Uganda Homophobia and Warlord Joseph Kony: Truth Behind Mainstream Media

Articles written for IBTimesUK 

Yoweri Museveni’s Homophobic Bill: What’s Behind Ugandan Homophobia?

Uganda has undoubtedly attracted lots of international attention lately all thanks to President Yoweri Museveni’s crackdown on homosexuals.

In fact NigeriaCameroon and Arizona have all distinguished themselves with overtly homophobic  legislation.

Behind the signing of Uganda’s controversial anti-gay bill lurks political subterfuge and vanity.

Museveni originally rejected the controversial bill, which sees life imprisonment for homosexual offences, saying that there were other ways to “cure” homosexuals, and life imprisonment was not the right one.

But about a month later Museveni had consulted a team of “experts” who declared homosexuality “not genetic” but a “social behaviour”. Satisfied with proof that sexual orientation was dependent on moral choices made by individuals, Museveni signed the bill amid local applause and international outrage.

After 28 years of uninterrupted power, Museveni knows he is ripe for replacement by another political leader at the next election.

It seems likely Museveni has come under pressure from a range of political imperatives, and has buckled in order to preserve his power. Definitely among them would be influential parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga, a staunch supporter of the country’s anti-gay bill. In return for signing the bill Kadaga could well have pledged her support to the president in the run-up to the next elections.

Kadaga has often expressed her will to turn the controversial bill into law, leading human rights activists to protest.

According to independent journalist and reporter Fulvio Beltrami, who writes for Italian newspapers Indro and Reteluna.it, important oil reserves were found in the northern area of Uganda in 2004.

The drilling operations are assigned to three companies: British Tullow, French Total and Chinese Cnooc.

Once extracted, the oil will be refined in Uganda and then sold in local and regional markets, with a small percentage destined to the European and Chinese markets, Beltrami said.

US president Barack Obama said that if Uganda passed its homophobic bill this would complicate relations with the US.

Museveni, probably allured by the opportunity to hold on to power at whatever cost, has ignored the US. But he can afford to these days thanks to Africa’s newest and biggest investor: China.

Museveni’s rapid change of heart might have something to do with plans to start oil production in Uganda in 2016/2017. This will have raised political stakes in the country enormously, while also granting Uganda a degree of impunity on the global stage.

 

Related

 

Why is America Obsessed with Ugandan Warlord Joseph Kony?

 

The US has recently re-launched a campaign to capture Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, as Obama vowed to send 150 additional Special Operations troops and four military aircrafts to Uganda, to help capture the warlord.

After a video about Koni’s almost 30-year-long regime of terror, under which girls were sexually enslaved, while child soldiers were forced to join rebel group Lord Resistance Army, was released by Invisible Children in 2012, Kony’s activities attracted Obama’s administration’s attention.

Two years later, media have been flooded again with a renewed anti-Kony campaign, which,  however, might be put down to economic reasons, rather than the necessity to stop crimes against humanity.

According to independent journalist and reporter Fulvio Beltrami, who writes for Italian newspapers Indro and Reteluna.it, since Kony escaped North Uganda in 2005, he no longer poses a threat to the country.

“On many occasions, Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and American marines have spotted and attacked LRA campuses where Kony lived; however, the attacks were always preceded by news leaks that allowed Kony to escape,” Beltrami told IBTimesUK.

“The aim was to keep the ‘Kony myth’ alive, to justify UPDF and US Army’s presence in key zones such as: South Sudan, North Kivu, Congo and the western area of Central African Republic (CAR). Surprisingly enough, all zones rich in mineral and oil,” he continued.

According to Beltrami, Kony has been trying to end a guerrilla war which no longer benefits him, in exchange for a blanket pardon for war crimes.

“Peace negotiations, however, were sabotaged by the Ugandan government, as the end of LRA means the end of Washington- Kampala military activities in the region,” Beltrani explained.

The last attempt at capturing Kony was made in October 2011, when Ugandan soldiers, joined by CAR and US forces, found Kony having a bath in a river.
Instead of capturing him, the Ugandan soldiers received the order to withdraw, allowing Kony to escape.

