Michelle Bachelet, U.N. Human Rights Chief, Says She Feels ‘Sorry for Brazil’

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. Human Rights Chief, Says She Feels ‘Sorry for Brazil’
CAIRO — Under the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, so little dissent is allowed — and what little there is comes at such a high price — that when just a few hundred people across the country called for Mr. el-Sisi’s ouster in a burst of scattered protests on Friday night, it came as a shock.
The apparent trigger for the demonstrations was almost as unexpected: Mohamed Ali, a 45-year-old construction contractor and part-time actor who says he got rich building projects for the Egyptian military and then left for Spain to live in self-imposed exile, where he began posting videos on social media accusing Mr. el-Sisi of corruption and hypocrisy.
In the three weeks since his first video appeared, Mr. Ali has reinvented himself as a whistle-blower, an el-Sisi antagonist and a protest guru, and his tales of corruption at the top have transformed him into a leading voice of opposition to the president. When the protests erupted, it was at the time and date Mr. Ali had urged from afar.
But the extent, and durability, of Mr. Ali’s out-of-nowhere influence — and his ability to spur further demonstrations — remains to be seen. His surge from obscurity to prominence has also raised questions in Egypt about whether his sudden fame has been helped along or exploited by powerful interest groups in the country, inside or outside the government.
“It is sort of odd,” said Amy Hawthorne, the deputy director for research at the Project on Middle East Democracy. “Who is this person, who is he connected to, what led him to come out with these allegations now? Obviously he’s very well connected, but who exactly are his connections?”
To at least some of protesters, Mr. Ali was less an inspiration than an opportunity to vent their frustrations.
“I protested because the way Sisi is ruling is wrong and disgraceful,” said Ali Mohamed, 19, a resident of the working-class Cairo neighborhood of Boulaq who live-streamed some of the Tahrir Square demonstrations on Friday. “Egypt deserves better than for its land to be sold out or for its people to be imprisoned.”
He added: “People were just waiting for the opportunity to protest — Mohamed Ali’s videos are not the real reason why they did. The reason is that people wanted to take action.”
On Saturday evening, about 200 protesters in the Red Sea city of Suez were met with police officers firing rubber bullets, according to posts on social media and a witness.
In Cairo, however, there did not appear to be any signs of further protests. On Saturday, the police pre-emptively flooded Tahrir Square, where mass demonstrations during the Arab Spring eight years ago brought down President Hosni Mubarak and raised hopes for democratic change.
The test of just how deep Mr. Ali’s influence is could come as soon as next week. In a video posted Saturday evening, Mr. Ali called for a new round of protests against Mr. el-Sisi to take place this coming Friday.
“We should stop making gods out of presidents,” he said in the video, exhorting the military to remove Mr. el-Sisi from power.
Though the police did not kill any protesters on Friday, the security forces have not hesitated to use deadly force in the past, and Mr. el-Sisi is likely to order a swift and thorough crackdown if the protests persist.
Since coming to power in a 2013 military takeover, Mr. el-Sisi has cemented his hold through harsh repression that has silenced critics and curtailed free speech.
An Egyptian monitoring group, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, said on Sunday that at least 274 people had been arrested at the protests, and that some demonstrators had reported being beaten and tear-gassed.
Given the gravity of the possible consequences, observers were stunned that protesters had dared to show up at all, apparently inspired by little more than a man with a webcam waging a campaign against Mr. el-Sisi from the safety of Spain.
But the Facebook videos Mr. Ali posts under the name “Mohamed Ali Secrets” have become must-see TV among young, social media-savvy Egyptians, who tune in every day or two to watch him talk to the camera, chain-smoking as he cheerfully insults Mr. el-Sisi as a “midget” and a “disgrace.” There have been at least 35 so far.
In working-class, colloquial and often potty-mouthed Arabic, he muses on the military’s growing domination of the Egyptian economy. He complains of being owed millions of dollars by the government for construction work. He accuses Mr. el-Sisi of wasting government funds on vanity projects like multimillion-dollar presidential palaces.
“The system has made us all corrupt,” he said in one video. “We are going to change that system and install a proper one.”
