what happened last week


Hey, this is Sham, your very own news curator. While we're (still) discussing whether or not there is a lot of racism in Germany (Rest in power, Mouhamed Dramé) and Italy (Rest in power, Alika Ogorchukwu), – which, btw, there is – let me take you on a quick reading journey to the rest of the world.

Issue #309 starts off with good news from Sierra Leone, Malaysia's anti-LGBTQ+ government, and lastly, a lil' political status update from Brazil (everybody's in election mood right now). Plus, a possible vaccine for Lyme disease, the first-ever asylum was granted to a Kurdish man from Turkey in Japan, and a species of iguana makes a comeback in Ecuador after nearly 200 (!) years, and so much more. 
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Every person from Sierra Leone can finally own land there

As of last week, everyone in Sierra Leone is allowed to own land anywhere, no matter what tribe or gender. (The Sierra Leone Telegraph)

Why this matters: There have been some deep inequalities and discrimination in the ownership and control of land in Sierra Leone. Some eight million people live in this West African nation. It is one the poorest countries worldwide (around 30 percent of the population suffers from chronic hunger, according to the World Food Program) even though it has a lot of mineral resources.

Wait. Who was allowed to land before? 
Only certain people. For example, under previous laws, descendants of formerly enslaved people could not own land outside Freetown. Plus, now women too can finally register land ownership everywhere in the country as part of a married couple. The new change will also bring some much-needed changes to the way land is being managed for palm oil farming. Local communities (especially in the south) and foreign companies have been fighting over land for a long time now. Now, landowners can negotiate the value of their land with investors and prevent it being leased out without their consent. (
Luxembourg-based company and the biggest agribusiness company in Sierra Leone) Socfin is, of course, :( about this news. (Reuters)

For my German speakers: I talked about the new laws and land grabbing in Sierra Leone in detail in my weekly podcast column in 
Die Wochendämmerung after a long summer break.

I read about protests in Sierra Leone. Are they related to this news?
No. Hundreds of people have been protesting against higher prices for food, fuel and fertilizers. 'It's getting too expensive to live,' they say. Inflation is at 28 percent (June; in May, it was 25 at percent). The protests have turned violent. At least 16 civilians and four police officers were killed, many more injured in the capital Freetown and the city of Makeni (
Bloomberg). Amnesty International writes that they have heard reports of more than a hundred people arrested. United Nations' Michelle Bachelet (she's the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) has called on the government of Sierra Leone to hold "prompt, impartial and thorough investigations" into the violence against civilians. People are also calling for President Julius Maada Bio to step down. 'This is a long time coming, tbh,' (basically) says Alhaji U. N’jai, a Sierra Leonean social and political analyst. (The New York Times) To be continued.

Zoom out: It could get pretty serious. In Sri Lanka, months of similar protests forced the country's president to step down last month. There are also protests in Ghana and Ecuador.

Btw, did you know that Sierra Leone just banned smoking in public places? (The Sierra Leone Telegraph)


Malaysia's government is banning LGBTQ+ movies

Malaysia is banning LGBTQ+ movies left and right. Last week, it has confirmed that Disney's Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder and Pixar animated film Lightyear are too LGBTQ for cinema-goers in the country. (Variety)

What happened? 
Both movies were submitted by distributor Disney for classification and censorship by the country’s Film Censorship Board (LPF). Variety reported that in both cases the LPF asked for cuts that the studio chose not make, leading to a no-release. The film's producer, Galyn Susman, was like, "It’s great we are a part of something that’s making steps forward in the social inclusion capacity, but it’s frustrating there are still places that aren’t where they should be." (
The Conversation) But why?
Apparently, the government and its religious department (also known as Islamic Affairs Department or JAKIM), are committed to stopping the spread of LGBTQ+ culture in the country.

They can't censor everything, can they?
No, they can't. Beyond movie theaters and broadcast TV, the government has no real power to limit streaming services such as TikTok or Netflix which are based outside the country. Meaning, Disney is free to air the movies on the Malaysian version of Disney+ Hotstar. It's already done so; Lightyear is already on the platform with an 18+ recommendation. The government has advised self-restraint and for parents to take extra caution.

Why this matters: Malaysia’s federal penal code criminalizes everything that falls outside of a heterosexual, cisgender norm. Malaysia also criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct at both the federal and state levels. Those found guilty of face a prison sentence of up to 20 years and mandatory whipping (!).

Bigger picture: Last week, Human Rights Watch and transgender-rights group Justice for Sisters published a 71-page report
I Don't Want to Change Myself. Anti-LGBT Conversion Practices, Discrimination, and Violence in Malaysia, taking a close look at how the country is undermining LGBTQ+ people's basic rights, and called on Malaysia to decriminalize same-sex relations and to end gay-conversion therapy.

Tell This to the Racists: Anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes aren't a "Muslim" thing. It's a people-who-are-afraid-of-inclusivity-for-everybody thing. For example, in the
United States, this March, the Florida Senate passed the Don’t Say Gay bill (Florida Senate), which forbids schools from discussing and promoting topics surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.


It's election season in Brazil. Who's up for the top job? A status update

Refresher: Brazil’s national elections will be held on October 2. It is a very, very polarized race already.