In November 2013, Kony said he was willing to surrender, during peace negotiations with the then CAR president Michael Djotodia.

“Uganda authorities, after diplomatic clichés, did not do anything to get in touch with Kony,” Beltrami said. “Yoweri Museveni [Uganda's current president] has managed to build the most powerful army in the region, thanks to the ‘Kony myth’”.

 

 

 

 

What if Oscar Pistorius were black?

 

Article written for IBTimesUK 

 

Former Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius is on trial accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, though he claims he mistook her for an intruder and shot her by accident.

Pistorius’s defensive claim relies heavily on the stereotype of the respectable middle class white man’s fear of a black intruder who will steal, rape and kill. The learned response is to bear arms with extreme prejudice – and this was the cause of his girlfriend’s death.

Imagine for a moment if Pistorius were black, however. Would he still be eligible for the benefit of doubt In a country where Apartheid is still echoing in many Afrikaners’ lives and racial equality is still something of a utopian dream state?

According to journalist Margie Orford: ”The figure of the threatening black stranger has driven many South Africans into fortress-like housing estates, surrounded by electric fences, armed guards and the relentless surveillance of security cameras.

“This figure is the reason almost every middle-class home has a panic button on both sides of the double bed in the master bedroom, a red button that will summons armed guards to the house within minutes.”

Filmmaker and writer Gillian Schutte described South Africa as a “world in which to be black and male makes you vulnerable to random shootings in suburban settings, where it seems, any black male is a potential threat.”

Is Pistorius, then, leveraging on a widespread fear of swart gevaar (Afrikaans for black threat) to make his crime more excusable?

In recent years, many fear that revenge attacks against white South Africans could be carried out. A black man who intrudes in a white man’s mansion becomes, therefore, the perfect scapegoat.

In South Africa, even after 20 years the end of racial segregation, white people live in rich farms while hundreds of black families are still in hovels, and 59% of South Africans believe that integration is impossible.

In a place still governed by racist stereotypes and institutionalised  inequality; where corrupt police can carry out mass-murder, as in the case of Marikana, or stage public tortures, as in the case of Mido Marcia who died after being dragged by a police car, what sort of justice can be expected.

What are the chances of a white multi-millionaire Olympic runner – once considered a hero – to be jailed over the “accidental” shooting of his girlfriend?

If you want to know more: 

Sharia Law Betrays the Koran

Sharia law allows extremist believers, terrorist groups and judges to build up reigns of terror in which people (in particular women) are tortured, mutilated, stoned to death and executed in the name of Allah who, however, has never demanded such massacres, labelled with the pretest of religion. 

Sharia expert Hasan Mahmud has been fighting for years against the application of sharia as legislation in a state; Mahmud has been always open to dialogue with Muslims who strongly believe in the sharia as the only possible solution to run societies.

 

No one has yet responded to Mahmud’s invitation. 

Article written for IBTimesUK

Sharia, also known as Islami Qaqun, is the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion, and represents Islam’s legal system.

Contrary to what many believe, sharia does not come from the Koran or the Prophet’s examples (Hadises), as there are at least 11 sources of the law.

“That the sharia derives from the Koran is a myth,” the general secretary of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Hasan Mahmud, told IBTimesUK.

“There are about 13 laws in the Koran and few dozen which come directly from the Prophet; there are more than 6,000 laws in each of Hanafi and Shafi’i books of sharia, most of which are man-made,” he explained.

“Many sharia laws violate the Koran, especially when it comes to women’s rights. In court the judges do not open the Koran, they open the sharia law book and they apply it,” Mahmud said.

In Sharia – Undoing the Wrongdoing, Mahmud wrote: “It would stun to know that the Koran mentions the word “sharia” only once as noun and only twice as verb.

“Sharia literarily means the path made by animals going to the spot of flowing water or flowing water itself,” he continued. “Symbolically, it means path to salvation or Nirvana. This is exactly what the Koran used the word for: ethical guidance or a moral code that leads to peace and paradise. Transforming ‘moral guidance’ to ‘state law’ was the very first betrayal the Koran suffered.”

