World Briefs


Amit Deshpande

Armenia and Azerbaijan escalate military clashes over contested territory
On Sunday, Sept. 27, reportedly around 8:00 AM (Azerbaijan Standard Time or AST), Azerbaijan launched an offensive against Armenian controlled territories surrounding the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is ethnically Armenian but under Azeri control. The two nations, formerly belonging to the Soviet Union, have fought over the territory for decades; the most recent war officially ended in 1994 but military skirmishes have been ongoing. Both sides accuse each other for initiating this recent escalation; Azerbaijan was accused of launching projectiles first, and the Armenian Prime Minister tweeted that his country had “shot down 2 helicopters & 3 UAVs, destroyed 3 tanks” in retaliation. Both nations have imposed martial law in Karabakh, which many see as a semi-official declaration of war. Since then, some neighboring nations such as Iran and Russia, along with the United States, have called for an immediate end to the violence, and have encouraged both sides to engage in peace talks. However, Turkey, Armenia’s western neighbor and close ally of Azerbaijan, has declared that it will support the Azeri effort to counter alleged Armenian aggression, along with helping the reclaim all of Karabakh. As of now, the conflict has not shown any sign of resolution, and it seems to be escalating beyond the contested region. On the other hand, there is hope that hindsight from the dangers of alliances and nationalism from the two World Wars would prevent a “snowball effect” from occurring, and that the conflict will be resolved diplomatically. 
Yemen agrees to largest prisoner swap ever
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi/Shiite rebels seized Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. The Houthi demanded lower fuel prices and an improved government. When their demands were not met, the Houthi took control of the presidential palace, causing President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government to resign. Since then, Gulf states from Saudi Arabia, with the aid of the United States, have tried to end the conflict between the Houthi rebel group and government officials in Yemen. Yemeni citizens continue to be caught in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. Since 2015, the United Nations (UN) estimates that over 15,000 people have been killed or injured due to the conflict within Yemen. Since then, there has been limited action to resolve the issue, but recently the Houthi and Yemeni government has agreed to exchange 1,081 prisoners. In early 2018, there was a deal signed to swap detainees in each group’s domain, but the pact has only been partially implemented.
Buzzfeed News Discovers Chinese Concentration Camps
Discovered by Buzzfeed News satellites, over 268 internment camps have been built in Xinjiang since 2017. Some of the camps are capable of housing more than 10,000 people and, in rare cases, up to 30,000. The Chinese government began crafting these camps with barbed wire, extremely thick walls, and guard towers. National Public Radio (NPR) news states that these camps look like prisons and you can see the limited light allotted within the building for prisoners based on photos from construction on the camps. The Chinese government claims that the camps are used for educational and vocational training, but fail to specify the education is based on Communist Party dogma; the government also denies that the people living in these camps are mistreated and abused and continues to endanger the lives of thousands in these “re-education” camps.
“We have a saying in Hotan: If you go into a concentration camp in Luopu, you never come out,”  Adil Awut, from Hotan City, who is now living overseas, said. Awut was interviewed by The Guardian when news of the Chinese Concentration camps spread. In Lupo, a sparsely populated area in China, there are 8 internment camps labeled as “vocational training centers” according to public Chinese documents. The creation of these camps continues to expand and the Chinese government refuses to admit what the camps are actually for: trying to change the minds of thousands of individuals to coerce them into accepting predominantly communist views.