A text will follow later tomorrow morning
Central African Republic’s On-going Agony
Khadidha-Aladji-Abdou, pictured left, is only 30 years old, but looks much older, the horrors she has experienced branded not only in her face but in her soul. The picture is graphic, one of many; unfortunately it is accurate.
The caption by her face reads “…[she] saw all of her three children and husband, his second wife and her four children shot dead and herself was shot in the head. She’s the only survivor of that incident. Khadidha-Aladji-Abdou was shot in the back of the neck and left for dead with several other members of her Perhl [ethnic] group.” The Perhl are a small Moslem ethnic group; in all Moslems, who tend to live in the more northern regions of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), near the Chad border, make up somewhere between 10-20% of the country’s predominantly Christian population.
Mother Agnes-Marian Comes to Denver
Last week Mother Agnes Marian, mother-superior of St. James The Mutilated Monastery in Qara, Qalamoun District of Syria (n. of Damascas) visited Denver as part of a U.S. tour which is taking her coast to coast. She spoke at three public venues in two days (November 16, 17, 2013) – Montview Presbyterian Church, The Unitarian-Universalist Association (Colorado Blvd. and Hampton) and St. Rafka Maronite Church in Lakewood (23 Ave and Wadsworth) and then rushed off to catch a plane to Lincoln where she also has had several speaking engagements, those covered by the Nebraska press.
The Christian Palestinian family of the good mother-superior hails from Nazareth, now in Israel, from whence they were expelled and made refugee in 1948 when Israel was founded. Growing up in Lebanon, she was educated by that country’s Maronite Community. Before entering the Melkite Greek Catholic order, Mother Agnes-Mariam claims to have partnered with a group of American hippies in her youth, she, with bible in hand. While little attracted to their hashish smoking, she absorbed their commitment to world peace. Read more…
Sister Anges Mariam, Carmelite Nun, Visits Denver To Talk about the possibility of Syrian reconciliation
Sister Agnes Mariam, former fellow hippie, talking about the possibility of Syrian reconciliation in Denver. I was pressured not to go hear her, so I went to two of her presentations instead of only one. What a cool nun. Next to her is Father Andrew of the Maronite Church, good man in his own right.
Note, a more extensive article will follow in the next few days. Most salient point: Support the Geneva II process for a negotiated settlement of the Syrian crisis.
Cameroon: – France’s Guatemala; Fourth of a Series: Chantal Biya – From The Streets To the Halls Of Power
(Note: This also appears at Foreign Policy In Focus)
Library of Congress: Only U.S. Copy
I am wondering if the copy of Bertrand Teyou’s ‘La Belle de la Republique Bananière: Chantal Biya – de la rue au Palais’ which I acquired, is the only copy of the book here in the United States. Most copies of the book were confiscated by the Cameroon government itself. My search for it did produce a lone copy from the Library of Congress, which was sent me through the modern miracle of the inter-library loan system. I doubt it was an original – but seemed instead to be a Xeroxed copy, its pages poorly cut with a paper cutter, so that some of the text was cut away.
Still there it was, and I read it in its entirety.
For his contribution to our understanding of the psychology of power and female upward mobility in Cameroon Teyou was rewarded by being thrown in prison for six months where he nearly died. He would have, if not for an international campaign to free him that included publicity of his fate by organizations like Amnesty International and PEN International.
Teyou had been arrested in the Cameroon port city of Douala, long time a center of opposition, where he had organized a book signing in a local hotel. Copies of the book were confiscated; Teyou was arrested, tried and convicted of “insult to character” and “organizing an illegal demonstration” (a book signing?). Sentenced to two years imprisonment or a fine of near $4500, unable to pay the fine, Teyou “chose” the prison option.