According to Mahmud, who wants to warn Muslims worldwide against the dangers of Sharia and its inapplicability in modern states, sharia law will eventually fail as it does not have the capacity to run in modern states.

“Sharia law is not only about laws and contents, it is about the spirit of it, which is to dominate the whole world,” explained Mahmud, who is also a producer of three films on the subject. One, The Divine Stone, is a short drama on sharia dedicated to Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, a 13-year-old Somali girl stoned to death by al-Shabab militants after she was raped by three armed men.

“Many Muslims believe that sharia is God’s law and should be applied to correct the decay of moral values,” said Mahmud.

“It is true that since WW2 the world has been witnessing a decay in moral values, but what sharia does is more devastating – by applying sharia, Muslims are helping a devil in disguise.”

Mahmud was born in Bangladesh in 1949, lived in the Middle East for several years, and in 1990 moved to Canada, where he became the director of Sharia Law for the Muslim Canadian Congress. He has fought against allowing sharia courts in the country.

“God’s law has been established in Islam, but there is a very small peaceful group who interprets Islam in a peaceful way. But we have started only lately,” Mahmud explained.

“God’s law has been established in Islam, but there is a very small peaceful group who interprets Islam in a peaceful way”
Hasan Mahmud

“Radical Islamists have been trying to establish sharia in the West, the very first sharia law court supported by local law was established in Toronto in 1991; we came to know about in 2003, then we secular Muslims, started a huge movement against it and ultimately we succeeded in 2005 September: that court was abolished by the government,” he continued.

Mahmud, who is also on the advisory board of theWorld Muslim Congress and a research associate at Deen Research Center in the Netherlands, has received a death threat for his stancer.

“I have not been able to go home for 15 years. [Radical Islamists] declared that I am an atheist and I am part of anti-Islamic conspiracy. They are looking for my blood,” he said.

If you want to know more:

 

Should Black History Month be abolished?

Carter G. Woodson is the founder of black history month

Article originally written for IBTimesUK

Black History Month (BHM) is not unanimously acclaimed as a needed celebration of black people’s history and culture.

Many African-Americans think that this 4-week-long remembrance leads to the unwanted, opposite effect of forgetting black people’s heritage and contributions during the remaining eleven months of the year.

Actor Morgan Freeman defined BHM as “ridiculous”.

“You are going to relegate my history to a month?”, an angry Freeman askedduring an interviewn with Sixty Minutes.

“Black history is American history,” Freeman continued and then added that people will get rid of racism only if they “stop talking about it.”

African-American filmmaker Shukree Tilghman, in collaboration with PBS, produced “More than a Month,” a provocative film about whether BHM is needed or not.

“I hope as a country, we can imagine an America where Black History Month isn’t necessary [...]Watching how folks were treated during Hurricane Katrinaand listening to pundits refer to those victims as refugees intensified that notion. I thought that this ideal of ‘other’ is reinforced in society by things like Black History Month,” Tilghman said in an interview.

On the other hand, many other people stress the importance of keeping BHM. For example, a woman interviewed in “More than a month” said: “I feel it is empowering, because this is the only time when we get to speak”.

Another interviewee was of the same opinion: “You come from a predominantly white institution, you just come from a regular public school; you don’t learn anything about it [BHM] until that month, and then everybody starts talking about it.”

According to culture blogger Aisha Harris, rather than pushing to end BHM, people should try to fix it: “One of the reasons Black History Month exists in the first place is because black Americans have long been a marginalised group. It’s certainly worthwhile to remind today’s kids [...] of past and present injustices, especially those that are rarely discussed.”

The importance of remembering someone’s roots is undeniable; especially when it comes to people who have suffered slavery and deprivation of basic human rights for centuries.

Establishing equality between black and white people and eradicating discrimination, intolerance and hatred are objectives that, still today, have failed to be achieved. But can injustice and racism be eliminated by the existence of a month dedicated to the celebration of black people’s history?

Probably not, as is it not during one month in a year that racism is eradicated from people’s minds.

The process of elimination of injustices against black people is a day-to-day mission, not an yearly event that everybody will forget once the next month arrives.

