openSecurity cached version 08/02/2019 16:10:53 en Spain: how a democratic country can silence its citizens <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Spain, one of the European countries at the sharp end of imposed austerity measures, has also been in the vanguard of imposing restrictions on protest against them. <em>Archive: originally published May 2014. <strong><a href="">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></span></span><span class="image-caption"><span>And you are? Police impeding a protest last month against an eviction in Madrid.&nbsp;</span>Adolfo Lujan / <a href=";id=MjU1MTMxZTZmMjk3Nw==&amp;page=1">DISO Press</a>.<span>&nbsp;Some rights reserved.</span></span></p><p><span></span>Thirty-five year old Jorge is a nurse in a health centre in Madrid. During a demonstration against health cuts in March of last year he was arrested and accused of attempting to assault a politician. Television footage later showed he had been several metres away and protesting peacefully.</p> <p>Four months earlier he had been convicted of taking part in an “unauthorised assembly” when protesting at an eviction. He was fined €301 for causing serious public disorder in a public place or causing damage. I’ve seen a video of the action and it shows a group of people urging bailiffs not to throw someone out of their home—it doesn’t even seem that voices were raised. &nbsp;</p> <p>Six months before that he had received a letter saying he would be fined for “disobeying the orders of the police” when told to disperse during another demonstration. The police told the demonstrators that they had not been notified in advance of the demonstration and that that had made it unlawful. </p> <p>I’ve spent time with Jorge. He is not a professional agitator: it would be hard to find a nicer and gentler man. But he is typical of many Spanish people who believe the response of their authorities to the deepest economic crisis many can remember must be questioned.</p> <p>In 2012 there were fully 15,000 demonstrations throughout Spain—in 2013, 25,000. This major social mobilisation is the organised public response to high unemployment and austerity measures adopted by the central and autonomous regional governments, which have resulted in cuts to basic services including health and education. It is the resistance of groups affected by decisions they consider in violation of their human rights.</p> <p>For the authorities the increasing number of demonstrations however shows that citizens enjoy their human rights, including to peaceful assembly and expression. They also claim that public order needs to be maintained and that the police need the power to do so.</p> <h2>Penalising protest</h2> <p>Yet the authorities’ response to the protests has been characterised by unnecessary and excessive force. They have fined participants and organisers, harassed, stigmatised and imprisoned ordinary people on criminal charges and introduced legislation that imposes additional restrictions on the freedom of peaceful assembly. </p> <p>Sadly, the organisers of protests and the participants face many challenges when trying to gather peacefully and express their views to those they voted into power. First of all, a gathering or demonstration with more than 20 people requires prior notification to the authorities, in writing and at least 10 days in advance—Spanish legislation doesn’t allow for spontaneous demonstrations. </p> <p>Only in urgent cases, which must be justified on extraordinary and serious grounds, can notifications be accepted within 24 hours. It is not however clear in the law what amounts to extraordinary or serious grounds—even if there is not enough time to apply for an authorisation and there is a specific need for an urgent political message to be delivered. </p> <p>The concern is that notification has become the mechanism for authorisation. Penalties for attending demonstrations without the required notification have been reported throughout Spain. When there is a peaceful assembly the police usually carry out a collective identity check, asking each of the participants for ID and recording their details. Some might find out weeks or months later that they have been fined for participating in an un-notified demonstration or for obstructing traffic. </p> <p>Participants attending a demonstration of which the police haven’t been notified can be fined between €300 and €30,050 euros, simply for their attendance. This is stretching the law where it shouldn’t go. Indeed most protests are banned or dispersed with the justification that the authorities are preserving law and order. </p> <p>Whiles states have an obligation to guarantee the rule of law, some degree of tolerance for the inevitable disruption demonstrations entail is important. To exercise the right to freedom of assembly means protesters must have a real opportunity to get their message across to the right people, particularly when this relates to public representatives. Assemblies should be encouraged and not repressed. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">Protest is a necessary check on political power.</p><p>Yet the authorities have also imposed a general restriction on all demonstrations in the vicinity of official buildings or institutions or offices or residences of key politicians. This goes beyond what is allowed under international human-rights law. Surely, if you want your messages to reach those in power, you have to go somewhere where there’s a chance they’ll hear you. </p> <p>Of course, the security forces are empowered to take act to maintain order during demonstrations but there is a clear distinction between peaceful protest and violent disorder which could lead to a breach of the law. The police are entitled too to carry out identity checks on the streets as part of their duty, when such checks are necessary to ensure security. But they should not be used to intimidate or control those who are law-abiding.</p> <p>Spain is restricting the rights to peaceful assembly, association and free expression in a manner inconsistent with international human-rights standards and a country’s obligations under international law. And, rather than seeking to close these gaps, the government has taken a step further—submitting legislative proposals that would increase the scope for penalising protest organisers and participants. </p> <h2>Austerity anger</h2> <p>Spain is not alone. Many demonstrations have taken place in cities across the EU in response to austerity measures. As public resources and services have become more scarce, anger over cuts in jobs and incomes has grown—leading to widespread protests, sometimes violent. In Greece, Spain and Romania the police have used force to disperse these demonstrations. </p> <p>Human-rights organisations have documented incidents in several countries: use of excessive force, abuse of “less-lethal” weapons, obstructing access to medical assistance and arbitrary detention. In many cases, officers have repeatedly hit peaceful demonstrators with batons, including on the head and neck, causing serious injuries.</p> <p>We must also remember how easy it is for a situation to get out of hand. In Turkey and Greece, for example, violent disturbances have issued from a disproportionate reaction by the police to those who had gathered peacefully on the streets. The police may confront demonstrators with the stated aim “to protect public order” but when they adopt an attitude of hostility towards those criticising the government—imposing excessive restrictions and force—they become the object of the protesters’ anger. </p> <p>The result is a loss of trust and respect and, as we’ve seen, violence which threatens the safety of all: protesters, passers-by and the police themselves. We have also seen in recent years in Russia and, in the past year, in Ukraine how far a situation can escalate when the authorities do not give space to public protest but instead introduce measures to repress peaceful assembly.</p> <h2>Restoring confidence</h2> <p>A demonstration which ends in violence represents a failure on the part of the state to secure and facilitate a peaceful protest. The Spanish authorities have said the police often intervene when extremist groups turn a demonstration violent. Yet such talk is a distraction, an excuse for behaviour that falls short of international standards. The actions of a few should not lead to the abuse of many law-abiding people. There have been more peaceful protests in Spain in the last few years than there have been violent ones.&nbsp; </p> <p>Most cases of violence by the police themselves during demonstrations seem to be swept under the carpet. If an investigation is opened, it tends to drag on for years or to be closed because the officers were difficult to identify as they were not wearing a badge. In most cases there is no reparation for the victims.</p> <p>The authorities must look at restoring the confidence of the public by protecting and facilitating the right to protest. There are plenty of positive <a href="">examples</a> in the world of measures taken to prevent violence, even in tense situations. It can be done with good co-operation and trust between protest organisers, participants and law-enforcement officials. Communication and political will are required to avoid provocations (intentional or negligent) and misunderstandings, and to allow society to find solutions to problems together.</p> <p>Counterposing government to protesters can only mean human rights will continue to be violated and the freedoms for which people have fought will disappear. Restriction of freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration may seem justifiable, even attractive, to government but it will only further alienate the public from those they have placed in authority. </p> <p>Protest is a necessary check on political power. A developed society sees peaceful assembly as a vital and healthy part of its existence—not something to be suppressed.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See more from Amnesty on <a href="">the right to protest under threat</a> in Spain, on policing <a href="">demonstrations in the EU</a> and generally on <a href="">policing assemblies</a>, and a report from Human Rights Watch on the <a href="">denial of shelter</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-policies-in-europe-are-fuelling-social-injustice-and-violating-human-">Austerity policies in Europe are fuelling social injustice - and violating human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cristina-flesher-fominaya/spain%E2%80%99s-marches-of-dignity-22m-2014-not-antipolitics">Spain’s Marches of Dignity, 22M, 2014: not anti-politics</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Spain Democracy and government Economics dissent Jezerca Tigani Spotlight on Spain Whose Police? Structural Insecurity Repression, exploitation and dispossession: policing protest Fri, 06 Oct 2017 11:40:16 +0000 Jezerca Tigani 82666 at Hidden Warfare 1. Cyber <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK agency would like to be known as on the front line defending UK interests from cyber attacks, rather than as an eavesdropping agency collecting data on individuals en masse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Defenceimagery.MOD.wikicommons/Harland Quarrington.Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Hidden warfare, or ‘remote warfare’ as it is often called, is now the driving force behind both armed and unarmed conflict. Cyber attacks, drones, and special forces are front line weapons – in the air, in space, under and on the ground. Their role will increase. Yet in Britain, they have been protected from democratic accountability by official secrecy, sophistry, or sheer pusillanimity. </p> <p>Britain will not go to war again, ministers assured us after the invasion of Iraq and the tragically hopeless counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, without first consulting Parliament. Yet it has become abundantly clear that this assurance does not cover the new tools of power and conflict.</p> <p>Let us start with cyber, where GCHQ, hitherto the most secretive of government agencies, have now persuaded ministers that openness is actually a good thing. I will return soon to drones and special forces, both of which, in contrast to the belated debate about how to combat attacks in cyberspace, still remain firmly hidden under the cover of official secrecy.</p> <h2><strong>‘Information wars’</strong></h2> <p>Whitehall, renowned for its collective ignorance of IT, has been extremely slow to recognise the growing threat of cyber attacks and ‘information wars’ attacking worldwide computer networks. </p> <p>Iain Lobban, former director of GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping and encrypting agency, used his first public speech in October 2010 to call for an aggressive approach to cyber attacks. He warned of the dangers of adopting the sort of defensive strategy symbolised by France's Maginot line, which was supposed to repel the Germans and failed.</p> <p>In marked contrast to their counterparts in the US and Australia, Ministers in Britain casually prepared to put commercial interests above national security when they gave the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei, a free hand, as the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee made clear in <a href="">a stinging report</a> in June 2013.</p> <p>Over two years ago, I asked a very senior Ministry of Defence official what worried him most. A nuclear arms race? Terrorism? ‘Cyber’, he replied, without the need for a moment’s thought. <span class="mag-quote-center">‘From a technical perspective, the case for Russian state responsibility is hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt.’&nbsp; </span></p><p>In cyberspace, war and peace are in a permanent state of competition,&nbsp; General Sir Gordon Messenger, vice chief of the defence staff, suggested, opening a largely unreported conference on ‘cyberspace and the transformation of twenty-first century warfare’ run by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank in October. Shortly after, on 1 November, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said Britain must hit back at hostile states in cyberspace and be capable of mounting sophisticated cyber-attacks of its own in place of military strikes.</p> <p>Air Marshal Osborn, Chief of Defence Intelligence, told the RUSI conference that cyber attacks would ‘transform modern warfare’. Messenger recognised that there are huge legal questions unique to cyber attacks, because it is not easy to identify an aggressor. How do you confront the question of deniability? Paul Chichester, director of operations at Britain’s new National Cyber Security Centre who worked at GCHQ for 25 years also addressed the conference. He pointed out that historically there has been pretty good certainty about who was harming us and who wanted to. But here a victim is confronted with the ‘question of attribution’. People wanted to know, who did it? It is a very difficult question to answer, carrying potentially serious dangers of miscalculation and escalation.</p> <p>Former MI6 director, Nigel Inkster, now at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) observed recently in that think tank’s journal, Survival, that in the cyber domain it was relatively easy to engage in ‘spoofing’ – assuming a false identity. Malware is widely available on the black market and language settings on a computer are simple to change. Commenting on the attacks on the US Democratic National Committee’s computer network, <a href="">Inkster warned</a>: ‘from a technical perspective, the case for Russian state responsibility is hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt’.</p> <p>Here in Britain, the Foreign Office in particular has been reluctant to apportion blame, even though it has been the victim of attacks by China, for fear of upsetting diplomatic relations. MI5 warnings that Chinese state agencies as well as Russian ones have been at the forefront of cyber attacks on UK targets, have not stopped Chinese investment in the planned new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. </p> <p>Launching the government’s £1.9bn national cybersecurity strategy on 1 November, Hammond said the UK had to develop ‘fully functioning cyber-attack capability’. He went on: ‘If we do not have the ability to respond in cyberspace to an attack that takes down our power networks, leaving us in darkness, or our air traffic control, leaving us in darkness, we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek and ignoring the devastating consequences or resorting to a military response.’ <span class="mag-quote-center">The world’s next great conflict was likely to at least begin in cyberspace, before guns were loaded, the chancellor added. </span>The world’s next great conflict was likely to at least begin in cyberspace, before guns were loaded, the chancellor added. ‘There is no doubt in my mind’, he said, ‘that the precursor to any future state-on-state conflict will be a campaign of escalating cyber-attacks, to break down our defences and test our resolve before the first shot is fired.’ </p><p>For good measure, Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer observed that cyber warfare was ‘no longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies’. Britain’s adversaries, he said, were varied and included ‘organised criminal groups, “hacktivists”, untrained teenagers and foreign states.’</p> <h2><strong>A new spirit of openness?</strong></h2> <p>For GCHQ, the most dangerous hacking groups are what are known as ‘advanced persistent threats’ or APTs. They are both state-backed and criminal organisations that carry out sophisticated, targeted, hacks.</p> <p>Britain needed to be ‘open and transparent’, Chichester told the RUSI conference. It was a telling intervention reflecting a radical change in GCHQ&nbsp; culture. But in forthcoming ‘cyber wars’ and ‘information wars’, GCHQ has at last convinced ministers that transparency and openness, in this context at least, is vital since it needs the support of the private sector – companies are attacked more than government sites – and the public.</p> <p>And, as GCHQ has made clear, not least in its recruitment advertisements, it needs skilled personnel. The Cheltenham-based agency of course would like to be known more as being on the front line defending UK interests from cyber attacks rather than as an eavesdropping agency collecting data on individuals en masse. It is now awarding apprenticeships to attract talented youngsters before they have gone to university. </p> <p>The challenge now is to extend this new spirit of openness to the use of drones and special forces which, after all, are engaged in violent conflict much more directly than cyber attackers.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mischa-hansel/cyber-conflict-and-psychological-ir-perspectives">Cyber conflict and psychological IR perspectives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hanne-eggen-r%C3%B8islien/thoughts-on-autonomous-weapons-systems-and-meaningful-human-control-of-cyber">Thoughts on autonomous weapons systems and meaningful human control of cyber</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/andrew-puddephatt-lea-kaspar/cybersecurity-is-new-battleground-for-human-rights">Cybersecurity is the new battleground for human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/richard-norton-taylor/hidden-warfare-2-drones">Hidden Warfare 2: Drones</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> <div class="field-item even"> Science </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties digitaLiberties openSecurity uk UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Internet Science Richard Norton-Taylor Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:06:40 +0000 Richard Norton-Taylor 106491 at Arming the Saudi war in Yemen: the cracks in the mirror of British internationalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rival reports about UK arms deals with Yemen lay bare two conflicting approaches to foreign policy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A soldier looks through a hole in a building damaged after an airstrike in Yemen. Photo: Hani Mohammed / AP/Press Association Im"><img src="//" alt="A soldier looks through a hole in a building damaged after an airstrike in Yemen. Photo: Hani Mohammed / AP/Press Association Im" title="A soldier looks through a hole in a building damaged after an airstrike in Yemen. Photo: Hani Mohammed / AP/Press Association Im" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A soldier looks through a hole in a building damaged after an airstrike in Yemen. Photo: Hani Mohammed / AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved</span></span></span>The <a href="">parliamentary row</a> over arms sales to Saudi Arabia holds a mirror to two faces of British internationalism. One face is that of a leading proponent of international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights and good governance – a champion of the Arms Trade Treaty as it was being negotiated at the UN. The other face, meanwhile, presents a reliable partner, ally and arms supplier to Middle Eastern states such as Saudi Arabia. The UK government has long claimed to look in the mirror and see a coherent image. The war in Yemen shows the cracks in the mirror.</p><p dir="ltr">UK arms export policy is scrutinised by the joint Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), comprising members of the Business, Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Development Committees. When the CAEC was <a href="">re-convened</a> after the last general election, its&nbsp;first act was to hold an inquiry into the use of UK-manufactured weapons in the war in Yemen. Divided over the draft report and unable to agree its conclusions, <a href="">parliamentary and media</a> mayhem ensued, featuring leaks to Newsnight, and threats of walk-outs. Eventually, two <a href=";utm_medium=fullbullet&amp;utm_campaign=modulereports">separate,</a> <a href="">rival</a> reports were published: one published jointly by the Business and Development Committees, drafted by the CAEC Chair, Chris White MP, which called for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia; and one from Crispin Blunt’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which concluded the matter was best left to the High Court, which will be hearing a <a href="">judicial review</a> of UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia in January 2017.</p><p dir="ltr">They may be rivals, but this isn't a stand-off between one critical report and one whitewash. Indeed, the Foreign Affairs report is deeply critical of the government in many respects, and the two reports share the bulk of their analysis. Rather, the two reports illustrate two strands of British internationalism that are clashing in the war in Yemen. The Foreign Affairs report is symbolic of a British internationalism that proclaims adherence to the rule of law and good governance, but is caught in a bind when faced with evidence that its practices undermine these publicly professed values, and when its major non-liberal democratic allies fail to play by the same rules. Its watchwords are <em>security</em> and <em>stability;&nbsp;</em>it considers the tensions involved in supporting authoritarian regimes as trade-offs to be managed, rather than a fundamental contradiction between rhetoric and practice. Saudi Arabia is characterised in the Foreign Affairs report as a “<a href="">crucial and indispensable partner</a>”. The partnership is open to limited criticism but not substantial change. The report emphasises the “shared and vital strategic interests”, including “combating manifestations of violent extremism and radicalisation, countering terrorist financing” – a position that requires ignoring the Saudi role in supplying <a href="">weapons to terrorist groups</a>, and its history of&nbsp;<a href="">terror financing</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">The Business/Development report, meanwhile, is more indicative of that strand of British internationalism that emphasises sustainable security, human rights and humanitarian principles. In this account, the UK’s relationship with the Saudis is “<a href="">characterised by compromise</a>” and “inconsistent with the UK’s leadership role in the rule of law and international rules-based systems.” Whilst the report accepts the importance of the Gulf region to British security and prosperity, it is concerned that the relationship has come to “counterpose our interests … against our values of respect for international law”. The Business/Development Committees MPs conclude that “it seems inevitable” that violations of IHL were committed using UK-supplied weapons. They thus recommend a suspension of existing licences and refusal of new ones for weapons that could be used in Yemen, pending an independent investigation and resultant review of policy. The Foreign Affairs report, in contrast, concludes that is merely “possible” that violations have been committed using UK-supplied arms, and defers any recommendation to the High Court, which is due to test the legality of UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia. </p><p dir="ltr"> Bearing in mind the government’s legal obligation is to refuse licences where there is a “<a href="">clear risk</a>” that equipment “might” be used in violations, even the weaker Foreign Affairs conclusion raises questions as to the wisdom of UK policy up to now. A robust application of a framework of risk in a context where it is possible that the Saudi-led coalition is violating IHL in its war in Yemen would require the UK to refuse arms export licences. Hence the significance of the parliamentary and media fallout of the spat within the CAEC, in which Crispin Blunt claimed on <a href="">Newsnight</a> that if the High Court finds against government, the law should be reconsidered. This is the explicit conclusion of some of the implicit material in the Foreign Affairs report, which seeks to weaken the force of the government’s obligations, in anticipation of the judicial review case.</p><p dir="ltr">The Saudi-led war in Yemen is hoisting the UK government on the petard of its commitments to IHL and the rule of law. The dispute between MPs about how to hold the government to account has been bitter and fraught. It also shows the limits of acceptable criticism of UK policy. For all their differences, the two reports concur that the defence industry is “vital for our security and our prosperity.” Arms production and exports remain a sacred cow in mainstream political debate. And both reports present a quandary of how to respond when events “have reversed progress towards our values”. Most mainstream critics still hold on to a self-image of Britain as a progressive, liberal state and an example for others to aspire to – evidence of historical and ongoing entwinement in practices to the contrary notwithstanding. The Government is urged to respond promptly to the reports: which report will it respond to, and what country will it show Britain to be?</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk openSecurity Anna Stavrianakis Tue, 20 Sep 2016 10:58:52 +0000 Anna Stavrianakis 105484 at We need to rethink the relationship between mental health and political violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Simplistic, sensationalist media coverage of terrorism obscures our understanding of its causes, and hinders our ability to prevent it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Mourners near the Olympia shopping centre in Munich, after a shooting on June 23. Credit: Jens Meyer; AP/PA. All rights reserved"><img src="//" alt="Mourners gather near the site of a deadly shooting in Munich on June 23, 2016." title="Mourners near the Olympia shopping centre in Munich, after a shooting on June 23. Credit: Jens Meyer; AP/PA. All rights reserved" width="460" height="342" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mourners near the Olympia shopping centre in Munich, after a shooting on June 23. Credit: Jens Meyer; AP/PA. All rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>After each atrocity, social media hosts the well-rehearsed rituals of mourning. News of the identification of the perpetrators is frequently followed by condemnation of the double-standard of media coverage – in relation to geography (sometimes <a href="">misguided</a>), and to language, particularly regarding the word ‘terrorist’. (It’s worth reading the BBC’s <a href="">guidance</a> about why it prefers not to use the term altogether). In recent months, it has become clear that there is frustration about the application of mental health diagnoses, especially in relation to white male violence, as well as confusion about the relationship between mental illness and terrorism. This is a fraught and difficult subject, rarely discussed sensitively on a platform such as Twitter, which rewards simplification and polarisation.</p> <p>After the killing of Jo Cox, there was justifiable anger at ‘de-politicisation’ of her murder: many media outlets chose not to highlight Thomas Mair’s links to far-right white supremacist groups. His act certainly fits the definition of terrorism (‘one who uses violence or the threat of violence to further their political aims’) – although this does not discount the possibility that Mair may suffer from mental illness, nor does it negate the importance of a diagnosis. Rather than a reductionist <em>either/or</em> (“Is it ideology, or is it pathology? Chemicals in the brain, or ideas in the mind?”), it’s important to acknowledge that mental illness can be a contributory factor, because violence is often a confluence of personal, social and ideological elements. There’s a public bravura that prevents politicians from acknowledging this nuance (those that dissent are forced to state the obvious: ‘to understand is not to justify’) – all of which serves as an indulgence of ignorance, a dangerous form of self-denial.<span class="print-no mag-quote-center">&nbsp; The&nbsp;<span>‘lone wolf’ evolves in th</span><span>ree key stages:</span><span>&nbsp;</span><em>isolation, inspiration, emulation.</em></span></p> <p>Amid a wave of attacks from so-called ‘lone wolf’ terrorists, clarity and honesty is urgently needed. The&nbsp;<span>‘lone wolf’</span><span>&nbsp;evolves in th</span><span>ree key stages:&nbsp;</span><em>isolation, inspiration, emulation. </em><span>For a recent BBC documentary on the </span><a href="">Unabomber</a><span>, I interviewed former FBI special agent Kathleen Puckett, a behavioural psychologist who worked on the UNAbom task force. Following the capture of Ted Kaczynski, Puckett was commissioned to write a report called ‘The Lone Terrorist’, comparing the Unabomber with other high-profile cases, including the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and Eric Rudolph, who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Puckett told me about the report:</span></p> <blockquote><p><em>Essentially the primary finding was that all of them had an intense desire to be a part of a group… There are people who want to be members of groups </em><em>but can’t affiliate or can’t make the internal connections with other people well enough to become a member. The group rejects them or they reject the group. They’re angry because they’re stymied in their lack of ability to make connections that they want. If you’re not in a group, how do you matter in the world? How do you make a mark? You have to do a societal level of violence – so the connection that they make is to the ideology itself… We said years ago that what we were really worried about was the lone terrorist ideology and phenomenon being adopted by international terrorism and of course that has happened… It’s not that these people are being recruited but they’re self-recruiting because they are alienated. The Boston bombers for example: </em><em>Tsarnaev </em><em>wrote on his social media, ‘I don’t have a single American friend’.</em></p></blockquote> <p>In place of intimacy, ideology fulfils their desire for connection. <strong>Isolation</strong> and marginalization make them particularly susceptible to online radicalization. Some are bullied, some experience racism, and many entertain fantasies of revenge. Some, in Brian Michael Jenkins’ characterization, are <a href="">‘stray dogs’</a> rather than ‘lone wolves’, looking for a cause that will give them meaning and make sense of their mental turmoil. Crucially, an extremist ideology offers the possibility of transforming their identity: to re-imagine themselves not as <a href="">failures</a>, but as warriors, whose prior difficulties are not personal shortcomings, but evidence of the cultural decadence that they now disavow.</p> <p>While recognising the cognitive utility of radical ideology, we shouldn’t discount the romantic appeal of the ideas themselves, even if the creed seems dystopian to us. We live in an age that is cynical about the power of ideas, too comfortable in its conviction that people are ultimately motivated by materialism. This is a particularly modern myopia, and prevents us from comprehending the <strong>inspiration</strong> of millenarian <a href="">apocalyptic</a> groups, which offer a carefully crafted script for salvation. They tempt not only troubled souls, but those weary of <a href="">drab mediocrity</a>, with the promise of comradeship (personal or virtual, in the present or hereafter), glory on the battlefield, and dominion over women, especially <a href="">sex-slaves</a>. Jihadism transforms the fighters from passive figures into active actors shaping history. In a world of bewildering complexity, it abolishes the ‘grey zone’ and offers them purity and the prospect of hegemony. It is a mark of the parochialism and Eurocentricism of parts of the Left that any analysis of this chauvinism is treated in purely reflexive terms, as solely a commentary on the sins of the West.</p> <p>A yearning for recognition among a community of like-minded people leads to attempts at <strong>emulation. </strong>David Ali Somboly, who murdered nine people in Munich before killing himself, <a href="">sought to emulate</a> American high-school shooters, and join a roll-call of infamy. His attack was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the massacre of 77 people by Anders Breivik, whom Somboly admired, although it is unclear whether he shared Breivik’s ideology as well as his appetite for mass murder. (Easy access to guns is, of course, the <a href="">lethal</a> ingredient). Somboly, lacking the social skills to gain the respect of his peers, had to demand it by terrorising them. Violence is a failure of the imagination.&nbsp;<span class="print-no mag-quote-center">the threat posed has emerged from internal and external, personal and political factors; fanaticism is born in the friction between them.</span></p> <p>After the murder of a priest on the altar of a church in Normandy, a highly symbolic act of provocation, Le Monde <a href="">announced</a> that it would no longer publish images of jihadis or reproduce their propaganda. This is a welcome development. For jihadists producing slick videos of barbarism, or for publicity-hungry fascists like Breivik, competing commercial media networks have provided the perfect platform for broadcasting. In the UK, a diagnosis of mental illness is often regarded as a ‘weak’ verdict, a dishonest avoidance of punishment. In the case of political violence, however, such a diagnosis has a disarming quality: it shatters the perpetrator’s delusion of grandeur and deprives the act of ideological significance. Breivik, who fancied himself to be a Jesticular Knight of the Knights Templar, fought passionately against his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia: he argued that to be treated in a psychiatric ward is a “fate worse than death… To send a political activist to an asylum is more sadistic and more evil than killing him”. A paranoid tabloid culture, with daily tales of <a href="">‘swarms’</a> of migrants, is certainly not conducive to ameliorating the problem.</p> <p>In addition – and this is uncomfortable, because it lacks a policy solution – there’s a reason why the perpetrators of almost all (98%) of these atrocities are young men. Men are not alone in wanting to die for an idea, but they are more willing to kill, and more willing to assert ideological absolutism. The desire to fight – a trait shared by many young men – may be exacerbated by the perception of emasculation, a sentiment popular on the reactionary right, which stokes a sense of cultural resentment. (In relation to Trump’s support, Clay Shirkey <a href="">quoted</a> Franklin Leonard: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”).</p><p> Ultimately, as Ramon Spaaij <a href="">argues</a>, there’s no simple catergorisation:</p> <blockquote><p><em>It’s not a clear-cut case of either political grievance or personal victimization – it’s often a kind of eclectic mix of these two things, so the personal is political and the political is personal. The lone-wolf narratives are often messy, they’re fluid, they don’t make sense, and they involve the more desperate and vulnerable or marginalized individuals looking for a cause – and often that cause is superimposed retrospectively, after the fact. You could ask the question of whether it’s actually their true motive. It’s also got a lot to do with these individuals seeking to become historical characters – the feeling that they’re on a mission to actually hurt an enemy or, for the Breivik types, to open the eyes of the broader population; they feel that they’re on the vanguard of a movement and the broader population haven’t caught up with their sense of threat.</em></p></blockquote><p> Such a complex and diverse set of interconnecting factors can seem bewildering – it’s not hard to understand why voters are drawn to leaders who offer them simple solutions to a frightening phenomenon. But simplistic solutions exacerbate the problem, as they attack only one of the contributory factors, and in so doing create greater alienation and radicalisation. It is not a sign of weakness to acknowledge that the grave threat posed by 'lone-wolf' terrorists has emerged from internal and external, personal and political factors; fanaticism is born in the friction between them. This type of nuance separates us from the manichean fanatics, and enables us – in the long run – to defeat them.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jessica-j-steventon/radical-thinking-can-violent-extremism-be-prevented-by-addressing-mental-health">Radical thinking: can violent extremism be prevented by addressing mental health?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Conflict Benjamin Ramm Non-state violence Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:29:14 +0000 Benjamin Ramm 104359 at Hidden in plain sight: children born of wartime sexual violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Abortions and infanticide are widely reported in post-conflict settings. In Peru, women narrated familial and communal consequences of the internal-armed conflict, becoming bearers of collective history. From&nbsp;<em><a style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;" href="">States of Impunity</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>&nbsp;A Quecha woman and child in the Sacred Valley in Peru. Quinet</em><em>/Wikimedia</em><em>. Some rights reserved.</em></span></p><p>On August 28, 2003 the Commissioners of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) submitted their <a href="">final report</a> to President Alejandro Toledo and the nation. After two years and some 17,000 testimonies, the commissioners had completed their task of examining the causes and consequences of the internal armed conflict that convulsed the country during the 1980s and 1990s. The TRC determined that almost 70,000 people had been killed or disappeared, and that three out of four casualties were rural peasants who spoke some language other than Spanish as their native tongue. The distribution of deaths and disappearances reflected long-standing class and ethnic divides in Peru. </p> <h2><strong>The Peruvian TRC: commissioning gender</strong></h2> <p>Although the TRC was given a gender-neutral mandate, feminists were successful in insisting the commission think about the importance of gender in their work. They argued for proactive efforts to include women’s voices in the truth-seeking process. This reflected the desire to write a more “inclusive truth,” as well as developments in international jurisprudence with regard to sexual violence. <a href="">Given that</a> “(p)erhaps the most commonly underreported abuses are those suffered by women, especially sexual abuse and rape”, “gender-sensitive” strategies were employed with the goal of soliciting women’s testimonies about rape and other forms of sexual violence. The results? Of the 16,885 people who gave testimonies to the PTRC, 54% were women and 46% men (TRC 2003, vol. VIII: 64). Thus women spoke a great deal, but not necessarily about sexual violence–at least not in the first person. The total number of reported cases of rape was 538, of which 527 were committed against women and 11 were crimes against men (VIII: 89). The commission’s effort to provide a “fuller truth” about the use of sexual violence by various armed groups was met with a resounding silence. </p> <p>But recall that women provided over half of the testimonies compiled by the TRC. What <em>did</em> they talk about? &nbsp;Women offered insights into the gendered dimensions of war, and the ways in which the violence permeated all spheres of life. They spoke about the challenges of keeping children fed, homes intact, livestock safe, the search for missing loved ones, the lacerating sting of ethnic insults in the cities in which they sought refuge: women spoke about familial and communal suffering, and about the quotidian aspects of armed conflict. When people go to war, caregiving can become a dangerous occupation. The international focus on conflict related rape and sexual violence has been a hard-won achievement, but it comes at a cost. Even a broad definition of sexual violence results in a narrow understanding of the gendered dimensions of war, and the full range of harms that women (and men) experience and prioritize. </p> <p>Although women overwhelmingly refused to narrate first-person accounts of rape, they spoke a great deal about the collective legacies of sexual violence. While working on this article, I turned to volume six of the final report and to the chapter entitled “Sexual Violence against Women”. I found 37 references to girls and women impregnated as a result of wartime rape or exploitative sexual relationships. Mostly these are third-party reports, and the women speaking refer to the phenomenon of unwanted pregnancies in the plural. “They ended up pregnant,” “they came out pregnant”–the army, the police, and guerrillas of the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement are all named in the women’s testimonies about rape-related pregnancies. The TRC acknowledges that these children may suffer as a result:</p> <p>There are numerous cases of women who, being pregnant, were subjected to sexual violence and saw their pregnancies interrupted as a result of that violence. On the other hand, there are abundant cases of women who became pregnant as a result of the sexual violence they suffered at the hands of agents of the conflict; they found themselves obligated to assume a forced pregnancy and their children still continue to suffer the consequences of the violence (Vol. 6: 372, author’s translation). &nbsp;</p> <p>The reader is left with no further information about those consequences. The women indicate that the guerrillas frequently forced the girls and women to have abortions, and when pregnancies were somehow carried to term, the babies were “forcefully taken away” (Vol 6: 310). There are fleeting references to babies who died shortly after birth. The singular focus on compiling first person accounts of rape and sexual violence in order to “break the silence” about these crimes somehow reduced children to a mere coda. What happened to all of those babies?&nbsp; Who else was talking about them? </p> <h2><strong>What’s in a name</strong></h2> <p>Abortions and infanticide are phenomena widely reported in post-conflict settings in which the use of rape was widespread. In Peru, some women tried to abort with herbs, attempting to rid their bodies of fetuses they could not bear. Others sought out <em>curanderos</em> (healers) who used various abortifacients to perform <em>limpiezas </em>(cleansings). In this instance, the word <em>limpieza</em> is a form of veiled speech that allowed women to maintain a useful ambiguity. <em>Limpiezas</em> of various sorts are common for a range of illnesses; indeed it was only with time that my colleagues and I realized the women had visited <em>curanderos</em> to cleanse themselves literally–they complained of feeling “filthy” as a result of being raped–as well as to cleanse their uteri of unwanted pregnancies. Across a variety of post-conflict settings, the recurrent theme of children born with disabilities is striking. For example, Charli Carpenter <a href="">noted</a> a number of children born to rape survivors in Bosnia who were disabled. I believe some of these disabilities are due to botched abortion attempts. The lack of safe, accessible and affordable abortions does a grave disservice to these women, their fetuses and babies.</p> <p>Still other Peruvian women resorted to infanticide. There is a long-standing practice of “letting die” those babies who are unwanted, perhaps because they are born with congenital defects or are the product of rape. The idea is that <em>criaturas </em>(little babies) do not suffer when they die; one can leave them sleeping “mouth down,” gently drifting off to death. Additionally, given women’s concerns about the transmission of <em>llakis </em>(toxic memories) and <em>susto</em> (soul loss due to fright) from mother to baby, either in utero or via their mother’s “milk of pain and sorrow,” concerns about damage to their infants were omnipresent. How could a baby born of such suffering and fear be normal? Many women were certain they could not. Letting these babies die reflected a desire to spare them the violence of memory–and to spare their mothers these memories of violence. </p> <p>However, amidst the trope of “unspeakable atrocities” endured in the war, a great deal was being said. In addition to women’s testimonies about rape-related pregnancies, audible speech acts of another sort were playing out all around those of us working in the highlands. I am referring to the names given to children born of conflict-related sexual violence. In any community–this is in no way limited to Peru–there is the audible impact of names, both individual and collective, that are frequently of an injurious nature. Some examples of these are:</p> <p>Rwanda: collectively labeled “unwanted children,” “children of bad memories,” “children of hate,” “genocidal children,” and the individual names include “little killer,” “child of hate,” “I’m at a loss,” and “the intruder” </p> <p>Kosovo: “children of shame” </p> <p>East Timor: “children of the enemy” </p> <p>Viet Nam: “dust of life” and “American infected babies”</p> <p>Nicaragua” “monster babies” </p> <p>Guatemala: “<em>soldadito</em>”</p> <p>Uganda: “Only God knows why this happened to me,” “I am unfortunate,” “Things have gone bad” </p> <p>Colombia: “<em>paraquitos</em>”</p> <p>In Peru, among other names, children are referred to as &nbsp;“<em>los regalos de los soldados</em>,” (the soldier’s gifts), “<em>hijo de nadie</em>” (nobody’s child), “<em>fulano</em>” (what’s his name), and “<em>chatarra</em>” (stray cat). Linguistic or cultural variation alone does not explain this widespread phenomenon in post-conflict settings. Time and again, across regions, names reveal the conjuncture of painful kinship and “<a href="">poisonous knowledge</a>”. These naming practices seem strikingly at odds with the secrecy and silence assumed to surround rape and other forms of sexual violence. Concealment is a leitmotif in the findings of researches conducted on the topic, and is generally understood as a way to avoid stigma for both the mother and her child. </p> <p>And yet, names mark certain children and reveal their violent origins. Naming is verbal, audible, and interpersonal; naming practices are one way of expressing, perhaps projecting, the private into public space and laying claims upon others. These “entanglements” are worth contemplating. Every woman who spoke with me or with my research assistants about rape insisted, “I’ve never told anyone before.”