Staying informed on other countries’ affairs is as important as knowing about those in your home country
For most of us, life hasn’t felt quite right for some time—we have a global pandemic to thank for that, not to mention relentless updates on former President Donald Trump, from insurrection to impeachment. But the chaos of the current moment extends beyond COVID-19, and beyond the US. If you’ve recently read the news or been online, you’ve likely seen an article, or at the very least an Instagram post, about the adversities being faced in several countries right now.
In India, farmers are protesting against recent legislation that deregulates the agricultural sector. The government is minimizing its role, easing protections and leaving farmers vulnerable to exploitation by corporations who would end up with more control over the market. As protests turned violent in January, the state shut off the internet in several areas, preventing activists from communicating with each other and the rest of the world. The protests, which began at a smaller scale in August—eventually leading to the largest protest in modern history in November—continue today, not only in India, but worldwide.
Nearby, Myanmar’s democratically-elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is on house arrest after a military coup. The military, who happens to have backed Suu Kyi’s opposition in the election, cites unproven claims of fraudulent voting as their reason for taking control of the state. Anti-coup protests have remained peaceful, but there is worry that protests will turn violent as the coup persists and activists and democratic officials urge civilians to “gather in millions” to fight for democracy.
And in China, Uighurs, an ethnic minority in the country, have been forced into concentration camps since 2014. The Chinese government has built hundreds of so-called “re-education” camps where Uighurs are being interned and indoctrinated, supposedly to crack down on terrorism in the area. Reports of mass sterilization of Uighur women and other inhumane treatment in the camps led the U.S. to accuse China of genocide in January, but the government has made no apparent effort to stop maliciously repressing Uighurs while the world watches.
These are some of the biggest international events being reported on right now—if this is the first you’re hearing of any of them, it might be time for a Google search or two. But even for those of us who recognize these stories, how much do we actually know? Do we just read headlines? Do we keep up to date on developments? Are we discussing with peers?
Many of us make time to understand what’s happening in the U.S., but not everyone treats world news with the same significance. The events discussed above and those of similar importance in other countries, may seem disconnected from your life or your community. But there is more similarity between the news in the U.S. and that of countries across the globe than you might think.
In India, farmers and Indians of other professions and varying social classes are coming together to protest an unfair system that will favor rich corporations at the expense of already underserved farmworkers. They are standing up against systematic mistreatment of people in their country—not so different from Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S., where the Black community and allies are fighting against police brutality and other social injustices faced by Black Americans.
And in Myanmar, false claims of voting fraud have proven to be a real threat to their democracy. Not long ago, our former president fabricated similar allegations which led to several baseless court cases attempting to overturn the results and, despite what the Senate votes indicate, unprecedented civil unrest. Although U.S. civilians remain in power, some consider the incidents of the past few months to be evidence of the decline of American democracy.
But regardless of how close to home these events might be, they should matter to us. While there are currently no internment camps in the U.S., Uighurs in China deserve our attention and our anger—if genocide was happening so publicly in our country, we would want other nations to be aware, and where possible, take action.
Even if we do care about international news, it’s not necessarily our fault for not knowing what’s going on all the time—we are so barraged with new information about the state of affairs in the U.S. alone that it can be difficult to keep tabs on other nations. And to a certain extent, the media controls what news we see and how often we see it. But it is our responsibility to seek out important information whether it’s handed to us or not, global press included.
That being said, the news can take its toll. That is why it is vital to consume media consciously—not only by not believing everything you see and doing your own research beyond an Instagram graphic, but by choosing when and what you catch up on. It’s ok to log off when you need a break. When you return, however, don’t just skim news notifications. Read the whole article, click on the hyperlink or listen to a podcast.
As college students, The Editorial Board understands that the second new information comes to light isn’t always when you have free time to dig into another country’s complex government policies or social issues. But we also believe that if you care about something, you make time for it. And you should care about injustice.
Written by: The Editorial Board