CONGOLESE WARLORD IN THE DOCK — Democratic Republic of Congo general and former militia leader Germain Katanga made his first appearance in front of the International Criminal Court at The Hague Oct. 22, where he will face nine counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Katanga, also known as Simba, stands accused of — among other things — organizing the massacre of 200 civilians, conscripting children for use as soldiers and sexually enslaving survivors of the brutal attack on the village of Bogoro in February 2003. “The victims of these crimes deserve to see justice for their suffering,” Param-Preet […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a weekly column covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. ARAB ONLINE MEDIA COVERAGE LACKING — Arab online media is not doing a thorough job of covering human rights and the issues that surround them, according to a new study by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. The report, “Electronic Media and Human Rights,” studied a year’s worth of content on eight of the largest Arabic Web sites including,, and An estimated 29 million people in the Arab world regularly […]

WIN SOME, LOSE SOME — Almost the same day that foreign ambassadors in Washington received invitations to attend Wednesday’s presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan ruler, they got letters from the Chinese ambassador urging them to boycott the ceremony. Predictably, the decision to honor the Dalai Lama has drawn strong protests from the Chinese government, which controls his mountainous country. The presentation was initiated by the U.S. Congress, and is supported by the Bush administration. But Congress also has plans to declare the death of up to 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a weekly column covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. EGYPTIAN BACKLASH AGAINST CRACKDOWN — Egyptian authorities found themselves contending with an avalanche of public anger Sunday over widespread allegations of police brutality and an ongoing crackdown against the media, political opponents and labor rights activists. Private newspapers across the country staged a blackout day, withholding their products from store shelves in protest over the September convictions of seven prominent journalists and an ongoing government assault on press freedom. Local clashes between Bedouin tribes in […]

The crisis in Myanmar has bedeviled the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a time when its members had hoped to focus on celebrating the organization’s 40th anniversary. Although most other ASEAN governments oppose the military government’s repression of Myanmar’s peaceful opposition, they have proven unable to break fully with their traditional policy of non-interference in member governments’ internal affairs. The decision to invite Myanmar into ASEAN in March 1997 resulted from a fleeting consensus among members that granting Myanmar membership was preferable to its continued exclusion. Even those ASEAN states most censorious of the Myanmar government, led since […]

Rights & Wrongs: Ethiopia, Child Soldiers, Workers’ Rights and More

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a weekly column covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. U.N. FINDS MASSIVE ANGOLA ABUSES — A United Nations special investigative team has found widespread human rights abuses in Angola’s legal system, including incidences of torture and detention without effective legal redress. “The right to access to a lawyer and a corresponding legal aid system as guaranteed by the [Angolan] constitution, exists only in theory. Legal assistance is only available during the trial stage and sometimes the accused do not enjoy the benefit of a […]

In the past week, up to 200 of people have died in Burma in the government’s violent suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations, according to various reports. But thousands more in Burma are routinely forcibly relocated and their villages burned by the army in an ongoing campaign against the country’s ethnic minorities. Now the Washington, D.C.-based American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is using commercially provided satellite imagery to catalogue the abuses. The AAAS’ “Science and Human Rights Project,” funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Open Society Institute, released a report Sept. 28 that documents the destruction of rural […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a weekly column covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. BURMA LAUNCHES CRACKDOWN — Officials in Burma (or Myanmar as the ruling military junta insists on calling it) ended their brief period of tolerance for growing street protests last week, introducing measures to quell dissent and sending security forces out into the streets with orders to take “extreme measures” if necessary. The crackdown began early Wednesday morning when state security forces reportedly broke into two Rangoon monasteries and began beating and arresting monks. Authorities also […]

Developments during the past month suggest that relations between China and major European governments will remain problematic for the next few years. Chinese and European officials have engaged in disputes on several important issues that could prove difficult to resolve. Nevertheless, the governments of China and Europe also share important interests that should limit the impact of these conflicts. Many of the differences between China and Europe became apparent during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s three-day visit to China at the end of August. The itinerary for Merkel’s second trip to China as chancellor included stays in Beijing and Nanking. In […]

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — After a week of mass protests against Myanmar’s military regime, the scale of which had not been seen in two decades, the uprising has been effectively crushed by the country’s armed forces. Sunday saw the numbers of demonstrators on the streets of Yangon plummet from an estimated 100,000 earlier in the week to several dozen, while sources on the ground confirm that today (Monday) streets in the former capitol remain vacant. While protests inside the country have been effectively extinguished by security forces, demonstrations continue outside Myanmar’s embassies in capitols around the world. Meanwhile, United Nations […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — When Natalia Rodrigues was 15, Marxist guerrillas invaded her family’s apartment building and took nine residents hostage, including her, her father and an uncle. For more than three years, the three were held captive in guerrilla jungle camps, never knowing when they would be freed — or whether their captivity would end at all. “There were moments in which one became desperate,” she said. “Everything was very monotonous, every day you did the same thing, the same rules, sit down, eat, sleep, and kill the hours,” Rodrigues, now 21 and a university student, recalled. During that time, […]