At least 10,721 people died in eight widely covered incidents around the world in 2014. The fate of another 300 is not yet known. This is without including the thousands killed, maimed and raped by the devils of the Islamic State. The year began with an epidemic – Ebola – and ended with the deaths of innocent schoolchildren at the hands of terrorists in a country blamed for harbouring them. We hope…no, we pray that no lives will be lost in 2015 and, even if this may sound absurd, that Islamic State sympathisers understand the difference between Islam and terrorism.
The largest ever outbreak of the disease in history, the Ebola virus started spreading its tentacles in Guinea, West Africa, at the end of 2013. It reared its head in neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone by 2014, when it assumed a threat of epic proportions.
As of December 22, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) and respective governments have reported a total of 19,374 suspected cases and 7,533 deaths. Ebola healthcare workers were collectively named the Person of the Year by Time magazine in December.
The 22nd version of the Winter Olympics was not in the news for the medals but for all the wrong reasons. Russia’s anti-gay stand coupled with glaring examples of mismanagement was widely covered and shared across social media. Even the opening ceremony left the Russian apparatchiks red-faced when one of the five Olympic rings malfunctioned.
Favouring closer ties with Moscow, then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s chose to backtrack on a planned EU integration of Ukraine sparking violent protests centred around Kiev’s Malden Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”). It ended with Yanukovych fleeing the country on February 21; he was subsequently removed from his post a day later, and slapped with charges of “mass killing of civilians”.
The mystery that continues to baffle the entire world and, perhaps, is the most potent example against human technological advancement. Traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Malaysia Airline flight 370 vanished on Saturday, March 8, with 239 people on board.
The search for the plane encompassed a geographic area that covered the entire South China Sea and the Indian Ocean besides land area upto Kazakhstan – the largest in aviation history. The debris of the plane is yet to be discovered despite the involvement of the armed forces of 16 countries. This has given birth to a theory that the US, which has a military base in the region of the plane’s disappearance, may have shot it down.
Situation in Ukraine deteriorated and turned into a civil-war-like conflict when Russia got involved in the Crimean region of the country, around the Black Sea. What followed was a separatist movement in Crimea with Sergey Aksyonov declaring himself to be Crimea’s new Prime Minister. Moscow deployed troops and armour and by March 21 Crimea was cut off from Ukraine and totally under Russian control.
The biggest ever elections in the history of the world’s largest democracy ended with the emergence of opposition party BJP’s Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister. The nine phase election saw around 815 million Indians registering to vote. The massive turnout was a reflection of the public anger at the then ruling Congress-led UPA government’s failure in leading and governing the country on multiple fronts.
Around 276 schoolgirls were abducted by Islamic militant group Boko Haram from the Chibok village in Nigeria. The incident sparked global outrage with many countries offering help in locating the missing girls and eradicate the Boko Haram. Unfortunately, only those girls who managed to flee their captors have returned. The fate of the rest remains unknown. #BringBackOurGirls became the demand of aggrieved Nigerian families; it was shared by US First Lady Michelle Obama, too.
The MV Sewol sank on the morning of April 16 while travelling from Incheon to the Jeju island. Of the 476 passengers, 304 were killed – a large majority of them secondary school children. It was found during investigations that the children were ordered to remain in their cabins, while the captain, Lee Jun-seok, and 14 of his crew escaped. On November 11, a court sentenced the captain to 36 years in prison for gross negligence.
On May 22 Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chanecha launched a coup against the politically-troubled caretaker government of Thailand. Temporarily imposing martial law, the General fashioned himself as the prime minister with sweeping powers. The junta censored the broadcasting system in Thailand, repealed the constitution, and arrested members of the Thai cabinet.
The anniversary was not marked anywhere in China but thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park In Hong Kong on Wednesday, June 4 to observe the day when Chinese military crushed the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square that resulted In the deaths of an estimated 2,500 demonstrators.
On June 29, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (or Levant) – the world’s most brutal and bestial terror group – proclaimed a caliphate after shortening its name to just ‘Islamic State’, and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi named himself caliph.
The terror world of the Islamic State continues to grow; its control over a vast portion of both Syria and Iraq remains as it mercilessly goes on killing its captors, (beheading a few), raping women of the captive minority communities, and reintroducing sexual slavery.
On 8 July 2014, Israel launched a military operation (Operation Protective Edge) in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by two Hamas members. Hamas fired 40 rockets from Gaza towards Israel. Thereafter, seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority of them Gazans.
The last gasp score in extra time by attacking midfielder Mario Götze against Lionel Messi-led Argentina secured the 2014 FIFA World Cup for Germany, their fourth.
The confrontation between forces loyal to Kiev and pro-Russia separatists escalates in Ukraine. On July 17, pro-Russia separatists ‘accidentally’ shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, as it travelled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, in the Ukrainian town of Torn, killing all 298 on board.
This was the case that tore apart US on racial lines. On August 9, a police officer fatally shoots an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, igniting racial tensions in the United States, leading to civil unrest, looting and riots. Following an investigation into the events surrounding the shooting by of Darren Wilson, a Grand Jury announces on November 24 they will not be pursuing a criminal investigation against the police officer, triggering more protests across 170 US cities.
Although protests in Hong Kong against the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts at subverting democracy had started in 2013, it gained prominence in September 2014. Thousands of demonstrators, largely youth, took to the streets of Hong Kong demanding reform and advocating peaceful civil disobedience. Dubbed the Umbrella Revolution, the demonstrators brought the centre of the city to a standstill. The protests have been relatively peaceful, but the protests waned down by December with clear signs that China had the upper hand.
Oscar Pistorius Is seen weeping In the Pretoria High Court on September 11, during his trial for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeve Steenkamp. After a highly-publicised trial South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide and a firearms charge on September 12. He was sentenced to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
In a once-in-a-generation vote, Scots chose to remain a part of the United Kingdom on September 18, allowing David Cameron a breather. The run up to the referendum, during which both ‘Yes’ (pro-independence) and ‘No’ campaigners participated in heated debates, was intently watched internationally.
“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism” – this is how the significance of the greater cause espoused by Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi was highlighted. They were jointly given the Nobel Peace Prize later on December 10.
After shooting dead soldier Nathan Cirillo, a guard on duty at the National War Memorial in Canada, Michael Zehaf-Blbeau charges Into the Canadian Parliament building and exchanges gunfire with security forces. He was quickly shot dead by Sergeant-in-Arms Kevin Vickers.
Almost 13 years after 9/11, the newly created 104 story One World Trade Center officially opened on November 3. It cost $3.9 billion and is reportedly at 60% occupancy.
Launched in 2004, the Rosetta space probe made history by deploying and landing a mini-spacecraft on the surface of a comet. Travelling at a speed of 135,000 km/h, the European Space Agency likened the landing on comet 67P/Churyumov–GerasImenko to, ‘landing a washing machine on a speeding bullet’.
On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Protests followed that snowballed into a nationwide demonstration against the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto (protestors set fire to the door of his ceremonial palace). Such demonstrations were rare in a country beset by violence.
In a horrendous display of bestiality, seven members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) conducted a terror attack on the Army Public School in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on December 16. They killed 145 people, of which 132 were schoolchildren, ranging between eight and eighteen years of age. A Pakistani army operation rescued 960 people and killed the terrorists. The violence was so abominable that many countries from around the world, including India, not only condemned it but also expressed outrage.