The parents of Michael Brown addressed members of the United Nations on Tuesday on a mission to bring further international awareness to the shooting death of their unarmed 18-year-old son by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson.
Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. traveled to Geneva, Switzerland as part of a delegation of human rights advocates and spoke before a U.N. Committee against Torture. They made a statement against police brutality and voiced their concerns over the latest ongoing events in Ferguson.
“We need the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson and we need justice,” McSpadden told CNN. “We need answers and we need action. And we have to bring it to the U.N. so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small town Ferguson.”
Family and community members are bracing for the decision of a grand jury that will determine whether Wilson, 28, will be indicted on charges for the death of Brown. The results of their deliberations are expected to be announced this week.
However, Brown’s parents say Wilson got away with murder and called for his immediate arrest in their testimony before members of the committee.
But while local residents are stocking up on guns and ammunition in anticipation of any potential protests, McSpadden made a plea for peace asking residents and community members to pause, plan and prepare in response to the grand jury decision.
“We don’t want anyone acting irrational or acting before thinking,” McFadden said. “Because it wouldn’t be serving us any purpose, it wouldn’t be doing us any good. We’re trying to get a message across.”
Brown’s parents relayed this message to members of the U.N. committee and urged them to bring an end to racially-biased policing tactics and the practice of racial-profiling by officers in Ferguson.
Along with these recommendations, Brown and McSpadden requested a nationwide investigation examining “systematic police brutality and harassment in black and brown communities, and youth in particular. Methodology and findings of this investigation must be made publicly available,” they said according to CNN.
Brown’s death is one of the latest incidents in a string of shootings of unarmed black teenagers and his parents are not the only ones who have shared their loss before the U.N.
The parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two slain unarmed 17-year-old boys from Florida, also shared their concerns on race and discrimination at a convention earlier this year in Switzerland. They testified before the U.N.’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which strives to uphold human and civil rights standards around the world.
“I … wanted the committee to know that [Trayvon] was killed by a person [who] is of non-African-American descent and that the person was 28 years old so that they can understand that this was a 17-year-old child, by U.S. standards, against a 28-year-old adult male, and that Trayvon was considered a threat only because of the color of his skin,” Sybrina Fulton told the committee in August, discussing the death of her son who was killed by former neighborhood watch guard George Zimmerman.
Fulton’s testimony to the U.N. was supported by Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis — a black teenager from Florida who was shot to death in an altercation over loud music. The shooter, Michael Dunn, a white 47-year-old software engineer, was eventually found guilty and charged with three counts of second-degree attempted murder.
“My son, 17-year-old Jordan Davis… was killed at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, for no other reason other than the color of his skin and also that he was playing loud music,” Davis said.
Meanwhile, McFadden and Brown Sr. join the parents of Martin and Davis in battling the loss of their relatives while remaining strong in their mission to fight for justice.
“It’s a situation where I’m surprised we haven’t even lost our mind yet over this,” Brown’s father told CNN. “But we’re being strong. Hopefully, justice will prevail.”
By Reuters via Huff Post World Post
ABUJA, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan announced on Tuesday that he would seek a second term in a February 2015 presidential election in Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
“After seeking the face of God, and in the quiet of my family … I have accepted to present myself,” Jonathan told a crowd of hundreds of cheering supporters at a rally in Abuja. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)
By NOEL SICHALWE of Associated Press via Huff Post World Post
LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Zambia’s acting president on Tuesday rescinded his decision to dismiss the ruling party’s chief in a bid to defuse a political conflict that triggered overnight riots.
The reversal was announced by acting President Guy Scott and Edgar Lungu, who was restored as secretary general of the ruling Patriotic Front party. Police and demonstrators clashed late Monday in protests against Scott, a white Zambian who fired Lungu following the death last week of President Michael Sata. The 77-year-old president died in a London hospital on Oct. 28 after a long illness.
Scott’s move to defuse public anger came after a heated meeting in which senior party members urged Scott to reinstate Lungu, who is also minister of defense and justice and is considered a possible presidential candidate. Under the constitution, Zambia must hold a presidential election within 90 days of a president’s death.
“The position of secretary general will remain with Honorable Edgar Lungu,” the statement said.
Former Vice President Scott has said he is not interested in running for president and is in any case barred from the office because his parents were not Zambian by birth or descent.
