Category Archives: News

South Africa: TEARS calls for National Day Of Action Against Gender-Based Violence

South Africa: TEARS calls for National Day Of Action Against Gender-Based Violence.

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South Africa: TEARS calls for National Day Of Action Against Gender-Based Violence

TEARS Foundation (Transformed Education about Rape and Sexual Abuse) raises concern and outrage over the statistics on police rape incidences in South Africa, especially regarding many of those people in custody. This follows a statement by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) that it is investigating more than 60 rape cases involving police officers.

Mara Glennie on behalf of TEARS decried a recent report submitted to South African Parliament by IPID which cites many rape cases were perpetrated by police officers between April and September of this year. Ms Glennie is the founding member of TEARS Foundation.

The information was divulged in a document tabled by IPID recently during a briefing of the South African Parliament’s police portfolio committee. According to the statistics disclosed, 66 rape cases, allegedly committed by police officers have been reported between April and September 2014, compared to 53 similar cases during the same period last year.

Ms Glennie pointed out that one can safely assume that the real figures are significantly higher as most victims to these kinds of sexual offences never report the cases for fear of victimisation, ridicule and social rejection. “These are the very people victims of sexual abuse should turn to for protection. The high incidence of crime amongst member of the South African Police Services is already a major cause for concern by all law abiding citizens”, she said. “When the most vulnerable in society and those who already suffer the brunt of our deeply rooted patriarchal system cannot even rely on law enforcement officers to protect them, we have become a very sad society indeed.”

Of the 66 rapes mentioned in the report, 25 were allegedly committed by police officer(s) whilst on “duty”. This is an increase of 56% on similar cases a year ago, while the number of complaints of rape by police officers had increased by 25%. There have also been 37 reported rape cases against off-duty police officers between April and September 2014.

The chairperson of IPID, Francois Beukman, said the Directorate is shocked by the number of rape cases involving police officers, and such officers did not belong in the SA Police Service. The Directorate would draft and submit proposals to Parliament that would ensure harsher sentences for police officers found guilty of rape and related crimes.

With the international 16 Days of Activism Campaign for No Violence against Women and Children due to kick off next week, this places yet another important focus on the scourge of rape and sexual abuse in South Africa. TEARS calls on Government to give this report immediate and urgent attention and to demonstrate its political will to address this and other issues on sexual crimes as a matter of priority.

Ms Glennie said the 16 Days of Activism Campaign is designed to create awareness on the negative impact of violence on women and children. She said; “We at TEARS call on the business sector work together to broaden the impact of the campaign by supporting The TEARS Foundation as they help victims of Rape and Sexual Abuse.”

Among other businesses, Tsebo Outsourcing Group has taken a stand against this scourge to our society by becoming a patron of TEARS. Mr Clive Smith the Group’s Chief Executive Officer said; “We have provided TEARS with free offices and infrastructure so they may provide their vital services efficiently.” Mr. Smith encourages other business decision makers to take up the challenge and support TEARS financially or printing the TEARS contact details on their staff’s payslips and adding to their staff handbook.

TEARS, a national Non-Profit Organisation that works to break silence over sexual violence has developed an Emergency Mobile Assistance number. Contact TEARS on (*134*7355#) or by email to Ms Mara Glennie: mara@tears.co.za. Their website is: http://www.tears.co.za/

The TEARS Foundation was founded in 2012 and specialises  in accessible assistance and support network for survivors of rape and abuse. TEARS strives to be an agent of transformation for all aspects of education about Rape and sexual abuse in order to promote positive change in the values and attitudes of the South African society, where the right to say “NO” is upheld as a basic human right. TEARS offer a range of educational services that aim to change attitudes and behaviour towards rape and abuse.

N.B. Courtesy of TEARS Foundation 19 November 2014

The Queen’s Speech: Message to Britain in event of nuclear war

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen Elizabeth II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We all know that the dangers facing us today are greater by far than at any time in our long history. The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology. But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.

 

Extract of Queen Elizabeth II’s Nuclear-War Message Drafted in 1983. The Queen would have delivered the message if the war had become imminent.

There was uncertainty and fear of an outbreak of the Third World War  at the time due to threats from Soviet Union (now Russia). Politicians feared Soviet Union was about to attack Britain.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen nominated Labour Baroness

View of the House of Lords Chamber in the Pala...

View of the House of Lords Chamber in the Palace of Westminster, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doreen Lawrence gets Labour peerage in the House of Lords to recognise her twenty-year long fight to bring her son’s murderers to account.

Doreen whose son Stephen died in a racist attack in 1993, gets recommendation by the Labour party for a seat in the House of Lords to acknowledge her campaign against racism and injustice.

Stephen Lawrence was a Black British teenager from Eltham, South East London, who died in a racist attack as he waited for a bus on 22 April 1993.

Doreen Lawrence, 60, will become a baroness and would be on Labour’s benches in the Upper House.

Ed Miliband, the Labour Leader approved the recommendation which was then forwarded to Number 10 Downing Street.

A new peerages list is out Thursday, August 1, 2013.

Doreen championed a campaign that exposed botched police investigations into her teenage son’s murder.

As a result of her resolve to bring justice, a public inquiry was held in 1998, led by Sir William Macpherson.

After examining the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) investigation, the inquiry concluded that the force was “institutionally racist.”  Jack Straw the then Home Secretary in a statement in 2012 said ordering the inquiry was “the single most important decision I made as Home Secretary”.

In 2010 the case became “one of the highest-profile unsolved racially motivated murders” in the United Kingdom.

Formerly a special education needs tutor; Doreen also founded “Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust” in honour of her late son and to promote a positive community legacy.

Doreen received an OBE in 2003 for her community relations efforts.

Bulawayo based Journalist killed in car accident

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, atte...

Robert Mugabe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A  Zimbabwean journalist, Busani Ncube died in a car accident Sunday, July 28, 2013; when his car was hit by another car on Bach Street in Bulawayo.

Busani was a political activist working for Welshman Ncube led MDC campaign team. He died on the spot while other party supporters travelling with him including journalist Nkululeko Sibanda were seriously injured.

Welshman Ncube’s MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T go heads-on against Mugabe’s 33-year rule in national elections this week.

According to The Zimbabwean newspaper; ‘The MDC chairperson for Bulawayo province, Oscar Ncube confirmed the accident.’

Speaking to The Zimbabwean while at the United Bulawayo Hospital where he visited the injured party supporters he said:

“Yes I can confirm that Busani died in the accident .Some of the injured are admitted at the hospital including Sibanda.”

Zimbabweans head to the polls in presidential, senate, national assembly and local government elections on July 31, 2013.

Many politicians opposed to Mugabe’s regime have died in mysterious road accidents in the past. The country has since independence in 1980 witnessed scores of deaths of politicians who met their fate in car accidents, leaving unanswered questions about the suspicious circumstances.

In June of this year an outspoken Zimbabwean member of parliament  investigating the ties between the ruling party and the country’s diamond industry died in a car accident under what some call ‘suspicious circumstances’.

Edward Chindori-Chininga died on June 19, 2013 after his car reportedly failed to stop and rammed into a tree.

Chindori-Chininga, who was a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy and former minister, was concerned about the plundering of the country’s diamonds by members of  Robert Mugabe-led ZANU (PF).

Just a week before his death, Chininga released a report exposing ZANU PF officials ‘corrupt practices within the diamond industry.

The maverick politician dubbed ‘Zimbabwe’s own whistleblower’ campaigned against murky business practices by officials in Mugabe’s party at the Marange Diamond fields.

Egypt: More than 100 killed in army offensive

English: Omar El-Telmesani The 3rd leader of M...

Omar El-Telmesani The 3rd leader of Muslim Brotherhood Organization العربية: عمر التلمساني المرشد الثالث لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than 100 people died during an army offensive that left thousands injured in Cairo following protests organised by Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian army killed more than 100 demonstrators in a pre-dawn crackdown on protests by supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Saturday, July 27; 2013. The ongoing violence leaves chances of peaceful political transition uncertain in the increasingly fragile and troubled North African country.

The widely condemned incident happened during protest organised by supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Morsi was ousted by the army on 3 July 2013 following nationwide demonstrations against his rule.

Both Pro and anti-Morsi demonstrators held a wave of protests Friday night which turned deadly as security forces unleashed live fire against civilians. The latest outburst of violence and its aftermath is the worst since Mubarak fell from power during the 2011 Arab Spring revolution.

Eyewitnesses and members of The Muslim Brotherhood claim the army resorted to live ammunition to quell the waves of protests.

Reports by Al Jazeera’s television say at least 120 people died and some 4,500 left injured near the capital’s Rabaa al-Adawia mosque during clashes with security forces.

‘They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill,’ said pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad El-Haddad.

The army and the police, who back the new authorities in Egypt, take the blame for using brutal force against Pro Morsi protesters.

