The African Union said Sunday it is ready to send peacekeeping troops to the restive eastern DR Congo, as leaders met at a biannual summit to discuss trouble spots and to vote for the bloc’s top job.
AU Commission chairman Jean Ping told African leaders at the opening of the two-day summit that the AU was “prepared to contribute to the establishment of a regional force to put an end to the activities of armed groups,” in DR Congo, AFP reported.
No further details about the potential force were given a the meeting, attended by both DR Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who rejects accusations by UN experts and Kinshasa he supports the mutiny by Congolese troops.
“The violence must end immediately, countries of the region ought to respect principle of non-interference,” said UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson.
The renewed violence in the mineral-rich eastern DR Congo is a key focus of the summit as well as conflict elsewhere on the continent, including instability in Mali, and the ongoing crisis between Sudan and South Sudan.
Ping described the crisis in Mali--where authorities are struggling to tackle Islamist militants who control the vast desert north--as “one of the most serious threats to security and stability of the continent”.
Afghan Official Survives Attack
An Afghan minister survived an insurgent roadside bombing on Sunday, the third attack on high profile officials in three days, a provincial governor said.
Obaidullah Obaid, the higher education minister, was travelling between the northern provinces of Baghlan and Kunduz when his motorcade hit a roadside bomb, similar to those used by Taliban insurgents, AFP reported.
The minister escaped unhurt but two policemen escorting his convoy were wounded, Munshi Abdul Majeed, the Baghlan governor said, blaming the blast on the Taliban.
In a separate attack on Sunday, a twin bombing wounded 14 people in Logar province south of Kabul. The second explosion hit security forces as they gathered to investigate the first one, police said.
The casualties were mostly police, army and intelligence investigators, police said.
The bombings came a day after a suicide attacker killed a prominent Afghan MP and former warlord, Ahmad Khan, targeting him at his daughter’s wedding party in the northern town of Aibak in Samangan province.
Sixteen other people were also killed and dozens more were wounded.
On Friday, the Laghman provincial women’s affairs director, Hanifa Safi, was killed when a bomb attached to her vehicle exploded, critically wounding her husband and daughter, police said.
Suicide attacks and roadside bombings are favoured weapons of Taliban insurgents, who have waged an insurgency against the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai since their regime was ousted in 2001.
Cuba Receives First US ShipmentIn 50 Yrs
For the first time in 50 years, Havana Bay has received a shipment of humanitarian aid from Miami in the United States.
The Ana Cecilia sailed into the Cuban harbor shortly after 11:00 GMT or 7am local time on Friday, carrying family goods, food, medicine and clothing, as well as medical equipment such as orthopedic mattresses and electric wheelchairs.
Shipper International Port Corp. hopes to make this a weekly service between the US and Cuba, who have been at ideological odds for years, with a ship leaving Miami every Wednesday for the 16-hour trip to Havana.
The US had imposed a trade embargo on the Communist-run island since 1962, but International Port Corp. says it has been granted a special permit from the US to begin trading.
“This is so wonderful,” said company spokesman Leonardo Sanchez-Adega, after the ship finally docked following a delay of several hours due to an error in customs paperwork submitted to the Cuban authorities.
There has been no official response from Cuba, however, the Cuban community in Florida, were “positive” about the shipments, according to International Port Corp.
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, an opposition economist told AFP news agency that he welcomed the initiative.
Pakistanis Rally Against NATO, US
From Page 1
Pakistan reopened overland routes to NATO convoys crossing into neighboring Afghanistan on July 3 after closing them in protest at a US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the strike.
“We have started this march to protest against the resumption of NATO supply. We warn our government to get out of the war on terrorism,” Defence of Pakistan chairman Maulana Samiul Haq said as the convoy set off.
“If they think that the United States’ war is only against Afghanistan, they are wrong. The US will target all the Muslim countries after strengthening its control on Afghanistan,” Haq said.
“But we won’t allow them to do this, we will fight against them and will fail their plans.”
The Defense of Pakistan has attracted large turnouts at rallies across the country, which some see as a build-up to the formation of a political party to contest the next general election, widely expected within the next year.
The convoy was scheduled to reach Chaman on Sunday, however the protesters are unlikely to disrupt traffic at the border because the march has been declared peaceful. “We don’t have any plan to go on the crossing point on the border, instead we will stage a rally inside the Chaman town and closer to the Afghanistan border,” Abdul Sattar Chishti, a local organizer of the march, said.
“America was our enemy yesterday, it is our enemy today, and it will remain our enemy tomorrow,” said Maulana Abdul Qadir Luni, one of the protest leaders.
Meanwhile, more than two thousand activists and supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party of the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan staged a protest in the north-western city of Peshawar. “No to NATO supply” and “Any friend of America is a traitor”, they chanted.
“I ask the Pakistani government to pull out of America’s war. This is not our war. Is this our war? This is not Pakistan’s war,” Imran Khan told the crowd.
Khan said that the people of Waziristan were Pakistanis and were innocent victims of the US war on terror and drone strikes.
“I ask my government to tell the names of those who are murdered in drone attacks. Who are they? They are Pakistani citizens. It is the responsibility of the Pakistani government to protect their lives and property.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar have hailed the reopening of the supply routes, saying the allies were putting tensions behind them.
