police state

Politics, neglect hobble Italy's migration system

The number of asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy has surged this year, according to EU officials. More than 56,000 people have made the journey–almost double the total over the same period last year. The increase prompted Italy's government to declare a six-month state of emergency in April, in part to address overcrowding at a center for those who arrive on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Defiant Israel to expand West Bank settlements

Israel's right-wing nationalist government announced new plans June 18 to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the US and EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: "The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues."

UK orders closure of China-run 'police stations'

UK Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat updated Parliament June 6 about Chinese "overseas police service stations" operating within the United Kingdom.  Tugendhat told lawmakers that the UK has ordered China to close any remaining "police stations" on UK soil, calling the stations' existence "unacceptable." Tugendhat said that British authorities received reports from non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders of these stations in Croydon, Hendon and Glasgow, with allegations of another in Belfast.

Hong Kong: bid to ban protest anthem backfires

The Hong Kong Department of Justice applied to the Special Administrative Region's High Court on June 5 for an injunction to prohibit any performance or online dissemination of the song "Glory to Hong Kong," anthem of the 2019 protest movement. The government asserts that the song contains secessionist lyrics and constitutes an insult to the Chinese national anthem, "March of the Volunteers." The action seeks to remove 32 YouTube videos, asserting that they breach multiple laws in Hong Kong and China, including the National Security Law, the Crimes Ordinance and the National Anthem Ordinance.

EU action against Poland over 'Russian influence' law

The European Commission initiated infringement proceedings against Poland June 8 over the country's recently-passed law aimed at officials who have allegedly come under Russian influence. The new law, nicknamed the "Lex Tusk" after former Polish PM and purported target Donald Tusk, establishes a committee to investigate whether certain officials acted under "Russian influence" between 2007 and 2022. The law authorizes the committee to hand out 10-year bans from obtaining security clearances, controlling public funds or holding a firearms license.

Macau national security law threatens free speech

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on June 2 denounced Macau's decision to expand its national security law, saying the revision "increases the pressure on journalists and further threatens...residents' right to information." The Macau Special Administrative Region's National Security Law, first passed in 2009, defines seven crimes that can result in a maximum sentence of up to 25 years' imprisonment. Under the revised rules, enacted at the end of May, these crimes have been expanded far beyond their previous definitions. For example, "subversion" and "secession" now extend to non-violent acts, while "sedition" includes "acts that incite participation in riots."

Hong Kong: prison hunger strike to remember 6-4

Hong Kong police detained at least eight people June 3 for allegedly attempting to hold public vigils commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre. Victoria Park, the site of the massive annual commemoration which is now suspended due to the crackdown in the city since 2020, was meanwhile the scene of a fair promoting unity with China. (The Guardian, WaPo) However, prominent activist Chow Hang-tung, who has been imprisoned since her arrest in 2021 for promoting an "unauthorized assembly" commemorating the massacre that year, announced a 34-hour hunger strike—one hour for each year since June 4, 1989, known in China as "6-4." (Reuters)

Florida: thousands protest new anti-immigrant law

Demonstrators gathered across Florida June 1 to protest a recently enacted law that imposes harsh restrictions on undocumented immigrants. In what protesters dubbed "a day without immigrants," thousands walked off the job to express their opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis' approval of Senate Bill 1718.

In Immokalee, dozens of businesses closed in support of the protest, and video captured over 6,000 protesters marching in support of immigrant workers and their rights. Similar protests took place in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Vero Beach, Fort Myers and Homestead, among other locations.

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