According to Human Rights Watch ‘many of the at least 74 pro-Morsy protesters killed in clashes with Egypt’s riot police and plain clothed men who stood alongside were shot in the head or chest.

Human Rights Watch say ‘medical staff who spoke to the rights group judged some of the deaths to be targeted killings because the position of the shots would likely result in death.’

The violence came hours after Interim President Adly Mansour announced, “the state has to impose order by all force and decisiveness.” The same day, Interior Minister Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim warned that security forces would be clearing pro-Morsy sit-ins from Rabaa and Nahda squares “soon.”
The Ministry of Health announced that at least 74 civilians died in the morning’s violence on Saturday.

At a press conference earlier that day, the minister of interior insisted that “We never, as police, pointed any firearms at the chest of any demonstrator.”

“The use of deadly fire on such a scale so soon after the interim president announced the need to impose order by force suggests a shocking willingness by the police and by certain politicians to ratchet up violence against pro-Morsy protesters,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“It is almost impossible to imagine that so many killings would take place without an intention to kill, or at least a criminal disregard for people’s lives,” he added.

Reports say Muslim Brotherhood Organisation is calling on the international community to intervene.

There are signs that sectarian violence in Egypt and the heavy-handedness of the security forces will get worse unless the international community through the United Nations intervenes.

Clashes and counter-clashes between Pro and Ant-Morse may push this beleaguered country towards another coup d’état in as many weeks.

Malala Yousafzai: ‘women should be independent and fight for themselves’

The UN headquarters in New York

The UN headquarters in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations Youth Assembly on ‘Malala Day’, her 16th birthday where she called on all governments to invest in education, and the rights for women and children.

Malala, the Pakistani teenage  girl who got shot by the Taliban while on her way to school in October last year,  marked  her 16th birthday with a speech  to the UN youth assembly New York  last week, Friday.

At the special UN session on July 12, 2013, on what is now known as  “Malala Day“, she called for free and compulsory education for  children worldwide.

The teenage girl, already an advocate for children’s education and women’s empowerment around the world, believes governments should focus more on women’s rights and girls’ education because they suffer the most.

“There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves,” she said.

She was quick however, to mention that while men should not ‘to step away from speaking for women’s rights’, women should stand up for themselves, independent and able to fight for their rights.

Her speech touched in-depth on children and women’s rights; and called for a campaign to educate millions of children who are out of school due to poverty or political conflicts.

She urged governments and world leaders to help the more than 50 million children who today cannot go to school due to difficult circumstances.

“So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights.

“A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable,” Malala warned.

Malala also had a message for the Taliban. The attempted murder had not silenced her; instead it made her ambitions stronger.

“They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she said.

She added that she doesn’t seek revenge against the Taliban, and that she’s against no one.

“I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child.

“I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists, especially the Taliban,” she said.

Malala fled to the United Kingdom with her family after an attempted assassination by the Taliban in Pakistan. Her treatment and recovery took months; and it included reconstructive surgery to restore her disfigured face.

Full text of Malala’s speech

White House threatens aid cut-off if Palestine joins the ICC

English: Philippe Kirsch, President of the Int...

English: Philippe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


Franklin Lamb
June 28, 2013

B eirut — Fatou Bom Bensouda, the Gambian-born deputy prosecutor
of the International Criminal Court (ICC), was never Washington’s first
choice to succeed the inveterate self-promoting elitist ICC prosecutor
Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

And it is doubtful that key Obama administration officials have changed
their minds this week given Ms. Bensouda’s impassioned invitation
Thursday to Palestine, urging its accession to the Rome Statute and the ICC,
the former signed and ratified, as of this month, by 122 states with 31
more countries, including Russia, having signed with ratification
pending in their legislatures.

Visiting Al Jalil UNWRA high school across from Shatila camp here in
Beirut recently, I was asked several questions by students and staff. The
most frequent inquiry, which came as no surprise, was why the Lebanese
government, including those who claim to support the Palestinian cause,
still have not acted to grant Palestinian refugees the same elementary
civil right to work and to own a home that every refugee everywhere,
even in Zionist occupied Palestine, have long enjoyed.

The second most commonly asked question did surprise me a bit. It was
why have the Palestinian leaders in Ramallah not joined the International
Criminal Court (ICC) in order to challenge the criminal, apartheid
regime in occupied Tel Aviv and hold it accountable under international
humanitarian law for crimes against Palestinians that are increasingly
being condemned internationally. This sentiment exists in all 54
Palestinian refugee schools in Lebanon.

