News Timeline: April 2015


April 2 – Middle East / International Organizations:
Negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and “P5+1” (five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany) conclude with a framework agreement. According to the deal, to which negotiations began in 2006, Iran agrees to restrict some of its uranium enrichment program and allow international inspections. In exchange, certain economic sanctions imposed on Iran will be lifted. The details of the plan are supposed to be negotiated by June 2015.

April 2 – Africa: KENYA / SOMALIA
Somali al-Shabab Islamic militants storm Garrisa University College in Kenya, killing 148 people (mostly students) and injure dozens more. They single out Christians and spare Muslims. The militants raid Kenya as a revenge for sending troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight them. Kenyans organize mass protests against the militants, but also criticize the Kenyan government for its poor response during the attack and demand better security.

April 11 – North America / Latin America:
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro meet for formal talks during the Summit of the Americas, the first ones between the two countries in more than 50 years. Both leaders aim at normalizing the strained relations between the two countries. After the talks, President Obama announces he will officially remove Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

April 14 – Middle East / International Organizations:
The United Nations Security Council passes a resolution that demands the Houthi rebels in Yemen to withdraw seized areas. It also imposes an arms embargo on the Houthis and their allies, such as Yemen’s former President Ali Saleh. (April 22): Hundreds of people are killed and several thousands are injured during the bombings by Saudi Arabia and its coalition aimed at defeating the Houthis and restoring Yemen’s president.

April 14 – Europe / Middle East / Former Soviet Republics:
Turkey criticizes Pope Francis for using the word “genocide” when describing the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-16 and recalls its ambassador from the Vatican in protest.  The Pope made a speech ahead of the 100th anniversary of the deportations and killings, which remains a highly sensitive issue. Turkey admits that these atrocities were committed, but stops short of calling them a genocide. Also, while historians estimate that over a million Armenians perished, Turkey estimates the total at 300,000.

April 17 – Africa: SUDAN
Sudan reelects President Omar al-Bashir who has been in power since 1989. He wins 94 percent of the vote after main opposition parties boycotted the vote, claiming they had no chance to get fair or free elections. The 71-year old al-Bashir is wanted by the International Court of Justice accused of ordering genocide during the conflict in Darfur.

April 19 – Europe / Africa:
About 800 migrants drown after a boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants left the coast of Libya and headed towards Italy. According to the International Organization of Migrations (OIM), most of these migrants come from Sub-Saharan Africa, with a small percentage coming from North Africa and Middle East (countries such as Eritrea and Syria). The OIM also estimates that just this year more than 21,000 migrants have reached the Italian coast (with more than 1,700 dying during these journeys), hoping to be resettled in one of the European Union’s countries. With its resources to deal with such overwhelming number of migrants under immense stress, Italy asks the European Union for help.

April 20 – Africa: LIBYA / ETHIOPIA
The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) releases a video showing the killings of about 30 Ethiopian Christians. The victims were migrant workers and were captured by IS militants in Libya. Ethiopian government condemns the killings and calls them a crime against humanity. Tens of thousands people in Ethiopia rally against the murder of their fellow citizens.

April 21 – Africa: EGYPT
Egypt’s former President Mohammed Morsi who was ousted by the military in 2013 is sentenced to 20 years in prison. The court found him guilty of ordering the arrest and torture of protesters against his government during his time in office from 2012 to 2013. Thousands of his supporters were also arrested and the Muslim Brotherhood has been also banned. Morsi says that he was deposed in a military coup and he does not recognize the legitimacy of the court.

April 25 – South Asia: NEPAL
A devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Nepal outside its capital, Katmandu. The quake kills more than 8,000 people and injures tens of thousands. The National Emergency Operations Center estimates that more than 10 percent of Nepal’s homes (about 300,000) have been destroyed and more than 250,000 damaged, including many historical sites. The earthquake also sets off deadly avalanches on Mount Everest that kill some hikers. Thousands of foreign aid workers help Nepal with the relief and rescue efforts.

April 28 – North America: UNITED STATES
The U.S. city of Baltimore declares a state of emergency after peaceful rallies sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man in police custody turn violent and deadly. Six police officers involved in the case are suspended. The crowds of people protest racial inequalities and police brutality.

April 29 – East Asia / North America: JAPAN / UNITED STATES
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss defense cooperation between the two countries and a trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He is also the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. During his speech, Abe expresses his deep regrets and condolences for US soldiers who died during the World War II conflict. 2015 marks 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

April 29 – East Asia: INDONESIA / AUSTRALIA
Australia recalls its ambassador from Indonesia after Indonesia executed several foreign nationals for drug smuggling by firing squad. Two of those executed were Australian citizens. Indonesia is known for having the toughest drug laws in the world. Australia launched intensive diplomatic campaign to spare the lives of the two of its citizens, but Indonesia claims it is at war with drugs, and the convicted were part of a notorious group of heroin traffickers known as the Bali Nine.