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The East African : March 3rd 2014
12 HIS HIGHNESS WAS ADDRESSING CANADA’S PARLIAMENT Aga Khan warns of rising extremism The spi≥itual leade≥ of the Shia Ismaili Muslims u≥ged the West not to igno≥e the dive≥sity of Islam By A CORRESPONDENT The EastAfrican to reduce instability across the world and emphasised the role of strong civil society, education and good governance in fostering development of societies and in mitigating conflict. The Aga Khan made the remarks H in a historic address to a joint session of parliament at the invitation of Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper. The 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) cited Canada’s civil society as exemplary and expressed gratitude for the long-standing partnership between Canada and the AKDN. “In sum, I believe that civil socie- ty is one of the most powerful forces in our time — one that will become an increasingly universal influence, engulfing more countries, influencing, reshaping and sometimes even replacing ineffective regimes,” he said. “And I also believe that civil society around the world should be vigorously encouraged and wisely nurtured by those who have made it work most successfully — Canada first amongst all,” he added. In his introduction, Prime Minis- ter Harper welcomed His Highness the Aga Khan as “a great friend and partner of Canada,” adding that when “you are in Canada, you are home.” The Aga Khan was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in May 2010 for his leadership “as a champion of international development, pluralism and tolerance around the world.” In his address, the Aga Khan bemoaned the rise of extremism and intolerance in some parts of the world. “In fact, one harsh reality is that religious hostility and His Highness the Aga Khan receives a certificate of honorary Canadian citizenship from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Picture: Moez Visram intolerance seem to be on the rise in many places — from the Central African Republic, to South Sudan, to Nigeria, to Myanmar, the Philippines and other countries — both between major religious groups — and within them,” he said. Diversity The spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims urged the West not to ignore the diversity of Islam and to communicate with both Sunni and Shia voices. “To be oblivious to May 2010 By FRED OLUOCH Special Correspondent KEY LEADERS of the warring parties in South Sudan are likely to face scrutiny in April over atrocities carried out by both sides as an interim report by the peacekeeping mission reveals massive war crimes. A report forwarded to the UN Security Coun- cil by the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Thursday contains accounts of mass ethnic-based killings, gangrapes and torture carried out by government troops and various militias in the opposition. The report focused on allegations of human- rights violations in what it called the four “red” states — Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity and Central Civilians have suffered the most from the conflict. Picture: File is Highness the Aga Khan last week praised Canada’s efforts ternal interventions. In Pakistan and Malaysia, in Iraq and Syria, in Lebanon and Bahrain, in Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan — it is becoming a disaster,” he said. The Aga Khan is the first faith leader to be given the rare privilege of addressing the joint session of parliament. In his speech, he described faith as “a force that should deepen our concern for our worldly habitat, for embracing its challenges, and for improving the quality of human life.” He went on to speak about the role of relations between the West and Islamic societies, describing this relationship as “central to the shape of global affairs in our time” and arguing that the clash of civilisations described in popular discourse simply does not exist. Later in the day, His Highness AVOID IGNORANCE The spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims urged the West not to ignore the diversity of Islam and to communicate with both Sunni and Shia voices. He warned that lack of understanding of Islam’s diversity and external interventions have exacerbated religious conflict in some areas. “It has increased massively in scope and intensity recently and has been further exacerbated by external interventions.” this reality would be like ignoring over many centuries that there were differences between Catholics and Protestants — or trying to resolve the civil war in Northern Ireland without engaging both Christian communities,” he said. He warned that lack of under- The date when the Aga Khan was granted honorary Canadian citizenship standing of Islam’s diversity and external interventions have exacerbated religious conflict in some areas. “It has increased massively in scope and intensity recently and has been further exacerbated by ex- and the Prime Minister signed a Protocol of Understanding, which aims to provide a clear framework and strategic direction for Canada’s multifaceted and strong relations with the Ismaili Imamat. It creates a formal dialogue process that allows for in-depth exchanges on countries and issues of common interest and seeks to solidify the important partnership that Canada has developed with the Aga Khan and his institutions over many years. In addition to development ef- forts, His Highness has launched several institutions in Canada, which stem from his admiration for Canada’s success as a pluralistic nation and his desire to create a greater understanding both within Muslim societies and between these societies and other cultures. These include the Global Centre for Pluralism — a joint initiative of the Canadian government and the Ismaili Imamat — and the Delegation of Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa. In May 2010, Prime Minister Harper and His Highness presided over the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, and the Aga Khan Museum — the first museum in North America dedicated exclusively to Islamic arts and cultures. His Highness was accompanied to parliament by members of his immediate family. S. Sudan t≥oops, opposition militias face UN sc≥utiny Equatoria — where fighting was fiercest. It was clear, the authors wrote, that civilians bore the brunt of much of the fighting and that gross violations of human-rights were committed. The report — to be tabled before the Security Council in April — contains evidence collected by nearly 80 human-rights officers dating from the outbreak of violence on December 15 through to the end of January. It is based on more than 500 interviews with civilians and officials, with the mission also investigating reported mass grave sites in Juba, Bentiu and Rubkona. The report notes that shortly after fight- ing broke out in Juba, soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) targeted and killed hundreds of civilians of Nuer origin following house-to-house searches. In retaliation the so-called Nuer White Army and defecting SPLA soldiers targeted Dinka civilians in Malakal. The second round of peace talks has stalled and both sides have largely ignored the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in Addis Ababa on January 23, with the rebels now saying that only the resignation of President Salva Kiir will end the conflict. The EastAfrican NEWS MARCH 1-7,2014 US faults EAC ove≥ human ≥ights abuse By KEVIN J KELLEY Special Correspondent GOVERNMENTS OF East African countries violate the human rights of many of their citizens, the US State Department has said in a recent report. In Kenya, security forces have carried out unlawful killings and forced disappearances and torture, with the government taking “only limited action” against suspected perpetrators, according to the State Department’s annual assessment of respect for human rights worldwide. “Widespread impunity at all levels of government continued to be a serious problem, despite implementation of judicial reform and the vetting of all judges and magistrates,” says the report’s Kenya section. In comments on the report on February 27, Secretary of State John Kerry again condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. He said it “not only makes criminals of people for who they are, but punishes those who defend the human rights that are our universal birthright.” The State Department’s report on human rights conditions in 2013 flatly accuses Rwanda of supporting a marauding rebel group inside the DR Congo. Support “During the year, the govern- ment provided material, logistical and strategic support to the M23 armed group in the eastern DRC, which committed summary executions and forcibly recruited adults and minors,” says the report. It also faults the Rwandan government for harassing, arresting and abusing political opponents and human-rights advocates. There was “disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary” in Rwanda, the report adds. Tanzanians are said to suffer similar abuses at the hands of state authorities. In addition to “excessive use of force by security forces resulting in deaths and injuries,” Tanzania’s human-rights record is marred by “lack of access to justice as well as a related continuation of mob violence. Genderbased violence, including female genital mutilation/cutting,” is also a serious problem in Tanzania, says the State Department. Human rights are under siege last year in many parts of the world, the State Department says in an overview. “More than six decades after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a widening gap persists between the rights conferred by law and the daily realities for many around the globe,” says the report.
February 24th 2014
March 10th 2014