News Editor, Barotseland Post
Palestine qualifying for and taking part in the Confederation Asian Cup, which starts this month [January 2015], can be seen as another symbol of the international community accepting it as its member. For other regions or de facto States around the world, such as Iraqi Kurdistan and Kosovo, that are trying to achieve similar recognition, the example of Palestine illustrates the important role of sports, in particular football, in achieving statehood.
Below is an article published by Daily News Egypt:
Palestine has set a new benchmark for nations like the Kurds and the Kosovars, who see football as a key part of their toolbox to achieve statehood, with its qualification for this month’s (January 2015) Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup even if the Palestinian road to statehood is increasingly pockmarked by seemingly insurmountable barriers.
When Palestine kicks off its first Asian Cup match against Japan on 12 January 2015 in Australia, the football pitch will have emerged against a backdrop of setbacks as the most important venue on which the fledgling state has advanced its quest to take its place among the family of nations.
The kick-off follows the United Nations Security Council’s recent refusal to set a deadline for an end to almost half a century of Israeli occupation and comes as the International Criminal Court debates whether the Palestine Authority is an entity or a state. As a state, Palestine would qualify for taking Israel to task on alleged war crimes as well as infractions on international law governing the administration of occupied territory.
Palestine’s progression on the Asian football stage also focuses attention on its campaign to get Israel suspended by world football body FIFA for alleged obstruction of the development of Palestinian football that is part of a broader effort to squeeze Israel within international organizations. After years of failed mediation efforts, FIFA last month, December 2014, warned that Israel could be sanctioned if it failed to ensure the free movement of Palestinian players.
Palestinian football officials complain that Israel restrictions on travel within the West Bank and between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as internationally obstruct the development of Palestinian football. Israeli officials are likely to suggest that Palestine’s qualification for the Asian Cup proves opposite while Palestinians see it as evidence of their determination and resilience.
In making it to the 16-team tournament in Australia, Palestine has achieved what other fledgling states like Iraqi Kurdistan and Kosovar dream of: recognition of nation and statehood in a world that dances around their national aspirations. To be sure, Palestine with Arab backing established as far back as 1998 with admission to FIFA even though it was not a legally recognized state the base line for the employment of football in nation building and state formation. Qualification for the Asian Cup allows it to capitalize on the FIFA recognition in an unprecedented way that would only be triumphed by qualification for a World Cup.
By contrast Iraqi Kurdistan’s national team has competed so far only in the likes of the unofficial VIVA World Cup, which it hosted in 2012. The team played last year in the ConIFA World Football Cup that is populated by squads representing regions or groups that are recognized by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).
A statement by Iraqi Kurdish president Massoud Barzani equating sports to politics as a way of achieving recognition adorns Iraqi Kurdistan’s three major stadiums and virtually all of its sports centres and institutions. “We want to serve our nation and use sports to get everything for our nation. We all believe in what the president said,” says Kurdistan Football Federation (KFF) president Safin Kanabi, scion of a legendary supporter of Kurdish football who led anti-regime protests in Kurdish stadiums during Saddam Hussein’s rule.
Like Kosovo, Kurdistan is barred by FIFA on the grounds that it is not a full member of the United Nations. Kosovo’s aspiration are complicated by the fact that European governing body UEFA, which initially accepted the UN rule adopted in 1999 to appease Spain which was opposed to Gibraltar being granted membership. Gibraltar ultimately became an UEFA member in 2013 after the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) ruled in its favour. Gibraltar’s success raised Iraqi Kurdish hopes in the knowledge that the AFC’s statutes refer to the UN rule only indirectly by stating that membership has to comply with FIFA’s statutes and the fact that the AFC in the past has successfully defied FIFA by expelling Israel and Taiwan on political grounds.
Even so Iraqi Kurds realize that with Syria and Iraq battling to retain territorial integrity and remain nation states, Islamic State’s control of a large swath of their territory, and sectarian warfare, chances for international support for Kurdish national aspirations are zero. Although threatened by Islamic State, Kurdistan has nonetheless developed into a state in all but name ever since the US declared a no-fly zone above northern Iraq in 1991 to protect the Kurds against the wrath of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
Kurdistan deals directly with many governments on an informal basis but lacks the kind of acknowledgement that Kosovo enjoys. The former Yugoslav region has been recognized by 110 countries, including 23 of the 28 European Union member states, 24 of NATO’s 28 members and 34 of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Kurdish Football Association has nonetheless demanded that FIFA grant its team like it did in the case of Kosovo and Catalonia the right to play international friendlies. “Like any nation, we want to open the door through football. Take Brazil. People know Brazil first and foremost through football. We want to do the same. We want to have a strong team by the time we have a country. We do our job, politicians do theirs. Inshallah (if God wills), we will have a country and a flag” said Kurdistan national coach Abdullah Mahmoud Muhieddin.
