RUTH'S BLOG
2023: No calm water ahead

We are less than a week into the new year and already the news has thrown up a lot to be worried about

06 Jan 2023
BY RUTH ANDERSON
Protesters holding a 'Woman. Life. Freedom' banner after the slogan became a rallying cry during protests over the death of Mahsa Amini by Iranian authorities on 16 September 2022. Photo: Taymaz Valley (CC BY 2.0).

Happy New Year!

I think we can all agree, regardless of where we live, that 2022 was a tumultuous year.  There was seemingly a new crisis every day. Totalitarian regimes moving against their populations became increasingly normal, from Iran to China. The ongoing rise (and occasional fall) of populist politics. The Russian invasion of Ukraine. The rise of energy and food costs and the impact on some of the world’s poorest. The attempted murder of Sir Salman Rushdie. And to be parochial just for a moment, complete political insanity in the UK.

I really hoped that 2023 would mark the end, or at least a pause, of that wonderful Chinese saying – we live in interesting times. Even for just a few months I had dreamed of a period of calm, of quiet, of dullness. Or at least a few weeks so we could all catch up on life and enjoy the world we live in, rather than being anxious at turning on the news.

It is only the sixth day of the year and my wish for calm has already been broken. This week we have seen political dysfunction in the USA; Belarus has commenced trials against many of their high-profile detainees who were arrested during the demonstrations against Lukashenka; there have been deadly riots in Mexico and the news is filled with the gloom of Covid (and China’s censoring of news on it), flu and inflation. It’s day six…

We knew that this year would see significant world events, as the impact of the war in Ukraine continues to be felt. But China is also likely to seek to exploit this global diplomatic distraction for their own nefarious wants. And of course the protests in Iran, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Mexico continue apace – even as they evolve.

Index will remain busy in the months ahead as we seek to shine a spotlight on the actions of totalitarian regimes and make sure that you hear from the people behind the headlines. From the women now banned from attending university in Afghanistan, from the democracy activists imprisoned in Belarus, from the Rohingya mothers held in camps as they flee Myanmar, from the journalists who fight to be heard and stay alive in Mexico. Index will keep providing a platform for the persecuted, so they can tell their stories and you can hear them.

Happy New Year in these interesting times.

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