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A YEAR OF RIFTS, CONFLICTS

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on December 29, 2019 with No Comments

As 2019 draws to a close, the rift among the various stakeholders has never been so wide. From the moment, Donald Trump came to launch his presidential bid in 2015; his attacks on immigrants have been unrelenting. Throughout 2019, the Trump Administration continued its cruel pattern of kicking out immigrants already there in USA and keeping out new arrivals. Three years of dehumanizing immigrants and practicing a deterrence-only strategy has produced a humanitarian crisis at the border and created a sickening scene  where children are there in the detention centers with no soap and toothbrushes and where some migrants have no access to running water. Thousands of children have been separated from their families. Tens of thousands of asylum-seeking families were forced to wait in dangerous and unsanitary conditions in Mexico for months on end. The rift remained there too among the Republicans and the Democrats. At the fag end of the year, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress, with Democrats declaring him a threat to the nation and branding a permanent mark on the most turbulent presidency of modern times.

Hong Kong too witnessed a series of unending protest triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government. The bill would have allowed the bill would have allowed the extradition of criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories with which Hong Kong does not currently have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China. This led to concerns that the bill would subject residents of Hong Kong and visitors to the jurisdiction and legal system of mainland China, thereby undermining the region’s autonomy and civil rights of the people of Hong Kong. The protests that started on June 9 continue as we close the year. It has resulted in 11 deaths and over 2600 left injured.

Britain too passed through a series of uncertainty. Brexit has been a massive headache ever since the UK voted to leave in 2016.  It took two prime ministers, three deadline extensions and two general elections for an exit deal finally to be acceptable to the British Parliament. Prime Minister Boris who initially was unacceptable to the Members of the Parliament came back with a thumping majority to work for ensuring that Britain can finally leave.  

The world was left shocked in March when a white supremacist terrorist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. 51 people were killed. The gunman live-streamed the first attack on Face book. These were the deadliest mass shootings in modern New Zealand history and united the country in grief.

In Ukraine, fiction became fact. Volodymyr Zelensky, an actor who used to star in a TV series as the president became the country’s real president. He won the election by a landslide. His priority was to restart peace talks with Russia about conflict in eastern Ukraine.

A bright ray of hope this year came in the form of young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who inspired a generation of young climate strikers demanding their governments curb emissions growth and protect their future. She had the guts to tell the world leaders, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.” The world leaders however don’t seem to have taken any lead from her emotional outburst.  

The world was taken for a surprise when it came to know of two leaders of Pakistan given a hard time. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was put behind bars for corruption charges and even shocking was the declaration by the judge who asked that the former President and military dictator Pervez Musharaf his corpse to Central Square in Islamabad, hang it for 3 days.  A sense of relief came when a group of judges including former ones expressed dissent with strong and exceptional views expressed by the presiding judge.

Canada too witnessed the Federal Election. Pre Election season was tough for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau specially having been linked with SNC Lavalin scandal, however he staged a comeback upsetting the Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer who had to resign as the party chief.  Conservative party was expected to comeback especially considering that, the party had done well to comeback to power in Alberta Jason Kenney.  Earlier this month, the new NAFTA trade deal, the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement was finally signed. Another major feather in the cap of Prime Minister Trudeau came when the named Canada’s first ambassador for women, peace and security.

India too presented a first of a kind. In an election that saw as many as 900 million citizens casting their votes, incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attained a landslide victory, winning 303 out of 543 seats. The substantial win confirmed a second term for Modi as the country’s prime minister. While he was expected to come out with a development agenda, his government won applause all around when it abolished  “Triple Talaq” for Muslim woman.  It had to face tough time, when it got rid of Article 370 and put various leaders under house arrest, and internet remains suspended since August 20th.  Again, his government passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is drawn on religious lines and has took India by storm with protest taking place ever since it was passed in middle of December.  The year ends from where it started; it is about immigrants, minorities. The canvas has changed, from US its India.

 

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