Independence for South Ossetia

On Nov. 12, 2006 voting for independence took place in Tskhinvali, Georgia in hopes that South Ossetia would become part of Russia. The small region is located in Georgia, but is not part of the Georgian government. South Ossetia did; however, accept support from Russia causing conflict between the two.

The people of South Ossetia hoped that with the separation from Georgia, would come a joining with Russia. They also hoped it would give the region respect and recognition from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, numerous countries did not acknowledge the votes for independence. Eduard Kokoity, president of South Ossetia, wanted this transition to be peaceful, but Georgia had every intention to regain control of the region.

In August of 2008, Georgia attacked South Ossetia, which gave them temporary power over Tskhinvali. Since many South Ossetia residents have Russian passports, Russia viewed Georgia’s air and ground attacks as attacks on their people. This resulted in Russia sending soldiers to attack Georgia’s troops. Russia defeated the Georgian troops. Days after the battle, Russia began to acknowledge South Ossetia as its own. In April of 2009 Russia signed an agreement to take control of South Ossetia.


AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE. ( November 13, 2006). “Separatist Region in Georgia Votes on Independence”. Retrieved on Janurary 24, 2011 from New York Times website: . (June 6, 2010). “Mountainous South Ossetia, which is in Georgia, is separated from North Ossetia, which is in Russia, by the border between the two countries running high in the Caucasus. Much of the region lies more than 1000 meters above sea level”. Retrieved on January 24, 2011 from BBC website.

Published in: on January 27, 2011 at 5:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Google Images Retrieved January 25, 2011.

This past March, Namibia celebrated 20 years of independence (1). The former german colony known as “Namibia” which was also referred to as South West Africa, freed it’s chains from the tight grip of South Africa in the year of 1990. Despite many efforts of previous opposition and ridicule Namibia gained it’s independence. The Guerilla war of South Africans, against the german mandated territory, escalated sharply and rapidly, due to the training and invading of cuban soldiers in Namibia and the blocking and controlling of their resources.

Even with many efforts from SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) and the United Nation’s, the president and prime minister refused to surrender, unless troops left their territory. In 1950 South Africa refused a request from the UN to release the territory, and as European powers granted independence to other colonies pressure was applied to South Africa and the struggle for liberation continued in Namibia. Attempting to make peace deemed impossible, and many agreements came into play with no one falling through on their end and reneging on the deal.

In the year of 1976 the United Nation’s condemned South Africa for invading the territory of Namibia (1). There were wars amongst these countries for years, fighting each other and harassing to the point of surrender and intervention from other organization’s which sparked interest and talks from the United States, France and Canada. Finally in 1978 Resolution 435 established independence of Namibia from South Africa (2).


1. Baker, Meredith “Namibia Independence: 20 years in progress” November 8th, 2010

2. “Global Integrity: Independent Information on Governance and Corruption”. 2007 href=”

Published in: on January 27, 2011 at 2:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Philippines: The Land of Multiple Independence Dates

Shed blood lined the streets of the Philippines in the largest massacre to the Filipino people. The United States massacred over 200,000 natives who were part of an independence movement. Later, the United States imposed a law which deferred talk of independence and claimed it could be punishable with incarceration. People were excited when there was talk to ending relations with America. Everyone swarmed the streets, in support for newly found freedom.

TIME Archive.( July 8,1946). "Manuel A. Roxas." Retrieved January 26,2011.

For those 400,000 people and many others as well, July 4, 1946 is believed to be the independence day of the Philippines. TIME magazine featured President Manuel Roxas on the July 8, 1946 cover, bringing in even more sources that agreed this was the real date. The dictionary definition is as follows: “Independence: When a state is free from reliance on another” (1).

After numerous wars, the states decided there was an easier way to maintain power. Soon after they started implementing vigorous rules including the Bell Trade Act which stated the Philippines couldn’t produce or sell products which caused competition with American products; this was a hindrance for the Filipino economy. At the time, many found inspiration by witnessing “the first Asian uprising against imperial power” (2). The United States eventually got tired of pretending the Philippines were free and bought the islands for 20 million dollars. Some say the real Independence Day is in 1902 when President Roosevelt confirmed the Philippine-American war over. The most accepted date however, is September 16th, 1991 when the American troops were “kicked out” of the Philippines. The Filipino people protested an “unfair relation” between them. American was forced to step out ending the Subic Bay Naval Station lease.


1. Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. (n.d.). “Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote.” Retrieved January 26, 2011, from

2. Berlow, A. (n.d.). “The Independence Day That Wasn’t. Bibingka: A Philippine Treat.” Retrieved January 26, 2011, from

Pacific Specific: Independence in Palau

Getty, S. (2009). Traditional Palauan Dance. Retrieved January 23, 2011.

By: Paige Johnsen

The Republic of Palau has a history of trade off from one controlling country to the next.  The chaotic trading launched when Spain sold Palau to Germany after the Spanish-American War.  Considering the island’s location it seems fit that Japan took over in 1914.  Only months later the Battle of Peleiu gave the United States possession over the pacific island nation.  A total number of 12,000 casualties were recorded from 40 days of military combat between the United States and Japan. 

The Bureau of East Asian and Public Affairs wrote, “Palau became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and later had the opportunity to join its neighboring Federated States of Micronesia,” (2).  The island was helpless without military protection, but the people of Palau did not want to share a connection with its surrounding islands due to their cultural and lingual differences.  Palau decided it was time for independence in 1978.   Unfortunately, obtaining independence was a degree of difficultly Palau barely accomplished. 

The United States released Palau from its regulation after extensive effort.  Palau’s independence was authorized after 16 years of approval and amendments to their constitution.  On October 4 2010, William Branigin wrote, “1:01 p.m. local time in this remote corner of the western Pacific, a Palauan wearing a traditional loincloth sounded the last of seven honks on a conch shell to herald independence, and a master of ceremonies declared, “Palau is now a sovereign state,” (3).  Achieving their independence proves strength does not stem from the size of a country; their strength was achieved through struggle and determination.


1.)  Bureau of East Asian and Public Affairs. (October 4 2010). “Background Note: Palau.” Retrieved from

2.)  Branigin, William. (October 2 1994). “Independence for Palau Ends U.S. Sovereignty Over Pacific Islands.”  Retrieved from

3.)  Conde, J.  (2008, July 13). Pacific Arts Festival [Video file]. Retrieved from

Published in: on January 27, 2011 at 1:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Puerto Rico, a Modern Colony

By Nathaly Duran

BBC Archive. Retrieved January 23, 2011.

The political movement for the independence of Puerto Rico has existed since the 19th century. Puerto Ricans have sought independence of their island from the 1800’s when they were first colonized by Spain and now from the United States since the U.S. invasion in 1898. A strong reason for their independence is that Puerto Ricans possess an identify of their own, many of them believe they are a nation, although Puerto Ricans may be considered U.S. citizens they are not Americans, they are “Boricuas” (1).

One of the two most popular and currently active pro-independence organizations in Puerto Rico is The Boricua Popular Army, also known as “Los Macheteros” According to the FBI this group is considered to be a terrorist organization, they are responsible for several bomb attacks and armed robberies. Their most infamous act was when they robbed 7 million dollars from the Wells Fargo Depot and threw some of this money from high buildings (2).

The other one is the PIP “Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño” or Puerto Rican Independence Party. This organization plays a more diplomatic and peaceful role. Throughout their active years they have achieve governmental positions and have earned international recognition, receiving support from many organizations and personalities like Mario Benedetti and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez among others (1).

Today, the Puerto Rican population is in conflict when it comes to determining the island’s future political status, the options range from remaining a commonwealth territory to statehood, to independence. In the 1998 referendum 0.1 percent of the population voted in favor of maintaining a commonwealth territory, 2.5 percent voted in favor of independence, 46 percent ruled in favor of statehood, while the other 50 percent opted out on a “none of the above” option. Up to this date the U.S. Congress has not made any changes on Puerto Rico’s condition (3).


1. Bas Garcia, Jose R. (January 5, 2007). “Puerto Rico is a Colony”. Retrieved January 22, 2011 from the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño website:

2. Knowledgerush,( n.d.). “Los Macheteros”. Retrieved January 22, 2011 from the Knowledgerush website:

3. Elections Puerto Rico, (n.d.). Results Lookup Islandwide Totals1998 Plebiscite. Retrieved January 24, 2011 from the Elections Puerto Rico website:

4. Rubén Berríos statement on HR 2499 at US Senate hearings (Video file). Retrieved from

Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Struggle for Kurdistan


The sporadic fighting so common to the area of the Middle East known as “Kurdistan” bears witness to one of the world’s longest-running struggles for independence.  The Kurds, an ethnic group divided primarily between modern Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, have been fighting for an independent nation – or, alternatively, for greater autonomy in the nations in which they live – for decades (1).

Today, major Kurdish movements in Iraq and Turkey often have competing goals and methods, with Iraqi Kurds attempting to run a semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, while Kurdish guerrillas in Turkey oppose the Iraqi Kurdish parties and instead push for a truly independent Kurdistan, to serve as a homeland for all the Kurdish people (2).

Major Kurdish uprisings first began following the fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and the creation of the modern nation-states of the Middle East.  The Turkish government under Mustapha Kemal Ataturk rejected the Treaty of Sevres, which would have provided for the creation of an independent Kurdistan (3) – leaving Kurds to become an ethnic minority in multiple nation-states in which the ethnic nationalism of the majority (Turkish, Arab, or Iranian) is a basic part of the national identity.

Although Kurds now have a certain level of autonomy in Iraq, they continue to face problems elsewhere.  In Turkey, Kurdish activists are often arrested, and Kurdish-language broadcasting and education is largely banned (4).  Iranian Kurds are also frequently subjected to discrimination, in part because they are largely a Sunni religious minority in the majority-Shia Muslim country (5).  In Syria, Kurds are often arrested for belonging to unregistered political parties (5).  Such abuses are frequently cited by Kurdish activists as a reason to not to halt, but rather to continue, activism on behalf of the Kurdish people.


