Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Guatemala: Squeezed between Crime and Impunity


Part 01: Media Release of 22 Jun 2010

Fourteen years after the end of its civil war, Guatemala has become a paradise for crime that is deeply entrenched in the state and society, undermines institutions and thrives on extreme levels of impunity.

Guatemala: Squeezed between Crime and Impunity , the latest report from the International Crisis Group, warns that failure to address the root causes of the lengthy armed conflict, implement the 1996 peace agreement and dismantle clandestine security apparatuses has seriously corroded the country’s fundamental structures and opened the door to skyrocketing violent crime. An ineffective overhaul of the security forces after the civil war produced a corrupt and weak police force. Guatemala is one of the world’s most dangerous countries, with some 6,500 murders in 2009, more than the average yearly killings during the conflict and roughly twice the homicide rate of neighbouring Mexico.

“High-profile assassinations and the government’s inability to reduce murders have produced paralysing fear, a sense of helplessness and frustration”, says Markus Schultze-Kraft, Crisis Group’s Latin America Program Director. “In the past few years, the security environment has deteriorated further, and some communities have turned to vigilantism as a brutal and extra-institutional way of combating pervasive crime”.

Like his predecessors, President Álvaro Colom took office in 2008 with the promise of slowing the spiral of violence and taking decisive action to end impunity. But his administration has been plagued by instability and a lack of capacity. There have been five interior ministers, two of whom are facing corruption charges, while two police chiefs have been arrested for connections to drug trafficking. The president himself was nearly toppled, when a prominent lawyer and businessman was assassinated under bizarre circumstances in 2009.

In addition, Guatemala has seen the proliferation of youth gangs (maras) and Mexican drug trafficking organisations (DTOs). Under mounting pressure at home, the latter have moved into the country to compete for control of Andean cocaine and trafficking routes to the U.S. The government needs to give priority to reforming the police, military and justice sector as well as the notoriously under-funded tax system.

Some progress has been made with international assistance, in particular from the UN-sanctioned International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). But following the surprise resignation of its director, the well-regarded Spanish jurist Carlos Castresana, in early June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should quickly appoint a successor. The international community should consider extending CICIG’s mandate beyond September 2011 and increasing political and financial support for it.
“President Colom should ask for CICIG’s extension, but he also needs to consolidate the still provisional gains by undertaking institutional reform and governance improvements; effective anti-corruption and vetting mechanisms; and a more inclusive political approach, including to indigenous peoples”, says Mark Schneider, Crisis Group´s Senior Vice President. “Perhaps then Guatemala may begin to feel the winds of change”.

Part 02: Introduction & EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The 1996 peace accords formally ended Guatemala’s civil war but failure to address the conflict’s root causes and dismantle clandestine security apparatuses has weakened its institutions and opened the door to skyrocketing violent crime. Guatemala is one of the world’s most dangerous countries, with some 6,500 murders in 2009, more than the average yearly killings during the civil war and roughly twice Mexico’s homicide rate. Under heavy pressure at home, Mexican drug traffickers have moved into Guatemala to compete for control of Andean cocaine transiting to the U.S. The UN-sanctioned International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has brought hope by making some progress at getting a handle on high-level corruption. However, in June 2010 its Spanish director, Carlos Castresana, resigned saying the government had not kept its promise to support CICIG’s work and reform the justice system. President Álvaro Colom needs to consolidate recent gains with institutional reform, anti-corruption measures, vetting mechanisms and a more inclusive political approach, including to indigenous peoples.

The administration of President Álvaro Arzú and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) guerrilla group signed peace accords fourteen years ago that promised a massive overhaul of the military and of a system that marginalised the majority of citizens, among them large sectors of the indigenous population, and served the interests of the small economic and political elite. However, there has been little follow-through. Tax collection is still the lowest in Latin America (some 10 per cent of gross domestic product, GDP), in flagrant violation of a key provision of the peace accords. In addition to the rise of clandestine groups, many directed by ex-senior military officers and politicians, the country has seen the proliferation of Mexican drug-trafficking organisations (DTOs) and youth gangs (maras). Criminal organisations traffic in everything from illegal drugs to adopted babies, and street gangs extort and terrorise entire neigh­bourhoods, often with the complicity of authorities.

Guatemala has become a paradise for criminals, who have little to fear from prosecutors owing to high levels of impunity. An overhaul of the security forces in the wake of the peace accords created an ineffective and deeply corrupt police. High-profile assassinations and the government’s inability to reduce murders have produced paralysing fear, a sense of helplessness and frustration. In the past few years, the security environment has deteriorated further, and the population has turned to vigilantism as a brutal and extra-institutional way of combating crime.

