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This Week Around the World

October 4 New Caledonia: The French territory of New Caledonia voted for the second time against independence from France. According to BBC, the 1998 Nouméa Accord was created to start a path towards more autonomy for the islands and allowed for up to three referendums for independence. 53.26% of voters from the archipelago in the South Pacific voted to remain under French control. According to Al Jazeera, when the first vote for independence happened in 2018, most of the votes for independence came from Kanak, or the indigenous people of the islands, and most people that voted against independence were from people of European descent or a non-indigenous minority group.


October 6 Dhaka, Bangladesh: Several people were injured in an altercation with police during a protest against increasing instances of sexual violence against women. Protests erupted after videos emerged showing several men attacking a woman in Noakhali. Ain-o-Salish Kendra, a Bangladeshi human rights organization, reported between January and September of 2020, almost 1000 rape cases, including 208 gang rapes. According to a report by the Bangladeshi government’s One Stop Crisis Centre, only 3.56% of cases filed under the Prevention of Oppression Against Women and Children Act have led to a court judgment and 0.37% of cases have resulted in convictions. “This truly disturbing footage demonstrates the shocking violence that Bangladeshi women are routinely being subjected to,”Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, a South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, said. “In the vast majority of these cases, the justice system fails to hold the perpetrators responsible.” 


October 8 Kuwait City, Kuwait: Following the death of Kuwait’s ruler and subsequent appointment of Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Sheikh Meshaal Al Ahmad Al Sabah was sworn in as the new crown prince. Sheikh Meshaal was head of State Security for 13 years before being deputy head of the National Guard since 2004. The unanimous decision by parliament to endorse the new crown prince led to a smooth transition of power within the ruling family as both Sheikh Nawarf and Sheikh Meshaal are brothers of Kuwait’s late ruler. According to Reuters, Sheikh Meshaal said he planned to “raise the banner of popular participation and promote a tolerant spirit that shuns division.”


October 9 Lagos, Nigeria: During a protest over alleged police brutality, witnesses said Nigerian police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The protests began after videos surfaced allegedly showing the death of a civilian by the Special Anti-Robbery squad (SARS), a federal branch of the police accused of unlawful arrests, torture and murder. Authorities have denied the legitimacy of the video and the person who filmed them has since been arrested. On Friday, Al Jazeera reported 2.4 million tweets using the hashtag #EndSARS.


October 10 Minsk, Belarus: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited a prison in Minsk to hold a meeting with detained opposition leaders, according to photos from state media reports. The unexpected visit came as protests continue following a contested presidential election on Aug. 9. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets since the election, resulting in countless arrests. Viktor Babariko, an opposition politician who was blocked from running for president and detained in July, is seen in the photo from the meeting. A spokesperson from Babariko’s team told Reuters they believed the picture was authentic. According to Belta, the state-run news agency that first announced the meeting, Lukashenko used the meeting to speak about proposed changes to the Belarusian constitution.