The riots started Monday night in several places in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, including the University of Zambia and a government building designated as a place for Sata’s mourners to gather, according to witnesses. Protesters had descended on the building, Belvedere Lodge, with stones, machetes and other weapons, and police fired tear gas into the venue to clear demonstrators from the area. Order was restored early Tuesday.
The protesters were angry over the dismissal of Lungu, who said Scott’s act was illegal. He accused Scott, who is of Scottish descent, of “insulting our culture.”
Lungu was acting president when Sata died in London.
Sata’s body arrived in Lusaka on Saturday and was taken to a conference center for public viewing until the burial on Nov. 11. The conference center has not been affected by the rioting, which ended early Tuesday, though protesters warned they could return to the streets.
Before Lungu’s reinstatement, Moses Siwali, spokesman for the home affairs ministry, had urged political groups to meet peacefully to resolve the situation.
“We don’t want Zambia to go into turmoil,” he said.
Protester Mary Tembo earlier said Scott, the acting president, was causing confusion. She urged him to “go to Scotland,” saying Zambians want to mourn their president in peace.
By Isaac Abrak of Reuters via Huff Post World Post
ABUJA, Nov 1 (Reuters) – A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been “married off” to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.
Nigeria’s military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man’s face as he his filmed from a distance.
But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.
“We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands’ houses,” the man claiming to be Shekau says.
“The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die.”
The majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.
The man in the video also denied there was a ceasefire, and denounced Ahmadu, who says he represents Boko Haram in Chad.
“Who says we are dialoguing or discussing with anybody? Are you talking to yourselves? We don’t know anybody by the name of Danladi. If we meet him now we will cut off his head,” the man in the video says.
“All we are doing is slaughtering people with machetes and shooting people with guns … War is what we want.”
He says also that they are holding a “white man.” The only known hostage seized in the northeast is a German teacher kidnapped from a college in the northeastern city of Gombe in July by gunmen widely assumed to be linked to Boko Haram.
Shekau’s denial of the ceasefire appears supported by the violence since the government announced it two weeks ago. It also raises doubts about the actual influence of Ahmadu.
The five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state by Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and whose name means “Western education is sinful,” has become by far the biggest menace to the security of Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Its fighters have attacked targets almost every day for weeks and last week seized control of Mubi, the home town of Nigeria’s defense chief Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh. It was Badeh who announced the ceasefire.
They robbed banks, burned down houses and hoisted their black flag over the Emir’s palace, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee, witnesses in Mubi said.
A car bomb thought to have been planted by Boko Haram killed at least 10 people at a crowded bus stop in Gombe on Friday morning, emergency services said.
The government has blamed the violence on Boko Haram’s allied criminal networks that it cannot control. There are also thought to be several competing factions within the group. (Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Louise Ireland)
By Reuters via Huff Post World Post
YOLA, Nigeria, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Suspected Islamist Boko Haram insurgents stormed the northeast Nigerian town of Mubi on Wednesday, killing several people, burning houses and triggering a gunbattle with security forces, witnesses said.
A security source confirmed the attack and said the military was sending in reinforcements to try to push back the attackers, but he could not confirm details, as operations were ongoing. A spokesman for the military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beatice Elisha, a civil servant trapped in the town, said he heard gunfire north of the town when the attack started earlier in the day. “They were burning houses and many people have died,” he said. “There was gunfire all over the place.”
Violence in Nigeria’s troubled northeast has surged since the government announced a ceasefire with the rebels nearly two weeks ago to pursue talks in neighboring Chad aimed at freeing more than 200 girls kidnapped in April.
Foreign minister Aminu Wali said on Monday that the surge in violence would not jeopardize the talks, but the government has stressed that five years of insurgency have also become mixed up with broader criminality. And since Boko Haram itself is highly fragmented it is impossible to guarantee all factions will respect the ceasefire.
Suspected Boko Haram insurgents killed at least 17 people and abducted dozens in a series of attacks in the central region of Nigeria’s northeast Borno state over the weekend. At least 25 girls were kidnapped from a remote northeastern town a few days earlier.
Boko Haram have killed thousands of people and abducted hundreds of people since launching an uprising against the government of Africa’s top oil producer in 2009. (Reporting by Imma Ande, Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Dominic Evans)
By Chris Mfula of Reuters via Huff Post World Post
LUSAKA, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Zambia’s Guy Scott became Africa’s first white head of state in 20 years on Wednesday after the president, “King Cobra” Michael Sata, died in a London hospital aged 77.
