6 Countries You Probably Didn’t Know Existed - Dangerously Genocidal


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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

6 Countries You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

Most people in large nations have taken the freedom that comes with independence for granted, and it’s often easy to overlook those small nations who are still fighting to enjoy those same freedoms and rights. For some it is a peaceful road, for others it’s a bloody war and, for those few who have achieved it, the road to stability can be just as hard. But the challenges don’t stop these countries from trying, nor does the fact that they are often overlooked deter them. From countries still fighting for recognition, to those few who have only recently received their independence, here are:

6 Countries You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

1. Kingdom of Barotseland

Barotseland lies mostly within Zambia, crossing borders slightly into Angola and Namibia. In its attempts to be acknowledged as an independent nation, Barotseland has experienced more ‘hot-potato’ treatment than most and, considering the challenges they have faced, their determination has to be admired.

While Britain controlled most of southern Africa, Barotseland was under colonial administration and, as such, enjoyed relative autonomy even as a colony. At the time it was able to maintain its traditional authority as a monarchy. In 1889 a treaty was signed that gave the kingdom international recognition as a state and trade with Europe was established as the region was rich with diamonds.

Unfortunately, another treaty was written up in 1890 – which was were the trouble for Barotseland truly began. The concessions in the treaty was, as claimed by King Lewanika of the time, misinterpreted and instead of being a separate state, Barotseland was made part of the then Northern Rhodesia. This was partially rectified in 1964 when the ‘Barotseland Agreement 1964’ was signed; it gave Barotseland the same status that it had previously under British Government. The agreement barely lasted six months.

A new president came to power of the newly independent Zambia in October of 1964, and President Kaunda immediately began introducing acts that resulted in the total abolishment of the agreement in 1965, making Barotseland an ‘official’ part of Zambia. This was ratified by the Zambian parliament in 1969, and ongoing calls by the locals of Barotseland (renamed ‘Western Province’ under Zambian control) to have their autonomy restored has been ignored.

In 2013 Barotseland became a member of UNPO, and they are theoretically independent from Zambia – in the most blatant sense, Zambia has pretty much washed its hands of Barotseland, while Britain also refrains from getting involved. Despite this, Zambia still enjoys the benefits of having Barotseland as part of their state, basically amounting to an act of Illegal Occupation. Currently an investigation by the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights is underway regarding claims of human rights violations by the Zambian Government in Barotseland.

While Barotseland awaits its independence, dissatisfaction in the region continues to grow, culminating public protests and demonstrations. Several of these have resulted in deaths, and the imprisonment of various political individuals of Barotseland – including former Prime Minister Maxwell Mututwa, who was jailed at the age of 92. Hon. Afumba Mombotwa, Hon. Kalima Inambao, Hon. Pelekelo Kalima and Hon. Paul Masiye, four members of the provisional government, were imprisoned in 2013 and have been detained in maximum incarceration until the Kabwe High court – a Zambian court, mind you – decide their fate.

2. Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia

On the eastern shore of the Black Sea lies the Republic of Abkhazia – a small country that has been battling for its independence from Georgia for well over two decades. The ethnic Abkhazian population never considered themselves part of the Georgian sovereignty and, in 1992 – 1993, a bloody war was fought to separate themselves from Georgia – a war which they had won. With their victory, the small nation formed their own de facto government, with Raul Khajimba currently serving as president.

Several more wars were fought against Georgian forces, often in conjunction with the Russian Military. This resulted in the Parliament of Georgia declaring Abkhazia a Russian-occupied territory in 2008 – unfortunately for Abkhazia, this status is recognized by most of the international community.

Abkhazia remains determined to be officially recognized as an independent republic, and in that regard they have made some headway. They are officially recognized by eight countries, including four that belong to the United Nations – Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

Things are still far from stable in the region, but the people of Abkhazia remain determined to be fully recognized by the world. To that end, Abkhazia has become a fully recognized member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). Several former members of UNPO have won full recognition of their independence, such as Armenia, Estonia, Palau and… Georgia itself.

3. Tuvalu

Tuvalu is an island nation, with some of the most experienced fishermen and mariners in the world – in fact, marine cadets often attend the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute before finding employment on ships and a specialized trade union represents the copious amount of sought after Tuvalu employees serving on foreign ships. This, along with the sales of fishing licenses, constitutes a large portion of the island’s income. Their most interesting income, however, comes from leasing out their highly sought after domain name – “.tv”.

