Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A "news" error at Politico again reminds us ...

Apropos of the layers of misleading, interested lies that try to pass for "truth" in the world, FP's Passport blog describes how Politico was hustled by the Russian media.


No sign in Kyrgyzstan that things are calming down.

Clashes interrupt Kyrgyz trial over April killings
17 Nov 2010 10:49:04 GMT
Source: Reuters

Angry relatives call for accused to be shot
* Defendants evacuated as trial descends into chaos
* Tensions remain in Kyrgyzstan after wave of violence
By Olga Dzyubenko
BISHKEK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Relatives of protesters killed in an April revolt clashed with police in a Kyrgyz court on Wednesday, calling for the execution of those accused of killing scores in the uprising that toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
Dozens of relatives of the dead broke through police lines at the trial held in a Bishkek sports palace, trying to reach the 22 accused, who include Bakiyev's former defence minister, before the defendants were evacuated.
"They must be shot!" the attackers cried, some grabbing microphone stands and wielding them to fight police a few hours after the start of the first trial stemming from the killings.
"Death for death! We will burn down your homes!" some shouted as the trial began. "You are damned ... We will pluck your eyes," yelled others.
The April uprising in the capital Bishkek triggered a wave of violence in the ethnically divided Central Asian nation, which hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases.
Officials say 87 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded on April 7 when Bakiyev ordered his special forces to shoot into angry crowds storming government headquarters.
The south of the Muslim state bordering China saw seizures of administrative buildings in May and the worst ethnic riots in its modern history in June when at least 400 people were killed.
The accused are charged with aiding or committing premeditated murders and face from 10 years in jail to life imprisonment.

[For more, click on the title to reach the source.]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Asia Foundation's Survey of Afghanistan: Generally positive news

The Asia Foundation “Survey of the Afghan People” has been published and has a bundle of surprises. [Click on the title above for a link to the source.] Most of us are discouraged these days, but the survey, done in summer, 2010 before the elections, presents an image of a people who are more positive than they have been for years. Here are some specifics.

In 2010, 47% of respondents say that the country is moving in the right direction. This figure has been increasing since 2008 (38%) and 2009 (42%).

In 2010, Afghans give a more optimistic assessment of their economic situation than in 2009. More Afghans say they are better off now than a year ago in all domains, particularly in terms of the financial wellbeing of their household. However, the benefits of increased financial well-being are not evenly shared, with those in the highest income bracket significantly more likely to report an improvement in their financial well-being in the past year than those in the lowest income category.

The majority of respondents are also aware of development projects in their local area relating to education and the same is true for projects targeting the reconstruction or building of roads and bridges.

[R]espondents are positive about the level of reconstruction and rebuilding, which remains the second most important reason for optimism cited by respondents who say the country is moving in the right direction. As in previous years, respondents are most satisfied with the availability of education for children in their local area, and the opening of schools for girls continues to be mentioned as a reason for optimism in the country, although to a lesser degree than in 2009.

Satisfaction with the performance of the national government has risen steadily over the last three years and 2010 records the highest levels of positive assessments of national government performance since 2007 in almost all regions.

In terms of local government, respondents give the most positive assessment of the performance of Provincial Councils, followed by district authorities and municipalities.

Confidence in both formal and informal representative bodies, including community shura and jirga, Provincial Councils, Community Development Councils (CDC) and Parliament remains relatively high.

Support for the application of democratic principles of governance remains high.
But of course not everything is sweetness and light in a place like Afghanistan:

Good security is identified as the most important reason for optimism, although it is mentioned by fewer respondents this year than in 2009. … [I]nsecurity is also cited as the main reason for pessimism, and by slightly more respondents in 2010 than in 2009.

In 2010, the only activity in which a majority of people say they can participate without fear is resolving problems in their community.

Actual experience of crime and violence remains relatively low, although there has been a significant rise in reported criminal victimization amongst respondents in the North East and South East.

Support for the government’s approach to negotiation and reintegration of armed opposition groups is significantly higher in 2010 than in 2009, suggesting that an increasing proportion of the Afghan public is in favor of a political solution to the ongoing conflict in the country, rather than a purely military one.

In 2010, there has been a significant fall in confidence in both national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) compared to previous years.

The majority of Afghans continue to say that corruption is a major problem in all facets of life and at all levels of government. In 2010, there has been a sharp increase since 2009 in the proportion of respondents who identify corruption as one of Afghanistan’s major problems, and as a main reason for pessimism amongst respondents who say that the country is moving in the wrong direction.

So, at a time when on this side of the globe hope has been waning it seems to be slowly gaining strength inside Afghanistan itself.

Of course we know better than to take these things too literally, too confidently. But it is news worth perking up about.

