April 12, Cairo, Egypt: The Egyptian state-appointed human rights council urged prosecutors on Tuesday to investigate the death of economic researcher and member of the liberal Reform and Development Party Ayman Hadhoud in a psychiatric hospital. According to authorities, the council will determine if Hadhoud was actually a victim of forced disappearance—a term used by activists to describe detentions carried out by security agencies without saying the detainee’s location or communicating charges to their families or lawyers. The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) stated on Monday that it was awaiting an autopsy report, under speculation that Hadhoud may have been subjected to torture prior to his death. The liberal party’s leader, Mohamad Anwar al-Sadat, sits on the NCHR and mediated some prisoner releases. Hadhoud was reportedly arrested by Egypt’s public prosecution on Feb. 6 after a guard discovered his attempt to enter an apartment in the Zamalek neighborhood located in Cairo. After judging Hadhoud mentally incomprehensible, prosecutors sent him to a mental health hospital. Though the prosecution said they were notified of Hadhoud’s March 5 death from cardiac arrest, Fatma Serag, a lawyer for Hadhoud’s brother, Omar, said the family was not informed of the death until April 9. The delay in his death announcement raised further concerns about Hadhoud’s detention and whereabouts. The NCHR said that since it was reconstituted last year, it has coordinated with the public prosecution and the interior ministry with over 19 complaints of forced detentions.
April 12, Brasilia, Brazil: On Tuesday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva promised Brazil’s Indigenous people that if he wins the presidential election in October, he would put a stop to illegal mining on reservations and recognize Indigenous land claims. Lula visited a protest camp located in Brasilia where thousands of tribal members gathered to protest far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his plans to allow commercial agriculture, mining and oil exploration on their lands. “Everything this government has decreed against Indigenous peoples must be repealed immediately,” Lula said. Bolsonaro trailed Lula in early polls ahead of the election, which will occur on Oct 2. Bolsonaro vowed in 2018 not to recognize a single centimeter of Indigenous reservation land, gaining him a strong backing from the country’s powerful farm lobby. Bolsanaro’s presidency had depleted the government’s Indigenous affairs agency of its staff and funding. Indigenous leaders have called on Lula to rebuild. “Lula, we are unprotected,” said Joenia Wapichana, the country’s only Indigenous congressional representative. “Our rights are being trampled on.”
April 13, Manila, Philippines: Philippine authorities struggled on Wednesday to deliver aid to tens of thousands of people residing in evacuation shelters after being displaced by typhoon Megi, which triggered several landslides in coastal provinces on Sunday and left at least 138 people dead and another 103 people missing. According to the state weather bureau, Megi, the first tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, has dissipated, after displacing 162,000 people and injuring at least 200. The majority of casualties have been reported in the City of Baybay, a mountainous area prone to landslides. Search and rescue efforts have been primarily focused in Baybay, with social media images circulated of children being pulled from thick mud. Coast Guard spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said in a public briefing that survivors were still being evacuated from flooded areas on Wednesday. “Water systems here have been bogged down, so our problem is drinking water,” said Norberto Oja, a health officer in Baybay, to DZRH radio station. Baybay Mayor Jose Carlos Cari told the same station that aid, food and medicine are available, but the problem was management of evacuation centers. Mark Timbal, spokesperson of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said that the landslides went well past the hazard area, which heavily affected relatively safer areas. With continual rain in some provinces, the risk for landslides remained high. “We are doing retrieval operations and still looking for the missing,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Philippine Red Cross, told Reuters. “Due to continuous rain among areas of unstable soil, the rescue workers were not immediately permitted to embark on the rescue mission…it was deadly because it dumped a lot of rain and it hit the mountains.”