(Erbil) – A local Iraqi organization managing a camp for displaced people is making preparations to unlawfully confine families scheduled to be transferred from northeast Syria, Human Rights Watch said today.
The Jadah 5 camp, 65 kilometers south of Mosul, has forcibly relocated 175 families from one sector of the camp to another in order to make room for the families, mostly women and children. Iraqi authorities have previously arbitrarily detained families perceived to have possible ISIS affiliation.
“Authorities in Iraq are planning to detain returning families arbitrarily, in violation of Iraqi and international law,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Segregating families – mainly women and children – coming from Syria is a step toward stigmatizing and labeling them in the absence of any credible allegation that they have committed a crime.”
Human Rights Watch visited the Jadah 5 camp, estimated to house over 16,000 people on July 16, 2019. Four residents in the sector known as “400,” because of the number of tents, said that camp management told the 175 families there on July 10 that they had to relocate to other camp areas. The rest of the tents in the sector were empty. The families currently living in the camp are generally able to move freely within and outside the camp within its immediate vicinity.
They said the camp head told them they had to move, apparently because they planned to detain the new arrivals. “If you don’t move you will regret it,” two of the residents quoted one camp management official as saying. “It will become like prison and you will need permission to come in and out, you won’t be able to move freely.” He said the families would be brought from al-Hol camp in northeast Syria, which holds Iraqi, Syrian, and foreign families who lived under ISIS in Syria.
Another camp management official told the group that the arriving families “have the same extremist ideology… it is not in your interest to live next to them,” the residents said.
Iraqi authorities said on July 9 that al-Hol families would be relocated to the camp. But the National Security Council, which coordinates Iraq’s national security, intelligence, and foreign policy strategy, told aid groups and camp management on July 10 that Jadah 5 would not house the al-Hol families, three aid workers said. They said that authorities have not indicated when these families will be transferred or how long they would be confined in camps before being allowed to move freely.
By the evening of July 11, the families from “400” had all relocated within the camp, with the exception of four or five families who left the camp, residents told Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch visited the section on July 16 and found it empty, with the beginnings of a fence being erected around it. Two other residents said camp management also told families in sector “500,” which holds about 240 families, that they would need to relocate. But the families interviewed refused and threatened to protest and had not been forced to move at the time of the visit, possibly because aid agencies intervened. Both “400” and “500” areas are isolated outcrops of the camp.
Al-Hol camp holds 30,000 Iraqis in northeast Syria, the vast majority of them female-headed households, often including many children. Some fled ISIS when it controlled parts of Iraq, and others lived under ISIS control in Syria until the battle to retake Baghouz, ISIS’s final pocket in Syria in early 2019. Few, if any, have been charged with any crime. Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine the extent to which the families in al-Hol, who aid workers say have signed up to voluntarily return, have done so with informed consent, given that that Iraqi authorities seemingly plan to arbitrarily detain them in camps.
A United Nations plan from early 2019 for the return of Iraqi families from al-Hol, which Human Rights Watch has reviewed, calls on Iraqi authorities to ensure that the families are not sequestered into one specific camp but are instead mixed with existing camp populations. It said this would ensure that the families would not be further stigmatized and marginalized. The plan said that international assistance to these families would depend on compliance with these conditions.
International human rights law and humanitarian law allow punishment only for people found responsible for crimes after a fair trial to determine individual guilt. Imposing collective punishment on families, villages, or communities violates the laws of war and amounts to a war crime. Under international human rights law and the laws of armed conflict, children may be detained only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period. If children are detained, detaining authorities must fulfill their rights, including to appropriate food and medical care, education and physical exercise, legal assistance, privacy, complaints mechanisms, and contact with their families.
The UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement stipulate that if displacement occurs in situations other than during the emergency stages of a conflict, “Adequate measures shall be taken to guarantee to those to be displaced full information on the reasons and procedures for their displacement and, where applicable, on compensation and relocation… The free and informed consent of those to be displaced shall be sought… The authorities concerned shall endeavour to involve those affected, particularly women, in the planning and management of their relocation… The right to an effective remedy, including the review of such decisions by appropriate judicial authorities, shall be respected.”
In light of recent developments, authorities should suspend all transfers until they are able to ensure that they are voluntary and that Iraqis have adequate information about what awaits them upon their return, Human Rights Watch said. Once people are in Iraq, if they are not wanted for a crime, authorities should ensure that their rights to free movement are respected, including either to return home or to relocate where they choose, as security allows. Iraqi authorities should ensure that they do not confine people not charged with any crime in camps.
(Nairobi) – South Sudan’s National Security Service has detained Michael Christopher, the editor-in-chief of the Arabic language daily newspaper Al Watan, without charge since July 17, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today.
“The arbitrary detention of Michael Christopher is the latest brazen attack against freedom of the press in South Sudan,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately release him or charge him with a recognized criminal offense.”
National Security Service (NSS) officers arrested Christopher at the Juba International Airport on July 15 as he was leaving the country. They forced him off the plane, confiscated his passport, and told him to report to the NSS headquarters without explaining why. Security officers arrested him on the afternoon of July 17 when he reported to the security service office.
In January, both South Sudan’s Media Authority and the NSS had warned Christopher, after he published an opinion article supporting the political protests in Sudan. The authorities suspended publication of Al Watan in March on grounds of noncompliance and operating without a license. Christopher had to temporarily flee the country due to death threats from persons he believes were security agents.
South Sudan’s National Security Service has often targeted critics of the government and perceived dissidents for harassment and arbitrary arrest and detention. The agency has broad powers of surveillance, arrest, and detention, and has embedded officers in some newspaper offices, leading to a growing climate of self-censorship.
Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein apparently had quite the casting couch going on in his Manhattan mansion, according to the New York Post.
Epstein, who was formerly ‘close’ friends with Victoria’s Secret owner Leslie Wexner, "relied on …[the] modeling business to source underage girls for sex," according to investigative reporter Conchita Sarnoff’s new book "Trafficking."
According to an account by Italian model Elisabetta Tai, Epstein tried to take advantage of the 21-year-old aspiring Victoria’s Secret model in 2004 after she was promised that a meeting with a ‘very important’ man could land her a gig with the apparel company.
The seemingly cold case of Jeffrey Epstein has become hot again. This is surprising – not because pedophile rings, child sex trafficking and blackmail operations don’t exist (the world is full of them), but because usually they have enough elite protection to continue functioning in the shadows. After all, pedophilia and Satanism are the glue that hold the global conspiracy together, as David Icke is fond of saying.
Pedophilia is the common thread throughout the very highest echelons of the New World Order (NWO), so it involves the most powerful people in the world. These are the ones who have the influence and clout to ether prevent, misdirect or shut down investigations.
What makes this Epstein case interesting is that it has now become much, much deeper than it first appeared. As we shall see, there is substantial evidence that Epstein connected to the Mossad or some form of Israeli Intelligence.
Setting sail from Hawaii. Courtesy of The Situation Room/eXXpedition
More than 300 women will join a voyage around the world launching in October 2019 to highlight the disastrous impact of plastic pollution in the oceans and to conduct scientific research into the escalating crisis.
Millions of tonnes of plastic — from fashion fibers to food packaging and fishing gear — enters the sea annually leading some marine experts to warn there could be more plastic than fish by 2050.
The 2-year all-female voyage — organized by eXXpedition, a non-profit focusing on marine pollution — will collect samples from some of the world’s most significant and diverse marine environments to build a picture of the state of the oceans.
The 38,000 nautical mile trip will take place in the Arctic, the South Pacific islands, the Galapagos Islands, and central ocean areas where plastic accumulates due to circulating currents.
Eight million tonnes of plastic ended up in the sea each year where it broke down into tiny fragments, that are the same size as plankton.
