American Samoa, N. Korea and Central African Republic

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on December 10, 2013

AMERICAN SAMOA – Police to be armed with guns

Photographer © Peter Hendrie / Lonely Planet Images

Ofu Island, American Samoa

American Samoa’s [police commissioner] is going to provide police with guns for the first time despite critics warning the remote Pacific islands “are not like Chicago” and the move could lead to increased violence.

The group of islands, a territory of the United States with a population of 55,000, has received a shipment of 24 Glock-17 handguns for the local police who will begin carrying them next year.

The move has been criticized by residents but was demanded by the hard-line police commissioner, William Haleck, who came into the post in January and has warned of increasing drug-related gun violence. Mr Haleck and his supporters have pointed to the fatal shooting of an officer outside the High Court three years ago.

“Our motto is to serve and protect,” Mr. Haleck said. “Right now we can serve but if any incidents should pop up surrounding any kind of weapons how can we effectively respond to someone, with a weapon, with our bare hands?”

image1198But locals say the shooting was an isolated incident and the island does not have the culture of gun violence that is common on the streets of the US.

“We don’t have many murders on this island and certainly we don’t have the gun culture that you would in Los Angeles for example,” Monica Miller, a journalist, told ABC News.

Another resident, Dale Long, told Radio New Zealand: “There is no gun problem here. It’s not like Chicago or something where people are running around with machine guns and stuff. There are no guns to speak of here and it’s just going to escalate the problem.”

Mr. Haleck has pledged a slow approach to introducing the guns and will require officers to undergo extensive psychological tests and training.

“We want to make sure that when we do do this thing that our officers are properly trained – mentally and physically to be able to deal with whatever comes along their way and act prudently with this weapon,” he said.

NORTH KOREA – North Korean gulags ‘expanding’, satellite images show

North Korea’s largest gulag appears to be expanding its population, according to satellite images released by Amnesty International.

image1197An Amnesty report included rare testimony from a former camp guard, as well as from former inmates about the brutality prevalent in the prison system.

“For Amnesty International, which has been investigating human rights violations for the last 50 years, we find North Korea to be in a category of its own,” said Amnesty’s East Asia researcher Rajiv Narayan.

North Korea denies the existence of the political prison camps which, according to independent estimates, form a network holding between 100,000 and 200,000 people.

The images analyzed were taken over a two-year period from 2011 to 2013, and were of Camp 15 in the south of the country and Camp 16 in the north.

Amnesty estimated the size of Camp 16 is 216 square miles – three times the size of Washington, DC – with around 20,000 prisoners.

Analysis indicated a slight increase in the remote camp’s population, with new housing blocks clearly visible and signs of “significant” economic activity such as mining and logging, the report said.

A former security guard based at the camp from the 1980s until the mid-1990s, named only as Lee in the report, told Amnesty of the methods used to execute prisoners. He said detainees were forced to dig their own graves and were then killed….

Former Camp 15 inmates said [they and their fellow] detainees were subject to forced labor – usually for between 10 to 12 hours a day on near-starvation rations with a strict production target.

“Often we did not meet our targets because we were always hungry and weak,” one former Camp 15 prisoner told Amnesty. We were punished with beatings and also reductions in our food quota,” said the prisoner, whose name was withheld.

Camp 15 covers an area of 140 square miles. In 2011, an estimated 50,000 people were imprisoned within the camp. …

Amnesty called on North Korea to close the camps immediately, and urged countries like China to stop repatriating [to return (someone) to his or her own country] North Koreans who flee the country on the grounds that they would likely be sent to the gulag.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – UN authorizes military action

The UN Security Council has authorized increased military action by France and African troops to try to end the crisis in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.).

frenchmilitary

French military peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

The council unanimously approved a French-sponsored resolution Thursday aimed at restoring security and protecting civilians in the impoverished country. The authorization is expected to lead to an increase in troops for an African Union-led force and French troops.

The vote came as French troops continued to pour into the C.A.R. amid an outbreak of violence near the capital Bangui’s airport and in suburbs in the city’s north and east.

At least 105 people and likely many more were killed during Thursday morning’s fighting, the worst day of violence in Bangui, for several months. …

An existing 10pm to 6am curfew was extended by four hours, with Michael Djotodia, the president, ordering the capital’s citizens indoors by 6pm. Already, the streets were empty except for military patrols including the armored vehicles of 250 French troops in Bangui as the vanguard of the force that was expected by the weekend to increase to 1,200 soldiers.

image1196Rebel gunmen in pick-up trucks toured suburbs that they controlled, as the fighting waned at lunchtime. It had begun before dawn and lasted several hours. …

The fighting appeared to have started with Christian militia and supporters of the ousted president, Francois Bozize, began house-to-house searches for Muslim militants who backed country’s new leader, Michael Djotodia (the rebels’ former commander). Those rebels, named Seleka, or “alliance” in a local language, then began fighting back.

“There has been gunfire all over town,” said Amy Martin, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangui.

Christian vigilante militia and supporters of ousted president Francois Bozize were reportedly moving through areas recently controlled by Seleka rebels previously allied to the country’s new leader, Michael Djotodia.

