Society

Colombian Gen Z Wins Battle For The Right To Have Blue Hair At Graduation

A determined student's victory for freedom of hair in conservative Colombia.

BUCARAMANGA — It may not be remembered alongside same-sex marriage or racial justice, but count it as another small (and shiny) victory in the battle for civil rights: an 18-year-old Colombian student whose hair is dyed a neon shade of blue has secured the right to participate in her high school graduation, despite the school's attempt to ban her from the ceremony because of the color of her hair.

Leidy Cacua, an aspiring model in the northeastern town of Bucaramanga, launched a public battle for her right to graduate with her classmates after the school said her hair violated its social and communal norms, the Bogota-based daily El Espectador reported.

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Peng Shuai, A Reckoning China's Communist Party Can't Afford To Face

The mysterious disappearance – and brief reappearance – of the Chinese tennis star after her #metoo accusation against a party leader shows Beijing is prepared to do whatever is necessary to quash any challenge from its absolute rule.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai's apparent disappearance may have ended with a smattering of public events, which were carefully curated by state-run media and circulated in online clips. But many questions remain about the three weeks in which she was missing, and concerns linger over her well-being.

Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, had been out of the public eye since Nov. 2. 2021 when she penned a since-deleted social media post accusing former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual misconduct.

In the U.S. and Europe, such moments of courage from high-profile women have built momentum to out perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault and give a voice to those wronged. But in the political context of today's People's Republic of China (PRC) – a country that tightly controls political narratives within and outside its borders – something else happened. Peng was seemingly silenced; her #MeToo allegation was censored almost as soon as it was made.

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"My Body, My Choice" Counts For Vaccines — Not Just Abortion And Euthanasia

The decision not to get vaccinated against coronavirus is a personal one, a matter of individual freedom. But the fact that not everyone sees it this way shows the extent to which the pandemic has politicized the private sphere.

-Essay-

BERLIN — I don't know about you, but for the libertarian in me, at least, the past few weeks in Germany have been very difficult. Although I have long since reconciled myself to the idea that we need a certain measure of law, order and solidarity to enable us to live together in society, I strongly believe that we should keep state intervention in the lives of citizens to a minimum.

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A Nobel For Brave Journalists, And Remembering Those We've Lost

Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their fight to defend freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia.

Ressa, who co-founded the news site Rappler, was commended by the Nobel committee for using freedom of expression to "expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines," while Mr Muratov, the co-founder and editor of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was awarded the prestigious price for decades of work defended freedom of speech in Russia.

The award also came one day after the 15th anniversary of the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, one of six Novaya Gazeta reporters who have been murdered since the publication's inception in 1993. It was her deep reporting on the suffering of ordinary people during the first war in Chechnya that first brought global attention and prestige to Novaya Gazeta — and also what cost Politkovskaya her life, shot down as she entered the lift in her apartment block in Moscow on Oct. 7, 2006.

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Japan
Meike Eijsberg

Japanese Nationalists Try To Bury Past, Kill Freedom Of Expression

There's a bitter irony when an exhibit titled 'Non-Freedom of Expression' itself faces censorship.

TOKYO — An exhibition opening in Tokyo criticizing Japan's militaristic past and human rights atrocities, called "Non-Freedom of Expression," was itself canceled under pressure from the extreme right. Japanese and international media have reported that threats from the Japanese nationalist movement have led to the cancellation of the opening of the exhibition the day before its June 25 inauguration.

Le Monde reports that the exhibition was originally supposed to take place at the Session House, a private space in Tokyo. But far-right protesters demonstrated outside the building, while hateful and violence language multiplied. The police were notified but remained discreet, only asking the protesters to turn down the volume. A new location was found and kept secret until the last moment but, fearing an incident, the owner of the venue canceled the exhibition.

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Lebanon
Benjamin Barthe

Clubhouse: Why This Social Platform Scares Arab Regimes

Glittering virtual lounges are popping up, inviting people to participate, solely by audio, in debates on all subjects. And, in the Middle East, the powers that be disapprove of the elites' infatuation with a trendy new app.

RIYADH — A month ago, the up-and-coming app Clubhouse took the Middle East by storm. In just a few days, the latest gem from Silicon Valley had already earned its place in the crowded market of Arab social networks. Since this audio chat platform only runs on iOS for the moment, its use is restricted to iPhone owners, i.e. the relatively wealthy classes.

But in these circles, especially in Egypt and among the ultra-connected youth of the wealthy Gulf States, followers for this new app started to grow rapidly. By mid-February, Clubhouse was the most downloaded social media app in the Saudi Arabian App Store.

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Geopolitics
Zuhour Mahmoud

Chronicling The Syrian War Through Art

Syria Deeply looks back at some of the history and evolution of the country's revolutionary art over the past five years of war, including political graffiti, digital art and other mediums that have become part of the uprising's language and culture.

DAMASCUS — On Feb. 16, 2011, 15-year-old Bashir Abazid and his friends painted several walls of his hometown of Daraa with revolutionary slogans: "The people want the fall of the regime" and "Your turn is coming, doctor," in reference to President Bashar al-Assad, once a practicing ophthalmologist. Syrian security forces made an example of the children, detaining them and torturing them for more than a month.

News of the detention and torture of the students shocked the country, and is now widely considered one of the main events that sparked the Syrian uprising. Shortly after the incident, street artists all over the region started painting the walls of their cities with similar slogans.

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Egypt
Ricard Gonzalez

Egypt Is No Country For Free Journalists

Last month, Spanish correspondent Ricard Gonzalez was forced to leave Egypt in a hurry. Here is his story

MADRID — Spanish authorities warned me that I was at imminent risk of being arrested and prosecuted. I was shocked, because I had never been directly harassed by Egyptian authorities or had any problems renewing my press card at the Foreign Press Center.

Given recent precedents, I decided to follow the advice of the Spanish government and not return to Cairo. According to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, there are 18 reporters currently incarcerated in Egypt, although the Arabic Network of Human Rights Information suggests this number actually exceeds 60.

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blog
Arlene B. Tickner

Ecuador: Rafael Correa's "Dictatorship Of The Heart"

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — The government of Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa released a somewhat Orwellian video last month that tries to turn the concept of dictatorship on its head.

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Terror in Europe

Je Suis Charlie: Watch 21 People Say It In Their Native Language

After the deadly attack against French magazine Charlie Hebdo, two other Paris-based news organizations, L'Obs formerly Le Nouvel Observateur and Worldcrunch, have collected those three plain words of support — "Je suis Charlie" — from 21 different people around the world, in their native languages.

I Am Charlie ...

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Vietnam

Vietnam Jails Three Dissident Bloggers For Up To Twelve Years

BANGKOK POST (Thailand), AFP (France), BBC (UK)

Worldcrunch

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Geopolitics

Burma Ends 48 Years Of Press Censorship

THE IRRAWADDY (Thailand), DEMOCRATIC VOICE OF BURMA (Burma), AFP (France)

Worldcrunch

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