Monthly Archives: April 2016

Marguerite Barankitse Awarded Inaugural Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

George Clooney, Co-Chair of the Selection Committee, presents the $1 million Aurora Prize to Marguerite Barankitse at ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia

YEREVAN, Armenia, April 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi was named as the inaugural Laureate of the $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. At a ceremony held in Yerevan, Armenia, Barankitse was recognized for the extraordinary impact she has had in saving thousands of lives and caring for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi.

Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Logo.

Logo –

As she accepted the award from Aurora Prize Selection Committee Co-Chair George Clooney, Barankitse said: “Our values are human values. When you have compassion, dignity and love then nothing can scare you, nothing can stop you – no one can stop love. Not armies, not hate, not persecution, not famine, nothing.”

As the first Aurora Prize Laureate, Barankitse will receive a $100,000 grant and continue the cycle of giving by donating the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organizations that have inspired her work. Barankitse plans to donate the award to three organizations in order to advance aid and rehabilitation for child refugees and orphans, and fight against child poverty. These organizations are: the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de La Grande-Duchesse du Luxembourg, Fondation Jean-François Peterbroeck (JFP Foundation), and the Fondation Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg.

Barankitse emphasized: “I chose them because these people supported me and never abandoned me, even in difficult times. They have the same values as me and as the Maison Shalom – compassion, friendliness, dignity, and a generosity which costs nothing.”

“Marguerite Barankitse serves as a reminder of the impact that one person can have even when encountering seemingly insurmountable persecution and injustice,” said Mr. Clooney. “By recognizing Marguerite Barankitse’s courage, commitment and sacrifice, I am hopeful that she can also inspire each one of us to think about what we can do to stand up on behalf of those whose rights are abused and are in most need of our solidarity or support.”

Marguerite Barankitse saved thousands of lives and cared for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi. When war broke out, Barankitse, a Tutsi, tried to hide 72 of her closest Hutu neighbors to keep them safe from persecution. They were discovered and executed, whilst Barankitse was forced to watch. Following this gruesome incident, she started her work saving and caring for children and refugees. She has saved roughly 30,000 children and in 2008, she opened a hospital which has treated more than 80,000 patients to date.

Guests also celebrated the exceptional contributions of the other three finalists for the Aurora Prize: Dr. Tom Catena, from Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan; Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the General Secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front in Pakistan; and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic Priest in Bossemptele, Central African Republic (CAR). To mark the occasion of the inaugural Aurora Prize Ceremony, these exceptional humanitarians will be presented with a $25,000 award from the Aurora Prize co-founders to support the organizations that have inspired their work.

Leading humanitarian figures and Aurora Prize Selection Committee members, including Gareth Evans, Hina Jilani, Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi and Vartan Gregorian, attended and participated in the Aurora Prize Award Ceremony.

“During the selection process for the Aurora Prize, we came across truly remarkable stories of the human spirit, and an extraordinary number of inspiring individuals who are out there making a significant difference,” said Vartan Gregorian, member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee and co-founder of 100 LIVES. “We are proud to be able to recognize Marguerite Barankitse and support the impactful work she is doing in a concrete way. She proves the tremendous impact one person can have on so many.”


About 100 LIVES

100 LIVES is a new global initiative rooted in the events of the Armenian Genocide, during which 1.5 million Armenians perished. The fortunate few were saved by the courageous and heroic acts of individuals and institutions. A century later, 100 LIVES seeks to express gratitude, to share remarkable stories of survivors and their saviors, and to celebrate the strength of the human spirit.

100 LIVES is an initiative of the IDeA Foundation (Initiatives for Development of Armenia), a charitable foundation committed to promoting socioeconomic development in Armenia through investments in long-term, non-profit projects.

About the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize Laureate will be honored each year with a US$100,000 grant as well as the unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations that inspired their work for a US$1,000,000 award. Recipients will be recognized for the exceptional impact their actions have made on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.

The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Nobel Laureates Elie Wiesel, Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former Australian Foreign Minister and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.

The Aurora Prize will be awarded annually on April 24 in Yerevan, Armenia.

Further information is available at

Photography and videos for media use: www.AuroraPrizeMedia.com

South Africa: Radford Gets Back Into Race Mode After Ribs Setback

By Mark Etheridge

Just as Gill Sanders jetted in from London in pursuit of her Rio Olympics dream, so too did Anel Radford.. but from the other side of the world, in Sydney, Australia.

She did the same for African Championships in East London earlier this year but had to head back Down Under after her race was up before it started.. with broken ribs from a previous accident.