Emily Penn, eXXpedition Director and Sky Ocean Rescue Ambassador, at the helm. Image: Courtesy of Eleanor Church/Larkrise Pictures/eXXpedition
Those particles, along with plastic microbeads used in toiletries as well as other household products, can be ingested by marine life, harming ecosystems and the food chain.
Penn, the founder of eXXpedition in 2014, said that the solution was to "turn off the tap" on land and prevent the plastic from entering the sea in the first place.
About 0.9 billion hectares (2.2 billion acres) of land across the world would be suitable for reforestation, that could ultimately capture two-thirds of human-made carbon emissions.
The Crowther Lab of ETH Zurich published a study in the journal Science that demonstrates it’d be the most effective method to fight climate change.
The Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich studies nature-based solutions to climate change. In their more recent study, the researchers showed for the first time ever where in the world, new trees could grow as well as how much carbon they would store.
The researchers estimated that under the current climate conditions, Earth’s land could support 4.4 billion hectares of constant tree cover. That’s 1.6 billion more than the existing 2.8 billion hectares. Of those 1.6 billion hectares, 0.9 billion hectares fulfill the criterion of not being used by humans. That means that there is currently an area of the size of the United States available for tree restoration. Once mature, those new forests could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon: approximately two-thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon which has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution.
According to Professor Thomas Crowther, co-author of the study and founder of the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich: “We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage.”
This study also shows which parts of the planet are most suited to forest restoration. The most significant potential can be found in just six countries: Russia (151 million hectares); the United States (103 million hectares); Canada (78.4 million hectares); Australia (58 million hectares); Brazil (49.7 million hectares); and China (40.2 million hectares).
Several current climate models are wrong in expecting climate change to increase global tree cover, according to the study. There’s likely to be an increase in the area of northern boreal forests in regions such as Siberia, but tree cover there averages 30% to 40% only. These gains could be outweighed by the losses suffered in dense tropical forests, that typically have 90% to 100% tree cover.
A tool on the Crowther Lab website enables users to look at any point on the globe, and determine how many trees could grow there and how much carbon they would store. It also offers lists of forest restoration organizations. The Crowther Lab will also be present at 2019’s Scientifica (website available only in German) to demonstrate the new tool to visitors.
The Crowther Lab uses nature as a solution to: 1) better allocate resources – identifying the regions which, if restored appropriately, could have the most significant climate impact; 2) set realistic goals – with measurable targets to maximize the effects of restoration projects; and 3) monitor progress – to evaluate whether targets are being achieved over time, and take corrective action if needed.
Punks are not dead. This cockatoo is living proof of it. Isaac Sherring-Tito was recently walking down a street in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia, and spotted something spiky falling from above. When he looked up, Isaac discovered a cockatoo tearing up an anti-bird system so that it could walk along freely.
Immediately, Isaac began to record the badass bird that was making its way along the ledge, picking up and dropping every section of the contraption. The smart vandal can be seen using its beak and feet in a very conscious act of rebellion.
As you might have guessed, wild cockatoos are native not only to Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands but Australia as well. Their lifespan is up to sixty years, depending upon the species (there are 21 of them). The oldest cockatoo in captivity was a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo named Cookie that lived at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago and lived to be 83 years old (1933–2016).
Like all parrots, cockatoos are zygodactyl (’they’ve got two toes pointing forward and two backward). That, complemented with the use of their beak, makes cockatoos able to use their feet like we use our hands and makes them terrific climbers. Or destroyers.
Macro photography is more than close-up images—this technique offers a new perspective on the world, unveiling the tiny and often overlooked details of nature. Canadian photographer Don Komarechka loves to explore nature through his macro camera lens, revealing water droplets as miniature works of art.
Each picture from Komarechka’s droplet series shows little spheres of water dotted across petals and flower stems. Through experimenting with perspective, the photographer’s breathtaking pictures reveal how the flowers are reflected in the droplets’ surface. Though liquid, every globule looks like a floral glass paperweight or snow globe.
Scroll down to check out Komarechka’s beautiful macro photography and see more from his portfolio on his website.
