How the Vietnam War prepared Puerto Ricans to confront crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘WAGINGNONVIOLENCE.ORG)

 

How the Vietnam War prepared Puerto Ricans to confront crisis

Members of Movimiento Pro-Independencia de Puerto Rico picket the White House in March of 1965. (Claridad / Biblioteca Digital UPR Río Piedras)

This week, as Puerto Ricans feel once again like a White House afterthought, it is hard not to conclude that Puerto Rico matters to Washington only when mainland political and business leaders need to conscript the island itself for some larger financial or military purpose.

Consider the impact of Vietnam War policy on Puerto Rico. Thanks to a new Ken Burns documentary and Hurricane Maria, the headlines have us talking simultaneously about Vietnam and Puerto Rico for the first time in 50 years. Today, few Americans remember the impact of the Vietnam War on Puerto Rico. Yet the war struck the island with the force of a political hurricane, tearing at Puerto Rico’s social fabric, raising the same questions of colonialism that are again in the news in the wake of Maria, and fueling its independence movement.

Not unlike Puerto Rico’s recent fiscal crisis, the Vietnam War brought into sharp relief the island’s unequal status as a territory of the United States, particularly after President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war in 1965. Draft-age men in Puerto Rico were subject to the Selective Service Act and called for induction into the U.S. military — even though they had no representative in the Congress that passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and even though many did not speak English.

A political cartoon published by Claridad in August of 1968.

As a result, Puerto Rico’s independence movement quickly condemned the war and called for widespread draft resistance. In July 1965, Claridad, the newspaper of the Movimiento Pro-Independencia de Puerto Rico, or MPI, published its first antiwar and anti-draft column, stating: “Because Puerto Rico is an American colony, Puerto Ricans are obligated to serve in that country’s army, are used like cannon fodder in imperialist wars carried out against defenseless peoples, wars in which Puerto Rico has no interest.”

One week later the MPI called on Puerto Ricans to resist the draft and condemned American aggression in Vietnam as a guerra sucia — a “dirty war” — against “the heroic people of Vietnam.” In response, students for the first time protested outside the Selective Service’s offices in San Juan.

Soon, the MPI likened its own quest for independence with that of the United States’ enemy in Vietnam. As reported in Claridad, the MPI “expressed its full solidarity with the National Liberation Front in its just fight for independence from North American imperialist dominance” and called on the United States to honor the 1954 Geneva Accords, to withdraw from Vietnam, and “guarantee the independence and neutrality of all of Indochina.”

For the MPI, the draft represented a “blood tax,” a “taxation without representation” that Americans aware of their own revolutionary heritage should have understood. Independentistas pointed to the composition of local draft boards (which were called “juntas” in Spanish) as proof. According to Selective Service Director Lewis Hershey, draft boards were “little groups of neighbors,” best suited to look out for America’s sons. But the MPI complained that the local boards were made up of “members of the richest families, statehood proponents … members of the Lions Club, Rotary, Exchange, Citizens for State 51 and other fiends” who “funneled” the poor into the military. These draft board members were Puerto Rican mandarins, agents of the colonizers.

An image published in the Fall of 1970 by the U.S. Committee for Justice to Latin American Political Prisoners.

In 1965 and 1966, long before a coordinated draft resistance movement took shape stateside, 33 members of MPI and two others refused to be inducted. Prosecutors indicted them promptly. When they went to trial in federal court, the proceedings were conducted in English — which often meant that some of the best Puerto Rican lawyers were unavailable — and if one wanted to appeal a conviction, the appeal was heard 2,700 miles away, in Boston, also in English.

In August 1966, the first Puerto Rican draft resistance case, that of Sixto Alvelo Rodriguez, came to trial. Alvelo won support not only from the MPI — which enlisted the radical New York law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, and Standard for his defense — but also from mainstream supporters who formed Comite de Defense Sixto Alvelo. More than 200 students signed a statement in support of Alvelo, pledging that they, too, would refuse induction. In September, the court asked Alvelo’s draft board to re-induct him (it never did) and dismissed his case and all other MPI draft resistance cases.

The independence movement interpreted the court’s ruling as a major political victory. The MPI speculated that Alvelo’s case revealed “one of the most tyrannical manifestations of our colonial subjugation” and that Washington had backed down in the face of the threat of thousands of induction refusals in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans attending the Fifth Annual Youth Conference of the Pro Independence Movement in Santurce on January 21, 1967. (Claridad / El Mundo, Biblioteca Digital UPR Río Piedras)

At the same time, however, the Selective Service continued to call Puerto Rican men for induction, and support for the draft resistance movement continued to go mainstream. On Mother’s Day in 1967, Puerto Rican mothers organized a protest against the draft in San Juan. The Puerto Rican Bar Association passed a resolution in 1968 calling for the exemption of Puerto Ricans from compulsory U.S. military service, and one year later, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Church passed a resolution at its Diocesan Convention condemning both the war and the conscription of Puerto Ricans.