Both Palestine and Kurdistan have a ways to travel before they achieve statehood. Both confront regional powers opposed to their aspirations. The Kurds will nevertheless monitor Palestine’s performance in Australia and even more importantly how the Palestinians seek to capitalize on their Asian Cup qualification to advance efforts to achieve an end to Israeli occupation and full-fledged independence in the hope that they too will eventually be able to follow suit.
Photo courtesy of the Palstinian Football Association, 2015
It is without a doubt that the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) has helped the struggle for Barotseland make undeniable and substantial gains towards independence. However, uncertainty still hangs in the air when one would want to know in whose interest such progress has been made if not for personal aggrandizement, or even whether it is genuine progress at all and not a ploy designed to plunge Barotseland’s independence into a much deeper future quagmire. Founded concerns have been raised by those who from the beginning of the Barotse Spring had been calling for immediate and total disengagement with Zambia. However, today it appears as if those who had vehemently opposed calls for total independence to the point of disowning the proponents of such calls in Zambian media (being fully aware of the implications) are suddenly in the forefront of things and are, nevertheless, still demonizing other activists in the same intensity as they had done when they called for the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement 1964. Equally unsettling is the fact that some individuals within the BNFA leadership were actually on Rupiah Banda’s murderous government’s pay roll on 14th January 2011. These now self proclaimed champions of Barotseland’s struggle for freedom had kept silent when our people were murdered in cold blood and brutalized by a government they served. Something just isn’t right about that picture.
Another worrisome precedent that needs to be honestly challenged is the claim that BNFA is the umbrella movement of all Barotse activist groupings. Such a claim is not only untrue but also malicious, bankrupt and counter-active. It is a claim that cannot be proved at all. The fact is that actors behind the BNFA plot have managed to convince a few unsure individuals, particularly those from the Barotseland Freedom Movement ( BFM), some free lancers swinging between Hon. Charles Milupi’s ADD and Barotse activism, and some self proclaimed “know it alls”, to believe in their “elitists’ philosophy” at the expense of the masses whom they have labeled the semi-illiterates who hold the wrong end of the stick. What an insult to the people who have bravely stood up to Zambian occupation and borne the brunt of that country’s brutal oppression!
BACKGROUND OF THE ALLIANCE IDEA
Factually laid out, the idea of an alliance had first come up on 24th January 2012. This was soon after we had delivered a joint report on the meeting with the late Zambian president, Mr. Michael Sata (which had taken place at the Zambian State House on 28th December 2011) to His Majesty the Litunga at Lumulunga Royal Palace’s Nayuma. Present in our Mongu meeting when we came from Limulunga were Moreba, BFM and Linyungandambo. In that meeting, it was resolved that a liaison committee representing the said formations be set up in order to create a better and effective way of communication so that we could present a united stand on demanding issues regarding the struggle.
However, the primary objective of the committee was to see to it that the Barotse National Council (BNC) conference that would decide Barotseland’s future with regard to Zambia was held before kuomboka 2012. Mistrust among some delegates was evident. This was largely due to the arrogance of some MOREBA leaders who, in the past, had proved to be unfriendly and untrustworthy where working together with other activists was concerned. These known individuals had a tendency of hijacking and capitalizing on collective initiatives and then sidelining individuals they simply felt uncomfortable to work with. One example of this characteristic is what played out in the kuta prior to handing the Sata meeting report to the Litunga. MOREBA members had behaved as though they had been the only activist group who had met the former Zambian president. Yet that meeting was necessitated by BFM and Linyungandambo efforts; ironically the same efforts which MOREBA had publicly denounced months earlier when our people were being shot and brutalized by the Zambians. However, for unity and progress sake, representatives of the former two movements ended up adopting the MOREBA written report since our main difference had only been on the authorship of the report. This was what led us to think of an alliance going forward. After all, we were not absolutely sure that the BNC conference was going to be convened at all since it had already been postponed several times. We also could not be sure of its outcome if held, given the Barotse Royal Establishment’s known track record of lack of will and capacity to make progressive follow up on past BNC resolutions. Under those real circumstances then, an alliance was vital. One thing we were certain of concerning the BNC this time around was that history was going to be made either way. Mr, Sata had squarely blamed the Litunga for lack of meaningful progress on the Barotseland impasse and we had told His Majesty so. The Litunga had taken this as an unjust attack on his person and we were sure that he was determined to put things right. He even hinted at the likelihood of holding a more joyful 2012 kuomboka ceremony, which gave us a glimmer of hope that the BNC was going to sit before our premier ceremony.
