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Stories from Quick Reads

Peru Sets Up First Bilingual Spanish-Awajun Civil Registrar

Delegación de la comunidad awajún en visita al Congreso Peruano. Foto en Flickr con licencia (CC BY 2.0).

Delegation of the Awajun community during a visit to the Peruvian Congress. Image taken from Flickr and published under license (CC BY 2.0).

May 21 marks the National Day of Cultural and Linguistic Diverisity, and to commemorate the occasion, the Peruvian National Registrar of Identification and Civil Status (Reniec) launched the Awajun-Spanish bilingual civil registrar:

Las actas generadas de esta manera tendrán el mismo valor oficial que las actas tradicionales en castellano, y sus copias certificadas podrán obtenerse en cualquier agencia o Plataforma Virtual Multiservicios (PVM) del Reniec.

The documents thus generated will have the same official validity as the documents in Spanish, and the authenticated copies will be available in any agency or at the Virtual Multiservices Platform of Reniec.

The Awajún are an ethnic group from the Peruvian Amazon region. Their language has 70,000 Peruvian speakers in the departments of Amazonas, Cajamarca, Loreto and San Martín.

On Twitter, users shared remarks and pictures of this new registrar:

RENIEC set up the online first bilingual civil registrar (Spanish – Awajun) in America.

I have Awajun lessons. I had forgotten.

New Awajun bilingual civil registrar has something new: its registers, besides being manual, will be…

Pregnant 11-Year-Old in Uruguay Refuses Abortion

Pregnant 11-year-old who refused to abort creates controversy.

We wrote recently about about a 10-year-old pregnant girl from Paraguay who was allegedly raped by her stepfather and who was unable to have an abortion because of legal limitations in the country. Now, in Uruguay, where abortion is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the case of a pregnant 11-year-old who refused to have one has shocked the country.

This girl, who has been said to have an intellectual disability, was raped by the 41-year-old grandfather of her half-sister. This man is now in custody and will be prosecuted for rape, Uruguayan officials told Agence France-Presse.

Family members, doctors, social organizations, and the media have encouraged the girl to terminate the pregnancy. They have even pressured the government to try and force her to go through with it, according to Pangea Today. The response was, however, not favorable to them:

“There is no risk for the life of the child or baby, so we cannot force her to have an abortion,” the director of INAU, Monica Silva, said.

Lima Orchid, a Flower Once Believed to Be Extinct, Blooms Again in the Peruvian Capital

Variedades de orquídea.

Different kinds of orchids. Image published on Wikimedia Commons under license CC BY-SA 3.0.

For over 50 years, it was thought that the Lima orchid was an extinct species; but, good news comes from a team from the National Forest and Wildlife Service, which is also part of the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture:

Los especialistas encontraron ejemplares de dicha orquídea, típica de las lomas de la cuenca del río Rímac, en las cercanías de dicho cuerpo de agua. Pronto corrió el rumor sobre la mítica flor, que se creía desaparecida desde hace más de cincuenta años.

The team of specialists found some specimens of this orchid, typical of the hills in the Rimac river basin, near that body of water. The rumor about the mythical flower was soon well known, a flower believed to be extinct for over 50 years.

The news was echoed on Twitter:

Orchid of Lima “Chloraea undulata” reappears, although it was believed extinct. Enjoy it.

Now it's up for the authorities and the population to take care of it and preserve it.

Argentinians Organize Online to Demonstrate Against Femicides

Under the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less), Argentina is mounting a campaign against the alarming increase in the number of femicides, which shows no signs of going down. Many of the country's public personalities have joined the campaign, like cartoonist Liniers, who used one of his best known characters to participate in the movement.

3 June. Plaza Congreso. No more femicides.

Femicide, understood as a hate crime against women, poses a serious problem in Argentina. Despite the passage of laws that deal with and criminalize violence against women, these crimes continue to be numerous. The protest will take place on 3 June in the Plaza del Congreso.

The movement gained momentum following the murder of 14-year-old Chiara Paéz. She was allegedly killed at the hands of her boyfriend and had been expecting a child at the time of her death.

