North Africa
Hirak

Algeria: protest dissolution of civil society group

Five international rights groups are urging Algerian authorities to drop their effort to dissolve a prominent civil society group over alleged violation of the “law on associations.” The five groups—Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the MENA Rights Group—say the government’s move “threatens freedom of association.” A appeals tribunal in Algiers upheld a petition to dissolve the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (Youth Action Rally, or RAJ). The petition claimed that the group’s political activities violated the purposes set forth in its own bylaws. RAJ leaders said that authorities targeted the association due to its support of the Hirak pro-democracy movement. (Photo: Faten Aggad/Africa Arguments)

Europe
Riace

Italian mayor imprisoned for sheltering immigrants

Hundreds of residents in the southern Italian town of Riace took to the streets to express support for their mayor, Domenico (Miimmo) Lucano, after he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges related to his policy of providing safe harbor for immigrants. Following a probe dubbed “Xenia” (ironically, the ancient Greek word for hospitality), Lucano was charged with “aiding and abetting illegal immigration” among other crimes. Riace, on the Ionian coast of Calabria region, was facing population decline, like many small towns in Italy’s South, and Lucano sought to arrest this trend by welcoming migrants and asylum-seekers to settle there. Under his proclaimed modello di accoglienza (model of welcoming), the municipal government helped hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers from Africa and the Middle East to establish themselves in Riace. Despite his conviction, Lucano remains a candidate for regional president in Calabria’s upcoming elections. (Photo: Wikipedia)

East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong: ‘patriots’ in, democrats out

The first “patriots only” vote under Hong Kong’s new political system was held to choose members for a 1,500-member Election Committee—although only some 360 of the seats were actually contested. Voting was restricted to some 5,000 individuals representing different professions and industries, chosen under a principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong.” The Election Committee is tasked with electing 40 members of the enlarged 90-seat Legislative Council in December as well as choosing the city’s new chief executive next March. The new and more controlled electoral system was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote of the National People’s Congress in Beijing this March. (Photo: HKFP)

South Asia
adivasis

India: tribal rights activists accused as ‘Naxals’

The Bombay High Court issued a notice to India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), directing it to file a reply to the bail plea of Anand Teltumbde, a Goa-based professor and civil rights activist who faces charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in relation to the notorious Bhima Koregaon case. In the case, dating to 2018, several advocates for Dalits (“untouchables”) and Adivasis (tribal peoples) are accused of links to the Maoist guerillas known as the Naxalites. Fifteen face lengthy prison terms and are still being denied bail. The case was back in the news in July, when a 16th among the accused, Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, 84, died in a hospital in Mumbai after taking ill in jail. His medical bail plea was still pending when he expired. (Photo via Intercontinental Cry)

Central America
antibitcoin

Anti-Bitcoin protests shake El Salvador

Protests repeatedly erupted in El Salvador as the country became the first to make Bitcoin legal tender. The US dollar also remains official currency, but the law pushed through by President Nayib Bukele mandates that all vendors also accept Bitcoin. Small merchants and especially those in the informal sector complain of problems in trying to download the official phone app needed to use the currency. Protesters say the new law will deepen poverty by further excluding the already marginalized from the economy. They also assert that it will further enable corruption. “This is a currency that’s not going to work for pupusa vendors, bus drivers or shopkeepers,” one protester told Reuters. “This is a currency that’s ideal for big investors who want to speculate with their economic resources.” (Photo via Twitter)

East Asia
tiananmen vigil

Members of HK Tiananmen vigil group arrested

Four key members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the group behind the city’s annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil, were arrested in an early-morning raid on the June 4 Memorial Museum. The arrests came the morning after the activists publicly refused a police demand for information as part of a “national security” probe into the 32-year-old group. Police confirmed the arrests, saying the four are being held for failing to comply with Article 43 of the National Security Law, which compels cooperation with investigations. The police had requested information from the group in a letter in late August under provisions of Article 43. The force also alleged that the group had been working with foreign agents, a potential violation of the Beijing-imposed legislation. (Photo: Tam Ming Keung/United Social Press via HKFP)

