|Libosi Imwiko II, King of Barotseland, has a message for the Zambian government: “Bring it, motherfuckers.”|
ZAMBIA ON BRINK OF CIVIL WAR AS BAROTSELAND GIVES DEADLINE;
THOUSANDS OF LOZI SIGNING UP TO DEFEND REGION;
PRESIDENT SATA SENDING IN TROOPS
Following the rounding up of anti-central-government activists in Zambia’s Western Province (as reported last week in this blog), Lozi (Barotse) leaders held what they called “dark corner” meetings on September 14th to discuss a 21-day ultimatum the organization Barotse National Youths has given Zambia’s president, Michael Sata, to completely withdraw from their province, which they call Barotseland. One participant said afterward, “The people of Barotseland have resolved that they will take on the government of Zambia. We have agreed to defend the people of Barotseland and ka-o-ngolo ka Nyambe the Litunga [king] and the entire Barotseland Royal Establishment cabinet.” Meanwhile, Sata on September 17th dispatched at least five truckloads of troops to Mongu, the Western Province capital. The youth organization’s spokesman, identified only as Liswaniso, said, “Now Mr. Sata wants to bomb us here. Let them come, and we are much ready because it’s better we die than suffering,” adding, in a reference to Sata’s ethnic origin among Zambia’s dominant Bemba ethnic group, “These Bembas and Nyanjas have made us suffer from being poor to poorer because they are greedy and jealous.” Apparently over 3,000 Barotse have enlisted for battle.
THE REST OF AFRICA
Police Link Slitting of Kenyan Officer’s Throat to Mombasa Republicans. In Kenya’s Coast province, police in Diani, a resort town near Mombasa, arrested nine suspects on September 14th in connection with the murder the day before of a police officer, whose throat was slit. Authorities say that the suspects were found in possession of a Mombasa Republican Council (M.R.C.) flag, which would tie the death to the Muslim separatists who would like the province, including essentially all of Kenya’s coastline, to be its own country. Then, on September 17th, police in Kwale arrested 18 young people after raiding what they claimed was an M.R.C.-linked oath-taking ceremony in the woods. The M.R.C. denies any role in the killing. Police this week were still searching for a “witch doctor” who presided over the ceremony. The M.R.C. denies any connection to him or to those arrested.
|The Mombasa Republican Council flag|
|The logo of Uamsho, Zanzibar’s Islamist separatist organization|
New Somali President Vows to Continue Talks with Somaliland Government. President Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud, who took office last week to lead the new post-“transition” phase of the Federal Republic of Somalia’s emergence from chaos, said this week that he planned to continue the series of talks underway with the Republic of Somaliland, the northern third of the country which seceded from Somalia in 1991 but is not recognized by any other state. He said that he wanted reunification but stressed that the way to achieve it was through “enticing” not “belittling” Somaliland.
Buhoodle Governor Resigns, Citing Tribal Rebellion against His Authority. The recently appointed governor of the Buhoodle region, Harir Ahmed Gadweine, resigned this week, after only 49 days in office. He blamed difficulties in “taming his tribesmen,” according to media in the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland, which administers the area. Gadweine took office after this month’s peace deal between Somaliland and the rebel quasi-state—called alternately Khaatumo State or Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (S.S.C.) State—which had tried to establish itself in a region the world regards as part of Somalia but which is in reality ruled by Somaliland against competing claims by the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia. But despite the peace agreement, strife has continued. Gadweine also wondered aloud at a press conference, how, according to a news report, “these schemers would ever attain their never-ending quest to conquer Puntland, Ethiopia, and Somaliland.” As if to prove his point, a mob in Las’anod, the S.S.C. region’s main town, on September 20th attacked with a hail of stones soldiers enforcing a gun ban.
|Map of Somaliland, showing the location of Las’anod and Buhoodle in the Sool region.|
Boko Haram Chimes in on Protests over U.S. Anti-Muslim Video. Meanwhile, on September 19th, a Boko Haram spokesman in Nigeria said the organization was joining the uprising against the United States and its interests throughout the Muslim world in the wake of a Coptic-produced American amateur video, Innocence of Muslims, parodying the Prophet Muhammad, made in 2011 but only recently distributed on YouTube. “We will be firm in our belief,” the spokesman said, “that nobody can attack our faith and we hold the U.S. responsible for the film.”
