February 2018 — CANVAS

EDSA Commemoration Reminds the Country and President of the Strength of the People

Photo: Various groups stage a rally at the People Power Monument on February 24, 2018 to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA Revolution. Rappler Sunday, February 25th marked the 32nd anniversary of the Philippine People Power Revolution: EDSA. In 1986, civil resistance against the rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos was championed by both civilians and the military and backed by the Catholic church, leading to the ousting of Marcos. The 2018 government celebrations coincided with protests by civic groups, the official wreath laying and flag raising ceremony alongside flowers and candles honoring martial law martyrs. Filipinos, with more than a century of recorded street protest starting with  one staged by the first workers’ union in the country in 1903, monitor the state of democracy in their country, prepared to defend their liberty and rights. On February 20, 1986, Marcos proclaimed himself the victor of a snap election. On the same day, Corazon Aquino called for civil disobedience and the boycott of Marcos’ cronies’ companies. The stocks of those companies fell the next day as two million people took up her cause. Marcos responded by threatening to reinstate martial law if Aquino led a nationwide strike, and by coordinating his own mass demonstration of support in return. Reports would later claim that over ten million pesos had been reserved to pay “supporters” to attend this rally in Marcos’ honor. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile announced two days later his defection from Marcos. He was joined by Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos, and other military personnel followed suit. The Catholic Church announced its support and urged people via radio...

Weekly Report: 23 February 2018

Photo: Students demonstrate in the US capital, using a lie-in to protest for stricter gun laws and honor the victims of school shootings. Honduras Juan Jiménez Mayor, leader of an anti-corruption panel in Honduras, has resigned as a result of “rising hostility from the Honduran government” toward him and his group of prosecutors. His resignation was accompanied by the resignations of the panel’s top prosecutor, Julio Arbizu, and of Chilean judge Daniel Urrutia. The efforts to block the panel, which included threats, freezing proposed legislation to protect witnesses,  and stalling the enforcement of new campaign finance laws, are the “beginning of a political offensive against the fundamental pillars that are against corruption in Honduras,” says director of the National Anti-Corruption Council Gabriela Castellanos. CANVAS’ News Transparency international has released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. This year’s report shows that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption. The index found that New Zealand and Denmark rank highest, in other words least corrupt, while Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest. The ‘Mass Shooting Generation’: Children, born after the Columbine attack in 1999, that have grown up in a world that treats gun violence at schools like an unfortunate fact of life. But now they’re growing up, finding their voices, and in light of recent incidents, they’re making themselves heard. Mexico The three main presidential candidates have formally accepted their nominations. For the first time in modern Mexican political history, three independent candidates from outside the traditional parties are ready to enter the competition too, pending ratification by electoral authorities. Each party candidate held a rally...

Weekly Report: 16 February 2018

Photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town (Reuters) Syria It has been reiterated numerous times over the course of the week that the Syrian people alone are the only ones to determine the future of their country, reinforcing Syria’s sovereignty and reaffirming Syria’s commitment to the final statement of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Continuing aggressions by Turkey and Israel bombard Syria, causing countless injuries and claiming several civilian lives. The UN Secretary-General “has called for an immediate de-escalation in Syria after Israeli recent aggression on Syrian territories.” In commemoration of the 36th anniversary of the open strike announced in 1982 against the Israeli occupation, authorities and their decision to annex Golan and impose the Israeli laws and “identity” on its Syrian citizens, locals of the occupied Syrian Golan gathered on Wednesday. “The Syrian people in the occupied Golan have always renewed their deep attachment to homeland and commitment to the Syrian identity, undaunted by repressive Israeli measures”. Syrian Arab News Agency [SANA] (Continued Aggressions) | SANA (Call For Immediate De-Escalation) | SANA (Terrorism) | SANA (Syrian Golan) USA The United States was shaken this week by a devastating shooting at a Florida high school. A 19-year-old gunman killed 17 and injured an unknown number of people. This is the 239th school shooting since the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 in 2012, but also the deadliest in this time frame. President Trump has called the shooter “mentally disturbed,” evoking the sentiment that the shooting is a result of poor mental health infrastructure in the United...

The Powerful Voice of the ‘Mass Shooting Generation’

Photo: Students stage a ‘lie-in’ in front of the White House to demonstrate against gun violence. NY Daily News. 19 years ago, the shooting at Columbine High School shook the US to its core and permanently changed the educational experience of American students. On that day, two armed students killed 13 people and injured more than 20, making it one of the most horrific and deadly shootings in the nation’s history. In the 19 years since, there have been so many more mass shootings in the US that the Columbine attack is no longer even among the top 10 deadliest in modern American history. In fact, five of these most fatal attacks have occurred just within the past year and a half. Breaking news no longer delivers the shock that it once did. Although always heartbroken, many Americans have long since stopped asking how something like this could happen. There is a new emerging set of voices, however, that will not so easily be quieted by the usual political “thoughts and prayers” rhetoric. The high school students of today, a demographic born within the past 19 years, have grown up in a world that treats gun violence at schools like an unfortunate fact of life. Some are calling them the ‘Mass Shooting Generation.’ From the time they entered school, they were put through active shooter drills and made to practice lockdowns, silently huddled together on the floor in the darkest corner of a classroom. Now, these students are reaching adulthood, finding their political voices, and, in the wake of the Florida shooting, speaking out. Above all else, they want...

Weekly Report: 09 February 2018

Photo: “Thousands of citizens took to the streets of Afrin [Syria] to denounce the Turkish aggression on their city.” (Syrian Arab News Agency) Democratic Republic of Congo This week, the Congolese government has ordered former colonizer Belgium to close its consulate and cut off flights from Brussels. This came as a result of worsening relations between the two nations since the Belgian government terminated all cooperation on projects in the former Central African colony over human rights and security concerns. However, “the Belgian government has redirected €25m allocated for such projects to non-government organizations working on humanitarian aid in the country.” Ethnic violence between the Hema and Lendu has erupted in northeastern DRC, taking the lives of more than 24 people and leaving hundreds of homes burned to the ground. Meanwhile, the US has slapped sanctions on Congolese General Muhindo Akili Mundos and rebel leaders Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, Guidon Shimiray Mwissa, and Lucien Nzabamwita for “contributing to widespread poverty, chronic food insecurity, and population displacement”. These are the same four men that the UN Security Council sanctioned last week for human rights violations. As conflicts persist in the DRC, rampant militia groups “have recruited at least 585 children for use as fighters or human shields in the war afflicting in Kasai regions.” In addition to the recruitment, humanitarian organizations disclosed that at least 120 children have been abducted and abused and another 350 have lost track of their families, classifying them as unaccompanied. Consequently, over 8,000 Congolese have fled to neighboring countries Burundi and Tanzania over the past week, following military operations to rid eastern DRC of the various militia...