And she’s excited to be back racing Sunday’s Discovery World Triathlon at the Green Point Stadium.. but nervous as to her readiness.

She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘I travelled back to Sydney after not being able to start African champs in East London.

‘I have a great support network in Sydney, people I’ve been working with for a long time and who really know my body. I got the ribs checked out and it was confirmed that I had 2 broken ribs.

‘The decision not to race African champs was such a tough call to make but at least I knew it was the only option I had. We weren’t sure how long it would take for the ribs to heal and racing this weekend in Cape Town didn’t look very likely.

‘I had a lot of treatment on the muscles around the ribs and that allowed me to slowly start moving a bit better. I managed to get three weeks of rally good training done in the lead up to Cape Town and I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if that was enough!

‘I did everything I could in the limited time I had and I am really happy to be in a position to race tomorrow. Racing at home is always extra special.’

Asked about her race plans she kept her cards close to her chest (or in her case her ribs!).

‘I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow given the compromised preparation I had and also not having raced for 6 weeks. So the plan is just to go out there, focus on the processes and execute to my ability. If I can do that, I’ll be happy.’

The elite men’s race starts at 2pm and the elite men end the day’s action at 4.30pm.

Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee

South Africa: Julius Malema – Ready to Remove Zuma Government By Force

Julius Malema is never far from the spotlight. In 2012, his aggressive and divisive brand of rhetoric led to expulsion from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).

As head of the influential ANC youth league he had earlier helped Jacob Zuma become South Africa’s president.

Many observers wrote him off, but he re-emerged quickly as head of a new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), becoming a member of parliament in 2014.

Their fight, Malema says, is against white-held capital, and the “irritant” as he now describes Jacob Zuma.

His economic policies, including nationalisation of industry and expropriation without compensation, play well on the streets and badly in company boardrooms.

“We are not to wage any war against Zuma and the ANC,” Malema says.

“We are waging a war against the white monopoly capital. Zuma is not our enemy, the ANC is not our enemy, they are standing on our way to crashing white monopoly capital which has stolen our land, which controls the wealth of our country, and as we are in the process of crashing the white monopoly capital, there will be some of those irritations that we have to deal with and Zuma represents such an irritation, the ANC represents such an irritation.”

A controversial and often contradictory figure, Malema is a confirmed capitalist himself, known for his expensive taste, while much less is known about the source of his wealth.

He has been accused of corruption, convicted of hate speech, yet to his supporters he is a revolutionary, proceeding where the ANC has failed – to reduce inequality, redistribute wealth – and even, if necessary, to defend their rights by force.

He says that he is willing to take up arms against Zuma’s government and “remove the parliament through the barrel of a gun” if they push them to do so.

“We know for a fact that Gauteng ANC rigged the elections here. We know for a fact that they lost in Johannesburg and they lost Gauteng. But we still accepted it but they must know that we are not going to do that this year,” Malema says.

“We are not going to accept. Part of the revolutionary duty is to fight and we are not at shame if the need arise for us to take up arms and fight. We will fight.

“This regime must respond peacefully to our demands, must respond constitutionally to our demands.

“And if they are going to respond violently like they did in the township of Alexandra just outside Johannesburg, when people said these results do not reflect the outcome of our vote, they sent the army to go and intimidate our people.

“We are not going to stand there. Zuma is not going to use the army to intimidate us. We are not scared of the army. We are not scared to fight. We will fight.”

Source: Al Jazeera

SA signs Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa has signed the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations in New York.

The Paris Agreement is universally regarded as a seminal point in the development of the international climate change regime under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Paris Agreement was adopted on 12 December 2015 at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC CoP21, held in Paris from 30 November to 13 December 2015.

The Agreement was adopted after four years of intense negotiations mandated by the 17th UNFCCC CoP held in Durban in 2011.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, acting in his capacity as depository of the Agreement convened a high-level ceremony for the opening for signature of the Agreement on Friday. Parties to the Convention are able to sign the Agreement until 21 April 2017.

Minister Molewa signed the Agreement on behalf of the South African Government.

The Agreement is a comprehensive framework which will guide international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to meet all the associated challenges posed by climate change.

It signals the change in pace towards the low carbon development from 2020 onwards through commitments of countries in ambitious national plans called Nationally Determined Contributions.

This outcome recognises that climate change represents an urgent threat to human societies and the planet, requiring the widest possible cooperation by all countries and other stakeholders.

The main objective of the Agreement is to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.

The recognition of the 1.5 degree target is of central importance to South Africa as an African and developing country that is highly vulnerable to climate change.

The Paris Agreement is also an important tool in mobilising finance, technological support and capacity building for developing countries, and will also help to scale up global efforts to address and minimise loss and damage from climate change and increase climate resilience.

