‘Free press’ NGOs censor South Sudanese radio station

Media money to South Sudan

This picture shows the financing of supposedly independent media in South Sudan. On the left, the governments of the USA and the Netherlands. In the middle, the non(?)-governmental organisations Internews and Free Press Unlimited. On the right, the South Sudanese radio stations Eye Radio and Radio Tamazuj.

This week, there is a report by Maite Vermeulen on Dutch Internet site De Correspondent.

It says (translated):

Free Press Unlimited supports independent media worldwide. But when their South Sudanese radio station was critical about a sponsor, Free Press Unlimited clamped down. “Do not try to bite the hand which feeds you.”

The Dutch aid organization Free Press Unlimited censored their own journalists.

It’s early in the morning, December 2, 2016. Somewhere in East Africa, the editors of Radio Tamazuj start up their computers. One of the journalists types automatically his password to complete the first news reports on the website. ‘Sorry, unrecognized username or password. Have you forgotten your password?’

He tries again, letter after letter. No, the password is not recognized.

“I can not log in …” he hears a colleague next to him.

No-one on Radio Tamazuj’s editorial board can log in on the morning of December 2, 2016. Because the Dutch aid organisation Free Press Unlimited, which founded and used to support Radio Tamazuj, has changed their passwords.

Free Press Unlimited – an organization which fights for press freedom worldwide – censors its own radio station. The reason: money. Radio Tamazuj had a critical message about Internews, a sponsor of Free Press Unlimited.

The budget of Free Press Unlimited is paid overwhelmingly by the Dutch government; NATO military allies of the United States government. Meanwhile, USAID, that is, the United States government, pays some 75 million dollars to a project of the United States non(?)-governmental organisation Internews called i-STREAM: Strengthening Free and Independent Media in South Sudan. 1,5 million dollars of that goes to Free Press Unlimited.

There is bloody war in South Sudan between several militias. There are foreign soldiers, from the USA, Japan and elsewhere, attracted by South Sudanese oil. Civilians are massacred. Human rights are violated.

Radio Tamazuj reports about that. However, they find out that Eye Radio, paid by the United States government through Internews, practices self-censorship on atrocities and parrots government propaganda. Radio Tamazuj reports on that self-censorship on their Internet site.

And then the Free Press Unlimited bosses in the Netherlands clamped down on Radio Tamazuj, because they said Radio Tamazuj endangered their getting United States government money by way of Internews.

Nazi-condoning Japanese war minister resigns in scandal

Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inadalater minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

The latest news is that Ms Inada has resigned as war minister. Not because of her nazi scandal, but because of other scandals.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Minister of Defense of Japan out because of cover-up scandal

Today, 05:08

The Japanese Minister of Defense has resigned after being hit by a number of scandals. Tomomi Inada is said to have known that her ministry hid sensitive documents.

The case is about the participation of Japanese UN soldiers in a [so-called] peace mission in southern Sudan. The ministry had concealed some reports stating that the situation was becoming increasingly dangerous. Japanese soldiers are not allowed to be sent to areas where there is fighting.

Inada, 58, denies knowing about the cover-up affair, but at the announcement of her leaving, she took full responsibility.

More scandals

The minister received a lot of criticism when, in a campaign speech, she asked the public in the name of the army to support a fellow party member. That is a violation of the political neutrality of government officials in Japan.

Furthermore, her ties with a nationalist educational institution were controversial. The foundation of this preschool institution is pre-war [pre-World War II, when the Japanese military dictatorship were allies of Hitler‘s Germany and Mussolini‘s Italy] patriotism, which teaches pupils that they are numbers, not citizens. Also, a traditional mentality and pride in an imperialist way of thinking are preached. In 2004, when Inada was still a lawyer, she assisted the school.

In addition, the director of the school stands accused of real estate fraud. He is said have bought a lot of land for far below market price [with the help of Japan’s right-wing government]. Also, Prime Minister Abe is said to have given the school money.

Japanese neo-colonial soldiers in South Sudan may kill people

This 2016 video from South Korea is called Japanese colonial policy and its impact on modern Korea.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

A first: Japanese peacekeeping forces may shoot again

What ‘peace’ do these ‘peacekeeping’ forces keep? The peace of the grave?

Today, 11:59

A first for the Japanese forces in a new UN mission in South Sudan.

Like the armed forces of Britain (the former colonial power in South Sudan) are in South Sudan and elsewhere in Africa officially for humanitarianism, but in practice for oil, so are the armed forces of the right-wing Shinzo Abe regime in Japan.

The peacekeepers who today arrived in Juba may use force to help civilians or other UN soldiers in an attack.

Today arrived 63 of a total of 350 soldiers. On December 12, they will take over the work of another group of Japanese, who had a much more limited mandate.

At the end of the Second World War, Japan accepted a constitution that promised that the country would be pacifist. An army is not allowed, but the country has self-defense forces.

Since the 1990s the self-defense forces have also been deployed in peacekeeping missions. Then, always the rule was applied that Japanese could fight back only when they were attacked ….

Prime Minister Abe conducted last year a change in the law allowing Japanese troops more leeway abroad. …

Many Japanese have criticized the decision. They fear that pacifism will continue to lose in the country.

Upon the departure of the peacekeeping forces therefore there was a protest by a group of peace activists.

Japanese peace activists demonstrate against neo-colonial intervention in Sudan, AFP photo

South Sudan civil war causing widespread famine: here.

YOU HAVE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF THE WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING REFUGEE CRISIS “More than 3 million people have been forced from their homes in the war-torn nation of South Sudan.” [HuffPost]

The catastrophe that has stricken South Sudan, plunging the country into civil war, and in turn brought about a dire refugee crisis, with millions forced to flee the brutal violence, and coinciding with a devastating famine that threatens that lives of millions, has its roots in Washington: here.

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton news

This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Paid Some Workers Less Than Minimum Wage, If At All

11 June 2016

Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers and jobs, but a USA TODAY NETWORK investigation found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Hillary Clinton Played Role In Arming Child Soldiers In South Sudan

11 June 2016

I met a few of them in the town of Pibor last year. These battle-tested veterans had just completed two or three years of military service. They told me about the rigors of a soldier’s life, about toting AK-47s, about the circumstances that led them to take up arms. In the United States, not one of these soldiers would have met the age requirements to enlist in the Army. None were older than 16.

Read more here.

British soldiers to oil in Somalia, South Sudan

This video from Britain says about itself:

UK’s Soma Oil & Gas faces Somalia payments probe – Newsnight

4 August 2015

A British oil company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars which went to senior Somali civil servants, according to a UN report seen by the BBC. UN investigators say the payments by Soma Oil & Gas amount in some cases to “acts that undermine Somali public institutions through corruption”. The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into the allegations. The firm, which is chaired by former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, denies any wrongdoing. Gabriel Gatehouse has this exclusive story.

By Jean Shaoul in Britain:

UK to send troops to Somalia and South Sudan

3 October 2015

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced in New York Monday that Britain would be sending hundreds of troops to the war-torn countries of Somalia and South Sudan to provide combat training, as well as medical, logistical and engineering support.

His aim is to shore up unpopular pro-Western regimes and “stabilise” the countries as part of a wider effort to curb migration to Europe. He said it was important to “step up” British contributions, adding, “The outcome in Somalia, if it’s a good outcome, that’s good for Britain. It means less terrorism, less migration, less piracy. Ditto in South Sudan.”

Cameron deliberately eschewed the fact that piracy off the coast of Somalia has all but subsided and that South Sudan is a landlocked country with no links to piracy.

About 70 British troops are to join the 22,000-strong UN-African Union (AU) contingent in Somalia to shore up the transitional government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed who has little support within the country or within the clan-dominated parliament where a few weeks ago nearly half the MPs sought—unsuccessfully—to impeach him for corruption and incompetence.

Government forces face ongoing attacks from the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu. Last week, a car bomb exploded at the presidential palace, killing at least four people. A few weeks ago, al-Shabaab fighters briefly seized control of an AU base manned by Ugandan forces, killing dozens of soldiers and capturing many more.

Such is the government’s fragile hold over the country that in July President Mohamed announced the postponement of elections scheduled for next year, as the state authorities had been unable to register voters. Last month, following a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Mogadishu, Washington opened its new embassy for Somalia—but in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Somalia has all but disintegrated in the wake of the political machinations of the various imperialist powers during the colonial and Cold War eras, and as a result also of the IMF interventions in the 1980s that wrecked Somalia’s pastoral economy and led to the civil wars and famine that have bedevilled the country ever since. Neighbouring countries have backed rival groups within Somalia and have been fighting proxy wars.