Federal prosecutors ultimately indicted more than 100 Puerto Rican men, most of whom were convicted. On the day that Edwin Feliciano Grafals — a 26-year-old MPI member who described himself as a “nonreligious conscientious objector” — became the first Puerto Rican draft resister convicted since World War II, students at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras burned down the campus ROTC building. Six weeks later, 10,000 Puerto Ricans marched through San Juan protesting against the draft. “This is the time to decide; you’re either a Yanqui or you’re a Puerto Rican,” MPI leader Juan Mari Bras told the crowd. “Not one more Puerto Rican should convert himself into a criminal by fighting against the Vietnamese people.”

In the end, Puerto Rico’s draft resistance did not end the Vietnam War nor did it win independence. But it did help to prevent further escalation of the war in 1968, and it brought many Puerto Ricans both to the antiwar movement and to the cause of independence. Moreover, draft resistance in Puerto Rico combined with draft resistance throughout the United States to compel the Nixon administration to introduce a draft lottery and, ultimately, end conscription altogether.

Protest against the draft in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States worked because it targeted an institution that few could defend as fair. Today, with the federal government seemingly unable to deliver post-hurricane relief to Puerto Rico in a manner equal to its assistance in Texas and Florida, we have yet one more example of discrimination against a people who right now need only compassion, sympathy and generous aid.

The devastation of Puerto Rico’s recent fiscal crisis (a crisis rooted in mainland lending policies) has now been compounded by natural disaster. It is in moments like these when, as during the Vietnam War, the second-class treatment of Puerto Rico by Washington is most obvious. The island itself has been treated as a conscript by successive U.S. governments for more than a century, for far too long.

The question is how islanders will respond to Washington this time. Will they protest? If so, what form will the protest take? Now may be a good time, in fact, for Puerto Ricans (and for the rest of us) to look to the island’s resistance to the Vietnam War as a model worth following. Fifty years later, it is worth remembering the place of Puerto Rican draft resisters in the American tradition of dissent. And it is worth remembering its place in a tradition of resistance to American colonialism. By escalating protest against the war and by risking their own freedom, Puerto Rican draft resisters kept alive the notion that resistance is a valid mode of citizenship.

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China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC.NET)

 

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

Updated 

China is the world’s ultimate security state.

Beijing police proudly boast there is no corner of public space that surveillance cameras cannot see.

Every subway entrance involves bag scans and metal detectors.

Armed military police stand guard at major public spaces.

Various levels of lower down security guards are ever present, right down to the elderly civilian volunteers who keep watch on the street when big political events take place.

Away from the capital of this authoritarian superpower things are more relaxed, but the political culture prioritising stability permeates deep.

Recently I was in the city of Dandong — bordering North Korea — where an airport video showed off SWAT patrol officers marching around empty streets.

Then a cartoon showed how they would respond to Islamist terrorists bringing fire and fury to Dandong — an unlikely scenario to contemplate in a city more well known for being China’s gateway to North Korea.

Over in far western Xinjiang the prospect of Islamist terror is far more realistic, and in recent months authorities have mobilised thousands of military police in several public displays of force.

The underlying rationale for all this security is to ensure the Communist Party’s control of China remains unchallenged — meaning some political activists and crusading lawyers have felt the full force of China’s security apparatus just as much as terror suspects.

The total annual domestic security budget hasn’t been published since 2013, when overseas media noted how it outstripped the rapidly growing funding for China’s military.

China’s massive internet censorship operation is also deeply linked to the overall concept of safeguarding stability.

Safer than other countries?

The normalisation of such a huge security presence is helping create a growing belief here that China is far safer than countries abroad.

Well-publicised cases of Chinese students and young nationals being kidnapped or murdered in the United States, Australia and elsewhere along with news coverage of mass shootings and violent protests in the West appear to affirm the idea that China’s security state is superior.

When similar incidents happen domestically, such as a violent face-off between a group of Muslims and police in the northern city of Tangshan in August, censors scrub any mention of it.

Events that could dominate the news agenda for days in a country like Australia can be neutralised and snuffed out before most people have a chance to hear about them.

“Chinese society is stable and orderly, people happily live and work in peace,” President Xi Jinping recently told an Interpol conference in Beijing.

“More and more people believe China is one of the world’s safest countries.

“This is China’s contribution to the world for security and stability.”

This emphasis on stability and security is only likely to increase in the weeks ahead as Mr Xi presides over a major Communist Party meeting confirming his leadership for another five years.

