Zim will slide into total anarchy if unity government collapses
By: Charles Tembo, Zim Online, March 26, 2009
Zimbabwe will become a totally failed state in the style of anarchic Somalia if the countryís new unity government collapsed because of a lack of resources, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Wednesday. Biti said the consequences of the unity government failing were too drastic including possible bloody civil unrest in the power vacuum created in the aftermath of government collapse.

Zimbabwe: Bloggers not happy with the coalition government
By: Denford Magora, Global Voices, March 25, 2009
Zimbabwean bloggers are unhappy with the way things are turning out within the coalition government between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. The reactions are a mixture of distrust of Mugabe ad disappointment in the policy approaches of the MDC.

Somalia: Baidoa protests against Islamist order on popular narcotic
By: Garowe Online, March 25, 2009
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets Wednesday in southern Somalia after Islamist militias banned the sale of popular narcotic khat inside city limits, Radio Garowe reports. The protest occurred in Baidoa, a southwestern town where Al Shabaab guerrillas ordered khat traders to sell their product in the outskirts of town.

Sudan: Darfur activist says crisis is worsening
By: James Smith, The Boston Globe, March 25, 2009
The Sudanese government's expulsion of humanitarian aid groups from Darfur has put thousands of displaced people at risk of death from outbreaks of meningitis and other infectious diseases, a leading human rights campaigner said. Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah also said that two months into the Obama administration, the United States still lacks a coherent policy to confront the worsening situation in the Darfur region of western Sudan. He appealed for tougher action and greater urgency.

South Africa: Uproar over visa refusal for Dalai Lama
By: Ismail Dhorat, Global Voices, March 24, 2009
The South African government has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a Peace Conference that will be held in South Africa. The government decision has sparked an uproar online on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

Ethiopia's famine: Deny and delay
By: Rene Lefort, Open Democracy, March 24, 2009
In 2008 famine struck Ethiopia. Now, at the start of 2009 it is looming again. According to the ìHumanitarian Requirementsî released on 30 January 2009 by the government in Addis Ababa and their ìHumanitarian Partnersî, 13 million Ethiopians - one-sixth of the population - are in need of aid. For over 10 million of them the need is urgent. But food allocations have already been ìtentatively cancelledî or reduced. Relief is inadequate, as it has continued to be since the food crisis began in early 2008. The effects of its initial denial and then its consistent underestimation, which turned local production shortages into humanitarian catastrophes, are still being felt.

Thousands protest against new Madagascar leader
By: AFP, March 24, 2009
Several thousand Madagascans on Tuesday demonstrated for a second consecutive day against Andry Rajoelina's army-backed removal of Marc Ravalomanana as president of the Indian Ocean island. According to an AFP correspondent, the protestors came in larger numbers than on Monday and numbered close to 10,000 for a rally in the capital's Ambohijatovo gardens to condemn Rajoelina's "coup".


Cuban authorities arrest pregnant dissident
By: CNA, March 26, 2009
The president of the Central Opposition Coalition in Cuba, Idania Yanes Contreras, was detained last weekend by Cuban agents despite the fact that she is seven months pregnant. At the time of her arrest she was attempting to learn the whereabouts of her husband, Alcides Rivera Rodriguez, who was arrested as he left his home to meet with dissidents in the town of Placetas.

Cuban's hunger strike a desperate bid for justice, attention
By: Frances Robles, Miami Herald, March 26, 2009
Jorge Luis GarcÌa's home in the Central Cuban town of Placetas is easy to spot: It's the one with the big Cuban flag draped over the front gate -- on the block surrounded by security agents and cops. It's also the one that visitors can't reach because the Cuban National Police won't allow it.

List of 'Worst Dictators' omits Fidel and Raul Castro
By: Glen Garvin, Miami Herald, March 25, 2009
If I were making a list of the world's greatest experts on lists, David Wallechinsky would be right at the top. He's been compiling quirky collections of names and facts for more than three decades now, in books like The People's Almanac and The Book Of Lists, and he's the master of the form. So it's with some trepidation that I dispute the absence of our local boys, Fidel and Raul Castro, from Wallechinsky's list of The World's 10 Worst Dictators, in the issue of Parade magazine bundled inside today's Miami Herald.

Venezuelan candidate accuses Hugo Ch·vez of ballot chicanery
By: Lesley Clark, Miami Herald, March 25, 2009
Leopoldo LÛpez, a popular politician barred by Venezuelan President Hugo Ch·vez from running for office, told an international rights panel Tuesday that his case has repercussions for the future of democracy in the Americas.

