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
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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs