what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 265

May 24 – 30, 2021


This is Sham, your very own news curator. Simi also says hi, hello, namaste. 

First, we need to correct a major eff-up we made in our
Palestine-Israel piece last week. We mistakenly said the U.S. gave Israel $146 billion in military funding 'in the year 2020'. Correction: this was meant to say 'to date' (since 1948). We don’t want to contribute to misinformation in a time where anti-semitism is on the rise in Germany and the United States (and other parts of the world) and we strongly condemn this.

Also, don’t stop talking about what’s happening in Gaza. Yes,
there is a ceasefire but it is still an almost-prison for some two million people, half of them are poor, unemployed and have little or no access to health care.

Did you know that 226 (+5 from last week) people support this newsletter financially on Patreon, and sometimes on PayPal? Btw, we're trying this new thing out to help our visually-impaired audience: here's Simi reading this newsletter out loud. Please let us know if you'd like us to keep doing this.

Now without further ado, here's what happened last week,

If you would like to listen to this newsletter, Simi is reading it out loud for you here

what happened last week

We are finally talking about the injustice against African Darfurians in Sudan again
A man whose name you probably haven’t heard of, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, is finally on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

Who is this man?
surrendered himself last year. Back in 2003 and 2004, Abd-Al-Rahman was the military commander of thousands of (mostly Arab) fighters (also known as Janjaweed) who kept attacking African (read: mostly not-Arab) Zaghawa, Masalit and Fur communities for land and food right here in western Sudan. Human rights groups described what happened as ‘ethnic cleansing’, the United Nations as ‘crimes against humanity’ and the United States as ‘genocide.’

What did he do?
‘Abd-al-Rahman is responsible for the murder of more than 300 people and the fact that some 40,000 (mainly Fur) people had to flee from their homes,’ says the International Criminal Court. Today, for the first time, he is being accused of 31 charges, including ‘war crimes and crimes against humanity.’
Why this matters: This is the first time the International Criminal Court takes a closer look at what happened in Darfur almost two decades ago when around 300,000 people died and some 2.5 million had to flee their homes. Plus, this is also why there’s still a lot of violence between Masalit and Arab communities in western Sudan today, as Zeinab Mohammed Salih writes for Al Jazeera. What does Sudan say to this?
fully cooperating with the ICC on this. Not like the former government under Omar al-Bashir,’ says the current government.

Why is this not being tried at a Sudanese court?
Well, one reason (
there are others) is that genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes were not crimes in Sudanese law until more than five years after Janjaweed forces began to commit these very crimes in Darfur. Plus, these Janjaweed fighters (some 20,000 of them) were supported by the former Sudanese government at the time. So… yeah, it’s complicated.
We will soon be voting in the most polarized election in Peru's history – and it's getting extremely violent 
Last week, 18 people, including two children, were massacred in the town of San Miguel del Ene in Peru, two weeks before a presidential election is set to take place on June 6th. And, people are asking, ‘are these two events connected?’. 

Who is responsible for the killings?
‘Members of The Shining Path, in Spanish Sendero Luminoso’,
said the government. The Sendero Luminoso have been called a ‘radical left-wing terrorist group’ or ‘Maoist rebel group.’ Between 1980 and 2000, members were responsible for the death of some 69,000 people. The group called this ‘social cleansing.’

Why this matters: This is one of the most brutal acts of violence to happen in Peru in decades and in a time when a presidential election is polarizing society. Around 32 million people live in Peru (2019 numbers). 2020 was a really tough year for the Latin American country (Think, COVID-19 killed one in 200 Peruvians, shitty economy and messed up politics).

How did the country react to this?
Mixed emotions. Obviously, Peruvians are shocked and President Francisco Sagasti
strongly condemns the violence.

Tell me a little bit about the election:
two presidential candidates are Keiko Fujimori (right-wing, daughter of former-now-jailed President Fujimori) and Pedro Castillo (left-wing teachers’ union organizer; nobody thought he’d have a chance but here he is). As of right now, Castillo is ahead in the race and might actually become Peru’s next president. But before you go idolizing him as The Leftist Man Ever, he is against gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia. 

What's the connection to the massacre?
Media and political enemies now say, ‘Castillo and his party Perú Libre probably have something to do with Sendero Luminoso’ to which his spokesperson
Betssy Chavez tweeted in response, ‘this is Fujimorism. You’re using this tragedy as a political tool against me. Pathetic.’
We might be damaging the most visited archeological site in Mexico – and there's no stopping it
Last week, we learned that a really important ancient ruin in Mexico, called Teotihuacán, is at risk of getting destroyed by private builders who are trying to turn the land into an ‘amusement park’ (or something like that). 

The country’s
culture officials said, ‘hey, can you not do that, please?’ but the builders are just ignoring them. Even the United Nations (UN) is calling them out because they’re like ‘this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,’ which means it’s protected by the UN to preserve history. 

Why this matters: More than 2.6 million people visit Teotihuacán every year. It’s the most visited sacred site in Mexico. There are 25 structures and caves, with lots of evidence of how ‘pre-Hispanic’ people lived. More than 13,000 people have signed a petition to say ‘please stop.’ 

