Up to Speed, Issue #10: Turkey’s Slap in the Face of Women’s Rights

Collage by Charlotte Görl

In the midst of non-stop reports, statistics and exclamations about the Coronavirus pandemic, other events and news from around the world may have escaped your attention. But fear not – The Herring’s biweekly current affairs summary helps you stay up to speed. In today’s edition: Among others, Tanzania’s first female leader and Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

A sudden death makes Tanzania’s lead female for the first time in history

“Today I have taken an oath different from the rest that I have taken in my career. Those were taken in happiness. Today I took the highest oath of office in mourning.” The words Samia Suluhu Hassan chose during maiden speech were unusual, yet they aptly summarised the circumstances that have made her become the first female president of Tanzania.

Previous president John Magufuli suddenly passed away last Wednesday, the official cause of death being a cardiac failure. However, ever since rumours have been going around that Magufuli had actually died from the consequences of a COVID-19 infection. It would be an ironic outcome for the president, who has been downplaying the severeness of the pandemic since the very beginning. 

Even though successor Hassan’s appointment is historic, experts doubt that much is going to change under her leadership. Having been Magufuli’s right hand since his first election campaign in 2015, she is expected to continue his legacy for the remainder of the term.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

Turkey pulls out of Istanbul Convention

Turkish women’s rights activists have to accept a severe defeat. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has withdrawn his country from a human rights treaty that aims at the prevention of violence against Women and domestic abuse in particular. Ankara’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is unexpected, as it had been the first government to ratify it back in 2012.

Meanwhile, Erdogan’s decision remained largely unexplained. It can, however, be assumed that he has given in to conservative voices seeing the treaty as a threat to the traditional Turkish family. Family minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk was quick to announce that the Turkish constitution would be “the guarantee of women’s rights” instead.

In contrast, the political opposition and NGOs harshly criticise Erdogan. Member of parliament Gökçe Gökçen from the main opposition party CHP wrote on Twitter: “You are not protecting our right to life.”

(Source: Daily Sabah)

Myanmar: A civil war about to unfold

Opponents of the military junta in Myanmar have continued their protests in several cities despite the increasingly harsh crackdown by the security forces. In Mogok, a city internationally known for its ruby mines, a local Red Cross volunteer on neighbourhood watch was shot in the head by the junta’s armed forces. Also in the second largest city of Mandalay, several protesters were injured when a vehicle drove into a crowd for unexplained reasons and police used rubber bullets.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military coup on 1 February. The junta has been brutalising demonstrators who have gathered en masse to demand Suu Kyi’s release and a return to the democratic process. According to local human rights groups, more than 230 people have been killed since the beginning of the protests.

(Source: Myanmar Now, Anadolu Agency)

Bolivia: The start of Morales’s political vengeance? 

Fears of a new wave of politically motivated prosecution are going around in Bolivia after former President Jeanine Áñez was arrested last Sunday in her mother’s house. “Political persecution has begun”, she tweeted  two days prior. Several members of her former cabinet were taken into custody as well.

Áñez had been in power for about a year, following Morales who had stepped down and escaped to Mexico in the aftermath of the chaotic 2019 election. Despite international supervisors observing “serious irregularities”, Morales declared himself the winner, leading to protests throughout the country.

Morales supporters, however, accuse Áñez of having led a coup against the then-government. Now under current president Luis Arce, a close confidant of Morales, the opposition fears the beginning of a political vengeance with Áñez only being the beginning. Her health has been rapidly declining in prison, but authorities have so far denied her request for a transfer into a private health center.

(Sources: El País, CNN)

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