US claims MbS behind journalist death. Canadians, Dutch accuse China of genocide. Artists speak up.

Updated: Apr 1

US report claims Saudi Crown Prince MbS approved Khashoggi killing.

A declassified U.S. intelligence report has said that Saudi's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is behind the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist that was highly critical of the Saudi government. Khashoggi was killed in 2018 after he was lured inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, U.S. President Joe Biden has chosen to declassify the report and put the spotlight on Saudi Arabia. He also authorized visa bans to selected Saudi officials who were involved. But similar to Trump, the current U.S. administration also refused to apply any sanctions against the Crown Prince.

Of course, Biden's administration remains dependent on the Saudis for their support against the Iranians. In their own push against journalism, the Iranians recently executed Roohollah Zam, who was operating a Telegram channel named 'Amadnews'. The channel regularly shared videos of protests and information against Iranian officials.

Globally, at least 30 journalists were killed in 2020.

Canadian, Dutch parliaments accused China of genocide in Xinjiang.

This week saw both Canada and the Netherlands accusing China of genocide in Xinjiang, where the government has set up a series of concentration camps in an attempt to wipe out the Uighurs and their culture. The countries have followed the US' lead, who under both the Trump and Biden administrations, have spoken out against China. This may represent a clear victory for the activists, but the real question remains what could be done to force China to change course.

Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said he was unwilling to use the term genocide until the UN rules on it. But given China's influence in the UN, as well as its seat on the security council, it is unlikely that the UN will ever be able to produce a result against China. Other countries, including Myanmar or Ethiopia, certainly would also be worried about having to answer a similar case themselves.

Thus, if we were to study past history lessons, we would probably come to the conclusion that a diplomatic path to stopping genocide continues to be challenging. Barring any physical interference, the world also seems to be lacking meaningful ways to stop the crime. Still, it is admirable that the Canadians and the Dutch now seem to be willing to compel themselves to some actions in this issue.

And how can individuals fight against genocide? According to Aliza Luft, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCLA, the best way is not only for citizens to pressure their governments, but also businesses that are active in countries that have committed acts of genocide.

In addition, the recent GameStop drama has shown the world that retail investors do have a certain influence on the market. Perhaps the next Reddit post should be about the withdrawal of their investments from businesses that deal with governments that commit acts of genocide.

Blackpink speaks up against climate change on BBC.

Yet another part of the solution may lie with celebrities drawing attention to major issues like genocide.

This week sees the South Korean girl group, BLACKPINK, speaking out against climate change. Of course, they are not the first artists who spoke up against a major social issue. Last year, BTS, another South Korean group, was vital in their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Earlier this year, Rihanna tweeted asking for attention on the Indian farmer protest. Prominent Burmese celebrities have spoken up against the military coup in their country.

Yet, it was interesting to see both BTS, and now, BLACKPINK speaking up for social justice. This is starkly different from the previous generations of Asian artists, who tend to hide from such issues, in fear of offending their audience. It is also a reflection of what millennials and Gen Z have come to expect. Beyond music, dramas, and movies, they expect their idols to connect with them at a more personal level, and be aligned with their social values.

This article is part of the Making History This Week series.