Meet Frankie, short for Frankenkitten. As you may have already noticed, Frankie is a little different. He’s got four ears and had to have one of his eyes removed. But if you told him he didn’t fit the norm, Frankie probably would not understand you. After he went through everything fate threw at him, the kittie has adapted to living in the world. His foster family is there to help him when he gets a bit overwhelmed.
“He was born under a suburban house to a feral mother,” said Frankie’s owner, Georgi Anderson. “He was found with one living sibling, but there may have been more that did not survive. The homeowners took Frankie and his brother in for several weeks to socialize them and fatten them up before bringing them to the shelter for medical care and rehoming.”
“The physical aspect of his condition has some impact on his everyday life. The little front ears mildly affect his directional hearing, as they almost act like little earmuffs to his proper ears. He has adjusted well to only having one eye, but I can tell his night vision is not as good as my other cats’. His legs cause him to walk splay-legged but don’t cause pain or affect the way he plays or jumps. His mouth probably is the largest physical factor — he struggles to eat wet food because he can’t get a good grasp on it. He is on a dry food-only diet and has learned to pick kibble with his tongue and bring it into his mouth that way, rather than using his teeth.”
The adorable cat is living proof that the beauty of a pet lies within it. Frankie and his humans are lucky to have each other, and something tells me everything’s going to be just fine.
Subway stations are not usually go-to spots to see cool architecture, but many cities around the world make commuting more fun by turning their transit hubs into works of art. While the best design is usually seen underground, an extraordinary subway entrance in Frankfurt, Germany brings artistic architecture to a new level.
Situated in the city center, the Bockenheimer Warte subway entrance looks like an old tram car crashing into the concrete sidewalk. This is not the work of the Hulk, but an innovative architect named Zbigniew Peter Pininski. Initially built in 1986, he was inspired by the work of surrealist artist René Magritte when creating it. Pininski intended to encourage a positive reaction from locals that were concerned about the extension of the city’s transport network.
The reaction from locals at the time is hard to determine, but undoubtedly, this unique subway entrance would jolt you out of your boring morning commute. Although it looks just like a tram car half-buried in rubble, it’s perfectly safe to climb down the stairs into the main station.
The subway station recently underwent an expansion in 2001, but the original entrance still stands. If you’re ever in Frankfurt, it’s worth hopping off the subway to take a look, even if it’s not your stop.
The temptation to sleep in and perhaps take a sick day is something we’ve all faced, but most of us fight it. Nothing good ever comes from being lazy, particularly when the entire world, relatively speaking, is getting ready to start the day. That being said, there’s one good thing about not being a morning person…science suggests that it could be a sign of intelligence.
The British study titled, Why night owls are more intelligent, urges us to look at our ancestry. As researchers Satoshi Kanazawa and Kaja Perina argue, early humans were early to bed and early to rise. Deviating from the norm has been part of humans since the beginning. People who do not only want to start the day are better suited for modern living. That’s in itself a sign of intelligence. Alarms with snooze buttons are a rather recent invention, after all.
Not wanting to get up demonstrates initiative in its little way. If we’ve got a clear desire to listen to our bodies and not be ordered around by some clock, then it demonstrates that we are independent. It stands to reason that people that want to sleep in are willing to find their passions and come up with their solutions.
Solving the issue of wanting to sleep with more sleep shows that at least we have basic logic, an understanding of cause-and-effect, and we do not always reject the apparent answer.
A University of Southampton study examined the sleep patterns of 1,229 men and women, as well as their socioeconomic circumstances. In general, people that went to bed near midnight and got up after 8 A.M., that were dubbed “night owls,” had higher income levels and a more comfortable, happier lifestyle, particularly when, compared to morning people, that were dubbed “early birds.”
Unfortunately, that does not mean we have a free pass to sleep our lives away, as tempting as it is. People that spend twelve hours or more in bed, which is at least half the day, were at a higher risk of untimely death too. For comparison’s sake, those at the lowest risk were people that had eight hours of sleep.
