On Nov. 16, Brazilian landless workers Vanderlei Macena Cruz and Mauro Gomes Duarte, residents of Accampamento Renascer (Rebirth Encampment), were assassinated while riding a motorcycle to work near Gleba Gama, in the Nova Guarita region of Brazil's Mato Grosso state. According to information released by the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), the two men were found dead on a road that divides the properties falsely claimed by local landowners Silmar Kessler and Sebastiao Neves de Almeida known by the nickname Chapeu Preto (Black Hat). Another rural worker heard the shots and quickly gathered other residents to find the bodies on the road; the Military Police did not arrive at the scene until late in the evening.
On Nov. 19 and 20, some 19,000 people gathered outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to demand a dramatic shift in US foreign policy and the closure of the US Defense Department's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly called the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), a combat- training school for Latin American soldiers. The protest, organized by SOA Watch, is held each November at Fort Benning to commemorate the 1989 murders in El Salvador of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter; some of the killers were SOA graduates. Last year 16,000 people attended. Organizers cited reports of torture by US soldiers and the ongoing war on Iraq as motivating factors for this year's record turnout.
A Saudi secondary school teacher has been ordered imprisoned for three years for blasphemy, and sentenced to 750 lashes, to be delivered—50 a week—in the public market of the town of al-Bikeriya. Chemistry teacher Muhammad al-Harbi of Qassim province was charged with mocking Islam, favoring Jews and Christians, promoting "dubious ideologies," and studying witchcraft. The judge in the case, Abdullah Dakhil, reportedly accused the teacher of "trying to sow doubt in a student's creed." The charges were filed against him by a group of students and teachers from his school.
Human rights groups have strongly condemned the ruling by Uzbekistan's supreme court finding 15 defendants guilty of terrorism and sentencing them up to 20 years for their role in the May violence in Andijan. "It was expected and some could even have been given the death penalty, but as the case had received such wide international publicity the authorities did not dare to give capital sentences," said Tolib Yakubov, head of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU). "The trial was orchestrated."
Two Iraqi men arrested in Iraq in 2003 but never charged with any crimes now say US troops put them in a cage with lions, subjected them to a mock execution, and humiliated them during interrogations at various detention facilities. Sherzad Khalid, 35, and Thahe Sabber, 37, charge they were brutally beaten over several months at Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib and another detention facility at the Baghdad airport. They said the abuse began when they were unable to tell US interrogators where Saddam Hussein was hiding or the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction.
Police and troops in Kampala, capital of Uganda, are reported to be firing live and plastic bullets in running battles with protesters angered by the arrest on treason charges last night of the president's main political rival, Kizza Besigye. The government charges that Besigye's supporters are ransacking businesses, burning tires and throwing stones and at security forces. Police are said to have shot dead at least one protesters, although authorities said he was shot by a secuity guard while trying to break into a shop. Some 60 have been arrested, and several others hospitalized.
The Pope greeted a group of Tuareg desert nomads in St Peter's Basilica Nov. 13, using the occassion to invoke the "universal brotherhood" of all the world's peoples. The ten Tuareg visitors, dressed in blue and white robes and turbans, were in the Vatican to pay tribute to Charles de Foucauld, a French Catholic missionary who lived among their people in the early years of the 20th century.