Before he disappeared, Merdan Ghappar exposed the horror of internment experienced by Uyghurs in China. In videos and text sent to family after he was detained by Chinese authorities in January, Ghappar, 31, documented the shackles and filthy conditions of his “quarantine room.”
The Uyghurs are a largely Muslim minority group who have been placed under great pressure by Chinese authorities in recent years. Beijing says it is battling extremism and radicalization in the region. Activists, however, accuse authorities of committing human-rights abuses against the minority group. Large numbers of Uyghurs have been incarcerated, placed into political indoctrination centres and forced to work in factories.
Ghappar was a famous model in China before his detainment, and came from a politically active extended family who have also been targeted by Chinese authorities. His messages to family members while in detention describe being shackled in a police cell with a sack over his head, while listening to screams of people who sounded like they were being tortured.
Today, Ghappar’s family members have lost contact with him and do not know of his whereabouts. The only information they have comes from an officer who told a friend that he had been sent for “education” in Xinjiang, the northwestern region where most of the country’s Uyghur population lives.
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‘A huge catastrophe’: More than 70 people dead, thousands injured after massive explosion in Beirut
A huge explosion in Beirut, Lebanon yesterday killed at least 100 people and injured more than 3,700 others, though the numbers are expected to rise. The blast was said to be caused by an accident near a warehouse storing highly explosive material.
Beirut’s hospitals, already struggling with shortages and the coronavirus pandemic, have been quickly overwhelmed as emergency workers continue to dig people out of the rubble. The explosion has devastated the country, which was already struggling with an economic crisis and COVID-19.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called the lack of safety measures around warehouse storage “unacceptable” and has promised accountability.
Read more on Beirut:
U.S. nears 5 million coronavirus cases as public gatherings, events linked to rise in infections
The United States is reaching a sobering milestone of 5 million COVID-19 cases and more than 155,000 deaths, by far the highest in the world. Uncontrolled public gatherings are being blamed for the continuing surge.
Americans’ response to the virus has been characterized by a refusal to wear masks or physically distance, with many calling these measures an infringement on their liberties. The problem is also compounded by confusing and inconsistent public-health guidelines, say experts, which has resulted in the United States now seeing daily case counts of up to 60,000.
Outbreaks have been linked to events such as a lifeguard party, a high-school graduation party, a prom party, an unsanctioned football camp and a packed harbour cruise trip.
DISPATCH FROM GLOBE CLIMATE
In this week’s Globe Climate newsletter, the spotlight is on Europe’s climate actions. More European companies, banks and insurers are retreating from Canadian oil sands, as major investors seek to reduce their climate impact. But the industry isn’t facing an imminent end as it resupplies the North American market.
The European Union has also released the strategy for its hydrogen sector last month. Canada is similarly envisioning a national hydrogen strategy, but it still needs to tackle high costs and a lack of cohesive industry standards.
Want to dive into more stories about the environment, climate, energy and resources? Sign up for our Globe Climate newsletter.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Yazidi massacre survivors see ‘only empty promises’: Six years on from an Islamic State group attack on Yazidis in Iraq that left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced, the Kurdish minority group says it has seen little support from the international community. Nearly 3,000 Yazidis, particularly women and children, are still missing after being abducted and sold into slavery.
Curfew in India-controlled Kashmir ahead of revocation anniversary: Parts of the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir in India were put under lockdown yesterday to prevent alleged reports of suicide attacks and attacks on politicians. This week marks the one-year anniversary of India stripping the state of its special rights and autonomy in an attempt to assert control over a restive region.
Former king of Spain leaves for undisclosed location amid scandal: Juan Carlos made the surprise announcement that he had left Spain on Sunday in an apparent attempt to salvage the royal family’s reputation. The former king is currently the target of investigations in Spain and Switzerland for financial wrongdoing.
Court challenge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 travel ban begins: The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is hearing a legal challenge to the province’s travel ban, which restricts entry to everyone except permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in essential industries. The ban is being challenged for violating the charter and falling outside of provincial jurisdiction.
Gold shines again: Gold jumped to a record high on Wednesday, pushing further past the US$2,000 mark in the face of a weak U.S. dollar, falling U.S. Treasury yields and expectations of more stimulus measures for the pandemic-ravaged global economy. Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.1 per cent around 6 a.m. ET. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.97 per cent and 0.93 per cent, respectively. Japan’s Nikkei slid 0.26 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.62 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 75.50 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Trudeau says he was ‘not in a position of conflict of interest.’ In fact, he was.
Arthur Schafer: “Thus, even if an independent inquiry establishes the truth of Prime Minister Trudeau’s claim that ‘WE Charity received no preferential treatment, not from me, not from anyone else,‘ it will still be the case that Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Morneau were guilty of conflict of interest. It’s time that cabinet members and those who advise them figured this out.”
It’s time to unify the disability movement
Al Etmanski and Kathleen O’Grady: “Canadians with disabilities, their families and supporters may not yet be able to influence decisions in cabinet or the Prime Minister’s Office. We can, however, create conditions that ensure there is a political price to pay for continued discrimination.”
Big Tech is a big failure at policing the public square
Andrew Coyne: “Why haven’t social media companies been able to fill the gatekeeper role? If there were many of them, perhaps they could. But given the quasi-monopoly Facebook and Twitter currently enjoy, they take on some of the attributes of the state, making their attempts at editing look like censorship. Hence, their initial reluctance to intervene, and hence the blowback when at last they did.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
Road trips now offer excitement, but require more planning than ever before
And though a road trip seems the perfect solution for anyone who longs to travel beyond their backyard but still desires physical distancing, the open road remains uncertain. Worries once you leave home range from whether you’ll inadvertently steer yourself into a COVID-19 hot spot to the simple, but important concern about whether you will be able to find a bathroom when you really need it.
MOMENT IN TIME: August 5, 1967
Toronto’s Caribbean carnival begins
Toronto’s famous celebration of Caribbean culture was cancelled this year. Instead, the party went online with a virtual road trip taking attendees to Australia, Europe, Japan, the Caribbean, the United States and Toronto. The carnival began as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations. In 1967, the first Saturday of August was chosen for the carnival as it coincided with the date slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1834. Since then, the carnival has become its own distinct festival, originally named Caribana, but now known as the Toronto Caribbean Carnival. Annually it attracts more than one million visitors to the city and in 2019, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO granted it Intangible Cultural Heritage status. The main event is the Grand Parade, a series of floats, colourful feathered costumes and live bands playing calypso, soca and reggae. The procession originally used Yonge Street, but pivoted to University Avenue in 1970. Since 1991, the parade has begun at the Canadian National Exhibition site and travelled 3.5 kilometres along Lake Shore Boulevard. For this year’s 53rd annual celebration, the parade route may be a Zoom link, but the tradition still lives on. Hannah Alberga