battles began on October 19th when 60 soldiers arrived in the village, Nam Si, and began rounding up and tying up the village’s men to interrogate them about ties to the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.).  Some village leaders remain in custody, and the rest of the village fled for fear of more violence from the troops.

3 Malay Insurgents Surrender in Southern Thailand.  Three fighters from the rebel group Runda Kumpalan Kecil (R.K.K.), which aims to establish a separate state for ethnic Malays in what is now southern Thailand, surrendered to police this week.  The governor of Narathiwat province, in the far south, accepted their surrender and promised safety for them and their families.  Later, on October 27th, two Thai soldiers were injured in a drive-by shooting in another insurgency-plagued southern province, Pattani.  The same morning, a landmine on a rubber plantation in Narathiwat injured one man.


Indonesian Cops Injure Break Up Independence Rally in West Papua, Injure 8.  In Indonesia’s far-eastern West Papua province, hundreds of police broke up a pro-independence rally with rubber bullets, injuring at least eight demonstrators.  Media report that the rally, at the University of Papua in Manokwari, became violent when students, who were among the 300 or so protesters, began throwing stones at police.  Four were hurt by rubber bullets, and another four in ensuing scuffles with police.  One journalist who was there said, “They punched me twice in the face and tried to strangle me.  They hit other journalists and I saw at least two people get shot.”  The rally was organized by the West Papua National Committee (K.N.P.B.), which advocates a referendum on independence for the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

The rally in Manokwari, West Papua
French Court Rejects Appeal by Polynesian Separatist Senator Who Cited Persecution.  The French Republic’s highest court rejected this week an appeal by a Socialist senator and Polynesian separatist who claimed that his two-year-long disbarment from legal practice in his native French Polynesia was politically motivated and sought redress.  The senator, Richard Tuheiava, was disbarred in March for criminal charges dating to 2008 that included forgery.  He maintained his innocence, claiming that the charges were an attempt to sideline him so as not to embarrass France.  He specifically cited the recently defeated president, Nicolas Sarkozy, as responsible for his persecution.  Tuheiava has since been reinstated to the bar in French Polynesia.

Aboriginal Boxer Apologizes to Tasmanians but Not to Opponent He Trash-Talked.  The famed Australian aboriginal boxer Anthony Mundine had to back-pedal from trash-talking of a fellow Aboriginal boxer he is to face in the ring in January, after suggesting that Tasmanian Aborigines were extinct.  In his comments, he had questioned his opponent Daniel Geale’s claims to indigenous ancestry, saying, “He’s got a white woman.  He’s got white kids.  I keep it real, all day every day.”  He said Geale should not wear the Aboriginal flag on his shorts and said, “I thought they wiped all the Aborigines from Tasmania out.”  Indeed, the last full-blooded indigenous Tasmanian died more than a century ago.  By the 1830s, all the Aboriginal Tasmanians that had not been exterminated in an overt genocide had been removed from their communities.  Surviving people of aboriginal Tasmanian descent are of mixed ancestry and have benefited from almost no cultural transmission.  The languages of the island are extinct.  Mundine has apologized to the Tasmanian people, but he refuses to apologize to Geale, saying, “I know there are a lot of Aborigines in Tasmania that are proud of their heritage, just like me,” but “There are people who get jobs, and are claiming benefits, who claim to be Aboriginal, because they have a great-great-great-great-grandmother or grandfather; that, I think, is wrong.”  He also called Australia a racist country and demanded a new flag that honors Aboriginal people instead of “the Union Jack, something that symbolises the invasion, the murder, the pillaging, and on and on.”

Anthony Mundine and Daniel Geale go to the mat over who’s more indigenous.

Brazil Indian Tribe Vows Mass Suicide after Judge Upholds Eviction from Sacred Land.  An entire Indian tribe of 170 people in Brazil has vowed to commit mass suicide following a court ruling which orders them to abandon what they call their sacred land.  The land in question is a graveyard inside a privately owned ranch in Mato Grosso do Sul state in southwestern Brazil, bordering Paraguay.  A judge this week upheld the rancher’s eviction notice on the so-called “squatters.”  A letter to Brazilian authorities from the tribe, the Guarani-Kaiowá, read,  We are already going to and want to be killed and buried along with our ancestors here where we are today, therefore, we ask the Government and the Federal Justice not to decree our eviction, but instead we request them to decree our mass death and to bury us all here.  We ask them, once and for all, to decree our total decimation and extinction, besides sending many tractors to dig a large hole to drop and bury our bodies.  This is our request to the federal judges.  We already await this decision of the Federal Justice.  Decree our mass death Guarani and Kaiowá of Pyelito Kus/Mbarakay and bury us here.  Given that we fully decided it and won't leave this place dead or alive.”  Others denied the interpretation of the letter as a literal threat of mass suicide.

