Myanmar: A Brighter Future Sparkling On The Horizon?

AUNG SAN SUU KYI. PHOTO: BURMA DEMOCRATIC CONCERN (BDC). FLICKR

The spotlights of the international world are fully shining on Myanmar, or Burma, because of some major breakthroughs. The country has been under military rule for almost fifty years, but last year signalled a great change as the first nominally civilian government was installed. As recent as two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that both countries will exchange ambassadors again in response to the release of hundreds of political prisoners in Myanmar, which started with the release of Nobel Peace Laureate and long time opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010. Are these the hopeful glimpses of a more democratic Myanmar?

South Sudan: Darkness After the Dawn

A NEW DAWN FOR A NEW NATION. A MAN CARRIES THE SOUTH SUDANESE FLAG DURING INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS ON 9TH JULY OF THIS YEAR. PHOTO: BABASTEVE. FLCKERA new dawn for a new country. After fifty years of bitter struggle, South Sudan officially became an independent nation on 9th July 2011. It has been a tough five months for the South since its independence. The challenges facing the new country are as grave and problematic as ever. Internal conflicts, food shortages, as well as more serious oil and border disputes with the north, have all contributed to making it an extremely difficult period for the world’s newest country. 

The DRC Elections

JOSEPH KABILA, PRESIDENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. FLCKR.

November 28th marked the beginning of the second democratic general election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, since the end of the Congo Wars. Although this large African country is rich in mineral resources its GDP is only $300 per capita and according to the Freedom house it is listed as “not free”. The DRC hosts the world’slargest UN peacekeeping force, is subjected to massivehuman rights violationsmass rape and was part of The Great War of Africa (killing over 5 million people). Moreover, the republic is still enduring the consequences of its outdrawn civil war. The International Crisis group fear that the result will be another violent election, similarly to the one held in the 2006, which was boycotted by candidates, sparked violence and was suspected to have been fallacious.

The international media covering the event focuses on thedifficulties in accomplishing a democratic election, such as the large country’s poor infrastructure, lack of organization surrounding the election, along with violence and suspected fraud. Nonetheless, according to the International Crisis Group, the conflict region in the east has improved its infrastructure and electoral situation, implying that participation in the election will probably be higher than it was in 2006. As important as these logistical aspects might be in providing a democratic election, a more challenging could be the lack of proper debate and campaigning in the political arena of DRC.

Juliano Mer-Khamis

JULIANO MER-KHAMIS. PHOTO: BADUMS. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

The conflict in Israel is one still causing great tragedy for its inhabitants today. Beginning when the state was founded after the Second World War, many see no end to the turmoil caused by the division between the Israeli and Palestinians. Juliano Mer-Khamis, a half-Palestinian, half-Israeli actor, director, playwright and political activist, sought an end to the conflict through the arts. For that, he was brutally murdered.

The Palestinian Refugee

ROOFTOPS OF ASKAR REFUGEE CAMP. NABLUS, WEST BANK. PHOTO: MICHAEL LOADENTHAL. FLICKR– 63 YEARS OF CONTINUOUS STRUGGLE

By May 15, 1948, the Zionists’ militia forced approximately 700,000 Palestinians (1) to leave their homes in the historic land of Palestine. Currently there are over 4.7 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, and the passing of time has not weakened their struggle for getting the right of return. As an example, on May 15, 2011, many Palestinian refugees from Lebanon were killed, and another 120 were injured, by Israeli forces during demonstrations at the Lebanese border.The Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian demonstrators who were protesting by throwing stones from Lebanon and trying to raise the Palestinian flag on the border. Referring to Palestinian refugees, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said that “the old will die and the young will forget”. Recently, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outright refused discussion of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. 

The UN vote on Palestinian Statehood

QAWASMI AND CHOMSKY. PHOTO: JEANINE DE ROY VAN ZUIJDEWIJN.A pivotal event in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took place when Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority and the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), requested full membership of the United Nations on the 23rd of September, 2011. Although the outcome of this process is still unknown, Israeli peace advocate Chassia Chomsky and her Palestinian counterpart Maysoun Qawasmi both hope that change is about to come.