People of African descent in Guangzhou face heightened discrimination amid COVID crisis
- Afro-descendant residents of Guangzhou, home to one of the largest Black populations in China, have reportedly been evicted and rendered homeless, had businesses targeted, been profiled by police, and subject to other discriminatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As the country has reported an overall decline in COVID-19 transmission, anti-Black discrimination has been tied to increased fears about the reintroduction of the virus from foreigners driven by misinformation.
- The situation has ignited a diplomatic firestorm, with African political leaders expressing outrage on social media and the U.S. Consulate General cautioning Black Americans against travel to Guangzhou.
“Africans in Guangzhou are on edge, after many are left homeless amid rising xenophobia as China fights a second wave of coronavirus” (CNN | April 2020)
“How foreigners, especially black people, became unwelcome in parts of China amid COVID crisis” (ABC News | April 2020)
“China fails to stop racism against Africans over Covid-19” (The Guardian | April 2020)
Traveling While Black
For those with the means, contemporary Black travelers experience a freedom of movement historically circumscribed by oppression, persecution, and economic exclusion. People of African descent have found new footing in the exploding global travel field, with travel motivations ranging from pleasure-seeking to the desire to connect with ancestral homes. Travel abroad is not without its challenges, however: Black travelers recount dealing with stares, hair obsession, and the need to expand conceptions of the diverse places Black people live in the world. As a lifestyle movement coalesces around Black travelers, BBC News explores the unique experiences of traveling while Black, from encounters with strangers to hyper-visibility.
“Our access to travel has been historically tied to colonisation or immigration. We’re paying homage to our ancestors to be travelling on our own free will.”
“What does it mean to be a black traveller?” (BBC News | January 2020)
“How the black travel movement is gaining momentum” (CNN | August 2019)
Black & Abroad
Black Girls Travel Too
The U.S. Immigration System’s Indigenous Language Problem
The surge of asylum-seekers from Central America in the mid-2010s revealed critical language gaps in the asylum system: namely, the lack of competent Mayan-language interpreters. Language shapes each stage of the immigration process, from Border Patrol interrogations and detention to credible-fear interviews and post-approval integration. Non–Spanish-speaking indigenous children are at particular risk, with five of the six children who have died in Homeland Security custody having been indigenous and others traumatized by separation from their families in an unfamiliar language environment.
With three Guatemalan Mayan languages ranking among the top 25 languages used in immigration courts last year, the demand for interpreters exceeds supply, with the U.S. government relying on an uneven landscape of third-party companies and non-profit volunteers. The New Yorker highlights how skill deficiencies, U.S. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, and a strained asylum system have combined to produce unique vulnerabilities for indigenous asylum-seekers.
“The indigenous population was likely the least able to understand their rights, and may therefore have been more susceptible to losing their children and waiving away their own asylum rights.”
“A Translation Crisis at the Border” (The New Yorker | December 2019)
“Anyone Speak K’iche’ or Mam? Immigration Courts Overwhelmed by Indigenous Languages” (The New York Times | March 2019)
“Indigenous immigrants face unique challenges at the border” (High Country News | June 2018)
“Ancient Mayan languages are creating problems for today’s immigration courts” (Los Angeles Times | August 2016)
Asociación Mayab (English version)
The Mayan League
Malaysian PM announces asylum provisions for refugee Uyghurs
- Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamed indicated that the country would not honor extradition requests from China for Uyghurs fleeing persecution.
- The announcement follows a statement from the foreign minister indicating that an inquiry into human rights violations in the Xinjiang region of China.
- Hundreds took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to protest the ongoing incarceration of more than a million Uyghur Muslims in “political re-education” camps in northwest China.
“Malaysia not to extradite Uighurs seeking asylum” (Andalou Agency | December 2019)
“Malaysia to probe rights violations against Uighurs” (Andalou Agency | December 2019)
“In KL, hundreds of Muslims protest against China’s treatment of Uighurs” (Malay Mail | December 2019)
Facebook announces ban on white-nationalist content
- The world’s most widely used social media company announced a ban on “praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism,” to be enforced beginning next week.
- Users who search for terms related to white supremacy, nationalism, and separatism will be redirected to Life After Hate, an organization that supports the de-radicalization of members of far-right hate groups.
- Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have come under fire for enabling the spread of hate content and the development of extremist networks.
