Pakistan News | Christians

Pakistani Taliban kills scores in Easter suicide attack in Lahore targeting Christians
  • At least 69 have been killed and 300 injured by a suicide attack at a park in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city and a cultural center of the country.
  • Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility and confirmed that Christians had been the target of the attack.
  • The park was packed with families for the Easter holiday, with many of the victims women and children.

Read more:
Suicide blast kills at least 69 in Lahore park” (The Express Tribune)
Explosion at Park in Lahore, Pakistan, Kills Dozens” (The New York Times)
Taliban faction says carried out suicide bomb attack on Pakistan park, says Christians were target” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: AFP, via The Express Tribune)

Global Feature | Palestinian-Syrian Refugees

Syria’s Stateless Refugees

More than half a million in number, Syrian-born Palestinians face a unique and particularly challenging vulnerability when applying for refugee status. While they have been born in Syria, many lack Syrian citizenship (and thus a Syrian passport) due to Syria’s citizenship laws as well as the desire to maintain their Palestinian nationality to retain the right to return to Palestine. Most of Syria’s neighbors have traditionally denied entry to Palestinians as part of complex politics resulting from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As residents of Syria, Palestinian Syrians have faced the same circumstances as other Syrian refugees, and immigration officials have been instructed to extend the same consideration to Palestinian Syrians as other Syrians. Al Jazeera investigates cracks in the process of asylum application and other challenges faced by Palestinian-Syrian refugees.

Read more:
Palestinian Syrians: Twice refugees” (Al Jazeera)

Additional reading:
Palestinian Refugees from Syria” (Inter Press Service)
Arab Countries Are Forcing Palestinian Exiles Back Into Syria” (The Daily Beast)

(Image Credit: UNRWA via AP, via Al Jazeera)

Brazil News | Indigenous Peoples

Study shows 90% of indigenous peoples in Amazonian Brazil suffering from mercury poisoning
  • Illegal gold mining in northern Brazil has contaminated the water and food sources of at least 19 different Yanomami and Yekuana communities along with Nahua tribes in Peru.
  • In addition to the rise of illegal mining over the last three decades, uncontacted Yanomami communities have faced environmental crises and decades-old controversies over the status of their blood used for genetic testing by American anthropologists.
  • The study was a joint project of Brazilian health foundation Fiocruz, the Hutukara Yanomami Association, the Yekuana Association, and Brazilian NGO Socio-Environmental Institute.

Read more:
Mercury poisoning of Amazon Indians: alarming new statistics revealed” (Survival)
90% of Indigenous in Brazil’s Amazon Suffer Mercury Poisoning” (teleSUR English)
Indigenous tribe’s blood returned to Brazil after decades” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Fiona Watson/Survival)

Germany Feature | Women & Refugees

Securing Women’s Bodies in Germany

On New Year’s Eve, hundreds of women were grabbed and sexually assaulted by a group of mostly Algerian and Moroccan men during holiday festivities in Cologne. In the fallout, a contentious international debate exploded, impacted by ongoing tension over Germany’s refugee policy. While both sides have accused the other of information distortion for political purposes, some feminists have shifted the focus to the lax laws that enable such sexual assaults to take place, arguing that such violence has been a problem since long before refugees arrived. With a mere 13% of rape cases resulting in conviction, advocates have sought to change laws that require evidence of overwhelming offensive and defensive physical force for a case to be considered rape. BuzzFeed News examines the intersection of sexism, racism, xenophobia, and feminism in the fight to secure women’s sexual agency and refugee integration in Germany.

Read more:
Why The New Year’s Attacks On Women In Germany Weren’t Even A Crime” (BuzzFeed News)

Additional reading:
Germany tightens rape law in wake of Cologne assaults” (AFP via The Local)
Germany to tighten rape laws in wake of Cologne attacks” (The Independent)

(Image Credit: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)

Latvia Feature | LGBT

The Rise of “Family Values” Activism in Latvia

Caught between the Western-democratic values of the EU and conservative nationalists and Kremlin supporters, Latvia has seen a surge in so-called family values activism in recent years. Activists have increasingly targeted LGBT rights and visibility as symptoms of cultural decline, and anti-LGBT sentiment has been connected to wide-ranging issues including the rights of Latvia’s Russian minority, abortion, corporal punishment, and academic freedom. EurasiaNet investigates how groups like Asociācija Ģimene (Family), Mūsu bērnu (Our Children), Dzimta (Kin), and Sargāsim mūsu bērnus! (Let’s Protect Our Children!) have grown their reactionary causes, including the influence of Russia’s hard-line anti-gay, “pro-family” campaign next door.

Read more:
Looking at Latvia’s Cultural Fault Line” (EurasiaNet)
The ABC of ‘Traditional’ Values Activism” (EurasiaNet)

(Image Credit: Dean C.K. Cox/EurasiaNet)

Brazil Feature | Women

The Coerced Pregnancies of Brazilian Women

As cases of Zika infection and newborn microcephaly have exploded in heavily Catholic and evangelical Brazil, the country’s tough abortion laws—preventing the procedure except in cases of rape, maternal health endangerment, and child inviability—have come back into the international spotlight. Legislators have proposed the possible prison sentence for women who undergo an abortion from one to three years to four-and-a-half for women who abort because of detected microcephaly, with doctors facing up to 15 years. Brazil’s class divide has exacerbated healthcare restrictions, constraining women of less means to life-threatening procedures (including black market pills, Internet-advised intervention, acid injections, and self-attempted extraction)  while wealthy women enjoy access to overseas healthcare and hidden networks of clinics and doctors. Vocativ takes a look at the dire straits Brazilian women seeking an abortion find themselves in and attempts to gain reproductive rights.

Read more:
From Sketchy Pills To Upscale Clinics: Illegal Abortion In Brazil” (Vocativ)

Additional reading:
Brazilian Legislators Look to Increase Abortion Penalties in the Wake of Zika Outbreak” (TIME)
Illegal abortions claim lives of Brazilian women” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Chrisophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images, via Vocativ)