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STAND Conflict Update: March 2023

Northeast Africa

Sudan

On March 11th, Sudan’s military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, along with the Rapid Support Forces leader, Mohamad Hamda Dagalo, met in Khartoum. There has been tension between the two groups, as the army is trying to gain authority over all of Sudan’s military forces, while the Rapid Support Forces are aiming for independence. 

This month, talks began about military reforms, which are a major aspect of the democratic transition. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan came out with a statement saying that the army will be run under a new civilian-led government. He also stated that it is time to end the dictatorship form of government that has been in place for so long and shift to a democracy. Additionally, he stated that part of the reform will include creating a military force that will remain separate from politics and that civilians can rely on for completing the shift to a more democratic state. 

South Sudan

The government of South Sudan resumed peace talks with holdout rebel groups before quickly adjourning to resolve differences on the structure of the negotiations. Rebel groups have asked for a conference that includes all relevant stakeholders, while the government would prefer to focus on only the issues they see as most relevant, picking up where they left off from the most recent round of negotiations. Talks are set to resume on May 8th.

At the same time, the government is facing its own rifts, which threaten a fragile peace agreement.  On March 8, President Salva Kiir dismissed the country’s foreign minister without any apparent reason. This came less than a week after he did the same to the country’s ministers of defense and interior, the former of whom is Vice President Riek Machar’s wife.  While Machar condemned the move, he has remained committed to the peace agreement that guides his and Kiir’s unity government. However, these developments indicate potentially fragility in the arrangement.

Tigray, Ethiopia

The US State Department, in its annual global human rights report, has determined that all sides of the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia committed crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and sexual violence, persecution, civilian starvation, deportation, and the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans. It is estimated that 500,000 civilians were killed in Tigray alone over the course of the two-year war. While important steps are being taken towards peace, it is necessary to reckon with the impact these atrocities have had on the people of Ethiopia.

On a more positive note, Ethiopia has established a new interim government in the region of Tigray. Getachew Reda, appointed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was chosen as the head of this new administration on March 23, and this collaboration is an important part of the November 2022 peace agreement. The TPLF has also been removed from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist organizations, signaling an improvement in the relationship between both sides of the conflict and a hope for lasting peace.

Central Africa

Cameroon

Violence has continued with no signs of progress towards peace in the last month. Although there has been little news about Canada’s proposed peace agreement for Cameroon, the two countries have partnered for other purposes. They have begun an initiative in which Canada will support local business development in Cameroon, which could signal greater cooperation and a potential future plan for peace negotiations. Cameroon has also experienced significant political developments domestically. On March 12, President Paul Biya’s party won all Senate seats up for election. This sets the majority party up for continued rule, while minority parties, including anglophones, remain unrepresented in formal government.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been heating up for the past month despite efforts to end the ongoing violence between the government and other rebel forces. While the UN has called for rebel groups, including the M23 group, to honor a ceasefire agreement early in the month, acts of violence continue to surge, breaking the agreement. Islamist militant groups have committed multiple violent attacks, killing 40 people in one attack and 19 people in another, as well as destroying a medical facility. These events have prompted neighboring countries like Angola to send troops to quell the violence in the eastern part of the country. As a result, 300,000 people have had to leave their homes in the last month, joining a total of 800,000 who have been displaced since last year. The humanitarian crisis will likely not end until lasting peace can be ensured for the region. 

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

After years of continuous hostilities, hopes have been elevated that the Saudi Arabian–led intervention in Yemen might finally come to an end due to an unexpected deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran this month. Nevertheless, analysts caution that if Saudi Arabia were to decide to cease military activities, the conflict there would still be far from over and may potentially get more violent. The long-standing animosity between the Houthis and their rivals, as well as the conflicts and strains that rule the anti-Houthi camp, cannot be resolved by Iran and Saudi Arabia uniting.

Syria

As Syria continues to recover from the devastating earthquake that struck in February, the nation has become more and more vulnerable to internal conflict. Last month, the UN reported that the humanitarian crisis has been at the highest level since the start of the conflict. Since the defeat of ISIS in 2019, over 65,000 detainees have been held in northwestern Syria. As ISIS starts to regain power in Syria, they have also made moves to free their captured fighters, along with allied women and children. There have been calls from humanitarian organizations for the removal and rehabilitation of those detained in these camps.

Despite the lull in conflict for much of the month due to earthquake recovery, air strikes and bombings from all sides have recently begun to re-escalate last week. Israel carried out an airstrike on Aleppo International Airport, where much of the recent humanitarian aid has come in. Following a Syrian militia drone attack that killed a U.S. contractor and injured six other Americans, the US killed 19 in retaliatory air strikes. After that, the Iran-backed militias involved struck multiple US coalition bases in a further attack. The ongoing humanitarian crisis is only worsened by this violence and destruction.

Palestine

Last week, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich caused outrage by denying the existence of Palestine and Palestinians. Earlier this month, he also stated that a Palestinian village in the West Bank should be wiped out. This reflects a destructive colonial mentality that only serves to worsen the conflict.

The United Nations has also expressed concern over the ongoing conflict in Palestine. Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has reported that the occupation must end in order for the violence to end. The death toll has risen alongside escalating violence, and 2022 was the deadliest year in the past 17 years for Palestinians and in the past 6 years for Israelis. Over half a century of occupation, oppression, and human rights violations have deeply impacted the people of Palestine, creating lasting legacies of harm. Change is needed.

East and South Asia

Burma

The U.S. Treasury Department has recently imposed sanctions on Tun Min Latt and his wife, Win Min Soe and the companies they run under their names, Sia Sun Group, Asia Sun Trading Co Ltd, and Cargo Link Petroleum Logistics Co Ltd, along with three other firms involved in importing weapons and military equipment, such as drones and aircraft parts. This is important because the Burmese military has increasingly used airstrikes to attack villages and other countries have imposed sanctions on jet fuel suppliers. These actions align with the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union’s decision to impose more sanctions on Burmese companies that are giving direct aid to the Junta.

On Armed Forces Day, greeted by lavish parades and thousands of perfectly placed troops, General Min Aung Hlaing vowed to crush acts of terror by armed resistance groups. In the same speech, he continued to blame former leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic party for the alleged election fraud in November 2020. He promised an eventual return to democracy where he promised that the winning group would be able to peacefully rule, but his promises of democracy seem to be shallow as support from China and Russia sat side-by-side with the General as he gave his speech.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

As tensions rise between the United States and China as Xi Jinping enters his third term as China’s president, the issues surrounding East Turkistan still remain at the forefront of this contentious relationship between both countries.This month, the United States convened a committee in the House dealing with competition with China. This drew bipartisan support, although some fear it could escalate tensions with the ruling Chinese government. At a recent hearing, two Uyghur and Uzbek women, both oppressed minority groups in China, spoke of the horrors of being placed in internment camps that they described as being like a war zone. As the month of Ramadan has come, celebrated by Muslims around the world including the ethnic minorities that live in East Turkistan, President Biden has expressed his solidarity with the Uyghur population as they struggle with the oppression that the Chinese government has inflicted upon them. With this clear message from the US, it is imperative that change will come as a result of these hearings.

Kashmir

The UN has urged India to immediately stop its repression of Kashmiri activists. The government must be held accountable for the violation of human rights that they are responsible for upholding. This call comes from the arrest and ongoing detainment of prominent Kashmiri activist Khurram Parvez and the manipulation of laws used by the government to detain the activists. He was charged with financing terrorism for his investigation into India’s human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, an arrest that has been widely criticized by the international community.

North America

United States

This year, a record number of bills targeting transgender people and all members of the LGBTQ+ community have been introduced in numerous State governments. The ACLU is currently tracking 435 anti-LBGTQ bills in the United States, many of which revolve around removing access to gender affirming healthcare, censoring education, and banning trans people from playing on the sports team and using the bathroom that aligns with their gender. At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), right-wing political commentator Michael Knowles called for the eradication of trans people. This is just one instance of the transphobic rhetoric that is becoming increasingly mainstream and is a warning sign of the early steps of genocide.

Gun violence also continues to run rampant in the United States. This month, 38 mass shootings have killed 57 people and injured another 133. Six people, including three children, were just killed this Monday on March 27. It is clear that change is needed to end this epidemic of gun violence. 

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Alishba Waqar is a junior at Westfield High School. She contributed to the Yemen portion of this update.

Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University majoring in Global Health, and minoring in Peace and Conflict Studies. She contributed to the Sudan portion of this update. 

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA majoring in International Development Studies. She contributed to the Tigray, Palestine, and United States portions of this update.

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and East Turkistan portions of this update.

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University. She contributed to the Cameroon and South Sudan portions of this update.

Seng Hkawn Myitung is a sophomore at Albemarle High School. They contributed to the Burma, Kashmir, and Syria portions of this update.

 

March 2023 Lesson Plan: Yemen

STAND’s Education team, with the help of the Yemen Action Committee, has put together a lesson plan that includes resources and activities designed to introduce students to key concepts relating to the Yemen priority area and the ongoing conflict and atrocities there. Since the Yemeni Civil War really escalated in March 2015, eight years ago, we thought this would be a timely theme for the month! STAND encourages advisors and chapter leaders to adapt the plans to your own context, and do what works best for their members.

Download the lesson plan here

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STAND Conflict Update: February 2023

Northeast Africa

Sudan

This month, the need for humanitarian assistance for the people of Sudan has reached an all time high. The four risks that are the most significant at the moment for the Sudanese people are conflict, disease outbreak, an extremely poor economic state, and natural disasters. Additionally, many Sudanese people are experiencing a lack of access to water, along with food insecurities that are causing starvation and malnutrition. Humanitarian organizations plan to provide food, healthcare, and basic necessities, but there is still a lot of uncertainty, and the situation continues to deteriorate.

Likewise, a disease outbreak is sweeping the nation. Some people have contracted malaria while others have contracted dengue fever. While most people thought they had malaria due to the malaria-like symptoms, it turns out that they had actually contracted the dengue fever virus. One of the biggest factors contributing to the disease spike in the nation is the poor public health system, along with a lack of access to health care. 

South Sudan

On February 3, the Pope arrived in South Sudan and encouraged leaders and civilians to support meaningful peace. Ahead of his visit, President Salva Kiir announced that the government would resume participation in peace talks with holdout opposition groups. The announcement was cautiously welcomed by opposition leaders, but it is unclear what progress in the peace process has been made since then.

Some progress has been made in achieving transition goals, as the government continues to work on a new constitution. It was announced this month that a law allowing arrests without warrants would be removed, indicating room for compromise and more democratic governance. Leaders have also said that they plan to have elections next December, with a formal transition of power in early 2025. This could force more action towards comprehensive peace in the coming year.

Tigray, Ethiopia

On February 3, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and senior leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) met in person for the first time since the peace deal was signed to discuss progress in the restoration of communications, disarming of armed groups, withdrawal of Eritrean troops and access to humanitarian aid. However, many Tigrayans have reported that attacks on civilians, especially sexual assault, are still ongoing. One woman recounted how she was raped by a soldier on the same day of this meeting. Progress cannot be made if the people of Tigray are still suffering.

On this note, the Ethiopian government has called for an end to investigations into its human rights abuses during the war. The UN has ordered an inquiry into the massacres, rapes, and arbitrary detentions that took place in Ethiopia, but the government is opposed to this. Ethiopia has claimed that this is a politically motivated stunt to block funding, but these crimes have been widely documented. Ending the investigation would set a bad precedent and not hold Ethiopia accountable, but continuing it may result in diplomatic conflicts.

Central Africa

Cameroon

The Cameroonian government has refused to participate in peace talks proposed by Canada and conflict has continued to escalate, especially due to controversy over the upcoming Senate elections. Anglophone separatists vowed in January to disrupt this process and killed two election officials. Clashes have continued over the past month, with both sides claiming to have killed scores of opposing soldiers. The government has refused to release exact numbers of troops who have been killed, but touted their successes in detaining separatist soldiers who have surrendered. They plan to continue with elections as scheduled.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Despite the recent visit of the Pope last month, tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) still remain high as the government clashes with rebel forces. The government has also blamed rebel forces, especially the M23 group, for violence, including the death of an UN peacekeeper. However, many civilians have been expressing anti-UN sentiments since last year, claiming they were not being protected by these UN peacekeepers.

