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what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe


whlw: no. 264

May 17 – 23, 2021

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


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Have you listened to this week's Decolonize Weekly Spotify playlist yet? I added Chinese metal today. I regularly curate it with music by artists coming from the countries mentioned (marked like this) in each whlw issue. Follow and shake your boo-tay.
 
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Now without further ado, here's what happened last week,
Sham

what happened last week

AFRICA
We arrested homosexual and transgender people in Cameroon and Ghana
In Cameroon… a court in Douala, Cameroon decided that two transgender women must go to (men’s) jail for five years because… well, they are transgender. 
  • Why this matters: Cameroon is one 31 African countries that think homosexual and transgender people are criminals. 
  • Tell me more: Their names are Shakiro, who is 23 years old, and Patricia, 27 years old. As they were having dinner at a restaurant in Douala in February, somebody called the police, saying ‘i saw them kissing’ (even though that’s not a crime in the country). Shakiro has stopped eating and shared plans to die by suicide since the verdict.
  • Btw, Shakiro is extremely popular on Facebook? There, she calls for more tolerance toward gender minorities in Cameroon. 
Decolonize your LGBTQI+ activism
Follow Ghanain organization Rightify Ghana
on Twitter and/or use the hashtag to digitally participate for the campaign to free them, #ReleaseThe21.

In
Ghana21 LGBTQI+ activists were arrested at a hotel in Ho, Ghana because… well, they are LGBTQI+ activists.
  • Why this matters: Like Cameroon, Ghana is extremely anti-LGBTQI+. If convicted of ‘same-sex sexual activity’, people go to jail for up to three years. Oh, and homophobia on the African continent is a (colonial) British import.
REFUGEES WORLDWIDE
We are denying asylum to thousands of people in Mozambique, Denmark and Morocco
In Spain, the government in Ceuta and Melilla denied asylum to at least 5,700 refugees, mostly young men but also women and children, from Morocco after some 8,000 had crossed the border within 48 hours. Hundreds of children are stranded there on their own right now. 
  • Why this matters: 40% of all the young people in Morocco are unemployed.
  • Close-up: Some refugees talked to Al Jazeera about their experience swimming to Ceuta. I can’t get these two quotes out of my head: 
    • “The Spanish were very racist … We were very tired and they were beating us with big batons. If they saw us sitting down, they would beat us on our legs to stand up.”
    • “There was a woman who had a one-month baby girl, she swam with the baby and entered with us. She put her in a plastic bag and swam. There was also a father with his wife and two little children, he did the same thing, everyone entered from here.”
In Tanzania, the government denied asylum to thousands of refugees from Mozambique, according to the United Nations. Most have fled the violence in the Cabo Delgado province that started in October 2017, seeking safety in neighbouring countries. In Denmark, the government is considering denying asylum to thousands of refugees from Syria. ‘It’s safe to return to Syria,’ they say. ‘But it’s not. Many refugees who have returned are either in jail or have disappeared altogether.’ In protest, people (some say close to 10,000) took to the streets in 25 cities across Denmark. 
  • Why this matters: Denmark has taken in around 32,000 Syrians since the start of their country’s civil war. Of those, about 5,000 were only granted temporary protected status.
  • Did you know that most of the world’s 26 million refugees, 85 percent, are hosted in neighboring and developing regions? Developed countries only host 15 percent of the world’s refugees.
LATIN AMERICA
We finally elected the people who will write Chile’s new constitution
Last week, people in Chile elected a new constitutional assembly (meaning, a group of people who are responsible for writing the country’s new constitution).

The government under Sebastián Piñera (a conservative billionaire) only won
37 of the 155 seats (not even one-third) and will not be allowed to decide which new rules will be introduced or not. 

Why this matters: Chile’s constitution was written in 1980 when the country was ruled by dictator Augusto Pinochet. Many people blame the constitution, among others, for the fact that there are so many poor and so few rich people today. Now, Chileans are set to rebuild its democracy from the start – without the government’s ‘help’.

What rights do Chileans want (more of) in the next constitution?
Think more rights for women, Indigenous groups like the Mapuche, the elderly. But there’s also a lot of demand to push for education reform, more environmental protections and police reform. Basically, people want a more responsive and inclusive government that treats them with dignity, fairness, and respect. *
Colombia’s and Peru’s unhappy citizen are watching this closely*
MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AMERICA
We are criticizing Israel in the United States, its biggest financial supporter
Just last week, United States (U.S.) President Biden said yes to selling military weapons to Israel (worth US$735 million). ‘Israel has a right to defend itself,’ he said. But for some reason, more and more U.S. Americans are changing the way they think and talk about what’s happening in Palestine and Israel. 
  • Did you know that the U.S. has given Israel US$146 billion in military, economic, and missile defense funding in 2020 and plans to give US$75 million to Gaza for ‘economic and development assistance’ in 2021?
Why this matters: The ceasefire last week is a necessary step so that humanitarian help can reach Gaza. But it’s also just a ceasefire and does not address the reasons for the violence that broke out for 10 days. ‘We now need more dialogue, a lot of humanitarian aid and a sustainable peace plan,’ say experts. 

Btw: Anti-semitic attacks have been on the rise, for example in the
U.S. and Germany, since the fighting between Israel and Gaza began. 

What’s changed?
Why is there a shift in conversation now?
According to Sarah Leah Whitson, there are a couple of reasons for that; one of them being that Palestinian voices, like Mustafa Barghouti and Mohammad Al-Kurd, are becoming more common on mainstream, Western news programs. They now have the ability to document, report, and explain their daily lives under Israeli occupation to a much bigger audience. She also argues that, ‘in a country like the U.S. that is so focused on racial justice, ‘it’s harder to justify an ‘ethno-national state’ (Israel) ‘that privileges one racial group over another.’ 

Decolonize your taste in movies:
I asked journalist Schayan Riaz for a movie recommendation and, as always, he delivered: ‘Watch Emad Burnat's
Five Broken Cameras. It’s stunning. And it was the first Palestinian film to be nominated for a Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars.’
WORKERS' RIGHTS WORLDWIDE
We now know that working long hours killed more than 745,000 people around the world in 2016
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) published a study that estimated that around 745,000 people died by stroke and heart disease in 2016 because they worked long hours.

Tell me more
This is the first global study that takes a closer look at what working at least 55 hours per week can do to our bodies. ‘People are 35% more likely to get a stroke and 17% more likely to die from ischemic heart disease if they work more than 35-40 hours per week,’ the study said. ‘Especially 45-74-year-old men in the
Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions are at danger.’ 

Why this matters: 9% of the global population are working long hours currently. This is a trend.

What now?
The WHO and the ILO
recommend, among others, ‘ban mandatory overtime, make job arrangements flexible, if more needs to be done, share the burden among the team.’
NORTH AMERICA
We have to talk about the suicide crisis in Canada’s Shamattawa First Nation
Last week, the Indigenous community Shamattawa First Nation in Canada said ‘We need help. More and more of our people keep dying by suicide.’

Tell me more
In the last few weeks, two women have died by suicide (one of them was First Nation Chief Eric Redhead’s sister). Also, this
7-year-old boy tried to do the same but is now recovering. This affects the 1,300 residents of the Shamattawa First Nation community. And the chief is worried about a ‘domino effect.’ A series of suicides happened before in 2016 when four people died in just six weeks.

Why this matters: Canada’s 1.6 million Indigenous people face a lot of systemic racism, police brutality and violence against women but they get very little help from the government. The suicide crisis is a tragic consequence of that. 

Tell me more about Shamattawa
It’s a really, really remote community in the northern part of the Manitoba province. They have little access to
clean water and have half the teachers they need.

Why is this happening now? 
One reason is perhaps that the pandemic
hit the community hard (meaning, high infection rates and lots of things closed, including school, youth programs etc). But there’s a deeper history of racism and generational trauma that still affects this community today.

What do you mean?
There is a long history of human rights abuses by Canada’s government on its Indigenous people; even the United Nations has
called them out on it

Back in the day, for example, the government forced some
150,000 Indigenous kids to go to so-called ‘residential schools’ (closed in 1996). Some kids were separated from their parents, were physically and sexually abused and forced to forget their mother tongue. Why? To ‘assimilate’ them into a more ‘Euro-Canadian centric’ culture (whatever that means). Some 6,000 kids died (either by suicide, abuse and just bad living conditions).

What is the Canadian government doing to help Shamattawa now?
So far, Marc Miller, the country’s minister for Indigenous services, said they’ve sent
two ‘crisis workers’ to the community, but Redhead says ‘it’s all fluff’ and ‘it’s not enough.’

Decolonize your pop-culture feed: 
Listen to the album,
The Secret Path by Canadian rock-and-roll band The Tragically Hip – it’s also a graphic novel. It’s based on a true story about a 12-year-old boy named Chanie Wenjack, who ran away from a ‘residential school’ and died walking 600 km in the cold to get home.

Note: When life is difficult, help and support is available right now for most people. You do not have to struggle with these feelings alone. Phone the helpline in your country (here are United States, Canada or Germany) or turn to your local help group(s).
OTHER NEWS YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING
  • Indonesia: The country has another unicorn; meaning people value this company at US$1 billion.
  • Sri Lanka: Tamils worldwide commemorated Tamil Genocide Day (May 18) to mark 12 years since the genocide of 70,000-150,000 Tamils by the (Sinhalese) Sri Lankan military in the 2009 civil war.
    • Why this matters: Sri Lanka has not acknowledged the numbers killed and human rights activists have been fighting for accountability of the government’s actions and recognition of how these people died. 
  • Tunisia: 57 refugees from Libya drowned off Sfax, the country’s southeast coast. Workers on an oil platform (!) rescued the remaining 33. 
    • Why this matters: The United Nations estimates that at least 743 people have died along the Mediterranean this year.
  • Iraq: The United Nations confirms ‘ISIS committed genocide’ against the Yazidi minority in Iraq’s northern region (Sinjar) in 2014.
    • Why this matters: They released hard evidence of war crimes by the terrorist group, which is something that has been alleged by the Yazidis for a long time.

On a funny note

The Hangzhou Safari Park in eastern China forgot or didn't want to tell the public that three of its leopards had escaped over a week ago. 'We're very sorry,' said the safari park.

Good to know: Two of the animals have been found but the third is still... missing.

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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