Tony Iltis

The victory of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in the November 2015 national elections in Burma (Myanmar) was hailed by Western leaders as heralding a new era of democracy and respect for human rights in the country.

Once isolated by sanctions imposed on the pretext of the widespread human rights abuses by previous military regimes, Burma is now a profitable destination for Western investment. By September, the US had lifted its last remaining sanctions.

French authorities announced their operation to demolish “the Jungle”, the makeshift refugee settlement in the northern French port of Calais, was completed on October 26, with refugees bussed to government-controlled centres dispersed throughout France.

But this claim was contradicted by chaotic scenes of the camp in flames and more than 1600 unaccompanied minors being excluded from the transfer to other camps. All the while, British and French politicians bickered over whose responsibility they were.

The regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a further leap towards undisguised dictatorship, intensifying its crackdown against the democratic and left-wing opposition, independent media and the Kurdish population.

On October 25, Co-Mayors of the Diyarbakır (Amed) Metropolitan Municipality, Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, members of the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), were arrested.

The crackdown by the Turkish regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against the democratic and left-wing opposition, independent media and the Kurdish population has intensified. On October 25, co-mayors of the the Diyarbakır (Amed) Metropolitan Municipality, Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, members of the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), were arrested.

Free Women’s Congress (KJA) spokesperson Ayla Akat Ata was detained at a protest calling for Kışanak and Anlı's release and is now facing terrorism charges alongside them.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of an assault to recapture Mosul, the most important Iraqi city held by ISIS, on October 16.

The assault is spearheaded by the Iraqi army and the peshmerga, the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. It also includes the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), an umbrella group of militia groups loyal to the Iraqi government and based in Iraq’s Shi’a Arab communities, and some other Iraqi militias.

On October 12, police cars descended at high speed on a laneway in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown to arrest to two 16-year-olds. For the next few days the media uncritically reported police claims that they had foiled an imminent terrorist attack.

The trigger for the arrests was that the youths had just purchased M9 hunting knives at a local gun shop. This type of knife is not illegal in NSW.

Aleppo. Another round of international talks on Syria, and a ceasefire, have come and gone. The five-and-a-half-year-old civil war continues unabated, as do the competing military interventions — all ostensibly targeting ISIS — by various regional and global powers.

East Timor has taken Australia to the United Nations Conciliation Commission at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

At issue is a permanent maritime boundary and the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea — with East Timor accusing Australia of stealing badly needed resources that, by international law, belong to Asia’s poorest nation.

The situation is deteriorating in “the Jungle” — the informal settlement in the northern French port of Calais of refugees trying to reach Britain.

French police demolished the southern half earlier this year, yet the population is steadily rising and has surpassed 10,000. Neglected by governments and NGOs, the volunteers who provide food, clothing and other aid are receiving fewer donations to assist the growing population. Hunger has become prevalent, along with diseases caused by lack of sanitation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says 4475 people were killed in the nation's horrific civil war during July. Of these, 1289 were civilians, including 263 children. Almost three quarters of these civilian casualties were killed in airstrikes by the government or its ally, Russia, and other attacks by the pro-government side, SOHR said. Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, more than 400,000 people have been killed, between 4-to-5 million people have left Syria as refugees and about 8 million have been internally displaced.
On the surface, it seems the war against ISIS in Syria is going well. On August 12, the town of Manbij was taken by forces of the Manbij Military Council (MMC) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Then on August 24, the nearby border town of Jarablus was occupied by Turkish tanks and troops. Turkish forces were joined by Syrian fighters claiming allegiance to Islamist and other groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). In both instances, the US provided air cover. However, there the similarities end.
Fascist mobs, with support from the police, attacked neighbourhoods populated by Kurds, the Alevi religious minority, other minorities and leftists. Istanbul, July 16. Photo: Sendika10.org. Faced with an attempt to overthrow his government, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the coup as “a gift from God” — and wasted no time in exploiting it to further entrench his authoritarian regime.
Kurdish-Australian journalist Renas Lelikan was charged under anti-terrorist laws at Parramatta Local Court on July 21 and refused bail. The charges accuse him of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He was arrested the previous day in raids by the Australian Federal Police, which also seized more than 2000 emails. The prosecution asked for an adjournment until September, saying police needed time to translate the emails from Turkish. He has another bail hearing on July 28.
An Iraqi woman passes by the scene of a car bomb attack in Kamaliyah, a predominantly Shia area of eastern Baghdad in 2013.
The morning after the July 2 federal elections, Australians awoke to a still undecided election. Whether the incumbent Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull holds on by a slim majority, or is able to form a minority government, or whether Labor under Bill Shorten can form a minority government, or whether there is a hung parliament requiring new elections, remained unclear. Some things, however, were immediately apparent.
Since Britain voted by a narrow margin on June 23 to leave the European Union, England has been hit by a significant rise in incidents of racist and xenophobic harassment and violence in the country. John O'Connell, from anti-racism group Far Right Watch, told Al Jazeera on June 29 that his group had documented more than 90 incidents in the past three days, ranging from “verbal abuse up to physical violence”.

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