“The idea of stability is central to the Chinese Communist Party”, said Dr Michael Clarke, a specialist in China’s domestic security policies at the Australian National University.

“It also plays into this wider narrative of China returning to its place of great power status and its ability to be a leader in international affairs.

“So I think there’s a real link between stability and Xi’s concept of the China Dream.”

Topics: world-politicsdefence-and-national-securitycommunity-and-societychinaasia

First posted 

LoC: Line Of Control, Really? Then Us It! Kashmir-Jammu

My Philosophy On This Issue

This commentary is admittedly by a person who has never stepped foot in the region. My opinions formed are from thousands of miles away, formed by TV News slots and articles I have read. I look for only one thing, and that is peace. I look for the day that no one will ever need to defend themselves, because it is the day there is no such thing as an aggressor. I am realistic to the lack of love between segments of Pakistan and India. There has been bitter issues throughout the region for centuries, there is little love loss between many of the people who favor Islam and those who favor Hindu or even the Buddhist  Seventy years ago when India and Pakistan were formed it was a bitter and bloody divide.

 

As you probably know, most of the people on the Pakistan side of the LoC are people who believe in Islam. Also, almost all of the people on the India side of the LoC are Hindu. If the LoC has any real meaning, if it has been good enough for a temporary fix, cement the foundation in concrete and use it now, mark it with a forever marker. Here in the U.S. this would not be Constitutional but maybe there? Can the two governments work out a deal where all Hindu people in Pakistan are given free, peaceful, safe passage out of Pakistan to India on the India side of the LoC. India should do exactly the same thing, all of the people who are believers in Islam and would prefer to be citizens of Pakistan should go and do so. My suggestion for the leaders of Pakistan and of India, make the LoC, the final border between the two Countries. This is a harsh thing that I suggest I guess you call this segregation but in some cases of physical hatred, safety of all must come first. Learn to grow, to become peaceful neighbors and trading partners. Or, you can just go on as is, hating and killing, you, your wife, your kids. I pray that we can all find peace, before and after we die.

 

 

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASIA FOREIGN AFFAIRS, FORBES)

 

Asia #ForeignAffairs

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Activists chant anti-China slogans during a rally in Hanoi on March 14, 2016, to mark the anniversary of a 1988 battle in the Spratly Islands, a rare act of protest over an issue that has come to dog relations between Hanoi and Beijing. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

China has stoked many of Asia’s maritime sovereignty disputes by reclaiming land to build artificial islands and, in some cases, adding military infrastructure to those islands. To rub in the message that it has the more power than anyone else in the widely disputed, 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, the Beijing government glibly sails coast guard ships around the exclusive ocean economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Off its east coast, China routinely passes boats through a tract of sea disputed with, and controlled by Japan.

But let’s linger on another country for a second – Vietnam.

A fisherman and his son try to fix the roof of their boat on Thuan Phuoc port in prior to the next fishing trip on August 30, 2016 in Danang, Vietnam. (AFP/Getty image)

The country with a 3,444 kilometer-long coastline shows every sign of being Asia’s second most expansion-minded maritime power after China.

Here’s the evidence:

  • Last year the American Center for Strategic & International Studies said Vietnam had landfilled more South China Sea islets than China itself, though China’s method was probably more destructive. It holds 21 tiny islets in the Spratly archipelago, more than any of its regional rivals.
  • This year Vietnam renewed a deal with the overseas subsidiary of state-owned Indian oil firm ONGC to explore for fossil fuels under the ocean floor. Beijing will likely bristle at this move because it too claims waters off the Vietnamese east coast as part of its position that 95% of the whole sea is Chinese, but Vietnam has not backed down. In any case, India is Vietnam’s new best friend — to wit its call in July to step up a year-old partnership.
  • Vietnamese fishing boats, a large share of the 1.72 million that trawl the South China Sea, have been sent off by other coastal states and as far off as Indonesia and Thailand, scholars who follow the maritime dispute say. Two Vietnamese fishermen turned up dead 34 kilometers from the Philippines last month in what’s believed to be an incident involving an official vessel from Manila. Fish were 10% of Vietnam’s export revenues as of a decade ago, the University of British Columbia says in this study. “Fish stocks in Vietnam have been depleted, so they have to venture further away to continue their business,” says Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “As they venture further away it’s easier for them to get into other countries’ waters and they commit illegal fishing.”
  • Vietnam protests when Taiwan makes its presence felt on Taiping Island. Although Taiping is the largest feature in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, Taiwan has little clout in the bigger sovereignty dispute and has even used its Taiping facilities to help Vietnamese fishermen in distress. But the Vietnamese foreign ministry formally protested at least once in 2016 and again in March this year when Taiwan had a live-fire military drill. “They said Taiwan’s activities violated its sovereignty,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “Whenever Taiwan makes a move, Vietnam always protests. It’s been like that all along. Vietnam is pretty assertive.”
  • China has to watch it, too. China is using economic incentives to get along with other South China Sea states but things keep going wrong with Vietnam. In June, a senior Chinese military official cut short his visit to Vietnam as the host was looking for oil in disputed waters, and in August foreign ministers from the two countries cancelled a meeting – presumably over their maritime disputes — on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations event.