The NGO La Casa Del Encuentro, which runs support groups for victims of domestic violence, reported that since 2008 in Argentina 1,808 women were killed by domestic violence, 261 of these girls between 13 and 21 years old. Last year alone, 277 femicides were documented in Argentina, according to Buenos Aires Herald.

Second Most Spoken Languages in Africa

Don Osborne discusses a news feature on the Olivet Nazarene University website showing a map of “The Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World.” He points out key problems from the map:

The first issue is assuming that “The most spoken language in any country is often obvious; usually, it’s the official language of the country.” In Africa this often is not the case, if by “most spoken” one counts number of speakers. An example is Mali, whose linguistic profile was explored on this blog in discussing the long-tail of languages – Bambara is certainly more used than the official French.

Official language is a category that doesn't lend itself to ranking use of languages in Africa, beyond the (admittedly important) context of official use and its spillover to popular use. In the case of two countries at least, this runs into additional problems:
•South Africa has 11 official languages (the Olivet site incorrectly lists only one of them – Zulu – as official). So one of the official languages will be second most spoken. Perhaps that is Xhosa as indicated, but the model focusing on official languages hasn't worked here.
•Rwanda has three official languages (Kinyarwanda, French, and English), and Central African Republic two (Sango and French). Since the site doesn't consider these official languages in discussing second most widely spoken, it is reduced to stating that Swahili is “second” most used in Rwanda, and that indigenous languages are used in CAR – which doesn't tell us much.

Read part 2 of his discussion here.

Global Voices Checkdesk Tracking Reactions to Morsi's Trial

Faten Bushehri tracks reactions to the trial of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was sentenced to death on May 16, on Global Voices Checkdesk, a project in partnership with Meedan's Checkdesk to verify news.

Morsi is being charged with collaborating with foreign militants to free Islamists during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison amid the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. Among his 105 co-defendants were some 70 Palestinians, accused of being members of Hamas, who were charged and tried in absentia. And among the Palestinians sentenced to death, Hassan Salameh has been in an Israeli prison since 1994, and Raed Attar is already dead.

Morsi was the president of Egypt for one year after the revolution, which overthrew Hosni Mubarak early 2011, who ruled Egypt for more than 30 years. Morsi's reign was cut short in July 2013, following massive protests calling for his ouster. Then, the Egyptian Army took command, under the leadership of Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence General Abdul Fattah El Sisi, who is now Egypt's president.

The next hearing is set for June 2.

Follow the link to add more stories and help verify them. Please contact me if you are interested in joining the team.

Iran's Evin Prison to Become a Park

Cartoonist Touka Neyestani’s take on the news. Image produced for ICHRI, and used with permission.

Cartoonist Touka Neyestani’s take on the news. Image produced for ICHRI, and used with permission.

This post first appeared on iranhumanrights.org and is published here in collaboration with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said last week that the Tehran Municipality is prepared to enter negotiations with the Iranian Judiciary to convert the Evin Prison complex in northwestern Tehran into a public park.

For decades, the notorious Evin Prison has been one of the primary facilities where Iranian political prisoners have been detained, interrogated, tortured, and executed. Some of the worst testimonies about torture and forced confessions at Evin are related to at least three separate wards Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC operate within the complex, unmonitored by the Iranian Judiciary.

Venezuela Bans 22 Media Editors and Executives from Leaving the Country

Over 20 members of three Venezuelan media groups, El Nacional and Tal Cual, as well as news site La Patilla, are now prohibited from leaving the country. Caracas judge María Eugenia Núñez ordered the restriction on the opposition media figures, who are “accused of ‘continuing aggravated defamation'”, according to broadcaster NTN24.

The court order was requested on April 28 by the National Assembly president, Diosdado Cabello, seen as one of president Nicolás Maduro’s closest allies in government and member of the ruling PSUV party. It was stated that these media organizations had affected the government's reputation by featuring “unscrupulous” publications from ABC, a Spanish daily newspaper.