Three million out of Somalia’s 10 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 731,000 who face very severe needs. More than 1.1 million people are internally displaced and many of them face acute malnutrition. The situation has been exacerbated by the influx of tens of thousands of refugees from Yemen, fleeing the fighting there.

Britain will also send up to 300 troops to join the African Union contingent in South Sudan. Rival factions of the ruling elite have been fighting a bitter civil war for control of oil revenues since December 2013, less than two and a half years after South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan in July 2011 following a decades-long war against its northern neighbour.

The imperialist powers backed the break-up of Sudan in order to limit China’s rising influence in the region. Since then, fierce fighting in South Sudan has killed more than 10,000 people, rendered 1.5 million people homeless within the country and forced a further 500,000 to seek safety in neighbouring countries. Nearly 5 million people, out of a total population of 9 million, are in need of urgent humanitarian support—including 200,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition. Some 7 million risk not having enough to eat in the months ahead.

As many have abandoned their possessions, crops and livestock or sold what little they have in order to escape, they have no means to buy food, water and other essentials. Unable to plant crops, they will have nothing to harvest in the coming months. Such camps as exist are overcrowded and the totally inadequate sanitation is increasing the risk of disease, leading to a rise in the number of reported cases of cholera in the capital Juba.

The desperate situation in Somalia and South Sudan is part of the ongoing fragmentation and disintegration of the countries in the Horn of Africa, which includes Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti.

The US and its European allies are engaged in a ferocious struggle with China for control of the region’s oil resources. The Horn is an arena of intense great power rivalry for the control of oil reserves in neighbouring countries and the sea route through the narrow Bab al-Mandeb straits through which much of Europe’s oil passes.

China recently signed a $185 million military agreement giving Beijing access to a Djibouti port next to the American base at Camp Lemmonier, a key US intelligence-gathering post, in a move sharply criticised by Washington. In January, China joined a UN Peacekeeping Mission in Juba, South Sudan, as part of a bid to protect its investment in oil production in the country, which has been cut by a third as a result of the civil war and ongoing hostilities with Sudan, as well as its annual $200 billion trade with Africa as a whole.

This is the broader context for the wars that have prompted hundreds of thousands to risk the dangerous journey to Europe.

Britain’s move to dispatch troops to the Horn marks an expansion of its aggressive role in Africa, alongside France’s efforts to dominate North Africa and the Sahel. Britain’s main military presence is currently based on two centres in Kenya, a training centre in Sierra Leone, and an advisory centre for “defence management” in South Africa.

Cameron is using the refugee crisis as a cover for the direct involvement of its armed forces in a new scramble for Africa to gain control of its rich mineral and energy resources.

He boasted of Britain’s Armed Forces having “a long history of delivering security and stability to some of the most difficult environments in the world.” It would have been more honest to have said that Britain has a long history of suppressing the colonial and semi-colonial peoples of Africa, not to mention its record of engaging in military conflict every year for more than 100 years. No other country has been involved so continuously in combat over such a long period.

This year alone, Cameron and Defence Minister Michael Fallon authorised the participation of British pilots, embedded with US, French and Canadian forces, in bombing operations against ISIS positions in Syria in defiance of parliamentary votes in 2013 and 2014.

In March, Fallon announced that Britain would send 75 military trainers and staff to aid the so-called “moderate” opposition forces in Syria. The decision, taken without the consent of the Syrian government, is a violation of international law and tantamount to a declaration of war. It followed in the wake of the decision by Cameron to send military “advisers” and “non-lethal aid” to Ukraine.

In August, it was revealed that Britain would be sending hundreds of troops to Libya as part of a European-wide mission to “stabilise” the war-torn country and stem the flow of refugees to Europe.

At the same time, Fallon announced that Britain would extend its air campaign in Iraq against ISIS militants by a year, adding that it would use its eight Tornado fighter jets, originally due to be taken out of service last March, to conduct strikes until at least early 2017.

US Marines deploy to South Sudan. By Thomas Gaist, 14 July 2016. The deployment, carried out in the name of protecting US citizens, marks the latest escalation in the drive by US imperialism to assert control over Sudan and its oil resources: here.

OVER 1 MILLION CHILD REFUGEES HAVE FLED SOUTH SUDAN During the country’s civil war. And for those children left, three-quarters are not in school.