South Asia
kashmir

Kashmir under internet blackout —again

Indian-administered Kashmir was plunged back into internet darkness as India’s central authorities enforced lockdowns and a news blackout following the death of Syed Ali Geelani, a prominent separatist leader. Geelani’s body was immediately seized by authorities, and buried in a quiet funeral held under harsh restrictions. His son, Naseem Geelani, said the family had planned to bury him at the main martyrs’ cemetery in Srinagar, as specified in his will, but was not allowed to do so. Police also charged family members under an anti-terrorism law for wrapping his body in the Pakistani flag and raising anti-India slogans. Kashmir spent months without internet following an August 2019 crackdown. High-speed mobile internet was only restored earlier this year. (Photo: Kashmir Global via Nationalia)

Africa

Pre-emptive repression in South Sudan

Two prominent activists in South Sudan—Augustino Ting Mayai of the local Sudd Institute and Kuel Aguer Kuel, former governor of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State—were arrested for calling for a peaceful uprising to end the country’s state of “political bankruptcy.” They were part of a coalition of civil society groups that declared South Sudan has “had enough” of a decade of failed leadership, marked by civil war and widespread hunger. The coalition called for the resignation of both President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar, arch-rivals now uneasy bedfellows in a unity government. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Southeast Asia
lawan

Malaysia: black flag protests challenge government

Hundreds of activists have repeatedly filled the streets of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Themed #Lawan (Fight), the movement is also demanding the resumption of parliamentary sessions and a moratorium on the repayment of all loans. Protesters accuse the Muhyiddin government of using the pandemic to suspend parliament in order to consolidate power, and relying on harsh emergency regulations to silence and intimidate critics. Protesters chant hidup rakyat (long live the people), and carry black flags and effigies of dead bodies wrapped in white cloth to signify the high daily COVID-19 death tally in the county. (Photo: Misi:Solidariti via Twitter)

East Asia
anthony wong

Hong Kong: crackdown on dissident Cantopop

Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICACcharged pro-democracy activist Au Nok-hin and Cantopop singer Wong Yiu-ming, AKA Anthony Wong, with “corrupt conduct” for allegedly breaching election laws by having Wong perform two songs at a rally for Au in his 2018 run for the Legislative Council. The ICAC cited provisions of the Elections Corrupt & Illegal Conduct Ordinance, which define as corrupt conduct  meeting “all or part of the cost of providing food, drink or entertainment for another person for the purpose of inducing a third party to vote or not vote for a particular candidate at an election.” Hong Kong’s Department of Justice withdrew the charges against the pair two days after Wong was arrested, but they were placed under a “bind-over order.” Under terms of the order, they each put up a $2,000 bond and will face no criminal charges if they maintain “good behavior” for a period of 24 months. “Hongkongers keep singing, Hongkongers keep going,” Wong told reporters as he left the courtroom. (Image: IFC via Twitter)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: president accused of ‘coup’

Tunisian President Kais Saied was accused by opposition parties of launching a “coup” with the help of the country’s military after firing the prime minister and freezing parliament. The move comes after anti-government protesters took over the streets of the capital Tunis, expressing dismay over ongoing economic turmoil and a demonstrably poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund aimed at controlling mass inflation further raised the ire of Tunisians; terms require Tunisia to raise taxes, set higher prices on goods, and implement austerity policies reducing public-sector employment and programs. (Image: Pixabay)

Africa
eswatini

Uprising and repression in Eswatini

The government of Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has launched what Amnesty International calls a “ruthless crackdown” in response to pro-democracy protests, with dozens killed and many others tortured, detained or abducted. Protests broke out last month, following the mysterious death of a 25-year-old law student, Thabani Nkomonye, in May, allegedly at the hands of the police. In late June, these protests grew into daily marches in several cities and towns around the kingdom. While the demonstrations were mostly peaceful, there were instances in which businesses linked to the monarchy were looted and torched. The protests have waned since the wave of repression was unleashed, but the opposition People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) pledges to carry on the struggle. (Photo: Swazi students from University of Pretoria protest at Eswatini embassy. Via Twitter)