Daily Archives: December 29, 2011

On This Day…

In 1940, during World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.

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China Cracks Down on Activists During Christmas

On Monday, a court in Guiyang, China sentenced activist Chen Xi to ten years in prison for “subversion of state power” and “inciting subversion of state power.”

Chen Xi has been jailed repeatedly for his continued advocacy of human rights and freedom of expression in China. Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

The court also announced that Chen will be “deprived of his political rights” for three years.

According to a statement by Amnesty International,Chinese law never defines “subversion” or “incit[ing] others to subvert state power,” common charges leveled against activists in China.

Chen Xi is a former soldier and factory worker, previously jailed for three years in 1989 for his support of the student protests in Tiananmen Square. Mr. Chen served a ten-year jail term from 1995-2006 for “organizing and leading a counter-revolutionary group.” Mr. Chen is a prominent member of Guizhou Human Rights Forum, which China outlawed on December 5.

Mr. Chen’s conviction follows his arrest on November 29 in what activists claim to be a response to his authoring thirty-six online articles critical of the state and Communist party. The articles were published domestically and abroad and called for political reform and improvement of human rights in China. Mr. Chen recently incurred the ire of officials by campaigning for independent candidates.

Chen Xi’s sentence is one in a series of lengthy prison terms recently handed down to human rights activists by Chinese authorities. Many analysts believe that the arrests, trials, and imprisonments coincide with a window of low-key diplomatic activity in the West during the Christmas holiday to reduce criticism.

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Somali Women Face Rape and Sexual Assault

English: Najmo, an 8 year old Somali schoolgir...

Image via Wikipedia

Somalia has been worn down by decades of conflict. This year, tens of thousands have died from famine, with countless others cut down in combat. Now Somalis face an increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls.

The Shabab militant group, which presents itself as a morally righteous rebel force and the defender of Islam, is seizing women and girls as spoils of war, gang-raping and abusing them as part of its reign of terror in southern Somalia. Short of cash and losing ground, the militants are forcing families to hand over girls for arranged marriages that often last no more than a few weeks and are essentially sexual slavery.

It is not just the Shabab. In the past few months, there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying on women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine.

With the famine putting hundreds of thousands of women on the move — severing them from their traditional protection, the clan — more Somali women are raped now than at any time. In some areas, women are used as chits at roadblocks, surrendered to the gunmen at the barrier so that a group of desperate refugees can pass.

In the past two months, from Mogadishu alone, the United Nations has received more than 2,500 reports of gender-based violence. Because Somalia is a no-go zone for most operations, United Nations officials are unable to confirm the reports, leaving the work to fledgling Somali aid organizations under constant threat.

Somalia is a traditional place, where 98% of girls are subject to genital cutting. Most girls are illiterate and relegated to their homes.

The famine and mass displacement, which began over the summer, have made women and girls more vulnerable. Many Somali communities have been disbanded, and with armed groups forcing men and boys into their militias, it is often single women, with children in tow, who set off on the dangerous odyssey to refugee camps.

Aid workers and United Nations officials say the Shabab, who are fighting Somalia’s transitional government and imposing a harsh version of Islam in the areas they control, can no longer pay their several thousand fighters.

Via The New York Times.

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