Africans have been living in America and Britain for generations; as much as their cultural and historical identities as well as values must be protected, they should also be fully integrated in the American and British traditions, instead of constantly being singled out as components of an alien history still impossible to assimilate.

 

Nigeria vs Uganda: Which is the most homophobic?

Article originally written for IBTimesUK

It is a very hard time for gay people across the globe, as every day media bring to our attention new cases of discrimination and brutal massacres; as love between two people of the same sex was one of the highest crimes that must be eradicated.

Thousands of people, unable to accept diversity and affected by this strange pathology that forces them to impose their own perception of justice and correctness on everybody else around, exacerbate hate towards homosexuals.

As state repression of homosexuals in African countries ushers in a harsh new era with legislation, demonisation, harassment, torture, imprisonment and denial of medical treatment on the rise, here is an analysis of two of the most homophobic countries in Africa.

One country incarcerates anyone found guilty of “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”, risks a dramatic increase in HIV rates due to homophobia repression, and made headlines worldwide after the brutal assassination of one of Uganda’s most prominent gay activists.

The other one bans gay associations, with penalties up to 14 years’ imprisonment for marriage and is about to execute 11 men arrested for belonging to gay organizations.

 

Uganda

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has recently rejected an anti-gay bill that saw life imprisonment as a sentence for homosexual offences.

The rejection of the bill, however, did not mean a reversal concerning gay rights.

Museveni said that there are other ways to “rescue” people from their “abnormality”, and life imprisonment is not the right method.

This means that Ugandan gays will still be persecuted and treated as abnormal.

A clampdown on Ugandan gays might lead to an HIV setback, according to activists.

One of Uganda’s most prominent gay activists, Frank Mugisha, warned that homosexuals are being driven into leading dangerous double lives and therefore indulging in risky sexual practices.

“The ones who wanted to come out will not dare to come out anymore,” Mugisha told TimesLive.

“African culture dictates that you have to marry in a heterosexual relationship and have children. And gay people are not going to stop having sex, HIV is going to be on the increase (and) people will start dying.”

Bildard Baguma, deputy secretary general at the Uganda Red Cross warned against negative consequences if access to service becomes a problem.

“If these people go underground and can’t access services, then it is likely to have a negative effect on the epidemic,” Baguma said.

At the AIDS Information Centre in Kampala, staff have also been deeply worried over the impact on access to public health facilities for those most at risk – notably sex workers where HIV prevalence is 33%, and male homosexuals where prevalence is 12%.

Raymond Byaruhanga, a doctor who runs the AIDS Information Centre in Kampala, said that a general climate of repression against homosexuals is among several reasons that HIV rates in Uganda are rising again for the first time in two decades.

Under existing Ugandan law, anyone found guilty of “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” can already face up to life imprisonment.

A British pensioner facing charges in Uganda of trafficking obscene publications will be deported, after police found photos of him having sex with another man on his laptop

His laptop had been stolen and files from the computer were handed to a tabloid newspaper that specialises in sex stories, AFP reported

Gay activist David Kato was brutally murdered in 2011 after Ugandan weekly Rolling Stone pictured his face and that of another man on its cover under the headline “Hang them!” The subhead read: “We shall recruit 100,000 innocent kids by 2012: Homos” and “Parents now face heart-breaks as homos raid schools.”

The paper pledged to expose 100 gay people and printed the photographs, names and in some cases home areas, of people it claimed were gay

Nigeria 

Dozens of gay Nigerians have been arrested and many others are seeking asylum at the embassies in Nigeria since an anti-gay bill was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013, or the so-called “Jail the Gays” bill, imposes prison sentences of up to 14 years on those found guilty of involvement in a gay marriage or civil union.

Anyone who registers, operates or takes part in gay organisations or makes a public show of a same-sex relationship will also be punishable to up to 10 years in prison.

The anti-gay bill disregards human rights, said Amnesty, which warned that it the new legislation mirrored the laws enforced by the military dictators who ruled Nigeria until 1999.

