Molotov cocktails, clouds of teargas, live gunfire, ambulance sirens wailing as they ferried the wounded, and round after round of rubber-coated metal bullets exploding in the street…these were familiar scenes in Palestinian protest.
Women face greater odds in achieving equal political representation in the Pacific Islands than in any other region of the world, holding just 3 percent of seats in national parliaments, compared to 20 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 18.5 percent in South East Asia.
More than 10,000 people living in the coastal Adriatic town Dubrovnik have done what many others in the region could never. They are holding a referendum on a controversial development project that they believe endangers their city.
“We wanted to do something to bring focus to the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, of which there are around 5,000 in Israeli jails, including hunger strikers, children, women,” says Mohannad Barakat, 30, one of seven Palestinians who have made a Palestinian version of the Gangnam style.
Gaza is becoming increasingly radicalised as Hamas continues its crackdown on civil liberties, press freedom and the rights of women. In the last few weeks a number of journalists have been arrested and accused of being involved in “suspicious activities”, several detainees shot dead by police during arrest attempts, and female students asked to abide by a strict Islamic dress code.
Graphic video footage of an Egyptian man being dragged naked across a street and beaten by riot police during a protest in Cairo has sparked outrage in Egypt and heightened calls for police reform, a key demand of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Despite anti-discrimination laws and a steadily growing number of employed women, Japan is falling behind the rest of the world on gender equality. Widespread discrimination persists, and has only grown more subtle over the past years.
From full literacy declared in the seventies, Iraq is down to 40 percent literacy for women. From the first woman prime minister and the first woman judge in the Middle East in 1959, Iraq has slipped to a place where an abnormal number of widows struggle, and where child marriages are on the rise. Hanaa Edwar is putting up a fight to win Iraqi women their freedoms again.
Governments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are being urged to end the institutionalisation of babies as more than 15,000 children a year in the region continue to be subjected to a practice experts say often leaves them physically and mentally scarred for life.
Since the restoration of democracy in 2008, Pakistan has undertaken steps to uphold human rights, but the situation of minorities has only worsened, according to a group of NGOs. Dalits are in the worst state, facing both religious and social discrimination, they say.
During the uprising that toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak women stood shoulder to shoulder with men in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, pressing the revolution’s demands for freedom, justice and dignity. But those who hoped the revolution would make them equal partners in Egypt’s future claim they may be worse off now than under Mubarak’s authoritarian rule.
Ten years of campaigning by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty have brought fruit: the number of countries that have abolished capital punishment in law or practice has gone up to 140. But some countries have resumed executions this year.
The annual debate has just wrapped up and, already, the certainty is that if last year Palestinian statehood auspiciously dominated the international agenda, this time, the issue vanished from the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and will vanish even further from world affairs.
In 1996, Maria Mamerita Mestanza Chavez, a 33-year-old Peruvian mother of seven, was threatened with imprisonment if she did not comply with the government policy of undergoing sterilisation. After suffering post-operative complications for which she was refused treatment, Chavez died nine days later.
Police in South Sudan have begun press-ganging every "idle" youth they can find to provide labour on police farms. The State Police Commissioner in Northern Bahr al Gazal state says young men cannot be left to drink tea and play cards all day while food insecurity threatens the country.