This Week Around the World

April 6 Tigray, Ethiopia: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report of ethnic cleansing carried out by Ethiopian armed forces from the Amhara region against ethnic Tigrayans, amidst a war that has killed thousands of civilians and displaced countless more. The report featured a collection of 427 accounts taken from survivors of violence, witnesses and family members of those killed. Reuters called the account the “most comprehensive assessment to date of abuses during the war in western Tigray.” In its contents, there are stories of horrific cases of threats, killings and sexual violence carried out by Amharan officials and military members. Specific tactics used include forces putting up signs demanding that Tigrayans leave, mass shellings of civilian sectors and random executions. One woman raped by Amharan soldiers told The Guardian that her assailants said that they were trying to wipe out Tigrayans and were “purifying [her] blood.” Director of the HRW, Kenneth Roth, stated that, since Nov. 2020, “Amhara officials and security forces have engaged in a relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing to force Tigrayans in western Tigray from their homes.” Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, made her own statement on the matter. “The response of Ethiopia’s international and regional partners has failed to reflect the gravity of the crimes that continue to unfold in western Tigray,” Callamard said. “Concerned governments must help bring an end to the ethnic-cleansing campaign, ensure the Tigrayans are able to safely and voluntarily return home, and make a concerted effort to obtain justice for these heinous crimes.” 

April 3 San José, Costa Rica: Costa Rica held its national election last week, resulting in the election of former finance minister Rodrigo Chaves as the next President, as reported by The Guardian. Chaves’ victory comes in the midst of many sexual harassment allegations levied at him by his former coworkers at the World Bank. “Costa Rica, the best is to come,” Chaves said to a crowd of supporters. His campaign was characterized by a platform of anti-establishment sentiment, despite his ties with previous administrations and position at the World Bank. A tribunal investigating Chaves’ behavior found many complaints of varied sexual nature filed from 2008–2013, which eventually resulted in his resignation from the World Bank. “The facts of the present case indicate that [Chaves’] conduct was sexual in nature and that he knew or should have known that his conduct was unwelcome,” the tribunal wrote. Another factor in Chaves’ win was that the nation’s elections had uncharacteristically low turnouts, with more than 42% of eligible voters not participating. Costa Rican political analyst Francisco Barahon attributed the lack of enthusiasm to a long campaign full of personal attacks. “For a lot of people it’s embarrassing to say they voted for one or the other, and prefer to say they won’t vote for either of the candidates or simply won’t go to vote,” Barahona said

April 3 Islamabad, Pakistan: Pakistan’s Supreme Court blocked Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attempt to dissolve the parliament and hold fresh elections, according to Reuters. In March, the Pakistani parliament held a vote of no confidence in Khan’s leadership. The vote was projected to pass and oust Khan from power, but before it could finish, Khan had Parliamentary President Arif Alvi dissolve the National Assembly. Opposition leaders were outraged at the move, calling it a “civilian coup.” From the beginning of the no-confidence hearings Khan had denounced the national assembly, claiming that the opposition was, in reality, a foreign plot funded by the United States. Both the opposition coalition and the U.S. denied such allegations. The opposition said that its dissatisfaction with Khan’s leadership was fueled by economic concerns, specifically the low value of the rupee and high costs of food and fuel. On Thursday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial made a statement on the court’s ruling against Khan. “The Advice tendered by the Prime Minister on or about March 4, 2022 to the President to Dissolve the Assembly was contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect,” Bandial said. He continued through a thirteen-point list of various ways Khan’s attempt to block the no-confidence vote was unconstitutional. Leader of the opposition, Shahbaz Sharif, said that the move by Khan was a “black day for Pakistan as Khan has abrogated the constitution of Pakistan.”