United States wars in South Sudan, elsewhere in Africa

This video is called Africom: The New American Empire in Africa.

By Peter Van Buren in the USA:

Any More U.S. “Stabilization” and Africa Will Collapse

Monday December 23, 2013 10:39 am

History is just one of those hard things to ignore, especially in South Sudan.

In 2011, the U.S. midwifed the creation of a new nation, South Sudan. Though at the time Obama invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King speaking about Ghana (“I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment”) in officially recognizing the country, many were more focused on the underlying U.S. motives, isolating the rest of Sudan as part of the war on terror, and securing the oil reserves in the south for the U.S. The State Department rushed to open an embassy in South Sudan, and U.S. money poured in to pay for the new government.

Like his counterparts from Iraq and Afghanistan when the U.S. was still in charge of those places, the new South Sudan president was brought to the White House for photos, all blithely pushed out to the world via the Voice of America. The two leaders were said to have discussed “the importance of maintaining transparency and the rule of law.”

In 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the nation as part of an extended effort at creating B-roll footage for her 2016 campaign, and Obama publicly applauded a deal brokered between Sudan and South Sudan on oil pipeline fees that the White House claimed would “help stem the ongoing violence in the region.”

However, like in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places that fell apart while being democratized and stabilized by the U.S. (one also thinks of Libya, itself part of the African continent), the rush to mediagenic proclamations without addressing the underlying fundamentals led only to catastrophe. A scant few years later, South Sudan is at the brink of civil war and societal collapse, the U.S. is evacuating another embassy and indeed one variety or another of “rebels” are shooting at U.S. military aircraft arriving in their country in violation of their national sovereignty. Those who believe that the U.S. efforts in South Sudan do not involve special forces on the ground and drones overhead no doubt will have a nice Christmas waiting up to catch a glimpse of Santa.

Obama, apparently unwilling to remember how he stood aside while an elected government recently fell apart in Egypt, went on to double-down on hypocrisy by stating in regards to South Sudan, “Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of long-standing support from the United States and the international community.”

The Militarization of Africa

If the U.S. efforts in South Sudan were isolated, that would be tragedy enough. However, the U.S. militarization of Africa paints such a sad, similar picture that it bears a recapping here. The always on-track Nick Turse reported:

– In recent years, the US has trained and outfitted soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya, among other nations. They have also served as a proxy force for the US in Somalia, part of the African Union Mission (Amisom) protecting the U.S.-supported government in that country’s capital, Mogadishu.

– Since 2007, the State Department has given about $650-million in logistics support, equipment and training for Amisom troops. The Pentagon has given an extra $100 million since 2011.

– The U.S. also continues to fund African armies through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and its Pentagon analogue, now known as Operation Juniper Shield, with increased support flowing to Mauritania and Niger in the wake of Mali’s collapse. In 2012, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development poured approximately $52 million into the programs and the Pentagon chipped in another $46 million.

– In the Obama years, U.S. Africa Command has also built a sophisticated logistics system, officially known as the Africom Surface Distribution Network, but colloquially referred to as “the new spice route”. Its central nodes are in Manda Bay, Garissa and Mombasa in Kenya; Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda; Bangui and Djema in the Central African Republic; Nzara in South Sudan; Dire Dawa in Ethiopia; and the Pentagon’s showpiece African base, Camp Lemonnier.

– In addition, the Pentagon has run a regional air campaign using drones and manned aircraft out of airports and bases around the continent including Camp Lemonnier, Arba Minch airport in Ethiopia, Niamey in Niger and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, while private contractor-operated surveillance aircraft have flown missions out of Entebbe. Recently, Foreign Policy reported on the existence of a possible drone base in Lamu, Kenya.

– Another critical location is Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, home to a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment and the Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support Initiative that, according to military documents, supports “high-risk activities” carried out by elite forces from Joint Special Operations Task Force — Trans-Sahara.

The Failure of the Militarization of Africa

Libya is in flames, Benghazi the only point of attention for Americans while chaos consumes a once-stable country. Egypt, again on the continent though perhaps not of it, saw its brief bit of democracy stamped out by a military coup. The governments of Mauritania and Niger fell to their militaries. Chad experienced a coup, albeit unsuccessful. Fighting continues in Mali and the Central African Republic. In October 2011 the U.S. invaded, albeit in a small way, the Central African Republic In December 2012, the U.S. evacuated its diplomats and civilians. 2011 also saw a U.S.-backed Kenyan invasion of Somalia. U.S. troops are hunting humans in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like ghosts from the 18th century, pirates haunt the waters off East Africa. The U.S. admits to having 5,000 troops in ten African countries when once there were none.

