Jordan News | LGBT & Secular Artists

Jordan reverses ban on Lebanese band with gay frontman
  • Amman Governor Khaled Abu Zeid had announced the cancellation of Lebanese indie rock group Mashrou’ Leila’s concert in Amman, citing lyrics and belief that the band “violates the traditions and customs of the Jordanian society.”
  • Despite the band’s promotion of gender, sexual, and religious freedom, Mashrou’ Leila claimed to have had no problems performing in Jordan before, where they have given three concerts.
  • Although the travel ban was lifted, the reversal arrived too late for the band to play its scheduled concert, though they have indicated they look forward to playing in Jordan in the future.

Read more:
Mashrou’ Leila: Jordan lifts ban on Lebanese band with gay singer” (BBC)
Ban on Mashrou’ Leila concert triggers controversy” (The Jordan Times)
Jordan lifts ban on popular Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila” (The Daily Star and AP)

Mashrou’ Leila (official website)

(Image Credit: Hussein Malla/AP, via The Daily Star)

Peru Feature | Farmers

Big Victory for a Small Farmer in Peru

Peruvian Máxima Acuña de Chaupe may have seemed like an unlikely agent for the deterrence of a major international company’s mining project, but the 47-year-old farmer and mother of four was able to halt U.S.-based Newmont and Peru-based Buenaventura’s joint development of a mine on her 60-acre farm with the help of social media and international organizations. Despite physical violence, arson, lawsuits, and fines, Acuña fought to stop the expropriation of her land and stave off eviction attempts that began back in 2011. A recipient of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Acuña has brought global attention to ongoing rights battles as private development encroaches upon territory small, often poor farmers depend on for their livelihoods. The Guardian and El País have profiled Acuña and the centrality of international solidarity in efforts to protect land and environmental rights.

“No sé si la situación se calmará, voy a seguir defendiendo mi tierra, tengo fe y seguiré pidiendo justicia.”

Translation: “I don’t know if the situation will calm down, I’m going to keep defending my land, I have faith and will continue demanding justice.”

Peruvian farmer wins David-and-Goliath battle against US mining giant” (The Guardian)
La vuelta a la lucha de Máxima Acuña” (El País, in Spanish)

Máxima Acuña: Goldman Environment recipient (The Goldman Environmental Prize)
Peru’s Goldman Prize Winner Maxima Acuña’s Life is in Danger” (teleSUR English)

(Image Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize, via The Guardian)

Brazil News | Farmers & Indigenous

Increasing violence plagues Brazilian land rights activists
  • After 50 died in 2015, at least six activists were killed in the first two months of 2016 as land rights groups report increased intimidation, criminalization, and violence committed against them.
  • Activists have sought reform to protect the at times conflicting land rights of small farmers and indigenous communities, particularly in rural states.
  • Brazil has some of the highest land-proprietary inequality in the world, with 1% of the population owning nearly 50% of the land and single families subject to payments from as many as tens of thousands of property owners thanks to a colonial-era law.

Read more:
Brazil land activists facing ‘increased intimidation’ with six killings in 2016” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Indigenous Continue to Face Violence in Reclaiming Territory in Brazil” (Indian Country Today)
Journalist survives shooting at his home in northwestern Brazil” (Journalism in the Americas)

Additional reading:
For Brazil’s 1 Percenters, The Land Stays In The Family Forever” (NPR, August 2015)

Israel & Palestine Feature | Palestinian Youth

Palestinian Youth, from Classroom to Jail Cell

Comprising nearly half of those who have attempted or carried out attacks against Israelis since October, Palestinian youth have found themselves imprisoned in increasing numbers as a result of Israel’s two-tier criminal justice system. Since October, the number of imprisoned youth has more than doubled to 430, including 103 under the age of 17. While Palestinian families and human rights advocates have called for rehabilitation over punishment, Israeli authorities have cited the severity of the crimes as cause for the imprisonments, which would be illegal were the youth Israeli. The New York Times investigates recent cases of youth imprisonment, from the impact of the media to the effects youth violence has had on Palestinian families and communities.

