Police in Istanbul on the morning of May 31 raided a protest encampment that had been established in Taksim Gezi Park—one of the few remaining green spots in the city center, which authorities have slated to bulldoze to build a new shopping mall. Police set fire to the tents in which protesters were still sleeping, and used pepper spray and tear-gas. One student had to undergo surgery after injuries to his genitals. Street-fighting in the area continues, and protests have spread to Ankara. Tens of thousands have watched the demonstrations online at lifestream.com/revoltistanbul. The park had been under occupation since May 27, but the issue has gone beyond saving a green space to more generalized opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), a "neoliberal Islamist" formation that has been tilting sharply right, establishing alcohol-free zones and advocating restrictions on abortion. Richard Seymour in The Guardian writes that "a struggle over a small park in a congested city centre has become an emergency for the regime, and the basis for a potential Turkish spring." (More coverage at BIANet, NYT, Euronews.)
We have noted before the systematic discriminaiton against the Ethiopian Jews, or Falash Mura, in Israel—including a recent move to abolish their traditional priesthood. Now a Dec. 11 report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency loans credence to long-standing charges of contraception abuse against the community. JTA cites a report in Hebrew on Israeli Educational Television, charged that coercive contraception is behind a 50% decline in the Ethiopian birth rate in Israel over the past decade. Israeli and Jewish aid officials are denying the report. Ethiopian women interviewed for the program, called "Vacuum" and hosted by Gal Gabbai, said they were coerced into receiving injections of Depo-Provera, a long-acting birth control drug, both at Jewish-run clinics in Ethiopia and after their move to Israel.
Violent forced evictions in China are on the rise as local authorities seek to offset huge debts by seizing and then selling off land in suspect deals with property developers, Amnesty International said Oct. 11. In a new report, "Standing Their Ground" (PDF), Amnesty International highlights how forced evictions—a longstanding cause of discontent within China—have increased significantly in the past two years in order to clear the way for developments. Local governments have borrowed huge sums from state banks to finance stimulus projects and now rely on land sales to cover the payments. This has resulted in deaths, beatings, harassment and imprisonment of residents who have been forced from their homes across the country in both rural and urban areas. Some were in such despair they set themselves on fire in drastic protests of last resort.
The case of a pregnant 16-year-old Dominican with leukemia has reignited controversy over the amended 2010 Constitution's Article 37, which holds "that the right to life is inviolable from conception until death." The anti-abortion amendment was part of a series of constitutional changes pushed by rightwing forces; other amendments in the 2010 document ban same-sex marriage and limit citizenship to people with Dominican parents, in effect leaving many Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless.