This Week Around the World March 3–10:


March 3 Venezuela: The German Ambassador to Venezuela Daniel Kriener was declared persona non grata and told on March 3 to leave the country within 48 hours. According to Deutsche Welle, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry accused Kriener of repeatedly “[interfering] in the country’s internal affairs” due to his support for opposition leader and self-proclaimed President Juan Guaidó. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted by the German news outlet saying, “this is an incomprehensible decision that aggravates the situation and does not contribute to de-escalation. Our, Europe’s, support for Juan Guaidó is unbroken.”

March 6 U.S.-Mexico border: NBC 7 reported leaked documents they obtained through a Homeland Security source proving the existence of a United States secret database containing information of activists and journalists reporting on the caravan of migrants and asylum seekers along the U.S.–Mexico border. Following speculation from journalists who reported extensive inspections and scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the leaked documents show the government agency used the database to collect information on specific journalists, with alerts placed on some passports and denial of entry into Mexico for at least two photojournalists. The American Civil Liberties Union responded to the report, stating, “the conduct of the U.S. government in retaliating against journalists and activists at the border is disturbing and unacceptable. We’re exploring all available options to hold it accountable.”

March 8 Turkey: Despite a ban on protests issued just ahead of a planned demonstration, thousands of people, the majority of whom were women, gathered in the streets of Istanbul to march in celebration of International Women’s Day. According to Middle East Eye, many carried signs or waved purple flags while people chanted slogans such as “Jin, Jiyaz, Azadi” (Kurdish for “Woman, Life, Freedom”), while Al Jazeera reported demonstrators carrying banners reading “Feminist revolt against male violence and poverty” and chanting slogans such as “We are not silent, we are not scared, we are not obeying.” After demonstrators assembled at Taksim Square, hundreds of riot police descended on the scene blocking protesters from advancing while firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. A police officer who wished to remain anonymous told Middle East Eye the intervention was planned long before the protest, while another said security measures were taken due to the praising of a jailed separatist leader.

March 8 Jerusalem: In celebration of International Women’s Day and their 30th anniversary as an organization, the Israeli-based women’s rights group Women of the Wall organized a special prayer service at the Western Wall. The service was disrupted after thousands of Ultra-Orthodox protesters descended on the scene. Women of the Wall fights for the right of women to pray at the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site built of limestone that was once a part of the Second Jewish Temple. The Times of Israel reported members of the women’s rights group were shoved and pushed to the ground by the Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators. The organization has accused Israeli police of negligence in their response, claiming they “abandoned the Women of the Wall to the mercy of the bullying behavior of the angry mob that surrounded them and sought to prevent the Women of the Wall, at any cost, from exercising their right to pray at the Western Wall according to their custom.” In response, police accused Women of the Wall members of deliberately escalating the situation with the Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators, while Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman told reporters the organization needed to be “kicked out.”

March 10 Ethiopia: Minutes after taking off from the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 flight ET 302 en route to Nairobi, Kenya crashed, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew members on board. According to Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO Tewolde Gebremarian via Deutsche Welle, the plane had only been in operation for less than a year with no known technical problems. The pilot had requested to turn back after reporting difficulties with the plane. Al Jazeera reported the plane lost contact with air traffic control just six minutes after takeoff. Passengers from 35 different countries were on board, with 32 from Kenya, 18 from Canada, nine from Ethiopia and eight each from the U.S., China and Italy, while at least a dozen were affiliated with the UN.