&nbsp; However, those of us who work amidst secrets and silences know that “I never told anyone” is not synonymous with “Nobody knows.” Indeed, in his study of public secrecy, <a href=";pg=PA2&amp;lpg=PA2&amp;dq=taussig+%E2%80%9Ctruth+is+not+a+matter+of+exposure+which+destroys+the+secret,+but+a+revelation+that+does+justice+to+it&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=823e0h3N3h&amp;sig=3BIgGnp8xtiP4pnDX_pKhjCx_PE&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0CC8Q6AEwA2oVChMI5K7Q89nAxwIVwlU-Ch08lA46#v=onepage&amp;q=taussig%20%E2%80%9Ctruth%20is%20not%20a%20matter%20of%20exposure%20which%20destroys%20the%20secret%2C%20but%20a%20revelation%20that%20does%20justice%20to%20it&amp;f=false">Taussig asks</a>, “[What] if the truth is not so much a secret as a <em>public secret</em>, as is the case with the most important social knowledge, <em>knowing what not to know</em>?”. Public secrets may be privately known but collectively denied, such that the drama of revelation amounts to “the transgressive uncovering of a secretly familiar”. But for the moment, let us assume that some women did successfully conceal their pregnancies­–did conceal this violence and its legacies. Even so, at some point women give birth to the secret. In that process of emergence, who and<em> what </em>is being made public? Who and <em>what </em>is being named?</p> <h2><strong>Living memories</strong></h2> <p>Over the years, I have known several children who were the result of rape. Here I mention just one boy whose mother had been passed around by the soldiers in the base that had overlooked their community for almost 15 years. I first noticed him because he was standoffish, never joining the growing group of children who made my room a lively place. I tried to speak with him a few times, but he had no interest in conversation. After months of living in the community, I finally asked someone about him. It was late afternoon and I saw him heading down the steep hill toward home, his three goats and one llama kept together with an occasional slap of a slender stick. The woman sitting at my side knew him by name: Chiki. My face must have expressed my surprise because she whispered that his mother was “one of those women”.</p> <p>Chiki is a painful name for a young boy, who in turn was a painful child for his mother. Chiki means danger in Quechua and in daily usage refers to a warning that something bad is about to happen and should be averted. People recall the ways they learned to look for a sign that the enemy might attack. One such chiki was a strong wind that blew through the village, rattling the roofs and letting people know something evil was about to occur. This boy could not be a warning; it was too late to avert this particular danger. Rather, he was the product of an evil event his mother had been unable to escape. His mere being extends his mother’s memory both to the past and into the future. Her son is a living memory of the danger she survived, and a reminder that nothing good could possibly come from this Chiki she had failed to avoid.</p> <p>In a fascinating piece on children born to young women who had been abducted and made “wives” by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, <a href="">Eunice Apio</a> briefly discusses naming practices. In a sample of 69 children, she found that 49 of them had injurious names. These children were named by their mothers, while the other 20 had been named either by the father, or by medical staff who delivered the babies following their mother’s reintegration. “These names compile all the bad experiences of a mother into a name and give it a life in the nature of her baby,” Apio wrote. “In this way the baby is turned into a living reminder of her suffering”. Social workers made efforts to give these children new names such as “I am fortunate” or “Things have turned good,” but as Apio found in her interviews with World Vision staff, the women were reluctant: “<em>They prefer the old names</em>” (emphasis added). We are not told why. </p> <p>This example, however, is at odds with the idea that women inevitably seek to conceal the violent conception of these children. When it is the mother who does the naming, and in doing so names the violence she survived, poisonous knowledge is moved outward into the public domain. This appears to be less about shame than it is about pressing some sort of claim upon others–from poisonous knowledge to a demand for acknowledgment? Why are the mothers breaking this particular silence? </p> <p>The concept of stigma is frequently applied to these children, yet is that really all we can say about these names?&nbsp; Stigma seems a thin explanation for a thick phenomenon, and forecloses a broader repertoire of potential meanings and motivations. While the evidence does not allow one to make totalizing claims, these names surely have something to do with memory and memorialization, and with theories regarding what is passed from parent to child. Hence my insistence on <em>who</em> and <em>what </em>is being named and made public, and why. </p> <h2><strong>A demand for justice</strong></h2> <p>In the literature on rape, women frequently appear as metonyms for the nation, the community–for some collective that is allegedly attacked via the rape of its female members. The “<a href="">rape as a weapon of war</a>” approach turns on this idea, and on the deployment of rape as a strategic means of achieving an end. Baaz and Stern rightly challenge this framework, noting that the uses and meanings of rape are far more variable than the “weapon of war” approach allows. If rape is, however, at times used to undermine the morale of the enemy and to destroy communities, then marking these children may be a way of bearing witness to the harm done to the collective. Naming is both a “saying” and a “doing,” and speaking these names implicates others in an act of memorialization. Might this be, at times, a woman’s refusal to accept shame and stigma, albeit at a cost to the wellbeing of her child? </p> <p>As we saw above, in their testimonies to the Peruvian TRC, women narrated the familial and communal consequences of the internal armed conflict: women were bearers of collective history. Women were also <em><a href="">disruptive of communal histories</a></em> that had frequently been elaborated by community leaders, virtually all men. Women were “counter-memory specialists” whose versions of events often diverged from the seamless accounts of the war offered up to those who came around asking about the past. These children’s names can be a form of narrating the past, of attesting to the legacies of violence in the present, and of denouncing the harm done, for which no redress has yet been found. </p> <p>I return to public secrets and their revelation in language. <a href="">Fionnuala Ní Aoláin</a> has noted that many acts of sexual violence during war are not private acts: “Unlike the experience of gendered violence during peacetime, which is predominantly located in the domain of the private, the home, sexual violence during war is strikingly public. In Peru, women were raped in front of their families and communities; at times they were hauled off to nearby military bases and returned with their hair shorn as a mark of the gang rapes that they had endured. These violations frequently occurred with the complicity of local authorities–all male–and the neighbors who turned a deaf ear to the screaming next door. </p> <p>I have found that officials in the military bases demanded a “communal counterpart” in exchange for the “security” they provided to rural communities during the internal armed conflict. That counterpart consisted of food, wood and <em>warmis</em> (women). At times this demand was veiled by the term <em>aynicha</em>, a diminutive of <em>ayni</em>. <em>Ayni</em> refers to reciprocal labor exchanges by which people work on one another’s agricultural plots. It implies reciprocity, but with an element of hierarchy and obligation. Communal authorities would indicate to the military officials which houses were occupied by single mothers and widows; these homes would be the first targeted when the soldiers descended from the bases at night for “<em>la carnada</em>”–literally “bait,” but in this context it refers to gorging on meat (<em>carne</em>), that is, the women they would rape. Again, who and <em>what </em>is being named and made public? </p> <p>If names can implicate others in acts of memorialization, they may also implicate others in acts of betrayal and treachery. Communal contracts involved sexual contracts, and the burden of providing the communal counterpart fell heavily upon certain women and girls who were obliged to “service” the troops. These names disrupt the rules of the game–in this instance, that of knowing what not to know and what not to say. Rather than the “labor of the negative” that is vital to public secrets, with their reproductive labor women gave birth to, and insisted upon naming, a body of evidence. Taussig <a href="">has argued that</a>, “truth is not a matter of exposure which destroys the secret, but a revelation that does justice to it”. The names–this revelation –may not <em>do</em> justice but constitute a <em>demand</em> for it. </p> <h2><strong>Legacies of wartime sexual violence</strong></h2> <p>There are always policies–implicit or explicit–put in place to address the issue of children born of wartime sexual violence, the women who may abort or give birth to them, and the biological fathers. From state militaries to irregular forces, from combat troops to international peacekeeping missions, the question of what will be done with the children who (inevitably?) result from these encounters is a topic of discussion and policy-making. These issues are global in scope, the questions seemingly endless, and yet what we know remains woefully limited. Do the injurious names follow the children throughout their lives, or are there ways of escaping the labels and changing one’s fate? How do inheritance practices work in their families? Are they considered full members of the family, or treated as second-class children and siblings? In those cases in which stigma is a factor, do children born of rape pass the mark across generations? </p> <p>Long-term anthropological research–which relies less on asking questions than it does on listening to both speech and silences–is the only way I can imagine of finding answers to the questions raised in this article, and of doing so in a way that respects how much is at stake in peoples’ lives when public secrets are involved. Exploring the ways in which children born of wartime sexual violence are named, represented, marked and, perhaps, loved could generate new insights into the intersection of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, violence, and identity. Perhaps these insights could help to achieve a greater measure of justice for these women and their children.&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>This text is an excerpt from a longer article forthcoming in the special issue, “The Death of the Secret: The Public and Private in Anthropology,” </em>Current Anthropology<em>, Volume 56 Supplement 12, December 2015.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/omar-dewachi/wounds-of-baghdad%27s-frankenstein">The wounds of Baghdad&#039;s Frankenstein</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/chowra-makaremi-emmanuelpierre-guittet/aziz%E2%80%99s-notebook-and-transmission-of-memory-of-violence">Aziz’s notebook: transmitting the memory of violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/laurence-mcfalls-mariella-pandolfi/%E2%80%98parrhesia%E2%80%99-radical-destruction-of-impunity">‘Parrhesia’: the radical destruction of impunity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peru </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Peru Kimberly Theidon Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:00:38 +0000 Kimberly Theidon 95938 at ‘Talking to terrorists’: myth no. 6 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Myth number 6: that it is only governments or diplomats that do the talking. The role of local people in reaching out to armed groups to encourage prospects for peace is regularly overlooked.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>In the Washington Post last year Michael Semple (former Deputy to the European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan) presented </em><a href=""><em>five myths on 'talking to terrorists'</em></a><em>. He might have added a sixth: that it is only governments or diplomats that do the talking. Conciliation Resources’ </em><a href=""><em>new Accord Insight publication</em></a><em> puts a spotlight on how communities engage armed actors, with examples from Syria, Colombia, Northern Ireland and northern Uganda.</em></p> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// (35).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// (35).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="373" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span>Henriette Useni Kabake, government administrator of Lulingu, South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, hosts a meeting alongside traditional leaders and leaders from the Raia Mutombioki armed group / Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi 2014.</span></p><p>There is compelling evidence to support the case to sit down and talk to armed groups. Between 1975 and 2011, 196 out of 216 peace agreements signed were between states and non-state actors. Jonathan Powell’s recent book <em>Talking to Terrorists </em>illustrates the complexities of engagement as well as arguing for the need to reach out to such groups early on. It points to historical experience that tells us that there can be no purely military solution to a political problem, as well as recognising the tendency of governments to reject any option of contact when confronted with a new armed group.</p> <p>Accounts like Powell’s are full of stories of ‘peacemakers’ – those who took political risks to bring armed groups out of the shadows and persuade them to swap violent means for non-violent ones. Yet, these descriptions can overlook the wide range of on-going and constructive contacts with an armed group – that do not only focus on political negotiations. </p> <p>In reality there are a multitude of interactions that take place with non-state armed groups before, and often well in advance of, ‘official’ contacts. And these often happen at the local level. The relationship between local populations and armed groups is much more complex than commonly portrayed. In areas where state institutions are absent, functional arrangements can emerge between populations and the non-state actors that fill the space. Such structures often involve traditional, community, business, as well as armed, actors. They can include extensive governance structures encompassing service provision, security forces, and financial and legal regulations, such as those managed by Hamas in Gaza. Or they may involve loose pacts to negotiate and regulate movement and trade such as those at the Somali-Kenyan border. Elsewhere, for example the Falls Road area of Belfast (a stronghold for the IRA), an armed group may provide political and social authority, and security for long periods of time, with more or less continual support from the community.</p> <p>In this way, local populations are not always passive, simply coerced into accepting the presence of armed actors. Conversely, armed groups do not simply exploit and abuse the communities in areas in which they operate. And at times, communities will try to assert influence over the actions of an armed group. Findings from Conciliation Resources’ research suggests that ensuring physical safety and protection of livelihoods are key reasons populations may decide to reach out to armed groups – for example, to convince a group to reduce the threat of violence against the community, to ensure access to water, roads and food. </p> <p>And a community’s attempt to resist or survive violence can also shape armed groups’ broader strategies and agendas. In Colombia, the community of Micoahumado was eventually able to convince the National Liberation Army (ELN) to demine the town and surrounding roads despite the strategic disadvantage to the group. In Northern Ireland, civil society actors suggested alternative non-violent forms of community justice to the Republican Movement, which in turn opened up space to reflect on broader issues of security and policing in the emerging peace talks. In northern Uganda in the late 1990s/early 2000s, local religious leaders developed a threefold approach. They met with high-level commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the bush to encourage them to: reduce attacks on civilians; allow for the return of combatants (many of whom were abductees); and think about how the group could enter into negotiations with the Ugandan Government. They began to facilitate talks between the Government and the group, and worked with the community to sensitise it to returnees; prompting a possible demobilisation route for combatants. </p> <p>Local populations will often use pre-existing ties such as ethnic, family and kinship links to gain access and assert influence. As a result, and in contrast to external mediators, they benefit from being able to gain a close understanding of an armed group’s dynamics and motivations during the early, and often the most violent, stages of a conflict – allowing them to talk to armed actors when no-one else is. </p> <p>They are more likely to adopt cultural and customary norms to appeal to armed groups as well as demonstrate sensitivity to the groups’ concerns about reputation, employing more flexible understandings of international normative principles such as human rights and neutrality. Community leaders in northern Uganda rooted international justice amnesty frameworks in Acholi traditions of forgiveness. </p> <p>However, these interactions are fragile, and it is important not to overlook the risks local actors take to resist or challenge conflict. During intense fighting, local efforts to reduce violence and promote dialogue may be seen as contrary to the efforts of warring sides to gain military advantage. Armed groups do indeed often have a blatant disregard for civilian security, or worse, deliberately target populations. Local populations also face security threats from the state, which often views communities close to armed groups as complicit. And active contact by a community with an armed group can exacerbate perceptions of association. It is often government restrictions, including proscription regimes and counter-insurgency tactics, that are more disruptive and threatening to communities than the behaviour of armed groups - in Micoahumado, a whole generation of community leaders was forced to leave the village after accusations by state security forces of siding with the ELN.</p> <p>These factors highlight the need to expand ideas about when and how to engage with armed groups, and so ensure better recognition and support to the multiple efforts involved in supporting an armed group’s transition to non-violence. Conventional approaches typically involve law enforcement and security measures, and in a few cases after many years, pursuing diplomatic talks, as in the case of the IRA and more recently the Taliban. Such an approach conflates ‘talking’ with ‘negotiating’ and assumes that reaching out implies ‘legitimising’ a group’s actions or agenda. It overlooks the on-going relationships that communities often have with armed groups which can influence the groups’ behaviour, and the multiple reasons why engagement may be desirable. </p> <p>At present, in Iraq, informal arrangements between Islamic State and tribal factions in different regions are regularly evolving and dissolving, based on ethnic, cultural, religious affiliation, to ensure security, economic benefit or political advantage. For communities it may be irrelevant whether a group threatening their security is an internationally assigned ‘terrorist’ or whether the insecurity they face is from the ‘legitimate’ state’s use of force or ‘illegitimate’ non-state violence. They talk to armed groups often because they need to, and often because a particular group is a governance reality. </p> <p>Many contemporary conflicts result from a breakdown in state legitimacy and governance, amplified by the marginalisation of certain groups and the capture of resources by particular elites. The way in which different actors fill various political and social spaces during conflicts, how communities adapt and respond, and how new relationships are forged, has important implications for governance, reconciliation, and state-society relations in peacebuilding endeavours. </p> <p>Syrian contributors to the new Accord Insight publication conclude that in the absence of progress in a formal negotiation process it is important not to lose sight of the small but significant initiatives taking place at the local level, and their impact and implications for future solutions to the conflict.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Conflict Ideas International politics Zahbia Yousuf Fri, 25 Sep 2015 15:33:33 +0000 Zahbia Yousuf 96307 at Ten theses on security in the 21st century <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What have we learned from the openSecurity experience as the section goes into hiatus? A lot. But governments, police and military, surveillance agencies? Not so much.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The openSecurity section of openDemocracy was established in 2012 with the support of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (RNMFA). Norway has embraced a peace policy in international relations, as with the 1995 Oslo accords on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And its government reacted to the most lethal politically-motivated attack in Europe in the last decade, the Utøya massacre of 2011, not with ‘war on terror’ rhetoric but—as famously encapsulated by its then prime minister (and now NATO head), Jens Stoltenberg—a commitment to ‘<a href="">more democracy, more openness and more humanity</a>’.</p> <p>But this has, sadly, been the exception which has proved the rule. On the wider canvas, the end of the cold war, which promised a world without dividing lines, has instead seen Islamism replace Stalinism as the ‘other’ to US-led imperial might in an increasingly Manichean struggle, in which the events of ‘September 11’ look more like a landmark than a beginning or an end. And the parallel snowballing crisis of globalised neoliberalism, which could yet issue in <a href="">a more self-managed, networked society</a>, has so far been matched only by a ratcheting up of the <a href="">surveillance of the citizen</a> and the <a href="">suppression of NGO-led dissent</a>, most dramatically in the <em>bouleversement</em> in the Arab world between democratic ‘spring’ and dictatorial ‘winter’.</p> <p>Marx used the analogy of the <em>camera obscura</em> to describe how the world as observed could appear to be on its head. And if there is one thing openSecurity has done it has been to show that ‘common sense’ understandings of ‘security’ are often upside-down. Keynes explained the ‘paradox of thrift’ by which fiscal policies reducing demand, while apparently obvious reactions to economic shocks, could simply exacerbate them. And the hundreds of articles published by openSecurity over the years have demonstrated a ‘paradox of security’, whereby purportedly self-evident authoritarian reactions to threats to the state have merely fostered a spiral of violent regression.</p><p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Protecting the state over against the citizen doesn't make anyone feel safer. Flickr / <a class="truncate owner-name" title="Go to Jackman Chiu&#039;s photostream" href="">Jackman Chiu</a>. Some rights reserved.</p> <p>This paradox can be captured in ten theses:</p><p><strong>1. The focus of security in a democratic society should be the citizen, not the state. </strong><span>‘Terrorist’ is a largely meaningless label, applicable only to those violent organisations which not only seek to dominate without popular consent but also attempt to intimidate the public at large by the deterrent effects of egregious violence. It has become, however, a catch-all concept in official discourse—except, critically, where one’s own government is implicated—fundamentally as a legitimisation of the abrogations of human rights and the rule of law characteristic of states of emergency. Yet states are only legitimate in as far as they provide collective solutions to problems which individuals cannot solve on their own—the ‘security dilemma’ being one—and so merely eat away at their own Weberian authority, as exercising a monopoly of legitimate force, by acting </span><em>over and against</em><span> the citizen, as our </span><a href="">Whose Police?</a><em> </em><span>series showed in spades. And these problems must be defined from the standpoint of the citizen and her needs, not </span><em>raisons d’état</em><span>. This is the key insight of the notion of ‘</span><a href="">human security</a><span>’, which also points us to the portfolio of policies which can contribute to (or detract from) security, well beyond the sphere of policemen and soldiers.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span><strong>2. Mass surveillance is not only oppressive—it doesn’t even work.</strong><span> If the globalisation of communications, via the internet, has been facilitated by satellite and fibre-optic technologies, these have also allowed an unprecedented potential for mass surveillance, going well beyond national boundaries, as the Snowden revelations have demonstrated and our </span><a href="">Future under Surveillance</a><span> strand of publishing elaborated. There has been much argument since about the fundamental incompatibility of mass surveillance and individual privacy as a human right (not to mention the presumption of innocence), to which the proponents of the Big Brother state have wearily responded (in as far as they have felt obliged to do so at all) that it is only by collecting the ‘haystack’ of available information that the ‘needle’ of the ‘terrorist’ threat can be found. This misses the point that the best place to hide a needle is in a haystack and the best tool to find it is a magnet. In other words, as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has </span><a href="">recognised</a><span>, targeted intelligence-gathering, with the proper judicial constraints, is much more effective than collecting everything just because one can.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span><strong>3. A gender perspective is not an optional extra: security cannot be understood without it.</strong><span> In March 2015, Sweden’s (female) foreign minister </span><a href="">announced</a><span> that, on feminist grounds, an arms deal with Saudi Arabia was to be abrogated. While this represented a rare intrusion of gender considerations, eyebrows were only raised because the security domain is so suffused by patriarchy—and not just in Gulf autocracies—that this has become entirely taken for granted. The imbrication of masculinism with nationalism (state and secessionist), organised violence and violent crime means none of these phenomena can be adequately analysed in isolation from it. Equally, the application of ‘men in uniforms’, and their instruments, as the default response to security challenges—even when sub-optimal or even counter-productive to do so—can only be properly scrutinised, and better alternatives advocated, using a gender-sensitive lens. Otherwise, a purblind pursuit of conflict will follow, making spirals of futile violence much more protracted and much more difficult to exit than should be the case, as our </span><a href="">Conflict in Context: Colombia</a><span> case study shows.</span></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>4. Social policies may be far more productive of security than ‘security’ policies.</strong> Violence on a social scale is a product of two phenomena, which face their most severe outworking in cheek-by-jowl urban milieux, as our <a href="">Cities in Conflict</a> series spelled out. First is a stretched social hierarchy (including as stretched by gender), which permits those in elevated positions to believe violence against the <em>Untermenschen</em> is necessary or even legitimate to keep them in their place and those at the bottom thrash out inchoately—often against each other rather than the unreachable elite. Second is social mistrust, which exacerbates security dilemmas as individuals club together under convenient ‘ethnic’ banners and aim to get their retaliation in first. Put the two together, so that members of one ethnic group dominate the state, and the result is the horror—now recorded courtesy of the smartphone—of the routine <a href="">killing of African-American young men</a> by white police officers. Seen in this context, ‘law and order’ responses which aim merely to shore up a crumbling hierarchy and do nothing to enhance social glue fail to make anyone safer. Hence the United States, for all its prosperity, comes 101st in the <a href="">Global Peace Index</a>, topped by the egalitarian and socially-comfortable Iceland and Denmark. Indeed, all five Nordics are in the top 11 (out of 162—Syria, inevitably, comes bottom). Not only do their universal welfare states flatten the unequal distribution of market incomes but also they favour high levels of social trust. Austerity policies across Europe have not only undermined welfare and reduced security in the labour market—in the most extreme way in Greece—but have inevitably <a href="">stimulated</a> street protests and associated oppressive ‘security’ measures.</p><p><strong>5. Building walls to keep humanity out makes for less security than hospitality. </strong><span>In the face of the collapse of states in Syria, Libya and elsewhere, massive population movements in search of security are inevitable. Imagining that this is instead due to the ‘pull’ factor of access to a hostile Europe has only led to </span><a href=";s-war-on-migrants">Canute-like efforts</a><span> to stop the tide. Within Europe itself, this ‘fortress’ mentality has perversely only fostered insecurity, exploited by xenophobic movements like PEGIDA in Germany—even though this is wholly disproportionate to the </span><a href="">minor refugee intake</a><span>, dwarfed by Syria’s neighbours like </span><a href="">Lebanon</a><span>, which has reacted far more equably with much more modest resources. Even beyond humanitarian considerations, Europe’s refugees by definition contain a high proportion of ‘entrepreneurial’ individuals, given the resilience and improvisation required to make such a risky and demanding journey, who have a major contribution to make to societies willing to welcome them—the dynamism of the US economy in the 20th century was of course built on those celebrated seaborne ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’.</span></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>6. Impartial public authority is key to rebuilding collapsed states, rather than ethnicising government.</strong> The default approach of the ‘international community’—the most powerful global powers of the moment—to societies riven by ethnic polarisation following state collapse has, oddly, been to invite ethnic leaders into government, with the predictable effect that the latter treat politics as the continuation of war by other means. Hence the disappointment that ‘peace processes’, such as in <a href="">Bosnia</a> and <a href="">Macedonia</a>, have failed to realise expectations. Worse still, the ‘ancient hatreds’ perspective which often underpins such approaches leads merely to avoidance of what are then perceived as intractably ‘tribal’ conflicts in Africa, such as in the <a href="">Central African Republic</a> and <a href="">South Sudan</a>—left largely to burn themselves out. What such collapsed states need, above all, is externally-guaranteed impartial public authority—such as well-functioning independent judiciaries—so that ethnic state capture, and its fear, can not continue to sustain antagonism and violence.</p><p><strong>7. ‘National security’ is a chimera in a world of ‘really existing cosmopolitanisation’. </strong><span>The ‘realist’ tradition in international relations was based on the same logic as the absence of gun control in the US—in the former president Theodore Roosevelt’s parlance, ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’. Far better, of course, to have no guns at all (as Europe’s far lower murder rate shows) and on the international canvas to agree to ban nuclear weapons, rather than try to sustain the hypocrisies of the nuclear powers vis-à-vis the crumbling </span><a href="">Non-Proliferation Treaty</a><span>. Of course if, as in much US discourse, based on too much exposure to the Hollywood western, violence (by other people) is just an expression of the inherent ‘evil’ of ‘bad guys’, then irrational security policies, such as </span><a href="">endless bombing</a><span>, or policies which just prevent ‘good guy’ casualties, such as </span><a href="">drones</a><span>, will be pursued </span><em>ad nauseum</em><span>—despite the ‘collateral damage’ of civilian deaths, which not only breach the laws of war but also act as a recruiting agent for the very forces under attack. A world of ‘really existing cosmopolitanisation’ makes such ‘realism’ profoundly unrealistic: recognition of our interdependence and common humanity is indispensable to building trust on regional and world scales. Absent such trust, only fragmentation, factionalism and fundamentalism beckon.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span><strong>8. Universal norms are the only alternative to renewed cold war and a ‘clash of civilisations’. </strong><span>If diplomacy is not merely to be the continuation of war by other means, it requires a common language that can transcend cultural relativism and </span><em>cui bono </em><span>considerations. That can only come from universal norms of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These are not ‘western’ values: they are not universally upheld in the ‘west’ (think </span><a href="">CIA torture</a><span> for starters) and nor are they absent in the ‘east’ and ‘south’ (the world’s largest democracy is India). They provide the only consistent moral benchmark against which states (and non-state actors) which believe they can defy accountability for their crimes—illustrated case by case in our </span><a href="">States of Impunity</a><span> series—can be brought to book. They are the essential antidote to ‘west versus the rest’ thinking, whether the alternative be an assertively</span><a href=";t-win"> authoritarian-populist Russia</a><span> with its masculinist ‘traditional’ values or the misogynist ‘caliphate’ of </span><a href="">Islamic State</a><span>. They are the only basis on which the International Criminal Court can play its full role—for instance by bringing the Israeli state, and Hamas, to account for war crimes in Gaza.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span><strong>9. Only global citizenship can make for global security.</strong><span> Syria, on which openSecurity threw a spotlight in our 2013 conference, </span><a href="">Syria’s Peace</a><span>, represents not only a humanitarian disaster. It also encapsulates the incapacity of institutions of global governance to intervene effectively even in protracted conflicts of egregious proportions, given the mutual vetoes in the United Nations Security Council exercised by the great powers emerging seven decades ago from the chaos of the second world war—a process compounded by the retreat into ‘western’ unilateralism embodied by the illegal, and hugely costly, intervention in Iraq. </span><a href="">Reform of the UN</a><span> to match a more polycentric world and a global civil society is unavoidable (and the </span><a href="">next secretary-general</a><span> can not just be another man emerging from a behind-closed-doors deal) if collective solutions are to be found on the world level to states in vertiginous collapse. And while the international ‘</span><a href="">responsibility to protect</a><span>’ has been sullied by the NATO push beyond the UN no-fly mandate in Libya to force ‘regime change’ it remains key to defending civilians under assault from (strictly) terrorist states. If such global intervention, backed by universal norms, is absent, the vacuum will be filled—as by the Saudi air assault on </span><a href="">Yemen</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span><strong>10.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Climate justice is key to a safer world—never mind one that remains liveable. </strong><span>Last but not least is a critical theme openSecurity would have wished to pursue (along with the ‘insecurity of austerity’) had funding permitted. The threat of ‘</span><a href="">climate chaos</a><span>’ hangs over the globe and particularly over the global south, already feeding conflicts like that in Darfur. The Copenhagen summit of 2009 became a classic, bipolar stand-off between the US and China, with the rest of the world—including more ambitious Europe—looking on aghast. This year’s ‘COP 21’ summit in Paris represents something of a last chance for humanity but the huge demonstrations across the globe to coincide with the 2014 summit at the UN showed how the notion of ‘</span><a href="">climate justice</a><span>’ can be a key mobilising agent to unify the global community, too often divided by the co-ordination dilemma of fairly distributing cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. As with gender considerations, a ‘security’ discourse which fails to address ecological questions will lack a complete vocabulary to tell the full story.</span></p><p><strong></strong></p> <p>openSecurity would like to express its sincere gratitude to the RNMFA for its repeated funding of the section over three years. It is also very grateful to the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for a further six months of support while attempts to secure successor funding were exhausted. Alas, these came to nought in the end. But it is evident that, even in its brief existence, openSecurity has mapped out, in some depth and detail, a new security paradigm which does not fall foul of the evident empirical failures and normative shortfalls of the hitherto-dominant discourse. </p> <p>I would like to pay tribute to the staff team I enjoyed, as well as my predecessors as lead editor of the section, the international advisory board and of course the plethora of contributors to openSecurity across the world. Their work is sufficient unto itself as an archived body of material. But let us hope that the baton can be picked up again at some point, as so much more remains to be done.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity global security Robin Wilson Mon, 06 Jul 2015 21:39:10 +0000 Robin Wilson 94153 at Sousse, Kuwait, Lyon: a triple alert <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A single day's armed attacks reflect the intensity of the Islamic State war and are an augur of more to come.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>An attack on the resort of Sousse in northern Tunisia on 26 June appears to have been aimed at western tourists, with as many as twenty-seven people killed. In Kuwait on the same day, around twenty-five people (and perhaps more) were killed in an assault on the Imam Sadiq mosque, a <em>Shi'a</em> centre. Islamic State may already have claimed responsibility for the Kuwait attack, and it is certainly the case that the movement has <a href="">warned</a> of an armed campaign during the fasting month of Ramadan.&nbsp; And near the French city of Lyon, an operation against a gas plant was contained <a href="">after</a> one person was decapitated.</p><p>It is unclear at present whether the <a href="">Sousse</a>, <a href="//">Kuwait</a> and Lyon attacks are in any way coordinated. In the two years after 9/11 there were numerous attacks across the world that were blamed on the al-Qaida movement, with bombing and gun incidents in (for example) Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Spain. Many of these were in fact launched by local groups operating at a remove from al-Qaida, though often content to be linked with Osama bin Laden and the leadership.</p><p>For western states, the <a href="">targeting</a> of the Air Products plant outside Lyon will cause particular concern. Air Products Inc is a large transnational <a href="">company</a> with 21,000 employees in over fifty countries, based in the United States with headquarters at Allentown in Pennsylvania. If it turns out that the Lyons operation is in any way connected with Islamic State this will fit with a long-established pattern of action against US interests abroad predating 9/11.</p><p>In the United States itself, fear of so-called “lone-wolf” attacks has been one of the reasons for the FBI to detain suspects rather than just <a href=" ">maintain</a> surveillance. The motive takes into account the failed <a href="">attack</a> on the conference in Garland, Texas, on 3 May, but also reflects a concern with the pace of progress in Iraq and Syria.</p><p>In turn this links to a factor that is very largely missing from any analysis of risks and <a href="">threats</a> of attack in western states, and indeed from almost all public discussion: namely, recognition of the sheer <a href="">intensity</a> of the war.&nbsp; </p><p>The Pentagon recently <a href="">confirmed</a> that there had been 15,600 air sorties against Islamic State since the air war began in August 2014, and that attacks by the US-led coalition were killing 1,000 paramilitaries every month.</p><p>It is impossible to say whether these casualty figures are accurate, including how many people are being injured or how many are civilians. But the blunt truth is that while thousands are being killed, mostly by western airstrikes and drone-attacks, this appears to have little effect on <a href="">Islamic State</a>. It loses some territory but promptly gains elsewhere; its supply of recruits from abroad is undiminished; and it purposefully promotes the message that its role is to protect Islam from "crusader" attack.</p><p>When today’s<a href=""> attacks</a> in Kuwait, Tunisia and France are put in this context, two conclusions follow. First, they are hardly surprising. Second, many more can be expected. These may well extend across all of the countries at war with Islamic State, not least Britain.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href=""><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p>Patrick Cockburn, <em><a href="">The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution</a></em> (Verso, 2015)</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity global security Paul Rogers Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:59:01 +0000 Paul Rogers 93901 at Learning the lessons: 11 years of drones in Pakistan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The case of Pakistan, after a decade long drone war, shows how the appeal of drones as a “cost free” form of warfare is misguided.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="London: Imran Khan's Pakistan Movt. for Justice protests against US drone strikes." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>London: Imran Khan's Pakistan Movt. for Justice protests against US drone strikes. Demotix/Mark Kerrison. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This week marks 11 years since the first reported US drone strike in Pakistan. Since 2004, the US has launched&nbsp;<a href="">more than 419 strikes</a> in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) as part of its global war on terror. Whilst much debate has focused on the ethics, legality and civilian costs of this new technology, little attention has been given to the broader repercussions drones have had on Pakistan as a whole and how they have shaped the country in the past decade.</p> <p>New research into the impact of drone strikes on terrorist behaviour, published this week, shows that drones are having a far wider and more damaging impact on civilian populations beyond those directly killed in the drone strikes themselves. The <a href="">report</a>, by Dr Paul Gill (UCL) commissioned by the <a href="">Remote Control project</a>, analyses data on drone strikes and terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 2004 and 2013 at the monthly, weekly and daily levels, finding that terrorist reprisals following a drone strike are disproportionally more likely to target civilians. </p> <p>This is because, although terror groups slow down their activities in the immediate aftermath of a drone strike for basic security reasons, when they do re-emerge the attack that follows will likely be one that doesn’t necessitate the lengthy planning of high value targets, due to the damage done to the terrorist group by a drone strike. The focus instead will be on “softer targets”, i.e. civilians, leading to an increase in fatality rates.&nbsp; When assessing the human costs of drone warfare it is these indirect victims – those who die in terrorist reprisals – that must be factored in.</p> <p>Beyond terror attacks, drones are having a broader and more profound impact on Pakistani society in other ways too. A <a href="">report</a> last year from Dr Wali Aslam (University of Bath) found that drone strikes, whist pursuing some “high value” targets and decreasing the number of fighters in the tribal areas, has caused militants to relocate to other parts of the country, thus displacing rather than eliminating terrorists.</p> <p>In turn, this relocation has brought an increase in radicalisation, violence and crime to the regions of Pakistan where the militants have resettled, bringing increased instability to areas such as the Punjab, Karachi and Kurram Agency. Furthermore, the deeply unpopular nature of drones in Pakistan, caused by the civilian casualties, psychological damage and the infringement of sovereignty they entail, has led to growing anti-American sentiment that has provided an effective recruitment tool for extremists, fuelling rather than minimising radicalisation.</p> <p>As the UK and US <a href="">increasingly rely on drones</a> in their air campaign against Islamic State and as a growing number of states are now <a href="">developing armed drones</a> (the global export market for drones is predicted to grow <a href="">nearly three-fold</a> over the next decade), we must learn the lessons of Pakistan.</p> <p>Drones, like other forms of remote warfare, may be technologically advanced but in reality they are no more effective at ending conflict than boots on the ground were. Both seek to solve insecurity with a military solution, failing to address the root causes of conflict, or to devise any long-term strategy for what comes next. It is the covert nature of remote control warfare - operating in the shadows with minimal transparency, accountability or oversight - that make this warfare even more concerning. </p> <p>The case of Pakistan, after a decade long drone war, shows how the appeal of drones as a “cost free” form of warfare is misguided, failing to take into consideration their long term implications. In Pakistan, drones have not only been an ineffective counter-terrorism strategy but they have also had far reaching, negative repercussions on wider society.&nbsp; It is these long term consequences – in many cases still largely unknown – that will prove to be the most damaging for any long-term, sustainable resolution to conflict.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity United States Pakistan Conflict International politics Esther Kersley Fri, 19 Jun 2015 13:18:51 +0000 Esther Kersley 93696 at Reimagining security <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does security mean defence: tanks and barbed-wire fences? Or can it mean building relationships, confronting inequalities and recognising each other's humanity?</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ammerdown-invitation/security-for-future-in-search-of-new-vision">Security for the future: in search of a new vision</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Conflict global security european security Celia Mckeon Peacebuilding Wed, 17 Jun 2015 15:03:01 +0000 Celia Mckeon 93633 at Yemen: under fire, desperate for peace <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Can the Yemen peace talks succeed? The dire humanitarian situation demands it but political factionalism and external interference may prove inordinate obstacles.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The first tentative steps towards peace in Yemen are being taken in Geneva. The UN-sponsored talks between the Houthis and the president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, come at a critical juncture. Saudi-led air strikes coupled with a naval and land blockade have trapped Yemenis, who are seeing food and water supplies dwindle. But the kingdom, leading a military campaign in the region for the first time, has been unable to defeat the Houthis.</p> <p>This new Saudi assertivenesss, under Salman bin Abdelaziz who ascended the throne in the spring, will have repercussions across the Middle East. Its first test in Yemen does not so far bode well. Having regionalised the conflict, however, any political deal will require Riyadh’s acquiescence.</p> <h2><strong>Air campaign</strong></h2> <p>The Saudi-led intervention started on 26 March with an air campaign, ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, in reaction to the entry of the Houthis (a Shi’a offshoot) into Aden, where Hadi had taken refuge. The Houthi advance was facilitated by an alliance of convenience with the former president, Ali Abdallah Saleh, and military forces allied with him. Hadi, who fled to Riyadh, called on Salman for assistance. </p> <p>Although the official aim of the Saudi-led coalition was restoration of Hadi’s presidency and neutralisation of the Houthi threat, Saudi Arabia has its own security concerns. It perceives the Houthis as a proxy of its regional opponent, Iran, and regards Yemen as within its sphere of influence. The Houthi-Saleh coalition has acquired ballistic missiles which threaten the Gulf region, including vital oil-shipping lanes, and the Houthi takeover of strategic Yemeni cities could spill over to Saudi territory. It challenges long-held Saudi policy towards Yemen, based on containment and preservation of a domestic power balance. </p> <p>Saudi Arabia’s action is also driven by the challenging regional context that unfolded in the aftermath of the popular uprisings in several Arab countries in 2011, which Riyadh viewed with suspicion and repugnance. Saudi Arabia feared the removal of predictable, allied Arab regimes and the increased agency of Islamist political movements that challenged the Saudi Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. </p> <p>But above all Saudi Arabia perceives the changing political constellation in the Middle East through the prism of its geopolitical rivalry with Iran, which has increasingly taken on an overtly sectarian tone. This competition has prompted both powers to see fragile Arab countries—where the legitimacy of the regime is contested and national identity fractured—as proxy battlegrounds. It has been played out in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, where Riyadh also fears growing Iranian influence. </p> <p>Saudi Arabia has therefore struck the Houthis to reassert its regional standing. Yet while Lebanon’s Hizbullah really is a proxy of Iran, the Houthi link has hitherto been weak: while the Houthis have looked to Iran for support, Iran has treated them merely as a spoiler against the Saudis, providing minimal support. So while “fighting the Iranian mirage, <a href="">the Saudis may have inadvertently made the genie real</a>”.</p> <p>These events appear even more threatening to the kingdom when its long-time ally, the United States, is engaged in a rapprochement with Iran via the nuclear negotiations. The Saudis are anxious that the looming American-Iranian settlement will further empower the Iranian regime. The president, Barack Obama, recently reassured the Gulf Arab allies of an ‘ironclad’ security commitment in the aftermath of a possible nuclear deal. But Saudi Arabia is still concerned that Iran’s expansionism in the region will remain unchecked. </p> <h2><strong>Challenges</strong></h2> <p>It seems obvious now that Saudi Arabia did not expect its mission in Yemen to last so long. In the course of two months of targeted and near-continuous bombings, it has encountered three challenges. </p> <p>First, the military plan is not achieving its stated goals. The air-only campaign is barely halting Houthi advances, let alone rolling them back. It is possible Saudi military planners took inspiration from similar campaigns, such as NATO’s in Serbia in 1999, in the hope of bringing the Houthis and their allies to a Saudi-run negotiating table without the quagmire of a ground campaign. As Israel learned in in Lebanon in 2006 and the US in Syria and Iraq in 2014, however, heavy and continuous air sorties do not necessarily bring about the intended political changes. Yet Saudi Arabia and its allies also have little appetite for a ground invasion, despite official professions of preparedness.</p> <p>Secondly, the kindgom does not seem to have a viable and inclusive political vision of how to bring the Yemeni war to an end. Its stated plan is based on the UN Security Council <a href="">resolution 2216</a> (adopted in April), itself an endorsement of the Saudi political line. The resolution demands, among other things, withdrawal of the Houthis from all seized areas and the relinquishing of seized arms. Reflecting Saudi policy, it fails to consider the factors underlying the actions of the parties, the Houthis in particular. Withdrawing from the capital, Sana’a, and other occupied areas is a non-starter for the Houthis, who have little incentive to give up their gains.</p> <p>Adopting a maximalist position, in May Saudi Arabia organised peace talks in Riyadh, to which the Houthis were not invited and which they rejected—since the talks were held in the country leading the military coalition against them. Instead of changing the venue, the Saudis hosted only Yemeni factions close to the Hadi government in exile. While persuading (some would say cajoling) those parties to attend undoubtedly represented a herculean effort, it was a farcical episode in the absence of the Houthis or any representatives of the camp of the former president, Saleh. It portrayed Hadi and his government as increasingly removed from reality on the ground.</p><p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Losing the global argument: a demonstration in San Francisco against the air strikes. Demotix / <a href="">Steve Rhodes</a>. All rights reserved.</p> <p>Thirdly, the backdrop to the military campaign and the lacklustre political process is an increasingly dire humanitarian situation, in a country already suffering impoverishment and neglect. Since the start of the air campaign, UN agencies have <a href="">reported</a> more than 2,500 deaths, with over 1m people displaced and 21m in need of humanitarian assistance. Aid agencies have been <a href="">hampered</a> by the air and sea blockade, with Yemenis trapped between Houthi aggression on the ground and the Saudi-led air attacks—the relentless bombing has deprived 3m of access to clean drinking water. While Saudi Arabia has donated all the aid requested by the UN, this has made the country appear guilty for the war it is waging, facing criticism from the international humanitarian community and its western allies, while turning Yemeni public opinion against it—and, by extension, Hadi.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Urgent</strong></h2> <p>The Saudi-led operation is not working. The Houthis are still in Sana’a and around Aden, and have been able to launch Scud missiles on Saudi soil. Given the humanitarian crisis, a political solution is urgently needed. &nbsp;</p> <p>The current talks in Geneva are an encouraging step. They are likely to focus on a cessation of hostilities but deeper issues should be discussed. The rival groups agree on the importance of the post-Saleh Yemeni National Dialogue, but remain at odds over whether and how power in Yemen should be federally distributed. Neither side trusts the other and both have pursued their narrow interests at the expense of a national agenda. </p> <p>The Houthis agree on the National Dialogue but reject its six-region federal proposal and call for a new Yemeni administration, while demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire by the Saudi-led coalition. Though they have legitimate concerns regarding the National Dialogue, the actions of the Houthis tend to discredit their stated aims and their revolutionary credentials from the 2011 popular uprising: the old Saleh regime, with whose forces they are now allied, sought to crush the uprising and they have enabled Saleh to return disruptively to the political scene. And they have publicly reached out to Iran for support. &nbsp;</p> <p>For his part, Hadi demands the implementation of UNSC resolution 2216, which will allow for &nbsp;the restoration of his government in Sana’a. Since his election in 2012, he has however shown weak leadership skills and exploited political developments to his own advantage. He initially allowed the Houthi military advance to crush his domestic political opponents in the north-western province of Sadaa, such as the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood party ‘Islah’, by rejecting their appeals for military reinforcements. Hadi has sought external backing too, promptly receiving it from Saudi Arabia. </p> <p>While both sides accuse each other of seeking allies of convenience, it remains to be seen whether they can distance themselves from their factional agendas. They risk relinquishing the gains of the 2011 revolution and driving Yemen to a bloody collapse. </p> <h2><strong>Responsibility</strong></h2> <p>While the Houthis and their allies did use force to take advantage of political instability in Yemen, regionalising what had been a domestic problem, Saudi Arabia now has a responsibility to help bring about an end to the crisis. For better or for worse, Saudi buy-in is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition. </p> <p>Riyadh’s acquiescence to a political deal, however, will not be without dangers. The kingdom has a long history of supporting autocratic regimes in the region. It is highly likely, therefore, that Saudi Arabia’s post-war involvement in Yemen will not respect the democratic aspirations of Yemenis and will hinge on installing, or re-installing, an allied leader and shaping a political system that, as far as possible, minimises the Houthis’ power. If Hadi were to be reinstated, his legitimacy further undermined by his handling of the crisis, he would probably be president in name only. </p> <p>As long as factionalism continues to drive Yemeni political groups, and as long as Yemeni politicians—however much they claim to work to realise the democratic aspirations of the Yemeni people—are willing to co-operate with outside powers or with the elite of old regimes to crush internal opponents, the country will be susceptible to a vicious power play. The current talks demand of Yemeni political leaders that they step up and be accountable to the citizenry. The challenge in Geneva remains to find a formula that will lead to an equitable and inclusive political transition, in which the interests and demands of the rival groups can be reconciled—and which Saudi Arabia is willing to live with.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/shane-farrell/yemen-dialogue-must-replace-war">Yemen: dialogue must replace war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/open-security/aaron-edwards/yemen-descent-into-anarchy">Yemen: descent into anarchy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Yemen Conflict insurgency middle east Iba Abdo Nick Grinstead Diplomacy Non-state violence State violence Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:08:47 +0000 Nick Grinstead and Iba Abdo 93581 at For children born of war, what future? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Sexual violence in conflict has attracted increasing attention, but with the majority of responses focused on short-term needs, children born through war remain largely ignored.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// children.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// children.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Bread for the World/Flickr. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>In recent weeks, more than <a href="">700 women and children</a> have been rescued from Boko Haram by the Nigerian Army. Reports suggest that at least <a href="">214 of them are visibly pregnant</a>. While agencies like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provide much-needed emergency medical and psychosocial support, little effective analysis exists on the long-term needs and challenges of these children born of war and their mothers.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the experience of women and children abducted by Boko Haram is not unique to the emergent situation in northern Nigeria. Nearly 2,000 miles away from Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest in northern Nigeria, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) traverses the jungles of central Africa with hundreds of captive men, women and children. Known for using similar tactics of abduction and forced marriage as Boko Haram, the rebel group has survived for more than two decades despite numerous political and military attempts to expel it.</p> <p>Meanwhile, communities in neighboring northern Uganda, the original theater of the LRA, have experienced relative peace and security for nearly a decade, yet a multitude of economic and social consequences of the conflict still remain. One such issue has risen to prominence as of late, with some leaders going so far as to call it a ‘time bomb’: what will become of all of these children born of war? Thousands of such children exist on the margins, fathered through sexual violence by not only the LRA, but also government forces and a multitude of other state and non-state armed actors. As these children enter into early adulthood, with many now in their teens and twenties, increasing questions (and conflicts) of identity and belonging have emerged, prompting calls for targeted programs and policies to address their plight.</p> <p>While the prevalence of sexual violence in conflict has received increasingly greater recognition in public, policy and academic circles around the world, the majority of the resultant reports and responses focus on short-term needs and largely <a href="">ignore children born of sexual violence</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Last month, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) conducted an assessment in northern Uganda to understand the needs and challenges of incorporating children born of war into reparations and development policies. Our findings, which will be produced in a report later this year, reveal long-term needs and challenges of children born of war that (re)integration programs and policies have largely ignored and overlooked. When the initial rush of attention and humanitarian aid wanes, it is important to keep in mind the longer term consequences of conflict on the children born of war and plan interventions accordingly.</p> <h2><strong>Prioritizing the unique needs of children</strong></h2> <p>There is a need for special programs for children born of war<strong>.</strong> Often times, programs focus&nbsp;<span>exclusively on their mothers, as the immediate survivors of conflict sexual violence. While mothers undoubtedly have a need for such support, the needs of their children may differ and it cannot be assumed that programs designed for the women will trickle down to the children. In societies where one’s identity derives from paternal lineage, children with unknown or untraceable fathers can face considerable hardship living with maternal relatives. Increasingly, peer-support groups have been a popular strategy in northern Uganda to provide psychosocial support to female survivors of conflict sexual violence. No such groups exist for the children, in part because of a lack of prioritization by non-governmental organizations and donors, and because of the challenges and sensitivities involved in identifying and mobilizing them.&nbsp;</span><span class="pullquote-right">While mothers undoubtedly have a need for such support, the needs of their children may differ and it cannot be assumed that programs designed for the women will trickle down to the children.</span></p> <p>Further, the programs for women survivors who bore children need additional support to recognize their status as mothers. For example, in northern Uganda, where persons returning from the rebels were awarded reinsertion packages of basic household items by the government, there were no additional allowances for those with children born in captivity. This trend continues today, with many governmental and non-governmental programs recognizing formerly-abducted persons as a special category for assistance, but not children born of war.</p> <h2>Reintegration at the community level</h2> <p>Generally, (re)integration programs often overlook the communities within which children born of war live and focus on preparing the mother and child, while overlooking the needs of the community. The families and communities within which these children will live must be adequately prepared for their return.</p><p><span>As much as the children deserve special programs for the violations they suffered, their communities do too. In conflicts like those in northern Nigeria and Uganda, war has affected nearly everyone. Trauma and scarcity of resources, for instance, can contribute to the exacerbated stigmatization and rejection of children born of war. Formerly-abducted women and their children may only initially be welcomed into homes and communities due to the appeal of the resources from reintegration programs that they return with. Tensions and conflicts often emerge over time, however, especially as the resources dry up and children reach school-going age and require additional support for fees and school requirements. Other times, as experienced by some mothers in northern Uganda, their relatives initially welcomed the women but refused to accept their children, forcing the women to leave home and rent in urban centers where they experience relative anonymity.</span></p> <p>Any programs or policies that support these children or their mothers must consider the social circumstances in which they live. Failing to view other relatives and community members as key stakeholders in any support they receive is likely to undermine any efforts. More than a one-off sensitization campaign, it is necessary to take the time to understand how the community perceives the returning mothers and their children born of war as well as the specific obstacles the children are likely to face (such as land access, stigma, and resentment) and together with the community devise strategies to overcome those obstacles. In northern Uganda many young mothers felt that receiving support to become productive and self-sufficient was the key to gaining respect in their community and overcoming stigma, rather than just psychosocial support.</p> <h2>The differentiated impacts of gender</h2> <p>Anticipating the nuances and gender differences among children born of war is a critical part of devising appropriate and responsive programs and policies.<strong> </strong>Even amongst children born of war under the same circumstances or within the same group of fathers, individual needs and circumstances may greatly differ. For instance, female and male children will face different challenges in societies in which females’ families receive dowry when their daughter marries while males are expected to inherit land and other resources when they come of age.<strong> </strong>In northern Uganda, some families and clans have rejected male children born of war to a higher extent than females because they do not want to allocate land to them on which to settle when they come of age.</p> <p>Ethnicity can also affect levels of acceptance and acknowledgement, as can the identity of the father. In Uganda, children born of rape by government forces are largely invisible, due in part to the fact that the same government under which these atrocities were committed is still in power. Further, children whose parents are from different regions or ethnicities reportedly face greater stigma than children born of war to parents of the same ethnicity. This is especially severe if the father is believed to be from a group for which the conflict is blamed. Any interventions or responses to meet their needs must recognize these nuances and respond accordingly.</p> <h2><strong>Focusing on the future</strong></h2> <p>The ICTJ’s assessment underscored the reality that the needs of children born of war shift over time and require long-term visioning and planning.<strong> </strong>The needs of children born of war are not the same when they are infants as when they are young adults. Their identity and needs constantly evolve over time as conflicts and circumstances shift over time. The interventions of UNFPA and other organizations providing support in northern Nigeria must evolve accordingly.</p> <p>Whereas the pressing need today may be counseling for the mother and medical support for a safe delivery of the child, in the future, the need may be access to education, land, livelihoods, justice and redress. Not every organization may have a mandate to provide support this far into a post-conflict period, but the needs of children born of war shall remain.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Organizations involved in programming and policymaking must maintain a panoramic view of the reparative justice needs of children born of war while the lens is still fixed on the young women rescued from Boko Haram. Within this view, taking the time to extend any work involving children must also incorporate the receiving communities to ensure that the cycle of violence is not repeated through the next generation. It is important to recognize and plan for children born of war so that they can outgrow the negative consequences of the circumstances of their birth, and have the hope of a brighter future where they are treated with dignity and their rights are respected.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/mark-drumbl/ongwen-trial-at-icc-tough-questions-on-child-soldiers">The Ongwen trial at the ICC: tough questions on child soldiers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maria-neophytou/sexual-violence-and-war-inevitable">Sexual violence and war: inevitable?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Uganda </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Uganda Lindsay McClain Opiyo Virginie Ladisch Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 12 Jun 2015 11:36:59 +0000 Virginie Ladisch and Lindsay McClain Opiyo 93478 at Iraq and Libya, the prospect <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The resilience of Islamic State a year after its breakthrough makes an escalation of the current war inevitable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In September 2014, a month after the bombing campaign against Islamic State started,&nbsp; President Obama confirmed that the United States did not yet have a strategy. The comment was pounced on by his political opponents. At the end of this week’s G7 meeting in Bavaria he made a similar comment, although he did phrase it in terms of not yet <a href=" ">having</a> a “complete strategy”.&nbsp; </p><p>Once again the Republicans seized on the remark. One presidential <a href="">hopeful</a>, former Texas governor Rick Perry, remarked acidly: “If I were commander-in-chief, it would not take nine months to work with our military leaders to develop a complete strategy to destroy ISIS and protect American security interests and values.”</p><p>It is a more or less standard retort eighteen months before an election, given that neither Perry nor any other presidential contender has to say much more, but it is still an interesting reflection of the <a href="">dilemma</a> facing any US political leader. The previous column in this series highlighted a number of indicators showing Islamic State was far from being in retreat, and cited senior US special-forces generals voicing the judgment that a war lasting fifteen years is likely ("<a href="">Islamic State, the long war</a>", 4 June 2015). </p><p>If Rick Perry really was in the White House, and if his consultation with the military included the heads of special forces, then he might discover that at least nine months are needed to decide on a strategy that commands a military consensus, and that the strategy would easily outlast a single term of office. This is because the air war is not working; there is little <a href="">sign</a> of Iraqi forces being able to <a href="">contain</a> Islamic State; and it is not at all certain that even a singularly hawkish Republican presidency would go as far as to intend to launch <a href="">another</a> large-scale war involving tens of thousands of US troops in the heart of the Middle East.</p><p>To make matters worse for Obama, and any future contender, there have been further advances by Islamic State in the past week alone, one of them particularly ominous. Within Iraq, Islamic State paramilitaries succeeded in <a href="">attacking </a>the local-council building in the town of Amiriyat, one of the few centres in Anbar province still held by government troops, and a town the government had put considerable effort into defending (see David D Kirkpatrick &amp; Kareem Fahim, “<a href="">ISIS shows its strength in attacks in Iraq and Libya</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 10 June 2015).</p><p>More important, though, is the gain made by a linked group in northern Libya in taking <a href="">control</a> of a key power-plant near Misrata, to the west of one of its main strongholds, Surt. This seizure of a strategic asset means the group can dictate electricity supplies for significant parts of northern Libya, including the city of Misrata, which is currently held by one of the most powerful clusters of <a href="">militias</a> in Libya as a whole. Moreover, the support of the Misrata militias - in effect, a branch of Islamic State - is essential to the factions that control Libya's capital Tripoli, further to the west.</p><p>Taken together, all this implies that Islamic State is simultaneously increasing its power in Iraq while a close <a href="">ally</a> extends its ground in Libya. Even after ten months of an air war in Iraq, and nearly four years after western air action led to the collapse of the Gaddafi regime (amid expectation that Libya would become a peaceful state), there is little <a href="">evidence</a> of a reversal in the <em>jihadists</em>' fortunes.</p><p>Western states, which expected that <a href="">post-Gaddafi</a> Libya would become peaceful, today have no coherent policy in Libya beyond hoping the current United Nations mediation <a href="">efforts</a> bring some of the groups together. This contrasts with Iraq, where Barack Obama's administration is at least <a href="">taking</a> some cautious decisions. The main one is the move to <a href="">add</a> yet more troops, 450, to bring the total deployment to 3,550. In a notable echo of recent history, the new troops are from the United States army’s 82nd airborne division that last <a href=";sessionKey=&amp;autologin= ">deployed</a> to Iraq in 2006. </p><p>There are indications that the 82nd's units will be <a href="">more</a> forward-based than those training Iraqi army elements at four other bases, suggesting that their role will be closer to the frontline. That, though, is something of a contradiction in terms since Islamic State forces tend to <a href="">permeate</a> communities and even towns and cities, one of the reasons why the air attacks are having so little effect.</p><p>What is clear is that the US involvement in Iraq is increasing steadily. That development is very much to the liking of an Islamic State leadership ever seeking to <a href="">present</a> itself as defending Islam under “crusader attack” as it tries to attract more foreign fighters to its cause.</p><p>Perhaps the most surprising development of all is an estimate from the US department of defence officials that there are perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 foreign paramilitaries <a href="">aiding</a> Islamic State in Iraq. This is far higher than any earlier estimate and indicates just how <a href="">substantial</a> this war is becoming. Such a development increases the chance that the United States and its coalition partners are now heading once more towards a major ground war in the Middle East, years after they thought it was all over. And this time, perhaps, without them even intending it. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href=""><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p>Patrick Cockburn, <em><a href="">The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution</a></em> (Verso, 2015)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href=";" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p>Michael Weiss &amp; Hassan Hassan, <a href=""><em>ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2015)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p><p>Jessica Stern &amp; JM Berger, <a href=""><em>ISIS: The State of Terror</em></a> (HarperCollins, 2015)</p><p><em><a href=""><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-long-war">Islamic State, the long war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity global security Thinking again about war Paul Rogers Thu, 11 Jun 2015 04:43:00 +0000 Paul Rogers 93457 at The five pillars of Islamophobia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Vague categories like ‘extremist’ and ‘radicalisation’ are trawling Muslims in a very large ‘counter-terrorism’ net.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The status of Muslims in the west is under threat. The increased prevalence of anti Muslim hate crime is only one of the more visible consequences. In the UK, Muslim schoolchildren are suffering a <a href="">‘backlash’ of abuse</a>, according to the teaching unions; Muslim women are the <a href="">victims of more than half of Islamophobic attacks</a>, says Tell MAMA.</p> <p>Though violent crimes against Muslims are understandably a key issue for Muslims and the anti-racist movement, it would be a mistake to think that Islamophobia is just a problem of racism by a small minority on the streets, or those on the fringes of politics. In fact it is deeply embedded in our politics and society, and a more serious problem than many writers have recognised. Moreover, while most accounts of Islamophobia suggest that anti-Muslim racism is simply a matter of prejudice, which may have social consequences, it needs to be understood as more than a problem of racist ideas. </p> <p>Obviously these are a key part of Islamophobia but to be effective such ideas need to be practically developed—to be actively produced, spread and institutionalised in new policies and practices. Anti-Muslim racism is sustained by what we call the ‘five pillars’ of Islamophobia. </p> <h2><strong>Legitimate targets?</strong></h2> <p>The first and most important is the institutions of the state—most notably the sprawling ‘counter-terrorism’ apparatus, the key nexus of institutions and practices which targets ‘extremists’ and those said to have been ‘radicalised’. The imprecision with which these concepts are defined and operationalised in official discourse, together with the routine practices of the police and intelligence services, means that many thousands of people, including non-Muslims, are regarded as a legitimate targets for suspicion, surveillance and intelligence-gathering.</p> <p>Some academic authors see the state as progressive, or at least neutral, and capable of helping challenge anti-Muslim racism by creating spaces for Muslim cultural and civic engagement. But in our view the state is not neutral. Counter-terrorism policy disadvantages Muslims (and others) through&nbsp;exceptional legislation, pre-emptive incapacitation and intelligence and surveillance.&nbsp;And the counter-terrorism apparatus has spread from its traditional home in the police and intelligence services to occupy almost every branch of the state, from schools and universities to libraries. </p> <p>A relatively new front in the war to drive Muslims from the public sphere is the NGO sector. The Charity Commission, headed by the neo-conservative <a href="">Lord Shawcross</a>, has presided over a significant increase in <a href="">investigations of Muslim charities</a>. The think tank <a href="">Claystone reported that</a> the Charity Commission had marked 55 British charities with new issue code ‘extremism and radicalisation’, without the organisations’ knowledge, and that Muslim charities were disproportionately affected.</p> <h2><strong>Further right</strong></h2> <p>The other four pillars of Islamophobia are social or political movements which bolster the state or push it further right—social movements ‘from above’, as the sociologists Laurence Cox and Gunvald Nilsen put it. By this they mean the <a href="">‘collective agency of dominant groups</a>’. </p> <p>The first is the most well known—the far right. Its traditional representatives in neo-fascist parties have all taken an anti-Muslim turn, but they have been joined in recent years by a plethora of new parties (such as the <a href="">Sweden Democrats</a>, the <a href="">Danish People’s Party</a> and <a href="">UKIP</a> in the UK), street movements such as the <a href="">English Defence League</a>, <a href="">PEGIDA</a> in Germany (and the UK, Austria, Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and the <a href="">‘counter-jihad movement’</a>, which operates in almost every EU country, as well as in the US.</p> <p class="image-caption"><img src="//" alt="" width="460" height="307" />But it's Islam they have in mind—a PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden last December. Flickr / <a class="truncate owner-name" title="Go to;s photostream" href=""></a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p><span></span><span>The far right is not neatly bounded and there are all sorts of overlaps with other strands of the social movements from above, which are themselves interpenetrated. They include the neo-conservative movement, strongly active in the EU as well as in the US, its country of origin; the Zionist movement; and a number of left/liberal currents such the pro-war or </span><a href="">‘decent’ left.</a><span> All three are transnational movements from above and have connections to groups further to the right, as well as to the more mainstream </span><a href="">conservative movement</a><span> and indeed right-wing, neo-liberal think tanks.</span></p> <p>These social movements, though divided on some matters, do work together—in combination with the state—to produce, reproduce and enact anti-Muslim racism, in the process putting in place the policy frameworks and practical arrangements which ensure the subordination of ordinary Muslims. </p> <p>Take the neo-conservative <a href="">Henry Jackson Society</a>, a think tank which brings together key US and UK neo-conservatives, including <a href="">William Kristol</a> and <a href="">Richard Perle</a>. Among the key financial backers of the HJS has been the Conservative peer <a href="">Stanley Kalms</a>, the former treasurer of the Conservative Party and life president of DSG International (formerly Dixons). Kalms is a prominent member of Conservative Friends of Israel, though in 2009 he flirted with UKIP. He has supported the Henry Jackson Society and its predecessor the <a href="">Centre for Social Cohesion</a> through his <a href="">Traditional Alternatives Foundation</a> and the <a href="">Stanley Kalms Foundation</a>, and his links with more mainstream conservatism are illustrated by his financial backing for the Institute for Economic Affairs and the Centre for Social Justice.</p> <p>Kalms appears to have quite ‘radical’ views on Muslims and Islam. According to <a title="Tony Lerman" href="">Tony Lerman</a>, the writer and ‘<a href="">lapsed</a>’ Zionist, Kalms was present at a meeting on 17 November 2006 where he said: ‘Most Muslims didn’t want to integrate ... Ultimately they would line up behind the fundamentalists.’ Social movements from above, including the far right and elements of the neo-conservative and Zionist movements, play an important active role in fostering anti-Muslim racism. </p> <p>We will not turn back the tide of Islamophobia only by confronting the threat of UKIP in politics, or the EDL and other parts of the transnational ‘counter-jihad movement’ on the streets. We also need to focus our attention on elements of the (also transnational) neo-conservative and Zionist movements which provide information, ‘research’ and advocacy which can drag the state and politics to the right and sharpen Islamophobic polices, as we have seen in the UK with the revision of the ‘Prevent’ programme in 2010 (drawing on the material of the neo-conservative Centre for Social Cohesion) and in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. </p> <h2>Dissent criminalised</h2> <p>Most importantly, we need to understand that it is the state itself and its machinery of surveillance and repression that is at the forefront of ensuring that Muslims are collectively pushed to the edge of public life with extremely serious short-, medium- and long term consequences for democratic politics. The intention seems clear: dissent, whether by Muslim organisations, social movements or trades unions, is criminalised to protect our rulers from pressure from below. </p> <p>It is a sad commentary on the state of hysteria about Islam in the UK today that even documenting evidence on Islamophobia is seen as evidence of ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalisation’. Simply in writing this article we have potentially entered what the police have called the <a href="">‘pre-criminal space’</a>, which is enough to warrant unwelcome attention from the intelligence and policing agencies—never mind those of conservative newspaper columnists.</p> <p><em>This article is based on a paper delivered at the <a href="">Understanding Conflict conference</a></em><em> at the University of Bath, 8-11 June 2015.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/frances-webber/farewell-magna-carta-counterterrorism-and-security-bill">Farewell Magna Carta: the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity openSecurity rule of law politics of protest human rights wfd marginalisation dissent Narzanin Massoumi Hilary Aked Tom Mills David Miller Policing Mon, 08 Jun 2015 21:48:39 +0000 David Miller, Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills and Hilary Aked 93408 at Security services should not have carte blanche <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It seems obvious that human rights must be compromised to guarantee security in the face of armed violence. Obvious but wrong.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Corpo"><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// station.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// station.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>But is this a spiral states should get into? Flickr / <a class="truncate owner-name" title="Go to Elliott Brown&#039;s photostream" href="">Elliott Brown</a>. Some rights reserved.</span></p><p class="Corpo">Myths die hard, in particular when they play on fears. One of the most common myths of recent years is that we have to forfeit some of our rights to live in safety. It might be counter-intuitive to say so but this is indeed a myth. The best way to ensure our safety is to have security services comply with the rule of law, not violate it. </p> <p class="Corpo">The activities of such services are certainly of paramount importance to ensure our safety. They therefore require the necessary powers to carry out their operations. If their work goes unchecked, however, their operations can profoundly affect our lives. They can put us at risk of death, deprive us of our liberty, inflict torture, intrude on our private sphere, and reduce our freedom to speak and our right to receive and impart information. </p> <p class="Corpo">‘Extraordinary renditions’, mass surveillance and extra-judicial executions are just some of the most well-known security operations which have violated human rights, without making us safer. This has happened for several reasons but one stands out: current systems of oversight of security services were and remain largely ineffective. </p> <p class="Corpo">In Europe, states have relied on different agencies for oversight: parliamentary committees, independent oversight bodies and institutions with broader jurisdictions such as ombudspersons, data commissioners and judicial bodies. If some systems present interesting features on paper, none seems fully to guarantee a robust defence of the rule of law. In the US it took years of scandal before timid safeguards were introduced to put a check on abuses in the struggle against terrorism. </p> <h2><strong>Highly controversial</strong></h2> <p class="Corpo">We could consider such steps as progress and in a way they are. But current discussions in a number of countries are undermining it. Take France. The Senate there has discussed this week a highly controversial bill on surveillance and is scheduled to adopt it next Tuesday. The bill was hastily introduced by the government in April to streamline the work of the security services and grant them more powers, at the expense of important safeguards. </p> <p class="Corpo">The law would in fact permit surveillance methods which might lead to arbitrary intrusions into private lives—not only of suspects but also of persons who communicate with them, live or work in the same place or even just happen to be near them. More worryingly, these intrusive measures would be applied without any judicial authority verifying beforehand their legality, expediency and proportionality. This would give excessive powers to the executive, with clear risks of abuse.</p> <p class="Corpo"><span class="pullquote-right">‘Extraordinary renditions’, mass surveillance and extra-judicial executions are just some of the most well-known security operations which have violated human rights, without making us safer.</span></p><p class="Corpo"><span></span>The French case is emblematic of an underlying, fallacious reasoning among governmental authorities. They say that the fight against terrorism cannot be slowed by procedures which might compromise security operations. This might apply to certain very urgent and specific cases but it cannot justify mass surveillance or unfettered powers. Here the European Court of Human Rights has set the record straight.</p> <p class="Corpo">A year ago the court <a href="///C:/Users/Robin%20Wilson/Downloads/Judgments%20Al%20Nashiri%20and%20Husayn%20Abu%20Zubaydah%20v.%20Poland%20%20secret%20rendition%20of%20terrorist%20suspects.pdf">condemned Poland</a> for violating its human-rights obligations in relation to the conditions of detention, interrogation and transfer to the US of two terrorist suspects. It reaffirmed the principle that governments cannot bypass fundamental democratic checks and balances—not even while fighting terrorism. If a degree of secrecy is sometimes necessary, this can never be used to cloak serious human-rights violations. </p> <p class="Corpo">This legal boundary is supported by a more empirical lesson—that forfeiting human rights in the fight against terrorism is a grave mistake, is ineffective and has far-reaching consequences. By trampling on our values, unchecked security operations breed contempt for the rule of law and play into the hands of undemocratic movements.</p> <h2><strong>More, not less</strong></h2> <p class="Corpo">If states really want to ensure our safety, they must inject more human rights into their security operations. Arguably, the most urgent measure is to ensure that security agencies operate under independent scrutiny and judicial review. Effective oversight is first of all democratic. This requires primarily the involvement of parliaments, which must be granted intrusive overseeing powers and the ability really to influence decision-making and operations. </p> <p class="Corpo">A second requirement is prior authorisation of the most intrusive measures, including surveillance, and establishment of a body able to issue legally-binding decisions over complaints by individuals affected by security activities, with access to all intelligence-related information. Thirdly, the judiciary must be involved in the decision-making process of intrusive measures and must be free to play its <em>ex post</em> role to ensure accountability. </p> <p class="Corpo">Only if these criteria are met can we ensure that what security services do does not come at the expense of human rights. Yet this will help them enjoy the necessary public support and trust indispensable to successful operations, as security leaders know. </p> <p class="Corpo">There is no contradiction between security and human rights—they go hand in hand. Less human-rights protection means less security and vice versa. By reinforcing democratic oversight of security structures, governments would increase their credibility among the public and weaken support for anti-democratic causes. Eventually, this will make our societies safer and stronger.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See the commissioner's larger <a href="//;Language=lanEnglish&amp;Ver=original&amp;BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&amp;BackColorIntranet=EDB021&amp;BackColorLogged=F5D383">issue paper</a>, launched today.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/open-security/aoibh%C3%ADn-de-b%C3%BArca/how-states-can-constrain-resort-to-political-violence">How states can constrain resort to political violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/daniele-rumolo/after-torture-report%E2%80%94rebalancing-scales-of-justice">After the torture report—rebalancing the scales of justice </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/rory-o%27connell/secret-prisons-disappearances-and-torture">Secret prisons, disappearances and torture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/benjamin-ward/truth-still-eludes-on-uk-involvement-in-rendition-and-torture">Truth still eludes on UK involvement in rendition and torture</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity digitaLiberties openSecurity rule of law human rights global security european security democratic society 9/11 : the 'war on terror' Nils Muižnieks Non-state violence State violence Fri, 05 Jun 2015 08:11:44 +0000 Nils Muižnieks 93323 at What role for a truth commission in Colombia? