UK & U.S., CSO’s and Multilateral Organizations statements and press releases on the events in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

If you haven’t heard what has happen in Burkina Faso. If so, then these pieces will give you some notion on what has happen in Burkina Faso and also how it’s been and also what has happen in the last 48 hours.

Ban Ki-Moon statement:

“The Secretary-General is following with great concern the deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso.  He calls on all parties to end the use of violence, exercise calm and restraint and use dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues”(…)”The Secretary-General is saddened over the loss of life resulting from recent events.  He has requested his Special Representative for West Africa, Mohammed ibn Chambas, to visit Burkina Faso tomorrow and welcomes that this mission will be undertaken jointly with the African Union and ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States]” (UN, 30.10.2014).

AU:

“Addis Ababa, 30 October 2014: The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has expressed deep concern about the unfolding situation in Burkina Faso and is following its evolution very closely. She has called for calm and utmost restraint from all the parties concerned” (…)”has urgently dispatched a High-Level Team that will form part of a Joint Delegation comprising the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations (UN) to Burkina Faso to consult with all the Burkinabe stakeholders. In this regard, the Chairperson appeals to the Burkinabe authorities to facilitate the visit of the Joint Delegation” (…)”assures the people of Burkina Faso of the unflinching support of the AU, as they look for political solutions to the current difficulties facing their country” (AU, 30.10.2014)

U.S:

“The United States welcomes President Compaore’s decision to withdraw a National Assembly bill which would have amended the constitution and allowed him to run for an additional term of office. We also welcome his decision to form a government of national unity to prepare for national elections and to transfer power to a democratically elected successor. We look forward to that transition taking place in 2015. We regret the violence and the loss of life today in Burkina Faso, and call on all parties to avoid further violence. We underscore our commitment to peaceful transitions of power through democratic elections and emphasize neither side should attempt to change the situation through extra-constitutional means” (Psaki, 30.10.2014).

EU:

“We are following very closely the ongoing events in Burkina Faso. The European Union is very concerned about the current situation, with reports on casualties following the violent demonstrations that took place today. Now that the law proposal on the revision of the

Constitution has been withdrawn, the European Union calls upon all parties to refrain from the use of violence and engage rapidly in a constructive dialogue. The European Union stands ready to step in to facilitate this process” (EU, 30.10.2014)

WANEP:

Burkina Faso1

Amnesty:

“Authorities in Burkina Faso must rein in security forces that have used excessive force to crack down on peaceful anti-government protests, Amnesty International said today” (…)”he use of excessive force to crack down on peaceful protesters is unacceptable and the transition authorities must act urgently to rein in security forces,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s Researcher for West Africa” (…)”It is crucial that those responsible for the killings and beatings of protesters, journalists and other civilians are identified and held accountable. Officials at the highest level should publicly make it clear that excessive use of force will not be tolerated,” said Gaëtan Mootoo” (…)”People took to the streets of Ouagadougou and other cities yesterday to protest against an attempt by President Blaise Compaore – who has since resigned – to amend the constitution to extend his long stay in power” (…)”They began beating them with cords, then they shot live bullets. I saw three protesters fall down in front of me. One protestor was shot dead. I was able to take a photo showing the bullets that killed him when he was shot in the chest,” he said” (…)”Protesters should not be detained and charged for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly, as guaranteed by the constitution and international and regional treaties ratified by Burkina Faso” (31.10.2014, Amnesty).

ACHPR:

“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) is closely monitoring the political and human rights situation in Burkina Faso, in particular since the first demonstration that took place on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 to protest against the bill to amend the Constitution” (…)”is concerned about the worsening political crisis and its disastrous consequences for the stability of the country” (…)”is deeply concerned about the acts of violence and vandalism which led to the burning of the National Assembly building and destruction of the property of the national television station leading to an end to its broadcasting activities”(…)”is concerned about the death of several people during clashes between the population and security forces”(…)”is concerned that the violence is inconsistent with the ideals of democracy which is the goal of the demonstrations”(…)”The African Commission strongly condemns the violence and urgently appeals for a return to calm and a restoration of order. The African Commission reiterates the need for all the parties concerned to work towards restoring peace and security, and calls on the political stakeholders to engage in dialogue towards maintaining stability in the country. The African Commission seizes this opportunity to urge all the parties to comply with the principles of international humanitarian law and to respect and protect the human rights of all persons in Burkina Faso” (ACHPR, 31.10.2014).