Surge in Palestinian Youths in Prison Tests Israel’s Justice System” (The New York Times)

Additional reading:
Israeli forces detain two Palestinian children over alleged stabbing plans” (Ma’an News Agency, via Al Bawaba)
Leaderless Palestinian Youth, Inspired by Social Media, Drive Rise in Violence in Israel” (The New York Times, October 2015)
Palestinian youth devise a new, personalized approach to the Intifada using social media” (Ma’an News Agency, via Al Bawaba, October 2015)

(Image Credit: Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times)

Argentina News | Workers

Thousands from Argentina’s main unions protest economic policies in Buenos Aires
  • Demonstrators took to the streets to protest currency devaluation, inflation, and massive layoffs stemming from new President Mauricio Macri’s economic policies.
  • Union leaders delivered speeches accusing the government of shifting the burden of economic stabilization onto workers and demanding measures to protect job security.
  • The mass demonstration took place ahead of International Workers’ Day, with leaders threatening to strike if the government ignored their concerns.

Read more:
All five umbrella unions hold massive demonstration against Macri’s policies” (Buenos Aires Herald)
En un multitudinario acto, las centrales obreras reclamaron por los despedidos, inflación y Ganancias” (La Nación, in Spanish)
Argentine unions flex muscle in anti-government street protest” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: via La Nación)

Costa Rica News | African Migrants

Costa Rica looks to deport hundreds of African migrants
  • An estimated 600 African migrants have become stranded in the country in an attempt to reach the U.S., and the Costa Rican government is attempting to deport them despite the high costs of repatriation or resettlement in a third country.
  • The country is dealing with an ongoing crisis involving thousands of stranded Cubans, who because of border closures have found themselves unable to continue on their trek to the U.S.
  • The government has reportedly received around 200 applications for asylum since late March and denied all of them.

Read more:
600 US-bound Africans stranded in Costa Rica after officials block route” (The Guardian)
Deporting 600 migrants back to Africa could be expensive, and impossible” (The Tico Times)
Deportation Will Be The Final Solution For African Migrants Who Re-enter Costa Rica IllegallyDeportation Will Be The Final Solution For African Migrants Who Re-enter Costa Rica Illegally” (QCostaRica)

(Image Credit: Public Security Ministry, via The Tico Times)

Guinea Research | Women & Girls

Female Genital Mutilation in Guinea

Despite political and social efforts to eliminate the practice, female genital mutilation (FGM) has continued unabated in Guinea. The West African country has actually seen support for the ritual increase in the last couple of decades, and the trans-ethnic prevalence of the procedure has made FGM rates in the country one of the highest in the world. The UN recently released a report on the current state of FGM in Guinea and the cultural difficulties in ending the practice, including anti-Western sentiment, social norms, and religious traditions.

96% (2005) vs. 97% (2012)

Percentage of Guinean women aged 15-49 subjected to FGM

96.8% (urban) vs. 97% (rural)

Percentage of women subjected to FGM by area of residence

92% (low-income) vs. 68% (higher-income)

Percentage of women subjected to FGM by socioeconomic status

69% (currently aged 20-24) vs. 61% (currently aged 45-49)

Percentage of women cut prior to the age of 10 (2012)

65% (1999) vs. 76% (2012)

Percentage of Guinean women who support FGM

Rapport sur les droits humains et la pratique des mutilations génitales féminines/excision en Guinée (UN Human Rights report, in French)
UN report reveals increasing incidents of female genital mutilation in Guinea, including on infants” (UN News Service)

Fact sheet: Female genital mutilation (World Health Organization)

Papua New Guinea & Australia News | Asylum Seekers

Papua New Guinea court and PM say offshore refugee detention center for Australia to close
  • The PNG supreme court ruled the Manus Island-based center, one of two offshore centers Australia funds, was unconstitutional, with some detainees having been held for more than 1,000 days.
  • With only eight refugees having been resettled, PNG PM Peter O’Neill stated that Australia would have to make new arrangements for the 850 men who have been detained in the Manus center.
  • Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton has reiterated that the government will not allow the asylum-seekers onto Australian soil.