And So, Why?

The basic rule for any investment is what do you gain in return for risk? It applies to buying stocks as well as investing a nation’s blood, resources and prestige.

In the case of Africa, the U.S. investment has been a disaster. Chaos has replaced stability in many places, and terrorists have found homes in countries they may have once never imagined. The U.S., in sad echo of 19th century colonialism, has militarized another region of the world.

Every rebel and terrorist the U.S. kills creates more, radicalizes more, gives the bad guys another propaganda lede. The more we kill, the more there seem to be to kill. America needs fewer people saying they are victims of America. The Chinese are building cultural ties and signing deals all over Africa, and we’re just throwing up barbed wire. Why?


Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well, and writes about current events at his blog. Van Buren’s next book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percentwill be available April 2014 from Luminis Books.

What is portrayed as a conflict within the world’s newest state is part of the imperialist balkanisation of Sudan to control its oil and mineral wealth: here.

The Communist Party of South Sudan offers a comprehensive political analysis of the background to the present confrontation: here.

In what is likely the worst single mass fatality incident since the outbreak of fighting in South Sudan last month, as many as 300 people drowned when an overloaded ferry that they had boarded to flee renewed clashes sank Tuesday in the White Nile. Many of the victims were women and children: here.

South Sudan government troops try to force their way into United Nations compound: here.

Oil war in South Sudan?

This video says about itself:

South Sudan‘s ‘oil curse

8 Jan 2011

Sudan is Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest oil producer, and with the referendum comes the crucial decision of how to divide its wealth.

If South Sudan breaks away, the North risks losing most of its foreign currency revenue – most of the known reserves lie in the south, which produces nearly 500,000 barrels of crude every day.

Paloich is one of the oil producing areas in South Sudan, but people from the area say the oil is threatening to be a curse, rather than a blessing.

Companies operating there are being accused of damaging the environment and failing to support the community.

By Patrick O’Connor:

US military forces mobilised amid South Sudan crisis

24 December 2013

The Obama administration has transferred about 150 Marines from Spain to Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier base, home to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), amid continued fighting between rival political factions and armed groups in oil-rich South Sudan.

The stepped-up Marine deployment to the Horn of Africa follows a letter sent by President Barack Obama to the leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate on Sunday foreshadowing possible “further action to support the security of US citizens, personnel and property, including our embassy, in South Sudan.” The previous day, the US military aborted an attempted evacuation of American citizens from central Jonglei State after three aircraft came under fire, with four troops wounded.

The New York Times reported that the rapid-response Marine force could be sent into South Sudan from Djibouti with six hours’ notice. Forty-five US troops have already been deployed to the country’s capital, Juba, to secure the US embassy and assist evacuations.

An AFRICOM statement recalled the attack on the US CIA centre and diplomatic office in Benghazi, Libya in September last year: “By positioning these forces forward, we are able to more quickly respond to crisis in the region, if required. One of the lessons learned from the tragic events in Benghazi was that we needed to be better postured, in order to respond to developing or crisis situations, if needed.”

The United Nations is preparing to authorise a wider intervention force. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reportedly asked the UN Security Council to add 5,500 police and military personnel, as well as attack helicopters and transport planes, to the 7,500-strong UN multinational operation in South Sudan. Three peacekeepers from India were killed last week when armed young people stormed a UN mission in the eastern town of Akobo.

Unnamed American officials told the New York Times that US involvement in a wider UN mission “was currently under review within the Obama administration.”

South Sudan remains on the brink of civil war. A long-running power struggle within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) appears to intersecting with ethnic and tribal divisions within the impoverished country, triggering a humanitarian crisis. In its latest update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday that five of South Sudan’s ten states were affected by the violence, with an estimated 62,000 people displaced. About 42,000 have sought refuge in UN bases.

President Salva Kiir is from the Dinka ethnic group, the country’s largest, while Kiir’s rival, Riek Machar is from its second biggest ethnic group, the Nuer. Tensions between Kiir and Machar, the former vice president, pre-dated South Sudan’s official separation from Sudan in 2011. They escalated this year after Machar declared his intention to win the leadership of the SPLM, ahead of presidential elections due in 2015. Kiir sacked Machar and his cabinet in July, at the same time moving to bolster his control of the military. The president accused Machar of attempting a coup on December 15–16, and ordered the arrest of opposition figures, including former cabinet members.

Machar’s forces have claimed control over parts of the country, notably the northern towns of Bor and Bentiu, capital of the crucial oil-producing Unity state.

Washington has backed the government, while urging a negotiated resolution. US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth yesterday met with President Kiir for what he described as a “frank and open discussion.” Kiir reportedly said he was willing to begin talks with Machar without preconditions. The president also gave Booth access to a group of 11 senior SPLM figures who have been detained.

Machar has denied he is attempting to forcibly seize power, and said he is also open to negotiations, while insisting that the government must first release his arrested allies. Information Minister Michael Makuei dismissed this, telling Reuters: “There is no way we will release anybody who is accused of a coup d’état.”

Fighting is continuing. Just hours before Kiir met yesterday with the US special envoy he addressed the South Sudanese parliament, declaring that the army was “ready to move to Bor.” Kiir said an offensive was postponed only to allow American and other foreign nationals to evacuate the town.

A possible US-led intervention force is being readied in the context of heightened great power rivalries across the region. A 21st century “scramble for Africa” has seen a series of military interventions by the major imperialist powers, most notably in Libya in 2011. The US-led regime change operation there marked the first war organised by AFRICOM, the regional command established four years earlier.

Washington is determined, above all, to prevent Beijing establishing a diplomatically and strategically dominant position in the continent, thereby securing control of its vast natural resources. South Sudan’s very existence is in part a product of the US rivalry with China. Beijing has long been among the closest allies of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, while the US was the key backer of South Sudanese separatism, overseeing the 2005 peace agreement that led to the formal establishment of the country in 2011.

The landlocked state is among the world’s most impoverished with less than one percent of its population reportedly having access to electricity when so-called independence was granted.

It is, however, the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola. The state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation remains the country’s major oil producer, and Chinese corporations have invested in telecommunications and transport infrastructure projects.

Beijing is also interested in developing the country’s untapped mineral wealth, including gold, diamonds, uranium and iron ore, this year pledging $43 million for a geological study mapping these resources. In September, South Sudan’s mining minister announced the government was willing to “give Chinese companies the opportunity to invest in the Republic of South Sudan in the areas of petroleum and mining industries, and also in other economic circles.”

Rebel leader Machar has publicly called for closer relations with China, which is no doubt an important factor in his inability to win support from the US and other Western powers. “During the liberation we were against them [Beijing] because we thought they were strengthening the war machinery of Khartoum, but after we signed the peace agreement and declared independence the investments of China became very useful,” Machar told the Irish Times late last month. “Money has no colour. Let them invest in this country.”

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, last year published a report on China’s relations with South Sudan. It cited an unnamed US official who complained that when the Kiir administration needed help “they still call on us first—but we could exact more pressure when we were in a position to help deliver independence” and now “the China appeal makes it harder for us to apply pressure bilaterally.”

Any US military intervention would be aimed not at relieving the humanitarian crisis but at enhancing the Obama administration’s ability to “apply pressure” across the region.

African refugees protest in Israel

This video says about itself:

14 Oct 2012

Sudanese refugees protest in front of the government’s offices in center Tel Aviv, against the plan to imprison refugees, October 14, 2012.

Israel is building a new facility that could house thousands of additional asylum seekers in the Negev Desert.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

African migrants take to the streets to demand Israel consider asylum requests

Human rights groups assert open detention center no different from jail. ‘I didn’t come for $3,500,” says one refugee about government exit grant.

By Ilan Lior | Dec. 22, 2013 | 12:20 PM

An estimated 1,000 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants, along with Israeli human rights activists, marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to urge the government to consider the asylum requests of migrants from Africa and release the approximately 3,000 held in Israeli custody.

“I looked into the eyes of the people here with me – everyone has had enough,” said Najmaldin, a Sudanese migrant who took part in the rally and did not want to give his last name. “People want their asylum requests looked into. If someone’s a refugee he should stay here; if someone’s not a refugee he should go back to Africa.”

“We demand a solution from the Israeli government for the people who are currently in prison and for us,” he said. “The people who are in Saharonim and in south Tel Aviv – it’s the same story, the same problems.”