Venezuela: Journalists' association reports violation of freedom of expression at OAS court
By: El Universal, March 25, 2009
William EcheverrÌa, the President of the Venezuelan Journalistís Association (CNP), reported in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, an autonomous judicial institution of the Organization of American States, 31 cases of violations of freedom of expression carried out between October and December 2008, according to a paper from the National Commission of Journalists (Conapro).

U.S. immigrant detentions violate human rights
By: Deborah Charles, Reuters, March 25, 2009
The detention of hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year in the United States represents a violation of human rights, Amnesty International USA said in a report on Wednesday. On an average day, the rights group said, more than 30,000 immigrants are in detention facilities. That's triple the number that were in custody a decade ago, according to Amnesty's report "Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA."

Cuba: Dissidents ask to be imprisoned in show of solidarity
By: Miami Herald, March 25, 2009
More than 30 dissidents went to five police stations in the capital on the anniversary of the arrest of the Group of 75 and asked that they be imprisoned themselves in an act of solidarity. One of them, Dr. Darsi Ferrer, said the police at the Aguilera station knew beforehand of their planned activity March 18. ìBut they didnít try to stop us,î he said. ìOn the contrary, they tried to avoid a scandal.î

Cuban punk rocker, photographer arrested for showing support for hunger striker
By: Uncommon Sense blog, March 23, 2009
The Cuban revolution against the Castro tyranny is being fought on several fronts. Among the many categories of combatants: Political prisoners, and those formerly imprisoned in the gulag. Independent journalists. Punk rockers. Members of these three groups converged in the town of Placetas this week, and fearful of strength in numbers, the dictatorship struck back against an amazing demonstration of solidarity with one of the giants of the Cuban opposition.

Cuba: Interview with blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
By: Claudia Cadelo, Global Voices, March 23, 2009
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo has been blogging since 2008. He was born in Havana, Cuba on December 10, 1971. With a degree in biochemistry obtained in 1994 from the Department of Biology from the City of Havana, he left the sciences for literature. In this field, he received many prizes from official publications such as the Short Story Prize from the magazines La Gaceta 2005 and Cauce 2007 and many other awards. His unofficial publications can be seen as the editor of the e-zine the Revolution Evening Post.  

El Salvador: "We have signed a new accord on peace and reconciliation"
By: Upsdie Down World, March 16, 2009
The president-elect of El Salvador Mauricio Funes, together with his supporters, celebrated the victory in the elections held this Sunday in this Central American country, giving a speech in which he said that with their vote the people had signed "a new accord on peace and reconciliation."

Decolonization's rocky road: Corruption, expropriation and justice in Bolivia
By: Benjamin Dangl, Upside Down World, March 14, 2009
Over 3,000 Bolivian and Peruvian indigenous activists recently marched in El Alto in commemoration of the March 13th, 1781 siege of La Paz, Bolivia launched from El Alto by indigenous rebels Tupac Katari and Bartolina Sisa. The siege was against Spanish rule and for indigenous liberation in the Andes. At a gathering the night before the recent anniversary mobilization, Eugene Rojas, the mayor of Achacachi, said, "We, the indigenous, organized a siege of La Paz in the past, and we will do it again if we need to." Rojas alluded to the long-postponed decolonization that Katari and Sisa dreamed of over two centuries ago. Today, those dreams of liberation are at once alive and in jeopardy.


Burma: Authorities destroy memorial for deceased opposition member
By: DVB, March 26, 2009
A stone monument built in memory of a former National League for Democracy chair was demolished by local government authorities on Tuesday, according to his family. Dr Hla Aung, chair of the NLD in Wundwin township and 1990 elected peopleís parliament representative for Wundwin, died on March 17.

China says Tibet video is 'a lie'
By: Michael Bristow, BBC, March 25, 2009
China says video footage that purportedly shows Chinese security personnel violently beating Tibetans last year is "a lie". The video apparently shows protesters being beaten with sticks, and kicked and choked by China's security forces. The Tibetan government-in-exile says the footage shows China's "brutality".

Tibetans stage farm boycott
By: RFA, March 25, 2009
Authorities in Chinaís southwestern province of Sichuan have forced Tibetan farmers into their fields in a bid to end a farming boycott aimed at protesting Chinese crackdowns in the region, according to Tibetan sources. Tibetans in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture had refused to cultivate their land following a week of other protests and detentions during a tense and politically sensitive month, sources in the Kardze area and abroad said.

