Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. Myanmar Government Accused By UN of committing Genocide Against Rohingya Muslims
Myanmar’s military government has been accused of genocide against the Rohingya Muslims (who belong to the Hanafi sect of Sunni Islam) in a damning UN report released on Agust 29 that alleged that the Myanmar military was responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity against minorities across the country. The UN report said it found conclusive evidence that the actions of the country’s armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, “undoubtedly amounted to the gravest crimes under international law” in Rakhine as well as in Kachin and Shan, states also beset by internal conflicts.
The UN investigators were denied access to Myanmar by the government but interviewed 875 observers who had fled the country. They found that the military was “killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages” in Rakhine, home to the Muslim Rohingya, and in Shan and Kachin. The Tatmadaw also carried out murders, imprisonments, enforced disappearances, torture, rapes and used sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and enslavement, all of which constitute crimes against humanity. “The fact-finding mission’s powerful report and clear recommendations demonstrate the obvious need for concrete steps to advance criminal justice for atrocious crimes, instead of more hollow condemnations and expressions of concern,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This report should eliminate any doubt about the urgency of investigating those responsible for mass atrocities.”
“The Fact-Finding Mission’s powerful report & clear recommendations demonstrate the obvious need for concrete steps to advance criminal justice for atrocious crimes, instead of more hollow condemnations & expressions of concern” about #Myanmar at #UN @hrw https://t.co/wJMQsiu90I
— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) August 27, 2018
Several countries have thus far condemned the ongoing human rights abuses in Myanmar. The US government announced that it had imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar security forces for what American officials said was their role in “ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims and “widespread human rights abuses” against other ethnic minority groups. Additionally, the government of Turkey has similarly condemned the actions of the government of Myanmar and has reportedly urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take appropriate steps to end the violence within the country. On the other hand, China, one of the strongest allies of the Myanmar military government, has called for a political solution to resolve the Rohingya issue, saying “unilateral accusations and pressure” will not work. Additionally, China criticized the US and its allies of hypocrisy regarding their stance on the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, noting that the US is also involved in efforts to suppress the rights of the Shi’a Muslims of Yemen through their support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
2. Federal Court Strikes Down North Carolina Congressional Map
On August 27, a federal court struck down North Carolina’s congressional map Monday, calling it an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and throwing the state’s House elections into uncertainty just ten weeks before Election Day. It is unusual for courts to throw out a political map so close to an election, but district court judges wrote that the situation in North Carolina “presents unusual circumstances.” A three-judge panel issued the decision, noting that Republican state legislators had violated the First Amendment and the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when they drew congressional lines that favored their party in 2011. Currently, ten of the state’s 13 House districts are held by Republicans, even though North Carolina is a swing state at the national level. Circuit Court Judge James Wynn wrote the majority opinion, and District Court Judge William Britt concurred. Former President Barack Obama appointed Wynn and Britt was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter in 1980. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr., a George W. Bush appointee, partially dissented in the decision.y
The timing of the decision has left the North Carolina state legislature scrambling to come up with a revised election map. The court has given the North Carolina state legislature a chance to draw up a “constitutionally compliant” election map by September 17, less than three weeks away. On top of that, North Carolina has already held its 2018 congressional primaries. The court raised the option of candidates running in general election districts that were different than the ones in which their primaries were held. But the judges also floated the possibility that the state could instead hold primaries on Nov. 6, Election Day, and then hold special general election contests at a later date to be determined. “You don’t know the districts you’re running, and you don’t know when you’re having an election, so that’s my definition of chaos,” said Carter Wrenn, a Republican consultant in the state.
The decision also comes on the heels of a competitive election season in North Carolina, with several districts already in play for the Democrats. The DCCC has identified Democrats Dan McCready and Kathy Manning as top battleground candidates, and both of them have raised more money than their Republican opponents. McCready is set to face Republican Mark Harris in the 9th District outside Charlotte, while Manning is running against Republican Ted Budd in the 13th District. Meanwhile, Congressman George Holding’s campaign recently told supporters that he trailed Democrat Linda Coleman in a poll of North Carolina’s 2nd District. Additionally, the midterm election contests in North Carolina also may serve as a referendum on the performance of President Donald Trump, who barely won North Carolina in 2016 and currently has a low approval rating in the state.