Human rights groups say an estimated 3,000 of the 50,000 asylum seekers in Israel are locked up in the Saharonim detention center in the Negev. The government moved 480 of them to Holot, a nearby open detention facility, after the Knesset approved a legal amendment earlier this month authorizing the open center, where migrants are locked in only at night.

Though they are technically free to leave the premises during the day, they have to be present for roll call three times a day, a restriction meant to prevent them from finding jobs outside the facility. Last week hundreds of migrants marched out of the open center in protest, but were ultimately taken back into custody.

On Saturday, demonstrators marched from Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv, where many migrants live, to Independence Hall on swanky Rothschild Boulevard. In an unplanned continuation of the protest, the demonstrators kept marching through Tel Aviv and blocked off some of the city’s roads, waving signs reading “Liberty” and “Not another jail.”

Human rights groups have said there is no real difference between the open detention center and a jail. Several of the groups have filed a High Court petition against the law that authorizes the Holot center, as well as allowing the state to hold migrants for up to a year without trial, down from three years.

Police detained two migrants for questioning Saturday on suspicion of attacking a police officer and disturbing the peace, and used pepper spray in an effort to disperse the rally.

Million, an Eritrean migrant who took part in the rally, said race was a major factor in the Israeli government’s treatment of the asylum seekers.

“The Israelis are white, the Africans are black,” he said. “The blood is the same blood. But the government of Israel, a democratic state, is not acting in a democratic manner and is putting the blacks in jail.”

Nazer said Israeli efforts to sway migrants like him to go back to Sudan or to neighboring Eritrea, by offering grants to those who leave the country, would not succeed. The cabinet recently agreed to more than double the amount offered, bringing the grant to $3,500.

“I didn’t come here for $3,500,” said Nazer. “I came here because I’m a refugee. The State of Israel wants to send us back to Sudan and Eritrea. How can we go back? There’s a war there.”

Sometimes it’s kind of scary how Israel treats asylum seekers. From jailing them with no trial to brutal arrests and now, referring to them as numbers. It’s as if they don’t think they’re human beings, with names: here.

Many refugees in Israel are from South Sudan; where there is horrible violence now.

Washington issues warning as South Sudan slides toward civil war: here.

Thousands of Africans, Israelis march in Tel Aviv to demand freedom for asylum seekers: here.

A penal colony for Africans in the heart of Israel: here.

Support Israeli actresses refusing to perform at West Bank settlement: here.

Save British long-eared bats

This video from England is called Rare Grey Long Eared Bat Rescue.

From Wildlife Extra:

One of Britain’s rarest mammals needs greater protection to survive

New research shows just 1000 grey long-eared bats remain in the UK and numbers are declining.

August 2013. Dr Orly Razgour, research fellow at the Biological Sciences unit of the University of Bristol, has called for grey long-eared bats to be afforded ‘UK Priority Species’ status; Dr Razgour stated that “The UK’s grey long-eared bats need greater conservation efforts before we lose them” .

Just 1000 animals, and declining

Dr Razgour is the lead author of a new management plan. It’s based on new research she conducted into the species at the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the Bat Conservation Trust. Her research has shown the estimated population of these bats in the UK is around 1,000 animals and the population is declining. Prior to her study it had been hoped the bats were more numerous, sadly her findings confirm how very rare they are.

Isle of Wight, Channel Islands, South coast and 1 record from Wales

The bats are confined to small pockets along the south coast of England, including the Isle of Wight, with a small number found in the Channel Islands and a single record from South Wales.

Protection for roost sites

The UK grey long-eared bat population comprises two distinct genetic groups and Dr Razgour is concerned that the low numbers mean the future survival of the species in the UK is questionable, unless more is done to protect the remaining few. She calls for more work to identify, monitor and protect maternity roost sites, where female bats raise their young, and hibernation sites.

Dr Razgour said: “Despite being one the rarest UK mammals, up until recently there was very little known about the grey long-eared bat and what it needs to survive. Studying the grey long-eared bat, I realised that the plight of this bat demonstrates many of the threats and conservation challenges facing wildlife, from the effects of habitat loss and climate change to the problem of small isolated populations.

