Damning evidence of war crimes by the Saudi-led coalition highlights the urgent need for independent, effective investigation of violations in Yemen and for the suspension of transfers of certain arms, said Amnesty International in a new report published Oct. 7. "'Bombs fall from the sky day and night': Civilians Under Fire in Northern Yemen" examines 13 deadly airstrikes by the coalition in Sa'da, northeastern Yemen, which killed some 100 civilians, including 59 children. The report documents the use of internationally banned cluster bombs. "This report uncovers yet more evidence of unlawful air-strikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, some of which amount to war crimes. It demonstrates in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser who headed the organization's fact-finding mission to Yemen. "The USA and other states exporting weapons to any of the parties to the Yemen conflict have a responsibility to ensure that the arms transfers they authorize are not facilitating serious violations of international humanitarian law."
The discrepancies between the US and Afghan accounts of the US-led bombing that struck a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last week call for an independent investigation by a never-before-used international body, said Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), in a speech on Oct. 7. Twenty-two people were killed in the MSF-operated hospital that was hit by the US bomb, and dozens more were injured. MSF seeks an investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, a permanent body created by the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions and officially constituted in 1991, but has not yet been used because it requires a signatory state to sponsor an inquiry.
The Guaraní People's Assembly (APG) local chapter at Itika Guasu Original Communal Territory (TCO) in Bolivia's Tarija department on Oct. 4 issued a statement protesting the eviction of their leaders from the organization's offices by a new "parallel" leadership they say has been imposed by the national government and ruling party. APG spokesman Henry Guardia said the move was instrumented "in an illegal manner" by administrative authorities of the local O'Connor province, with the complicity of the National Police detachment in the area. He said some 40 followers of the "parallel" faction seized the offices and blocked the entrance. Under Bolivian law, the APG local is the political authority over the TCO, which has been the scene of conflicts over hydrocarbon exploitation in recent years. The Itika Guasu APG is the first indigenous governance structure in South America to establish an investment fund for community development from oil and gas revenues within the territory, which covers some 200,000 hectares. The fund now stands at nearly $15 million, and control of the revenues was cited as a factor in the factional split. (ANF, Oct. 5; ANF, Oct. 4)
Mexico's Prosecutor General Arely Gómez González announced Sept. 16 that forensic experts have identified the remains of a second victim in the case of the 43 missing students. Human remains found in plastic bags dredged from the Río San Juan in Guerrero state are said to be those of missing student Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz. The identification was made by Austrian forensic experts from Innsbruck Medical University, who had earlier identified one other student based on a bone fragment. But the announcement came amid new controversy, as an Argentine forensic team working on the case called the identification of the second set of remains "weak and not definitive." The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) made the announcement after meeting with the parents of Jhosivani Guerrero two days after the Prosecutor General's announcement.
We don't know if this is true, but the claim sheds some light on Russia's motivation (or at least justification) for its intervention in Syria. The Long War Journal reports Oct. 3, citing social media postings, that a small group of Crimean Tatars and other militants from the Russian-annexed peninsula, calling themselves the Crimean Jamaat, has pledged bayah (allegiance) to the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise. The pledge was apparently announced by Nusra sympathizers on Twitter, and on the official social media site of Nusra's Sayfullah Shishani Brigade, which is largely comprised of Chechens. "Kataib Crimean Tartars under the leadership of Emir Ramadan al Krim [Crimean] pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in Sham and joined the Al Nusrah Front," read a statement on White Minaret, the Sayfullah Shishani site. The page is said to also include pictures of the group, reportedly based in Hama governorate.
Moscow's military intervention in Syria took a sobering turn this weekend as Turkey scrambled fighter jets, accusing Russian warplanes of violating its air space. Turkey has summoned the Russian ambassador over the matter, and NATO condemned the incursions as an "extreme danger." (Al Jazeera, CNN, Daily Sabah) Apart from the obvious dangers to world peace (such as it is), this development holds grim implications for the Syrian Kurds—the most effective military force on the ground against ISIS. Turkey, afraid that a Kurdish autonomous zone on its southern border will inspire its own Kurdish population to rise up, has been cynically labelling the anti-ISIS Syrian Kurds as "terrorists," and seeking to establish a military "buffer zone" in Kurdish territory in norther Syria. Since Turkey and Russia are bitter regional rivals, Moscow's intervention risks drawing the Kurds into the geopolitical game.
The interim government of Burkina Faso on Oct. 1 apprehended the leader of the week-long military coup in September, announcing that he will face military justice. Gilbert Diendere was a general in the national army and the alleged leader of the the group known as the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP). Diendere is associated with another two other coups in the West-African nation, one in 1987 that retains significance for the ideology of the RSP. The 1987 coup marked the start of the 27-year rule of Blaise Compaore. Diendere was Compaore's former chief of staff. The first meeting of the reinstated interim government of Burkina Faso disbanded the RSP and dismissed the ex-minister of security. RSP forces are refusing to disarm. The RSP is incentivized by a recent modification to the electoral code that banned former members of the ruling party from running for political office. The interim government submitted a proposal before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria 10 days ago. ECOWAS is working with the UN to stabilize the transition government before elections on October 11.
In the latest of a wave of deadly attacks on indigenous peoples in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, a community leader was gunned down by armed men on a motorcycle in Agusan del Sur province on Sept. 28. Lito Abion, 44, a leader of the indigenous organization Tagdumahan, was slain in Doña Flavia village, San Luis municipality, where he long been an advocate for land rights and local autonomy—especially opposing large-scale gold-mining operations in the area. This year has seen several killings and violent attacks on Lumads, as the indigenous peoples of the region are collectively known. Following a call from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, the central government has formed a commission to investigate the attacks, led by Edmundo Arugay, director of the National Bureau of Investigation. But local rights advocates see the government's hand in the violence, pointing to a paramilitary group called the Magahat Bagani Force, said to be linked to the Philippine army. Some 3,000 Lumad residents of the municipalities of Lianga, Marihatag, San Agustin, San Miguel and Tago have been displaced by fighting in their villages and are currently taking shelter at a sports complex in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur province. The abuses have escalated along with a new counter-insurgency offensive against guerillas of the New People's Army (NPA) in recent weeks. (Rappler.com, Oct. 1; PIPLinks, Sept. 30 Inquirer, Sept. 6)