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While a positive step in negotiations between warring parties, what are the limits of uncovering the dark truths of Colombia's conflict?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// tc.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// tc.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Camilo Aldana Sanín/ICTJ. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;</p><p>Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to end Colombia’s decades-long conflict, an armed struggle marked by widespread suffering and soaring numbers of human loss. The peace talks between the Government and the FARC-EP—negotiations that began two years ago–have made significant progress in the face of innumerable difficulties, and now appear to be the best opportunity for Colombia to reach sustainable peace.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Now, the negotiating parties, in concert with the whole country, are discussing the different approaches to and possibilities for a transition based on victims’ rights to justice, reparation, and truth. It is a timely occasion to mention the necessity of such a principled ground for transition as the Colombian government and FARC <a href="">announced yesterday</a> the creation of a truth commission, though only once a final peace treaty has been signed.</p> <p>Before the details are finalized, however, all those around the negotiating table must clearly understand what they expect a truth commission to achieve: A truth commission should not be adopted mechanically, nor considered only as a policy obligation. Nor should it be conceived as an omnipotent institution or replicated blindly because of the fascination with the mechanism itself and the accompanying myths. The parties need to know what they really want to achieve–this requires not only a deep reflection and understanding of what commissions can realistically accomplish, but also to hear and understand the expectations of Colombian society.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The predominant assumption in Colombia is that a truth commission would examine a long period of serious and mass human rights violations, in addition to the underlying structural causes of the conflict. Another common expectation is that a truth commission would carefully examine each and every crime that has been committed during the conflict.</p> <p>Given experiences of other countries, such expectations would be highly unrealistic: even in truth commissions with broad and ambitious mandates, the clarification of each incident is impossible, especially from the perspective of forensic truth. It is important to reiterate, as many times as needed, that a truth commission does not substitute a judicial process, cannot clarify everything that has not been addressed in courtroom, and is not designed to let perpetrators off the hook. A truth commission should not be conceived with the logic of a judicial processes–failure to comprehend the difference could mean jeopardizing the process itself. <span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>What a truth commission <em>can</em> do is make a fundamental contribution to stable and lasting peace by recognizing the victims’ experiences and sorrow. Indeed, the quest for truth is also a quest for justice: recognition that wrongdoings suffered by victims are a matter of national, social, and institutional concern; acknowledgment that their needs and demands for justice and reparations must be addressed; and genuine commitment to take all necessary measures and to implement all required changes, to prevent repetition of crimes.</p> <p>The benefits of offering this official recognition are apparent; chief among these is the sense of recovered dignity of victims and affected communities, and the restoration of their capacity to control their own lives. In this regard, truth can also strengthen communities and individuals’ sense of citizenship, as people become aware of their rights and their status as citizens and it helps to restore the relationships between citizens and state.</p> <p>But truth commissions are not just about victims. The process led by a truth commission is a unique opportunity for a social debate about what is known but not yet accepted, about what is still unknown and about the roles of institutional, political and social actors that need to surface after decades of denial. Many times, truth commissions meet indifference or incomprehension, from both the public and government. To facilitate a collective process of acknowledgement, a successful truth commission must manage to engage sectors of society that have disengaged in the process, even those who oppose truth-seeking measures, or who have in some way participated in or profited from the conflict.</p> <p>Although many truth commissions started their work expecting their ultimate contribution to be a final report and a repository of written testimonies, they soon discovered that what society and different social groups are really asking for is a process where interaction, participation, and open discussion are as important as the findings. This would unmistakably apply in Colombia where numerous collective projects–as well as a vast diverse of social and political identities–have already emerged, and several initiatives have even asked collectively for such a participatory process. Indeed, a truth commission should be considered as a process, not as a single event. A truth commission in Colombia could build upon previous efforts, and likewise act as a bridge to future projects of truth-seeking. &nbsp;</p><p> The selection of truth commissioners is also crucial for the success of a commission. Leadership is as vital as public participation, and demographic representation will not necessarily guarantee the suitability and legitimacy of commissioners: the selection and designation of commissioners must be inspired and guided by criteria of integrity and independence. The truth commission does not need to be a mini-parliament or an assembly of delegates from different sectors. It should gather elected people deeply committed to human rights and the truth commission’s mandate, able to inspire and lead such a complex and difficult process.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In Colombia, significant progress has already been made toward clarifying the truth and constructing historical memory, thanks to judicial processes like the Justice and Peace Process, the work of the Historical Memory Group and the National Center for Historic Memory, unofficial civil society initiatives around the country, and the findings of prior official truth commissions that concentrated on specific issues or periods of the conflict. However, there is still great demand in the country for knowledge and recognition of the truth about the armed conflict.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>An effective truth process in Colombia will have the potential to nurture a more inclusive and stable democracy by reflecting the diverse cultural, gender-based, political, and religious identities represented in society, and by bringing this diversity to public consciousness through a spectrum of testimonies. </p> <p><span>Bringing victims’ voices to the public realm and integrating their experiences into society’s collective knowledge improves our conversation with others and with ourselves. That conversation, made of meaningful words, is the fabric of democracies. It’s also the solid base upon which a peaceful coexistence among all Colombians can flourish.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/thomas-macmanus-alun-gibbs/military-immunity-colombia%27s-moment-of-choice">Military immunity: Colombia&#039;s moment of choice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/open-security/leonardo-goi-jorge-restrepo/colombia-year-of-peace">Colombia: the year of peace? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jos%C3%A9manuel-barreto/body-of-colombian-women-is-battleground">The body of Colombian women is a battleground</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/catalina-uribe-burcher/organized-crime-colombia%27s-peace-spoiler">Organized crime, Colombia&#039;s peace spoiler?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mar%C3%ADa-camila-moreno/uncovering-colombia%27s-systems-of-macrocriminality">Uncovering Colombia&#039;s systems of macro-criminality</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Colombia Félix Reátegui Fernando Travesí Conflict in Context: Colombia Non-state violence State violence Transitional Justice Fri, 05 Jun 2015 07:43:38 +0000 Fernando Travesí and Félix Reátegui 93336 at Dalit women and village justice in rural India <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Enjoyment of the rule of law requires judicial institutions which act with impartiality. For Dalit women in India’s villages, fat chance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Bottom of the pile—a Dalit woman. Flickr / <a href="">The Advocacy Project</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>The vast majority of India’s 1.3 billion people live in its 630,000 villages. They have seen little or no benefit from the country’s economic growth. Over 80% do not have ‘approved sanitation’ <a href="">according</a> to UNICEF, and are forced to defecate in public. Village health care, where it exists, is poor and inaccessible. Education is basic, with large class sizes and schools lacking desks and chairs, let alone books.</p> <p>The caste system dominates all areas of life and, although the constitution of India <a href="">prohibits</a> discrimination based on caste, violent exploitation and prejudice are the norm. Add economic and gender divisions to this medieval Hindu social system and a multi-layered structure of separation begins to surface. At the bottom of the social ladder are girls and women from the Dalit caste (previously known as the untouchables), who are born into a life of exploitation, entrapment and potential abuse. As an International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) report for the UN makes<a href=""> clear</a>, “discrimination and violence systematically deny them opportunities, choices and freedoms in all spheres of life”. </p> <p>The police are negligent, discriminatory and corrupt, and village justice, as dispensed by the ‘<a href="">Panchayat</a>’, is archaic. The village council or Panchayat “consists of five members … [and] sits as a court of law”, adjudicating in cases which the <em>Encyclopedia Britannica</em> describes as relating to ‘caste’ offences. These ‘offences’ are trivial one and all, and range from a Dalit woman taking water from a well reserved for higher caste families, to breaching eating, drinking, or smoking restrictions to—God forbid—having a relationship with a man from a neighbouring village. The punishments meted out by the Panchayat are extreme, often brutal and always unjust. </p> <h2><strong>Dependent</strong></h2> <p class="Default">The most common victims are Dalits, of whome there are an estimated 167m in India (16% of the population). They tend to be poorly educated, landless, with few employment opportunities and so dependent on the very people who mistreat them—men and women of the higher castes. It is a dependency based on vulnerability, allowing exploitation and abuse. </p> <p class="Default">Dalit girls and women are victimised and violated in villages, towns and cities up and down the country. The Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) <a href="">records</a> that they are murdered and burned alive, “raped, held captive in brothels and temple ceremonies, and forced to work as bonded laborers”, while young girls are kidnapped and trafficked into prostitution or trapped into domestic servitude. All because they happen to have been born into a particular family, in a particular place.&nbsp; </p> <p>Kessi Bai has lived in Thuravad village in Rajasthan for 21 years. In November last year the 45 year-old mother of five was accused, with no evidence, of murder, by a mob of villagers led by the village council. She was violently punished: stripped naked, her face was blackened with charcoal, her head was shaved and she was repeatedly beaten with wooden sticks. Her husband and son were locked inside their home while she was paraded for six hours around neighbouring villages on a donkey. </p> <p>The procession returned to Thuravad at around 8pm, she was thrown from the donkey and again beaten, before the police finally arrived. When I met this frail, desperately poor Dalit woman in December, she would not show her face and wept repeatedly. She has not left her house since the distressing incident. </p> <p>In a similar recent case in Utter Pradesh, the <em>Daily Mail</em> <a href="">reports</a>, “15 Other Backward Castes (OBC) villagers stripped five women of the Dalit community, paraded them naked, caned them and then put them on show on the highway because one of their daughters had allegedly eloped with a Dalit’s son”.&nbsp;</p> <p>And most shocking of this trinity of injustice: last January in the remote village of Subalpur in West Bengal, a 20 year-old Dalit woman who was “found in the company of a married man from another village”, was, the <em>Guardian</em> <a href="">reported</a>, “dragged out by her neighbours … tied to a tree then raped by up to 15 men as punishment for the illicit liaison”. </p> <p>The woman, known only as ‘W’, has since been regarded as a ‘woman of bad character’, who "‘spoiled the atmosphere of the village’ by going against local customs”. These medieval ‘traditions’ of suppression and division enforced by the Panchayats, which are widespread in India’s villages, support a deeply patriarchal society and have no place in any civilised country.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Lacking</strong></h2> <p>The Panchayat is elected by villagers and is paid for by the Indian government—it is in effect the first level of local governance. All members are duty-bound to maintain communal harmony and to discharge their office, the official legislation <a href="">says</a>, in “a fair and judicious manner without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”. As with many areas of Indian life, however, what is universally lacking is the implementation of such liberally acceptable legislation.</p> <p>Complacency and corruption are two of the major obstacles to the observation of universal human rights and the realisation of democracy in India. If the government, under the leadership of the Hindu-nationalist Naredra Modi, wishes to build a truly democratic state, it needs to enforce its legislation on caste, ensure village Panchayats operate within the law and provide Dalit women with the justice and support they so badly need.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights-blog/rachel-kurian/one-step-forward-two-back-dalit-women%E2%80%99s-rights-under-economic-gl">One step forward, two back? Dalit women’s rights under economic globalisation </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity India Equality rule of law human rights india/pakistan Graham Peebles Structural Insecurity Thu, 04 Jun 2015 12:29:39 +0000 Graham Peebles 93307 at Sport cannot ignore human rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Athletes will rely on free and fair competition at the European Games. Yet outside the stadium there is no free competition of ideas. They can take a stand.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The Heydar Aliyev Sports Palace, named after the president of Azerbaijan for ten years to 2003—since when his son, Ilham, has ruled the country—overhauled for the games. Demotix / <a href=""><strong>Aziz Karimov</strong></a>. All rights reserved.</p><p><span>On 12 June the first European Games begin in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. More than 6,000 athletes from 50 countries will run, fight and jump for medals, igniting the passions of millions of Europeans. We hope they will also stand up to halt the crackdown on human-rights defenders occurring in the country.</span></p> <p>In recent years, and particularly during the last 12 months, expressing dissent or scrutinising the powerful has become a very risky business in Azerbaijan. A great number of journalists and human-rights activists have been under immense pressure and lost their freedom at the hands of a political system intolerant of criticism.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="230" height="362" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jasul Rafarov—charges defy credibility. Flickr / Adela Pospichalova, IRFS. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Three cases help understand the magnitude of the repression. The most symbolic is that of Rasul Jafarov, the head of a non-governmental organisation. He made a name for himself by organising a campaign called ‘Sing for Democracy’ in the run-up to the holding of the Eurovision Song contest, which Azerbaijan hosted in 2012. He had planned to organise a new campaign called ‘Sports for Rights’ ahead of the European Games to support democracy through sport. Instead, he has spent the last ten months in detention on charges that defy all credibility. In April he was sentenced to 6.5 years of imprisonment for tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of authority. </p> <p class="Corpo">Leyla Yunus—one of Azerbaijan’s most renowned human-rights defenders and one of three finalists for the latest European Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—is also spending her days in pre-trial detention, charged with state treason, fraud, forgery and tax evasion. She is living in clear distress and with serious health conditions such as diabetes, Hepatitis C, and kidney problems. Her husband, Arif, is also since August in a prison of the Ministry of National Security. The couple have not been allowed to meet since their arrest.</p> <p>The third case is that of Khadija Ismayilova, a prominent investigative journalist who won in April two prestigious awards for her reports on corruption and for her fight for freedom of expression. She learned the news in Kurdakhani prison, where she has been kept since December. Initially accused of inciting suicide, new bogus charges of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of authority were brought against her in February. On 14 May her pre-trial detention was extended for three more months.</p> <h2>Criticism stifled<strong></strong></h2> <p>This wave of repression also targets foreigners. Journalists, members of non-governmental organisations and UN officials have also experienced first-hand the callous arsenal of intimidation, harassment and obstruction the Azerbaijani authorities have put in place to stifle criticism. </p> <p>The Azerbaijani government defends its policy by arguing that all these cases concern unlawful acts committed by individuals. It says it is wrong to see political motivation behind the wave of arrests of human-rights defenders. </p> <p>We disagree. We have co-operated with these activists and journalists over the years and we know them well. They are far from being criminals.</p> <p>The reality is that the rule of law has been twisted to justify repression: criminal prosecutions have been initiated to punish those who dissent; legislation has been introduced to restrict the activities of non-governmental organisations; the police have been used to repress peaceful protesters. </p> <p>Practically all the partners of human-rights organisations have been detained, subjected to pressure to disrupt their activities or have fled the country as a consequence of the reprisals the authorities orchestrated against them.</p> <h2><strong>Calling a halt</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>It is time to halt this, and sport can help. At a minimum, athletes should be aware of the social and political context in the country in which they will be competing. They might want to raise these issues with their hosts or local athletes and even use their popularity to support those who have been unjustly locked up. </p> <p>We hope that they will make the right choice and use the spirit of these games to help reverse the trend of repression against those who have done nothing other than promote human rights.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A BBC <a href="">backgrounder </a>on the games.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Dunja Mijatović Michel Forst Nils Muižnieks Wed, 03 Jun 2015 22:01:10 +0000 Nils Muižnieks, Michel Forst and Dunja Mijatović 93285 at Singling out Israel: a perspective from the left <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 17.7272720336914px;">How did the struggle for Palestine gain such prominence on the left? The answer might tell us something about broader patterns of thought in left-wing politics today.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Eloïse Bollack/Demotix. All rights reserved."><img src="//" alt="" title="Eloïse Bollack/Demotix. All rights reserved." width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Eloïse Bollack/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></p><p><span>The left is frequently accused of singling Israel out for censure. </span><span>Of all the authoritarian and oppressive countries in the world, so the argument goes, left-wing thinkers and activists disproportionately target the Middle East's only democracy. This is often just a rhetorical ploy, a propaganda device used to imply that Israel's critics are biased, or worse, prejudiced. However, it also happens to be true.</span></p> <p>States everywhere behave in a manner comparable to Israel. Occupation, ethnic nationalism, exclusion, racism—these are systemic issues, products of the modern nation-state system we live in, and not the unique characteristics of any particular country or nationalist ideology.</p> <p>Yet Israel, and the Palestinians' struggle for self-determination, occupies a position within the left's political imagination that is incommensurate with its relative size or importance in the international struggle for justice. Israel's crimes (and they&nbsp;<em>are&nbsp;</em>crimes) against the Palestinians elicit a moral outrage that comparable acts of brutality in other countries (India in Kashmir, Russia in Chechnya, to name only a few examples) do not.</p> <p>This is often dismissed as mere “whataboutery” or simply buying into one of Israel's favoured propaganda tropes. But the question of how the struggle for Palestine—an unquestionably just cause—has gained such prominence on the left is one that needs addressing seriously. The answer can also perhaps tell us something about broader patterns of thought in left-wing politics today.</p> <h2><strong>A new anti-Semitism?</strong></h2> <p>For some the reason is obvious: anti-Semitism. In his response to the divestiture campaign on US campuses against Israel,&nbsp;<em>The New York Times</em>&nbsp;columnist Thomas Friedman&nbsp;<a href="">wrote</a>, “singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction—out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East—is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.” &nbsp;</p> <p>This argument is often dismissed as ideologically motivated special pleading. And sometimes it is. But we should be careful on this score. The left is not immune from prejudice and, historically, anti-Semitism has found a home at both ends of the political spectrum.</p> <p>As an explanation for the left's disproportionate focus on Israel and the Palestinians, it is however, unconvincing. True, anti-Semitism sometimes creeps into anti-Zionist discourse. But the notion that the left has become anti-Semitic&nbsp;<em>en masse</em>&nbsp;is, frankly, absurd. If you doubt this then ask yourself the following: given the history of Israel/Palestine (see below), would attitudes on the left be any different if Israel was a Christian country of European origin? I suspect not.</p> <h2><strong>Towards a more convincing explanation</strong></h2> <p><span>Two explanations that are frequently given in response to the “singling out” accusation concern Israel's relationship with the US. Firstly, it is argued, Israel is one of America's major allies in the Middle East and a recipient of roughly $3 billion per year in aid. In this context, singling it out makes strategic sense from an anti-imperialist perspective. The second argument is a corollary of the first. Given the close relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv, pressure applied by activists in the former capital will be keenly felt in the latter and so concentrating resources there is a logical move.</span></p> <p>These are both true to a point. But it does not explain why other close US allies—Turkey, Egypt, the Gulf states, India—all implicated in US imperialism and all culpable of oppressive behaviour, rarely excite comparable passions in left-wing circles.</p> <p>A more compelling response, and one that gets us closer to our answer, is the comparison with the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM). The AAM, which has provided much inspiration to those resisting Israel's occupation, mobilised civil society to garner support for those fighting the oppressive and racist regime in South Africa. In a world that contained many a despotic state, left-wing supporters of the AAM could quite reasonably have been accused of singling out South Africa. Perhaps some even suggested they were anti-White. Today, however, nobody would claim that what they did was wrong.</p> <p>While this does not answer our question, it does point us in the right direction. Certain conflicts over the past 50 years—South Africa, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Vietnam—have stood out as exceptional for many in the west, especially for those on the left. The common denominators, the strands that tie these conflicts together, are western imperialism and/or the related phenomenon of white-settler colonialism. These two factors are crucial for understanding how it is that the Israel/Palestine conflict has gained such a prominent position within the political imagination of the modern left.</p> <h2><strong>Zionism and white-settler colonialism</strong></h2> <p>To understand the place that Israel and the Palestinians occupy in left-wing consciousness, we need to first place Zionism in its proper historical context. It is, essentially, the movement of national self-determination for Jewish people. It is also, though, a colonial movement that was realised under the aegis of a European imperial power.</p> <p>There is no contradiction here. Zionism began its life in Europe as an ideology of national liberation for an oppressed minority, but on touching ground in the Middle East it also necessarily became a colonial movement. It is, in the formulation&nbsp;<a href="">coined</a>&nbsp;by Israeli sociologists Gershon Shafir and Yoav Peled, a national colonial movement.</p> <p>The idea of a 'return to Zion' is an important part of Judaism (and Christianity) but it was only in the last quarter of the 19th century—a period characterised by European expansion and the spread of nationalism—that it was transformed from an esoteric theological notion into a concrete political aim. Russian pogroms and many other pernicious forms of oppression made life for Jews in Europe intolerable. Many emigrated to America, but a minority began to formulate what were, from their perspective, more long-term plans.</p> <p>Zionist thinkers, chief of whom was Theodor Herzl, looked at the state of modern Europe and concluded that existence as a minority there meant perpetual insecurity. From this they inferred that the only way to be free, and on an equal footing with their European oppressors, was to create a nation-state, a place where Jews were the majority and subject to nobody.</p> <p>First, though, a sense of Jewish nationhood had to be 'awakened'. The communal and religious traditions of Judaism—a deep and varied source from which modern intellectuals could draw upon—provided the necessary raw materials from which a national identity could be crafted. There are some pro-Palestinian advocates who get a certain frisson out of deconstructing Jewish national consciousness and dismissing it as an artificial construct, particularly when measured against Palestinian nationalism. As a sociological observation, this is accurate. All national identities are the products of a combination of human will and historical contingency. Zionism is certainly no exception. These critics should be aware, though, that it is only true nationalist ideologues who, lacking a sense of irony as they often are, talk about “authentic” and “inauthentic” nations.</p> <p>Zionism was, however, exceptional in one way: it was a national movement whose population was not concentrated in a single space. Jews collectively possessed no homeland. This fact necessitated mass Jewish settlement in one area, or, as it is known in the Zionist lexicon, the “In-gathering of Exiles.” After some debate amongst the Zionist leadership, Palestine was nominated as the Jewish 'homeland'. &nbsp;</p> <p>Jewish settlement in Ottoman Palestine (also known as Southern Syria) began in the 1880s. But it was November 1917 that marked the crucial turning point. The British Foreign Secretary at the time, Lord Arthur James Balfour, issued what became known as the Balfour Declaration which stated that:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.</p> <p>This historic promise effectively meant that Zionism would be underwritten by British imperial power. London, pursuing its own geo-strategic plans of dividing the Ottoman Empire up with Paris, took Jerusalem the following December. Three years later Mandatory Palestine was established by the League of Nations, putting the British government in a position to keep its word—to the Zionist leadership. From this point onwards, Jewish immigration to, and colonisation of, Palestine could proceed apace under the aegis of British rule.</p> <p>European Jews did not choose to move to the Middle East voluntarily. They were driven there by anti-Semitism. This must certainly be taken into account in any moral reflections on the legitimacy of Zionism as an idea. It does not, however, change the facts on the ground. Zionism became a white-settler colonial movement whose realisation was only possible thanks to European penetration of the Middle East. In his essay “Settlers and their States.”&nbsp;<a href="">published</a>&nbsp;in the&nbsp;<em>New Left Review&nbsp;</em>(March/April 2010), Gabriel Piterberg sums up the situation succinctly:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">From the moment Zionism's goal became the resettlement of European Jews in a land controlled by a colonial European power, in order to create a sovereign political entity, it could no longer be understood as 'just' a central or east European nationalism; it was also, inevitably, a white-settler colonialism.</p> <p>The native Palestinians never had any illusions about this fact. But it was only in the last third of the 20th century that the western left began to understand Zionism as a case of European colonialism. And now in most left-wing circles it is practically a truism. Before looking at how this change occurred though, and how it has led to Israel being singled out for criticism, it is important to consider the inter-communal conflict that followed from Jewish settlement in Palestine.</p> <h2><strong>Two peoples, one land</strong></h2> <p>Before 1947, Jewish colonisation of Palestine proceeded primarily through land purchases. This meant, in the&nbsp;<a href="">words</a>&nbsp;of Gershon Shafir, “a less violent process of primitive territorial accumulation than was typical of other colonies.” Even so, there was a fundamental contradiction between the aims of Zionism and the rights of the native population; a tension that Lord Balfour, steeped in messianic Christian teachings as he was, did not concern himself with. The drive to create a majority&nbsp;<em>Jewish&nbsp;</em>nation-state in territory inhabited by a majority&nbsp;<em>non-Jewish</em>&nbsp;population was inevitably going to lead to conflict. Two peoples cannot both be a majority on the same piece of land.</p> <p>Sure enough, conflict came. While there were outbreaks of inter-communal violence in the 1920s, it was the 1930s that saw a shift from sporadic attacks to a mass uprising with the Arab Revolt (1936-39). The rise of Nazism in Europe was a key factor here. Between 1882 and 1931, 187,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine. But between Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948 this number rose to 313,000 (<a href="">see</a>&nbsp;Gilbert Achcar for the figures). The liberal democracies also introduced immigration restrictions leaving Jewish refugees with little choice but to flee to the Middle East.</p> <p>This was a massive influx of newcomers in a relatively short space of time. From the perspective of the native Arab population—who were becoming conscious of themselves as&nbsp;<em>Palestinian&nbsp;</em>Arabs—their land was disappearing from under their feet, sold off by absentee landlords and settled by Europeans. As far as they were concerned, the settlers were not simply refugees fleeing persecution. They were also an extension of British colonial rule. Inevitably, they revolted against both the occupiers and the settlers.</p> <p>The 1940s saw the violence come to a head. On 29 November 1947 the United Nations (which consisted of only 57 countries at the time) passed a partition resolution—accepted reluctantly by the settlers, rejected understandably by the natives—which divided the territory between Jews and Arabs. This produced bitter fighting between the two communities, which ended, in the&nbsp;<a href="">words</a>&nbsp;of the historian Avi Shlaim, “in triumph for the Jews and tragedy for the Palestinians.” On 14 May 1948 the British Mandate expired and the State of Israel was proclaimed. The following day, the surrounding Arab states, seeking to legitimise themselves in the eyes of their own populations by helping the Palestinians, invaded.</p> <p>This was a war of independence for the small population of Jewish refugees fleeing European anti-Semitism and the gas-chamber. And it was a catastrophe for the indigenous population who were ethnically cleansed from their land by Zionist militias and sent into the grey-zone of permanent refugeehood. Both of these conflicting narratives are correct. But rather than risk getting bogged down in morally complex considerations of the rights and wrongs of the conflict's origins, each side and their respective supporters—often with an eye on the politics of the moment—prefer to entrench themselves behind the safe walls of nationalist rhetoric and victimhood. This has made discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict viciously polarised. &nbsp;</p> <p>Isaac Deutscher was one historian who rejected the nationalist paradigm altogether when observing events in the eastern Mediterranean. The&nbsp;<a href="">interview</a>&nbsp;he gave the&nbsp;<em>New Left Review&nbsp;</em>in the wake of the Six Day War, is worth quoting at length as an illustration of what a genuinely radical and universalist response to the roots of the Israel/Palestine conflict looks like:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">A man once jumped from the top floor of a burning house in which many members of his family had already perished. He managed to save his life; but as he was falling he hit a person standing down below and broke that person's legs and arms. The jumping man had no choice; yet to the man with the broken limbs he was the cause of his misfortune. If both behaved rationally, they would not become enemies. The man who escaped from the blazing house, having recovered, would have tried to help and console the other sufferer; and the latter might have realised that he was the victim of circumstances over which neither of them had control. But look what happens when these people behave irrationally. The injured man blames the other for his misery and swears to make him pay for it. The other, afraid of the crippled man's revenge, insults him, kicks him, and beats him up whenever they meet. The kicked man again swears revenge and is again punched and punished. The bitter enmity, so fortuitous at first, hardens and comes to overshadow the whole existence of both men and to poison their minds.</p> <p>At the core of this analogy is a fundamental rejection of myopic nationalist narratives and identity politics. Deutscher understands the origins of the conflict through a cosmopolitan and materialist lens that views Zionism and Palestinian nationalism as the products of “circumstances over which neither of them had control.” In contrast, on the left today Zionism is generally seen as a necessarily malign force, an almost metaphysical evil that has brought ruin to the Middle East. How did such a shift in left wing thinking occur? Why is it that Israel is viewed with such disproportionate hostility on the left?</p> <h2><strong>The left, the west and one-dimensional anti-imperialism</strong></h2> <p>As was noted above, the answer lies in western imperialism and white-settler colonialism. But a question remains. Why is it that these related phenomena are so central to left wing politics today? They are, of course, examples of oppression and so any democratic movement worthy of the name should resist them. But why do they often take precedence over other forms of subjugation such as authoritarianism, theocracy or patriarchy to name only a few that are frequently overlooked or downplayed by the anti-imperialist left? The answer lies in Third Worldism and the versions of it that have become prominent in progressive circles.</p> <p>The post-war period produced a profound transformation within the intellectual culture of the western left. The anti-colonial struggles in what became known as the Third World shook many progressives in the US and Europe out of their parochial mind-sets. A new politics of anti-imperialism—forged by the conflicts in Suez, Vietnam and Algeria, among others—blended with orthodox Marxism and became a staple of left wing theory and practice. </p> <p>Thinkers and activists such as Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral and Che Guevara, whose ideas were crafted in the heat of bitter anti-colonial struggles, became essential reading for members of the New Left and have helped to shape progressive thinking about relations between north and south, west and east. These influences have led to a lot of productive work. European and American activists, for example, have grown increasingly conscious of issues relating to empire, colonialism and race, topics the western left had historically neglected.</p> <p>As important as these changes have been, however, a counter-productive tendency has also gained traction; one that can best be characterised as&nbsp;<em>one-dimensional anti-imperialism</em>. This is a selective and deeply&nbsp;<a href="">essentialist&nbsp;</a>perspective that—in a curious inversion of Eurocentrism—understands imperialism to be an exclusively&nbsp;<em>western&nbsp;</em>phenomenon that emanates inexorably from&nbsp;<em>western&nbsp;</em>capitals; what’s more, it sees imperialism as the&nbsp;<em><a href="">sole&nbsp;</a></em>source of the world's ills and demotes other forms of oppression to a secondary position—or ignores them entirely. Conversely, it is a viewpoint that tends to accord victims of Western aggression a privileged position within an unwritten hierarchy of victimhood; a hierarchy that determines some people to be worthier of solidarity than others.</p> <p>It is against this backdrop that the left’s over-attunement to Israel must be understood. The Jewish state, as we have seen, is the product of a white-settler colonialism that took root under western European imperialism. This, effectively, is a situation that has continued with the occupation of the West Bank and the strangulation of Gaza, and the creation of settlements with the support of the US. The creation of Israel also led to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the post-‘48 period has seen repeated attempts by Israeli governments at politicide, or the complete destruction of the Palestinians as a political community. These are the undeniable realities of the very one-sided Israel/Palestine conflict.</p> <p>But these are also unexceptional realities. The twentieth century was a brutal century of genocide, ethnic cleansing, violent attempts to forge nation-states out of diverse communities, rapid industrialisation and the persecution of minorities. The first couple of decades of the twenty first century have hardly been much better. Against this background the Israel/Palestine conflict has been a&nbsp;<em>relatively&nbsp;</em>mild affair. But when seen through the distorting prism of one-dimensional anti-imperialism it morphs into something more. Israel becomes the representative of western imperialism—the most malign of all evils—and the Palestinians gain the questionable privilege of becoming the victims most worthy of support (unless, of course, they are being killed by other Arabs. See&nbsp;<a href="">Yarmouk</a>). &nbsp;</p> <p>It is both just and necessary to support the Palestinian struggle for independence. But they are not the only victims worthy of solidarity. And Israel certainly is not the only—or even the worst—oppressor in the world today. A much more nuanced anti-imperialism and a more materialist and cosmopolitan approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict would serve both peoples immeasurably better than the simplistic and selective narratives of the conflict that predominate today.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jonas-fossli-gjers%C3%B8/israel-last-of-settler-colonies">Israel - the last of the settler colonies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/colin-shindler/left-and-israel-tortured-path">The Left and Israel: a tortured path </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/israel-in-arab-consciousness-friend-or-foe">Israel in the Arab consciousness: friend or foe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/walid-khalidi/one-century-after-world-war-i-and-balfour-declaration-palestine-and-pal">One century after World War I and the Balfour Declaration: Palestine and Palestine studies</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Israel Conflict Ideas International politics Anti-Semitism and the left occupation Middle East colonialism imperialism Palestine and the Israeli Occupation William Eichler Tue, 02 Jun 2015 23:37:19 +0000 William Eichler 93235 at How to defuse the devices of the nuclear-armed states <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended without any agreed commitments, unbalanced as ever between the nuclear-armed states and the rest. Time to change the agenda.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>It's their future: a choir performs at Oslo City Hall during the conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons organised by the Norwegian government in 2013. Demotix / <a class="popup-processed" href="">Alexander Widding</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>After four weeks of statements, deliberations and often bruising negotiations at the UN headquarters, the states party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) could not agree a plan for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to guide their work over the next five years. </p> <p>The draft outcome was blocked on 22 May by the United States, with cover from Canada and the UK. The US blamed an “<a href="">unrealistic and unworkable</a>” demand from Egypt to set a deadline for the convening of a conference on a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction—a conference the last NPT review in 2010 had stipulated must take place by 2012.</p> <p>By the end of the conference, what would have been the <a href="">disarmament section of the outcome document</a> was unacceptably weak. Its adoption would have dealt another <a href="">blow to the credibility</a> of the NPT as a vehicle for nuclear-disarmament efforts. The draft contained no meaningful commitments by the nuclear-armed states and their allies. It set out few clear activities and no deadlines.</p><p><span></span>Indeed, in many areas it rolled back on disarmament promises made in 2010—such as diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, excised from the draft. It also suggested that work on nuclear disarmament at the UN General Assembly be done by consensus, even though that forum has always operated through democratic voting procedures. </p> <p>Overall, the draft strongly reflected the priorities of the NPT’s five officially nuclear-armed states and their nuclear allies, in favour of upholding a status quo which features <a href="">little activity</a> on disarmament on the one hand and the <a href="">modernisation of nuclear arsenals</a> on the other. The conference president had said the NPT belonged equally to all its members but, amid a lack of consultation, backroom deals rather than negotiation and bullying behind closed doors at late-night sessions, it was no surprise the result did not reflect the concerns of most states. Indeed, some asserted that the draft, in particular the disarmament section, did not represent a negotiated document at all. </p> <h2><strong>Skewed debate</strong></h2> <p>A wider <a href="">analysis</a> of multilateral fora discussing nuclear disarmament shows that lower-income countries are less likely than richer ones to send representatives and, if they do, field smaller delegations who are less likely to speak. Many are in <a href="">nuclear-weapons-free zones</a>, whereas significant high-income countries are part of a nuclear alliance, which shows how the debate is skewed.</p> <p>Some states expressed their frustration and sense of injustice at <a href="">these dynamics</a> in New York: South Africa <a href="">compared</a> the “sense that the NPT has degenerated into minority rule” to the conditions of apartheid. If it has not already become the case, the NPT is in danger of being perceived as a vehicle for the interests of nuclear-armed states, who are not seen to be upholding their end of the treaty’s disarmament/non-proliferation bargain (they negotiate in good faith for disarmament; others do not join the nuclear club)—another instance of the failing global stewardship of the five permanent members of the Security Council. </p> <p>Though the draft disarmament plan would have lacked impact and credibility if adopted, <a href="">recent analysis</a> has suggested that the reduction of stockpiles of nuclear weapons by NPT nuclear-armed states is entirely unaffected by whether an NPT review has any outcome. Against this background, it is clear something new is urgently needed.</p> <h2><strong>Humanitarian focus</strong></h2> <p>In fact, a new initiative is under way. At the 2010 NPT conference, parties expressed concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. Since then, momentum has been building around a humanitarian-focused reframing of the issue. This concentrates on the weapons themselves and their <a href="">unacceptable impact</a> on human beings and the environment, rather than on claims about their strategic and security functions. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction,&nbsp;there is no comprehensive, explicit prohibition&nbsp;on the possession, production, transfer and use of nuclear weapons.</p><p><span></span>At <a href="">conferences</a> hosted by Norway, Mexico and Austria, and within the academic and NGO communities, new evidence has been presented, with survivors of nuclear explosions providing powerful and crucial testimony. Increased concern from the great majority of states worldwide has been seen in forums including the NPT, where this year <a href="">159 states</a> signed a joint statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.