Drought in Chad and Sudan

The referendum in Sudan is getting attention in the media, as it should. What many of us have not grasped is how important developments in Chad are to the course of affairs in Sudan, because of its connection to Darfur, a hinterland to both countries. And both countries are suffering because of the southward advance of the Sahel, creating famine in both countries. AlertNet has an article about how serious it is for the peoples of that region. [Click on the title to link to the source]

Droughts break up our families - Chadian women
15 Nov 2010 17:22:00 GMT
AlertNet Written by: George Fominyen
Ashta Idriss sieves earth from ant hills in Anzarafa.

Women in Chad's semi-arid Sahel belt say recurrent droughts are breaking up their families - and they've had enough.

They want some long-term solutions to the regular food shortages, which are so bad they often have to scavenge in ant hills for food.

When the crops failed this year and severe hunger set in most men in this part of Chad migrated to other towns, especially the capital N'Djamena.

But women I met in two villages, Roumou and Anzarafa, over 500km east of the capital, say they are fed up with always bearing the brunt of these food shortages at home.

"We stayed alone with the little kids and as the crisis deepened we sold everything including our little goats and sheep, loins (lengths of fabric) and kitchen utensils to have money to get some food," Alima Abdoulaye, a mother aged about 50, told me in Roumou.

"It was heartbreaking to see our sons and husbands leave but what could we do?"

At the height of the crisis, between February and June, the women had to go into the bushes to dig up ant hills, which they sieved to collect the grains and seeds stored by the insects.

"We have to set out very early to the places where we can find the ant hills and the time taken to dig enough for a meal means we return very late when the children have gone to sleep without food," said Ashta Idriss, a 50-year-old widowed mother of three.

The women urged the Chadian authorities to take measures to ensure that droughts do not separate families, as has been the case this year.

"If we can end this cycle of repeated hunger crises, if we can just get something to stop it, we, as women, will be very glad," Abdoulaye said.

She would like to see the authorities build wells and irrigation canals to help the villagers farm even when the rainfall is bad.

"All we want is good health, to see our children grow and be successful," said Kaltouma Adam, another mother in her 50s.

"We also want to eat well and be plumper. We are so thin now because we are coming out of long suffering - next time when you come you will not find us like this, by the grace of God," she told me.

See also Hungry Chadians eating ant food after locusts attack crops

Reuters AlertNet is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Anti-Taliban Community in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas

In a sense nothing seems to change in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan against the Taliban. What is changing is the attitude of the outside world: More and more people are doubting that the American project can prevail.

However, there are occasional notes in the news that sound different. The blog Gandhara has reproduced an article by Amanullah Ghilzai of Radio Mashaal that reveals how at least some Pushtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas are responding to the Taliban: They are fighting them “to the death.” []

This sounds like real news:

There were reports yesterday of a bombing in Adezai, Pakistan, a village under near-constant siege from the Taliban. Over the last two years, this small village, about 16 kilometers south of Peshawar, close to the border of the tribal region of Dara Adamkhel, has fallen victim to ruthless Taliban violence -- having lost several local community leaders, clan leaders, and ordinary citizens.

But the Taliban has yet to kill the fighting spirit of the local people.

Since 2008, the Adezai lashkar (local militia) has -- without any outside help -- successfully denied Taliban advances, confining the Taliban to the Dara Adamkhel tribal area, keeping the militants from operating freely. The militia was formed in the wake of the almost complete collapse of government control of the area. Prior to 2008, while under Taliban control, villagers were executed in public and police officers refused to leave the police station for fear of meeting the same fate.

Adezai is crucial if the Taliban has plans to control the provincial capital of Peshawar. There is a general belief in the region that without the Adezai lashkar, the Taliban would already be in control of at least some of the southern parts of the city. So far, the local population has successfully maintained law and order in an area under constant threat of Taliban attack and where the proper Pakistani government is rarely seen. Several girls' schools -- once forcefully closed by the Taliban -- have reopened (although they are closely guarded by local militiamen).

To do all of this, the village people have had to endure great sacrifices, including the assassination in late 2009 of one of its leaders, Abdul Malik. Soon after, his son Noor took over the Adezai lashkar.

It is believed that Noor Malik was the target of yesterday's attack. On Monday, he told Radio Mashaal that no matter what happens, his village people will fight against the Taliban "to the last drop of their blood."

''Not a single penny is paid by the government to us in the past two and a half years," he said. "Our elders and brothers have been killed and our houses and businesses were destroyed. We are fighting with our own money and arms. Despite that, we shall continue to fight as long as we can. We would prefer death instead of surrender [before the Taliban].''

The local Pashtun population is resisting the Taliban in many other parts of the tribal regions and Khyber Pakhtunkhas, with Adezai serving as a symbol of resistance where a handful of young men are holding out against the Taliban.

-- Amanullah Ghilzai, Radio Mashaal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Abuses of minorities in some countries of the MIddle East and South Asia

There are more articles about the persecution of minorities in this part of the world. Here are some links worth following:

On Pakistan:

On Iraq:

In the first of these the issue is a law that is easily abused. But in both cases the criminal attacks on minorities are also henous.