Mr. Ali’s gravel-voiced exposés have resonated with many Egyptians, who have watched Mr. el-Sisi erect enormous building projects while their own finances collapse. The government reported in July that one in three Egyptians were living in poverty.
The video monologues have been repeatedly taken down, under unclear circumstances, but not before accumulating millions of views. On Twitter, Egyptians joked that his episodes were better than Netflix.
Then last week, Mr. Ali called for viewers to take to the streets Friday evening after a soccer game between two popular Egyptian teams. That appeared to let loose hundreds of Egyptians — many of them young, working-class men — who participated in protests in a scattering of cities around the country, including in Tahrir Square and the poor neighborhood of Warraq Island in Cairo, as well as in Alexandria, Suez and El-Mahalla El-Kubra.
But beyond the fact that the protests erupted when Mr. Ali called for them, theories far outweighed the available information about his precise role. Some observers speculated that Mr. Ali may be a puppet controlled, at least in part, by another entity, possibly people in Mr. el-Sisi’s government who are seeking to undermine or even overthrow the president, who is out of the country attending the United Nations General Assembly this week.
“The entire thing is a little bit fishy,” said Khaled Dawoud, a longtime journalist and spokesman for one of Egypt’s all-but-defunct opposition parties. “He didn’t introduce himself as a politician. He’s more like a whistle-blower, and suddenly he decided to turn into a revolutionary leader.”
Others wondered whether the protests had truly been spontaneous, or if they had been orchestrated by opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that Mr. el-Sisi has sought to throttle ever since he came to power in a coup that deposed President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood who was also Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.
Mr. Dawoud said the opposition, which has lost much of its leadership to prison or self-imposed exile, was waiting to see how the protests evolved — and to identify who exactly was protesting — before jumping in.
Those who support the president say the Brotherhood is likely to be quietly organizing the protests. Though public opinion is difficult to gauge accurately in Egypt, they say many Egyptians support Mr. el-Sisi’s economic overhauls and the stability he has brought in a time of turmoil across the region.
“The trains go and run on time. We lacked that for two and a half years,” said Moataz Abdel Fattah, a pro-Sisi political scientist. “The great majority of Egyptians would say, ‘no, hold on, you cannot drive the country into some sort of waterfall.’”
Most protesters on Friday appeared to be young men in their teens or early 20s who were children during the upheavals of 2011 and 2013, when protests brought down two successive presidents.
Good-looking and fit, Mr. Ali may be seen as something of a folk hero, analysts said — an uneducated man who made millions and who is now riding to the rescue of the working classes. He does not speak like a democracy activist or a politician, but like one of them — or, perhaps, who they would like to be.
“He resonates with a wider sector of Egyptians in a way that no one before him ever did,” said Rabab el-Mahdi, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. “They look at him and see a successful version of themselves.”
It is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Ali exudes on-camera charisma. A movie in which he stars and also produced, about young Egyptians making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe, won the 2019 Outstanding Art for Peace prize at the Luxembourg Peace Prize awards in June.
But Mr. Ali’s motivations remain murky, as do his exact whereabouts in Spain. In an article published in the Spanish edition of Vanity Fair in July, he said that he decided to settle in Barcelona and pursue business projects there after a vacation in the area.
He could not be reached for comment.
His credibility with Egyptians is, if anything, greater because he profited from the very system to which he is now taking a sledgehammer, and because he does not seem motivated by ideology.
“He’s not a person from the opposition that seemed to have an ax to grind,” said Michele Dunne, the director of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “He’s seen as a bit of a common man, not an elite figure speaking to them about abstract elite concepts.”
Mr. el-Sisi may have helped legitimize Mr. Ali as an opposition figure with a recent speech in which he addressed but did not refute his claims.
“Yes, I have built presidential palaces, and will build more,” he said. “I will continue to do more and more, but not for me. Nothing is in my name. It is in Egypt’s name.”
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Ruth Pineda stood with her back to the mirror, the strap of her tank top tucked under her arm, revealing a new tattoo: a heart. Inside were three dolphins jumping over the sea at sunset.
“The big dolphin is me — the mom — and the two little ones are my sons,” she said.
