Burundi | Korea | Israel/Palestine | Myanmar | Britain

Odomaro Mubangizi: Burundi: From ethnicized militarism to militant civilians (Pambazuka)

Burundi would not be much known had it not been for its recurrent ethnicized political conflicts since independence. It is a small country of about 27,834 square kilometres, with a high population density of about 300 people per square kilometre. Political violence seems to have set the tone for Burundi’s political landscape right from the early struggles for independence. In 1961, a year before independence, UPRONA party won legislative elections with Prince Louis Rwagasore, son of King Mwambutsya, appointed as Prime Minister. Unfortunately, Louis Rwagasora was assassinated a month later. Ethnic tensions flared. Burundi’s independence in 1962 was followed by political unrest leading to a coup attempt from 1965-1966. As a result of this failed coup the military took over the ruling party and the government effectively militarizing Burundi politics.

AP: South Korea test-fires missiles capable of striking all of North Korea (Guardian)

South Korea has successfully test-fired two domestically built ballistic missiles that can hit all of North Korea, officials said, amid continuing animosity between the countries over the North’s push to bolster its nuclear and missile capabilities.
The missiles, which have a reported range of more than 300 miles, were fired from a southern launch pad, said an official at Seoul’s defence ministry. President Park Geun-hye watched the launches, according to her office.
There was no immediate response from North Korea, which is heavily sanctioned for its past long-range rocket and nuclear tests and considers US and South Korean military drills and tests preparation for an attack.

Foday Darboe: Stopping the Violence in Burundi (Common Dreams)

With the recent mass political unrest and failed military coup against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza–after he announced his run for an extraconstitutional third term–the African Union along with the United Nations appealed for ethnic harmony there. This addressed fears that weeks of political unrest could prompt another round of fight between Hutus and Tutsis in the center of Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Gideon Levy: Israeli propaganda isn’t fooling anyone – except Israelis (Haaretz; also via Google News)

‘Hasbara’ [“explaining”] is the Israeli euphemism for propaganda, and there are some things, said the late ambassador Yohanan Meroz, that are not ‘hasbarable.’ One of them is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
And propaganda shall cover for everything. We’ll say terrorism, we’ll shout anti-Semitism, we’ll scream delegitimation, we’ll cite the Holocaust; we’ll say Jewish state, gay-friendly, drip irrigation, cherry tomatoes, aid to Nepal, Nobel Prizes for Jews, look what’s happening in Syria, the only democracy, the greatest army. We’ll say the Palestinians are making unilateral moves, we’ll propose negotiations on the “settlement bloc borders,” we’ll demand recognition of a Jewish state and we’ll complain that “there’s no one to talk to.”…
The policy of denial and disconnection from reality is rising to a dangerous level, and the illness is getting worse. When the world starts to show encouraging signs of stirring to action, Israel further entrenches itself in its imaginary reality and erects more and more separation barriers for itself.

Gideon Levy: The false arrest of Khalida Jarrar: Israeli ‘justice’ put to shame (Haaretz)

The charge sheet against the Palestinian legislator – in jail now for two months – ought to be studied in every law school: This is how you slap together false accusations and fabricate an indictment.
Here’s a case after which nobody will seriously be able to make any of the following five claims anymore: one, that Israel is a state of law; two, that the regime in its occupied territories isn’t a military dictatorship; three, that Israel has no political prisoners; four, that the military court system in the territories has any kind of connection, however weak, to law and justice; and five, in light of all of the above – that Israel is a democracy.
Does that sound overblown? Sometimes, one case suffices to prove a point.

A Kafkaesque perversion of military law: Khalida Jarar must be released now (Haaretz)

What’s the point of a military justice system if a court decision to release an accused is met with a threat by the prosecution to hold her without trial?
The continued incarceration of Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar becomes increasingly outrageous. Here is a synopsis of this Kafkaesque occupation farce: The Israel Defense Forces tried to exile Jarrar to Jericho for six months because of her political activities in the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…
After essentially canceling the order, the IDF decided to take revenge on Jarrar and ordered her held in administrative detention for six months without charges or trial. When the arbitrary arrest of the Palestinian elected official attracted protest from overseas, the Military Advocate General’s office decided to press charges against her.
The 12 counts in the indictment, as published by Gideon Levy in Haaretz, are nearly all hollow and ridiculous…
Jarrar, who has been behind bars for two months, is a legitimate parliamentarian chosen in a democratic election. She has a clean security record and her trial looks like an attempt to punish her for her political activity. What’s the point of a military justice system if a court decision to release an accused is met with a threat by the prosecution to hold her without trial? The whole indictment against Jarrar should be thrown out, but in any case she should be released from custody immediately.