Vietnam’s maritime muscle makes a lot of sense. The country of 93 million people is on the move economically, dependent on the sea. Nationalism is growing, too, and citizens believe the government should gun hard for its claims.

Aung San Suu Kyi is to be stripped of the Freedom of Oxford Metal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Aung San Suu Kyi is to be stripped of the Freedom of Oxford by the city’s council for her response to the Rohingya crisis.

Myanmar’s de facto leader was bestowed with the honorary title in 1997 in recognition of her long struggle for democracy and her ties to Oxford where she studied.
City councilors considered a cross-party motion to withdraw the honor on Monday night and concluded that it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.
The council said that it had written to Suu Kyi and asked her to “do whatever she can to stop the ethnic cleansing in her country” but had not received a response.
Over the years, Suu Kyi has often spoken of the warmth and kindness she received during her time in Britain.
It was while studying at Oxford University between 1964 and 1967 that she met her late husband, Michael Aris, before starting a family there.
“The most important thing for me about Oxford was not what I learnt there in terms of set text and set books we had to read, but in terms of a respect for the best in human civilization,” she reportedly said after receiving an honorary doctorate in civil law from her alma mater in 2012.
In recent weeks, Suu Kyi has come under fire for her response to the plight facing the Rohingya Muslim minority. Almost half a million people have fled violence in Rakhine state to neighboring Bangladesh since August 25.
Labour Party Councilor Mary Clarkson, who put forward the motion, told the council that Suu Kyi’s lack of response and dismissal of numerous claims of sexual violence against Rohingya women as “fake rape” were among the reasons why the honor should be revoked.
According to a statement seen by CNN, Clarkson said: “In taking action, we do so for several reasons: firstly to add our small voices to others calling for human rights and justice for the Rohingya people; secondly, to respect the long traditions of Oxford, as a diverse and humane city whose reputation is tarnished by honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence.
“Thirdly, we should bear in mind that public awards can sometimes make their recipients seem untouchable and above scrutiny when their current actions betray their previous good work.”
The recommendation to withdraw the city honor will be finalized at the council’s next meeting in November.

More than 60 Rohingya Feared Drowned in Boat Capsize

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

More than 60 Rohingya Feared Drowned in Boat Capsize

More than 60 people are believed dead after a boat carrying Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar capsized, the UN migration agency has said.

The refugees drowned in heavy seas off Bangladesh late on Thursday, part of a new surge of people fleeing a Myanmar army campaign and communal violence that the UN describes as “ethnic cleansing”.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on countries to ban providing weapons to Myanmar over the violence, Reuters reported.

23 human bodies have been retrieved from the water so far, but the death toll is expected to exceed 60.

“Forty are missing and presumed drowned,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.

Shona Miah, 32, told AFP; “My wife and two boys survived, but I lost my three daughters.”

A dire shortage of clean water, toilets and sanitation is spreading disease and pushing the camps to the precipice of a health disaster, the Red Cross warned.

“Our mobile clinics are treating more people, especially children, who are very sick from diarrhoeal diseases which are a direct result of the terrible sanitation conditions,” said Mozharul Huq, Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

In some of the camps hundreds of refugees are sharing a single toilet, said Martin Faller, of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“The conditions for an outbreak of disease are all present – we have to act now and we have to act at scale,” he added.

The World Health Organization has said one of the diseases it is particularly worried about is cholera.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Guinea Sells Its Soul And Freedom To China For 20 Billion Dollars: They Just Don’t Know It Yet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A 20 Billion Dollar Trade Agreement Between China and Guinea Raises Concerns

Meeting between President Xi Jinping and the Guinean delegation, via CGTN Africa.

Leaders of BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) gathered in Xiamen, China as the five rising emerging economies for the ninth annual summit held from 3-5 September 2017. Alongside this conference, Ibrahim Kassory Fofana, Guinean Minister of State in charge of public-private partnerships, announced a framework trade agreement between China and Guinea.

This 20 billion dollar agreement will finance significant infrastructure projects over a 20 year period from 2017 until 2036. The deal constitutes an agreement through which Chinese investment will be repaid in exchange for allowing Chinese companies to undertake mining projects in Guinea, raising concerns among Guineans about its terms.