1.  O’Toole, Pam. February 17, 1999. “A People Divided by Borders.” Retrieved January 24, 2011 from the BBC website:

2.  Salaheddin, Sinan. March 24, 2009.  “PKK Kurdish Rebels: We Won’t Stop Fighting in Iraq.” Retrieved January 24, 2011 from the Huffington Post website:

3.  The Washington Post Company. 1999. “Who Are the Kurds?” Retrieved January 24, 2011 from the Washington Post website:

4.  Schleifer, Yigal. October 5, 2005. “Opened with a Flourish, Turkey’s Kurdish-language schools Fold.” Retrieved January 25, 2011 from the Christian Science Monitor Website:

5. Amnesty International.  2008.  “Iran: Human Rights Abuses Against the Kurdish Minority.” Retrieved January 26, 2011 from the Amnesty International website:

6. Human Rights Watch.  November 26, 2009.  “Syria: End Persecution of Kurds.” Retrieved January 26, 2011 from the Human Rights Watch website:

Further Reading:

Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder: Inside the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK)

BBC News World: A people divided by borders

BBC: Turkey unveils reforms for Kurds

Human Rights Watch: Turkey: Kurdish Party Banned

CBSNews, Opinion: Kurdish Iraq: An Emerging Success Kurdish heritage reclaimed

Newsweek: The End to a Long Conflict

Time: Behind Turkey’s Kurdish Problem

Week 1: Independence Movements

The fight for independence is never an easy journey. For some countries, it might have taken a year, while others are still fighting ’til this day. For hundreds of years, “breaking free” from a dominating power and becoming a self-governing country has been a known and constant battle. The Basque Region of Spain has fought for years trying everything from peaceful negotiations to violence costing Spain millions of dollars. The people of Spain’s Basque Region will continue to fight until the country is completely independent.

Fighting for independence results in violence whether it be passive or aggressive. Unfortunately for the Filipino people, the fight for independence against the United States cost them 200,000 of their people. For the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the people suffered more adversities during the Republic’s fight for autonomy. Puerto Rico used peaceful and violent methods to be granted independence and although both received a large amount of attention, United States has not granted such recognition.

Countries similar to Palau, which had no army, had to claim its independence by doing it the legal way. South Ossetia, a country which was caught in the middle of Georgian and Russian War, wanted to be independent from Georgian control, but Georgia wasn’t willing to surrender. In 2009, Russia signs an agreement to take control of South Ossetia.

When an independent movement goes on for years and is causing too much commotion, it begins to spread to other countries and grabs the attention of those with higher power. In South West Africa, Namibia wanted to claim its independence from South Africa. It took years of fighting, harassment, and intervention from other organization’s to interest the United States, France and Canada which eventually led to Resolution 435 in 1978.

I hope you enjoy the blogs for this week!

Amelia Gutierrez

Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Basque Region and It’s Pursuit for Autonomy

Flikr. Retrieved January 26, 2011.

The people of Spain’s Basque region have long fought for their independence and have not had the most minute intent to stop until the task is accomplished. Subsequent to Franco, the region did enjoy a certain degree of autonomy, but beginning in 1950, the Basques could no longer be suppressed and a move for independence officially began. The most infamous group that has unquestioningly made the most significant impact for the cause and has triggered endless controversy has been ETA, Euskadi ta Askatasuna, which means “Basque Fatherland and Liberty”. ETA has been deemed one of Western Europe’s most active terrorist organizations, carrying out some 1,600 attacks and killing around 800 people. The Council on Foreign Relations lists these attacks as costing the Spanish government nearly 11 billion dollars from 1994 to 2003 alone (1). The group has targeted civilians, city buses, government officials, the King of Spain, and tourist attractions, along with numerous others.

Both ETA and the Spanish government have attempted to negotiate the desire of the Basque region in a peaceful and democratic way but to no avail. The Ibarretxe plan, put forth by Juan Jose Ibarretxe, the Basque leader, was designed to gain total independence for the region.

Geography 101. Retrieved January 26, 2011.

Overwhelmingly, however, it was rejected in 2005 by parliament, 313 to 29, and was said to be unconstitutional and contrary to the will of most Spaniards, stated The Washington Post’s Pamela Rolfe (2). Had it been accepted, the plan would have created separate judicial and financial systems from that of Spain.


Although the Spanish government has attempted peaceful negotiations with ETA, and despite various attempts at cease fires, ETA continues to be a continual lethal threat, even though it’s strength has waned over the years. Nevertheless, this region’s fight for independence has not ceased, for the will of the its people to continue striving for autonomy remains a constant goal.


1. Council on Foreign Relations. (November 17, 2008). “Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
(Spain, separatists, Euskadi ta Askatasuna).” Retrieved January 22, 2011 from the
Council on Foreign Relations website:

2. Rolfe, Pamela. (February 2, 2005). “Spain Rejects Proposal On Basque Independence.”
Retrieved January 22, 2011 from the Washington Post website: