CAR: Extrajudicial executions, sexual violence and other abuses of international humanitarian law continue with total impunity in the country
A new UN report states that violations and abuses of international human rights law and humanitarian law continue in the country, including sexual violence, extrajudicial executions and inhumane and degrading treatment. During the period studied by the report, between 1 June 2015 and 31 March 2016, which includes the last six months of the transitional government and the first steps of the current government, the UN mission in the country has gathered evidence of 1,301 cases of rape and abuse affecting at least 2,473 people. MINUSCA has noted that since August 2016, there has been an alarming rise in the number of cases of rape and other forms of abuse and that armed actors linked to the different factions of the former Séléka coalition and the anti-balaka militias have killed at least 100 people, particularly in the towns of Kaga-Bandoro and Bria. Meanwhile, the WFP announced that it is at risk of having to interrupt humanitarian aid for 150,000 internally displaced people in the country. This year, the WFP intended to deliver aid to around one million people, but only 400,000 have received assistance due to resource constraints. The WFP plans to provide aid to 578,000 people in 2017. (UN, 14, 22/12/16; Jeune Afrique, 15/12/16)
GAMBIA: President Yahya Jammeh refuses to recognise his electoral defeat
Gambia held its presidential election on 1 December, which handed victory to Adama Barrow, the opposition candidate of a coalition formed by seven parties, with 43.3% of the votes, compared to the 39.6% won by current President Yahya Jammeh. In power for 22 years, Jammeh accepted the results at first, but later accused the Electoral Commission of failing to count the ballots properly and refused to recognise them, demanding a new election. Jammeh’s stance has opened a deep political crisis in the country. The AU, ECOWAS and the UN have urged the president to respect the results of the elections. On 13 December, a high-level ECOWAS commission led by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met with the parties in Banjul, the capital of the Gambia, although no agreements were made. That same day, Gambian security forces seized the headquarters of the Electoral Commission. Barrow’s victory was officially recognised on 17 December, at the summit of ECOWAS heads of state held in Abuja, Nigeria, while Jammeh’s demands were not. ECOWAS, which has appointed Buhari and outgoing Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama to coordinate the mediation team, has said that regional forces are on alert following Jammeh’s refusal to hand over power on 19 January, the date when his term ends. On 31 December, Jammeh declared that the deployment of ECOWAS forces in the country would be a “declaration of war”. (VOA, 02/12/2016; Al Jazeera, 02, 10, 13/12/2016; The East African, 10/12/2016; Daily Trust, 11/12/2016; CEDEAO, 12/12/2016; DW, 13/12/2016; Reuters; 17, 21, 23/12/2016; Cameroon Tribune, 19/12/2016)
INDIA (JAMMU AND KASHMIR): Thousands of people protest the deaths of two insurgents in clashes with security forces
Thousands of people protested in the city of Arwani and in nearby communities after two insurgents were killed in a clash with security forces that went on for almost two days. The insurgents were shot dead by security forces, prompting people in Arwani and neighbouring cities to stage street protests. At least one person died later during massive protests against the Indian government in which dozens of people were injured. The largest anti-government demonstrations in recent years have taken place in the last few months, triggered by the death of Burhan Wani, a member of the armed opposition group Hizbul Mujahdeen. The government suspended mobile telephone and Internet services in some parts of the state in an attempt to quell the protests. In recent months, around 100 people have died and thousands have been injured as a result of the riots and police crackdowns on these protests, in which weaponry was used. Days after the start of the latest riots, three soldiers were killed when the convoy in which they were travelling in the outskirts of the city of Srinagar was attacked by armed insurgents. (Al Jazeera, 9/12/16; Reuters, 17/12/16)
MYANMAR: Clashes increase between security forces and insurgents in Shan State and Kachin State
An offensive by the Burmese Armed Forces against the armed opposition group KIA forcibly displaced thousands of people in an attempt by the military to take control of a site held by the insurgent group in Kachin State. Clashes have multiplied between the Burmese Armed Forces and what is called the “Northern Alliance”, composed of the armed groups KIA, TNLA, MNDAA and AA in Shan State in recent weeks. These groups did not sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. Despite the repeated fighting in Shan State, the government indicated that over 10,000 people who had previously been forcibly displaced had returned to their homes. Although the government noted that the returns took place safely, various organisations reported that the civilian population was reluctant to return home. In addition to the fighting between the rebels and the security forces, clashes were also reported between the armed opposition groups TNLA and SSA-S, which have been repeating since February. The United Nations indicated that between November and December, around 15,000 people had to take refuge in China as a result of the violence and denounced the difficulties in ensuring humanitarian access for the displaced population, indicating that the government and the Burmese Army were blocking humanitarian organisations from distributing food aid, which was leading to a serious deterioration in the living conditions of the local population. (The Irrawaddy 19, 21, 22 and 28/12/16)
PAKISTAN (BALOCHISTAN): Human rights organisations accuse the government of carrying out 1,000 extrajudicial executions in the last six years
Human rights organisations have accused the Pakistani security forces of being responsible for extrajudicial executions on a massive scale. According to the BBC, official figures from the Pakistani ministry of human rights reveal that the bodies of around 1,000 political activists and armed insurgents have been found in the last six years, most of them murdered by the Pakistani security forces. The human rights organisation Voice for Baloch Missing Persons has reported the discovery of 1,200 bodies. These organisations report that since armed conflict resumed in the Pakistani province in 2007, thousands of people have been forcibly displaced. The government has denied that these are bodies of people who had disappeared or been executed extrajudicially and indicated that they were mostly insurgents killed in clashes with other armed opposition groups. (BBC, 28/12/16)
SYRIA: The government of Bashar Assad assumes control over Aleppo following a sustained military campaign and amidst reports of serious abuses against the civilian population
After an intense offensive supported by Russia and pro-governmental militias, the regime of Bashar Assad declared that it had assumed total control over Aleppo. For the last four years, the eastern part of the city had been under the control of opposition forces. In November, government troops began to intensify their actions against the rebel stronghold and by mid-month they had managed to encircle the opposition forces in a few neighbourhoods. The offensive forcibly displaced tens of thousands of civilians. The UN received complaints that hundreds of men had disappeared after crossing into government-controlled areas and others stated that rebels were preventing civilians from leaving the city. The UN also warned of the murders carried out by pro-government militias as they advanced on Aleppo. The UN estimates that hundreds of people lost their lives in eastern Aleppo as part of this campaign. In the weeks prior to the government’s victory, over 200,000 people were under siege by its forces amidst a total shortage of food and services, especially after the deliberate destruction of virtually all health infrastructure on the eastern side of Aleppo. Starting on 15 December, after reaching a ceasefire agreement negotiated under the auspices of Turkey and Iran, rebels and civilians from the eastern part of Aleppo were authorised to leave for Idlib governorate, which is under opposition control, while the Shia-majority towns of Foua and Kefraya in the rebel-held area were evacuated. (BBC, 23/12/16; The Guardian, 22/12/16)
TURKEY: Violence rises sharply, with large-scale attacks by the Kurdish group TAK and ISIS
The situation in Turkey took a worrying turn for the worse in December amidst escalation on the multiple fronts shaking the country. In terms of large-scale attacks, the Kurdish armed group TAK (linked to the PKK, according to some analysts) claimed responsibility for two attacks committed on 10 and 17 December. The first was a double bomb attack in Istanbul against the police near the stadium of the Besiktas football team after a greatly anticipated football match that killed 45 people and wounded over 150, including civilians. The TAK also took credit for an attack in the central province of Kayseri against a bus transporting soldiers on leave that killed 14 troops and injured 56. In addition to these attacks by the TAK, other acts of violence occurred between the state and the PKK in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Mass arrests of people accused of having ties to the PKK also took place (involving 500 people alone between 19 and 26 December). Turkish Interior Süleyman Soylu announced plans to destroy the PKK on an “unimaginable” scale by April 2017, so the Turkish Army will prevent the armed group from taking refuge in its winter bases. With regard to other fronts of violence, an attack on a top-end nightclub in Istanbul celebrating the New Year killed 39 people, including 24 foreigners, and wounded 65 in the early hours of 1 January. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, in revenge for Turkey’s bombardments on Syrian soil. In other developments, Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov was assassinated in Ankara by a man later identified as a riot-control police officer on leave. Authorities are investigating possible links to the Gülen movement, which they blame for the failed coup d’état in July. The attack coincided with rapprochement between Turkey and Russia following the crisis in 2015. (Reuters, The Guardian, Hürriyet, Firat, 1-31/12/16, 1/1/17)
BURUNDI: Five soldiers are killed by the Congolese Armed Forces on Congolese soil
On 21 December, the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) executed five Burundian soldiers who had penetrated Congolese territory, according to a Congolese Army spokesman. The clashes began when the Burundian military was pursuing a group of militiamen belonging to the Burundian armed group FNL, which had entered Congolese territory in Kiliba, after having passed through the border post at Vugizo, which separates Kiliba, in South Kivu (DRC), from Gatumba, in Burundi. The armed group FNL has traditionally found refuge in this province. The death toll later rose to 10 soldiers because five of the dead soldiers’ bodies could not be recovered during the pursuit. However, the spokesman for the Burundian defence ministry, Gaspard Baratuza, has denied that the combatants were Burundian soldiers and said that both countries have good relations. He also stressed that both armies exchange information, so the dead militiamen could be former soldiers who deserted and joined the rebellion after the failed coup d’état on 13 May 2015. According to Baratuza, the FARDC allegedly asked the command of the Burundian first military region if it had sent soldiers to the area. Since it had answered no, the FARDC acted accordingly. However, Burundian medical sources have affirmed that on 22 December, several wounded Burundian soldiers were admitted to the military hospital in the capital, which is close to the Congolese border. Another anonymous Congolese military source indicated that there has traditionally been cooperation between both countries’ armies, saying that there is a tacit agreement allowing Burundian soldiers to pursue the FNL across the Burundian border, so the fighting could be due to the absence of a military command in the sector in the DRC and the soldiers’ ignorance about the tacit agreement. Kinshasa has never authorised Burundi to undertake these kinds of incursions. The FNL established its bases in the DRC in 1993 when the internal armed conflict began, and although it is partially demobilised, it is estimated that around 500 FNL combatants remain in South Kivu. (Jeune Afrique, 23/12/16; Monitor, 26/12/16; Allafrica, 31/12/16)
ISRAEL-PALESTINE: The UN Security Council passes a resolution denouncing the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories
On 23 December, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which declares that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of international law and an obstacle to the two-state solution as a means of resolving the conflict. The text calls on Israel to stop its settlement-building activities in the occupied territories and stresses that no changes will be made to the borders in force until June 1967 that are not the result of negotiations between the parties. This is the first Security Council resolution about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since 2009 and the first to address the subject of the settlements since 1980. The resolution passed with 14 votes in favour out of the 15 member countries of the Security Council, with the United States abstaining. Washington has traditionally vetoed these types of initiatives in the past. US President-elect Donald Trump tried to pressure the Obama administration to veto the resolution critical of Israel. The Israeli government reacted angrily to what it saw as a “shameful, distorted and absurd” resolution and announced reprisals. Israel summoned the ambassadors of the countries of the Security Council that supported the initiative, cancelled a trip to Israel by the president of Ukraine due to the country’s support for the motion and announced the suspension of its contributions to various UN institutions. Israeli officials accused the Obama administration of being behind the initiative and of planning new actions through the UN before the US president leaves office on 20 January. According to media reports, the Israeli government fears that US Secretary of State John Kerry will take advantage of an international conference promoted by Paris on 15 January to outline a peace plan hostile to its interests. Days after the adoption of the UN resolution, Israeli authorities announced the construction of 600 new homes in East Jerusalem in the first stage of a project that aims to build around 5,600. (UN News, 23/12/16; The New York Times, 22, 24, 26/12/16; El País, 26/12/16)
