Daily News Archives — CANVAS

People Power Rages in Armenia as Opposition Declares Revolution

Photo: Opposition protesters demonstrate in Yerevan on April 17. RFE/RL. Fueled by fear, hope, and anger, more than ten thousand Armenians have come out in protest to oppose the appointment of Serzh Sarkisian as prime minister. The leader of the demonstration has called for nonviolence, but past instances of excessive force by police against peaceful protesters bode poorly for those out on the streets. As the situation rapidly develops, and democracy slips from the people’s hands, their measured responses will be critical for charting the course of this conflict. Sarkisian has been in power for the past decade in Armenia, serving two terms as president, the maximum limit, and having finally stepped down on April 9 at the inauguration of his successor. At the time he was elected, and throughout his terms, the presidency was the most powerful single position of leadership in Armenia. In 2015, however, a change to the structure of the government was approved. This made the president into more of a national figurehead, transferring most of his legislative authority to the parliament and prime minister. In 2014, with the campaign for these policy changes underway, Sarkisian had announced that he would “not aspire” to become prime minister if they took effect. Now, this comment is infuriating and driving many members of the opposition who accuse him of breaking that pledge. Protest leader Nikol Pashinian has been rallying protesters since April 13. A few days before, opposition lawmakers set of smoke bombs in parliament to call for demonstrations. So now for days, people have gathered in Yerevan, blocking government buildings, bringing transportation to a standstill, confronting significant government-linked...

Srdja Popovic Installed as St Andrews’ 53rd Rector

On Friday, April 13, Srdja Popovic officially became the 53rd Rector of the Scotland’s first university. (via St Andrews) Since 1858, the Rector has been elected by the students. Srdja follows in the footsteps of a long list of illustrious former Rectors, including authors J M Barrie and Rudyard Kipling, Monty Python founding member John Cleese and Catherine Stihler MEP. In addition to being President of the University Court, the highest governing body of the University, the Rector also plays an informal, pastoral role for students. The official installation ceremony followed the traditional student ‘drag’ (Wednesday 11 April), which saw students lead the new Rector on an epic six-hour tour of student halls and local hostelries in a day of celebration, which included a procession through the town. “I am proud and honoured to serve as a Rector – a voice and empowerment of students of St Andrews. I am ready to commit my term to listening to the students and turning their initiatives into concrete action. The position of the Rector belongs to the students, and it will be my goal to empower students to use it in their best interest!” Lewis Wood, President of the St Andrews Students’ Association said: “The Rector’s Installation is a day of celebration to welcome Srdja to the University community. Srdja’s campaign and vision for St Andrews inspired a lot of students last October and we look forward to inducting him into our traditions and culture. Both myself and the student body wish him all the best for the three years ahead, and look forward to working closely with...

Bead Portrait Raises Awareness of Violence Against Indigenous Women

Photo: Community bead-making workshop for the portrait project. Luger’s Instagram. Communities across the US are hand-rolling beads and sending them to Native American artist Cannupa Hanska Luger. He will assemble these beads into a large scale portrait, titled ‘Every One’. This portrait project aims to raise awareness of the disproportionately high violence against indigenous women, girls, and LGTBQ community. Luger was born on the Standing Rock reservation, and his work focuses on critical analysis of culture to inspire diverse communities to “engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring.” The artist explores this topic through the mediums of ceramics, fiber, steel, video and sound, and social collaboration. Among his notable works are the Mirror Shields used in the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which also invited the public to participate in the project by creating their own mirror shields. After a Canadian minister suggested that around 4,000 women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada alone, an estimate more than 3 times that of the police, Luger latched onto that number. The portrait will be made out of 4,000 beads, each one meant to represent a victim. These 4,000 cases are part of a greater pattern of violence towards indigenous women. A study from 2016 showed that greater than four out of five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, and the results showed that over 730,000 American Indian and Alaska Native women experienced violence in that year. Still other activists, those working for the ‘Walk 4 Justice’ initiative, collected the names of indigenous women...

Thousands of Pashtuns Rally for the Right to Live Without Fear

Photo: Pashtun women from a tribal region of Pakistan hold pictures of missing family members at a rally in Peshawar. AP. Tens of thousands of Pashtun and Pakistani activists rallied recently in the city of Peshawar, demanding an end to decades of political mistreatment, the removal of military checkpoints in tribal areas, and the release of their friends and relatives who they assert have been taken as political prisoners by the Pakistani government. Radio Mashaal, a branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported approximately 60,000 in attendance, despite a near-complete blackout of reporting by most Pakistani media. The movement’s leader, Manzoor Pashteen, has affirmed that the demonstrations are both nonviolent and constitutional. “Pashtuns who have raised their voices against atrocities are being labelled as foreign agents … But we are simple people talking about peace and harmony. Our agenda is peace, and if their agenda is that atrocities should continue, this is wrong.” In February, the movement staged its first mass demonstration as a response to the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model, in an allegedly staged encounter. The government stated that Mehsud was a member of the Pakistani Taliban, but this remains entirely unsubstantiated. What the killing did prove, however, was that this young generation of ethnic Pashtuns would continue to be assaulted by the government, as in this extrajudicial killing, but that they were not prepared to so easily accept this systematic abuse. Although education rates remain lowest in Pashtun territories, this generation of the ethnic group is more politically aware than ever. Mistreatment by the Pakistani government is extreme, long-enduring, and thoroughly systematic. Critically, the...

India’s Dalit Protest Dilution of Act Protecting Them Against Class Crimes

Photo: The Supreme Court’s ruling sparked country-wide protests this week. (BBC) Thousands took to the streets this week after a Supreme Court ruling weakened the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, which had afforded protections to Dalit against the abuses of power by authorities. The Dalit are in the lowest caste in India, marginalized by society and frequent victims of attacks. The protests had been intended to be peaceful, branded as “bandh” or shutdown, and much of the protest was nonviolent, consisting of sit-ins and gatherings. Some were not, however, and many politicians have called for peace in the streets. Leaders of political parties have expressed solidarity with the Dalit and their grievances, but condemn the violence of the protests. The act was instituted nearly two decades ago, as a new and improved version of the Protection of Civil Rights Act of 1955 that had fallen short of successfully protecting the Dalit from atrocities. Parliament therefore passed the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in order to emphasize a commitment to the safety of the Dalit. It distinguishes that the perpetrator must be a non-member of the Dalit, and the victim must be of this caste. Importantly, it introduced punishments for neglect from officials who are obligated to respond to reports of violence. This was in response to a trend of low arrests, low criminal charges, and often inaction by police departments. The Supreme Court ruling said the act was “rampantly misused,” claiming that over 16% of claims were false, merely citizens using the laws as a forum to “settle personal scores...

New Malaysian Bill Against Fake News Isn’t Solving Any Problems

Photo: An advertisement in a public transit terminal reminds commuters not to spread fake news online. It’s no secret that in this modern age of fast and easy communication, fake news has become a serious threat to justice and democracy. Each country has reacted differently to this new challenge, with some fighting it full force and others embracing it to their own advantages. One of these strategies in particular attracted the world’s attention this week, though, when the Malaysian government introduced its controversial “anti-fake news bill”. The new policy could charge offenders with up to six years in prison for spreading “any news, information, data and reports which are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.” At first, this plan may seem as though it could have some merit. Fake news is, after all, a grave and near universal problem today. A recent Freedom House report found that online manipulation tactics, including fake news, played a significant role in more than 18 elections last year. This, on top of the other ways that fake news affects and shapes society, also led to a fall in global internet freedom for the seventh consecutive year. All this is to say that the world simply has not figured out how to address this serious threat. Malaysia’s strategy does seem to attack fake news directly, and it would perhaps be a good tactic if the articles themselves were the primary issue. As is demonstrated by the Freedom House report, however, the critical challenges are rather...