Scotland. In a fight against period poverty, the Scottish government has decided to make menstrual products freely available. While pads and tampons were already accessible for free in schools and universities, they are now also available to women outside the education system. The cost for this undertaking is estimated to be around £31 million.
USA. Movie director Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape. He will now be extradited to California to be charged with multiple sexual assaults.
Luxembourg. In March public transport has become free in Luxembourg. The country with the highest rate of cars per people in the EU has taken this step to battle trafic congestion and help low income citizens.
Turkey/ Greece. After Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike in Syria in late February, Turkish PM Erdogan opened the Turkish border with the EU to be open for refugees to put prssure on the EU to grant Turkey more support. However, the EU, and particularly Greece were refugees previously staying in Turkey are attempting to cross the border, are unwilling to let them in. Greek police used tear gas against the people, some of them children, trying to cross the border. In the increasingly hostile anti-refugee atmosphere even journalists have been attacked by locals.
Australia. Wildfires that consumed more than 16 million hectares—approximately the size of Tunisia—are now either contained or extinguished. In early February, torrential rains—estimated at more than the accumulated rainfall for the entire year of 2019 and lasting for only three days—helped put out many fires which had been raging for months. Australia has lost more than 20% of its forests, more than one billion animals perished, and the weather is predicted to become hotter and drier in the years to come; making it likely that Australia runs the risk of experiencing an increasing amount of bushfires in the future. The fires lasted from October 2019 until February 2020.
Afghanistan. On the 29th February, the US signed a deal with the Taliban in preparation of a full withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan. The deal includes a timeline for the U.S. and NATO troops to pull out, as well as assurances that the Taliban will prevent any militant groups from basing their operations within Afghan territory and posing a security threat to the U.S. and its allies. The deal was signed in Doha, Qatar—where the Taliban’s political headquarters are located—and has laid the foundation for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban; though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently rejected a clause in the deal concerning the exchange or pardoning of Taliban prisoners. The war in Afghanistan has lasted 18 years and 5 months as of March 2020. It is the longest war in U.S. history.
Myanmar. The Maldives, represented by Human Rights lawyer Amal Clooney, will join the Gambia in litigations against Myanmar regarding their treatment of Rohingya Muslims in what has been recognized as genocide by various UN organs, International Criminal Court officials, human rights activists and several governments. The initial decision of the International Court of Justice on 23 January 2020, concerning the “Rohingya case” (The Gambia v. Myanmar), was that Myanmar is obligated to prevent further violence against the Rohingya. The case proceedings will continue, with the Court having set the dates 23 July 2020 and 25th January 2021 for the Gambia and Myanmar, respectively, to file their initial pleadings. In October 2016—and again in August 2017—the Myanmar armed forces and police launched a major crackdown on Rohingya people in the Rakhine State in northeastern Myanmar. Estimated death tolls are around 25,000; sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls at around 18,000; more than 100,000 cases of brutal beatings; more than 100,000 homes burned down; and around 750,000 people displaced. The de facto head of government and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has dismissed allegations of targeted systematic violence against the Rohingya people, and, ironically, defended the same Myanmar military responsible for her 15 year long incarceration which ended in 2010. The conflict is still ongoing.
China, Xinjiang. Estimates are that around 1-3 million Uyghur Muslims are interned in “re-education” camps administered by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China. Former detainees report to have been tortured and otherwise mistreated. Whereas camps have been compared to concentration camps, the governor of Xinjiang refutes these comparisons and describes them as resembling boarding schools.
pi-IMG_5623, zhrefch, CC0 1.0