Sunday, August 28, 2011

GOVERNANCE & CONFLICT (Palestine-Israel)

"Boys throw stones at Israeli soldiers." (AFP)
How Israel Takes Its Revenge on Boys Who Throw Stones
By Catrina Stewart
The Independent, 26 August 2011
"The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. 'Lift up your head! Lift it up!' shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. 'I wish you'd let me go,' the boy whimpers, 'just so I can get some sleep.' During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear. This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year. Israel has robustly defended its record, arguing that the treatment of minors has vastly improved with the creation of a military juvenile court two years ago. But the children who have faced the rough justice of the occupation tell a very different story. 'The problems start long before the child is brought to court, it starts with their arrest,' says Naomi Lalo, an activist with No Legal Frontiers, an Israeli group that monitors the military courts. It is during their interrogation where their 'fate is doomed', she says. Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room. Checking the boy's name on his father's identity card, the officer looked 'shocked' when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer's father, Saher. 'I said, "He's too young; why do you want him?" "I don't know," he said'. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be 'We cried, all of us,' his father says. 'I know my sons; they don't throw stones.'

Friday, August 26, 2011


"Dying of shame: a Congolese rape victim, currently resident in Uganda. This man’s wife has left him, as she was unable to accept what happened. He attempted suicide at the end of last year." (Will Storr/Observer)
The Rape of Men
By Will Storr
The Observer, July 17, 2011
"Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility. Yet every now and then someone gathers the courage to tell of it. This is just what happened on an ordinary afternoon in the office of a kind and careful counsellor in Kampala, Uganda. For four years Eunice Owiny had been employed by Makerere University's Refugee Law Project (RLP) to help displaced people from all over Africa work through their traumas. This particular case, though, was a puzzle. A female client was having marital difficulties. 'My husband can't have sex,' she complained. 'He feels very bad about this. I'm sure there's something he's keeping from me.' Owiny invited the husband in. For a while they got nowhere. Then Owiny asked the wife to leave. The man then murmured cryptically: 'It happened to me.' Owiny frowned. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old sanitary pad. 'Mama Eunice,' he said. 'I am in pain. I have to use this.' Laying the pus-covered pad on the desk in front of him, he gave up his secret. During his escape from the civil war in neighbouring Congo, he had been separated from his wife and taken by rebels. His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years. And he wasn't the only one. He watched as man after man was taken and raped. The wounds of one were so grievous that he died in the cell in front of him. 'That was hard for me to take,' Owiny tells me today. 'There are certain things you just don't believe can happen to a man, you get me? But I know now that sexual violence against men is a huge problem. Everybody has heard the women's stories. But nobody has heard the men's.'


The Short Life and Cruel Death of Libyan Freedom Fighter Izz al-Arab Matar
By Hisham Matar
The Guardian, August 26, 2011
"My cousin Izz al-Arab Matar, a 22-year-old final-year student in engineering, was shot in Bab al-Aziziya, Muammar Gaddafi's fortified compound in Tripoli, at 4.30pm on Tuesday 23 August 2011. 'Izzo', as his friends and family liked to call him, had joined the rebel front immediately after the revolution started on 17 February. He fought in the liberation of his hometown of Ajdabiya, helped liberate Brega and then went on to join the rebels in Misrata. He would return home to his family in Ajdabiya occasionally to rest, get a change of clothes and eat a proper meal before setting off again. Every time his mother would ask him not to leave. He would reply by jokingly quoting from Gaddafi's defiant, savage speech, made a few days after the rebellion began: 'Forward, forward.' She once asked him: 'Forward until when? When will you stop fighting?' 'When we reach Bab al-Aziziya,' he told her.