what happened last week - Don't get fooled by Rwanda's president



what happened last week

 

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Issue #315 includes a bridge collapse in India and a FBI report that confirms Rwanda's president is a dictator. Plus, a stampede in Democratic Republic of Congo, a failed Arab League meeting, protests in Ghana, a state of emergency in Ecuador, and some good news like a new owl species discovered in São Tomé und Príncipe, a ceasefire agreement in Ethiopia and some justice served in the United States and Central African Republic, and much more.
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ASIA

A super old bridge in India collapsed and at least 135 people died. What now?

Last week, a bridge in the city of Morbi, Gujarat, western India collapsed. At least 134 people died and more than 100 people got injured. Many of the victims were schoolchildren on vacation and migrant workers celebrating Diwali, a Hindu festival, write Sameer Yasir, Suhasini Raj, Hari Kumar and Emily Schmall for The New York Times.
  • Good to know: The Morbi bridge was kind of... special. At 1.25 meters (4 feet) wide and 233 meters (764 feet) long and known locally as the "jhoolta pool," or swinging bridge, the structure was inaugurated in 1879 during British rule. Normally, people in India hate the country's colonial past but Gujarat’s official tourism website calls the bridge "a nostalgic reminder of Victorian London" and "an artistic and technological marvel of that period." (Hindustan Times)
Why this matters: It is one of the country’s worst accidents in many, many years. Now, the country is talking out loud about the safety of thousands of other colonial-era structures across India. 'No more man-made tragedies', many demand.

Tell me more
The bridge was more than a 100 years old, and a popular tourist attraction. On the Sunday evening when it collapsed, people had bought tickets (as usual) to experience the sensation of swaying across the wide Machchhu River.
Reuters has CCTV footage of that moment even. Then, suddenly, the cables snapped, and the bridge collapsed. The people standing on it either jumped into the river and drowned, while others died from the impact of falling on to the stones and boulders below. 
  • Quote: "The bridge collapsed in front of our eyes. People fell into the river, one on top of each other, and the debris from the bridge fell on them,” said Ajay Kumar, a 32-year-old construction worker who lives in a makeshift home on the riverside. "It sounded like a mountain had broken." (Reuters) Reuters' Springer took this wow picture of the bridge afterwards.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the site shortly after the collapse, and met some of the 100 people with injuries who are at Morbi government hospital. (The Times of India)

Why did the bridge collapse?
The bridge was simply too old. The Gujarat government, ruled by the Prime Minister's Bharatiya Janata party, had given the contract for repairing the 100-year-old suspension bridge to a local company called Oreva, which makes watches, mosquito racquets and electric bikes – and not bridge repairs or infrastructure. (
The Times of India) A lot of people are really angry with the government, some super skeptical, too. The opposition politician Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi party, was therefore like, 'ehm. That's corruption. Do we all agree? Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala agreed, and added that 'maybe the government rushed the reopening because Gujarat is going to the polls for the state assembly in December, and BJP wanted to score some points.'

Tell me about the victims
"Stories have emerged of a couple who lost both of their young sons, a tea seller who rescued three children from the muddy waters only to see them die in the ambulance, a toddler who survived but lost her parents, and entire families perishing. Local people have been helping to arrange the cremations and burials of the dead. In Indian tradition, the final rites have to be performed as soon as possible after the person’s death. Some of the dead are believed to be migrant labourers from other states. Families who had loved ones working in Morbi are arriving from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to see if they are among the dead,"
writes Amrit Dhillon for The Guardian.

What now?
Nine people have been arrested. Indian media reported that two of those detained were managers with Oreva but it is not clear if they're higher-ups. The others were security guards and ticket sellers on the bridge. (
The Hindu) This lack of real accountability is unfortunately very common.

Zoom out: India has about 173,000 bridges and about 36,470 of them were built under the British rule. Almost 6,700 are even older, with some built 140 years ago. Meaning, a loooot of them need repairing ASAP.

