Indian police on April 24 arrested Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh after a month-long manhunt. Singh gained notoriety for supporting the Khalistan movement, which calls for the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland in the northwest state of Punjab. He was taken into custody in the gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the village of Moga, Punjab. He is charged with attempted murder, obstructing law enforcement, and disturbing the peace under terms of the harsh National Security Act. The charges concern a Feb. 23 incident in which hundreds of followers of Singh's organization Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) stormed a police station in Amritsar with sticks, swords and firearms, demanding the release of a detained member of their group. During the manhunt for Singh, authorities cut off internet access to all Punjab, a state of nearly 30 million. (Jurist, Mint)
The legislature of the Canadian province of Alberta invoked the controversial Alberta Sovereignty Act on Nov. 27 in response to new federal environmental policies. The provincial legislature passed a resolution resolving to "urge the Government to use all legal means necessary to oppose the implementation and enforcement of the Federal Initiative in Alberta." The initiative refered to is Canada's proposed Clean Energy Regulations, which the resolution says mandate "a set of emissions standards and timelines that are unattainable within the context of Alberta's electricity industry and available energy resource," and would have "an extreme chilling effect on investment in Alberta's electricity generation industry."
Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are ousting the army from military bases across the western Darfur region, leading to fears the country will be split in a similar way to neighboring Libya, which is ruled by rival governments. Even as the RSF has engaged in talks with the army in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, the group has launched attacks on the capitals of three of Darfur's five states, leading to mass displacement and large civilian casualties. Last month, it took full control over Nyala and Zalingei (the capitals of South Darfur and Central Darfur), while last week it seized the main army base in West Darfur's El Geneina. Over 1,000 people from the Masalit ethnic group were reportedly killed by RSF and allied militia fighters during the West Darfur takeover, which may amount to the worst civilian atrocity since Sudan's current war erupted on April 15. RSF leaders are now threatening to seize El Fasher in North Darfur, which has been a safe haven in recent months, and has attracted hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
Houthi de facto authorities carried out a wave of arrests, rounding up scores of largely peaceful demonstrators who gathered to commemorate the 61st anniversary of North Yemen's 26th of September Revolution, reports Amnesty International. The organization is calling on Houthi authorities to "immediately and unconditionally release all demonstrators held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of assembly." On Sept. 26, the date marking establishment of the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962, people took to the streets in cities across North Yemen, including Sana'a, Ibb, and Houdeidah, carrying flags of the republic that was formally disbanded with Yemen's unification in 1990.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on April 28 ordered Russia to pay 130 million euros ($143 million) in compensation to Georgia, almost 15 years after the war in the South Caucasus nation. The case concerned allegations by the Georgian government that actions by the Russian Federation during the 2008 conflict amounted to breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). The ECHR can award damages for harmful consequences of a violation under the Convention's Article 41. The court found that there was still a basis to make an award under Article 41, despite the fact that Russia had ceased its membership in the Council of Europe, and failed to cooperate with the proceedings.
A first round of official peace talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels concluded April 14 in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, followed by the (long-delayed, and painstakingly negotiated) release of 880 prisoners from both sides of the country's eight-year war. It's not the first time that Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition backing Yemen's internationally recognized government, has spoken directly with the rebels. But some see new momentum in this effort to end the war, particularly given the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has close ties to the Houthis. Still, getting a truce back in place (the last one expired in October) and sorting out the various sides' grievances will not be easy—especially as not all the groups vying for power in Yemen are represented at the talks: The government is notably absent, as are the powerful separatists of the Southern Transitional Council.
The parliament of Moldova on March 17 voted to remove references to the "Moldovan" language from the country's constitution and enshrine Romanian as the official language for all legislation. Lawmakers asserted that "Moldovan" is actually indistinguishable from Romanian, and that the notion that it is a separate language is a product of Soviet propaganda. The vote was applauded by Romania, whose foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu stated that the Moldovan language is an "artificial construct."
Fighting continues in Somalia's northern breakaway state of Somaliland, where three eastern administrative regions—Sool, Sanaag, and Aynaba—have taken up arms in a bid to rejoin the internationally recognized Mogadishu government. Somaliland accuses the neighboring autonomous region of Puntland and the government of Ethiopia (which is officially attempting to broker a dialogue in the conflict) of intervening on the side of the re-integrationist rebels, who are headquartered in the town of Las Anod, Sool region. Somaliland has been effectively independent since 1991, and has seen a more stable and secular social order than the regions controlled by the Mogadishu government.