President Colom took office in 2008 with the promise, like his predecessors, at least to slow the spiral of violence and to end impunity. However, his administration has been plagued by instability, corruption and a lack of capacity. There have been five interior ministers, two of whom are facing corruption charges, while two police chiefs have been arrested for connections to drug trafficking. The president himself was nearly toppled, when a prominent lawyer and businessman were assassinated under bizarre circumstances in 2009. Nevertheless, some progress has been made with international assistance, in particular from the CICIG. To achieve lasting results, however, Guatemalans and their international counterparts need to act in the following areas:

*The government of Guatemala should give priority to reforming the police and military as well as the corrections and justice systems; ensuring the vetting of and financial disclosure by high-level government and state officials, so as to combat corruption; stimulating the full political and economic participation of indigenous leaders and communities; and improving the legislature’s professional capacity in the area of justice reform and law enforcement.

*Central American governments, as well as Panama and Mexico, together with the Andean region, should continue to advance cooperation and information-sharing initiatives, in order to better combat crime, gangs and drug trafficking.

*UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should quickly appoint a new CICIG director, and the international community should extend CICIG’s mandate beyond September 2011; expand it to specifically address crime and corruption; and increase political and financial support. At the same time, the international community should increase support for institutional reform and capacity building, so that Guatemala can eventually take over CICIG’s functions effectively.

*The U.S., within the Mérida Initiative framework, should increase funding and make its support to Central America, especially Guatemala, more effective. (Ends/)

Read full PDF Report; Click here

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Friday, 18 June 2010

Joint Letter to the UN Security Council Regarding the Ongoing Crisis in Kyrgyzstan

Brussels/New York, 17 June 2010:

To: Security Council Ambassadors

Your Excellency,

We urge the United Nations Security Council to take immediate steps to address the ongoing crisis in Kyrgyzstan. With a death toll likely to reach far higher than the official count of 200 and an estimated 400,000 displaced in Kyrgyzstan and across the border in Uzbekistan, the situation poses a significant threat to international peace and security. The Kyrgyz authorities have primary responsibility for halting the violence and resolving this crisis, but reports from the ground provide ample evidence that the government is unable to protect those in need, and Kyrgyz authorities have already acknowledged that they need substantial assistance.

In the past week, violence along ethnic lines has engulfed Osh and Jalal-Abad, resulting in killings, rapes, beatings, and widespread burning and looting of homes and other properties. There are a growing number of reports that Kyrgyz military and other security personnel not only failed to stop the violence, but in some cases may have been active participants.

In the last two days there have been fewer reports of violent attacks but some continue. Claims that the situation is stable are belied by the extremely tense standoff that remains. Ethnic Uzbeks who remain in Osh are in some cases trapped in isolated neighborhoods, living in fear behind barricades. The government itself recognizes that new violence could flare at any moment.

The humanitarian situation is grave and increasingly urgent because Kyrgyz forces cannot be relied upon to provide the secure environment needed for humanitarian assistance to reach the population. Humanitarian organizations are having great difficulty accessing those needing assistance, and report incidents of theft and looting of aid.

Some 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks have sought refuge in Uzbekistan; the border is now closed. As many as 40,000 who fled the violence are without shelter, and given the destruction of hundreds of houses, many of the displaced have no homes to return to even should they feel safe to do so. Repatriation of the displaced will require much greater security and confidence within the displaced community.

International security assistance is urgently needed. An international stabilization mission of limited size could make a significant difference by securing the area for humanitarian relief, providing security for some of the displaced to return home, and creating space for reconciliation, confidence-building, and mediation programs to succeed. This mission would have a policing mandate and could be bolstered by military forces, particularly constabulary forces or gendarmes, if necessary.

Security Council Members should work without delay with regional organizations to ensure that such a mission is fielded as quickly as possible, with the endorsement of the Security Council and with specific terms of reference, clear rules of engagement, and a limited duration. Countries with capacity to engage quickly, in particular Russia, should be encouraged to contribute to the rapid deployment of such a mission.

A short-term security presence is crucial to establishing the humanitarian corridor requested by the United Nations and should lead the way for multilateral efforts to create a secure political environment for the eventual, but delayed, holding of a constitutional referendum and elections, and a longer-term effort to strengthen the rule of law and the protection of minorities, as well as to assist the government in security-sector reform.

Accountability for the recent violence, including on the part of state authorities, will be essential to securing long-term stability and reconciliation. The government should be encouraged to investigate crimes, ensure the protection of witnesses, and hold accountable those responsible for the violence. Given the extent and character of the violence, however, government efforts toward accountability should have an international component to be credible and effective. As an immediate step, the government should cooperate with OHCHR to begin investigations.

