Protests have erupted in Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities over China’s strict zero-COVID policy. The protests were triggered by a deadly fire Thursday at an apartment building in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Unrest had been brewing in recent weeks with rare public protests against the government’s restrictions. There are reports that local COVID-19 protocols prevented firefighters from reaching residents trapped in the burning building, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people. On Friday, crowds took to the streets in Urumqi. Protests then spread to other large cities and campuses, including Tsinghua University in Beijing, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping studied. Many of the protesters held up blank pieces of white paper. One man in Beijing told Reuters, “The white paper represents everything we want to say but cannot say.” On Saturday night, hundreds gathered in Shanghai for a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Urumqi fire, where clashes with police were caught on camera.
Protester 1: “You guys have a job. Have you experienced joblessness?”
Protester 2: “You guys have a job to make a living and make money. How about us? It has been three years!”
Videos show some protesters chanting “Down with Xi Jinping!” and “We want freedom!”
Ukrainians are bracing for more frigid conditions as President Volodymyr Zelensky warned further Russian missile strikes are coming and utility companies struggle to restore power to damaged infrastructure. The national energy company asked residents to keep conserving electricity so as not to overwhelm the power grid. Ukrainian nuclear authorities said Russian forces may be preparing to leave the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, though Russia has denied this claim.
Over the weekend, Ukrainians commemorated the Holodomor, the famine of 1932 to 1933, which was brought on by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s policies and killed at least 4 million people, by many estimates. German lawmakers are planning to pass a resolution this week declaring the Holodomor a genocide.
In Iran, the niece of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, activist Farideh Moradkhani, urged foreign powers to cut ties with the Iranian regime over its brutal crackdown on protests.
Farideh Moradkhani: “O free people, be with us and tell your governments to stop supporting this murderous and child-killing regime. This regime is not loyal to any of its religious principles and does not know any laws or rules except force and maintaining its power in any possible way.”
Moradkhani was arrested last week, according to her brother, just days before the video started circulating.
The U.N. Human Rights Council voted Thursday to establish a fact-finding investigation into human rights abuses against protesters. One rights group says 18,000 have been arrested, while security forces have killed 450 protesters since mid-September, including 63 children. Other high-profile protest supporters have been targeted by authorities. Rapper Toomaj Salehi has been charged with “corruption on earth” and could be sentenced to death. Meanwhile, soccer player Voria Ghafouri was arrested last week on charges of “incitement against the regime.” This comes as Iran called for the U.S. team to be expelled from the FIFA World Cup after it posted a now-removed picture of the Iranian flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. Iran will face the U.S. on the field tomorrow. Last week the Iranian team did not sing the Iranian national anthem in Qatar.
In Israel, extreme-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir will become the new national security minister as part of a deal with incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party. The ultranationalist lawmaker was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs and supporting a terrorist group. Ben-Gvir will be responsible for border police in the occupied West Bank at a time when violence and the killing of Palestinians has been surging. This is Bassam al-Salhi of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Bassam al-Salhi: “Now more than ever Israel becomes an occupier state, apartheid state and fascist. So now we can say that the upcoming Israeli government, which will be led by Netanyahu, contains all the ingredients of a terrorist group according to international standards.”
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has become Malaysia’s 10th prime minister. His victory came a week after a heated general election resulted in Malaysia’s first-ever hung Parliament as no major parties were able to secure enough votes to form a new government. Ibrahim vowed to fight corruption, revive the economy and tackle racial divisions and discrimination. Ibrahim, a former student activist, was jailed twice on charges denounced by supporters and human rights groups as politically motivated.
In Hong Kong, six high-profile pro-democracy advocates, including the 90-year-old Bishop Joseph Zen, were found guilty Friday for failing to register a fund that helped people arrested during mass protests in 2019. The defendants will be fined up to around $500 each. Observers say the case is meant to further deter pro-democracy organizing in Hong Kong.
The prime minister of the central African nation of São Tomé and Príncipe said government forces thwarted a coup attempt Friday. Authorities say four people were killed. Two people have been arrested, including an opposition politician. The small island nation, located in the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean, has a population of under a quarter of a million people and a relatively stable democracy.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, M23 rebels have accepted a conditional ceasefire with Congolese troops. Heavy fighting in eastern DRC has displaced tens of thousands of people in recent weeks. The ceasefire agreement was brokered by East African leaders last week, but M23 was not present as the Congolese government refuses direct talks with the rebels. The DRC is accusing Rwanda of backing M23 fighters. Local groups have also rejected the talks and are demanding foreign forces leave the country.