The clashes appeared to have started in a stronghold of Mr. Bozize, who fled the country in March as the Seleka alliance took control of Bangui and installed Mr Djotodia as leader. Home mostly to Christians, the area where the fighting began has been repeatedly raided by Seleka gunmen, who are mostly Muslim.

Mr. Djotodia, a former Seleka commander, ordered the disbandment of the rebel group after taking power. But the order was largely ignored and Mr. Djotodia now appears to have lost control of his forces, which have been accused of mass murder, rape and looting.

image1196aThe Central African Republic has descended into what one UN official called “complete chaos” since March, with more than half a million people forced from their homes.

France agreed to send 1,000 troops to help bring order, and allow an African peacekeeping force drawn from the Economic Community of Central African States to assert more control.

The country is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium but decades of instability and spill-over from conflicts in its larger neighbors have kept it mired in crisis.

Western powers are lobbying for decisive international action to prevent the anarchy in Central African Republic leading to major atrocities against the civilian population. Officials in Paris and Washington have already said the fighting could descend into genocide.

As the Seleka rebels retreat ahead of the French and AU deployment, there are fears of widespread revenge attacks by Christians against Muslims, who make up 15 percent of the 4.6 million population.

“When Seleka entered, there were dead Christians. This time it could be worse…We need the French. The French have to come quickly,” Wilfred Koyamba, a resident of Bangui, said as Thursday’s fighting continued. …

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at London’s Daily Telegraph on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5.)

Questions

NOTE: Before answering the questions below, read the info under “Background.”

1. For each of the 3 countries, provide the following information:

a) capital:

b) location/the countries that share its borders:

c) the religious breakdown of the population:

d) the type of government:

e) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch]:

f) the population:

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to worldatlas.com for maps and a list of continents.]

2. For AMERICAN SAMOA:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Which sentence in this news brief indicates the reporter’s opinion on arming police in American Samoa? Why do you think so?
c) Do you agree or disagree with the following assertion made by Police Commissioner Haleck? Explain your answer.
“Our motto is to serve and protect. Right now we can serve but if any incidents should pop up surrounding any kind of weapons how can we effectively respond to someone, with a weapon, with our bare hands?”

3. For NORTH KOREA:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For what “crimes” are North Koreans sent to gulags? How long is the usual sentence?
c) Read the “Background” below on North Korea. How do you think the U.S. should deal with North Korea? What should the UN do?

4. For CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) “The Central African Republic has descended into what one UN official called ‘complete chaos’ since March, with more than half a million people forced from their homes.” What happened at that time that triggered this chaos? (See “Background” below for the answer.)


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Background

AMERICAN SAMOA

  • American Samoa, a group of five volcanic islands and two coral atolls located some 2,600 mi south of Hawaii in the South Pacific, is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the U.S. It includes the eastern Samoan islands of Tutuila, Aunu’u, and Rose; three islands (Ta’u, Olosega, and Ofu) of the Manu’a group; and Swains Island.
  • Around 1000 B.C. Proto-polynesians established themselves in the islands, and their descendants are one of the few remaining Polynesian societies.
  • The Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen sighted the Manu’a Islands in 1722.
  • American Samoa has been a territory of the United States since April 17, 1900, when the High Chiefs of Tutuila signed the first of two Deeds of Cession for the islands to the U.S. (Congress ratified the Deeds in 1929.) Swains Island, which is privately owned, came under U.S. administration in 1925.
  • Until World War II the United States operated a coaling station and naval base in Pago Pago. During the war, the islands were an important U.S. Marines staging area.
  • In 1960 American Samoa ratified its territorial constitution and has since developed a modern, self-governing political system.
  • American Samoans elect a governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature. The legislature (Fono) consists of two houses: the Senate, selected by village chiefs (matai) for four-year terms, and the House of Representatives, elected by the general population for two-year terms.
  • The people of American Samoa are U.S. nationals, not U.S. citizens, but many have become naturalized American citizens.
  • American Samoa does 80%–90% of its foreign trade with the U.S. Canned tuna is the primary export, earning $300 million annually. Transfers from the U.S. government add substantially to American Samoa’s economic well-being. (from infoplease.com)
  • NORTH KOREA: 

    • An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist domination.
    • After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the U.S.-backed South Korea (Republic of Korea – ROK) by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President Kim Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic “self-reliance” as a check against excessive Soviet or Communist Chinese influence.
    • North Korea demonized the U.S. as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang’s control.
    • Kim Il Sung’s son, [dictator] Kim Jong Il, was officially designated as his father’s successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder Kim’s death in 1994.
    • After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, North Korea since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of approximately 1 million. [Aid agencies estimate that a famine from 1995-1997 killed 2 million to 3 million North Koreans.  Foreign food aid was given to North Korea, but the government distributed the majority of it to the military and party leaders.]
    •  [Kim Jong-il was an oppressive dictator who required that his people call him “Dear Leader”]
    • Kim Jong Un was publicly unveiled as his father’s successor in September 2010. 
    • Following Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011, the regime began to take actions to transfer power to Kim Jong Un and Jong Un has now assumed many his father’s former titles and duties. 
    • North Korea’s history of regional military provocations; proliferation of military-related items; WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006, 2009, and 2013 (long-range missile development;  as well as its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs) and massive conventional armed forces – are of major concern to the international community. (from the CIA World FactBook)

    GULAGS OF NORTH KOREA:

    The internment camps for people accused of political offenses or denounced as “politically unreliable” are run by the State Security Department. Political prisoners are subject to guilt by association punishment. They are deported with parents, children and siblings, and sometimes even grandparents or grandchildren, without any lawsuit or conviction, and are held prisoner for the rest of their lives.