The reports published in January alleged that Cabello was connected to drug trafficking in Venezuela.

As a result, Cabello sued for defamation everyone of importance at newspapers El Nacional, La Patilla and Tal Cual; as well as 22 members of the respective boards, including Miguel Henrique Otero, editor-in-chief of El Nacional, Teodoro Petkoff, from Tal Cual, and Alberto Ravell from La Patilla. 

Alberto Ravell and Miguel Henrique Otero found out about the court rulling while travelling outside the country. They declared, respectively, that they will return to Venezuela in a few days to face the charges, and that their editorial lines will not change.

Despite what it seems like a violation of freedom of speech, even international treaties exempt such reproductions of news items from legal liability, except for the source.

Teodoro Petkoff, director of TalCual, and one of Venezuela’s most outspoken government critics, has already been banned from leaving the country because of another defamation lawsuit filed by Cabello last year. Petkoff recently received a prestigious journalism award in Spain, but was unable to collect it in person. The award was instead received on his behalf by former Spanish president Felipe Gonzalez, who spoke about attacks to freedom against expression in Venezuela.

According to Venezuelan law, the Court needs to notify each of the defendants, something that has yet to be done. Also, under no circumstance can a judge rule this prohibition without having talked to them first.

This defamation case had a very timely consideration and resolution, something noticeable in a country where the average prisoner has not seen a Judge in the first few months after its detention, or has spent around two years in prison without sentence, something analyzed in the blog The Devil's Excrement.

Amid “Intelligent” Censorship Discussions, Iran Affirms Facebook Will Remain Blocked

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

Discussions regarding the implementation of “intelligent” filtering have proliferated Internet policy discussions within Iran. “Intelligent” filtering is a process whereby they filter select content on a social media platform, rather than the entire site. Our recent research covered the extent of this program on Instagram. In response to “intelligent’ filtering discussions, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, an advisor to the Committee Charged with Determining Criminal Content (CCDOC) told Tabnak news on May 5, “Facebook will definitely not be included in this type of [smart] filtering, and will remain completely blocked.”

Commenting on the policy on May 14, the New York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stated,

The continuation of the Facebook ban reflects the profound fear with which Iranian officials view social media networks, which have proved enormously popular in Iran, particularly among the younger generation.

Previous Iranian discussions of “intelligent” filtering on social networks never breached how the government would implement this program on networks that use HTTPS protocol, such as Facebook. The only known implementation of this program has been through the unencrypted Instagram API.

For further information on this announcement see the International Campaign for Human Right's recent report: “Iranian Officials Re-Affirm Facebook Will Remain Completely Blocked in Iran.”  For technical understanding of “intelligent” filtering, see Frederic Jacob's Instagram testing and analysis on GitHub.

 

 

Chilean Campaign to Prevent Child Grooming Goes Viral

The Chilean Police campaign against grooming, in which adults earn the trust of minors online to later abuse them, has already reached more than 5 million views. It has become a success going way beyond the borders of the South American country, according to Verne website.

The video was published on Facebook to raise awareness among young people. It tells the story of a teenage girl who sets up a date with a guy she met on a social network. The man, who has been asking her for “sexy” pictures is older than she imagined. The video leads to think the girl was abused.

Augusto Schuster, a very popular Chilean teen actor and singer with a base of 270,000 Twitter followers, was part of the campaign. At the end of the video, which is also available on YouTube, Schuster questions kids: “How many of your social network friends do you really know? Grooming is not a game. It is abuse. Remember that on Internet, the pictures are not only yours, they belong to everyone.”

Groomers pretend to be teenagers to take advantage of minors on social networks, wining their trust little by little, then asking them for intimate images, or setting up meetings that can end up in sexual abuse. Besides the video, the Chilean campaign offers tips — and even a test — to help kids recognize dangerous behavior. Verne adds that the police are promoting the hashtag #todoscontraelgrooming (everyone against grooming).

Self-evaluation: Am I exposed to grooming?

