openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/ en Call for submissions: Listening to Libya - Intervention and its aftermath https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/shilpa-jindia-walid-el-houri/call-for-submissions-listening-to-libya-interven <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>NAWA seeks to provide a deeper look into Libya by inviting Libyan writers, and readers to submit their thoughts, articles and pitches but also their reading recommendations to us.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/13542410724_8c0f756f5d_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/13542410724_8c0f756f5d_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Explosive Remnants of War in post revolution Libya. Picture by United Nations Development Programme / Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>During the month of September, North Africa West Asia (NAWA) is calling for submissions and pitches on Libya. </p><p>Since the beginning of the Libyan uprising and especially with the military intervention that led to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has become a ghost haunting any discussion of internationalism in Syria, and as primary evidence of western conspiracies for regime change. While much is discussed about Syria, very little has been heard from Libyans and Libya outside of the simplified dichotomy that we see in mainstream media. While indeed part of the story of Syria is located in Libya, the latter’s story is crucial to be told for its own sake. &nbsp;</p><p>NAWA seeks to provide a deeper look into Libya by inviting Libyan writers, and readers to submit their thoughts, articles and pitches but also their reading recommendations to us. Though many foreigners have studied and written on Libya, we aim to bolster the voice and experience of Libyans for this series.</p><p>Our focus will be on the call for and the aftermath of intervention. How has the Libyan uprising altered internationalism and what is happening in Libya in the aftermath of the intervention? </p><p>You can submit your pitches or texts (50 to 100 words) and / or reading suggestions to NAWA@opendemocracy.net</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/shilpa-jindia-walid-el-houri/call-for-submissions-listening-to-libya-interven-ar"> دعوة إلى تقديم المقالات: الاستماع إلى ليبيا – التّدخّل وآثاره</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-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 North-Africa West-Asia Libya Walid el Houri Shilpa Jindia Sun, 27 Aug 2017 14:18:17 +0000 Shilpa Jindia and Walid el Houri 112954 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Challenging elections in Chile https://www.opendemocracy.net/luc-dammert/challenging-elections-in-chile <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>History will remember some of the installed reforms in Chile as significant changes, yet Michele Bachelet will leave her second term in government with only a 25% public approval. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/luc-dammert/elecciones-en-chile-certezas-y-desaf-os">Español</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-33663833_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-33663833_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Followers of Sebastián Piñera await his arrival in Osorno, Chile on November 9, 2017. The presidential candidate and former president of Chile Sebastián Piñera met with his followers in the city of Osorno only a few days before the elections. (Photo by Fernando Lavoz/NurPhoto/Sipa USA). All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Presidential elections will be held this Sunday, November 19, in Chile. All the polls agree that former President Sebastián Piñera is most likely the candidate to earn the majority of the votes, although not enough to win in the first round. Yet the question that intrigues the experts today is not so much who the runner-up will be, or the percentages of participation, but how many people will actually vote. In 2012, Chile passed a bill changing the vote from compulsory to voluntary, and it has since become the Latin American country with the lowest electoral participation. The picture becomes liquid when you do not know what the likely turn up of voters will be.</p> <p>The process leading to Piñera’s probable return to the presidency has some explanations that are worth remembering. During Michele Bachelet’s first term (2006-2010) the parties in her coalition had significant clout, the program of initiatives continued to refine the political model of agreements, implemented with the return to democracy. And finally, it had substantial citizen support. But the coalition failed to define a clear electoral strategy, chose a bad candidate, and so Sebastián Piñera won. Bachelet left La Moneda’s presidential palace with more than 80% public approval, knowing that she was very likely to be good contender to take the elections four years later.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Once the (Piñera's) administration was over, and with the ghost of Bachelet haunting over the following electoral process, the right-wing coalition underwent a generalized crisis process</p> <p>Piñera’s government (2010-2014) was marked by problems with the parties in his coalition and the impetus of being “the government of the best" – mainly composed by former managers of private companies who knew little or nothing about the State. In a second stage, important political actors joined the government, which gave the coalition some structural order, although the parties recognized both in public and in private that the President often did not communicate with them. Piñera had to manage the consequences of the biggest earthquake in decades, its reconstruction, the student demands, and the development of a reform agenda coming form the left. During his term, the economic and social indicators, in general, improved. Once the administration was over, and with the ghost of Bachelet haunting over the following electoral process, the right-wing coalition underwent a generalized crisis process, which led directly to its electoral defeat.</p> <p>Certainly, Bachelet returned to the government as an indisputable and basically incombustible candidate. This time, she took advantage of her political strength to create a team composed by people of her personal entourage. She also distanced herself from the parties and the party leadership, and defined a program of important social reforms (free university education, abortion on three grounds, reform tax, labor reform, constitutional reform). However, shortly after assuming the presidency, the corruption scandals linked to her son and daughter-in-law broke out, which combined with the apparent lack of coordination between the economic and the political teams in her government, the daily struggle with problems that got in the way of implementing the reformist agenda, and doubts among the parties, weakened the President, her government, and her center-left coalition. Undoubtedly, history will remember some of the installed reforms in Chile as substantial changes, but this time, Michele Bachelet will leave the government with just a 25% public approval and a center-left coalition destroyed from the inside.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus the electoral process of 2017 has 2 candidates, both considered center-left, and who are members of the coalition of the outgoing government. The Christian Democracy sought its own way with Carolina Goic and surely that will cost the party some seats in the Legislative on Sunday, but it will open up the discussion for a clearer programmatic future. The candidate representing the other party in the government coalition, current senator Alejandro Guillier, could very likely be the one going to the second round in December 2017.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">&nbsp;(Guillier) will need to reinvent himself, or his chances of winning in the second round are remote</p> <p>Guillier, an independent candidate supported by one of the smaller parties of the coalition, has been erratic in some decisions, has been publicly discreet, and was able to charm the popular center-left electorate, which means those voters may refrain from participating in the elections this Sunday. Therefore, he will need to reinvent himself, or his chances of winning in the second round are remote.</p> <p>Piñera, meanwhile, understood that governing includes ordering the party coalition, reducing public and private confrontations, consolidating an ambition of power and government, not just management, and putting together a government agenda based on ideology rather than administrative functionality. A candidate from a harder right wing has emerged, but apparently he will not consolidate a relevant percentage of votes.&nbsp;</p> <p>The election this Sunday is key to the political development of one of the countries considered most institutional and orderly in the region. Possibly, the greatest challenges ahead relate to citizen disaffection of political participation, the urgent need for a change in the leadership of traditional parties, and the need for consolidation of new serious references and true alternative proposals.</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="/democraciaabierta/claudio-fuentes-saavedra/chile-elections-why-progressives-will-not-win">Chile elections: why progressives will not win</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/alexis-cort-s/beginning-of-free-university-education-in-chile">The beginning of free university education in Chile</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/laura-vidal-natali-herrera-pacheco/chile-philosophical-question">Chile: the philosophical question</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"> Democracy and government </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> DemocraciaAbierta Democracy and government Chile elections Latin America Lucía Dammert Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:03:35 +0000 Lucía Dammert 114737 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Frontpage 18th November https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/frontpage-18th-november <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-fps-settings"><div class="field field-fp-section"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Select </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-frontpage-yn"> <div class="field-label">Show on Front Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show on Front Page </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-of-display"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Landscape </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-primary-article"><div class="field field-promoted"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/dhananjayan-sriskandarajah/poniendo-el-pac-fico-en-el-mapa">Putting the Pacific on the Map</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-article-text"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The 23rd&nbsp;Council of Parties (COP23) has been held this week in Bonn, Germany at the headquarters of the UN Climate Commission. But tthis year's UN climate change talks host country is Fiji, and there is where CIVICUS will gather civil society from around the world next month.