ECOWAS:

“Has followed with grave attention the events unfolding in Burkina Faso and the tension around the process leading to the consideration of the draft bill on constitutional amendment” (…)”takes note of the decision by the government to withdraw the passing of this draft bill” (…)”To this end, it reiterates the need for compliance with the principle of democracy and constitutional governance as stipulated in the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance” (…)”ECOWAS calls on all the people to remain calm and law abiding, and the security forces to respect and act in accordance with the constitution of the Republic. It also calls on all the parties involved, notably the entire political class to embrace dialogue with a view to arriving at a political consensus that will lead to free, fair and credible election consistent with constitutional provisions. ECOWAS, in line with its principle, will not recognize any ascension to power through non-constitutional means” (…)”H.E. John Dramani Mahama, Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS” (31.10.2014, ECOWAS).

UK:

Tobias Ellwood the Minister for Africa said: “We are deeply concerned by the violence which has taken place in Ouagadougou, seemingly as a result of government plans to amend the Constitution of Burkina Faso so that the incumbent President can seek another term after 27 years in office” (…)”The UK reiterates its support for the African Union Charter and for peaceful and democratic transfers of power. We urge all parties to exercise restraint, to adhere to non-violence and to return to dialogue to resolve this issue” (31.10.2014, UK).

Links:

ACHPR – ‘Press Release on the Deterioration of the Political and Human Rights Situation in Burkina Faso’ (31.10.2014) Link: http://www.achpr.org/press/2014/10/d232/

Amnesty – ‘Burkina Faso must end excessive use of force against protesters’ (31.10.2014) Link: http://reliefweb.int/report/burkina-faso/burkina-faso-must-end-excessive-use-force-against-protesters

AU – ‘AU deeply concerned by the unfolding situation in Burkina Faso’ (30.10.2014) Link: http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/au-deeply-concerned-by-the-unfolding-situation-in-burkina-faso#sthash.W4IGuW3n.Zo3a9RQY.dpuf

ECOWAS – ‘ECOWAS speaks on Burkina Faso’ (31.10.2014) Link: http://www.presidency.gov.gh/node/723

EU – ‘Statement by the Spokesperson on the situation in Burkina Faso’ (30.10.2014) Link: http://eeas.europa.eu/statements/docs/2014/141030_01_en.pdf

UN – Secretary-General: SG/SM/16298-AFR/3002 -‘Saddened by Recent Deaths in Burkina Faso, Secretary-General Calls for Restraint, End of Violence’ (30.10.2014) Link:  http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/sgsm16298.doc.htm

UK – ‘UK concerned by violence in Burkina Faso’ (31.10.2014) Link: http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/news.nsf/articles/UK+concerned+by+violence+in+Burkina+Faso+31102014141530?open

U.S – Jon Psaki: ‘Welcoming President Compaore’s Commitment to a Democratic Transition’ (30.10.2014) Link: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/10/233567.htm

WANEP – ‘PRESS RELEASE ON POLITICAL SITUATION IN BURKINA FASO’ (30.10.2014) Link: http://www.wanep.org/wanep/files/2014/oct/pr_2014_oct30_burkina_faso.pdf

UN: South Sudan arms embargo crucial after massive Chinese weapons transfer

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, PRESS RELEASE:

17. July 2014.

The United Nations Security Council must impose a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan, Amnesty International urged after receiving reports of Chinese small arms and ammunition proliferation amongst both sides in the conflict.

The organization also has confirmed that China supplied a further 1,000 tonnes of small arms and light weapons worth US$38 million to the country just over two weeks ago.

“China is playing a dangerous diplomatic game with the lives of millions of people in South Sudan. It has pledged to provide peacekeeping troops to protect civilians, and at the same time has sent over 1,000 tonnes of arms,” said Elizabeth Ashamu Deng, South Sudan Researcher at Amnesty International.

“Such arms are likely to fall into the hands of both parties to the conflict and be used to fuel the atrocities threatening civilian lives.”

The Security Council, of which China is a permanent member, has already condemned violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including extrajudicial executions and ethnically targeted violence.

In May, the Security Council amended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan (UNMISS) to focus on protection of civilians, supporting the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, investigating human rights abuses and violations and creating conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance. China has pledged a full battalion of some 850 troops to join this peacekeeping operation.