Conflict has continued, and eight civilians were killed in clashes after protestors blocked an UN convoy. In addition to this, Amnesty International has reported that the M23 group was involved in numerous killings and mass rapes on a large scale since Novemeber of last year. While things may be looking up as people in the DRC have registered to vote in this year’s election in December, it remains to be seen if any lasting change will happen in this ongoing crisis.     

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

During a national conference on Monday to contribute to humanitarian assistance funding for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, international donors donated roughly $1.2 billion. The amount is much less than the $4.3 billion goal established by the UN to avert the humanitarian disasters in Yemen. The United Nations, Sweden, and Switzerland jointly sponsored the national conference in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Yemen needs the funds to cover food expenses and medical services as more than 21 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.  The ongoing armed conflict has resulted in violence, displacement, and food shortages, but there is hope that peace will improve the conditions for Yemenis.

Syria

On February 6th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck northern and western Syria, along with southern and central Turkey. Tens of thousands of people were killed and just as many people were injured as a result of the earthquake. Millions of Syrians have been left homeless and in need of humanitarian aid because of the earthquake. This is especially concerning because the humanitarian crisis in this region was already at the highest level since the start of conflict in Syria in 2011. Over 4 million people were already in need of aid before the earthquake occurred, and hundreds of thousands more will need help because of it.

On a more positive note, in the Netherlands, the first case trying the Syrian armed group Daesh for crimes against humanity has begun. Daesh has targeted Yazidi and Christian religious minorities with genocide, committing murder, enslavement, forced displacement, sexual violence, and other atrocities. Twelve women rescued from a prison camp have spoken out against the abuse they faced in these hearings. This is an important step for justice and accountability.

Palestine

Israeli and Palestinian officials held a summit in Jordan for the first time in a number of years in an effort to improve relations before the holy month of Ramadan, which many worry might serve as the ignition for a larger escalation. At this meeting, representatives from Israel and Palestine pledged to start working right away to stop additional conflict.

This comes at a time of conflict and high tensions. Late last month, the Israeli military killed nine Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the deadliest raid in decades. There is hope for peace and reconciliation, but Israel’s plans to build more housing in and fully annex the West Bank negate that. The participants agreed to meet again in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt next month for additional discussion.

East and South Asia

Burma

February 1 marked the second anniversary of the military coup in Burma, and life in Burma has not changed much since then. Around 3,000 people have been killed, 17,000 detained, and 1.5 million displaced. The international response has been strong, with both the United States and the European Union (EU) imposing sanctions on the military government. The EU recently placed a sixth round of sanctions on Burma, targeting 9 high ranking officials and 7 companies. It placed restrictive measures on private companies involved in supplying fuel, weapons, and funding to the military and travel bans on certain individuals who have sentenced protesters to death, overseen air strikes, ordered massacres, and committed other atrocities. 

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

A major data leak from Chinese police documents has been released, revealing mass systems of surveillance and enabling people to search for files on their missing family members. Tens of thousands of people were listed as detained, mainly between 2016-2018, and there are around 750,000 total people in the files. The Chinese government has not yet spoken on this, but previously claimed that similar reports were misinformation and propaganda. Through these documents, multiple Uyghurs who have fled the country have found that their family members were targeted because of them and arrested for arbitrary reasons such as taking a vacation in a so-called suspicious country and associating with political dissidents. 

Canada has also recently voted to take in 10,000 Uyghur refugees over the next two years, a strong show of support following their recognition of the genocide in 2021. While this is a non-binding measure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have stated that they intend to make this happen. 

Kashmir

The Rawalpindi Arts Council in Pakistan held a photography exhibit early this month highlighting Indian atrocities in Kashmir. At this event, speakers called for Kashmiri freedom and self-determination and declared that Pakistan stands with Kashmir. This was just one of many events, protests, and other demonstrations held on Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5. At the main state ceremony, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for India to end its occupation of Kashmir and honor previous agreements.

There was also diplomatic conflict between India and Pakistan at a recent United Nations assembly. Pakistan reiterated a call for India to end its occupation of Kashmir and brought up the recent death of a young Kashmiri boy after being tortured by Indian forces. India responded, declaring that Kashmir is an integral part of the nation and criticizing Pakistan for harboring hatred towards India. Tensions continue to rise between these two countries over Kashmir.

North America

United States

There have been multiple proposed bills in the United States Congress relating to genocide and atrocity issues. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Congressman Josh Gottheimer and three others introduced the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act. This House bill follows a startling rise in antisemitic incidents and Holocaust misinformation over recent years. The HEAL Act would direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to evaluate state-level Holocaust education and report its findings to Congress. Late last month, Senator Tammy Duckworth re-introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act. During the Second World War, the United States forcibly removed over 120,000 Japanese Americans and incarcerated them in camps. This Senate bill would clearly prohibit the incarceration of individuals based on their identity and rectify the loophole created by the Non-Detention Act of 1971, which does not specify this. 

In other news, Judge Susan Eagen sentenced the domestic terrorist who killed ten people and injured three at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, to life in prison without parole. The gunman was convicted of one act of domestic terrorism motivated by hate and ten counts of first-degree murder after he targeted a supermarket within a predominantly Black neighborhood last year. 

Additionally, this month marks one year since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. Vice President Kamala Harris declared at the Munich Security Conference that Russia is committing crimes against humanity in Ukraine. The United States Department of State released a press statement reporting summary executions, mass rape, and child deportations. Furthermore, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution imploring Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

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Alishba Waqar is a junior at Westfield High School.  She contributed to the Yemen and Palestine portion of this update.

Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University majoring in Global Health, and minoring in Peace and Conflict Studies. She contributed to the Sudan portion of this update. 

Anne-Sophie Hellman is a junior at Buffalo State University majoring in History. She contributed to the United States portion of this update. 

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA majoring in International Development Studies. She contributed to the Tigray and East Turkistan portions of this update.

