The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers
The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.
While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.
Internet blockages and hunger strike mark continuing conflict between Indian farmers and government
Tensions between farmers and the government have continued as encampments of tens of thousands, tractor parades, clashes with police, and a recently organized hunger strike have unfolded across the country, from New Delhi to Ghazipur.
The interior ministry announced that internet services on the outskirts of New Delhi had been temporarily suspended as protesting farmers continued to flock to the capital from around the country.
After a Sikh protester unfurled a religious flag during Republic Day clashes, pro-government media seized on the spectacle to deride the protests, and anti-Sikh sentiment has begun to disrupt—at least in part—popular support for the protesters.
Since November, the farmers’ movement has been protesting economic reforms that they argue benefit large agribusiness firms and private buyers over smaller producers, endangering their already precarious livelihoods.
Global Protests: #BlackLivesMatter / Anti–Police Violence
Nearly four years ago, Outlas published a catalog of media coverage focused on global protests connected to the burgeoning #BlackLivesMatter movement. Today, the murder of Black American George Floyd by the police has re-galvanized demonstrations across the world’s continents, promoting diverse forms of solidarity across movements focused on affirming Black lives, eliminating racism, and ending police violence.
Floyd’s death is one among many that have pushed people into the streets of cities from Honolulu to East Jerusalem, drawing together accounts of the criminalization of people of color and other minority groups around the world. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, protesters around the world have gathered to interconnect their causes, demonstrating the resilience of a global anti-racism and anti–police brutality movement despite the lull in media coverage in recent years. This collection has gathered more than 150 articles, statements, and multimedia stories documenting the recent surge in protests and their interconnection.
A number of media outlets have mapped the development of demonstrations around the world and compiled media and accounts from protests, summarizing the connections between the diverse sites and expressions of solidarity journalists have uncovered.
The U.S. has experienced more than a week of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. His death was the latest in a series of events that had drawn attention to ongoing violence and threats of violence faced by Black people in public space across the U.S., from racist vigilantism in Georgia to a dead-of-night police break-in and murder in New York. Protesters across all 50 states mobilized to contest police violence, prompting spectacular forms of police repression—including tear-gassing, beatings, tasing, and shootings—captured on video and circulated across social media platforms.
Canada has experienced its own widespread condemnation of police violence in the U.S., organizing massive demonstrations from Vancouver to Halifax in honor of the memory of George Floyd. Participants have also drawn attention to recent fatal incidents involving police—including the recent death of Afro-Indigenous woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet—and the disproportionate effects of police violence experienced by Black and Indigenous Canadians and other Canadians of color.
Afro-Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, and allied Latin American communities have also expressed solidarity with Black Americans, highlighting both the ongoing forms of marginalization experienced by Afro-descendant people in Central American countries and the complex relationships to racism across the Caribbean. Brazil, in particular, has been grappling with an entrenched police brutality problem that overwhelmingly threatens Afro-Brazilians—particularly those living in poor communities. The recent killing of 14-year-old João Pedro has reignited protests, with demonstrators drawing explicit connections to anti-Black police violence in the U.S.
Massive protests across Europe have centered not only the injustice of George Floyd’s death, but also ongoing forms of racism across the continent. In France, George’s death scratched at the wound of the 2016 murder of Adama Traoré in a suburb of Paris. In the UK, protest participants were quick to shut down any attempt to distance the UK from U.S.-style racism, highlighting ongoing discrimination experienced by Black communities in the country. Whether in the commemoration of colonial leaders responsible for the death of millions of Africans or stubborn denials of institutional racism, contemporary manifestations of racism drew the ire of demonstrators of all backgrounds.
Solidarity with protesters in the U.S. found diverse expression across Africa and the Middle East, from a mural in the rubble of an obliterated Syrian building to an open letter signed by dozens of African writers demanding accountability and pressuring African governments to do more. African political leaders, for their part, took the rare step of condemning the situation in the U.S.. But activists across the region also worked to draw attention to local police brutality problems as well, including the killing of autistic Palestinian Iyad Halak by Israeli border security and high levels of violence against women (both by police and by others not held to account by police) in Nigeria.
In the Asia-Pacific region, a range of responses to unrest in the U.S. has emerged. In a tit-for-tat with the U.S. government, Chinese officials have used the situation to draw attention to human rights violations in the U.S. as the U.S. has condemned China for its crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. Elsewhere, police brutality has been a longstanding issue with respect to the treatment of indigenous communities. Thousands of protesters across Australia and New Zealand expressed solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement while also integrating the long history of anti-Indigenous violence into their calls for change. Similarly, the outbreak of protests in U.S. and the resurgence of global anti-racism consciousness provided an opportunity for activists and members of the Papuan diaspora to highlight the ongoing discrimination and violence experienced by indigenous Papuans at the hands of the Indonesian government.