With her tattoo complete after a three-hour session, Ms. Pineda studied the artwork etched into her skin with equal parts admiration and disbelief. The tattoo is her first, and a statement the 43-year-old schoolteacher has wanted to make for nearly 20 years, but never quite felt she could.
For decades, tattoos weren’t just unfashionable in religiously conservative Honduras. They were taboo, with a malevolent history as an identifying feature of deadly gangs like Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13, and the 18th Street gang, or Barrio 18.
Those gangs are two of the primary sources of the pervasive violence in the country that has sent so many migrants fleeing north.
Various tattooed signs and symbols indicated a gang member’s rank within his organization or what crimes he had committed. Other gang-related tattoos included images of the Virgin of Guadalupe; spider webs; three dots; barbed wire; and yin-yang symbols.
In the early 2000s, amid rising lawlessness across the country, the government of then-president Ricardo Maduro passed legislation that came down hard on criminal activity, banning any “illicit association” to gangs. Tattoos became a major police target, interpreted as proof that someone belonged to the likes of MS-13 or 18th Street.
To evade official scrutiny and incarceration, members stopped getting tattoos. Any they did get were inked in inconspicuous places.
But in recent years, tattoos have become more commonplace, slowly migrating from the underbelly of society to the bellies of ordinary citizens (and their arms, legs and backs), aided by their ubiquitous exposure in global pop culture.
“Things are changing now,” said Ms. Pineda, the schoolteacher. “More and more people are getting tattoos.”
In the capital, Tegucigalpa, it is easy these days to spot people with benign body art, depicting characters from their favorite books, quotes in elaborate cursive or animals crawling slyly across their flesh.
“People started seeing tattoos as a fashion trend to follow,” said Mei Lan Quan, one of the first female tattoo artists in Tegucigalpa.
Public figures, like soccer players and singers, started appearing on TV and in magazines with visible tattoos, and foreign visitors brought the tattoo culture with them. The reality television show, “Miami Ink,” popular here, made a big impression.
“It opened up a lot of minds here,” Ms. Quan said, referring to the show.
By claiming tattoos for themselves, everyday citizens are helping to normalize this form of creative expression. And their appeal is growing, tattoo artists say.
When Ms. Quan, who is known by her artist name, Elephanta Tattoo, opened her first shop in 2011, she had only five or six customers per week. Now, she tattoos six or seven people on a busy Saturday.
Her male clients tend to get illustrations of wolves, tigers and eagles. Women prefer infinity symbols, arrows, flowers, quotes or dates.
Most first-timers used to start off small, said Juan Carlos Pulido, a tattoo artist known as Fonty. But recently he has noticed that people are bolder at the outset, requesting large tattoos in more visible locations — forearms, calves and hands.
“People are getting bigger pieces than they did in the past,” he said.
Mr. Pulido, a 38-year-old from Nicaragua, has been living in Honduras for two-and-a-half years. He has tattoos covering most of his arms. When he first arrived, he said he almost never left them exposed. He lived in a gang-controlled area and was aware he could be linked to criminal activity.
Now, he feels more confident walking around with his arms uncovered.
“People are starting to see the difference of the artistic tattoos and the gang-related tattoos,” Mr. Pulido said.
For some, tattoos are a connection to a family separated by migration.
Jesus Martinez, a 27-year-old cook working in a small pizzeria in the capital, has an illustration of his mother’s headshot from her days as a model tattooed on the inside of his right forearm, stretching from his wrist to his elbow.
“It’s a way of introducing my mom to people,” Mr. Martinez said. She left for the United States when he was 2, and he didn’t see her again until he was 12. Now, they message by text every day. She still lives in the United States, and called for a video chat when he was getting his tattoo.
People do stare at him, Mr. Martinez conceded, because the stigma of tattoos hasn’t entirely gone away. But that doesn’t stop him from wearing a shortsleeve shirt.
His co-worker, Allison Lagos, 21, said she no longer harbored a prejudice against tattooed people as dangerous.
“Before working here, I was a little afraid of people with tattoos,” she said.
Despite these changing views, flaunting tattoos can still be a problem in the eyes of law enforcement and private security in stores.
Mr. Pulido said he has been stopped by the police and questioned about his tattoos. Ms. Quan added that she knew many people who had experienced similar run-ins.