Explaining why he wrote what amounts to a cruel – but accurate – exposé of the country’s first lady, Teyou commented: “”We are entitled to rise against the injustice that is crippling our country. We cannot let evil go unquestioned… This book is the expression of my dissatisfaction with what is going on in Cameroon, especially the macabre system that gives Chantal Biya the leeway to treat people around her with extreme cruelty.”[
The international campaign to free Teyou was successful. In poor health, he was released from prison on May 2, 2011. In an act of literary solidarity, the chair of African literature at the University of Bayreuth, in Germany, also offered to pay the expenses for La Belle de la république bananière to be reprinted in German. But Teyou paid an additional price. While in prison, his home mysteriously burnt down, killing his daughter. On his release, Teyou described the New Bell Prison where he was incarcerated as “a death chamber, particularly for the poorer prisoners. Only those who have the possibility of ransoming their way out survive.” Calling New Bell Prison “aconcentration camp – not a prison” Teyou went on to describe the deplorable prison conditions where prisoners were thrown their food on the ground `like animals’ , where many inmates went insane as a result of the conditions. Read more…
Cameroon – France’s Guatemala (third of a series) – Paul Biya, (Yet Another African) President Without A Social Base
If, over the years the United States has protected, supported and promoted such human rights luminaries as Anastasio Somoza (Nicaragua), the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarek (Egypt), Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Suharto (Indonesia) – ie, essentially repressive kleptomaniacs who tortured and killed many of their own citizens and recycled gobs of foreign aid money into private tax haven accounts worldwide, France has done likewise with a number of leaders of its former French colonies in Africa.
Right up there with this cast of political detritus is the Cameroon’s present president, Paul Biya, one of France’s key African allies. Biya – think of him as Cameroon’s very own Zine Ben Ali – is a classic example of how the system of `Francafrique’ works. It is difficult to put into words in a single article how corrupt, how repressive his rule has been – and degree to which his political career has hurt the people of his own country while lining the pockets of the political class and wealthy in France.
A Cameroon blogger, Zuzeeko, sums up Biya’s accomplishments succinctly:
“His presidency has been marred by allegations of corruption, electoral fraud, economic stagnation, poverty and gross human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment of journalists and authors, and brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, including University student demonstrators. Freedom of speech and expression – the foundation of free democratic countries – are restricted. Intimidation by security forces is rife. The right to good quality education is limited. Dilapidated schools abandoned by the government are a common sight. The regime has failed many of its young school goers. In certain government schools, children have no benches or tables. Good roads are almost non-existent. Health care in nothing to write home about. The list goes on.
Allegations of corruption and embezzlement of huge sums of money by government officials are rampant, while many ordinary people live below the poverty line. Police corruption is endemic and happens with impunity in broad day light.
Unemployment stood at an estimated 30% in 2001. [Source]”
So impressive and rampant is the corruption in Cameroon that the Catholic Community against Hunger and For Development, awarded Paul Biya with its prestigious and much coveted “Corruption Hall of Shame” award where he joins other French supported kleptomanics and close collaborators, Omar Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo Brazzaville) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea). Poor Biya, reputedly worth somewhere between $100-200 million while Bongo, Sassou-Nguesso and Nguema Mbasogo have all reached billionaire status.
Paul Biya is a classic example of how the system of `Francafrique’ works. Read more…
“American Jewry, Israel and Palestine 46 Years After The 1967 War” – Remarks of Rob Prince, St. Barnabas Church, Denver, Sunday, November 3, 2013
(Note: What follows are notes from the talk. I usually wander from my notes a bit – but not very far – and usually come back to the main themes. RJP)
American Jewry, Israel and Palestine – always an `alive’ topic…
While I am glad to speak to you on this issue, I want to raise a point from the outset for you to consider: There is a tendency to emphasize Jewish voices – either for or critical of Israel – keeps the dialogue restricted – Plenty of Palestinians in Denver who know the issue well and whose voices need to be heard. We all need to break out of a box that has for two long stifled – if not smothered – the Palestinian narrative as told by Palestinians themselves.
Want to urge you from the outset – to invite a Palestinian speaker to address you…you need to hear from Palestinians in their own voice…
Still, I applaud you for trying to deal with, come to an understanding of this issue in your church. I have spoken on it – for better or worse, to friendly and hostile audiences for nearly 40 years now. And I find that once one leaves the more emotionally connected audiences that believe it or not, it is not so difficult to speak about it all, that it is not `impossible’ to resolve, even if it is difficult. People actually hear what I have to say. How novel!
Want to give you three reference points: Will briefly address three issues – those I was asked to address:
a. the 1967 War
b. my family history
c. developments in American Jewish Community. Read more…