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  • Writer's picturetatie

The 2020 Alphabet of Horrors: A Magnifying Glass on the World

We have seen it declared on every social media platform: “2020 is the worst year ever.” Most of us would agree, citing our own reasons as to why the start of this new decade feels like the inevitable end of our lives. Others may have gone numb, clinging on to the single shred of faith they have left in humanity. Each day feels like an endless cycle, a routine we have effortlessly perfected while we, the socially responsible citizens of the world, stay at home. To have a grasp on how long this year has been, here’s a rundown of what has happened in the past eight months of the year that will be remembered in history books forever:


Australia

The estimated number of animals killed due to raging bushfires reached 1 billion as the country was bathed in an eerie post-apocalyptic orange glow, with more than 15.6 million acres of land torched. (January 7, 2020)


Brazil

Security officials reported 147 murders within five days in Ceara after military police officers began a strike demanding a pay increase in early February. (February 25, 2020) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51623670


China

Wuhan health authorities announced the first death of a new virus (later to be named as COVID-19) outbreak in the province: a 61-year-old regular customer at the local seafood market; however, there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission yet. (January 10, 2020)


Denmark

Philip Mbuji Johansen, a young black man of Danish and Tanzanian descent, was found lifeless at a campsite after being invited by two white men, one of which has his leg marked with a swastika tattoo and linked to extremist right-wing groups, for a drink in the woods. (June 30, 2020)


Egypt

Menna Abdel Aziz, a young Egyptian woman, was arrested for “inciting debauchery” and “violating family principles” after she went live on Tiktok bruised and crying for help as she had been raped. (May 27, 2020)


France

Cédric Chouviat, a delivery man who was a father of five, died after he was stalled by police and held face down on the ground; Signs of asphyxiation and a fractured larynx were revealed in the autopsy. (January 5, 2020) https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/01/11/les-violences-policieres-sont-le-reflet-d-un-echec_6025530_3232.html


Greece

More than 1,000 refugees sailed to the edge of Greece’s water territory on inflatable life rafts in hopes of escaping the war; however, they were denied asylum and left to drift between Turkish and Greek water borders by authorities. (August 14, 2020) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/world/europe/greece-migrants-abandoning-sea.html


Hong Kong

Over 9,000 pro-democracy citizens have been arrested and the numbers continue to rise as activists are now escaping from the country by sea and to seek refuge in Taiwan. (August 10, 2020)


India.

Five Muslim men forced to lie on the street were beaten by police, who ordered bystanders of the Hindu mob to throw stones at the victims, over the new citizenship law in Delhi. (February 24, 2020)


Jordan

Several journalists have been arrested after a royal decree was activated which grants authorities to curtail basic rights; the government then proceeds to shut down the teachers’ union, one of the only independent associations left, and arrests 13 members. (August 5, 2020)


Kazakhstan

President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev signed legislation that aims to update the country’s protest policies: placing restrictions on the number of people allowed at a demonstration, the venues acceptable for such events, and what permission is needed to conduct them. (June 6, 2020)


Lebanon

A devastating explosion destroyed buildings near the Port of Beirut, killing more than 200 people and leaving 6,000 injured as hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with the present health crisis. (August 4, 2020)


Mexico

The horrifying murder of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla has sparked online outrage after graphic photos of her mutilated corpse were published in newspapers in March; resulting in Mexico’s first ever national women’s strike. (September 14, 2020)



Nigeria

At least 30 people have been burned to death along with 18 vehicles by Militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, after travelling victims were forced to sleep in Auno village on a major highway as the military had shut down the road leading into the city of Maiduguri. (February 11, 2020)


Oman

There are now over 90,000 COVID-19 cases as of September 2020 in Oman, and with the unemployment rate expected to reach 3.3% by the end of the year, these circumstances pose a threat to its citizens’ quality of life during a global health crisis. https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/coronavirus-will-oman-seek-financial-relief-gcc-neighbours


Peru

According to the regional office of the International Federation of Journalists, 171 journalists in Latin America were reported to have died from COVID-19, with Peru among the highest record of journalist fatalities in the world due to the lack of protective equipment. (August 17, 2020)


Qatar

A Human Rights Watch report revealed the current systemic abuse of migrant worker rights in Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 as many employers are withholding, or casually deducting the wages of migrant workers they rely heavily on for daily operations. (August 24, 2020)


Russia

Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny, a prominent Putin critic, was poisoned with a military-grade Novichok nerve agent which blocks messages from the nerves to the muscles, causing a collapse of many bodily functions. (September 2, 2020)


Sri Lanka

Military officers accused of war crimes in 2009 have been appointed to senior government roles previously held by civilians ahead of the nation’s 2020 parliamentary election; several organizations and human rights defenders have reported abuse of power, and threats from intelligence officers in the months that followed. (July 29, 2020) https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/07/29/sri-lanka-human-rights-under-attack


Thailand

29 people were killed while 58 others were left injured after a mass shooting at a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima by a soldier of the Royal Thai Army who was eventually killed in the stand-off with police during the 18-hour shooting rampage. (February 8, 2020) https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/08/asia/thai-soldier-shooting-dead-intl-hnk/index.html


United States of America.

