Sunday, August 22, 2010

KPFA News, 08.22.2010: Ugandan mercenary recruits in Iraq

Also playable and postable, as an audio here:


KPFA News Host Anthony Fest:
Earlier this week  the Pentagon proclaimed that the last U.S. combat forces had left Iraq.  This after an armored unit drove out of the country and crossed the border into Kuwait.  However, there'll still be 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.  An Iraq veteran turned war critic, Camillo Mejia, said that 4,000 U.S. troops who are leaving Iraq will be replaced by 7,000 employees of private military contractors.  Other observers say the U.S. has long outsourced the Iraq occupation to troops from some of the world's poor nations, such as Uganda, Angola, India, and Bangladesh, and that many of the mercenaries due to replace other U.S. troops will also come from those countries, especially from Uganda.   KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story. 

Ann Garrison for KPFA News:
The New York City-based Black Star News publishes many critics of U.S. foreign policy in Africa and Black Star's Ugandan American Editor Milton Allimadi is among the most outspoken critics of U.S. use of Ugandan mercenaries, elsewhere in Africa and in Iraq.  

Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi:
This is not surprising.  It's a disturbing development and something needs to be done to really stop this because Ugandans are being victimized by the dictator, Yoweri Museveni, and now, in collusion with the United States government.  

And another reason why this is very disturbing:    

It's an extension of what the U.S. has been doing for a couple of years now with respect to Uganda---outsourcing of torture of people interdicted by the United States to Uganda.  And this was well documented in a report by Human Rights Watch that has not garnered sufficient attention.  

The report is called Open Secret; Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda.  It was published last year, April 8 and 2009, and it says that the United States provided not only training, but also $5 million dollars for Ugandan security agents to torture individuals detained in Uganda, which is illegal according to the Leahy Amendment, an amendment by Senator Patrick Leahy, which prohibits U.S. cooperation or funding or training for any government that is torturing its individuals or committing human rights abuse.  

It needs to be investigated by the Senate and by Congress.  

KPFA News:
Black Star News contributor Michael Kirkpatrick has traveled in Northern Uganda, the war torn home of the indigenous Acholi people, and written about Blackwater, Dreshak and KBR's recruitment in refugee camps, otherwise known as Internally Displaced Persons, or IDP camps, which he first observed in 2007.  

Black Star News Contributor Michael Kirkpatrick: 
Back in 2007, I traveled to Northern Uganda at the invitation of some Acholi friends of mine.  This was an opportunity for me to see how that part of the country was rebuilding after a 20-yr. rebel insurgency.  While I was there, I met a young woman who was there from the British High Commission, and she was studying a local language, in the city of Gulu, which is the largest city in Northern Uganda.   And she was there to learn this obscure tribal African language because she needed to train translators in Iraq.  Well, I thought this was odd, that the Acholi language was being spoken in Iraq.  Well here what I learned was that there were Acholi, young Acholi men, being recruited by military contractors to go to Iraq and they obviously needed translators because these young men did not speak English, so they needed translators in Iraq to be able to instruct and direct these military contractor employees.     

I've come to learn even since then that the recruitment of Ugandans is a very common practice by these military contractors.  There are a lot of things going on in East Africa that require the U.S. presence there.  And currently, right now, there are recruiting stations in the capitol city of Kampala and there are regularly long lines of Ugandans waiting to get jobs.  

For Ugandans, this isn't an act of fighting Al Qaeda.  This isn't an act of justice or spreading democracy in the Middle East.  For them it is purely an economic issue.  They need the jobs; they need the money.  From my point of view, we are exploiting a desperate people. We're bribing them with money to carry weapons into a war that is not theirs.  

KPFA News:
Recruiting stations are private military contractors' stations or they are U.S. military? 

Michael Kirkpatrick:
They are private. They are not U.S. military.  They are not manned or stationed by U.S. military.  But believe me, the U.S. military is paying their bills. 