LIBYA: Local militias expel ISIS forces from the city of Sirte with US support following months of fighting
After seven months of fighting in Sirte, the campaign conducted by a group of militias allegedly loyal to the Government of National Accord managed to expel the armed group ISIS from Sirte with the support of US air strikes. The fighting caused hundreds of fatalities, including over 750 on the pro-government side. It is unknown how many ISIS fighters were killed, although some estimates by the local authorities indicate that over 1,000 ISIS combatants have fallen since the offensive began in May. ISIS first consolidated its presence in Libya in 2015 and has south to establish a province of the proclaimed “Caliphate” in the North African country. Various analysts highlighted that this is undoubtedly a major defeat for the armed group, since Sirte was its main stronghold in Libya. However, many warned that the defeat of ISIS in Sirte is not the end of the armed group in the country and said that the organisation may continue operating in small cells in Libya and in neighbouring countries. ISIS could continue to exploit the power vacuum and benefit from Libya’s political divisions and security problems. Experts estimate that hundreds of ISIS combatants may be scattered over different parts of the country. The group may have had as many as 5,000 combatants in Libya. (The New York Times, 08/12/16; Washington Post, 07/12/16; BBC, 09/12/16)
NIGERIA: The Islamic Movement in Nigeria is declared an insurgent group in Kaduna State
On 5 December, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru El-Rufa’i, officially declared the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), a Shia Muslim group in the northern part of the country, to be an insurgent organisation. The declaration came after the Supreme Court’s ruling to force the federal government to release IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky within 45 days and to pay a fine for illegal arrest. The IMN condemned Kaduna State’s description of it as an insurgent group. Its complaints were seconded by the Nigerian organisation Muslim Rights Concern, which warned that it has opened a dangerous dimension and reminded the authorities in Kaduna that they should learn from the lessons of the recent history of the outbreak of violence committed by Boko Haram following the government crackdown in 2009, which could radicalise and mobilise the followers of the IMN. After the announcement, which coincided with the first anniversary of the massacre of 347 members of the INM in northern Zaria State, which led to Zakzaky’s arrest, different protests were staged, leading the government of Kaduna State to ban any form of demonstration or assembly. (DW, 14/12/2016; Vanguard, 18/12/2016; This Day, 19/12/2016; Daily Trust, 19/12/2016)
SERBIA – KOSOVO: The political tension rises amidst accusations of obstructionism between Belgrade and Pristina and the departure of Kosovo Serb partners from the government of Kosovo
Tension rose between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo as they took several mutual measures to apply pressure on each other. In mid-December, the government of Kosovo dismissed Ljubomir Maric, a minister for local autonomy in Kosovo and member of the Serb List, a Kosovo Serb partner of the coalition government, for accompanying the head of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, on a trip to Kosovo without authorisation from the Kosovar authorities. The dismissal was criticised by the Serbian government and the Serbian prime minister issued an ultimatum for his reinstatement at the end of the month. Moreover, at the end of the month Serb List reported the resignation of Maric’s successor, Mirjana Jevtic, appointed by the Serbian Kosovar prime minister, as well as the paralysation of Kosovo Serb participation in Kosovo’s institutions. Her departure from the government follows the call made in that regard by the government of Kosovo, in protest of what is considered obstructionism coming from Pristina. In December, the Serbian prime minister also warned that if the government of Kosovo does not make progress on the issue of decentralisation of the Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo, the association of municipalities will form by itself in mid-February 2017. (Reuters, Balkan Insight, 1-31/12/16)
SOMALIA: International concern about the Somali electoral process