Video footage of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who later dies of suffocation, pleading “I can’t breathe” as a white police officer, Derek Chauvin kneels on his neck for around nine minutes sparked global protests against police brutality and racial inequality. (May 25, 2020)


Venezuela

In May, around 5.1 million Venezuelans fled their home country to seek refuge in neighboring countries as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis and political turmoil. (May 27, 2020)


Yemen

With at least 3.6 million people forced to flee their homes due to economic and political crisis as schools were shut down and international aid was obstructed, the United Nations declares Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (September 14, 2020) https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/09/14/deadly-consequences/obstruction-aid-yemen-during-covid-19


Zimbabwe

Three female opposition leaders who disappeared after a demonstration against the failure of the Zimbabwe government to provide social protection for the poor during the current COVID-19 lockdown in May are now facing charges for “making false statements prejudicial to the state.” (June 10, 2020)


It’s all one big story after the other; some even unfold around the same month in entirely different corners of the globe. Each one of these stories matter, and each one demands attention and action from people in suits whose job it is to serve the people they govern. A global pandemic, humanitarian crises, socio-economic crises, environmental disasters, and the never-ending political cockfight featuring international leaders- you name it, this year has it. However, we tend to look beyond what’s right under our noses. Below is an overview of 2020 so far in the Philippines.


Aklan

P1.97 million worth of illegally caught fish was seized by the Philippine Navy’s Naval Forces Central (NFC) from six fishing boats in Tangalan seawaters. (June 27, 2020) https://mb.com.ph/2020/06/27/55-fishers-6-fishing-boats-with-p1-97-million-illegally-caught-fish-apprehended-in-aklan/

Batangas

400,000 people were displaced with destroyed homes, blocked roads, and interruption of power and water supply in the aftermath of Taal’s phreatic eruption. (January 16, 2020) https://rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/timeline-taal-volcano-eruption-2020


Cebu

At a protest rally against the anti-terrorism bill held at the University of the Philippines Cebu campus, police arrested 8 activists for violating a ban on mass gatherings under the general community quarantine (GCQ) even though the participants complied to basic health protocols. (June 5, 2020)


Davao

Indigenous peoples and human rights advocates were alarmed of the malicious wanted posters found in different areas in Davao city with nine Lumad activists tagged as “human rights violators”, and “berdugo” (executioner). (August 15, 2020) https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1321843/davao-lumad-advocates-tagged-as-berdugo


Eastern Samar

Typhoon Ambo, the first tropical cyclone to hit the country this year, displaced at least 34,235 families, damaged 1,228 houses, and cut off power supply in the town of Dolores as it toppled 17 utility towers. (May 14, 2020)


Guimaras

A power barge explosion in the waterway between the city of Iloilo and Guimaras Island spilled 48,000 liters of fuel oil which threatened 23 Guimaras coastal villages and its mangrove forest, whose trees only recently began to recover from the 2006 oil spill. (July 3, 2020)


Ifugao

A couple was charged with murder and child abuse after attempting to whisk away their 7-year old nephew’s remains for immediate burial before an autopsy was conducted to reveal his true cause of death. (June 10, 2020)


Kalinga

P13.96 million worth of marijuana plants were uprooted and burned in Barangay Bugnay for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s “Quebec Jolly Green '' which is part of their objective to clear drug-affected barangays in the province. (September 19, 2020) https://mb.com.ph/2020/09/20/p13-9-million-marijuana-plants-uprooted-in-kalinga/


Laguna

Five curfew violators, among which were two minors, were locked up in a dog cage by Barangay Chairman Frederick Ambrocio, who is now charged with coercion and child abuse, in Santa Cruz, Laguna. (March 21, 2020) https://www.philstar.com/nation/2020/03/21/2002637/barangay-captain-faces-raps-locking-curfew-violators-dog-cage


Metro Manila

10 members of Bahaghari, 8 members of Gabriela, & two drivers were arrested at a Pride month rally in Mendiola as the LGBTQ+ community calls for government action addressing the anti-terrorism bill and COVID-19 crisis. (June 26, 2020) https://interaksyon.philstar.com/politics-issues/2020/06/26/171635/freepride20-what-transpired-during-pride-march-protest-detention-of-participants/


Nueva Vizcaya

Around 100 police officers forcefully dispersed a “people’s barricade” formed by 29 locals as authorities state that they received an order to provide necessary assistance to ensure the unhampered arrival of the fuel tankers to the Didipio mining site. (April 6, 2020) https://news.mongabay.com/2020/04/standoff-over-philippines-didipio-mines-escalates-despite-covid-19-lockdown/


Oriental Mindoro

Jay-Ar Mercado, a 25-year old indigenous people’s organizer, was taken away and murdered by suspected personnel of the 4th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. (January 26, 2020)


Palawan

Eight employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and two forest rangers were held at gunpoint and arrested by police while they were conducting field work at the coastal Barangay of Iwahig. (June 10, 2020) https://www.denr.gov.ph/images/news_clippings/News_Monitoring_2020/DENR_Online_News_Monitoring_06_13_2020a.pdf


Quezon

100 clergy members of the Diocese of Lucena advocate for the cancellation of coal-fired power plant projects proposed to be built by Meralco’s Atimonan One Energy as they reported that citizens of the province have already suffered respiratory and skin diseases due to the toxic coal plant emissions. (August 31, 2020) https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1329405/church-leaders-in-quezon-want-coal-power-plant-projects-cancelled


Rizal

Joie Cruz, daughter of a public health nurse turned COVID-19 victim, revealed that her mother’s daily hazard pay was only P65 after several deductions to the original amount of P150 promised by the government. (August 14, 2020) https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1321435/nurse-who-died-of-covid-19-gets-p7000-hazard-pay-not-p30000-daughter


Sulu

At least 14 were killed after twin blasts within an hour of each other in Jolo, including the female suicide bomber who detonated herself as she was halted by a military officer from entering a restricted area. (August 24, 2020)


Tawi-tawi

A headless man was found along the shore of Kinapusan Island with his white ocean rowing boat; initial assessment revealed the boat and the body could have drifted from the Celebes Sea. (April 24, 2020)


Zambales

Philippine Army soldiers allegedly beat up three members of the Aeta community and forced them to eat human feces in the town of San Marcelino, according to Umahon (NGO). (August 21, 2020)

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