Tuvalu’s transitions into independence was one of the most peaceful. Until 1978, Tuvalu was part of the Gilbert and Ellice Island colonies, administered by a British Commissioner. However, after WWII and the formation of the United Nations, a committee was established to promote decolonization. It was the first step that Tuvalu, and several other colonies, would take towards independence.

As a result of the committee’s initiative, a ministerial government was introduced to the island colonies, and for the first time a general election was held in 1974. That same year a referendum was held to determine if the islands could, and should, be administered by themselves rather than by British representatives. Consequentially, the Tuvaluan Order was established in 1975, and although it was still seen as a British dependency, it had its own government.

The resident House of Assembly was finally dissolved in 1978 and in October of that year, Tuvalu was first recognized as an independent nation. They continued to push forward, first becoming fully independent as a democratic Commonwealth nation and then, in September of 2000, Tuvalu was recognized by the United Nations as their 189th Member.

4. Union of the Comoros

Between the shores of Mozambique and Madagascar, you will find a small archipelago – this is the Sovereign Island Nation of Comoros. Having been at the crossroads of many civilizations, Comoros is one of the most diverse and colourful nations in terms of culture and history. The island has some of the most beautiful beaches and clear waters… but don’t pack your bags just yet.

It was part of the French Colonial Empire before it declared its independence. Unfortunately, becoming president of Comoros does make one quite the target – since becoming independent, Comoros has undergone over 20 coup d’état or attempts at coups, and several heads of state have been straight out assassinated. The current president is ex-pharmacist Dhoinine.

Sadly, combined with its political instability, Comoros has the worst income equality in the world, and more than half of its inhabitants live under the international poverty line. The government is struggling to improve education levels, but most of the inhabitants are either unemployed or work in agriculture. It is the largest producer of ylang-ylang and vanilla in the world, despite the limited land space. But, with population growth at a high, and living space low, it’s difficult to determine how much longer Comoros will be able to sustain itself.

5. Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria)

Transnistria is a small nation that lies right between Moldovia and Ukraine, and is as yet not recognized as an independent state by any member of the United Nations, although Russia is lending them extensive support in their goal. Despite this, they have been functioning as an independent nation since 1992, when a war was fought between Moldova – who lays claim on Transnistria – and the local forces. It ended in a negotiated ceasefire which has, as of this article, remained intact. But that’s about as much as can be said for it.

They have their own form of government with general elections held every five years, as well as anything else you might expect – a flag, anthem, currency... but these things not a nation make. The only countries that recognize Transnistria as a nation are other partially recognized states such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Regardless of appearances, there have been many claims that the free rights of the people are being denied – there is much conflict about the fairness of the election process, for one, and according to the CBN, religions such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Protestants are being persecuted despite claims of ‘freedom of religion’.

Moreover, the media – and public - in Transnistria has recently found themselves gagged due to a law passed in 2016 dictating that any actions or public statements that express disrespect for the peace-keeping Russian army in the country will be punished by up to 7 years in prison. Thankfully this writer is not a resident of Tansnistria.

6. Somaliland

Nope, this is not a mistake. No doubt you’ve heard of Somalia, but very few people have actually heard of Somaliland. This small country lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden, and is bordered by Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia. It was part of the British Protectorate until 1960, when it was united with what is currently Somalia, and a local government was formed. It lasted only nine years. The Somalian Military seized power, and General Mohamed Siad Barre took command, ruling Somalia for 21 years.

The Somali people quickly became disillusioned with life under military rule, and by the 1980’s many resistance movements had been formed around the country. One of these was the Somali National Movement, based in the centre of Hargeisa. Although it began as a unionist constitution, it soon began to pursue separation from the rest of Somalia – a decision that culminated in the north-western Somali territories declaring themselves independent at a conference in 1991. Abdirahman Ahmed Ali Tuur became the newly formed Somaliland’s first president. He proceeded to pull a 180, and sought reunification with Somalia.

By 1993, Tuur was replaced by Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, who was re-appointed in 1997. He remained Somaliland’s president until his death in 2002. Dahir Riyale Kahin was his successor – the first elected president of Somaliland.

As yet, Somaliland is not an officially recognized independent state, despite the fact that it has been functioning as one for well over two decades. It is part of UNPO, and has built strong international relations with Ethiopia, Djibouti, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Both the EU and the AU have visited Somaliland to discuss future recognition of Somaliland, and their application to join the Commonwealth is currently pending.

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