Weekly Reports — CANVAS

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CANVAS produces a weekly report on several countries where nonviolent resistance can play an important role in confronting challenges to democracy, including Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Syria, the United States, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

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Weekly Report: 9 November 2018

A boat of Rohingya refugees fleeing the threat of repatriation, seeking better fortune in Malaysia. (Reuters)

Syria

A UN convoy which was supposed to reach the Rukban desert camp last week has finally arrived. There are near 50,000 stranded Syrian refugees in the camp, 80% being women and children. The area is controlled by Syria’s army and is nearby a U.S backed rebel-base. After joined efforts between the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Saturday, 78 trucks containing food, medical supplies, and hygiene kits arrived.

On Thursday, 19 people who have been held hostage by IS since a July 25th attack, have finally been freed. On July 25th of this year, 30 people were kidnapped by IS when they raided the Sweida province. That same day, the militant group killed 216 people in the region. Of the 30 people kidnapped, 19 were released. Syrian troops liberated the 19 women and children, and in exchange, IS received a monetary payment and women related to IS militants who were being held hostage by the Syrian army.

Bolivia

On December 6th of this year, eight departments of the country will hold a strike in solidarity against Evo Morales. Although, the president of the Association of Municipalities of Santa Cruz (Amdecruz) admitted that the mayors of his municipality will not be taking part in the strikeJorge Tuto Quiroga, the former president between 2001-2002 strongly warned the TSE that if they try to illegally enable Evo Morales and vice president Linera in the 2019 elections, they will face trials and jail time. Quiroga stated that the members of the TSE cannot simply ignore the Political Constitution of the State.

On Wednesday, officials from Bolivia and Paraguay met to discuss building a bi-national pipeline, the installation of gas networks, selling LPG to Paraguay, and exploration into hydrocarbons. At the meeting, they signed a memorandum which established an open negotiation between the two countries for further developments.  

Nicaragua

On Friday, November 2nd, seventeen people were arrested by the Sandinista police. The reason for the arrest is considered “ridiculous” given, those arrested were imprisoned for using the colors of blue and white during a visit to a gravesite in order to honor their loved ones. The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) reported more than 100 officers inside and around the gravesite.

While civic resistance continues to remain strong against Ortega and the Sandinista government, the United States is helping to make economic and diplomatic means difficult for the Nicaraguan government. This month, the United States imposed a law called “Global Magnitsky” which would punish Ortega by removing visas and financial restrictions of members of Ortega’s government who have helped to commit crimes and violate human rights. This will likely put pressure on Ortega to hold an early election or force him to negotiate for an internationally supervised election.

While Daniel Ortega has only registered 273 political prisoners, the Blue and White National Unity claims that there are a total of 552 people imprisoned. Ortega’s government continues to deny allegations of the number of prisoners and their poor treatment. The government is treating the prisoners as “terrorist and coup prisoners”.

Between November 9-11th, a meeting will be held in Washington to discuss the ongoing crisis in Nicaragua. Members from civil society organizations, the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development, among others, will attend. The meeting will be led by the Nicaraguan Freedom Coalition and will pose as a platform to unite different groups in the country to discuss the crisis. The goal is to not only bring international awareness to Ortega’s government but also to return democracy to Nicaragua by adopting a resolution.

Beginning Thursday, any Nicaraguan with a refugee application card who is currently residing in Costa Rica may apply for a work permit. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), between January and September of this year, more than 52,000 Nicaraguans who have entered Costa Rica have remained in their territory and at least 40,000 of them have articulated a need for protection from Costa Rica.

North Korea

A report released by Human Rights Watch this week revealed that sexual abuse against women is widespread, especially abuse enacted by officials. According to this report, which was compiled from individual testimonies from over sixty North Korean defectors, sexual abuse and assault are so common that many women believe it is a part of everyday life.

During a visit by Cuba’s president, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s official portrait was unveiled next to a portrait of Cuba’s president. The unveiling of this portrait is significant – it signifies that Kim is being seen as a leader in his own right instead of simply a successor to his father. Kim’s reputation as such has improved domestically throughout 2018, thanks in part due to a large number of high-profile diplomatic meetings, including the Singapore Summit with US president Donald Trump.  

The long-awaited talks between the DPRK and the United States have been called off by the North Korean side this week. According to the United States State Department and South Korean foreign ministry, the meetings were called off due to scheduling issues and nothing more. However, the calling off of these talks has come at a time when the DPRK and the United States are coming to a head over the future of sanctions against the DPRK and nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

Myanmar

The European Union threatened over the weekend to impose trade sanctions on Myanmar that could have a devastating effect on the country’s domestic clothing industry as well as various others over a lack of accountability on the part of Myanmar’s government with respect to the genocide against the Rohingya. Meanwhile, the United Nations has urged Bangladesh and Myanmar to drop their “rushed” plans to repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar. stating that Rohingya refugees still face a “high risk of persecution” if they return.

