The International News Wrap - A ‘wrap’ for Democracy ?

Democratic ideals remain threatened at home and abroad as authorities clamp down on civil liberties. Some strike back in resistance, some don't. Kashmir - Hong Kong - London

More than a month on – has ‘normalcy’ returned to Jammu and Kashmir?

The decision to revoke article 370 has attracted large scale global, local and regional media coverage. As all try to make sense of the mammoth like situation in India's northern province, conflicting views and opinions on the issue have cropped up --- a majority section of the Indian media urges a sense of normalcy in the region but reports by international news organisations would like to believe otherwise.

The draconian measure of denying access to communication and internet to Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir, deployment of parliamentary forces and restrictions on the freedom of movement has led to international condemnation of measures adopted by the Indian government. News organisations such as BBC and Reuters reject government claims of normalcy in the Valley.

A fact- finding team of women comprising of activists from left affiliated National federation of Indian women and Pragatisheel Mahila Sanghatan claim that normalcy has not been restored in the Valley with young boys and women being harassed by armed forces that the state has deployed.

In the midst of heated debates and diametrically opposing point of views, citizen journalism has taken a proactive role in understanding the crisis as it unfolds. Kashmiris are actively lending their voice to social media platforms- Facebook and Instagram pages of @stand with Kashmir and @peaceandpyjamas, started by a 25 -year- old Kashmiri social activist and photographer, Nawal Ali, are making attempts to address the outcomes of the siege in real terms.

The Tosa Maidan community and Kashmir

Instagram page @standwithkasmir : unheard voices

The government of India, on the other hand, has maintained its position by justifying its stand on the revocation of the article they strongly think was ‘problematic’. In a recent address to the Council of Foreign Relations, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar pointed out how Kashmir was in a ‘mess’ before August 5. The revocation, according to him, served as a means to end the conflict in the region which has been developing since the inception of independent India. He emphasises on important rights such as the right to information and education being extended to the region.

Tianamen – 2.0 and Beyond

Thirty years after students at the Tianamen Square clashed with troops deployed by China while demanding democratic reforms in the country, history found a way to repeat itself in the semi- autonomous region of Hong Kong in mainland China.

Hong Kong, a former British territory, was returned to China in 1997, under the principle of "one country, two systems”. As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system and borders, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech which remain protected.

Bearing a a stark similarity to the Indian context, Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status was threatened with the introduction of a controversial bill which introduces extradition to mainland China on committing a criminal offence in Hong Kong.

The introduction of the bill was met by huge resistance as it was seen as a conscious effort by China to try pro- democracy activists and lawyers under the ambit of the Chinese Communist Party.

What is the status of the protests now ?

The freedom to assemble and hold peaceful marches has been central to the culture in Hong Kong. In the 1989, many citizens actively supported the cause of Tianamen by holding protests.

Fast forward to the 2014 Umbrella movement , a 79 day resistance demanding for fair and transparent elections in Hong Kong dies down given the divide between peaceful and radical protestors in the city.

The 2019 Hong Kong protesters, however, makes fewer distinctions between these groups and subgroups. Some protesters’ influence rose two- fold in the on- going protests with the objective of the government giving into their demands which was not the case in 2014.

The protests in 2019 have now have escalated into a greater social movement demanding greater democratic freedoms for society in Hong Kong. It also demands substantial international support.

Johnson faces the Wrath for Br ‘exiting’ his way out of democracy

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Borris Johnson has been dealing with skepticism for shutting down two chambers of the British Parliament for five crucial weeks before the run up to Britain leaving the European Union.

11 British judges recently ruled that the prorogation of the parliament was a means to silence the legislature which is the suspension of parliamentary democracy itself. It was viewed as as an attack to Britain’s unwritten constitution.

A Messy Affair still….

In the middle of the crises that question’s Johnson’s leadership, he has to hamper out a new divorce deal for Britain. The country is left with just five weeks to create a legal agreement that steers through the hard border on the island of Ireland and considers the integrity of the single market it shares with the Island.

Given the state of affairs, the prospects of an orderly Brexit seem bleak.

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