In context:
Teotihuacán used to be one of the largest cities in the ancient world with
at least 100,000 people but it was abandoned in the 14th century. We don’t know why. It might have even had a different name. Teotihuacán means ‘city of the gods.’ One of the coolest things about the city is that it mined and traded ‘obsidian’ (volcanic glass) to make weapons, jewellery, etc (yes, dragonglass, for you Game of Thrones fans). 

Can’t the Mexican government punish them for this?
Well, we’re not sure. We wanted to find out why they can’t just stop them or charge them for messing with protected land. Mexico has had problems with trying to stop private builders before (who sometimes operate at night to avoid getting caught). If you have more information about this, please let us know and reply to this mail.
We admitted to genocide in Namibia by German troops 100 years ago
Germany said, ‘we admit, when we colonized Namibia, we committed one of the first genocides of the 20th century 100 years ago. And we want to make up for it by paying €1.1 billion or US$1.3 billion.’ 

What exactly happened?
Between 1904 and 1908, German colonial troops killed around 80,000 Indigenous people belonging to the Nama and Herero ethnic groups while trying to
force them out of their lands. During the genocide, the Herero and Nama people were forced into concentration camps, died of disease and starvation, and were experimented on and abused. Some German experts also say, ‘here lies the origin of the Holocaust.’

Did you know that Namibia was called
German South West Africa back then?

How are people reacting?
Herero and Nama reps are not thrilled that
Germany left them out of the decision, and also that the money won’t actually go to anyone directly (but instead will fund projects over 30 years). Zimbabwean-American writer Zoé Samudzi, who is studying this genocide, called it a ‘farce’ on Twitter even.

In context:
Germany colonized Namibia from 1884 to 1915, and then
South Africa did for 75 years. The country became independent in 1990 (yeah, that recently). 

Why this matters: To this day, 70 percent of the farmland is owned by white people. Black and PoC own only 16 percent of the land. 

If you want to learn more 
join this conversation on Clubhouse (now Android users can finally sign up) with some really smart people today. 

In other countries-apologizing-for-sh*t-they-did news:
  • France... said to Rwanda, ‘can you forgive us’ for the part we played in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. They admit they could have done more to stop the massacre, but they weren’t actually ‘an accomplice.’ 
  • Canada... said to Italy, ‘sorry for putting Italian Canadians’ in prison camps during World War II. We only did it because we were at war with Italy in 1940 and our prime minister at the time said ‘Italians are our enemy now.’
We need help in the Democratic Republic of Congo – A volcano is destroying the lives of some 400,000 people
Right now, 400,000 people, including 280,000 children are trying to get far away from a volcano that might erupt again in the city of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Earthquakes are being felt as far as Rwanda and Burundi. There have been at least 92 smaller earthquakes in the last 24 hours. 

Tell me more
The volcano (called Mount Nyiragongo) first erupted on Saturday and killed at least 31 people. It’s so bad that a river of lava reached the edge of the city; look
here or here (it’s wild). People fleeing are traveling on foot, carrying mattresses and stuff to cook with. But there’s not enough food or water for the people who have been displaced.

Did you know Mount Nyiragongo is one of the
world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes? It has erupted at least 34 times since 1882 (and sometimes just non-stop). The last time was in 2002 (250 people died, 120,000 lost their homes).

Why this matters: Up to a million people live in Goma. The city is now half empty. Thousands of people are trying to get into neighbouring Rwanda and other areas. The Rwandan President Paul Kagame is asking the world for ‘urgent help.’ ‘This is extremely dangerous for children,’ says UNICEF’s Edouard Beigbeder. Think waterborne disease and cholera. Some 300 kids are still missing. 

In context:
More than 27 million people, including over 3 million children, live in the DRC. The country is already dealing with so much. Think lots of violence, a lot of people (a third of the country’s population) do not have enough to feed themselves and governments who haven’t been paying close attention to their citizens’ needs. 

Want to help?

UNICEF offers first-line support, like access to clean water, cholera prevention, and reuniting kids with their parents.   

Btw, while we were researching this topic, we came across an incredible hip-hop collective called Shusha Ma Flow based in Goma. You can check out their story and their music here.
In India...a ‘black fungus’ disease is infecting thousands of people who survived coronavirus. It has killed over 300 people so far. Doctors think that the treatments that were used on COVID-19 patients might be the reason why. Plus, there’s not enough  fungal medicine to protect people against it. 

Canada...the Indigenous community called Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation just found a mass grave of 215 children under what used to be a ‘residential school.’ Survivors, victims' families say so many kids went to these ‘schools’ and never came home. Many people thought they probably ran away. Read about what happened in detail in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings.

In the
United States…people marked two extremely important but tragic events. First, it’s been 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre in 1921, one of the worst acts of racial violence in history. Also, it’s been one year since the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a white cop.

On a funny note

A Canadian member of parliament named Will Amos got caught exposing himself on camera (again). Yes, again. The first time it happened, he got caught changing (or so he says) into his work clothes after a run. And this time, he was in the middle of a call when he chose to pee into a nearby coffee cup (as one does).

He has since said sorry to
anyone who witnessed it (probably twice) and is taking time off to ‘seek help.’ Hopefully, it’s tech help.

Next time, maybe just end the call? 

That's it from Sham and Simi. This issue was written with our Decolonize Weekly Spotify playlist running in the background. Bye for now and stay safe.
Copyright © 2021 what happened last week?, All rights reserved.

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