This Monday, the lawyers of the two Reuters journalists jailed for reporting on the military violence against the Rohingya filed an appeal, claiming that the original ruling of the court was incorrect. The two reporters were sentenced to seven years in prison for breaching Myanmar’s official secrets act, accused of possessing secret documents. In their appeal, the lawyers stated that the court “ignored compelling evidence of a police set-up” in addition to violations of due process and an inadequate job on the part of the prosecution.

On Wednesday, a report commissioned by Facebook found that Facebook platforms were definitively used to incite violence in Myanmar, specifically in aiding organized groups to conduct attacks on the country’s Muslim population. Facebook has stated: “We agree that we can and should do more.” In Myanmar, Facebook is so ubiquitous that it is considered to be essentially the internet.

USA

On Sunday, Mike Pompeo, the U.S Secretary of State, agreed to hold accountable all people involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. At the same time, Pompeo would like to maintain strategic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Thus far, 16 visas from individuals involved have been revoked.

Tuesday concluded the United States most expensive and consequential midterm election. While Democrats claimed the House of Representatives, the Republicans claimed the Senate vote. These results show to confirm the divided country. There were highly contested votings in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Texas, all of which won with a Republican majority. Furthermore, this election showed a record number of women representatives in the House.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned from working for the White House after president Trump’s request. Sessions had been in charge of the Russian interference investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign. While Session’s removal has been foreseen for some time now, some officials were shocked at his forced resignation. The Attorney General will be replaced by Matthew G. Whitaker, Session’s chief of staff.

Cambodia

This week, a report released by Freedom House claimed that internet freedom in Cambodia is slipping after Cambodia has continued a series of crackdowns on online dissidents. In addition, media freedom has declined in that independent media institutions have been stifled and shut down, including Radio Free Asia Cambodia and the Cambodia Daily newspaper, and the relationship between the government and journalists has worsened. Cambodia’s score for media freedom has been slipping continuously for the past few years.

Thanks to threats from the European Union, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has begun to relax pressure on local labor union leaders. The European Union is continuing to review Cambodia’s duty-free export access, which is only available to developing countries. As a result, business leaders that benefit from Cambodian labor, including representatives from countries such as Adidas, New Balance, and others, have come to meet with Cambodian government ministers in an attempt to defuse the situation.

This week, a United Nations expert released a report claiming that in order to improve human rights in Cambodia, the government must allow for inclusive institutions, transparency, and access to justice – all principles directly in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal 16. Particularly concerning to the United Nations is the lack of speedy trials in Cambodia, in addition to issues such as transparency regarding land rights for Cambodian citizens.

Mexico

Two busloads of Central Americans fleeing towards the United States border, totaling nearly 80 people, have gone missing this week. The National Human Rights Commision states that the missing people were kidnapped and turned over to criminal groups in Mexico. This occurred while the migrants traveled through Puebla on last Saturday. Neither federal or state authorities have responded to the reported incident. Accordingly, criminal groups have long kidnapped Central American migrants in order to force men into labor work and women into prostitution.  

The Maldives

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit the Maldives, the only country in South Asia which he has yet to visit, next week. Although the visit has yet to be officially announced, Modi’s staff has already arrived in the Maldives to help plan for the occasion. It is expected that Modi will use this occasion to revive a closer relationship between India and the Maldives, particularly as the previous administration stopped many large infrastructure projects that were jointly underway with Indian contractors. Thanks to Indian support, the Maldives also became the latest member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, something that would not have been possible under the previous administration.

Dr. Mohamed Asim, the foreign minister of the Maldives, has been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace by at least four junior staffers. According to sources from within the minister’s bureau, at least one of the accusations would qualify as sexual assault. However, the ministry’s permanent secretary has claimed to not have any official complaints submitted until this Thursday. Impunity for perpetrators is currently a huge problem in the Maldives in the case of sexual assault investigations.

Zimbabwe

According to several news sources, petrol supplies have returned to normal at most service stations in major Zimbabwean cities, signaling that the worst of the previous financial crisis is over. The price has also begun to recede for fuel in both Harare and Bulawayo. Despite this, officials are still concerned that the economic crisis will return. It appears to have been spurred on by major economic reforms announced last month, which incentivized Zimbabweans to attempt to spend as much of their money as they possibly could before cash or goods could disappear – not helped by the memory of the 2008 economic crisis. It remains to be seen whether the situation will be ameliorated for good by the end of the month when Financial Minister Ncube announces the national budget.

This week, two former ministers under Robert Mugabe’s reign appeared in court to face corruption charges: former information, communication, and technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira, and former local government, youth, and environment minister. Both were formerly fairly significant in the ruling ZANU-PF party. On Wednesday, 47 people died in a major traffic accident along the Harare-Mutare highway, which Zimbabwean police have characterized as a collision between two buses caused by “speed or reckless driving.”

