this week in oppressive government violence: june 9, 2013

Turkey: The Erdoğan government offered one of those “sorry, not sorry” kinds of apologies over police brutality against protesters this week, with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologizing for injuries to “legitimate protesters” (no weasel words there), which apparently excludes “rioters.” Although it’s unclear how Erdoğan’s government is parsing the difference between “legitimate protesters” and “rioters,” I’m guessing if you asked them for their estimate of the number of “legitimate protesters” it would probably be somewhere in the “zero” range. Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that, after the deputy PM’s apology, Turkish riot police went back to tear gassing and water cannoning protesters as per their usual working arrangement.

Syria: Without belaboring the point, the strategically-significant west Syria town of Qusayr, previously in rebel hands, was taken this week by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, including a significant contingent of fighters from the Lebanese Shi’a group Hizbullah. Some reports suggest that Assad’s forces allowed the rebels and the residents of Qusayr to make an orderly retreat out of the town, which means casualties may not have been as horrible as they could have been. Taking Qusayr allows Assad’s forces a direct and open line of supply to Hizbullah’s stronghold in the north of Lebanon, and it lets Assad cut the rebels, whose base of support is to the north, off from his capital, Damascus, in the south. Assad, keenly aware of the importance of momentum in the struggle to kill as many of one’s subjects as possible, looks to already be moving in force against Aleppo, the largest city in Syria’s north, where rebels and government forces have essentially been in a stalemate for the last year, give or take.

Lebanon: Government troops and tanks blocked streets in Beirut on Sunday in the aftermath of protests outside the Iranian Embassy that resulted in one man’s death when Hizbullah militia opened fire on the protesters. No government violence here yet, but the situation bears watching.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: The situation of internally displaced people in Congo is only getting worse, as clashes between Hutu and Tutsi militias, and between the Congolese Army and various rebel factions, have forced more and more people from their homes and into crippling deprivation. Internally displaced people lack the legal status of refugees, so their suffering is acute to say the least, but the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates that there are four times as many IDPs in Africa as there are recognized refugees.

India: The recent mysterious death of a suspected Islamic terrorist, Khalid Mujahid, while in police custody has called attention to the ongoing pattern of such mysterious deaths in India. A report issued in 2011 by the Asian Center for Human Rights found that between 2001 and 2010 over 14,000 individuals died mysteriously while in either police or judicial custody.

Tunisia: Human Rights Watch concluded an investigation into a May 19th protest that turned into a violent class and resulted in one bystander being killed and three seriously wounded. The investigation concluded that government police were the only ones firing live ammunition during the clashes and so they must have been responsible for the casualties.

Cambodia: From our “in case you missed it” file, police in riot gear used stun batons to injure 23 in a protest in late May by garment factory workers demanding higher wages. In the government’s defense, the workers who were protesting are somehow not able to make ends meet on a whopping $74 a month, so clearly these are madmen that they’re dealing with.


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