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This Week Around the World

February 28 Myanmar: At least 18 protesters were killed and 30 more wounded by security forces on the deadliest day of protests since the coup on February 1, according to NPR. This brings the total number of protesters killed since the coup—where military forces seized control of the democratically elected government—to 21. According to Reuters, one protester killed on Sunday—internet network engineer Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing—posted “#How_Many_Dead_Bodies_UN_Need_To_Take_Action” on Facebook the day before. The United Nations Secretary-General issued a statement where he “strongly condemns the violent crackdown” on protesters. “The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy,” said U.N. Human Rights spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani. “Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms.”


March 1 Lima, Peru: Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori appeared in court for his role in a 1990s government program that was linked to the forced sterilization of indigenous women in poor communities, according to AP News. “My partner told me no man would want me because I was a woman that served no purpose because I couldn’t have children,” Nancy Sanchez Guerrero said, according to France 24. “If they wanted to do the sterilizations they should have asked us, explained things to us and let every individual make her decision.” Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year sentence for two military killings during his 1990–2000 administration and has been convicted of corruption. He faces an additional trial for six other military murders during his administration. According to AP News, Fujimori has boasted about the sterilization program involved in the case, saying that it dropped Peru’s birth rate from 3.7 children per woman in 1990 to 2.7 in 2000. 


March 2 Thailand: Thai navy sailors rescued four cats on a boat that was quickly sinking into the Andaman Sea. According to BBC, the Navy officers were sent to the site of the sinking vessel to check for an oil spill after the fishing boat caught on fire and started to sink, but noticed the cats still onboard. “I used my camera to zoom in to the boat, and I saw one or two cats popping their heads out,” said First Class Petty Officer Wichit Pukdeelon of the navy’s air and coastal defence division, according to Reuters. A Facebook post received over 2,500 comments on Wednesday praising the efforts of the officers.


March 3 London, United Kingdom: Northern Irish loyalist parliamentary groups sent a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson explaining they are temporarily withdrawing support for the 1998 peace agreement due to Brexit concerns, according to Reuters. The peace agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, ended three decades of violence between Catholic nationalists fighting for a united Ireland and mostly Protestant loyalists fighting to keep Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom. The group said that they would not return to the agreement until the Northern Ireland Protocol was amended to ensure free trade between Northern Ireland and the UK, according to Al Jazeera. “Please do not underestimate the strength of feeling on this issue right across the unionist family,” the letter, sent by Loyalist Communities Council chairman David Campbell, stated. “If you or the EU is not prepared to honour the entirety of the agreement then you will be responsible for the permanent destruction of the agreement.”


March 6 Plains of Ur, Iraq: During his visit to Iraq, Pope Francis held a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani—the first meeting between a pope and such a senior Shiite cleric, according to Reuters. “Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart—they are betrayals of religion,” the pope said. “We believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion; indeed, we are called unambiguously to dispel all misunderstandings.” Following the historic interfaith meeting, the pope attended a gathering of Iraqi religious leaders to a 6,000-year-old site known as the traditional birthplace of Abraham—the biblical patriarch respected by Muslims, Jews and Christians. Despite safety and COVID-19 related concerns, the pope followed through with his first international trip since the start of the pandemic, as reported by AP News.