Read more:
Manus Island detention centre to close, PNG Prime Minister says following court bombshell” (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Manus Island detention centre to close, Papua New Guinea prime minister says” (The Guardian)
Papua New Guinea Finds Australian Offshore Detention Center Illegal” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Ben Doherty/The Guardian)

Bangladesh News | LGBT

LGBT magazine editor murdered in Dhaka home as killings continue in Bangladesh
  • Xulhaz Mannan and a visiting friend were hacked to death by a group of youth posing as couriers to gain access to Mannan’s home.
  • Mannan was the editor of Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine, and a USAid worker.
  • The murders are the latest in ongoing attacks against minority intellectuals and follow the detention of LGBT activists attempting to march in Bengali New Year festivities.

Read more:
Editor of Bangladesh’s first and only LGBT magazine killed” (The Guardian)
LGBT magazine Roopbaan editor hacked to death” (The Dhaka Tribune)
LGBT activist among two hacked to death in Dhaka” (The Hindu)

(Image Credit: via The Guardian)

U.S. Feature | Class & Socioeconomics

America’s New Gilded Age

Widening socioeconomic divergence in the U.S. has taken center stage in the 2016 presidential campaigns, with everything from campaign financing to banking practices under scrutiny as progressive candidates challenge growing wealth inequality. But economic analysts have noted how beyond governance, socioeconomic divisions are increasingly becoming codified through atomized marketing and service provision practices.  In business, product innovation has increasingly targeted the wealthiest Americans, creating both exclusive-service clubs and an aspirational marketing pipeline that some analysts say has fueled resentment.

Travel has been a particularly stratified industry: cruise lines maintain rigid hierarchies of accommodations and leisure facilities, while distinct class systems on airliners provide wildly different flying experiences for travelers. Talking points from luxury executives make clear that money is not the only bottom line: those of lower income willing to take the financial hit find their entry attempts circumvented by corporate policies that maintain a carefully curated elite. The New York Times examines how widening inequality is impacting innovation, service, and mobility in the U.S.

In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat” (The New York Times)

Growing wealth inequality ‘dangerous’ threat to democracy: experts” (Reuters)
Is the fear of a financial education widening the wealth gap in America?” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Edward Linsmier/The New York Times)

France & U.K. Feature | French Jewish Immigrants

The Exodus of French Jews

A rise in anti-Semitic sentiment and attacks in France has left many French Jews in fear of their future in the country. As the U.K. debates its European Union status, French Jews have leveraged the free mobility that comes with E.U. membership to cross the English Channel and build a new life in London. Thousands of Jewish families have reportedly fled France for the U.K., now the second-most popular destination for French Jews after Israel, according to the Jewish Agency. Better economic opportunities have amplified immigration to London, where rabbis have reported significant increases in the numbers of French Jews in their synagogues and Jewish schools. The New York Times and BBC investigate the causes of the exodus and how the largely Sephardic French Jews have been integrated into London’s predominantly Ashkenazi Jewish community and multicultural society as a whole.

London Becomes a Leading Destination for French Jews After Attacks” (The New York Times)
Why French Jewish people are moving to London” (BBC)

Additional reading:
Breaking the Cycle of Violence (Human Rights First report)
Anti-Semitic Incidents Explode in France — Report” (Forward)
6 in 10 French people think Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism, survey finds” (The Independent)
Jewish Leaders in Paris Speak of Community in Fear” (VICE News)

(Image Credit: Andrew Testa/The New York Times)

Interregional Feature | Holocaust Survivors

Finding Healthcare Justice for Aging Holocaust Survivors

With the youngest among them now in their 70s, Holocaust survivors are facing late-in-life issues compounded by the traumas from the policies of targeted persecution just over seven decades ago. Dementia has returned some to the nightmares of their youth, while social isolation, physical ailments, and other mental health issues stemming from the violence of the period have left many with high care needs as they age.

In the U.S., home to more than 100,000 survivors (most Jewish), politicians have begun calling on the German government to do more for victims, arguing that current caps on assistance leave many survivors struggling. While reparations have expanded since the 1951 establishment of the Claims Conference, questions over who shoulders the burden for late-in-life care have yet to be resolved. The increasing needs that come with aging have reignited debates about Germany’s obligations to those its government systematically disenfranchised, impoverished, and subjected to physical and mental anguish that outlived the liberation of the final concentration camp.

As Holocaust Becomes More Distant, Survivors’ Needs Intensify“(The New York Times)
Federal grants to assist Holocaust survivors draw praise, concern” (The Sun-Sentinel)
Harrowing story of the Holocaust survivors still fighting for a dignified life 75 years on” (The Daily Mirror)
Romanian Holocaust survivors aging without benefits” (Ynetnews, July 2015)
Holocaust survivors deported from France can now apply for reparations” (The Washington Post, November 2015)
Germany to Pay 772 Million Euros to Survivors” (Der Spiegel, May 2013)

(Image Credit: Kacper Pempel/Reuters, via The New York Times)

Bangladesh News | Intellectuals

Professor murdered in northwest Bangladesh as attacks on intellectuals continue
  • Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, an English professor at Rajshahi University, was found nearly decapitated near his home after neighbors heard screams and alerted his family.
  • Siddiquee is the latest in a series of attacks by fundamentalist militants against academics and writers with progressive leanings.
  • Three other professors at the university have been murdered by fundamentalists since 2004.

Read more:
RU Professor Rezaul Karim hacked to death” (Dhaka Tribune)
Bangladesh Police Suspect Islamist Militants in Professor’s Killing” (The New York Times)
Bangladesh professor hacked to death by Islamist militants” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Md. Abdullah Iqbal/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images, via The New York Times)

Russia Feature | LGBT

Homophobia in the Heartland

As international media attention to the plight of LGBT Russians has waned, advocates have found themselves stretched thin trying to support embattled community members while responding to declining visibility and police intimidation. From ongoing violence against transgender Russians to attacks on private clubs and homes, support organizations like Avers have struggled to create stopgaps for the deteriorating conditions plaguing the Russian LGBT community. A Coda Story report highlights the difficulties the community faces in attempts to organize and resist both ongoing state persecution and everyday threats that burden life in Russia’s hyper-conservative heartland.

Read more:
Gay clubbing and stoic activism in Russia’s homophobic heartland” (Coda Story, via The Guardian)

Russian LGBT Network

(Image Credit: Zuma/Rex Features, via The Guardian)

China Feature | LGBT

The Silver Lining of Loss for China’s LGBT Community

The recent dismissal of China’s first case challenging the government’s ban on same-sex marriage would seem to be a disheartening moment for LGBT activism, but advocates point to evidence of a changing culture as reason for celebration. Hundreds traveled to Changsha for the ruling, and rights activists say young Chinese are becoming more cognizant of the need to push for legal recognition.

The encouraging developments continue: a 2014 court ruled against a gay conversion clinic, state media coverage of LGBT issues has increased, an anti-trans discrimination case recently became the first of its kind to be heard in Chinese legal history, and LGBT rights advocacy has grown in the country. Despite the legal loss for partnership rights, advocates have enjoyed the increased visibility of their movement for equal rights and hope to convert it into future legal victories and social acceptance.

Read more:
China court refuses to allow gay marriage in landmark case” (The Guardian)
Despite Court Ruling, China Gay Rights Movement Makes Gains” (The New York Times)
Guizhou court hears China’s first-ever case on transgender discrimination at the workplace” (Shanghaiist)
China rights: Gay people pledge not to enter into sham marriages” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Darwin Zhou/EPA, via The Guardian)