Thousands of protesters surround Thai government headquarters
By: CNN, March 25, 2009
About 20,000 anti-government demonstrators surrounded the Thai government headquarters Thursday evening and set up camp in a bid to oust the prime minister, police said. The number of protesters outside Government House had grown sharply since the afternoon, said Worapong Tuepreecha, the chief of the Metropolitan Police. He said they set up a stage and tents in front of the building.

China: Netizens react to censors
By: RFA, March 24, 2009
Chinese netizens are reacting angrily to reported attempts by government censors to stamp out a humorous form of protest against a recent Web clean-up campaign. Apparent government directives widely posted on forums, chatrooms and on instant update services such as Twitter are now ordering Internet service providers to clamp down on spoof items about the ìgrass-mud horse,î a fictional alpaca-like creature dreamed up by netizens in response to a recent anti-porn campaign.

China: Sichuan authorities strike hard on rights activists to maintain ìstabilityî
By: CHRD, March 24, 2009
CHRD learned today that police in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, have detained four Sichuan activists and summoned (chuanhuan) more than ten in an effort to punish local human rights defenders for taking part in and reporting on two recent demonstrations. In Chongqing Municipality, authorities formally arrested two workersí rights advocates who had been part of a group of five detained in late February for organizing a sit-in at a closed factory.

China daily assails prisoner abuses
By: China Digital Times, March 24, 2009
A recent China Daily article reports on widespread concerns about abuses perpetuated in pre-trial detention centers, and says, ìonly a radical reform of the system will bring an end to the scandals.î The New York Times reports: The newspaper noted that the Communist Partyís latest four-year plan for legal reforms does not contemplate changes in the detention system. The full-page article said that since February 8, five inmates had died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody.

Asia: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization
By: Andrew Scheineson, CFR, March 24, 2009
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)--composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan--was formed as a confidence-building mechanism to resolve border disputes. It has risen in stature since then, making headlines in 2005 when it called for Washington to set a timeline for withdrawing from military bases in Central Asia.

China 'blocks YouTube video site'
By: Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, March 24, 2009
China is reported to have blocked the YouTube video-sharing website because it has been carrying video of soldiers beating monks and other Tibetans. The date and location of the footage, posted by a Tibetan exile group, cannot be ascertained.

China: Sichuan cracks down on dissenters
By: AP, March 24, 2009
Authorities in China's southwestern Sichuan province have made a "coordinated effort" to silence dissent by arresting two activists and detaining four others over the past month, a human rights group said Tuesday.

Malaysian opposition media banned
By: BBC News, March 23, 2009
Malaysia's government has imposed a ban on two main opposition newspapers, ahead of key political developments. Harakah and Suara Keadilan have been told they cannot publish for the next three months, with immediate effect.  It comes a week before the expected designation of a new and controversial prime minister, Najib Razak, and two weeks before important by-elections.

Maldives: Free speech under threat
By: Saffah Faroog, Global Voices, March 23, 2009
In early March Mohamed Nasheed, the new President of the Maldives, met with Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression. In the meeting Nasheed expressed his governmentís commitment to free speech and announced that Maldives will be made a haven for dissident writers from countries such as Burma. However, within a week writers from Maldives found their right to expression at risk as the government instructed the two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country to ban several websites and a blog.


Rights group calls on Turkmenistan to back up promises
By: RFE, March 23, 2009
The Turkmen government should fully implement the recommendations issued by the UNís Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the rights watchdog Amnesty International has said. Turkmenistan pledged to support recommendations to guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly; to seek, receive, and impart information; to allow independent nongovernmental organizations to register and work freely; and to end harassment and intimidation of journalists.


Georgia: Government, opposition and external players
By: Turkish Weekly, March 26, 2009
The internal political tension in Georgia is rapidly growing and the political crisis becomes deeper. The tough stance of the authorities, who have laid down clear conditions on which they agree to carry on a dialogue with the extra-parliamentary opposition (negotiating only socioeconomic issues and the electoral code), naturally predetermined a tough agenda of the opposition's actions. The opposition demands that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili resign immediately.

