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Brunei Will Now Punish Gay Sex With Death By Stoning

A new law in Brunei set to go into effect on April 3 will allow gay sex and adultery to be punished by public stonings. The law is part of the country’s Sharia Penal Code, which was first announced in 2013 by Brunei’s sultan, who has full executive control over the country and who has […]

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  • A new law in Brunei set to go into effect on April 3 will allow gay sex and adultery to be punished by public stonings.
  • The law is part of the country’s Sharia Penal Code, which was first announced in 2013 by Brunei’s sultan, who has full executive control over the country and who has been increasingly mandating severe laws under Islamic rule.
  • The Penal Code will allow theft to be punished by amputation.

Brunei’s New Law

Brunei is facing backlash over a new law that will begin punishing gay sex and adultery by stoning people to death in public.

The law, which becomes effective on April 3, comes as part of the country’s new Sharia Penal Code, which also includes a provision allowing amputation as a punishment for theft.

While Sharia law is an Islamic legal system, the Penal Code applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims, though Muslims make up about two-thirds of Brunei’s population, which is approximately 430,000 people.

The law also applies to children and foreigners.

Amnesty International criticized the law and called on Brunei to stop their plans to implement it.

“Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations.” Amnesty International’s Brunei Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a press release, “The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”

Chhoa-Howard also stated that “Some of the potential ‘offences’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.”

Sharia Penal Code

The new Penal Code was first announced in 2013 by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, with the intention of bolstering the influence of Islam in the country.

The Sultan has full executive power over Brunei and has held the throne since 1967. He is one of the richest leaders in the world with a personal wealth of about $20 billion, thanks to Brunei’s oil wealth.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Source: Wikipedia

Bolkiah received a wide array of global criticism when he first started the gradual implementation of the Penal Code in 2014.

Amnesty International released a statement criticizing the Penal Code as “a dangerous step backwards for human rights.”

Many people called for boycotts and divestment from some of the country’s sovereign wealth fund investments, including the upscale Beverly Hills Hotel, which attracted protests and celebrity boycotts.

The international outrage did delay the sultan from carrying out the most extreme provisions of the law.

However, now the country appears to be going ahead with the more severe measures, and they are doing so very quietly.

Back in December, Brunei’s attorney general released an announcement stating that the law was to go into effect. This was done so covertly that news organizations did not even pick up on it until recently.

Brunei’s History of Human Rights Abuses

While this new law certainly represents a dramatic and violent change, it is not entirely out of line with Brunei’s legal system historically.

Brunei was a British colony until 1984, and homosexuality has been illegal in the country since colonial rule. However, homosexuality was previously punished with prison time, not death.

Over the last few years, Brunei has become increasingly more conservative in its practice of Islamic rule than its Muslim-majority neighbors, like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Source: Google Maps

For example, Brunei has banned the sale of alcohol. Pregnancy out of wedlock or failing to pray on Friday are also punishable by fines or jail time.

While Brunei is one example of an extreme, they are by no means alone in these kinds of violent practices towards gay people.

According to a 2019 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, consensual same-sex acts are still criminalized in 70 U.N. member nations. Additionally, gay sex-acts can be punished by death in at least 10 nations, not including Brunei.

Trump Administration’s Efforts

Back in February, the Trump Administration announced that it was launching a global campaign to push countries to decriminalize homosexuality.

The announcement was met with reports that argued the effort may have been inspired by the public hanging of a 31-year-old man in Iran who was killed on charges under the country’s anti-gay laws.

Many criticized the announcement as a political ploy to disparage Iran, while others condemned Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights.

Trump for his part seemed to not know about the effort when asked about it in a separate press conference following the announcement. It is also still unclear exactly what the the administration plans on doing to decriminalize homosexuality.

See what others are saying: (Amnesty International) (The Guadian) (The New York Times)

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Russia Takes Over 900 Azovstal Fighters Prisoner as Mariupol Surrenders

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Ukraine said the soldiers successfully completed their mission, but the fall of Mariupol represents a strategic win for Putin.


Azovstal Waves the White Flag

Russia’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that it had captured 959 Ukrainians from the Azovstal steelworks, where besieged soldiers have maintained the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol for weeks.

A ministry spokesperson said in a statement that 51 were being treated for injuries, and the rest were sent to a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of Donetsk.

The defense ministry released videos of what it claimed were Ukrainian fighters receiving care at a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk. In one, a soldier tells the camera he is being treated “normally” and that he is not being psychologically pressured, though it is unclear whether he is speaking freely.

It was unclear if any Ukrainians remained in Azovstal, but Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, said in a statement Wednesday that the “commanders of the highest level” were still hiding in the plant.

Previously, estimates put the number of soldiers inside Azovstal around 1,000.

Ukraine officially gave up Mariupol on Monday, when the first Azovstal fighters began surrendering.

Reuters filmed dozens of wounded Ukrainians being driven away in buses marked with the Russian pro-war “Z” symbol.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said in a Tuesday statement that the Ukrainian prisoners would be swapped in an exchange for captured Russians. But numerous Russian officials have signaled that the Ukrainian soldiers should be tried.

Mariupol Falls into Russian Hands

After nearly three months of bombardment that left Mariupol in ruins, Russia’s combat mission in the city has ended.

The sprawling complex of underground tunnels, caverns, and bunkers beneath Azovstal provided a defensible position for the Ukrainians there, and they came to represent the country’s resolve in the face of Russian aggression for many spectators.

Earlier this month, women, children, and the elderly were evacuated from the plant.

The definitive capture of Mariupol, a strategic port city, is a loss for Ukraine and a boon for Russia, which can now establish a land bridge between Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. The development could also free up Russian troops around Mariupol to advance on the East, while additional reinforcements near Kharkiv descend from the north, potentially cutting off Ukrainian forces from the rest of the country.

The Ukrainian military has framed events in Mariupol as at least a partial success, arguing that the defenders of Azovstal completed their mission by tying down Russian troops and resources in the city and giving Ukrainians elsewhere more breathing room.

It claimed that doing so prevented Russia from rapidly capturing the city of Zaporizhzhia further to the west.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (BBC) (BBC)

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Convoy of Up to 1,000 Vehicles Evacuates Refugees From Mariupol as Russian War Effort Stalls

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Russia may have lost a third of its ground invasion force since the war began, according to British military intelligence.


Hundreds Make It Out Alive

A convoy of between 500 and 1,000 vehicles evacuating refugees from the southern port city of Mariupol arrived safely in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday.

People have been trickling out of Mariupol for over two months, but the recent evacuation was the single biggest out of the city thus far. Russian troops, who control most of the city, did not allow the convoy to leave for days, but eventually, they relented.

The convoy first traveled to Berbyansky some 80 kilometers to the west, then stopped at other settlements before driving 200 kilometers northwest to Zaporizhzhia. Many refugees told reporters they took “secret detours” to avoid Russian checkpoints and feared every moment of the journey.

Nikolai Pavlov, a 74-year-old retiree, told Reuters he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed.

“We barely made it,” he said. “There were lots of elderly people among us… the trip was devastating. But it was worth it.”

63-year-old Iryna Petrenko also said she had stayed in Mariupol initially to take care of her 92-year-old mother, who subsequently died.

“We buried her next to her house, because there was nowhere to bury anyone,” she said.

Putin’s Plans Go Poorly

In Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters continue to hold the Azovstal steelworks, the only part of the city still under Ukrainian control.

On Sunday, a video emerged appearing to show a hail of projectiles bursting into white, brightly burning munitions over the factory.

The pro-Russian separatist who posted it on Telegram wrote, “If you didn’t know what it is and for what purpose – you could say that it’s even beautiful.”

Turkey is trying to negotiate an evacuation of wounded Ukrainians from the factory, but neither Russia nor Ukraine have agreed to any plan.

After nearly three months of war, Mariupol has been left in ruins, with thousands of civilians reportedly dead.

“In less than 3 month, Mariupol, one of Ukraine’s fastest developing & comfortable cities, was reduced into a heap of charred ruins smelling death, with thousands of people standing in long breadlines and selling their properties out to buy some food. Less than three months,” Illia Ponomarenko, a reporter for The Kyiv Independent, tweeted.

On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry estimated that Russia has likely lost a third of its ground invasion forces since the war began.

Moscow is believed to have deployed as many as 150,000 troops in Ukraine.

The ministry added that Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine have “lost momentum” and are “significantly behind schedule.” Moreover, it said Russia failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the last month while sustaining “consistently high levels of attrition.”

“Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days,” the ministry concluded.

Sweden also signaled on Sunday that it will join Finland in applying for NATO membership.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (U.S. News and World Report) (The Hill)

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Israel Moves to Build Over 4,000 West Bank Settlements as Palestinian Homes Demolished

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The Israeli military is proceeding with a plan to evict at least 1,000 Palestinians from the West Bank.


Settlers Get Ready to Move in

On Thursday, a military planning body in the Israeli-occupied West Bank approved the construction of 4,427 housing units, according to the watchdog group Peace Now.

“The State of Israel took another stumble toward the abyss and further deepened the occupation,” Hagit Ofran, an expert at Peace Now, said via the Associated Press.

The plan is the largest advancement of settlement projects since President Joe Biden took office in the United States.

The U.S. opposes settlement expansion and said as much when the plan was first announced last week, but critics say Washington has done little to pressure Israel to stop.

In a statement, U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland called the settlements a “major obstacle to peace.”

“Continued settlement expansion further entrenches the occupation, encroaches upon Palestinian land and natural resources, and hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population,” he said.

In October, Israel approved some 3,000 settlement homes despite a U.S. rebuke. There are currently over 130 Israeli settlements in the West Bank harboring almost 500,000 settlers, in addition to the nearly three million Palestinians living in the territory.

Palestinians Pushed Off Their Land

On Wednesday, the same day Israeli soldiers allegedly shot and killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the military demolished at least 18 buildings in the West Bank, including 12 residential ones.

Israel’s supreme court has also ruled that eight Palestinian hamlets can be expelled, potentially leaving at least 1,000 Palestinians homeless.

The area targeted is known as the Masafer Yatta, and its residents say they have been herding animals and practicing traditional desert agriculture there for decades, long before Israel took over the West Bank in 1967. Israel, however, claims there were no permanent structures there before the military designated it a firing zone in the 1980s

“What’s happening now is ethnic cleansing,” Sami Huraini, an activist and a resident of the area, told the Associated Press. “The people are staying on their land and have already started to rebuild.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Peace Now) (Associated Press)

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