1. I have a profile in more than one social network.

2. I have more than 250 friends on Facebook.

3. I have accepted friendships requests from people I don't know.

4. I have established strong ties with people I never met in person.

5. I have dated people I have never met on real life.

6. Have spoken on a webcam with strangers.

7. I have set up dates with people I met online.

8. I have taken pictures of myself on my underwear.

9. I have taken pictures of intimate parts of my body.

10. I have been asked to strip infront of a webcam or send intimate pictures.

11. I have been forced to send intimate pictures.

If you have answered YES to the questions:

1-5 You are vulnerable to be contacted by a groomer

6-8 You have probably been contacted by a groomer and you are at risk.

9-11 You have been a grooming victim.

Southeast Asia Migration Routes and Statistics

southeast asia migrant crossingsThe International Organization for Migration has released a map showing the routes taken by boat refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar when they sought shelter in several Southeast Asian countries.

As of May 19, 2015, the IOM estimated that 4,000 refugees are still stranded in the sea while 3,200 have already landed in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Malaysia and Indonesia have initially rejected the refugees but they are now ready to rescue those who have been victimized by traffickers.

At Least 48 Fatalities After Landslide Hits Colombian Village

Salgar en Antioquia. Imagen en Flickr del usuario Iván Erre Jota (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Salgar in Antioquia, Colombia. Image on Flickr by user Iván Erre Jota (CC BY-SA 2.0). Archive photo

At least 48 people were killed and an unknown number of people are missing after a landslide caused by heavy rains that hit the community of Salgar, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, in the early hours of May 18, 2015.

The secretary of government of Salgar, Zulma Osorio, declared that the “tragedy has had an overwhelmingly big magnitude (…), there are many fatalities, the community has completely collapsed.”

The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, expressed this on Twitter:

We've declared a state of public disaster in Salgar to respond to the emergency. From the national government and with the governor of Antioquia, Sergio Fajardo, all our support goes to the victims.

The Red Cross of Antioquia used the microblogging network to ask for donations:

Huge tragedy in Salgar, if you can help with blankets and non-perishable food at the logistics center in Medellin.

Other users said:

More rescuers and less opportunistic people is what it needed in Salgar right now.

Now the politicians pro and against are taking advantage of the tragedy in Salgar! MISERABLE PEOPLE.

Government responds to the emergency in Salgar, Antioquia, which has left more than 30 dead.

Pakistanis Use Twitter To Raise Their Concerns On The Proposed Cybercrime Bill 2015

tweetstormThe proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill in Pakistan has raised concern among local and international human rights organisations as it could put at risk freedom expression and privacy in Pakistan.

Mariam at Catalyst Woman blog reports:

After the dedicated efforts of numerous advocacy groups, ngos and private citizens, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has agreed to a public hearing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill 2015 this Friday, 22 May in Islamabad.

Invitations to the “public” hearing have only been extended to six people to appear before a committee of 20 members. According to the Joint Action Committee on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PECB) & Alliance For Access:

This is contrary to the spirit of a “public hearing.”

The Joint Action Committee members are definitely among the stakeholders, but we are not the only ones. Instead of hand-picking selected invitees, we call upon the NA Standing Committee on IT to conduct the public hearing in a proper manner, by opening it to all concerned members of the public and invite the entire print and electronic media too, in the spirit of transparency and openness.

The Catalyst woman blog proposed a #Tweetstorm to raise awareness of the public’s concerns about the Cyber Crime Bill in its current state. “There should be a public debate on all aspects of the bill,” the blog says.

Global Voices Partners With The Balochistan Point

10672355_625780204207965_4155202294766020208_nGlobal Voices has launched a new partnership with Balochistan Point, an English language news site that writes under-reported stories from Pakistan's southwestern province.

The Balochistan Point initiated in 2010 to highlight important news from an area which Pakistan's national online, broadcast and print media, largely ignores.

Adnan Amir, the editor at Balochistan Point hopes “unreported news stories from Balochistan will reach a global audience through its partnership with Global Voices.”

