urban space

UN investigator: Israeli settlement is 'war crime'

A UN human rights investigator announced July 9 that Israeli settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem meets the definition of a war crime. Special rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Michael Lynk, addressed a Geneva meeting of the Human Rights Council, in which he gave a report on whether the settlements violate the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Three elements must be satisfied to meet the definition of the war crime of transferring a civilian population into an occupied territory. The material elements are transfer of the population into the territory, and that the transfer took place arising from an international armed conflict. This element was met when Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 as part of an international armed conflict.

Turkish police disperse Istanbul pride parade

On June 27, Turkish riot police used tear-gas and rubber bullets to disrupt Istanbul's annual pride parade after the the governor's office refused to grant a permit for the event. The police arrested dozens of marchers, as well as journalists who were covering the event. The police attack comes amid a period of mounting hostilities against the nation's LGBTIQ+ community. The pride parade has been held annually since 2003, despite being officially banned since 2014. Videos shared on social media show hundreds of people gathered on Istiklal Avenue, a popular tourist destination, chanting "Rainbow is not a crime, discrimination is."

Burma: urban warfare erupts in Mandalay

Gunfire erupted in the streets of Mandalay, Burma's second largest city, as regime troops raided a building where a cell of the incipient armed resistance movement was sheltering early on June 22. The raid, at Chanmyatharzi township, sparked hours of running street battles. PDF fighters erected barricades of flaming tires to slow the advance of troops. Both the military, known as the Tatmadaw, and the rebel People's Defense Force (PDF) claimed casualties on the opposing side and denied deaths among their own forces. "We've declared war," the Mandalay PDF said in a statement. "The day we've been waiting for is finally here." The PDF has previously targeted Tatmadaw and police patrols in Mandalay. On June 1, a soldier was killed and another injured when the PDF fighters opened fire on military trucks in the city. On June 8, two police officers were shot dead.​ (Myanmar Now, TRT World, NYT)

Hong Kong authorities shut down Tiananmen vigil

For the second year running, authorities in Hong Kong banned the annual June 4 vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Citing the ongoing restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19, hundreds of police officers closed off Victoria Park, where the vigil has traditionally been held, and dispersed crowds who gathered with candles or their phone lights lit. Police also arrested activist Chow Hang Tung, vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organizes the annual vigil. She faces charges of promoting an unauthorized assembly. Authorities warned that under the Public Order Ordinance, those attempting to attend the vigil could face five years in prison, or one year for promoting it. Last year, activists successfully defied the ban, so this marked the first year that no commemoration of the massacre was held in Hong Kong.

Colombia: Duque unleashes army on protesters

Colombian President Iván Duque on May 28 announced the deployment of military forces to put down the protests that have been rocking the country since a national strike was called a month ago. Speaking from violence-torn Cali as some 1,400 soldiers arrived in the city, he said army troops would focus on "nerve centers where we have seen acts of vandalism, violence and low-intensity urban terrorism." An additional 7,000 troops were sent to break up roadblocks in the local department of Valle del Cauca. "Islands of anarchy cannot exist," Duque declared.

Electoral impasse exposes Jerusalem apartheid

Some 200 Palestinians as well as a handful of Israeli police officers were hurt in clashes at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem the night of May 7, the latest outburst in a series of confrontations in the city throughout the current month of Ramadan. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades as Palestinians threw stones and bottles. For weeks, East Jerusalem has seen nightly protests over the impending eviction of hundreds of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah district. So far, 12 Palestinian families in the neighborhood have received eviction orders issued by the Israeli courts. Four of the families have filed a petition with the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in their cases next week.

China: rights defender detained in 'quarantine'

Li Qiaochu, a feminist, labor researcher, and human rights defender who has especially advocated for the rights of migrant workers in China, is being held incommunicado following her arrest for "subversion of state power." Li was detained Feb. 6 in Beijing, where she lives, and taken to Linyi city in Shandong province, where her partner and fellow human rights defender Xu Zhiyong is also detained and facing the same charge. Li's detention follows her disclosure of Xu's torture and mistreatment in detention. On Feb. 19, Li's lawyer formally requested that the Linyi Municipal Public Security Bureau grant access to her, and was told she is being held in quarantine at a local hospital. She is apparently to be transferred to the Linyi Municipal Detention Center once the quarantine is completed.

Iraq explodes into protest —again

Two protesters were killed and several injured Jan. 10 in Iraq, as security forces attempted to put down a third consecutive day of angry demonstrations in the southern city of Nasiriyah. A police officer was also reportedly killed in street clashes. Anti-government protesters had two days earlier re-occupied Haboubi Square, demanding the release of their comrades arrested in recent weeks. A protest encampment had been in place in the square for over a year until November 2020, when the camp was attacked by followers of Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, with several killed. Witnesses said that in the new violence, security forces opened fire to disperse protesters from the square. (Middle East Eye, The National, UAE)

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