A UN arms embargo designed to help stop gross violations of human rights and war crimes would require every state to take all necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms to South Sudan. Pending such an embargo, states should immediately suspend international arms transfers to South Sudan.

The Chinese shipment

Chinese state-owned defence manufacturer NORINCO sent more than 1,000 tonnes of weapons and munitions worth millions of dollars to the South Sudanese government armed forces in a shipment that arrived last month. It included rocket systems, thousands of automatic rifles and grenade launchers, 20,000 grenades, hundreds of pistols and machine guns, and several million rounds of ammunition.

According to the shipping documents and related information, the massive arms shipment was loaded onto the Hong Kong-based vessel Feng Huang Song in two batches before leaving the Chinese ports of Dalian on 8 May and Zhanjiang on 15 May 2014. It reached Mombasa, Kenya on 7 June and the cargo was unloaded three days later, destined for the South Sudanese government in Juba in fulfilment of a contract signed on 3 April, 2013.

Amnesty International is aware of reliable reports that Chinese ammunition manufactured in 2013 for Chinese-made CQ assault rifles has recently been used by armed opposition fighters as well as government-aligned armed groups. CQ 5.56×45 assault rifles were first observed in South Sudan in 2013 with South Sudanese rebel groups, some of whom stated they had been armed by Sudan. In addition, Chinese heavy machine-gun ammunition manufactured in 2013 has been found in the hands of fighters of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfuri rebel group that has fought alongside South Sudanese government forces and committed grave human rights abuses.

“This additional flow and proliferation of deadly equipment from China into South Sudan’s raging war will set the country back decades and pave the way for increased criminality and violence among civilians – even long after the current armed conflict ends,” said Elizabeth Ashamu Deng.

“Given the ongoing pattern of atrocities in South Sudan, it is a no-brainer that these weapons and munitions will be used to commit and facilitate further serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The Security Council must roundly condemn any such flows of weapons and impose a comprehensive embargo on all arms transfers to South Sudan.”

Ongoing atrocities

Since the armed conflict erupted on 15 December 2013, the USA and European Union have already suspended military support to South Sudan. The decisions came amid ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by both South Sudanese government and opposition forces.

On two recent missions to South Sudan, including one this month, Amnesty International documented how both sides have targeted people, including women and children, based on their ethnicity. They have killed individuals seeking refuge in hospitals and places of worship. These atrocities have generally involved the use of small arms and light weapons.

“The rebels shot dead the four people in the beds next to mine,” a civilian patient named John told Amnesty International, referring to a raid on Malakal hospital by forces loyal to former Vice President Dr Riek Machar in mid-February 2014. Individuals have also been shot dead in hospitals in Bor and Bentiu.

In the South Sudanese capital Juba, too, civilians have repeatedly been targeted using small arms and light weapons. A resident of the city’s Jebel Kujur area described to Amnesty International how government soldiers attacked his home on 17 December 2013:

“My house was surrounded with heavy artillery and many soldiers as well. Gun shots were fired at me and my relatives in the house, and three of them were killed on the spot.”

Nyaliap witnessed the massacre of 11 men in Pariang County, Unity state by government forces in December 2013. A group of about 20 soldiers “stripped them naked and tied their hands behind their backs. They lined them up…and they [shot] them from behind.”

Amnesty International continues to call for accountability for all those responsible for such actions by government and opposition forces, which constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights violations.

Background

The Bloomberg news agency reported on the Chinese arms transfer on 9 July (“China Sells South Sudan Arms as Its Government Talks Peace” by Ilya Gridneff) and also released the shipping documents to Jane’s Defence Weekly (“South Sudan takes delivery of Chinese ATGWs” by Jeremy Binnie).

The Chinese company NORINCO combines manufacturing, research and trading of arms and related equipment.

Between 2007 and 2008 various large shipments of arms arrived in South Sudan from Ukraine via Mombasa. It is not clear if Ukraine was aware that South Sudan government forces were the intended end-user, and not Kenya, as stated in the documentation.

Links:

Wel, Paan Luel – ‘AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: South Sudan arms embargo crucial after massive Chinese weapons transfer” (17.07.2014)

Link: http://paanluelwel.com/2014/07/18/un-south-sudan-arms-embargo-crucial-after-massive-chinese-weapons-transfer/