&nbsp;<em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/dhananjayan-sriskandarajah/poniendo-el-pac-fico-en-el-mapa-0">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-fp-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_fp_image" width="620" height="520" title="openDemocracy.net - free thinking for the world" alt="openDemocracy.net - free thinking for the world" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Fiji_%28orthographic_projection%29_0%20copy.jpg" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-fp-img-caption"> <div class="field-label">Image Caption:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Atlas localization of the Republic of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. Wikipedia, All rights reserved. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related-posts"><div class="field field-promoted-top"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/aura-bogado/no-more-white-saviors">No more white saviors</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/marco-gardini/working-for-former-masters-in-madagascar-win-win-game-for-former-slaves">Working for former masters in Madagascar: a ‘win-win’ game for former slaves?</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/tom-s-straka/tragedy-of-venezuelan-opposition">The tragedy of the Venezuelan opposition</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-left-column"><div class="field field-promoted-left"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/will-wright/quiet-battle-for-control-of-internet">The quiet battle for control of the internet</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/tanya-lokshina/a-hyperlink-to-absurdity">A hyperlink to absurdity</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-right-column"><div class="field field-promoted-right"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/gerry-hassan/gordon-brown-ghost-in-machine">Gordon Brown: the ghost in the machine</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alison-pargeter/libya-damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don-t">Libya: damned if we do and damned if we don’t</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-fps-summary-override"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Given the complex attitudes towards foreign interventions in Libya, we need a clear strategy that stands up to scrutiny.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/frontpage-18th-november#comments Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:52:00 +0000 openDemocracy 114732 at https://www.opendemocracy.net This week, Russian citizens have been arrested for intolerance towards Cossacks https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ovd-info/russia-arrests-november-2017 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Our partners at OVD-Info give us the latest on freedom of assembly and political detentions in Russia.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/1_npkc2W2vzxKGMJUDC6qBIQ.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="224" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>OVD-Info report makes it to the top of Yandex's news aggregator, Russia's most popular search engine. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>We continue our partnership with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ovdinfo.org/">OVD-Info</a>, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday, we bring you the latest information on freedom of assembly.&nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This week we report on how OVD-Info found its way to the top of the Yandex search engine, what’s wrong with the charges against a defendant in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ovd-info/bolotnaya-20">26 March case</a>, and how Russian police gather information from people who have been arrested.</p><h2>We begin with the news</h2><p dir="ltr">The FSB has <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/10/fsb-zavela-na-vyacheslava-malceva-delo-ob-organizacii-terroristicheskogo?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">opened</a> a criminal investigation against Vyacheslav Maltsev, the leader of the Artpodgotovka movement, for organising a terrorist group. Despite this, Maltsev apparently has “no problems at all.” He recently <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/15/lider-artpodgotovki-vyacheslav-malcev-zayavil-chto-poluchil-ubezhishche-v?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">stated</a> that he has been given political asylum in an EU country.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 10.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Vyacheslav Maltsev. Source: Youtube. </span></span></span>Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for preparing (non-existent) acts of terrorism in Crimea, has spent the past two weeks in <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/13/rezhissera-olega-sencova-dve-nedeli-derzhali-v-shizo-posle-dostavleniya-v?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">solitary confinement</a>. Sentsov had been moved to the White Bear prison colony in the Labytnangi settlement (in Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous district) where he was immediately placed in solitary confinement. This is how the prison carried out a decision by the pre-trial detention centre in Irkutsk, where Sentsov had formerly been held, who had decided the prisoner had been in serious violation of regulations, but had not had time to punish him.</p><p dir="ltr">In Chelyabinsk, environmental activist Irina Mochanova is under <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/13/za-odinochnyy-piket-pered-kortezhem-prezidenta-na-aktivistku-vozbudili?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">criminal investigation</a> for using violence against a representative of the authorities while holding a one-person protest in front of president Putin’s car as it drove past. &nbsp;The activist was protesting against the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/aaron-pelei/chelyabinsk-copper-plant-conflict">construction of the Tomino copper mining plant</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/2-z60-191611e9-696e-4304-8c67-755f1fc56709.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="280" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A picket against a new copper plant outside the city during president Putin's recent visit to Chelyabinsk. Source: <a href=http://chelyabinsk.74.ru/text/gorod/364940208971776.html?utm_source=vk&utm_medium=og&utm_campaign=smm>Chelyabinsk74.ru</a>.</span></span></span>Russian law enforcement haven’t forgotten about the dangerous criminals who exploit the internet for their nefarious purposes. Krasnodar blogger Leonid Kudinov has again been <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/15/krasnodarskomu-blogeru-dali-sutki-aresta-za-svastiku-v-videorolike?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">jailed</a> for posting a video containing a swastika. In the video, Kudinov urges the police to stop using Article 20.3 of the Administrative Law Code against activists, and to take into account the context in which Nazi symbols may be used.</p><p dir="ltr">In Kaluga, a business manager, Ivan Lyubshin, has been <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/16/zhitelya-kalugi-oshtrafovali-na-400-tysyach-rubley-za-posty-vo-vkontakte?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">found guilty</a> of extremism and of rehabilitation of Nazism on account of posts he made on the VKontakte social media site. Lyubshin was fined 400,000 roubles; prosecutors had asked for him to be jailed for four years. The prosecution was brought on the basis of posts on social media which included film of the joint military parade of the forces of the Third Reich and the Red Army in Brest in 1939, and a song from the Soviet-Polish war of 1920.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, in Crimea an activist has been <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/16/predsedatelya-soyuza-rabochih-sevastopolya-obvinyayut-v-neterpimosti-k?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">charged</a> with “embracing the ideas of intolerance towards the social group of the Terek Cossacks and defaming the given social group.” In this case, the investigators also established the alleged crime by reviewing social media. During a police search of the activist’s apartment, he was beaten.</p><p dir="ltr">In the regions the authorities are gradually moving to ban rallies in cities (especially in downtown areas). In <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/16/v-murmanskom-gayd-parke-nuzhno-soglasovyvat-mitingi-s-komitetom-po-kulture-i?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">Murmansk</a>, during an inspection by prosecutors, a document dating from 2011 was discovered stating that the local “Hyde Park” (the name given to areas where protests of less than 100 people are permitted without special authorisation by the authorities) had the status of an “object of cultural heritage” and therefore events could be held there only with the permission of the Committee for Culture and Art. The first decision the Committee took was to ban a rally against corruption. In <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/16/centralnuyu-ploshchad-petrozavodska-isklyuchili-iz-perechnya-gayd-parkov?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">Petrozavodsk</a> a more straightforward approach was adopted: the main street was simply removed from the list of local “Hyde Parks.” <br class="kix-line-break" /></p><h2>Our publications</h2><p>We have <a href="https://medium.com/@ovdinfo/%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BA-%D0%BC%D1%8B-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%8B%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%B5-%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%B9-%D1%8F%D0%BD%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0-f5df0dbc0ce5">written</a> about how during the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ovd-info/russia-last-sunday-s-revolution-in-numbers">“revolution” on 5 November</a> we suddenly became one of the top ten resources cited on Yandex-News (where in fact we don’t belong at all, since we are not licensed as a media outlet). It is interesting that the figures we published relating to the detentions that took place at that time were in contest with figures provided by the police: sometimes the police figures had the most citations, sometimes ours were predominant. But the main thing is that in our article we explain why we (and, in fact, you) need this information.</p><p dir="ltr">In Russia the notion of a “criminal misdemeanour” may be introduced. We <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/articles/2017/11/15/smyagchit-nelzya-uzhestochit-v-rossii-mozhet-poyavitsya-ponyatie-ugolovnyy?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">explain</a> what this is, and the different views as to whether it is necessary.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/DOCitisXcAEOjXe (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>7 November: Presnensky district court, Moscow. Source: Protest Moscow.</span></span></span>If you have been arrested, it is worth being cautious in what you say to other people in the police van, despite a natural sense of solidarity you may have with them. We <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/articles/2017/11/13/rabotniki-luna-parkov-kak-policeyskie-sobirayut-informaciyu-sredi-zaderzhannyh?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">relate</a> how police gather information among detainees.</p><p dir="ltr">Dmitry Borisov, a defendant in the 26 March Case, has been charged with kicking the helmet of one of the five police officers who were carrying him to the police van. As a result, Borisov faces a prison term of up to five years. Three police officers, who are witnesses in Borisov’s case, have <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/11/16/svideteli-ne-podtverdili-chto-figurant-dela-26-marta-udaril-policeyskogo?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">said</a> they did not see the accused strike the police officer. We have investigated the video of Borisov’s arrest in an attempt to understand whether it might indeed have been possible for Borisov to kick the officer on the helmet. Our <a href="https://ovdinfo.org/articles/2017/11/16/yayca-ne-trogayte-ili-za-chto-sudyat-dmitriya-borisova?utm_source=mailchimp&amp;utm_medium=mailing&amp;utm_campaign=this_week">conclusion</a> is very unexpected, but men will probably understand.</p><h2>Volunteers</h2><p dir="ltr">OVD-Info needs <a href="https://medium.com/@ovdinfo/%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B4-%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%84%D0%BE-%D1%8D%D1%82%D0%BE-%D0%B2%D1%8B-c5a6f2e585ed">volunteers</a>. We need volunteers to staff our telephone hotline, we need young lawyers, people to work with databases, IT experts, illustrators, and many others. Persecution on political grounds is very widespread in Russia at present, so we have much work to do. We cannot manage without volunteers. <a href="https://airtable.com/shrVB9giGDIIqJ3mb">Join</a> our team, we’ll be delighted!<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><h2>Thanks!</h2><p dir="ltr">Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us<a href="https://donate.ovdinfo.org/en"> here</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/grigory-okhotin/crowdfunding-to-bypass-russia-s-civil-society-crackdown"> here</a>.</em></p><p>&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><a href="https://ovdinfo.org/"><img src="https://ovdinfo.org/sites/all/themes/ovdinfo/img/logo-ovdinfo.png" alt="" width="100%" /></a></p><p>OVD-Info is a crowdfunded organisation. Find out how you can help them&nbsp;<a href="https://donate.ovdinfo.org/en">here</a>.</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="/od-russia/ovd-info/bolotnaya-20">Bolotnaya 2.0?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ovd-info/six-days-to-destroy-movement">Artpodgotovka: six days to destroy a movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ovd-info/russia-last-sunday-s-revolution-in-numbers">Russia: last Sunday’s “revolution” in numbers</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia OVD-Info Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:04:27 +0000 OVD-Info 114729 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Frontpage 17th November https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/frontpage-17th-november <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-fps-settings"><div class="field field-fp-section"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> OD </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-frontpage-yn"> <div class="field-label">Show on Front Page:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Show on Front Page </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-of-display"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Landscape </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-primary-article"><div class="field field-promoted"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alison-pargeter/libya-damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don-t">Libya: damned if we do and damned if we don’t</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-fp-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_fp_image" width="1324" height="701" title="openDemocracy.net - free thinking for the world" alt="openDemocracy.net - free thinking for the world" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/gaddafi.PNG" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-fp-img-caption"> <div class="field-label">Image Caption:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Muammar Gaddafi. YouTube/NBC News. All rights reserved </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related-posts"><div class="field field-promoted-top"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/North-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/famine-in-yemen-finally-reaches-western-headlines">Famine in Yemen finally reaches western headlines</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anna-krausova/reimagining-future-in-bolivia">(Re)imagining the future in Bolivia </a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? 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</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="field field-pfs-title-nr"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/simon-albury/diversity-ofcom-and-bbc-1-billion-gap">&quot;Diversity, Ofcom and the BBC: the £1 billion gap&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field field-hide-in-waterfall"> <div class="field-label">Hide in waterfall:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not include in section waterfall ? </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/frontpage-17th-november#comments Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:13:28 +0000 openDemocracy 114721 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Libya: damned if we do and damned if we don’t https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/alison-pargeter/libya-damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don-t <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Given the complex attitudes towards foreign interventions in Libya, we need a clear strategy that stands up to local, regional, and international scrutiny.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-33668866.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-33668866.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Soldiers of the Libyan UN-backed government forces gather on a street in Aziziya, Warshaffana, Libya, on Nov. 10, 2017 hours after taking control of the largest military camp in the area. Picture by Hamza Turkia/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Frustrated by the lack of media time given to local Libyan reactions to international actions, I have just finished a <span><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/publications/fall-views-ground-international-military-intervention/">project</a></span> funded by the <span><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></span> to interview a wide range of local stakeholders (including civil society activists, businessmen, officials, Islamist leaders, former ministers and former fighters) to elicit views on the less-well known but ongoing international military intervention in the Libyan conflict since the NATO campaign to topple Gadhafi ended in 2011.</p> <p>The responses highlighted the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma faced by governments currently seeking to contain the spread of violent extremist groups in the country and protect their own security. On the one hand, foreign intervention has generally elicited a negative response in Libya, where pride in national sovereignty and mistrust of international intentions run deep. Then, on the other, there is a keen sense of abandonment following the ousting of Gaddafi – when the international community left the country vulnerable to meddling by a wide range of local and regional actors. </p> <p>How to resolve the conflict in Libya remains one of the most difficult and important questions facing policy-makers today. The country has been mired in crisis ever since the toppling of the former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadhafi in 2011. Beyond the humanitarian costs of the ongoing turmoil, the boost in available <span><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-arms-un-idUSBRE93814Y20130409">weapons has fuelled conflicts</a></span> across the continent. Libya’s proximity to Europe has also raised fears about <span><a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/libya-gateway-life-europe-150423053822068.html">rising immigrant flows</a></span>; while, the <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/28/salman-abedi-manchester-arena-bomber-radicalisation">Libyan links to the Manchester bomber</a></span> highlighted the dangers of leaving extremism to blossom in the country. As <span><a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2017-07-18/filling-vacuum-libya">AFRICOM commander Thomas Waldhauser</a></span> recently stated: “instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to US and allies’ interests on the continent.” </p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Foreign intervention appears to be inadvertently exacerbating divisions on the ground</p><p>It is, perhaps, unsurprising then that many western countries discreetly continued military operations in the country after the official end of the NATO mission in October 2011. However, their interests and motives – particularly their perceived focus on countering terrorism over the broader stability of the country – have been a cause of contention. Alongside <span><a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/r-us-envoy-endorses-libyas-un-backed-government-in-flying-visit-to-tripoli-2017-5">diplomatic efforts to build support</a></span> for the Government of National Accord (GNA) (created with the intention of forging a consensus ruling body in Libya – an aspiration that has failed), there are reports that the <span><a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/us-special-operators-isis-libya-2016-8?r=US&amp;IR=T">US</a></span>, <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/20/three-french-special-forces-soldiers-die-in-libya-helicopter-crash">France</a></span>, <span><a href="http://www.defensenews.com/global/mideast-africa/2016/08/11/italy-reportedly-sends-special-forces-to-libya/">Italy</a></span> and the <span><a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/us-special-operators-isis-libya-2016-8?r=US&amp;IR=T">UK</a></span> have or have had Special Forces on the ground in the country. This engagement peaked after 2015 when, so called, Islamic State (IS) declared the coastal town of Sirte as its Libyan headquarters – just 396 miles off the coast of Italy. </p> <p>As chaos and division in the country continue to increase, foreign intervention appears to be inadvertently exacerbating divisions on the ground, adding further layers of controversy and suspicion to an already complex situation.