BNC RESOLUTION CANCELLED ANY NEED FOR AN ALLIANCE GROUP
The Barotse National Council, Barotseland’s highest policy making body, was finally convened on the 26th and 27th March 2012. At its conclusion, it unanimously resolved to finally and officially ratify Zambia’s unilateral cancellation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964. The BNC further declared Barotseland free of Zambia. This resolve had certainly cancelled any further need for a Barotse activists’ alliance movement. Only what would be a Barotseland Government was supposed to take the responsibility of disengagement with Zambia. Ironically, the BNC did not specify the makeup of such a government as long as it was to represent the Barotse people and pursue the BNC Resolution.
When the Royal Barotseland Government (RBG) was first set up, soon after the September 20th 2011 Zambian presidential elections, I was one of those who had criticized its make up then although l found no fault with its being formed. I was against the idea of such an important institution of national interest being made up of a single Barotse activist group. This could have been due to my ignorance at the time. However, after the March 2012 BNC, the relevance of such a government became even much clearer and more meaningful. A dangerous and disturbing lull had passed from the serving of a Letter of Dispute to the Zambian Government up until the announcement of Hon. Afumba Mombotwa’s swearing in as head of the RBG. Given what the Sata government had started doing in Barotseland as opposed to intelligently responding directly to the Letter of Dispute, Hon Mombotwa’s move to announce the Barotse government was the only poignant statement to world that Barotseland was indeed determined to move on as declared by the BNC. A dangerous void reminding one of a reggae song that goes, “Now that we found love what are we gonna do with it?” was quickly filled up while power hungry MOREBA leaders, who had passionately submitted in favour of the BA’64 restoration in the Chongwe Commission, pondered their next move. It would appear, today, that these MOREBA individuals were keen on having their BA’64 restoration group wake up to the reality on the ground or risk being overtaken by events in the real sense. Hence their determination to defiantly go ahead with the formation of an unnecessary BNFA.
THE BNFA CAME TO FIGHT AGAINST INCLUSIVE PROGRESS
When Hon Wainyae Sinyinda resigned from being BRE’s prime minister, all because of his solid stand for the implementation of the BNC Resolution, the idea of an alliance was revived by some known MOREBA leaders and the former was quickly sucked into it. These individuals simply wanted to continue with their old and exclusive agenda of clandestinely dealing with BRE in order to discourage or derail real progress brought about by the RBG. This was at a time when the Zambian Government was busy building an alibi to kill more Barotse nationals under the guise of military exercises in Barotseland. The MOREBA leaders could have simply approached the RBG and find out ways by which this vital Barotse organ of governance could be strengthened. However, pride, selfishness and bitterness carried the day as they elected to go ahead and form what is, in relations to the BNC Resolution, virtually confusion. Due to its powerful and yet clandestine support base, the BNFA managed to hijack some initiatives taken by BFM, i.e. the application to Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organization (UNPO) and tried to block all efforts done by the RBG. The trip to Belgium for the application to Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is only one example. BNFA has now further gone ahead to having the well founded and well supported Barotseland Royal Government deregistered with UNPO at a time when one of the requirements needed for a nation to be recognized as such is the existence of an organized government. One is left to wonder as to what BNFA is really up to. Ironically, MOREBA died a natural death as soon as BNFA came into prominence and we have never heard of it since, unless if it will be in reaction to this article.
BNFA A DIVISIVE FACTOR
Given the spirit and behavior of some BNFA leaders, one is left with only acknowledging that this group is not for the unity of Barotseland. Consequently, the independence of Barotseland risks finding itself in the same confusion and shame South Sudan is in today. Most of South Sudan’s present problems were actually created before its birth. One of them is the mysterious death of Dr John Garang.
We shall never stand by and allow those among us who, in the past, had vehemently opposed our independence rule us, either in transition form or as a result of general elections. We have lost a lot of able comrades. Currently, some of the sons of the soil are languishing in Zambian prisons while the BNFA keeps on undermining our hard earned declaration of independence. Let the house negroes go back to their masters in Lusaka and leave us alone in our squeaking sands, flood plains and rice fields. Barotseland is free and we shall not look back on that fact regardless of the undeniable and currently existing but temporal association with Zambia. On the other hand, Zambia has no moral right to ill-treat us in any way (economically, socially, etc) while they still occupy our land. Any persecution over our independence only confirms the resolve we have taken.