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest yet least-populated province. It is its poorest and most under-developed, but is rich in natural resources like coal, natural gas and copper. The Balochistan Point website explains:

The electronic and print media in Pakistan in general, and in Balochistan, in particular has failed to highlight the most important issues of Balochistan. Therefore, there is a stronger need than ever for an alternative platform to report the ignored issues about Balochistan […]

We stand for human rights, democracy, social and economic justice. The newspaper aims to mirror Balochistan. The volunteers of Balochistan Point launched it to keep reporting on human rights abuse, political, social and economic issues of Balochistan. Our center of focus is Balochistan but we are not limited to it. We also report on important issues at a national level that has implications for the Balochistan province and its people.

Like Global Voices, Balochistan Point's is driven by volunteers and its “doors are always open to aspiring writers.” Global Voices will republish Balochistan Point content regularly. Sometimes we will edit their stories to tailor them for our global audience.

We kick off this partnership with three articles Risking Their Lives to Save Pakistanis From Polio,  How a Bus Stop Row is Crippling Public Transport in Balochistan's Capital and For Pakistan's Struggling National Airline, Balochistan Comes Last.

ISIS Fighters Capture Ramadi in Iraq

Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Al Anbar province, has been captured by ISIS fighters. Joey Ayoub is putting the story together, tracking citizen journalists reports, news and testimonies, on Global Voices Checkdesk, a partnership project between Global Voices and Meedan's Checkdesk.

The city, in central Iraq, is about 110 kilometres west of Baghdad and 50 kilometres west of Fallujah. Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed, and thousands forced to flee their homes.

ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot, has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, attracting news headlines for the horror it has waged against civilians in areas they have occupied.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Assistance Mission for Iraq:

UN agencies are rushing humanitarian assistance to people fleeing Ramadi for the second time in a month.

Close to 25,000 people have fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks and fierce fighting in the city. Most of the displaced are fleeing towards Baghdad, with many trying to enter through security checkpoints.

The report adds:

Within the past month, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have provided life- assistance to more than 130,000 people who fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks in April. Tens of thousands of kits and rations have been distributed to more than 35 locations across Anbar Governorate. Thousands of families who had fled earlier had returned to their homes in Ramadi, when fighting again broke out, forcing them to flee a second time.

In July, the food pipeline will break. “Nothing is more important right now than helping the people fleeing Ramadi. They are in trouble and we need to do everything possible to help them.” Lise Grande, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator said. “Thousands of people had to sleep in the open because they didn't have places to stay. We would be able to do much more if we had the funding.”

Palestine: How Much Have Israeli Settlements Expanded Since 1948?

Beirut-based journalist Adam Rasmi shares an infographic from Visualising Palestine which tracks how much Israeli settlements have expanded since 1948:

Check out Visualizing Palestine for more infographics here.

#IFellAsleepToo: Sleeping Latin American Doctors Go Viral

It's a trending topic under the hashtag  #YoTambienMeDormi (#IFellAsleepToo). In one week, there have been 17,500 comments on Twitter. The stories of tens of thousands of doctors in Mexico and Latin America who are sharing pictures of them sleeping during their long hospital shifts have gone viral.

It all started when a blogger criticized a physician whose photo showed him sleeping, according to the BBC.

“We know this work is tiring, but they have the duty to fulfill their responsibilities while there are dozens of sick people who need their attention at any moment,” Noti-blog site reports, showing the photo of a medical resident at General Hospital 33 in Monterrey, México, who fell asleep at 3 am while filling out the records of that night's patient number 18.

I Fell Asleep Too, because we are not machines but human beings like everyone else

In addition to showing solidarity, the spontaneous campaign has also been a way to put a face the sacrifices people in the profession must make, including long meal-less, sleepless shifts, which are not always financially compensated nor always provide the necessary basics for the job.

‘I'm Not a Swindler': A Campaign Against Romani Discrimination Takes Aim at the Dictionary

Captura de video de Youtube

Screenshot of video on YouTube

On April 8, on the occasion of the International Romani People Day, the organizations that form the Romani People Council started a campaign using social networks to request the Royal Spanish Academy to change the definition of the word gitano (Spanish word for gypsy) in the dictionary.

