Weekly report: July 28th, 2017

Police block the road leading to the Parliament building in Male, Maldives, Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahmed Shurau). Cambodia  Cambodia launched a free mobile application with the comprehensive history of the Khmer Rouge. Since seventy percent of Cambodia’s population is under thirty, developers felt it was imperative to educate the younger generations about the development of the Pol Pot-led regime, which started as a guerilla group in the 1950s. Thanks to funding by the EU and the Rei Foundation, the app will be introduced in 80 schools and 20 universities in October. These efforts coincide with the trials of the last two surviving top leaders of the Khmer Rouge in the Cambodia Tribunal. One is the second-in-command and chief ideologist of the regime, Nuon Chea, and the other is its former head of State, Khieu Samphan — both were sentenced to life imprisonment during the first part of the trial in 2014 http://www.thestatesman.com/science/new-mobile-app-on-khmer-rouge-history-1501135330.html http://www.bgr.in/news/cambodia-launches-mobile-app-on-khmer-rouge-history/ Syria ISIS is losing more and more territory in Syria. The Islamic State is struggling to mount an effective defense of the city of Raqqa, its headquarters, as local forces make rapid headway in ousting the militants, the U.S. military said. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they have captured 40% of the city since June 6, when a ground assault began. Meanwhile, US president Donald Trump and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri held a joint press conference on Tuesday. Trump mentioned that the US will support “the humanitarian needs of displaced Syrian citizens as close to their home country as possible”, thus allocating new funding to Lebanon, in support of Syrian refugees...

Weekly Report: July 21st, 2017

Photo: Protests in Poland/ CNN. Democratic Republic of the Congo This Thursday, a research group at New York University published a new report, which revealed a vast network of businesses owned by President Joseph Kabila and his family which pervades virtually all sectors of the economy. While the Congolese constitution does not bar government officials from owning private enterprises, it remains far from clear how the family amassed its wealth – apart from lucrative state contracts, disproportionately awarded to firms owned and operated by the President’s close relatives. Observers note that further enrichment is a powerful incentives for Kabila, who has  been receiving approval ratings in the single digits and recently declined the public’s appeals to hold elections on the grounds that DRC could not afford them, to cling to power. The President and his family continue to invest large sums in real estate around the country and assets which are not easy to liquidate – a further troubling sign that they do not intend to relinquish the presidency.   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/20/drc-vast-business-network-of-president-who-wont-step-down-revealed https://allthewealth.congoresearchgroup.org/ Mexico The Mexican government has routinely undermined a national anti-corruption system put in place by President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose approval ratings have dwindled to the teens after he was caught in a conflict of interest scandal last year. The mechanism has not had the promised effect of tackling corruption, which still costs Mexico between 2%-10% of GDP annually, but rather given the appearance of reform while harassment and suppression of anti-graft activists continues.   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/19/mexico-corruption-political-system-enrique-pena-nieto https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/17/mexicos-elite-desperately-want-their-own-emmanuel-macron/?utm_term=.8348543121df Poland Tens of thousands of Poles demonstrated in from of the Warsaw palace on Thursday, after the lower house of...

Weekly Report: July 14th, 2017

Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters Cambodia July 12th, marked the one year anniversary of the murder of leading political activist and government critic Kem Ley. Colleagues and friends Cambodians held memorial services in Phnom Penh and elsewhere to pay tribute to his courageous investigative journalism and service to truth. Other observers reiterated their concerns about the inadequacy of the criminal investigation and the suspect claims of Oeuth Ang, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murderer, that he acted alone. Phil Robertson, the head of Human Rights Watch- Asia, reports that at least 160 NGO’s from around the globe continue to demand that Cambodia establish an independent and impartial commission of inquiry, in line with the UN Principles of Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. In a darkly ironic twist, on the very same date, the Cambodia government issued a new bill which prohibits political parties from being affiliated with convicted criminals, a move many observers have described as another covert attempt to stifle political opposition. Considering that many opposition members and outspoken critics of the government have already been convicted for breaking some of Cambodia´s more recent laws which curtail freedom of expression, the bill will surely impact the leadership of the opposition and its efficacy in the 2018 general election campaign. http://thediplomat.com/2017/07/cambodia-remembers-murdered-government-critic-as-elections-loom/ http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2017/07/cambodia-passes-bill-to-stifle-government-opposition.php Democratic Republic of the Congo The DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila, might once be trying to prolong his mandate. Although elections were initially announced in December, his electoral commission now mentions that holding the elections in 2017 might “not be possible” due to voter registration, and that voting might be postponed for next...

ABC News: Poland: Protest held of monthly memorial for late president

Read full article here. By the Associated Press. Photo Credits: AP. Hundreds of government critics held a peaceful protest of the monthly observances Poland’s ruling party holds in memory of President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others killed in a 2010 plane crash. The critics say the observances are being used for political purposes by Kaczynski’s twin brother, Jaroslaw, who is the ruling Law and Justice party’s leader. They say that Kaczynski uses his mourning to rally supporters for his policies that threaten...

The Guardian: Arrests and injuries as Hamburg gripped by mass anti-G20 protests.
By Philip Oltermann

Read full article here. Photo credits: Steffi Loos/AFP/Getty. A day of violent clashes between police and protesters culminated on Friday evening with the bizarre spectacle of the heads of the world’s 20 leading economies listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at the top of a shiny high-rise building while police used water cannon, teargas and speed boats to keep at bay an angry crowd of thousands. Germany’s second-largest city had been eager to showcase its recently opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall to the rest of the world, but it may come to rue its ivory-tower symbolism after a week of chaotic scenes on the edges of the conference hall. Rising tensions between protesters and police had escalated with clashes in Hamburg’s historic harbour area on Thursday night, and escalated further when masked anti-capitalist protesters torched cars and smashed shop windows in the Altona district on Friday morning. Masked protesters in black clothes used flares to set fire to at least 20 cars and pelted rocks at the windows of banks and smaller shops as they made their way through Altona and along the Elbchaussee road along the river at about 7.30 am on Friday morning. Many shops and cafes in the area, including a local Ikea, boarded up their windows in anticipation of further rioting.  ...