Rangoon Nights is rocking. The bar is on its feet and the cocktail shaker is shaking in abandon as the band Born In Burma
starts pumping out its beat.
Except we’re not in Rangoon or Burma (officially called Myanmar), but in the northern Thai town of Chiangmai which has evolved into a hub for activists, fugitives, and those taking a break from the war tearing their country apart.
This week the 2024 annual meeting of the World Social Forum (WSF)
was held in Nepal. There were fifty thousand participants from over 90 countries, exchanging strategies to address the multiple global crises, from climate catastrophes to unfettered capitalism, inequality, social injustice, wars and conflict.
Let’s call her Anita. Four years ago, her life took an unexpected turn when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everything she knew. As businesses closed and economic uncertainty loomed, Anita, like countless others, found herself forced out of work. Providing for her three young children became a daily struggle, prompting her to seek informal work as a subsistence agricultural worker to ease the financial burden.
Landing in Rangoon nearly 100 years ago, a young Chilean poet described “a city of blood, dreams, and gold” with “leprous streets”. The flourishing capital of then British-ruled Burma and its major port were a must-see staging post on an Asian tour.
As the UN continues its never-ending saga on the reform of the Security Council (UNSC), one of the political anomalies that keeps cropping up is the absence of Africa, among the five permanent members (P5)—a privilege bestowed only on the US, UK, France, China and the Russian Federation.
The myriads of proposals for the reform of the much-maligned Security Council have been kicked around the United Nations for more than two decades—with no significant progress.
Speaking at the General Assembly’s (GA) annual debate, GA President Dennis Francis told delegates last November that without structural reform, the Council’s performance and legitimacy will inevitably continue to suffer.
The military must have expected an easier ride. Three years ago, it ousted
Myanmar’s democratically elected government. But the coup has been met with fierce resistance, unleashing a bloody conflict with no end in sight.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s week-long tour across four African countries was aimed at strengthening the US-Africa relationship—a relationship, according to some commentators, already waning as China and Russia are increasing their influence.
Serbia’s December 2023 elections saw the ruling party retain power – but amid a great deal of controversy.
Civil society has cried foul about irregularities in the parliamentary election, but particularly the municipal election in the capital, Belgrade. In recent times Belgrade has been a hotbed of anti-government protests. That’s one of the reasons it’s suspicious that the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) came first in the city election.
For over a year, a group of United Nations peacekeepers from Ghana led by Captain Esinam Baah regularly patrolled the “blue line”
or the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, and visited neighbourhoods in the area, checking in with local families and making sure they were safe.
The parliamentary elections held in Bangladesh on 7 January, 2024, has created much controversy in the country, terming it an “election of the Awami League (AL) government, for the AL government and by the AL government", by many. Internationally, China and India have congratulated the government for victory and organization of a fair election. But, several western countries have termed it as unsatisfactory. However, irrespective of the diverse views, everyone agrees that it was not participatory elections. Voter turn out was significantly low and it was boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP).
Among East Africa’s dozens of pastoral tribes, major conflicts have erupted repeatedly, largely over land and water disputes.
Generational trauma and anger have built to create tensions and grievances that carry emotional weight even hundreds of years later.
Guatemala’s new president, Bernardo Arévalo, was expected to be sworn in on 14 January at 2pm –the 14th at 14:00, as people repeated in anticipation for months. It was a momentous event – but it wasn’t guaranteed to happen.
A woman medical graduate from the Hindu community is making waves, as she is the first minority woman to contest the Pakistan Parliamentary election for a general seat, and she does so in the face of deep-rooted religious traditions and wealthy political opponents.
Dr Saveera Parkash, a nominee of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for the February 8 polls, is sure of her victory despite her religion.
Bangladesh just held an election. But it was far from an exercise in democracy.
Sheikh Hasina won her fourth consecutive term, and fifth overall, as prime minister in the general election held on 7 January. The result was never in doubt, with the main opposition party, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), boycotting the vote over the ruling Awami League’s refusal to let a caretaker government oversee the election. This practice, abolished by the Awami League government in 2011, was, the BNP asserted, the only way to ensure a free and fair vote.
All through this week, leading up to January 15th, the world will commemorate Martin Luther King. In a world as wounded as ours is today, the lessons of his life’s work offer a vital opportunity for healing.
The atrocities against Palestinians in a ruthlessly devastated Gaza — with over 21,000 mostly civilian deaths in retaliation to the killings of 1,200 inside Israel —have resurrected a longstanding question: is it time for Palestine to be recognized as a full-fledged UN member state?
The question has also been triggered by a statement by China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread and persistent abuses of fundamental rights at a global level that, to a certain extent, derives from what we consider "normal" in our societies. In addition to firmly condemning that every three women in the world suffer from physical or sexual violence, we must question what we are normalizing as a society for this to happen.
In its military campaign in Gaza, Israel faces a seemingly endless list of alleged human rights violations. International monitors argue the Israel Defense Forces have starved
journalists attempting to cover the carnage, tortured
detainees, and attacked
hospitals full of wounded civilians.
“This is what you get after ten years of state propaganda and brainwashing,” says Anatolii*.
The Moscow-based LGBT rights activist’s ire is directed at a recent ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court declaring the “international LGBT movement” an extremist organization.
Have you ever tried to register a birth, a death or maybe your own marriage? Unfortunately, many of these vital events in Asia and the Pacific remain unregistered often with dire consequences for individuals, families and communities.