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Global_17

Inbox Bedouin clearances spark international demonstrations Bedouin family pictured in Israel’s western Negev, where they make a living selling livestock Plans to remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouin forcibly from their homeland in Israel’s Negev desert, where they have resided for hundreds of years, have been met with international outcry. Demonstrations were held across the globe, including in several European nations as well as Egypt and the USA, in what has been coined by the media as an international “day of rage”. The Israeli government’s policy, known as the Prawer Plan, will forcibly relocate between 40,000 and 70,000 Arab Bedouin from villages ‘unrecognised’ by the Israeli state into seven townships, with new Jewish settlements planned for the region currently occupied by Bedouin. The plan has been slammed on humanitarian grounds, with critics claiming that such a move would be akin to ethnic cleansing. In the UK, more than 50 high profile public figures have signed a letter published by The Guardian opposing the plan as part of a day of protest which saw participation in 15 countries. In Israel, hundreds of Arab Bedouin and their supporters joined together in protest. A demonstration of 1,000 campaigners in Hura led to clashes with the police, who used stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons. A statement by the body responsible for Israeli government policy on the Bedouin stated that the plan would provide a better future for the Bedouin population, by integrating them into the modern state and giving them access to suitable housing and public services. Families moved to make way for Zimbabwe dam Four hundred families have been relocated 100 km from their village in the drought-stricken Masvingo province of south-east Zimbabwe to make way for the construction of a dam. Each household has been given a small plot of uncultivated land and between US$3,000 and $8,000 in compensation. Many have complained that the money is not enough to compensate for the loss of their homes and livelihoods, and that the area lacks basic facilities such as schools, shops and even toilets. The head of the village said that the move was not voluntary: “I had no choice but to vacate because the government wanted us out of the dam site,” he told the UN. “It was my ancestral home and not even any amount of compensation will make me happy.” The Tokwe-Mukosi dam is being built by an Italian company with funding from the Zimbabwean government. If successfully completed, it will be the largest inland dam in the country. Masvingo’s provincial administrator said: “The successful completion of the dam will result in the province having adequate food security and water supplies.” In a 2013 report focusing on Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme said that Masvingo is one of three provinces that are seeing food insecurity at crisis level. The government is trying to complete the dam project by November 2014, but a local provincial newspaper has reported that the government was battling to raise enough money to complete its resettlement programme. Gay rights scrutinised in India after 19th-century law banning same-sex relations is restored India’s government is considering repealing laws that ban homosexuality, after its Supreme Court upheld a law banning gay sex that had earlier been suspended. In December 2013, the country’s highest court overturned a 2009 Delhi High Court order, which had legalised samesex relations. The Supreme Court’s action brought a colonial-era law back into force under which gay sex can be punished by up to ten years in prison. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the ruling had taken the country “back to 1860”. Law Minister Kapil Sibal said that “all options were being considered” to reinstate the Delhi High Court order and restore the status quo. The United Nations called the Supreme Court’s decision “a significant step backwards for India”. global f i rst quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 7


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