Each week, ICNC features 5-10 news stories from around the world related to nonviolent conflict. These stories are shared with you via our website, our News Digest, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Featured news stories are ones that can stimulate conversation about the phenomena of nonviolent conflict and civil resistance. ICNC does not necessarily endorse any of the views expressed in these articles or any comments left by visitors to our site. Featured articles remain posted for 30 days, after which time they can be found by searching our nonviolent conflict news database.
Haroro J. Ingram and L.T. Anthony, The Conversation via Informed Comment, May 21, 2015
A broad array of Syrians -- Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, former regime members, opposition activists -- express anguish regarding the failure of Syria’s Arab Spring and the belief that this was one of many missed opportunities to topple the regime. A common sentiment is that the global media’s obsession with Islamic State and foreign fighters had reinforced false perceptions of the war. “Where is the revolution [in the media’s reporting]? It’s not our fault. The Syrian people keep fighting the regime but nobody cares about that now because they (the media) don’t want [to show] that,” said one interviewee.
Anne Kaun, openDemocracy, May 23, 2015
A new action plan against extremism by the Swedish government suggests that a number of extra-parliamentary movements are prone to violence, because “direct action” could supposedly lead to it. But civil disobedience, a form of direct action, is not the same as violent extremism, fifteen leading academics say. In two published commentaries, some of the signatories criticized the most recent government report on this. Direct actions have historically been small steps towards a broader democratic space. By categorizing organizations and movements that employ direct action as (potentially) violent, the Swedish government is taking a step in the other direction.
Charles Tannock, Japan Times, May 26, 2015
With Amal Clooney the human-rights lawyer acting as your advocate, you would think your case would grab headlines. But Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected president who was sentenced to 13 years in jail by the government that overthrew him, seems to have fallen off the world’s radar. Three of his associates are reportedly facing charges, and journalists and opposition members of Parliament have been arrested. Moreover, China is said to be considering one of the Maldives’ islands as a site for a naval base. The Maldives is in danger of throwing away its chance at genuine democracy. It is in the interests of the international community to prevent that.
Mathew Burrows and Maria Stephan, openDemocracy, May 22, 2015
Around the world, aggrieved citizens are standing up to challenge power structures, demanding basic freedoms. But aggregate Freedom House scores on political rights and civil liberties have declined each of the past nine years. What can be done to reverse the tide? Can we avoid citizen challenges leading to bloodbaths and prolonged chaos? How can democratic movements lead to reforms that encourage more durable stability? Our book, Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback? analyzes authoritarian resilience in places like Central Asia, Syria, and the Gulf, highlighting the dilemmas and possible solutions.
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian, May 26, 2015
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran for nearly 10 months, is standing trial behind closed doors in Tehran on charges of espionage and at least three other major crimes. The Iranian-American appeared before a revolutionary court presided over by a hardline judge notorious for handing down heavy sentences to opposition activists and dissidents, local media reported. “No evidence has ever been produced by prosecutors or the court to support these absurd charges…And now, unsurprisingly but unforgivably, it turns out the trial will be closed,” said a Washington Post editor.
DW, May 25, 2015
An international outcry over tough new legislation targeting non-governmental organizations in Russia grew louder with the EU joining the chorus warning of an assault on free speech. The law, signed by President Putin, gives prosecutors unprecedented leeway to crack down on "undesirable" foreign groups it deems a threat to "state security". Suspect groups, and people working with them, risk being banned from Russia and having their bank accounts seized. Human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva blasted the law as "another step toward lowering the curtain between our country and the West." A British official warned that "the new law will directly affect the ability of international organizations to work, promote and protect human rights in Russia.”
Stuart Doran, Mail and Guardian, May 18, 2015
New documents have come to light that implicate President Robert Mugabe in mass killings of Ndebele people in western Zimbabwe in January 1983. Thousands of recently declassified documents that appear to expose the perpetrators are now becoming available in foreign archival collections. These papers — augmented by the testimony of witnesses finding courage in old age — appear to substantiate what survivors and scholars have suspected but never been able to validate: Mugabe, then prime minister, was the prime architect of killings that were well-planned. The army commanders who allegedly directed the killings, many of whom still retain positions in the security sector, are shown to have been accomplices.
Alan Wong, NY Times, May 26, 2015
Joshua Wong, a prominent democracy activist from Hong Kong, was denied entry into Malaysia on Tuesday in what critics call an act of political censorship by the Malaysian government. Wong was scheduled to speak at forums hosted by Malaysian youth activist groups in cities across the country. Wong said that Malaysian immigration officers at Penang International Airport on Tuesday told him that a “government order” barred him from entering the country. The authorities “fear ideas and independent thought, especially from the youth,” said a local activist. But the move was “extremely foolish,” he said, “as the publicity would certainly now generate more interest in what he has to say.”
Jeff Abbott, Waging Nonviolence, May 19, 2015
Nearly 65,000 Guatemalans gathered to express their anger with a corrupt political class on May 16, in a continuation of a wave of popular indignation that has already forced two high-ranking government officials, including the vice president, to resign. It was a historic day, as protesters converged on Central Park of Guatemala City for the "Citizen's Party." As part of the "resign already" movement, the protests have exposed an entrenched dissatisfaction with politics as usual. "All of this is the result of our collective indignation with this corrupt state," said Sol Acabol, a Maya Kiche from the Department of El Quiche. "But we know that that this problem is bigger than just the corruption - it is the system."
Heba Morayef, Middle East Research and Information Project, Spring 2015
Over five tumultuous years in Egypt, the independent human rights community moved from a fairly parochial role chipping away at the Mubarak regime's legitimacy, one torture case at a time, to media stardom in 2011, and from fielding a presidential candidate, who won over 134,000 votes in 2012, to facing closure and the risk of prosecution two years later. In retrospect, the human rights community was perhaps too wrapped up in drafting proposals for police reform and discussing freedom of information laws with the government. There should have been an equal, parallel emphasis on movement building.