A Guarani-Kaiowá activist tends to graves on “privately owned” land his people refuse to vacate.
Chilean Riot Police Attack Crowd of Mapuche Demonstrators on Columbus Day.  In the Republic of Chile, riot police used tear gas and water cannons to break up a rally by several thousand protesters who took over downtown Santiago on October 15th to mark Columbus Day by demonstrating for the rights of indigenous people.  Media report that police intervened after about 100 hooded young people joined the march and started vandalizing banks.  The march was sponsored by the Meli Wixan Mapu Organization, the Wente Winkul Mapu community, and the Temukuikui Autonomous Mapuche Community, among others, to urge the release of four indigenous Mapuche political prisoners who had been hunger-striking for 50 days.


Curaçao Independence Party Tops Vote, but Barely; Must Form Coalition.  Election results in Curaçao, in the southern Caribbean, released on October 20th put the Sovereign People Party, which calls for independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, ahead, but with a plurality that still requires a coalition deal in order to form a government.  Sovereign People received 23% of the island colony’s 87,000-or-so votes and will thus still hold only five out of the colonial parliament’s 21 seats.  The far more mainstream Movement for the Future of Curaçao, headed by a former Curaçaoan prime minister, Gerrit Schotte, won 21% of votes, with an equal number of parliamentary seats.  Curaçao, which is just off Venezuela’s coast, won separation in 2010 from the Netherlands Antilles, and the two are now separate “constituent countries” of the kingdom.  The two other Dutch “constituent countries” are Aruba and Sint Maarten; all are in the Caribbean.

The flag of Curaçao

Nuwaupian Scare Letters to Georgia Officials Were in Fact from Splinter Group.  Investigations are revealing this week that the loopy scare letters sent to various law-enforcement and other officials in central Georgia, in the United States, were not from the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, the Black nationalist sect (classified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.)) whose cause they took up, but from a hitherto unknown splinter group.  Claiming to be from the embassy of the United Nuwaupian Nation (sic: with a p, not a b), the letters were addressed October 1st to officials and citizens involved in the law-enforcement take-down, in 2004 and 2005, of the Nuwaubians, their 500-acre compound in Putnam County, Georgia, called Tama Re, and the sentencing of their leader, Dwight Malachi York, to 135 years in prison on racketeering, tax-evasion, and child-molestation charges.  Previously well known members of the Nuwaubian movement have hastened to distance themselves from this month’s mailings.  Journalists, however, have identified the first signature on the letters—which nominally signed “for the Ministers of Justice” by one Ari Hatep sanan en mut (sic, including idiosyncratic lowercase)—as that of one Doosua York, a.k.a. Damon Pryor, linked to the Celebrity Status hair salon and tattoo parlor in Atlanta.  Another signature is that of Joe Hibner, one of seven officers from the Macon Police Department who quit the force in 2004 out of loyalty to York.  A more mainstream Nuwaupian named Kermit B. “Damur” Nowlin said, “There are a lot of law-abiding Nuwaupians that do not agree with the actions of this ‘Sovereign Citizens’ group called the United Nation of Nuwaupia,” whom he called “paper terrorists” and “bullies.”

Flag of the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.
Crescent, Star of David, ankh—see? they love everybody!
Manitoba Ojibwe Occupy Tribal Office to Oust Self-Proclaimed “Chief for Life.”  In southeastern Manitoba, in Canada, dissident members of the Buffalo Point First Nation, an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe and Saulteaux) community, occupied their reserve’s band office over the October 20-21 weekend to protest the heavy-handed rule of their elected chief councillor, whom they accuse of nepotism and corruption, especially with respect to a land deal.  The chief, John Thunder, claims legitimacy through an hereditary title from his father, Jim Thunder, and asserts that he is Chief for life.  This runs counter to the Indian Act, which regulates elections to Band Council, including the position of Chief Councillor in First Nations communities.  The sit-in was prompted by the removal of Thunder’s opponents from voter rolls and the stuffing of them with relatives, which was discovered when voting began over the weekend on a referendum on a land deal.  Thunder’s opponents are asking the federal government to free Buffalo Point from the Indian Act so that proper elections can be held, even though it is Thunder’s authoritarianism which runs afoul of the Act.

3,000 First Nations Rally at B.C. Parliament against Tar-Sands Project.  In Canada, more than 3,000 protesters, including First Nations leaders and elders, filled the square in front of British Columbia’s parliament on October 22nd to protest plans by Enbridge, Inc., to run an oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to Kitimat, on the northern B.C. coast.  Scores of First Nations communities have organized in opposition to the project and its environmental risks.  Art Sterritt, who is from the Tsimshian community of Hartley Bay and is executive director of Coastal First Nations, spoke and asked the crowd if they were willing to lie down in front of bulldozers if necessary to stop the project and the crowd replied loudly, “Yes!”  The B.C. parliament has yet to rule on the proposed project.

Haida protesters in Victoria
Russell Means, Leading American Indian Activist, Dies at 72.  See the full obituary in this blog.

[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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