Standing Against Hate (Facebook Newsroom | March 2019)
“Facebook bans white nationalism, white separatism on its platforms” (Reuters | March 2019)
“Facebook bans white nationalism from platform after pressure from civil rights groups” (NBC News | March 2019)
Life After Hate
Graphic artist creates Ethiopia’s first female superhero comic
- Beserat Debebe, founder of Etan Comics, has developed Hawi in the wake of creating Jember, billed as the first Ethiopian superhero comic in a growing African comics market.
- Hawi features the intertwined stories of Ement, a young woman of Ethiopian descent living in the U.S. coming into her powers, and Queen Yodit, a powerful figure from 10th-century Ethiopia.
- The comic will be published in both Amharic and English and is currently available for preorder as part of the project’s kickstarter campaign.
“Ethiopia’s First Female Superhero Comic ‘Hawi’ is Here” (OkayAfrica | March 2019)
“Ethiopia Gets Its First Female Superhero Comic” (CBR.com | March 2019)
“Meet Ethiopia’s first female superhero character who returns from the U.S. to rescue her abducted mother” (Face2Face Africa | March 2019)
The Hardships of Refugees in Malaysia
Although Malaysia has long offered refuge to persecuted Muslim populations, Malaysian law does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. As a consequence, refugees experience high levels of legal precarity, severely limiting access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Immigration police frequently raid businesses in search of undocumented workers, and children are frequently pushed into work because of an educational system with limited resources to accommodate them. While more than 164,000 refugees in Malaysia are officially registered with the UN Refugee Agency, many more languish in the long registration queue. Today, activists are working to pressure the recently installed government to become a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to improve protections and access to opportunity for those seeking life and livelihood in the wake of war and persecution.
“‘We have nothing’: A life in limbo for Malaysia’s Yemeni refugees” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)
“Inside Malaysia’s ‘Living Hell’ for Refugee Children” (NewsDeeply | February 2018)
UNHCR Figures at a Glance in Malaysia
New Zealanders rally in support of Muslim community as government takes action
- Some 15,000 people attended a rally in Christchurch to honor the memory of the 50 who died in the recent terror attacks.
- The country’s chief censor issued a ban on the attacker’s manifesto, classifying the document in the same way as other terroristic propaganda such as Islamic State materials.
- More than 1,000 voluntarily turned in their weapons as the government moved to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing she expects legislation to be in place by mid-April.
“Thousands attend New Zealand vigil, rally to fight racism, remember Christchurch victims” (Reuters | March 2019)
“Censor bans ‘manifesto’ of Christchurch mosque shooter” (The Guardian | March 2019)
“Christchurch shootings: New Zealand to ban military style weapons” (BBC News | March 2019)
Terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques leaves more than four dozen dead
- A gunman opened fire in the Masjid Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, killing at least 49 and injuring 48 in the worst mass shooting in New Zealand history.
- In addition to livestreaming one of the attacks on Facebook, the attacker posted a manifesto online in which he declared far-right, anti-immigrant, white-supremacist views.
- The gunman was arrested along with three other suspects, and officials advised community members to avoid visiting mosques in the aftermath of the attack.
“Christchurch mosque shootings: What you need to know” (The New Zealand Herald | March 2019)
“New Zealand PM: Dozens killed in ‘terrorist’ attack on mosques” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)
“49 shot dead in attack on two Christchurch mosques” (The Guardian | March 2019)
United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings (crowdfunding campaign)
The Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand (FIAZ)
The Entrenchment of Neo-Slavery in Libya
One year after video showing black migrants and asylum-seekers being auctioned off in Libya shocked the Global North, the trafficking of sub-Saharan African migrants in the country continues unabated. Smugglers shepherding groups through the dangerous trans-Sahara journey extort and abuse migrants before selling those without the means to pay to rural farmers, urban industrialists, and even the official detention centers run by Libya’s Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration.
The country’s fractured territory, across which militias and rival governments vie for power, has inhibited efforts to end human rights violations. Compounding the problem have been aggressive European efforts to end the flow of arrivals across the Mediterranean, with countries like Italy and Malta now refusing to accept ships containing rescued migrants. Evaporating public interest globally and the exhaustion of political will threaten to exacerbate the problem as the crisis disappears from the European and American public eye.