</p> <h3>Damned if you do</h3> <p>While there was an uneasy local acceptance of the 2011 intervention to bring down Gaddafi, subsequent foreign interventions have prompted shrill reactions inside Libya. For example, <span><a href="https://www.rt.com/news/352460-protests-libya-french-involvement/">in July 2016, after it was revealed that French Special Forces</a></span> were operating in the east of the country, hundreds of Libyans took to the streets of Tripoli, as well as other western towns to condemn foreign involvement, holding up placards that proclaimed, "Get your hands off Libya" and "No French intervention."</p> <p>In my own research, many respondents remained concerned about intervention in the country and many believed international actors had ulterior motives. One person summed this up when they stated: “Everyone knows that the international community didn’t intervene for good reasons. They are trying to prolong the conflict in order to benefit from it.” </p> <p>Nor has the covert nature of these operations saved international actors from local scrutiny. In fact, while the UK – who has been one of the most secretive actors in the region – has avoided mass protests like those against France, their operations have been steeped in a quieter controversy. While some respondents welcomed the assistance provided by the UK against ISIS, especially in light of Libya’s inability to deal with the problem alone, others were sceptical, of their presence - with many doubting the UK’s intentions. For example, one interviewee asserted, “The UK is driven by its own interests and usually in such situations there is no space for values and human charity.”</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">in the eyes of many Libyans, the GNA remains an illegitimate body</p><p>There were several accusations among the respondents that Britain was involved in the battle in Sirte for its own interests and that its real goals had more to do with stealing Libya’s wealth and resources. One student explained, “The international community has bad faith towards Libya because it does not seek to protect civilians from ISIS. It seeks to dominate resources in Sirte.”</p> <p>Recent comments by British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who stated during a meeting on the fringes of the Conservative party conference in October 2017 that Sirte could become the next Dubai once it had <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/17/boris-johnson-refuses-to-apologise-for-libyan-dead-bodies-remark">"cleared the dead bodies away"</a>, only served to amplify such suspicions.</p> <p>More importantly, through its intervention, Britain has inevitably become bound up in the complex local power struggles that are tearing Libya apart. By backing the GNA in its battle to oust ISIS from Sirte, the UK gave the strong impression that it was supporting one side in this conflict at the expense of others. Although the GNA was conceived of as a consensus government, its rejection by some of the key forces on the ground meant that it was never anything of the sort. Nor was it ever officially approved by Libya’s elected parliament, the House of Representatives, meaning that in the eyes of many Libyans, the GNA remains an illegitimate body. </p> <p>By working through the GNA and those forces that support it, Britain appeared to some Libyans, therefore, to be deliberately empowering certain elements in the wider Libyan conflict. As one civil society activist asserted, “Without doubt, British intervention favours one side over the other.” </p> <p>At the same time, local power brokers have been able to seize upon foreign intervention to discredit and undermine their opponents, accusing each other of having sold out on national sovereignty for their own gain. As one respondent explained, “The problem for us is that members of the political class are competing for power. They empower themselves against each other through foreign parties.” </p> <h3>Damned if you don’t</h3> <p>Yet, in another sense the UK is damned if it doesn’t engage. Despite the dominant narrative that rejects foreign intervention, there is clearly a lot of bitterness about the way in which Libya was left to its own fate once Gaddafi had been toppled. There is clearly an appetite in Libya for international support, as long as it is perceived to be focussed on helping Libya as a whole and not just on tackling groups like ISIS or dealing with the migrant crisis.</p> <p>For example, one respondent commented that the international community “left the country in chaos and civil war.” Journalist Jalal Othman rued, “After getting rid of [Gaddafi], the international community left Libya facing its fate alone. Quite often the tanks were moving from one town to go to bomb another. The international community heard that, saw that, but it didn’t do anything to stop it.”</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">There is clearly a strong feeling of resentment inside Libya</p><p>Within this vein, another issue to emerge strongly from the responses was a sense that by turning its back on Libya, the international community had left the country to the mercy of regional players. Many flagged up the roles played by Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey, who have all played their part in Libya’s conflict, backing different factions to the detriment of peace and stability. Indeed, <span><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/24/is-libya-a-proxy-war/?utm_term=.fa67d0ab4f52">Qatar and Turkey</a></span> have backed the Tripoli and Misratan camps, while Egypt and the UAE have stood firmly behind Haftar, providing him with political support, as well as military training and assistance.</p> <h3>So, what to do?</h3> <p>While many of these comments reflect a somewhat contradictory position in which the international community is damned if it intervenes and damned if it stands back, there is clearly a strong feeling of resentment inside Libya that the country has been subjected to a barrage of meddling and ill-thought through interventions, none of which has had Libya’s interests at its core. </p> <p>This is exacerbated by the secrecy and ambiguity over the intentions of intervening countries. Ambiguity and lack of transparency create hearsay and fuel accusations, drawing interveners into the local dynamics of the conflict, making it impossible to be seen as an apolitical or non-partisan player.</p> <p>This cannot help but undermine diplomatic action. In the case of the GNA, the international intervention only fuelled accusations that it was little more than a puppet government, created by external powers and serving a foreign agenda. Such accusations weakened it further and chipped away at its legitimacy. </p> <p> If nothing else, my research underscores the need for greater transparency, so that international actions and intentions can stand up to the scrutiny of the many competing local groups that will need to be brought onside if Libya is to see peace.</p><p><strong><em>Check the full report “<a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/publications/fall-views-ground-international-military-intervention/">After the fall: Views from the ground of international military intervention in post-Gadhafi Libya</a>”.</em></strong></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/stefan-salomon/brother-where-art-thou-libya-spaces-of-violence-and-diffusion-">Brother, where art thou? Libya, spaces of violence and the diffusion of knowledge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/stop-blaming-mediterranean-rescuers">Stop blaming the rescuers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/craig-damian-smith/historical-amnesia-and-europe-s-migration-relations-with-l">Historical amnesia and Europe’s migration relations with Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/whatever-happened-peace-arms-oil-war-proxy-syria-middle-east-military-industrial">Whatever happened to peace? Arms, oil and war by proxy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/azza-k-maghur/knockout-punch-to-libyan-political-agreement">The knockout punch to the Libyan political agreement</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-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 North-Africa West-Asia Libya intervention Conflict war revolution Democracy You tell us Alison Pargeter Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:08:16 +0000 Alison Pargeter 114703 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Putting the Pacific on the Map https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/dhananjayan-sriskandarajah/poniendo-el-pac-fico-en-el-mapa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The 23rd&nbsp;Council of Parties (COP23) has beeen held this week in Bonn, Germany at the headquarters of the UN Climate Commission. But next month ,CIVICUS will gather&nbsp;world's civic society in Fiji, allowing delegates from around the world to explore the frontlines in the global fight against climate change. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/dhananjayan-sriskandarajah/poniendo-el-pac-fico-en-el-mapa-0">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Fiji_(orthographic_projection)_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Fiji_(orthographic_projection)_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Atlas localization of the Republic of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. Wikipedia, All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="BodyA">&nbsp;</p><p class="BodyA"><span>This month, Fiji has become the first small island developing state to host United Nations climate talks. But this year’s meeting, the 23rd Council of Parties (COP23), has beeen held this week a long way from Fiji, in Bonn, Germany at the headquarters of the UN Climate Commission.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>From global headquarters – whether in Bonn, Geneva or New York – Pacific island countries like Fiji sometimes seem so far away that they can fall off the map.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>Indeed, last year a Fijian colleague attending a UN meeting picked up a world map at a newsagent in New York only to find that the Pacific island countries were missing. She had to unfold the map and turn it over to find Fiji and its neighbours printed on the back.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>I would warn those meeting in Bonn against feeling relieved they don’t have to travel too far to Fiji. Indeed, the idea that Fiji is a long way away is a sign of creeping hemispherism. </span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>More accurate, is to think that Bonn is a long way from Fiji.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>I’ve encountered many examples of this hemispherism when telling people that this year’s&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.civicus.org/icsw/index.php">International Civil Society Week</a>&nbsp;(ICSW) will be held in Fiji in December.</p><p class="BodyA"><span>“But Fiji is so far away!” people tell me.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>The reality is that Fiji and its neighbours are not too far away to experience the impacts of our global problems, especially the damage wrought by global carbon and methane emissions.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>Yet unlike many of the world’s biggest emitters, Fiji does not have the resources to deal with the worst impacts of climate change.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>In 2016, Cyclone Winston, the strongest storm ever recorded in Southern Hemisphere, hit Fiji leaving tens of thousands homeless and causing billions of dollars worth of damage.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>This year’s disastrous hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere does not bode well for the upcoming tropical cyclone season in the South and proves, we can no longer talk about climate change in future terms. It is already here.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>Today we live in a world where there are multiple existential threats to our planet and our rights. </span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>However, there is also a growing feeling of solidarity among those committed to human rights and social justice and a greater recognition than ever before that we must come together, organise and take action to build a more equal, just, sustainable and liveable world for everyone.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>The Pacific region has a vibrant diverse civil society, known for their efforts on global issues from tackling climate change, banning nuclear weapons and protecting our oceans.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>But many of the countries in the region, along with other small island states around the world, were already struggling with other development challenges, before climate change made things worse.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>By bringing together civil society from around the world, ICSW offers an opportunity to strengthen local and regional civil society efforts. Last year’s event, held in Bogota, Colombia, allowed international civil society to see first-hand the efforts of Colombian civil society in peace building. This year, it will allow civil society delegates from around the world to explore the frontlines in the global fight against climate change, including on the increasingly important issue of how we deal with climate-induced displacement.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>These efforts have been shown in Fiji’s big presence in foreign diplomacy relative to its size. This includes taking the lead as the first country to officially sign the Paris Climate Agreement and pass it into national legislation. </span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>Fiji is also a leader in climate action. It has pledged to go 100 percent renewable by 2030, alongside other Pacific countries including Vanuatu, Philippines, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Palau, and Papua New Guinea.</span></p><p class="BodyA"><span>However their efforts will be futile if the rest of world does not take seriously our commitment to leaving to no one behind in building a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.</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="/openglobalrights/dhananjayan-sriskandarajah-mandeep-tiwana/towards-multipolar-civil-society">Towards a multipolar civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/francesc-badia-i-dalmases-danny-sriskandarajah/what-we-are-doing-to-build-empowere">What are we doing to build an empowered citizenry?</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"> Fiji </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"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </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> DemocraciaAbierta Fiji Civil society Democracy and government International politics Science Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:59:01 +0000 Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah 114432 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Working for former masters in Madagascar: a ‘win-win’ game for former slaves? https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/marco-gardini/working-for-former-masters-in-madagascar-win-win-game-for-former-slaves <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Workers and landowners in the Malagasy highlands see sharecropping as an arrangement where both benefit, but that only holds as long as the former masters benefit most.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img width="100%" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u563152/2882159321_f0ed52195c_o.jpg" /><span class="image-caption">Rice fields in Madagascar. Georgia Popplewell/flickr. <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/georgiap/2882159321/in/photolist-5oFPy6-6eS8xc-h1ckA-6epNWt-58wDYw-6epNWv-58wDqs-58su4z-6g9xTZ-58wDQ3-58susT-58stTv-sbZnbB-58stWn-6gLWAK-6fqGMx-nE29tq-6fqGMB-fQai9j-zWLhAw-qbFhis-boCALT-58suE4-rxTYYR-6qhqDe-6gQXsS-okrocq-hR3ZhJ-qdLBCn-WamHpv-hR3gUW-4dARyP-Y4jRFT-new2xU-6fq2C6-hR3Zzu-gRLxQp-ddKXVY-okss24-gbHtWU-gbHioF-gbJ2Xr-9D3Mdk-xUzfkS-oksfhx-okrNTi-ddKY9o-TwXFMD-NXqCdM-SuyZAn">(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)</a></span></p><p>Despite being formally illegal since the 1970s, sharecropping is one of the more common working agreements between landowners and their labourers in the highlands of Madagascar. Sharecropping agreements are often represented as a sort of win-win game by both landowners and tenants, particularly for rice cultivation, the main agricultural sector of the island. They have allowed otherwise landless families to install themselves in fertile regions for anywhere from a few years to several generations while keeping two-thirds of the production for themselves. At the same time, landowners, without moving a finger, obtain rice to satisfy domestic consumption or to resell, prevent others from illegally occupying their land, and maintain a strong emotional and economic link to the land of their ancestors (<em>tanindrazana</em>) and their family tombs, a crucial benefit if they have moved to urban areas.</p> <p>Tenants must maintain the fields and provide their own fertiliser. They may occupy the local house of the landowners at no cost, and in the intercropping period plant crops other than rice. These help the land to regain its fertility and can provide sustenance or additional income for the family. In regions where labour is scarce and the landowners have other, more important sources of revenue – such as a position in the government or a flourishing trade activity – tenants furthermore can be relatively confident that they will not being evicted in the long run and that the landowners will look the other way if they keep slightly more than their share of the harvest.</p> <p>Despite their benefits, sharecropping arrangements conceal a number of practices and representations that reinforce power structures and economic inequalities. This is particularly important in a post-slavery context such as that found in the Malagasy highlands, where slave ancestry is strongly stigmatised and the descendants of slaves continue to face persistent economic subordination. It is therefore crucial to consider contemporary sharecropping agreements through the lens of the historical legacies of slavery, as these still inform and partially structure local forms of agricultural exploitation. Two family histories that I recorded in the rural regions near the town of Ambositra, in the highlands of Madagascar, demonstrate not only the relevance of the past for the present, but also the ever-changing and fragile balance of power between landowners and tenants.</p> <h2>Two families bound by trust, but not forever</h2> <p>Solo (a pseudonym) is 60 years old, widowed, and lives with his two sons, their wives, and their five children in a small house near a terraced slope a couple of hours walk west of Ambositra. After the French colonial authorities formally abolished slavery in 1896, Solo’s great grandfather, like many newly freed slaves, continued to work for his former master under new terms. He was granted a small portion of land to build a house and cultivate for his own needs, and in exchange he continued to cultivate the rest of his former master’s land for free.</p> <p>The land grant Solo’s great grandfather received did not, however, make it ‘his’ – it came with restrictions attached. Most importantly from a personal standpoint, his former master refused to allow him to build his own family tomb on it, which represented for former slaves and their descendants the most important symbol of their regained ‘freedom’. After a few years, Solo’s great grandfather decided to build his own family tomb on terrain obtained by burning down part of a nearby, and unclaimed, forest.