</p> <p>This led to the one substantive outcome of four weeks of discussion in New York. At the conclusion of the NPT review conference, <a href="">107 countries</a> had endorsed the <a href="">Humanitarian Pledge</a>, which commits them to take action to “fill the <a href="">legal gap</a> for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”. It features a commitment to join other states, international organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society in efforts to “stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate” nuclear weapons, based on their unacceptable humanitarian consequences. Though it refers to the need for new legal measures to support NPT obligations to develop effective measures on disarmament, its implications go beyond the treaty.</p> <h2>Treaty ban</h2> <p>Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction, <a href="">there is no comprehensive, explicit prohibition</a> on the possession, production, transfer and use of nuclear weapons. This is the most immediate ‘legal gap’ which needs filling, through a <a href="">treaty banning nuclear weapons</a>. This would be a logical next step from the humanitarian initiative and would represent an effective measure towards nuclear disarmament. </p> <p>Even if the nuclear-armed states did not initially join, it would represent a clear normative assertion that nuclear weapons are inherently unacceptable and would have practical impacts, such as on the <a href="">financing</a> of nuclear-weapons modernisation. Unlike the NPT, where different roles are assigned to the nuclear-armed states and those without such weapons, it would not discriminate between states in their obligations.</p> <p>To many states the humanitarian initiative has represented the coming of democracy to nuclear disarmament and a recognition of the priorities of the vast majority, which do not have nuclear weapons—<a href="">Costa Rica</a> expressed this strongly at the NPT review. It also threatens the hold of the nuclear-armed states over the agenda, suggesting that the object of urgent concern should be nuclear weapons’ human impact rather than the nuclear-armed states’ security theories. </p> <p>The nuclear-armed NPT states thus engaged in desperate efforts to remove any reference to humanitarian consequences from the draft outcome. France even attempted to <a href="">deny</a> that any new evidence on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons had emerged or that there was any risk posed by their own nuclear weapons.</p> <p>The 107 backers of the pledge must now take the momentum of the humanitarian initiative forward. The negotiation of any new legal instrument should be open to all states but unamenable to being blocked by any one. Consensus rules in multilateral forums do not necessarily ensure open inclusion: they can instead perpetuate the dominance of a small number of states on matters of pressing global concern. </p> <p>This August marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is time for negotiations on a treaty banning such weapons to begin in earnest.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-107-nations-pledge-to-negotiate-on-nuclear-disarmament">NPT: cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation or stumbling block? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity International politics global security wmd: proliferation & verification Elizabeth Minor Nuclear politics Sat, 30 May 2015 16:26:44 +0000 Elizabeth Minor 93200 at Aziz’s notebook: transmitting the memory of violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A granddaughter discovers her grandfather's notebook years after the political massacres that stole her mother and aunt. Beginning as a testimony of loss, it becomes an obsession to leave a trace against silence and denial. From&nbsp;<em><em><a href=""><strong>States of Impunity</strong></a></em><strong>.</strong></em></p><div id="SL_balloon_obj" style="display: block;"></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Chowra Makaremi. All rights reserved.</span>&nbsp;</p><p>In 2004, Chowra Makaremi discovered the notebook written years before by her since-deceased maternal grandfather, Aziz Zarei. The notebook recounts the tragic destiny of Aziz’s two daughters in the Teheran of the 1980s: Fataneh Zarei, Chowra’s aunt, was arrested and executed in 1982. Fatemeh Zarei, Chowra’s own mother, was arrested in 1981 and was imprisoned and tortured for seven years before she was finally killed in the mass-murder of political prisoners in 1988. Aziz’s notebook has been published in <a href=";searchurl=sts%3Dt%26tn%3Dcahier+d%27aziz">French </a>(Gallimard, 2011), translated in <a href=";searchurl=x%3D0%26y%3D0%26sts%3Dt%26kn%3Daziz%27s+notebook">English </a>(Yoda Press, 2013), and published in <a href="">Persian </a>(H&amp;S, 2014).</p> <p><em><strong>Emmanuel-Pierre: Your grandfather’s notebook brings to life cruel stories of violence and loss, execution and exile in Post-revolutionary Iran. Yet, your grandfather did not seem to have plans to publish it. As readers, are we not stumbling across a private conversation?&nbsp; </strong></em></p> <p>Chowra: My grandfather was not a writer. He did not belong to a social group that was familiar with writing memoirs. Coming from a traditional background, he worked from the age of 15, in the army and then in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, quite far away from the literary circles and westernized elites of the time. As he wrote in the first lines of his notebook, he was taking a pen because his “inner voice shouts” at him: “Write down what you saw, what you heard and what you endured”. His project was driven by an emergency and a necessity that translates into a literary energy driving the narrative at a fast and intense pace. In this sense, the content and the form of his story both draw on a same force, which is the need to testify. </p><p>In the first pages, my grandfather says that he is writing for his grandchildren–my brother and I–so that we may know the truth about our mother’s life and death. So in this sense, it is a family document, a private document. However, in other parts of his story, he refers to us as children using the third person. Formally speaking, we are not the recipients but characters in his story. And it is quite clear from the outset that he is talking 'over our shoulder' to a general audience. If we compare his notebook to the letters at the end of the book for instance, it is clear that the notebook is written for a public audience, addressed to <em>readers</em>, in contrast to private writings such as the letters addressed to his daughters or son-in-law. </p><p>At several points in his story, he states that he is producing a testimony, although for him, this testimony does not aim at any kind of justice or redress. He does not believe in human justice, as he states, and he does not care about the society of men; ultimately, he writes to spend some more hours with his daughters “who are no more”. But there lies another ambiguity of his project, because his writing is not introspective and directed towards the past: it is directed outwards and to the future, with the obsession to leave a trace against the silence and denial that surrounded state repression and prisoners’ massacres.</p> <p><em><strong>E: To leave a testimony of and in a particular violent time when Iran was wracked with chaotic power struggles. The notebook is a window into a tangible reality of daily violence, transcending the space of jail …</strong></em></p> <p>C: Yes, we have to remember the context in which he wrote. The atmosphere in the 1980s was extremely dense, dark and heavy in Iran: a new State was emerging out of an unpredictable revolution, and new state apparatuses were being implemented through the use of violence, terror, and a totalitarian Islamic ideology. It was an era of terror, of violent war with Iraq, constant air strikes on the cities and losses of hundreds of thousands of young men. My mother and my aunt belonged to the <em>Mojahedin</em> party: they were party candidates to the National Assembly first elections in two different cities. </p><p>The <em>Mojahedin</em> was the main opposition party to the Islamic Republic. Basically, they lost the institutional fight for power after the revolution, and in the two years following the 1979 uprisings, Ayatollah Khomeini’s party was successful in locking down all access to government–in a not very democratic way–and ruling exclusively over the new Iranian state. In response, the <em>Mojahedin</em> and a few other far-left parties engaged in armed struggle. My mother was arrested before her party entered into armed struggle, which is why she was sentenced to years of prison and not executed on the spot. In this context in the early 1980s, the Islamic Republic was at war with its opponents, the worst of which were the <em>Mojahedin</em>: it is important to understand that repression and violence were framed in terms of war: political opponents were 'enemies' and treated as such. And not only active opponents but also opponents’ siblings or just random people–students, teachers, etc.–possessing 'suspicious' leaflets or books, pretty much like what happened in Argentina in the 1970s for instance. </p><p>So at the time when my grandfather wrote about the fate of his <em>Mojahedin</em> daughters, it was even forbidden to say that name out loud: the mere mention of it made people shiver because the lists of people to be executed were publically announced on TV and public 'confessions' of former <em>Mojahedin</em> who had obviously been tortured were broadcast. In this context, my grandfather had no place and no one to turn to: he had no choice but to keep quiet about the secret he shared with many thousands of other executed prisoners’ families. So he sat and wrote down these secrets, because he obviously needed to externalize them, but there was no such possibility.</p> <p><em><strong>E: When you describe in painful detail having your grandfather’s notebook read aloud by your aunt, these secrets are revealed in a very extraordinary way. Suddenly, a suppressed memory buried under the years is voiced again. It is the memory of your own family, but also the memory of a collective experience of violence. The dual experience of private and public mourning comes to my mind…</strong></em></p> <p>C: I think there is a difference. As you said, a story that was not known suddenly surfaces through my aunt’s voice when she reads out loud the notebook for me. The reason why I have access to the notebook through her mediation is because I cannot read the Persian handwriting. And this reading of the notebook is important both to me and my aunt, because she could not return to Iran after the revolution and so she is also finding out for the first time what exactly happened to her sisters. I am getting into these details because an element that is not explicitly addressed in the book, yet plays an important role, is exile. Exile has kept us away either from the language in which the events are narrated, or from their experience. Yet exile is also what allows their re-discovery. So there are silences: collective, social, state imposed, guilt induced silences; but there also is a circulation of information–from writings to oral stories or through objects, pictures, etc–that construct a symbolic and imaginary world in which the supressed (the "disappeared") are allowed to exist again. Through exile, this circulation is a travel through different spaces and different societies, and the history of Iran since the revolution really cannot be written without taking into account these many streams, from the inside to different outsides. Which is ironical, because the Islamic Republic is built on the ideology of independence and rupture from the western influence that inspired the Iranian revolution: yet, even more than before the revolution, the many public and private spaces the authoritarian state has produced develop in a back-and-forth movement between inside and outside. </p><p>But the difference I wanted to point out is a distinction between what is shared and circulates, the 'collective' and the public. There is a tension here that draws three spaces and not two: the private, the collective, and the public. When my grandfather’s account of the years forgotten to me and unknown to my aunt surfaces again, it is shared, and from the beginning it defines itself as a testimony, the reminder of a collective experience. Yet, this story is not collective or shared in the sense of something public. What it takes for it to become public is the publishing of the book, the will of a publisher, etc. And I guess that by telling the story of the story: how the writing was discovered and read out loud, and then left untouched for years before it was translated and published, I wanted to point to these different layers of individual and collective spaces in which a truth can resonate and bear effects. And when I talk about truth, I am thinking of Benjamin’s statement when he writes on history: truth is not an exposure of the secret, but a revelation that does justice to it. The texture and nature of the secret must be made sensible, because this maybe has more to teach us that the “truth” it uncovered.</p> <p><em><strong>E: But is it not exactly where the issue of private and public mourning is a delicate one?</strong></em></p> <p>C: You are right. During the 1980s, those killed were often deprived of a proper burial, and in many cases, were not even buried in graves. And the interdiction of mourning as a public, collective moment of acknowledgement of a loss actually deprived people of private mourning as well. I don’t think that private forms of mourning developed as counter-practices and resistances where public mourning was forbidden. Actually, and somewhat paradoxically, the interdiction of public mourning made private mourning impossible: this is what is meant by the expression 'open wounds' when one is talking about disappearances. So the interdiction of burial and mourning was a way to target people–families, local communities, etc.–in their intimacy, to impact on them at the most private level, and with long-lasting effects over decades. And this is precisely why resistance and counter-memories depart from there too: the objective is to mark in the public sphere, virtually or physically, the deaths that have been denied mourning: be it by some stones and flowers delineating a symbolic grave in a mass grave, or by a book in my case. </p><p>As was the case with the mothers of the <em>Plaza de Mayo</em> in Argentina, and as is the case in many other countries–I am thinking here of Sri-Lanka, Palestine, Guatemala…– a movement of mothers has been active in Iran since the 1988 massacres. Most mass graves are unknown, but one has become famous because families used to gather there and hold collective commemorations after 1988: it is the Khavaran 'cemetery' (actually a wasteland that served as mass grave throughout the 1980s until 1989). Recently, <em>Khavaran</em> has become the name for state violence in the 1980s. As if we were using a proper noun where silence and denial do not allow us to name the events with common nouns (massacres? crimes against humanity? state crimes? civil war?). The mothers’ network is called the “Mothers of Khavaran”, and, yes, their mourning is a private act that wants to penetrate the public sphere, and as a political claim rooted in emotions of loss and grief (in the personal) it is the strongest initiative in Iran against denial and impunity in the last decades. The mass grave of Khavaran was bulldozed in 2008, in order to erase evidence of state violence; but the Mothers of Khavaran still exist, and maybe the loss of the mass grave as the only focus and locus of their fight is what is leading them to become a more general voice of opposition to the state, as has been the case recently.</p> <p><em><strong>E: Aziz’s notebook is an extraordinary composition made of multiple voices pieced together. Yet, it is also a world of silenced voices but also of emptiness and absence. &nbsp;I would like to hear your view, as an anthropologist, on silence …</strong></em></p> <p>C: As I said, through narratives, objects and histories, the families and friends of the executed, or the survivors of violence, share common worlds in which the events have taken place. These worlds are some sorts of safe places, in opposition to public spaces marked by silence. Because it is very heavy burden to live in a different reality from the others: in your world some people existed and have disappeared, but for the common, outside world, these people simply never existed at all. You know about violent crimes committed by people who are looked at as respectable officers, shop keepers or doctors; you know that some things can happen that are simply unimaginable for others: you know the prison administration can kill a few dozen thousand prisoners in two months and the news will not appear anywhere. The range of what is <em>possible</em>, and the boundaries between what can or cannot happen–reality, surreality and imagination–are drawn in a totally different manner. </p><p>In Iran, these differences, induced by denial and impunity in how to define the limits of the possible, have had a very practical impact in the present: when people demonstrated massively against the state after the 2009 elections, they simply had no idea that the repression could burst into such networks of criminal practices by state and para-state agents. They were faced with disappearances, large-scale rapes of men and women in secret detention centres, young street protesters loaded into trucks, whose bodies were never given back to the families. There was a sense of shock and astonishment coming from the fact that protester–the majority born after the 1979 revolution–didn’t believe the state to be capable of such acts. Their sense of what was possible, and their transactions with the state were determined by an idea of the state and the public sphere built on a history of reforms and the rise of civil society since the 1990s, on the one hand, but also, on the other hand, on decades of amnesia, public secrets, rewritings of history that have been the conditions in which this opening was negotiated from the 1990s on.&nbsp;</p><p>So, in contexts of denial, the tension I was referring to between your world as a witness or even a perpetrator, and the shared knowledge, realities and values that shape the public sphere, impact at both collective and individual levels. At the individual level, Frantz Fanon’s work as a psychiatrist in colonial Algeria, or Marcelo Suarez-Orosco’s work on Argentinian navy officers during the dictatorship, have both looked at the nightmares haunting the torturers and executioners: they show that even for perpetrators, this constant distortion (the fact that you don’t share the same reality as others) produces some kind of mental suffocation. And more silences. But this time of a different nature: an interiorized withdrawal, a strategic amnesia that enables you to be part of the community from which you have been alienated by the secret. This is why I say the politics of denial that produced these distortions were a way of governing the living through the dead. It was a way of silencing large portions of the population by supressing physically “only” a few dozen of thousands active opponents.</p> <p><em><strong>E: For a couple of years now, we have access to more and more memoirs and testimonies about the massacres in the 1980s. What is the place of Aziz’s notebook in this explosion of memoirs? </strong></em></p> <p>C: A few years after the massacres, from the mid-1990s on, a handful of prison survivors have testified about the massacres: they have published their memoirs in exile. But this was made possible precisely because they were in exile. The specificity of my grandfather’s narrative is that he is speaking from inside Iran in a place and at a time (right after the massacres) when it is impossible to speak out loud. I think this time and space, the isolation, the insecurity and the inaudibility associated with it imprint a special texture to this writing project. They also help us grasp the ambiguity you were pointing out between a 'private conversation' and a public testimony. As I said, other memoirs, written by survivors, have been published in the last 20 years. </p><p>But a key difference is that these memoirs have been written after the events and in exile; and we know that our memory is influenced by the context in which we write. My grandfather’s writing is different because there is no survival; his words draw from a memory frozen in terror and loss. I know this may seem extreme, but I really feel that the strength (and paradoxically enough, the literary beauty) of this testimony is that it comes from the other side, it does not fully belong to the world of the living any more.</p> <p><em><strong>E: In discovering, reading and publishing your grandfather’s notebook there is something particular tragic about excavating an unattainable experience. Your fragmented memories and doubts are harrowing, yet very powerful …</strong></em></p> <p>C: When I think about the notebook, I see my grandfather, old and small, standing up to shout in a deafening silence: and what comes out of his mouth is a rough but beautiful song of love and death.</p><hr /><p><span>This interview was first published in </span><a href="">Explosive Politics</a><span> in November 2014.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/omar-dewachi/wounds-of-baghdad%27s-frankenstein">The wounds of Baghdad&#039;s Frankenstein</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Iran Chowra Makaremi Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet State violence Transitional Justice Tue, 26 May 2015 09:46:50 +0000 Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet and Chowra Makaremi 93117 at ‘Parrhesia’: the radical destruction of impunity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What does it actually mean to speak truth to power? In his final two lectures, Michel&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Foucault discussed the risk involved and the courage required, far from the conventional bureaucratic techniques used today to fight impunity.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;From<strong> <a style="font-weight: bold;" href=""><em>States of Impunity</em></a>.</strong></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Che Guevara, who once spoke hard truths, now a popular consumer-cultural icon. Flickr/Emanuele. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Impunity is not simply a juridical, technical problem, or some sort of loophole in the law that lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats, and activists can close with greater effort. Impunity lies at the heart of a dispositive that encompasses, neutralizes and even recuperates almost all attempts to redress it. We have come to this disturbing realization on the basis of both empirical and theoretical attempts to understand how contemporary legal, political or civil-society practices run the risk, despite their benevolence, of falling into the propagandistic rhetoric, social conformism and bureaucratic indifference that feed impunity.</p> <p>In his book <em>The Social Production of Indifference</em> Michael Herzfeld provides an especially interesting interpretation of the symbolic roots of modern western bureaucracy, which, he argues, is not result of a process of rationalization. Bureaucracy, whose role is so central to contemporary societies, seems to Herzfeld to be quite distant from–and almost stands in contradiction to–the foundations on which our contemporary world has been built. Contrary to commonly held opinion, bureaucracy does not create responsibility through clear hierarchies of command, but rather indifference and ‘deresponsabilization’. The circle of deresponsabilization is presented as a sort of fatalist theology, where bureaucracy becomes a system that constantly legitimizes its own behaviour precisely by shifting blame from one part of itself to another in a Kafkaesque manner that calls for bureaucracy’s reinforcement as an antidote to its own failings.</p> <p>Our own experiences of global bureaucracies–including NGOs–however, have shown that we must distinguish between deresponsabilization and indifference. By projecting onto bosses, onto the locales in which they operate, onto experts who create distrust and suspicion, cosmopolitan bureaucrats resort to deresponsabilization but not to indifference. Or rather they start to move within a cycle of passion, fear, envy, and rage that become tools that feed the bureaucratic mechanisms themselves. They are sincere about their objectives and in their frustrations with their failures.&nbsp;Paradoxically, the continuous accumulation of information, to which their actions contribute, draws on the logic of modernity but produces a virtual rationality–the more they learn, the more they can blame others in an ultimately irrational cycle of scapegoating.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>How, then, can we definitively cut the heads of the Hydra of impunity? Our response is to embrace the political posture suggested by Michel Foucault’s interpretation of <em>parrhesia</em>. Foucault’s quest for parrhesia proposes an original strategy to break the spiral of impunity. This strategy of speaking truth to power cuts through the conventional bureaucratic techniques for fighting impunity. In making this argument we seek not to discount on-going efforts but to provoke reflections on new practices and subjectivities, for only a radically new manner of living our lives can bring change.</p> <h2><strong>Speaking the truth to power</strong></h2> <p>At the beginning of his final lecture course, <em>Le courage de la vérité</em>, Foucault distinguishes between four modes of speaking truth (or modes of veridiction), namely those of the prophet, who is the enigmatic mouthpiece of the future truth of destiny; of the sage, who unwillingly shares his understanding of the foundational, unifying truth of Being; of the teacher, who is obliged to perpetuate the truth of his technical knowledge; and, finally, of the parrhesiaste, who dares to speak the truth about individuals and situations in their ethical singularity. Each mode of veridiction entails particular power relations between interlocutors, with that between the teacher and student, for example, being most complicit, symbiotic, and cowardly. Indeed Foucault, aspiring to parrhesia, mocks himself for his utter lack of courage. Contrary to the teacher, who seeks only to reproduce his knowledge and ultimately himself in continuity with a tradition, the parrhesiaste must be willing to risk losing their reputation, their friends and even their life when pronouncing their truth. They must ultimately lay their life entirely bare.</p> <p>Through his genealogy of parrhesia in the ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and early Christian worlds, Foucault exposes the limits of political action and of philosophical critique as a means to subvert the discourse, practices, and techniques of (bio)power in general and to escape the veridictional cage of the market in particular. Only the ethical and aesthetic self-re-appropriation of the body remains as a possible avenue for a different life. Parrhesia was originally a political concept from the Periclean golden age of Athenian democracy, namely the right and duty of the citizen to speak freely before the assembly. With Socrates, it became an apolitical philosophical concern for the well-being of the self (<em>epimeleia heautou</em>) by way of the Socratic mission of overcoming the falsehood of opinion through remorseless frank questioning, even at the risk of violating the laws of the city and of condemnation to death.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Whereas Socrates embodied philosophical reason and ethical life practice, after him it is possible to distinguish between philosophical and ethical parreshia, as represented respectively in the Platonic and cynical traditions. Foucault pursues the distinction between these two forms of parrhesia. He first explores the dialogues on the death of Socrates. Then, he turns to the ascetic and ethical elements of parrhesia as pushed to their logical extreme in cynicism. Literally dog-like in his ethos, the cynic, whom Diogenes best personifies, strips his life of all convention, from clothing and manners to knowledge superfluous and survival, in an exemplary performance of parrhesia. The pure cynic represents radical alterity, a constant challenge to a life of conformity, but also a profoundly anti-political and potentially anti-philosophical stance.</p> <p>This sequence from political parrhesia, to apolitical philosophical parrhesia (Socrates) and then to anti-political, ethical parrhesia (cynicism) is chronological. But more importantly, it is logically inherent to the mode of action within the different types of parrhesiastic relationship. The political parrhesiaste daringly speaks his truth to their interlocutor(s) in the name of their common good, and in so doing succumbs to the rhetorical device of flattery­–the appeal to passions and interests–to arrive at the appearance of agreement. The philosophical parrhesiaste, adopts a critical, external stance towards politics and seeks a convergence of the <em>logos</em> of their and their interlocutors’ souls, in what Foucault calls a move from the rhetorical to the erotic. By contrast, the cynical parrhesiaste does not seek to attain a reasoned convergence of souls, and acts less to flatter, and more to performatively provoke his interlocutors. His mode of interaction is neither rhetorical nor erotic but aesthetic, in Foucault’s sense of a perpetual subversive practice in an art of living.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>Subversion and the courage of truth</strong></h2> <p>Although Foucault devotes most of his final two lecture courses to philosophical parrhesia and to its champion Socrates, by the end of <em>Le courage de la vérité</em>, it is clear that only the radical, provocative alterity of the ethical and aesthetic parrhesia of the cynical tradition responds to his personal aspiration for a different life–a life in truth–in a different world. Socrates’ philosophical parrhesia leads him to suicide in subordination to the laws of the city; the philosopher’s life of truth has no effect on power relations or, worse still, reproduces their effects. Although Foucault concludes the spoken portion of his final lecture course by affirming that the asceticism of cynicism opened the possibility of a ‘true life of truth’, he does not explain how the ‘aesthetic’ truth of the cynic can actually subvert the rhetorical ‘truth’ of politics any more than philosophical truth can.&nbsp;</p> <p>While Foucault remains elusive about what a reactivation of the cynical ethos and ‘aesthetic’ would entail today, he does suggest some possibilities and limits for a subversive parrhesia in the face of the Hydra of impunity. In the second hour of his lecture of 29 February 1984, Foucault identifies three posterities of ancient cynicism in western culture: religious, political, and aesthetic. First, he considers the debt to cynicism of Christian asceticism, particularly in its monastic and heretical doctrinal as well as spontaneously anti-ecclesiastic forms. Second, Foucault points to revolutionary, activist, and leftist life-styles as modern, primarily 19th&nbsp;century attempts to scandalize and provoke with an exemplary life of truth, evoking today’s paradigmatic figure of the suicide bomber, ‘as practice of a life for truth right up to and including death (the bomb that kills even the one who places it)’. Foucault casts doubt on the subversive potential of a parrhesia that ultimately reverts to the emotive rhetoric and self-defeating conformity of political action.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Finally, he holds up the figure of the artist, who in the modern age becomes not just an exceptional person but especially a violent expositor of the cultural possibilities of life. Although Foucault celebrates the permanent violence of modern art as ‘wild eruption of the true’, he also recognizes its marginality to the massively effective political technologies of the present. Beyond the artists whom each of us can identify because they break with convention and shock us with their originality, singularity and authenticity, only to then become, with time, standard-bearers of general sensibility, we can also think of those ethical-aesthetic artists who embody something more than charisma only to become props of a system they despised–like the Che Guevara who spoke hard truths before the United Nations before being transformed into a popular consumer-cultural icon.</p> <p><span>Where, finally, does Foucault leave us then? Inasmuch as </span><em>Le courage de la vérité</em><span> proposes a solution to the problem of impunity, the late Foucault offers us only the narrowest of escape routes from a bureaucratized world of scapegoating, namely parreshia, a life of truth in the cynical sense. The art of such a life does not consist in its pursuit of beauty but rather in the continuous mastery of an entirely personal practice of the self. Only through the extreme courage to pursue, continually and not exceptionally, our own and </span><em>always singular</em><span> ethos that gives content to an alternative form of life, outside the laws of scientific, philosophical and prophetic truths, can we–perhaps–slay the Hydra of impunity.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/chowra-makaremi-emmanuelpierre-guittet/aziz%E2%80%99s-notebook-and-transmission-of-memory-of-violence">Aziz’s notebook: transmitting the memory of violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/omar-dewachi/wounds-of-baghdad%27s-frankenstein">The wounds of Baghdad&#039;s Frankenstein</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity openSecurity Mariella Pandolfi Laurence McFalls Tue, 26 May 2015 09:32:40 +0000 Laurence McFalls and Mariella Pandolfi 92879 at The wounds of Baghdad's Frankenstein <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ahmed al-Sa'dawi's novel, rather than reconciling the complexities of violence in Iraq, seeks to exorcise the demons that haunt the lives of ordinary people left with wounds from decades of imperial brutality. From<em><strong><em>&nbsp;</em><a style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;" href="">States of Impunity</a>.</strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Mixing the past and present: the ruins of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin could easily be any Iraqi building after the 2003 invasion. Omar Dewachi. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>In his award-winning novel, <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1399573059&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=frankenstein+in+baghdad"><em>Frankenstein in Baghdad</em></a>, Iraqi author Ahmed al-Sa’dawi offers us an insight into the convolutions and ambivalences of violence and terror in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 US occupation. Set in the winter of 2005, several months before the outbreak of the so-called 'civil war' in Iraq (2006-2007), the novel captures the everyday absurdities of the <a href="">occupation project</a> and its production and management of 'unruliness' under the guise of the 'war on terror'. While it is a vivid commentary on the depth of human experience under that war, the novel further undermines simplistic notions of justice through dissecting an anatomy of everyday violence and retributions.</p> <p>The novel tells the story of Hadi al-Attag, a rag-and-bone, inebriated street-seller, who embarks on a “noble” mission to collect body remains from the daily explosions that hit Baghdad prior the outbreak of full-scale civil war. Troubled by the inability to give these body parts a proper burial, al-Attag attempts to stitch together his finds into a single corpse. His latest procurement is a nose, collected after a suicide attack of a garbage truck targeting a five star hotel in the capital. In the midst of the chaos of the explosion, al-Attag finds the nose remains on the side of the street, puts it in his sackcloth bag, and returns to his run-down home in the old Jewish cemetery in al-Bataween district–a religiously and ethnically mixed working-class neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. al-Attag stiches the nose into the oozing hodge-podge of flesh to complete his corpse, which he calls <em>the shisma</em> or the "what’s-its-name".Next morning, the <em>shisma</em> disappears, coming to life after a “lost soul”, whose body was completely decimated in that same explosion, finds a home in the stitched-up corpse.</p> <p>The <em>shisma</em> embarks on a mission to seek revenge for the wounds that constitute his Frankenstein-like body, spreading phantasmagoric terror in Baghdad’s neighborhoods. Bullets do not affect the stitched-up body of Baghdad's Frankenstein–a body that speaks more broadly to the density of Iraq's history in which memories, wounds, grievances and invasions are packed heavily into the bodies and lives of Iraqis. This <em>wounded</em> body brings out the perverted logics of the US invasion where the boundaries between everyday crime and the violence of the occupation are blurred, so as that between the rational and the irrational. </p><p>The mysterious vigilante violence ultimately leads to a governmental inquiry and manhunt by the Special Bureau of Surveillance and Investigation–a bureau created by the US occupation authority that deploys sorcery and black magic to track an array of incidents in the war-torn city. The bureau mobilizes its employees of thugs, psychics, mediums, occultists and astrologists hired to predict violence. The investigation spreads further terror in the city, torturing suspects and witnesses, as all efforts to capture or kill the s<em>hisma</em> are to no avail. Subsequently members of the bureau become possessed in the pursuit of the <em>shisma</em> and the chief sorcerer begins to question the bureau’s role in the making of Baghdad’s mystery<em> </em>criminal.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Frankenstein moves at night from alley to alley, and across rooftops as he carries out his own form of brutal retribution. The victims of the <em>shisma</em> vary every night. On one occasion it was a member of al-Qaeda organization hiding in a small house in Abu-Ghraib district. Another is a mercenary from Venezuela working for a private security company in Baghdad. Another night, it is an opportunist warlord who supplies militias with explosives and weaponry, regardless of their political views or affiliations. Through his undertakings, the <em>shisma</em> displaces the commonly invoked sectarian logics of Iraq’s violence. He shows how everyday violence is mostly shaped by the state of 'disorder' under the occupation. There is only one problem: avenged body parts of Baghdad’s Frankenstein dissolve after each retribution and the monster turns into a killer who is ready to slay “innocent” citizens to replace the disintegrating flesh. The flesh of victims and perpetrators mix in a hallucinogenic <em>mélange</em> of magical realism that is deployed by Sa’dawi to capture everyday social relations and emotions under occupation. He shows how earthly notions of justice have become unavailable in the productions of such magical spectacles of violence, where yesterday’s victims are today’s avengers.</p> <p>The <em>shisma</em> symbolizes this lack of a comprehensive project of justice after 2003 that became blind to the complex wounds that constitute the Iraqi social body. The occupation institutionalized a process of retribution–where personal vendettas and settling old accounts became normalized under the banner of de-Ba’thification. The denial of the US occupation of its own implications in the production of decades of violence dating back to the first Gulf war and sanctions toxically metabolizes in the narratives of the novel. Soon characters in the novel begin to recognize how they too are implicated by the terror of the <em>shisma</em> whose flesh is constituted of more than wasting flesh, but also the different grievances and injustices of post-invasion Iraq.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>With the inevitable failure of “earthly” forms of justice, the <em>shisma</em> cultivates a cult of followers in the city, from the most wretched who see him as the embodiment of a perverted God-sent justice. His followers offer him comfort, love and their own bodies as a sacrifice towards his undertaking. Eliashu, an elderly Christian women living alone in an old house in Bataween recognizes the <em>shisma</em> as her returning son, Daniel, whose body remained missing after his assumed death during Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). The <em>shisma</em> was the answer to her decades of prayers to Saint Georges, whose iconic image combating the dragon hung in her dusty and unkempt home. She offers him Daniel’s clothes and a silent motherly presence as the <em>shisma</em> returns every night to her modest dwelling.</p> <p>Fighting along his side are a number of demoralized followers: there is the disheartened sorcerer, a member of the demised Ba’th Party, whose mobilization of <em>djinn</em> (spirits) had failed in the face of the high-tech military power of the US occupation. There is the sophist whose ability to rationalize the retributions carried out by the <em>shisma</em> allows the monster to strategize, and moralize, his daily killings. There is also the enemy, an officer in the Iraqi government’s Anti-Terrorism Brigade who, after two years of work with the corrupt Internal Security Forces, came to the conclusion that justice was a fiction in present-day Iraq. The enemy frequently leaks to the <em>shisma</em> secret intelligence about the mobilization of the US and Iraqi security forces in the city and supplies him with official government uniforms to carry out, <em>incognito</em>, his assassinations.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In addition to such “logistical” support the <em>shisma</em> is also shadowed by three faithful foot soldiers:&nbsp; the “lesser madman”, the “great madman” and the “greatest madman.” The first believes that the <em>shisma</em> is the “ideal Iraqi citizen” that succeeding Iraqi governments failed to mint since the creation of the Iraqi state under the British mandate from 1920 to 1932. He is a figure that has internalized discourses of Iraq’s “ungovernability”, often invoked by media and political pendants commenting on the “incommensurability” of the Iraqi nation-state project. The second holds that the <em>shisma</em> is God’s tool of destruction that will lead to the coming of the Savior; the Messiah; the Mahdi. The third believes that the <em>shisma</em> is actually the Savior himself, who has finally arrived to bring God’s justice in preparation for judgment day.</p> <p><em>Frankenstein in Baghdad</em> captures the impossibility of justice in the aftermath of decades of US war and violence in Iraq. Rather than focusing on witnessing as a way to document this troubled past/present, the magical realism of the narrative allows the author to explore the array of emotions of terror and vengeance that characterizes the frayed fabric of life and justice in the country. It is indeed a commentary on contemporary colonial violence and its attempt to obscure and deny local and personal histories and wounds of ordinary Iraqis. It is a response to the simplistic characterization of Iraqis as ungovernable–torn between sectarian and ethnic identities.</p> <p>While such discourse has deep roots in the politics of colonial and state violence, the novel brilliantly shows how unruliness in Iraq is both produced and renounced by the perverted logics and workings of the US-led war on terror. Indeed, the novel is a response to the 'shock and awe' doctrine of US campaign in Iraq and its consequences that shape through <a href="">the stratum of wounds of the Iraqi social body</a>. The novel does not attempt to give us answers to how one could reconcile the complexities of violence in Iraq. Rather, it is an attempt to exorcise these demons that haunt the life of ordinary people who are caught in the 'awe' of decades of imperial brutality.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/laurence-mcfalls-mariella-pandolfi/%E2%80%98parrhesia%E2%80%99-radical-destruction-of-impunity">‘Parrhesia’: the radical destruction of impunity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/chowra-makaremi-emmanuelpierre-guittet/aziz%E2%80%99s-notebook-and-transmission-of-memory-of-violence">Aziz’s notebook: transmitting the memory of violence</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Iraq Omar Dewachi State violence Transitional Justice Tue, 26 May 2015 09:18:04 +0000 Omar Dewachi 93114 at Morocco, UN myopia and the Libyan crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It may be understandable that the UN should clutch at any straws to address the miasma in Libya. But Morocco shouldn’t be one of them.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Those were the days: celebrating the liberation of Benghazi from the Qaddafi dictatorship in October 2011. Flickr / <a href="">Magherabia</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>Since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya has been plunged into civil war. No one really knows where it will lead but it is indefinitely postponing a political transition essential for the country's stability. </p> <p>For some time the African Union (AU), Egypt and Algeria seemed to be key actors in the search for peace but their efforts, under the patronage of the United Nations (UN), have led only to impasse. Enter Morocco, which has in recent weeks organised several intra-Libyan round tables under UN sponsorship. </p> <p>During one such event in April, in the coastal town of Skhirate (near Rabat), the&nbsp;UN special envoy,&nbsp;Bernardino Leon, warned that “the talks would be the last chance to end the conflict” and that “the patience of Libyans and the international community” was exhausted. And there have even been media suggestions that some western officials see such talks in Morocco as the only hope of forming a unity government and halting the fighting.</p> <h2><strong>Continental approach</strong></h2> <p>To thoroughly understand what drives Morocco in the search for peace, a regional, even continental, approach is required. Yet in the many analyses of the crisis in Libya and the wider Sahel, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), which has 28 members (two-thirds French speaking) and is a key geopolitical bloc, has been neglected if not overlooked. Qaddafi, the mastermind behind the foundation of CEN-SAD in 1998, had a strategic ambition thereby to reduce French influence on African countries, while counterbalancing the AU, and poured petro-dollars into this regional grouping. </p> <p>Since his overthrow in 2011, however, CEN-SAD has been deprived of much of its financing, removing any impediments for France to reactivate its policy in the Sahel—as witnessed since the advent of the crisis in Mali. For Rabat, controlling CEN-SAD or, at least, being perceived as a proximate supporter of Libya could be highly beneficial. Such a strategy would provide this close and historical French ally with an elevated leading role alongside France, which already has a substantial number of troops in the region, and an even greater opportunity to influence the Sahel. </p> <p>In June 2012, a meeting of CEN-SAD foreign ministers took place in Morocco, officially to find a lasting peace in Mali. In reality, this was a unique occasion for Rabat to showcase its new-found interest in Sahel stability. </p> <p>The fall of Qaddafi and the changing regional political landscape have provided Morocco with the opportunity to influence the Sahel states in its own long-term continental interests. Moroccan diplomats have been extremely active in the Sahel and the Maghreb, trying to reap the benefits of the continuing geopolitical and strategic reshuffling.