Decline and fragmentation

The UK grey long-eared bat population has been declining and has become fragmented in the past century. This decline and fragmentation is likely to be in response to the dramatic decline of lowland meadows and marshlands, the bat’s main foraging habitats. The long-term survival of the grey long-eared bat UK population is closely linked to the conservation of these lowland meadows and marshland habitats. The conservation management plan is calling to prioritise the conservation status of the grey long-eared bat and use this bat as a flagship species to promote the conservation and restoration of lowland grasslands.”

Lowland meadows and marshland habitat

Lowland meadows and marshland habitats have all but disappeared in the UK following changes to land management and farming practices in the latter half of the last century. As these bats prey on agricultural pests, encouraging these bats in the farmed landscape may benefit the wider farming community if bat numbers increase dramatically.

Traditionally a cave-dwelling species grey long-eared bats have become dependent on our buildings for roost sites. Their roost requirements are specific; they need large open spaces in lofts and barns close to foraging habitat. These roosts are under threat from building development and Dr Razgour is calling for identification, monitoring and protection of roost sites and their surrounding grassland area.

Key findings of Dr Razgour’s research:

The grey long-eared bat should be afforded UK Priority Species status by the statutory bodies: Natural England, DEFRA and JNCC
Maternity roosts and hibernation sites need to be identified, monitored and protected
The landscape around and between roosts needs to be protected to increase grassland foraging habitat

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has put a call out for volunteers to help with this year’s bat survey in Norfolk. The Norfolk Bat Survey (www.batsurvey.org) was very successful in collecting valuable information about bats in the county in 2013. Plans this year are for the survey to be even bigger and better: here.

‘Panda Bat’: Researchers Discover New Genus Of Striped Creature, Niumbaha superba, In South Sudan (PHOTOS): here.

Too bright: artificial lights deter bats, threaten forests: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

British bosses’ South Sudanese war profits

This video from the USA is called Iraq for Sale; the war profiteers.

By Paddy McGuffin in England:

British firm ships arms to South Sudan

Thursday 28 June 2012

Shell companies registered in Britain are among firms involved in the export of armaments which are fuelling the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, Amnesty International warned yesterday.

The charity said that T-72 battle tanks used in attacks by the [South] Sudanese armed forces, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), had been “clandestinely delivered from Ukraine to South Sudan in 2009, involved transfers via Kenya and Uganda and included shipping companies from Germany and Ukraine and UK and Isle of Man-registered shell companies.”

However the charity stated that the shipping companies had not broken the law. It said: “Indeed inadequacies of the legal regulations on arms shipments currently exclude them from legal responsibility.”

Amnesty warned that a ready flow of military weapons from China, Sudan and Ukraine, including ammunition, small arms, tanks and anti-vehicle mines has triggered indiscriminate attacks by both the South Sudanese armed forces and armed opposition groups.

A report by the organisation – Overshadowed Conflict: Arms Supplies Fuel Violations in Mayom County Unity State – examined the effects of what the charity described as “irresponsible supplies and misuse of weapons, munitions and armaments resulting in civilian casualties and the displacement of thousands of people.”

Scores of people have been killed or injured, had their homes destroyed, or have been forced to flee due to indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by the SPLA and the armed opposition group, the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), Amnesty said.

A former senior SSLA member apparently told the charity that his forces had received significant numbers of Kalashnikov-type assault rifles “new from the boxes,” as well as ammunition, light and heavy machine-guns, B10 recoilless rifles plus mortars.

Evidence, collected by the charity, suggested that ammunition used by SSLA is manufactured in Sudan and rifles include new Chinese-manufactured Type 56-1 rifles.

Before the first anniversary of South Sudan’s independence and just days before the world’s governments gather for the crucial Arms Trade Treaty negotiations at the UN in New York, Amnesty called for “a strong and robust treaty with rules to end irresponsible arms transfers.”

Amnesty International’s Africa director Erwin van der Borght said: “Governments must immediately stop supplying South Sudan with conventional arms which have been used to commit violations of international humanitarian and human rights law until adequate systems of training and accountability are in place.

“The treaty talks are an unprecedented opportunity to stop arms getting into the hands of human rights abusers. A strong treaty could help prevent many other communities suffering from the horrific cost of the irresponsible arms trade, in the way the people of Mayom County have.”

A year ago, South Sudan was celebrated as the world’s newest country. But it now faces daunting troubles: here.

War profiteers should be a thing of the past – but London’s Natural History Museum is no place to host their parties, peace activists have said: here.