Public anger over US drone attacks has helped inflame tensions between Pakistan and the United States. Pakistanis say the drone attacks kill civilians and encroach on Pakistani sovereignty. The United States says the attacks are highly selective and that few civilians are killed.
One in 10 UK Prisoners a Former Soldier
The number of former UK service personnel in prisons is nearly three times higher than official government figures, according to new research.
As many as one in ten prisoners are military veterans, as opposed to the 3.4 per cent official figure, according to the criminal justice campaign group No Offence. British MPs and campaigners say the shock new figure is clear evidence of a “betrayal of the military covenant”, The Independent reported.
They warn that the number of ex-servicemen in prison is likely to grow further as the 20,000 troops returning to civilian life due to defense cuts struggle to make the transition after the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru MP and chair of an all-party parliamentary group focused on the plight of veterans in the criminal justice system, said: “This is a failure of the military covenant – and it’s avoidable. It is going to get far worse unless we do something to address it.
The government is in denial of the figures.” He said official figures fail to take account of soldiers who have served in Northern Ireland, females, reservists and anyone under the age of 21.
Sue Clifford, of No Offence, said: “We estimate that 10 percent of prisoners are military veterans, from samples of the prison population. We believe the cuts will have a significant effect on prison numbers, as thousands of troops return to civvy street before they were anticipating – so they have not had a chance to plan.
“The current prison system shows that only 3.4 per cent of prisoners are military veterans, which under-acknowledges the figure. The data captured when people go into prison is not accurate, as people do not talk about their former role unless asked. Some veterans, even when asked, do not say as there is huge pride associated with being in the military,” she said.
Trevor Philpott, a Royal Marines officer for 34 years and founder of the Veterans Change Partnership, said: “The government figures fail to take into account anyone from Scotland or Northern Ireland, and were based on cross-referencing UK Ministry of Defense [MoD] and Ministry of Justice [MoJ] figures. There is a sense that the Government is reluctant to address the true figures: if there was the slightest admission of combat causing mental health problems, there is a fear of legal action,” he said.
Imperialism of Disbelief
By: Reza Bahar
We have been told that true revolutions need sacrifices; we have been told that people need to defend their rights and values by their lives and limbs. Yet under a global imperialist hegemony, it seems increasingly insensible if you try to safeguard your values and your rights by offering sacrifices.
Many today, under the influence of imperialism that owes its global stretch mainly to its success in promoting humanism, regard as nonsense going to war to defend their motherland as the idea has already been replaced by the shiny prospect of a global village that prefers to abolish borders to establish a global land to fully address human rights.
As a 21st century kin you would rather believe that your values and rights are better addressed under a protected and protracted life that serves your needs. After all, it will be more meaningful to maintain life instead of being killed in a senseless war where the endgame means to advance the interests of the big powers.
Why should you offer sacrifices at all when you have a well-paid job, you are well-nourished and have access to the mainstream media that provide the food for your soul and direct your life and way of living?
Why should you offer sacrifices when the police guarantee your basic right to possess more and more?
Why should you rise up to ask for your lost values and rights when you have claimed jobless benefits and have lost your home to foreclosures, when you are not covered with any kind of insurance yet you are overwhelmed with the idea that you live in a land of opportunities where human rights are heralded and values are addressed? A general idea promoted by the wealthy through their powerful media outlets?
Forced to maintain your very existence, you gradually forget about your rights and values. And overwhelmed by a stark disbelief, the main goal of the humanist life appears to be staying afloat in a global land of modern slavery.
In fact, this belief in disbelief has its roots in a prolonged process of undermining the values and basic rights. It is a process administered by the global imperialism; a process that initially aims at derailing beliefs that could fuel engines of revolutions; a process that means to substitute such beliefs with softer ones that can no longer cause any trouble for the underlying imperialist hegemony working basically to subjugate the entire world.
The global imperialism has been successful in undermining our values. It has been successful in making us believe that “revolutions” are bad, but “changes” or “transitions to democracy” are good. Likewise, it has been successful in making us believe that a prison is no longer a prison but a “detention center”, and that we no longer need to call people behind bars “prisoners” but “detainees”. And if you are a woman abused by an American invader soldier in a “remote and hostile part of the globe” like Iraq or Afghanistan, it is alright! Forget about the natural worldwide value of chastity, just lie down and enjoy!
By manipulating notions such as humanism which tends to serve individuals more than the masses, the global imperialism has succeeded in luring revolutionary people into abandoning their values and giving in to a publicized notion of globalism which proclaims a humane approach of “transition to democracy”.
But when it comes to its prevailing Machiavellian approach, the global imperialism is absolutely ruthless; just a beast that kills to nurture itself.
Thus, the “suspected terrorists” in the “detention facilities” interrogated by use of “enhanced techniques” are in fact prisoners who are tortured brutally for confronting foreign invaders. This is the true nature of the global imperialism: if you try to uphold your values and defend your rights, you will certain to end up in “detention”.
Of course, you can give up your values and “enjoy yourself” by becoming a part of the cruel system of the imperialist hegemonism.
Legislative Polls in Congo
Congolese voters went to the polls on Sunday for the first round of legislative elections expected to maintain an overwhelming majority for allies of longtime President Denis Sassou Nguesso.