November 01, 2023
Researchers hope tracking senior Myanmar army officers can ascertain blame for human rights abuses
BANGKOK (AP) — A group of Human Rights researchers officially launched a website Wednesday that they hope will help get justice for victims of state violence in Myanmar, where one of the world’s less-noticed but still brutal armed struggles is taking place. Since the army seized power in February 2021 from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, thousands of people have been killed by the security forces seeking to quash pro-democracy resistance. According to the United Nations, more than 1.8 million have been displaced by MILITARY offensives, which critics charge have involved gross violations of human rights. War crimes have become easier to document in recent years thanks largely to the ubiquity of cellphone cameras and the near-universal access to Social Media, where photo and video evidence can easily be posted and viewed. But it's harder to establish who is responsible for such crimes, especially generals and other high-ranking officers behind the scenes who make the plans and give the orders. “Generals and lower ranking officers should fear being dragged before a court of law and imprisoned for crimes they ordered or authorized,” Tom Andrews, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, told the AP by email. “Research must move beyond merely stating the obvious — that crimes are occurring — and connect those who are responsible to specific atrocities. The victims of these crimes deserve justice and that will require the research necessary to hold those responsible fully accountable.” The new website, myanmar.securityforcemonitor.org, is an interactive online version of a report, “Under Whose Command? — Human rights abuses under Myanmar’s military rule,” compiled by Security Force Monitor, a project of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, to connect alleged crimes with their perpetrators. The project’s team constructed a timeline of senior commanders and their postings, which can be correlated with documented instances of alleged atrocities that occurred under their commands. It exposes the army’s chain of command, identifying senior army commanders and showing the connections from alleged rights violations to these commanders, study director Tony Wilson told The Associated Press in an email interview. “This is one of the pieces of the jigsaw that has up until now been missing in terms of accountability — demonstrating how the system works and that these abuses are not just the result of rogue units or individual soldiers,” he said. Wilson said the Myanmar data show that 65%, or 51 of all 79 senior army commanders between the end of March 2011 and the end of March this year, “had alleged disappearances, killings, rape or instances of torture committed by units under their command.” He said the study also shows the officer with the most links to serious human rights violations is Gen. Mya Htun Oo, who became defense minister and a member of the ruling military council when the army seized power in 2021. He also became deputy prime minister in 2023. The legal significance leans on the established doctrine of “command responsibility,” which allows the prosecution under international l“We’ve applied lessons learned from researching militaries around the world to our work in Myanmar, and we would not have been able to map the Myanmar Army without those lessons. (asterisk)(asterisk)said Wilson.aw of military commanders for war crimes perpetrated by their subordinates. “Establishing the command structures of militaries and other groups involved in atrocities is the lifeblood of properly conducting investigations into international crimes,” Mark Kersten, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Canada’s University of the Fraser Valley, said in an email to The Associated Press. “When the Nazis were prosecuted at Nuremberg, the lead counsel for the Allies famously exclaimed that it was individuals who would be prosecuted for atrocities, and not abstract entities, namely states.” Collecting evidence of human rights violations in Syria’s civil war has served as a guide to utilizing online information and technical advances to gather and organize evidence of war crimes. Similar projects have also been launched in other areas of conflict including Sudan, Yemen and Ukraine. Since 2021, evidence-gathering groups have formed in Myanmar, including Myanmar Witness, an NGO that seeks to “collect, analyse, verify and store evidence related to human rights incidents … in a way that is compatible with future human rights prosecutions.” Similar work for Myanmar has already been done by groups documenting the security forces’ brutal 2017 counterinsurgency campaign in the western part of the country that drove an estimated 740,000 Rohingya to seek safety across the border in Bangladesh. Several international tribunals have been considering charges of genocide and other crimes brought against the army for their activities. “Our work can complement and feed into the work of documenting abuses,” said Wilson. “Because we always aim to map the entire police or military, our research can help make connections between what human rights groups have documented and the wider chain of command.” He said the project relied on open-source information drawn from the work of national and international human rights organizations and local activists, as well as books, independent newspapers and the military’s own media outlets. Its previous work includes research on the Mexican Army’s chain of command for a complaint to the International Criminal Court alleging crimes against humanity. Its methodology has been used to support the Syrian Archive’s submission of evidence to investigative and prosecute authorities in Germany, France, and Sweden about the 2013 sarin gas attack on Khan Shaykhun. “We’ve applied lessons learned from researching militaries around the world to our work in Myanmar, and we would not have been able to map the Myanmar Army without those lessons,” said Wilson.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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