On Sept. 20, Amnesty International (AI) called upon members of the UN to demand Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir turn himself in to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he faces charges for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed during the Darfur conflict. Al-Bashir has continually ignored the charges against him and is still being protected by the Sudanese government. AI is calling for the international community to come together in cooperation with the ICC in order to bring al-Bashir to justice. Despite the warrants for his arrest, al-Bashir has reportedly applied for a US visa in order to attend the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Thousands of displaced persons who have taken refuge in Somalia's capital Mogadishu are being forcibly evicted from makeshift camps as the government presses ahead with plans to clean up the city, Amnesty said in a briefing released Sept. 13. "It is completely unacceptable for people who have fled to the capital for protection to be forcibly evicted. It has resulted in large scale human rights abuses," said Gemma Davies, Amnesty's Somalia researcher. "The government has a responsibility to protect this vulnerable sector of society and ensure their security." More than 300,000 live in settlements in Mogadishu, where they are sheltering from cyclical drought, famine and the two-decades-long armed conflict.
Some 160 Somali religious scholars came together in Mogadishu on Set. 11 to issue a fatwa denouncing al-Shabab, saying the rebel group has no place in Islam. The Fatwa calls al-Shabab a "strayed group," and called upon members to repent from its "criminal acts." It asserted that Somalia's interim government is a Muslim government and it is illegal to call it "apostate" or to wield arms against it. It forbids Muslims from joining or providing support to al-Shabab, and mandates support for the government's fight against the rebels.
As the world awaits military intervention in Syria and we are treated to idle theorizing about how the Ghouta chemical massacre was a "false flag" attack by the rebels, comes a grimly amusing analogue from Central Africa. Rwanda on Aug. 29 accused government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo of shelling its territory, killing a woman and wounding her baby. (BBC News) Open war between Rwanda and the DRC suddenly looms, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to Rwanda's President Paul Kagame for restraint. (BBC News) The shelling comes as DRC troops and the UN's new "intervention brigade," dubbed MONUSCO, have been battling the M23 rebels in Congo's east. (BBC News, Radio Australia) The DRC government has denied responsibility, and says it was actually the rebels that shelled Rwanda's territory—a claim backed up by MONUSCO. (Reuters) Now, since the M23 is said to be intimately directed by Rwanda's defense minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, who has apparently even sent military commanders to lead the rebel force, this basically means that Rwanda is bombing itself. Indeed, Congo Planet tells us the DRC is charging that Rwanda's government used the M23 rebels to shell its own territory, as a provocation to justify a direct military intervention in eastern Congo.
At least 10 Shabaab rebel fighters were reportedly killed in heavy clashes with Kenyan security forces Aug. 21 after the Somali rebels crossed the border and attacked a military patrol. Local authorities in the town of Garissa, North Eastern state, said Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan border patrol with grenades, mortars and small arms, sparking a battle that lasted for nearly an hour, residents said. There was a similar incident last week, when Shabaab fighters raided a police post at Galmagala, in Garissa county's Fafi district, some 10 kilometers from Somalia's border, killing four officers and seizing weapons. (Garowe Online via AllAfrica, Aug. 22)
A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Aug. 20 awarded (CJA press release, PDF) $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages to a victim of torture at the hands of a Somali military colonel some 25 years ago. Judge George Smith determined in November that constitutional law professor Abukar Hassan Ahmed was arbitrarily detained by Col. Abdi Aden Magan's subordinates for three months in 1988. The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ahmed in 2010, when Magan was residing in Ohio. This is the largest amount ever awarded in a US court for the torture of one individual by another, but since Magan has left the US it is uncertain whether Ahmed could ever actually receive any damages. Ahmed currently serves as an adviser to the president of Somalia.
Sudan made minor headlines by expelling 20 staff members of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with UNHCR accusing the government of "compromising the ability of the refugee agency to effectively undertake its work in Darfur." (Radio Dabanga, Aug. 6) The spat comes amid a re-inflammation of the Darfur conflict. The UN Security Council passed a resolution last week calling for an end to heightening violence in Darfur, and greater action by "peacekeepers" to protect civilians. The council extended the mandate of the joint UN-African Union force in Darfur until next August. (AP, July 30) Days later, Misseriya tribal leader Ahmed Khiri boatsed to AFP that his forces had killed 100 members of the rival Salamat tribe in a battle near Garsila, with 28 lost on his own side. (AFP, July 30) Estimates of the number of newly displaced in Darfur so far this year is estimated at over 240,000. (Radio Dabanga via AllAfrica, Aug. 2)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on July 22 that the rebel group 23 March Movement (M23, see BBC backgrounder) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is receiving assistance from Rwanda despite continued human rights abuses by the M23, including rape, executions and forced recruitment of young boys. HRW based its report on interviews with former M23 fighters who have abandoned the movement. According to the report, Rwanda is permitting the M23 rebels to recruit from within Rwanda and is giving material support to the rebels, including food, uniforms, ammunition and other supplies. While a panel of UN experts reported in June that Rwanda's support for the M23 is declining, HRW asserted that the support remains significant and called upon the UN and the US to urge Rwanda to halt support to the M23.