Laos

Analysts are predicting that Laos’s dependence on Chinese loans to build their extensive dam projects will lead to Laos falling “even deeper” into China’s infamous debt trap. It is estimated that Laos has received about $11 billion in development financing from China so far, second only to Pakistan in Asia. Laos, currently one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, has already been warned last year by the International Monetary Fund that it runs a huge risk of “external debt distress.”

Vietnam

Vietnam has claimed that due to “toxic information” on platforms such as Facebook and Google, it wants at least half of its domestic social media users to use domestic social networks by 2020. Vietnam’s information ministry has been drafting a code of conduct for the internet. As the Vietnamese government normally exercises strict controls over domestic media and what is allowed in the country, it is thought by many that this is actually a way of silencing dissidents – who are generally only able to openly critique the government through their online activities.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

According to a recent human rights report, brutal torture and sexual assault have been used by authorities in the DRC against political dissidents as a way to silence them. Members of political opposition groups or social justice campaigns have fallen victim to rape and torture for simply taking part in protests or by wearing political shirts. This report comes after interviewing 74 people, both women, and men. According to the report, all of them women and two-thirds of the men had been raped, while others were subject to electric shocks and beatings.

Different leaders from opposition groups for the upcoming elections have agreed to go to Geneva in order to select a joint candidate. The leaders left on Thursday for the three-day summit. There are high expectations, therefore all of the leaders believe it is best to act together to choose one leader. The DRC elections are to take place on December 23rd, and the outcome is crucial for the future of the Congo.

Colombia

According to the United Nations, an estimated 350 people have fled the northeast region of Colombia, while another 400 people are caught in the “crossfire” of warfare between militant groups ELN and EPL. Last week, president Duque declared that he sent 5,000 troops to the region in order to protect civilians and create peace, even though civilians from the region fiercely opposed the president’s decision. Militarizing the region, Catatumbo has only proven to develop more harm than good in the past. Locals from Catatumbo believe that the military is corrupt and unorganized, and they have yet to help in the most recent situation concerning people being caught in the crossfire of militant groups.

Last week, Venezuelan soldiers entered through the Colombian border. This is the latest in a series of border crossings. On Wednesday, Colombia sent a letter of protest to Venezuela. Duque sees the repeated crossings as a violation of sovereignty. Venezuela did not immediately respond to the letter.

Venezuela

Due to the imposed US financial sanctions on Venezuela’s gold, Venezuela’s hard currency has dwindled. Because of this, Maduro is pursuing bringing back nearly $550 million of gold from the Bank of England, held in Britain. Venezuela is fearful of being caught up in international sanctions. Given the country is in its fifth year of recession, losing this gold could cause even further damage to the country’s economy.

The European Union has extended sanctions on Venezuela until November of 2019. In 2017, the EU imposed an arms embargo and further added a variety of Venezuelan officials to the sanctions list. The most recent decree is because of Maduro’s human rights violations and undermining of democracy. The EU’s sanctions came less than one week after the United States imposed sanctions on the oil-rich country. The goal is to add more pressure on Maduro and his government.

Malaysia

This week, the Malaysian delegation at the third Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva reaffirmed the new Malaysian government’s commitment to working towards ratifying all UN human rights treaties that have yet to be ratified by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian government also indicated that it would be placing a moratorium on all executions until the death penalty is abolished, attempting to signify its new commitment to human rights. Activists and civil rights groups also used the stage provided by the Universal Periodic Review to express disappointment and outrage to the government’s response to accusations of female genital mutilation in the country. The Malaysian government claims that people practice “female circumcision,” and insists that the practice is independent of what is characterized as FGM.

Dozens of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis boarded a boat attempting to reach the southern coast of Malaysia and were apprehended by Malaysian authorities. This has occurred mere weeks after Myanmar and Bangladeshi officials announced a repatriation plan set to begin in mid-November, despite protests from groups such as the United Nations that such repatriation efforts are premature. The Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, warned Malaysians to not “abuse” the freedom of speech, expression, and media given by the government. Specifically, he condemned uses of these basic freedoms to cause trouble on matters relating to race and religion.

Other News

Russia —  This week, the United States blocked a Russian attempt to ease sanctions against the DPRK under the premise of affording humanitarian aid to the impoverished nation. (Radio Free Europe)

Hungary — Although the Hungarian investigation of an alleged corruption scheme involving the Prime Minister’s son-in-law has been dropped, the European Union announced that it would continue pursuing the case. (Politico EU)

Poland— After elections were concluded on Sunday, Poland showed a deeply divided nation between its more liberal cities and conservative countryside. (New York Times)

The Philippines — Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos has been found guilty of graft this Friday, a rare conviction among a variety of corruption cases that have been brought up in recent Philippine politics. (TIME)

Pakistan — Asia Bibi, the women who was held on death row for the past eight years, was freed of her sentence. Her freedom sparked riots in Pakistan. (BBC)

