what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 271

July 5 – July 11, 2021

Hallo, this is Sham, your very own news curator. Simi also says Guten Tag. In this issue, we'll talk about
  • Haiti's president was murdered
  • What the LGBTQ+ community in Georgia is going through now
  • Women in Afghanistan are fighting the Taliban and women in Senegal are fighting 'rape culture'
  • What's behind the violence in Venezuela's working-class neighborhoods
Euro 2021 finally ended, and with it, hopefully, the wishful thinking that England is not a racist country. All the love and solidarity to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho & Bukayo Saka, who, along with the Black British population, are facing a lot of abuse by racist fans of the country's national team.

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

what happened last week

We are worried about Haiti after the assassination of the president 
Last week, Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was murdered two months before the country’s next presidential and legislative elections. Some analysts are saying, ‘the country might now become the Somalia of the Americas.’

Who killed him?
A group of 28 men had
stormed his house, then killed him and shot his wife (she survived). Most of the attackers are former soldiers from Colombia; while two are Haitian-Americans. Police said they had killed three and arrested 20 more. El País even published their names. By the end of the week, they arrested a Haitian-born doctor based in Florida, United States as a key suspect. His name: Christian Emmanuel Sanon. He is 63 years old. This guy. What now?
The country is in a ‘state of siege’ right now. Right-now-president and prime minister Claude Joseph DM’d the United Nations, ‘we need peacekeeping troops here. We have elections on September 26. We need stability.’ Starting next February, Joseph Lambert will be president. But who knows what could happen between now and then.

What did the international community say?
Dominican Republic is like, ‘nah’ and closed the border with Haiti. Other governments like Argentina, France, and Taiwan, even Pope Francis himself were like, ‘we condemn what happened.’ But as Canadian-Haitian radio host Jafrikayiti Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil said in this interview with CBC last week, the international community could do a lot more than just ‘condemn’. ‘Just stop interfering in our country. Get out.’ Pro tip: Google what the Core Group does in Haiti and who’s in it. *psst Germany is part of it psst*

Tell me more about politics in Haiti but make it quick
Politics in this small Caribbean country has always been kind of uncertain. Over the last 35 years, Haiti has had
20 different presidents.

Here’s a summary of the time Jovenel Moïse was in power:
  • Moïse was extremely unpopular. He even illegally extended his term as president.
  • The country is still not functioning very efficiently. Only 10 senators out of 30 are still in parliament.
  • The overall mood in the country has generally been like, ‘you’re corrupt, and you, government people, only help the rich. Time for you to bounce.’ 
    • Good to know: A good example of this poor-rich divide is maybe Rony Célestin, one of Haiti’s last lawmakers (and close ally to the late president). He’s recently bought a luxurious villa for US$3.4 million in Montréal, Canada.
  • And, get this, most recently, the head of the nation’s highest court died of COVID-19 last month and 14 activists were murdered a week before Moïse’s death. Maybe you saw the name Antoinette Duclair on your timeline?
  • Moïse’s government has also been behind a lot of violence. Think ‘state-backed massacres’ that killed some 240 people and displaced thousands of others. 
Why this matters:Haiti has kind of been forgotten by international media’, say some journalists. The last time it got a lot of coverage was when the 2010 hurricane killed hundreds of thousands and it’s still basically recovering. Some 11 million people live in the poorest nation in the Americas, and one of the poorest worldwide. 

Decolonize your view of Haiti
I texted journalist
Gabriela Mesones Rojo and asked her if she could recommend music from Haiti to get obsessed with:

“This album is incredible:
Vodou Adjae by Boukman Eksperyans. This band is the Haitian pop group, with a mix of traditional Haitian voodoo music and rock. Their lyrics are very politically charged; I mean, many of its members are politically active through different movements and revolutions in Haiti. The band is actually named after Dutty Boukman, a voodoo priest who led a religious ceremony in 1791. Many people think he kick-started the Haitian revolution.”
We are still fighting anti-LGBTQ+ hate in Georgia – an actually democratic country in Europe
Mostly white, male, far-right people stormed (literally, look) the office of the organizers of the Tbilisi Pride in Georgia, chased and violently beat up LGBTQ+ activists and some 50 journalists, too (for real, here’s another video) for two days.

