Peace & Security Report: April 27, 2018

| unsub |
April 21 – April 27

This week in:

IPSI | Africa | Americas | East Asia | Europe & Central Asia | Middle East | South Asia

This week at IPSI

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

D.R CONGO: Five mass graves found in Borderlands

On Wednesday, UN investigators reported five likely mass grave sites in the Ituri province where an outbreak of ethnic violence has killed at least 263 people. According to their report, approximately 120 towns and villages were destroyed between December and mid-March this year. The report revealed the most that has been known about the violence between the Hema herders and Lendu pastoralists. Comment: The exact motive of the conflict is unknown, but the two groups have long disagreed over crops, gold mining, cattle grazing rights, and political representation. The previous conflict between the Lendu pastoralists and Hema herders from 1990 – 2007 is estimated to have left millions of people dead from conflict, hunger, and disease.  (Reuters, Red Pepper News, US News)

NIGERIA: Sixteen people killed in church attack

NIGERIA 16 people killed in a church attack

On Tuesday, semi-nomadic herders armed with guns killed at least 16 people at a church in the village of Ayar Mbalom. On Thursday, the Senate summoned President Buhari to testify about his administration’s response to a spate of communal killings. Comment: The herders are predominantly part of the Muslim Fulani ethnic group, while members of the settled farming communities are primarily Christians. The clashes are linked to grazing rights and dwindling fertile land. At least 72 people died in January following weeks of clashes between the two communities. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 3,000 people have been killed in attacks since 2010. (CNN, Reuters, Vatican News)

TANZANIA: Opposition leader arrested as the country braces for anti-government demos

TANZANIA Opposition leader arrested as the country braces for anti-government demos

On Thursday, police arrested Elizabeth Mambosho, the leader of the Chadema Women’s Wing for Kisutu, for using her social media to incite anti-government demonstrations against recent limitations of free speech. Heavily armed police officers have been deployed across major towns and cities to block the demonstrations called for by Tanzanian social media activist Mange Kimambi, who resides in the U.S. On Wednesday, Police Chief Gilles Muroto threatened that any demonstrators against President Magufuli would be “beaten like stray dogs.” Comment: Protests in the country would pose a challenge to the president who has been accused of cracking down on dissent and freedom of expression since taking office in late 2015. (Daily Nations, The Standard, eNCA News)

Researched/Written by Brian Adienge


This week in the Americas & Caribbean

MEXICO: Missing students reported dead

MEXICO Missing students reported dead

On Tuesday, Mexican officials reported that three film students kidnapped in the State of Jalisco last month had been killed by the New Generation Cartel Gang. The students were kidnapped, tortured, killed, and their bodies dissolved in acid because they were mistaken for rival gang members. The state prosecutor said that the students had been picked up by the local police who had turned them over to the gang. Comment: Since Mexico declared war on organized crime in 2006, more than 200,000 people have been killed or gone missing. In 2014, 43 students disappeared in Southern Mexico. (BBC, NBC News, Washington Post)

NICARAGUA: Thousands protest government over social security reforms

NICARAGUA Thousands protest government over social security reforms

On Monday, protesters continued to march through the streets of Managua demanding President Ortega’s resignation. The protests started last Wednesday over proposed social security reforms and have grown from hundreds to tens of thousands of people. President Ortega claimed on Sunday that he would reconsider his plan for social security reform. Human rights groups report that at least 30 people have been killed in the protests, including a journalist reporting on the issue. Comment: This is the largest protest in the country since the re-election in 2007. (ABC News, BBC, New York Times, Al Jazeera)

PARAGUAY: Conservative Mario Abdo Benítez elected president

On Monday, former senator Mario Abdo Benítez defeated Efraín Alegre of the Liberal Opposition Alliance by four percentage points. Benítez is the son of a former top aide to military dictator Alfredo Stroessner. Despite defending the former dictator, Benítez has promised to reform the judicial system of the country in an effort to fight corruption. Comment: In recent years, Paraguay has seen significant economic growth – causing the election to focus primarily on social issues and regional security. (ABC News, BBC, Guardian)

Researched/Written by Connor Murnane

This week in East Asia & Pacific

MYANMAR: U.S. investigates alleged atrocities against the Rohingya

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the U.S. State Department has launched an investigation into the alleged atrocities committed against the Rohingya. In March, investigators began documenting evidence of alleged extrajudicial killing, rape, and arson. State Department officials said that the investigation seeks to “contribute to justice processes” and that the documentation could be used to prosecute the country’s military for crimes against humanity. Comment: Almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled across the border into Bangladesh. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last year that the ensuing crackdown “constitutes ethnic cleansing.” (NBCNews, ABC News, VOA, Reuters)

NORTH KOREA: Main nuclear test site has collapsed

NORTH KOREA Main nuclear test site has collapsed

On Thursday, geologists from the University of Science and Technology of China published a report stating that North Korea’s main nuclear test site has collapsed due to the stress of multiple explosions. The Chinese scientists who collected data following North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test in September last year said that the site is unsafe for further testing and requires close monitoring for possible radiation leaks. Comment: The findings of the study raise questions about the sincerity of Kim Jong-un’s recent announcement that his country is suspending all missile testings. (South China Morning Post, USA Today, CNN)

SOUTH KOREA: President Moon to meet Kim Jong-un on Friday

SOUTH KOREA President Moon to meet Kim Jong-un on Friday

On Thursday, South Korea’s Presidential Chief of Staff, Im Jong-seok, said that President Moon will meet with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday in the border village of Panmunjom. The official dialogue between Moon and Kim will focus on “denuclearization and security of permanent peace” and will begin at 10:30 am (0130 GMT) at the Peace House in Panmunjom village. Comment: This meeting, the first summit between the two sides in more than a decade, is the result of months of improving relations between the two Koreas. (BBC, Reuters, CNBC)

Researched/Written by Edgar Peter Mutta


This week in Europe & Central Asia

ARMENIA: Prime Minister steps down amidst protests

ARMENIA Prime Minister steps down amidst protests

On Monday, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian resigned after 11 days of protests in the capital. Protests later reignited after talks between the ruling Republican party and the opposition collapsed. Protest leader Nikol Pashinyan, a member of parliament for the Civil Contract Party, demanded a change in power from the ruling Republican Party. Acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan said, “If Pashinyan is the people’s choice, the people can elect him.” No plans for future elections have been announced. Comment: Former Prime Minister Sarkisian was accused of converting Armenia’s political system from presidential to parliamentary to retain power. The ongoing protests coincide with the annual day of mourning for the Armenian genocide that occurred in World War 1. (Armenia News, The Guardian, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

SPAIN: Madrid Regional President Resigns


On Wednesday, Madrid Regional President Cristina Cifuentes resigned amidst allegations of her faking her master’s degree and after the leak of a seven-year-old video that captured her shoplifting. She made the announcement during a conference held by the ruling Popular Party (PP). Members across parties were calling for her resignation despite initial support by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. After the video leak, Rajoy said, “I think the situation made her resignation obligatory.” Comment: This is another setback for the PP in upcoming regional elections after a series of corruption allegations. (The Local Spain, The Guardian, Reuters)

REGIONAL: Council of Europe Probe

On Sunday, the Council of Europe released a report accusing several members of its parliamentary assembly (PACE) of having violated ethical rules and engaging in corruption with Azerbaijani government officials. The ten-month investigation concluded that PACE members engaged in “caviar diplomacy” by accepting bribes of caviar and hotels in exchange for voting against a 2013 report that criticized Azerbaijan’s elections. In the report, former Italian deputy Luca Volontè is listed as having played an “important role” in subverting the 2013 report. Samad Seyidov, leader of the Azerbaijani delegation in PACE, had called the report a “campaign of hatred against” the country. Comment: PACE will hold a session in Strasbourg, France this week and will talk about the corruption allegations. The Council of Europe is the oldest organization promoting human rights in Europe. (France24, The Guardian, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Researched/Written by Daniel Boerger

