tl;dr This statement, signed by 16 organizations and individuals, calls for a ceasefire in Libya. The best way to protect civilians in this violent stalemate is to work for a peaceful political solution while bringing our war dollars home.
A Call to Congress for a Cease-fire in Libya, issued by U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations that Support Human Rights and Democracy in Africa
The undersigned organizations and individuals call on Congress to support peace, not war, in Libya. The four-month NATO military intervention in Libya, in which the U.S. Africa Command plays a vital role, has reached a stalemate, and is killing civilians rather than protecting them. The best way in the short term to save civilian lives and in the longer term to achieve the stability in which the Libyan people can develop democratic institutions is to promote an internationally-led cease-fire and negotiations between the warring parties, provide generous humanitarian assistance, and maintain a strict arms embargo. To encourage this, we urge Congress to bar funding for any military or intelligence operations against Libya.
We agree with the recent findings of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to Libya, who “underscored the need for a political solution to the crisis that spares the Libyan people further suffering and meets their legitimate demands and aspirations for a democratic future.” Similarly, the African Union stated on June 15: “The correct way forward now is dialogue without pre-conditions… This dialogue should agree on the way forward in the direction of introducing competitive politics.” The U.S. policy of regime change first, peace later is prolonging the hostilities and adding to civilian casualties.
NATO and U.S. Africa Command military operations now far exceed the UN mandate to protect civilians and are clearly designed to oust the current regime. Some of the methods chosen for these operations — attempted assassination and attacks on economic targets — are patently illegal in themselves.
U.S. participation in NATO operations also violates the clear intent of the Constitution that Congress must decide when to go to war. We agree with Senator Richard Lugar, who dismissed the administration’s claims that “non-kinetic” intelligence and surveillance, attacks on air defenses, and targeted drone attacks do not constitute “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution: “The fact that we are leaving most of the shooting to other countries does not mean that the United States is not involved in acts of war.”
The international community shares a “responsibility to protect” civilians threatened by mass violence, but the NATO operation in Libya shows that military force is often a poor instrument for putting these good intentions into practice. Going beyond financial sanctions, arms embargos, and non-recognition of governments substitutes violence for pressure and dialogue, and is often just as unlikely to be successful in saving lives.
The U.S. also has a long history of arming the very dictators whose repression later leads to calls for intervention. The United States backed the repressive regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, whose non-violent citizen movements launched the Arab Re-awakening. The U.S. continues to support abusive regimes in Bahrain, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Equatorial Guinea.
For all of these reasons, we urge Congress to protect the Libyan people by cutting funds for military operations in Libya and pressing the Obama administration to end US/NATO operations. We further urge the administration to allow a cease-fire and negotiations to proceed.
Africa Faith and Justice Network
The American Friends Service Committee
Caleb Rossiter of the Institute for Policy Studies
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Foreign Policy in Focus of the Institute for Policy Studies
The Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends of the Congo
Horace Campbell of Syracuse University
The New International Program of the Institute for Policy Studies
Pax Christi of Metro New York
The U.S. Peace Council
The Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
An article in Stars and Stripes seems to confirm Africa Human Security’s belief that development and health programs should be run by the relevant agencies, not the military. The take-away from the AFRICOM-run conference on the Defense department’s HIV/AIDS prevention program was very cautious; in a world of budget cuts, these programs are the first to go. “HIV prevention programs linked directly to US national security interests,” like the infection rate of African troops, “will likely get higher priority.” While currently there is no intent to cut these efforts, Eugene Zimulinda, the manager of the HIV/AIDS prevention program in Rwanda, claims that with a struggling US economy it’ll be “about trying to do more with less.”
AFRICOM began in 2008, when the scribbles of recession had already been written on the wall. Surrounding the goal of security with secondary humanitarian programs means that they are always the first on the proverbial chopping block. The priority of the military is, and always should be, security. Let international, national and local non-profits which specialize on development, as well as USAID and non-military government agencies do what they do best. You wouldn’t ask a development expert to fly a battle helicopter, would you?
Source: Stars and Stripes article 8/15/11
More on combating HIV/AIDS:
From Africa Faith and Justice Network
While US Senators from Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina vie to host AFRICOM's new headquarters, the location is still very much up in the air, even regarding which continent. There has been much resistance in Africa for a headquarters on the continent, but quite a few US states would love the boost in jobs and potential manufacturing deals as the young command grows. AFRICOM's current headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany (described by the Economist as "perhaps the least African place in the world") houses its 2000 some employees which includes "no regular troops, no “trigger-pullers”" and requires long flights to most areas of Africa. General Carter Ham, the head of AFRICOM, is due to announce locations by 2012. In a recent interview in Uganda, when the obligatory question about AFRICOM's headquarters came up, it seemed picking up and moving may not be worth it: "And frankly, I think just the disruption that would occur to the headquarters if we had to pick it up and move it someplace -- our view is for us to probably stay where we are."
