Libyan women's rights activist and attorney Salwa Bughaigis was assassinated June 25 by five gunmen who broke into her home in Benghazi's Hawari district and shot her in the head. Her husband, Essam al-Ghariani, recently elected to Benghazi's Municipal Council, is missing, and presumed kidnapped. A gardener was also shot and wounded in the attack. Bughaigis had just returned home after voting in Libya's second general election since the 2011 revolution, and posted pictures on her Facebook page of herself casting her vote. She was also on local TV earlier in the day, speaking about ongoing clashes in the city, which she said she could see from her house. She urged people to go out and vote in spite of the violence.
The ISIS militants that have seized Iraq's northern city of Mosul have, not surprisingly, been engaging in a campaign of cultural cleansing—targeting not only the city's inhabitants, but its artistic and historical treasures. Religious buildings, cemeteries and public art have been destroyed or defaced, witnesses say. Among the destroyed works are sculptures of 19th-century musician and composer Osman al-Muesli and Abbasid-era poet Abu Tammam. The grave of Ibn Athir, a philosopher and chronicler who travelled with Saladin during the 12th century, is also reported destroyed. ISIS consider visiting religious sites to be idol worship, and have also destroyed many shrines and other ancient buildings in Syria. A jizya tax has been imposed on the city's Christian population, but most of the area's Christians—some 160 families—fled before the ISIS advance. (Aydinlik, Turkey, June 21)
Police declared a curfew in Sri Lanka's southern coastal town of Aluthgama June 16 after simmering tensions between Buddhist militants and local Muslims escalated into clashes. The riots reportedly began after Muslim youth were accused of manhandling a Buddhist monk. Police arrested three suspects in the incident, but the Buddhist militant group Bodu Bala Sena held a rally and advanced on the Muslim-majority district of Dharga Town in a vehicle convoy. The convoy was pelted with stones, sparking a melee that led to three days of fighting in Aluthgama and neighboring Beruwala, in which eight were killed, over 100 wounded, and several Muslim-owned shops burned. "There is a real risk of violence spreading elsewhere unless the government acts immediately," David Griffiths, Asia-Pacific deputy director at Amnesty International, told IRIN. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay added: "I am very concerned this violence could spread to Muslim communities in other parts of the country." (IRIN, June 23; Nidahasa, June 16; Colombo Page, BBC News, June 15)
Two Palestinians were shot and killed during clashes in Ramallah and Nablus June 22, the 10th day of "Operation Brother's Keeper," Israeli forces' massive search effort across the West Bank for three missing Israeli teen-agers. The operation is one of the largest deployments since the Second Intifada, with at least five Palestinians killed in the last week and more than 370 arrested. The Israeli Defense Forces have carried out raids on more than 1,100 sites including homes, offices and universities. Ramallah was briefly occupied, with Israeli forces carrying out a search of the Palmedia company. An IDF spokesman said the search targeted Al-Quds broadcasting company, media wing of Hamas. After the IDF withdrew from Ramallah, Palestinian protesters attacked a local Palestinian Authority police station, in anger at the security forces' coordination with Israeli troops. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas nonetheless warned: "Israel's continued destructive actions, including shooting innocent Palestinians in cold blood, while Ramadan is around the corner and the situation on the Palestinian street is explosive, can only serve to ignite the West Bank and take things out of control." (Haaretz, JP, June 23; Ma'an, Ma'an, ITAR-TASS, June 22)
Fighting erupted on June 20 between ISIS militants and the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order in Hawija, Kirkuk governorate (also rendered Tamim). AFP calls it "a potential sign of the fraying of the Sunni insurgent alliance that has overrun vast stretches of territory north of Baghdad in less than two weeks." The Naqshbandi fighters, known by their Arabic acronym JRTN, had apparently refused an ISIS demand to give up their weapons and pledge allegiance to the Qaedist force. AFP cited analysts to the effect that ISIS is actually struggling to maintain control over a broad alliance of Sunni and even Ba'athist militants who were brought together to oppose Nouri al-Maliki's sectarian rule but do not share the Qaedist ideology. Toby Dodge, head of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, said the "radical" and "ludicrously absurd" politics of ISIS "can't help but break that coalition."
Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for "preventative" imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru's Public Ministry for "illicit association" and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos' support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)
Meeting June 2 in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas state, Venezuela's Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonas (COIAM) issued a statement protesting President Nicolás Maduro's Decree No. 841 of March 20, which creates a commission to oversee bringing illegal gold-miners in the rainforest region under government control. The program falls under the Second Socialist Plan for the Nation, charting development objectives from 2013 through 2019, with an emphasis on the "Orinico Mineral Arc." But the mining has caused grave ecological, cultural and health impacts on the Yanomami and other indigenous peoples of the area. COIAM is demanding a moratorium on all mineral activity in the Guayana administraive region, which covers the southern Orinoco basin in Amazonas and the adjacent states of Bolívar and Delta Amacuro. (See map.) (Sociedad Homo et Natura, June 9; COIAM, June 2; Survival International, Nov. 7, 2013)
In an historic vote on June 12, El Salvador's national Legislative Assembly ratified a reform to the nation's constitution that recognizes indigenous peoples and the state's obligations to them. The newly reformed Article 63 reads: "El Salvador recognizes Indigenous Peoples and will adopt policies for the purpose of maintaining and developing their ethnic and cultural identities, cosmovision, values and spirituality." All parties in the Assembly gave their votes to the amendment, save the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.