Mugabe given immunity; Rwanda offers refuge to enslaved migrants

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  • Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe, was granted immunity from prosecution as part of a deal that led to him handing in his resignation, sources told Reuters. The deal also included the safety of his wife Grace, and family. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president fired by Mugabe nearly three weeks ago, will return to Harare and be sworn in as president this Friday. President Mugabe’s resignation was welcomed with joy from the public, The New York Times reported. However Mnangagwa is not seen as a harbinger of change for Zimbabwe, due to his support from the military and ruling Zanu-PF party.
  • Rwanda offered refuge to around 30,000 migrants stuck in Libya. The offer came after a video showing men being auctioned as farm workers was released by CNN last week. Rwanda’s foreign ministry said: “Given our own history… we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle,” according to the BBC. Approximately 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutu were murdered in 100 days during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, and most countries offered little help then.
    • Hundreds of thousands of Africans travel through Libya every year, on their way to try to make it into Europe. Some are then captured and enslaved.
  • Bangladesh signed a deal today to return hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. Some 620,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar following a brutal crackdown by the country’s military. The U.S. and the UN have called it “ethnic cleansing”. The deal was signed by Bangladeshi and Myanmarese officials in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw. A press release from the Bengali government quoted by the BBC said: “The ‘Arrangement’ stipulates that the return shall commence within two months”. Aid workers expressed concern for the safety of the refugees back in Myanmar though, due to unsettling comments by the country’s top military leader. “Emphasis must be placed on wish of local Rakhine ethnic people who are real Myanmar citizens,” Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said.
  • Since late August, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after lethal attacks on police posts by Rohingya militants prompted a brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s army. The Rohingya are an historically oppressed Muslim minority group that have resided for centuries in Rakhine state, Myanmar. Myanmar denies claims of persecution.
  • Papua New Guinea (PNG) authorities have moved to evict refugees from a former Australian-run detention center. Hundreds of men have refused to leave the Manus Island center since it was closed on October 31. The Guardian reported that Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani was arrested as police and immigration officials entered the camp. Australia has detained asylum seekers who arrive by boat in camps on Manus Island but it shut down the center after a local court ruled it unconstitutional. The court urged asylum seekers to head to transit centers elsewhere on the island. However, the United Nations said new accommodation for the refugees was far from ready.
  • A blockade stopping urgently needed humanitarian aid to war-torn Yemen was to begin easing on Thursday. The Saudi-led military coalition fighting Shiite rebels said it will reopen the country’s main airport in Sanaa and the key Red Sea port of Hodeida after a two-week closure. UN groups had been warning that the blockade could lead to a famine that would threaten millions, and Al Jazeera reported that aid groups contend the situation remains dire.
  • The U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions ordered a review of an FBI database used for background checks on gun buyers, citing a Texas church massacre in which 26 people were killed. Sessions said an unreported assault conviction by the gunman in the November 5 slayings identified shortcomings in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

What we’re reading

  • Light pollution is growing across the Earth, masking the difference between night and day, and creating potentially profound challenges for the planet’s inhabitants, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances. The Washington Post reports that while much of the recent increase is concentrated in Asia and the Middle East, the problem is on a “planetary scale.” LED lights, which were supposed to bring an “energy revolution,” are driving the problem, reports, a science news site. – Jodie DeJonge
  • The Economist looks at how Thanksgiving, like Christmas, only became the massive sales deal that it is in the latter 20th century. The Pilgrim Fathers would not approve. – Angela Long

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