Palestine — During a protest, a young Palestinian man famous for his symbolism of Palestinian resistance through a picture of him which greatly compares to the French Revolution painting, Liberty Leading the People, was injured by Israeli Soldiers. (Al Jazeera)

China — As many as 500 children of detained Uighur Muslims have been placed in what is being called a “closed school” in Kashi Prefecture, where they are not allowed to have any kind of contact with the outside. It is thought that these are the children of those who have been placed in “re-education camps.” (Radio Free Asia)

Yemen — The Yemeni port city of Hodeidah is facing the worst violence that it has seen in months. This is due to the US-backed Saudi coalition of fighters in a war with the Iranian-backed Houthis. It is estimated that nearly 100 civilians died this week. (CNN)

Weekly Report: 2 November 2018

A protest against Israel’s blockade of Gaza. (Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu)

Syria

A clash between US-backed Syrian fighters and Islamic State Militants left at least 40 Syrian fighters dead. Further, Islamic State recaptured land which was taken from them earlier this month along the border of Iraq. The Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) has been working to capture the last pocket of land being controlled by IS since September. This area is also home to thousands of civilians who are being held in the crossfire.

On Saturday, leaders from Russia, Turkey, Germany, and France met in Istanbul to discuss various issues facing Syria. While there was not a major breakthrough in talks, the four-way summit addressed the necessity of an eventual peace plan. With Russia backing Assad’s Regime, and Turkey backing rebel groups in opposition of Assad, the meeting made for an interesting dialogue. The leaders also discussed the refugee crisis, the Idlib demilitarization zone, and constitutional reform.

The Rukban Camp on the border of Syria and Jordan, home to more than 50,000 stranded civilians, has yet to receive aid since last January. This week, a convoy carrying aid was supposed to make its way to the camp but has been suspended due to security reasons. The camp is home to 80% women and children, all of whom are in desperate need of food, water, and medical attention. While people living in the Rukbar Camp need help, aid workers on their way were in danger.

Bolivia

This week, Maria Eugenia Choque was elected as the new president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Further, Antonio Costas Sitic will become the new vice president. These new positions came after the previous president and vice president resigned. Their management will continue for the next two years and obtain duties in both the primary and general elections in 2019.

On December 6th, civic leaders from eight separate departments in Bolivia are calling on a strike against Evo Morales. They are calling on a national strike against the referendum results from February 21st, 2016 when President Morales was put into office, even though he lost the majority of votes. The strike is intended to prevent the TSE from granting Evo Morales access to candidacy for the 2019 election cycle.

Nicaragua

This week, Ortega’s government is trying to completely censor the media outlet, 100% Noticias. The Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Postal Services (Telcor) was ordered to replace the news agency with a separate one. Telcor announced that 100% Noticias is an illegal company. Accordingly, the government does not have any legal basis for their claim.

At the end of Mass at a cathedral in Managua this weekend, members of the church held a peaceful protest in which they carried crosses with the names of victims of the socio-political crackdown since April 16th. There were a total of 528 names written, given this is the number of people who have died because of the Sandinista government.

Last Friday, 70 hooded men entered the prison where political prisoners were being held. The prison called La Esperanza is a women’s prison where political prisoners were being held. The men who entered physically beat the prisoners. This week, members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) tried to gain access into La Esperanza in order to verify the physical and mental health of those beaten, but they were denied entry. Prison authorities did not let them in.

North Korea

The United States chief envoy for North Korea said on Monday that he was “certain” that the cooperation of Washington and Seoul could help to secure full nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula. However, he did not claim to be on a specific timeline and has yet to set a concrete meeting with his North Korean counterpart.

Skeptics have been watching South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s relationship with North Korean premier Kim Jong-Un, especially as Moon attempts to shift Kim Jong-un’s public image from one of a war-mongering dictator to someone who is a “young and candid strategist.” This has exacerbated a clear tension between American and South Korean foreign policy – it has been a foregone conclusion among American policymakers for quite some time that the DPRK cannot be trusted to keep promises, even if the proper concessions are made. On Wednesday, the DPRK and South Korea agreed to hold sports talks this week to strengthen exchange; these talks will even include discussions of joint participation in the upcoming 2020 Olympics and a potential 2032 joint Olympic bid.

A Human Rights Watch report released this week has revealed that rape and sexual assault perpetrated by North Korean officials is so widespread that it is considered to be part of ordinary life. According to those interviewed, sexual assault has been so normalized that many defectors did not think it was unusual, and that women have little choice but to comply once an official decides to set his sights on her.

This Thursday, Kim Jong-un publicly latched out at the sanctions regime against the sanctions continued to be enforced against the DPRK by the United States under Trump, claiming that the sanctions place the DPRK in a very difficult situation as it attempts to transform itself into a “tourist destination.”

