Protests and chaos ensue in…

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Syria

Within the early weeks of April, officials discovered that the Syrian government used detention facilities to torture its citizens.  For example, the police arrested a 26-year-old woman in Syria and she was detained in one of the many detention facilities.  It was unveiled that her teeth were pulled nightly as an interrogation mechanism of rebel forces.

“In armed conflict, torture constitutes a war crime. When it is used in a systematic or widespread manner, which is almost certainly the case in Syria, it also amounts to a crime against humanity,” said United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay in a public statement.

The problems in Syria have erupted due to a civil war that began in March 2011 between rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad’s government.  The protesting started when the government arrested and tortured 15 children speaking out against the government.  The protesters’ demands included more democracy and freedom in their nation.  Government police responded by opening fire and killing four people at a nonviolent protest and another person at the protesters’ funerals.  When the president refused to resign, the protesters became increasingly violent.  Since then, the death toll has exceeded 150,000 people, and the United Nations has stopped counting after 100,000.  More than two million people have escaped Syria as war refugees, one million of whom are children.

In Aug. of 2013, the Syrian government claimed that the rebel forces used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, on the capital city of Damascus.  The government blamed rebel forces for this use of weaponry, although the government is now under command to destroy their arsenal.  As of this month, two-thirds of it were shipped out of Syria to be disarmed.

More complications may ensue as Russia is allied with President Bashar al-Assad and has provided Syria with chemical weapons in the past.

Written by Ella Morner-Ritt – Staff Writer

 

Russia

In the last few months, Crimea, a small peninsula off the coast of Ukraine, has become the subject of many discussions.  The territory was formally a part of Russia but it became part of Ukraine in 1954, which has caused many disputes.  On March 16, Crimea decided to join Russia after a staging a vote.  Many people, including President Obama, do not approve of this vote and are doing everything in their power to keep Crimea as part of Ukraine.

Obama deemed the vote as illegitimate because many Russian officers were stationed in Crimea at the time of the vote.  He, along with many others, believed that the presence of Russians during the vote heavily influenced the voters.  Obama has also announced sanctions against Russia by isolating Vladimir Putin from the other countries and ignoring the upcoming meeting in Sochi in June.  The elite countries that are allied together used to be the Group of Eight, also referred to as G-8, but it has now been nicknamed the. G-7.  On April 17, the Crimean Parliament passed a bill that temporarily makes southern Crimea a part of Russia and placed restrictions on Ukrainians to travel across that border into Crimea.

“As long as it is flagrantly violating international law and the order the G-7 has helped build since the end of the Cold War, there is no reason to engage with Russia,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, in a public statement.  “What Russia has done has been a violation of that entire international order built up over many decades.”

This crisis has still not projected effects on the economy, but the results are expected to be detrimental.   Russia exports roughly 30 percent of its gas, even though its gas lines move through Crimea.  The stock exchange in Moscow has dropped around 10.79 percent, which results in a loss of about $60 billion.  Russia is refusing to back down, and neither are the other countries that are protecting the Ukraine from losing the Crimeans.  In the meantime, Ukraine has already lost potentially $80 million in profits that have instead gone to Russia.

Written by Zach Test – Staff Writer

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