“Society still has a long way to go,” Ms. Quan said.
In 2016, a famous Honduran musician, Ramsés Barrientos, made local headlines when he described the “harassment and discrimination” he had faced while shopping in a supermarket, where he was followed around by security.
“We still live in a country where tattooed people are frowned upon and judged,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
In addition to the remaining social disapproval, some Christians, especially members of older generations, view tattoos as a sin.
“In the eyes of God, it’s not proper to get a tattoo,” said Glenda Suazo, 49, an evangelical Christian who works in the Ministry of Health.
And yet even she isn’t immune to the allure of tattoos.
“Right now I have been having an internal struggle,” Ms. Suazo admitted. She pulled out her phone and pulled up photos of her dog, Puky, a cocker spaniel who died last August at age 15. She started to cry.
“I had Puky since she was 45 days old,” she said. “I’ve thought that I’d like to get a tattoo of her paw print.”
JERUSALEM — After 27 years of sitting out decisions on who should lead Israel, Arab lawmakers on Sunday recommended that Benny Gantz, the centrist former army chief, be given the first chance to form a government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a watershed assertion of political power.
Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed published on Sunday that the alliance’s 13 incoming lawmakers — the third-largest faction in the newly elected Parliament — had decided to recommend Mr. Gantz because it would “create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu.”
“It should be the end of his political career,” Mr. Odeh wrote.
The Arab lawmakers’ recommendation, which Mr. Odeh and other members of the Joint List delivered to President Reuven Rivlin in a face-to-face meeting Sunday evening, reflected Arab citizens’ impatience to integrate more fully into Israeli society and to have their concerns be given greater weight by Israeli lawmakers.
“There is no doubt a historic aspect to what we are doing now,” Mr. Odeh said in the meeting with the president, which was broadcast live.
Mr. Netanyahu and Likud responded furiously to the Joint List’s recommendation, continuing his anti-Arab campaign as if the election was yet to take place.
“There are now two options,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a video clip soon after the meeting between members of the Joint List and the president. “Either there will be a minority government that relies on those who reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and glorify terrorists who murder our soldiers and civilians, or there will be a broad national government.”
“I know what the answer is and so do you,” he continued, “which is why I will work as hard as I can to form a broad national unity government.”
There was no immediate word from Mr. Gantz or his Blue and White party.
The Joint List’s recommendation was a striking act of comeuppance for Mr. Netanyahu, who for years had rallied his right-wing supporters by inflaming anti-Arab sentiments. Before the Sept. 17 election, he accused Arab politicians of trying to steal the election and at one point accused them of wanting to “destroy us all.”
Israeli Arabs “have chosen to reject Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, and the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade,” Mr. Odeh wrote in the Op-Ed for The Times.
Still, Mr. Odeh wrote that the Joint List would not enter a government led by Mr. Gantz because he had not agreed to embrace its entire “equality agenda” — fighting violent crime in Arab cities, changing housing and planning laws to treat Arab and Jewish neighborhoods the same, improving Arabs’ access to hospitals, increasing pensions, preventing violence against women, incorporating Arab villages that lack water and electricity, resuming peace talks with the Palestinians and repealing the law passed last year that declared Israel the nation-state only of the Jewish people.
The last time Arab lawmakers recommended a prime minister was in 1992, when two Arab parties with a total of five seats in Parliament recommended Yitzhak Rabin, though they did not join his government.
“We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored,” Mr. Odeh wrote.
In the 1992 election, Mr. Rabin initially held a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset even without the Arab parties’ support, though he came to rely on it a year later after Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party, quit the government when Mr. Rabin signed the Oslo peace accords.
Mr. Odeh wrote that the decision to support Mr. Gantz was meant as “a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Palestinian citizens.”
Mr. Gantz narrowly edged the prime minister in the national election last Tuesday. Afterward, both candidates called for unity, but differed on how to achieve it.
The former army chief appears to lack a 61-seat majority even with the Joint List’s support. He emerged from the election with 57 seats, including those of allies on the left and the Joint List, compared with 55 seats for Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.
Avigdor Liberman, leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won eight seats, is in the position to be a kingmaker, but said on Sunday that he would not recommend any candidate. He said that Mr. Odeh and the Joint List were not merely political opponents, but “the enemies” and belonged in the “Parliament in Ramallah,” not in the Knesset.
Mr. Rivlin began hearing the recommendations of each major party Sunday evening and was to finish on Monday, before entrusting the task of forming a government to whichever candidate he believes has the best chance of being successful.
In remarks at the start of that process, Mr. Rivlin said the Israeli public wanted a unity government including both Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party and Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud.
On paper, the Joint List’s recommendation increases the chances that Mr. Rivlin will give Mr. Gantz the first crack at forming a government.
But analysts said the postelection imbroglio was far from resolved.
In deciding who is better placed to form a viable and stable coalition, Mr. Rivlin may take more than the basic numbers of recommendations into consideration, according to experts. He could, for example, take into account the Joint List’s refusal to join a Gantz-led government in weighing Mr. Gantz’s prospects.
The annual United Nations General Assembly will unfold this week against a backdrop of crises — from the warming planet to economic uncertainty to flaring conflicts that threaten to further entangle the United States in the volatile Middle East.
Trade wars, migration, energy supplies, climate change and the eradication of poverty underpin the basic themes of the 193-member General Assembly agenda. But the actions of the Trump administration, which has sometimes expressed disdain for international institutions like the United Nations, have created a common denominator.
“All of the major topics that I think people will be talking about in the corridors are related to: What is U.S. policy?” said Jeffrey D. Feltman, a veteran American diplomat and former United Nations under secretary-general for political affairs.
Some leaders are not coming, notably Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, as well as Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled prime minister of Israel. Also not expected is President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, regarded by the Trump administration and about 50 other governments as an illegitimate leader.
But one prominent figure, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, will attend. The Ukrainian leader plans to meet with President Trump amid growing concerns that the United States leader had pressured him over American domestic political issues.
There’s also the question of what governments, especially that of Pakistan, might say about India’s ending of the autonomous status of contested Kashmir. On Sunday, Mr. Trump appeared with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in Houston at a rally called “Howdy, Modi!”
Some of the biggest moments and confrontations could happen early in the week. Here is what to expect:
President Trump, whose penchant for bombast, scaremongering and diplomatic bombshells is well known, will be surrounded by like-minded company on Tuesday when the speeches begin.
Mr. Trump will be preceded by President Jair M. Bolsonaro of Brazil, sometimes called the mini-Trump, a polarizing figure at home who, like Mr. Trump, dismisses fears about climate change and ridicules critics on Twitter.
After Mr. Trump comes President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, the former general who has come to symbolize the repression of the Arab Spring revolutions — although his appearance was thrown into doubt this past weekend as protests erupted at home. Then comes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, an autocrat who has bullied critics and whose government is a leading jailer of journalists.
Until recently, speculation abounded that Mr. Trump would make history by meeting with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. But the Sept. 14 attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which American and Saudi officials blame on Iran, has made such a meeting unlikely at best.
American officials are expected to present what they have described as evidence that Iran carried out the attack with drones and cruise missiles. Iran has denied the accusation. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran in their fight against a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing their country for more than four years, have claimed responsibility.
Mr. Rouhani speaks on Wednesday, and he will almost certainly assert that Mr. Trump ignited the cycle of conflict by withdrawing last year from the 2015 nuclear agreement with major powers and reimposing onerous sanctions that are crippling its economy.
The United States is trying to build a coalition to deter Iran, even if it is unclear what form such deterrence would take. The General Assembly gives the administration an opportunity to “continue to slow walk a military response in favor of more coalition-building and political and economic pressure,” said Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The climate crisis is at the top of the General Assembly’s agenda. About 60 heads of state plan to speak at the Climate Action Summit on Monday, and officials aim to announce initiatives that include net-zero carbon emissions in buildings.
The United States has no such plans — Mr. Trump announced in 2017 that he was withdrawing the country from the Paris Agreement on climate change. But some state governors who have formed the United States Climate Alliance said they would attend the summit and meet with other delegations.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was expected to meet with his Chinese counterparts on the sidelines, suggesting that the administration was seeking to create a more productive atmosphere for resumed trade negotiations after weeks of acrimony. The two governments recently paused their escalating tariff battle.