In the interest of Barotseland’s peace and unity, it will be wise for the BNFA to disband or exist as the reformed MOREBA that it actually is. The UNPO and other international organization need to note this and take it seriously if at all they genuinely want to help the people of Barotseland. Dealing with the BNFA is, in reality dealing with an independent Barotse activist group which, despite its achievements, does not stand for the unity of other Barotse activist groups. Only those who are not interested in the peace, unity and prosperity of an independent Barotseland would recognize and support such a divisive group.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has published in its final report on media freedom violations around the world, in which they condemned the Michael Chilufya Sata led Zambian government as thus;
Promises of a freer media environment by the Patriotic Front, which won election in 2011 after a campaign that pledged greater broadcast media freedom and a law promoting access to information, had yet to be fulfilled by late 2013. Journalists operated cautiously lest they fell afoul of thin-skinned authorities, and staff members at state-owned publications risked early retirement or redeployment into bureaucratic jobs for not toeing the party line. At least five journalists faced criminal charges in 2013; all of them had reported critically on the government. The newly established Independent Broadcasting Authority awarded private broadcast licenses, but its independence was questioned when President Michael Sata revoked certain licenses. Of the country’s three major newspapers, two were state-controlled and the Post, once highly regarded for its independence, supported the ruling party in 2013, leaving few outlets where journalists could report freely. The government targeted at least three critical websites over the year, forcing one of them to repeatedly move servers--a virtual game of cat-and-mouse.
Zambian authorities cracked down on critical publications in 2013.
In an effort to stifle criticism, the government blocked news websites that documented government corruption, and journalists faced a series of charges.
The government blocks access to Zambian Watchdog, a news website that has published critical stories on the ruling Patriotic Front party. Weeks later, the authorities search the homes of two journalists, Thomas Zyambo and Clayson Hamasaka, and briefly detain them, accusing them of being linked to the website. Both journalists are released, but Zyambo is charged with sedition and Hamasaka with possession of obscene material.
A game of cat-and-mouse follows as the Zambian Watchdog moves to another server, but in mid-July authorities block that, too. A third journalist, Wilson Pondamali, is detained, accused of being linked to the site, and is later released. The site moves again, making use of proxies. Late in the year it was still accessible.
The Zambian Watchdog remained blocked inside Zambia in late 2013.
Authorities block access to Zambia Reports, an online publication that has been critical of the government. The staff sends a letter to the government, asking why the site has been blocked, but receives no reply. In August 2013, access to the site is restored.
The government briefly blocks domestic access to the online publication Barotse Post, and the online radio station Radio Barotse in western Zambia, both of which advocate a separate Barotse state. Barotseland separatists argue that at the time of Zambian independence in 1964, they, too, were promised independence, but that successive governments have reneged on this pledge.
The entire report can be found here: https://www.cpj.org/2014/02/attacks-on-the-press-in-2013-zambia.php#more
The Zambian State has released all the 54 Barotseland nationals who were facing the charge of treason via a nolle prosequi following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Magistrate Aridah Chulu however warned that the state may re arrest them should there be fresh evidence.
Hon Sinyinda was arrested for presiding over the 2012 March 26 and 27 Barotse National Council that overwhelmingly resolved to accept Zambia’s abrogation of the 1964 Barotseland Agreement that brought the two countries of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia together. The Zambian government was in attendance including the Zambian government media that covered all the proceedings.
It is not clear if the Zambian government has lost all the footage for March 2012 BNC meeting or indeed the audio, video/ list of the Mombotwa led transitional government ushered on 14th and 15th August, 2013, for them to claim they have no evidence! Furthermore, 27 Linyungandambo detainees signed a petition declaring that they were not Zambians but citizens of the new declared state of Barotseland, an admission of guilt in itself, if indeed their charge was treason by declaring Barotseland, a new state separate from Zambia!
This, however, appears to be simply an admittance of the existence of Barotseland’s statehood.
When Magistrate Chulu announced that Hon Sinyinda has been discharged via a nolle the whole court room cheered and clapped as others ululated in celebration while Magistrate Chulu just looked on. Hon Sinyinda quickly moved out of the dock and hugged his wife before greeting a number of Lozis within the court among them ADD President Charles Milupi.
And one of the people released, Kalaluka Muleta who is former Senior Investigations Officer for Zambia's Drug Enforcement Commission, DEC, in ‘Western Province’ described their release as a victory to Barotseland and charged that their imprisonment was purely political.
Kalaluka openly told the media that they are not reversing their pursuit to free Barotseland adding that they were not afraid of anyone. ‘We want our country Barotseland and we are not reversing,’ Kalaluka said.
Later on Hon Sinyinda addressed the whole group and said the prayers of the people of Barotseland have been answered.
He said he was going to issue a comprehensive statement at a later time.