“Inside The Country Where You Can Buy A Black Man For $400” (BuzzFeed News | December 2018)
“Executions, torture and slave markets persist in Libya: U.N.” (Reuters | March 2018)
“Migrants Captured In Libya Say They End Up Sold As Slaves” (NPR | March 2018)
Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights | December 2018)
Libya’s Dark Web of Collusion: Abuses against Europe-bound Refugees and Migrants (Amnesty International | December 2017)
Asylum-seekers increasingly attempt dangerous cross-Channel trek to the U.K.
- Patrol operations in the English Channel have led to the rescue of asylum-seekers attempting to reach the U.K. by small boats, which French and British officials claim is driven by organized smuggling.
- More than 200 have arrived in the U.K. by water since November, which represents more than a tenfold increase from last year.
- Migrants have begun turning to aquatic travel as the British and French governments have increasingly targeted land-based vehicles for inspection and closed shelter camps.
“More migrants and refugees try to reach UK via English Channel” (Al Jazeera | December 2018)
“Five migrant boats rescued in English Channel” (BBC News | December 2018)
“Migrants risk death at sea to reach Britain as prices spike on traditional routes” (CNN | December 2018)
Vietnamese tourists killed in bomb attack in Egypt
- Three tourists and their Egyptian guide were killed by a roadside bomb blast near the Giza pyramids, which left an additional 10 injured.
- The tourists had been on their way to a light and sound show at the pyramids.
- The attack was the first fatal one involving foreign tourists in more than a year, with Egypt’s tourism sector having begun to mount a comeback following years of political turmoil.
“Bomb kills three Vietnamese tourists, Egyptian guide near pyramids: officials” (Reuters | December 2018)
“Bomb in Egypt Strikes Bus Full of Vietnamese Tourists, Killing 4” (The New York Times | December 2018)
“Deadly roadside bomb strikes tourist bus” (CNN | December 2018)
Chinese workers injured in Baluchistan suicide attack
- At least five—including three Chinese mining workers—suffered injuries when the van they were riding in was attacked by a suicide bomber outside Dalbandin, southwest of Quetta.
- The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist group, claimed responsibility, one of a number of attacks in the region targeting Chinese-backed projects in the region.
- Chinese migrant workers in Pakistan number in the tens of thousands, with the Pakistani government seeking to grow the region’s infrastructure and the Chinese government expanding its Belt and Road initiative throughout Asia.
“Five wounded in attack on bus ferrying Chinese workers in Pakistan” (Reuters | August 2018)
“Suicide Bomber Attacks Chinese Engineers in Pakistan” (VOA News | August 2018)
“Beijing condemns suicide attack on bus carrying Chinese engineers in Pakistan” (South China Morning Post | August 2018)
Report indicates attacks on asylum-seekers down in Germany
- According to police, there were 704 cases of anti-refugee violence from January to June, down more than a third from 2017.
- The 2018 attacks included 77 on asylum shelters and 627 direct attacks on refugees, resulting in 127 injuries.
- The reduction has come as immigration debates continue to erupt along political fault lines, including the introduction of “anchor centers” for asylum-seekers awaiting judicial decisions and the limited restart of family reunifications.
“Fewer attacks on refugees and asylum shelters in Germany” (Reuters | August 2018)
“Germany opens refugee ‘anchor centres’ amid criticism” (Al Jazeera | August 2018)
“Family reunification for refugees resumes in Germany” (Deutsche Welle | August 2018)
African migrant workers violently attacked, one deported in Lebanon
- A crowd of people beat and dragged two migrant workers in Bourj Hammoud, a suburb of Beirut.
- The police arrested the two women along with two of the attackers, and one of the women was reportedly deported back to Kenya on an alleged visa violation.
- Progressive advocates condemned the treatment of the women by both the mob and the justice system, arguing it reflects broader abuse of the some 200,000 migrant workers in Lebanon including wage withholding and limited access to justice.
“Lebanese activists angry after assaulted Kenyan is deported” (The Guardian | July 2018)
“Kenyan woman beaten in viral video deported” (The Daily Star | July 2018)
“Assaulted, imprisoned, deported: Shamila’s story – an all-too-familiar violent narrative facing migrant women in Lebanon” (The Anti-Racism Movement, commentary | July 2018)