U.S. Spokesman Defends Not Branding Boko Haram Foreign Terrorist Organization. The United States’ assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnnie Carson—wait, really?? he uses the name Johnnie Carson? why not John Carson, or Jonathan? no middle initial? because when you’re trying to be taken seriously, you don’t want people to think of Ed McMahon and Carnac the Magnificent and Tiny Tim’s wedding when they hear your name—and spelling it -ie doesn’t really help at all—well, anyway, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, [rolls eyes] Johnnie Carson, explained on a visit to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on September 20th the U.S. government policy of not classifying Boko Haram, northern Nigeria’s violent Islamist militia, a “foreign terrorist organization” (F.T.O.). And now, in Carson’s own words on the subject at the press conference, heeeeeere’s Johnnie!: “We have not designated the entire organisation; we constantly keep that under review, but we have designated the three top leaders we believe to be out establishing broader terrorist networks. They have a broader jihadist agenda that goes beyond simply discrediting the Nigerian government. The issue of Boko Haram is not only of major concern to Nigeria, but to neighbouring countries. Boko Haram, we believe, comprises several different kinds of groups. We believe that the Boko Haram movement is trying to do everything in its power to show that the government is ineffective in the defence of its people and in the protection of government institutions.” As he made the announcement, his co-host, just off-camera, clapped his hands heartily and laughed loudly. Weird stuff. Weird stuff.
|Assistant secretary of state for African affairs Johnnie Carson|
created a lot of suspense at this week’s press conference before revealing
why the U.S. is not designating Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization.
Moroccan Activists Claim to Retake 37-Acre Spanish Island near Gibraltar. The Liberation Committee of Ceuta and Melilla, a group from Morocco which aims to retake Spain’s territorial possessions on the northwestern African mainland and just offshore, said September 16th that it had taken over a uninhabited island called Perejil, which is about 200 meters off the coast of the Moroccan side of the Straits of Gibraltar, and raised two Moroccan flags. But Spain’s Civil Guard said its Maritime Service made a reconnaissance visit to the island and found nothing of the sort. The island, which is called la Isla de Perejil (“Island of Parsley”) in Spanish but Tura (“Empty”) in Berber, is about 37 acres large and has belonged to the Kingdom of Spain since 1668.
Spain-Catalonia Talks Founder as King Juan Carlos Urges Unity. The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy Brey, resigned himself on September 20th to failed talks with the separatist region of Catalonia’s head of state, President Artur Mas i Gavarró, who called it the loss of an “historic opportunity.” At issue was tax distribution between federal and regional levels, on which their views seem to be irreconcilable. Meanwhile, responding to last week’s millions-strong rallies in Madrid and Barcelona in support of independence for Catalonia (as reported in this blog), Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, on September 18th urged unity in the midst of Spain’s financial crisis. “This is a decisive moment in which we can secure our ruin or our well-being,” said the king, in a statement on the royal website. “The worst we can do is to divide forces, encourage disagreements, pursue illusions, deepen wounds.”
Spanish Police Arrest 4 Members of Galician Resistance Linked to Bombs. The Kingdom of Spain’s ministry of the interior announced the arrest on September 15th and 16th of four who are members of a relatively new separatist group. They were apprehended in Vigo, near the border with Portugal, in connection with bombs found in a car trunk. They are believed to be members of the Galician Resistance, a group which was not known to police until November 2011. Galicia, which includes Vigo, is an autonomous nationality within Spain where there is a movement for independence.
|The location of Galicia within the Kingdom of Spain|
Radical Socialist Scots Group Dropped from Official Rally after Unionist Criticism. In a change of plans, a radical left-wing Scots movement will be barred from participating in a Scottish independence rally on the September 22-23 weekend in Edinburgh at which Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister and the head of the Scottish National Party (S.N.P.), is to speak. The group, known as the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (S.R.S.M.), was dropped from the event after Better Together, a group which favors Scotland staying in the United Kingdom, distributed pamphlets criticizing the juxtaposition. A 2010 YouTube video of the S.R.S.M. shows Scotsmen wiping their shoes on the Union Jack while a narrator explains, “We stand on the Union Jack because it’s a flag we despise, because it’s a bloody butcher’s apron that has been used to subjugate not only the Scottish people but peoples of all colours and creeds across the planet. As Scots, we should say we want no more of this bloody Union.”