The purpose of the campaign, which is using the hashtags #YoNoSoyTrapacero and #YoNoSoyTrapacera (I'm not a swindler, in both grammatical genders), is to raise awareness of the discrimination against ethnic Romani people. The campaign video is being widely shared on social networks.

It's worth noting, though, that in the definition that appears in the Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary, the word trapacero doesn't appear, but the fourth definition states “that swindles or acts with tricks”, as noted by user @MonicaEHM:

The campaign “I'm not a swindler” is a good idea, but could someone tell me where in the dictionary does the Royal Spanish Academy use that term?

I'm not a swindler.

Worth listening to these children. I'm not a swindler. Stop discrimination, even in language.

Khamenei's #Letter4U Bots Still Active Four Months After Its Launch

A #letter4u campaign photo tweeted on the Supreme Leader's Twitter account.

A #letter4u campaign photo tweeted on the Supreme Leader's Twitter account.

On January 21, during the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France,  Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah  Seyyed Ali Khamenei penned an open letter to the ‘youth in Europe and North America’ defending Islam, and the Western world's skewed reception of the religion. He also started tweeting the sentiments of the letter on his @khamenei_ir twitter account, starting the hashtag #Letter4U. A closer look of this hashtag indicates it remains active through bots, which are still crawling through Twitter four months after the launch of the campaign.

In late March Morgan Carlston noted that spam bots were promoting the hashtag on Twitter.

Morgan elaborated in a blog post:

There are hundreds if not thousands of accounts, most of them with over 10000 tweets. Twitter has a limit of 1000 tweets per day, and the accounts seem to have been created with this in mind.
Many of the accounts use fake photos taken from a variety of places. Some of them show celebrities, while others journalists or other media personalities.

David Masad, a computational science researcher retrieved the tweet rhythm for the hashtag between May 8th to the 11th, and found the image below, which indicates that bots are still being deployed to spread tweets with the #letter4u hashtag, along with a link to Khamenei's website. Mason explained in an email to Global Voices,

The chart shows the exact same number of tweets using the hashtag being tweeted at precise, regular intervals, with no changes based on the time of day. Human conversations go in bursts, exhibit cycles based on times of day that people are in Twitter, and in general are *not* regular.

The tweet frequency for #letter4u from May 8th to 11th.

The tweet frequency for #letter4u from May 8th to 11th. Image provided by David Mason, and used with permission.

What We Know and What Is Still Up in the Air After the Alleged Coup in Burundi

Following incumbent Burundi President Nkurunziza's candidacy for a third term, General Godefroid Niyombare announced that he has dismissed the current administration and that he is taking over until further notice. The government denies such coup has taken place and calls it a “farce”. The situation is evidently still very fluid in Burundi, but here is summary of what is known and what is still not clear in Bujumbura, the capital from Penelope Starr (via UN Dispatch blog):

President Nkurunziza was not in the country when the coup was announced (but no one knows whether he is back yet): The president was attending a Summit of Eastern African Nations when the coup was announced. He has tried to fly back to the capital city but it is unclear whether he has succeeded.

This is not (just) about ethnic conflicts :

Nkurunziza and General Niyombare are both former Hutu rebel leaders. They also belong to the same governing party, and Niyombare was both Ambassador to Kenya and intelligence chief, a post he was dismissed from earlier this year.

Like in Burkina Faso earlier this year, public opinion in Burundi seems to be in support of the coup as a way to oppose African life rulers: 

What’s happening today in Burundi is reminiscent of what took place late last year in Burkina Faso, when long-time head of state Blaise Compaore was deposed by the military after declaring his intention to run for yet another term. While the situation in Burkina Faso is still in flux, it was a key moment, as the public massively supported the coup, fed up with Compaore’s decades-long rule (..)but The situation in Burundi is also different, particularly given the protracted civil war which ended in 2005.

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