WW4 Report

West Bank under siege, death toll mounts

Two Palestinians were shot and killed during clashes in Ramallah and Nablus June 22, the 10th day of "Operation Brother's Keeper," Israeli forces' massive search effort across the West Bank for three missing Israeli teen-agers. The operation is one of the largest deployments since the Second Intifada, with at least five Palestinians killed in the last week and more than 370 arrested. The Israeli Defense Forces have carried out raids on more than 1,100 sites including homes, offices and universities. Ramallah was briefly occupied, with Israeli forces carrying out a search of the Palmedia company. An IDF spokesman said the search targeted Al-Quds broadcasting company, media wing of Hamas. After the IDF withdrew from Ramallah, Palestinian protesters attacked a local Palestinian Authority police station, in anger at the security forces' coordination with Israeli troops. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas nonetheless warned: "Israel's continued destructive actions, including shooting innocent Palestinians in cold blood, while Ramadan is around the corner and the situation on the Palestinian street is explosive, can only serve to ignite the West Bank and take things out of control." (Haaretz, JP, June 23; Ma'an, Ma'an, ITAR-TASS, June 22)

Iraq: Sufis resist ISIS in Kirkuk

Fighting erupted on June 20 between ISIS militants and the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order in Hawija, Kirkuk governorate (also rendered Tamim). AFP calls it "a potential sign of the fraying of the Sunni insurgent alliance that has overrun vast stretches of territory north of Baghdad in less than two weeks." The Naqshbandi fighters, known by their Arabic acronym JRTN, had apparently refused an ISIS demand to give up their weapons and pledge allegiance to the Qaedist force. AFP cited analysts to the effect that ISIS is actually struggling to maintain control over a broad alliance of Sunni and even Ba'athist militants who were brought together to oppose Nouri al-Maliki's sectarian rule but do not share the Qaedist ideology. Toby Dodge, head of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, said the "radical" and "ludicrously absurd" politics of ISIS "can't help but break that coalition."

Peru: prison for regional leader who opposed mine

Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for "preventative" imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru's Public Ministry for "illicit association" and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos' support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)

Venezuela: Amazon indigenous protest mining law

Meeting June 2 in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas state, Venezuela's Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonas (COIAM) issued a statement protesting President Nicolás Maduro's Decree No. 841 of March 20, which creates a commission to oversee bringing illegal gold-miners in the rainforest region under government control. The program falls under the Second Socialist Plan for the Nation, charting development objectives from 2013 through 2019, with an emphasis on the "Orinico Mineral Arc." But the mining has caused grave ecological, cultural and health impacts on the Yanomami and other indigenous peoples of the area. COIAM is demanding a moratorium on all mineral activity in the Guayana administraive region, which covers the southern Orinoco basin in Amazonas and the adjacent states of Bolívar and Delta Amacuro. (See map.) (Sociedad Homo et Natura, June 9; COIAM, June 2; Survival International, Nov. 7, 2013)

El Salvador: charter to recognize indigenous rights

In an historic vote on June 12, El Salvador's national Legislative Assembly ratified a reform to the nation's constitution that recognizes indigenous peoples and the state's obligations to them. The newly reformed Article 63 reads: "El Salvador recognizes Indigenous Peoples and will adopt policies for the purpose of maintaining and developing their ethnic and cultural identities, cosmovision, values and spirituality." All parties in the Assembly gave their votes to the amendment, save the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.

Thousands flee North Waziristan offensive

Six suspected militants were killed in a presumed US drone strike on Miranshah Tehsil in North Waziristan, Pakistan, June 18. This time, the drone attack comes amid Pakistani air-strikes on militant strongholds in the region—causing 150,000 to flee their homes in recent days. A camp for displaced people has been set up near Bannu, on the border with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, but it lacks food, water and electricity. The Pakistan Army has mobilized tanks and troops, in addition to fighter jets, and is expected to begin a new, more intense phase of what has been dubbed "Operation Zarb-e-Azb" after a three-day window to allow civilians to leave the area ends. Chinese authoriites claim that Uighur members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are among the militants killed in the Pakistani air-strikes. (Newsweek Pakistan, June 20; CNN, BBC News, June 19; Xinhua, June 15)

Urgent action for imprisoned Tibetan leader

Students for a Free Tibet have issued an urgent action alert for Khenpo Kartse, a respected Tibetan Buddhist abbot and human rights defender imprisoned by Chinese authorities for over six months. He is seriously ill with liver and lung disease, and recent reports state that he has been coughing up blood—but has been denied access to his doctor. The action alert calls for supporters around the world to conctact the local Chinese embassy and express concern for Kartse. Arrested in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in early December, Kartse is being held in the Tibet Autonomous Region's Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) prefecture, in "an extremely cold room with no access to sunlight" and is being inadequately fed, a source close to the case told RFA's Tibetan Service in March. After meeting for the first time with Kartse on Feb. 26, defense lawyer Tang Tian Hao called on Chinese authorities to allow regular medical examinations for the imprisoned monk, "as provided for under the law," the source said. Kartse—who holds the title “Khenpo” denoting a senior religious teacher or abbot—is being held on suspicion of involvement in "anti-state" activities at a monastery in Chamdo. Supporters say Kartse, who is also known as Karma Tsewang, is being persecuted for his work to promote the Tibetan language, culture, and religion. He was also active in social work in the Yulshul area, including in relief efforts following the devastating April 2010 earthquake.

Kenya: Muslims displaced in wake of terror attack

Dozens of Muslim families in Mpeketoni, a coastal Kenyan town where more than 60 people have been killed in separate attacks this week, have fled following  threats and assaults from the Christian majority. "Mpeketoni is not safe for us," Ali Lali Uweso, the headmaster of primary school, told Anadolu Agency by phone.  "As we speak, we are travelling in a convoy of several vehicles from Mpeketoni with Swahili and other Muslim families heading to Mokowe Jetty to take a boat to the islands." The Swahili people are an ethnic group whose name is derived from the Arabic word meaning coastal. Local residents confirmed that a Swahili Muslim man in his 50s was beaten unconscious by youth armed with crude weapons who claimed to be avenging the victims of the recent attacks. At least nine were killed and a number of others wounded in the June 16 attacks in the usually quiet town near the Somali border. The previous evening, at least 53 were killed in armed attacks on a three hotels and a police station in the town. The attacks were reportedly claimed by the Somali rebel group al-Shabaab. (World Bulletin, Al Jazeera, June 18)

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