Chaim Levinson: Torture of Palestinian detainees by Shin Bet investigators rises sharply (Haaretz; also via dlvr.it)

In the second half of last year, there were 51 instances of torture reported, compared to eight in the first half of 2014…
The Shin Bet is required to report to the court that torture were [sic] used, so that the judges will know what weight to give evidence gathered under such means. Defense attorneys are not allowed to make copies of the reports, but only to read them. The documents themselves are kept in a safe.
Until 1999, thousands of Palestinian prisoners were tortured every year. The Public Committee against Torture in Israel estimates that most Palestinians questioned experienced at least one kind of torture.
In September 1999, following a petition to the High Court of Justice, the court prohibited the systematic use of torture, but left a small opening to interrogators: An interrogator who used violence could claim after the fact that there was an “urgent need” to violate the law. Then-High Court President Aharon Barak left it to the discretion of the attorney general whether to press charges.
“Urgent need” is something that is decided in retrospect, if a complaint is filed, but in extreme cases permits to torture are still issued. The attorney general has set rules as to when “urgent need” is present, but these rules are not made public.

Peter Beaumont: Israel brands Palestinian-led boycott movement a ‘strategic threat’ (Guardian)

Israel and key international supporters have sharply ratcheted up their campaign against the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with senior Israeli officials declaring it a strategic threat.
Using language the Israeli government usually reserves for the likes of Hamas or Iran’s nuclear programme, senior figures – including the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and a key backer in the US, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson – have turned on the movement, which is prominent on university campuses and among international trade unions…
The non-violent grassroots movement, founded with the support of dozens of Palestinian organisations, is modelled on South African anti-apartheid campaigns and calls for an end to the occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and a resolution for Palestinian refugees of 1948.

Chemi Shalev: Netanyahu’s declaration of war on BDS is its first major victory (Haaretz)

The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement has just scored a tremendous victory.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a manifest in Jerusalem against the delegitimization of Israel and calls for a “wide front” to combat boycott, and then, within 24 hours, Sheldon Adelson convenes an emergency summit in Las Vegas to fight BDS on university campuses – as Nathan Guttman revealed in the Forward on Monday – BDSers can smugly tell themselves that they’ve finally made it. From a nuisance, perhaps even a danger, they have been elevated the status of existential threat, on a par, almost, with Iran and Hezbollah…
Regardless of background and cause, it’s hard to claim with a straight face that the cessation of the peace process, the death and destruction in Gaza, the campaign against African migrant workers, the Tel Aviv riots of Ethiopians, Netanyahu’s speech in Congress, and, perhaps, most injurious of all, his miserable appeal against Israeli Arabs on Election Day – that all these haven’t provided highly combustible gasoline to BDS propaganda in the past year alone.
And this, before we have mentioned the occupation, which will soon mark its 50th anniversary.

Ravid Hecht: Israel’s problem isn’t BDS – it’s the occupation (Haaretz; also via Google News)

One can object to boycotts. But sanctimonious wailing and the automatic posing as victims coated with the memory of the Holocaust won’t hide the fact that Israel is ruling over an entire other nation…
[M]ost Israelis — even if they fear territorial concessions for security reasons and don’t believe that a peace deal with the Arabs is sustainable — know that Israel is committing an injustice against civilians and denying them their freedom. They know that in the frequent rounds of violence, Israel kills thousands of innocent people as well as terrorists. They know that in a certain place under Israeli rule there is one legal regime for one nation (Israeli law for settlers) and a different one for another nation (military law for Palestinians)…
The hope that the Palestinians will quietly resign themselves to the settlements, happily content with the conditions imposed by the occupation, is unrealistic. What can we do if they impudently insist on resisting and striving for freedom, their natural right?

Amira Hass: Palestinian FIFA move hit an Israeli nerve (Haretz; also via Google News)

The bid pushed Israel into a state of constant tension and hinted at how much BDS efforts could hurt the Israeli public; but it also displays the Palestinian Authority’s logic of stagnation.

Gideon Levy: For the sins of occupation, boycotts are a light punishment (Haaretz; also via Google News)
Aeyal Gross: Apartheid in Israel is about more than just segregated buses (Haaretz, also via Google News)

What in a different situation would be considered apartheid is tolerated by many because it is ostensibly temporary. But the occupation has long stopped being temporary.

Sara Perria: Burma’s birth control law exposes Buddhist fear of Muslim minority (Guardian)

Nationalist monks are behind new powers enabling authorities to ‘organise’ family planning among groups with high birth rates such as Rohingyas.

Tariq Ali: Farewell to the United Kingdom (CounterPunch)

The British General election was dramatic. On the superficial level because three party leaders— Miliband (Labour), Nick Clegg (Liberal-Democrat) and Nigel Farage (UKIP—a racist, right-wing populist outfit)…resigned on the day following the Conservative victory. On a more fundamental level because the Scottish National Party took virtually all the Scottish seats (56 of 59) wiping out Labour as a political force in the region where it had dominated politics for over a century. Scotland was where the Labour Party was founded. Scotland it was that gave Labour its first leaders and Prime Minster (as well as the last one). Scottish working class culture was in most cases much more radical than its English equivalent.

Bill Quigley: Ten Shocking Facts About Baltimore (CounterPunch)

Were you shocked at the disruption in Baltimore? What is more shocking is daily life in Baltimore, a city of 622,000 which is 63 percent African American.