Eight Red Cross workers taken hostage in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last Friday have been freed unharmed.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said they were released unconditionally by the pro-government Mai Mai Yakutumba militia group.
The seven Congolese and one Swiss were abducted in the Fizi region of South Kivu province as they returned from a trip to help displaced people.
The militia group’s leader said they had been held “for their own safety”.
The self-styled General Aluri Yakutumba told the AFP news agency that there had been fighting in the area last week between his fighters and the Congolese army (FARDC).
But an army spokesman in South Kivu, Capt Olivier Hamuli, told the Associated Press that the group had seized the ICRC workers to thwart an attack on its hideouts.
‘Long, hard days’
In a statement, the ICRC confirmed that the hostages had been handed over on Friday to one of its teams, supported by peacekeepers from the UN Mission in DR Congo (Monuc).
“We are relieved and happy to have our eight colleagues back, in good health. Their return marks the end of a series of long, hard days, not only for them but for their families and friends,” said Franz Rauchenstein, the head of the ICRC delegation in DR Congo.
The ICRC’s operation in DR Congo is among its largest in the world
“We would like to express our deep gratitude to all those who have lent us their support over the last few days.”
BBC East Africa correspondent Peter Greste says the Mai Mai originally formed as a community self-defence force, loosely linked to the Congolese military.
But they have since morphed into a mosaic of local militias often more concerned with exploiting the region’s rich mineral resources than protecting villages, our correspondent adds.
Fighting in eastern DR Congo has eased over the past year, but humanitarian organisations say lawlessness and impunity have increased, making it harder to operate safely.
There has been violent conflict in eastern DR Congo for almost two decades and the ICRC is one of the few aid groups working there.
Six ICRC delegates were murdered in 2002, towards the end of a five-year war which drew in six other countries.
Bibiane Aningina Tshefu, Women’s Coordinator & Adviser, Friends of the Congo and
Kambale Musavuli, Student Coordinator & Spokesperson, Friends of the Congo
During the week of March 1-12, 2010, several women from the D.R. Congo came to New York to participate at the United Nations 54th Commission on the Status of Women. This is a high level annual international Women’s Forum. The Congolese women represented both government and non-government sectors as well as different provinces of their country. They had ample opportunity to raise their concerns to the gathering during assembly, speak to United Nations officials, policy-makers, members of the New York civil society and community, as well as key members of President Obama’s administration.
The women came with a singular focus, to articulate how Congolese women felt the global community could best address the fourteen-year conflict in the D.R. Congo. Wherever the women ventured, whether it was a community forum in Harlem, gathering at local churches, forums at the United Nations or meetings with Obama administration officials, they articulated a consistent and resolute message. Listen to the Congolese for a change: as “we have repeatedly shared with the international community how they can optimally participate in bringing an end to the geo-strategic resource war in the Congo.”
Western based Think Tanks, humanitarian institutions and policy makers often argue that they have tried everything to bring an end to the conflict. However, a cursory look at the policies that have been prescribed or implemented reveals that almost every policy option tried, has avoided core grassroots women recommendations. Policies implemented by the international community are marked by a reluctance to pressure U.S. and British allies Rwanda, led by Paul Kagame and Uganda, headed by Yoweri Museveni. Also, in spite of the myriad United Nations studies, there has been deadly silence around the role of western mining interests in the perpetuation of the conflict.
The Congolese women shared the following prescriptions to bring an end to the conflict:
1. Call for an Inter-Rwandan dialogue between Rwanda’s Tutsi leadership and Hutu rebels inside Congo. There are no military solutions to what is essentially a political crisis.
2. Opening and expansion of democratic space inside both Rwanda and Uganda so their internal conflicts will cease being fought on the bodies of Congolese women.
3. Greater participation in political life and the decision-making process on the part of Congolese women.
4. Redirection of focus on the part of the global community from targeting the symptoms or effects of the conflict to addressing the root causes – primarily a foreign resource war being waged inside Congo to the detriment of innocent civilians.
In the final analysis, Sexual violence is a consequence of war, therefore, in order to end the violence against women, the conflict must end which requires an end to impunity inside the Congo and in the international community’s involvement in the Congo.
Click on below links to read the messages from the women:
Senator Eve Bazaiba Masudi – “The Political Implication of Congolese Women, for Change and the Promotion of Good Governance in the DRC ”
Mme Annie Matundu Mbambi – “The Role and Involvement of Women in the Congolese Peace Process”
Mme Jeanine Gabrielle Ngungu – “The Problematic of Violence Against Women: A Major Challenge in the National Reconstruction Process”
Mme Marie-Claire Faray – “A Message From Congolese Women on the 8th March International Women’s Day”
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) message from Congolese women. Video message read by Katherin Machalek, WILPF consultant.
Remember to join Friends of Congo on the Break the Silence Tour. Click here to see tour stops!
By Alan Hart
March 22, 2010 “Information Clearing House” – – At the opening of AIPAC’s annual foreign policy conference its new president, Lee Rosenberg, was not a happy man. As he put it, “In recent days we have witnessed something (the Obama administration’s initial public anger with Netanyahu and his government) very unfortunate.”
The Biden “incident”, Rosenberg said, was “regrettable”, but Netanyahu had apologized “four separate times” and said “the announcement” (of more Jewish construction in occupied Arab East Jerusalem) was “hurtful and should not have been made.” Quite so, Mr. Rosenberg. It would have been much better from Zionism’s point of view if the announcement had not been made and Israel had just got on with the business of de-Arabizing East Jerusalem.
In any relationship even the best of friends were going to disagree, Rosenberg said, but it was “how friends disagree, how they react when missteps occur, that can determine the nature of the relationship.”
Then he made his three key points:
That brought AIPAC’s new president one of three standing ovations.
Why should disagreements between American administrations and Israeli governments be kept from the public?
Rosenberg’s answer was: “History shows that when America pressures Israel publicly, it provides an opportunity for those who wish to derail the peace process to have their way.”
Ah, so it’s not Israel that is making peace impossible?
Rosenberg could not have been more explicit with AIPAC’s take on that aspect of the matter.
When I was a child my father often said to me, “Boy, there are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.”
But blind though AIPAC is for that reason, it’s not completely out of touch with reality. It knows that the more Zionism’s on-going colonisation is exposed to the light, the more the world understands that Israel is the obstacle to peace. (The world now includes some of the U.S.’s top military men who are going on the public record with their view that support for Israel right or wrong is not in the best interests of America).
If you are a Zionist, the case for keeping the lights off is a very strong one.
At the time of writing, I’m waiting, as no doubt many others are, to see if President Obama returns to his surrender mode when he meets with Netanyahu tomorrow.
Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years.
Monday, March 01, 2010 19:17 Mecca time, 16:17 GMT from AlJazeera English website
Deadly blasts strike Afghanistan The blast in Kadahar province killed five Afghans, including a police officer [Reuters] Four Nato soldiers and at least nine Afghans have been killed in separate attacks across Afghanistan, including a car bomb explosion in the southern province of Kandahar. Two members of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) died in an attack in western Afghanistan, while another service member was killed by small arms fire in the country’s south, Nato officials said on Monday. Elsewhere, one Afghan police officer died when a car bomb exploded outside the police headquarters in Kandahar city, Sardar Mohammad Zazai, the provincial police chief, said. He said the blast wounded nine other officers and six civilians. Just hours earlier, four Afghan civilians and one Nato soldier died after a suicide car bomber targeted international forces outside Kandahar city, officials said. Civilians killed The assailant had waited in a taxi near a bridge between the airport and Kandahar city that Isaf troops regularly check for explosives, Inhamullah Khan, an Afghan army official at the bombing site, said. The attacker detonated the bomb as the convoy crossed the bridge in the morning, hurling a military vehicle into the ravine below, he said. Khan said the civilians who died were in a car that had pulled over nearby to wait for the convoy to pass. Kandahar city, the capital of the province of the same name, is east of Helmand province, where thousands of US, Isaf and Afghan troops are conducting a two-week-long anti-Taliban offensive and where a roadside bomb claimed the lives of 11 civilians on Sunday. In other violence, Daud Ahmadi, the Helmand governor’s spokesman, said “a civilian car struck a roadside bomb in Nawzad district” in the province’s north. Blaming the Taliban for the attack, Ahmadi said the dead included two children and two women. Pakistan attack Meanwhile, anti-government fighters in Pakistan blew up a tanker carrying fuel for Isaf troops stationed in Afghanistan. Several armed men lobbed a rocket and then opened fire on Monday on the supply convoy on the outskirts of the northwestern city Peshawar, Imtiaz Ahmed, a senior police officer, said. In a subsequent exchange of fire lasting up to an hour, Pakistani security forces killed a fighter, Karim Khan, another police officer, said. Police did not immediately identify the assailants, but the Taliban and members of local group Lashkar-e-Islam regularly attack Nato supply vehicles on the main route through northwest Pakistan.
February 24, 6:20 PMLA County Nonpartisan ExaminerCarl Herman
The yearly need of Iran for life-saving medical isotopes is less than one gram and costs Iran $75,000 to refine the fuel. Iran has stated they would prefer to buy the isotopes rather than produce them. The US could resolve the threat of war with Iran if President Obama made a speech today saying the US will allow Iran to produce it themselves under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a legal right guaranteed by treaty among nations including the US and Iran, or by the US selling Iran the isotopes.
- the explanation of the rules of lawful war omitted from their training of what they can and cannot do after war begins.
- I can provide analogies that the rules of war are almost exactly like those limiting an individual’s use of self-defense on the street.
- I can point out the lies that were known to be lies as our political “leaders” told them and our war-whore corporate media mimicked to propagandize for war in Iraq.
- I can show you the speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to prove he never threatened Israel.
- I can prove that IAEA verifies all of Iran’s nuclear material has only and always been used for legal and peaceful purposes.
- I can remind you that you love virtue, American values, and love of your fellow human beings.
- Understand the laws of war (and here). These were legislated after WW2 and are crystal-clear that only self-defense, in a narrow legal meaning, can justify war. The current US wars are not even close to being lawful and are legal treason against the US. Those involved with US military, government, and law enforcement have an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution. To fulfill their oath they must immediately refuse all orders associated with unlawful wars and military-related constant violation of treaties, and arrest those who issue unlawful orders. The Oath of Enlistment to the US Constitution supersedes the fascist insertion of Nazi propaganda to “always place the mission first” of blindly following unlawful orders.
- Employ the obvious and simple solutions to end our economic controlled demolition and evolve to a civil economy. End poverty through global cooperation to achieve the UN Millennium Goals by developed countries investing 0.7% of their income (not that the UN is serious for their accomplishment, but the goals are what we should invest to produce). Support global security through cooperation, dignity, justice, and freedom. Create a US Department of Peace to help.
- Communicate. Trust your unique, beautiful, and powerful self-expression to share as you feel appropriate. Understand that while many people are ready to embrace difficult facts, many are not. Anticipate that you will be attacked and prepare your virtuous response in the spirit of competition, just as you do in other fields.
- Prosecute the war leaders for obvious violation of the letter and spirit of US war laws and constant lies to engage in further wars. Because the crimes are so broad and deep, I recommend Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) to exchange full truth and return of stolen US assets for non-prosecution. This is the most expeditious way to understand and end all unlawful and harmful acts. Those who reject T&R are subject to prosecution.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Several people were shot dead and more than a dozen injured on Tuesday during an anti-NATO demonstration in Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand province, local media said.
Hundreds of Afghans took part in the demonstration, which had to be dispersed by police and the military. They were protesting against the killings of civilians by NATO troops and demanding their withdrawal from the country.
The demonstration followed a recent NATO airstrike in the town of Garmsir. The military said several militants were killed as a result of the attack, but the protesters claimed there were also victims among civilians.
The shooting reportedly broke out on Tuesday when the demonstrators started to throw stones at Afghan police and foreign officers, who arrived at the site to calm down the protesters.
“I confirm that the demonstration in Garmsir took place, and that it was dispersed,” said Helmand governor’s press secretary Daud Ahmadi.
He said “no one could say for certain who fired at demonstrators – foreign servicemen, [Afghan] police or militants.” However, he added, “it is known for sure that there were armed men among the protesters,” and pledged to investigate the incident.
Demonstrations against NATO’s presence in Afghanistan are common. In late December, hundreds of students in the country’s eastern Nangarhar province blocked a major highway linking the Afghan east with country’s central provinces.
Violence surged in the country in 2009, with the radical Islamic Taliban group staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians and planting roadside devices as part of its fight against U.S. and NATO troops.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and a separate U.S.-led coalition, involved in Operation Enduring Freedom, have more than 110,000 troops in Afghanistan.
In early December, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a televised address to the nation that the U.S. would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in the first part of 2010 to defeat the Taliban and establish law and order.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen then said alliance members were ready to send 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
Source: RIA Novosti