More than a half-million Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar
- Since August, nearly 520,000 Rohingya have crossed the border from their homes in Myanmar into Bangladesh, and dozens—many of them children—have died attempting to reach Bangladesh by boat.
- Refugees spoke of attacks by the military and Buddhist vigilantes, including the burning of villages and physical assaults throughout the state of Rakhine.
- The U.N. has condemned the violence as “ethnic cleansing” on the part of the Burmese state, which targeted Rohingya communities following an attack by Rohingya militants on a military outpost.
“‘I can’t take this any more:’ Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in new surge” (Reuters | October 2017)
“Rohingya crisis: Children die as boat capsizes off Bangladesh” (BBC News | October 2017)
“Bangladesh to build one of world’s largest refugee camps for 800,000 Rohingya” (The Guardian | October 2017)
U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
- 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
- 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
- The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
“Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)
“The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)
“Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)
Irish governing party elects first out gay, Indian-descendent PM
- The Fine Gael voted Leo Varadkar its new leader, a gay, half-Indian man set to become the youngest PM in Irish history.
- Varadkhar, 38, was born to an Indian immigrant father and an Irish mother and has become a polarizing conservative firebrand in Irish politics since his first election in 2007.
- The election has been lauded as a monumental moment for the predominantly Catholic country that in 2015 became the first in the world to codify marriage equality into law through referendum.
“Varadkar becomes Irish PM-in-waiting in social, generational shift” (Reuters | June 2017)
“Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland set to install first openly gay Prime Minister” (The Independent | June 2017)
“From Enda (66) to Leo (38): Ireland set to replace oldest EU leader with youngest” (The Irish Times | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli facilities win increased visitation rights following hunger strike
- Incarcerated Palestinians were granted a second visitation day per month following a 41-day hunger strike in the lead up to Ramadan and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Nearly 1,000 protesters took part in the strike, which ended following a deal struck by Israeli prison officials, the Palestinian Authority, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- More than 6,000 Palestinians are incarcerated in Israeli prisons for offenses ranging from throwing stones to murder.
“Mass Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails ends after visitation deal” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike in Israel After 40 Days” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike, Israel says it met none of their demands” (The Times of Israel | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters, via The New York Times)
Paris mayor backtracks after threatening to ban Afro-feminist festival
- Mayor Anne Hidalgo originally threatened to prohibit the Nyansapo Festival, alert police, and sue for discrimination, repeating far-right accusations that the event was “prohibited to white people” despite no such language appearing in the organizers’ materials.
- Festival organizers, part of the Mwasi Collective, planned to reserve certain events for black women, others for black people of all genders, others for women of color in general, and others still for the general populace in an attempt to provide open discussion spaces free of judgment for minority participants.
- The mayor eventually backtracked, although she and right-wing activists claimed victory for having “established a solution” as a rest of Hidalgo’s “firm intervention.”
“Paris mayor vows to halt black feminist festival, then backtracks” (France 24 | May 2017)
“Aux origines de la polémique sur le festival afroféministe Nyansapo” (Libération, in French | May 2017)
“Comme au Nyansapo Fest, pourquoi certaines associations prônent la non-mixité” (Huffington Post, in French | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via Libération)
The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education
Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.
“Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)
“The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)
(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)
The Entrenched Legacy of Housing Segregation in Cape Town
Like many global metropolises, Cape Town faces conflicts over how to secure housing rights for low- and middle-income households inflected by histories of racist social engineering. Cape Town’s situation is complicated by the legacy of housing apartheid in South Africa, which continues to render historically white-only neighborhoods financially inaccessible for many black households and threatens to uproot others as the high tide of gentrification approaches. A number of media outlets have recently examined the persistence of housing segregation in the city and political and guerrilla efforts to promote inclusive urban planning and secure affordable housing rights for black Capetonians.
“‘End spatial apartheid’: why housing activists are occupying Cape Town” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Profile: How gentrification is creating a new apartheid in South Africa” (The National | May 2017)
“We must end Cape Town’s housing ‘apartheid’ – think-tank” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp, via The Guardian)