John Banyene: “For us, the people, these agreements and summits do not interest us. What interests us is to have peace and security that is a right for us. We must not remain in this misery for decades. What we are asking for is the immediate withdrawal of the Rwandan army and the Ugandan army from Congolese soil.”
Italy has declared a state of emergency on the southern island of Ischia after at least seven people — including a newborn baby and two children — were killed Saturday in a massive landslide triggered by days of torrential rain. It was the worst storm reported in Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples, in the last 20 years. Rescue teams continue to search for missing people through the mud and debris. Many are blaming the illegal construction of buildings and homes, in a region that’s already extremely vulnerable to landslides and seismic activity, for exacerbating the destruction.
Ciro Buono: “It is the fault of our old politicians, who did not do preventative work on the mountains. They cut down the trees, and this is the consequence.”
In Sweden, Greta Thunberg joined over 600 other young climate activists to sue their government over its failure to respond to the climate catastrophe. The activists marched from the parliament building in Stockholm to the court to file the lawsuit during their weekly Fridays for Future protest.
In other climate news, a report released last week finds Europe’s record-breaking summer heat wave may have caused some 20,000 “excess” deaths.
In Panama, new protections for hundreds of threatened animal and plant species were approved last week at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. After two weeks of talks, member states agreed to regulations protecting several species of sharks, songbirds, glass frogs and tropical timber from illegal international trade. Nations also discussed efforts to address the illegal trade of jaguars, pangolins and elephants. But advocates are criticizing the failure to increase protections for hippos threatened by legal worldwide trade, mainly of their ivory teeth for commercial purposes.
In Georgia, early voting has begun in the Senate runoff between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Warnock received 37,000 more votes than Walker in the November 8 election but did not clear the 50% threshold to win the race outright. Former President Obama is scheduled to appear at a Warnock rally in Georgia on Thursday. While campaigning Saturday, Senator Warnock addressed reproductive rights, just three days after the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the state’s abortion ban, one week after the ban had been overturned by a lower court.
Sen. Raphael Warnock: “As a man of faith, I have a profound reverence for life. And as a man of faith, I have a deep and abiding respect for choice. And I think that a patient’s room is too narrow and too cramped a space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government.”
Twitter is expected to reinstate most suspended accounts this week after new owner Elon Musk announced Thursday a “general amnesty” for previously banned users. Imran Ahmed, from the group Center for Countering Digital Hate, said, “Superspreaders of hate, abuse and harassment will be the only people to benefit from this latest decision by Twitter.” This comes as a new report found half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have left the platform since Musk’s takeover.
Former columnist and writer E. Jean Carroll is suing Donald Trump for rape. Carroll was already suing the former president for defamation, but filed her sexual assault lawsuit on Thursday, minutes after New York’s Adult Survivors Act took effect, which opens up a one-year window for adult sex abuse survivors to sue their attackers, even if the statute of limitations had passed. Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the 1990s. Trump has denied the claim.
In other Trump news, the former president came under fire, including from some Republicans, after he hosted far-right personality and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago last week.
In the U.K., over 70,000 university employees went on strike Thursday and Friday over salary, pensions and working conditions. Another strike is planned for Wednesday. It’s thought to be the largest-ever strike affecting higher education in the U.K.
Meanwhile, nurses with Britain’s National Health Service are planning to strike for two days in December — the nurses’ union’s first strike in its 106-year history. Nurses say the government’s refusal to provide adequate pay raises means many are not able to make ends meet or are forced to quit their jobs.
Amazon warehouse workers in the U.S. and around the world walked out on Black Friday as part of the “Make Amazon Pay” campaign, calling for better wages and working conditions. This is a union representative from Germany, which is experiencing its highest inflation rate in decades.
Petra Kusenberg: “There’s a Black Week now, not just Black Friday. Everybody is looking for bargains here. But quite honestly, these 'bargains' are made on the backs of our colleagues. They just don’t earn enough money for it.”