The new ICC Prosecutor Bensouda is encouraging Palestinian leaders
to join the International Criminal Court, as she prepares for the cases that
are likely to be filed with the ICC in the coming months. Addressing this
week’s Arab World conference, she declared that her office believes
Palestine qualifies to join the ICC after the UN General Assembly voted
to admit Palestine as a non-member state last November.

The ICC prosecutor’s office is rumored in The Hague to be particularly
impassioned and focused on those areas in which Ms. Bensouda, has
particular international legal expertise. With the main area being
international crimes against humanity which arguably since 1948 have
been most egregiously committed by the last remnant of 19th century
colonial enterprises, Israel.

Prosecutor Bensouda and her ICC staff is reported to be particularly intent
on investigating continuing violations of basic humanitarian principles,
standards and rules, and has spoken about the case of Palestinian, Maysara
Abu Hamdiyeh, a cancer-sufferer who died in Israeli custody on June 25
after the Israeli government rejected repeated international calls and
protests for his release. This, even as its officials conceded that Mr. Abu
Hamidiyeh was no threat to society, and if allowed medical treatment for
his life threatening condition would likely have been successfully treated.
One ICC investigator, who asked for anonymity, stated that she and her
colleagues considered the actions of the Netanyahu government with
respect to the Hamidiyeh and similar cases, to be “sick!”

The White House and its allies are not pleased by prospects for an eventful
next few years at the ICC. What have particularly unnerved outgoing UN
Ambassador, Susan Rice and Israeli PM Netanyahu, are the May 23rd
comments of Ms. Bensouda during the 38th FIDH Congress in Istanbul
which celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Rome Statute which created
the ICC:

“Gone are the days when those who commit international crimes
could be cleansed of their atrocities through a mere hand shake and
a scribble of their initials on a piece of paper which purports to bind
them to conditions that they have no intention of ever observing.”

She added:

“My challenge is to consolidate what has been achieved, to build
on from it, and to answer victims’ calls for justice. That is the
promise made in Rome and that is the promise we cannot fail to
fulfill.”
One the several parting comments Ms. Rice made on cleaning out her
UN office on her way to become President Obama’s National Security
Adviser, was basically a reiteration of her livid expressions made
following last fall’s UN General Assembly vote giving Palestine its new
international statehood status. When asked if she considered the UN
vote a repudiation of the Obama administration and her personally,
Ms. Rice scolded:

“That resolution is not going to take them closer to statehood,
or to the ICC!  It may actually make the environment more difficult
for them and public references to the “State of Palestine” do not
make it a sovereign state. Any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’
in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of
Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the
term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation  do not reflect acquiescence
that ‘Palestine’ is a state.”

It may be recalled that in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of
the United Nations and the President of the UN Security Council
immediately following the General Assembly vote on 29 November
last year, the permanent UN observer of Palestine reiterated his
delegation’s position that:

“[A]ll Israeli settlement activities are illegal, constituting grave
breaches of article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus
constituting war crimes, as further determined in accordance with
article 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court. Israel, the occupying Power, must be held
accountable for all of the war crimes it is committing against the
Palestinian people.”
This letter was cited by the most recent UN Human Rights Council
(UNHRC) report of February 2013, which also found Israel, as an
occupying power, [is] in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention for “transferring parts of its civilian population into territory
that it occupies.”

Adding to all its currents problems, is this week’s announcement that
President Obama’s “favorite general,” Ret. Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright,
will likely cause yet more serious problems for the administration when
details of his suspected leaks of information about a covert U.S.-Israeli
cyber-attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program, for which he
is expected to soon be arrested and indicted. Coming on the heels of
Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, Washington is said to have no patience
whatsoever, for Palestine making more problems and opening an ICC
Pandora’s box.

Ramallah is being flooded with threats this month from Middle East envoy,
Tony Blair, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, now on his 5th visit to the
Middle East in as many months, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and reportedly,
several others. The message for Mahmoud Abbas is that the Palestinian
Authority risks a cut-off of funds and US disengagement from any “peace
process” as well as the scrapping  of the rumored “mega economic &
development  package” which Kerry’s aides are currently finalizing, if
Palestine goes anywhere near the International Criminal Court.

It’s a tough call for President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters because
Hamas wants Palestine to immediately file cases against Israel at the ICC
and, it appears, so do a large majority of Palestinians in Lebanon and
internationally.

