Iran: Presidential Elections Rigged

I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of days on conference and have not had time or access to post about the shocking events in Iran over the weekend.  The elections in Iran were allegedly rigged and while Iranians voted to replace their current President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, he has fraudulently won a further term.  Communications have been shut down in Iran and mobile phones and internet are apparently not working and BBC reported that their broadcasts had been halted by radio jamming.

From the website:

Iranians around the world have voted in the presidential election of 12 June 2009 and stand in solidarity with the people in Iran and their true vote.

We in the Iranian Diaspora reject the 'official' results put forth by the current Ministry of Interior and demand that this election be canceled and held again.
We ask the governments as well as the mainstream news outlets around the world to refrain from recognizing the 'official' results of this fraudulent election and stand with the Iranian people in demanding their true votes. Iranians have been protesting the 'official' results with massive demonstrations in major cities throughout the country which are being violently cracked down by the riot police. Various forms of communication are being restricted including mobile phones, satellite TV, internet, news websites, which have been an important means of communication in the current situation. We ask that the voice of Iranians living everywhere around the world is heard loud and clear.


This is an “open letter to the world” by the group Iranian Artists in Exile.  Its purpose is to draw attention to what is going on in Iran and to point out that the Iranian people do not support this.  You can visit their Facebook page by clicking on their name above.

I've found the following useful links in keeping up to date with the situation in Iran:

Nico Pitney from Huffington Post is live blogging with video.

Twitter and tumblr for (I think the tumblr is there’s.  It wasn’t clear).

Rwanda: ICTR in Arusha seeks extension

Photo source: Rwanda, 1994 - James Nachtwey

Link: Tribunal on Rwandan genocide seeks extension of tenure [AFP]

The UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha was given a deadline of the end of this year to complete its work in prosecuting the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.  The judge president, Dennis Byron has asked for more time saying that they expect appeals to continue until mid-2013 and that the UN Security Council is aware that their work will continue beyond 2010.

Another factor in extending the time required is that there are still 13 indicted people on the run including Felicien Kabuga, a wealthy businessman, who is accused of funding the genocide.

South Africa: Law and Disorder in Johannesburg

Following on from yesterday's post, I wanted to post the video for Louis Theroux's BBC documentary Law and Disorder in Johannesburg. As a South African (or even as an African) I often feel the hackles rise on the back of my neck when foreign journalists try to cover events in Africa or South Africa. This is a really good documentary though and I would say it is a fair representation of what is going on around Johannesburg.

What does this mean for the future of Johannesburg; for the country hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup? It just means that crime is a problem there and that people are working overtime to make it better. An excellent blog about what they are doing to improve the situation in Johannesburg can be found at Johannesburg Daily Photo.

But for me personally, as a victim of violent crime and one of the one's left behind, I am glad that I live in UK now and I will not go back to live in South Africa until they bring the slaughter under control.

South Africa: my story about crime in Johannesburg

South African police use rubber bullets to disperse crowds in xenophobic violence, May 2008
[Photo source]

Crime wasn’t the reason why we left South Africa to come and live in England. We emigrated primarily because Stephen works in Health and Safety and that profession is taken so much more seriously in countries such as UK, Australia or Dubai. We chose the UK because I am a British citizen.

When we decided to leave though, it was as if I allowed myself for the first time to see how bad things really were in South Africa. I have a theory that if you are in any perilous situation, you have to put up shields in order to maintain integrity. I use the word “perilous” for a reason. The situation could be a job that is destroying your soul, a marriage that is leaving you empty or continuing to live in a country where you could be murdered the next day. In order to get up every single morning and continue to live your life and maintain integrity at the same time, you need to filter out much of what is going on and in a manner of speaking, you shield your vision with blinkers.

Once I decided to leave, I allowed myself to see for the first time and to grieve.

I did not lose any of my direct family or friends but those closest to me lost three people to gunshot wounds to the head. Three people murdered in hijacking or robberies and three times I helped those closest to me put their broken lives back together. One person lost to a broken heart.

I was in a bank robbery and received no debriefing afterwards. It took me a year to acknowledge that a gun had been pointed at my head by a man who was very willing to use it if we did not let him escape.

My cousin was hijacked and her son taken when they stole the car. He was returned but the damage was done.

Men with guns held up my friend’s kids and her parents. Three children under six years old and two older people and they held guns to their heads. They stole cell phones and jewellery.

I was attacked whilst in my car and a simple smash-and-grab turned into something more as I instinctively held on to my belongings and would not let go even while the perpetrator punched me repeatedly in the face.

A cousin’s uncle was shot three times in the chest in his driveway and survived.

My friend’s sister was held up at gunpoint whilst my friend was giving me an art lesson. She left our house to go pick her sister up at the side of the road.

I took a day off work due to the stress of being broken into three times in one month. Valentine’s Day 2000. They came back a fourth time while I was inside the house and my dog saved my life.

Friends held up in bank robberies, restaurants, in their cars. Smash and grabs, burglaries. Not being able to escape it as the photograph of someone you know is plastered on the front page of the newspapers for months after their murder.

I don’t often speak about it but I know people want to know. I know people want to ask but they are too scared to do so and I am afraid I will unravel if I tell them. I don’t often succumb to triggers but today was just one of those days and it all came flowing out.

Just for this post, please ask if you have questions and I will answer them as best I can.

Come back tomorrow for a post on Louis Theroux’s Law and Disorder in Johannesburg.

Crime: Amanda Knox gives evidence

[Photo Source]

Link: Italian police hit me during questioning, says Amanda Knox on witness stand [timesonline]

Link: Kercher accused 'under pressure' []

I've followed this trial with interest over the past months and today is notable because one of the accused, Amanda Knox, is giving evidence for the first time. It is really quite frustrating because I wish we could just know what happened that night and how Meredith Kercher really died.

[Photo Source]

Meredith Kercher was killed on 1 November 2007 in a flat in Perugia, Italy. She was an English student from Surrey, England and she shared the flat with Amanda Knox, an exchange student from Seattle in the States. Amanda Knox and her boyfriend at the time, Italian Raffaele Sollecito are on trial for the murder and a third man, Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast was sentenced in October last year for 30 years for the murder. Meredith was 21 at the time of her murder and she was sexually assaulted, her throat was slit and she had been suffocated. The prosecution have presented it as a sex game gone bad.

[Photo Source]

I hope that in time the truth will come out. Mention has been made of Knox's strange behaviour at the time of the murder and how she did cartwheels in the police station. She would have been about 19 then and she was either being silly and immature in the face of losing her friend and finding herself suspected of the crime or she really is unhinged. She also did several other things like posing with a machine gun that could also be construed as either further evidence of her bad judgement or her sociopathic tendencies. Opinions are split naturally and it is no surprise that the Stateside media believes Knox to be innocent while European media is convinced of her guilt (see the NY Times article An Innocent Abroad).

Liberia: Charles Taylor trial to resume 29 June 2009

Image source: Monrovia Liberia Flights

Link: Trial Watch: Charles Taylor []

The trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor will resume in The Hague on 29 June 2009. In 2003, Taylor was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 654 charges relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict in Sierra Leone. This was amended in 2006 to 11 charges to allow a more focused trial and in June 2006 the trial was moved from Freetown to The Hague after the British government agreed to jail him if convicted.

The charges are listed on the site and relate to Charles Taylor's collusion with Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The alleged aim was to destabilise Sierra Leone and gain access to diamonds and other natural resources in the area. They launched attacks in various areas of Sierra Leone including the capital Freetown. They were indiscriminate and the targets of their attacks were civilians, aid workers and UN peacekeeping forces.

These attacks allegedly had as their main purpose to terrorize the civilian population and to punish it for the lack of support given to the RUF and the AFRC. According to the indictment, the attacks were accompanied by murders, physical violence (especially mutilations and rape) against civilian men, women and children, as well as pillaging and the abduction of civilians as sexual slaves, forced labourers or to be enrolled by force (which was particularly the case for many children). These acts were allegedly encouraged or executed with the collaboration of, or on order from, Charles Taylor. -

The trial began over two years ago on 4 June 2007 and was initially boycotted by Charles Taylor as he felt he would not be given a fair trial. There were several delays in the trial due to procedural issues and a key witness had to go into hiding in February 2008 following intimidation. The prosecution closed its case on 27 February 2009 after calling a total of 91 witnesses and the defence case will begin when the trial resumes on 29 June 2009.