Nigeria and the deadly political legacy of military rule

            ‘Congratulations to our governor on his first year in office,’ reads the vast hording by the main Abuja-Jos road. A chubby-cheeked man with perfect teeth beams down on passing motorists. You don’t need to read the small print to know the poster was paid for by the businessmen who bankrolled the successful candidate. Fifty miles further along the same road another benevolent ruler favours travellers with his cherubic grin. ‘My heart goes out to all the people of south Kadema,’ reads the inscription. Meanwhile, his grateful voters carefully negotiate the atrocious highway between Nigeria’s capital and Jos, a city of nearly a million. In the words of a local…

When does a refugee camp become a permanent home?

REBECCA TINSLEY 20 May 2015 Encamped refugees are often portrayed on our TV screens as objects of pity with deadpan expressions. Time to ask what they think and feel. Love in a hard place: on St Valentine’s evening 2013, the families of Aya and Mohammed gathered in a tiny building in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, housing an estimated 90,000 refugees who fled Syria, and agreed on their engagement. Flickr / Oxfam International. Some rights reserved. Across the globe 10m people are living in refugee camps. Many, like the Syrians in Jordan and Turkey, arrived recently. Others, like the Palestinians in Lebanon or Burma’s ethnic minorities in Thailand, have been there for decades. At what stage do people realise their port-in-a-storm…

The Dysfunctional Childhood of the World’s Newest Nation – South Sudan

  Interlib Article   South Sudan emerged from decades of bloodshed in 2011, liberated from its brutal Islamist masters in Sudan. Yet, ever since the heady independence celebrations in the new capital Juba, the fledgling nation has been sliding toward civil war. In August this year, the situation deteriorated to the point that aid workers now warn of a massive famine, and Sudan experts see little chance of a lasting cease-fire. It is not unusual for a guerrilla army to hold together until it reaches its goal, and then fracture into political feuds. Add to that several bloated egos who manipulate ethnic tensions to their own ends, indifferent to the thousands of innocent, unarmed civilians who are slaughtered to serve their gross ambitions. Underlying tensions within the ruling…

Africa Views – Four years later – was the ICC right to indict Sudan’s Bashir?

By Olivia Warham,  Waging Peace Four years ago today, President Bashir of Sudan gained the dubious distinction of being the first head of state indicted by the International Criminal Court. When the indictment was announced it was greeted with spontaneous celebrations in Darfuri refugee camps, and by the Darfuri diaspora worldwide. Finally, the survivors of Bashir’s systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing hoped justice was at hand.  Until that moment, no manner of peace agreement could be sufficient without the delivery of justice. Yet, four years on, Bashir continues to ethnically cleanse Sudan’s non-Arab population with impunity. He has also extinguished any hope of an Arab Spring, brutally crushing internal dissent, and harassing brave civil society leaders within the Arab population. Despite being…

Genocide needs to be nipped in the bud, not blamed on ICC after the event

The chief prosecutor of the international criminal court this week failed to provide sufficiently strong legal evidence linking Mathieu Ngudjolo, an alleged war criminal, with the rape, pillage and massacre in a village in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cue disapproval about how the ICC and chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda built the case. But focusing on this case obscures the more important issue at stake: the ICC will only ever be as effective as the constituent members of the international community allows it to be. As events in Syria remind us, the world’s default position when faced with mass civilian atrocities is to stand to one side. We resort to diplomatic hand-wringing and naive calls for peace….

President al-Bashir feels heat from ‘Sudanese Spring’

By Olivia Warham, Special for CNN June 30, 2012 Sudanese men protest on the road through a United Nations displacement camp. STORY HIGHLIGHTS Since 17 June Sudanese civilians have been demonstrating against the totalitarian regime that has ruled them for 23 years Olivia Warham says there is no freedom of speech or assembly in Sudan She calls the iron control of all public debate part of what psychiatrists call the “infantilization” process Editor’s note: Olivia Warham is Director of Waging Peace, a charity which campaigns against genocide and systematic human rights violations, with a particular focus on Africa. (CNN) — Since 17 June, Sudanese civilians have been demonstrating against the totalitarian regime that has ruled them for…

Can world court survive African Union’s attack?

By Olivia Warham, Special for CNN On January 20, 1942 the Nazi high command gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss eliminating European Jewry. One attendee expressed reservations, worrying that they might one day be held responsible. Hitler dismissed the man’s concerns, saying, “Who now remembers the Armenians?” Had Hitler lived, his rhetorical question about the Ottoman Empire’s extermination of more than 1 million of its citizens would have received a belated response at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. The African Union (AU) has called for the International Criminal Court’s charges against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir to be dropped. As Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, departs his post, can…

HITLER DIDN’S STOP. WHY WILL SUDAN BE A DIFFERENT STORY?

By Olivia Warham, May 17, 2012 Follow The JC on Twitter Churchill described appeasement as feeding a crocodile, hoping it chooses to eat you last. If humans learned anything from the 20th century, it should have been that if you keep averting your eyes to genocide elsewhere, eventually you will have to fight to save your own neighbourhood, and you will do so at enormous cost. Alas, we have failed to draw the obvious conclusions from appeasement. Hence those who form “the international community” are responding to 21st century genocide in Sudan as if the Holocaust never happened. And whether in Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia or Sudan, there has been a predictable pattern to the world’s reaction,…

Darfur nine years on: murder in a media vacuum

Written by Rebecca Tinsley with Olivia Warham of Waging Peace. and originally appeared in The New Statesman Earlier this month the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, condemned Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s “long list of broken promises”. “The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says,” she added. “And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.” The same should apply to President Omer al Bashir of Sudan who has been killing, ethnically cleansing, raping, torturing and terrorizing the people of Darfur for nine years. Like Assad, Sudan’s Bashir targets his own unarmed civilians systematically and with impunity. As Darfuris mark the anniversary of the start of their rebellion on…

It is Time to Point the Finger of Blame

Written by Rebecca Tinsley with Olivia Warham of Waging Peace. Appeared originally in the Sudan Trubune Less than a year after South Sudan gained independence, some are already preparing to write its obituary. Before the January 2011 referendum, many of us predicted things would go badly unless the international community, in its role as midwife to the new nation, ensured that outstanding elements of the 2005 peace deal were resolved. These elements were not minor matters: the location of the border, how much South Sudan would pay to tranship oil across Sudan, and who was a citizen. However, everyone was in a hurry to complete the secession process and the split went ahead with the…