</p> <p>By giving a lead—directly or indirectly—to CEN-SAD, Morocco aims to strengthen its international position, in Africa in particular, which would facilitate the kingdom’s eventual return to the AU. The union currently recognises as a member the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which contests Rabat’s illegal colonisation of the Western Sahara territory since 1975, and so Morocco remains outside. </p> <h2><strong>Mutual efforts</strong></h2> <p>Like Egypt (and the AU), Algeria is convinced that only a political solution will eventually put an end to the stalemate in Libya and privileges political dialogue. Aided by regular diplomatic meetings, these two north African giants converge behind mutual efforts to find a lasting, peaceful solution and combat the growing threat from terrorism in the region.&nbsp; </p> <p>The recent peace accords in Mali, signed in Bamako, emerged under the patronage of Algiers. Yet, despite hosting various meetings with the different Libyan protagonists, it has not enjoyed the same success in that arena. It’s not just the complexity of the Libyan equation but what the Algerian daily <em>El Watan</em> characterises as a ‘two-headed diplomacy’. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">Exerting more pressure on Libyans and putting before them a&nbsp;<em>fait accompli&nbsp;</em>is surely not the best option to find a lasting peace.</p><p><span></span>Oddly, Algeria has both a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC), headed since September 2013 by Ramtane Lamamra, and a Ministry for Maghreb and African Affairs and the Arab League (MMAAAL), led by Abdelkader Messahel. Both are highly respected and experienced diplomats, with a massive knowledge of African affairs.</p> <p>Lamamra (dubbed ‘Mister Africa’), a former AU peace and security commissioner, is the chief author of the reinvigoration of Algeria’s foreign policy, internationally and on the African continent—for too long neglected. He is also behind the flow of African and western diplomats, presidents and ministers to Algiers in the past 18 months.<em> </em></p> <p>Officially, this dual diplomacy is due to the numerous international files in which Algeria is implicated, in Africa and beyond. But this bicephalous approach is vulnerable to personal rivalries and competitive ambitions. And, if the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger once famously asked ‘who do I call if I want to call Europe?’, foreign chancelleries might soon ask ‘what foreign ministry shall we call in Algeria?’.</p> <h2><strong>Jumble</strong></h2> <p>To add to this jumble of conferences and round tables, Ethiopia has recently called for a gathering of African foreign ministers on Libya, probably during the AU summit to be held next month in Johannesburg. But given the scale of the challenge, it is hard to envisage any strategy arising from this meeting, as against a loud diplomatic cacophony. And this multiplication of initiatives may only complicate an already complex Libyan and regional geopolitical situation. </p> <p>Worse still, Leon’s exasperated declaration last month may not only indicate that the UN is losing ground. Exerting more pressure on Libyans and putting before them a <em>fait accompli </em>is surely not the best option to find a lasting peace. And while all actors must help Libyans find an overdue political solution, the AU and its member states, supported by the UN, should be the prime driving force. </p> <p>It is thus paradoxical and puzzling that the UN could perceive Morocco, though not a member of the AU, as a viable broker for Libya. If Rabat could harvest any laurels from the thorny Libyan political stalemate, it would open a regional Pandora’s box—with dramatic consequences for the Western Sahara conflict. And if the UN has a viable strategy for stability and security in Libya and the Sahel-Maghreb as a whole, it is not at all evident what it is.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/abdelkader-abderrahmane/libya-pressing-need-for-dialogue">Libya: the pressing need for dialogue</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/libya-containing-danger">Libya, containing the danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya%E2%80%99s-downward-spiral">Libya’s downward spiral</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Libya Conflict International politics global security Africa Abdelkader Abderrahmane Diplomacy Peacebuilding Sun, 24 May 2015 20:29:00 +0000 Abdelkader Abderrahmane 93045 at UK nuclear weapons: a source of insecurity? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK doggedly maintains an ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ but a naval officer has blown the whistle on the system’s inherent insecurity—with its potentially incalculable implications.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Royal Navy might have hoped that the detention on 18 May of Able Seaman William McNeilly, who had just revealed the poor security of Britain’s submarine-based nuclear-weapons system, might bury the issue of its safety in public. If so, it was not reckoning with the capacity of the massively-enlarged contingent of Scottish National Party MPs, following the general election, to make hay at Westminster—the four Trident submarines are based at Faslane in Scotland and the SNP had made opposition to the system’s expensive replacement a campaigning focus. Now it has secured a <a href="">debate on Trident safety</a> on 28 May. </p> <p>This is not just a Scottish concern: it brings into question whether the UK is the responsible nuclear-weapons state it presents itself to be. McNeilly <a href="">claimed</a> a disaster was waiting to happen, which might not just affect those manning the submarines. </p> <p>The navy will no doubt attempt to rectify many of the problems and reassure the public via the government benches on Thursday. But these revelations expose muddled thinking around the need for continuous patrolling—one submarine is supposed to be at sea at all times, with the other three undergoing refit or being used for training—and highlight the need for a reassessment by the new government.</p> <p>While the navy categorically denied the charges, there were no doubt a lot of red faces in the senior service. McNeilly’s claims included shockingly lax security arrangements on shore and on the at-sea submarine, which would open up nuclear-weapons operations to insider attack. They involved disturbing and willful neglect of safety measures on board, threatening fire and other lethal accidents. They also highlighted the willingness to go to sea with faulty systems and a disregard of alarms, compromising the smooth, safe and stealthy operation of the submarine. When these breaches were pointed out to senior staff, however, they were largely ignored.</p> <p>The navy and regulators will be all over the case in the coming days, urgently reviewing management, safety and security protocols. They may find scapegoats, at least internally. They will also need to brief whichever junior minister is appointed to defend the service on Thursday on their improvements. Yet these will have unintended, negative side-effects. </p> <p>Stricter security protocols are expensive and intrusive, and leave those subject to them experiencing inconvenience and feeling resentment. The navy demands a great deal from its submariners, and recruitment and retention is already a problem. Could, for instance, the more effective enforcement of regulations banning the use of electronics on board in most areas (including living quarters) affect morale?</p> <h2><strong>Incredulous</strong></h2> <p>If the UK is to field such dangerous and highly complex systems the rational approach must include expensive and robust arrangements to minimise the potentially horrific risks. McNeilly described a practice of removing fire-fighting equipment from the submarine when in port, so that it was more easily accessible for teams entering the submarine to respond to any incident, and was incredulous that in a system costing billions each year such cost-saving practices could be pursued. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">Forced to endure months under the water in unpleasant incarceration, it is no wonder they cut corners for an easier life.</span></p><p><span></span>There are also conflicts with other objectives. As John Borrie pointed out in a Chatham House blog <a href="">post</a>, readiness and alert status rub up against safety and security. This was particularly clear during the cold war, when corners were cut in terrifying and reckless ways, in the race to achieve capability against what was seen as an urgent and very potent Soviet threat. It was a minor <a href="">miracle</a> that numerous accidents did not result in a nuclear catastrophe. British submarines may now be at lower levels of alert but, as the <a href="">BASIC Trident Commission</a> heard in evidence, their nuclear payloads could be launched in upwards of just 15 minutes.</p> <p>Yet there are also problems which arise because the Trident mission has not been clear since the Soviet Union collapsed. McNeilly described human error and complacency, inevitable in a system thankfully never tested in combat since it began almost 50 years ago (with the prior Polaris submarines). No amount of training or indoctrination can force human beings to operate inconvenient procedures when they do not see the point, particularly when there is no immediate threat or identified enemy. </p> <h2><strong>No rationale</strong></h2> <p>Some familiar with the submarine service <a href="">claim</a> that to drop continuous patrolling would harm morale. But the clear implication of McNeilly’s testimony is that, while submariners may believe in the continuing need for a British nuclear-weapons capability, many on patrol have lost any sense of its particular rationale for them—because, with no strategic threat to the UK and no chance of engagement, there is none. Forced to endure months under the water in unpleasant incarceration, it is no wonder they cut corners for an easier life. </p> <p>If the UK is to maintain Trident submarines in a responsible and cost-effective manner, it is time for the posture to reflect the threat level. Occasional patrols should have particular purposes—training and testing in maintaining the systems for a possible future when patrols could actively deter a real and present threat. </p> <p>No doubt some may exploit this story to claim that the Vanguard-class submarines will soon require replacing, and that there is no time to waste in bringing forward the construction and deployment of their successors. But this would be completely to miss the point. Any institutional reassurance that these systems are foolproof must be treated with scepticism. There is no such thing as a completely safe and secure system—particularly one involving such technical complexity that it relies upon demanding human management, where the implications of any shortfall could be so immeasurable.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/paul-ingram/trident-weak-defence">Trident: weak defence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/paul-ingram/would-scotland%27s-nationalists-disarm-trident">Would Scotland&#039;s nationalists disarm Trident? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity UK europe Paul Ingram BASIC Nuclear politics Sun, 24 May 2015 08:46:57 +0000 Paul Ingram 93037 at The Iraqi crisis: rethinking the narrative <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An approach to Iraq focused on military intervention, with some humanitarian assistance, has defied the complexity of the domestic and regional kaleidoscope. No wonder it is failing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Jaish al-Mahdi army military parade, Najaf,Iraq, 2014." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jaish al-Mahdi army military parade, Najaf,Iraq, 2014. Demotix/Ahmad Mousa.All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The <a href="">capture</a> of Tikrit from Islamic State (IS) by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in early April, with the help of US airstrikes and Iranian advisors, appeared simultaneously to preserve and undermine the Iraqi state. While representing a significant territorial victory in the fight against IS, <a href="">reports</a> indicated that the group’s expulsion was followed by a wave of looting, summary executions and other atrocities, tarnishing the town’s ‘liberation’ and the forces associated with it. </p> <p>While the ISF formally and visibly did the capturing, and took most of the credit, Iraq’s Shia militias dominated the first two weeks of the assault. These forces largely operate outside of state control—in spite of the recent move by the prime minister (and <a href="">commander-in-chief</a>), Haider al-Abadi, to bring them under his authority—and do most of the fighting against the <a href=";id=188537">Wahhabi</a>-inspired Sunni IS. </p> <p>The event fitted well into the common narrative of the conflict on which much of the west’s intervention against IS in Iraq is based. Its main elements—often espoused by <a href="">US</a>-, <a href="">Israeli</a>- and <a href="">Gulf-based media</a> and analysts—are questioning the chances of survival of the Iraqi state, perceiving IS as a signficant threat through the lens of global terrorism, framing Iran as the region’s challenger to the status quo, and suggesting that a fight for hegemony is taking place across the Middle East which pits Sunni against Shia regimes and groups. But this narrative is misleading. </p> <h2><strong>Fear of implosion</strong></h2> <p>First, it is doubtful that Iraq’s days as a unitary state are numbered. This proposition is mainly based on the combination of centrifugal domestic political forces—divergent Sunnis, Shia and Kurds—and centripetal regional forces influencing national affairs. Yet none of Iraq’s key neighbours (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey) wishes to see it disappear as a unitary state. They may prefer a weak Iraq for various reasons but they fear implosion bringing insecurity, radicalism, refugees and aspirations to self-determination across their borders. </p> <p>Moreover, Iraq’s Sunnis have no viable alternative. A Sunni rump state is not only politically impossible given the record of the last ten years of radical groups emerging from Sunni-populated territorities, but also financially untenable. And Iraq’s Kurds are unlikely to declare independence in the face of resistance from both Turkey and Iran, considering their sizeable Kurdish populations. As long as Turkey transfers payments for Kurdish oil to the treasury in Bagdad instead of Erbil, the Kurds cannot really afford it either. </p> <p>Secondly, and relatedly, Iraq’s Shia are more nationalistic and more fragmented than one might think. While some groups, such as Kataib Hezbollah, essentially owe allegiance to Tehran, far from all Shia militias are Iranian proxies—take Muqtada al-Sadr’s ‘Mahdi army’. And while Iraq’s Shia took up arms when IS arrived at the gates of Baghdad, this was much less a sectarian mobilisation than a response to a <a href="">strident nationalistic call</a> from the grand ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, which <a href="">showed little symphathy</a> for sectarian narratives. Al-Sistani’s influence is significant—he is perhaps as close as one can find to a national figure in Iraq—and in the Shia world his authority rivals, or even surpasses, that of his Iranian counterparts.</p> <p>Thirdly, it is not just Iranian influence in Iraq which incentivises violence. While it is materially significant (advisors, weapons and funds), prolonged Saudi export of Wahhabism—its extremely conservative interpretation of Islam—has also played its part. As socio-religious influence, Wahhabism spreads more under the radar and with greater deniability than Iranian arms or <a href="">pictures of Qassem Suleimani</a>, leader of Iran’s Quds force, but it is not less of a hindrance to resolving Iraq’s governance crisis. </p> <p>Fourthly, while Iraq’s Sunnis are not necessarily true believers in the ideology of IS they are deeply distrustful of the Iraqi state. Since 2003 they have been consistently marginalised by the government, its bureaucracy and corrupt ‘checkpoint army’. Over time, Iraq’s state institutions have increasingly moved away from treating the country’s citizens impartially on the basis of the constitution. What remains of that state is perceived as having been captured by Iraq’s Shia, while benefiting from significant international military support. This is seen as deeply threatening by many Sunnis—especially in the light of atrocities such as those that followed the capture of Tikrit. </p> <p>Finally, the international community may continue to pretend that the crisis in Iraq can be resolved without addressing the crisis in Syria, but this is wishful thinking. Not only does IS operate freely across the border—re-emerging in Iraq having regained strength in Syria—but also it is the combined outcomes of these wars which feature in regional calculations. So regional involvement is only likely to become more constructive if a solution to both conflicts can be identified which is acceptable to the main players: Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.</p> <h2><strong>Counter-narrative</strong></h2> <p>These five points provide a counter-narrative on the crisis in Iraq. Disturbingly, most of the west’s intervention—and a lot of its reporting—does not take this complexity much into account. Focused on driving IS out of Anbar province and Mosul city, the US-led international coalition has not addressed how Iraq can become a state which functions for all its citizens. Engaged in Iraq but neglecting the war in Syria, western countries risk strengthening IS or creating a successor sooner or later. And by accepting or even reinforcing simplistic, Sunni versus Shia framing, they reduce the agency of Iraqi actors who can play a more constructive role. </p> <p>A nuanced understanding is needed of the various regional and domestic stakeholders, and a greater range of instruments than just humanitarian assistance and military intervention need to be deployed. The risk of the current approach is that if violence is brought to a halt it will be merely the silence before the next storm.</p> <p><em>For more from the Knowledge Platform on Security and Rule of Law go to&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em></em></a><em>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq%27s-phantom-army">Iraq&#039;s phantom army</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-new-war%27s-peril">Iraq, a new war&#039;s peril</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Iraq Conflict Democracy and government rule of law iraq - the war & after insurgency geopolitics of iraqi war us & the world middle east Nick Grinstead Erwin van Veen Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 22 May 2015 14:13:55 +0000 Erwin van Veen and Nick Grinstead 93004 at When does a refugee camp become a permanent home? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Encamped refugees are often portrayed on our TV screens as objects of pity with deadpan expressions. Time to ask what they think and feel.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Love in a hard place: on St Valentine’s evening 2013, the families of Aya and Mohammed gathered in a tiny building in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, housing an estimated 90,000 refugees who fled Syria, and agreed on their engagement. Flickr / <a href="">Oxfam International</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p><span></span>Across the globe 10m people are <a href="">living in refugee camps</a>. Many, like the Syrians in Jordan and Turkey, arrived recently. Others, like the <a href="">Palestinians</a> in Lebanon or Burma’s ethnic minorities in <a href="">Thailand</a>, have been there for decades. </p> <p>At what stage do people realise their port-in-a-storm might be permanent? What does it mean reluctantly to accept you are unlikely ever to see your home again? What happens to the established social order when the hiatus becomes the new ‘normal’? And when does surviving give way to starting over?</p> <h2>Darfur’s forgotten</h2> <p>Among the world’s most forgotten refugees are those from Darfur, who began their exodus to next-door <a href=";submit=GO">Chad</a> 12 years ago. According to the UN, 355,330 live in more than a dozen refugee camps dotted along the border with Sudan. Eastern Chad is arid, poor, and remote; the local people have little to share with newcomers. </p> <p>Darfur started as a short-term humanitarian emergency in 2003. The Sudanese regime and its proxy militias however continue the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of its non-Arab citizens, using aerial bombardment, systematic rape, looting and intimidation. Although media attention has moved on, the violence is back to its former <a href="">savagery</a>, causing hundreds of thousands more to abandon their homes. The Khartoum regime says it will <a href="">defeat its enemies</a> (the non-Arabs and non-Muslims whom it labels terrorists) by the end of 2015. Consequently people are still in what psychologists call survival mode, unwilling to settle down to a new life in Chad. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“Whilst the political and military problems continue to persist in Sudan the prospect of the refugees returning home in the foreseeable future is unlikely,” said Jan Schutte of the Lutheran World Federation Chad. “LWF assists host communities and refugee populations with the implementation of sustainable livelihoods projects like Seeds for Solution. Last year this project, supported by UNHCR, helped more than 250 producers’ groups, consisting of both refugee and host populations, with the production, processing and storage of harvests.”</p> <p>Schutte admitted the main challenges remained access to agricultural land, as well as funding this work as the world looked elsewhere. Another aid worker who declined to be identified said it had been hard to persuade locals to allocate scarce resources to the refugees.</p> <p>Darfuri women risk rape when they venture beyond the perimeter to collect firewood, and charity staff live in fear of bandits along the routes between the camps. Armed escorts are necessary and even within the camps vehicles are left with the police, while the aid workers go about their business. The Chadian government is <a href="///C:/Users/Robin%20Wilson/Desktop/(1)%09http:/;%20">not much in evidence</a> to guarantee security, since a 2008 peace deal with Sudan neutralised the threat to the regime from local rebels.</p><p> When Sam Totten of the University of Arkansas visited the camps in 2010 he predicted devastating social breakdown should Darfuris, used to living on farms, be forced into prolonged proximity with strangers. He feared abandonment of the old and the mentally and physically disabled, of girls raped by Sudanese militia and unaccompanied children or offspring of earlier marriages. According to representatives of international aid agencies, all this has come to pass.</p> <p>Darfuri society is conservative and Muslim, assigning women low status. The social disruption means fathers are even less involved in parenting. ‘God will provide for them’ is a phrase commonly heard, placing a greater burden on their women. </p> <p>Alcoholism, domestic violence and rape also take their toll in the camps. Moreover, respect for elders has crumbled as young men witness the helplessness of their ethnic groups, whiling away the years in exile.</p><p>International charities encourage camp elders and imams to condemn gender-based violence. According to one aid worker who insisted on anonymity, “We put men on the camp committees, telling them how important it is that they show leadership, but the men respond, ‘No one ever said this was wrong until we got here.’”</p> <p class="pullquote-right">Although media attention has moved on, the violence is back to its former&nbsp;<span>savagery</span>, causing hundreds of thousands more to abandon their homes.</p><p><span></span>The more traditional the rural people are, the less they are willing to alter their lifestyle, it seems. “Having lived for centuries in the same manner in a remote part of the world, they are confronted by aspects of modern life that challenge them to change their ways,” commented an aid worker who also declined to be identified. “They don’t see why they should adapt.”</p> <p>To the frustration of the aid agencies, there is little interest among the refugees in schooling. Moreover, they are unwilling to learn French—the common language in Chad—because they assume they are going home to herd their livestock. According to another anonymous aid worker, “They especially dislike it when the Kenyan humanitarian staff dispute their claim that education is ‘not the African way’ or ‘not the Muslim way’. The Kenyans make a point of saying the best schools in Kenya are the Muslim ones.”</p> <p>In some respects it suits the aid agencies if refugees are passive and thus easy to manage. But at the same time they urge the camp inhabitants to embrace empowerment through education, women’s rights and livelihood projects. </p> <h2>Loss of skills</h2> <p>Dr Barbara Bauer, a psychologist with my NGO, Network for Africa, does trauma-therapy training in northern Uganda, where people lived in camps for more than 20 years. There she has observed the loss of problem-solving skills or the ability to take responsibility. While they are in survival mode refugees are unlikely to plan for the future, giving rise to challenges when the conflict ends. In other words, the factors stopping the Darfuris in Chad from starting over are hardly unique.</p> <p>In her book <em>The Spirit of Peace</em>, the theologian Mary Grey describes the burden on Palestinian women in the camps in Gaza, holding their families together while facing many tedious hours each day collecting water from communal taps and scrubbing their shelters to keep the sand at bay. She pays tribute to what the Palestinians call <em>sumud, </em>or steadfastness, resilience or stoicism—and in the case of the medical staff to their heroism.</p> <p>Aziz Abu Sarah of George Mason University believes the worst thing about refugee camps is there is no way to be productive: “Just like prison, you receive your daily portion of food and water, and are asked to wait hopelessly, passively.” An aid worker in the Bosnian camps in Slovenia in the 1990s recalled that the people who adapted best were Roma “used to making the most of having very little, and coping in the face of adversity and prejudice”. </p> <p>In 2007 Waging Peace collected 500 <a href="">drawings</a> by Darfuri children in the camps illustrating their experiences: Sudanese soldiers killing and raping as they rampaged through the children’s home villages; girls led away in chains, never to be seen again; babies thrown on fires; possessions and livestock looted; towns incinerated. The drawings were accepted as evidence of the context of war crimes by the International Criminal Court and they were exhibited around the world, sometimes alongside the children’s pictures from the Theresienstadt/Terezin Nazi death camp (20).</p> <p>The good news is that the children no longer draw such disturbing images, preferring to reproduce what they saw recently on TV. Nevertheless, it is hard to be optimistic about their future. </p> <p>The obvious answer is for diplomatic pressure to be applied to the Sudanese regime, so it stops abusing its own citizens. Unfortunately the international community has other priorities, giving its attention to more headline-grabbing conflicts. Evidently an inability to show flexibility in solving problems and behaving rationally is not confined to refugee camps.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/open-security/christalla-yakinthou/lebanon-is-cracking-under-pressure-from-syria-and-iraq">Lebanon is cracking under the pressure from Syria and Iraq</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/johnpaul-rantac/syrian-refugees-in-turkey-defusing-powderkeg">Syrian refugees in Turkey: defusing the powder-keg</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity openSecurity human rights global village refugees Rebecca Tinsley State violence Wed, 20 May 2015 16:41:09 +0000 Rebecca Tinsley 92954 at Russian civil society deemed ‘undesirable’ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" hspace="5" width="80" align="left" />A new Russian bill on ‘undesirable organisations’ has been endorsed today which will allow the government to ban foreign NGOs. But are they the real targets?</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today, Russia’s upper house of parliament endorsed a bill on ‘undesirable organisations,’ passed by the lower house just a day earlier, on May 19. The bill will let the government ban the activities of foreign or international nongovernmental groups deemed to undermine ‘state security,’ ‘national defense,’ or the ‘constitutional order.’ There is little doubt that this new piece of repressive legislation will be now swiftly signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. </p><h2>The real targets</h2><p>Meanwhile, my phone is ringing off the hook: ‘So, this new law the State Duma has just adopted, is it about you? Do you think they want to use this to close down the Human Rights Watch bureau in Moscow?’ Well, to be sure, the bill has the potential to severely damage our work in Russia. The ‘undesirables’ bill is a cause of grave concern for all international rights groups operating in the country.</p><p class="pullquote-right">'Do you think they want to use this to close down the Human Rights Watch bureau in Moscow?’</p><p>Nevertheless, I am genuinely convinced that it’s not about us. The intended targets of this new legislation on foreign and international organisations are actually Russian activists and Russian groups. The bill is aimed at cutting them off from their international partners, further isolating them, and <a href="">squeezing the very life out of Russian civil society</a>.</p><p>Just think about it. Why would the government need new legislation to close down Russia-based offices of foreign groups when the Justice Ministry can do this in one swift move simply by de-registering any organisation, no strings attached? And if Russia wants to stop representatives of foreign groups from entering the country, the authorities can simply blacklist them with no explanation whatsoever.</p><p>The bill on ‘undesirables’ not only allows the authorities to ban specific organisations’ activities on Russian territory – it also provides for sanctions against Russian citizens and Russian groups for ‘involvement’ in the activities of ‘undesirable’ organisations. </p><p>The bill does not specify what ‘involvement’ might include. So anything goes. Distributing -- including by posting online -- the statements, reports, or other materials of an ‘undesirable,’ participating in international events jointly with ‘undesirable’ organisations, or even simply communicating with staffers of ‘undesirable’ organisations could be all interpreted by the authorities as ‘involvement’ in their activities and result in punishment of the Russian groups and individuals. Sanctions include hefty administrative fines for the first two offenses, and more than two offenses in one year can result in criminal prosecution and up to six years in prison.</p><h2>Selective implementation</h2><p>The bill appears to be designed for selective implementation. The definition of ‘state security’ under Russian law is vague. The prosecutor general’s office can designate an organisation as ‘undesirable’ without judicial review based solely on materials from law enforcement and security services. The Justice Ministry is designated as the keeper of the ‘undesirables.’ </p><p>There is no requirement for the authorities to give a potential ‘undesirable’ any notice – an organisation may only discover its ‘undesirability’ after it has been already included on the list. Once the law enters into force, any foreign non-governmental group that criticises the Russian authorities, conducts independent activity, and supports civil society in Russia will be under threat of being pegged ‘undesirable.’</p><p class="pullquote-right">The bill appears to be designed for selective implementation.</p><p> An ‘undesirable’ organisation must terminate its presence in Russia and stop participating in any projects on Russian territory. Moreover, it won’t be able to reach out to the public through Russian media or websites – all its information will effectively be banned. And any Russian friends, partners or sympathizers of these organisations should know better than to go near them.</p><h2>Spreading the trend</h2><p>These new harsh restrictions follow in the footsteps of the ‘foreign agents’ law passed in July 2012, which has been used to demonise in the eyes of the public close to 60 local non-governmental organisations, including the country’s leading human rights groups, as anti-Russian saboteurs. Several of these organisations chose to shut down rather than bear the ‘foreign agent’ stigma. </p><p>The new bill on ‘undesirables’ is indubitably part of the Kremlin’s trend of repression against independent voices but takes it even further. While supposedly focused on preventing foreign and international groups from undermining national security, it is evidently meant to deliver another hard blow to Russian groups and activists. Once the authorities have free rein to bar Russians from ‘involvement’ with their ‘undesirable’ foreign counterparts, the authorities can leave critics of the government in an airless limbo and eventually suffocate them. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/grigory-tumanov/is-russia%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98foreign-agent%E2%80%99-law-illegal-FARA-Golos-Memorial">Is Russia’s ‘foreign agent’ law illegal? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/vladimir-zvonovsky/what-do-russians-think-of-their-%E2%80%98foreign-agents%E2%80%99">What do Russians think of their ‘foreign agents’?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia openSecurity Tanya Lokshina Wed, 20 May 2015 11:22:07 +0000 Tanya Lokshina 92934 at Challenging the Syrian state: using information systems to document human-rights violations <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How modes of resistance to document state-sanctioned violence changed after the uprising. <strong>From <em><a href=""><strong>States of Impunity</strong></a></em></strong>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// activist copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// activist copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="331" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Syrian activists used technology long before the Arab Spring to work around the censorship of the Syrian state. With the revolution they reoriented those technologies to directly confront it. Freedom House/Flickr. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Syrian human rights defenders have mobilised information systems in order to document human rights violations and to challenge the legitimacy of the Syrian state. They use a mixture of advanced and low-tech Information Communication Technology (ICT), which empower them but also expose them to harm. Within this schema new ICT tools and changing local and regional contexts have come to influence the methods of challenging the Syrian state.</p> <p>Syrians use information systems in different ways to challenge the state. They document violations, turning narratives and observations into lists, graphs, and reports documenting abuses of power as they happen. They include systems of transforming different forms of information into a document for use as evidence in a legal court. Daniel Headrick’s idea of <a href="">information systems</a> is useful in this context because it is more holistic than thinking only of specific ICTs. Information systems are conventionally used to gather; classify; transform; store/retrieve; and to communicate information. Systems–like newspapers and websites–can have multiple overlapping functions in this way.. For these reasons they have been closely tied to power and accordingly surveilled. The state has in turn adapted the contours of its repressive architecture to target these kinds of threats to its legitimacy and power.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In the early days of the protest movement, Syrian authorities tried to supress and discredit information related to peaceful demonstrations taking place across the country, fearing that the protests would spread and topple the political order. Syrian authorities have attempted to restrict this information from reaching the international community by also relying on different technologies–some digital and 'high-tech' as used by the Syrian Electronic Army, and some crude and 'low-tech', such as physical torture of activists to punish them and to extract information. </p> <h2>Internet controls and vulnerabilities before 2011&nbsp;</h2> <p>In 2000, there were only an <a href="">estimated 30,000 Internet users</a> in Syria, reaching 5 million by 2012–still only 22% of the population. State controls over internet use <a href="">also increased</a>; the government filtered content and used vaguely-worded laws to arrest online dissidents &nbsp;while concurrently promoting internet growth throughout the country. </p> <p>Reporters Without Borders classifies the Syrian government as an <a href="">'Internet Enemy'</a>, and obtained a confidential 1999 bid invitation from the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) to install a national internet system in Syria with in-built surveillance capabilities that could record activities and reveal users real identities. The STE and the Syrian Computer Society (SCS), founded by Bashar al-Assad, control the Syrian internet network. SCS controls the 3G infrastructure while the STE controls the majority of fixed connections (RSF 2012). Whether the system installed in the early 2000s met the requirements of the bid is unknown, but the Syrian government’s determination to monitor internet communications was clear. </p> <p>Most Syrians accessing the Internet used cafe or dial-up connections because 3G internet was unaffordable, costing around US$50 per month. Café speeds varied, but many in Damascus were fast enough for speedy access to blocked sites like Facebook and YouTube through a proxy server.</p> <p>Authorities pressured internet cafe owners to assist in their surveillance of Syrians. In 2008 they demanded that owners <a href="">record clients' identification</a>, and the times they entered and left the cafe. In 2010 authorities in central Damascus were not enforcing these requirements consistently: only from the summer of that year did café owners start to demand identification. Authorities still relied on a correlation of physical presence–old-tech surveillance–with traces of activity on surveilled computers.</p> <p>Rami Nakhla is an activist who with others ran an online newspaper, aimed at encouraging Syrian youth to challenge the exorbitant mobile phone monopoly, and soft laws for honour killings. Their newspaper was terminated after security forces visited its private funder, prompting them to relocate activities to Facebook, extending their reach. Facebook being a social site, and not inherently political, meant Syrians were less afraid to use it.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Syrians not literate in internet security were highly vulnerable to surveillance and arrest. Rami taught individual opposition members basic security in their homes. Counterfeit Windows operating systems, bought locally for $2 instead of $100, created problems because they could not receive security updates, exposing users to thousands of vulnerabilities and remote hacking. He instructed them to use proxy servers to conceal their activities but some were hard to train:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">One of them had a piece of paper with step by step notes: switch on the computer, open Explorer, type, and his username and password. … It was important to train them all: if one was insecure, the rest became insecure if regime security acquired their contacts list.</p> <h2><strong>Documenting violations before 2011: a 'low-tech' process</strong><span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p><a href="">Maf</a>, which means 'right' in Kurdish, was established in Syria in response to government repression of <a href="">protests in Kurdish areas</a>, killing 30 and injuring 160 in 2004. I interviewed Hafiz Abdul-Rahman, a founding member and a Member of the Board of Trustees, said they used telephone communications to arrange meetings with relatives of the enforcedly disappeared.&nbsp;Maf's information system consisted of a network of trusted members and external informants from political parties. They used computers to store information gathered by individuals. Authorities knew of their work but rejected applications for a license while allowing Maf to attend court hearings of those arrested. They felt they had implicit permission to communicate basic information about the cases they were following by email, and for ”other things we tried to speak about in code or not speak about them at all.”<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Maf attempts to contact family members to assess their desire to record and follow up an arrest; it cross-checks information gathered from relatives with others in the field, seeking clues about the individual’s location, and verifying information within trusted networks. In this sense their methods were 'low-tech', reliant on face-to-face interactions and relationships of trust to document state violations. Some rejected Maf's overtures, fearing the arrest of another relative, or hoping instead that their relative(s) could be released via bribery. Maf's involvement was felt to jeopardise the success of any such process.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Members of Maf and other human rights organisations were themselves detained by the state, reminding them of the limits that the state continued to impose on the work they did. ”They didn't arrest all of us at once, ... but one person from each organisation from time to time, to discipline the other members was common.”</p> <h2>The Arab Spring and new ways of using existing ICTs in Syria</h2> <p>Syria's technological and political environments changed significantly in 2011 with implications for the ideas and methods commonly utilised to challenge state legitimacy. Firstly the Syrian government lifted bans on Facebook and YouTube after the Egyptian Revolution. Rami believed that this was a way for the state to demonstrate confidence that there was no such demand for political reform in Syria; and to facilitate state surveillance by encouraging Syrians to use the sites without proxies.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>After protests began in March 2011, growing in number and frequency, the scale and range of human rights violations increased. The <a href="">Violations Documentation Centre</a> (VDC) documented over 110,000 deaths. The challenge of accurately documenting these violations continues to overwhelm human rights groups in Syria. Even well-resourced organisations like VDC do not believe they are comprehensively documenting the high numbers.</p> <p>Since 2011, not only have new types of ICT become available to activists to challenge state legitimacy, but new ideas about implementing <em>existing</em> technologies have emerged, prompted by the collapse of the wall of fear. At the same time, the state has mobilised its own counter-measures targeting those using these technologies.</p> <p>Bassam al-Ahmad, a spokesperson for VDC, described Facebook as an important communication tool for revolutionaries organising protests. They filmed protests on their mobile phones and uploaded them to YouTube and Facebook. TV Channels like Al Jazeera gathered information about protests via social media. Those seeking to challenge the Syrian state documented protests with digital video recording tools. They uploaded them to the internet in order for the recordings to be disseminated by satellite television. These high-tech tools were available to Syrians before 2011, but the Arab Spring suggested new uses for these tools: to directly challenge the Syrian state.</p> <p>Maf could not rely on social media as pages were maintained by the <em>tansiqiyaat</em> (local coordination commitees) who organised protests and were considered partisan: "The <em>tansiqiyaat</em> might report five deaths when really there were three and two injuries. In some cases individuals hunted by the regime used Facebook to falsify their own deaths." Maf therefore relies on its own network of informants. Once they are confident of the accuracy of the information, Maf collates data into a weekly report, released in conjunction with other human rights groups. It lists the names, types of violations, and their location. It is distributed via email and posted on their website.That is the nature of Maf's information system, structured around intimate, trusted networks and slow documentation to ensure accuracy.</p> <p>Working for the <a href="">Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network</a> (EMHR), Karam al-Hindi's documentation relied on interpersonal or telephone communications. EMHR investigators contact relatives and assess who controls checkpoints in and around sites of disappearances. Investigators produce reports designed for legal purposes, containing fingerprints of witnesses, which are turned into electronic documents and sent to EMHR. The technology allows original documents to be destroyed, protecting investigators' safety but the information-gathering element of the system relied on face-to-face interactions.</p> <p>VDC also relies on trusted networks of informants and data collectors but are prepared to include social media as supplementary material in documentation. Their website has a searchable database and reports are often accompanied by links to video footage of fatalities.&nbsp;<span>Websites of the VDC and MAF–and their email lists–are part of a system of storing, transforming, and communicating information from one point to many, and from many points to one. They are also part of information gathering as investigations into missing persons can begin via email.</span></p> <p>Encryption software enabled activists to securely store information that challenges the state. Rami Nakhla told me that activists used this 'high-tech' encryption software to secure their laptops. One programme let users configure a decoy 'system failure' message when switching on the computer. They could enter a password to re-activate the computer but the software blocked unauthorised access from government security forces.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In addition to general constraints associated with slower and more expensive internet access in Syria, and government internet controls, infrastructure damage has further constrained internet use.&nbsp;<span>Satellite Internet Technology (SIT), sometimes accompanied by solar power devices, allows activists to bypass these constraints to upload and download large data volumes. They are expensive to purchase and run: one device costs around $1500 and comes with 6 months of internet access. Turkish smartphones, loaded with data, are another reported means of bypassing Syrian government controlled communications. They are limited in use to areas close to the Turkish border but cost less than SIT. Both have enabled activists to challenge the Syrian state and communicate safely with the outside world, and with each other.