AFRICA

New FBI report confirms that the president of Rwanda is going after his opponents globally

A 2015 report by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation; the intelligence agency of the United States) last week was shared with The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, short OCCRP (a global network of investigative journalists). The report confirmed that, yes, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has used dirty tactics to go after his critics abroad, like in the United States. (OCCRP)

Why this matters: Western countries, like the United States and United Kingdom, think Rwanda has a good human rights track record under President Paul Kagame (in office since 2000). It doesn't. This new report helps further spread the truth.

Tell me more
President Paul Kagame, for example, has filed false charges (said people did stuff they didn't do), using the Rwanda's intelligence services to spread disinformation in the U.S. about Rwandan asylum seekers and opposition members. The Rwandan government also manipulated Interpol (an international policing body based in
France) and its red notice system to get foreign law enforcement agencies to go after its targets. His critics have been assassinated in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique. The recent report by the FBI confirmed that the United States knew about this tactic as early as 2011.

Tell me more about Paul Kagame
Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front took power in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Around one million people of the Tutsi ethnic group and their sympathizers were murdered back then. Kagame is often seen in a very positive light in the West, 'he's bringing peace and fast economic growth', they say. (
The Nation) But at the same time, his government has targeted, criminalized and crushed his critics at home and abroad. At home and in other African countries, his critics get abducted and murdered. In Europe and in the U.S., where there are stronger institutions and rule of law, Rwanda uses disinformation instead, run out of its embassies worldwide. (CNN)
  • Dig deeper: British journalist Michela Wrong wrote a book about the Kagame regime. It is called "Do Not Disturb". "A powerful investigation into a grisly political murder and the authoritarian regime behind it: Do Not Disturb upends the narrative that Rwanda sold the world after one of the deadliest genocides of the twentieth century." (Public Affairs Books
Zoom out: This is not specific to Rwanda or to Paul Kagame. "Virtually any country that has an oppressive enough government to create dissidents who would flee to the West are going to engage in operations against those dissidents," retired FBI agent and counterintelligence expert Todd K. Hulsey told OCCRP, citing Russia, China, and Cuba as examples.

And still, Western countries support Kagame?
Unfortunately, yes. Despite this, the U.S. government is Rwanda's largest bilateral donor, with US$147 million handed over to Rwanda in 2021. In 2023, it will probably be around US$145 million. The U.S. also trains the country's military. Plus, the United Kingdom signed an agreement with Rwanda to send asylum seekers (who may be Kagame's critics) from the U.K. to Rwanda. (
CNN) Rishi Sunak, the new British Prime Minister, is also a fan of this agreement. (EachOther



More you might have missed 

The bad
Pakistan: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is shot in the leg during a rally in Wazirabad, Punjab. One of Khan's supporters, however, was killed and eight others injured. The attacker has been arrested. (Al Jazeera)
Somalia: Two people are killed and five others are injured when a vehicle carrying students hit a roadside bomb in Mogadishu. (ABC News)
Turkey: Inflation in Turkey reached 85.51%, the highest level since 1997. (AFP via News24)
Israel/Palestine: Three Palestinians were killed during raids by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, while another was killed in East Jerusalem after stabbing and injuring a police officer. (ABC News)
Democratic Republic of Congo: Eleven people were killed in a stampede at Kinshasa's Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecôte, after a concert by superstar Fally Ipupa. The interior ministry blames the organisers, 'you let in more than 100,000 people!' (The Continent, Issue 104)
Arab League: Leaders of the Arab League met again for the 31st time last week. The group has 22 member countries, including Somalia, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia which are suffering wheat shortages amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The meeting ended with no solution to the food crisis in those member countries. In the meantime, summit host, Algeria, is negotiating a US$12- to US$17-billion arms agreement with Russia. (The Continent, Issue 104)
Upcoming elections worldwide this week will take place in United States (Senate, House of Representatives; Nov 8), Bahrain (Council of Representatives; Nov 12) and Slovenia (President; Nov 13).
The 'We'll See'
Ghana: More than 1,000 people demand that President Nana Akufo-Adda resigns. 'We are such a rich country but why are we so poor? We need better leadership?' they say. (Reuters)
Ecuador: President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the provinces of Guayas and Esmeraldas for the next 45 days following the killings of five police officers and the abduction of several prison guards by organized crime members. (CBS News)
Venezuela: Colombia's President Gustavo Petro met with Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas to discuss issues relating to the environment and the re-opening of the border between the two nations, among others. This is the first time that the presidents of Colombia and Venezuela have met since they broke off relations in 2019. (Al Jazeera)
The good
São Tomé und Príncipe: A species of owl previously unknown to scientists has been discovered on an island off the west coast of Africa. It was given the name of Otus Bikegila. There are (probably) 1,000-1,500 of them on the island. (Club of Mozambique)
Ethiopia: Ethiopia and the Tigray People's Liberation Front reached a "permanent" ceasefire agreement at African Union-brokered peace talks in South Africa, exactly two years after the war began. (Al Jazeera) However: Not present at the talks were representatives from Eritrea or Amhara militias, who are also involved in the fighting. A comment by Muleya Mwananyanda in the Issue 104 of The Continent explains, "The ceasefire lacks any commitment to justice for the victims and survivors of the conflict in Tigray."
Vanuatu: Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau has been confirmed as Vanuatu's new prime minister, with Gloria Julia King becoming the first woman to enter the country's parliament in 14 years. (ABC News)
United States: Nikolas Cruz received 34 life sentences for the 2018 mass shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. (CBS News)
Japan: The city of Tokyo officially started recognizing same-sex relationships by allowing LGBTQ partners to be treated as married couples for some public services in areas such as housing, medicine and welfare. (AFP via France 24)
Central African Republic: A special court in the Central African Republic sentenced three 3R militiamen to 20 years to life in prison for crimes against humanity. (AFP via The Bangkok Post)



Recommendations

Listen
Podcast episode: "Remembering Papa Wemba"
In a recent episode of Afropop Worldwide, "Remembering Papa Wemba", African art historian Lubangi Muniania profiles one of the greatest singers of the past African century, Papa Wemba from Democratic Republic of Congo. He died on stage at age 66 in 2016.  One of his most famous songs: Ye te oh
Read
Article: What happened to the survivors of the high-rise fire that killed 17 immigrants from Gambia in New York City? 
Last week, the winners of the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards were announced in Austin, Texas, United States at the Independent News Sustainability Summit. One of them was Documented, non-profit news site devoted solely to covering New York City’s immigrants and the policies that affect their lives. For Documented, Amir Khafagy investigated a fire in a high-rise Bronx building in New York City which had become a hub for immigrants from Gambia, that left 17 people dead, including 8 children. Documented’s reporters found that the Mayor’s office had distributed just $265,500 of the $4.4 million fund it raised for the 150 affected families. 
  • From the judges: "Documented’s reporting on the Twin Parks fire in the Bronx is a perfect example of a news organization utilizing its platform and resources to demand transparency and action on an issue affecting its local community. They were able to put a face to the story and put necessary pressure on local officials to move faster." (LION Publishers)
Watch
Photos from the 100-year anniversary of Tutankhamun tomb discovery
On November 4 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and his team discovered the entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. 100 years later, Egypt celebrated the 100-year anniversary of this discovery. (Egypt Independent)
  • Fun fact: The Valley of the Kings is home to 63 underground royal mausoleums in a tight area roughly one-third of the size of New York's Central Park in the United States.



Music video of the week

"Ranjitthame" by Thalapathy Vijay, a Tamil superstar. The song will be featured in an upcoming movie called Varisu. BollywoodLife.com calls it the "the most anticipated Indian film at the start of 2023". 



On a funny note

IKEA, the Sweden-based furniture company, has sued Jacob Shaw, an independent game developer in the United Kingdom for making a survival-horror game set in a furniture store bearing similarities to the popular chain's retail locations.

The game is available for 
pre-order on Kickstarter.

Shaw has stated he will comply with the request and make the necessary changes. (
Kotaku)
That's it from me. 

Have you checked out this newsletter's very own Spotify playlist Go Global Weekly yet?

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