In the end, sleep is too important to be treated lightly. Sleep should be enjoyed neither too much nor too little. The best part is, you do not have to be a genius to get a good night’s sleep…we can all do it.
Preview photo: Mr. & Mrs. Smith / 20th Century Fox
But while constructing a functional housing unit might seem like a daunting task, Amazon has stepped in to make a hot millennial trend available to the masses by making those tiny homes easy to buy and simple to build. There are over two dozen options on Amazon for DIY tiny-home kits, including 113-foot cabins at $5,350 and loft-bedroom houses at $20,000.
The company selling the tiny-house kit on Amazon is a wood-production e-retailer Allwood Outlet.
The tiny home includes a partially covered deck out front, and that’s optional if you aren’t feeling a need for the outdoor wooden floor.
To turn the cabin into a residence, Allwood suggests adding utility hookups for electricity and internet, as well as insulation for colder temperatures.
The room is split up, though, by the ladder in the center that leads up to the small loft room above.
Adding a foundation made of gravel or concrete can help give a house a stable base, especially if you are trying to build a tiny house on grass (that can soften in the rain) or on ground that isn’t flat.
Fortunately, shipping on this home is free.
Amazon sells other build-it-yourself home kits for $46,900 and $64,650. Nevertheless, these houses are much larger than the 400-square-foot maximum under the definition of a "tiny house."
This week, Moscow’s election commission published a list of candidates they had allowed to register to run for the city legislative assembly on September 8. The glaring absence of any viable opposition candidate on the list sparked protests in the city.
Local election legislation requires independent candidates to collect signatures from at least 3 percent of eligible voters in their election district to be eligible to run. If the commission rejects less than 10 percent of the collected signatures, the candidate is put on the ballot.
However, Moscow’s commission rejected more than 10 percent of signatures collected in support of all prominent opposition candidates with credible chances of winning. Grounds such as alleged misspelling, wrong addresses, or similar errors, or mistakes in the candidate’s election account data were used. In other cases, based on handwriting analysis, authorities alleged signatures were faked or argued that the signatories weren’t on the official lists of voters.
Several of the rejected signatures belong to prominent public figures. The BBC Russian Service recorded a video in which voters stated their names and reported how the district election commission claimed they weren’t on the voter list. One of the “non-existents,” Elena Lukyanova, a renown professor of law, is, ironically, on the advisory council of Russia’s Central Election Commission.
The rejected candidates can file a legal complaint. But it’s extremely unlikely their complaints can be successfully reviewed in time to register for the elections.
The importance of Moscow for federal politics cannot be overestimated. So it’s not surprising that, similar to Russia’s 2018 presidential vote, the authorities are making special efforts to ensure the new Moscow legislature remain as opposition-free as the current one.
These tactics sparked public protests. At a large unsanctioned rally last week, police detained almost 40 peaceful protestors, including some rejected candidates. A nineteen-year-old protester who was detained was hospitalized with a concussion after police officers beat him. More public protests followed. They’ve been ongoing for days, with more planned for this weekend, July 21-22.
On July 18, a commission of the Russian president’s Human Rights Council condemned the signature verification process as “non-transparent” and urged Moscow’s election authorities to let all the candidates who had gathered the required number of signatures take part in the election. If the authorities don’t do this, the trust gap between the government and the public will continue to widen.
Mozambique’s national assembly took an important step toward ending the country’s sky-high rate of child marriage by unanimously adopting a law banning the practice. The new law prohibits marriage of children younger than 18 years old, without exception, and awaits the president’s signature to go into effect.
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi should sign the proposed law without delay and ensure girls are protected from the harms of child marriage. Government authorities should then make sure that communities know about the law when it comes into force and monitor its implementation.
As parliamentarians acknowledged in the debate around the child marriage law, keeping girls in school is key to preventing child marriages. In addition to ensuring the law is fully enforcd, government authorities should also review efforts to increase school retention for girls as part of its strategy to end child marriage.
