India’s Government Tries to Silence Protests
As India seeks to clamp down on dissent against its controversial new citizenship law, demonstrators aren’t letting up.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Protests against India’s new citizenship law are worrying the government, Scotland’s leader pushes for the right to hold another independence referendum, the U.S. House impeaches Donald Trump, and what to make of Turkey’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees.
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India’s Protesters Dig In Their Heels
Thousands of people nationwide marched against India’s new citizenship law again on Wednesday, in part in response to alleged police brutality against student protesters. The law, passed a week ago, creates a path to citizenship for religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan—but excludes Muslims. Critics say it is part of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s efforts to marginalize India’s Muslim minority.
In recent days, India’s government has sought to clamp down on the protests. Authorities in New Delhi imposed an emergency law that prohibits large gatherings after clashes between demonstrators and police—many on Muslim-majority university campuses. Today, the state of Karnataka enacted a similar ban in at least three cities including Bengaluru, where multinational companies such as Uber and Walmart’s Flipkart are based.
Cutting the internet. India has also responded with its preferred tactic: shutting down the internet. Last week, authorities in the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura cut internet service. Populous West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh also registered disturbances. (Muslim-majority Kashmir has been offline since August, when the government revoked its special status.) Still, students are using social media to organize.
What’s next? It’s not likely that the protesters will let up—but neither will the government. On Wednesday, India’s Supreme Court declined a request to stop the new law’s implementation. It is expected to hold hearings on the legislation next month. “We shall continue with our agitation until we get a favorable response from the Supreme Court,” a student leader told Reuters.
What We’re Following Today
Scottish leader calls for second independence referendum. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will demand the right to hold a new independence referendum today—a challenge to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the British Parliament, which must approve of any plan for a new vote. Sturgeon will request that Parliament transfer that power to Scotland’s legislature, setting up a potential constitutional showdown.
Scottish voters rejected independence (55 to 45 percent) in a referendum in 2014, but the majority voted to remain in the European Union in 2016. Sturgeon contends that Brexit would take Scotland out of the EU against its will and that Scottish voters should be able to reconsider independence after such a dramatic shift in the status quo.
Today, Johnson will deliver a Queen’s speech, outlining the government’s legislative plans—as he did on Oct. 14, ahead of the election that gave his Conservatives a big majority. Johnson will highlight a new health spending bill after promises to boost the National Health Service.
Turkey pitches refugee resettlement plan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently presented the United Nations with a detailed plan to resettle 1 million Syrian refugees along a 20-mile stretch of Turkey’s border with northern Syria, FP’s Colum Lynch and Lara Seligman report. The plan would require more than $26 billion in foreign aid, with Turkey promising access to schools, hospitals, mosques, and sports arenas. If it goes forward, it would be one of the largest public construction projects on occupied land in modern history.
“I’m not sure I have ever seen a plan of the ambition of the one that the president of Turkey has put on the table,” one former peacekeeping official told FP.
Donald Trump impeached. President Donald Trump became just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached on Wednesday, as the U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 197 and 229 to 198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, respectively. The votes mostly fell along party lines, after lawmakers engaged in nearly 12 hours of debate over the articles of impeachment. But Trump, the first to face impeachment heading into an election year, is almost certainly not going to be removed from office after a trial in the Republican-held Senate, FP’s Amy Mackinnon and Robbie Gramer report.
Keep an Eye On
Australia’s heat wave. Temperature records are expected to be broken a few times over in Australia this week, after the country had its hottest day on record, with the average national temperature reaching 105.6 degrees Fahrenheit (almost 41 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday.
The heat wave comes as Australia grapples with a drought and widespread bushfires—conditions that are only likely to worsen as the temperatures keep rising. Fire chiefs disappointed with the government’s response have called for a summit on the wildfire crisis with or without Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose government has been blamed for inaction on climate change at home and for undermining a climate deal at the global level.
India’s militant pipeline. Draconian public safety laws in Indian-administered Kashmir have pushed young people into jail for crimes ranging from throwing rocks to allegedly joining terrorist groups. Once in prison—where they are often held without trial and have reportedly been subjected to torture—young Kashmiris become easy recruits for radical militant groups, perpetuating a violent cycle, Fahad Shah writes for FP.
A student protest in China. Students at Fudan University in Shanghai held a rare protest on Wednesday, after the school made changes to its charter to emphasize loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party over other values, like academic independence. Fudan, known for its relatively liberal culture, was one of three universities to make similar changes.
The U.S. Democratic debate. Seven candidates—the smallest group yet—will take the stage in the next Democratic presidential debate today in Los Angeles, California. The event will go ahead as scheduled after a labor dispute that had threatened to get in the way was resolved on Tuesday. Still, labor issues could come up as a topic in the debate.
As they prepare for the first primaries early next year, U.S. Democrats would do well to learn a lesson from Labour’s defeat in Britain and avoid the siren song of radical leftism, Mike Harris argues in FP.
Check out FP’s updated roundup of where each of the Democratic presidential candidates stands on foreign policy.
Odds and Ends
A German court ruled this week in favor of a Munich cheese shop after a neighbor posted signs complaining about the smell, prompting a three-year dispute. The shop’s owner took the case to court because he believed the signs were harming his business. “That a shop where large quantities of cheese are stored produces smells is a statement of fact,” the court said. Germany produces more cheese than any other country in the European Union.
That’s it for today.