Myanmar

Workers have been striking from a Chinese-owned garment factory as part of an effort to reinstate colleagues who had previously been fired for their connections with a trade union. In the city of Yangon, about 100 protesters demanded an audience with Chief Minster Phyo Min Thein, seeking to discuss their grievances with the minister. Earlier this month, dozens of workers from the same factory were injured after assailants attacked a crowd that had been gathered outside of the factory – an incident that the government claimed was started by the workers themselves.  

Less than a week after United Nations investigators warned that the genocide against the Rohingya is still ongoing, Myanmar and Bangladesh have come to an agreement to start returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in mid-November. However, many Rohingya fear to return to Myanmar – especially since they are still not guaranteed rights such as citizenship, access to healthcare, and the freedom of movement. United Nations officials have condemned this deal and attempt at repatriation.

Additionally, there is evidence that Myanmar officials are in fact seeking to eliminate evidence that the Rohingya population even lived in certain areas of the Rakhine state: the government has been enacting large-scale construction projects in depopulated areas, with local government administrators claiming that these new comes would soon be occupied by “Rakhine, Chin, Bamar, and Hindu people from other parts of the country.” Meanwhile, some of the five ethnic armed groups that have yet to sign Myanmar’s nationwide ceasefire will attend talks with the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, according to a report released on Tuesday.

USA

 

Over the weekend, a man named Robert Bowers entered a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and carried out a mass shooting. Bowers killed a total of eleven people, while others were injured. After authorities arrested the man, he claimed he just wanted “to kill Jews.” This shooting is the deadliest attack against Jewish people in the United States to date. There will be a court hearing this week to determine Robert Bowers jail time.

Due to the large mobilization of Central American migrants making their way to the United States border, Homeland Security and the Pentagon have decided to send 5,200 troops, military helicopters, and razor wire to the Mexican border. While some officials see the mass of people as a security threat, others, like the policy counsel for the ACLU’s Border Rights Center in El Paso state that, “Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities.” Furthermore, the caravan of people is nearly 900 miles away, so it does not appear to be an immediate threat.

Cambodia

Although Kem Sokha, the leader of the banned opposition party (the Cambodian National Rescue Party), was released from prison to house arrest on September 10th, he is being barred from speaking to United Nations officials. Specifically, Rhona Smith – the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia – has been refused permission to speak with him about his detainment and various other issues, although she will be allowed to speak with various government officials and representatives from human rights groups during her visit this week. Meanwhile, Cambodia’s king has moved around 60 court officials, judges, and prosecutors to various posts around the country in a move welcomed by NGOs as a potential method to reduce judicial corruption.

Australia’s refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia has expired and is no longer considered to be an option according to Australian officials this week. According to rights advocates, the deal (which involved the Australian government paying Cambodia to resettle its refugees, who are usually confined to an offshore processing center on the small island of Nauru. Meanwhile, Cambodia-based rights group Licadho released a report on Thursday detailing the overcrowding issue in Cambodian prisons, with a focus on what they are calling “needless mass detention.”

Mexico

As migrants coming from Guatemala crossed the border into Mexico through the Suchiate River, one man died in clashing. Mexican authorities were deployed to the border. Accordingly, the police were not armed, yet one man was killed with a rubber bullet to the head. The deployment of authorities to the border is to stop the flow of migrants coming from Central America, given they are coming through Mexico in an illegal way.

The Maldives

Amnesty International released a briefing on October 30th that detailed the ordeal of Lahiru Madhushanka, a Sri Lankan driver who was accused of planning to assassinate then-President Abdulla Yameen in 2015. Madhushanka was reportedly denied a fair trial and repeatedly beaten by police in what may amount to torture. He was also denied access to legal representation and forced into prolonged solitary confinement. Amnesty International has urged that as the Maldives transitions into a new presidency, it must pay more attention to strengthening its human rights record.

Another area that Solih may wish to focus as he assumes the presidency next month is the potential for the Maldives to escape what is known as China’s debt-trap, in which Beijing repeatedly finances a variety of “questionable” infrastructure projects across countries and makes repeated purchases of land. It is hoped by some analysts that the Maldives will shake Chinese influence and return to the sphere of India, despite the fact that China holds over 80% of the Maldives’ sovereign debt. The relative cost of Beijing’s infrastructure project to any other agent of infrastructure development in the region means that it is, however, going to be incredibly difficult for the Maldives to completely depart from Chinese influence as it seeks to maintain investing in regional infrastructure.

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed returned from a two-year-long exile on Thursday, only two days after the Supreme Court withdrew a warrant for his arrest. Nasheed was welcomed at the Male airport by president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and hundreds of reporters. It is unknown what role, if any, Nasheed will play in Solih’s new government.

Zimbabwe

A man detained for insulting the president while testifying before the commission probing the fatal shooting of six civilians during post-election protests this summer has been freed on bail this Monday. The man, Wisdom Mkwananzi, was detained after he accused Mnangagwa of leading a 1980s government crackdown during which human rights groups claim approximately 20,000 suspected government opponents are killed. According to a spokesperson from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, he was charged with “undermining the authority of the president, assaulting police officers during his arrest, and lying under oath.”

