ICYMI | #144

Masha Gessen | Tempelhof competition | Essequibo talks

By Staff

Our weekly roundup of stories you may have missed.

Masha Gessen award ceremony delayed for anti-Gaza comments

A ceremony to award Jewish activist and writer Masha Gessen with the Hannah Arendt Prize was postponed last week due to Gessen’s recent essay ‘In the Shadow of the Holocaust’, which was critical of Israel's actions in Gaza. The event was delayed after the Bremen Senate and Heinrich Böll Foundation withdrew their support, and eventually took place as a private ceremony for a small group of guests. 

Since October, Palestinians and anti-zionist Jewsish artists and intellectuals have faced censorship and deplatforming in Germany for opposing Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Join a march from 14:00 on 23 December at Mehringplatz, Berlin to demand an end to the violence and occupation.

Competition launched for Tempelhof development

The Berlin Senate decided last Tuesday to launch an international competition for ideas for the development of Tempelhofer Feld. Since coming to power earlier this year, Berlin’s SPD/CDU coalition government have reignited talks about building on Tempelhof, despite a decisive referendum in 2014 in which nearly 750,000 people voted to block any development of the former airstrip. 

Illegal gold mines destroyed in Brazil and Colombia

Nearly 20 illegal gold mines were blown up by Colombian and Brazilian authorities in a three-day operation earlier this month. The destruction of the mines was part of an ongoing campaign by both governments against the ecologically destructive trade, which has been linked to severe mercury pollution in the Amazon. Illegal gold mining in Colombia reportedly generates $2.5 billion a year 

Ugandan activists challenge anti-homosexuality act

A group of Ugandan activists, journalists, religious leaders and lawyers have united to challenge the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in the constitutional court. The legislation, which came into force in May, is one of the harshest anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world and includes the dealth penalty for so-called “serial offenders” and criminalises the “promotion of homosexuality”. Since the law passed, activists have documented a sharp rise in violent discrimination against queer people in the country. 

Asylum seeker dies on Bibby Stockholm barge

A 27-year-old man living on the Bibby Stockholm barge, which houses asylum seekers off the coast of England, has reportedly committed suicide. The barge has been the subject of intense controversy since it was opened by the British Home Office in April 2023. 65 UK charities and three members of parliament have now signed an open letter demanding its immediate closure, as widespread reports of cramped, inhumane and prison-like conditions onboard continue to surface. 

Fighting spreads in Sudan

Thousands have fled Wad Madani, Sudan’s second-largest city, after the RSF (Rapid Support Forces) paramilitary launched an attack on state forces in the city, opening a new front as the civil war enters its ninth month. Wad Madani had previously been a vital sanctuary for refugees who fled the capital Khartoum since the start of the war. Up to 12,000 civilians have been killed since the war began, and over 5 million displaced.

Guyana & Venezuela hold talks over Essequibo

The leaders of Venezuela and Guyana reached an agreement to not use force to settle the territorial dispute over the Essequibo region. Earlier this month, Venezuelans voted in a referendum to claim sovereignty over the oil-rich region, which makes up two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, intensifying fears of a Venezuelan invasion. A joint commission will now be set up to investigate the issue, with findings due in three months.

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