Freedom Day: Opposition rally in Belarus
By: Charter 97, March 25, 2009
Hundreds of riot militia officers armed with batons were thrown against peaceful Belarusians, who came to celebrate Freedom Day. People werenít allowed to go the city centre. One of the organisers of the rally, a deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front party Viktar Ivashkevich, called upon participants of the rally to disband. People started to break up. However, about 500 participants are still left near the Independence Avenue. They chant ìLong live Belarus!î and are holding national flags. However, it is clear that the rally on Freedom Day is coming to an end.

Belarus: Dictatorshipís scare
By: Charter 97, March 25, 2009
Thousands of armed soldiers of the interior troops were brought in Minsk on March 25. On the day when the country was celebrating the anniversary of the Belarusian National Republic proclamation, the authorities in fact imposed a state of emergency in the capital.

Georgia: Arrest targets ex-Rose Revolution leader's party  
By: Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasia Net, March 25, 2009
With three weeks to go before a planned protest against Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, government allegations of illegal weapons purchases and coup conspiracy are zeroing in on the opposition party headed by former Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze. The allegations, adamantly denied by Burjanadze, have kindled public fears of civil strife.

Georgian opposition reeling from videos
By: Ellen Barry and Olesya Vartanyan, IHT, March 25, 2009
The Georgian authorities Wednesday made public surveillance video in which a political activist associated with the opposition leader Nino Burjanadze said Ms. Burjanadze and her followers were hoping that violent clashes with the authorities would force President Mikheil Saakashvili from office.

Belarusian dissident warns against ties with regime
By: RFE, March 24, 2009
After weeks of fierce debate, the EU has decided to include Belarus in an outreach plan for ex-Soviet states. But a leader of Belarus' pro-democracy movement told RFE/RL that Europe is "capitulating before a dictator" and urged the EU to include civil society groups in its negotiations with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Russia: Kremlin critic in ammonia attack
By: BBC News, March 23, 2009
A prominent Kremlin critic who is running for mayor of Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi has said assailants squirted ammonia in his face on Monday. Boris Nemtsov said he was attacked by three men outside his campaign HQ. He apparently suffered no lasting harm.


Sacked for writing against the Egyptian regime
By: Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa, IPS, March 26, 2009
For years, Abdelhalim Kandil has been one of Egypt's most high-profile opposition journalists, known for writing hard-hitting articles critical of the ruling regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Kandil boasts an impressive track record, having worked as editor-in-chief of a number of the country's most widely-read independent and opposition newspapers, including Al-Arabi Al-Nassiri (2000-2006), Al-Karama (2006- 2007) and Sout Al-Umma (2008-2009). Kandil is also general coordinator of Egypt's pro-democracy Kefaya movement.

'We want a change,' Iran reformist says
By: Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, March 26, 2009
A moderate held Iran's presidency for eight years before the 2005 election of conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and reformist ideas -- among them a belief in liberty, rule of law and government accountability -- remain lodged deep in the psyche of many Iranians. Now reformists are attempting a comeback, with two from their ranks competing against Ahmadinejad in the June 12 presidential election. One of those candidates is a former speaker of parliament, Mehdi Karroubi, who came in third in 2005. The Times recently spoke with Reza Norouzadeh, a top Karroubi campaign official.,0,4447282.story

Parents of imprisoned journalist plan Iran trip
By: Davi Kolpack, Iran Focus, March 26, 2009
The father of imprisoned journalist Roxana Saberi says he and his wife are making plans to go to Iran to see her in a couple of days. "I'm hoping if she sees us, it will lift her spirits," Reza Saberi said told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The Iranian government has said Roxana Saberi was imprisoned for doing reporting work in the country after her press credentials expired. Her parents found out about her arrest in a brief phone call from her Feb. 10.

Mysterious death of the political prisoners in Iran
By: IHRV, March 25, 2009
Article 3 of the International Human Rights Declaration states: ìEvery individual is entitled to life, liberty and personal securityî.  The loss of the lives of two political prisoners in Iran in a span of less than two weeks is indicative of the fact that the judiciary apparatus and prison authorities are not committed to preserving and securing the lives of prisoners while they are incarcerated.

Morocco targets Shiites and homosexuals
By: Pierre Tristam, Pierre's Middle East Issues Blog, March 25, 2009
It's not clear what Shiites and homosexuals have to do with each other. Some Shiites are homosexuals (don't tell Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). Some homosexuals are Shiites. Nothing new, unusual or assailable there. Except in Morocco.

Egypt: Women turn to the Internet to fight taboos
By: Marwa Rakha, Global Voices, March 23, 2009
Young middle and upper class Egyptian women resort to the internet to fight their battles against taboos. The BBC interviewed some of them and Mohamed Hamdy of Bloggers Times comments on the article.

