TIME Crime

The Meaning of the Flags Worn by the Suspected Charleston Killer

A photo, thought to be of Dylann Roof, shows him wearing a fleece decorated with the flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa

A profile photo taken from a Facebook page thought to belong to the FBI’s now-captured suspect the killing of nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, offers the strongest clue yet as to what might have been his motivation. The photo, thought to be of Dylann Storm Roof, shows a young man wearing a black fleece jacket. Affixed to the right breast are two flags, one for apartheid-era South Africa, and another for the former colony of Rhodesia, which is now known as Zimbabwe.

The short-lived state of Rhodesia, which was never recognized internationally, is closely identified with white supremacy. It was born in 1965 when the predominantly white government of what was then known as the British colony of South Rhodesia refused to transition to black majority rule on the eve of independence. Instead, the government issued its own declaration of independence, raised its own flag, and stayed in power for more than a decade. A bloody guerilla war ended in the establishment of a bi-racial government in 1979.

MORE Why It’s So Hard to Gauge Level of Hate Crimes in U.S.

The apartheid-era South African flag represents one of the worst periods of that country’s history. Under apartheid, which lasted from 1948 to 1994, the majority black population, along with ethnic Indians, Asians, and those of mixed-race were denied their basic rights. The white minority, which ruled the country, enforced the laws with brutal efficiency and violence. “As a South African, you see that flag and it sets alarm bells ringing,” says Christopher Charles Nicholas, a concierge in Cape Town. “To us, it brings back all the horrors of that time. Ninety-nine percent of South Africans hate that flag.” The remaining one percent, he adds, are the people who want apartheid back — South Africa’s own white supremacists.

Read next: Everything We Know About the Charleston Shooting

TIME Sudan

Sudan’s President Escapes War Crimes Arrest in South Africa

Omar al-Bashir
Shiraaz Mohamed—AP Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is seen during the opening session of the African Union summit in Johannesburg on June 14, 2015

South Africa's failure to arrest Omar al-Bashir is a further blow to the credibility of the International Criminal Court

Born in a more hopeful era, when citizens of the world committed to stamping out injustice and holding genocidal dictators and warlords accountable for crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court in the Hague suffered a major blow on Monday when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir escaped South Africa on his presidential jet, foiling yet again a six-year quest to bring him to justice.

The 71-year-old, who has ruled Sudan with an iron first for two and a half decades, stands accused by the ICC of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the 2003 conflict in Darfur, which claimed more than 300,000 lives in a gruesome orgy of decapitation, rape and torture committed by government militias. Al-Bashir denies the charges.

So confident was al-Bashir in his impunity that he landed in Johannesburg on June 13 to attend the opening of the African Union summit and mug for the cameras, despite the fact that, as a signatory to the convention that created the ICC, South Africa is legally obliged to arrest the Sudanese president and transfer him to the Netherlands. The South African authorities did not. Instead they allowed him to leave the country on the second day of the conference, despite a judicial order calling for him to remain.

Al-Bashir’s willingness to travel to Johannesburg in spite of two international arrest warrants is an indication that not only has the ICC lost credibility, but that South Africa, once a beacon for justice and human rights on the continent, has bowed to political expediency. “This marks a moment of historic failure,” says Eric Reeves, a professor and a Sudan expert at Smith College in the U.S., and author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide. “If the only body that is capable of taking on the massive, indisputable atrocities that have taken place in Darfur over the past 13 years, if that body is flouted by sheer machinations of an indicted génocidaires, who is allowed to leave a country that is a signatory to the ICC, then the court is clearly deeply troubled.”

The impasse over how to deal with the pending visit one of the world’s most wanted criminals was set in place on June 5, when South Africa’s Minister of International Affairs, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, signed an agreement granting diplomatic immunity to delegates participating in the African Union summit, directly contravening South Africa’s responsibilities to the ICC. But once al-Bashir arrived, the South African Litigation Centre, a legal-rights group, argued before Pretoria’s high court that South Africa’s responsibilities to the ICC carried more weight. The judge agreed, ordering the police to keep al-Bashir in the country until the courts could decide if al-Bashir should be handed over to the ICC.

But even before the court came to session on Monday, June 15, al-Bashir slipped out of the country on his presidential jet. Officials at the military airport say his name was not on the flight manifest, so they could not stop the airplane’s departure. Representatives of the South African Litigation Centre are calling contempt of court, but it is unclear what the legal repercussions, if any, will be.