</span></p> <h2>Vulnerabilities<span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p>The Syrian government has used a range of methods, from 'high-tech' data surveillance to the 'low-tech' torture, to steal passwords and data from activists. The first ‘<a href="">Man In The Middle’</a> attack in Syria was reported in May 2011. It used phishing, automatically redirecting users away from secure Facebook and Yahoo! sites to counterfeit versions into which users entered their passwords. Hackers believed to be working for Syrian authorities have targeted attacks against activists such as Taymour Karim who, during torture in detention, was shown 1000 pages of transcripts of his Skype and other communications. ”My computer had been arrested before me.,” <a href="">he says</a>.</p> <p>Hackers used malware, inadvertently downloaded by Karim, to steal information about his contacts and activities. The data from these and other hacks was sent to servers with Syrian IP addresses, leading Reporters Without Borders to conclude that the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) was responsible for the attacks, particularly after it ”disseminated 11,000 names and passwords of ’NATO supporters’– that is opposition members.”<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Non-digital vulnerabilities are still important, 'low-tech' methods like torture can break high-tech encryption. Rami explained that, ”after many activists were detained, regime security realised that the decoy failure messages appearing on laptops were identical. Eventually one activist broke under torture.”</p> <p>The most secure addition to their information systems has been satellite internet technology. Other new tools have not all withstood government surveillance. Satellite telephones, favoured by journalists and also used by FSA units, are traceable and, said those I interviewed, no longer used.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Maf acquired satellite audio communication devices with a few kilometres range, but ”by the time we received them we learned that they were detectable by government forces,” Rami says.<span>&nbsp;</span><span>Currently satellite internet devices remain secure and undetectable by Syrian authorities, but this has not stopped Syrian authorities from attempting to spread fear into the minds of their users by implying the contrary. Karam noted, ”the regime has a vehicle with a rotating satellite dish on the roof which can detect satellite devices. It drives around Damascus accompanied by security forces. When a signal is found, soldiers raid buildings nearby.”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Rami and Hafiz are confident SIT is undetectable because of the nature of the device's signal acquisition process. It connects directly to a satellite and can capture a signal within minutes, making it very difficult to trace. The 'detection vehicle' is 'a form of psychological warfare on the part of the regime to affect those using it', one which influenced, but did not deter, Karam's use of the technology.</p> <h2><strong>The human vs the tech </strong></h2> <p>ICT cannot be separated from socio-cultural and political contexts. ICT tools like smart phones, internet, social media, surveillance technologies, proxies existed in Syria before the uprising began in 2011. However, as the political and socio-cultural context changed in light of the Arab Spring, different uses for the technology within activist and other networks in Syria came to light, notably, to challenge dominant power structures.</p> <p>Authorities also feared that information–evidence–of abuses of human rights, massacres of peaceful protestors and the use of chemical and biological weapons against civilians, could lead to a military intervention as occurred in Libya, spurring evermore aggressive systems of surveillence by the state. </p> <p>The different ICT tools used by activists within their information gathering and communication systems left them more vulnerable to this increasingly intrusive surveillance. In the Syrian context, the institutions and investigators spying on key populations have sinister motives. Sophisticated ICT tools allowed authorities, with their own information gathering systems in the form of different intelligence and security branches, to upgrade their systems. What has also been clear, from both the power structures in Syria and those seeking to challenge them, is the resilient importance of human factors, the low-tech and face-to-face aspects of their systems more than the advanced ICT tools themselves. Information systems may include advanced encryption technology to store information, but vulnerabilities in the systems can include humans subject to physical torture.</p> <p>However, as Syrian authorities became more brutal in their repression, it may be that they have had to rely more–at least proportionately–on technological surveillance. One analysis of the early days of the conflict suggests that networks of informants, which state security forces depended on, dried up because of resentment at regime brutality.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>As well as the wider political context, meso and micro level factors influence the use of ICT. How 'tech-savvy', and therefore how vulnerable, an individual is may relate to their class and educational background. It also relates to the networks which they are plugged into that open up possibilities to access resources that allow them to circumvent state surveillance and implement counter-measures.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>A wider lesson to be taken from these cases might be understanding the latent dangers to society posed by extensive state surveillance from authorities with infrastructure and broad legal powers to detain individuals.&nbsp;That lesson should be considered here in Britain where GCHQ has colluded with the NSA to illegally spy on civilian populations, and as the British government continues to expand its legal powers of surveillance and detention, under the unconvincing pretense that this is for our own protection.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jos%C3%A9-carlos-hesles/theatre-as-justice-fight-for-accountability-in-streets-of-mexico">Theatre as justice: the fight for accountability in the streets of Mexico </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/raluca-bianca-roman/justice-morality-and-exclusion-from-law-case-of-roma-in-finland">Justice, morality and exclusion from the law: the case of the Roma in Finland</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nicky/speak-out-on-poverty-impunity-inaudibility-and-structural-violence">Speak Out on Poverty: impunity, inaudibility and structural violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/shadi-sadr/documenting-perpetrators-amongst-people">Documenting the perpetrators amongst the people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Syria Ali Ali Tue, 19 May 2015 09:51:57 +0000 Ali Ali 92882 at Documenting the perpetrators amongst the people <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A databank documenting human-rights violations in Iran by naming and shaming the perpetrators offers the opportunity to break through state-wide impunity. <strong>From <em><a href="">States of Impunity</a></em></strong>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// of panorama_1_150x330_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// of panorama_1_150x330_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="205" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Iranian artist Parastou&nbsp;Forouhar created this image of tumbling bodies, contorted through torture.&nbsp;Digital drawing by Parastou Forouhar, Panorama, Serie II, 2009. All rights reserved.</span></p><p class="Body">When he was told to remove his blindfold, he found himself surrounded by cameras and flashing camera lights. Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist, was arrested and charged with espionage during the 2009 mass protest of the contested presidential elections in Iran. Inside the notorious Evin prison in the capital, Teheran, Maziar had to respond to a crowd of officially designated ‘journalists’. His interrogator told him that if he failed to cooperate he would be executed. When the last 'journalist' came through, he introduced himself as a Press TV representative. The interview was broadcast the same evening from Press TV. In it Maziar confessed under duress that he had sent false reports about the protests to Channel 4 News in the UK and <em>Newsweek</em> in the US.</p> <p class="Body">A few months later, Maziar managed to leave Iran, released on a heavy bail. Once in London he complained about the Press TV interview to Ofcom, a British media watchdog. In May 2011, Ofcom confirmed that Press TV had produced and broadcast an interview that was recorded under duress. A fine of £100,000 was placed on Press TV and when it refused to pay, Ofcom ordered Sky TV satellite to <a href="">take Press TV off the air</a>.</p> <p class="Body">Other victims of forced confessions broadcasted on Press TV have not been as privileged. The pictures and forced confessions of Hashem Shabani, a poet and high school teacher, and Hadi Rashedi, a school headmaster, were broadcast in December 2011 prior to their trial, before they were <a href="">executed and buried secretly</a> in January 2014. They were part of a group of young, educated Ahwazi Arabs who had established a cultural institute called <em>Al-Hiwar </em>(dialogue), teaching in their mother tongue. In February 2010, the group members were detained in a mass arrest. Kept incommunicado for months by the Intelligence Ministry, the detainees, including Hashem and Hadi, were severely tortured to confess their involvement in terrorist attacks. They were put in front of a camera which proved to be Press TV, who later broadcast their confessions.</p><p class="Body"> Justice for Iran (JFI) has <a href="">documented</a> the accounts of several political prisoners who experienced the same plight: arrested, detained in solitary confinement, tortured, forced to do a televised confession, tried unduly and unfairly based solely on their own confessions, and finally sentenced to death or a heavy prison term. These documents provide undeniable evidence that Press TV acts directly at the service of the Intelligence Ministry, which tortures and suppresses Iranian citizens. The evidence against Press TV was compelling, showing that it can no longer be regarded as a trust-worthy and independent media organisation. </p> <p class="Body">JFI urged satellite companies and governments to take Press TV off the air, and sanction both the entity and the individuals who were responsible for those violations. Over the course of one year, Press TV was taken off the air by several satellite companies, such as Eutelsat, and in several countries, including Germany, Spain and the United States. In March 2013, the Council of the European Union adopted restrictive measures against two Press TV officials, CEO <a href="">Mohammad Sarafaraz</a>, and <a href="">Hamid Reza Emadi</a>, the head of the newsroom and the ‘journalist’ who conducted the ‘interview’ with Maziar Bahari. They both challenged the decision before the European Court of Justice; a hearing session is scheduled for 5 May 2015. . </p> <p class="Body">The case of Press TV proves that even in the most challenging cases, such as Iran, perpetrators can still be held accountable. However, the tools available to civil society are limited and their few victories are too fragile and unsustainable. </p> <h2><strong>Documenting perpetration </strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p class="Body">Established with the summary executions of the Shah’s officials on the rooftop of Refah School where Ayatollah Khomeini lived and later became the leader of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the history of the Islamic Republic is tightly bound with absolute impunity. There is no justice inside the country and it is therefore up to civil society living in exile to bring perpetrators to justice. Yet the history of civil society’s stand against impunity in Iran is relatively short and delicate. </p> <p class="Body">Reports by both international and Iranian human rights organisations have done much to bring the dire conditions of Iran’s human rights to the attention of the world. There has, however, been more focus on the victims rather than the perpetrators. This is why they continue to commit the same crimes. </p> <p class="Body">Initiated by JFI, the <a href="">Data Bank of Human Rights Violators</a> identifies perpetrators and collects evidence about their roles in gross human rights abuses. The information about 266 perpetrators, including evidence, photos, and testimonies, is stored in this databank. So far, based on this evidence, more than 70 profiles have been published and are available on the web site. The perpetrators listed in the databank have committed crimes against diverse groups such as women, political prisoners, members of Baha’i faith, ethnic minorities and human rights defenders. </p> <p class="Body">Shedding light on crimes by naming and shaming the perpetrators is the first and the most significant aim of the databank. None of them have ever faced justice in Iran or have been held accountable; most continue to hold much power and are often promoted to higher posts. The databank offers the opportunity to the people of Iran to know and identify them. Those who used to live as ‘respectful’ members of their community will no longer be immune from the staring gaze of their neighbours. More importantly, due to sever censorship and secrecy, sometimes even the perpetrators’ families do not know their true activities.</p> <p class="Body">Apart from the naming and shaming, the databank has also contributed to the process of accountability. Following advocacy campaigns by Iranian human rights activists, the Council of the European Union passed a regulation which allowed the EU to adopt restrictive measures, including travel ban and freezing of the assets, against those who were complicit in or responsible for directing or carrying out grave human rights violations.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p class="Body">Unfortunately, the data available only goes as far as March 2013, when the name of 87 individuals and two entities were added to the list of human rights sanctions. The databank had in fact identified and recommended for sanctions 17 of these names, including Press TV’s officials. Since that date, and contrary to EU regulations, which obliges the Council to revise the list of individuals to be added to the sanctions list on a bi-annual basis, the Council has not met to discuss these any further. This has brought to a sudden halt to the functioning of an effective tool for locating the perpetrators. It is assumed that the main reason for this sudden change is political, relating to the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1. </p> <h2><strong>Appeasement vs. justice</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p class="Body">Despite the enormous achievement in such a short period of time, the databank has faced several challenges, including the challenges of documentation, legal barriers, effectiveness and policy shift.</p> <p class="Body">Although the databank has identified several judges and prosecutors, and documented their responsibility in human rights violations, it has not been very successful with regards to naming those in the security apparatus. While security forces have the main role in arbitrary arrests, torture and extracting coerced and mostly unreal confessions, their identities often remain hidden as they use pseudonyms and keep the prisoners either blindfolded or sat in front of a wall while questioning. Furthermore, some crucial information such as date and place of birth of the perpetrators is difficult to obtain, even for those whose identities have already been disclosed.&nbsp; </p> <p class="Body">Even when there is sufficient information against a perpetrator, the options available outside the country to hold them accountable are usually far more limited. The principle of universal jurisdiction would offer a small window to prosecute perpetrators who either travel outside Iran or reside in countries where there is a law of universal jurisdiction. However, legal barriers remain, such as the UK Privacy Act, which protects information of a perpetrator’s whereabouts, and statutes of limitations, which restricts litigation for past crimes. </p> <p class="Body">On top of all obstacles, the impact and effectiveness of the databank has been challenged by the policy shift of western countries towards Iran after Hassan Rouhani took the presidential office in August 2013, which gave hope for a negotiated resolution to long-standing nuclear dispute. The countries that used to criticise the Islamic Republic for violations of human rights have since remained silent. As the <a href="">reports</a> of the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, clearly illustrate, there has been no improvements in the human rights conditions of Iran since Rouhani came to power. Shaheed further stresses that a majority of the problems as defined by Iran’s Universal Periodic Review “remained unimplemented”, and the underlying causes of violations “remain unaddressed.” This in turn creates a safe haven for the perpetrators, who feel confident that while the nuclear talks with Iran are in progress, their violations will not be highlighted. </p> <p class="Body">Some even feel they can enjoy absolute impunity and even look forward to promotions. Mohammad Sarafaraz, who has been banned from travelling to Europe because of his involvement in forced televised confessions, was recently appointed as the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) by the Supreme Leader. &nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Every day, as more crimes are committed, more names are added to the Data Bank of Human Rights Violators. This is crucial information bank to raise public awareness about the criminals who live amongst the people. This vital tool must be strengthened and supported by international organisations, such as the EU and UN, to bring violators of human rights to justice. Political priorities and appeasement policies must not be allowed to create obstacles to justice.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jos%C3%A9-carlos-hesles/theatre-as-justice-fight-for-accountability-in-streets-of-mexico">Theatre as justice: the fight for accountability in the streets of Mexico </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ali-ali/challenging-syrian-state-using-information-systems-to-document-human-rights-vio">Challenging the Syrian state: using information systems to document human-rights violations</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nicky/speak-out-on-poverty-impunity-inaudibility-and-structural-violence">Speak Out on Poverty: impunity, inaudibility and structural violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/raluca-bianca-roman/justice-morality-and-exclusion-from-law-case-of-roma-in-finland">Justice, morality and exclusion from the law: the case of the Roma in Finland</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Iran Shadi Sadr Tue, 19 May 2015 09:47:30 +0000 Shadi Sadr 92889 at Speak Out on Poverty: impunity, inaudibility and structural violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This set of little-known hearings after South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission took a wider appreciation of apartheid violence and the incredible tensions released in the new terrain of political transition. <strong>From <em><a href="">States of Impunity</a></em></strong>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Soweto township in Johannesburg, one of the enduring legacies of apartheid. DocDee/Wikimedia. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Over a period of almost three months in 1998, Speak Out on Poverty<em> </em>(Speak Out) convened ten public hearings across South Africa. These hearings took place shortly after the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) completed some two years of highly publicised, nation-wide hearings, in which deponents provided dramatic testimony of violations committed during the political struggle to end apartheid. Speak Out addressed what was regarded as a ‘blind spot’ in the TRC mandate: its focus on a narrow band of violations–torture, killing, enforced disappearance and the ill-defined category of severe ill-treatment–was seen to occlude the larger violence central to the policy and practice of apartheid itself.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>According to <a href="">Speak Out</a>, “[nearly] 600 people made oral submissions and over 10,000 people participated in the process either by making written submissions, attending the hearings or mobilising others to participate.” But despite the success of the hearings, and a veritable industry of scholarship, art, literature and music concerning the TRC,<em> </em>Speak Out<em> </em>is barely remembered, even by scholars and practitioners of transitional justice. This is doubly ironic given the widespread poverty: South Africa continues to rank as one of the most unequal countries in the world and recent government statistics suggest that in 2011, <a href="">54% of South Africans lived below the poverty line</a>, of whom 22% (10.7 million) struggled daily to procure adequate food. Indeed, the failure to address legacies of poverty and structural violence is widely regarded as the <a href=";searchurl=sts%3Dt%26tn%3DAfter+the+TRC%3A+Reflections+on+Truth+and+Reconciliation+in+South+Africa">key fault line of South Africa’s transition</a>. By extension, the TRC itself is seen to have failed. </p> <h2><strong>Speak Out<em> </em>and the TRC</strong></h2> <p>There was and continues to be considerable debate as to whether the TRC’s failure to address wider legacies of colonial and apartheid pasts, and in particular, the structures of poverty and inequality, lay within its mandate, or its interpretation thereof. This debate is part of a much wider critique of human rights and transitional justice, and its assumed (neo)liberal political projects; it is also a debate within rights circles themselves. &nbsp;Some have argued that the TRC could have interpreted its mandate more expansively, providing <a href="">‘as complete a picture as possible’ (including ‘antecedents’)</a> offered an opportunity for a more substantive engagement. For example, “severe ill-treatment”, a violation specified in the TRC’s mandate, could have encompassed a range of violations associated with apartheid policy: violations arising from laws forbidding inter-racial sex and marriage, forced removals, arrests associated with the pass laws, and so forth. For that matter, in a similar vein, as <a href=";uid=3738016&amp;uid=67&amp;uid=311100101&amp;uid=309798651&amp;uid=62&amp;uid=2&amp;uid=3&amp;uid=5909928">Talal Asad</a> argues, even torture could have been re-inscribed outside the discourse of liberal human rights. </p> <p>Space does not permit a more extended discussion of this debate, which in any event has been repeatedly rehearsed. Suffice to say that, while the TRC declared apartheid to be a crime against humanity and organised a series of institutional hearings, including one on the business sector, its gaze remained firmly focused on the narrow range of violations perpetrated during a particular segment of the apartheid past. This began with the events in 1960 that led to the banning of key liberation movements, and those movements’ subsequent turn to armed struggle, and concluded with the installation of South Africa’s first democratic government in May 1994. </p> <p>Nonetheless, a careful read through much of the TRC’s seven-volume report (perhaps with the exception of those volumes and sections focusing on political violence itself) would suggest that it was haunted by its narrow mandate.</p> <p>The business sector hearings, which took place just four months before the Speak Out<em> </em>hearings began, sought to understand the role of the business sector during the apartheid era. It was part of a wider enquiry into the role and accountability of various institutional sectors in creating a climate conducive to the commission of human rights’ abuses.&nbsp; To this end, the TRC listened to a number of submissions from business, trade unions and experts over three days, and subsequently <a href="mailto:">found that</a> apartheid had been “central to the economy that sustained the South African state during the apartheid years’ and that most businesses had ‘benefited from operating in a racially structured context”. In addition to a once-off wealth tax, the TRC recommended that business contribute to reparations through the establishment of a business trust.</p> <p>This is not to suggest that this was a powerful or radical engagement; few have read the TRC’s report, and the perception of the TRC within the public sphere is predominantly based on its victim and perpetrator hearings rather than the single business hearing. The point, rather, is to suggest that the question of structural violence, especially pertaining to poverty and inequality, was dealt with wholly inadequately. And although a blind spot within the mandate, it nonetheless worried the boundaries of the TRC’s hearings and its report. Deponents themselves frequently transgressed the boundaries of political violence, ande spoke to wider landscapes of harm in both statements and testimonies. Nonetheless at both public and scholarly levels, the TRC is viewed as having been exclusively concerned with “spectacular (political) violence”, and having been blind to the long histories of colonial and apartheid violence.</p> <p>It was this blind spot, which Speak Out aimed to illuminate. In particular, Speak Out sought to assert unequivocally that the TRC had not fully accounted for apartheid violence and violation, and sought to make this assertion both visible and audible. Archbishop Ndungane, its nominal head, put it this way: “Poverty is the greatest legacy of apartheid. I want to make it clear, because sometimes people get confused, we are not the TRC.” In seeking to reposition the grids through which the TRC made the past intelligible in order to constitute a ‘new’ South Africa, Speak Out<em> </em>pointed to realities marked more by continuities than ‘newness’. Yet curiously, it did so in ways that replicated the TRC’s practices, procedures and symbols, even as it sought to draw a sharp distinction between the two institutions. <strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <h2><strong>Understanding the past: between activism and law</strong></h2> <p>The organisers of Speak Out were from the South African Non-Governmental Organisation Coalition (SANGOCO), as well as the statutory bodies <a href="">South African Human Rights Commission</a> (SAHRC) and the <a href="">Commission for Gender Equality</a> (CGE). Thus Speak Out<em> </em>was constituted of both unofficial and official bodies. While some draw on professional expertise, historically a significant number of NGOs affiliated to SANGOCO have more activist or community-based roots. A number had been politically aligned to the United Democratic Front (UDF), the largest, ‘above-ground’ internal resistance movement in the 1980s in South Africa.</p> <p>The profile of participants varied from hearing to hearing: in Johannesburg, an unusually large proportion of submissions were from NGOs; in a small rural town, literally hundreds of township residents turned up to find out about pensions after misinterpreting a radio announcement advertising the hearing. Considered across the hearings, a significant proportion of those who testified were members of local community organisations; in some instances members spoke on behalf of wider community initiatives or groups. </p> <p>This was in contrast to the TRC, where overwhelmingly the majority of persons were not, political activists, as is sometimes assumed, but rather civilians caught up more contingently in violence, as occasional participants, deliberate targets or bystanders. But <em>Speak Out </em>did not saw itself as a commission. Hearings were conceptualised as the public start of a campaign to make poverty the nation’s priority. In doing so, it appeared to choose a path more directed towards activism than the law. </p> <p>The Speak Out hearings seemed to share much in common with the proceedings of the TRC. The material space of the hearings looked much like those of the TRC. The procedures of the meeting also seemed familiar from the TRC: a formal opening, at least in some cases a prayer, followed by testimonies from deponents. Those testifying were ‘instructed’ in the procedures of giving testimony. ut at the same time, these technologies were also intended as material symbols of voice and audibility, intended to constitute a public and individuated rights-bearing citizen in place of apartheid’s designation of nameless non-citizens. </p> <p>In the face of all this, how then may one account for the peculiar deafness that surrounds <em>Speak Out</em>? Poverty and other forms of structural violence in many settings are so normatively embedded that they have been thoroughly depoliticised. This was, and is still not the case in South Africa, where poverty and race did not only coincide, but was actively held in place by a web of apartheid laws. As Jan Rooi told the [Northern Cape] hearing: “We were broken down. We suffered injustices… today we are bitter when we think back on those days. I could have been a strong and rich stockfarmer today, but instead I am filled with hate.”</p> <p>The question of inaudibility is one that requires more thought and research. Here I offer some tentative observations that may enable further thinking about transitional justice and structural violence.</p> <h2><strong>Inaudibility and structural violence</strong></h2> <p>In the first place, and surprisingly similar to the TRC, <em>Speak Out </em>tended to treat apartheid as something of a backdrop rather than as its central focus. The mandates of both the SAHRC and the CGE were directed at the present rather than the past; perhaps like the TRC, both chose similarly to interpret their mandates narrowly. The Speak Out hearings began shortly after the TRC had completed some 18 months of public hearings, which were accompanied by wall-to-wall media coverage. Given the TRC’s narrow focus, the past had by no means been exhausted by these hearings, but perhaps Speak Out felt that the public had been exhausted by the past. </p> <p>Transcripts of the minutes suggest apartheid was rarely directly mentioned in the opening comments of the hearings except as “legacy”; opening comments tended to focus on the present, and signal some of the first organised public expressions of disappointment in South Africa’s ‘miracle transition’. For example, Human Rights Commissioner Faried Esack opened the hearings in the rural town of Ceres, Western Cape, with these words: “We have a black government, a good president, a constitution, and many promises. But the experience of suffering and oppression is the experience of the majority of the people.”</p> <p>An important criticism of the TRC, especially by activists, was the way in which its account of the struggle against apartheid was overwritten by a discourse of victimhood. In contrast, Speak Out, although it replicated many of the features of TRC hearings, engaged with deponents in a ways that sought to displace the TRC’s victim subject, invoking instead the more familiar-sounding <em>agent</em> of struggle. &nbsp;Thus Speak Out<em> </em>commissioners placed considerable emphasis on “the ingenuity and creativity of people who survive against all odds”, and praised “inspiring stories of how people–mainly women–had come together in groups to engage in income-earning and other activities.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Yet in many instances, Speak Out<em>’s</em> desire to refuse victimhood encountered deponents who either cast themselves as victims or provided testimonies in which the odds were so overwhelming that some form of victimhood seemed hard to deny. Arguably, this tension tended to construct a discourse of thwarted self-help and empowerment, which required the agency of government, effectively positioning the post-democratic government in the driver’s seat, and returning Speak Out to the modalities of nation and state. Thinking about the subjectivities that Speak Out<em> </em>produced, one would conclude that, like those of an official commission, they continued to be narrated through the law–rights were first and foremost narrated through legal obligations ,evoking a rights-bearing ‘new’ citizen, rather than an agent of political struggle. </p> <p>If this is a harsh assessment, providing a rather flattened and ultimately instrumentalist reading, a more productive line of enquiry may be to think about Speak Out in relation to the politics of transition. Both SAHRC and CGE were post-apartheid structures without institutional histories and cultures, charting new territory within South Africa; SANGOCO itself, although it included a number of battle-hardened NGOs, was also relatively new and many of its most experienced affiliates were not just trying to re-position themselves in the new politics but many had lost key personnel to government. &nbsp;Given this relative weakness, organising Speak Out<em> </em>was a considerable achievement but may have stretched it to the limits. </p> <p>Here, rather than seeing the ‘transition’ in transitional justice as a stage ushering in a desired democratic and more just future, it may be preferable to mark transition as a moment of extraordinary tension, shot through with contingent possibility and risk. Within such a view, a politics of the transitional would think less about ‘mechanisms’ and <a href="">‘toolkits’</a> and more about the tensions and energies that are released as old political projects and allegiances give way to new alignments and positions in a frequently intensified struggle on new terrain, the outcomes of which are always uncertain. &nbsp;Speak Out should be read as a manoeuvre on that terrain, one that is certainly worthy of more attention.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/raluca-bianca-roman/justice-morality-and-exclusion-from-law-case-of-roma-in-finland">Justice, morality and exclusion from the law: the case of the Roma in Finland</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/jos%C3%A9-carlos-hesles/theatre-as-justice-fight-for-accountability-in-streets-of-mexico">Theatre as justice: the fight for accountability in the streets of Mexico </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ali-ali/challenging-syrian-state-using-information-systems-to-document-human-rights-vio">Challenging the Syrian state: using information systems to document human-rights violations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/shadi-sadr/documenting-perpetrators-amongst-people">Documenting the perpetrators amongst the people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> South Africa </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity South Africa Nicky Rousseau Tue, 19 May 2015 09:07:06 +0000 Nicky Rousseau 92887 at Justice, morality and exclusion from the law: the case of the Roma in Finland <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>‘Culture’ appears to be both an easy way in and out of understanding the complexity of the ‘moral’ and the ‘just’ among minority or excluded groups.&nbsp;<strong>From <em><a href="">States of Impunity</a>.</em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="160" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Dger/Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></p><p>A law case made headlines in March 2015, concerning the kidnapping, sexual abuse and bodily harming of a young Finnish Roma woman by a Finnish Roma man and his daughter. The case revived the distinction between cultural individual rights, since much of the discussion revolved around the seemingly ‘parallel’ system of moral conduct according to which members of the group lived. The case simultaneously, and unsurprisingly, polarised members of the Finnish Roma community, as many from the majority society found the ruling <a href="">inappropriate</a>.</p> <p>The event that sparked such interest began in 2010 when the then 19-year-old victim started an online conversation with the then 17-year-old female captor, and was introduced to the latter’s father. The victim was taken prisoner, kept captive and forced to have sexual intercourse with the male captor without the use of any contraception. As a result, between 2010 and 2014 (when she was released) the woman became pregnant four times and gave birth to three children; all of whom were registered under the female captor’s name. The victim was eventually able to escape when the clinicians tending to her last pregnancy found her situation suspicious, conducted a house visit and reported the matter to the <a href="">police</a>.</p> <p>Beyond the gravity of the case and the uproar it stirred within the Finnish media, what seemed most clearly under debate was the short sentence received by the two perpetrators for their crimes. The male captor was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months imprisonment for aggravated trafficking in human beings, while his daughter received a sentence of 2 years and 8 months imprisonment for the same <a href="">crime</a>. Debates on the reasons behind the short sentences, particularly in the media, pointed out the ethnic origin of the two–Roma–was seen as the basis for <a href="">legal leniency</a>. ‘Cultural background’ was also an explicit part of the defence. The male captor claimed that, according to the Finnish Roma culture, where ‘official’ marriage is not always customary, the girl had become his wife by living with him, hence sexual intercourse was automatically voluntary and consensual. </p> <p>Finnish Roma activists <a href=";ref=fb-share">responded</a> harshly to the statements of the accused and condemned the use of ‘cultural rights’ to justify crimes of this (or other) nature. Culture was not to be seen as an excuse or a motive for crime, nor should crime be associated with cultural practices. Furthermore, outspoken Finnish Roma raised concerns of the ways in which the media’s portrayal of the event would affect the shape of the Finnish Roma community more broadly, attributing them once again to a marginal, external position in relation to the mainstream system of justice. The full consequences of this case are yet to unfold, as both human rights Romani activists seek to dismiss the ruling and ask for a harsher sentence.</p> <p>The headlines made by this case is but one in the countless number of cases focusing on human trafficking and ‘Roma background’, where too often the two were seen interlinked, and the focus of academics, politicians and, journalists was too often placed on the ways in which ‘culture’ provides space for criminality. In many ways, when it comes to Roma/Gypsy groups, there seems to be little distinction made between instances of apparent lawlessness, impunity and institutionalised marginality; the interplay of state power and legal justice; diverse ways of conceiving community norms and moral pursuits; and the ways in which the state itself shapes the status of legality/illegality in regards to ethnic minority groups.</p> <p>For Roma communities across European countries, much like for many other marginalised communities, the case has rather been made for their self-exclusion from majority institutions (including that of the law), dismissing the ways in which different manifestations of the ‘law’ can and should be analysed. And, much like in the case of other cultural, ethnic or religious groups that seem to live on the fringes of the mainstream, Roma have persistently been approached via their lack of, or counter-position to majority understandings of justice and morality, rather than via the dialogical nature of the relationship between the two. Taking heed from the case above, it is necessary to take a look at the shape and structure of the Finnish Roma community, their relation to the law and the often made confusion between instances of marginality and instances of criminality.</p> <h2>The Finnish Roma: outside the law?<span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p>The Finnish Roma, who refer to themselves as the Kaale, are a Roma population of about 10,000 people and have, since the mid-1990s, been officially recognised as a traditional minority in Finland. Most Finnish Roma abide by a strict moral code, placing great emphasis on honouring one’s family, one’s elders and one’s community. Most do not speak a Romani language and those who do speak a dialect that is almost incomprehensible to Roma groups from eastern Europe. Their dress and customs, as well as their overall appearance, make them distinguished members of Finnish society and clearly distinguishable from their majority Finnish counterparts.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>At the same time, while officially subject to Finnish rights and legislation, Finnish Roma have frequently been portrayed as living different lives from those of the majority. In particular, their methods of conflict resolution within the community (often termed ‘blood feuds’ or family ‘vendettas’ within the media), have been regarded as creating a parallel system of justice, within the confines of the Finnish Roma society itself, and separating them from the majority conceptions of the just and lawful. This is what one could call Finnish-Roma law; throughout my fieldwork I have come to see and understand it as the rule and respect devoted to one’s family, rather than the animosity towards non-kin.</p> <p>Finnish Roma, in reality, have no distinctive system of justice as such, outside the mainstream legal one; there is no ruler or central organ within the community that would judge the morality or validity of actions or take it upon itself to mediate disputes.&nbsp; Rather, what seems to characterise the ways of enacting a form of justice among this community is the non-institutionalised legacy of kin devotion, which at times extended outside of kin in the form of honour killings or vendettas. The existence of such a system often galvanised outside perceptions of Finnish Roma as deviants within the modern Finnish state, unable to fit within contemporary ideas of a law-governed society, and as individuals evading (or avoiding) the mainstream system of justice. Yet, what is often left out of the conversation is that the Finnish-Roma system of ensuring justice from ‘within’, and separating it from those ‘outside’ has its birth in the history of Finnish Roma in the country, their relation to the Finnish state, and the personalised story of their relationship with the<em> </em>Kaaje (the name they give to non-Finnish Roma Finns).<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The system of justice that defined Finnish Roma society in the past was built upon an already attributed position within majority Finnish society: that of excluded members of Finnish institutions. While majority Finns always interacted with the Finnish Roma, whose services they needed and desired (such as horse trade, fortune telling, crafts making), Finnish Roma (or gypsies, as they were then known) remained perceived as strangers of the nation’s ruling bodies, including that of the law and the mainstream Lutheran church. At the same time, while marginalised and excluded from many of society’s pathways of national belonging (including the state church until the 1970s), they were not, in fact, <em>willingly</em> marginal and always interacted with local populations. Their distinct system of family rule (and punishment of those who infringed upon the honour of the family) may in fact be linked more to this particular ambiguous position within the nation-state rather than to their self-exclusion from society’s institutions.</p> <h2>Evangelical conversion and the shift of the ‘moral’ law?</h2> <p>Around the same time that the Finnish Roma stopped travelling in the 1970s, a large number within the community started converting to the Pentecostal movement in the country, mainly from the Lutheran state church to which they officially belonged. This process of socio-religious change cross-cut family rivalries, in that individuals from and across feuding kin groups experienced the same process of Evangelical conversion and adopted a similar belief in Christian salvation. Given the emphasis placed by Evangelical movements (Pentecostalism in particular) on ‘breaking with the past’, including breaking with past disputes, the question emerged on how the Finnish Roma ‘law of the family’ was shaped by this process of conversion. More so, what can this change tell us about changing relations with the mainstream system of justice?</p> <p>In cases when one or all of the parties were now Evangelical, rather than seeking revenge, one family would choose to avoid encountering the other. This tacit agreement is made from the side of both Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals, knowing that those now ‘in faith’ are bound by their religious identity to avoid any act of physical violence. Exceptions inevitably occur, which the media thrive on. But the number of family disputes and public acts of family vendettas has diminished greatly over the years. Whether this is due to Pentecostal belonging, improved social conditions or increased contact with the Finnish legal system (or a mix of all and more), these changes are noticeably shaping the understanding of the ‘moral law’ in relation to kin and non-kin. </p> <p>The family and close kin remain the central points of attachment and allegiance, and everything else is incorporated within. Nevertheless, living in and being a recognised part of Finnish society, in a more obvious and continuous way (through non-segregated housing, recognition of minority rights, increased contact with state institutions and group mobilization), have proved to be pathways of re-shaping ‘traditional’ kin disputes. Perhaps, after all, the very existence and shape of a perceived parallel system of law that the community upheld lies in the very position they have historically been shaped by: that of a marginal group in Finnish society. Changes in this positioning may shift and shape group understandings and relations to the ‘law’, understood as the institution of the state.</p> <h2>The shifts of culture and the Europeanization of Roma politics</h2> <p>Going back to the kidnapping case, culture’ appears to be both an easy way in and out of understanding the complexity of the ‘moral’ and the ‘just’ among minority or excluded groups. In the case of Finnish Roma, the link of ‘culture’ has more often than not been attributed to marginality and exclusion from majority institutions. However, members of this specific minority are no longer silent witnesses to their own social positioning. They have engaged vastly through diverse forums of discussion such as newspapers, social media and mass media, showing the polarisation of the community in respect to the use of ‘culture’ as motivation. The media, in this case, was both a source of tension and mobilization, highlighting the problematic use of group rights or cultural rights in overriding individual rights. </p> <p>Furthermore, the changes in European politics and policymaking in relation to Roma groups have changed the way in which (at least some) Roma relate to the mainstream institutions of law and government. The brief case presented above seems little to do with the shape of transnational legislation, and more with the limited access that members of the Finnish Roma community have had to local, mainstream pathways of justice. Yet, with increased numbers of Roma communities migrating to western and Nordic European countries (presumed welfare societies), the issues of group interaction, legislation proposals and specific ways of responding to the institution of the law come to the fore. </p> <p>In the case of Finnish Roma, as in the case of their ‘alternative system of justice’ and the ways in which ‘culture’ has been linked to ‘lifestyle’, they have always been embedded within the Finnish state. In the context of increased Europeanisation and in the context of increased contact and participation within international institutions, it will be of no surprise if the ways of enacting, and understanding the meaning of the ‘lawful’ and the ‘just’ will be re-shaped, in different and specific ways. Whether this will enable them enhanced access to self-representation, mobilisation and emancipation within an increasingly Europeanized Roma politics, or whether the spread of anti-Gypsy attitudes across Europe will lead to different re-conceptions of the law from within, is another matter altogether.