Over the weekend, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change held a rally at which it installed candidate Nelson Chamisa as the “president of Zimbabwe.” Chamisa lit a ‘democracy flame’ that was meant to resemble Zimbabwe’s Independence Flame in an attempt to draw attention to what MDC believes were the rightful results of the election. ZANU PF, the ruling party, has claimed that these actions “border on treason.” Chamisa and the MDC have continually refused to recognize the results of August’s elections as legitimate.

On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with Zimbabwe’s business community and attempted to reassure them that he is working to stabilize the economy, despite signs that the country may be returning to a massive economic crisis, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the massive crisis ten years earlier. Mnangagwa also said that Zimbabwe would continue operating under its multi-currency system, although the bills have been increasingly difficult to come by as of late. By the end of the week, Mnangagwa announced the discovery of potential oil and gas deposits in the north of the country.

Laos

A report uncovered by Radio Free Asia has revealed that the government was ill-equipped to handle July’s dam break, which killed over forty people and has left countless others missing; this report reveals a high level of redundancy  between local and higher-up levels of the government, as well as general confusion over when to start evacuations. This account reveals that the government may have even known about the need for evacuation up to a day before the breaking of the dam, even though evacuations were not begun until two and a half hours before the dam actually burst.

Vietnam

Though the recent appointment of Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong has been seen by some as his rise to the top as a dictatorial strongman (as he is the first person to be both Party chief and president), some analysts believe that instead of showing his strength, this development is reflecting the Vietnamese government’s overall weakness. Although there has not yet been any substantial actions taken by the government to show otherwise, it is speculated that Trong was only nominated to be president because there were no other viable candidates that fit the requirements.

Vietnam has this week rolled out a series of measures aimed at controlling “false information” in its latest effort to combat ‘fake news,’ although many critics believe that these measures are in actuality meant to punish and control those who dissent against government policy. Vietnam has also been attempting to enact tougher measures on companies such as Google and Facebook to ensure that they hand over information on people who post what the government deems to be “false information,” and also remove such information when it is discovered.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

As of Monday, there are 120 confirmed cases of Ebola in Beni, the epicenter of the outbreak. Of those cases, 30 of the people are children under the age of 10 years old, and 27 of them have died. According to Reuters, the children may have contracted Ebola after being treated for unrelated cases of Malaria in a clinic run by traditional healers. Furthermore, in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, 168 individuals are confirmed dead and another 98 have been affected. The high numbers are in part due to the heightened conflict causing complications in administering help from health officials.

Colombia

This week, President Duque plans to send 5,000 troops to a northeastern region of Colombia. This came after citizens of the area begged the president to do the opposite. Duque’s deployment came after visiting the area of Ocaña because it is overrun by guerrilla groups and is home to Colombia’s second largest Coca growing region. According to locals, sending troops into the area only inflicts more violence and does not resolve any issues.

After Brazil elected the far-right president-elect, Bolsonaro, president Duque both congratulated Brazil and went as far as to suggest an alliance against Venezuelan president Maduro. Reports came out that Duque would willingly use military intervention against Socialist president Maduro if Jair Bolsonaro joined in.

Venezuela

On Tuesday, an official from the Treasury Department of the United States warned that Venezuela could pose a huge threat to its regions stability. The official stated that neighboring countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina due to Venezuela’s migrant and economic crisis’. Further, the Venezuelan president has been accused of contaminating water supplied at gold mining sites. The top official believes that Venezuela’s neighbors and their allies (including the United States) are under threat.

Malaysia

A luxury ocean-liner that had been previously been at the heart of the longstanding 1MDB scandal has gone on sale on Monday in an effort by Malaysian government officials to recover some of the billions of dollars that have gone missing from the state fund under the previous presidency. Reportedly, Malaysian financier Jho Low bought the yacht with money diverted from the 1MDB fund. So far, he has not been apprehended by investigators.

Malaysia has suspended seven police officers after discovering that about US$1.9 million has gone missing following a police search of a condo in Kuala Lumpur. This investigation was conducted by the police narcotics unit. About 20 other people have been detained in relation to the case. A little over half of the money has been recovered so far, and the police are attempting to locate the rest. On Thursday, the United States Department of Justice has announced charges against a fugitive Malaysian financier and two former Goldman Sachs bankers for money laundering in connection to the 1MDB fund.

Palestine

On Monday, three young Palestinian boys were killed by bombings coming from the Israeli Defence Force. The boys were aged 13-14 and the killing took place in the southeastern Gaza Strip.

This week, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was given permission to suspend recognition of Israel until Israeli recognizes Palestine. Further, they were given permission to stop security coordination with Israel. Economic agreements have been suspended, and the validity of the Oslo Accords have been revoked.