The ICC has no police force of its own; instead it relies on member states to carry out arrests on its behalf. Increasingly, they are failing to do so. Al-Bashir has visited at least four other ICC member states — Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Congo — in the past several years. None of them attempted to arrest him either. But South Africa should have been different, says Reeves. “The disgrace could not be greater. The world stood by South Africa at its time of need, and now South Africa sides with a génocidaire, someone we know is responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of people. It is an absolute betrayal of Nelson Mandela’s legacy.”

South Africans, however, are divided. South African President Jacob Zuma told CNN six years ago that he would not hesitate to arrest al-Bashir should he ever set foot in the country. But a recent explosion of anti-African xenophobic violence in South Africa has forced the country into a charm offensive as it struggles to undo the diplomatic damage. As the furor deepened over al-Bashir’s presence at the African Union summit on Saturday, Zuma’s African National Congress party executive committee said in a statement that “the International Criminal Court is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended — being a court of last resort for the prosecution of crimes against humanity.” Instead, the statement argued, the court was biased against African leaders, of which al-Bashir’s Sudan was only “the latest example.”

The case is also the latest example of the ICC’s declining authority around the world. The U.S. is not a signatory, and early adopters Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda have vocally dismissed its efforts as “selective” and “racist.” In 2009 the African Union vowed to stop cooperating with the court, leading to today’s impasse in South Africa.

As al-Bashir landed in Khartoum to the cheers of hundreds of supporters, his Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, lashed out at the ICC and the international community for disrupting the summit. “The participation could have been normal and without a fuss, but Africa’s enemies, Sudan’s enemies and the enemies of peace-loving countries wanted to try and turn it into a drama, to prevent the President from important participations.” The average African cares less about the summit than justice, argued South African columnist Simon Allison in the online newspaper the Daily Maverick. “To the ordinary African, the ICC is one of the few sources of justice available for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It’s hard to escape the feeling that international justice in Africa has just received a mortal blow; it’s even harder to deal with the realisation that South Africa delivered it.”

TIME South Sudan

Why George Clooney is Supporting Coffee Farming in South Sudan

South Sudan food insecurity
Charles Lomodong—AFP/Getty Images Internally displaced persons queue to register at a refugee camp in Bentiu, South Sudan in February 2015.

A possible solution to the chaos in the world's youngest country can be found at the nexus of celebrity, cause and commerce

When it comes to celebrities and their causes, there is perhaps no more indelible pairing than George Clooney and the nation of South Sudan. After decades of conflict and a genocide that left 2.5 million dead in the East African nation of Sudan, Clooney turned the light of his celebrity on the issue, rallying international support for a long promised referendum on independence for the southern part of the country, that, on January 9, 2011, gave birth to South Sudan. But an 18-month-long civil war, fueled in part by disputes over the new country’s lucrative oil fields, threatens to turn the world’s youngest nation into its latest failed state. On 10 June the Red Cross issued an urgent appeal, warning that 4.6 million South Sudanese were facing “severe food insecurity,” and that in some of the worst afflicted areas people were reduced to eating water lilies to survive. Clooney, who on the eve of South Sudan’s independence cautioned that the early years in the new country were likely to be chaotic, also laid the groundwork for an alternate future that is slowly starting to bear fruit – literally.

In the southwestern state of Central Equatoria, 300 farmers are tending to some 20,000 newly planted coffee trees in an ambitious attempt to reduce the importance of oil to the national economy by focusing on the sustainable export of coffee. And not just any coffee: Premium espresso beans destined for the aluminum capsules of Nespresso, the other name indelibly associated with Clooney. Associated internationally at least — American fans may not be aware he is the brand’s spokesman everywhere else in the world.

At the nexus of celebrity, cause and commerce, Nespresso’s South Sudan project aims to build the coffee industry from the ground up, by planting trees, training farmers in sustainable growing practices, and helping locals set up basic processing mills and sales cooperatives. They have invested $750,000 so far through TechnoServe, a nonprofit development organization that seeks to solve poverty through creating local business. If the pilot project goes well, Nespresso anticipates investing a total of $2.1 million through 2016 and creating a market big enough for some 15,000 coffee farmers. Already the signs are good. In 2013, South Sudanese farmers sent 1.8 metric tons of unroasted coffee beans to Nespresso in Switzerland. It was the country’s first ever non-oil export to Europe, and though the amount was small, the reception was ecstatic.