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo portion of this update.

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University. She contributed to the Cameroon and South Sudan portions of this update.

Seng Hkawn Myitung is a sophomore at Albemarle High School. She contributed to the Burma, Kashmir, and Syria portions of this update.

February 2023 Lesson Plan: Burma

STAND’s Education team, with the help of the Burma Action Committee, has put together a lesson plan that includes resources and activities designed to introduce students to key concepts relating to Burma, one of STAND’s priority areas, and the atrocities committed there. Since February 1, 2023 was the second anniversary of the military coup, we decided to release these materials to chapters this month. STAND encourages advisors and chapter leaders to adapt the plans to your own context (high school vs. college, member knowledge base, meeting time limit, etc.)!

Download the lesson plan here

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STAND Conflict Update: January 2023

Northeast Africa

Sudan

On January 10, Egypt proposed an initiative to help Sudan settle its ongoing crisis and further unity in Sudan. The Egyptian government plans to create tactics that will lead to a peace settlement, aiming to provide aid to the Sudanese government and restore the former civilian-led transitional government. They also want to ensure that the Democratic Unionist Party is involved in the post-transitional government, as they have historically been allied. Sudanese military and government officials are currently in the process of restoring this civilian government, and Egypt plans to be involved.

South Sudan

President Salva Kiir reaffirmed in his New Year Address that the government would not participate in peace talks until rebel groups genuinely commit to peace. However, it is unclear what the threshold is for the government to resume talks. For the time being, some rebel groups have been reportedly preparing for war, and violent clashes have continued. In addition, three humanitarian aid workers have been killed in the past month.

However, there have also been some attempts to build peace and stability. On January 24, South Sudan welcomed the Pope’s advance team in preparation for his visit to the country in February. For the country’s Catholic population, the visit is expected to help promote peace and reduce intercommunal violence. The government also began another attempt to write a new constitution in January, which will be necessary to maintain stability as they move out of the transitional period. Political infighting has limited progress on the constitution, so it remains to be seen what the final product will be.

Tigray, Ethiopia

Following the November 2nd peace treaty signed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government, significant efforts have been made towards peace. The remaining presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray has been an issue due to the country’s involvement in human rights abuses during the war, but forces are now being withdrawn. Ethiopia has stated that there are no more Eritrean troops remaining in the country, but the US claims that they have moved to the border but have not left yet. There is no clear proof on either side, but Tigray has also reported that thousands of troops are still there. On a positive note, Tigrayan forces have been in the process of handing over weapons such as tanks and rockets, a sign that they believe the peace deal will last. 

Central Africa

Cameroon

On January 20, Canada announced that it would host talks to begin a peace process in Cameroon and address some of the technical issues that have caused conflict. Several separatist groups, including the Ambazonia Governing Council and the Ambazonia Defence Force, have agreed to participate in the talks, unlike past attempts at peace processes. However, on January 23, the government of Cameroon denied having asked any other country for assistance in resolving the crisis. This came after months of its representatives attending talks in Canada to begin the process. It remains to be seen what the future of these talks will be, or if the change in stance indicates further fragmentation within the government.

Democratic Republic of Congo 

Despite the recent ceasefire called last month, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government remains suspicious about rebel troops, notably the M23 group. A recent report from the UN details suspected M23 troop movements in areas they were supposed to be withdrawn from. They have also seized new territory in other areas, and have been involved in multiple military clashes.

On January 15, at least 10 people were killed in a church bombing carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Both Uganda and the DRC forces have launched a campaign against them, but attacks have been increasing with no sign of letting up. Recently, the same group attacked a bar, killing 23 people and burning several shops and homes. UN peacekeepers have also made a grisly discovery as bodies were found in mass graves after reports of attacks from local militia groups. A total of 42 victims and six children were found among them, and CODECO militants are suspected of involvement in the killings. These events have left countless people, including children, traumatized and trying to desperately figure out how to rebuild their lives.

 

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

Since the end of the six-month truce in Yemen in October 2022, there has been an uneasy ceasefire. In the past few weeks, Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels have revived back-channel talks in efforts to strengthen the current ceasefire and pave the way towards a more sustainable peace agreement. However, the situation on the ground in Yemen is by no means stable or without violence; military and Houthi activity across the country have continued to result in the deaths of civilians. Additionally, the U.S. Navy reportedly seized over 2,000 assault rifles bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen from Iran. However, in a briefing to the UN Security Council on January 16, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg has urged that parties should take advantage of the lack of major escalation and focus their efforts on holistic peace efforts rather than short-term measures that focus on individual issues. As Yemen remains ravaged by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, it is vital for all parties to meaningfully engage with UN Peacebuilding mechanisms, and that those mechanisms are inclusive and Yemeni-led.

Syria

Early this month, the Israeli military launched a missile strike at an airport in Damascus, killing two soldiers and putting the airport out of service. While tensions have remained high between Israel and Syria, they have also risen between Turkey and Syria. Due to the threatening presence of Kurdish forces in northern Syria, Turkey has threatened a military offensive to stop them. Russia also has a presence in the region and had talks with Turkey to expand troop patrols to bring better security to the region. While some Syrians in the area have protested against the renewed contacts between Turkey and Syria, the effects of the civil war that has been brewing since 2011 have taken a toll, displacing countless people and sending many to Turkey as refugees. The UN has unanimously voted on a resolution to bring cross-border aid from Turkey to the northern part of Syria for another six months, while Amnesty International has called on the Syrian government to lift its siege on civilians in Aleppo. Hopefully, with these measures being implemented, the region can see a sign of reprieve from the horrors of ongoing civil war.    

Palestine

Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in December and the swearing in of his new government, human rights defenders and policy experts began warning against the actions the extremist, far right government would begin to take. So far this year, the government is looking to be as bad as people feared. The government is moving to continue and expand illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has banned the flying of the Palestinian flag in public, and is actively working to weaken the power of the Israeli Supreme Court to reverse or strike down legislation. Furthermore, violence against Palestinians is on the rise. On the heels of the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2005, 2023 has already seen the deaths of at least 23 Palestinians by the Israeli military in the West Bank alone, including several children. At least one of the individuals killed occurred during a raid on the Qalandia refugee camp. According to the IMEU, Palestinian children have begun carrying goodbye letters on their person just in case, for fear of being killed by Israeli soldiers. The ongoing apartheid in Israel cannot be allowed to continue and is a violation of international law. The international community is obligated to take action to hold the government of Israel responsible for the decades of atrocities.