The instability in southern Kyrgyzstan cannot be wished away, and without a decisive international response there is considerable risk that widespread violence will reignite. It is possible that ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks may seek violent revenge for the past week of mayhem. Prolonged insecurity could provide an opening, for example, for political opponents who may seek to further weaken or overthrow the provisional government through violence against its perceived supporters. In the absence of an international mission to restore law and order, further such violence is likely to continue and could spill over to neighboring countries. Should conditions persist, widespread violence could cause a complete collapse of the state, with the attendant hum an rights, political, and security consequences for the region, including the risk of unilateral intervention by outside actors.

The threat to regional peace and security posed by the crisis in Kyrgyzstan is real and, despite the reduction in daily violence, still growing. The Security Council has an obligation to respond to these risks and should act immediately to work with the government, regional organizations and others to prevent further escalation of violence, including by authorizing international law enforcement and security assistance.

Best regards,

Louise Arbour, President and CEO, International Crisis Group

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch (Ends/)

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Monday, 14 June 2010

As America and Russia Struggle for Influence in Kyrgyzstan, more Innocent Muslims Die

Over 1000 people have been injured, and almost 100 killed this week in Kyrgyzstan following ‘ethnic’ riots in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad.

Only two months ago over 80 people were killed as Kyrgyzstan underwent a bloody revolution where the former President Bakiyev was overthrown and replaced by Roza Otunbayeva as Interim Prime Minister.

The deaths and unrest in Kyrgyzstan cannot be seen in isolation from the on-going struggle between Russia and the United States in the region. In response to the recent unrest, the interim government of Kyrgyzstan has called for Russian military assistance.

After the coup in April 2010, Russia was first to welcome the new administration, whilst Washington initially expressed shock. In a few weeks time a constitutional referendum is scheduled to legitimize this change of government.

Only weeks before the coup Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, visited Kyrgyzstan in February and ‘exchanged views’ with President Bakiyev. Following the visit the website ‘Russia Today' reported that "the United States had announced $5.5 million to assist Kyrgyzstan in building a training centre for special units to combat terrorism in Batken." ‘ They quoted Alexander Kniazev, director of the regional Bishkek branch of the CIS Institute think tank about the centre as saying "The United States could use this centre to meet its needs in Central Asia. The slogan of fighting terrorism is only a pretext to achieve American goals as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan", adding "The United States is seeking through these projects in Central Asia to challenge and compete with Russia and China in the region."

Russia and the United States have been struggling intensely for influence in Central Asia and in Eastern Europe. Russia is trying to exploit the current relative vulnerability of the United States – humiliated in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the midst of an economic crisis. It has used political pressure (in Belarus and Kazakhstan), economic pressure, social instability, threats to energy supplies (e.g. in Ukraine), and direct military intervention (in South Ossetia).

Kyrgyzstan lies in one of the most strategically important regions of the world. The United States and NATO rely on the Manas airbase to transfer vital supplies to support their occupation of Afghanistan. Russia also has bases in the region, but these – like the Manas base – are in the north of the country. It is close to Iran, Russia, the oil and gas-rich Caspian Sea and part of the fertile Fergana valley – which connects the neighbouring Central Asian republics. The sentiment for Islam is very high in this region – as acknowledged by BBC Radio this week that reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir is the most serious opposition group in the region.

As the two old rivals play their new ‘Great Game’, Muslim bodies remain mere pawns to be sacrificed.

Until the Muslim world adopts an independent course from the hegemony of the various regional and global powers, we will only see more examples of the Ummah as victims of exploitation, bloodshed and oppression. It is only the Khilafah state that will bring that independent path, through the implementation of Islam. (Ends/)

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Saturday, 12 June 2010

28 Rajab 1342: The Day the Muslim Ummah lost her leadership, the Khilafah


The recent unleashing of Israeli state terrorism leading to the killing of 9 innocent Turkish Muslim civilians on board the Gaza bound flotilla ship once again painfully demonstrated how the Muslim Ummah has no one to defend her or protect her.

The Turkish and Arab rulers responded in their usual spineless manner. Not a single ruler had the courage to sever all relations with the illegitimate Israeli state and release the Muslim armies to defend the Muslims.

Whether it is in Gaza or on the Afghanistan Pakistan border, the Muslim Ummah continues to be mercilessly massacred by the vicious Western powers. This situation begun the day the Muslim Ummah lost her shield, her leader, the Khalifah. It was 89 years ago this month on the 28th Rajab 1342 (3rd March 1924) that the last Islamic Khilafah was destroyed. A meeting of the National Assembly in Ankara passed a resolution that turned the Uthmaniyah Khilafah in Turkey into a secular state. The institution that represented the leadership and unity of the Muslim Ummah from the time of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) for 1300 years was finally abolished.

Allah Subhanu wa Ta’ala ordered ‘And hold fast all of you to the rope of Allah and do not be divided’ [Translated Meaning Quran Surah 3:103]. But, since that day we have been divided into over 50 states, weak and preyed upon by foreign powers.

Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said “the Imam is a shield” [Muslim] – but since the destruction of the Khilafah we have had no Imam to be that shield – allowing every type of predator to devour the flesh of the Muslim Ummah. 

The abolition of the Khilafah followed years of decay, and decades of decline - the final act in a much longer process where Muslims stopped referring to their Deen (Ahkam Shariah) to solve life’s affairs, instead becoming infatuated with Western secular ideas. 

The Khilafah had been a great state for centuries. It was a superpower on the world stage. It was a leading state in science, technology, commerce, architecture and jurisprudence.

But during the period of decline Western colonial states -Britain, France and Germany – made plans to weaken, divide and plunder it. First Napoleon occupied Egypt in 1798. Then Britain occupied it and also worked with rebellious traitors like Sharif Hussain and Ibn Saud to detach the Hijaz, Yemen, Kuwait and Iraq from the Khilafah. Palestine was occupied by the British at the end of the First World War, which laid the grounds to concede the land to Zionist terrorists in 1948. The Khilafah had been slowly cut to pieces before it was finally destroyed on 28th Rajab 1342 (3rd March 1924) with the help of the traitor Mustapha Kamal in Turkey.

The Muslims immediately knew the implications of this, particularly in the Indian sub-continent. In a letter to the Times newspaper on 5th March 1924, Ameer Ali, one of the leaders of the Khilafat movement in India wrote: “it will prove a disaster to Islam and to civilisation”.

After the eventual destruction of the Khilafah State the Western colonial powers installed puppet rulers in our countries who would continue to serve the interests of the Western powers, rather than obey Allah and His Messenger, and serve the Muslim Ummah. Decades later, it is little wonder that crooks and gangsters who usurp power such as Karzai, Zardari, Mubarak, Gaddafi, the house of Saud etc have the red carpet laid out for them in Western capitals.

Today, the Western powers who sense the growing call to remove these corrupt rulers and re-establish the Islamic Khilafah state are desperately trying to prevent this by occupying our lands and spreading malicious propaganda against the call for Khilafah. In February 2009 the Guardian newspaper revealed that the British government held the colonialist view that it is ‘extremism’ to believe in the re-establishment of the Khilafah. Only recently the retired UK army chief, Richard Dannat when asked about the occupation of Afghanistan, said; “there is an Islamist agenda which if we don’t oppose it and face it off in Southern Afghanistan, or Afghanistan, or in South Asia, then frankly that influence will grow. It could well grow, and this is an important point, we could see it moving from South Asia to the Middle East to North Africa, and to the high water mark of the Islamic Caliphate in the 14th, 15th century.”

Despite all the propaganda and war in the Muslim lands, the reality is that the Ummah is awakening and realising the true message of Islam. After the massacres in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, torture and detention in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Bagram, Muslims can see the destruction wrought in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’ and are rushing to work for the re-establishment of the Khilafah. 

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said "whosoever dies without a bayah (to a Khalifah) on his neck dies the death of jahiliyyah" [Muslim]. 

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said “A single day under a just ruler is better than 60 years of ibadah” [Bayhaqi / Tabarani].

Hizb ut-Tahrir is working night and day across the Muslim world for the re-establishment of the Islamic Khilafah. Our work has steadily grown over more than 50 years such that our presence is increasingly felt in Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Central Asia and the Arab Muslim countries.

This Rajab Hizb ut-Tahrir is holding a landmark international conference in Beirut, Lebanon. This conference will bring Muslims from all over the world, including politicians, journalists, thinkers, academics and other influential people to call for the historic return of the Islamic Khilafah State. This conference will aim to raise the issue of establishing the Khilafah State to the top of the agenda in the Muslim world.

We urge you, brothers and sisters, to make a pledge to join this global effort this Rajab to re-establish the Deen of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’ala, the Khilafah, so that the long awaited Islamic leadership for this Ummah returns. A leadership that will have the backbone to stand up against the atrocities committed by Israel and other Western powers, a leadership that will end the corruption, looting and incompetence of our rulers and a leadership that will stand for Islam, conveying the Dawah of Islam to the peoples of the world. 

Re-establishing the Khilafah is not an issue amongst issues. It is THE most important issue for the Muslim Ummah. Every day our blood is spilt cheaply in Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and Iraq. The Muslim Ummah is crying out for a leader who will take a stand against these brutal occupations and stand up to the oppressors. To re-establish the Khilafah we need to build an overwhelmingly strong movement within our countries that will overthrow the corrupt rulers from their thrones and bring into place a Khalifah who will implement the Shariah and stand up for the affairs of the Muslim Ummah. Join us in building this global

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ

“O you who believe, if you support the cause of Allah, He will support you and plant your feet firmly” (Surah Muhammad 47:7) (Ends/)

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