what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 266

May 31 – June 6, 2021

Merhaba, this is Sham, your very own news curator. Simi also says hello. In this issue, we'll talk about
  • Three 'anniversaries' you need to have at least heard about in Iraq, India and Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Nepal's stolen art in France and the United States
  • Racism at Britain's Buckingham Palace 
  • Brazil's maybe-pretty-historic anti-president protests
  • The ongoing war in Tigray, Ethiopia
If you would like to listen to this issue, Simi is reading it out loud here. We're still testing this new feature. If you like it and want us to keep it, reply to this mail.
Did you know that more than 14,000 people read this newsletter? 224 (+4 from last week) support it financially on Patreon, and sometimes on PayPal.

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

what happened last week

We remembered the injustices against Jews in Iraq, Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sikhs in India
On June 1–2, 1941, Nazi Arabs massacred around 180 Jews in Baghdad, Iraq. Some put the numbers much higher. This event is also known as 'the Farhud', or 'violent dispossession' in Arabic.  On June 1, 1984, the military of India launched an attack on a Sikh holy site (inside the Golden temple complex) in Amritsar, Punjab code-named Operation Bluestar. It was to capture a man named Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Some believe that up to 20,000 people were killed.
  • Dig deeper: Read Dr. Gunisha Kaur's Lost in History: 1984 Reconstructeda non-fiction by a Sikh refugee with a lot of eyewitness accounts about what really happened in Punjab. Get to know the author in this three-minute video here; she now lives in the United States and is teaching physicians how to treat foreign-born patients.
On June 1, 1992, the military of Serbia massacred 684 Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This event is also known as the 'Bijeli Potok massacre'. To this day, 245 victims' remains have yet to found, while others have been discovered in mass graves. 
  • Reminder: Tomorrow, on June 8, the International Mechanism for Criminal Courts in The Hague, Netherlands, will finally hand down a verdict against Ratko Mladić aka the 'Butcher of Bosnia.' He is responsible for the genocide against Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1992–1995. About 100,000 people died.
We are asking France to return all the stolen art to Nepal 
This week, 600-year-old religious art from Nepal that was stolen 40 years ago was supposed to go up for auction for up to 5,000 euros in Paris, France. It ultimately wasn't, and Nepalese activists are like, 'it's time to give it back.'

Tell me more about the art
It's five (out of 12 other stolen) figures out of gold that used to belong to the door of the Mulchok of the Taleju Bhavani Temple in Patan, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Himalayas; it looks like

The theft and their finding-it was first recorded by a Facebook initiative by Nepalese citizens, Lost Arts of Nepal.

Is there more stolen art that actually belongs to Nepal?
Oh, so much. But it looks like the government is slowly getting it back; in April, the 
800-year-old Laxmi-Narayan figure from the United States came home after it was stolen from Patan's Patko Tole some 40 years ago. Since then, four other statues have been returned to Nepal from collectors and museums in the U.S. 

Why this matters: As Emiline Smith (she gives criminology lectures at the University of Glasgow) said in an interview to the Nepali Times: (I rephrase) "Colonialism stole so much culture and art from many countries around the world. Now, finally those countries are demanding their cultural heritage back, and it feels like the ‘repatriation debate’ is here to stay."

In other Nepalese news, the Himalayan country has one of the highest coronavirus cases in the world. The health system is overloaded; meaning, hospitals have run out of beds and the government is like, 'we also have no more vaccines.'

  • Why this matters: Most subscribers of this newsletter live in North America and Europe and are returning to some sort of a 'normal life'. But the danger of 'vaccine apartheid' (meaning, wealthy nations or groups get vaccines, while others do not) is very real if we do not move the needle here; ideally, sooner than later.
  • If you want to donate your next lunch, you can help UNICEF provide care to more children in South Asia.
We found out that we had banned 'coloured immigrants or foreigners' from office roles at Buckingham Palace in Britain
The Guardian found out that the royal family in Britain had banned people that didn't look 'white' from serving in clerical roles in the royal household until at least the late 1960s (might be later, too; we don't know yet). They also still have laws in place that allow them to discriminate people based on gender and race.

Tell me more about those laws
Well, it's not a good look for the royal family. Back in the 1970s, when the British government introduced its first racial and sexual equality laws, the Queen and her household made it so that the laws didn't apply to them.

What does this mean exactly?
Women (and other genders) and ethnic minorities who work for the royal family cannot complain to the courts if they believe they have been discriminated against. Instead, they have to go to the Home Secretary first. 

Why this matters: 'Just how racist is the British royal family (still)?' was the topic of every hot debate after Meghan Markle (the family's first mixed-race member) and Prince Harry gave The Interview of The Decade to Oprah Winfrey some two months ago. Now, that question is back.
We are extremely mad at the president in Brazil – and he might lose his job 
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in over 200 cities across Brazil to demand 'the president needs to step down. He's been a terrible leader.'

Why this matters: Some 211 million people live in Brazil (2019 numbers). The country is South America's biggest and the world's fifth largest. 

What'd he do?
More than 460,000 people in Brazil have died from coronavirus (it's one of the worst death rates in the world; some 2,000 people die of the virus every day).
Protestors blame the country's president Jair Bolsonaro (he took office since 2019) for it. From the beginning, he's called the deadly virus for which we only have a vaccine recently, '
little flu.' Now, he's announced plans to even hold the Copa Ámerica (huge football tournament). So, it's no surprise that polls suggest that more than half of people living in Brazil want him to step down.
  • Read: In this (Portuguese) opinion piece, Juca Kfouri, one of Brazil’s top sports writers, said the football tournament should rather be called the 'Cova América', or 'Grave of the Americas.'
Are the protests big enough to make him quit?
Not sure. Brazil might have to wait until the presidential elections
next year. The anger and frustration is real, however. 'It's not just that he did a bad job dealing with the pandemic. There's also so many other things, like the things he allows to happen to the Amazon rainforest, the not-really-dealing-with-racist-police-brutality (black Brazilians recently protested against this), etc,' say people. At the moment, the Senate is looking a lot more closely into the government's failures during the pandemic. Outcome: unclear.

Did you know that Bolsonaro has 
about 130 impeachment petitions against him?

In other news from Brazil, waste from the world’s richest tin mine has since March leaked into rivers flowing through 22 Indigenous (Waimiri-Atroari) villages in the Brazilian Amazon. It's
poisoned the water and killed fish and turtles too.
We don't talk enough about the war in Tigray – almost everyone there needs help ASAP
After six months, there's still a war going on in Ethiopia.

Why this matters: Some 112 million (2019 numbers) people live here. Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country and its second-largest when it comes to population.

Refresher: The war between the government and one of the country's provinces, Tigray (it's
here), began in November. One of the country's major ethnic groups, Tigrayans, live here. They make up around 6 percent of the entire population. The military is fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) because they had attacked some of their bases. Even neighbouring country Eritrea joined the fight at some point; and they did some really ugly sh*t.

What's happened since?
Think massacres and sexual violence against civilians. In April, the Guardian reported that 
almost 2,000 people had been killed in more than 150 massacres. More than two million people have had to flee their homes.

Why is it still going on?
The (Western) world has been like, '
just stop it already. Because you keep on fighting, humanitarian organisations cannot reach millions of people who are extremely hungry.' The U.S. has imposed some sanctions on some Ethiopian officials, meaning they do not allow them to travel to the U.S. (there was a protest against this in Addis Ababa) or no longer send as much $$$ to the country. But the Ethiopian government insists 'we're almost done.' Tigrayans all around the world say, 'this is genocide' to which the government says, 'you're exaggerating.' Human rights organisations have said, 'there have been crimes against humanity, yes.'

Did you know that more than
90% of people in Tigray need food asap? The United Nations is like, 'Ethiopia could experience its first famine since the 1980s if fighting doesn't stop asap.'

Tell me more about what women are going through right now
"Rape is happening to girls as young as eight and to women of 72. It is so widespread, I go on seeing it everywhere, thousands. This rape is in public, in front of family, husbands, in front of everyone. Their legs and their hands are cut, all in the same way," says an
anonymous Ethiopian woman in an interview to the Guardian.

On a good note

Two male teachers in Valladolid, SpainManuel Ortega and Borja Velazquez, last week wore skirts to class to support children against homophobic people and to break down gender norms.

The 'campaign' (Jose Piñas did it first last year,
look) is called The Clothes Have No Gender, or #LaRopaNoTieneGenero.

From a heterosexual, single woman's perspective, I personally think it helps that the teachers going all Scottish are also very good-looking.
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.
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