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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid