News / Africa

Report: Arab Spring Resonates With Sub-Saharan Africans

Malawi police chase protesters. At least 19 people were killed and dozens, including children, were injured after police used live ammunition during demonstrations over bad governance, fuel shortages and human rights abuses in various cities. 22 July 2011Malawi police chase protesters. At least 19 people were killed and dozens, including children, were injured after police used live ammunition during demonstrations over bad governance, fuel shortages and human rights abuses in various cities. 22 July 2011
x
Malawi police chase protesters. At least 19 people were killed and dozens, including children, were injured after police used live ammunition during demonstrations over bad governance, fuel shortages and human rights abuses in various cities. 22 July 2011
Malawi police chase protesters. At least 19 people were killed and dozens, including children, were injured after police used live ammunition during demonstrations over bad governance, fuel shortages and human rights abuses in various cities. 22 July 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Amnesty International says many of the conditions that led to uprisings in North Africa exist in sub-Saharan Africa as well. The group has released its 50th annual human rights report.

The overall theme of the report is No Longer Business as Usual for Tyranny and Injustice.
De Capua report on Amnesty International
De Capua report on Amnesty Internationali
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X



“What we try to highlight is that in 2011 almost globally people took to the streets to demand more of their rights, more freedom, but also to demonstrate against difficult social economic situations. And then certainly also in Africa and sub-Saharan Africa we have seen this inspired obviously by events in North Africa. And although changes may not come as quickly and as dramatically as what we have seen in North Africa and other countries in the Middle East, we certainly saw increased mobilization in sub-Saharan Africa from students, from union representatives, from political opposition,” said Erwin van der Borght, director of Amnesty’s Africa program.

But he said authorities in sub-Saharan Africa often responded quickly and harshly to protests, leading to human rights violations. These include killings, excessive use of force, arrests and torture.

“We saw this, for example, in Senegal and Uganda in the context of the elections last year and the excessive use of force and breaking up demonstrations. And numerous people in Sudan, for example in Khartoum, but also in other cities, were arrested and often ill-treated and then also in other locations, for example in Zimbabwe, where a group of activists came together to discuss events in North Africa. A few of them were arrested and then initially charged under treason charges and then spent considerable amount of time in detention,” he said.

Part of the problem?

The Amnesty report said some African governments were more part of the problem than the solution, failing to address the grievances of their citizens. Instead, it says security forces used live ammunition against antigovernment protesters in Angola, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. Amnesty says authorities usually failed to investigate the incidents.

Angola and South Africa debated legislation in 2011 to limit freedom of expression. On the other hand, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Freedom of Information Act.

On the issue of poverty, Amnesty International said, “Africa’s poverty rates have been falling and progress has been made in realizing the Millennium development Goals.” But van der Borght added that millions still live in poverty.

“They certainly live in informal settlements and slums in the bigger cities. Africa has one of the highest rates of urbanization. Many of those people live in precarious situations in the cities. They are exposed [to] a wide range of human rights abuses, including for example forced evictions without giving them any prior notice [or] provide any sort of alternative accommodation or compensation,” he said.
Conflict, violence, discrimination

In 2011 conflict was a major issue in a number of countries, including Somalia, Ivory Coast and Sudan’s Darfur region. There was and is fighting between Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan. South Sudan gained independence last July following a referendum.

“Our analysis is very much that this is a failure of leadership from both Sudan and South Sudan. After the referendum they failed to find resolution for some of the key outstanding issues between the two states, including around sharing of oil revenues, border demarcation, the status of Abyei, the situation of the respective citizens in each other’s country,” said van der Borght

Another threat to human rights, he said, is the increasing violence by armed groups against civilians.

“For example, Boko Haram in Nigeria. We see it with al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb in Mali and Mauritania and Niger and then we have seen it with al Shabab in Somalia.”

Amnesty International also reported refugees and migrants were “particularly affected by human rights abuses in many countries.” What’s more, it said, “Discrimination against people based on their perceived or real sexual orientation or gender identity worsened” in 2011.

The report concluded, however, that “protesters have shown that change is possible…They have thrown down the gauntlet demanding that governments stand up for justice, equality and dignity.”

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid