News Timeline: September 2015


September 1 – Former Soviet Republics: AZERBAIJAN
One of Azerbaijan’s top journalists, Khadija Ismayilova, is sentenced to over seven years in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion. In her work, Ismayilova focused on investigative reporting, specifically looking into businesses and offshore bank accounts linked to President Ilham Aliyev and his family. Ismayilova is one of many pro-democracy activists, journalists and lawyers who have been arrested in the past year. Human Rights groups, including Amnesty International, condemn the arrests, accusing the government of jailing its critics and opponents.

September 1 – Europe: EUROPEAN UNION
Hungary builds a controversial 110-mile-long razor-wire wall on its southern border with Serbia. It’s designed to keep migrants out of its territory who arrive from Turkey and Greece. Bulgaria has also built a fence on its border with Turkey. Under the Schengen Agreement the first country where migrants arrive is supposed to process the application process for asylum (Serbia is not part of this agreement). This has put an immense stress on Greece, Italy, and Hungary as thousands of refugees and other migrants arrive there daily creating the biggest migration crisis since WWII. Alongside the legitimate asylum seekers mostly from Syria, Eritrea, and Afghanistan, there are many economic migrants, mostly from Kosovo, escaping dire poverty. Between January and August 2015, there were about 350,000 migrants at EU’s borders. (September 22): The European Union approves the controversial quota plan to relocate 120,000 migrants from Italy, Greece, and Hungary to other EU member-states. Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary vote against the motion. The number of the quota number is set according to size of a country’s economy and population. Thus, the largest number of these resettled migrants will go to Germany, France, and Spain.

September 3 – Latin America: GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s former president, Otto Perez Molina, is arrested after the country’s parliament stripped him of his immunity. He is accused of corruption and masterminding a bribery scheme called The Line, under which companies paid bribes to government officials to evade import duties. Another 100 people are also investigated for taking part in this scheme. Vice President Alejandro Maldonado takes over as president until the elections in January 2016.

September 9 – Europe: UNITED KINGDOM
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 63 years as a monarch of the United Kingdom. She has surpassed the reign of Queen Victoria, her great-great grandmother, which makes her the longest reigning UK monarch in history.

September 11 – East Asia: SINGAPORE
Singapore’s governing People’s Action Party (PAP) wins almost 70 percent of the votes in general elections, securing 83 out of 89 seats in the parliament. The turnout is 94 percent, as voting in Singapore in mandatory. The opposition Workers’ Party comes second, gathering 12 percent and getting six seats in the parliament. Since Singapore’s independence in 1965, PAP has won every election.

September 15 – East Asia: NORTH KOREA
North Korea restarts its Yongbyon nuclear facility that was closed in 2007 as part of a disarmament-for-aid agreement. It is believed that this uranium enrichment facility produced material used in previous nuclear tests. North Korean news media announces that the country is ready to face the United States hostility with nuclear weapons. The previous similar threats were made in connection with South Korean-U.S. joint military exercises.

September 17 – Africa / International Organizations: MOZAMBIQUE / HALO TRUST
The government of Mozambique announces that after 22 years of work the country is now mine-free. With the help of the HALO Trust, the humanitarian landmine clearance organization, 171,000 landmines have been removed from over 1,100 minefields that were the legacy of Mozambique’s 15-year civil war. The war began in 1977, two years after the end of the war of independence, and ended in 1992, but mines continued to kill and injure hundreds of civilians each year after the war. The demining has cleared over 183 million square feet of land that now can be used for agriculture and infrastructure development.

September 21 – Africa: ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia launches its first modern fully electrified commuter train in its capital, Addis Ababa, which is also first in sub-Saharan Africa. The project has cost $470 million and was funded mostly by China.

September 22 – Europe / North America: VATICAN CITY / UNITED STATES
Pope Francis arrives in the United States for an official visit, where he is greeted by millions of American Catholics. He meets with President Barack Obama and is the first Pope to address a joint meeting of Congress. In his speech to Congress, the Pope speaks against death penalty and calls for action to stop environmental deterioration caused by human activity. He also encourages the U.S. to embrace migrants as the world faces the worst refugee crisis since WWII.

September 22 – Middle East: YEMEN
After six months in exile, Yemen’s president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, returns to Aden. He fled the Houthi rebels in March, but Saudi-led coalition recaptured the city in July. But the Houthis are still in control of Yemeni capital, Saana, as well as heavily populated areas in the north and west of the country. According to the USAID, more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict so far, with 95 percent of them being civilians. A total of 1.4 million have been internally displaced persons.

September 30 – International Organizations / Middle East:
For the first time, a Palestinian flag is raised outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York after the General Assembly adopted a resolution that permits non-member observer states to fly their flags alongside those of full member states. The move is criticized by Israel and the United States. For the Palestinians, this historic event is the next step toward being recognized as a state by the international community.

September 30 – Middle East / Europe: SYRIA / RUSSIA
Russia begins air strikes in Syria claiming it targets the militants of the Islamic State (IS). However, the Syrian opposition says that Russian strikes target mostly groups that fight IS and Bashir Assad’s government troops. The Syrian government is Russia’s ally.