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.
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.
HIV cases on the rise as Indonesia cracks down on LGBTQ community
A report by Human Rights Watch has indicated that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) has increased five-fold since a decade ago, now accounting for a third of the new cases reported annually, a
Growing media and governmental discourse has framed LGBTQ people as threats to public security, while police raids, fundamentalist vigilantism, and discriminatory prosecutions have targeted clinics providing sexual health education and services.
Clinics have begun limiting public outreach and condoms themselves have begun to be entered into evidence in criminal cases, further stifling distribution of preventive resources.
More than 100 arrested and 2 publicly flogged as Indonesian authorities target gay men
Jakarta police confirmed that 141 men had been rounded up at a sauna party and jailed, subject to pornography charges.
In the conservative province of Aceh, two men, aged 20 and 23, were subject to public whippings after having been caught having sex, a new application of religious provincial law in a country that does not officially criminalize same-sex relations.
Increased anti-gay sentiment in the country is seen as part of a rising wave of hardline Islamism in the country, which has in recent years been praised for its secular, relatively liberal social gains.
Jakarta’s Christian governor of Chinese descent sentenced to prison for blasphemy
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in prison after having accused political opponents of using a verse from the Qur’an to mobilize opposition to his re-election.
His remarks drew massive protests in the Muslim-majority country and a religiously charged vote for the Jakarta governorship in April, where he lost to Muslim rival Anies Baswedan.
Judges cited fundamentalist religious groups in the ruling, shocking observers with a prison sentence for Ahok because he “did not feel guilt.”
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→
Dutch government announces inquiry into violent twilight of colonialism in Indonesia
Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced an investigation into the violent conflict between the Dutch military and Indonesians that took place from 1945 to 1949.
The Dutch government has begun to admit to a host of war crimes during the colonial war including mass killings, torture, and summary executions, with the conflict having brought about the death of at least 100,000 Indonesians.
Indonesia was a Dutch colony from 1800 to 1949 and is widely recognized as having contributed significantly to the contemporary wealth of the western European nation.
Pro-diversity mass demonstration takes place in Jakarta
Known as the Bhineka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”) Parade, the event brought hundreds of pro-diversity demonstrators out dressed in red and white (the national colors) and traditional dress to support ethnic and religious unity in the country.
The peaceful event was a response to growing concerns about the influence of fundamentalist Islamic leaders in the Muslim-majority country.
Recently, hundreds of thousands protested in a call for Jakarta’s governor, an ethnic Chinese Christian, to be charged with blasphemy, and an attack on a church in Samarinda left three children injured and one dead.
A recent online survey conducted jointly by support group Lentera Sindas Indonesia, Indonesian magazine Magdalene, and Change.org indicated that more than 9 out of 10 respondents who had been raped had not reported the crime to authorities. The findings come as Indonesians have expressed outrage over the gang rape and murder of a teenage girl in April and ongoing sexual violence across the country. In response, the government has pledged to begin tracking and reporting data on sexual violence in the country.
Exodus of wealthy immigrants tightens opportunity in Indonesia
Domestic jobs have decreased and a number of international schools have shuttered as wealthy immigrants have left the country and arrivals have slowed.
A slowdown in oil and gas demand has tightened the Indonesian economy and led to cutbacks in jobs that attract foreign workers.
Fluctuating immigration policy has sent mixed messages to potential investors, including a foreign worker age cap of 55 in oil and gas, an Indonesian language requirement, an expansion of social security to include foreign workers, and the (now-defunct) requirement to hire 10 local workers for every immigrant.
Indonesian women continue migrating to Middle East for work despite government ban
A new report from Migrant Care has found that more than 1,000 women have traveled to the Middle East for domestic work despite government moratorium.
The Indonesian government announced a ban on any new labor-based migration to the Middle East in May 2015 after several high-profile reports of abuse.
The revelation comes amidst ongoing efforts by the government to formalize labor practices in the domestic services industry both at home and abroad, with an estimated 2.3 million Indonesian domestic workers abroad and an additional undocumented population.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia
Commemorating the day when homosexuality was de-pathologized by the World Health Organization in 1990, the 13th-annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) stands as an occasion for global mobilization towards LGBT visibility and security. The day, like many global celebrations, is also one many governments choose to speak out on global human rights and minority security, announcing initiatives to support their LGBT citizens and international projects.
