Month in brief

CAA sparks violent protests

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in India to protest against a new citizenship law based on religion. The law sparked violent unrest, and a southern state imposed curbs on public gatherings to pre-empt further demonstrations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is intended to address the persecution of non-Muslim minorities such as Hindus, Sikhs and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who will now get an automatic path to Indian nationality if they came from these three countries before 2015.

Lam in Beijing

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, made a trip to Beijing on Dec. 14, her first visit to China’s capital since her party suffered a severe blow in Hong Kong’s November elections.

During her trip, Lam discussed the political and economic situation of Hong Kong with Chinese government officials and sat down with China’s President Xi Jinping. Lam’s visit comes amid almost year-long protests and unrest led by pro-democracy activists, which have left the island’s economy reeling.

Brides for sale

Hundreds of Pakistani women and girls have been sold as brides to men in China, according to a list acquired by the Associated Press. Investigators in Pakistan compiled the list using the country’s integrated border management system, in an effort to clamp down on trafficking networks. Traffickers increasingly target poor minority Christian communities in Pakistan. An anonymous official claims all 629 females were sold by their own families, who receive a fee of around 200,000 rupees ($1,500), while the brokers from China and Pakistan gain between 4 and 10 million rupees ($25,000 and $65,000).

Health & political toll of Oz fires

The haze blanketing Sydney as a result of bush-fires has been labelled a public health emergency, and looks set to continue as a heat wave has heightened the fire risk across south-east Australia. The fires have led to several deaths and the loss of hundreds of homes, and left the state of New South Wales facing record levels of air pollution. The situation is also taking a political toll on the ruling Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is facing growing criticism over his handling of the fires.

Book-burning to show loyalty to CPC

Library officials in Zhenyuan County, north-west China, have burned ‘politically incorrect’ books, ‘deviant papers’ and religious materials as a mark of their loyalty to the Communist Party. The officials then uploaded a report and photo to showcase their actions. The incident, with has grim historical precedents from both China itself and Nazi-era Germany, has amplified alarm at a time when Chinese intellectuals see their society edging further towards authoritarianism.


Words of wisdom

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has handed over her mantle as the world’s youngest female head of government to Finland’s new premier, Sanna Marin. While Ardern said that Marin ‘needs no advice’ from a fellow young leader, her message was in sharp contrast to that of Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad, who at 94 is the oldest leader of a country. Tun Dr Mahathir said Marin should seek old people’s advice because, although he praised the idealism of youth, he said it was important for them to ‘consider the experience’ of the old.

Back to the wild

A Tapanuli orangutan has been released into its natural habitat in Dolok Sibual-buali Wildlife Reserve in South Tapanuli, South Sumatra, after undergoing nearly three months of treatment for malnutrition and injuries. The North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) released the orangutan, named Paya, from the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center (PKOS) in Sumatra, where it had been receiving intensive care. Paya was found in early September at a community plantation in Aek Batang Paya village. It was malnourished and had sustained injuries to its back, forehead, cranium and arm.

The longest walk

A tiger in India made the longest trek ever recorded in the country, travelling 1,300km over a five-month period. Experts believe the 30-month-old male may be seeking out prey, territory or a mate The animal, which is fitted with a radio collar, left its home in a wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra in June and was then tracked walking back and forth over farms, water and highways, and into a neighbouring state. It has come into conflict with humans only once, when it ‘accidentally injured’ one person who was part of a group that entered a thicket where it was resting.

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