And Assistant Secretary for Defense in the Afumba Mombotwa led transitional government, Masiye Masiyaleti, who is among the released, has appealed to Barotse nationals to rally behind Linyungandambo and the Afumba Mombotwa led transitional government adding that they were going to continue from where the Zambian ‘invaders’ blocked them.
‘We have won the war and we are now going to continue from where the Zambian invaders blocked us,’ a jovial Masiyaleti said.
He said the people of Barotseland should remain calm and vigilant as the Zambian invaders are eradicated from Barotseland.
And some of the Barotse nationals released revealed that the notorious Zambian police officer named Leon Mweemba Ngulube who is Zambia's Deputy Divisional Criminal Investigations Officer for the Western region was behind the torture that most of them suffered while in Mongu.
“I was beaten fifty times under my foot with a short button by Ngulube and when we were transferred to Lusaka, the same Ngulube who was beating us pleaded with us to drop our argument that we are not Zambians and be tried under the Zambian courts as opposed to referring the case to the Commonwealth," one of the released Barotses revealed.
The renowned Aljazeera Media was among the media organisations that provided live coverage outside the court.
Ngulube was in charge of the security for the treason accused but today he appeared disgruntled as the empty trucks drove out of the court premises with the heavily armed Paramilitary officers having no clients to guard.
In a clear act of desperation and sheer cowardice, the Zambian government has now decided to block Local Access to both Barotsepost.com and RadioBarotseland.com
We, therefore, wish to advise that online access to both www.barotsepost.com as well as www.radiobarotseland.com has been blocked from within the geographical boundaries of both Zambia and Barotseland.
Therefore, anyone from within these two geographical regions trying to access our two web sites should use PROXY Avoidance web sites or software to be able to access the two web sites.
However, our news updates can still be accessed via the following Facebook and twitter accounts:
Face Book Pages: (You don’t have to ‘Like’ any of these pages to read, but if you do ‘Like’ any of the pages our news will be automatically be delivered to your Facebook wall.)
The Government of Zambia has become notoriously repressive on dissenting and opposing views, and have been blocking national access to web sites critical of their deteriorating poor governance record and those of the opposition political parties. Currently the Zambian Watchdog and Zambia Reports web sites critical of their bad governance have been blocked from within Zambia, while arresting any journalist suspected to be writing for these web sites.
Meanwhile, Zambia police forces picked up three Barotse nationals in Livingston on Sunday for being in possession of news articles they allegedly downloaded from www.barotsepost.com . The three were immediately taken into police custody and upon interrogation one was set free while two were transported to Mongu Central police over seditious or possibly treasonous charges.
The two transferred to Mongu are a Mr. Akakandelwa Erick and a Pastor Matongo, while Mr. Muyunda was released.
Please, spread the above information to your friends, relatives, co- leagues, neighbors and anyone who cares to know.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers.
The ruthless illegal shutting down of online publications under the PF administration points to excessive intolerance of criticism and fear of the unknown by the tribal regime of President Sata.
The savage and brutal closure of the Zambian online publication like the Zambian watch dog, the Zambia reports and the Barotse post is clearly un-front and assault on democracy as the free press and media freedoms are essential ingredients in the growth of democracy and human development.
We remain pessimistic on the commitment of this regime on the actual enactment of the access to information bill. Our view is that the regime will continue to play hide and seek. At best we think the regime is merely playing to the gallery and buying time.
No one believes that any responsible government committed to a free press and access to information can at short notice spend millions of Zambian Kwacha to procure high tech equipment to block and kill the free flow of information amongst the citizenry.
Most of the online publicans have operated freely in the past under the previous MMD administrations.
We think China has not been very helpful in helping cultivate a sense of responsible leadership amongst their African trading partners. The continued proliferation and selling and supplying of various eavesdropping gadgets and apparatuses that goes to stifle and block various forms of freedom remains a source of grave concern. Africa should be assisted to grow to their fullest potential in various social and political freedoms without outside interference. We regret to say that China rather than being a good friend and a solution for Africa on one hand has become part of the problem on the other hand by supplying despotic regimes with high technical gadgets and various accessories with which regimes are using to mercilessly interfere in the enjoyment of the various forms of freedom.
We implore and dare the Zambian government to officially unblock the online publications as a gesture of goodwill and prerequisite to commitment of freedom of information and also to demonstrate genuine commitment to media freedom.
The PF is a beneficiary of a free press and therefore must be seen to respect and support institutions that help disseminate information to the public.
We welcome the announcement by government to start giving state funding to private media houses. This is a welcome development and initiative which should be supported by everyone committed to the growth of the private media.