The government has already taken a few important steps in this regard. In December 2018, Mozambique revoked a discriminatory 2003 decree that forced pregnant girls to take classes at night school. Education officials should now monitor schools to ensure that pregnant girls are going to school during the day. They should ensure Mozambique’s new education strategy addresses the educational needs of all girls, including pregnant and married girls and young mothers. The government should also address other barriers to their education such as stigma and lack of finances.
By passing this law, the national assembly has recognized Mozambique’s international obligation to uphold the rights of girls. With the president’s signature, children in Mozambique will finally have a new law to protect them.
(Beirut) – Kuwait’s State Security agency arrested at least 15 activists from the stateless Bidun community over the past week, Human Rights Watch said today.
Authorities arrested the activists after they organized a peaceful sit-in at al-Hurriya Square in al- Jahra town near Kuwait City on July 12, 2019 in response to the death of Ayed Hamad Moudath. Moudath, 20, committed suicide on July 7 after the government denied him civil documentation, which is needed to access public services, as well as to study and work.
“Kuwaiti authorities should immediately release the detained Bidun activists, who were peacefully advocating for their fundamental rights,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Kuwaiti government needs to fairly resolve the longstanding issue of stateless people in Kuwait instead of trying to silence them.”
For over 50 years, the Bidun, a community of between 88,000 to 106,000 stateless people who claim Kuwaiti nationality, have remained in legal limbo. After an initial period allowing them to register for citizenship, the authorities shifted Bidun citizenship applications to a series of committees that have avoided resolving the claims while maintaining sole authority to determine Bidun access to civil documentation and social services. Article 12 of the 1979 Public Gatherings Law bars non-Kuwaitis from participating in public gatherings.
On July 12, before the sit-in was scheduled to begin, the authorities surrounded the homes of those who had led previous sit-ins and arrested them. They include a prominent human rights defender, Abdulhakim al-Fadhli. The agents also confiscated al-Fadhli’s and his family’s cellphones and computers. The Gulf Center for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization that documents rights violations in the Middle East, reported that al-Fadhli was beaten while in custody at the Taima police station and was not allowed to file a complaint.
Authorities had previously arrested al-Fadhli several times for his peaceful activities on behalf of the Bidun community.
Other activists arrested between July 11 and 13 are: Awad al-Onan, Ahmed al-Onan, Abdullah al-Fadhli, Mutaib al-Onan, Muhammed al-Anzi, Yousef al-Osmi, ِNawaf Al-Bader, Hamed Jamil, Jarallah al-Fadhli, Yousif al-Bashig, Ahmed al-Anzi, Abdelrezak al-Fadhli, Abdelhadi al-Fadhli, and Alaa al-Saadoun. The authorities arrested activists at their homes, but did not detain people at the sit-in location. Abdelhadi and al-Saadoun were released on July 15, a source told Human Rights Watch. The general prosecutor has extended the detention of others until July 21, the source said.
The source said that the charges against the activists include spreading fake news, harming allied countries, joining a group that calls for the destruction of the country’s basic systems, calling for attacking national interests, calling for public gatherings, participating in public gatherings, and use of cellphones for abusive purposes.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone,” not just citizens, has the right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly.
Over the past two decades, the Kuwaiti government’s language to refer to the Bidun has changed, and Kuwaiti authorities now refer to them as “illegal residents.” The government claims that most of them moved to Kuwait from neighboring countries in search of a better livelihood and hid their other nationalities to claim Kuwaiti citizenship. As "illegal residents," the Bidun face obstacles to obtaining civil documentation, leaving them unable to consistently get social services or function as normal members of society and interfering with their fundamental rights to health and work, among others.
Since 2011, the Central System for the Remedy of Situations of Illegal Residents, the administrative body in charge of Bidun affairs, has started issuing temporary ID cards. The process of determining applicants’ eligibility for services and whether they hold another nationality remains opaque, however. In recent years, the ID cards issued to Bidun have often indicated that the cardholder possesses another nationality, such as Iraqi, Saudi, Iranian, Syrian, or Yemeni, but it remains unclear how the Central System determines the individual’s alleged nationality and what due process systems are available for Bidun to challenge the Central System’s decision.