Signing the Agreement requires that countries will later need to adopt the agreement within their own legal systems, through ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

The agreement will enter into force when ratified by at least 55 countries, which together represent at least 55% of global emissions.

South Africa is already acting on climate change. The country has significant investment in renewable energy, public transport, energy efficiency, waste management and land restoration initiatives.

South Africa is also striving to enhance efforts to transition to a lower carbon economy and society, as well as to adapt in the short, medium and long term to the impacts of increasing temperatures, and reduced rainfall in many parts of the country.


South Africa: The Concourt Has Done Its Work, but SA Politics Remain Messy

By Judith February

Since the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgment on the Nkandla matter, South Africans have heard many strange and wonderful interpretations of the judgment itself. The first, of course, is that President Jacob Zuma did not actually do anything wrong. In his words, it was all just ‘confusion’.

It is worth remembering that the ConCourt found the president had acted in breach of his obligations in terms of section 96 of the Constitution. This is essentially also a breach of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, which sets out the code of conduct for members of cabinet, their deputies and the president himself.

Section 96 states clearly that: ‘Members of the cabinet and their deputy ministers may not … act in any way that is inconsistent with their office, or expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests; or use their position or any information entrusted to them, to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person.’

There was therefore a breach that was – in the language of section 172 – ‘inconsistent’ with the Constitution. Nevertheless, these findings have been largely trivialised by the president’s supporters. Gauteng province has said that Zuma should resign, and has traditionally always broken ranks with more pliable provinces such as Free State, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

The African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League issued its usual baffling statement in support of Zuma. It was a stream of consciousness that would make James Joyce proud.

The ConCourt found that the president failed to ‘uphold, respect and defend the Constitution’ as required by section 83 of the Constitution. So it is no surprise that we have ANC members bending over backwards to distinguish between conduct which is ‘inconsistent’ with the Constitution; and conduct which ‘breached’ the Constitution. It’s all semantics, really. At the end of it all, the question is whether the conduct ascribed to the president in the ConCourt judgment is indeed conduct that the ANC feels comfortable with. Clearly, many do.

And so, the months ahead will be littered with illogic on the part of the president and his supporters as the ANC goes straight into election mode with Zuma front and centre. Despite it all, the ‘Teflon president’ recently called for a more ‘African way’ of dealing with disputes, presumably in a sideswipe at the ConCourt.

One need not wonder too much what the president actually means by those mutterings spoken to a traditional leaders’ constituency. Zuma has always shown extreme discomfort with leading a modern state undergirded by a Constitution that requires adherence to the rule of law.

Parliament also came out of the entire episode looking weak and executive-minded. Speaker Baleka Mbete, who clearly has political ambitions, is unfit to lead Parliament and is now in a situation of unparalleled conflict of interest. The ConCourt, as well as the Public Protector, found that Zuma had breached the Executive Members’ Ethics Act.

Parliament is therefore obliged in terms of section 4 of the Executive Members’ Ethics Amendment Act of 2011 to set up a committee of the National Assembly to deal with the president’s breach of the code of ethics, as outlined in the Public Protector’s report – which has now been affirmed by the highest court in the land. The problem, of course, is that all of this rests with the speaker – who has consistently appeared disinclined to hold the president to account on Nkandla.

Within the ANC, things seem equally confused. As the ANC secretary-general awaits further collation of evidence of ‘state capture’ by the Gupta family, rumours continue to swirl about ministers taking quick trips to Dubai, chief among them Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, David van Rooyen – who seems to have popped over for just a day. Van Rooyen also shamefully postponed a briefing on election readiness ‘indefinitely.’

That was no coincidence given the allegation of the Dubai flight and some questions as to whether he might have visited – or been summoned – by our ‘other government’, the Gupta family.

Anyone who believes that the family was leaving South Africa on a jet-plane forever must be somewhat naA�ve. The Guptas are simply too politically connected and have too many potential deals in the pipeline to abandon ship because of a ConCourt judgment. But, the heat is on, and corporate South Africa is also finding a voice in shutting down the Guptas from access to banking and accounting services; if a tad late.

The ANC is kicking to touch and hoping to mobilise its substantial election machinery to prove that sticking by the flawed Zuma was the right thing to do. Yet for it to think that it can paper over the cracks and dismiss the ConCourt judgment as Zuma, Mbete and Mantashe have done is short-sighted, and it’s a matter of time before Zuma will exit the stage.

But, as predicted, he will not go quietly and the end game is going to be long, drawn out and very messy.

Source: Institute for Security Studies