KPFA News: 
Kirkpatrick also says that private, for profit companies do not have to report casualties, or open their accounting books to anyone.  His report on the use of Ugandan mercenaries to replace U.S. troops leaving Iraq will be available on the Black Star News website later this week.  For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicago Public Radio's "World View" on the re-election of Rwandan President Paul Kagame

On Tuesday, 08.10.2010,  I spoke to Jerome McDonald of Chicago Public Radio's "World View" about what was widely being reported as the re-election of Paul Kagame, though I pointed out, as I had the day before, on Democracy Now, that this so-called election was really a stage play with a few hand picked bit part players pretending to run against him.   I emphasized, as I have again and again, that as a U.S. citizen, my overarching concern is the Pentagon's militarization of Africa and use of Rwandan soldiers as proxies on the continent and beyond.

The archive is available for listening and comment on this Chicago Public Radio page:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Democracy Now: Rwanda's 08.09.2010 election

Guess who won the election, after running neck and neck with lead challenger Paul Kagame?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza speaks to WINGS, Womens' International News Gathering Service

Audio link:

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

August, 2010

Rwanda's FDU-Inkingi Party leader and presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza spoke to Ann Garrison, for Womens' International News Gathering Service (W.I.N.G.S.) in July 2010, near the close of Rwanda's 2010 presidential election year, on August 9th. Ingabire then was, and still is, under arrest and indictment for Rwanda's unique genocide ideology speech crime, with bail terms forbidding her departure from Rwanda or its capitol, the Kigali.  Parti Social-Imberakuri candidate Bernard Ntaganda had been in prison since June 24 and still is. Democratic Green Party of Rwanda candidate Frank Habineza had been unable to register his party, and, several days after this conversation, his party's Vice President, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was found beheaded, with his head all but completely severed from his body, in the wetlands of the Mukura River in southern Rwanda.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

Immigration's impact on democracy: Milton Allimadi and the Black Star News

Passport photo of Milton Allimadi, a Ugandan American graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and the Editor and Publisher of the Black Star News in New York City.

Milton Allimadi, in his investigative news journal, the Black Star News, offers an unusual forum for reporting on Africa, which is so little known to most Americans, including even African Americans, because there's so little coverage of Africa in the dominant American press, and what little there is is superficial or misleading.  

Allimadi's recent piece, "Will Obama Administration screw Africa, like all the rest?" compared the struggle for civil and political rights in Africa to those of the American South during the 1960s: 

This is abominable and harkens to the days when, here in the United States, elections used to be held in the Southern States while Black voters were either barred from voting, being lynched, being "disappeared," or showered with water cannons.

After reading this essay, I finished editing a radio interview for Womens International News Gathering Service, with Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the FDU-Inkingi presidential candidate whom Paul Kagame arrested and prevented from entering Rwanda’s 2010 presidential race, which is now heading into its sham conclusion in Aug. 9 “polls.”

I had to type up and read Victoire’s final statement, because my telephonic internet connection to her in Rwanda failed at the very end, so I introduced it, with Milton Allimadi's words in mind, by noting that it's reminiscent of the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the peace movement that was so much more active then than now:

"I want to be a leader of all Rwandans seeking political change which can help us overcome ethnic division, and embrace a new vision where people are judged on the basis of what they contribute to the welfare of their  country and not which party, racial, or ethnic group they belong to.  

I dream for a Rwanda where people gather around ideas and not ethnicity, a country respected for its value and not its military might."

As I did so, it occurred to me that Milton Allimadi and his Black Star News are examples of exactly what the Colored Opinions, the blog, was created to explore: the impact of migration on democracy.   In his case, it's a very positive impact.  The Black Star News, like the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper, and Global Research, is one of the few news sources that regularly features African voices, and news and analysis of the Pentagon's militarization of Africa, its use of African proxy warriors, and the foreign scramble for African resources, including not only oil, but also cropland, timber, hydropower, and the mineral wealth essential to modern manufacture for war.