Last Week in Foreign Affairs (August 20-August 27)

Pope Visits Ireland Amid Bombshell Report

The Pope made a rare visit to Ireland last week to reconnect with a country that once was the Church’s greatest ally. With an increasingly secular generation of young people that just recently helped pass a repeal of the Irish constitutional amendment banning abortion, Pope Francis attempted to heal the rift that has only widened after the discovery of thousands of cases of abuse hidden by the Vatican. Complicating his visit, Pope Francis was called to resign by a former Vatican liaison to Washington D.C. Carlo Vigano, hours before he gave mass. The newfound report detailed Francis’ failure to address the sexual abuse allegations against a prominent cardinal in 2013.  

UN Report Conclusively Details Myanmar Military's Genocide of Rohingya People

The Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, inhabited predominantly by Rohingya Muslims ( source )

The Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, inhabited predominantly by Rohingya Muslims (source)

The UN earlier this week released a report that conclusively details the systematic and willful pattern of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Myanmar government against the Rohingya people. The damning report also recommends that Myanmar generals be tried for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. This comes after the Myanmar government has vehemently denied any such actions, claiming instead its military was cracking down on terrorism. The United Nations report lent no credence to this claim, and according to CNN, UN investigator Radhika Coomaraswamy told the press they had found "such overwhelming evidence" of wrongdoing and that the command had "such effective control from what we could gather that we could name...who was responsible."

Australia Chooses New Conservative Prime Minister Amidst Immigration Crisis

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ( source )

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (source)

Malcom Turnbull, the most recent Prime Minister of Australia, was ousted by the conservative flank of his party and replaced by Scott Morrison last week. Australia has had five prime ministers in the last 11 years, but this upheaval has been even more messy than usual. While Morrison is considered a moderate on many fiscal issues, he has a hardline approach to immigration that resonates with a country deep in the midst of an immigration crisis. Recent reports have detailed the abhorrent, prison-like circumstances that several of the immigrant retention camps operate under on islands off the Australian coast. While Morrison has not yet made any commitments on the fate of these immigrants, a worsening crisis could hurt the Liberal Party’s chances in the general elections to be held in May of next year.

Germany Deals with Far-Right Protests

A spontaneous far-right protest erupted in the city of Chemnitz in Eastern Germany calling for decreased immigration and the removal of immigrants from the city. The protests spawned after the death of a 35-year-old man during a fight. Social media quickly speculated that the ones responsible for the man’s death were a 23-year-old Syrian citizen and a 22-year-old Iraqi citizen who police say are under investigation for murder. While German authorities made no claims as to the connection of those investigations, members of the German far-right party AfD called for demonstrations against immigration, with one lawmaker saying that it was a “civic duty to stop this deadly ‘knife migration’”. While the 800-person debacle was eventually dispersed relatively peacefully, it speaks volumes as to how tense the political situation in Germany is at the moment. The chant “We are the people!” was once heard to call for the reunification of East and West Germany. Now, in modern Germany, it carries a much more insidious meaning.