</p> <p>The terms of the agreement changed in the 1960s, when the former master’s descendants decided to move in Antananarivo, where the family head now worked in the administration. They offered Solo’s father the possibility of continuing to live on the land as a sharecropper, guarding the family home and tomb in exchange for two-thirds of the harvest. Like the agreement between the former master and Solo’s great grandfather, this new one was not written down but rooted in the trust shared between the two families. After every crop, the landowner’s family came to take their part of rice – which they used for self-consumption – without spending too much time checking if the rice division was correct. </p> <p>For the landowner’s family –&nbsp;which had other sources of revenue – the most important thing was to reaffirm their control over their possessions. Solo’s father was always at their disposal to prepare their rural house and the terrain surrounding their family tombs whenever the landowners decided to organise a <em>famadihana</em> – an exhumation ceremony that people on the highlands perform every few years in order to honour their dead and reaffirm their links with their <em>tanindrazana</em> (‘land of the ancestors’).</p> <p>This relationship broke down five years ago, when one of the former master’s descendants lost his job in Antananarivo and decided to regain full possession of his family’s land, evict Solo’s family, and hire day labourers in their place. Solo asked the help of the local ‘<em>fokontany</em> chief’, an elected office who represents the last gear of the state administration and often is called upon to resolve conflicts between families. The <em>fokontany</em> chief (who was a good friend of Solo since their childhood) tried to find a possible mediation between the parties. In a first moment, the former master’s descendant accepted to allow Solo’s family to stay in exchange for a bigger part of the harvest (half instead of one-third), but then shifted stance and threatened to formally accuse Solo of illegal appropriation.</p> <p>Solo was not scared. He saw this as an empty threat and he knew the Malagasy justice system was quite poor in dealing with these kinds of matters. Two years later, someone set fire to the bushes near his home. His house burned down, forcing him and his offspring to move to Antananarivo, where his daughter hosted them. When the <em>fokontany </em>chief told me the story of Solo and his family, he seemed sincerely sorry about how things ended up for Solo. But, he also stated: “At the end of the day, it was not their land. They were <em>andevo</em> [“slaves/slave descendants”]. They did not belong here”.</p> <h2>The power relations and the struggle for social prestige behind the ‘win-win’ game</h2> <p>Solo’s story illustrates not only the social and economic subordination of many slave descendants, but also of how the status of sharecroppers can easily change when crises in other working sectors affect the ascending economic trajectory of landowners who had tried to emancipate themselves from agricultural activities. When the dominant figure in the relationship loses his privileged condition, the breakdown in the so-called ‘win-win game’ of sharecropping that follows immediately reveals the power inequalities between the two parties.</p> <p>Moreover, the economic logic implied in the ‘win-win game’ rhetoric hides the fact that sharecropping agreements reinforce the prestige of landowners at the expense of tenants. In a post-slavery context as the highlands of Madagascar, where many people of free and noble origin consider slave descendants impure, inferior and refuse to marry them, how prestige is acquired and how subordination is reinforced are crucial. Owning land and controlling labourers is one way to achieve the former. While many people of free or noble descent are now part of the proletariat, and not all sharecroppers are the descendants of slaves, many landowners who employ their own workforce can now dress in the clothes of the “master”. Sometimes this aspect is even more important of the direct economic gain.</p> <p>Stéphan (a pseudonym), for example, is a teacher in a private school in Antananarivo. He is the son of a man of free origin from Ambositra who migrated to the capital in 1970s, leaving his ‘ancestral’ lands in the hands of sharecroppers on the two-thirds plan. Stéphan, who inherited his father’s land together with his two brothers, is well aware that “his” sharecroppers hide part of the harvest every year. This does not bother him. The important thing is that they address him with respect when he returns, since “there” he can feel as a “master”. This helps makes up for his everyday life, where he is just another migrant living in the poor and stigmatised peripheries of Antananarivo, together with – and, to his shame, often confused with – the many slave descendants who inhabit his neighbourhood. </p> <p>Stéphan is firmly convinced that his sharecroppers are slave descendants, although he has no proof of that. For him, the simple fact of being obliged to work as a sharecropper is sufficient evidence of their subordinate status, and even if he treats them with courtesy he views them with disdain and superiority. </p> <p>What these stories teach us is that sharecropping agreements do not only concern local dynamics of labour exploitation or the extraction of surplus. They also affect attempts to renegotiate individual and collective identities. Indeed, to use another game metaphor, that of the zero-sum game, legacies of slavery in Madagascar have structured landowner-tenant relations in terms that seemingly make the social prestige of the landowners grow only as much as a sharecropper’s prestige is reduced or kept at bay. For tenants, it is a struggle not only to maintain access to land and a fair share of the production, but also to avoid being trapped in a stigmatised social category.</p> <hr style="border-top: 2px solid #0e63bc; margin-bottom: 10px;" /><p> <img style="float: right; margin-left: 20px; margin-bottom: 30px;" width="125" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/erc_logo2.jpg" /></p> <p><em>This Guest Week presents the results of research carried out by the team of ERC GRANT, ‘<a href="http://www.shadowsofslavery.org/">Shadows of Slavery in West Africa and Beyond (SWAB): a Historical Anthropology</a>’ (Grant Agreement: <a href="http://www.shadowsofslavery.org/">313737</a>). The team has researched in Tunisia, Chad, Ghana, Madagascar, Morocco, Pakistan and Italy under the leadership of Alice Bellagamba. The team has invited Joanny Belair, Raúl Zecca Castel, Irene Peano, and Layla Zaglul Ruiz to participate in the discussion.</em></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> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Marco Gardini Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Marco Gardini 114559 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Moment of truth for refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island https://www.opendemocracy.net/elaine-pearson/moment-of-truth-for-refugees-and-asylum-seekers-on-manus-island <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Australia can end this human rights tragedy. Wherever they end up eventually, the Australian government needs to immediately bring these men to safety.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_1151.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_1151.JPG" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Human Rights Watch Australia Director Elaine Pearson interviewing Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani on Manus Island in September 2017. © 2017 Human Rights Watch </span></span></span>SYDNEY – Since October 31, hundreds of men have barricaded themselves in an abandoned complex on a naval base where security forces have previously shot at and attacked them. Exhausted, with no power and no running water in the tropical heat, they stockpiled food, dug water wells, and collected rainwater in trash cans to drink. Now, they are dehydrated, starving, and scared. </p> <p>These men are not in a war zone, though many of them have fled war in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. They are refugees and asylum seekers trapped on remote Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. They are there because of Australia’s harsh refugee policies. &nbsp;</p> <p>The UN has described the situation as an “"<a href="http://www.ohchr.org/SP/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22348&amp;LangID=E">unfolding&nbsp;humanitarian emergency</a>."&nbsp;On October 31, the Australian and PNG governments closed the regional processing center where these men have lived for the last four years. Other less-secure facilities are available in a town a 30-minute drive from their current location. But these men, refugees and asylum seekers, refused to leave, terrified by escalating violence against them by some local residents in the town and frustrated by the lack of a long-term solution to their predicament. </p> <p>Since July 2013, male asylum seekers traveling by boat to Australia have been sent to Manus Island, while men, women and children have been sent to the isolated Pacific island nation of Nauru. As Paul Tyson <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-tyson/papua-new-guinea-high-court-ruling-asylum-seeker-detention-centre-on-manus-island-must-cl">wrote</a> for openDemocracy, “in real terms, it is the boat people themselves the Australian government has criminalized, dehumanized and demonized, and it is against them that Australian politicians on both sides of party power have uncompromisingly ‘stood firm’ in refusing to open their hearts with human compassion to the plight of the desperate.”</p> <p>Australia <a href="http://www.minister.border.gov.au/peterdutton/Pages/manus-rpc-closure.aspx">says</a> the refugees on Manus can settle in PNG, move to Nauru, wait on Manus for possible resettlement offers from the US or return home. So far only 25 refugees from Manus have moved to the United States under a resettlement arrangement, and it’s unclear how many more, if any, will follow. Failed asylum seekers are to return to their home countries.</p> <p>In September, I visited Manus Island and PNG’s capital, Port Moresby, and <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/25/australia/png-refugees-face-unchecked-violence">spoke</a> to 40 refugees and asylum seekers. I heard repeated accounts of violent assaults and robberies. Groups of young local men, often intoxicated, approach refugees both day and night, threatening them with knives, machetes, and sticks, beating them if they don’t hand over cash and possessions. </p> <p>In August, one man was beaten so badly with a metal rod his skull was fractured and he had to be brought to Australia for treatment. In July, a local man slashed an asylum seeker’s forearm with a knife and authorities had to evacuate him to Port Moresby. Police have not investigated these attacks. </p> <p>Now, following a PNG 2016 Supreme Court ruling to close the main center, Australia has handed over operation of new facilities on Manus to the PNG government. Australia will pay <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/manus-island-regime-will-cost-australia-up-to-250-million-a-year-after-closure-20171023-gz6915.html">A$250 million</a> [USD$192 million] for the next 12 months of operations for about 770 refugees and asylum seekers.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas has insisted that Australia remains responsible for the 200 or so men who are failed asylum seekers and all refugees who do not wish to remain in PNG, that is, everyone except 35 who signed settlement papers. “PNG has no legal obligation under the current arrangement to deal with these two cohorts and they remain the responsibility of Australia to find third country options and liaise with their respective governments of the non-refugees for their voluntary or involuntary return,” he <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-30/manus-island-png-tells-australia-to-deal-with-refugees/9098444">wrote</a> in a statement.</p> <p>His message to Australia: paying off other countries to relieve you of your international obligations is no solution.&nbsp; </p><p>Some European politicians have looked <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/12/how-europes-far-right-fell-in-love-with-australias-immigration-policy">approvingly</a> at Australia’s <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/09/21/malcolm-turnbull-tells-the-un-that-australia-has-the-solutions_a_21476889/">“harsh but effective</a>” policies that Australia says have reduced boat arrivals and claims have saved lives at sea. If, in fact, it is saving lives at sea, it is only to let them suffer ashore. Two refugees on Manus recently committed suicide. A significant number are self-harming. The policy’s apparent success in deterrence relies upon sacrificing hundreds of lives by warehousing them in miserable conditions and exposing them to violence and neglect. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>With every passing day, the refugees and asylum seekers struggle to survive at the main center. PNG officials have repeatedly ordered men to leave the main center, threatened to “apprehend” the “ringleaders” of the protest, and in a particularly low act, destroyed water storage tanks and removed sun shelters from the main center. It is unclear if PNG defense force personnel will remove them by force or if the refugees will run out of food and water.&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;“Please help us, we don’t want to die here,” a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee implores me over Whatsapp. It’s difficult to read their messages and not be overwhelmed with despair.&nbsp; </p><p>But Australia can end this human rights tragedy. Wherever they end up eventually, the Australian government needs to immediately bring these men to safety. As a partner of Australia in resettlement, the US should be urging Australia to do so. For Australia to abandon them on Manus Island is to invite disaster. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33758512.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33758512.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Members and supporters of Refugee Action Coalition rally in front of the Victorian State Library in Melbourne, Friday, November 17, 2017. David Crosling/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></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="/paul-tyson/manus-island-and-spiritual-warfare">Manus Island and spiritual warfare</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"> Australia </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"> Equality </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> Australia Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Elaine Pearson Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:43:38 +0000 Elaine Pearson 114717 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Famine in Yemen finally reaches western headlines https://www.opendemocracy.net/North-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/famine-in-yemen-finally-reaches-western-headlines <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While it is worth discussing whether the missile in the November 4 attack came from Iran in the first place, the outcome is unarguable. It has dramatically worsened an already abysmal situation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33675343.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33675343.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People gather in the site of an airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, on November 11, 2017. The Saudi-led coalition has been bombing northern Yemen for several days. Mohammed Mohammed/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Yemen is finally making the headlines of mainstream media in UK. Why now? Since early this year, UN and other humanitarian agencies working in Yemen warned the world that the country is about to suffer an unprecedented famine. Earlier this was discussed alongside the expected famines in Africa.&nbsp; In recent months little has been heard about any of them while the situation continued to deteriorate.&nbsp; </p> <p>At the outset, readers need to remember that the UN’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan only intends to reach 7 million people with its emergency assistance, although it estimates that 21 million are in need: it is only hoping to reach one third of people needing help. This is partly due to the lack of funds: as of mid-November, 1.5 months before the end of the year, it had received only 57% of the funds required to reach this small percentage of desperate Yemenis. </p> <p>When looking at UN and other humanitarian achievements, it is important to remember how many of the millions of Yemenis are not even targeted by assistance from the international community as a whole, which means us as Northern taxpayers, among others.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Military failure leads to humanitarian war</strong></h2> <p>With the exception of coalition forces taking control of Mokha port in the southern part of the Red Sea earlier this year, military stalemate prevails since September 2015. Throughout the period there has been limited ground fighting between&nbsp; the Saleh-Huthi ‘rebels’ and the Saudi-led coalition whose ground forces include the Yemeni official army, various Salafi, Islahi and other militias variously supported by Sudanese and Emirati troops. Daily air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition get occasional publicity and have destroyed much infrastructure, including thousands of schools and medical facilities. They also regularly wound and kill civilians in ‘mistakes’ despite the targeting assistance the coalition gets from the US and UK as well as US in-air re-fuelling of its fighter aircrafts, an intervention without which it would be unable to carry out the majority of airstrikes.&nbsp; </p> <p>Other less discussed military interventions are the frequent incursions of the Saleh-Huthi forces in the Saudi provinces of Najran, Jizan and Aseer which have killed and wounded hundreds of Saudi Arabian soldiers in the 32 months since the war started. More spoken about are the occasional modified Scud missiles they launch against various Saudi locations, a few of which reach their destination. The latest of these, on 4 November, was brought down over Riyadh’s international airport. It took place, most probably coincidentally, on the day Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) implemented the latest stage in his takeover of all power (some might call it a slow coup) in Saudi Arabia. </p> <p>The missile gave the Saudi regime another excuse to blame Iran as the real enemy in Yemen. While in reality this war is first and foremost one between Yemeni factions for political control, Saudi discourse has shifted from the early days in 2015 when the objective was expressly stated to be the re-instatement of President Hadi to power in Sana’a. Nowadays, Saudi discourse focuses on the claim that the war aim is to prevent an Iranian take-over of Yemen, describing the Huthi movement as nothing more than an Iranian proxy, denying its nature as an autonomous movement. This distortion of the real nature of the conflict only serves to extend the war and worsen suffering.&nbsp; </p> <p>Faced with a military stalemate, the Saudi-led coalition has adopted alternative strategies. Expansion of the air strikes on a Syrian model is not an option, largely thanks to pressure from its western allies, mainly the US and UK, which are under pressure in their legislatures and public opinions about their contributing role to the disastrous situation in Yemen. </p> <p>So the tactic it has chosen is one which has failed everywhere it has been tried, namely to make living conditions for the population as unbearable as possible, in the hope that this would turn people against their rulers. In Yemen this has taken the form of the blockade preventing basic necessities from reaching the people</p> <h2><strong>The blockade prevents basic supplies from reaching the people</strong></h2> <p>Since early 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has enforced a blockade on Yemen’s main ports under the control of the Huthi-Saleh alliance, Hodeida and Saleef. They supply the areas where 71% of the people in need live and 82% of cholera cases are found. Despite being a rural and agricultural nation, under ‘normal’ conditions, Yemen imports about 80% of its staples, most of which arrive through Hodeida port which was equipped with the necessary infrastructure [cranes to unload the ships, and storage facilities] and is closest to the areas of highest population density. The third main port, &nbsp;Aden, under the control of the Saudi-led coalition, has serious logistical problems of storage and additional transport costs, let alone the political hostility of southern separatists to anything which might help those whom they regard, at best, as ‘northern foreigners’ and at worst ‘northern invaders/occupiers’.