Benny Wenda: “West Papuans Are Living in a Prison”

This article was originally published by Contributoria.com on 1 September 2014.


Last month, as Indonesians prepared to vote for a new president, dozens of West Papuan activists were reportedly attacked by security forces for urging local people to boycott the elections. Mischa Wilmers speaks to the exiled leader of the Free West Papua movement, Benny Wenda, about his lifelong struggle for justice and asks why nobody is talking about the territory he calls ‘little South Africa.’ » More

How Qatar’s Hand Casts Syrian Shadows

Images of the crown prince and the Emir of Qatar.

Isabell Schulz/Flickr

This article was originally published by openSecurity on 1 August 2014.

The asymmetrical proxy conflict currently being fought in Syria has many interested state parties and Qatar has taken a prominent, multi-track approach to influence the outcome. The Qataris have met with Assad, armed rebels, provided facilities for the US to train militants, paid defectors and–employing a novel methodology– used the trappings of civil society in the form of a ‘report’ on torture and the coverage provided by a ‘free press’. Qatar’s participation raises some interesting questions: What is the goal of this geopolitical manoeuvring? Are they using a civil society façade to achieve  state goals? » More

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Europe and China: A New Tack?

Photo: flickr/Friends of Europe

At a recent state dinner in London for visiting People’s Republic of China (PRC) Premier Li Keqiang, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made a number of undiplomatic comments, saying that the people of China were “politically shackled” to a communist one-party state guilty of human rights abuses. Unsurprisingly, given this government’s economic drive, Downing Street distanced itself from the statement, with Michael Fallon, the business minister, saying that human rights should not “get in the way” of trade links. Instead, UK Inc. reported that BP and Shell were due to announce multi-billion dollar deals with PRC oil companies. Indeed, investment from the entire visit by the PRC delegation was said to be worth more than 18 billion pounds.  That, it seemed, was that.

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Geopolitics of Dignity

Risk game, Courtesy of Flickr, avyfain

This article was originally published by Global Policy Journal on 20 May 2014. Republished with permission of the author.

The pursuit of freedom has long been thought of as the driving force of history. Freedom became the mantra of much of the Western interpretation of any popular uprising in a post-authoritarian context. However, the yearning for dignity, demonstrated for example by the Arab Spring, is a more fundamental and more inclusive human need than just the desire for freedom, and it is possible to live in freedom but not in dignity even in mature democracies.

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Burundi: Ignoring the Problem Won’t Make It Go Away

Smallholder farmer prepares maize plot for planting, courtesy of International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/flickr

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 23 April 2014.

In what looks like a classic case for the African Union’s (AU’s) early-warning mechanisms, alarm bells are growing louder over the political tensions in Burundi. Detentions, human rights violations and political strife are increasing in the country in the run-up to presidential elections in 2015. » More

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