Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Stefan Magdalinski/Wikimedia Commons
On October 5, 2012, four students of the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria were beaten and burnt to death by a lynch mob, for allegedly stealing a Blackberry phone and a laptop. The tragic deaths of the students now known as the Aluu4 have caused outrage and plenty of online discussion about the serious problem of mob justice in Nigeria. It has also created opportunities for citizens to raise public awareness and propose solutions.
Noting the absence of legal provisions against mob justice, blogger Okechukwu Ofili posted a petition on October 18th for a mob justice prohibition bill signed by himself and “Nigerians Fighting for CHANGE” (read the full draft bill here) that has so far gathered more than 3,500 signatures. » More
Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (in dark glasses) with President Sata (left) and other government officials. Picture courtesy of Zambian Watchdog
Zambia recently woke up to a story in state-owned media that a group calling itself Tongas Under Oath had killed two people belonging to President Michael Sata’s ethnic group, and was now in the process of removing settlers from the ethnically Tonga Southern Province. However, the story did not wash with the citizens who simply viewed it as an attempt by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government to clamp down on the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND). Zambia’s third largest opposition party is led by Hakainde Hichilema, a Tonga who has been very critical of the Sata government. And as is often the case in Zambian politics, Hichilema is the latest in a line of fearless opposition leaders whose increasing popular support is likely to result in electoral success.
Prior to the release of the letter allegedly written by the Tongas Under Oath group, Hichilema was arrested and charged after he claimed that the PF government was planning to send youths to Sudan to train as militias. A few days later, the opposition’s headquarters in the capital, Lusaka, were searched by the police looking for seditious materials. » More
Protestors voicing their outrage against FARC in 2008. Photo: xmascarol/flickr
Despite President Juan Manuel Santos’ wish [es] for discretion, news broke [es] in late August that the Colombian government was to begin negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This was finally confirmed by Santos on September 4 during a televised speech that outlined that the government’s negotiations [es] with FARC would seek an end to the armed conflict and drug trafficking. Both sides will also discuss victims’ rights, rural development and the participation of FARC in Colombia’s democratic process. Fearing a repeat of the last round of failed negotiationsin 1999-2002, Santos also said that no amnesty would be granted for FARC leaders and that military operations would continue. Minutes later, FARC’s leader, Timoleón Jiménez (‘Timochenko’) appeared in a broadcast from Havana, Cuba and declared that FARC is truly committed to a “civilized dialogue” that would end the decades-old conflict. » More
Makhachkala, the capital city of Dagestan. Photo: Bolshakov/flickr
On September 15, 2012 Dagestan, a Russian republic located next to Chechnya in the North Caucasus, was celebrating its Day of National Unity [ru]. While the holiday always seems to be forced upon Dagestan the need for unity is undoubtedly important for the region.
The North Caucasus is one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Russia, and Dagestan is no exception. Its largest ethnic group, the Avar, make up only 30% of the population – the rest is split between a dozen small nationalities.
Ethnic division combined with high levels of unemployment is a recipe for volatility. Opposition leader Eduard Limonov blogged on August 15 [ru]:
[The] impression is that Dagestan is about to stop being a territory of the Russian Federation, because every day we learn of subversive acts, murders and attacks …This is a classic beginning of a civil war.
Two weeks later talk of civil war [ru] was on everyone’s mind. On August 28, Said Afandi, a Sufi Sheikh and one of Dagestan’s most prominent religious scholars, was killed by a female suicide bomber [ru]. The bomber was a Salafi Muslim, and the killing was a manifestation of the tension between the republic’s traditional Sunni Sufis and a growing fundamentalist movement, according to Dagestani blogger[ru] Saif Nuri. » More
Student clash in Madagascar. Photo: r1_lita/flickr
Following the deaths of around a hundred people in southern Madagascar in clashes between zebu cattle rustlers (“dahalo”) and farmers, the government has decided to take special security measures to restore order. The violence is a symptom of the growing political instability in Madagascar that is affecting urban centers as well as rural communities.
People’s Justice in the South
Thefts and armed attacks are a recurring problem in Madagascar and have been growing more and more frequent since the political crisis in 2009. To overcome this problem, a national counter-instability plan [fr] was formally introduced in April 2012. The government has now mobilized the armed forces in the capital as well as in areas particularly affected by cattle theft.
However, initial attempts at stabilizing the southern region were far from successful. As Alain Rajaonarivony explains [fr]:
The military campaign carried out against the dahalo in the bush of the great south in June and July 2012 was a disaster. Not only were they more familiar with the local terrain, the dahalo were also just as well equipped as the government forces – and the lack of helicopters was sorely felt by the latter. The government forces were especially noted not for their combat ability but for their atrocities, when they burnt villages that could serve as support bases for the dahalo. » More