Millions form “women’s wall” for gender equality across Kerala
Organizers reported that some five million participants turned out to form a 385-mile chain across the southwest Indian state of Kerala, stretching from Kasaragod in the north to Thiruvanthapuram in the south.
Although the demonstration was broadly framed as promoting gender equality, it emerged following protests targeting women who attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple, a Hindu shrine that has historically banned women of “menstruating age” (defined as between the ages of 10 and 50).
The ban was formally struck down in September 2018 by the Supreme Court after having been enforced judicially since 1991, but protesters have continued to prevent women from entering.
As Indo-African economic relations have expanded in recent years, so too have social and cultural relations between India and African nations, particularly via the growth of international student populations across the Indian Ocean. For African communities in India, this cultural exchange has come with a price: incidents of anti-African violence in recent years have both threatened the security of India’s largely university-based black communities and strained relations between India and African countries. Beyond targeted persecution, students also recount instances of everyday ignorance and racism, including references to all black Africans as “Nigerians” regardless of national origin, derogatory name-calling by strangers, and accusations of cannibalism, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Over the last few years, several media outlets have featured the experiences of African immigrants in the country, chronicling instances of discrimination, violence, and disruptions in their education.
In India, a cultural movement to tackle colorism has taken root, from challenging the pervasive preference for fair skin in romantic partners to reconstructing depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses using dark-skinned models. Skin-whitening practices are pervasive throughout the country and drive a multimillion-dollar industry, but activists and other community members are seeking to reaffirm beauty and value in darker-skinned people.
Dalit community protests following violence in Indian state of Maharashtra
The violence arose during celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, where low-caste Dalits sided with the British colonial army to defeat the upper-caste rulers of the region.
The rally was allegedly attacked by a right-wing Hindu nationalists, leading to the death of a 28-year-old man and protests throughout Maharashtra calling for justice for Dalits.
Demonstrations in Mumbai blocked highways and train stations, leading to mass arrests and violent clashes with police.
India passes nondiscrimination law securing rights for people with HIV
The first of its kind in South Asia, the law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and public accommodations such as restaurants and calls for the establishment of an ombudsman to monitor violations.
An estimated 2.1 million people live with HIV in India, with some 1 million currently receiving treatment.
Some advocates for the positive community argued that the law does not go far enough to guarantee free treatment for the afflicted.
Pro-choice advocates push to expand abortion window in India
Indian women can currently obtain an abortion up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy, after which termination procedures are legally permissible only on a case-by-case basis in cases of danger to maternal health.
Advocates argue that many victims of sex crimes do not report pregnancies until late, leaving a very small window of time to abort the pregnancy.
Advocates are now pushing to extend the window to 24 weeks and to equip doctors with the legal power to grant abortions rather than forcing women to pursue permission through law enforcement and the courts.
The Poetics of Protest for Bengali Muslims in India
Named for the pejorative term used to describe Muslims presumed to be undocumented immigrants, Miyah poetry has emerged as a cultural protest against the marginalization and scapegoating faced by the Bengali Muslim community in the northeastern state of Assam. Its dissemination through social media channels has made it distinctly public and communal as opposed to more academic forms of cultural protest, bringing together the voices of the trained and untrained alike. Al Jazeera highlights the origins of the form and the social and political conditions that have shaped its evolution.
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas→
Mayana Kollai: Hindu Transwomen’s Annual Oasis of Acceptance
Mayana Kollai, a festival honoring the Hindu goddess Angala Parameswari, provides a rare opportunity for the public acknowledgment of transwomen in India. The women—known as kothis, among other designations—transform into spiritually revered beings welcomed into homes for blessings and incorporated into major festival events. Offering brief respite from the social struggles faced by the Indian trans community including physical and sexual violence, the late-winter/early-spring celebration involves elaborate preparations for the women, some of whom have become minor celebrities in their own right. The New York Times features a photo series of kothis in the state of Tamil Nadu as they prepare for the festival, marking the bridge from social marginalization to divine honor.
Indian state strengthens property rights for slum-dwelling women
Women living in slums in the state of Maharashtra will now hold ownership rights equal to men thanks to a new land title plan.
The plan comes as the government seeks to regularize slums in the state, giving families land titles with joint ownership between marital partners.
Though the development has been lauded, advocates warn that women continue to struggle to exercise equal rights once gained, with lack of education and intimidation perpetuating gender-based legal inequalities.