East and South Asia

Burma

Earlier this month, Burma’s military government held meetings with three different armed groups in the nation about holding elections in the regions they control. However, the military justified their initial takeover by claiming that there was fraud in the 2020 elections, and have spent the last two years suppressing opposition parties and taking control of the entire voting process. Because of this, many see this move as an attempt to legitimize the coup through a vote that may be unfair. 

At the same time, opponents of the military government plan to protest the second anniversary of the coup on February 1. They urge the entire country to participate in a silent strike within their homes to show mass discontent. Previously, the military has responded violently to protests, attacking and killing countless civilians. An estimated 2,890 people have been killed and 17,400 have been detained since the 2021 coup.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

China hosted a delegation of 30 Muslim scholars from the World Muslim Communities Council earlier this month to claim that their treatment of the Uyghurs in East Turkistan is an anti-terrorism measure, not a genocide. Following the visit, the organization has repeated this idea in a press statement, a move that has been heavily criticized by the World Uyghur Congress. The trip has been described as a propaganda visit to gloss over China’s atrocities by getting Muslims to deny the criminalization of Islam among the Uyghurs.

The World Uyghur Congress also recently challenged the British government in court for not investigating cotton imported from East Turkistan that may have been produced with forced labor. Unfortunately, they lost the case, as the court decided that they did not have a clear link to forced labor from specific products. 

Kashmir

On January 1, two gunmen broke into homes, killing four civilians and injuring six others. Those shot were part of the Hindu community, reflecting the bitter divide between Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan fighting over Kashmir. The next morning on the 2nd, an explosion occurred in one of the homes that was attacked, resulting in the deaths of two children and injuring four others. It is still unclear if the attackers from the first incident played a role in the explosion.

In responding to these two incidents, blame has shifted between both India and Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir region, as local residents have protested these events. While India’s government has blamed Pakistani militants for the attacks, political parties in the Kashmir region have blamed security lapses of the ruling lieutenant governor from policies that have resulted in more attacks in the region. Despite this, all sides have condemned the two attacks and security has been increased in the region.

North America

United States

January has been a tumultuous month as gun violence has continued to run rampant across the U.S. in the new year. Just in the last week, in California there have been two shootings in three days killing 18 people; the first at a Lunar New Year gathering in Monterey Park targeting Asian-Americans, and the second in Half Moon Bay. Unfortunately, the U.S. is no stranger to these horrific acts this year. According to the Gun Violence Archives, while we are only 24 days into 2023 at the time of writing this piece, there have been 39 mass shootings recorded across the country. Following these tragedies, President Joe Biden called, again, for a congressional bill banning assault weapons. Unfortunately, congress continues to be divided on this issue; last year House Democrats passed a bill banning assault weapons, but the bill stalled out in the Senate with little to no chance of reaching the White House for signature. The absence of gun control policy remains unacceptable in a country where mass shootings outnumber the days in the year, and the leading cause of death among children and youth under 24 is gun violence. As we move into February and beyond, we cannot continue to operate in the familiar cycle of witnessing these tragedies, calling for change, and meeting inaction. It is urgent that U.S. policymakers protect lives over weapons and take swift and concrete actions to prevent further loss of lives.

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Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University. She contributed to the Sudan portion of this update.

Alonna Despain is a recent graduate of New York University with a MS in Human Rights and International Law. She contributed to the Palestine, United States, and Yemen portions of this update. 

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA studying International Development Studies. She contributed to the Tigray, Burma, and East Turkistan portions of this update.

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Kashmir portion of this update. 

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University. She contributed to the Cameroon and South Sudan portions of this update.

STAND Conflict Update: December 2022

Northeast Africa

Sudan- 

On December 5, 2022, an agreement was signed between the military of Sudan and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a coalition made up of the civilian members of the former transitional government. This deal includes language to create the framework for a new transitional government to be formed by civilians. While it includes general wording for the government to be held accountable for human rights issues, it is phrased in a vague way that fails to acknowledge any formal, specific policy on how to do so. The agreement states that specific plans will be made at a later time. 

Even though this pact has been made, there have been many protests regarding the agreement. Thousands have joined protests in the capital, and have been met with severe violence and poor treatment from police. They believe that this peace deal will not do anything and will only serve as an extension of the coup to keep the military in power.

South Sudan

On December 24, there were violent ethnic clashes in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, as armed people attacked from the nearby Jonglei state. This comes amidst a larger trend of ethnic violence in South Sudan. The UN reported that about 30,000 civilians have been displaced by ethnic violence in South Sudan.

Despite continued high levels of intercommunal violence, there has been some progress in establishing more stable peace in the nation. After ending formal participation in peace talks with rebel groups last month, the South Sudanese government has pursued other avenues for establishing peace and working with these groups. It remains to be seen what form this new approach will take. In addition, President Kiir on December 25 formally forgave Vice President Machar for, in his view, causing power struggles. The two have a history of disagreement and clashes, which appeared to be escalating again over the past two months. Machar has not responded, but it is possible that the two may be recommitting to peace and collaboration.

Tigray, Ethiopia

Since the ceasefire between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front last month, the situation has continued to improve. Mediators from both sides are currently negotiating the terms of a truce, where important settlements such as the withdrawal of Eritrean troops and the restoration of humanitarian aid are being discussed. Eritrea’s role in these atrocities is notable, especially since its military has been seen looting towns and arresting civilians in Tigray after the peace agreement was signed.

In another important step forward, Ethiopian Airlines has resumed flights into Tigray, connecting people who have been separated for two years due to war. The entire region has also been reconnected to the national power grid, and plans have been made for a handover of weapons. While the peace process is progressing slowly, there is a general sense of hope that the war and the atrocities committed during it could end.

