The International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 14 announced that former militia leader Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka (Mokom), who is suspected to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic (CAR), has been surrendered by the Republic of Chad. A warrant for Mokom's arrest was issued in December 2018, when the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber II determined that Mokom was the "National Coordinator of Operations" for the Anti-Balaka militia. In this capacity, he is believed to have committed murder, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution and other crimes against humanity. He also allegedly committed war crimes by targeting civilians.
US President Joe Biden is said to be considering re-designating Yemen's Houthi rebels (officially called Ansar Allah) as a terrorist organization, a possibility he mentioned last month after the group claimed responsibility for a deadly missile attack inside the United Arab Emirates. The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead a military coalition that has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen for seven years. Saudi Arabia said its air defense system intercepted a Houthi drone near its southern border on Feb. 10. Aid groups—part of a successful lobbying campaign that saw Biden remove the label shortly after he took office last January—warn that a redesignation would have "catastrophic consequences for Yemeni civilians." Not only would it hit the economy hard, making it even more difficult to import food, fuel, and medicine, but it would also decrease the flow of much-needed aid at a time when "organizations like ours are already struggling to keep pace with immense and growing needs." Violence is also growing, and not just around the battlefields of the contested province and city of Marib. Between early October and early February, 1,535 civilians were reportedly killed or injured, more than double the figure for the previous four months.
Protests for and against the right of young women to wear the hijab in classrooms have swept across the Indian state of Karnataka, with incidents of stone-pelting and "lathicharge" (police baton-charge). The dispute began Jan. 1, when hijab-wearing Muslim students were denied entry at PU College in Udupi. Protests erupted this week at Udupi's Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College, where students organized by the right-wing Hindu Jagarana Vedike (youth arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS) demanded that school authorities either allow them to wear saffron shawls or call upon Muslim students remove their headscarves. The college acceded to the latter demand. In other schools, students wearing the hijab were made to sit in separate classrooms.
Taliban fighters—now acting as the security forces of the self-declared "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan"—used tear-gas to break up a protest by women in Kabul on Jan. 16, called under the banner of "Rights and Freedom Now." The small demonstration in the vicinity of Kabul University especially called attention to two incidents in recent days—the detention of three women activists at a protest in the northern city of Balkh, in Mazar province, who have yet to be released; and the slaying of two young women of the Hazara ethnic minority by Taliban gunmen at a checkpoint in Kabul. Taliban authorities are calling the Jan. 14 killings at the checkpoint an "accident," and have reportedly arrested one of the fighters involved. In the continuing protests since the Taliban seizure of power, women have been in the vanguard. (TOLO News, Kabul. Times of India, The Independent)
Hindu militant groups disrupted Christmas celebrations and vandalized decorations in parts of India this season, local media report. The most serious incident was in Silchar, in the northeastern state of Assam, where apparent followers of the Bajrang Dal "manhandled" Hindu youth who attempted to join observances at a Presbyterian Church on Christmas Day. In a video posted on social media, one follower said: "We have nothing against the Christians who have every right to celebrate Christmas. Our issue is with the Hindus who went against their dharma to sing Merry Christmas instead of observing Tulsi Divas." Dec. 25 is recognized by some Hindus as Tulsi Divas, dedicated to the spiritual significance of the basil plant—although it appears to be a recent invention, aimed at helping Hindus resist the lure of Christmas. Bajrang Dal is the youth arm of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing organization allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The VHP has been named as one of the groups involved in the 2002 Gujarat genocide.
The head of the United Nations team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq on Dec. 2 delivered his report to the Security Council, accusing Islamic State (ISIS) actors of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Christian Ritscher, special adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh/Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (UNITAD), reported that his team had uncovered evidence of the deaths of at least 1,000 Shi'ite prisoners at a prison in Mosul in June 2014. The executions had been planned in detail by senior ISIS members. The team also carried out an analysis of battlefield evidence that showed ISIS developed and deployed chemical weapons as part of a long-term strategic plan. The team identified more than 3,000 victims of ISIS chemical attacks to date.
The Supreme Court of India ordered the Tripura police Nov. 17 to refrain from taking any coercive measures, including arrest, against two lawyers and one journalist booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (UAPA) for their social media posts and reports on the recent communal violence in the northeastern state.
A criminal complaint was registered Nov. 12 against Indian politician and former union minister Salman Khurshid over statements made in his recent book Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times. The complaint was filed under Sections 153 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which protect "religious sentiments." The complaint, filed by lawyer Bharat Sharma at a Jaipur police station, alleges that Khurshid offended the religious sentiments of Hindus by comparing Hindutva (or Hindu nationalism) with the ideology of terror groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.