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This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 10.14.19

The Editors October 14, 2019

Illustration credit: Peter Naktin

Anti-LGBTQ Law and Justice Party Wins Again in Poland, But Left is Back

By Hal Conte

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party cruised to an overall majority in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, a widely expected result in a vote with high turnout. The party has declared “LGBTQ-free zones” and described gays and lesbians as “vampires” and a “plague,” with regular bomb and knife attacks against them in the heavily Catholic country. Support for the Civic Coalition, which shares Law and Justice’s anti-abortion and anti-gay stance but supports the EU and liberal economics, collapsed, but the social democratic left Lewica party managed to gain 11 percent of the vote, potentially placing it to usurp the Civic Coalition as the main opposition party.

French Polynesia Nuclear Site in Danger of Collapse 

By Yoona Lee

On Oct. 9th, French Polynesian politician Meotai Brotherson declared that “it’s only a matter of time before the French nuclear weapons test site at Moruroa collapses,” during the UN decolonization committee. From 1966 to 1996, France had nearly 200 atomic explosions in the area, and Brotherson had asked the French government to clean after the remnants. According to Brotherson, Moruroa weapon sites are showing alarming cracks and France has been aware of it, too. Local politicians have attributed the region’s “chronic levels of leukemia and other cancers” to the atomic explosions. Roland Oldham, president of the association of former Moruroa workers (Moruroa e Tatou), said there are “more than 600 cases of cancer a year and more than 250 deaths because of these tests.”

Australian Detention Camp Criticized by UN Human Rights Commission

Yoona Lee

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the Australian detention camps of asylum seekers at a human rights conference in Sydney on Oct. 8th. Bachelet pointed out that among the affected people, many have committed no crime but they are still confined indefinitely. The Commissioner called for the “non-custodial and community-based” alternative to detention, which is not only human rights-compliant but also increases “the likelihood that migrants will comply with immigration decisions”. Last December, asylum seekers sued the Australian government for the “Crime Against Humanity.”  Asylum seekers are subject to physical and mental collapse for they are denied adequate food, water, medical care, a safe environment, and freedom.

Thousands of Demonstrators Against the Extreme Right After German Shooting

By Hal Conte

Anti-racist protesters from Jewish, socialist, and liberal democratic groups rallied under the banner “We Stand United” in Berlin on Saturday following an attempted shooting of a synagogue in Halle over Yom Kippur. Demonstrators formed a human chain around the synagogue and visited several mosques also supporting the cause. Protestors accused the German government and the Interior Ministry for ignoring the threats posed by right-wing extremism. Some of the murderer’s equipment, including his bulletproof vest and helmet, came from the German Army, and he had acquired weapons training from German military forces, which along with the secret services have had a history of harboring extreme-right sympathizers.

Kashmir Communications Finally Return After Long Crackdown by India’s Modi

By Hal Conte

Post-paid cellphone communication between Kashmir and the outside world resumed today after two months of curfew and political repression in the region by Indian president Modi, a Hindu nationalist. The largely Muslim Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan, saw its autonomy and constitution revoked by Modi in an audacious move just hours before the emergency moves, which critics have described as dictatorial and fascist. Two million prepaid internet and cell services remain blocked. Kashmir still has newspapers, but they have been effectively transmogrified into “government bulletins.” Resistance movements by some Kashmiris have continued throughout the period.

Congo Violence Drags on Silently with Highest Global Death Rate

By Hal Conte

Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands forced to leave throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with armed groups continuing to challenge the government and UN troops. An average of 8.38 citizens per 100,000 have been murdered in the provinces of North and South Kivu since 2017, with 99 percent of the 5.6 million displaced made homeless. While historically, the country’s natural resources, such as diamonds, gold, and rubber, have attracted conquerors, analysts say recent conflicts are used as money-making enterprises for their own sake, with business leaders using private armies to make money on kidnapping and protection rackets.

Catalan Leaders Slammed With 13 Years in Prison for Allowing Popular Referendum

By Hal Conte

Spain’s supreme court has punished nine people who orchestrated 2017’s Catalan independence referendum for sedition against the monarchy. Oriol Junqueras, who was vice president of Catalonia just two years ago, accused the Spanish state of wanting to “destroy lives.” All of the prosecuted leaders were banned from taking part in elections and accused of subverting the law. Protesters throughout the country blocked roads in response to the ruling, while Spain’s government sent out hundreds of extra police to stymie pro-Catalan youth manifestations.