Then, the Pride march was
cancelled and a lot of people (some say hundreds, others thousands, look here or here) came out in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community on the following day, turning it into an unofficial Pride nonetheless. 

What did the government say?
Tbilisi’s mayor, Kakha Kaladze, and the country’s (first female) president, Salome Zourabichvili, also
supported the LGBTQ+ victims and journalists. However, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the most powerful dude in the country, blamed the whole mess on the LGBTQ+ community, saying that being queer is "unacceptable for so many people" in a cabinet meeting. However, there will be an investigation into the attacks, said the interior ministry.

Why this matters: This was supposed to be the first official Pride march (a very visibly supportive event for the human rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community) in the history of this small but very proudly democratic country in the South Caucasus. As Maria Sjödin, Deputy Executive Director of OutRight Action International, said, ‘Pride events are a litmus test for democracies.’ The LGBTQ+ community has always had a pretty hard time here. Think actual abuse and violence. Most of the country is pretty Orthodox-Church-ish and anti-them. 

Diversify your feed
Follow the activities of
OutRight Action International, a human rights organization that has been fighting for the LGBTQ+ community worldwide for 30 years now. They’ve recently published ‘Pride Around the World’, a first in an annual series of reports on Prides around the world and the challenges they face. 
  • Some highlights from that report: 
    • 102 countries around the world host some form of Pride event.
    • 8 countries have held their first Pride in the last 3 years (Eswatini, Guyana, Micronesia and North Macedonia in 2018; and Angola, Botswana, Saint Lucia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019).
    • In many places, even ones with a history of Pride events, they are coming more and more under attack.
We, the women of Afghanistan, are taking up arms against the Taliban
Women across Afghanistan are making a statement to the Taliban right now – ‘do not f**k with us. Last week, they marched across the country, mostly in the Ghor province, with weapons and chanting anti-Taliban slogans. Why? Women there are extra afraid now because the Taliban are taking control of huge parts of Afghanistan since foreign troops have said ‘bye, we’re out soon.’ 
  • Refresher: A 20-year-long war between troops – mostly from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – and the Taliban, an ultra-conservative Islamist militant group, is coming to an ‘end’ by August 31.
Where does this leave the country?
Well, it doesn’t look good. The Taliban say they have re-taken control of
85% of the country. Afghan troops are so worried that the country could fall back into civil war that some 1,000 of them just fled into next-door Tajikistan to escape.

Why this matters: When the Taliban ruled from 1996 until 2001, Afghan women basically had no rights, meaning they couldn’t go to school, get jobs, wear makeup, and were basically under house arrest unless they were with their male relatives. They fought for their rights when the Taliban lost power. Now, all that progress could be lost.   Decolonize your view of Afghanistan:
Follow women’s rights activist and Afghan politician
Fawzia Koofi. She was one of the only women in the so-called war room during peace talks between the U.S., Taliban and Afghan military. The Taliban once also tried to kill her. Last week, she wrote an article in the Financial Times about the impact of the long war. 
  • Highlight quote: “If there was no war, I could have been a medical doctor. My daughters could have become engineers, entrepreneurs or political leaders. The dreams of millions of Afghans have become nightmares during this long conflict.”
We are speaking out against ‘rape culture’ in Senegal after two really high-profile cases
Last week, several dozen women in Dakar, Senegal said ‘we’re tired of people getting away with rape’ in this country. They held a protest saying ‘we want justice’ for a 15-year-old girl named Louise (last name unknown). 

