In today’s digest:
- EU and Turkey discuss refugee crisis
- Turkey strikes another blow to press freedom and seizes independent outlet
- Triple attack in Tunisia leaves 26 dead
- Weekly Irish protest against bank bailout ends after five years
- Pope Francis denounces killing of four nuns and 12 patients in Yemen
- Benin holds presidential elections
- Hong Kong students to sell texts banned in China in protest at booksellers arrests
- Murdered environmental activist Berta Caceres buried in Honduras
EU leaders and the Turkish prime minister may decide on Monday to close the Balkan refugee route. At least 25 refugees, including 13 children, drowned over the weekend in the latest capsizing off the Turkish coast. The Greek Coast Guard rescued over 400 people off three islands on Sunday. NATO is expanding its mission in the Aegean and its supreme allied commander in Europe claimed in Congress that Russia and the Syrian regime are “weaponizing migration.”
The Turkish government confiscated another media group. After taking over Today’s Zaman on Friday night, replacing the editors with a board of trustees, riot police raided Zaman’s headquarters, teargassing workers and protesters outside the building on Saturday. Zaman’s journalists did their best to cover the police takeover of their newsroom.
Tunisian officials say that 26 people, including 21 attackers, have been killed in a dawn attack near the Libyan border at the Ben Gardane security headquarters.
North Korea threatened a nuclear attack on the US, in response to massive joint military exercises between US and South Korean forces. The threats are not unprecedented, but tensions are rising after North Korea’s nuclear test and the ensuing UN sanctions on March 2. The military drills will simulate strikes on North Korea’s missile and nuclear facilities.
The final Ballyhea Says No protest march against the Irish government’s decision to bail out banks with public money took place on Sunday, five years after it began in 2011. For 262 weeks, the protest has been held in the tiny village of Ballyhea, County Cork and nearby town of Charleville. In those five years, the protesters took their case to the the Irish government and to European institutions. The protesters, led by Diarmuid O’Flynn, sought to reverse an emergency decision taken at the height of the European banking crisis that saw tens of billions of euros in Irish public money “burned” to bail out unsecured banking bondholders and speculators.
Pope Francis denounced the killing of four nuns and 12 patients in Aden, Yemen on Friday. He said the failure of media to report on the deaths made them victims not only of the murderers, but “of this global indifference of those who do not care.” Al Qaeda in Yemen denied involvement in the massacre at an elderly home run by the Missionaries of Charity. A priest was kidnapped in the attack.
Vote counting began in Benin, where presidential elections were held Sunday. Benin has been long considered a model of democracy and peaceful voting process. This time, voters could choose among 33 candidates.
Hong Kong students unions of nine major universities announced they are going to sell books banned in China, in protest against the detention of the local booksellers who were abducted over the last few months of 2015. Some of the five Hong Kong booksellers have repeatedly appeared on China state TV “confessing” to crimes. Three of them are still detained, while Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por were released on Friday and Sunday respectively.
Murdered environmental activist Berta Caceres was buried on Saturday in Honduras. A large crowd accompanied her coffin in a long march on the streets of La Esperanza. Caceres had complained of death threats from state security and landowners. She was shot dead by gunmen last Thursday.
At least 60 people were killed in a IS claimed attack south of Baghdad Sunday, when a suicide bomb truck exploded on the edge of the town of Hilla.
Turkey’s military said that its forces have killed at least 1,250 Kurdish militants since July 2015.