FSRN Weekly Edition – September 4, 2015
- Record numbers of refugees arrive in European countries with mixed asylum policies
- Huge protests in Guatemala ahead of presidential elections
- Massive pro-democracy protest in Malaysia; PM accused of misappropriating $700 million
- Black Lives Matter activists craft policy proposals as campaigners kick into gear
- Artists create ‘Visions from the Inside’ through letters from families in ICE detention
The humanitarian crisis unfolding across Europe deepens as record numbers of refugees continue to arrive by land and sea, fleeing violence and poverty in the war-torn Middle East, North Africa and humanitarian crises elsewhere. The depth of desperation is increasingly evident in images and videos revealing horrific scenes playing out from beaches in Turkey to train tracks in Hungary. European leaders are struggling to craft a unified response to the crisis that is threatening the 28-nation bloc’s open borders policy. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck reports from Brussels.
Guatemalan voters head to the polls Sunday in the midst of a major political crisis that prompted the resignation of the country’s president Thursday. Ex-president Otto Perez Molina was then jailed, as a court considers possible charges against him related to a massive corruption scandal. On Tuesday, the country’s Congress unanimously stripped Molina of his presidential immunity, making it possible for him to become the highest-ranking official potentially prosecuted in the matter. The fast-moving corruption scandal erupted in April, with government officials implicated in the theft of resources and revenue from agencies and state-run institutions. Protesters have been in the streets ever since demanding accountability. FSRN’s Shannon Young talks with Guatemalan human rights activist, Claudia Samayoa says while demonstrators celebrated the move to strip the president of immunity and charge him in the case, it’s only the beginning.
In Malyasia. More than 1,000 anti-corruption advocates gathered this week for a summit convened by Transparency International. Malaysia’s prime minister was scheduled to deliver the keynote address – but he didn’t show up. Najib Razak has come under substantial fire following recent reports that $700 million dollars of state money made its way into his personal bank account.
The allegations of financial misappropriation were front and center at a huge pro-democracy rally last weekend in the country that hasn’t had a change of government since independence in 1957. The two-day rally in Kuala Lumpur ended on the eve of the country’s Independence Day, which marked the 58th year of the current government’s uninterrupted rule. FSRN’s Jarni Blakkerly was at the rally at reports that the demand for free and fair elections is growing.
A report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice detailed what it called “provocative” tactics used by police in Ferguson, Missouri against protesters in the 17 days immediately following the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The assessment identified six pervasive themes throughout the police response including inconsistent leadership, failure to understand endemic problems in the community, and the use of ineffective and inappropriate strategies and tactics.
In an introductory letter to the 188-page report, the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Director Ronald Davis wrote, “the demonstrations that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown were more than a moment of discord in one small community; they have become part of a national movement to reform our criminal justice system and represent a new civil rights movement.”
After more than a year of sustained protests on the issue of police brutality, members of that new civil rights movement – also known as the Black Lives Matter movement – have released concrete policy proposals ahead of the next elections. FSRN’s Jani Actman reports from Washington D.C.
World attention is now on European countries and how they choose to handle the refugee crisis within their borders. But a refugee situation within the U.S. remains largely ignored. Women and children continue to flee violence in Central America, only to end up detained in jail-like settings while awaiting the outcome of their asylum petitions.
Immigration authorities argue the family detention policy serves as a deterrent. But U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee of California recently ruled the policy violates a long-standing, legally-binding agreement: the 1997 Flores Settlement and gave immigration authorities until October 23rd to release detained minors. Legal experts say it’s likely hundreds will be in limbo as the case winds through the courts.
Life inside one of the facilities opened expressly to detain immigrant mothers with their children is the focus of a nation-wide art collaboration called Visions from the Inside. The collaborative was organized through CultureStrike, and was inspired by letters penned by detained women and children inside a family detention facility in Karnes County, Texas. FSRN’s Saadia Malik has more.