North America
dapl

Biden admin defers to courts on Dakota Access

The Biden administrationÔÇÖs Army Corps of Engineers indicated at a federal district court hearing in Washington DC that they would not stop the flow of oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) despite the threat it poses to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe‘s water supply. The project is currently operating without a federal permit as the matter is contested in the courts.┬á(Photo of┬áJanuary 2017┬ámarch against the DAPL in┬áMinneapolis: Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons)

Europe
Dardanelles

Strategic strait at issue in Turkish naval purge

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 10 senior navy officers a day after 104 officers┬áreleased a letter defending the Montreux DoctrineÔÇöa 1936 agreement protecting passage of international shipping through┬áthe straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.┬áThe letter was critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čanÔÇÖs Istanbul Canal project, a plan to construct a waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, running parallel to the Bosphorus. Erdo─čan┬áinsists that the new canal would not be subject to the Montreux Doctrine. The officers were┬áarrested on charges of conspiring┬áto commit “a crime against the security of the state.” (Map: French Navy via PopulationData.net)

New York City
NYPD

New York City passes major police reforms

The New York City Council passed five bills and three resolutions aiming to increase the transparency and accountability of the New York Police Department (NYPD). One bill ended qualified immunity for police officers, meaning that individual officers may be sued for rights violations. The move makes New York the first US city to ban the use of qualified immunity for police officers. The legislation creates a new “local civil right,” protecting residents from unreasonable searches and seizures as well as from the use of excessive force. Another measure requires the NYPD to issue quarterly reports on vehicle stops, including information on the demographics of targeted drivers, whether vehicles were searched with or without consent, and other information. (Photo: CounterVortex)

Mexico
CFE

Mexico: court suspends new electricity law

A Mexican court issued a suspension of the new electricity law that aims to strengthen the state-run company, Comisi├│n Federal de Electricidad (CFE). The law is supported by President Andr├ęs Manuel L├│pez Obrador, who wants to increase state control of the energy market. L├│pez Obrador claimed that under the previous administration, the electricity market was skewed in favor of private operators. Grupo Bimbo, Walmart Inc and two unnamed companies filed challenges against the law. The US Chamber of Commerce expressed concern that the new law violates the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and may create a monopoly in the electricity sector. The injunction will be in place until the case is decided on its merits. The judge asserted that the injunction was necessary “to prevent economic damage to the electricity sector, to ensure competition, and to protect the environment.” (Photo of power lines in┬áIxtapaluca via Wikimedia Commons)

Greater Middle East
Turkey Coup

Turkey: 200 soldiers arrested for alleged G├╝len ties

Turkish security forces arrested 203 soldiers in nationwide raids targeting military personnel accused of links to an exiled Muslim cleric, Fethullah G├╝len, accused by Ankara of being behind a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan. The 2016 episode┬áled to crackdowns and mass arrests, resulting in more than 250 deaths. Thousands of soldiers were rounded up in the wake of attempted coup. The new raids targeted personnel across ranks and regions of the country. Authorities alleged that the arrested soldiers are linked to the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), a supposed network infiltrating the police and security forces. The suspects are accused of communicating with G├╝len’s “covert imams” via payphone. “Covert imams” is a term used by the government to refer to senior FETO operatives. Tens of thousands of people have been detained on similar grounds since the coup attempt. (Photo of pro-Erdo─čan rally:┬áMstyslav Chernov via Jurist)

Greater Middle East
Selahattin Demirta┼č

Kurdish leader sentenced for insulting Erdogan

Kurdish left-wing politician Selahattin Demirta┼č was sentenced to three years and six months in prison by a Turkish court for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan. Demirtas, a leader and co-founder of the PeoplesÔÇÖ Democratic Party (HDP), was given the maximum punishment for the offence. He has been imprisoned since November 2016 along with several other HDP leaders. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled twice in favor of DemirtasÔÇÖ immediate release, concluding that his continued pre-trial detention has an “ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which is at the very core of the concept of a democratic society.”┬á(Photo:┬áDemirta┼č’┬ápresidential campaign launched outside Edirne prison where he is incarcerated, May 2018, via Wikipedia)

Greater Middle East
Istanbul Convention

Turkey drops treaty on violence against women

Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, popularly known as the Istanbul Convention, by presidential decree. The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding instrument in Europe to combat violence against women. Turkey was the first country to sign the convention the day it was launched in the city of Istanbul in 2011.┬áThe withdrawal comes as femicides and domestic violence cases are on the rise in Turkey.┬áThousands immediately took to the streets in protest of President Recep Tayyip┬áErdo─čan’s decision. (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
Rania Amdouni

Tunisia frees imprisoned LGBT activist

A Tunisian appeals court ordered the release of jailed activist Rania Amdouni┬áfollowing an outcry from civil society and human rights groups. Amdouni had been charged with “insulting police and abuse of morals,” which sparked concerns from rights groups over suppression of free speech. Amdouni is the president of Chouf Minorities and a member of the Tunisian Association for Justice & Equality (DAMJ), both organizations concerned with rights for women and the LGBT. She has faced abuse from law enforcement over of her involvement in recent protests against austerity policies and police brutality. Police and politicians have shared her photo on social media with disparaging comments about her appearance and presumed sexual orientation and gender identity. (Photo via Twitter)

Central Asia
KAZfem

Kazakhstan: women sentenced for opposition activism

A court in Kazakhstan sentenced two activists to two years of “freedom limitation” (similar to probation) for their involvement with banned political groups. The court in the southern city of Taraz found Nazira Lesova and Nazira Lepesova guilty of organizing and participating in prohibited demonstrations as part of their activities with the groups Koshe (Street) Party and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK). The sentences came two days after Zhazira Qambarova, another DCK activist, received two years of “freedom limitation” for similar activities. The three women, detained in February,┬áare among several activists across Kazakhstan who have been arrested for participating in demonstrations including marches in support of women’s rights and calling for pro-democratic reforms. (Image: KazFem)

Oceania
Taranaki

New Zealand settles Maori land claim

New Zealand iwi (Maori kinship group) Ngāti Maru signed a deed of settlement with the Crown, resolving its historical land claims under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Ngāti Maru is the last of eight iwi in Taranaki, a North Island region, to settle its claims under the treaty. The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, announced in a statementthat the iwi, which comprises 2,800 registered members, will receive financial and cultural redress as part of the settlement, including an apology from the Crown. The financial redress is valued at NZD$30 million (about USD$20 million). The agreement also includes the vesting of 16 culturally significant sites to Ngāti Maru. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

South Asia
Mushtaq Ahmed

Bangladesh: protests erupt as writer dies in prison

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets and blocked intersections in Dhaka to protest the death of a writer and commentator in prison, who had been charged under Bangladesh’s controversial Digital Security Act (DSA). The deceased, popular author and blogger Mushtaq Ahmed, had been arrested last May after posting comments on social media in which he criticized the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 10 others were also charged with sedition under the DSA that month, including political cartoonist Kabir Kishore, who remains imprisoned. At a court hearing last month, Kishore passed a note to his brother stating that he had been physically abused in prison, resulting in severe injuries. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is demanding his release, and that the claim of maltreatment be investigated. (Photo via Twitter)