Like wine, good coffee comes from specific terroirs — climatic and soil conditions that create a distinct flavor profile. The signature aroma of a good South Sudanese coffee, according to Nespresso’s coffee experts, is of “cereals and plum.” Coffee originates from Africa’s Rift Valley, and the area now known as South Sudan was once known for coffee that was exported across the Middle East centuries ago. But decades of war, and a growing reliance on oil exports, saw the industry decline long before South Sudan became independent.

As anyone who has ever walked into a Nespresso boutique knows, the brand stakes its prestige on carefully cultivated coffee terrorirs, from Columbia to Ethiopia and Brazil. Most of those coffee-producing nations have spent decades building up markets and a reputation for quality that transcends any particular purveyor, be it Starbucks, Illy or Intelligentsia. In South Sudan, Nespresso has an opportunity to stamp its name on an entirely new coffee origin. In doing so it is capitalizing on novelty, quality and the feel-good aspects of investing in a good cause that happens to be backed by an international celebrity. “George did introduce us to South Sudan because of his passion for the country. But even though he is influential, we wouldn’t be interested in the country but for the fact that it has exceptional coffee,” says Daniel Weston, Nespresso’s Director of Creating Shared Value, a position that focuses on developing the communities that provide Nespresso its raw materials.

Coffee, as a commodity sold around the world at fluctuating prices, is not lucrative on a small scale. But if farmers develop a niche product that can be sold at a premium, they have a chance of creating a worthwhile livelihood that sustains their communities while minimizing environmental impacts. That’s where TechnoServe, which has been working in coffee for nearly 50 years, comes in. In South Sudan, their agronomists have essentially elevated a local product from the coffee equivalent of table grapes to a distinct cultivar that stands on its own when passed through an espresso machine. The farmers can then sell those beans to Nespresso, or anyone else, at a 40% premium. “A small farmer working an acre of land can produce the best and most valuable coffee in the world,” says TechnoServe CEO William Warshauer, speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town in early June. “We want the multinationals to make profits, and we want farmers to lift their families out of poverty. This project ticks both boxes.”

No one believes that coffee alone will pull South Sudan from the brink, least of all George Clooney. But it’s a start. “If there is to be lasting peace and prosperity in South Sudan, part of the equation will be a diversified economy and opportunities that benefit the people of the country,” says Clooney in a statement. “The investment by Nespresso and TechnoServe in South Sudan’s coffee sector, even while the conflict is ongoing, is providing much-needed income for hundreds of farmers and their families.” As with espresso, sometimes all that is needed is a quick shot to get things going.

TIME LGBT

How Uganda’s LGBT Community Is Fighting for the Right to Exist

Can Uganda’s gay-rights activists stop the government from enacting another homophobic law?

Hakim Semeebwr, also known as Bad Black, is a transgender woman in a country where sex between two men, or two women, is illegal. Coming out usually leads to eviction, job discrimination and violent harrassment. Bad Black lost her television job when she was outed by a local newspaper.

And if some Ugandan politicians have their way, coming out as homosexual could mean life in prison, or worse.

Read more: Out in Africa

TIME Burundi

Attempted Coup in Burundi Fails But Tensions Linger

A woman passes by policemen in a street in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 15, 2015.
Goran Tomasevic—Reuters A woman passes by policemen in a street in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 15, 2015.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned “attempts to oust elected governments by military force”

Ambition and ideology, it seems, got the best of Burundian coup plotter Godefroid Niyombare. After nearly 36 hours of chaos and tension, in which a military force divided between those loyal to embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza and soldiers supporting his ouster battled for control of the capital’s airport and media assets, the former intelligence chief was forced to concede that his coup had failed. “We have decided to surrender,” Niyombare told the French news agency AFP in Burundi. “I hope they won’t kill us.” Niyombare is still at large, but the police have detained three other coup leaders. “We decided to give ourselves up,” the coup leaders’ spokesman, Zenon Ndabaneze, told AFP by telephone just seconds before his arrest. “We have laid down our arms. We have called the security ministry to tell them we no longer have any arms.”

The failed coup capped nearly two weeks of unrest in the capital, Bujumbura, as citizens protested the president’s announcement that he would seek a third term in office, despite a constitutionally mandated two-term limit. Elections are scheduled for June 26, though the African Union, citing unrest, has suggested they be delayed. President Nkurunziza and his supporters argue that he has the right to run again because he was not elected for his first term in office, but appointed by parliament. His elevation to the presidency in 2005 came at the conclusion of a devastating 13-year civil war. The hard-won peace accord, negotiated in part by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, is also clear about term limits. Nkurunziza’s defiance threatens the fragile peace between the President’s ethnic Hutu majority and the country’s Tutsi minority, raising the specter of a return to a war with echoes of the genocidal mayhem that tore neighboring Rwanda apart in 1994. Tens of thousands of Burundians, mostly Tutsi, have already taken refuge in Rwanda.

