08 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Pro-Beijing newspapers praise blow to ‘political extremists’ after Beijing bars two lawmakers from taking seats in parliament

Newly elected lawmakers Yau Wai-ching (R) and Sixtus Leung (L), who have been barred by China from taking their seats in Hong Kong’s parliament.

Newly elected lawmakers Yau Wai-ching (R) and Sixtus Leung (L), who have been barred by China from taking their seats in Hong Kong’s parliament. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag

Beijing’s unprecedented eviction of two pro-independence activists from Hong Kong’s parliament has dealt a severe blow to “political extremists”, a Communist party-controlled newspaper has claimed as members of the city’s legal community prepared to take to the streets in protest.

One day after Beijing effectively barred Sixtus ‘Baggio’ Leung and Yau Wai-ching from taking up their seats in the former colony’s 70-seat legislative council, an editorial in the Global Times praised their ousting, arguing that the appeasement of such voices would plunge the financial hub into confusion and ruin.

The Communist party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, said Beijing was taking decisive action against an intolerable and unrepentant collection of pro-independence “elements” who posed a direct threat to China’s sovereignty and national unity.

“The central government will not hesitate to take effective measures to crack down on and curb the “Hong Kong independence” [movement],” it said.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post echoed those views, describing the intervention, which came in the form of a highly unusual interpretation of the former colony’s mini-constitution, as a “strong tool to stamp out pro-independence forces”.

“Beijing is determined to keep separatists out of public office,” the pro-establishment newspaper said.

Pro-democracy activists have reacted to the intervention with astonishment and dismay while the British government expressed its concern in a brief and cautiously worded statement.

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India’s crackdown in Kashmir: is this the world’s first mass blinding?

A bloody summer of protest in Kashmir has been met with a ruthless response from Indian security forces, who fired hundreds of thousands of metal pellets into crowds of civilians, leaving hundreds blinded.


For the past month, while the attention of the world has been fixed on every dramatic twist in the US presidential election, the renewal of armed conflict between India and Pakistan has barely touched the headlines. In the past few weeks, the two nuclear states have, between them, killed two dozen civilians and injured scores of others in exchanges of artillery fire across the disputed border – known as the “line of control” – that divides Kashmir into parts controlled by India and Pakistan.

The latest flare-up in the long-running war of attrition between the two countries comes on the heels of a bloody summer of protest and repression in Kashmir that has now been erased from memory by the banging of war drums in Delhi and Islamabad. Since July, when the killing of a young militant leader sparked a furious civilian uprising across the Kashmir valley, the Indian state has responded with singular ruthlessness, killing more than 90 people. Most shocking of all has been the breaking up of demonstrations with “non-lethal” pellet ammunition, which has blinded hundreds of Kashmiri civilians.

In four months, 17,000 adults and children have been injured, nearly five thousand have been arrested, and an entire population spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir.

All this has been quickly forgotten in the past two months. On 18 September, a small group of jihadi fighters, widely believed to have come from Pakistan, staged a commando raid on an Indian army camp near the northern Kashmir town of Uri, killing 19 Indian soldiers – the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir in two decades. Indian politicians quickly blamed Pakistan, which the country’s home minister described as a “terrorist state”, while Pakistani leaders made the implausible claim that India had staged the attack itself to distract from the protests in Kashmir.

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Activists at the North Dakota pipeline site say they have little faith in either presidential candidate to bring about the kind of change they hope for

Generations of broken treaties, discrimination, police harassment and poverty have led to disillusion with mainstream politics among the Native Americans at Standing Rock.

Generations of broken treaties, discrimination, police harassment and poverty have led to disillusion with mainstream politics among the Native Americans at Standing Rock. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Frank Archambault is not going to vote for president today.

In mid-July, the 45-year-old member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe packed up all of his belongs and his family – five children and a grandson – to travel from Little Eagle, South Dakota, to Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to join the movement of “water protecters” facing off against the federal government and the oil industry. He is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing the Missouri River.

But Archambault is not interested in choosing the next elected leader of one of his enemies.

“I don’t want to have a say in government,” he said. “I guess you could call it trauma. I don’t have faith in government, so I don’t want to have a say.”

The “trauma” Archambault speaks of lies heavy over the encampments that have arisen on the windswept banks of the Missouri River. Generations of war, massacres, broken treaties, discrimination, police harassment, and poverty have resulted in a general feeling of distrust, disillusion, and disinterest in mainstream politics among the Native Americans gathered at Standing Rock. And historical traumas have only been compounded by the militarized police response to unarmed protesters, who have been met with Mace, rubber bullets, Tasers and sound weapons.

“I don’t think anyone here votes,” said Julie Richards, an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. “We’re all like, fuck the government, fuck voting, and fuck the people running.”

The rest of the nation may be glued to cable news and the latest polls, anxious for the uncertain future of an unusual election. But here, the most pressing news is gathered by standing on high ground to get a clear view of the construction crews across the river. With the pipeline reportedly just a few miles from the riverbanks, a certain amount of what Richards described as “tunnel vision” has set in.

“We’re either going to change the world with this movement, or the world is going to die,” said Ho-Waste Wakiya, an enrolled member of the coastal band of the Chumash Nation, as he sat outside his tipi at the Sacred Stone camp.

With those stakes in mind, the circus of the presidential campaign seems distant and insignificant. It does not help that neither of the two main presidential candidates has endeared themselves to the Native American activists

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Despite higher than usual early voting among Latin communities, Trump could still succeed. Even if he doesn’t, he’s made racism against us fashionable again

anti-Trump protest

‘Things are about to get worse for us, not better.’ Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

The nightmare truly began when Donald Trump threw Jorge Ramos out of a press conference in August last year. Some might argue it was when he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” the month before, but the beast hadn’t yet emerged, hadn’t yet been given a clear face or features.

“Go back to Univision!” Trump shouted as Ramos was escorted out of the room. The familiar syntax was not lost on us Latinos, who have been told to “go back” for as long as we’ve been in the United States, whether we were born here or not.

Before he was forcibly removed, Ramos was criticizing Trump for effectively saying he would deport 11 million undocumented people and build a 1,900-mile border wall. Well, Trump skirted those specifics, but that was the reality of what he was proposing. We Latinos were put in a familiar place – where we are merely numbers or parasites to the economy, seen not for our worth as human beings but for our worth as laborers.

Al mal tiempo, buena cara, goes an old Mexican proverb. “To the bad times, good face.” When I first delved into the world of activism, I used to hold the saying in contempt. It seemed to feed into the bottomless humility of the Mexican American in the face of oppression, the immigrant family, the Chicano who doesn’t want to make a fuss. It painted us, I thought, as a people who merely stood by while bad things happened to us.

Watching the Trump campaign, being its first scapegoats, I felt we were in that helpless place where our only option was to endure. The slogan Make America Great Again encapsulated exactly how we are seen in this country. We are the unclean other, our culture dilutes the purity of America’s white citizens who must be protected from us. Make America great again – by kicking us out.

Violence against Latinos surged, at Trump rallies and across the country. Xenophobia and racism were whipped into a fever pitch by the demagogue’s rants, his constant attacks on our families and our neighbors. “Send them back” was a phrase I heard more in those months than I ever had in my life. “You have to go back” became a common response to everything I wrote. Something had changed.

It was Trump’s attack on US district court judge Gonzalo P Curiel, born in Indiana and of Mexican descent, that saw our worst fears begin to take shape in reality. Trump, then the presumptive Republican nominee, accused Curiel, who was overseeing a class action lawsuit against Trump University, of being biased simply because of his Mexican heritage.

I remember watching the debacle unfold and thinking: “So this is how he’ll silence us as president.” All of us. For Trump, it has never been about immigration. It’s been about stoking racism against brown people, against black people, against the “other”. “He’s a member of a club or society very strongly pro-Mexican,” Trump said of Curiel. “Which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias.” It harkened back to McCarthyism. This is what he meant when he said he would make America great again.

Things took a dip into the absurd with the infamous Cinco de Mayo taco bowl tweet. Trump, smiling and without irony, as if he hadn’t advocated for the mass deportation of our people and hadn’t called us criminals and thugs, tweeted: “I love Hispanics!”

It was beyond parody.

Today, many hope that the long nightmare is about to draw to a close. But Trump could still pull off a win. And even if he doesn’t, the Trump machine will roll on, with or without him. We have on our hands a significant population of angry white citizens who blame us for all their frustrations. Things are about to get worse for us, not better.

It happens in cycles. America’s last mass deportation of Latinos and Mexican Americans happened during the Great Depression. Approximately 2 million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were rounded up and ejected from the country. And leading up to Trump, xenophobia in the Republican party was already the norm. Trump merely brought the subtext to the fore, bolded it and added several exclamation points. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Al mal tiempo, buena cara. I used to hate the phrase, but now I think of it daily. It helps me survive the daily inanities of the election cycle, the daily ways we are dehumanized. It’s not putting on a smile and pretending the bad times aren’t happening. It is a radical act of survival. It is a resolute affirmation in the face of adversity: I will make it through this. I will live to see the better days.

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