Welcome to the grand premiere of the Friday Five! Each Friday, I’ll be choosing five important news stories that you should be aware of, with a particular focus on international stories that may not be “front-page news” in American media outlets. I’ll also include links where you can read more about these issues.
#EndSARS: Police Shoot Peaceful Protestors in Nigeria
On Tuesday, October 20th, the Nigerian Army opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protestors in Lagos, Nigeria, killing an unknown number of people. Eyewitnesses that spoke to the BBC estimated that as many as 20 people were shot and killed at the Lekki toll gate around 7:00pm. Multiple reports say the soldiers removed the CCTV cameras near the toll gate to erase evidence, and video footage confirms that they cut the electricity in the area before the shooting, leading to complete chaos once shots were fired into the darkness. Horrific video footage on social media showed protestors who had been critically injured or had died. The Nigerian Army denied the story, calling reports of the killings “Fake News” on their official Twitter account.
The peaceful demonstration was part of the “End SARS” movement, an anti-police brutality movement specifically aimed at disbanding the Nigerian police’s “Special Anti-Robbery Squad” unit, who have been accused of torturing and killing citizens. “End SARS” reminds us that police brutality is an oppresive violence that transcends borders, and the movement toward abolition is a global struggle.
“Nigeria is Murdering Its Citizens,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New York Times
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Grand Juror from Breonna Taylor Case Drops a Bombshell
An anonymous grand juror from the Breonna Taylor case has spoken out about the proceedings, saying that homicide charges were not presented as an option to the jury. In a remarkable decision, a judge ruled that the typically-secret proceedings from the grand jury could be made public, and permitted jurors to speak to the press. The decision came after a grand juror sued to make the proceedings public, asserting that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had used the grand jury “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.”
Two grand jurors have since spoken out about the proceedings, confirming that the jury was not presented with homicide charges and was only allowed to consider wanton endangerment charges. “The grand jury didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case…I cannot speak for other jurors, but I can help the truth be told,” the first juror said in a statement on Tuesday. The situation sheds a light on the manipulative power of our legal system, which often forgoes justice in favor of protecting law enforcement.
“Breonna Taylor Grand Juror Says Homicide Charges Were Not Presented,” by Will Wright, The New York Times
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Victory in Bolivia: Socialist Party Wins by a Landslide in Elections After 2019 Coup
A year after a U.S.-backed coup ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales, his socialist party won by a landslide in Sunday’s election. Morales observed the election closely from his exile in Argentina and congratulated winner Luis Arce, the presidential candidate for Movimiento al Socialismo (commonly known as MAS). After the Organization of American States (OAS) accused Morales’ party of fraud in the 2019 election, Morales was ousted and forced to flee to Mexico under threat of violence. Jeanine Áñez, a member of the extremist right-wing party that oversaw the coup, declared herself interim president and moved swiftly to persecute and kill dissenters, many of whom were indigenous supporters of President Morales.
U.S. observers responded in typical fashion: Think-tank types accused Morales of being an authoritarian dictator, most politicians shied away from calling it a coup, and mainstream media coverage euphemized the situation as a “controversial election” or “political turmoil.” Tech billionaire and well-known internet douchebag Elon Musk seemingly admitted that the U.S. had installed the right-wing government in order to gain access to Bolivia’s lithium, jokingly saying “We will coup whoever we want,” in response to a critic on Twitter.
Sunday’s election is a massive victory for indengenous communities, organized labor, and all working people of Bolivia. It is also a glimmer of hope for anti-imperialists, socialists, and indegenous people around the world.
“Bolivians Return Evo Morales’s Party to Power One Year After a U.S.-Applauded Coup” by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
“Is Bolivia Poised to Swing Back Towards Socialism?” by Tom Philips and Cindy Jimenez Becerra, The Guardian
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Assault on Armenians Continues in Nagorno-Karabakh
Over the past three weeks, deadly fighting has continued in the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, as part of an ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Both sides have accused each other of shelling civilian areas, breaking ceasefire agreements, and other human rights violations. Azeri military operations are being carried out with the support of Turkey, making the conflict particularly contentious as Armenians recall the trauma of the Armenian genocide committed by Turkey from 1915-1923. Civilians have been forced to take shelter in basements and bunkers to escape the destruction of Azeri drones.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region, referred to as “Artsakh” by Armenians, has been disputed territory since the 1990s when the two countries fought a war vying for its control. It is officially recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, but its ethnic makeup is majority Armenian and it is under defacto Armenian rule. Azerbaijan sees the recapture of Nagorno-Karabakh as a vital piece of its nation-building and a chance for refugees to return to their homes. Armenians, on the other hand, see the conflict as an existential threat to the Armenian people, haunted by the atrocities of Turkey’s genocide. The President of Azerbaijan shows no signs of stopping the military assaults, saying in a statement on Tuesday, “We are fighting on our own land, defending our own land, and we will continue to drive the invaders out of our lands.” As for the Armenians of Artsakh, they are fearing for their lives and their family members on the front lines.
“They Lay Competing Claims to Nagorno-Karabakh. The War Over it Defines Them Both,” by Nabih Bulos and Marcus Yam, The LA Times
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545 Children Still Missing Their Parents After Family Separations at Border
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a court brief on Tuesday claiming that 545 migrant children are still without their parents after being separated at the border. Lawyers appointed by a federal judge say that have been unable to make contact with the children’s parents, who were deported back to their home countries in Central America without their children. In 2018, the Trump administration implemented a brutal crackdown on Central American immigrants seeking asylum, most of whom were escaping unspeakable violence in their home countries. Once detained at the border, migrant children were separated from their parents and held in separate detention centers, many of which were revealed to have inhumane conditions. It is estimated that as many as 5,500 families were separated.
Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said, “We will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families, no matter how long it takes. The tragic reality is that hundreds of parents were deported to Central America without their children, who remain here with foster families or distant relatives.” The grave consequences of these atrocities will undoubtedly be felt for years to come.
“Parents Of 545 Children Separated At U.S.-Mexico Border Still Can’t Be Found,” by Mark Katkov, NPR
“New Report Details the Trauma of Family Separation Effects on Children,” The Center for American Progress