Party Leader Mocked for Taking Republican Oath while Queen Opens Welsh Assembly. The leader of Plaid Cymru, Wales’s third-largest party and bearer of the banner of independence from the United Kingdom, is being criticized for a republican oath she took at a wine-bar in Cardiff in June of last year on the day Queen Elizabeth II opened the new session of the National Assembly for Wales, the country’s parliament. The event, publicized this week on YouTube, shows the party leader, Leanne Wood, standing before the red, white, and green Welsh republican flag, saying, “We attest this flag is a symbol of Republican Wales. We will fight for the truth against the world. All nations are born of one people. All laws are born of one justice. All freedoms are born of one peace. Is there peace?” At which point, the audience chanted back, “Peace.” The same meeting was also addressed by a radical violent separatist group, Balchder Cymru (“Pride of Wales”). Plaid Cymru issued a statement dissociating itself from Balchder Cymru. The original video has been taken down from YouTube.
Serbian Government Mulls National Referendum on Kosovo Question. A newspaper in Serbia is citing unnamed government sources, as high as the office of the president, on the possibility of a national referendum on the question of whether Serbia should relinquish its claim on the de facto independent Republic of Kosovo as part of its efforts to eventually join the European Union (E.U.). A similar referendum was held in April 1998, in which Serbs overwhelmingly agreed to reject all international attempts to mediate the dispute.
|Welsh republican radicals actually want to replace this, the bitchenest national flag in all Europe,|
with a boring tricolor. That tells you all you need to know about them.
Belgrade War-Crimes Court Sentences 17 Kosovo Rebels for Torture, Execution. Seventeen former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s so-called Gnjilane Group were sentenced by a national war-crimes court in Belgrade, Serbia, on September 19th to 5-15-year-long prison terms. The defendants, members of the ethnic-Albanian rebel army that helped Kosovo secede from the Republic of Serbia, were found to have tortured at least 80 Serbs and other non-ethnic-Albanians to death between June and December 1999. 34 additional alleged victims of theirs are missing and unaccounted for, and 153 civilians were detained by them, tortured, then released. (The following day, another court in Belgrade acquitted a 24-year-old Serb charged with torching the United States embassy in Belgrade in 2008, in anger over the diplomatic recognition of Kosovo.)
[For the latest news from the North Caucasus (including Dagestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia), see this week’s Caucasus Update.]
BITS OF ASIA THAT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE PART OF EUROPE
[For the latest news from the South Caucasus, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, see this week’s Caucasus Update.]
Tajik President Vows to Keep Order in Gorno-Badakhshan. The president of the Republic of Tajikistan, Imomali Rakhmon, on September 19th visited the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (G.B.A.O.), a rebellious region that covers almost the entire eastern half of the country, for the first time since July’s brutal government crackdown in the wake of the beating death of a secret-police chief (as reported at the time in this blog). Rakhmon, a Tajik, who has ruled Tajikistan with the backing of the Russian Federation almost since the fall of Communism, vowed to crack down on what he called criminal elements, a euphemism for insurgency by the oblast’s dominant Pamir ethnic group. During the Tajikistani civil war of 1992-1997, Human Rights Watch (H.R.W.) documented ethnic cleansing and other atrocities against the Pamir minority.
[For more news from Syria, Iran, and Iraq, including the Kurdistan regions, see this week’s “Kurdistan Update.”]
Romney Caught on Camera Saying Palestinians Have “No Interest” in Peace. The former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, who is running for president of the United States on the Republican Party ticket, experienced a setback when a video was released this week in which the candidate privately tells supporters, among other embarrassingly candid things, that Palestinians “have no interest” in peace with Israel. Romney said, in part, “You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.” He also called the two-state solution “the worst idea in the world.” Romney has not yet attempted to defend his remarks on the issue.