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jos%C3%A9-carlos-hesles/theatre-as-justice-fight-for-accountability-in-streets-of-mexico">Theatre as justice: the fight for accountability in the streets of Mexico </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ali-ali/challenging-syrian-state-using-information-systems-to-document-human-rights-vio">Challenging the Syrian state: using information systems to document human-rights violations</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nicky/speak-out-on-poverty-impunity-inaudibility-and-structural-violence">Speak Out on Poverty: impunity, inaudibility and structural violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/shadi-sadr/documenting-perpetrators-amongst-people">Documenting the perpetrators amongst the people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Finland </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Finland Raluca Bianca Roman Tue, 19 May 2015 09:02:52 +0000 Raluca Bianca Roman 92885 at Theatre as justice: the fight for accountability in the streets of Mexico <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal">Neither inside nor outside the law, street trials and popular justice have emerged as sites of social resistance to make visible the utter absence of an independent judiciary. <strong>From <em><a href="">States of Impunity</a></em></strong>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Guilty: a citizens trial in Sonora declares its verdict. Claudia Díaz Symonds. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="normal">In the 1990s, the trial of former President Carlos Salinas, “<em>Juicio a Salnas</em>”, <a href="">was put on</a> at the <em>El Hábito</em> bar in Mexico City. With the national flag and the sound of beating drums serving as the backdrop, a savage appeared on the dimly lit stage. In a shamanistic ritual the actor, wearing the hide of a beast on his shoulder, presented the audience with an effigy of the ex-president: a bald puppet with big ears, naked at first then masked, dressed in prison stripes and brought to trial for having tried to wipe out his entire tribe. The theatrical trial a form of social resistance that is straining the normative forces of political order in Mexico: the so-called popular or citizens’ trial. </p> <p class="normal">Its defining characteristic is the use of legal discourse genres–the courts and the law–to dramatize conflict. In just over a decade, these judicial spectacles have moved from the cabaret stage to the public arena. This brief satire of “transitional justice” actually has a dramatic contemporary echo. Last November an oversized effigy of Mexico’s current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, <a href="">was burned at a demonstration</a> in support of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa. Somewhere between these two symbolic executions lies the phenomenon of the street trial.</p> <h2><strong>Between comedy and tragedy </strong></h2> <p class="normal">Mexico has an abundance of trial-worthy cases involving accusations against former governors: <a href=";article=006o1pol">in Jalisco</a>, February 2007 on <a href=";article=006o1pol">injustice and abuse of power</a>; <a href="">in Oaxaca</a>, August 2007, on repression and human rights violations; and Nuevo León, September 2009, on <a href=";">rising violent crime and discretionary spending</a>. In response to this, a certain form of social resistance has evolved into a theatre of cruelty, in which a display of ceremonial justice immediately results in a punitive sentence and is typified by conspicuously violent scenes and an impatient desire for justice. Virtual lynching is a frequent occurrence in the state of Mexico, <a href="">public punishment</a> is commonplace in Oaxaca and Guerrero, and in other areas, there are symbolic executions such as the <a href="">burning of the effigies</a> of public officials.</p> <p class="normal">The phenomenon of the mock trial is instead conducted in the public arena, a dramatization of the political conflict in which the desire for justice is reduced to legal language and forms. The typical scenario begins with the charges laid against the accused–a defendant in absentia–and then actors appear standing in for the opposing sides in the conflict. One is the counsel for the prosecution–a representative of the people or the citizenry–and the other is the counsel for the defense. Both litigate before a third actor, the judge, who will later pass sentence. Because the accused is absent, the punishment is not enforced, but neither is there any possibility of appeal. </p> <p class="normal">Popular or citizens’ mock trials represent a conflict. They promote the legal truth of the dramatic narrative in order to demand moral and political responsibility from the guilty party. The hierarchy is turned upside down: the public is now victim and jury. Moreover, the confrontational nature of the trial becomes a spectacle, a fight between truth and falsehood, transparency and secrecy, legality and legitimacy, reality and imagination. The mock trial is a critique of the justice system, of the rule of law, of lawfulness itself, and its drama reflects the struggle for accountability in Mexico. Insofar as it has comic elements, the mock trial is a cabaret act, but it is also a tragedy that restricts cathartic elements to accepted legal forms. These in turn predetermine the part the actors play and how the action unfolds. It is an intensely political exercise and a product of the desire for justice. </p> <p class="normal">This has an impact both on public confidence and the perception of state legitimacy. The 2011 citizen trial involving the ABC daycare, which took place in the Zócalo in Mexico City, drew its authority form Article 39 of the constitution, which states that national sovereignty and state power “emanate from the people and are instituted for their benefit. The people have at all times the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government.” </p> <p class="normal">The story is a horrific–a fire in which 49 children died and injured more than 70–and the emotional suffering of the case echoed across socioeconomic lines, challenging the legitimacy of state justice. The trial took place with the utmost solemnity. The tribunal was made up of journalists, academics, and artists, and in the dock sat the Mexican state. Beyond the sentimental impact that the case engendered though identification with the victims, it resonated profoundly because it drew a line between the state and a society wiped out by fire. In two decades we have gone from the comical cabaret to the epic tragedy of trials dramatized in the public square. </p> <h2><strong>A public thirst for justice</strong></h2> <p class="normal">In Mexico, there is scant legislation ensuring public accountability; therein lies the power of state authority in all its misery and grandeur. Impeachment plays an important role in partisan battles, but primarily as tool for scandalmongering, since it carries no legal weight and its crimes are neither investigated nor prosecuted. As an instrument of constitutional control, it operates with all the friction of a politically mediated administrative act, triggering party discipline, loyalties and ideological affinity. There is no punishment or sanction, and victims are not compensated. Sometimes other legal remedies are sought through special prosecutors and commissions that only neutralize potential political impact. </p> <p class="normal">A few cases are heard before international authorities such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights or the International Criminal Court (ICC), but ultimately they are destined for oblivion, as with attempts to try former president Ernesto Zedillo for the Acteal massacre in 1997 before a US a court, and an attempt to try former president Felipe Calderón before the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Take for example the case of Carlos Romero Deschamps from Tamaulipas, a union leader and three-term congressman,who is the subject of 37 judicial inquiries, three arrest warrants and one arraignment, has various court cases pending, and still he has managed to become a senator for the second time. </p> <p class="normal">What we have in Mexico is a thirst for justice in a system that is wholly inequitable and violent. The framework governing political parties and the electoral system is in fact relatively strong, but paradoxically it is this mechanism that the political class exploits with astonishing impunity. The dramatic manifestation of the public thirst for justice is the mock trial. </p> <p class="normal">These public judicial proceedings are not lynchings, although they are suggestive of the scapegoat phenomenon, as <a href="">described by René Girard</a>. There are no ropes, sticks, stones or fire; this is not public retribution. It is a form of popular justice mediated by a choreographed court, with a raised stage, table and chairs, where there is a physical divide between those who are <em>in front of</em> and those who are <em>in</em> the court room, a mediation between the general public or citizenry and the accused, the adversary, the enemy. But neither is it due legal process. The judge is no way neutral; the accused has neither a voice nor a defense–it is theatre.</p> <h2><strong>Putting the state in the dock</strong></h2> <p class="normal">In the aforementioned cases–the mock trials of the governors of Jalisco, Oaxaca and Nuevo León or of the officials from Sonora and Jalisco–a vacant chair was used to signify the accused’s absence. The prosecutor argued the people’s case represented the victims, gave them a legal voice, delivered a compelling argument, and tried to move, convince and persuade. He provided an intelligible account of a conflict that the public, informed by media reports, was already more or less aware of. The story drew its dramatic force from the legal discourse operating in the courtroom scene. The hypothesis or plot made use of actual events to modernize a kind of anti-political mythology–hostile to both politics and politicians–and its rancorous, resentful imagery reflected the unquenched thirst for justice. </p> <p class="normal">The prosecutor’s narrative addressed the audience, appealed to its sentimentality, captured its attention, played on its interest in moral conflict, and secured its political commitment. A public defendant then tried to redress the balance, pleading the innocence of the accused and citing attenuating factors. It was a brief show of resistance, farcical, awkward and mostly useless because at the end of the trial, the judge called for the mock verdict–<em>deus ex machina</em>, poetic justice–and declared the guilt of the accused, condemning him to an acceptable sentence. Applause. </p> <p class="normal">At the climax of the spectacle, the rapt public witnesses a cosmic struggle between the forces of light and dark, good and evil, with tangible effects. It is true that the accused is absent, but they are identified, and not just as a demonized person but also as a high-ranking member of the state apparatus and as a politician. They represent a function, a state institution, an entire political class, and the party in power. This is why, in some cases, the empty prisoner’s dock is filled with the mythical figure of the state as a humiliated beast, vanquished and absent. Faced with its ominous silence, <em>civil society</em>, the <em>citizenry</em>, the <em>people</em> rise up triumphantly–a community banding together against injustice and, forged by a shared emotional recognition that in this jurisdictional act, it can reclaim sovereign power over and against the state. </p> <p class="normal">The variations of these theatrical events are noteworthy, and one important peculiarity is the makeup of the public itself, in other words, the classes which are included and which are left out. In Guadalajara in 2007, different organizations convened an assembly in the city’s Plaza de Armas and voted to form the “People of Jalisco’s Popular Tribunal” to judge the state’s ex-governor. But in Monterrey 2009, a moral and ethical appellate court was convened by invitation in the auditorium of a business center to indict the former governor of Nuevo León. </p> <p class="normal">One was a trial open to the general public, complete with police harassment; the other was a paid, ticket-holders-only gala for select participants. One was comprised of popular representatives; the other, of citizens exercising their rights, but who also happened to be members of the local elite. In the former the actors wore a cap and gown, the <em>accoutrements</em> of a real courtroom; the latter supplied participants with a collapsible table, a loudspeaker and placards. </p> <h2><strong>Making an invisible judiciary visible</strong></h2> <p class="normal">The kinds of social mediation undertaken vary, as do their limitations. From the point of view of state authorities, the mock trials are always a farce, as was expressed in Mérida in 2011 <a href="">immediately following</a> the case of the “Civic Family Front” versus the ex-governor of Yucatán. But what is at stake is truth–formal legal truth. The trial is a means of identifying it, while the theater–or at least a particular notion of dramatic art–tries to represent that legal truth and submit it to the critical judgment of the people. It is an illusion that creates a free space for discussion about the accountability of politicians and state officials, an arena configured by the flow of legal discourse, the historical experience of conflict, and the appearance of lawfully overcoming a political crisis. </p> <p class="normal">The justice system is totally devoid of theatricality because it does not take place in public. It tends to be bureaucratic and secretarial. Written judgments accumulate with the heft of paper bricks. Legal language is gibberish to the uninitiated; its foundation is metaphysical, ambiguous. Judicial process is agonizingly slow and suspenseful, its inner workings a silent and incomprehensible mystery. Outside of the Supreme Court’s sessions, which have been televised since 2005, most Mexican justice appears scandalous when put under public scrutiny. </p> <p class="normal">This was evident with the broadcast of the 2011 documentary “Presunto culpable<em>”</em> (Presumed Guilty). The documentary opened up the black box of criminal proceedings with no theatrics other than the cruelty of bureaucratic, dispassionate, and perfunctory injustice. It showed the dark side of police behaviour, the Federal Public Ministry, the witnesses and counsel for the defense, the evaluation of evidence, and the treatment of those charged without regard for presumption of innocence or wrongful incarceration. </p> <p class="normal">The most recent judicial reforms in 2008 and 2014 began to transform the justice system from an inquisitorial written one to an accusatory oral one, more properly theatrical by virtue of its adversarial structure. Oral trials facilitate greater public visibility and transparency, strengthening the legal form through dialogue–the debate between actors, their war of words, the chorus of witnesses and experts, including the press, all under the watchful eye of the public as supervisory body. Adoption of the oral trial, whether for criminal cases or civil suits, is sure to transform the experience and expectations of the justice system in Mexico.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Living law</strong></h2> <p class="normal">Until then, mock trials performed in the public arena will still have merit because of their capacity to render the invisible power of judges visible, an almost revolutionary change. Judicial dramatizations accelerate the critical timeframe of political conflict, the uncertain, indeterminate and preliminary transition from the time before to the one after, from what was to what will be. It is not that the actors find themselves before the law, as in Kafka’s parable, nor outside the law. Rather in these dramas, there is an authentic, living law with sovereign, jurisdictional authority to decide what is just and unjust. The staging reaches its high points, first with the grievance and then with the sentencing. Among the factors that may technically contribute to the crisis, the most interesting are those that emphasize the guilt of the accused, irrespective of immunity, privilege or even the nature of responsibility (political, administrative or criminal). These ensure the desired sentence is obtained, one that clearly draws the line between lawlessness and the law, between the legality with which the justice system operates and popular or citizen legitimacy. </p> <p class="normal">The court’s sanction is only moral, but it is politically expedient; it renders the conflict public through a sublimated lynching. It is a ritual that contains the crisis and gives the conflict a particular form. It structures the relationship between two antagonistic actors who represent opposing political positions in a non-violent way. Both are bound by the rules–legal and dramatic–in an adversarial game. It is theatre, in words, gestures, and grimaces, but the conflict takes on a recognized legal form and is projected as spectacle in the public space. Publicizing the trial is punitive and satisfying, evoking the opening lines of William Gaddis’s novel <em>A Frolic of His Own</em>, “Justice? – You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law.”</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="normal"><em>The <a href="">original version of this article</a> can be found in Spanish. It was translated to English by Victoria E. Robertson.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read the&nbsp;<a href="">series editorial</a>.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ali-ali/challenging-syrian-state-using-information-systems-to-document-human-rights-vio">Challenging the Syrian state: using information systems to document human-rights violations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/raluca-bianca-roman/justice-morality-and-exclusion-from-law-case-of-roma-in-finland">Justice, morality and exclusion from the law: the case of the Roma in Finland</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nicky/speak-out-on-poverty-impunity-inaudibility-and-structural-violence">Speak Out on Poverty: impunity, inaudibility and structural violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/shadi-sadr/documenting-perpetrators-amongst-people">Documenting the perpetrators amongst the people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mexico </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Mexico José Carlos Hesles Tue, 19 May 2015 09:00:15 +0000 José Carlos Hesles 92884 at El Salvador’s gang truce: a lost opportunity? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The truce declared in 2012 may have been imperfect and controversial but positive lessons must be learned amid the country’s current crisis of violence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Murderous month: a young woman, bearing a 'free hugs' placard, joins nearly half a million protesters against violence across the country in late March. Demotix / <a class="popup-processed" href="">Luis Alonso López Martínez</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>Violence is escalating again in El Salvador. March 2015 was the most violent month in over a decade, and the government is preparing army and police battalions to fight the gangs. These trends mark the definitive end of a process which started in 2012 with a truce between the two main gangs—MS-13 and Barrio 18—and evolved into a more complex and multidimensional approach to reducing violence, with a degree of international support. </p> <p>The process was complicated, imperfect and subject to public controversy but it stands as one of the most significant examples worldwide of an effort to reduce violence through negotiation with criminal groups. With <a href="">an annual homicide rate of 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants</a>, El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world. It is also a notable example of the trend towards <a href="">non-conventional, hybrid and criminal violence</a>. </p> <p>A peace agreement reached in 1992 put an end to civil war and initiated a peacebuilding process, which saw rebels of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) make a successful transition to civilian and political life. The FMLN finally won the presidency by a tiny margin in 2009, and by an even smaller sliver in 2014, overturning 20 years of rule by the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). </p> <p>Meanwhile, a complex set of factors triggered a transformation of violence, which became criminal and perpetrated by illegal armed groups, most notably the gangs (<em>maras</em>). A profound crisis of public security has since shaken the country, as well as neighbours Honduras and Guatemala. Successive <a href="">governments have responded with ‘iron-fist’ approaches focused on crime suppression</a> and militarisation of security. These policies, although of limited effectiveness, have helped to cement the electoral support of a population angered and traumatised by decades of violence. </p> <h2><strong>Surprise news</strong></h2> <p>In March 2012 the country was taken by surprise by news of a truce between Barrio 18 and MS-13, facilitated by two mediators (a former insurgent and government advisor, and a Catholic bishop) and tacitly supported by the government of the FMLN president, Mauricio Funes. Imprisoned gang leaders were transferred from a maximum-security prison to other jails in exchange for a reduction in violence. The gangs agreed to end forced recruitment of children and young people, respect schools and buses as zones of peace and reduce attacks on the security forces. </p> <p>In the succeeding months, the gangs surrendered limited amounts of weapons and the government acted to address shortcomings in the overcrowded prison system, such as softening visitor searches and removing the army from the task. For the first time since the war, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was invited to contribute and in October 2012 it established a special mission to monitor human rights in prison. The drop in homicides was immediate—from 14 per day to five. </p> <p>The gangs’ leaderships and the mediators were discussing a list of issues to be included in an enlarged process with a wider pacification agenda. Their <a href="">Proposal for a Framework Agreement for the Recovery of Social Peace in El Salvador</a> included reform of the prison system, a public-private body with gang participation to oversee rehabilitation and reinsertion, derogation of the anti-gang law and removal of the army from public-security duties. Notably absent was any demand for amnesty or reduction of prison sentences. The proposals included suspension of all acts of violence, voluntary surrender to security forces, decommissioning of weapons and explosives, and an end to forced disappearances. </p> <p>As more details emerged, however, public opinion about the truce became increasingly polarised. The main opposition came from conservative sectors, parts of the legal establishment and law enforcement, and the media. Contributing to scepticism were unabated <a href=";idArt=7760948">extortion and other violent crimes</a>, such as ‘disappearances’—allied to concern about the potential empowerment and legitimisation of criminal structures and a widely-held perception that violence was being rewarded. </p> <p>But a <a href="">second school of thought</a> saw the truce as a way to reduce violence and reintegrate gang members. This vision was shared by segments of civil society and the <a href="">Organization of American States</a>, which became an observer and guarantor of the process. A formal agreement with the government resulted in the creation of a Technical Committee for the Co-ordination of the Process of Violence Reduction in El Salvador. </p> <p>Nevertheless, the government remained equivocal. Funes and other members refused to admit any participation and delivered contradictory statements, which fed distrust and confusion. But the sustained impact on violence and better understanding of the process <a href="">gradually legitimised it</a> and allowed the government to acknowledge involvement. </p> <p>The government’s ambivalence can be contextualised. This was the first FMLN administration and conservatives controlled the National Assembly. The United States prohibits negotiations between a government and a criminal organisation and in November 2012 it so labelled the MS-13. The US is <a href="">El Salvador’s main trading partner</a> and co-operation in trade and security has resulted in US support and military and police aid from programmes such as the Central America Regional Security Initiative. In what has been described as the performance of “<a href="">a trapeze artist</a>”, the FMLN has thus tried to develop progressive policies while not antagonising the US, foreign capital and the Salvadoran establishment (in control of the media).</p> <h2><strong>Transfer of gang leaders</strong></h2> <p>The truce was supported by the minister of justice and public security, David Munguía, a retired general and former minister of defence. Although his appointment in 2011 (and the removal of FMLN members from those positions) was largely interpreted as a move towards remilitarisation, he surprised his critics by encouraging the first steps of the truce—authorising the transfer of gang leaders to other jails. According to the analyst of Salvadoran politics <a href="">Paolo Lubers</a>, he and other generals took the initiative after improved intelligence co-ordination convinced them that most violence was gang-driven. </p> <p>Opposition came, however, from the Office of the Prosecutor and, later, sections of the police. They alleged that the truce was an opportunity for the gangs to reorganise, and that the drop in homicides was driving other crimes such as ‘disappearances’ and extortion. Some of this was a legacy of the peace accords, which disbanded the old security forces, established the National Civil Police (PNC) and reined in the armed forces. </p> <p>The PNC comprised civilians, demobilised guerrilla fighters and vetted members of the prior security forces—whose most authoritarian members, however, <a href="">were able to secure the most prominent positions</a> in the new service, particularly during the two decades of ARENA governments. The police force is thus politicised and plagued by poor performance, corruption and authoritarian practices. Meanwhile, the Office of the Attorney-General (as with Supreme Court judges) is marked by political appointments by the Legislative Assembly, which have benefited ARENA hitherto. </p> <h2><strong>More complex</strong></h2> <p>In 2013, the process entered a more complex second phase, centred on the creation of violence-free municipalities. These ‘peace zones’ were based on agreement among local authorities, gangs and facilitators, with groups committing to cease violence and crime in exchange for a reduction in police operations and raids and reinsertion programmes. The first four municipalities, presented in January 2013, were soon extended to 11, with a combined population of more than 1m (out of 6m in all in El Salvador) and support from the OAS and the European Commission. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">Notably absent was any demand for amnesty or reduction of prison sentences.</span></p><p><span></span>Mayors from both main parties, the FMLN and ARENA, participated in the initiative. Again, an ambivalent government promised, but then failed to deliver, grants and loans for prevention and rehabilitation. In Ilopango, the first peace zone, reduced violence presented an opportunity for the creation of a bakery and a chicken farm to generate employment, and the local government set up education centres and sports fields in marginalised neighbourhoods. But the mayor complained that the municipality had not received any of the $9 million promised by the government. Other cities were also left to their own devices. </p> <p>In May 2013, the process suffered a major blow: the Constitutional Court nullified the appointment of Munguía as minister of justice and public security and forced Funes to restructure the security cabinet. The new minister, Ricardo Perdomo, proved a sharp critic of the truce. Amidst a polarised debate leading up to the February 2014 presidential election, his hard-line discourse and the restrictions placed on the mediation mechanisms weakened the process. The downward trend in murder rates began to reverse, amid a turf war between two factions of Barrio 18. </p> <h2>Support discontinued</h2> <p>At the beginning of 2015, the new president, the former rebel Salvador Sánchez Ceren, said he would discontinue support for the truce. Leaders of the gangs were <a href="">returned to the maximum security prison</a> of Zacatecoluca. </p> <p>In March 2015 481 homicides were reported by the PNC (16 per day), a 52% increase on a year earlier. There were six massacres and on average 4.5 persons ‘disappeared’ each day. </p> <p>A <a href="">recent report</a> however suggests that the truce has had a lasting effect on the geographical distribution of violence. Murder figures remain lower than average in regions where the truce was strong and coalitions of local actors (such as mayors, churches and NGOs) took advantage of the opportunity to promote new policies. The trend is even more striking in the ‘peace zones’: in seven the drop in murders has been sustained in spite of the setbacks.</p> <p>But in other areas violence is soaring and tough positions are gaining a foothold. Sánchez Ceren has <a href="">announced</a> the creation of three battalions, with more than 1,200 troops, to fight crime in areas most affected by violence. And the rightist business association ANEP has <a href="">hired the former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani</a> as an adviser. </p> <h2>Particular problems</h2> <p>This truce can be counted among so-called <a href="">second-generation security promotion</a> activities, which depart from conventional top-down approaches and are forged on “formal and informal cooperation with existing (including customary) sub-national institutions”. But making peace with criminal (as against political) actors poses particular problems. </p> <p>As <a href="">James Cockayne put it</a>, these cases are fraught with moral and political hazards, and there are critical questions. What is the desired end-state of negotiation? Is it a reduction of violence, a reduction of all criminal activities or dissolution of the illegal actor? The response to these questions will largely determine the contours of any negotiation in El Salvador and elsewhere.</p> <p>Despite its flaws and shortcomings, the experience can however provide invaluable lessons. Apart from a drastic reduction in homicides, it contributed to a recognition of the social contours of the gang phenomenon and opened discussions at national and international levels about prevention, reintegration and rehabilitation. </p> <p>The truce also demonstrated that a vast proportion of the violence afflicting the country was due to inter-gang confrontation. It revealed gang leaderships with a capacity for command-and-control and a sophisticated understanding of their role in society. Their ability to articulate demands surprised many, and to some extent changed conventional thinking. </p> <p>But exploitation of public security in electoral politics tends to favour hard-line approaches. As criticism and polarisation grew to politically untenable levels, the government adopted contradictory statements and policies and later distanced itself from the process. An overall lack of planning and co-ordination hampered effectiveness—not least because the civil-society actors with more experience in working with gangs and communities were not involved. </p> <p>Fear that the gangs might use the truce to rearm and reorganise, and anger towards &nbsp;perceived preferential treatment, is common in countries in transition from war to peace and with schemes of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants. The accumulated experience of the global peacebuilding community can provide useful insights, including the adoption of community-based approaches to reintegration. Similarly, adaptation and use of mechanisms of transitional justice can help find a balance between security, justice and reconciliation.</p> <p>The truce in El Salvador has been a lost opportunity to take advantage of reduced violence to strengthen the institutional presence in communities affected by gangs and implement comprehensive approaches to prevention, reintegration and reconciliation. Any future attempt will need stronger political commitment, a long-term strategy and engagement with civil society and public opinion. Given the scope of the problem and an estimated gang membership in the tens of thousands, socio-economic programmes and opportunities are also imperative for sustainability. But, for the time being, the <a href="">horses of war</a> are riding again.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Killings <a href="">hit new record</a> in May.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/carlos-rosales/el-salvador%27s-gang-problem-truth-behind-truce">El Salvador&#039;s gang problem: the truth behind the truce</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ivan-briscoe/deals-with-devil">Deals with the devil</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> El Salvador </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity El Salvador Conflict The Americas rule of law institutions & government latin america Mabel González Bustelo Sustainable Security Non-state violence Organised crime Transitional Justice Mon, 18 May 2015 15:32:58 +0000 Mabel González Bustelo 92866 at The dilemmas of migration and the alternatives <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> 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{mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:NO-BOK; mso-fareast-language:ZH-CN;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Helvetica; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Force and denial are not going to solve the migrant crisis—instead we must turn to long-term economic, political, and cultural solutions.</span><!--EndFragment--> </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="image-caption">Ian Pace/Demotix. All rights reserved.</p><p><span>The EU has <a href="">approved</a> the use of force to combat human trafficking on the Mediterranean. Groups of Moroccan immigrants frequently try to jump the fence into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia turn away boats with thousands of people fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh. In South Africa, foreign workers from neighbouring countries face vicious attacks. And ‘coyotes’ (traffickers) are making their fortunes illegally by passing people between Central America, Mexico and the United States.</span></p> <p>These are only a few examples of the thousands of people who prefer to die at sea or at the hands of traffickers than to live in penury, in the midst of repression or violence. Borders at sea and on land create the dramatic spaces where more people every year try to make their way to a different life. </p> <p>In Europe, some see the influx of foreigners as an advantage—providing a young workforce to contribute to sustaining the social security system. Others consider it a source of crime. Some believe that societies are never static and that multiculturalism is enriching, while others fear it causes a loss of identity, or increasingly link migration with jihadist terrorism.</p> <p>Informing these views is the powerful, sometimes hidden component of racism on the one hand, and on the other a power discourse apparently unable to do anything about immigration and the growing demands for political asylum, except to try and stop or restrict them.</p> <p>Hedged in by these restrictive narratives—which present no alternative other than to close down the gateways of the US, Europe, Australia and increasingly some southern countries—international conventions on asylum are sidelined, as are moral and humanitarian considerations and the economic and financial alternatives that could be implemented to strategically reduce the need for people to migrate. </p> <p>As with other international problems (such as climate change and organized crime), migration is a complex issue with no single, immediate solution. However, a series of economic measures together with a greater determination in resolving armed conflicts could help alleviate the causes for mass migration in the medium and long term. If a strategic approach is not adopted, the problem will grow until it becomes impossible to manage. </p> <h2><strong>Inequality, poverty and violence</strong></h2> <p>The crisis in Europe and the United States has benefited a conservative approach, as populist leaders capitalize on the fear of immigration and use it to spearhead their chauvinist narratives. In times of crisis, subjective feelings of fear are easy to spread. The anti-immigration discourse of the extreme right has gained adherents in centrist and socialist parties and among their voters, as seen in the recent elections in Britain.</p> <p>Meanwhile the data corroborate the correlation between poverty, inequality, war and violence, on the one hand, and migrants and asylum seekers, on the other. <span>The number of Syrians and Palestinians grows in parallel to the lack of political solutions in their countries. Meanwhile, the disintegration of Libya—two governments, dozens of armed groups, the presence of so-called Islamic State—is increasing both the number of people who want to flee and the number of traffickers.</span></p> <p>Even without open war or repression, however, the global system with its growing reliance on robotics is a machine that increasingly puts people out of work, especially the younger generations, and results in massive inequality and depredation. </p> <h2>Vertical and horizontal movements of people</h2> <p>According to <a href="">UNHCR</a>, “More than 218,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean in 2014—almost three times the previous high in 2011 during the 'Arab Spring'…More than 3,500 women, men and children were reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea in 2014.” </p> <p>It is estimated that another 200,000 will attempt to cross the Mediterranean in 2015, with numbers increasing by the end of the year. </p> <p>Europe is alarmed by the northbound movement of people, but in the Middle East and North Africa, as in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America, the flow is horizontal. People move where they can, from centers of conflict such as the Middle East, Somalia, Nigeria, Burundi, Central African Republic, Myanmar and Mali. (<span>In the same way, families try to protect their children from the&nbsp;</span><em>maras</em><em>&nbsp;</em><span>or gangs in Guatemala and El Salvador by </span><a href="">paying the coyotes</a><span> to take them out of harm’s way.) </span></p><p><span>Interestingly, the largest number of immigrants in the inter-European flows of people between 2010 and 2013 came from eastern Europe to southern Europe and northern and southern Europe to northern Europe, thanks to the financial crisis.</span></p> <p>Despite the increase in asylum applications in the north, most refugees live in precarious conditions close to their countries of origin. According to <a href="">UNHCR</a>, even though Syrians were the largest group seeking asylum in industrialized countries in 2014, “their number remains modest compared to the number of Syrian refugees hosted by surrounding countries. The overall number registered or awaiting registration in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey had surpassed the 3.9 million mark.”</p> <h2>Debate over the use of force</h2> <p>On May 11, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union Foreign and Security Council, spoke at the UN Security Council. She presented five recommendations for EU policy: respect international agreements on asylum and refuge; rescue people whose lives are at risk in the Mediterranean; discuss a plan for relocation of refugees among EU members; provide bilateral development assistance to the countries of origin; and use all legal and military means to combat illicit trafficking.</p> <p>This last point is the most controversial; though the use of force has EU approval, it has not been given the go-ahead by the United Nations. France, Lithuania, the UK and Spain, however, are preparing a draft UN Security Council resolution for the use of force to interdict, board or destroy traffickers’ boats—following the model of Operation Atalanta against piracy off the coast of Somalia. </p> <p>There are many legal, political, moral and practical <a href="">reservations</a> against this, especially with regards to the rights of asylum seekers and immigrants in accordance with EU rules of 1990 and 2003.</p> <p>When people want to escape they use all possible means: testimonies show that some African immigrants travel for up to four years trying to reach Europe. In a recent conversation with a Caritas representative in Colombia, he told me that more than a hundred Somalis are asylum seekers in that country. They cross the African continent eastbound, then stow away on transport ships from Angola to Brazil, and from there cross into Colombia. </p> <h2><strong>Alternative policies</strong></h2> <p>Bombings will not stop migration. On the contrary, many repressive measures lead to a proliferation of illegal migration methods and the number of traffickers. Instead,&nbsp;<span>though most recipient countries present the problem as almost impossible to solve, there are many alternatives to the use of force, expulsion and barriers.&nbsp;</span><span>Europe, the United States and other recipient countries could plan the integration of these people, safely and legally, with educational, training and employment mechanisms.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>UN <a href="">forums</a> suggest integrating the discussions about refugees, migrants and internally displaced people into the current review of sustainable development goals, and linking it to respect for human rights and the protection of vulnerable people. </p> <p>The 2014 UN Secretary General <a href="">report</a> on international migration and development has many important and concrete suggestions on how to manage migration internationally. &nbsp;A <a href="">report</a> by the Australian Refugee Council concludes that refugees "can diversify and enhance the skill level of the population, increase economies of scale and foster innovation and flexibility.” </p> <p>A World Bank <a href="">report</a> concludes that refugees bring skills, boost the demand for products and services locally, and attract remittances from abroad. According to <a href="">Philippe Legrain</a>, an economic adviser to the president of the European Commission from 2011 to 2014, </p> <p>“Studies by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that migrants tend to be net contributors to public finances. Educated abroad, they are typically young and healthy, and unlikely to be eligible for a pension if they leave again. Far from being a threat to Europe’s welfare programs, increased migration could make them more sustainable. An influx of new taxpayers would also alleviate the debt burden of the existing population.”</p> <h2>The racism component</h2> <p>The governments of industrialized countries, and increasingly of the so-called emerging powers, are not adopting regulations in investment, trade and finance that could help diminish the number of migrants. For example, bilateral and multilateral agreements for strategic development cooperation between northern and southern countries could set up fees and labour regulations for permanent and temporary workers. </p> <p>After analyzing a series of possible measures in these fields, international consultant Peter Stalker <a href="">concludes</a> that governments leave immigrants to be the "shock absorbers of the overall economy, forced to embark on perilous voyages and work illegally, and thus exposed to all forms of abuse and exploitation." </p> <p>It is also crucial to work on political and cultural aspects, addressing the rise of racism in its different forms in the political and media discourses towards immigrants. As long as the racist <a href="">narrative</a> of the right is perpetuated, which links migration and asylum seekers with terrorism and unemployment, and sees them as a dangerous community instead of citizens, it will be more difficult to identify and manage complex <a href="">problems</a> like marginalization, jihadism, racism, and Islamophobia. </p> <p>As with other problems of the international system, mass movements of people must be managed with the legal, social and political resources available. The alternative is to lock them in crowded camps where they live in inhuman conditions or push them to wander through Europe, joining the growing mass of "disposable and wasted lives"—to&nbsp;<a href="">quote</a>&nbsp;Zygmunt Bauman—for whom there is no place throughout modern society.</p><p><em>An earlier <a href="">version</a> of this article was published in Spanish in </em>El Mundo.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/graham-peebles/desperate-people-hazardous-escapes">Desperate people, hazardous escapes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hans-lucht/rogue-general-and-migrant-%E2%80%98massacre%E2%80%99-on-mediterranean">The rogue general and the migrant ‘massacre’ on the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/timothy-cooper/arab-migrants-face-new-sykespicot-in-calais">Arab migrants face a new Sykes-Picot in Calais</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/judith-sunderland-bill-frelick/eu%E2%80%99s-approach-to-migrants-humanitarian-rhetoric-inhuman">EU’s approach to migrants: humanitarian rhetoric, inhumane treatment</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/maria-giovanna-manieri-elisabeth-schmidthieber/migrants-in-mediterranean-mourning-death">Migrants in the Mediterranean: mourning deaths, not saving lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/%C3%B6zg%C3%BCn-topak/surveillance-and-migrant-deaths-in-mediterranean">Surveillance, migrant deaths and humanitarianism in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/sally-davison-george-shire/race-migration-and-neoliberalism">Race, migration and neoliberalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> North Africa, West Asia Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity People Flow racism Asylum refugees Migrants Mariano Aguirre Violent transitions Geopolitics Mon, 18 May 2015 12:31:35 +0000 Mariano Aguirre 92860 at