Is Egypt on the verge of a cultural revolution?
By: Marwa Rakha, Global Voices, March 23, 2009
Between Bahaa Taher's first Arabic Language Booker Prize, bloggers' books, Youssef Zidan's Azazeel's Booker prize, writing competitions on Facebook, the Sawiris Foundation Competitions, and new creative initiatives to nurture new blood, Egypt's literary scene has been revived over the past few years.

Iran: Dr. Hesam Firouzi, another jailed blogger
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices, March 23, 2009
It was jailed physician and blogger, Dr. Hesam Firouzi, who recently got the word out through his lawyer about the death of blogger Omid Reza Mir Sayafi in Tehran's Evin Prison. He said he urged prison authorities to send the dying prisoner to a hospital, but they refused. According to Human Rights Watch, Hesam Firouzi has long been a trusted physician to political prisoners including Ahmad Batebi, Akbar Gangi, Ayatollah Burujirdi, AbolFazl Jahandar, the late Akbar Mohammadi, and many others.

Iran: Will Tehran tango? Obama's historic Norooz greeting
By: Trita Parsi, Huffington Post, March 20, 2009
In an unprecedented - if not historic - New Year's message to the Iranian people and the government of Iran, President Barack Obama used the ancient Iranian New Year - Norooz - holiday to usher in a new beginning for US-Iran relations. The video message, aired around 0800am in the morning in Iran, will be the topic of conversation at every Norooz gathering - in Iran as well as in America. "For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained. But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together," the president said.

Lebanon: Tunisian dissident says Beirut was pressured to reject his visa request
By: Andrew Wander, Daily Star, March 18, 2009
A Tunisian dissident who was barred from entering Lebanon earlier this month claimed on Tuesday that his government had pressured Lebanese immigration authorities into refusing him a visa. Moncef Marzouki was due to give a lecture on Arab democracy at the Orient Institute in Beirut, but was denied permission to enter the country. Markouzi has been strident critic of the government in Tunis, calling on Tunisians to boycott elections and engage in civil disobedience against the authorities.


Fiji government critics may be excluded from democracy talks
By: RIcardo Morris, Radio Australia, March 25, 2009
Fiji's deputy army commander has threatened to exclude political parties and non-government organisations that are critical of the military-led regime from talks to return the country to democracy. The army's Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti has called on the ousted SDL party, the National Federation Party and NGOs to stop attacking the military and the interim government.

Reporters on Papua protests freed
By: BBC, March 25, 2009
Four Dutch journalists have been freed by police in Indonesia's West Papua. They had been covering pro-independence protests and the return of independence leader, Nicholas Jouwe, after 40 years of exile in the Netherlands.

Thousands rally in Indonesia's Papua, demand referendum
By: Thomson Reuters, Forbes, March 24, 2009
Over a thousand people rallied in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, on Tuesday demanding a referendum on independence from Indonesia and rejecting the forthcoming elections, a Reuters witness said. Independence activists in resources-rich Papua, on the western half of New Guinea island, have waged a campaign to separate from Indonesia for decades.

Oppression still rife in West Papua
By: The Age, March 23, 2009
Recent reports from Indonesia's West Papua of a raid on a military post by separatist fighters, and the news that a former West Papuan leader, Nicolaas Jouwe, has returned to Indonesia calling for a new dialogue on West Papua's political status, again draw attention to the long-running grievances of the Melanesian population.

Fiji: ëIt was stones, now it's Molotov cocktails'
By: John Liebhardt, Global Voices, March 23, 2009
In the weeks between late January and mid-March, at least six people in Fiji who could be termed ìpublic opponentsî of the countryís military-backed government have been targeted by unidentified individuals who late at night have thrown large stones at their houses and severally damaged their cars and other property.


2nd SEEMO Human Rights Photo Award (part of the annual BETA Photograph of the Year Competition)
By: Peace and Collaborative Development Network, March 26, 2009
For the second time, SEEMO will present the annual SEEMO Human Rights Photo Award. The competition for the SEEMO award is part of the 6th annual BETA Photograph of the Year competition, organised by the BETA News Agency. BETA has announced its competition for the best newspaper photograph. All professional photographers working for print media in South East Europe, including daily newspapers, local and other papers, magazines, periodicals, news agencies and Internet publications, can participate in the competition.