Scott, a Cambridge-educated economist born to Scottish parents, was Sata’s vice president. He takes over as interim leader until an election in three months, making him the first white African leader since South Africa’s F.W. de Klerk lost to Nelson Mandela in the 1994 election that ended apartheid.
“Elections for the office of president will take place within 90 days. In the interim I am acting president,” Scott said in a brief televised address.
“The period of national mourning will start today. We will miss our beloved president and comrade.”
Scott, 70, will not be eligible to run for the presidency because of citizenship restrictions, analysts say.
Sata, an abrasive figure nicknamed “King Cobra” because of his venomous tongue, died on Tuesday in London, where he was receiving medical treatment, the government said earlier. He had been president of Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer since 2011.
The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, but Sata had been ill for some time. He was being treated at London’s King Edward VII hospital when he died, the website Zambian Watchdog reported.
“As you are aware, the president was receiving medical attention in London,” cabinet secretary Roland Msiska announced on state television. “The head of state passed away on October 28. President Sata’s demise is deeply regretted.”
Sata, whose populist platform included defending workers’ rights, was often fiercely critical of the foreign mining companies operating in Zambia’s copper belt. Analysts said his death could prompt a rise in investment in the country.
“President Sata has been a divisive figure for Zambia on the economic front, espousing increasingly authoritarian and ad hoc policy measures against the crucial mining sector in recent years, which has hampered investment,” South African consultancy ETM said.
“The president’s passing could make way for a more reformist administration and help to remove broader policy uncertainties.”
Sata, whose varied CV included stints as a policeman, car assembly worker, trade unionist and platform sweeper at London’s Victoria station, left Zambia on Oct. 19 for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife and family members.
Defense Minister Edgar Lungu, secretary general of Sata’s Patriotic Front party, had to lead celebrations last week of the 50th anniversary of Zambia’s independence from Britain.
Concern over Sata’s health had been mounting since June, when he disappeared from the public eye without explanation and was then reported to be receiving medical treatment in Israel.
He missed a scheduled speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September amid reports that he had fallen ill in his New York hotel. A few days before that, he had attended the opening of parliament in Lusaka, joking: “I am not dead.”
It was a typically no-nonsense denial from a politician not known for diplomatic niceties.
“I haven’t bloody lost so don’t waste my time,” he barked at a BBC reporter in 2008 after results showed he had indeed lost an election to his main rival, Rupiah Banda, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
Although he toned down the nationalist, anti-Chinese rhetoric that finally helped him oust Banda in a 2011 election, he would still deliver occasional rants at the foreign miners.
A year ago, he threatened to remove the mining license of Konkola Copper mines, Zambia’s biggest private employer, because of plans to lay off 1,500 workers. During the row, the company’s foreign chief executive had his work permit revoked.
The Zambian kwacha fell 2 percent against the dollar after Sata’s death was announced. Traders said it was unlikely to suffer any prolonged weakness because of the underlying health of an economy expected to grow 7 percent this year.
“Obviously, there will be a sentimental temptation to go long on dollars, but I’m also quite confident the central bank will do everything it can to protect the currency,” one Lusaka-based trader said.
“In terms of the economy, everything should still be on track.” (Writing by Ed Cropley and Joe Brock; Editing by Catherine Evans)
Reuters via Huff Post Black Voices
By Imma Ande and Isaac Abrak
YOLA/ABUJA, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 25 girls in an attack on a remote town in northeastern Nigeria, witnesses said, despite talks on freeing over 200 other female hostages they seized in April.
John Kwaghe, who witnessed the attack and lost three daughters to the abductors, and Dorathy Tizhe, who lost two, said the kidnappers came late in the night, forcing all the women to go with them, then later releasing the older ones.
The attack cast further doubt on government reports that it has secretly reached a temporary ceasefire with the rebels in order to secure the release of more than 200 schoolgirls they are holding hostage.
“We are confused that hours after the so-called ceasefire agreement has been entered between the Federal Government and Boko Haram insurgents, our girls were abducted by the insurgents,” Kwaghe said.
“We urge the government to please help rescue our daughters without further delay, as we are ready to die searching.”