He also said about their current headquarters in Germany: "That's actually worked out pretty well for us. We are generally in the same time zone as most countries in Africa; a reasonably good commercial air access into the continent, so that's worked out quite well for us."
Ham also said it was unlikely that AFRICOM would have a permanent base, aside from the operational base in Djibouti. He urged Ugandans to not judge by bases, but by sustained partnerships.
No one knows for sure yet, but for now it looks like AFRICOM just may stay put.
Transcript of Gen Ham's talk in Uganda: http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=6627&lang=0
Economist article: http://www.economist.com/node/18561821?story_id=18561821&fsrc=rss
$550 mil spent by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in the first 9 days in Libya could
. . . build 80,570 new schools or libraries in Nigeria or Ethiopia (UNICEF)
. . . supply Books and other Educational materials for 176 million children in Africa (UNICEF)
. . . provide 14.6 million South African orphans special support and education (UNICEF)
In light of AFRICOM's largest military action to date in Libya, here are some article highlights to get caught up on AFRICOM's latest activities:
This article "Africom’s real role exposed in Libya attack" interviews Emira Woods, Foreign Policy In Focus Co-director and a leader of Africa Human Security Working Group.
In "Webb, Warner pitch JFCOM sites for Africa Command" the potential sites of the future headquarters for AFRICOM are discussed, since "No African nation is willing to host the headquarters." (though Liberia has expressed interest).
In an article in the Air Force Times, "AFRICOM Chief: Libya Upset Some African Nations" a voice from the military admits that the African Union does not support this intervention, the rebels themselves do not want NATO involvement, and the concern that a stalemate will result in the US being obliged through NATO to continue support for Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, a research associate for the Centre of Research on Globalization was interviewed for Life Week, a major Chinese magazine out of Beijing. Nazemroaya strongly believes that military actions and resulting reconstruction in Libya are meant to solidify AFRICOM's independence, because it is still dependent on EUCOM. Admiral Stravridis, commander of both NATO and EUCOM, reportedly said that they would have to ask Gen Ham (Commander and Head of AFRICOM) about possible Al Qaeda and other terrorist presences on the ground--implying that AFRICOM is indeed on the ground in Libya.
"At the hearing both Admiral Stavridis and Senator McCain both unwittingly stated that sanctions and no-fly zones do not accomplish anything. If these actions do not accomplish anything, then why did the U.S. push for them to be imposed on the Libyans?"
Click the links for the full texts of these articles.
Click here to read this recent article published in Around Africa, Africa Faith and Justice Network's newsletter.
Africa advocates can get behind this!
From their website :
"We are organizing a Global Day of Action on Military Spending on April 12, 2011 to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditures. On this day, people on all continents will join together in joint actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities. Such events will help us to build the international network around this issue."
Spread the word about these events to contacts in Africa, different groups are hosting marches, pickets, street theater, and demonstrations, while others are holding film screenings, seminars, or press conferences--the sky is the limit! So far over 100 groups in 35 countries and many US states are involved with GDAMS. There will be an event at the White House and perhaps the Mall, details to follow once plans are set.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for comments or questions.
(Cross-posted from afjn.org)
The Africa Human Security Working Group of which AFJN is the convener had the pleasure of hearing Jimmy Juba speak about AFRICOM and its impact on life and security in the Congo. Jimmy is the Mennonite Central Committee Regional Peace Coordinator for Southern Africa. Originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, Jimmy provided new insights and recommendations for the struggle for human security in Africa. He reviewed the supposed tasks of AFRICOM and their implications to DRC as well as offered some challenges to AFRICOM as it relates to Africa.
AFRICOM is certainly training and equipping a Congolese Battalion. Supposedly there is training in human rights, food conservation and HIV/AIDS. Congolese troops are also trained to defeat extremists groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army. AFRICOM is also supposedly serving as an agent for humanitarian assistance. That said, rather than providing education, shelter and food for displaced people, AFRICOM has worked on strengthening military infrastructure in the Kivu.
Challenges for AFRICOM are many. Some of those African soldiers trained by AFRICOM are the very soldiers that are involved in military oppression of the people. Also, even educated Africans, journalists and human rights advocates aren’t really aware of AFRICOM. African leaders seem not to be informing their people of the connections they are making with AFRICOM. There have been delegations of Congolese sent to the AFRICOM Headquarters in Stuggart, Germany, in a public relations exercise to improve the perception of what AFRICOM can offer.
That cannot cover the fact that AFRICOM is preparing soldiers who will be violating human rights when they should be protecting them. AFRICOM is training troops in DRC, but the problem is compounded because the UN, France and China are also training troops. Who is tracking what they do? Who is accountable for them? What do they do when they do not receive any money for their “protection”?
The challenge for us it to spread awareness in Africa and the US about AFRICOM. We brainstormed the many networks of peace-building institutes and centers that exist both here and on the continent. Here are some suggestions that can improve the security situation on the ground in many parts of Africa:
· Find a way to ensure that government workers, police and soldiers are paid for their work.
· Do not “integrate” into the army those who were members of various rebel militias unless properly vetted and trained
· There is a need for a civilian solution to security, perhaps a civilian corps that utilizes the unemployed youth
· We need to make better use of Church grassroots movements.
· There is the need for dialogue between nations, such as Rwanda and DRC, in order to reduce the need for military security among neighbors.
Black is Back Coalition March on Washington to End U.S Imperialist Wars Date: Saturday, November 13, 2010 - 12:00pm Location : Malcom X Park, DC
This will mark the second year in a row that the Black is Back Coalition will march on the White House while Barack Obama, the first black US President, occupies it.
The mobilization will protest Obama’s continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the administration's funding and support through AFRICOM of the different proxy wars on the African Continent, especially Congo, Rwanda and Somalia.
This imperialist aggression goes hand in hand with the ever increasing war-like posture and police violence against African and other oppressed people here in the US, in Occupied Palestine, and throughout the world.
The coalition's official name, The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, first came together on September 12, 2009. On November 7 of last year the entire spectrum of black political activists – nationalists, communists, Muslims, Christians, socialists, etc. – came together in Washington, DC, holding the first national anti-war protest against Obama’s continuation of unjust US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
November 13, Malcolm X Park, Washington, DC
Southern Africa Peacebuilders (bios below)
Date: Tuesday, November 9, 11:30am – 1pm
Location: The Methodist Building, Suite 108
110 Maryland Ave, NE
Beverages and a light lunch will be provided.
The following issues will be discussed: Mining justice, gender based violence [related to resource extraction], land rights, and democracy and good governance.
Rev. Rose Lala Biasima is a member of the National Parliament and the Vice President of the Parliamentary Group Movement for Social Renewal Political Party in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is also the Associate General Secretary of the Department of Women and Family of the Church of Christ in Congo. In addition, Ms. Biasima has and continues to be an advocate and resource person for women’s rights in a number of African and international forums.
Mr. Dumisani Nkomo is the CEO and co-founder of Habbakuk Trust, a Christian community-based advocacy organization in Zimbabwe. He has a background in activism and community organizing with the Christian Communicators Association of Zimbabwe. He is a leader in civil society and has experience leading trainings in elections monitoring, advocacy, constitutional outreach and communication skills.
Rev. Ray Motsiis the senior minister of Bulawayo Baptist church. He is the founder of both Grace to Heal, an organization working on peacebuilding and trauma healing in Zimbabwe, and the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a Christian organization focused on advocacy and peacebuilding. He recently received his PhD and will soon begin working as the president of the Theological College of Zimbabwe.
Rev. Godfrey Walalaze is a Lutheran minister from Tanzania currently working with Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) in Tanzania as the Program Officer on Climate Change and Good Governance. He has recently been working on economic justice, mining, and resource extraction issues. He has recently co-authored the article in the New Routes Journal, “Religious Leaders Challenge Mining Companies.”
Mr. Hubert Mukalasi Lubyamais a lawyer and the Program Officer for Peace, Social Justice and Good Governance for the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT), an organization which has been at the forefront of mining justice work in Tanzania. The main purpose of his office is to increase capacity for peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and the promotion of human rights among its member churches.
PLEASE PASS THE INFORMATION TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS!
For more information, contact: Patricia Kisare
Legislative Assistant for International Affairs
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
920 Pennsylvania Ave. SE | Washington, DC 20003
Ph: 202-544-6564 x116 | Fax: 202-544-2820
The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated atrocities committed during the country's long civil war and calls for punishment for those responsible, has largely been ignored. The report implicates all faction leaders and prohibits all those in power from seeking elected office for 30 years, including current President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Joseph Gbaba, the chairman of new group called "The Movement for Holistic Peace in Liberia" states that an interim government should be set up and the 2011 elections postponed because the current leadership is implicated in the TRC's report. After the Accra Peace Agreements in 2003 the country successfully used an interim government to shift to peaceful elections in 2005.
The Liberian government responded that some mandates in the TRC's recommendations are unconstitutional and that support from the US State Dept would be required to determine the future of the government.
These developments come at a crucial time in AFRICOM's relations with Liberia. AFRICOM already began a 5-year mentoring program with the Armed Forces of Liberia in January 2010. President Johnson-Sirleaf has made a military partnership with the US state of Michigan and is excited to move forward with that partnership. The current conditions make Liberia a candidate for the AFRICOM headquarters, regardless of the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the facts of the atrocities committed during the civil war.
If the report is true, the US military is openly condoning the human rights violations committed by the government and ignoring the investigations made by the commission. Attention needs to be paid, the report investigated, and some measure of justice meted out before continued military operations and funding are poured into Liberia.
Full text here: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Butty-Liberia-TRC-Symposium-Gbaba-01november10-106429883.html
Reference on AFRICOM info: http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=5491&lang=0
News & Views
Check out the latest updates from the Africa Human Security Working Group and participating organizations, as well as the latest in the media on AFRICOM and U.S. military in Africa.