Democracy

Prominent Lawyer Defending the Poor Gunned Down in Mozambique

As billions pour into Mozambique from foreign investors scooping up fields of coal and natural gas, the signs of newfound wealth are impossible to miss.

Burundi-Watchers See Erosion of Human Rights and Civic Freedoms

The bad old days of the 1980s and 1990s when Burundi was widely considered a police state may be making a comeback.Some 300,000 people lost their lives in the country’s civil war from the 1990s to 2003, which broke out following the death of the country’s first democratically elected president.Human rights defenders and journalists are now routinely smeared as enemies of the state.According to a recent report by an East African rights group: “Human rights defenders in Burundi are operating in one of the most restrictive and hostile environments in East Africa as evidenced by an alarming pattern of harassment, intimidation, threats and legislative reforms.” Public gatherings have been banned, members of the opposition are attacked. Violence is escalating in the run up to the June 2015 elections, the East and Horn of Africa defenders project observed.Even group jogging, a popular Burundian hobby that officials now say leads to uprisings, has been banned.A tiny dot wedged between Tanzania to the south and east, and Rwanda to the north, the DRC to the west, Burundi was once a battleground between Hutus and Tutsis, much like Rwanda. The current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, was a Hutu rebel leader.The most contentious issue to date is whether the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, will try for a third term – an apparent violation of the constitution.A prominent rights activist, Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, fears that a militarized youth wing of the ruling party is responsible for extrajudicial killings including beheadings.An international spotlight was drawn to Burundi in September with the murder of three Italian nuns at their convent in Bujumbura. A radio journalist, Bob Rugurika, broadcast the purposed confession of a man claiming to be one of the killers.Authorities detained Rugurika and then charged him with complicity in the murders and disclosing confidential information about the case.His release last month prompted huge rallies of support. Hundreds of people crammed into dozens of cars and motorbikes followed Mr Rugurika after being released from prison some 30 miles away, the AFP news agency reported.“I have no words to thank the Burundian population," Mr Rugurika said in a radio broadcast. "Thanks to your support, your commitment... I'm free at last."A spotlight has again been drawn to Burundi with the late night prison breakout this week of the president’s political rival, Hussein Radjabu. A former ally of the current president, he was regarded as Burundi’s most powerful man until his arrest in 2007.Edited by Roger Hamilton-Martin

By Girls, For Girls – Nepal’s Teenagers Say No to Child Marriage

If not for a group of her school friends coming to her rescue, Shradha Nepali would have become a bride at the tender age of 14.

Syrians “Have No Faith” in International Community to Solve Human Rights Crisis

Syrian citizens “have no faith” in the international community to solve the chaos and war raging across their country, according to a prominent human rights defender.

Gaza Reconstruction, Hampered by Israeli Blockade, May Take 100 Years, Say Aid Agencies

Despite all the political hoopla surrounding an international pledging conference in Cairo last October to help rebuild Gaza, the reconstruction of the Israeli-devastated territory is apparently moving at the pace of paralytic snail.

For Women in Asia, ‘Home’ Is a Battleground

Nearly half of the four billion people who reside in the Asia-Pacific region are women. They comprise two-thirds of the region’s poor, with millions either confined to their homes or pushed into the informal labour market where they work without any safeguards for paltry daily wages. Millions more become victims of trafficking and are forced into prostitution or sexual slavery.

U.N. Member States Accused of Cherry-Picking Human Rights

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has criticised member states for ‘cherry-picking’ human rights – advocating some and openly violating others – perhaps to suit their own national or political interests.

Namibian President Wins $5 Million African Leadership Prize

Outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba was Monday named winner of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, believed to be the most lucrative individual award in the world.


Tobacco Workers in Cuba Dubious About Opening of U.S. Market

“We have to wait and see,” “There isn’t a lot of talk about it,” are the responses from tobacco workers in this rural area in western Cuba when asked about the prospect of an opening of the U.S. market to Cuban cigars.

June Election Offers Asia-Pacific a Chance for Greater Influence in ICC

The health-related resignation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) judge has paved the way for Asia-Pacific governments to improve their legal representation in the international legal system, said the group Coalition for the ICC on Thursday.

Opinion: Goals for Gender Equality Are Not a ‘Wish List’ – They Are a ‘To Do List’

This weekend, at the invitation of President Michelle Bachelet and myself, women leaders from across the world are meeting in Santiago de Chile. We will applaud their achievements. We will remind ourselves of their contributions. And we will chart a way forward to correct the historical record. History has not been fair to women – but then, women usually didn’t write it.

Reporting on Violence in Mexico Brings Its Own Perils

Organised criminals in Mexico are forcing the media to stop reporting on crime, by turning their violence against journalists.

From the Police Station Back to the Hellhole: System Failing India’s Domestic Violence Survivors

“One time my husband started slapping me hard on the face because I had not cooked the rice to his satisfaction,” Suruchi* told IPS. “He hit me so hard that my infant daughter fell from my arms to the ground.”

Opinion: The Middle East and Perpetual War

There is a currently popular idea in Washington, D.C. that the United States ought to be doing more to quash the recently born Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), because if we don’t, they will send terrorists to plague our lives.

Study Shows Shift in Level of Social Hostility Involving Religion

Social hostilities involving religion have declined worldwide, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.

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