Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan unveiled a new constitution, drawing criticism over the expansion of presidential powers. Shortly after the draft was released, politicians and activists expressedconcerns that it could lead to full-blown authoritarianism. Among many changes, it reduces the size and power of parliament, with responsibilities transferred to the presidency. One section banning anything that contravenes “generally recognized moral values and the traditions of the people of Kyrgyzstan” has especially raised human rights concerns. Among those pushing for the new charter is Sadyr Japarov, who briefly served as acting president after escaping from prison during unrest in the wake of the contested October parliamentary elections. He resigned to run for president, which the current constitution barred him from doing while serving as president. Elections for both the presidency and approval of the new constitution are to be held in January. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)
Protestors in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, occupied and set fire to the White House, the building that houses both the president’s office and parliamentary chamber. The headquarters of State Committee for National Security, which oversees the secret police, was also taken over. Opposition politicians imprisoned there were liberated—and one installed as prime minister, as contested election results were officially annulled. President Sooronbay Jeenbekov has gone into hiding, but released a statement from an undisclosed location claiming to be “in control.” Also released from secret police prison was his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev, who had tilted to Russia and booted the US from its airbase at Manas. Jeenbekov, in contrast, had been in a public spat with Vladimir Putin. With the current chaos in Washington, Moscow seems well-positioned to exploit the new upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo via Twitter)
Several have been killed in ongoing clashes that broke out along the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan. An Azerbaijani general is among the dead in the heaviest fighting between the two nations in years. Villages in Azerbaijan’s northern Tovuz rayon (district) have come under artillery fire by Armenian forces, causing property damage. Officials in both countries blamed each other for starting the fighting. But some see an Armenian design to involve Russia in the conflict. This time the fighting is not in the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Armenia does not have internationally recognized sovereignty. An attack there would fall outside the purview of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Armenia is a member. Under Article 4 of the CSTO Charter, an attack on a member state is considered an attack against all members. (Photo: Axar.az)
Police in Kyrgyzstan detained dozens of women’s rights activists—shortly after the International Women’s Day march was attacked by masked men. That same day, the women’s march in Mexico City was set upon by anti-abortion protesters, overwhelmingly men, some of whom gave the Nazi salute. There were scuffles between the two groups, and some marchers hurled Molotov cocktails over police lines toward the presidential palace. The following day, tens of thousands of women across Mexico walked off their jobs in protest of the government’s lack of action regarding the ongoing wave of femicide. (Photo via Twitter)
At least eight people were killed, dozens injured and nearly 50 homes and shops set on fire in ethnic clashes that broke out in a border region of Kazakhstan. The fighting was centered in southern Zhambyl province, near the border with Kyrgyzstan. Ethnic Kazakhs reportedly set upon members of the Dungan minority group and Hui Muslims, related groups that migrated from China in the 19th century and are more numerous across the border in Kyrgyzstan. Rioters also fought with police when they tried to intervene. While it is unclear what sparked the violence, rumors and incitement on social media appear to have played a role. Interior Minister Yerlan Turgumbayev said: “Provocateurs…called for violence through social networks. Hooligans used rebar, stones and other implements. Police officers sustained numerous injuries, two received gunshot wounds.” (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit began hearing oral arguments in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Donald Trump, a case challenging the administration’s travel bans. The plaintiffs argue that, despite the Supreme Court ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, their case is not barred. They contend that the high court simply addressed the preliminary injunction, and not the merits of the overall travel ban, while the administration argues that Trump v. Hawaii settled the constitutionality of the proclamation. (Photo: Syria Solidarity NYC)
Chinese state media are promoting an official “white paper” entitled “Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang,” denying the national aspirations and very identity of the Uighur people of China’s far western Xinjiang region. These are portrayed as inventions of Western-supported “separatists.” Yet some leaders of the Uighur exile diaspora have indeed launched an “East Turkistan” independence movement, and are seeking allies among Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus and Hong Kongers. China’s rulers may be creating exactly what they fear with their intransigent denialism on identity and ultra-draconian measures in Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Hong Kong. (Map: East Turkistan National Awakening Movement)
Amid the mass internment of ethnic Uighurs in China's western Xinjiang province, reaction within the greater region has been largely muted. Dolkun Isa, head of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, blasted the leaders of Muslim countries for being largely "silent" over the "ethnic cleansing" of the Uighurs, calling it the "shame of the Muslim world." Worse, both Pakistan and Egypt are accused of deporting Uighurs back to China—presumably to face detention. Demonstrations have been held in Kyrgyzstan against the persecution of the Uighurs and other Turkic peoples in China—but the Sinophobic ethno-nationalist posture of these protesters is clear. Ironically, among their demands is the deportation of any Chinese nationals living "illegally" in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo of Kyrgyz protesters in Bishkek via RFE/RL)
Russian authorities say they have detained a suspect in the St. Petersburg metro bombing, as rights groups protest Moscow's draconian new anti-terrorism legislation.
China called on Kyrgyzstan to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals and institutions following a deadly blast at Beijing's embassy in Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan declared a state of emergency after hundreds of protesters stormed the offices of the Kumtor gold mine, run by the Canadian-based Centerra Gold.