The Office of the President in Guinea has published a press release in an attempt to clarify the terms of the agreement; however, as noted by Diallo Boubacar on the site Africaguinee.com, details have not yet been made known. Several opposition leaders, including François Bourouno voiced their concern:

The trade deal (worth 20 billion USD) signed last Tuesday between Guinea and China has raised some concerns. Although it is anticipated that this deal will, for the most part, finance infrastructure projects in exchange for mining resources over a 20 year period, we, in the opposition party, have our doubts.

“We understand it is a mixed agreement, consisting of loans and gifts. However what we don’t know is what the loans will entail, such as the repayment rates, the terms and conditions, as well as the compensation details. Nor do we know how the gifts will be defined. As such, there are many questions we need to ask.”

In 2016, the mining sector accounted for 98.97% of Guinea’s exports (compared to 84.12% in 2015). Trains carrying ore can comprise up to 120 cars, emitting an infernal noise as well as dust clouds stretching from the extraction site all the way to the port.

Nevertheless, Guineans hope this sector will bring improvements to their living conditions, unlike the farming sector, which has been almost totally neglected. While Guinea has vast agricultural potential due to its varied climate and many rivers, the country is known as a “geological scandal” due to the disparity between the wealth of untapped resources and the poverty of its citizens.

Guinean blogger Jeanne Fofana from kababachir.com has raised doubts regarding additional debt representing more than 50% of the national debt, which already constitutes 48% of the gross domestic product (GDP). She concludes:

Guineans want to see a marked improvement in their living conditions. Simply providing billions of dollars and extolling the virtues of Alpha Condé [The Guinean President], quite frankly, borders on populism: “when talking about these kinds of amounts of money, the average Guinean remains sceptical, and with good cause! Because for them, this does not translate to an improvement in their daily life. The only way to convert this into bettering their lives is by providing employment.” Guineans are feeling deceived.

In an article by Radio France Internationale, RFI, Amadou Bah from the non-governmental organization (N.G.O.) Action Mine Guinée expresses his concerns:

However there has not been, as of yet, any clarification as to the quantity of the resources allocated.

Will this not just discourage investors from other multinationals from seeking concessions in Guinea? Will this be by mutual agreement? Will the value of the infrastructure be equal to that of the minerals to be exported? At the moment, we are hanging on the government’s every word as they negotiate this without providing many details.

Guinean netizens speak out

Guinean citizens have taken to Facebook to voice their doubts. The first bauxite exploitation in Guinea took place in 1937, but Guineans are still amongst the poorest in West Africa. Siradiou Paraya Bah, a resident of Conakry  joins the debate by posting on the wall of influential Guinean blogger Sidikiba Keita to ask what lessons can be learned from the past:

Can we know exactly what these trade agreements between China and Guinea entail?
What can we learn from previous decades of bauxite exploitation in Guinea?
What lessons can we take away from this?

What concerns Demba Thez Mara, a Guinan netizen in Boké, is the need to process the minerals before exportation:

I would like to see us put in place metallurgical and ore dressing plants so that we can process our unrefined products on site. In terms of the enrichment of AI203 (aluminium), China has the best flotation technologies; therefore in order to better develop our mines, we need on site processing, which will also require sufficient energy production.

Law enforcement officers have clashed with protesters at the centre of the main bauxite extraction site in Boké, Guinea in response to the adverse environmental impact of extraction and lack of economic benefits, particularly in terms of employment. Against this backdrop, blogger Sidikiba Keita responds to active Guinean Facebook user Ibrahim Ghussein’s message and warns Guineans:

1. Let’s not delude ourselves. SMB [Société Minière de Boké, in English: Boké Mining Company]’s current operations are on a small scale compared to what we are expecting, as this should increase tenfold, from 30,000 tons/day (t/d) to 300,000 tons/day. The Chinese have a very clear agenda: an all-out reduction in production costs, from extraction to FOB delivery. The EITI [Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative]’s latest report confirms that the Guinean government expects an average return of $4/t of bauxite, whereas CBG [Cie de Bauxites de Guinée] pay more than double that amount, due to their environmental protection measures. The stripping and blasting phases already create a barely manageable pollution issue. On top of this, the transportation phase will undoubtedly be via lorry, as it is currently. In any case, in light of the traumatic experiences endured by the population who live near to the SMB site, this is simply unsustainable, unless the local population are to be moved out in droves.

2. In any case, in light of the traumatic experiences endured by the population who live near to the SMB site, this is simply unsustainable, unless the local population are to be moved out in droves.

In terms of the environmental impact, Tidiane Sylla highlights the potential consequences of over-exporting, which risks flooding the market and causing the price to fall:

Exporting large quantities of bauxite could cause the price to fall on the international market. In the Boké, Boffa and Télimélé regions, more than ten companies are involved in bauxite production. We need to diversify and innovate so as not to saturate the market.

Guinea’s history of public distrust

A lack of public trust around national mining deals emanates from unfair contracts signed by Guinean Mining Minster Mamoudou Thiam during his term in 2009-10. Thiam has been in prison in the United States (U.S.) since December 2016 after U.S. courts found him guilty of laundering 8.5 million dollars in backhanders.

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, an academic institution created by the U.S. Department of Defense and financed by Congress to study security issues in Africa, published a study in May 2015 entitled The Anatomy of the Resource Curse: Predatory Investment in in Africa’s Extractive Industries, which analyses problems caused by mineral wealth in certain African countries. In the chapter dedicated to Guinea entitled Exploiting a State on the Brink of Failure: The Case of Guinea, the study details how Mr. Thiam was able to illegally line his pockets while in power.

Sri Lanka Condemns Mob Attack Against Rohingya Refugees by Buddhist Monks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Sri Lanka Condemns Mob Attack Against Rohingya Refugees by Buddhist Monks

Rohingya refugees escaped to Bangladesh after the recent crackdown in Myanmar. Image by Syed Rajowan (এস রেজওয়ান). Used with permission.

On Tuesday, September 26, a violent mob led by a group of radical Buddhist monks broke down gates and entered the walled multi-storied United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) safe house for Rohingya refugees in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, sparking widespread condemnation in Sri Lanka.

The monks allegedly threatened a group of 31 Rohingya refugees including 16 children and 7 women, calling them terrorists. Authorities quickly escorted the refugees into protective custody and relocated them to a safer place.

BBC journalist Azzam Ameen tweeted:

31 Rohingya refugees at Mt. Lavinia to be taken to Boossa detention camp by Police for their safety after a mob stormed their UN safe house

Sri Lanka has mostly stayed silent regarding the recent Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Only a few days ago Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced the country will not accept any Rohingyas as refugees and existing refugees will eventually be resettled in a different country.

Only a few hundred Rohingya refugees currently stay in Sri Lanka and the majority came to Sri Lanka by boat and air following the disturbances in Myanmar in 2012. Others were rescued by the Sri Lankan navy last May from Sri Lanka’s northern shores and kept in a UN safe house in Mount Lavinia until their resettlement.

According to international reports, the hardline nationalist group Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa showed the attack live on their Facebook page with over 30,000 followers. The video showed the monks and a few civilians entering the safe house chanting “do not allow terrorists into this country.”

Several others uploaded footage of the Buddhist monk-led attack against Rohingya refugees on Youtube by users such as sonakar.com:

All the refugees escaped the attack without injury, but two police officers were wounded and admitted to hospital.

The government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya people among the country’s ethnic groups and denies them citizenship. They are often described as the “most persecuted minority group in Asia.” Authorities and Buddhist nationalists consider Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though they have roots in the Rakhine state that go back centuries.

Since August 2017, about 400,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh after Myanmar’s military crackdown on insurgents belonging to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). ARSA was accused of attacking several police and military outposts which then led to the burning of Rohingya villages and attacks on civilians.

Some Sri Lankan Buddhist monks share similar extremist views with their ultra-nationalist counterparts in Myanmar when it comes to minority Muslims and created a Facebook page to express those views. Sri Lankans also offered sympathy to Myanmar on the Rohingya issue specifically:

However, the attacks were strongly condemned by the Sri Lankan government. Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said:

“This is not what the Buddha taught. We have to show compassion to these refugees. These monks who carried out the attacks are actually not monks, but animals.”

And via a tweet by Azzam Ameen, the minister also lamented:

“2 million Sri Lankan’s went to other countries as refugees, ashamed that we can’t even look after 30 people temporarily” Minister Rajitha

The minister committed to taking disciplinary action against officers who failed to control the mob. Other government officials expressed condemnation but the President and Prime Minister have yet to issue a statement:

Statement in English by the Minister of Finance and Media @MangalaLK on the   in 

Ordinary citizens also denounced the attacks on social media:

“I condemn these actions as a Buddhist who is very proud of the fact that Buddhism is a religion of non violence & Compassion”. My statement on Rohingya refugees in  .  https://www.facebook.com/MangalaLK/ 

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Attack & eviction of Rohingya children & adults by Bud Monk led goons in : SHAME! On Sri Lanka. Esp Sinhala – Buddhists, Police & Govt

WHO is in charge of  law & order? @SagalaRatnayaka or saffron-robed thugs who attack  refugees with impunity? @UNHumanRights http://in.reuters.com/article/sri-lanka-rohingya/protesters-force-rohingya-refugees-to-flee-sri-lanka-safe-house-idINKCN1C12RP?feedType=RSS&feedName=southAsiaNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FINsouthAsiaNews+%28News+%2F+IN+%2F+South+Asia+News%29 