 

 

 

Background

* Born and raised in Milwaukie, Oregon, USA
* Health: Excellent
* Home Address: 221 8th Street, NE, Washington DC, 20002

* Languages: English, French, Russian, some (more…)

 

Rights groups, trade unions mark Zimbabwe 2008 election run off anniversary

As Zimbabwe heads to the polls later this year, rights and civic groups in London unite in a  campaign for nonviolent, free and fair elections.

Original caption: President of Zimbabwe Robert...

President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Zimbabwe Vigil mark the 2008 presidential election run off anniversary with a protest against political violence on Thursday, 27 June 2013. The event takes place from 1pm till 2 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London.

The presidential election of 2008 was characterised by unprecedented violence that led to torture, killings and disappearances of those accused of supporting the opposition.

Following the indecisive  election in March 2008, ZANU (PF) carried out a brutal campaign of violence against innocent people prior to the June run-off for the presidency.  Hundreds of people got raped, beaten or tortured while  many more became refugees in their own country. Members of civic groups such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Sokwanele came under attacks through intimidation and harassment.

The 2008 elections were the bloodiest since Independence in 1980.

Today political tension heightens as security forces linked to Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF are unleashing terror on supporters of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC. According to media reports Zanu PF has deployed militia groups countrywide in order to thwart the MDC formations’ attempts to woo rural voters.

The Thursday protest by ACTSA, TUC and Zimbabwe Vigil carries the message, ‘Never Again!’ to brutal violence in the run up to elections. Organisers support the calls for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The protest demands for:

  • Zimbabweans to have the right to vote freely for whom they wish without fear or favour
  • An accurate and up to date voter roll
  • Fair access to and coverage by state controlled media
  • Impartiality by institutions of the state
  • Domestic election observers and truly independent external election observer missions in place well before the elections.

Zimbabweans over the years experienced brutal violence and intimidation in the run-up to elections. The worst political violence happened after the 2008 presidential elections. Members of President Mugabe’s ZANU (PF); the police, the army and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents commit acts of terror on innocent people with impunity.

Tony Dykes, Director of Action for Southern Africa, said: “Five years after the terrible violence of 2008 we have seen very little of the essential reforms that are needed for free and fair elections.

“We are calling for Zimbabweans to have the right to choose their leaders without external interference and without internal repression, without the fear of violence, harassment or a rigged electoral system that favours one party over another;” he added.

The TUC demands for an election where Zimbabweans vote freely without fear as their democratic right.

In a statement the TUC said: “It is the duty of the Government of Zimbabwe to make sure there are free and fair elections in a peaceful environment without violence and intimidation and in strict compliance with international standards.”

The TUC hopes that ‘the elections will usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and justice’ for all Zimbabweans.

Ephraim Tapa, Zimbabwe Vigil spokesperson, observed: “As things stand free and fair elections are very unlikely because of intimidation and vote-rigging. We fear the election results will be cooked by ZANU ( PF).”

Tapa believes the European Union’s business interests should not be at the expense of  Zimbabweans who struggle against all odds to make ends meet.

Organisers of the Thursday protest plan to carry a ‘Tree of hope’ to Southwark Cathedral. The tree bears messages of hope for free and fair elections.  Southwark Cathedral and Zimbabwe have strong links that date back to 1991. The Diocese of Southwark has ties with three Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe.

Nelson Mandela’s condition deteriorates

President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, Ju...

President Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa’s health has deteriorated. Mr Mandela was admitted to a Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on 8 June, suffering from a long-standing lung infection.

“The condition of former president Nelson Mandela, who is still in hospital in Pretoria, has become critical,” Mac Maharaj, president Zuma’s spokesperson said on Sunday.

CBS, an American news broadcaster at the weekend added that Mandela was “unresponsive” and “has not opened his eyes for days”.

  • The 94-year old apartheid icon’s condition became ‘critical’ over the weekend
  • Mandela’s wife Graca Machel at the hospital
  •  Jacob Zuma, the South African President visited Mr Mandela in hospital late Sunday
  • President Zuma visited the hospital alongside ruling ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • The medical team is doing all they can to keep the former President comfortable according to officials
  • The presidency refutes reports of a cardiac arrest

Mr Mandela checked into hospital four times since December 2012. The latest is the longest he has been in hospital.

In a statement President Zuma said : “The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba (Mr Mandela’s Xhosa name) is well-looked after and is comfortable.

“He is in good hands,” Mr Zuma added.

Both Zuma and Ramaphosa appeal for prayers for the ailing Mandela, the medical team as well as the family.