Christmas Eve saw clashes in Nicaragua between riot police and campesino protesters, with some 40 detained and several injured. Most have been released, but a few are still reported missing and are believed to be in Managua's El Chipote prison. "This is no longer a dictatorship lite, this is a now a full-blown repressive dictatorship that is baring its claws and releasing its dogs," Vilma Nuñez, head of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, told US-based Fusion website. The protests took place at El Tule, Chontales department, and in Rivas, where campesinos tried to block road construction related to the inter-oceanic canal project. Protests were also reported at Nueva Guinea in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region, where campesinos burned tires at roadblocks. The protests began Dec. 22, marring that day's ceremonies marking the start of construction on the mega-project. Laureano Ortega, son of President Daniel Ortega, and canal developer Wang Jing of Hong Kong-based HKND Group, were helicoptered into Rivas for the affair, and apologized to assembled journalists for the disturbances. (Fusion.net, La Prensa, Nicaragua, Dec. 27; Nicaragua Dispatch, Dec. 24)
Army and National Police forces in Peru sent riverboats to evacuate a remote rainforest village after it was raided by an indigenous band that has long lived in voluntary isolation in southeastern Madre de Dios region. Around 200 men armed with bows and arrows raided the community of Monte Salvado on the Río Piedras near the Brazilian border Dec. 19. The raiders—thought to be members of the Mashco-Piro tribe—took machetes, rope, blankets and food in the attack. There were no injuries reported, although the raiders did fire arrows. After the raid, they retreated back into the forest. But fearing another attack, Monte Salvado residents—themselves of the Yine tribe, a linguistically related group—are seeking refuge in Puerto Maldonado, the regional capital. Some 40 have now been evacuated.
Indigenous peoples across Brazil declared a victory when the country's Congress concluded work for the year on Dec. 17, having failed to approve a constitutional amendment, known as PEC 215, aimed at gutting the process of land demarcation. PEC 215 would have transfered responsibility for demarcation from the executive to legislative branch, where the land barons have far more power. This would have effectively halted pending demarcations of indigenous lands and Quilombola (Afro-Brazilian) territories. Under congressional rules, the ending of the session without a vote on the amendment automatically disbands the special commission that was established to analyze it. The congressional agribusiness bloc that pushed for PEC 215 will have to start over from zero when the body re-convenes next year. The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) issued an open letter to mark the victory, stating, "We indigenous peoples have shown that we will never allow our lands to be recolonized, invaded or destroyed, even if that means sacrificing our own lives."
Israel's Supreme Court ruled Dec. 26 to demolish a Jewish settlement at Amona in the West Bank. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought decades ago by Palestinians who claimed to own the landa of the settlement, which has been deemed "one of the oldest and most contentious Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank." The court agreed early on that the land belonged to the group of Palestinians and ordered the settlement demolished in 2012, but granted a number of extensions on the date of demolition. As a result of the ruling, approximately 300 residents of the settlement will need to move within the next two years.
Three were killed in southeastern Turkish town of Cizre Dec. 27 in armed clashes between Islamist militants of the Huda-Par and followers of the Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement (YDG-H), an arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The fighting began when Huda-Par adherants attacked homes and encampments of the YDG-H followers. Security forces mobilized tanks, but were barred from reaching the conflict zone by defensive ditches dug by YDG-H members beforehand. In the early 1990s, conflict between the PKK and Huda-Par (also known as Turkish Hezbollah) claimed hundreds of lives. Cizre lies on the Syrian border. (Al Arabiya News, Reuters, Zaman, Dec. 27)
A Hamas leader on Dec. 27 said that the draft resolution for Palestinian statehood presented to the UN Security Council is "disastrous," and that it has "no future in the land of Palestine." The statement comes amid growing criticism at home of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' push for the UN to recognize Palestine as a state, with some calling the move a symbolic gesture that distracts from the larger struggle to end the Israeli occupation. Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar, however, took a harder line, saying in a statement that Hamas would not accept the resolution because of its focus on the 1967 borders, and not on the entirety of historic Palestine. He said that the movement will only accept the complete 1948 borders, and will refuse to consider allowing Jerusalem to be a capital for both Palestinian and Israeli states. (Ma'an, Dec. 26)
Reports from Syria say at least 45 were killed and up to 175 wounded in government air-raids on rebel-controlled areas of Bab and Qabaseen outisde Aleppo Dec. 26, with the regime again using deadly "barrel bombs"—steel drums full of shrapnel and explosives. Syrian state media said it repulsed "terror attacks," hitting jiihadists—but giving no details of civilian casualties. Government forces also intensified their attack on opposition-controlled areas of Damascus, carrying out more than 85 air-strikes on several points in the Ghouta suburb over the last four days. (ANA Press, Dec. 27; Euronews, Dec. 26)
National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants shot dead at least 50 adivasis, or tribal people, at five different places in India's northeast state of Assam Dec. 23. Many women and children are among the dead. The attacks took place at remote rural villages, where residents were pulled out of their huts and summarily shot. The death toll is expected to rise. The coordinated attacks followed the killing of two Bodo rebels in a skirmish with Assam police troops earlier in the week. Authorities blamed the Songbijit faction of the NDFB, which is seeking statehood for the Bodoland region of Assam. (Times of India, Al Jazeera, BBC World Service, Dec. 24)