- Women marching for International Women’s Day clashed with police in Mexico City on Monday, leaving 19 civilians and 62 officers injured.
- Demonstrators were particularly riled up after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador erected a massive steel barrier to “protect” the National Palace against vandalism.
- Others pointed to his long-standing track record ignoring feminist issues and downplaying criticisms.
- Lopez Obrador is also facing a deteriorating political situation for supporting Felix Salgado Macedonio, a gubernatorial candidate in Guerrero accused of rape.
Feminism a Problem for Progressive President
Mexico City experienced an intense International Women’s Day on Monday as a March to commemorate the event turned violent.
The situation began on Saturday when the government decided to erect a 3-meter tall steel wall around the presidential palace and other government buildings in preparation for the march. The move drew criticism from feminist organizers as a provocative act, which President Andres Manuel Obrador, known as AMLO, denied. He clarified that a steel barrier was erected to protect against vandalism that occurred in past Women’s Marches. However, he was careful to say that people had used the marches as cover to engage in illicit activities.
By Saturday night, the wall was turned into a political statement for women in Mexico, who painted the names of hundreds of femicide victims onto it.
Monday’s march was used to highlight women’s issues within Mexico; particularly, AMLO’s seemingly contradictory stances regarding feminist issues. His government has been widely criticized for doing far too little to combat the ongoing femicide issue in Mexico. Last year alone there were 939 femicide victims. Across all forms of murder, 10 women died per day in Mexico last year.
Those issues played a central role in Monday’s march as the chant “not one more, not one murder more” was heard for hours.
Demonstrators also highlighted AMLO’s support of Felix Salgado Macedonio, who’s running for governor of Guerrero. Salgado Macedonia was accused of rape by two women, although he has yet to face charges.
Over the last few months, instead of distancing himself from Salgado Macedonio, AMLO has said the accusations are politically motivated by “the conservatives” and should be left up to the voters. Marchers pushed back against that narrative and projected “A Rapist Will Not be Governor” onto the walls of the national palace Monday night.
By the end of the day, frustrations over these issues led to some violence between protesters and police. In total, according to official figures from Mexico City Police, 62 officers and 19 civilians were injured in clashes.
AMLO Continues the Rhetoric
The march and attempt to highlight AMLO’s apathy towards women’s issues don’t seem to have changed his mind. During Monday’s events, he highlighted how half his cabinet are women, only to call a reporter “corazón” shortly afterward, which would be akin to calling someone “sweetheart.”
Regarding critiques of stances on feminist issues, AMLO has tried to paint any anger towards him or his policies as part of an overarching opposition movement rather than legitimate concerns.
“All of a sudden, the conservatives are disguising themselves as feminists, very strange. Why? Because they see it as an opportunity to attack us,” he has claimed in the past.
He doubled down Monday by saying, “the barricades were put up because the conservatives are very upset. They infiltrate all the movements to create provocations … they were planning to vandalize the National Palace.”
Despite not facing any serious organized political opposition, AMLO has found himself in a possibly precarious political situation opposed by feminist groups and many women in Mexico, which has caused some riffs within his political party.
To date, 500 politicians have demanded that Felix Salgado Macedonia be removed from the party and that AMLO denounce him. At least two female legislators have also resigned from the party in protest over AMLO’s comments.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Guardian) (BBC News)
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily Raided, Top Editors and Execs Arrested
Police claim the paper violated a controversial National Security law by publishing articles that asked foreign countries to sanction the Hong Kong and Chinese government.
Apple Daily Raid
Nearly 500 Chinese police officers carried out a raid on Thursday at the headquarters of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, a tabloid-style paper and one of the largest publications in the city.
During the aid, which was live-streamed by the outlet, police arrested top executives and editors while also seizing journalistic materials over violations of the city’s controversial National Security law. Apple Daily said CEO Cheung Kim Hung, COO Chow Tat Kuen, Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Pui-man, and Online Editor Cheung Chi-wai were arrested and accused of “colluding with foreign forces and external elements to endanger national security.”
Police also froze $1.8 million in Apple Daily assets.
John Lee, Hong Kong’s Security Secretary, told reporters that “this case involves a conspiracy” and added that the police were targeting those who use journalism as a “tool to endanger national security.”
Police claim that since 2019, Apple Daily has published articles calling on foreign countries to sanction the Chinese and Hong Kong governments. Many of those articles were published before the National Security law went into effect, meaning the law is being applied retroactively.
However, China’s Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said the law wouldn’t be retroactive, so it’s unclear if there’s been a shift in policy and if authorities are seeking to change how they approach violations that occurred before the law was enacted.
Not Meant to Restrict Freedom of the Press
Thursday’s raid could also have repercussions for other Hong Kongers. The city’s Senior Superintendent of the Police’s National Security Department warned citizens not to repost certain Apple Daily articles by saying, “If you have no real reason to share these types of articles, I would advise everyone not to.”
He claimed that this raid wasn’t targeting the press but rather one individual organization that violated the law. He also said Hong Kong’s government values the freedom of the press, a right that is supposed to be enshrined in the city’s Basic Law. Lee concurred with the Senior Superintendent, adding, “Please understand that our actions are not targeting journalistic work. We target perpetrators who use journalistic work as a tool to endanger acts of national security.”
Apple Daily has vowed to carry on with its work while also acknowledging that its fate was out of its hands. In a letter to its readers, the paper wrote, “In today’s Hong Kong, we are unfamiliar and speechless.”
“It seems that we are powerless to deal with it, and it is difficult to prevent the regime from doing whatever it wants.”
See what others are saying: (AP) (The New York Times) (NBC News)
Hamas Launches Incendiary Balloons Into Israel Over Right-Wing March, Israel Responds With Airstrikes
No casualties were reported and the tentative ceasefire that ended last month’s hostilities largely remains in place.
10 Minutes of Airstrikes
Alleged Hamas training facilities were hit by Israeli airstrikes early Wednesday morning as a response to the group sending incendiary balloons into Israeli territory late Tuesday night.
The airstrikes, which lasted for 10 minutes, destroyed two compounds while the balloons started about 20 fires across southern Israel. There were no casualties on either side and damage was kept to a relative minimum. By Wednesday morning, calm had returned and neither group pursued further hostilities.
Hamas risked breaking a tenuous ceasefire in order to respond to right-wing Israeli demonstrators that marched through Palestinian neighborhoods to commemorate a holiday that is seen as highly provocative. The ceasefire has gone on to its eleventh day, stopping widespread rocket and airstrike campaigns that left hundreds of buildings in Gaza destroyed and dozens in Israel damaged.
The marchers were celebrating Jerusalem Flag Day, a day to mark Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and its holy sites during the 1967 Middle East War. It was originally supposed to occur on May 10 but was delayed as fighting between Hamas and Israel began last month. Hamas actually listed the celebrations as one of its primary causes for starting hostilities and warned that any further Jerusalem Flag Day events in East Jerusalem would be met with violence.
Tuesday’s march proved to be one of the first big tests faced by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who only just started the job this week. As a right-wing figure himself, he supported the marchers and saw rerouting or canceling the event as giving into Hamas’ demands. However, his center and left-wing allies pushed for the event to be canceled. In the end, security forces slightly amended the route to avoid passing through the Damascus Gate and into the Muslim Quarter.
Those same security forces have been accused by Palestinian protesters of violence as they moved to disperse anti-Israel demonstrations and make way for Flag Day marchers. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 33 Palestinians were injured by police in those clashes.
Chants of “Death to Arabs!”
The celebrations by Israelis were largely peaceful, if not extremely provocative. The entire holiday itself is seen as a celebration of what many Arabs lost in the 1967 Middle East War, and hosting events in what is considered occupied territory puts salt in the wound. However, a large group of young Israelis inflamed the situation after video surfaced of them chanting “Death to Arabs!“
Their actions were widely condemned, including by Defense Minister Yair Lapid, who said, “The fact that there are extremists for whom the Israeli flag represents hate and racism is abominable and intolerable.” He added, “It is incomprehensible how one can hold an Israeli flag in one’s hand and shout ‘Death to Arabs’ at the same time.”
The Palestinian Authority, the government of the West Bank, said that there could be ‘dangerous repercussions” because of Tuesday’s right-wing march.
Despite the small rise in hostilities posed by Tuesday’s march and subsequent responses by Hamas and Israel, their ceasefire remains.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Wall Street Journal) (BBC)
India Is Investigating Fake COVID-19 Tests That May Have Fueled Outbreaks
Private facilities testing at a religious festival in April faked at least 100,000 negative tests, leading the public to believe the event wasn’t a super spreader.
Kumbh Mela Super Spreader Event
Authorities in India said Tuesday that they are investigating COVID-19 testing efforts carried out by private facilities during a major religious festival in Uttarakhand state this past April, which led to hundreds of thousands of fake negative test results.
The religious festival, Kumbh Mela, is among the most widely attended events in the world and millions arrived for the celebrations despite health authorities warning that it could become a super spreader event. Pilgrims weren’t deterred as local politicians praised the safety of the event and encouraged people to come without masks. In the end, the return home by festival goers is believed to have led to the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, with new daily cases rising above 400,000 through April and May.
At the time, however, reported positive cases from those at the festival were shockingly low. One district in Haridwar, where part of the festival takes place, reported that out of 251,000 tests carried out locally during Kumbh Mela, only 2,273 were positive. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the state and across India, infections were upwards of 10% of those tested, leading experts to doubt the festival’s results
The narrative that India’s large outbreak wasn’t fueled by Kumbh Mela began to fall apart after a man from neighboring Punjab received a negative COVID-19 test from a private testing facility in Uttarakhand. The private test showed that during his time at the Kumbh Mela festival, he was negative despite never actually attended the festival.
Last week, he complained to the Indian Council of Medical Research, who took the situation seriously and asked local authorities to open an investigation into the matter. Preliminary findings from the investigation show that the situation is possibly worse than predicted. Authorities found that one company testing at the festival forged about a fourth of their results, meaning at least 100,000 tests were faked.
As investigators search the books, they’re finding that private clinics filled testing logs up by putting down random names, numbers, and addresses and sending those people negative test results. The clinics would then use the inflated numbers to charge local authorities more for their services.
Clinics also engaged in other scams, such as using the same unique ID code from a negative antigen test, meant for a single individual, for multiple “recipients.” In one instance, according to Times of India, a single test ID number was used for 700 people.
Because of these findings, Uttarakhand has stopped paying dozens of private testing facilities as it investigates further.
COVID-19 cases in India have fallen drastically in the last month after spiking to over 400,000 new cases every day partially because of Kumbh Mela. More than 377,000 people have died due to COVID-10 in India to date, though many believe authorities are underreporting deaths.