In announcing his overthrow of the government on Wednesday, Niyombare, a former presidential ally, insisted that he had no intention of holding on to power. He only wanted to work for “the restoration of national unity and the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment,” he said, according to AFP. There is little confidence in Burundi that elections in which the president is a candidate will be free from rigging. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have criticized Nkurunziza’s attempt to hold on to power, but they also decried the coup attempt. In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned “attempts to oust elected governments by military force,” while urging respect of Burundi’s constitution.

President Nkurunziza has yet to address the nation, but his office released a message on Friday: “President Nkurunziza is back in Burundi after the attempted coup. He congratulates the army, the police and the Burundian people.” Burundian police say they are keeping the detained plotters alive so that they can stand trial. The elections are still scheduled to go ahead, but it is not clear that tensions have calmed enough to allow for a serious campaign. President Nkurunziza may have emerged unscathed this time, but the widespread support for the attempted coup should be enough to make him think twice about running for a third term that much of the nation, and the world, deems illegal.

TIME Burundi

No Victor in Sight as Coup Unfolds in Burundi

Protesters, who are against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, gesture in front of a burning barricade in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 14, 2015.
Goran Tomasevic—Reuters Protesters, who are against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, gesture in front of a burning barricade in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 14, 2015.

Rival troops struggle for power in the East African country's capital, but with the President abroad in Tanzania, residents are left in a state of chaos

At what point does an attempted coup become a successful coup? Residents of the East African nation of Burundi woke up to that question on Thursday morning as fighting intensified in the streets of the capital, Bujumbura. Local radio stations, usually the most reliable source of information, offered no clarity for good reason: both independent and state-owned broadcasters were under attack Thursday morning as troops loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza battled supporters of former intelligence chief Godefroid Niyombare for control of the airways and the opportunity to declare victory.

On Wednesday morning Niyombare announced the coup after the President flew to a meeting in Tanzania. The streets of the capital erupted in celebration as residents, who had been protesting the President’s decision to run for a third, and potentially illegal, term in office saw a chance for victory.

A protestor holds up a dead owl attached to a stick, intended to denigrate the ruling party whose emblem is an eagle, during a protest in Buterere neighbourhood of Bujumbura
Goran Tomasevic—ReutersA protestor holds up a dead owl attached to a stick, intended to denigrate the ruling party whose emblem is an eagle, during a protest in Buterere neighbourhood of Bujumbura, Burundi on May 12, 2015.

They sang, cheered, and shook the hands of pro-coup soldiers. One protestor lofted a dead owl in the air to mock the death of the President’s party, whose emblem is an eagle (owls being easier to come by than eagles in Burundi, apparently). But the celebration was short lived. Government officials announced Wednesday evening that the coup had been foiled, “and that these people, who read the coup announcement on the radio, are being hunted by defense and security forces so that they can be brought to justice.”

Niyombare responded by shutting down the country’s sole airport and closing all borders in the landlocked nation. Nkurunziza was locked out of his country and reduced to calling for calm from Tanzania via Twitter. “The situation is under control, there is no coup in Burundi,” tweeted the official presidential account in French. Overnight, loyalist forces in the military appeared to take the upper hand. Presidential supporter General Prime Niyongabo, the army chief of staff, announced “The attempted coup… has been stopped,” according to the BBC.

The coup attempt is the culmination of violent protests that have rocked the impoverished nation for more than two weeks since the ruling CNDD-FDD party announced that it had selected President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for next month’s elections. The president has already served two five-year terms, the maximum allowed by the constitution, but his supporters claim that since he was not elected for his first term, but appointed by parliament, the first term doesn’t count. The country’s constitutional court supported the interpretation, but the one dissenting judge immediately fled the country for fear that his life was at risk, raising questions about the court’s impartiality. Opposition politicians fear that should he run again, his party will be able to rig the election in his favor. A born-again Christian that rarely travels without his personal choir, the President also believes that he was personally appointed by God to lead Burundi, according to his presidential spokesman. “Mr. Nkurunziza indeed believes he is president by divine will, and he therefore organizes his life and government around these values,” presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe told AFP in April.

