News Timeline: November 2005


November 1 – North America/South Asia: UNITED STATES/PAKISTAN

Mukhtar Mai, victim of an infamous gang rape case in Pakistan, arrives in the United States to accept an award for her campaign for women’s justice in her country and attend a congressional hearing on human rights. Mai is an outspoken critic of the Pakistani village government, which ordered her rape to punish her brother for misconduct. Mai says she will use her $20,000 prize to fund schools and a women’s crisis center.


The thirty-four-nation Summit of the Americas ends in Mar del Plata, Argentina, with no deal on a western hemisphere free-trade zone. The United States led a proposal to begin detailed negotiations on a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), but strong opposition from Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Paraguay ended the talks. The presence of U.S. President George W. Bush sparked riots and protests, one of which was addressed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

November 7 – Latin America: CHILE/PERU

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who is wanted in his home country on corruption and human rights abuse charges, is arrested in Chile. Fujimori lived in self-imposed exile in Japan since 2000, but returned to South America to run in presidential elections next year. He denies any wrongdoing. Fujimori is in custody pending extradition procedures.

November 10 – East Asia: INDONESIA

Azahari Husin, one of Asia’s most wanted men, dies in a police raid on a house in eastern Java, Indonesia. Husin is accused of being a master bomb maker for a radical Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiah (JI), and taking part in at least four major bombing attacks, including the one in Bali in 2002 that killed more than two hundred people. Azahari’s arrest is considered a major setback to JI.

November 10 – International Organizations/Middle East: The EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS/TURKEY

The European Court of Human Rights upholds Turkey’s ban on wearing Islamic headscarves at universities. The judges agree with the Turkish argument that the ban’s goal is to prevent giving preference to any religion in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. More than one thousand Turkish women have filed similar suits against the ban.

November 11 – Middle East/International Organizations: SAUDI ARABIA/WTO

After twelve years of negotiations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) approves Saudi Arabia’s membership. As part of joining the free-trade regime, Saudi Arabia must adopt all WTO legislations and liberalize its restricted economy. It also has to rescind its boycott of Israel.

November 13 – Former Soviet Republics: AZERBAIJAN

In the Azeri capital of Baku, about 20,000 people protest the results of last week’s parliamentary election, in which the ruling New Azerbaijan Party won more than half the seats. Arguing that the election was rigged, protesters try to instigate a movement similar to last year’s Orange Revolution, which brought Ukraine’s opposition party to power. Western election monitors report that the election did not meet international standards. The government has said it will not allow a Ukrainian-style revolution in Azerbaijan.

November 18 – Africa: BURKINA FASO

Burkina Faso’s Election Commission confirms incumbent Blaise Compaore’s victory in the presidential election. Compaore faced eleven challengers and won 80 percent of the vote. This will be Compaore’s third term in office, but according to a 2000 Constitutional Court ruling, future presidents will be limited to two terms.

November 21 – South Asia: SRI LANKA

Three days after his narrow election victory, new Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse swears in Ratnasiri Wickremanayake as prime minister. Both men are Sinhala nationalists and vow to take a hard line with the Tamil Tiger insurgency. Although the turnout in the presidential election amounted to 75 percent in the south and west of the country, almost no Tamil took part in the vote.


The European Union agrees to start talks on a stabilization and association agreement (SAA) with Bosnia-Herzegovina in preparation for EU membership. Bosnia is the last of the Balkan states to begin the slow move towards membership, having been held up by problems of corruption and organized crime.

November 21 – Latin America: ARGENTINA/VENEZUELA

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner arrives in Venezuela, where he will meet with his counterpart, Hugo Chavez. The two presidents will discuss the proposed $4 billion gas pipeline stretching over 7,500 miles involving also Brazil and Peru, as well as Venezuela’s membership in the MERCOSUR trading organization. The pipeline project is part of a plan to strengthen the regional integration.

November 21 – Middle East: IRAQ/IRAN

In the first visit of an Iraqi head of state to Iran in forty years, President Jalal Talabani meets with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran. The two leaders are expected to discuss Iran’s help in fighting terrorism and calming rising Sunni-Shia tensions in Iraq. The visit is seen as a sign of improved relations between the two countries. Earlier in the month, an Iraqi passenger plane landed in Tehran, the first commercial flight between the two countries in twenty-five years.

November 21 – International Organizations: UNITED NATIONS/WORLD

A new UNAIDS report says that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS jumped to 40.3 million worldwide, with five million infected in 2005. The situation is still most dire in Sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of the infected people live. The report also says that more people worldwide have access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV, exceeding 80 percent in countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Cuba. However, treatment is not widely available in the poorest countries.

November 22 – South Asia: BANGLADESH

During a nationwide strike in Bangladesh organized by the opposition Awami League, participants protest hard-line Islamist influence in government and a recent string of unsolved deadly bombings blamed on Islamic extremists. This is the seventeenth strike in Bangladesh this year, costing the country tens of millions of dollars. The strike came after the rally in Dhaka of about 100,000 people a couple of days earlier who demanded the resignation of the government.

November 23 – Africa: LIBERIA

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, known as the Iron Lady, becomes Liberia’s new president and Africa’s first elected female head of state. Johnson-Sirleaf is an economist who formerly worked with the IMF and World Bank. Her challenger, soccer star George Weah, makes claims of voting fraud, but the African Union, the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), and other international observers call the election free and fair.

November 23 – Latin America: CHILE

Chilean authorities place former military ruler Augusto Pinochet under house arrest on charges of tax evasion and passport fraud after an investigation pointed to $27 million allegedly hidden in foreign banks under false names. Pinochet, who was declared fit to stand trial by psychiatrists the previous week, has recently lost immunity against charges of fraud and human-rights abuses. More than three thousand people died in political violence during Pinochet’s regime between 1973 and 1990.

November 24 – East Asia: CHINA

A huge plume of pollution in China’s Songhua River reaches the city of Harbin, leaving its 3.8 million residents unable to use the river’s water. The benzene contamination was caused by a plant explosion further upriver earlier in the month. It is expected that toxic water will reach Russia at the beginning of December, where authorities in the eastern region of Khabarovsk declare a state of emergency.

November 26 – Middle East: PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

More than fifteen hundred Palestinians enter Egypt from the Gaza Strip through the newly opened Rafah border crossing, which is now administered by the Palestinians. Israel controlled the border for forty years until its recent withdrawal. The crossing, an opening to the outside world, is significant for Gaza’s economy. However, the Palestinians’ authority is limited; the monitors from the European Union have the power to detain individuals and Israel retains control over Palestinian imports and can object certain travelers.

November 26 – North America: CANADA

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, provincial leaders, and native groups end a two-day summit in British Columbia with a plan to fight poverty in the Canadian aboriginal communities. The program commits $4.3 billion to be spent over ten years to improve housing, health care, education, and economic development. An estimated 40 percent of the native population lives in poverty. They face housing shortages, higher teenage pregnancy and suicide rates, and lower life expectancy and school graduation.

November 27 – East Asia: MYANMAR

The ruling junta of Myanmar (Burma) extends the house arrest of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi for another year. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won 1990 elections in Myanmar, but the junta cancelled the results and remained in power. She has been under house arrest since May 2003.

November 27 – Europe: RUSSIA

The Russian republic of Chechnya completes its first parliamentary elections since Moscow sent troops there to quell rebellions in 1999. The pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, wins the majority of the seats. Moscow says the election is the final step in a plan that gives Chechnya more autonomy while preserving it as a part of Russia. Separatists and human rights groups dismiss the vote as a sham because violence is still prevalent in the region.

November 28 – Former Soviet Republics: ARMENIA

Council of Europe election monitors report abuses during Armenia’s referendum on constitutional changes. The observers believe the government’s figures showing a 65 percent voter turnout are inflated, citing extremely low voting activity. In the capital city, Yerevan, about five thousand people hold an opposition protest, accusing the government of rigging the election. The constitutional amendments include a transfer of some presidential powers to parliament and government.

November 29 – Europe: RUSSIA

A parliamentary commission report issued by the Russian republic of North Ossetia finds that Russian forces were partly to blame for the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, in which 331 people died, most of them children. The report argues that failings in law enforcement allowed armed rebels to gain access to the Beslan infrastructure. The commission also finds that Russian forces used flamethrowers when storming the school, although Russian officials denied their use for weeks after the siege.

November 29 – Africa: LESOTHO

Lesotho’s government plans to hire an additional 7,500 health workers to bring free HIV tests door-to-door to the country’s 1.8 million citizens. The country estimates that as many as 30 percent of Lesotho adults may carry the disease and many are not aware of the fact.

November 30 – Africa: GABON

Gabon’s incumbent president, Omar Bongo, wins a third term in office with 79.2 percent of the vote. Opposition accuses Bongo of using the state money to run his high-tech campaign. Bongo ran his campaign on the platform of maintaining stable Gabon in an unstable region and using vast oil reserves to bring prosperity to the people. The election was peaceful and gives Bongo seven more years in the presidency.