Outrage after police slaying of Atlanta forest defender
Protests and vigils have been held across the US following the police slaying of environmental activist Manuel Teran, 26, also known as Tortuguita, on Jan. 18 in Georgia's Dekalb County. A protest over the killing turned violent in downtown Atlanta Jan. 21, with a police car burned, windows smashed, and several arrested. Tortuguita was shot in a police raid on an encampment in the Weelaunee Forest, a threatened woodland within the South River Forest conservation area. The Atlanta Police Foundation seeks to clear hundreds of acres in order to build a $90 million Public Safety Training Center, referred to as "Cop City" by local residents.
Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions
Israel's new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a brief visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, flanked by a heavy security detail and a fellow Orthodox Jewish worshipper—eliciting immediate outrage from both the Palestinian leadership and the Jewish state's own allies. The Palestinian Authority called the move "an unprecedented provocation," with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site "into a Jewish temple." He called on Palestinians to "confront the raids into al-Aqsa mosque." Hamas warned that Israel is approaching a "red line."
Campesino leaders targeted in Peru repression
Amid ongoing protests over the removal from power of president Pedro Castillo, Peru's Anti-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE) on Dec. 17 raided the Lima offices of the country's main union of peasants and rural workers. Dozens on the premises were held there and interrogated, without access to legal counsel, for 16 hours. Rural leaders from across the country were gathered at the national headquarters of the Campesino Confederation of Peru (CCP) at the time of the raid to discuss coordination of protest actions. (Wayka, Via Campesia, El Buho) In the days immediately before and after the raid, government offices were burned by protesters in Arequipa, in Huancavelica, and in Ayacucho. (Jurist)
Sudan: regime spurring Kordofan violence?
At least 30 people were killed and dozens injured in armed clashes between members of the Hamar and Misseriya pastoralist groups in Sudan's West Kordofan state, local leaders reported Dec. 12. A Hamar militia that had been organized to protect against cattle rustlers was apparently ambushed by Misseriya gunmen in the locality of Abu Zabad, setting off the violence. Hamar leaders charge that state authorities and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are protecting Misseriya bands that raid their lands with impunity. (Sudan Tribune, Dabanga) Six were also killed in a clash in September between the two groups in a dispute over the demarcation line between their territories. (Dabanga)
Bolivia: soy boom fuels Santa Cruz unrest
Bolivia's eastern lowland city of Santa Cruz has been rocked by roadblocks and street clashes since an indefinite paro (civil strike) was called by right-wing opposition groups Oct. 22. With the open support Santa Cruz departmental governor Fernando Camacho, strikers are demanding that a new census be held next year rather than in 2024, as is currently scheduled. The last census was in 2012, and the region's population has swelled with an influx of migrants since then. At issue is greater funding for the department, and more slated congressional seats ahead of the 2025 elections.
Attacks, displacement in post-coup Burkina Faso
When mutinous soldiers ousted Burkina Faso's democratically elected president in late January, they vowed to do a better job of securing the Sahelian country from attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. But violence has only increased over the past months, draining public confidence in the junta, threatening coastal West African states, and worsening a humanitarian crisis that has now displaced almost two million people–around one in 10 Burkinabé.
UN report confirms forced labor in Xinjiang, Tibet
United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery Tomoya Obokata released a report Aug. 16 on contemporary forms of slavery, which found that it is "reasonable to conclude" that forced labor "among Uygur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing" is taking place in China's Xinjiang region. Obokata's assessment was made "based on an independent assessment of available information, including submissions by stakeholders, independent academic research, open sources, testimonies of victims, consultations with stakeholders, and accounts provided by the Government."
Taiwan expands rights for indigenous peoples
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Aug. 3, speaking at an Indigenous Rights Forum in Taipei held to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day, pledged new measures to protect and promote the languages, cultures and territorial rights of the island nation's Aboriginal communities. Tsai noted that the new Indigenous Peoples Basic Act seeks to bring Taiwanese law and policy into conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and calls for re-assigning the country's place names to reflect Aboriginal languages. Her office has established a Transitional Justice Committee to oversee implementation of the law in collaboration with Aboriginal communities.
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