Photo published for Protesters force Rohingya refugees to flee Sri Lanka safe house

Protesters force Rohingya refugees to flee Sri Lanka safe house

Sri Lankan monks and hardline nationalists protesters forced 31 Rohingya Muslim asylum seekers to flee a United Nations safe house in the capital Colombo on Tuesday, police said.

in.reuters.com

Veteran Sri Lankan journalist Latheef Farook condemned Sri Lanka’s silence on the ongoing persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar:

Sri Lanka and its Foreign Ministry had never failed to promptly condemn explosions and bombings in far-away Western capitals but terrorizing a half million men, women and children into fleeing their generational places of birth, closer home in our Asian neighborhood, has not struck the conscience of good governance, the professionals, the academics, the civil society and women’s organizations in Sri Lanka.

Sam Kosai, of Yangon, Myanmar expressed his frustration with the irony of a violent Buddhist attack against Rohingya refugees in Sri Lanka:

Our brothers in Sri Lanka joined Burma to give Buddhism shame and a bad name. Bravo! Well done! Being Facist alone is no fun. The more the merrier.

Two 16 Year Old Young Men Face 23 Murder Charges For allegedly Lighting School Fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Two boys face 23 murder charges for allegedly lighting school fire

Police and rescue personnel work at an Islamic religious school cordoned off after a deadly fire on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

(CNN)Two teenagers have been charged with 23 counts of murder in Malaysia for allegedly lighting a fire that killed 21 children at an Islamic school in Kuala Lumpur in September.

Two adults also died in the blaze that engulfed Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz religious school in the early hours of September 14.
The two suspects, both aged 16, haven’t entered a plea, according to state news agency Bernama. In Malaysia, a murder charge carries an automatic death sentence, but in cases involving juveniles, the maximum penalty is prison.
The boys were also charged with drug-related offenses, as were four other suspects. One 16-year-old was released without charge due to lack of evidence, deputy public prosecutor Othman Abdullah said.
Two days after the fire, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced special funding of RM30 million ($7 million) to upgrade religious schools across the country.
Authorities have conducted fire safety inspections at 104 of 402 registered religious schools in the state of Selangor, according to Bernama.
Several were found to have faulty wiring and no fire extinguishers, Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Osman was quoted as saying.
Authorities are also inspecting a number of unregistered schools, he said.

Family members cry outside the school.

‘So many involved’

Sharifuddin Musa’s son Mohammad Shahir was inside the building when it was allegedly set alight.
The 11-year-old survived the blaze but is still in intensive care. He suffered internal injuries, broken bones and burns to 20% of his body in the fire, Musa told CNN.
Musa was at the court Thursday to find out “who was involved” in the crime.
“We want to know the details. We want to know what is the action to be taken against the perpetrators. I will follow the proceedings.
“I’m very sad because there are so many involved,” Musa said.
He said his son still wants to study at the religious school.
“We see that since he studied there, there have been a lot of changes in him. He is happy and has many friends. We can see that he could manage himself better at the school. So the family is encouraging him.”

Trapped, burned alive

As the fire engulfed the building, witnesses reported being awoken by cries for help from children who appeared trapped by metal window grills.
“I saw children kicking on the grill, but they couldn’t get out. My friends and I rushed over and tried to reach them, but we couldn’t get in,” one witness, Shahirman Shahril told CNN.
When emergency responders arrived, “almost 90% of the building was already on fire,” a fire and rescue department official told reporters.

A forensic police officer investigates burnt windows at an Islamic religious school following the fire.

Many of the victims were found piled on top of each other, while others were discovered in front of the main door, fire and rescue department official spokesman Soiman Jahid told reporters.
One of two fire exits in the building had been blocked by renovations taking place on the second floor, Jahid told CNN.
“The firemen could hear cries for help from inside the building,” spokesman Soiman Jahid said. “The first team from (the) fire station managed to save five of the children from the lower level.”

People console each other outside an Islamic religious school following the fire.

School shouldn’t have been open, official says

The building where the fire erupted was new and had been used as a religious school specializing in Quranic studies, said Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Rashid Ibraham.
But the school’s license had been under review by authorities, and the facility should not have been in operation, said Malaysia’s minister of urban well-being, housing and local government, Noh Omar.
The charges came shortly after a fire partially gutted another religious school in Serembam, around 20 miles south of the capital on Thursday.
Local press reported that the fire department received the distress call at around 1.50 a.m. local time (1.50 p.m. Wednesday ET).
All 37 students housed in the school’s hostel managed to escape, and three had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Chinese Former Soldier Brags Of Killing Vietnamese Woman Raping Her 13 Yr Old Daughter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Despite Censorship, a Former Chinese Soldier Brags of His War Crimes Online

Left: Zhang Jingyu. Right: Screenshot of his war crime narrative, first shared via WeChat.