The main opposition candidate in a landmark election for the governorate position of Zambézia province in central Mozambique is facing death threats and intimidation ahead of the October vote, Amnesty International said today.
These pre-election intimidation tactics are a terrible reminder of what tends to happen during elections in Mozambique; death threats and intimidation.
Manuel de Araújo is the candidate for the main opposition party Mozambique National Resistance’s (RENAMO); he is currently the mayor of Quelimane. The 15 October vote is contentious as it will be the first time that a governor is chosen by the electorate, previously the position was filled by presidential appointment.
“These pre-election intimidation tactics are a terrible reminder of what tends to happen during elections in Mozambique; death threats and intimidation. We have witnessed this grim pattern time and time again as political leaders are harassed and even killed for their critical views,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
“Elections should never be deadly, because after all it’s a battle of ideas. Violence has no place.”
Araújo received the latest anonymous letter on 10 July. The letter reminded him that he had been previously warned not to stand for the opposition party. It said he should be careful because he would be killed for standing for election. The letter was sent to his office and later printed and posted in local markets. It was also circulated on social media.
Prior to the October 2018 municipal elections – in which Araújo won the position of Mayor of Queliminane – he also received several intimidating and anonymous messages discouraging him from running. Araújo has consistently spoken out against corruption at the provincial and national level, making him a target of political attacks. On 27 September 2016, during the previous administration, a member of the ruling Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) party in the municipal assembly of Quelimane threatened him during a session, saying that “the mayor deserves a bullet in his head”.
Politics – a dangerous game in Mozambique
Araújo is not the first leader within the main opposition RENAMO party to receive death threats this year. In May, Paulo Vahanle, the mayor of Nampula, also received a message instructing him to leave his position as the mayor, or else he would lose his life. He was told that the position he was occupying had an “owner”.
Elections should never be deadly, because after all it’s a battle of ideas. Violence has no place
Paulo himself won a by-election in Nampula in January 2018, held after the murder of the former mayor, Mahamudo Amurane, member of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) in October 2017.
Timeline of recent political murders and attempted murders
On 4 October 2017, an unidentified gunman assassinated the then Mayor of Nampula City, Mahamudo Amurane, at his home. Since his election as Mayor of Nampula in 2013, Mahamudo Amurane had embarked on a public quest to root out corruption in the city’s administration and revitalize public infrastructure.
On 8 October 2016, Jeremias Pondeca, a senior RENAMO member and part of the mediation team seeking to end the clashes between his party and the government, was shot dead in Maputo by unknown men, at least some of whom are suspected to be security officers.
On 16 January 2016, Manuel Bissopo, the then Secretary General of RENAMO, was shot and severely wounded by unknown assailants as he travelled in his car in Beira city, in Sofala province. His bodyguard died following the shooting. The incident took place hours after a news conference in which Bissopo had accused state security forces of abducting and killing members of his party.
Amnesty International is very concerned that the continued impunity for such crimes creates an environment of public fear and insecurity in which political opponents are dissuaded from participating in politics.
“Mozambican authorities must launch an independent and effective investigation into the allegations of death threats and intimidation and bring suspected perpetrators to justice,” said Deprose Muchena.
Mozambican authorities must launch an independent and effective investigation into the allegations of death threats and intimidation and bring suspected perpetrators to justice
“Beyond that, authorities must guarantee the rights to freedom of association and expression ahead of the country’s general election in October, and beyond. Participation in the country’s politics should not expose anyone to the risk of death.”
Mozambicans will vote in presidential and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October 2019. While provincial governors were previously appointed by the president, through a patronage system, it will be the first time that they are directly elected through elections this year.
The verb "to ninja" means "to act or move like a ninja, particularly with regard to a combination of speed, power, and stealth." (Wiktionary) LaTeX adventures, demystifying digital tools for Humanists, one tutorial at a time.