    The camps are located in central and northeastern North Korea. They comprise many prison labor colonies in secluded mountain valleys, completely isolated from the outside world. The total number of prisoners is estimated to be 150,000 to 200,000. Yodok camp and Bukchang camp are separated into two sections: One section for political prisoners in lifelong detention, another part similar to re-education camps with prisoners sentenced to long-term imprisonment with the vague hope of eventual release.

    The prisoners are forced to perform hard and dangerous slave work with primitive means in mining and agriculture. The food rations are very small, so that the prisoners are constantly on the brink of starvation. In combination with the hard work this leads to huge numbers of prisoners dying. An estimated 40% of prisoners die from malnutrition. Moreover many prisoners are crippled from work accidents, frostbite or torture. There is a rigid punishment in the camp. Prisoners that work too slowly or do not obey an order are beaten or tortured. In case of stealing food or attempting to escape, the prisoners are publicly executed.

    Initially there were around twelve political prison camps, but some were merged or closed (e. g. Onsong prison camp, Kwan-li-so No. 12, following a suppressed riot with around 5000 dead people in 1987). Today there are six political prison camps in North Korea (size determined from satellite images, number of prisoners estimated by former prisoners). Most of the camps are documented in testimonies of former prisoners and, for all of them, coordinates and satellite images are available. (from wikipedia)

  • CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC:

    • French soldiers began arriving in the Central African Republic on Monday to help stem a worsening religious war that threatens to become a genocide, the latest in a series of military interventions Paris has recently undertaken in Africa.
    • Military heavy-lift Antonov-124 aircraft ferried troops, weapons and supplies to the capital, Bangui, as convoys of armored vehicles drove in overland.
    • Paris is deploying 1,000 troops to add to a standing French force of 400 already in the country, where senior UN officials warn Muslim-Christian fighting risks spiralling into genocide.
    • The French role is to support an existing African peacekeeping mission that has proven ineffective in stemming widespread abuses carried out by Muslim former rebels in the majority Christian country.
    • Their leader, Michael Djotodia, ousted the former president and took power in March, but has been unable to control armed elements of his supporters, the Seleka.

    BBC News reports:

    • On March 24, 2013, Michel Djotodia marched into the capital Bangui at the head of 5,000 Seleka rebel fighters to seize power from President Bozize, who fled the country.
    • Mr. Djotodia immediately moved to suspend the constitution and dissolve parliament, and announced he would rule by decree.
    • In response to the coup, the African Union suspended the Central African Republic’s membership and imposed sanctions on Mr. Djotodia and other Seleka leaders.
    • Regional leaders have since recognized him as the country’s transitional head but stopped short of embracing him as president.
    • The United States condemned the rebels’ seizure of power and refused to recognize Mr. Djotodia.
    • In the months after the coup, Mr. Djotodia struggled to rein in his former rebel fighters who were accused by rights group Human Rights Watch of executing opponents, raping women and looting homes.
    • Mr. Djotodia is the first Muslim to lead the mostly Christian country.

    U.S.-CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC RELATIONS

    The United States established diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) in 1960, following its independence from France. The C.A.R. is one of the world’s least developed nations, and has experienced several periods of political instability since independence. The Central African Republic is located in a volatile and poor region and has a long history of development, governance, and human rights problems. The U.S. Embassy in the C.A.R. was briefly closed as a result of 1996-97 military mutinies. It reopened in 1998 with limited staff, but U.S. Agency for International Development and Peace Corps missions previously operating there did not return. The Embassy again temporarily suspended operations in November 2002 in response to security concerns raised by the October 2002 launch of a 2003 military coup. The Embassy reopened in 2005. Restrictions on U.S. aid that were imposed after the 2003 military coup were lifted in 2005. Due to insecurity and the eventual overthrow of the C.A.R. Government, the U.S. Embassy in Bagui has been closed since December 2012. The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the C.A.R.

    In the spring of 2013, under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African states (ECCAS) regional leaders developed a political roadmap for CAR which established an 18-month transitional government, led by the Prime Minister, with a plan for elections in the fall of 2014 Since that time however, the security, human rights, and humanitarian situation has continued to worsen and in response the African Union authorized the International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-C.A.R.) on August 1, 2013. (from state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/4007.htm)

    Resources

    AMERICAN SAMOA

    Read about American Samoa at: americansamoa.travel/attending-church

    For a map, go to: worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/oceania/as.htm

  • NORTH KOREA

    Read a 2012 commentary about North Korea at: studentnewsdaily.com/editorials-for-students/the-worlds-most-repressive-state