A former Chinese solider boasted to a private chat group this week that during the Sino-Vietnamese War, he killed a Vietnamese woman and raped her teenage daughter.

Chinese authorities have been struggling to contain online outrage in response to the post of Zhang Jingyu, a self-described Maoist patriot, who told his story to a private group on the social media platform WeChat.

Zhang described how in 1979, at just 17 years old, he went into the village of Cao Bang in Vietnam in the midst of a crossfire, where he killed a woman and raped her teenage daughter in the ruin.

Zhang was caught by the head of the combat team and sentenced to one week in solitary confinement after he returned to China. After that, the army dismissed him, but recommended him to a college to study foreign languages.

The brief Sino-Vietnamese War was declared by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 after Vietnam invaded Cambodia. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army captured Cao Bang near the border area in less than two weeks, but did not enter the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

Deng claimed victory after one month of fighting, and the Chinese forces suffered great losses. In some Chinese oral history records, Vietnamese soldiers criticized the Chinese army of being crueler than US army, which had pulled out of Vietnam a few years earlier after nearly 20 years in the country. Some other English sources also accused the Chinese army of mass killings of Vietnamese civilians when retreating from Vietnam.

In Zhang’s comments, he showed no remorse for his actions:

Killed her mother, raped her 13-14 year-old daughter. They were all soldiers. During the war, the only good Vietnamese people were the dead ones.

I did it when I was 17.5 years old. Would you dare to do such a thing? If you did not have the courage, I tell you: you would be lying underneath the hero’s tomb. But I’m still alive…

Despite efforts to censor the tale, Zhang’s post has been screen-captured and since has gone viral on Chinese social media. Netizens have widely condemned his actions and called for authorities to investigate the case and clarify the historical facts.

Thus far, there has been no public information regarding an official investigation. But there has been ample censorship of online criticism and discussion about the incident.

Nearly all discussions of the post and associated events have either been censored or are too graphic for public re-distribution. Below is a typical censored comment:

Even if Zhang Jingyu’s story is a fiction and he never raped the teenage girl or he hadn’t been a soldier at all, his narrative has an adverse effect on the People’s Liberation Army. If he is not punished, there will be more Zhang Jingyus or patriotic thugs who stand out to challenge the baseline of humanity. By then, nothing can be done [to undo the wrong]. Censorship or internet shutdowns won’t work.

Those who managed to climb over the Great Firewall left their comments on Twitter. Below is one:

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·、强奸13岁少女,这在哪个国家都是重罪。可是,在共产党的中国、一名中国人民解放军战士,在犯下如此重罪时,却只受到脱去军装、禁闭一周的处罚。至今,他不仅不忏悔,反而在微博洋洋得意炫耀。请大家记住他的丑陋面貌,并请记住他的名字,他叫:张靖宇,网名:归云楼。
·

#Killing kid’s mother, raping a 13-year-old teenage, these are serious crimes in any country. But in CCP’s China, when a People’s Liberation Army soldier committed such serious crimes, the punishment was dismissed from the army and one week solitary confinement. Till now, he did not have any remorse and boasted about his crime. Please remember this ugly creature and remember his name: Zhang Jingyu. Screen name: Gui Yun Luo.

As all criticisms on Chinese social media platforms were censored, Chinese blogger Li Hanfan decided to praise Zhang for telling the truth about the Sino-Vietnamese War:

Up till now, we had no evidence to prove if Zhang Jingyu was telling the truth. But in my opinion, it now seems more probably that he was telling the truth. Any logical person would not defame themselves with such a serious crime.

If it is not self-defamation, Zhang is reviewing history and retelling historical facts. This should be praised.

The blogger then argued:

What we, in particular our government and our army, need to do now is to investigate if Zhang Jingyu is telling the truth. If he is, then we have to take the history seriously. Our government and army should apologize sincerely to Vietnam and compensate for such serious crimes. We should even send this devil to military court.

Of course, it is also possible that Zhang Jingyu had made up the story, he just wanted to be famous…If this is really the case, our government and army should investigate thoroughly and explained the situation to Vietnam. Then punish the rumor creator who has defamed our admirable soldier.

The response to Zhang’s comments underlines the imbalance that many Chinese netizens see in the state’s approach to so-called “rumors” online. While some types of political content are subject to heavy censorship, others are not.

Earlier this month, officials released new regulations that hold people who run chatrooms and message groups — who are often just regular citizens — criminally liable for the circulation of rumors, scams and politically sensitive topics in such online groups. Many say the crackdown has targeted views that are critical of the Chinese government and party authorities. Yet speech that is framed as being patriotic — even when it is as inhumane and bellicose as Zhang’s — is spared punishment.