Other News

Russia —  Despite American threats to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Forces treaty, NATO has urged Russia to hold true to the arrangement despite the renewed tensions between Russia and the United States. (Radio Free Europe)

Hungary — A Hungarian journalist who has filmed tripping and kicking migrants at the border in 2015 has been cleared by courts, despite their acknowledgment that her actions were “morally incorrect and illicit.” (BBC)

Poland— The recent rule created to forcibly replace a majority of Polish judges into retirement is now being contested. (Radio Poland)

The Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sacked most top officials in the customs bureau after they failed to intercept over a ton of methamphetamines, replacing them with individuals from other agencies. (Al Jazeera)

Pakistan — On Wednesday, Asia Bibi, the women who were originally put on death row eight years ago after defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed, overturned her conviction. (CNN)

China — A researcher based in Canada has claimed that China must now justify the existence of its many re-education camps for Uighur Muslims after compiling a list of these 59 camps, and has claimed that the Chinese government has been deleting information about these camps since he began his investigations. (Radio Free Asia)

Iran This week, Denmark accused Iran of planning an assassination of an Iranian activist on Danish soil. (BBC)

Yemen As a part of a new Saudi-EAU-led coalition, more than 10,000 troops will be sent to Hodeidah in order to fight the Houthis. (Al Jazeera)

Weekly Report: 26 October 2018

A caravan of migrants at the bridge at the Guatemala border, with hopes of reaching the US. (Mexico News Daily)

Syria

A mosque being used as a base for Islamic State was targeted and struck this weekend. Behind the strike was the United States-led coalition. In the air strike, 22 jihadists were killed near the Iraqi border, one of the last Islamic State territories. Furthermore, according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a separate airstrike carried out by the U.S. led coalition on last Thursday and Friday killed 41 people. This includes 10 children who may have been related to Islamic State fighters. On Saturday, Syria’s foreign ministry declared that the killings are considered a crime. They claim that the United States was relentless in their actions and has called on the United Nations to punish them.

After being held captive for three years, Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda is released. Yasuda was being held hostage by the Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group located in Syria. The Japanese government was notified this past Tuesday about Yasuda’s reappearance and had been sent to an immigration facility in Turkey, directly next to the border of Syria.

Bolivia

This Sunday, results of the voting intentions for the upcoming 2019 elections came out. In the results, Carlos Mesa headed the MAS by two points. Given, the opposition wishes to band together for the second round of votes in order to unite together against the MAS and claim victory. While news agency pagina siete reported the voting results, officials from the MAS are in disbelief of the outcome.

According to a survey published by pagina siete, 25% of people in Bolivia blame Evo Morales for the failure at the Hague. Further, Víctor Borda, MAS deputy stated that he believed the ruling influenced the mood of people in Bolivia against President Morales. While Morales took most of the blame according to the survey, 17% blamed it on the Bolivian legal team, 3% on Carlos Mesa, 2% on Héctor Arce and 1% on Eduardo Rodríguez Velzté.

On Monday, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Katia Uriona, resigned after being head since 2015.  Opposition leaders running for the 2019 elections are afraid that her resignation puts the MAS in control of the TSE. According to a leader from Democratic Unity, Uriona’s resignation risks “the full room…left with five members of majority masista.” While members of the ruling party, such as David Ramos believe that the members of the TSE will remain impartial.

After Morales’ government proposed a “law against lying” the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) is demanding its withdrawal from implementation. The SIP believes that the law takes away the right for freedom of speech, and is further incompatible with international standards of Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) declares that any form of censorship, direct or indirect, cannot be a law. The IAPA indicates that in this year alone, 30 journalists have been killed within Bolivia. Journalists are not only facing severe censorship but also a violent backlash from the government.

The Plurinational Electoral Body (EPO) officially stated that political parties planning to run in the 2019 elections had until midnight on Wednesday of this week to present their participation. This means that militants of their respected organization must present “militant books” with corresponding legal personality admitting their abilities to run for elections. In total there are nine political parties which obtained legal personality, and twelve others which are still in the process of gaining legality. After midnight, it was calculated that the MAS has the highest number of militants registered with a total of 1,080,000. Meanwhile, the Left Revolutionary Front (FRI) which backs Carlos Mesa had 90,000 registrations.

Nicaragua

This week, the director of 100% Noticias received an award called the Freedom of the Press award, presented by the SIP. The director, Miguel Mora, gave a speech stating, “I thank God for granting me the honor of presenting the brave men and women of the independent press of my beloved blue and white homeland.” Further, he highlighted the past six months of Nicaragua, calling the situation a “state massacre.”

At a meeting in Washington this week, the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, Luis Almagro spoke of the violation of human rights occurring in Nicaragua. He further states that the violations carried out by Ortega’s government are “totally incompatible with democracy.” Almagro cautioned that if the Nicaraguan Government continues with its repression, the recourse of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter will unfold. This article is specific to allowing the general secretary, or any member state to request the assembly of the permanent council to implement “diplomatic efforts” to alter a constitution which affects the democratic order within a country.