At least 22 have been killed in protests that were often divided along ethnic lines. Scores have been injured, and some 50,000 Burundians have fled for neighboring countries, fearful that the 13-year-old civil war that ended in 2006 might reignite.

In announcing his coup, Niyombare, a former presidential ally who was dismissed in February, said that he had no intention of taking power himself, only that he wanted to work for “the restoration of national unity and the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment,” according to AFP.

Burundi may be small, with a population of 10.1 million, but heightened tensions in one of the most volatile areas of east Africa are cause for international concern. The U.S. Department of State urged Burundians to “lay down arms, end the violence and show restraint,” while the European Union and the United Nations appealed for calm. Neighbors Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also watching the events closely, though for different reasons. Both countries have upcoming presidential elections, and both have incumbents who are reaching the end of their constitutional term limits. But both Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and the DRC’s Joseph Kabila have hinted that they might seek a way to stay on. It’s not just Burundians who want to know whether or not the coup was successful; Kabila and Kagame are likely to be taking note as well.

TIME Nigeria

Nigeria Hails the Freeing of 200 Women and Children but Regrets Continued Captivity of Chibok Girls

Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler (3rdL) attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

When a Nigerian military spokesman claimed on Tuesday to have rescued some 200 women and girls held captive by members of the Boko Haram, hopes soared that they might be the schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago from a dormitory that put the name of their small town, Chibok, in the global spotlight.

The kidnapping, which took place on April 14, 2014, spurred an international twitter campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, and saw a dedicated band of Nigerian mothers, students, activists and civil society members holding daily vigils in the capital, Abuja, and weekly protests elsewhere in the country.

More than 2,000 women and children from Northeastern Nigeria have been kidnapped by Boko Haram in the past 17 months, but the plight of the schoolgirls, who were kidnapped in one raid and seemed to have been targeted because they were seeking education, garnered the world’s sympathy. The founder of the Bring Back our Girls movement, former World Bank Vice President for Africa and former Nigerian Education Minister Obiageli Ezekwesili was relentless in her campaign to make sure the Chibok girls were not forgotten, and brought in international celebrities from Madonna to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousufzai to promote the cause.

So fervent is the desire to see the girls back and alive, the disappointment that the 200 rescued women were not from Chibok was profound. “Alas it certainly seems they are not Chibok Girls and that is profoundly heart breaking,” Ezekwesili wrote TIME in an email. “Yet, that these girls and women who were also captives of those savages (for God knows how long) can now breathe the air of freedom is certainly victory.”

When the girls were first kidnapped, it took nearly two weeks for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to respond, and even longer to launch a military effort to take on Boko Haram and track down the students. When the Nigerian military attacked the group, they were often defeated. In many cases soldiers simply abandoned their posts, largely due to inadequate weapons and fears that they would not receive additional air support if they did decide to engage. The failure of a hollowed-out military that had once been the pride of Nigeria and one of the most respected forces in Africa prompted national soul-searching, and may have lead, in part, to the electoral defeat of Jonathan in elections last month. While military spokesmen have claimed credit for the rescue and a spate of military defeats that forced Boko Haram into taking refuge in the dense Sambisa forest, the gains could not have been achieved without the support of an international coalition made up of militaries from neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

The incoming president, Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged to rebuild the army, but it will take years to recover from a decade of neglect and endemic corruption.

Despite the hopes and efforts of activists like Ezekwesili, the likelihood of finding all the Chibok girls is slim. In several videos posted to YouTube, Boko Haram founder Abubakar Shekau boasted that the girls, many of whom were Christian, had either converted to Islam and been married off, or refused to convert and sold as slaves. According to Amnesty International, Boko Haram fighters, fleeing the advancing Nigerian army, have in some instances slaughtered their own wives rather than let them be captured by “infidels,” a fate that could have befallen some of the Chibok girls. Amnesty also suggests that others might have perished due to the rigors of captivity, and, if the fate of several other Boko Haram escapees is a guide, they might have been used as sex slaves or forced to fight.

Boko Haram has also used young women in suicide attacks, though it is not clear that any of the bombers came from Chibok. Nonetheless, the efforts to rescue the Chibok girls, and all other Boko Haram abductees must continue, says Ezekwesili. The rescue of the 200 girls on Tuesday makes it clear. “We can seize on their rescue to add more pressure on our Government to SPARE NO EFFORT in finding our #ChibokGirls and all other abductees.”

As for the Chibok girls, it is yet another reminder that the world is unlikely to forget them, and the fact that neither the Nigerian military, nor an international Twitter campaign, has been able to find them.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com