Thousands of people in
Brazil took to the streets of São Paulo in "defense of democracy" last week, holding up banners, proclaiming: "Respect the vote, respect the people." Why? They're worried that President Jair Bolsonaro will not respect the upcoming election outcomes (as former President Donald Trump did in the United States). (The Brazilian Report)

Why this matters: I can't state this often enough but this is a huge election. With more than 156.4 million people eligible to vote, it is the largest registered electorate in Brazil’s history.

Do they have reason to believe he won't respect the vote?
Oh, yes. He's officially launched his re-election campaign a few weeks ago (
BBC), and has gone on record saying that the won't accept a result in which he is not the winner, spreading criticism and doubt about Brazil's electronic voting system. (The New Statesman) There is fake news everywhere online already. A new report from Global Witness has found that Facebook (most popular social media platform in the country) is having trouble detecting these very dangerous misinformation ads that, for example, promote the wrong election date or question the integrity of the election system. (AP)

Who else is running for president?
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He's the leader of the leftist PT (Workers' Party), the country's second largest political party, and currently the favorite to win the election. Plus, he was president from 2003 until 2010. Bolsonaro (on July 28) was behind by 18 points. (
France24) Even business people are distancing themselves from him. (Brasil de Fato) The other candidates are former Minister Ciro Gomes (Democratic Labor Party) and senator Simone Tebet.

How does the election work? 
There are two rounds of voting, beginning on the first Sunday in October. If one candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote they win outright. Otherwise, the top two candidates enter a run-off on the last Sunday in October. There are currently 32 parties officially registered, which means that any elected government is a coalition. Voting is mandatory in Brazil. 

Other Brazil-related news
NPR's global health correspondent Nurith Aizenman (
Twitter) in the science podcast Short Wave talks about two Brazilian scientists – Patricia Neves and Ana Paula Ano Bom – who decided to invent their own mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 when Moderna and Pfizer did not share the details of how to create it.

More you might have missed 

The bad
Afghanistan: The Taliban fired shots in the air at a demonstration by women's rights activists who were marching to the education ministry in Kabul to demand their rights. They also beat some of the women and seized mobile phones. (BBC Video)
Egypt: A fire at the Abu Sifin Coptic church in Giza, Cairo killed 41 people and injured 14 others. Around 5,000 people had been there. 'It was probably an electrical short-circuit,' says a first police investigation. (The Middle East Eye)
  • Did you know that Copts are the largest Christian community in Western Asia, making up at least 10 million people in Egypt's 103 million population?
Somaliland: Five people were killed and 100 others injured as security forces clashes with protesters demanding presidential election be held in November. (Africanews)
Cameroon: Four civilians and a soldier were killed, and another civilian is wounded, during three separate attacks by Boko Haram gunmen in the Far North Region, Cameroon. (Ghanaian Times)
Turkey: The country's highest court rejected an application for the release of the Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk, who has been diagnosed with dementia. Tuğluk was arrested on December 29, 2016, when she was Vice Co-Chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), along with seven other politicians from the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). (Bianet)
The 'We'll See'
Paraguay: Vice President of Paraguay Hugo Velázquez Moreno said he will resign soon. He has been accused of corruption by the United States, which he denies being guilty of. (AP)
Saudi Arabia: The country's very own oil company Saudi Aramco plans to begin permanently storing carbon dioxide from 2026 in one of the largest facilities of its kind as part of its larger vision to become a leader in producing hydrogen. (Bloomberg)
Papua New Guinea: James Marape stays Prime Minister after his party Pangu Pati won the general election in July. Good news: Women return to parliament for the first time since 2017. (ABC News)
Kenya: It's a really exciting neck-to-neck election. The winner is yet to be announced but keep an eye out. (Business Daily Africa) However, Business Daily's Sam Kiplagat writes that lawyers may be the biggest winners of Kenya's election.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): More than 800 prisoners broke out of jail in DRC. Two police officers were killed as unidentified gunmen staged a jailbreak at Kakwangura central prison in eastern DRC, freeing 823 inmates. (The Guardian)
The good
Science: Radio astronomers in Chile have discovered a baby planet 395 light-years from Earth that might be forming moons soon. Scientists are super excited, 'omg, we might see how planetary atmospheres develop'. (
EcuadorA species of iguana that went extinct nearly 200 years ago on one of the Galápagos Islands is making a comeback, with some help from a team of conservationists. (NPR)
  • Fun fact: The last person to spot a Galápagos land iguana on Santiago Island in Ecuador was Charles Darwin in 1835. He was on the expedition that led to his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Health: A vaccine for Lyme disease is in its final clinical trial. It was created by Pfizer and French drugmaker Valneva. (NPR)
Japan: The Anegasaki-kai, an organized crime syndicate in Tokyo with roots dating to around a century ago, has decided to call it quits. They have been reselling tickets for concerts and running stalls at summer festivals all these years. Tokyo police is sighing in relief. (The Asahi Shimbun) Also, the country has granted asylum to a 30-year-old Kurdish man from Turkey for the first time. About 2,000 Kurds from Turkey live in Japan, but none of them had gained refugee status before. (Bianet)

On a lighter note

The World Cosplay Summit 2022 in Nagoya, Japan came to an end last week. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Here are some impressions: 
That's it from me. 

Have you checked out this newsletter's very own Spotify playlist Go Global Weekly yet?

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