Violent Women’s Day protests in Turkey and Pipeline explosion in Nigeria’ Niger Delta
Turkey: Protests to mark International Women’s Day turn violent in Istanbul
Several thousand protesters clashed with Turkish riot police during demonstrations commemorating International Women’s Day in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on March 8, prompting the security forces to use pepper spray and riot shields to disperse the crowd. As in previous years, the demonstration came a day after the Istanbul Governor’s office banned marches and protests in the vicinity of the square; 38 women were detained during the rally. High rates of violence against women and femicide have sparked concerns in Turkey in recent years. At least 367 femicides were recorded in 2021, while 72 women have been killed in 2022, indicating that one woman per day is killed on average– although underreporting and government’s categorization of such incidents suggest that the number of victims is likely higher. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew Turkey from a European treaty on combatting violence against women last year – citing Turkey’s conservative values – triggering civil unrest and widespread international condemnation. Similar demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day were reported in multiple countries across the globe underscoring the international outcry against gender-based violence and continued demand for basic human rights. Some of the largest demonstrations were held in Mexico, where the feminist movement is the central driving force in the opposition against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) who has repeatedly dismissed the magnitude of gender based violence in the country. The number of femicides increased by 2.7% in 2021, compared to the previous year, and more than doubled compared to 427 femicides recorded in the country in 2015. In previous years, government response to feminist protests involved excessive force, sexual violence and arbitrary arrests, with over 80 women injured by rubber bullets and tear gas deployed during March 8 protests in 2021. During this year’s protests, expected violence did not materialize; however, there was indication of planned violent acts as Mexico City police seized Molotov cocktails, bats and hammers from activists. In the absence of a strong government initiative to improve and reinforce measures addressing gender based violence, feminist protests are likely to continue in nations with weak criminal justice systems. Such incidents could escalate to violence and cause significant disruptions to transportation and business operations.
Nigeria: Pipeline explosion in Niger Delta leads to environmental damage and oil export cuts
A recent explosion on the Ogoda/Brass 24 pipeline located in Nembe Local Government Area, Bayelsa state, has resulted in environmental damage and a reduction in oil exports from the Brass Export terminal. The incident occurred on March 5 but was reported in the local media nine days later. The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency director confirmed that the explosion was caused by vandalism and led to the spillage of 1,250 barrels of oil; no casualties were reported. Wells connected to the pipeline were immediately shut down, and containment barges were mobilized to reduce the environmental impact from the leak. The Italian oil and gas company ENI that operates the pipeline said the production at the facility was reduced by 25,000 barrels of oil and approximately 13 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. In a statement issued on March 15, ENI announced that the repairs had been completed and the force majeure would be lifted this week. Bayelsa state is located in the Niger Delta region that produces most of Nigeria’s oil, which is the key source of the government revenue. Due to the diversity of the criminal landscape in the Niger Delta, vandalism and attacks on pipelines are a regular occurrence in the region. Another explosion at ENI’s Obama flow station in Iwoama occurred on Feb. 28, resulting in a 20-barrel leak and leading to a drop in production amounting to 5,000 barrels per day. Criminal groups that profit from oil theft tap into pipelines and pump the oil onto barges for export, costing the Nigerian government more than USD 4 billion in 2021. As demonstrated by the recent incidents, illegal pipeline taps often result in oil spills and explosions, which cause devastating environmental damage to waterways and farmlands. In addition to organized crime, militant groups have also targeted oil installations in the past, aiming to destabilize the government, threaten international oil firms and demand profits from oil production. Such groups tend to thrive on local support as public perception of foreign oil companies operating in the Niger Delta is poor due to their environmental impact on nearby communities and lack of employment opportunities for the local population. Due to rampant corruption among Nigeria’s security forces, oil theft and other criminal activity targeting oil infrastructure are not expected to subside in the short-to-medium term, which will likely inflict further financial damages on oil and gas companies operating in the region.