Egypt: The obvious top story this week was the horrific massacre of pro-Morsi protesters by Egyptian security forces early Saturday. At least 72, and probably many more, protesters were killed in the fighting, which seems to have begun when protesters attempted to block a major Cairene bridge, so naturally security forces did the reasonable thing and starting firing live ammunition into the crowd, apparently aiming for the head and chest. This was only the culmination of a week of clashes and casualties, including at least five killed in Alexandria, with witnesses claiming that snipers were seen targeting protesters. New VP Mohamed ElBaradei “strongly condemned the ‘excessive use of force'” by the security forces. Which is nice.
Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Peru, Bulgaria, and the good old US of A, after the break.
Syria: The war rages on, with rebels reporting success in western Aleppo and the government strengthening its hold on Homs, which in addition to being the third-largest city in Syria behind Aleppo and Damascus is also strategically located on the main road from Damascus to the Alawite areas of the country on the Mediterranean coast, where Assad’s support is strongest. The death toll in the civil war stands at 100,000 and rising, with the UN still working on arranging talks toward a transitional government, and more civilians remain at critical risk in Homs, where the Red Cross says that the government has been blocking emergency aid to the trapped population.
Tunisia: Protesters in Tunis are expressing their outrage at the current government, led by Islamic fundamentalist party Ennahda, largely because two high profile opposition leaders have been murdered in the past six months, with the same gun. The protesters blame the government for the killings, which were likely carried out by Salafi terrorists who are ideologically sympathetic to, though not openly allied with, Ennahda, arguing that the government has not done nearly enough to crack down on extremist groups using violence to further political aims. Police expressed their condolences for the killings by treating the protesters to a free cloud of tear gas.
Turkey: The European Court of Human Rights criticized the Turkish government earlier this week for police violence and excessive use of tear gas against peaceful protesters in its verdict on a case from 2005. Glad to see Tayyip Erdoğan is staying true to himself. Also this week, Erdoğan criticized the EU for not condemning Egypt’s violent crackdown on its protesters as harshly as it has condemned Turkey’s violent crackdown on its protesters. Part of this is motivated by the fact that Erdoğan and Morsi were friendly with one another, but mostly it sounds like Phil Spector complaining that the California state justice system convicted him but let OJ Simpson skate. Maybe he’s got a point, but it’s not really an important one.
Peru: Saturday saw protests in Lima against Ollanta Humala’s government and what they claim is its failed promises on education and jobs. Humala’s riot police emphasized his deep commitment to reform and good governance by gassing the crowd, firing a water cannon at it, and arresting 15.
Bulgaria: Protesters, unreasonably expecting that their government not be “bought and paid for by wealthy elites,” “utterly corrupt,” or “totally incompetent,” surrounded the Parliament building in Sofia on Wednesday before police began indiscriminately beating on protesters and sent at least 20 of them to the hospital with head injuries. I debated including this one, since it seems that some protesters were throwing rocks at government officials who were being escorted through the blockade by police. This blog’s bias is obviously in the direction of protesters and citizens as opposed to the armed representatives of the government, but I do realize that there is a point where a protest becomes a riot or a mob, and the authorities need to step in. What I question is where the line between “protest” and “riot” gets drawn, as well as the amount of force that gets used to break them up. In this case it seems that the police overreacted, so it makes the list.
United States: The Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has apparently decided to use its resources, undoubtedly constrained in this time of budget cuts and austerity, to entrap and arrest gay men for “unnatural carnal copulation,” despite the fact that anti-sodomy laws were declared unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, a full decade ago. The District Attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish is refusing to prosecute the “cases,” because, you know, there’s not actually a case to prosecute. Undeterred, the sheriff’s office “told the Baton Rouge Advocate that it would continue to prosecute all laws currently on the Louisiana books.” Amercia!
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