Daily Report

Paris: police suppress climate protests

Several thousand gathered for the planned march on the eve of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 21) that opened in Paris Nov. 30. But the march was banned under the State of Emergency declared following the Nov. 13 terror attacks. Defying the ban on public gatherings, some 10,000 Parisians and international activists joined hands to form a human chain along Boulevard Voltaire. When they later attempted to march on Place de la République, police deployed concussion grenades, tear-gas, pepper spray and baton charges. Some 150 who made it to Place de la République were detained for hours as police surrounded and sealed off the square. At least 174 were arrested. (Revolution News)

SCOTUS turns down Mexican appeal in BP oil spill

The US Supreme Court on Nov. 30 denied (PDF) certiorari in an appeal by Mexican states attempting to sue BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The court let stand a lower court ruling in Veracruz, Mexico, et al. v. BP, P.L.C., et al, finding that the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo cannot bring suit against BP because Mexico's federal government owns the affected property. The lawsuit sought damages for the cost of responding to the spill, contamination of the water and shoreline and lost tourism. The Mexican federal government filed a similar suit in 2013, which is currently being heard.

UN urges protection for Venezuela opposition

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Nov. 27 called for the protection of political groups associated with the assassinated Venezuelan opposition leader Luis Diaz. Diaz was shot while on stage with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez's wife Lilian Tintori. Zeid stated that it was unclear whether the shot was meant for Diaz or Tinter, but that all those associated with the opposition leader should be adequately protected. He further urged, "the authorities to ensure that the investigation into Luis Diaz's murder is independent and impartial and brings to justice the perpetrators, as well as the masterminds behind the assassination. ... All sides must refrain from violence and violent rhetoric in the run up to the elections."

Brazil to sue mining giants for dam failure

Brazil's Minster of Natural Environment said Nov. 27 that the country's government plans to sue BHP Billiton Ltd., Vale SA, and Samarco Mineração SA for $5.24 billion for damages caused by a dam collapse at an iron ore site the two co-own. The iron ore site, Samarco Mineração SA, is a joint mining venture between the two companies. BHP Billiton Ltd. is the largest mining company, and Vale SA is the biggest ore miner in the world. The dam contained and released 60 million cubic meters of mine waste and mud that killed at least 13 people, left approximately 11 people missing, and devastated an entire village when it collapsed earlier this month. Brazilian Minister Izabella Teixeira announced that the government would seek to create a fund to compensate victims and to pay for the environmental recovery of the effected areas. The fund would be created gradually as a percentage of the companies' profits. The Special Rapporteurs sent by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported  that the "steps taken by the Brazilian government, Vale and BHP Billiton to prevent harm were clearly insufficient" and that "this disaster serves as yet another tragic example of the failure of businesses to adequately conduct human rights due diligence to prevent human rights abuses." 

Google to suppress footage of Israeli war crimes?

Israel's Maariv newspaper reported Nov. 24 that deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely met with representatives of YouTube and Google to discuss cooperation in what she called the fight against "inciting violence and terrorism." She told Maariv that  she especially sought to establish a joint working mechanism to monitor and prevent publication of "inflammatory material" originating in the Palestinian territories. Middle East Monitor writes: "Since the latest escalation of violence between Palestinians and Israeli security services that erupted at the beginning of October, many people have been sharing videos depicting Israeli aggression towards Palestinians to highlight the Palestinian perspective of the conflict." Activists and Arab newsmedia have "expressed concerns that the meetings suggest moves towards censoring Palestinian material on the part of the Israeli state."

Kurdish lawyer shot dead at press conference

A prominent human rights lawyer was fatally shot Nov. 28 while delivering a press statement in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Tahir Elci was an influential figure in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, and he was the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. Elci was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting. Elci claimed he had received death threats in recent weeks via his Twitter account. Last month, Turkish authorities arrested Elci for his public statement that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is not a terrorist organization. The PKK, a separatist group officially launched in 1984, is considered a terrorist group by the government of Turkey, the US and the EU. Two police officers and a journalist also suffered injuries during the shooting. The conflict between the government and the PKK has increased in recent months, after a two-year ceasefire. Following Elci's death, government officials have suggested that Elci was killed during a gun fight between the Turkish police and the PKK. The Diyarbakir Bar Association claim that Elci was targeted in a planned attack.

Taiwan: indigenous demand land restitution

Legislator Tien Chiu-chin of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party has issued a call to her fellow lawmakers to act on restitution of traditional lands to the country's aboriginal peoples. Her comments came at a press conference Nov. 24 where she was joined by Pastor Kavas, a member of the Bunun people, who said he had been harassed by security forces as he attempted to guide a small group of scholars into a forested area usurped from the Bunun. Kavas said that while guiding National Taitung University professor Liu Chiung-shi and his assistants through the forest near Jiaming Lake in Taitung county, they were stopped by a dozen police officers, who arrested the academics, citing a breach of "national security." Ironically, despite having been designated a restricted area by the Ministry of National Defense in 1993, the area has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, Kavas said. He called restriction of Bunun access to the area "beyond belief."

China releases journalist over declining health

Beijing's Third Intermediate People's Court on Nov. 27 released journalist Gao Yu on medical parole after the Higher People's Court upheld her conviction for leaking an internal Communist Party document to a foreign website. Though she did receive medical parole as a result of her health, the courts have refused to overturn her conviction which means she may still serve her sentence outside of prison. The Higher People's Court upheld the conviction on Nov. 26, also reducing her sentence from seven years to five. The trial of the seventy one year old freelance journalist prompted concerns from the international community who viewed the prosecution as part of a continued crackdown on journalism and free speech rights. Gao admitted to leaking the document at issue during a closed hearing, though the Mingjing News contends that it did not receive the document from her. Yu, who has been detained since 2014, received her initial sentence in April at which time she had plead not guilty.

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