In today’s digest:
- Housing plan unveiled for Brazilians evicted from favelas ahead of Rio Olympics
- Greek politicians denounce border closures
- Four-day march begins to save world’s largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh
- European Parliament urged to take firm action on Egypt’s human rights record
- Syrian children hold rally to end siege of Daraya in Damascus
- US DOJ investigates “whites only” cemetery in Texas
- National protests against labor reform in France
The residents of Vila Autodromo, the Brazilian favela being destroyed to make way for the Summer Olympics, were given a new plan for their re-housing. The residents were not allowed into the press conference where the mayor of Rio de Janeiro announced the plan, but they say they’d rather have their own plan put into place. Most of the favela has been torn down, with many residents evicted over the past year.
Greece is facing the prospect of sheltering tens of thousands of stranded refugees after Balkan states closed their borders. Both the Greek prime minister and the German chancellor publicly deplored the closures. On Thursday, Turkey said it won’t accept refugees already on Greek islands, despite a relocation agreement with the EU. The Greek government is preparing to move refugees to hastily prepared camps across the country. Five people, including a baby, died in the latest refugee boat sinking off the Turkish coast.
A long protest march began Thursday opposing plans to build a coal-fired power plant near the Sundarban mangrove forest, a World Heritage site in Bangladesh. Environmentalists and other activists began the four-day march, according to the Bangladeshi publication Ittefaq.
Jailed Egyptian photographer Shawkan published a new letter from prison. In the letter, released by Amnesty International, he recounts the humiliation he faces at the hands of his jailers. “Why all this oppression and persecution?” he asks. “Has it not been enough?”. Shawkan was arrested while documenting the August 2013 Rabaa Massacre, when Egypt’s government killed hundreds of supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo. Shawkan contracted hepatitis C while in detention, yet has been denied medical care. His trial is expected to begin March 26.
A motion for a resolution at the European Parliament has called for an investigation into the torture and murder of Italian scholar Giulio Regeni in Egypt. The motion notes the deplorable harassment of human rights organizations and calls on Egypt to withdraw travel bans. It names Egyptian human rights defenders who have been persecuted and unjustly jailed, and called for an EU-wide ban on exports of security equipment and military aid to Egypt.
Children in Daraya, Syria staged a protest to demand an end to the siege of the Damascus suburb. The formerly middle class suburb desperately needs aid in the form of food and medical access, but it was not included in the ongoing ceasefire. “I am human!” the children chanted. “I want to live. I don’t want to die!”
The US Justice Department is investigating a “whites only” cemetery in South Texas after a Latino man was denied burial. Donna Barrera was told her husband Pedro Barrera, could not be buried at the San Domingo cemetery in Normanna, Texas because he was Mexican. A spokesperson for the cemetery said the decision has now been reversed, but the investigation will continue.
Thousands protested labor reform in French cities on Wednesday. Francois Hollande’s socialist government is staking its legacy in loosening labor restrictions to combat youth unemployment. However, protesting youths say they feel excluded and face an uncertain future. A petition against the reforms has so far garnered over 1.2 million signatures.
Venezuela’s president says it may have been a paramilitary group that took the 28 miners of Tumeremo. The families of the missing have completely blocked people from coming into and out of the town to protest the lack of answers.
Pregnant women are the latest victims of increased femicides in Mexico. A local non-profit documented 178 cases of femicide in the state of Puebla since 2013. The neighboring state of Mexico has the highest rate of femicides in the country.
Several leftist activists have been killed in recent days in Colombia. As peace agreements continue, FARC leader Timochenko warned on Twitter these murders were the wrong path toward reconciliation and peace.
A judge has vacated death sentences for some of the men convicted in the brutal mob killing of a woman in Afghanistan. The final sentences for the men who participated in the death of Farkhunda were drastically reduced from what they were initially. Farkhunda was killed in March 2015 after a group of men beat her and set her on fire, believing she had burned the Quran.
Activists in New York City want an officer fired after federal charges weren’t filed for the death of an unarmed man in 2012. The victim, Ramarley Graham, was chased into his home and shot in 2012. His family and civil rights activists say they’re disappointed that no federal charges were filed and want the officer responsible fired.
Louisiana is in a state of emergency due to severe flooding. A foot of rain fell in 24 hours and residents of some areas in Louisiana had to be evacuated.