What happened to Louise?
She was raped by the son of a famous journalist back in May. He even shared a video of the rape on social media (yeah, what the actual f*ck). The hashtag
#JusticePourLouse has now gone viral on social media. People are angry that police took an entire month before actually charging the accused. They also are demanding the government give women more ‘safe spaces’ to get away from violence like shelters and even provide financial support. 

Tell me about the other high-profile case
In February, a big-shot politician named
Ousmane Sonko was accused of raping a massage parlour worker. Thousands of people protested (for and against him) when he was finally arrested a month later. Unfortunately, the list of women who suffer sexual abuse in Senegal is long. In May, two other women – one in Louga, one in Dakar – were raped and killed.

Why this matters: Rape didn’t become an actual ‘crime’ in Senegal until 2020. Now, rape and pedophilia carry a maximum life sentence, but activists say the law was put in place ‘a little too late’ and isn’t really being used.
We are making it super unsafe to live in Caracas’ working-class neighborhoods in Venezuela
Once again, I invited Venezuelan journalist Gabriela Mesones Rojo to contribute to this week’s issue (and to our Decolonize Weekly Spotify playlist). She’s brought a super underrepresented topic to my attention: it’s really unsafe to live in some neighborhoods in Caracas right now, especially if you’re poor.
For three days last week, thousands of police in Caracas, Venezuela and so-called mega gangs (big groups of armed people) were once again fighting each other. At least 20 people have died so far. 

Why did they fight each other?
They’re both fighting for control and influence in several working-class neighborhoods in the capital. So far, seven neighborhoods are basically run by a mega-gang led by a guy named El Koki (he’s got a price tag on his head:
US$500K). He now wants to expand to other parts of the city and the government is trying to stop that. 
  • Dig deeper: Daisy Galaviz wrote this excellent long piece on these ‘mega-gangs’. ‘Basically, ever since the Policía Metropolitana in Caracas was broken up, these mega-gangs entered the scene.’ Meaning, basically, most of their members are former police officers.
Why this matters: At least 700,000 people are getting caught in the violence between both sides. However, this is nowhere on traditional media in the country.

It looks like the mega-gangs are ‘winning’, as more people are like ‘why the f*ck should I trust the government? They can’t keep us safe.’ After all, the government has
killed more than 20,000 people between 2016 and 2021. The government’s like, ‘whoever we kill is probably in a gang or we act in self-defense’.

On the other hand, the mega-gangs (also) get away with kidnapping, murder, extortion, car hijacking, and dealing drugs. Plus, Venezuela as a whole is going through a lot right now – politically, economically and humanitarian-wise. Hence, why today,
more than 5.6 million people have left the country, making it the largest migration crisis of its kind in Latin America’s recent history. 
  • China: Good news! Giant pandas are finally no longer endangered. They’re ‘only’ vulnerable. 
  • History: Last week, we commemorated the massacre of 37 (mostly) Alevis on July 2, 1993 in Sivas, Turkey and the massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian muslims) in on July 11 and the following days in 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Btw, this is Europe’s worst massacre since World War II
  • Iceland: The world’s largest four-day-work week trial in Iceland ended. The result? ‘Super successful.’
  • Nigeria: There was another mass school kidnapping. At least 150 students went missing. (I promise I’m going to do a deeper dive here in the next few weeks.)
  • Eswatini: At least 27 people were killed while/because they demanded democracy in Africa’s last monarchy.
  • Pornography: After 13 years, XTube, a very big pornography site, will finally shut down on September 5. This is a huge win for anti-trafficking and sexual abuse activists.

On a good note

Ten years ago, the satire news site The Onion published an article headlined, ‘U.S. Quietly Slips Out Of Afghanistan In Dead Of Night.

Last week, that article became real when AP reported ‘
US left Afghan airfield at night, didn’t tell new commander.’ 

Thank Twitter user SIGSYS for this gem of a historical juxtaposition.
Please send us your recommendations for our Decolonize Weekly playlist. We add new songs every week. We'll stop deleting the old songs.  

Ok, that's it from Sham and Simi. 
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