“The deeply repressive Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act must be withdrawn without delay. With the stroke of a pen, President Jonathan has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies,” Amnesty warned.

Homophobia is allegedly not the only motive behind this anti-gay crackdown, as reported by the Independent.

The bill is serving as a distraction to change the focus of the Nigerian political debate.

When he was elected, Jonathan promised to rescue Nigeria from corruption and economic misbalance; but three years after he came to power, his promises seem to have remained unfulfilled.

Thousands of protesters threw stones into a Shariah court in a north Nigerian city on Wednesday, after the convictions of 11 men arrested for belonging to gay organisations, AP reported.

The same court arrested and publicly punished with 20 lashes a man convicted of homosexual offences.

Like Uganda, Nigeria’s discriminatory laws and systematic homophobic repression is having a negative effect on public health.

Nigeria has become (after South Africa) the second largest country affected by HIV, with 3.4 million of Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS.

According to the director general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), professor John Idoko: “Most successful initiatives recognise the role of legislation as the tool against stigma and discrimination.”

“We must begin to be proactive in the implementation of action plans that are workable and friendly and advocacy must be carried out at all levels of the society,” Okowa continued.

If you want to know more

Top Five African Countries Least Tolerant of Gay Rights 

 

 

Unilever Project Sunlight: A brighter future is possible

Article written for IecoAfrica

Unilever Project Sunlight is an initiative that aims to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles; the project shows how to fully benefit from the available resources, while still respecting the planet we live on, in order to preserve it for the people yet to come.

Unilever’s Project Sunlight was launched in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the US on 20th November 2013. To mark the launch of the initiative, Unilever helped two million children, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; clean, safe drinking water through Save the Children; and promoting better hygiene through UNICEF.

Unilever Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Keith Weed explains: “We want to help people SEE a brighter future; in order to do this, we are inviting people to watch a film online which aims to inspire and motivate people. We want to encourage them to ACT by doing small things which, added together, contribute to a better society and environment. Ultimately, we want people to JOIN the movement”.

As the “Why bring a child into this world?” film suggests, there has never been a better time to create a brighter future.
This is the generation that can change the present and build the road to a better future. We have the knowledge and we have the tools; words have never spread so fast as well as people have never travelled in such a quick time; we can create a solid net of motivated people who work together towards the same aim, the aim to help preserve a planet which is rebelling and dying before our very eyes.

Actions are numerous and require very little effort. As Unilever suggests, we can, for example:

Switch to compressed deodorants, which use less aluminium in the packaging and less propellant gas inside, and save tonnes of CO2;

Choose Comfort One Rinse for our laundry, a fabric conditioner that requires just one bucket of water to fully rinse items, and help save up to 75% water while washing clothes;

Buy products from Rainforest Alliance, and help cocoa farmers make a positive impact on their farming techniques and communities;

Use Lipton for our cups of tea, so that millions of tea farmers will be helped develop more sustainable approaches to tea farming.

We have dramatically damaged the Earth throughout generations, but we can also remedy the senseless deprivation that is the cause of dangerous alterations and millions of deaths.
Changes are possible when tools and will are combined together. And small changes in everyday life can create a better present, essential condition for a much greater future in which plagues such as mortal diseases, starvation, pollution and inequalities can be finally eliminated.

 

 

 

Nelson Mandela – A controversial man

The figure of Nelson Mandela has always sparked contrasting opinions among the public.
Many define him as a hero, others as a terrorist.
Well, he was both.

Founded in 1912, the African National Congress (ANC) was one of the primary forces that pressed for racial equality in South Africa. After nearly 50 years of nonviolent protest, the ANC formed a military wing in 1961: UmKhonto we Sizwe, (MK), with Mandela at its head.
Mandela was arrested in 1962, accused of trying to overthrow the regime by using violence; he was pleaded guilty for several acts of public violence, such as mobilising terrorist bombing campaigns, during which innocent people, including women and children, were killed.

 

 

After his release, in 1990, Mandela undoubtedly contributed to eliminate the system of racial segregation Apartheid, and overthrow the government-dictatorship that was ruling at the time.
With the conclusion of Apartheid, Mandela helped segregated South Africans achieve the recognition of basic human rights and the possibility to live a life free, or almost free, from discrimination and segregation.

Despite the fact that Nelson Mandela has not always been the promoter of peace and tolerance in the way that we know today, people chose to forget the crimes committed by him and his party, albeit for a great cause that helped, to certain extents, reshape the social and political structures of South Africa. The struggle of Nelson Mandela to achieve equality for black people will be echoing across countries for long time, carrying an intrinsic lesson that many people must learn. The fight for justice and the long and hard attempt to eliminate the plague of racism – a terrible plague that claims victim every day, a mischievous illness that infect brains and souls, kill ethic, moral, and common sense; and foment, with a terrible speed, violence and hatred – is what people want to remember and celebrate, because this is what people are more in need of.
Tolerance and peaceful cohabitation are still utopian realities in many societies, even the more developed and self-claimed democratic ones.
Hatred, incapacity of tolerance and acceptance of diversity, are poisonous evils that annihilate any attempts of progress.
There will never be a real progress, until people will be unable to coexist and embrace each other’s difference.

Without making the mistake to forget the crimes committed by a young Mandela, there probably is, at the end, a reason why we should celebrate his persona, or at least what he became after his imprisonment. There is a tremendously important lesson that we must learn from his commitment and his struggle to achieve a better society in which dignity and rights are no longer a privilege of few. One thing, above all, is what we must remember from Mandela’s struggle: even the harshest regimes will eventually capitulate, when people fight together against injustices.

 

If you want to know more:

BBC – The birth and death of apartheid

BBC – Mandela taken off US terror list

The Star – Nelson Mandela and Canada’s crude view of terror: Walkom

BBC – Mandela death: How a prisoner became a legend

The Daily Beast – Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then

Mail&Guardian – AfriForum slated over ‘ANC terror attacks’ ceremony

Manifestoof Umkhonto we Sizwe

 

 

 

 

HIV – We need more people like Anil Valiv

The World Aids Day, that commemorates the victims of HIV and help demolish stigmatisation against those affected by this virus, is also an occasion to reflect about what can still be done to reduce the risks of transmission and help HIV carriers re-integrate into society.

According to a report by UNICEF, great progress has been made to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Since 2005, about 850,000 infants have been saved from HIV. However, there were approximately 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV in 2012.
The Hunger Project claims that “There is still an alarming number of people, 35.3 million, living with HIV.”
This means that we need to do more.
Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
Treatments must be accessible to everyone all across the globe; schools must educate people on the risks of contracting HIV and how these could be avoided. Informative campaigns  must be increased to make people aware on the importance to get themselves tested regularly. Early diagnosis could save thousands of lives. According to the Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Philippe Douste-Blazy: ”With new evidence that early treatment not only improves health but also prevents new infections, the world now has the tools at hand to turn the tide against HIV. We must use them.”

End of stigmatisation is another key point to defeat HIV.
Anil Valiv has massively contributed to help HIV carriers in India to lead a normal life. It was 2006 when Mr Valiv came up with the great idea to found PositiveSaathi.com, a free matrimonial website to help people affected by HIV meet and get married and, consequently, avoid isolation.
“Ten years ago it was extremely difficult for a HIV positive person to speak openly about his/her problem. Stigma and discrimination persists and we wanted to bring a change in the their lives,” says Valiv.

The keys to defeat the plague of HIV are numerous: acceptance and tolerance are probably the most important ones. HIV carriers can lead a normal life as we do, they can still work, socialise, get married, hope, dream. Let’s not treat them as dregs of society.

 

If you want to know more:

World Health Organisation – HIV AND ADOLESCENTS:GUIDANCE FOR HIV TESTING AND COUNSELLING AND CARE FOR ADOLESCENTS LIVING WITH HIV

The Guardian – Young and HIV positive: what is it like to live with the condition?

#Someonelikeme, “1 share 1 condom”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stoning: Here we go again

 

Today is another sad day for the history of humanity, as one of the most barbaric, inhuman, shameful tortures could become an unavoidable sentence for many Afghans. Again.
With the capitulation of the Taliban regime in 2001, stoning was abolished in Afghanistan; however, the deadly punishments still occurred unofficially, with episodes reported even in recent times.
12 years after the end of the Taliban dictatorship, during which lapidation was massively adopted by the regime, the Karzai administration is tentatively reintroducing stoning as punishment for adultery.

According to the article 21 of the draft revision of the penal code, which is currently being managed by the justice ministry: “Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning to death.”
If a couple is found by a court to have engaged in sexual intercourse outside a legal marriage, both the man and woman shall be sentenced to “stoning to death if the adulterer or adulteress is married.” [..] “The implementation of stoning shall take place in public in a predetermined location.” If the “adulterer or adulteress is unmarried,” the sentence shall be “whipping 100 lashes.”

As Human Rights Watch claims, the penalty of death by stoning violates international human rights standards, and it is considered a form of torture; it should be, therefore, eliminated from any penal codes.
Lapidation, which is a very ancient method of torture, is currently adopted as a capital punishment in several countries, including Iraq, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia and Afghanistan.

Human Rights Watch is calling on international donors to withhold funds for Afghanistan,  until the proposal to reintroduce stoning is rejected.
But this is not enough.
It is unacceptable that after 12 years, in a country where many lives have been taken because of this tremendous, barbaric and inhuman procedure, the government is going backwards, instead of progressing.
International voices must arise united to protest against this terrible torture; we all must rise up and fight in order to guarantee basic human rights in those countries where life is subjected to the whims of tyrants.
If the law that backs stoning passes, we all will be responsible for any future victims.
There must a be a sense of collective responsibility that leads our governments to intervene and pressurise the Karzai administration to withdraw the proposal.
There must be a sense of humanity in all of us, that will make us rebel, protest and use all our means to prevent an unjustifiable, legalised massacre of innocent people.

Natural Disasters and Human Negligence

Article written for iecoAfrica:

The very fact that the recent typhoon that claimed thousands of lives, destroyed entire families and left millions without hope, could have been part caused by our careless approach to climate change, is one of the highest shames of modern times.

Researcher at the ANU and member of the Climate Council Professor Will Steffen said: “Once cyclones form, they get most of the energy from the surface waters of the ocean. We know sea-surface temperatures are warming pretty much around the planet, so that’s a pretty direct influence of climate change on the nature of the storm.”

Indifference, as well as the foolish belief that our actions do not affect the planet, will lead us to our end. It is, therefore, time to open our eyes and admit our mistakes; it is time to take action. It is time to stand up and blame ourselves for our voracity, for the fury in which we destroy everything around us, without spending a single second thinking about the consequences; for the absolute arrogance that makes us think that nature belongs to us and our rules, and we can destroy the ecosystems without any consequences.

Could we be more selfish and naïve?

When nature furiously claims back what belongs to it, we all need to learn a hard lesson; while in the Philippines corpses are still floating among debris, mud and water, we must stop our greed and our insensitivity.

Despite the urgency to reach agreements and define the best course of action to address and prevent climate treaties, a fastidious snobbery has affected this year’s climate change meeting also. As the lawyer specialised in international environmental issues Alistair McGlone predicted:“There have been so many disappointments at climate change meetings in the past few years that unqualified optimism would be a mistake”. The talks in Warsaw were not free of sad surprises: Australia, US and several other countries chose not to send their ministers to participate in the Warsaw talks, as if such countries were immune to climate change and natural disasters.

What emerged during the talks is that immediate action as well as awareness are extremely necessary to reduce the impact of climate change. As pointed out by President of COP19 Mr. Marcin Korolec: “Only two days ago, a powerful typhoon swept through the Philippines, claiming thousands of lives, leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. A great human tragedy. Unforgettable, painful, awakening. I say awakening because it is yet another proof that we are losing this unequal struggle between man and nature. It got the better of us yet again, and will continue to do so in the future if we do not close ranks and act together to strike back.”

Climate action is failing, responsibility is failing, and the whole world pays the consequences for our careless approach. It is time for actions, it is time for awareness, procrastination will finish us off.