 

Central Africa

Cameroon

The Anglophone Crisis has continued with little progress towards peace. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on December 16 that more than 7,000 people were displaced as a result of this civil war in a single month. Civilians continue to bear the burden of the continued violence in other ways as well. There have been reports of unfair detentions, as people are labeled separatists with little proof. Conditions for detainees have been inadequate, and many have died in custody without due process or ability to see their families. The economy has been severely disrupted as well.

Despite the lack of progress this past month, there is hope for possible change. Cameroonian President Paul Biya attended the US-Africa summit on December 13-15, where he was expected to discuss a new response to the anglophone crisis with President Biden. The summit was reportedly fruitful, though there were not any reports of specific decisions made on this issue.

Democratic Republic of Congo 

With the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between government and rebel forces, security is one of the most significant challenges facing the region. Because of human rights abuses and having the highest number of internally displaced persons in Africa, the UN has intensified its support of providing humanitarian aid and condemning the atrocities by the rebel groups.

Not only has violent conflict affected the DRC but severe flooding has caused great damage recently as well. At least 100 people have been killed from floods and landslides in the capital city of Kinshasa this month. This has been the worst flooding the country has seen since 2019, and the death toll has been rising. However, there is hope for a more peaceful situation as the M23 rebel group has withdrawn from seized positions in a goodwill gesture as the result of a ceasefire that was called last month. Hopefully this can ease tensions and build a stronger platform for peace in the next year. 

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

Over the past few weeks, President Biden lobbied against and even threatened to veto the Yemen War Powers Resolution blocking US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, despite his pledge to stop US support for the war. 

The Yemen War Powers Resolution was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, who called for a vote on December 13th. According to The New Republic, during the debate over the war powers resolution, the White House had pleaded with senators to vote against it. A vote in support, according to the White House, was not necessary as serious conflicts haven’t commenced despite the ceasefire’s expiration, and they believe the vote will make mediation increasingly challenging. Additionally, the White House has issued a warning that the resolution could make it difficult to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Accordingly, Sanders withdrew his bill before the scheduled vote, but pledged to discuss the resolution again if he and Biden are unable to reach a consensus on how to stop the war. This is disappointing, as US weapons are still being used to bomb Yemen.

Syria

After weeks of Turkish airstrike attacks, Syria and other neighboring countries are trying to gauge if Turkish threats of invasion are serious. Turkey sees the Kurdish forces along their shared border with Syria as a threat and has launched attacks against Kurdish forces. Not only has anti-refugee sentiment grown in Turkey, but discrimination and violence have only increased against Kurdish people living in Turkey. Syria has been pressuring the U.S. and Russia, who both have military posts in northern Syria, to prevent further attacks from Turkey. The Kurds are also worried that Western silence will give Turkey further motivation to intensify attacks against Syria.

As Turkish relations worsen in Syria, so do the humanitarian and economic crises. Energy and fuel shortages have become more common, and access to healthcare has become more difficult to acquire. A projected 3 million Syrians could face food insecurity as many Syrian families have become unable to meet basic needs because of the increasing conflict. The lack of access to healthcare and basic needs has also contributed to a rise in cholera cases, and the displacement, imprisonment, and disappearance of Syrian people continue to go on in the heat of Syrian conflict.

Palestine

On December 27, dozens of Palestinian protesters marched from the Al-Amari refugee camp, south of Ramallah, to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, protesting against Israel’s refusal to release over 300 bodies of prisoners. According to the protesters, these bodies are being kept to put pressure on Hamas to release four missing Israeli soldiers in Gaza. During the protests, at least 11 individuals were wounded in the capital when Israeli security forces fought with protesters calling for the return of the Palestinian bodies held hostage at the Qalandia crossing. 

While these protests are ongoing, there is positive news that Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, announced recently that he is planning to open an embassy in Palestine. In order to create diplomatic connections between Palestine and Chile, Gabriel Boric has declared that his nation will increase the level of its representation of its Palestinian citizens by opening an embassy, as Chile is home to the largest Palestinian communities outside the Middle East. Chile will be the first nation in Latin America to establish an embassy in Palestine. 

East and South Asia

Burma

Starting off with good news: the BURMA Act of 2021 has been passed and signed into law! Thanks to the great work of GM4MD and everyone else who has contributed to the advocacy, education, and awareness of the BURMA act, a huge accomplishment has been made regarding efforts of peace and reconciliation in Burma.

Over a million people have been internally displaced as the military coup has come close to its second year now. Since the coup in February 2021, attacks on mines and environmentalists have increased. Miners and environmentalists have faced conflict with not only the Burmese military, but the Chinese government as well, who use the mines and surrounding land to fuel their hydroelectricity plants. The Burmese military has also strengthened its relationship with the Russian government. Russia and China remain one of the anti-coup movement’s biggest opponents due to their continued support of the military government. Human Rights Chief Volker Turk has denounced Burma’s use of the death sentence against political opposition, and the UN Security Council has demanded a resolution to the violence in Burma, pressuring the Burmese military and the Chinese and Russian governments to give in to their demands. Lastly, the UN has urged other Southeast Asian countries to rescue over 200 Rohingya refugees who have been stranded at sea for the past month. The people on the boat have been without food and water for weeks and are facing extreme dehydration. Crises like these have become more common as thousands of Rohingya refugees are taking the risk to cross the sea to escape to Bangladesh.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

 

On November 24, a fire broke out at an apartment building in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkistan. This resulted in the deaths of at least 10 Uyghur Muslims. Protests condemning the state’s zero-COVID policies– which exacerbated the fire’s severity and prevented firetrucks from reaching the scene– erupted across the country, particularly among China’s younger generation of workers and university students. While a promising indication of the people’s unwillingness to accept authoritarian measures, no one protesting in China made demands to close the camps, end forced labor or stop the Uyghur genocide. While some among China’s majority Han Chinese population have expressed sentiments of common humanity, with Chinese netizens circulating slogans like “we are all Chinese people” and referring to Xinjiang residents as “tongbao,” or compatriots, their aversion to explicitly naming the oppressed group in question, the Uyghurs, is a testament to the Chinese Communist Party’s control over the flow of information through censorship and propaganda. Whether the lack of recognition of the ongoing repression and genocide against the Uyghurs is willful ignorance or genuine unknowing, the underlying ethnic and religious forces of oppression must not be ignored. Looking into future conflict updates, Han solidarity with the Uyghurs will be a crucial indicator of progress in resolving the conflict.