Israeli Air Strike Kills 2 Militants in Gaza Strip; Mortars Fired into Israel Next Day. Two militants in Rafah, in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories were killed on September 19th in an airstrike by the Israeli Security Agency (I.S.A., or Shin Bet), which said it did so to foil a planned terrorist attack. One of the two men killed was on a wanted list, the Israeli Defense Forces (I.D.F.) said, but Palestinian authorities said the “martyrs” were simply border guards. The next day, mortar shells were fired toward an I.D.F. patrol just over the border in southern Israel. There were no injuries in that incident. The shells landed and exploded on the Palestinian side of the fence.
Hamas Sentences 4 Gaza Militants for Murder of Italian Activist. A Hamas court in the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories on September 17th convicted four Palestinian men in the kidnapping and murder in Gaza last year of a pro-Palestinian activist from Italy. Two of the defendants, both of them former employees of Hamas’s Gaza Strip ministry of the interior, received sentences of 35 years in prison with hard labor. The two men linked less directly to the killing were given 10 and one year, respectively. The Italian, Vittorio Arrigoni, who had been living in Gaza for three years, was abducted, then strangled to death in March 2011. Videos of his beatings were later posted online. Responsibility in the video was claimed by the group Monotheism and Holy War.
|Palestinian graffiti honoring Vittorio Arrigoni|
Palestinian Hunger Striker to Be Freed Soon, Supporters Say. Allies of a hunger-striking Palestinian dissident held in a prison in Israel said September 20th that he might be freed as early as September 23rd in exchange for halting his fat. The prisoner, Zakarya Zubeidi, a former militant, theater director, and former resident of the notorious Jenin refugee camp, has been imprisoned since May and had been refusing food since September 9th and fluids since September 17th.
|Zakarya Zubeidi, in happier times|
1 Rebel Killed in Gun Battle in Kashmir. One Kashmiri separatist guerilla was killed September 15th in the Baramullah district of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. The death occurred as part of a larger gunfight between rebels and the government, which military sources say the rebels started.
Telangana Separatists in Andhra Pradesh Riot, Ransack Lawmaker’s Home, Torch Buses. Those in Andhra Pradesh, in southeastern India, who would like the region of Telangana to form a separate state within India, marked Telangana Liberation Day on September 17th with rallies in Hyderabad in which police and university students faced off in the streets. Later in the day, 24 or more members of the Telangana Advocates Joint Action Committee stormed the residence of a member of parliament for the ruling Indian National Congress party and ransacked the place, but only servants were home. Two school buses were also set on fire.
Rebels and Burmese Soldiers Battle in Eastern Kachin State. Fighting raged on September 18th in eastern Kachin State between members of Burma’s military and the Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.), with the army raining artillery shells on Kachin positions. The battle continued through the night but had ended by dawn. The K.I.A.’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.), said that, as a result of the fighting, it was impossible for Kachin to participate in peace talks to be held in Naypyidaw.
American Kachin Skip Suu Kyi Award Ceremony, Angry over Civil War in Burma. Activists from the Kachin ethnic minority in the United States boycotted the ceremony on September 19th honoring the Burmese opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi with the Congressional Gold Medal. The Kachin Alliance U.S.A., in a letter dated the previous day, notified the U.S. Congress and White House in an open letter that it would be “inappropriate for us to rejoice and celebrate” while the government in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) continues to make war against its Kachin citizens—a fact which Suu Kyi is considered by many to downplay in her attempt to end her country’s diplomatic isolation.
|Aung San Suu Kyi receives the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington|
Exiled Papuans in Britain Offer Bounty for Citizen’s Arrest of Indonesian President. An exiled separatist group representing the peoples of West Papua province in Indonesia, but based in the United Kingdom, this week offered a £50,000 reward to anyone who places Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, under citizen’s arrest for “an ongoing genocide in West Papua where over 500,000 innocent people have been killed, including women and children.” Yudhoyono will visit the U.K. from October 31st to November 2nd as part of celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee. The organization, the Free West Papua Campaign, is able to offer the award because of a large donation it has received.