But some administration officials are pushing for Mr. Trump to address other issues considered sensitive by China, including the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the repression of Tibetans and the detentions of more than one million Muslims, mostly ethnic Uighurs. One official said Mr. Trump should at least criticize China for trying to intimidate Uighur-American activists.
Mr. Trump has never spoken strongly about human rights, and he has openly expressed admiration for Mr. Xi and other authoritarian leaders. But lawmakers in both parties of Congress are pressuring Mr. Trump to act. Bills on the Uighurs, Tibet and Hong Kong are aimed at compelling Mr. Trump and the administration to take harder stands.
A protracted feud between Japan and South Korea, rooted in the legacy of Japan’s wartime occupation, has led to downgraded trade relations and the end of an intelligence-sharing agreement. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea are not expected to meet with each other. Whether Mr. Trump can induce them into a three-way conversation remains unclear. And an objective shared by all three — North Korea’s nuclear disarmament — may see little or no progress.
While Mr. Moon is expected to urge Mr. Trump to renew his push for diplomacy with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, no senior North Korean official plans to attend the General Assembly.
Foreign ministers from 18 nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, planned to meet on Monday to discuss what can be done regarding Mr. Maduro, who has presided over the biggest economic collapse in Venezuela’s history and a regional crisis caused by the exodus of millions of his people.
The push will focus on convincing the European Union to expand economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s loyalists, including freezing assets they have in Europe. The Europeans may also be pressed to penalize smugglers of Venezuelan gold into Europe.
Mr. Maduro, who claimed victory in disputed elections last fall, has retained power despite nine months of demands to resign by a stubborn opposition movement led by the president of Venezuela’s Parliament, Juan Guaidó. Negotiations between the Venezuelan rivals collapsed last week.
Mr. Trump and President Erdogan are expected to meet on the sidelines, but the outcome is unclear at best. A range of difficult issues has pit their governments against each other.
The Trump administration is considering sanctions to punish Turkey, a fellow NATO member, for buying a Russian S-400 missile defense system instead of American-made Patriots. And Mr. Erdogan has expressed growing anger at the United States over their joint operations in the northern part of war-ravaged Syria that borders Turkey.
He says the Americans have failed to establish a safe zone large enough to keep Kurdish fighters out of Turkey, which regards them as terrorist insurgents. On Saturday, Mr. Erdogan warned that his forces would take “unilateral actions” along the border if the United States did not act by the end of the month.
Someone has to speak last in the list of national delegations addressing the General Assembly. This year, that place falls to Afghanistan, just a few weeks after the collapse of talks between the Taliban and the United States that were aimed at ending the 18-year-old war.
With national elections slated for next Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani was not expected to attend. Instead, Afghanistan’s delegation will be led by Hamdullah Mohib, Mr. Ashraf’s national security adviser.
Mr. Mohib infuriated the Trump administration in March, when he predicted the peace talks would not end in peace.
HONG KONG — The Hong Kong police arrested two 13-year-olds on the fringes of antigovernment demonstrations over the weekend, including a girl accused of burning a Chinese national flag, the authorities said on Sunday.
The arrests on Saturday appear to be further signals that the local police are taking an increasingly hard line against the pro-democracy demonstrators who have roiled the city for three and a half months.
Protesters have taken to destroying symbols of Chinese state authority, including flags, in recent months, but the latest arrest comes less than two weeks before Oct. 1, the foremost political holiday in the Chinese calendar and one which Beijing takes pains to ensure is celebrated without incident.
The arrests came amid another weekend of protests across the city, and vandalism at several subway stations and shopping malls. Protesters at a mall in northern Hong Kong stomped on and painted a Chinese flag, and heckled businesses that they perceived to be friendly to Beijing.
The two minors were arrested on Saturday during a long day of street clashes in which protesters threw bricks and firebombs and the police fired multiple rounds of tear gas in Yuen Long, a satellite town near Hong Kong’s border with the Chinese mainland.
The police said protesters had at one point on Saturday used “hard objects” to attack an officer who was conducting an arrest and attempted to steal his revolver. Television footage from Yuen Long also showed protesters assaulting at least two unarmed men.
