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Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report criticizing the government of Rwanda for its alleged role in “at least 37” extrajudicial killings within the last year. Those killed had reportedly committed only minor criminal offences. The HRW believes that the executions are part of an official strategy to “spread fear, enforce order, and deter any resistance to government orders or policies.” Rwanda’s minister of justice released a statement vehemently denying the conclusions.
Some members of the powerful Indian-born Gupta family in South Africa have renounced their Indian citizenship to appease authorities. The Guptas have been under growing political pressure lately for their close ties to President Jacob Zuma. Opponents of Zuma have accused the family of corruption, criticizing the Guptas for allegedly attempting to buy their influence in the country. Zuma’s bitterly divided party, the African National Congress, is currently preparing to choose his successor.
China has sent troops to Djibouti, who will become a part of its first overseas military base. The official state news outlet ‘The Global Times’ has stressed the importance of the new post, arguing it would support the Chinese Navy and sustain “anti-piracy and humanitarian operations.” The Chinese government has further said that the base would help bring “peace and security” to the African country.
Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo, known for his pro-democratic intellectual crusade against the Beijing government, died from liver cancer at the age of 61. Arrested most recently in 2008, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s death took place under state custody. News of his illness, only revealed a couple of weeks ago, came as a shock to human rights activists all throughout the country who saw Liu as a bastion of anti-Chinese Communist Party forces and a uniter of opposition movements from different generations.
The Chinese government has asserted that the U.S. should stop holding China responsible for deterring North Korea’s nuclear program. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has grown impatient since North Korea’s ICBM test, moved to sanction and boycott Chinese companies. In response, a spokesperson for the Chinese government has said that the ‘China responsibility theory’ must stop and that other countries should take action themselves. China has a close relationship with North Korea as a main trading partner and diplomatic ally.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, addressing MPs in the House of Commons, stated that the EU could ‘go whistle’ if it expected the U.K. to pay a large divorce bill for its exit. He furthermore stated that there was no solution in place if the talks failed. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier responded: "I am not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking.” EU officials have emphasized the need to recognize “ongoing budget obligations” for the EU before other negotiations can occur.
Going off his recent trip to Europe to attend the G20 summit, U.S. President Trump crossed the Atlantic again this Thursday to attend France’s Bastille Day celebrations. French President Emmanuel Macron prepared a schedule of “high pomp and pageantry,” including Paris’ historical landmarks and a military parade. The two world leaders discussed counter-terrorism and conflict in the Middle East—an issue that the French president believes the U.S. and France could find common ground on. It has been argued that the visit marks a change in Macron’s attitude to Trump. The newly elected centrist leader wants to extend a hand to the U.S., rather than to dwell on their differences relating to climate and social policies.
Iraqi forces declared victory over Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. The battle, lasting nearly nine months, saw some of the heaviest urban combat in recent memory—thousands of civilians have been killed, nearly a million of others have been displaced, and thousands of buildings now lay damaged. Nonetheless, Iraqi officials remain hopeful that the retaking of the city, which had functioned as the “jewel” of the IS’ territory, will serve as a coup de grâce for the terrorist organization. Although pleased by the outcome, foreign policy experts voiced concern that there still remains much work to be done to completely root out ISIS.
On Monday, the British high court ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia could continue. This was disappointing news for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which demanded a judicial review in light of the high civilian casualties caused by Saudi Arabia’s heavy bombing of Yemen. Export of weapons to countries is forbidden under U.K. and EU law if it is clear that this would diverge with international humanitarian law.
The civil war in Yemen has reached a new height of civilian suffering. The cholera epidemic is said to have affected 300,000 individuals, according to the Red Cross. It has taken the lives of at least 1,600 people. On Tuesday, the United Nations said it would not set in motion a program for cholera vaccinations in Yemen, arguing that the ongoing conflict and epidemic would make it unfeasible.
The U.S. President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., released a series of emails in which he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer who possessed information that would hurt Hillary Clinton’s election campaign. The reveal has prompted queries into the legality of Trump’s campaign and led to accusations of collusion with the Russian government. Trump has labeled the incident: “the greatest Witch Hunt in political history.”
Investigations by the watchdog group Citizen Lab have found that the Mexican government used spyware to monitor an international expert group looking into the believed abduction of 43 students. The group of students were killed in September 2014, and the official investigation since has been inconsistent and distorted. Citizen Lab stated that Israeli spyware, a program called Pegasus, had been used to infiltrate the mobile phones of the experts. The Mexican state has also been accused of spying on activists, journalists, and the opposition.
In a surprising judicial move, the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was found guilty of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Da Silva, who was seen as a leading contender for next year’s presidential election, will be able to file an appeal, but analysts say that the ruling further underscores the efforts made by Brazil’s judiciary in recent years to stamp out systemic corruption throughout the country’s political establishment. The current president, Michel Temer, was charged with graft last month and now faces a vote in parliament that will decide whether he is taken to trial.
Peru engaged in a diplomatic row with Ecuador over the last week due to the latter’s construction of a wall on the border between the two nations. Although the wall is only one kilometer long, it risks affecting informal trading between residents of both countries. The Ecuadorian government has nonetheless maintained that the said wall is crucial for national security. Peru and Ecuador had a one-month military standoff in the region in 1995.
News That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity
On the 7th of July, a global treaty was passed by the UN banning the use of nuclear weapons. It was endorsed by 122 countries. Almost all nations involved with nuclear weapons boycotted the discussions, including the U.S., France, the U.K., and North Korea. However, many nations in support of the treaty believe it to be a mark of progress and a step towards banning nuclear weapons in international law.
- The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has added 21 new places to the World Heritage List. The new sites include a sacred island in Japan, Okinoshima, where only men are allowed, and the Lake District in England, home to many famous poets. All the areas and infrastructure on the list are said to be of “great significance to the collective interest of humans.”