April 24, 2009

  • Protests dwindle, but criticism of World Bank, IMF meetings still high
  • Supporters of community-based radio voice solidarity in Washington
  • West Bank conference to support non-violent resistance hit with violence
  • Senior military analyst describes “unimaginable” destruction in Gaza
  • Taliban retreat from Buner following deployment of Pakistani troops
  • The Armenian Genocide: 94 years on

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ANC celebrates sure victory in South African election
South Africa’s ruling party is poised for victory in an election that brought out more than 12 million voters. FSRN’s Davison Makanga reports many African National Congress supporters are already celebrating.
South Africa’s next President Jacob Zuma thanked his supporters today at a celebration rally in Johannesburg. Zuma’s party, the African Nation Congress, is set win the national elections with a massive margin. With only 3 percent of the vote still outstanding, the big question is whether the party will get the two-thirds majority. The ruling party won all but one of the country’s nine provinces. Official opposition party – the Democratic Alliance –  clinched the Western Cape province, regarded as its traditional stronghold. Meanwhile, several observer missions including the European and African unions have endorsed the elections as free and fair. Official results of the poll are expected this weekend. Davison Makanga, FSRN, Cape Town South Africa.

Indian Special Envoys urge truce in Sri Lanka
More than a hundred thousand civilians have fled the combat zone in Sri Lanka as the military there launches what it calls it’s “final assault” on the Tamil Tigers. The United Nations estimates more than 6 thousand civilians have been killed in the crossfire during the past three months. Amid international calls for a ceasefire, Indian’s central government sent special envoys to urge a truce. Bismillah Geelani reports.
The government’s decision to send the foreign secretary and the National Security advisor to Colombo was triggered by the growing unrest in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. In the middle of India’s national elections, the continuing war in Sri Lanka is dominating the political scene in the state.  More than 60 million populations of Tamil Nadu share close links with the Sri Lankan Tamil. Protests against increasing civilian causalities continued today with one more protestor immolating himself. This is the third case of self-immolation in the state since the Sri Lankan government launched its current offensive against the Tamil Tigers.The state government has been under tremendous pressure to persuade the Central government to intervene and bring about a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. The state’s ruling party espouses the Tamil cause. Bismillah Geelani, Free Speech Radio News, New Delhi.

Red Cross kicked out of Papua, Indonesia
Indonesian officials have ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross out of the remote and restricted region of Papua. Officials say the aid agency staff visited separatists in jail. FSRN’s Belinda Lopez reports from Jakarta.
Early news reports said the Red Cross was forced to leave after its staff visited detainees linked to the province’s small but politically-sensitive separatist movement. Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry denies this. It says the Red Cross failed to renew an agreement to operate in the province. It claims the original agreement ended in 2004. As the Red Cross began relocating staff from its Papua office, it SAID the existing agreement had no expiration date. It said it visited detainees to ensure they are treated properly. When otherwise peaceful national elections in Indonesia this month, police shot at protesters who attacked a police station with arrows. Several demonstrations against the Indonesian government also took place. The Foreign Ministry suggested other aid organizations may also face eviction. Belinda Lopez, FSRN, Jakarta.

Dozens of Somalis and Ethiopians Found Dead on Smuggler’s Boat
Doctors Without Borders report that one of their mobile teams discovered a capsized boat off the coast of Yemen with at least 35 dead Somalis and Ethiopians on board. The boat had left Somalia on Wednesday as refugees embarked on the dangerous journey in order to escape civil war and extreme poverty. The dead had drowned in the airless hull of the boat when it capsized as it approached the shore. So far this year, almost 20,000 people have arrived in Yemen on similar boats, and at least 130 people have died in the process. 66 are presumed missing at sea.

Pentagon will release more torture photos
And in the United States, the Pentagon says it will release more than 40 photographs that show alleged abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan by US personnel. The release comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU says the photos will demonstrate how prisoner abuse was widespread and extended beyond the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.  A US Court of Appeals denied Bush administration arguments that the photos would unleash outrage… ruling instead that there was ‘significant public interest’ in potential government misconduct. The photos will be released by late May.



Protests dwindle, but criticism of World Bank, IMF meetings still high
Every year the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank hold spring meetings at their headquarters in Washington DC while protesters demonstrate outside. But this year will be markedly different because not much protesting is expected. Yet that hardly means there’s consensus around their policies. Many still argue that these organizations do more to create poverty than to help and those opposed to their policies don’t want to see the World Bank and IMF’s power grow in the wake of the global recession. Tanya Snyder reports.

Supporters of community-based radio voice solidarity in Washington
Congress may soon vote on a bill that would give more communities across the country access to low-power FM radio stations. Supporters of the bill say the Local Community Radio Act holds the promise of bringing diverse genres and voices to communities. They are gathering in the nation’s capital this week in hopes of convincing lawmakers of the importance of local, independent media. In Washington, Sam Greenspan reports.

West Bank conference to support non-violent resistance hit with violence
Demonstrations took place in the West Bank today in honor of Basem Abu Rahma, who was killed by Israeli forces during last week’s protest against the Israeli separation wall in Bil’in. The protests coincided with the fourth annual Bil’in conference for nonviolent resistance against the separation wall and settlements in the West Bank. A handful of officials from across the world took took part in the conference alongside activists with the objective of expanding nonviolent resistance in the face of violence.  FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura has more.
FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura was one of those injured while reporting this story for us. He suffered from tear gas inhilation by a tear gas bomb. Ghassan reports he is doing okay.

Senior military analyst describes “unimaginable” destruction in Gaza
An internal investigation by the Israeli military concluded this week that it did not violate international law during the Gaza war. The investigation was meant to look into some of the most controversial actions of the war, including shooting at medical workers, the use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas and the shelling of homes and hospitals.The Israeli report concluded that many of these “unfortunate incidents were unavoidable” and that civilian deaths were “rare mishaps”.  But international human rights organization Human Rights Watch charged that “the Israeli Defense Force statement is an insult to the civilians in Gaza who needlessly died and an embarrassment to IDF officers who take military justice seriously.” HRW said that the IDF is not able nor willing to monitor itself and called the investigations “a cover-up for serious violations of international law.” FSRN spoke to Human Right Watch Senior Military Analyst Marc Garlasco in Gaza just one week after the war ended and this is what he found.

Taliban retreat from Buner following deployment of Pakistani troops
In Pakistan, Taliban militants pledged to leave the Buner region, located just 60 miles away from the capital Islamabad. This followed the implementation of a truce between the Pakistani Government and Taliban leaders in the Swat Valley. The Taliban promised peace in the area and to lay down weapons in exchange for Sharia Islamic law in Swat. But now the Taliban are looking to extend Sharia in more areas. FSRN’s Catherine Komp reads for our correspondent in the region, Gabe Matthews.

The Armenian Genocide: 94 years on
As we end our newscast today, we remind listeners that today is the anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, which began 94 years ago today. That’s when the Ottoman Empire arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. It’s estimated that as many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a four year period at the hands of the Ottomans. But Turkey has remained defiant that genocide ever took place. In a speech today, President Obama also stopped short of calling it a genocide, but referred to it as “one of the great atrocities of the 20th century.” And with hopes of moving forward, this week Turkey and Armenia said they were nearing a historic reconciliation after years of tension following Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s visit to Armenia last fall, marking the first time a Turkish leader visits Armenia. FSRN recently spoke with Serj Tankian, founder of the Axis of Justice. He explained what’s on his mind as another anniversary of the Armenian Genocide rolls around.

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