A group of masked protesters was seen burning a Chinese flag in broad daylight on Saturday during a police-approved march through the Tuen Mun district of northwestern Hong Kong, a few miles from Yuen Long. The police later said that a 13-year-old girl had been arrested that night on suspicion of “desecrating the national flag” in Tuen Mun.
She was held in detention overnight and released on bail by Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, local television news stations broadcast protesters stomping on a Chinese flag and spraying it with black paint before dumping it in a river during a pro-democracy rally at a shopping mall in the Sha Tin neighborhood in northern Hong Kong.
A local ordinance says that people convicted of desecrating the Chinese flag in Hong Kong by “publicly and willfully burning, mutilating, scrawling on, defiling or trampling on it” face a fine of nearly $6,400 and imprisonment for up to three years.
Under Hong Kong law, children are defined as being under 14 years of age. Those 10 or older can be found guilty of committing crimes, but no one younger than 14 can be sentenced to prison.
The Oct. 1 holiday will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China under the Communist Party. Beijing does not want anything to mar the occasion, but the protesters plan to do just that. They have called for a day of protests to pressure the local government to meet their demands for political reforms, police accountability and universal suffrage.
The protesters are also venting anger with what they see as the steady erosion of the freedoms that Hong Kongers enjoy under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that has governed the former British colony since its return to Chinese control in 1997.
At a National Day reception on Sunday, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, pledged that her government would do its best to stop the “continuous violence” that has gripped the city over the past few months.
“As long as everyone is united and strives to become stronger, I believe that with the strong support of the central government, Hong Kong will surely welcome a better tomorrow,” Mrs. Lam said at the reception, which was hosted by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, a pro-Beijing group.
Also on Sunday, the police said that they had also arrested a 13-year-old boy on Saturday in the Tseung Kwan O neighborhood of eastern Hong Kong. The boy was arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly and of possessing “instruments fit for unlawful purposes.”
In a statement, the police said the boy had been carrying spray-paint and “laser guns,” the authorities’ term for the laser pens that many protesters have used this summer to annoy officers.
Edith Leung, an officer in one of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy political parties, posted a video on Facebook that she said showed the boy being led away by police. The footage shows police leading away a boy — who wears a white T-shirt black shorts and sneakers — as bystanders shout “Corrupt cops!”
Ryan Ho, 20, a university student who attended a protest in Hong Kong on Sunday, said that in his experience, Hong Kong police officers tend to "snatch” a disproportionate number of younger people, especially secondary school students, while making arrests at protests.
“It just so happens that they are more vulnerable and less resistant,” he said.
SANTIAGO, Chile — The United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, who earlier this month came under personal attack from Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, says she feels “sorry for Brazil,” according to a Chilean media report published on Sunday.
Mr. Bolsonaro had accused Ms. Bachelet of “meddling” in Brazil’s affairs after she raised concerns about a jump in killings by the Rio de Janeiro police, backtracking on democratic norms and attacks on indigenous communities.
He also took personal aim at Ms. Bachelet, who was formerly Chile’s president, saying the only reason her country didn’t turn into Cuba was “thanks to those who had the courage to put a stop to the left in 1973.”
Mr. Bolsonaro was alluding to the socialist president, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a 1973 military coup, as well as to Ms. Bachelet’s father, an air force general who remained loyal to Mr. Allende, and who was imprisoned and tortured, dying in jail.
In La Tercera, a Chilean newspaper, which provided extracts of Ms. Bachelet’s interview with Chilean national television scheduled to broadcast on Sunday evening, she was quoted as saying, “I was asked in a news conference about the situation in Brazil, and we gave the information that we have, which is the number of people who have been killed and the difficulty for civil society to continue doing the things they were doing before.”
Asked specifically about Mr. Bolsonaro’s remarks, she alluded to Brazil’s own military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985, which Mr. Bolsonaro has praised as “glorious.”
“How I take things depends on who is saying them,” Ms. Bachelet said. “So if someone is saying that their country has never been under dictatorship, that there has never been any torture there.” She continued, “Well then let him say that the death of my father by torture ensured that Chile did not become Cuba. The truth is that I feel sorry for Brazil.”
Ms. Bachelet’s office did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.