Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 27 announced that he will delay his proposed reforms of the judicial system in the face of ongoing mass protests. Calling it a move to "avoid civil war," Netanyahu declared in a nationally televised address that his administration is "taking a timeout for dialogue." However, he added: "We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system."
Amid nationwide protests over the government's pension reform in France, clashes between demonstrators and police are reported from the rural commune of Saite-Soline, in the western department of Deux-Sèvres. Thousands defied an official ban March 25 to mobilize against the construction of new water storage "basins" for crop irrigation. In the ensuing fracas, security forces deployed helicopters and tear-gas, and several protesters were wounded, some seriously. Authorities said that gendarmes were injured as well, and patrol cars set ablaze. Some protesters reportedly dug up and dismantled a section of pipe that had been laid to feed the reservoir, and marched with the severed segments held aloft. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin described the scene as "eco-terrorism."
Tens of thousands of people—many of them peaceful protesters—have been arbitrarily detained in Belarus over the past two and a half years, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif said March 21. The charge came as Al-Nashif presented a report outlining rights violations in Belarus to the UN Human Rights Council, focusing on events leading up to and following the contested 2020 Belarusian presidential election and the ensuing protests. The report presents evidence of the unlawful deaths of at least five people, 100 or more cases of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as widespread unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, attacks on independent media, and unfair sentences that the report calls "politically motivated."
Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 18 signed a law forbidding the spread of "false information" about "volunteer" forces fighting in service of Russia. The law is clearly meant to prevent public criticism of paramilitary groups and private military organizations, such as the Wagner Group, currently operating in Ukraine. The law passed the State Duma, Russia's lower house, with 336 members voting in favor, two voting against, and 112 abstentions.
Amnesty International on March 10 called on Tunisia to put an immediate end to racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Black African migrants. The violence began in early February and was exacerbated by a racially-charged speech by President Kais Saied at a National Security Council meeting on Feb. 21. President Saied said that "hordes of irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa" had come to Tunisia, "with all the violence, crime, and unacceptable practices that entails." He said this was an "unnatural" situation and part of a criminal plan designed to "change the demographic make-up" and turn Tunisia into "just another African country that doesn't belong to the Arab and Islamic nations any more."
Georgia's ruling coalition March 9 agreed to withdraw a controversial "foreign agent" bill after two days of angry protests in the capital Tbilisi. The bill "On Transparency of Foreign Influence," introduced in Parliament in February, would have required non-governmental organizations and media outlets that receive 20% or more of their annual revenue from a "foreign power" to register as "agents of foreign influence" with the Justice Ministry.
The first death was reported Jan. 28 in the national protest mobilization on Peru's capital, dubbed the "Taking of Lima." Victor Santisteban Yacsavilca, 55, was struck in the head with a tear-gas cannister, bringing the death toll since the national uprising began last month to 58. Earlier that day, Peru's Congress voted down a proposal by embattled President Dina Boluarte to bring forward elections to December 2023. On Dec. 20, Congress did approve a compromise measure calling for moving the elections forward from April 2026 to April 2024, but this is subject to a second plenary vote before becoming law. Protesters continue to demand immediate new elections, and the calling of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. (Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, InfoBae, El Pais, Gestión)
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.