Nearly a week after the government announced a ceasefire deal with Boko Haram, which it said would include the release of the girls kidnapped from the secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria in April, there is still no sign of them being freed.
Talks to release the schoolgirls are taking place this week between the government and a Boko Haram representative in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, but they are shrouded in secrecy.
In a separate attack, a bomb exploded late on Wednesday at a bus station in the town of Azare in northern Nigeria’s Bauchi state, killing at least five people and wounding 12, police said. They did not comment on who was behind the attack, although Boko Haram is likely to be the prime suspect.
The insurgents have repeatedly bombed public places since launching an uprising demanding an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria five years ago. They have stepped up their campaign this year, setting off deadly blasts across the country that killed hundreds.
They have killed many thousands and are increasingly targeting civilians in violence seen as the biggest threat to the stability of Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
“Five persons burned beyond recognition were certified dead, while 12 others sustained various degrees of injuries,” Bauchi police spokesman Haruna Mohammed said in a statement.
“The entire surrounding (area) has been cordoned off … No arrest has yet been made, but an investigation has commenced.”
The increasing attacks have raised doubts over the ceasefire, although Boko Haram is so factionalised it is possible a truce has been reached with one group while others continue with violence.
A Chadian diplomat told Reuters that a deal could still be reached if this faction has ultimate control over the girls — although analysts say that they could be divided between several cooperating factions.
Boko Haram, which only communicates messages via jihadist videos of a man claiming to be its leader Abubakar Shekau, has not yet commented on the alleged ceasefire. (Reporting by Isaac Abrak; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Bate Felix and Tom Heneghan)
Associated Press via Huff Post World Post
CAIRO (AP) — Two Egyptian government officials say their country’s warplanes are bombing positions of Islamist militias in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
The officials, who have first-hand knowledge of the operation, say the use of the aircraft is part of an Egyptian-led operation against the militiamen that involves Libyan ground troops.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Libyan lawmaker Tareq al-Jorushi confirmed to the AP that Egyptian warplanes were taking part in the ongoing operation in Benghazi, but added that they were being flown by Libyan pilots.
By STEVE NIKO and HIPPOLYTE MARBOUA of AP via Huff Post World Post
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Clashes in Central African Republic’s capital have resulted in “many casualties,” the International Committee for the Red Cross said Thursday, marking the most significant violence in the city since a United Nations force took over peacekeeping last month.
The violence complicated relief efforts. Doctors Without Borders said its staff was staying home Thursday because of the dangers, and the ICRC said its workers “were subjected to direct threats” as they tried to recover bodies.
“It’s truly regrettable that such actions can jeopardize any attempt to help the wounded,” said Antoine Mbao Bogo, the national president of the Central African Red Cross. His organization provided an initial tally of 12 deaths, but staffers did not have access to all neighborhoods.
The violence began Tuesday when a former fighter with a mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition was killed by anti-Balaka Christian militias who mutilated his body before burning it, witnesses said.
The man had been accused of launching two grenades, one in an anti-Balaka stronghold in the north of the city, prompting the anti-Balaka fighters to chase after him.
“He was chased by anti-Balaka fighters who caught him, killed him and burned his body,” Bangui resident Wilfried Maitre said.
Reprisal attacks ensued, with Muslim fighters killing two people, including the driver of a taxi, witnesses said. Other taxi drivers then staged a protest, raising tensions.
Later on Wednesday, anti-Balaka fighters paraded through the streets, showing off their weapons and shooting into the air, said Pieterjan Wouda of Doctors Without Borders. “That’s something we haven’t seen in a long time,” he said.
Heavy weapons could be heard Thursday morning, Wouda said, adding that Doctors Without Borders staff would be staying home because it was not safe to move around.
The mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition toppled the president of a decade last year, installing their chief, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s new leader. Widespread human rights abuses combined with escalating violence in the capital in December and January led to Djotodia’s resignation.
The country is currently headed by transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza.
At least 5,000 people have died over nine months of sectarian violence in the country. The International Crisis Group warned last month that the transition was at risk of falling apart.
“The main armed groups are in disarray, lack clear leadership, seek to expand their areas of control and pursue banditry as much as politics,” the group warned.
Associated Press writer Robbie Corey-Boulet contributed reporting from Abidjan, Ivory Coast.