Scenes from Behind the Frontlines of Europe’s Oldest ‘Frozen War’ in Nagorno-Karabakh

A vehicle destroyed by shelling in the town of Martakert.
Emanuele SatolliA vehicle destroyed by shelling in the town of Martakert.
An Armenian soldier talks on a radio inside a bunker on a frontline position near Askeran.
Emanuele SatolliAn Armenian soldier talks on a radio inside a bunker on a frontline position near Askeran.
Strings of empty ration cans hang in a frontline trench near the town of Askeran.
Emanuele SatolliStrings of empty ration cans hang in a frontline trench near the town of Askeran.

Two ceasefires have failed to end the violence. The latest, on Oct. 17, collapsed after hours as each side accused the other of breaching it. While hostilities no doubt continued, misinformation swirls. That day, the Press Secretary for Armenia’s Ministry of Defense shared a

In an Armenian trench in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, strings of empty ration cans hang from a rafter jerry-rigged above canted mud walls, intended to jangle in the event of contact from an enemy stationed only a few hundred yards away. The rust on the cans suggests they are a relic of the war that killed some 30,000 people before it ended in a ceasefire in 1992. But for photographer Emanuele Satolli, who took the picture, they evoke conflicts still decades older.

“It’s a very old system, like a Second World War trench,” says Satolli, who returned from the South Caucasus enclave on Oct 17. The Armenian volunteers he met baking bread for soldiers, or sowing fatigues for their country’s war effort in the disputed territory’s main city Stepanakert, also seemed reminiscent of World War II, he says: “Everybody that’s there is trying to contribute.”

Emanuele SatolliA woman speaks with a man through an open window of a shelled building in Stepanakert.Emanuele SatolliDust blankets the yard of a house hit by shelling in Stepanakert.Emanuele SatolliAn Armenian soldier sits inside a vehicle near the town of Karmir Shuka.

It’s not surprising that fighting in what’s often known as Europe’s oldest “frozen war” is viewed as a collective effort in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. While its roots date back to the early 20th century, the land war erupted after the fall of the Soviet Union. A 1992 ceasefire left Armenia in de-facto control of the territory, which the international community regards as being within Azerbaijan. Although the conflict has been mostly dormant since 1992, the dispute at its core was never resolved. Since fighting restarted on Sept. 27, hundreds of soldiers and more than 100 civilians have been reported killed, and a wider regional conflagration remains a possibility.

Those involved see it as existential. Nagorno Karabakh is a “civilizational frontline” Prime Minister Pashinyan told TIME in an Oct. 2 interview during which he doubled down on accusations that Turkey is intervening militarily on behalf of Azerbaijan and has sent thousands of Syrian mercenaries to the front line (Turkey has said it will back Azerbaijan “with all its means” but denies military involvement.) For Azerbaijan too, the conflict is “a patriotic war,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva said in an interview the following day. “We need to eliminate the fact of occupation, otherwise we will not see lasting peace and security in the …read more

Source:: Time – World

      

You Can Now Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in China. That Might Not Be a Good Thing

Li Shurui didn’t hesitate. Faced with putting his life on hold indefinitely or the risk of catching COVID-19 by returning to university in the U.K., the 22-year-old business student decided to roll up his sleeve and receive an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Two injections made by Beijing Kexing Biological cost 2,000 rmb ($300) at the private Taihe Hospital in the Chinese capital. The treatment still hasn’t passed final (Stage 3) clinical trials but is already being offered to the public on a first come, first served basis. Anyone can turn up, pay their money and get the jab. Li says hundreds were queuing to get immunized at the same time as him.

“I’m a little worried about side effects but more worried catching the virus overseas,” Li tells TIME. “But I haven’t had any problems from the jabs so far.”

It’s not just the Kexing vaccine on offer in China. An unofficial vaccine rollout is gathering pace despite the warnings of international public health experts. In September, state-owned SinoPharm revealed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese had already taken its experimental COVID-19 vaccines as part of a state initiative to protect frontline health workers and officials traveling to high-risk nations. In the eastern manufacturing hub of Yiwu this week, hundreds of people queued for a $60 dose of the CoronaVac vaccine made by private firm SinoVac.