This week in the Middle East & North Africa

IRAN: President Rouhani rejects any changes to the nuclear deal

IRAN President Rouhani rejects any changes to the nuclear deal

On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his disapproval of the U.S. and France discussing plans for a new nuclear deal with Iran. The EU, Russia, China, Germany, the UK, and Iran have all opposed any changes to the existing deal. Rouhani directly confronted Trump’s knowledge of international treaties saying, “How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs?” Comment: Other signatories have expressed their concern over the U.S. and France are attempting to alter the current nuclear deal. The U.S. President must reaffirm the deal every 120 days. Trump last affirmed the deal in January of this year, though claimed the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement unless the “disastrous flaws” were corrected. (Aljazeera, BBC, NBCNEWS)

SYRIA: Russian army discusses fulfilling decade-old promise to give advanced air defenses to Syria

SYRIA Russian army hints at providing advanced air defenses to Assad

On Wednesday, Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military said that Russia will give Syria “the new missile defense systems to be delivered to Syria in the near future.” Russia has promised to provide Syria with the S-300 missiles for around a decade. Recent missile strikes against Syria by the U.S., UK, and France prompted the statement. Comment: Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman responded to this news by saying that if any Russian missile defense systems are used against Israeli aircraft that Israel will destroy the weapons. (Al Jazeera, CBS NEWS, Jpost)

YEMEN: Houthi political chief Saleh Al-Sammad killed in Saudi air raids

On Thursday, Saleh al-Sammad, president of the Houthi rebel Supreme Political Council, was killed alongside six others during Saudi-led air strikes on the Hudaida province. Houthi leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, responded to the air raids by saying the they “will not pass without accountability.” Mahdi al-Mashat has been elected as the Houthis’ new president of the Supreme Political Council. Comment: This kill marks the most senior Houthi official killed since the Western-supported coalition entered Yemen in 2015. Nearly 6,000 civilians have been killed and almost 10,000 more wounded since the conflict escalated about three years ago. (Aljazeera, BBC, SABANews)

Researched/Written by Mohamed Ismail

This week in South Asia

AFGHANISTAN: Kabul voter registration center bombed

AFGHANISTAN Kabul voter registration center bombed

On Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated at the doorway of a voter registration center in Kabul leaving at least 50 dead and injuring more than 100 others. The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Senior UN official in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, stated that the attack appeared to be an effort “to deter Afghan citizens from carrying out their constitutional right to take part in elections.” Comment: President Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack, saying it “cannot divert us from our aims or weaken this national democratic process.” Acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan condemned the attack, saying it exposed “the savagery and inhumanity of terrorists.” (The Kabul Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, Reuters)

INDIA: Cabinet introduces death penalty for child rapists

INDIA Cabinet introduces death penalty for child rapists

On Saturday, India’s cabinet approved an executive order introducing the death penalty for rapists of girls below the age of 12. The order came shortly after Prime Minster Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting in response to nationwide protests fueled by two conspicuous rape cases. The new law also raises the minimum prison sentences for rape of girls under the age of 16 from 10 to 20 years, and over the age of 16 from 7 to 10 years. The cabinet also approved the establishment of fast-track courts to deal with rape cases, the appointment of more public prosecutors, and an increase in special forensic kits available at police stations. Comment: According to Reuters, the executive order makes no mention of boys or men. On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said the Indian parliament should focus on reforming its justice system instead of introducing capital punishment, which they say is “inherently cruel and irreversible, with little evidence that it serves as a deterrent”. (Times of India, Al Jazeera, The Guardian 1, 2, Human Rights Watch, Reuters)

PAKISTAN: Rally in Lahore for Pashtun rights

On Sunday, the Pashtun Tahafuz (PTM) held a rally in Lahore, demanding basic rights for ethnic Pashtun citizens. Thousands of Pashtuns and local citizens participated in the protest in defiance of a government ban of the rally. The leader of the PTM, Manzoor Pashteen, spoke during the rally and called for an end to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of Pashtun citizens committed by the military in its war against the Taliban. Last week, army chief General Qamar Bajwa said foreign forces “engineered” the PTM protests and expressed concern that they could reverse the military’s gains against armed groups. Comment: Pashtuns make up about 15 percent of Pakistan’s 207 million people. According to Al Jazeera, the PTM received little coverage from local news television and print media. An article by the Guardian referencing Geo television network’s recent censorship hints at the military’s increased influence over the media in the country.  (Pakistan Today, Hindustan Times, Al Jazeera, The Guardian)

Researched/Written by Pamela Mhute

PSR Archives