Even today, ongoing disagreements between nations over LGBT rights have prompted diplomatic rows and roadblocks to international cooperation, including the recent objection of 51 Muslim countries to the participation of LGBT groups in a U.N. AIDS forum in June. The push to extinguish homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at all geographic levels remains important to the global mobility of LGBT people worldwide.
LGBT Nigerians have continued wrestling with conflicting legal messages, with the recent passage of the landmark HIV Anti-Discrimination Act doing little to undo the effects of a 2014 anti-homosexuality law.
The Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organized events for IDAHOT in Bulawayo, focusing on mental health as ongoing social and healthcare difficulties plague the community.
Though homosexuality remains criminalized in Tunisia, activists have achieved increased visibility and pushed for legal reform amidst ongoing discrimination.
Israel reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT Israelis, announcing funding to support an emergency shelter for LGBT youth and a hostel for trans people who have recently undergone gender confirmation surgery.
Days before IDAHOT, activists staged a sit-in outside of a Beirut gendarmerie, protesting Lebanon‘s anti-homosexuality legal holdovers from French occupation. Similarly, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) issued an appeal to the Lebanese government to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing for recognition of homosexuality’s presence within the natural variation of human sexuality.
Across Latin America, important gains in same-sex partnership and family rights and gender identity healthcare and legal protections have heartened LGBT Latin Americans, but the region continues to have some of the highest reported rates of violence against the LGBT community in the world.
LGBT organizations held cultural and political events throughout Argentina to highlight conditions facing the Argentine LGBT community, call for an anti-discrimination law, and press for federal recognition of the International Day Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, as the day is known.
Cuba celebrated the day fresh off Pride events in Havana, where Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raúl Castro, led a parade of thousands through the city streets.
In China, a study conducted by the U.N. Development Programme, Peking University, and the Beijing LGBT Center, the largest of its kind to date, was released revealing that only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are fully out at school and work, but also showed encouraging levels of acceptance of LGBTI people among China’s youth. The head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission expressed support for anti-discrimination legislation at IDAHOT festivities in the city.
In Fiji, former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined festivities at the French Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the island’s LGBTQI community.
A tug-of-war over LGBT rights between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-diversity moderates in Indonesia has led to mixed messages about LGBT security in the nation, spurring anti-discrimination protests.
A recent Human Rights Watch report on anti-LGBT bullying in Japan served as a reminder of the purpose of the day, highlighting rampant anti-LGBT sentiment even as the government has initiated broad efforts to combat bullying in schools.
The divergent prospects for LGBTI people across Europe, from Western Europe’s distinctive commitment to the protection of gender diversity to ongoing persecution in the East, was further confirmed through a UNESCO report highlighting anti-LGBT violence in schools released as global education ministers met in Paris.
In Gibraltar, organizers canceled event plans in support of action on marriage equality legislation currently under consideration, arguing that holding a rally in front of the Parliament as uncertainty prevails would undermine pressure on MPs.
Kosovo‘s first Pride march brought out hundreds from the LGBT community to Pristina, including the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.
Organizations in Luxembourg planned a silent march to call attention to the plight of LGBTI individuals worldwide and call for increased international protections (including asylum).
Organizers in Serbia took the day to announce the date of this year’s Pride parade (September 18) and address concerns of homophobia as right-wing parliamentary representation has increased.
After advocates scrapped plans for IDAHOT activities in Georgia due to security concerns, a group of activists were arrested for painting pro-LGBT graffiti on administrative buildings. A “Family Day” protest against LGBT rights and visibility, the third such anti-LGBT demonstration, brought together members of Georgia’s conservative Orthodox community and international religious groups.
In the U.K., London’s new mayor promised to make the city a more just place for its LGBT residents as a rainbow flag flew over the Mayor’s Office.
One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:
Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.
In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.
Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.
From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.
In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.
Middle East & Africa
Police in Egyptblocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.
South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.
Despite its criminalization, the practice of pasung, the physical shackling of people with mental illness, has continued throughout Indonesia, with an estimated 18,000 subjected to the imprisonment according to a new Human Rights Watch report. Families in the poor, rural regions of the Muslim-majority nation often turn to faith-healers and other pseudoscientific practices as mental health services are severely lacking throughout the country. Psychological and social divergence from societal norms are conflated as disruptions to community relations land “violators” in squalor in Indonesia’s poorly maintained mental hospitals.