At least two more prominent Uyghur cultural figures have died this month following their imprisonment in detention camps. Omar Huseyin, a former preacher, was arrested in 2017 after making the pilgrimage to Mecca. He died in prison, despite being in good health prior to his arrest. Abdulla Sawut, a renowned poet and influential individual in contemporary Uyghur literature, died after being released from prison. His condition deteriorated in prison, and it was reported that he could not obtain medical treatment and food upon release.

Finally, in East Turkistan updates, a report published by the Sheffield Hallam Institute’s Helena Kennedy Institute for International Justice found that almost every automobile company uses parts made by Uyghur forced labor in its production process. In response to the report’s findings, Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (OR-D) sent letters to Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen to ask if they were aware that parts of their cars were sourced from East Turkistan. Additionally, the United Auto Workers Union responded with a statement calling on these companies to move their supply chains out of the province.  

Kashmir

Violence has escalated this month in Kashmir as violent protests erupted after the deaths of two civilians shot by the Indian army. This occurred near the entrance of a military base where three laborers were fired upon in what the Indian army claimed was a terrorist attack. Residents in the town, close to the border between India and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, protested the claim and demanded justice in protests at the base.

On December 28, four suspected militants were killed in a gunfight with Indian police in India-controlled Kashmir after police intercepted a truck carrying weapons and ammunition after the gunfight. More reports will be coming in about the recent event, as so far no one besides the police have confirmed this. 

North America

United States

This week, President Joe Biden signed the BURMA Act into law– a piece of legislation to hold Burma’s military government accountable for genocide and atrocities through sanctions and support for opposition groups. This law has been a priority for many Burmese diaspora activists within the US for a while, and it is an important step in accountability. 

Unfortunately, Biden has not extended his support for the Yemen War Powers Resolution to end US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. While Senator Bernie Sanders attempted to bring it to a vote earlier this month, he withdrew it for rewrites because Biden’s aides recommended a veto if it were to pass. This is disappointing, as the US still needs to reckon with its own role of enabling atrocities for profit. American weapons are being used to bomb Yemen, but the US government could stop if it wanted to.

 

Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University. She contributed to the Sudan portion of this update.

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University.  She contributed to the South Sudan and Cameroon portions of this update.

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA. She contributed to the Tigray and United States portions of this update.

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kashmir portions of this update. 

Alishba Waqar is a junior at Westfield High School. She contributed to the Yemen and Palestine portions of this update. 

Seng Hkawn Myitung is a sophomore at Albemarle High School. They contributed to the Syria and Burma portion of this update.

Robert Liu is a junior at Durham Academy. He contributed to the East Turkistan portion of this update.

STAND Conflict Update: November 2022

Northeast Africa

Sudan

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, visited Sudan on Sunday, November 13. Sudan was Türk’s first official visit since he became the UN High Commissioner. At the meeting, Türk met with the President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, First Lieutenant-General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan. He also met with other representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, along with other regional officials in other parts of the country.

In addition, he held a news conference on November 16, the last day of his visit, in which he emphasized the human rights abuses that are still being committed. Türk expressed a great sense of urgency in ending crises that are currently taking place and how it is crucial that we take whatever actions we can to create change in the country. 

South Sudan

On November 21, the government of South Sudan withdrew from peace talks with rebel groups who did not sign the 2018 deal that officially ended the country’s civil war. These groups, both armed and unarmed, have maintained concerns about the country’s governance and have remained outside of the transition to democratic governance. However, some of the most prominent of the groups, including the National Salvation Front and the South Sudan United Front said on November 25 that they are still committed to the talks. It is unclear what the future of these discussions and peace agreements may look like.

Tigray, Ethiopia

The ongoing peace deal discussions between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have not stopped violence and human rights abuses in the region of Tigray despite the truce on November 2nd. The Ethiopian military has set up detention centers to arrest anyone believed to have ties with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and forces from the neighboring country of Eritrea have been allowed to kidnap, rape, and commit atrocities against Tigrayans. 

On a good note, aid deliveries have resumed following the truce and organizations like the World Food Program have sent food and fuel to people in need. However, two years of war has made road access difficult, and millions are still in need. The UN estimates that 90 percent of the nation’s 6 million people are dependent on food assistance, and the current deliveries are not enough to serve them all. Still, this is an important step forward that will help many.

Central Africa

Cameroon

Cameroon’s anglophone crisis has continued, with civilians often caught in the crossfire.  On November 4, anglophone separatists allegedly kidnapped nine health care workers.  A spokesperson for the Ambazonia Governing Council said that healthcare workers should be protected and that this was against their principles. However, the group has a long history of this type of behavior and continues to engage in violence that disrupts civilian life, including by closing down schools. Anglophones have also faced significant violence at the hands of the government. The UN has noted arbitrary detentions of anglophone separatists and violation of international human rights law. There has not been any significant progress towards ending the conflict or protecting civilians.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Armed conflict has been increasing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and is not letting up between the DRC government and other rebel groups such as the M23 group. This has resulted in bordering countries like Kenya sending in troops to bring peace to the mineral rich region in the eastern part of the DRC. As a result, many people have been forced to flee and many have been displaced, including children. This proves worrisome as rebel forces continue to push toward these towns where the camps are located, putting them more at risk of being harmed or killed. As the conflict has been brewing and escalating further with more neighboring countries joining in, it seems more difficult to end the hostilities. A ceasefire has been called for the fighting in the eastern part of the DRC, which initially was ignored by the M23 group. They said they will accept it conditionally on the condition that they talk with the DRC government. The DRC has also scheduled their presidential elections for December of next year, so hopefully something will change to address this harrowing conflict in the region.  

