War and Peace
CAMEROONRespect for human rights should be the cornerstone of Africa's development, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said while inaugurating a regional human rights centre in Cameroon on 8 June. The UN sub-regional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa located in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, aims to promote human rights and encourage the rule of law in the region.
It will strengthen the work of various human rights organisations and civil society, train and provide technical and financial assistance to human rights NGOs.
Locating the center in Cameroon marked the United Nations' desire to promote human rights in central African countries, Robinson who was on two-day visit to Cameroon said.
"Central Africa including the Great Lakes region, has [witnessed] armed conflicts whose cross-border impact is important. Conflicts have negative consequences on human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as on the proper functioning of state and non-state institutions," Robinson said.
The secretary-general of the Economic Community of Central African States, Louis-Sylvain Gomba, pledged that the community would collaborate with the sub-regional centre to advance human rights.
The ceremony marked the official inauguration, but the centre has been operational since March 2001. Headed by Ethiopian national Teferra Shiawl-Kidanekal, it oversees the human rights situation in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principle. (IRIN)
CONGO-BrazzavilleFighting erupted early on 8 June in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo (ROC), when an assault was launched on Mayama airport, sources in the city told IRIN. After a four-hour lull gunfire was heard again around 7 a.m. (09:00 GMT) and lasted until 8:30 a.m. (10:30 GMT). "The town is extremely quiet," one resident told IRIN. "No one is on the road apart from government and military vehicles." She said about 5,000 people have started to flee but the military has blockaded "many parts of town". In Mfilou area, tanks are in the street, and cars are being stolen by the military in Ouenze." A humanitarian worker said that some government soldiers were wounded, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that two of their staff were also wounded but could not be evacuated because roads are blocked.
Details about the conflict were still sketchy by midday, but diplomats said were considering two theories: First, that Ninja militias sought to attack government military installations and equipment at Mayama. "Government tanks lined up and fired in the area, and light arms were fired as well," a diplomat in Brazzaville told IRIN. "The military often retaliates this way - with heavy and light arms - to scare and deter the Ninjas."
Fighting erupted in ROC in late March when so-called Ninja militias attacked several government military positions in Pool region, north and west of Brazzaville, government said. However, Ninja representatives have said that the clashes were provoked when they discovered government plans to arrest their leader, the Rev Frederic Bitsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi.
A second explanation put forth was that this was an attempted coup d'etat, or perhaps the result of internal problems between the Congolese and Angolan forces, whose troops are present to support President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Sassou-Nguesso was due back later on Friday after attending the World Food Summit in Rome.
ETHIOPIAPolice Have Been Firing on Unarmed Protesters On 24th May 2002 security forces fired on farmers demonstrating against a change in the administrative status of Awassa, the capital of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC) said security agents used machine guns mounted on armoured vehicles to fire at the unarmed farmers. Twenty-five died, including 12 children and 26 were injured. Shortly before the Awassa killings there were shootings in Shambu, Ambo and other towns in Oromiya State resulting in 5 known student deaths. In March 2001, police killed at least 40 civilians and injured 400 others during student demonstrations in the capital Addis Ababa at the Addis Ababa University.
At a meeting in Siraro Woreda in Oromiya in 2001, federal and police forces killed two people.
Human Rights Watch Africa Division said the government must take immediate action against federal police and prosecute those responsible.
The government is unwilling to permit free assembly. Lethal force is only permissible in strictly unavoidable circumstances to protect life but a lack of non-lethal crowd control equipment was responsible for the March killings. (HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH)