The Andes
paro

Colombia: gunmen fire on indigenous protesters

Colombian President Iván Duque flew to Cali in the middle of the night after street clashes in the southwestern city left several indigenous protesters injured. Amid a national strikesparked by Duque’s proposed burdensome tax reform, some 5,000 indigenous activists from the nearby administrative department of Cauca had been holding a “Minga,” or protest gathering, on the outskirts of Cali, when unknown gunmen in civilian dress arrived in a pickup truck and opened fire. The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) reported that at least 10 activists were wounded, and that the gunmen were intermingled and cooperating with uniformed police. Bogotá has also seen days of street fighting, while an ongoing street festival, with music and dancing, is being maintained by strike supporters in MedellĂ­n—despite police repression that has led to hundreds of detentions. (Photo: Colombia Informa)

The Andes
duque

UN expresses alarm over Colombia repression

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed alarm at a new outburst of police violence against protesters in the Colombian city of Cali. This violence comes after more than a week of protests that have resulted in 14 deaths across Colombia. The protests began in response to a proposed tax reform law aimed at shoring up the country’s finances following a year of COVID-19 stagnation. Among the proposed reforms are deeply unpopular sales taxes on food and utilities, as well as cutbacks in social services. In the face of rapidly expanding protests across the country, President Iván Duque requested that the draft bill be withdrawn from Congress. But he also called the protesters “vandals and terrorists,” and has threatened to mobilize army troops in the cities. (Photo: Colombia Reports)

East Asia
hong kong vigil

Joshua Wong pleads guilty to Tiananmen vigil charge

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and three others pleaded guilty to charges related to their participation in last year’s June 4 vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre. Wong, one of the city’s most prominent pro-democracy advocates, is already serving a term of 17 months in prison. Last December, he was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment for organizing an illegal assembly during the height of the 2019 anti-government protests. This sentence was extended by four months in April after Wong pleaded guilty to fresh charges of unauthorized assembly and violating an anti-mask law. Also pleading guilty in the Tiananmen vigil case were longtime activists Lester Shum, Jannelle Leung and Tiffany Yuen. (Photo: HKFP)

East Asia
Hong_Kong

Hong Kong: pro-democracy activists sentenced

Ten veteran Hong Kong pro-democracy activists—all aged 60 or older—were sentenced for participating in two unpermitted demonstrations, both in August 2019. They include Martin Lee, 82, hailed as Hong Kong’s “Father of Democracy,” and former lawmaker Margaret Ng, 73, who both received suspended sentences. Newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai, 72, will have to serve 14 months in prison. Also receiving between eight and 18 months were Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Yiu-chung, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Albert Ho Chun-yan, Yeung Sum, Au Nok-Hin and Leung Kwok-hung. The sentences fell short of the maximum of five years the defendants had faced. But Amnesty International said: “The wrongful prosecution, conviction and sentencing of these 10 activists underlines the Hong Kong government’s intention to eliminate all political opposition in the city.” (Photo: Iris Wong/Wikimedia)

East Asia
hong kong protest

Hong Kong: pro-democracy activists found guilty

A Hong Kong court found seven prominent democracy activists guilty of unauthorized assembly for their involvement in a 2019 peaceful anti-government protest. The defendants, all 60 years or older, include media figure Jimmy Lai and veteran Democratic Party lawmaker Martin Lee, hailed as Hong Kong’s “Father of Democracy.” Also appearing in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court were former Labour Party lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan and Cyd Ho, former League of Social Democrats lawmaker “Longair” Leung Kwok-hung, former Civic Partylawmaker Margaret Ng, and former Democratic Party chair Albert Ho. “Shame on political prosecution! Peaceful demonstration is not a crime!” Leung Kwok-hung shouted from dock after the conviction was delivered. (Photo via HKFP)

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)

Greater Middle East
Turkey Coup

Turkey: 200 soldiers arrested for alleged GĂĽlen ties

Turkish security forces arrested 203 soldiers in nationwide raids targeting military personnel accused of links to an exiled Muslim cleric, Fethullah GĂĽlen, accused by Ankara of being behind a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄźan. The 2016 episode led 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 GĂĽlen’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-ErdoÄźan rally: Mstyslav Chernov via Jurist)

Greater Middle East
Selahattin DemirtaĹź

Kurdish leader sentenced for insulting Erdogan

Kurdish left-wing politician Selahattin DemirtaĹź was sentenced to three years and six months in prison by a Turkish court for insulting President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄźan. Demirtas, a leader and co-founder of the Peoples’ 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 Demirtas’ 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.” (Photo: DemirtaĹź’ presidential campaign launched outside Edirne prison where he is incarcerated, May 2018, via Wikipedia)

North Africa
Rania Amdouni

Tunisia frees imprisoned LGBT activist

A Tunisian appeals court ordered the release of jailed activist Rania Amdouni following 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)

Southeast Asia
Bloody Sunday

Duterte under fire after ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre

In the wake of the “Bloody Sunday” killings of nine activists in the Philippines, advocates are demanding passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA) in the US Congress, which would suspend aid to the Manila government until the rights crisis in the archipelago nation is addressed. In a supposed operation against the New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas, national police backed up by the army killed nine members of New Patriotic Alliance (BAYAN) civil organization in Calabarzon region of Luzon island. Among the slain was Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, secretary general of BAYAN in Cavite province, and an important mass organizer in Calabarzon. The killings came two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government forces to “kill” and “finish off” all communist rebels in the country. (Photo via Twitter)

Southeast Asia
R2P

Burma: protesters demand ‘R2P’ as massacres mount

The death toll since the Feb. 1 coup in Burma has now exceeded 100 as security forces continue to fire on pro-democracy protesters. Most recent repression has been in Yangon’s outlying townships, where protesters have barricaded off streets in an attempt to secure territory. Martial law was declared in six of these townships, giving the military broad authority over those areas. Protesters have started using the hashtags #WeNeedR2P and #WeNeedR2PForMyanmar. In images seen from the air, protesters have arranged placards or lights from their mobile phones to spell out “WE NEED R2P.” This is a reference to the “responsibility to protect” doctrine developed in the 1990s following the disastrous failures to prevent genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. (Photo: Myanmar Now)

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, are 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)