&nbsp; </p> <p>Official justification for the blockade comes in UNSC resolution 2216 which includes an arms embargo against the Huthi-Saleh faction. In practice this has been an excuse to prevent the delivery of essential necessities (food and fuel).With the establishment of a UN verification mechanism (UNVIM) in early 2016, despite delays and clear obstructionism, some ships were allowed to unload.&nbsp; However, operational capacity in Hodeida port has been considerably restricted by the precision bombing of its cranes and other facilities in August 2015, limiting the number and types of ships it can receive. Although the US financed replacement cranes, the coalition has prevented their installation. </p> <p>A further blow to the humanitarian situation took place in September 2016 when the Hadi regime unilaterally decided to transfer the Central Bank of Yemen from Sana’a to Aden; since then neither of the two rival banks has functioned effectively. In particular this has prevented the majority of commercial food imports (who supply 80% of the country’s needs) as traders have been unable to obtain the letters of credit needed for purchases on the world market. While there is no doubt that some food reaches Yemen through the smuggling networks operated in collusion by the leaders of the various factions, these quantities are insignificant by comparison with requirements. The retail prices on local markets have risen so much that few can afford to buy at a time when the economy has basically collapsed. Most civil servants (about 1.2 million people supporting about 1/3 of the country’s population) have not received their salaries for over a year.</p> <p>So by early 2017, the people of Yemen were facing hunger and, for the poorer, starvation, which explains why the UN then said 7 million of them were on the brink of famine. By the middle of this year, Yemen has achieved two tragic world records: the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and the world’s worst recorded cholera outbreak. As senior UN officials keep repeating, this is a ‘man made’ disaster, and it is primarily due to the blockade. Just as food has been prevented from arriving, medical supplies are also affected. Despite their lack of salaries many medical staff continue to work and do their very best in the desperate conditions of the remaining 45% medical facilities which operate to whatever limited extent they are able in the absence of fuel for generators, public electricity, medical supplies and medicines. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33706963.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33706963.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yemenis protest calling for an end to the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen, in Sanaa, Yemen, 13 November 2017. Hani Al-Ansi/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">By the middle of this year, Yemen has achieved two tragic world records: the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and the world’s worst recorded cholera outbreak.</span></p> <p>While both the Huthi-Saleh alliance and the Saudi-led coalition share responsibility for this catastrophe, the latter has a far greater responsibility given that both the constraints on commercial imports [due to the CBY moves] and the blockade of the main ports, are of its doing. Despite having achieved these stunning and shocking records, the coalition has failed in its stated aim, and President Hadi is ensconced in Riyadh while the Huthis rule in Sana’a. </p> <h2><strong>Casualties</strong></h2> <p>The UN’s figures for war-related casualties have remained static for well over a year, clearly not reflecting reality: its Human Rights office only recorded 13,504 civilian casualties between March 2015and June 2017 (4,971 dead, 8,533 injured). In addition to the thousands not recorded by the UN, many others have died from war-related causes, primarily hunger and disease. If the UNICEF estimate of a child dying every ten minutes is correct, that means 4 300 children are dying monthly, or 52,000 in the last year. Adults are also dying of hunger, cholera and other diseases; most recently a diphtheria outbreak has started.</p> <h2><strong>Latest developments and the forthcoming famine</strong></h2> <p>The 4 November missile strike, other than its contribution to the Saudi anti-Iranian discourse, has had an extremely negative impact on humanitarian conditions in Yemen. Predictably it brought about a violent and dramatic response by the Saudi regime. In addition to increasing air strikes throughout Yemen and particularly in Sana’a (where close to a hundred people were killed in a few days), preventing Iran from transferring more missiles to Yemen was asserted on 5 November as the justification for Saudi Arabia’s closure of all Yemeni ports and airports, including those theoretically under the control of the government it supports!&nbsp; </p> <p>While it is worth discussing whether the missile came from Iran in the first place, given the large stocks of Scuds bought by the Saleh regime over decades, the outcome of this decision is unarguable. It has dramatically worsened an already abysmal situation and, since then, senior UN officials have been raising the alarm on a daily basis: no UN flights travel, leaving humanitarian personnel and material stranded, ships in transit accumulate demurrage costs while their medical or food cargoes deteriorate, increasing the risk of their becoming unfit for use. Among others, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was prevented from delivering 250 tons of basic medical supplies. </p> <p>The international outcry in response to the Saudi decision to close all ports and airports in Yemen led its decision makers to formally partly back down. On 12 November they announced that the facilities in the areas controlled by the Internationally Recognised Government would be re-opened, but that Hodeida and Saleef, the main ports under the control of the Saleh-Huthi alliance, would remain closed until the UN provide ‘a more robust verification and inspection mechanism aimed at facilitating the flow of humanitarian and commercial shipments while preventing the smuggling of weapons, ammunition, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices.’<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> Maybe it is worth pointing out that there has been no evidence of any of these items being smuggled into Hodeida or Saleef ports since the conflict started or any claims that the UNVIM has not been effective. </p> <h2><strong>Appeals to basic humanity</strong></h2> <p>Saudi Arabia’s proposed alternatives to Hodeida and Saleef are unrealistic and merely demonstrate its determination to restrict the delivery of necessities to the Yemeni people. As put by the UN “transporting humanitarian aid on a large scale from Aden, Jizan, and Salalah ports to areas with the highest number of people in need, would entail crossing conflict areas and frontlines, and can present delays, clearance restrictions, security-related complications, high transportation costs and disruption of supplies.”<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> &nbsp;Jizan, in Saudi Arabia, is in an area frequently attacked by the Huthis, while Salalah in Oman is 1,900 km from Sana’a along the route currently practicable for trucks; they would need to negotiate about 100 checkpoints on the way, manned by a wide range of mutually hostile groups, many of which ‘tax’ traffic, particularly traffic carrying goods.</p> <p>As for Sana’a airport, it has been closed since August 2016 to all except UN and some humanitarian organisation flights, preventing the departure of people desperate for medical treatment abroad or needing to travel for other reasons. In response to outrage from the international community and renewed demands for its re-opening, the Saudi-led coalition found a highly effective mechanism to address these appeals to the basic humanity of its leadership: on Tuesday 14 November its air raids destroyed Sana’a airport’s radio navigation station putting it out of action,<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> ensuring that no UN or other flight can land for some time to come. <span class="mag-quote-center">On Tuesday 14 November its air raids destroyed Sana’a airport’s radio navigation station putting it out of action, ensuring that no UN or other flight can land for some time to come. </span></p> <p>So the only conclusion that can be reached is that, in its proxy war against Iran, Saudi authorities have decided to accelerate the death of millions of Yemenis. Not content with having blockaded the country and helping it to achieve two horrific world records, it is now trying to ensure that Yemen achieves a third: the highest death toll from famine.&nbsp; </p> <p>May one hope that someone, somewhere among the decision makers retains enough compassion to reverse these decisions and re-open all sea and air ports to civilian travel, food and fuel imports, medical supplies and other necessities, whether by commercial or humanitarian agencies, and enable the Yemeni population to lead as normal a life as is possible under war conditions. The vast, not to say overwhelming, majority of Yemenis just want to live and would be only too happy to be rid of all the so-called leaders who have shown so little consideration for their lives, let alone welfare, in recent years.&nbsp; </p>&nbsp; <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Letter from the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, New York, 12 November 2017</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> UNOCHA statement on 13 November 2017&nbsp; <em>ensuring Yemen’s lifeline: the criticality of all Yemeni ports.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a>&nbsp; Reuters, 14 November 2017 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-airport/saudi-led-coalition-air-raid-puts-yemens-sanaa-airport-out-of-service-agency-idUSKBN1DE27Y</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>Helen Lackner is speaking&nbsp; on November 27 at 6.30-8 pm at King’s College London Middle East and North Africa Forum&nbsp; S-3.20, on floor -3 of the Strand Building on Strand Campus. For tickets <a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/yemen-a-forgotten-war-tickets-39087877895?utm_source=eb_email&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=order_confirmation_email&amp;utm_term=eventname&amp;ref=eemailordconf">see here.</a></p> </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 class="field-item even"> 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> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Yemen Conflict International politics Helen Lackner Thu, 16 Nov 2017 23:51:40 +0000 Helen Lackner 114715 at https://www.opendemocracy.net