the brief: issue twenty-nine


Tshisekedi calls for mobilisation in the face of M23 threat
by Herb Alexander

image credit: Sangjinhwa (Wikimedia Commons)

M23 rebels have made advances as the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) intensifies, prompting President Félix Tshisekedi to call for a broader mobilisation this week. M23 is a paramilitary organisation operating in the North-Kivu region of DRC. Claiming to defend the Tutsi ethnic group, it is suspected to be backed by the Rwandan government.

According to the army, 3000 young people have volunteered to fight against the M23 rebels, with Colonel Faustin Ndakala stating: ‘They [the M23] are at our door, they are no longer in Rwanda’. Despite the apparent success of the recruitment drive, there is a lack of faith amongst some in the professionalism of the DRC’s army. The new recruits seem poorly equipped and other elements of the army are thought to collude with rebel groups, undermining its reliability.


Myanmar Junta urged by UN General Secretary to get democracy “back on track”  
by Owen Buchan

image credit: Saw Wunna (Unsplash)

UN General Secretary António Guterres has urged the military junta currently ruling Myanmar to return to democracy immediately and bring an end to the bloodshed and “unending nightmare”. 

Myanmar has been under military control since February 2021 after a coup overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Kyi was elected in a landslide victory as president in December 2020, but, following claims of voter fraud, the military seized control. Since the junta took over there have been widespread reports of violence, including torture in prisons. 

Guterres was not the only one addressing the situation in Myanmar, as a recent meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) saw the Myanmar situation continue to top the agenda. Despite international pressure, the junta seems likely to continue pressing on with autocratic rule.


Scholz’s China visit sparks backlash in Europe
by Harvey Young

image credit: Lorenzo De Leonardis2 (Wikimedia Commons)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China on 5 November has sparked outrage across Europe with both Scholz’s European allies and his own government heavily criticising his decision. During the visit, Scholz urged his Chinese counterpart to put pressure on Russia, a Chinese ally, to end its war in Ukraine.

However, critics have argued that this visit may actually have been counterproductive for ending the war in Ukraine. Critics argue this unilateral visit to China undermined EU unity and that, if Germany is to best defend itself from Russian aggression, it must act together with the rest of Europe. A disunited Europe is generally seen as far weaker than a united one.

Furthermore, critics have argued that, during his visit to China, Scholz prioritised short-term economic goals over long-term German, and therefore European, economic security, as the German economy is heavily intertwined with China’s.

North America

Alaska rejects Sarah Palin in failed political comeback
by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Gage (Wikimedia Commons)

Sarah Palin who made waves as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee in 2008 has failed in her attempt at a political comeback. In a disappointing set of results for the Republican Party in the Midterm elections, Palin joined the ranks of Trump-backed Republicans failing to secure victories. Although vote counting is not over, Palin is expected to lose yet again to Democrat Mary Pelota in the race for the Alaska House seat.

Taking to Instagram, Palin laid the blame for her loss on the following factors: the electoral system, her Republican opponent, alleged vote rigging, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, the liberal media, Senator Lisa Murkowski, President Joe Biden, and the Republican establishment. 

However, her double rejection from Alaska’s voters has yet to hinder her aspirations. Writing on Instagram, she stated ‘don’t retreat… RELOAD!’, indicating that Americans haven’t seen the last of Sarah Palin.


Medical data leaked by hackers
by Eleanor Austin

image credit: Coekon (Wikimedia Commons)

The hackers behind last month’s cyber-attack on Medibank, an Australian medical insurance company, have begun to release patient information online. The data includes personal details, such as addresses and government ID numbers. Additionally, one hacker uploaded a file related to abortions, and subsequently uploaded a file on alcohol-related illnesses. Many are seeing this as an attempt to shame and weaponise individuals’ medical history.

It remains uncertain how this will continue to play out, especially with Medibank’s refusal to pay a ransom for the data which led to the first wave of information being published. This was despite the Australian government support paying the $10 million, which equates to around $1 per customer. 

Positively, the Australian Federal Police, alongside Interpol, announced they have identified the hackers and that they are based in Russia. However, until they are arrested it is feared that more data will be released. 

South America

Signing of Escazu Accord provides Colombian activists with renewed hope in fight against deforestation and climate change
by Henry Neale

image credit:M Tracy Hunter (Wikimedia Commons)

The Escazu Agreement is an international treaty signed in Escazu, Costa Rica in 2018. It engenders the right of access to information about the environment and a pledge to facilitate the public’s voice within environmental decision-making processes. The latest to ratify the treaty is Colombia, which holds some of the highest numbers of deaths to environmental activists – 322 activists have killed over the last decade.

Deforestation was certainly the most pressing issue under the recently vacated administration of President Iván Duque. Central to this problem is illegal crop cultivation, which facilitates international cocaine pipelines. Illegal armed groups, such as the FARC rebels, fight for territory to expedite the drug trafficking process, resulting in direct conflict with locals.

The increased rights and legal protection provided to environmental activists by the treaty as well as heightened political attention towards sustainability should provide hope for a resurgence of Colombia’s fight against climate change.

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