PSR: May 4, 2018

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This week at IPSI

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Symposiums - 04.24.18

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

MALAWI: Murder of man with albinism sparks call for death penalty

MALAWI Murder of man with albinism sparks call for death penalty  

This week, the murder of a man with albinism sparked calls for his killers to be executed to help stop the disproportionately large number of attacks on albinos in Malawi; this attack is the 22nd reported in four years. The 22-year-old went missing in March and was found buried several weeks later with multiple body parts missing. Those facing charges for conspiracy and murder are a Catholic priest, a police officer, and a medical officer, among 11 others. Comment: Malawi is the most dangerous country in the world for people with albinism; they are targeted for body parts used in magical potions and other ritual practices. (Aljazeera, eNCA News, Crux News, Reuters)


MALI: At least 17 Tuareg civilians killed by rebel fighters


On Tuesday, Fulani militants staged two attacks in remote northeastern villages near the border with Niger, killing at least 17 people of the ethnic Tuareg community. The attacks came just days after more than 40 Tuaregs died in similar raids on nearby villages. Comment: In recent months, French-backed Tuareg civilian defense groups are struggling against al-Qaeda-linked fighters in the northern part of the country. The Fulani community claims that Tuareg militias are also guilty of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests.   (Aljazeera, Reuters Africa, Prensa Latina News)


SOUTH SUDAN: Abducted aid workers released


On Monday, three UN staff and seven aid workers from several different organizations abducted last week while traveling in a convoy near the southern city of Yei were released and handed over to the Red Cross. All those who had been abducted are South Sudanese nationals. Fighters from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition were responsible for seizing the convoy, alleging the workers had entered the territory without any “clearance.” Comment: Aid workers in South Sudan have frequently been targeted by armed forces both loyal to the government and rebels since an ethnically charged civil war erupted in 2013. (Aljazeera, Red Cross, Sudan Tribune)

Researched/Written by Brian Adienge


This week in the Americas & Caribbean

NICARAGUA: Protests demanding resignation of President Ortega continue

nicaragua - protests  

Protests that began last week continue throughout Nicaragua, culminating with the Nicaraguan Catholic Church asking for President Ortega and his wife’s resignation. Sixty-three deaths have been reported, including youth, students, and a journalist. According to Human Rights Watch, the Nicaraguan government shutdown media outlets covering the protest, and according to reports, orchestrated human rights abuses against protesters. Between April 18 and 25, the Nicaraguan Red Cross reported that they had assisted 435 people injured during these protests. Comment: Protests began as a response to Ortega’s announced plan to reform Social Security. On April 30, Ortega supporters mounted a nonviolent counter protest with an estimated 150,000 people attending. (Human Rights Watch, The Economist, Miami Herald, New York Times)


UNITED STATES: Annual protests in Puerto Rico turn violent

  us - annual

On Tuesday, violence broke out in San Juan during the annual May Day protests. Seven months after hurricane Maria, the territory is still rebuilding with tens of thousands lacking power. Thousands of protesters took to the streets across the capital claiming that austerity measures intended to pull Puerto Rico out of an 11-year recession would only worsen the conditions of those who are still affected by the hurricane. According to reports, protesters began to leave the negotiated route and were met by local police. Law enforcement responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. The Public Safety Department reported the arrest of 13 people and injuries to 15 police officers. Comment: The same protest last year also ended with violence and resulted in severe property damage. (Aljazeera, NBC, NPR, New York Times)


REGIONAL: White House delays tariffs on Canada, EU, and Mexico


On Tuesday, hours before the tariff exemptions on steel and aluminum were set to expire, the White House announced a 30-day delay. In addition to this statement, the White House disclosed that deals with Brazil, Argentina, and Australia are in the process of being finalized. Following the Trump administration’s protectionist trend, officials have claimed that countries would have to agree to quotas to achieve protection for U.S. goods, instead of having tariffs imposed. Comment: This extension comes after Trump proposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 tariff on aluminum. Trump is employing a trade law established in 1962 that protects United States steel and aluminum producers on the grounds of national security. (New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Connor Murnane


This week in East Asia & Pacific

MALAYSIA: Opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad under investigation for “fake news”


