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whlw: no. 244

November 9 – 15, 2020

Hola,
This is Sham, your very own news curator. I stopped reading the news yesterday at 9pm.


Joe Biden is still president of the United States, Donald Trump is still a sore loser. Also, I'm working on a really cool thing with one of my readers and can't wait to tell you more about it when we're done. But what I can tell you now... It's about Bosnia.

Do you like whlw? I put in so much of my time to write it the way I do. If you want, you can support me on
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Now without further ado, here's what happened last week,
Sham

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what happened last week

DEMOCRACY
We are defending democracy in Peru
Peru suddenly fired its president Martín Vizcarra and put a new one in charge last week. His name is Manuel Merino. And the entire country is furious.
 

Why this matters: Around 33 million people live here. This small South American country is the world’s no. 2 copper producer and its currency hasn’t been this low since 2002. Also, this country has been actively trying to fight corruption inside its own government since last year. That’s a very hard task to do – even for a president.
 
Wait, what happened? Was there an election I didn’t hear about?
Nope. On Monday, now-former president Martín Vizcarra was impeached aka forced out of power because congress said, ‘there is a rumour that he had said yes to money (around
$640,000) he shouldn’t have’. 105 out of 130 lawmakers sitting in that congress voted him out of office.
 
If that’s true, then nothing to see here, right?
It’s a rumour, Vizcarra never went to trial for it and most of the lawmakers who voted him out had a pretty good reason, too:
Vizcarra had been looking into rumours that they had been corrupt themselves. Plus, Vizcarra is pretty popular with Peruvians. This is why tens of thousands of them last week took to the streets of Lima and other cities across the country to protest, ‘ehm, hello? You can’t just fire him like that. What if he says the truth?’. They also held signs up that said, ‘Merino is not my president.’
 
How did that go?
Police replied with teargas and rubber bullets. 11 people (some say, journalists, too) got hurt. And on the weekend, things turned really violent.
Two people died.
PEACE
We need to talk about Ethiopia and Eritrea again
  • Catch up: It all started on November 4 – one day after the United States presidential elections – when Ethiopia attacked one of its own states, the Tigray state in the north (around 5 million people live here). Why? ‘They attacked us first!’ Experts watching this conflict are really worried about a possible civil war situation.
Last week, Tigray’s military attacked the airport in Eritrea’s capital Asmara. Why? ‘We’ve been having to fight two military groups at the same time, the Eritrean and the central government’s. We had to defend ourselves,’ said Tigray’s (state) president Debretsion Gebremichael. (Listen to me pronounce aka butcher his name in the podcast.) Also, here’s a quick map overview of where these countries and this region lies.
 
Why this matters: If a civil war breaks out, it could kill so many people. Ethiopia is one of the biggest countries on the African continent. More than 105 million people live here. Also, this might f*ck up the peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia from just two years ago. (Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed got a Nobel Peace Prize for that.)
 
Sh*t. How did Eritrea react?
Nothing yet. Silence.
 
What now?
People are starting to get really worried. Already,
more than 21,000 people have left their homes and fled to Sudan.
ARMENIA/AZERBAIJAN
We stopped fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. Yay?

Armenia and Azerbaijan stopped fighting. Which would be a really good thing if it wasn't for the big Why and How questions that you probably have.
 
Why this matters: Only around three million people live in Armenia but this is one of the most toxic conflicts in the world and it has a new status update.

  • Catch up: Since the 1980ies and September 27, the two countries have been fighting one another in and around a region called Nagorno-Karabakh. And for a long time, it seemed as if there was no solution to this never-ending suffering.

As of last week, there is a ‘peace deal’ that officially sealed the deal.

  • The bad: Already, more than 5,100 people died since September 27; that’s 113 lives a day. (More than 100 of them were civilians.)
  • The good: No more death. Hopefully.

Who is the winner?
Azerbaijan. To them, this is like ‘finally’ retaking ‘their lost land’ from 26 years ago when the Armenians took military control during the last big fight. Tens of thousands of (Azeri) people fled their homes back then. Now, more than half a million of them have the right to move back.  

  • Other (unofficial) winners are Russia and Turkey. First, Russia finally was able to send its military (1,960 ‘peacekeepers’) to Nagorno-Karabakh for five years, which means: Russia’s back in (political and military) business in the region. And Turkey? Well, it gave Azerbaijan so much military support. Why? ‘We want to trade more with Central Asia. We invested pretty much in a trade route. Can you blame us?’
  • Good to know: “For the first time in exactly 100 years — since the fall of 1920 — Russian and Turkish troops will both be on the ground in the region,“ writes Thomas de Waal in an opinion piece for The New York Times

And the loser is… Armenia.
Yep. Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan is not very popular right now. ‘
He just signed the deal and nobody asked us,’ said furious Armenians. So furious they broke into the parliament even. There are very few benefits for the Armenians in this deal: Russian soldiers are in the neighborhood now (and that’s good for protection from Azeri ones) and they got to keep the city of Stepanakert.

But they also
lost the (culturally important) city of Shushi (the Azeris call it Shusha; it’s also the region’s second-largest city) and have to leave their homes (and their family’s gravestones) behind (some are even burning them) in 71 villages.
 
Why don’t they just live together, the Armenians and Azeris?
Have you ever seen Armenians and the Azeris living together?’, say Armenians. ‘We’re afraid they might kill us.’ (The history is already being manipulated on Google.)
 
How did this deal come about?
Russia and Turkey negotiated it.
 
What’s next?
“What was signed on the night of Nov. 9, was only a deal for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Much more is required if it is to become a peace.“ Cengiz Candar for Al-Monitor writes: ‘Basically, Armenia is now a lot more dependent on Russia than ever and Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia have to work closely with one another to keep this new status quo.‘

EUROPE
We really need to talk about the many people dying in the Mediterranean
It’s still very dangerous to look for safety in Europe as a migrant or refugee.
  • Why this mattersNobody should die on their way to a better life. The International Organization of Migration said that around 900 people have drowned in the Mediterranean this year alone.
Last week at least 74 people drowned close to the coast of Libya while they were trying to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe. On the same day, another 20 people died the same way in a different boat. Another boat capsized near Italy that killed five people in the same week.

Since October, at least nine of such news made headlines. (How many did you hear about in your mainstream media outlet of choice, btw? I’m curious. Let me know by replying to this mail.)


What happens to those who survive this tragedy at sea?
They are sent back to Libya. And this North African country is not a safe point of return. Think prison, human trafficking and exploitation.
What now?
The United Nations is like, ‘the international community must do something. Too many people are dying.’ *silence*
HUMAN RIGHTS
We helped Kenya's first stateless woman to go to university
Nosizi Dube is the first Shona woman in Kenya to make it to university.
 
What is… Shona?
A stateless community in Kenya. They came from
Zimbabwe as Christian missionaries in the 1960ies and never registered as Kenyan citizens after Kenya became independent in 1963 (nobody told them to do that).
 
Why is that important?
This is why its members today don’t have any IDs, meaning they can’t prove who they are and what nationality they have. That makes basic things like going to school or to the hospital almost impossible.
 
Are there other stateless people in Kenya?
Oh yes. Over 18,000 people. ‘It’s like you are a ghost… You don’t exist,’ say Shona people. *reminds me of the Baha’i in
Iran*
 
What about worldwide?
Oooh yes. Some 4.2 million people are stateless worldwide;
more than 500,000 in Europe alone. The United Nations wants to end that by 2024.
HONG KONG
We are still worried about democracy in Hong Kong
It looks like Hong Kong is becoming more and more Chinese as 15 pro-Hong Kong politicians decided to leave the Legislative Council and leave it to those who would like to work more closely with China. Why this matters: The Legislative Council is the place where laws are made for and in Hong Kong. And almost everywhere in the world, the government always has opposition voices aka people who tell them, ‘hey, you’re going down a path that’s probably not that smart.’ And, this is the first time in Hong Kong’s history where so many people decided to drop out of the Legislative Council.
 
But why quit that job if it’s the only place you can have at least some influence?
Yeah, that’s what a lot of people have been wondering. But the politicians said, ‘
we’re doing this to show our solidarity with the colleagues who were thrown out of the Council last week’.
 
What now?
The Legislative Council quickly
started to work on passing those laws that it would have probably had trouble passing if the 15 politicians had stayed.

Could they have done anything to change this?
Yes and no. Pro-democracy lawmakers in the Legislative Council never had the political power to block laws. But: they were able to win time. To slow things down.
 
But?
The next Legislative Council will be elected next fall. All 70 seats. We’ll see then if that power balance changes.
ISLAMOPHOBIA IN AFRICA
We are losing the fight against Islamism in Mozambique because of Islamophobia
More than 50 people have been beheaded in a couple of villages in Mozambique by Islamists last week. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this year; more than 50 others have been beheaded in the neighboorhood.

Why this matters: Islamists kill more Muslims than any other religious group. This is what right-leaning mainstream media in Europe and elsewhere needs to understand. *looks at France*
 
Catch up: Mozambique, especially the (mostly-Muslim) Cabo Delgado province (where there is a lot of gas), has a pretty huge problem with Islamism. Around 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 have left their homes since 2017.
Who did this horrible thing?
ISIS. Yes, they’re in southern Africa, too.
 
What now?
Mozambique is asking the international community to ‘
help with training our military for this bullsh*t.’ Beware, however: Human rights have said, ‘the Mozambican military isn’t too innocent either.’
 
The military?!
Yes, the Islamists say, ‘the government of Mozambique treats people in this province very poorly. People here haven’t benefitted at all from the many ruby and gas industries here and young people are unemployed.
We think they are Islamophobic. We will rule here now.’ *reminds me of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria; they have almost the same reasoning*

On a funny note

Hungary tried to make life worse for trans people with a new law that passed this May, making gender something you couldn’t change legally. Ironically, this new law was what made last week’s trans marriage possible in the first place. Congratulations to Tamara Csillag and Elvira Angyal – you both looked so happy! Take that, prime minister Viktor Orbán.
That's it for now. Did you like or love this issue? Always happy to get feedback. Just reply to this mail.
Sham.
FOR THE AUDIO VERSION OF THIS NEWSLETTER, LISTEN TO THE WEEKLY PODCAST
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