Read more: ‘We Will Share Our Vaccine with the World.’ Inside the Chinese Biotech Firm Leading the Fight Against COVID-19

“This is insane,” Adam Kamradt-Scott, associate professor specializing in global health security at the University of Sydney, says of China’s gung-ho vaccine rollout. “It is just unsound public health practice. We have previous examples of where vaccines that have not gone through sufficient clinical trials have demonstrated adverse reactions with long-term health consequences.”

As the coronavirus pandemic approaches its 11th month, with over 40 million cases and 1.1 million deaths globally, longing for a miracle cure becomes more desperate. But the consequences of a vaccine misstep could also be dire. In 1976, a rushed campaign to immunize millions of Americans against swine flu subsequently resulted in a small proportion developing chronic fatigue syndrome and helped spark the modern anti-vaxxer movement. Handing out a pre-approval vaccine without sufficient monitoring of efficacy and health of participants risks stoking public misinformation.

Read more: How an Election-Year Vaccine Rollout in 1976 Backfired

What’s more, since COVID-19 cases …read more

Source:: Time – World

      

Exclusive: Alleged Hunter Biden Emails Circulated in Ukraine as Rudy Giuliani Dug for Dirt There Last Year

Explicit photos and emails purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden were circulating in Ukraine last year at the same time that Rudy Giuliani was searching for dirt there on former Vice President Joe Biden, two people approached about the material during that period tell TIME.

The emails’ alleged availability, which has not been previously reported, comes to light in the wake of Giuliani’s recent claims that he obtained private photos and emails of Hunter Biden from a broken laptop abandoned in Delaware. Giuliani, who is President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has passed this material to right-wing news outlets, which began publishing it last week. Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment on the origins of the material he obtained.

Over the past year, the practice of selling or leaking private communications has become so common in Ukraine that the government has announced plans to pass a law against it. Igor Novikov, a former adviser to Ukraine’s President who now researches disinformation, referred to the practice as Ukraine’s “national sport” in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

The two people who said they were approached with Hunter Biden’s alleged emails last year did not know whether any of them were real and they declined to identify who was behind the offers, the first of which came in late May 2019 and the second in mid-September 2019. The two people said they could not confirm whether any of the material presented to them was the same as that which has been recently published in the U.S.

Last week the New York Post began publishing the material they obtained from Giuliani, and the sources and authenticity of the published emails has been hotly debated ever since. Hunter Biden and his father’s presidential campaign have declined to comment on the leaks in detail or to address whether any of the published emails are genuine. Hunter Biden has been unable to figure out where the material could have originated, says a person familiar with the situation.

Over the past week, Trump has used the leaks from Giuliani to fuel his claims of corruption against the Biden family. The President called on Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the material in the recent reports. “We’ve got to get the attorney general to act,” Trump said in an interview with Fox on Tuesday, two days before he faces Biden in the final …read more

Source:: Time – World

      

‘We Are Able to Get Things Done.’ Women Are at the Forefront of Nigeria’s Police Brutality Protests

Protesters gather at Lagos' Lekki toll gate during a demonstration against police brutality on Oct. 15, 2020.
Pierre Favennec—AFP/Getty ImagesProtesters gather at Lagos’ Lekki toll gate during a demonstration against police brutality on Oct. 15, 2020.

Nigerian DJ Obianuju Catherine Udeh, better known as DJ Switch, livestreamed on Instagram from Lekki on Tuesday evening and filmed the army shooting rounds of live fire at crowds. “Every Nigerian, especially the diaspora who had no other way to witness this, owe this woman everything,” says London-based Onis Chukwueke-Uba, 25, who was one of more than 150,000 Instagram users watching DJ Switch’s live video as events unfolded in Lagos.

DJ Switch is one of many women on the frontlines of these protests, which began in early October and are among the most widespread wave of perhaps protests in Nigeria campaigning against police brutality. Ayeye, and her podcast co-host Feyikemi Abudu, both based in Lagos, have also become a core part of Nigeria’s protest movement against police brutality, helping spread information on Twitter, raising and distributing funds for protesters and organizing security, medical assistance and legal aid. “This is the first time, at least in my lifetime here, that people are saying ‘enough is enough’,” says 27-year-old Abudu, who currently runs a start-up. She began fundraising a few days after the nationwide protests started on Oct. 8, wanting to provide breakfast for protesters in Lagos.

Read More: “I Really Thought My Life Was Going to End.’ Inside the Protests Taking on Police Brutality in Nigeria

“Young women are having a critical role in sustaining this movement, and young people across Nigeria feel like leaders in their own right,” says Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, a womens’ rights activist who was on last year’s TIME 100 Next list. Osowobi’s organization, Stand to End Rape, has been providing mental health support for protesters on the front line. As a service-provider helping young women survivors recover from gender-based violence, she knows first-hand the trauma SARS has inflicted on Nigeria’s young people. “Nobody is really safe. I know mothers who have lost their children, I know women who have been raped by these people, I know those who have died, so I have a responsibility too to make sure I fight for the rights of young Nigerians,” she says.

Abudu and Ayeye recall speaking about their frustrations with SARS on their podcast in 2017, during the first wave of campaigns against the unit. They didn’t imagine that three years later, they would be helping organize a support system for protesters, fielding calls in the middle of the night, and directing participants to safety via social media. “We joke that Feyikemi has built a state in ten days,” says Ayeye, referring to volunteers that have come together to organize food, medical assistance and legal aid to support protesters. “The organization and bravery of women really underpins this whole movement,” she says.

Nigeria has a history of women organizing protests. Aisha Yesufu, 46, was a co-organizer of the Bring Back Our Girls movement that called for the safe return of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014. She says she is proud of the young women who have mobilized during this protest movement. “The Bring Back Our Girls movement was a protest of empathy. #endSARS is more about survival. These are young men and women who are being killed by those who are supposed to protect them, and who are fighting for their life,” says Yesufu, whose photo with her fist raised at the forefront of protests in Abuja on Oct. 10 has been shared widely as a symbol of the protests.

Both Abudu and Ayeye, as well as Osowobi, are part of Feminist Coalition, a collective of Nigerian women who formed in July 2020 to work around feminist causes and the advancement of women’s rights in Nigeria. The group has been instrumental in fundraising to support the protesters on the ground through Bitcoin donations, and has issued daily reports of the money they’ve raised and distributed to ensure accountability. As of Oct. 19, the group had raised more than 74 million naira, equivalent to almost $200,000. All three women are hoping that their activities during the protests could improve things for women in the country more broadly, as well greater equality for other marginalized groups, including LGBTQ people who have experienced hostility and homophobia during protests. “It is incredible for me because especially in this country, where a lot of people have these backwards views about women in leadership positions, I’m hoping this will allow people to see that you need women at the top, at every level of society,” Abudu says. “Simply, we are able to get things done.”

Before Tuesday, the mood among #endSARS protesters in Lagos was optimistic. For more than two weeks, protesters across Nigeria have taken to the streets calling for an end to police brutality and the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (or SARS) police unit. But after violence on Tuesday night, which rights groups say left 12 people dead, many are afraid. “A lot of us at the forefront are terrified for our lives. We’ve never lived through anything like this in Lagos. We watched people get killed yesterday on social media,” says Jola Ayeye, a 28-year-old screenwriter based in Lagos.

An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International confirmed Wednesday that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters in two Lagos suburbs the previous evening, as thousands of people protested against police brutality as part of the #EndSARS movement. Witnesses said several unarmed, peaceful protesters were shot dead at Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria on Oct. 20, as video footage emerged on social media appearing to show the Nigerian military firing live rounds at a crowd protesting as part of the #endSARS movement. Eyewitnesses at a separate protest site in Alausa told Amnesty International that they were attacked by a team of soldiers and policemen, leaving at least two people dead and one critically injured. At least 56 people have died across the country since the nationwide protests began on Oct. 8, with about 38 killed on Tuesday alone, according to Amnesty International.

Read More: The Nigerian Army Shot Dead at Least 12 Peaceful Protesters in Lagos, Rights Group Says. Here’s What to Know

The SARS unit has been the target of protests since 2017, but protesters say this latest wave is different than what came before. The movement is leaderless but driven by a younger generation of Nigerians, tired of being profiled by SARS operatives, who often carry out violent ambushes in plain clothes with little impunity. An Amnesty International report earlier this year documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020, mostly targeting young men between the ages of 18 and 35. Although the Nigerian government announced that the SARS unit would be disbanded on Oct. 11, protesters are skeptical that will lead to real change—authorities have made and broken several promises regarding the disbandment and reforms of SARS over the past …read more

Source:: Time – World