Philippines and Moro Rebels Nearing Deal on Autonomous Region. The Republic of the Philippines announced September 17th that the government was “very close” to signing a deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), ending 14 years of negotiations and likely to include a “new political entity” to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in the south of the country. A spokesman said it may be renamed the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (B.J.E.) (though public-relations advisors may eventually recommend against having a “B.J. Entity” governed by something called the MILF). However, Mohagher Iqbal, a MILF negotiator, did not predict an agreement, or an end to the Moro insurgency, for another three years. To get regular updates on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, join the Facebook page “MILF Nation.”
|A MILF soldier|
|Māori delicacy? A scene from the upcoming comedy Fresh Meat|
Grand Jury in Alabama Indicts “President” of Parallel U.S. Government for Tax Fraud. In Montgomery, Alabama, a federal grand jury this week indicted a self-styled “president” of a radical-sovereigntist parallel government entity with tax-fraud charges that could net him 164 years in federal prison and nearly $2.5 million in fines. The defendant, James Timothy “Tim” Turner, who calls himself “president” of the Republic for the united States of America (R.u.S.A.) (sic, including the lowercase u), is being charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, perjury, and other charges, some in connection with seminars he conducted training citizens in how to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). R.u.S.A. activists assert (as reported on detail earlier in this blog, regarding an Iowa politician who joined the movement) that around the time of Reconstruction the United States government became a corporate entity no longer tied to the original Constitution and that independent citizens have the right to set up parallel U.S. and state government structures in accordance with older ideals.
Maple-Leaf Flag Kerfuffle Rocks Quebec City as Separatist Premier Sworn In. In Quebec City, Canada, Pauline Marois, head of the separatist Parti Québécois (P.Q.), took office as the 30th premier of Quebec on September 19th, and the first female one. She heads a minority government but promises reforms to language policy and possible moves toward a referendum on independence from Canada. Political observers in the media noted that the Canadian flag, which tends to adorn Quebec’s National Assembly (parliament) when Quebec nationalists are in power but not when they are the opposition, was absent during Marois’s swearing-in but later appeared alongside the Quebec flag as legislators from the P.Q.’s opponents took their oaths of office.
Shooter Arrested at P.Q. Victory Rally Wants Montreal to Split from Quebec. In a radio interview on September 19th, Richard Henry Bain—the man charged with murder, attempted murder, and other charges for his shooting rampage at the September 4th Parti Québécois (P.Q.) election-victory rally—suggested that Montreal should be split from the rest of Quebec. “My vision,” Bain said, “is that the island of Montreal separates to become its own province.” In this, he raises a today mostly unpopular idea that gathered supporters in the early 1990s in the run-up to an (eventually narrowly failed) referendum on whether Quebec should secede from Canada. According to the 2006 census, 13.2% of Montrealers, as against 7.7% in Quebec as a whole, call English their first language; plus, a large share of foreign immigrants to Quebec, who tend to concentrate in Montreal, speak English better than French. Thousands of Montrealers live in neighborhoods that have been English-speaking as long as anyone can remember. Bain did not discuss the shooting or his legal case in the half-hour-long interview. Quebec’s new P.Q. minister for public security, Stéphane Bergeron, said he was investigating why Bain, currently under indictment, was allowed to give a phone interview from his jail cell at all.
“Sweet Home Massachusetts”: Lynyrd Skynyrd Ditches Rebel Flag, Angers Fans. In the United States, the last surviving original member of the quintessential Southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gary Rossington, told media this week that his band would no longer use the Confederate flag in its concerts. Rossington explained, “Through the years, people like the K.K.K. and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that’s what it was about. We didn’t want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things.” What resulted was an tsunami of Southern outrage, including one online commenter who said, “Good luck with your next release, ‘Sweet Home Massachusetts.’ I am sure it will climb the charts with a bullet in Yankee-land.” Another said, “This isn’t the real Lynyrd Skynyrd anyway. They should have taken a name like Obama’s Politically-Correct Sell-Your-Soul Make-Believe Impostors or something.”
|Lynyrd Skynyrd is in the market for a new backdrop.|
|Tito Kayak, during an earlier stunt|