Aung San Suu Kyi
Asia

Burma: The Military Boots Keep Marching in Place

The Burmese military have held power in the country since 1958 and show no signs of yielding it to civilian political leaders. They have prevented discussion of the most burning political issues which have divided Burma since independence: the nationalities question, the insurgencies, the balance of power between central and regional governments, the nature of the state, and the role of democracy. The military, by means of poor policies and incompetent administration took a relatively prosperous country and turned it into a state of economic chaos. 

Child Soldier in Uganda
Africa

Uganda: ICC Issues Arrest Warrants for Lord’s Resistance Army

On October 14, 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague announced that it issued warrants for the arrest of five leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the first such step taken by the new human rights court. The ICC prosecutor has accused Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA and four of his closest commanders, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen, and Raska Lukwiya, of killing, raping and robbing civilians.  The chief ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, put a special emphasis on the LRA's systematic kidnapping of children, forcing them to fight and using girls as sex slaves. The ICC has no police of its own and must depend on cooperation from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire), where the LRA leaders are believed to be operating. 

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Africa

Algeria: How Clean Can One Wipe The Slate?

On September 29th, 97% of those voting in the Algerian referendum on Peace and Reconciliation voted yes for peace and reconciliation.  Was this a necessary act of popular catharsis after some 13 years of violence? Or was it a government-staged show to reinforce its power?  Both are real possibilities.  It is important to analyze the results carefully as violence-torn countries need to find techniques to write "The End" to cycles of violence and counter-violence and to begin life again with a clean slate.  But does such renewal mean that those who have killed and tortured should be free from possible trials?  Much of the killing in Algeria - estimates are of over 200,000 - took place in rural towns and villages where people knew or thought they knew who was doing the killing. Is it possible to live an ordinary life now side by side with murderers?

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Asia

Sri Lanka: Assassinations and a Fractured Peace Process

The assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka on August 12, 2005 is a serious blow to the stalled peace negotiations and to Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation.  Kadirgamar, an Oxford educated Christian Tamil from Jaffna, the Tamil heartland, was more than a token Tamil in an otherwise Sinhalese-led government.  He was a symbol that ethnic identity is not the only factor that should determine policy, but rather that there are ways of working to develop the mutual interests of all communities.  In fact, the armed conflict since 1983 has generated a momentum which exceeds its original ethnic causes and has invented new, hybrid, collective identities.

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Africa

Darfur, Sudan: The Overkill

The on-going conflicts in the provinces of Darfur in western Sudan are a textbook example of how programmed escalation of violence can go out of control.  It is increasingly difficult for both the insurgency and the government-backed forces to de-escalate the conflict which has been called with reason "genocide".  It will be even more difficult after the war to get the pastoralists and the settled agriculturalists to live together again in a relatively cooperative way.

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Africa

Sudan: The Shadow of a Death

The death on July 30th of the southern Sudanese leader John Garang de Mabior endangers a fragile and incomplete accord to end the 1983-2005 North-South civil war and complicates further efforts to bring to an end the conflicts in the four provinces of Darfur in western Sudan.  Garang, leader of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) died in the crash of a Ugandan military helicopter on its return from a meeting of Garang with the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni. Garang's aids and the helicopter's crew also died in the crash.  News of Garang's death led to violent demonstrations from his supporters who feared that the crash was no accident, followed by counter-violence against southerners. The situation remains tense.

Garang had enemies both among the northerners he had long fought but also among rivals for leadership among southern groups.  It was only a month ago, July 9th, that John Garang was installed as first vice-president of Sudan in a North-South power-sharing agreement, but the practical role of Garang and other southerners in the government, the administration and the army had not been worked out and may now be called into question.