The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement Aug. 14 condemning the idea that the Taliban are "reformed" since the last time they were in power in Afghanistan. The statement, written by multiple human rights experts, drew attention to the gap between the promises made by the Taliban upon its return to power in August 2021 and the reality of "gender apartheid" in Afghanistan.
Imprisoned Russian anti-war activist Darya Polyudova has been placed in punitive solitary confinement after guards said they found a razor-blade in her belongings, which is considered a major violation at the penal colony in the North Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria where she is incarcerated. Polyudova's mother told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Aug. 1 that her daughter said guards had planted the blade in her belongings to frame her, adding that the activist is starting a hunger strike to protest the move.
Mexican authorities confirmed Aug. 3 that they recovered two bodies from the Rio Grande near the border town of Piedras Negras, Coahuila state. Authorities recovered one of the bodies, a Mexican national, from buoys recently floated by Texas in an effort to impede border crossings from Mexico. The second body, that of a Honduran national, was recovered further upstream, away from the buoys. The incidents have renewed attention on the floating barrier, which is now the subject of a lawsuit between the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the state of Texas.
Burma state television MRTV reported on July 31 that the ruling junta has postponed an election that it previously promised to hold in August this year. Instead, junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing extended the country's state of emergency period for another six months, starting on Aug. 1. The state of emergency was initially declared in the aftermath of the February 2021 coup.
Bangladesh opposition supporters protested July 29 to demand the resignation of prime minister and the leader of Awami League, Sheikh Hasina. The protests followed a call to action from the Bangladesh National Party (BNP). Protestors blocked several entry points to the capital Dhaka, and some threw rocks at police. The police responded with tear-gas, rubber bullets and batons. The Dhaka metropolitan police admitted to these tactics, saying that officers were injured. BNP leader Abdul Moyeen Khan said that 1,000 supporters have been arrested, two times higher than the 500 figure provided by the police.
A Kenyan police official told the Associated Press on July 20 that police received a warning against reporting deaths that have occurred during protests over the high cost of living under the government of Kenyan President William Ruto. Although it was unclear who issued the direct order, it came after opposition leader Raila Odinga called for three days of protests. Since Ruto's election last year, Kenya has witnessed tax increases and a steep rise in petrol prices. The demonstrations, and the brutal response from the state, have seen at least 30 people killed since March, according to Amnesty International. The UN says 5.4 million people need urgent food aid in Kenya following five consecutive seasons of drought. (Jurist, TNH)
Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo accused authorities of "political persecution" July 21, after police raided his center-left Semilla party headquarters. Arévalo condemned the raid as an attempt to hinder his campaign for the 2023 presidential election, the second round of which is scheduled for Aug. 20. Prosecutors say they were enforcing a court order that suspended Semilla due to alleged irregularities in party member registration. However, that order was canceled on July 13 by Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
With the protest movement in Iran now in abeyance, Tehran's national Police Command announced July 16 that the feared "morality police" will resume patrols enforcing the mandatory wearing of the hijab by the country's women. Formally known as the Guidance Patrols (Gasht-e Ershad), the force created in 2006 was that which arrested Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, last September. Her death in custody three days later sparked the uprising that has now lasted for 10 months. The patrols were suspended for review as the protests mounted last December. Article 638 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code states that: "Women who appear in public without prescribed Islamic dress (hejab-e-shar'i), shall be sentenced to either imprisonment of between 10 days and two months, or a fine of between 50,000 and 500,000 rials." (Jurist, BBC News, MEE)