On Wednesday, police authorities stated that opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad is being investigated under the “anti-fake news” law over his recent claims that his plane was sabotaged during a campaign trip. The decision to investigate the opposition leader came after the Civil Aviation Authority found no indication of sabotage. Mr. Mahathir said last week that his pilot discovered some damage to the aircraft just before a take-off, a claim that was fiercely condemned by the government calling it “wild and false.” Comment: Under the “anti-fake news” law, offenders could be fined up to USD 127,000 and face a maximum of six years in jail. (Reuters, CNN, The Telegraph)


MYANMAR: Testimony says Reuters journalists framed

myanmar - reuters  

On Wednesday, a judge accepted the testimony of Police Captain Moe Yan Naing who said that Reuters reporters – who had been arrested for possessing state secret documents – were framed by the police. Mr. Naing told the court that a senior officer ordered police to “trap” one of the two journalists arrested in December. The police officer has been ordered to appear again before the court on May 9 for further questions. Comment: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested late last year while working on stories about the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. (CNN, Reuters, New York Times)


NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA: Moon and Kim Jong-un held historic summit in South Korea

  north korea - south korea - moon

On Friday, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un crossed into South Korean territory to meet with President Moon for their inter-Korea summit. The two leaders met at the Peace House in Panmunjom where they discussed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as the possibility of a permanent peace agreement. Moon and Kim managed to adopt a “Panmunjom Declaration” in which they both committed to work together toward a peaceful Korean Peninsula. Comment: This is the first time a North Korean leader stepped foot on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean war in 1953. (New York Post, The Times, CNN)

Researched/Written by Edgar Peter Mutta


This week in Europe & Central Asia

FRANCE: May Day parade turns violent

france - may  

On Tuesday, the May Day parade in Paris turned violent as 1,200 members of the anarchist “black bloc” movement joined an estimated 20,000-55,000 nonviolent protestors. They lit six cars on fire and damaged 31 shops – mainly in anger against the economic reforms proposed by President Emmanuel Macron. More than 100 of the 1,200 “black bloc” members were taken into custody. Local newspapers, including L’Est Republicain and L’Alsace, criticized the government for being unprepared for the violence. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb defended the government by saying there were already 21 police units at the parade. He said there will now be more security at future protests. Comment: May Day takes place annually around the world in support of workers’ rights. (The Local France, The Guardian, Reuters)


TURKEY/UZBEKISTAN: Presidents sign USD three billion trade deal

  turkey - uzbekistan - presidents

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev met in Tashkent to strengthen cultural and economic relations between the two countries. Erdogan said they “discussed all topics related to… politics, military, economy, trade, culture, the defense industry.” The two leaders announced a future deal focused on energy, tourism and transport, with expected investments totaling up to USD three billion. Comment: The two countries have had poor relations up until the death of ex-President Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan. Mirziyoev has made efforts to improve relations since he came to power in 2016. He first visited Turkey in October 2017. (Hurriyet Daily News, EurasiaNet, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)


UKRAINE/RUSSIA: Ukraine places sanctions on Russia


On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced new sanctions “paralleling U.S. efforts” against Russian tycoons and companies allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The purpose of the sanctions is to punish Russia for the use of chemical weapons in Europe and meddling in Crimean elections. Although Poroshenko did not identify which individuals would be sanctioned, he has said in the past that Oleg Deripaska may be a target. Deripaska is a Russian tycoon who has been sanctioned by the U.S. for meddling in the U.S. election of 2016. Comment: According to Reuters, it is not known if the sanctions will be effective, as previously sanctioned Russian companies have been slowly decreasing activity in the country. (UNIAN, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Daniel Boerger


This week in the Middle East & North Africa

IRAN: Top officials deny Netanyahu’s allegations about the Iranian nuclear program

  iran - top

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech revealed a collection of documents he said prove that Iran has lied to the world about its nuclear program for years. On Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi dismissed Netanyahu’s claims and called them “lies;” he also accused Netanyahu of trying to affect Trump’s upcoming decision about the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. He added that Tehran was prepared for any scenario Trump creates. Comment: In a statement on Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that the agency found “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.” (Aljazeera, Haaretz, NBCNews)


LIBYA: An attack on the headquarters of the Libyan electoral commission kills twelve

  libya - an

On Wednesday, multiple attackers – including two suicide bombers – stormed the headquarters of Libya’s electoral commission in Tripoli killing at least twelve people and setting fire to the building. The victims included at least three officials from the elections committee. The self-proclaimed Islamic State militant group claimed the attack, which occurred while voters were registering for the elections planned to take place by the end of the year. Comment: The planned elections are part of a UN-led effort to unify and stabilize Libya after years of conflict and political division. Wednesday’s attack was the first in the capital, Tripoli, since 2015. (Aljazeera, BBC, Reuters)


MOROCCO: Rabat cuts diplomatic relations with Tehran over support to Western Sahara


On Tuesday, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said that Morocco would close its embassy in Tehran and expel the Iranian ambassador in Rabat over Iran’s support for Polisario Front independence fighters in disputed Western Sahara. Minister Bourita told Al Jazeera that “Rabat has evidence that incriminates the Iranian government, which assisted Hezbollah in providing financial as well as logistical support to Polisario through its embassy in Algiers.” A spokesman from the Iranian foreign ministry said the allegations were “completely baseless” and that Iran respected the sovereignty of all countries. Comment: In 2009, Morocco cut its diplomatic connections with Iran, accusing Iran of questioning Sunni rule in Bahrain. Both countries re-established diplomatic connections around 2014. (Ahram, Aljazeera 1, 2, Washington Post)

Researched/Written by Mohamed Ismail


This week in South Asia

AFGHANISTAN: Double suicide blasts in Kabul

Afghanistan - double  

On Monday, two suicide bombings occurred in the capital, Kabul, leaving at least 25 people dead and approximately 45 people injured. The first attacker used a motorcycle and detonated in the vicinity of the National Directorate of Security, NATO headquarters, and several embassies. In the second explosion, the suicide bomber posed as a journalist and targeted emergency medical workers and journalists who had arrived near the scene of the first explosion, killing nine. The self-proclaimed Islamic State took responsibility for both attacks in a statement released online. The statement named the intelligence agency as the target and made no mention of targeting journalists or emergency medical workers. Comment: Attacks multiplied in recent days ahead of the long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections scheduled for October. In addition to the nine journalists who died, another journalist died on the same day in the eastern Khost province after being shot – making this the deadliest day for media workers in Afghanistan. (The Kabul Times, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, 1, 2, The Washington Post)


INDIA: Heavy rains and dust storms swept through northern India

  india - heavy

On Wednesday, heavy rains and dust storms hit the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The storms started last week and so far, more than 90 people died and at least 100 people have been injured. The storms also disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses, and killed livestock. Prime Minister Modi expressed sadness at the loss of life and asked officials to coordinate with state government to monitor relief operations. The Uttar Pradesh government announced that families of the dead will receive 400,000 rupees (USD 6,000) as compensation. Comment: According to reports, dust storms are common in this part of India during the summer, but loss of life on this scale is unusual. India’s Meteorological Department stated that more storms will occur across a wider area before the weekend. (Times of India, Al Jazeera, BBC News, CNN, The Guardian)


PAKISTAN: A Hazara Shia Muslim-led protest ends in Quetta

On Wednesday, dozens of Hazara Shia Muslim protestors in the southwestern city of Quetta ended a five-day sit-in. The protest began on Friday following an attack by unidentified assailants at an electronic shop that left two Hazara men dead. Demonstrators protested what they believe is a series of targeted attacks against members of their community; the Hazara Shia Muslims are both an ethnic and religious minority group. Since March, at least nine Hazara Shia Muslims died in attacks. The protest dispersed after community leaders began negotiations with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Comment: About 600,000 Hazara Shia Muslims reside in Quetta and are subjected to stringent security restrictions. According to the National Commission for Human Rights, approximately 509 Hazaras have died in Quetta since 2013 in targeted attacks. (Dawn, The Nation, Al Jazeera, Human Rights Watch)

Researched/Written by Pamela Mhute

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