Every Monday, we bring to you the top five international stories of the week, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, justice issues and geopolitical issues that affect liberty and justice.
1. Image of Omran Daqneesh, a 5-year-old boy from Aleppo, provides the world with a glimpse into the human toll of the Syrian Civil War. The battle for Aleppo rages on this week, placing the city’s significant civilian population at jeopardy. Omran was rescued after his house was reduced to rubble by a barrel bomb. His brother died of his wounds over the weekend.
Last week, we focused our Top 5 post just on stories from the Syrian Civil War. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out. The NY Times shares the images of seven other children wounded in Aleppo that did not go viral, and Nicholas Krisof asks in his column last week, “what if it was puppies dying in Aleppo?”
2. Doctors Without Borders evacuates 6 hospitals in Yemen amid safety concerns. In response to the August 15 bombing of Abs hospital in Yemen, which killed 19 and wounded 24, Doctors Without Borders closes 6 hospitals in Yemen, citing “indiscriminate bombings” and “unreliable reassurances” from the Saudi-led coalition that its hospitals would be safe from aerial attacks. The Saudi-led coalition, in turn, expressed “deep regret” over the hospital closures and indicated that it was reaching out to the charity to address their concerns.
3. International outcry grows over Filipino shoot-to-kill policy for drug offenders. The Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte launched the new strategy earlier this year, which gives the police shoot-to-kill authority for suspects of drug sales and trafficking. The new strategy has left 1000 dead, raising serious human rights questions about these extrajudicial killings and the use of force for nonviolent crimes. This week President Duterte responded to the criticism, calling the United Nations “stupid” for raising concerns about the new policy. Earlier this month, President Duterte said, “My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me.”
4. Several French cities ban “burkinis” at beaches, causing outcry from Muslim minority population. The situation shows the difficulties France is facing as it seeks to maintain a strictly secular culture while providing freedom to a growing number of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. In response to growing outcry from within France and the international community, Cannes mayor David Lisnard said “I simply forbid a uniform that is the symbol of Islamic extremism.” In 2011, France banned the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women known as the burqa, as well as the niqab, the partial-face veil.
5. Obama Administration acknowledges $400 million payment to Iran was timed to achieve “leverage.” The acknowledgement has led to renewed criticism that the Obama Administration had paid a ransom for the release of four Iranian-American prisoners in January of this year. The U.S. government has a policy against paying ransoms, which policy experts argue decreases the kidnapping value of Americans relative to citizens of other countries that do pay ransoms. David Sanger from the NY Times puts forward the most charitable reading of the situation, which readers may or may not find persuasive:
Administration officials have said that the two transactions were negotiated entirely separately over a period of years. That they came together on one weekend reflected a desire on the part of Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, to set aside a series of disputes, complete the nuclear deal and try to remove irritants from the relationship between two longtime rivals.
Have suggestions for a top five article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].