Uncategorized Archives — CANVAS

Weekly Report 10 August 2018

Students protest in the streets of the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, in response to a lack of government enforcement for traffic regulations. (MediaOne, India) Syria On Sunday, the scientist suspected to be the head of Syria’s chemical weapons program was killed in a car bombing. Pro-government outlets described the attack as an assassination. On Wednesday, the New York Times corroborated this to an extent, describing his death as the result of a targeted assassination by the Israeli spy agency Mossad. At least one Druze hostage abducted from the Sweida province in Syria last week has been confirmed to be executed. Videos of the victim were sent to his family in Sweida. The Druze, a religious minority, practice a secretive faith that is seen as an offshoot of Islam. They make up approximately 3% of the Syrian population. They have been targeted by the Islamic State, which views them as heretics. The wife of Junpei Yasuda, a Japanese journalist who was recently discovered to be in the captivity of the Islamic State, made a broad appeal for the return of her husband, safe and sound. Yasuda is only one of the latest of many journalists targeted in Syria by the Islamic State; various journalists of many different nationalities have been kidnapped and even killed by the Islamic State. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 122 journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict. Bolivia On Monday, over 25 opposition groups took to the streets of Potosi, a colonial city with historical importance to Bolivia, in order to protest the government’s continued practice of ignoring the...

Weekly Report: 6 July 2018

Supporters of President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gathered in Mexico City after the Sunday election. Reuters, Goran Tomasevic. Syria The Assad government’s offensives in Deraa province have intensified, and the regime now controls most of the region just two weeks after initial attacks. Jordan has diplomatically intervened, sparking a new round of negotiations between Russia and the rebels in the southwestern region. However, these efforts have been unsuccessful in bringing safety to Deraa province’s 800,000 civilians. In response, Jordanians have been working to supply aid to the Deraa refugees. Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon are continuing their return, with uncertainty and cautious hope. The US’s stance on Syria took a sharp turn this week. US National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that President Trump is not opposed to the reinstatement of Assad’s regime. In return, the US hopes to have Russia’s help in removing Iran from Syria. Trump and Russian Premier Vladimir Putin are scheduled to discuss this issue on July 16th. Similarly, Israel, also sensing that Assad’s complete takeover is imminent, has demanded Iranian withdrawal from the country. Furthermore, Israel has ramped up its military presence in the Golan Heights frontier, and occupation near its border with Syria. These actions raise questions about the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, its role in providing humanitarian aid, as well as its alleged neutrality in the conflict despite the numerous airstrikes it has carried out. Iraq, on the other hand, has started constructing a fence along the Iraq-Syria border to keep ISIL members out.   Nicaragua This week, new reports place the death toll in Nicaragua...

Weekly Report: May 4 2018

Photo: Demonstrators protest against the construction of a government housing project on the forested land around Doi Suthep mountain. Watcharapong Jingkaujai/AFP/Getty Images. Zimbabwe Following the primaries held on Sunday and Monday, ruling party ZANU-PF lost several major nominations. The elections faced irregularities and disorganization that resulted in delayed or annulled results in some parts of the country. President Mnangagwa has acknowledged complaints that police had been present in organizing the voting process, and he said that the practice is illegal. In a letter, the president’s special advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa, has claimed the elections had been rigged by senior party officials with the use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. In other news, Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said that Chinese investors are stripping the country of its resources and that, should he win the July elections, any deals will be terminated. China is Zimbabwe’s largest source of investment and its fourth largest trading partner. Chamisa took over as a leader of MDC after deceased Morgan Tsvangirai in February this year. Zimbabwe is now the second African country after Lesotho to have legalized the production of marijuana for medical and scientific use. North & South Korea The nations have together decided to compete as one team at the World Team Table Tennis Championships. Both countries had qualified and planned to play independently in the quarterfinal round, where they were matched against each other. On Thursday, however, they announced that they would both skip the quarterfinals and advance directly to the semifinal round together as one unified team. Earlier this week, there were some other symbolic...

Weekly Report: April 13 2018

Photo: Women at the memorial of Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The Guardian. Syria Russia reports that Syrian forces have retaken Eastern Ghouta, the heavily besieged suburb of Damascus. This means that now, Assad’s power is the most secure it has been since the start of the Syrian civil war. Furthermore, while this is a victory against extreme rebel groups that have held the territory for years, it comes at an immensely high cost. The UN refugee agency reported this week that more than 133,000 have fled Eastern Ghouta since the escalation of this siege. Moreover, the Assad government is again accused of using chemical weapons in its attempts to retake this area. While the use is thus far unconfirmed officially, it is strongly substantiated. 500 people in Eastern Ghouta have demonstrated symptoms consistent with chemical attacks; residents reported hearing things falling from the sky, leaving strange smells; videos coming out show people sprawled on the floors of their homes, killed by apparent suffocation; of 70 killed while taking shelter in basements, 43 showed signs of “highly toxic chemicals” according to the World Health Organization. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog, is on its way to Syria to investigate and uncover whether chemical weapons were used, and if so, to find out what was the nature of the attack. Many governments in the West have expressed abhorrence over the chemical attacks, generally agreeing on the need for action, and in some cases threatening a military response. Assad has, however, both denied the use of chemical weapons and warned these governments against intervention of any kind. “Any...

World’s Longest-Jailed Journalist Freed in Uzbekistan, but Media Struggle Continues

Photo: Shamil Zhumatov. Reuters. Via The Committee to Protect Journalists. It has recently been announced that the longest-jailed journalist in the world is free. After 19 years, Uzbekistan has released Yusuf Ruzimuradov, now 64 years old. The journalist had originally been detained for his work at an independent newspaper called Erk, or Freedom. The government, seeing this paper and its writers as a political threat, arrested Ruzimuradov and his editor, Muhammad Bekjanov. Both reporters were sentenced originally to 15 years in prison after a sham trial that convicted them for publishing and distributing a banned newspaper, which by extension was considered part of an attempt to overthrow the government. Those sentences were arbitrarily extended in the prisons until finally both journalists were recently released. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has confirmed that Ruzimuradov was freed in late February, even though the news is only just emerging. The organization sees this as a definite victory, but is not consumed merely by celebration. “Today, we can breathe a sigh of relief that Yusuf Ruzimuradov–the longest imprisoned journalist in the world–has finally been released in #Uzbekistan, but we remain outraged at the grave injustice that robbed him of 19 years of his life,” the CPJ tweeted. The organization is calling further on the Uzbek government to release the other journalists still being held as political prisoners. Two such trials are set to begin sometime this week. Yet one of the journalists on trial, Bobomurod Abdullaev, has had his court date postponed after undergoing harsh torture inside the Uzbek prison. The independent journalists concerned have been charged with “conspiracy to overthrow the...

Bonn Protests at COP23 – How do mass-protests cause change?

Photograph: People march during a demonstration under the banner “Protect the climate – stop coal” two days before the start of the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji but held in Bonn, Germany November 4, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Published on 07/11/2017 A smartphone without an operating system. Or a brand-new car without the road-network to drive it on. The 2015 landmark Paris agreement at COP21 delivered the first truly global deal to tackle climate change, but national action needs to be significantly toughened to meet the goal of keeping global temperature rise on the low. That is why half of the world moves to Bonn this week. Where the Paris agreement set out principles, the 23rd annual ‘conference of the parties’ (COP23) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is looking to build structures and rules that will enable the Paris deal to work.  With all the world-leaders and influencers in the field of climate in one place, Bonn seems to be the place where everybody wants to show their stance. As the COP23 Climate Summit has started on Monday, several activist groups and protesters have tried to make their mark. Over the weekend, thousands of people had gathered in Bonn ahead of Summit, calling for the measures set out in the accord to be implemented faster. For Germany specifically, this means a move away from coal to renewable resources. More protests were staged in the nearby town of Kerpen on Sunday.   Early July, we have seen similar forms occurring, with mass protests surrounding the G20-Summit in Hamburg. In most recent years the G20 has caused mass protest in the host-city. And also the 2015 Paris based COP21 saw thousands defy a protest ban to call for climate action. Where the nature and goals of these protests differed from those...