The credibility of the electoral process that has been going on in the country since October 2016 is under serious threat as a result of widespread accusations of electoral fraud, manipulation and intimidation. The indirect elections in Somalia, which have involved 14,025 electors across to country to select 275 MPs, are a critical moment in the political and democratic transition under way in the country. However, many both in Somalia and abroad have questioned the credibility of the 2016 electoral process to the point that the international community has issued a joint statement warning that its integrity is being questioned and that more delays and a failure to provide accountability by the parties that have committed serious abuses and malpractice may compromise the ability and willingness of the international community with regard to the next federal government in the country. Signed by the IGAD, AU, UN, European Union, United States and five individual EU countries, the statement urged Somali leaders to rescind some decisions regarding the electoral process, specifically their refusal to restart the process for the election of 24 parliamentary seats whose election was subject to flagrant abuse, including violence, corruption and intimidation. The Somali leaders have reduced the seats for re-election to five, which has been described as a serious type of amnesty for the most terrible irregularities confirmed during the process. The decision could also violate the agreement that one in every three seats must be reserved for women. The statement also questioned the decision to increase expand the number of seats in the upper chamber from 54 to 75 as stipulated in the Provisional Constitution, noting that any enlargement should take place after the presidential election and be implemented through a constitutional amendment. The presidential election, which was supposed to be held in August 2016 and has been postponed three times, will finally take place in January 2017. On 19 January, the UN Security Council planned to hold a meeting to discuss the development of a process that was not expected to be complete. (The Nation, 28/12/16; UN, 29/12/16)
SOUTH SUDAN: The UN Security Council does not approve imposing a weapons embargo on the country
In a meeting held on 23 December, the United Nations Security Council decided not to approve a resolution presented by the United States requesting a weapons embargo on South Sudan and the imposition of sanctions on senior leaders. In a vote that broke with seven countries in favour (France, United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine and Uruguay) and eight abstaining (Japan, Russia, China, Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, Egypt and Senegal), the Security Council dismissed the resolution because it fell short of the nine votes necessary. The resolution had also included the imposition of specific sanctions against some South Sudanese leaders on both sides: former First Vice President Riek Machar, SPLA chief Paul Malong and Information Minister Michael Makuei. (Reuters, 23/12/2016; VOA, 23/12/2016)
UKRAINE (EAST): New security incidents near the strategic core of Debaltsevo
The fragile security situation in Ukraine deteriorated in mid-December, with new armed incidents and several fatalities among the ranks of the security forces and the combatants of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Heavy fighting took place around Svitlodarsk, near the Debaltsevo strategic communications hub. The use of heavy artillery was denounced and the fighting was described as the fiercest in recent months. A ceasefire reached between Ukraine and rebel forces on 21 December took effect on 24 December to facilitate celebration of the Christmas holidays. However, new security incidents occurred after the cessation of hostilities. Moreover, by the end of November, the tension between Ukraine and Russia had risen sharply following Ukraine’s announcement of its decision to conduct military manoeuvres with the launch of medium-range anti-aircraft missiles over the waters of the Black Sea, near Crimea. Russia denounced the plans, considering them an invasion of its airspace, bolstered its anti-aircraft defences in Crimea and threatened to shoot down the missiles. In early December, Ukraine stated that it would avoid the airspace over Crimea, avoiding a direct confrontation. (Reuters, The Guardian, Interfax, RFE/RL, 1-29/12)
To subscribe to the monthly observatory or to receive information from the School for a Culture of Peace, https://llistes.uab.es
To unsubscribe, click here
For any comments or suggestions, please write to:
Tel. +35 93 586 88 42   |   http://escolapau.uab.cat   |   pr.conflictes.escolapau@uab.cat
Plaça del Coneixement - Edifici MRA (Mòdul ReceCAR A), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona)
If you cannot see the image, please click here

In compliance with Law 15/1999, of 13 December, on Protection of Personal Data, the School for a Culture of Peace informs that personal information is treated in strict confidence and incorporated into our general database in order to keep you updated on our activities.