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

Although violence between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels still continues to harm civilians in Yemen, there has been some recent development in economic reform within the country. On Sunday, November 27, the Saudi Press Agency reported that Saudi Arabia sponsored The Arab Monetary Fund, intending to support the Yemeni government in its efforts to improve its financial standing and economy. This is an economic and financial program with a one billion dollar agreement with the Yemeni government to expand the nation’s banking industry and stimulate its private sector. Priorities for the program include strengthening services for small and local firms, youth, and women in rural areas. Additionally, it will work to increase digitalization and the variety of payment options.

Syria

Ever since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, many countries, including the US, have placed sanctions in order to dissuade the Assad government from cracking down on those who protested against him. Recently, a U.N. convoy has called to lift the sanctions imposed as it has worsened shortages in medical supplies and other necessities and resulted in catastrophic effects of unilateral sanctions across all walks of life in the country.” Some other human rights groups have argued that sanctions should only be lifted if the Assad regime ends its crimes against humanity against its people. Not only has this impacted Syria internally, it has also affected other neighboring countries. After a bombing in Istanbul, Turkey which killed six, Turkey retaliated by launching deadly airstrikes over the northern regions of Syria and Iraq escalating further tensions by putting the responsibility of the bombing on the Kurds. While a US official has called for a de-escalation of airstrikes between the two countries, the airstrikes have affected many communities living between the crossfire.

Palestine

The UN has reported on a surge in violence in occupied Palestinian land due to a stalled peace process, continued occupation, and economic challenges. Bombings, airstrikes, and violent attacks have resulted in the deaths of both Palestinians and Israelis, and negotiations have been challenging.

As a result, 197 organizations have written to the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Israel’s human rights abuses. They argue that the ICC has the authority to intervene as an early warning to prevent further escalation.

Attention to the crisis has garnered worldwide attention as both Tunisian and Moroccan fans at the Qatar World Cup have displayed “Free Palestine” banners. This was done at the 48th minute of each nation’s respective matches as a symbol in memory of the Nakba– the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948.

East and South Asia

Burma

On Thursday, November 17, the Burmese Junta released 6,000 prisoners in a mass amnesty including former British ambassador Vicky Bowman, and Australian economic advisor to the currently imprisoned leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, Sean Turnell.

Turnell was arrested a few days after the coup d’etat on Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021. This coup marked the end of a decade of democracy in Burma. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pressured Thai and Cambodian leaders to pressure the Burmese military to release the prisoners.

Organizations like the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) have been documenting the Junta’s actions since the start of the coup. They believe that the Junta is using political prisoners as bargaining chips and released the prisoners to ease political tension. Nations of the prisoners, Japan and Australia have released statements and continue to pressure the Junta to solve problems peacefully and rebuild the democratic society of Burma.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

Cybersecurity researchers have discovered that a spyware program is targeting Uyghurs by masquerading as regular apps such as messaging services and dictionaries. This spyware is connected by a Chinese government hacking group in order to track those they suspect of engaging in religious activity that they view as extreme, which can lead to being sent to a re-education camp. This surveillance program allows human rights violations to occur that can be difficult to stop, as many unofficial apps are treated as genuine services.

After a deadly high rise fire occurred in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, protests have been triggered over China’s COVID-19 lockdown strategy that has put the Xinjiang region in the longest lockdowns in the entire country. These events have in turn triggered many other protests in China and around the world calling for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule and Xi Jinping to step down as leader. While many countries have passionately expressed their support for the Uyghur population, many companies have privately invested funds in other companies that are involved in Uygur forced labor and repression. Since many of these investments are privately funded, it is hard to tell where the money ends up going and who is ultimately benefiting from the investments. Establishing a list of banned entities and companies that are involved is crucial in ending further oppression and is what many countries must do to truly stand with the Uyghur people.

Kashmir

While there has not as of this month been any violent conflict in Kashmir, the weather has impacted many near the Indian and Pakistani borders in Kashmir. A brutal avalanche killed three Indian soldiers along the Himalayan frontier. With these tense conditions, as well as the difficult border dispute still being maintained by both countries by having troops stationed there, it still remains to be seen if tensions will decrease with both countries. As of a year ago on November 22, 2021, Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, was arrested on political terrorism charges. Amnesty International and other human right groups are calling for him to be unconditionally released from custody and drop all charges for speaking out on human rights in Kashmir and working towards change. Being detained silences the work of human rights defenders who work to expose the human rights violations and it is crucial for Kashmir to have a voice on these matters to bring accountability, transparency, and justice when violations occur.     

North America

United States

Midterm elections in the United States were held early this month on November 8. While a “red wave” of Republican elections was predicted, no such event occurred. Republicans now control the House with a narrow margin, and Democrats control the house with only one seat. This sets the stage for future political decisions over the next two years.

The United States has a long history of genocide against Indigenous people, a practice that may continue with the possible overturn of the Indian Child Welfare Act. This law, which has been in place since 1978, requires Indigenous children in foster care or adoption agencies to be kept with Indigenous families in response to the family separations and cultural assimilation forced upon them throughout history. With a recent challenge in Brackeen v. Haaland, this may change. There is concern over the Supreme Court’s political bias– a factor that may determine the outcome of the case. If overturned, this could pave the way for future limits on tribal sovereignty and put more Indigenous people at risk of cultural genocide.

Another relevant case being considered by the Supreme Court revolves around the deportation of undocumented immigrants. A lower court in Texas ruled that Biden’s policy of only deporting criminals who pose a threat was too narrow of an interpretation of federal immigration policy, and the case has now reached the Supreme Court. While the labeling of certain immigrants as threats often has prejudiced and racialized undertones, the Trump-era policy of deporting everyone is certainly worse for human rights. This case will have wide-reaching repercussions for national immigration policy, and the bias of the court will likely play a key role.

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA studying International Development Studies. She contributed to the Tigray, Palestine, and United States portions of this update.

 

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, East Turkistan, and Kashmir portions of this update.  

 

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University studying Economics and International & Public Affairs. She contributed to the Cameroon and South Sudan portions of this update.

 

Alishba Waqar is a junior at Westfield High School. She contributed to the Yemen portion of this update.

 

Seng Hkawn Myitung is a sophomore at Albemarle High School. They contributed to the Burma portion of this update. 

 

Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University. She contributed to the Sudan portion of this update.