3. UN Releases Report Accusing The Governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of Committing War Crimes In Yemen
Individuals at the highest level from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sunni-led government of Yemen have committed violations of international law in Yemen that may amount to war crimes, UN experts have said in a report issued on August 28. The UN report discusses abuses including rape, torture, disappearances and “deprivation of the right to life” during the almost four-year Yemeni conflict, in which the Shi’a Houthi rebels and their allies are fighting against a Saudi-led coalition that backs the Sunni-led government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. In a particularly damning section of the report, UN noted the Saudi-led coalition routinely failed to consult its own “no-strike list” of more than 30,000 sites in Yemen, including refugee camps and hospitals. They also said the Saudi air force had failed to cooperate with them about its targeting process. “Despite the severity of the situation we continue to see a complete disregard for the people in Yemen,” said Charles Garraway, one of the authors of the report and a former legal officer to the British army.
The 41-page report, based on visits to many parts of Yemen, said coalition airstrikes had caused most of the documented civilian casualties, with residential areas, marketplaces, funerals, weddings, detention centers, religious sites and medical facilities hit. “There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimize civilian casualties,” the group’s chair, Kamel Jendoubi, said in a statement. “I call on them to prioritize human dignity in this forgotten conflict.”
The release of the report has sparked mixed reactions. James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defense, announced that the US would continue its steadfast support for Saudi Arabia in the conflict and that the US has seen “no callous disregard for human life” in the conflict. The government of Saudi Arabia similarly condemned the report, claiming that it has numerous inaccuracies and has mischaracterized the Saudi role in the conflict. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates foreign affairs minister, Anwar Gargash, said the report merited a response, but that the region needed to be preserved from “Iranian encroachment.” On the other hand, the Iranian government has pledged to step up their efforts to defend the Shi’a Muslims of Yemen from Saudi attacks and has urged the international community to put a stop to the War in Yemen and allow the Houthis to play a major role in the post-war settlement in Yemen.
4. Florida, Arizona Primaries Set Up Fierce Fall Midterm Election Showdowns
On August 28, primaries in the states of Florida, Arizona, and Oklahoma were held, setting up a fierce fight for the fall midterm elections. In Florida, Tallahassee mayor and Bernie Sanders supporter Andrew Gillum won the Democratic primary by a relatively close margin. Assuming that he is victorious in November, Gillum would be Florida’s first African-American governor. On the Republican side, Congressman Ron DeSantis, a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, pulled an upset victory in the Republican primary and credited the Presidents support for him as the primary factor behind his victory, saying that with one supportive tweet, the president “put me on the map.” On the other hand, Gillum thanked supporters who embraced “our plan for a state that makes room for all of us, not just the well-heeled and the well-connected, but all of us.”
Congressman Ron DeSantis, a top student at Yale and Harvard Law School, is running for Governor of the Great State of Florida. Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes – Loves our Military & our Vets. He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
In addition to the Florida Gubernatorial primary results, the Florida Senate Primary was held. On the Democratic side, Senator Bill Nelson was renominated with minimal opposition, whereas Governor Rick Scott easily won the Republican Primary. The Florida Senate race is currently one of the most hotly-contested ones of the election cycle and is one of the few potential bright spots in what is likely to be a bloodbath for the Republicans across the country. Currently, Rick Scott is leading longtime Senator Bill Nelson in the polls, due to his high popularity and broad name recognition across the state. Additionally, many Democrats are worried that Nelson is not a strong enough candidate and that Scott will massively outspend him.
In Arizona, Congresswoman Martha McSally fended off a pair of conservative challengers to win the Republican Senate primary to fill the seat vacated by retiring Senator Jeff Flake, a prominent “Never Trump‘ Republican known for his Libertarian positions on many policy issues. The Arizona primary was shadowed by the death of John McCain, a towering figure who represented Arizona in Congress since 1982. Even though John McCain has received praise from both Democrats and Republicans this week, the three Republican candidates running to replace his retiring seat-mate Flake, including establishment favorite McSally, aligned themselves more with President Trump than the longtime senator.
The results of both primaries show that Florida and Arizona continue both closely watched states, featuring growing minority populations that have bolstered Democratic candidates and Republican electorates that have become older and more conservative. The fall face-offs could well signal how both states will vote in the 2020 presidential election.