This week, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) declared that there are at least 40 political prisoners in need of medical treatment, but are not receiving it. Some prisoners suffer from chronic illness and authorities are refusing to give them medical attention. A representative of political prisoners has urged the judiciary to take prisoners to medical facilities in order to receive treatment, but they have yet to get a response.

A marathon runner by the name of Alex Vanegas continues to be a peaceful activist, protesting against the imprisonment of political activists and standing up against the Sandinista police. Vanegas used to show his support by running through the streets wearing blue and white, but due to a recent violent attack against him by Sandinista authorities, he can only walk. Recently, the marathon runner shared a video explaining what he previously faced as a political prisoner. Vanegas had spent four hours under interrogation and questioning, and further threatening of being jailed if he continues to protest against the government. This is the most recent detainments of four which he has faced.

As of early October, heavy rains have been severely affecting Nicaragua. This week reports estimate 21 deaths due to the rain. Between October 15th-22nd, 17 people died. On Tuesday the government established a “red alert” in a total of 15 regions of Nicaragua. The rest of the 7 departments which make up Nicaragua are in yellow alert, which warns civilians to act in case of a serious disaster.

This week, Donald Trump’s secretary advisor, John Bolton is to travel to Moscow to discuss Russia’s involvement in Nicaragua. Bolton does not believe that progress between the United States and Russia can continue if Russia works with Nicaragua’s regime. Bolton included Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba as three countries which Russia supports, and are antagonists to the United States. 

North Korea

The respective governments of North and South Korea have agreed to remove both guns and guard posts from Panmunjom, the only town that exists within the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South – where meetings between the two Koreas are usually held. This zone, governed by the UN, will have firearms and military posts withdrawn from it by October 25th, and the United Nations will help facilitate the process and aid both Northern and Southern troops in these changes.  

The DPRK’s state media has begun to step up its criticism of US involvement in inter-Korean affairs, particularly criticizing the fact that the United States continues to use economic sanctions against the North Korean government. In addition, the contents of this media make it clear that the DPRK is attempting to project a strong message towards Washington, and may even be threatening to stop some of its progress (such as an end-of-war declaration) if sanctions do not let up.

Despite the trend of warming ties between the DPRK and South Korea, the United Nations independent investigator on North Korean human rights has warned that the human rights situation in the DPRK has not changed at all, claiming that more must be done on the topic of human rights. Although the South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, has stated that now is not the time to raise “these issues,” the rapporteur has called such an approach “worrying,” especially as there has been no reference to human rights during any of the diplomatic meetings that the North has been involved in thus far.

This week, the FBI claimed that Singaporean man Tan Wee Beng has been laundering money for North Korea through two companies with which he has ties – Wee Tiong (S) Pte Ltd. and WT Marine Pte Ltd. Although the US issued a federal arrest warrant at the end of August, the Department of Justice only issued an arrest warrant this week. Tan, 41, told BBC reporters that he only found out about the claims through the internet, and was reportedly shocked at his alleged involvement.

Myanmar

On Tuesday, Australia’s government revealed that it would impose sanctions against five Myanmar military officers who have been accused of overseeing widespread violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population. It is believed that the five who have been targeted by these sanctions, Aung Kyaw Zaw, Maung Maung Soe, Aung Aung, Than Oo, and Khin Maung Soe, are thought to have stepped down from their posts once it was indicated that they played pivotal roles in the mass killings. In addition, Australia has stepped down from its previous role in the training of Myanmar’s military, sending a loud and clear message of disapproval of the government’s actions.

In recent interviews with CNN reporters, Rohingya refugees within the Rakhine state for internally-displaced people have called their conditions akin to those of an “open-air prison.” Many of these people were told that they would be displaced for only a few weeks when violence broke out in 2012, but have been there for upward of six years. There is no opportunity for jobs or homes for these people in camps, and a widespread lack of trust in the government.

According to Marzuki Darusman, the chair of the United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar, has released a statement stating that the genocide against the Rohingya is still ongoing. Analysts with Al Jazeera believe that in spite of this conclusion and the current pressure on the UN Security Council to somehow intervene, it is incredibly unlikely that it would make it that far – especially as China and Russia would likely use their veto power to protect Myanmar from any Security Council action. Furthermore, the UN special investigator on human rights in Myanmar has described the situations as an “apartheid situation.”

Three journalists arrested for reporting on government corruption have been released on bail this Friday, although the reporters claim that they have done nothing wrong. The maximum sentence for incitement, which is what they have been arrested under, is two years. They are facing charges under the government’s colonial-era penal code. The Myanmar Press Council has been pushing for the dismissal of this case and claims that they cannot settle any kind of dispute with negotiations until they will talk to the government.

USA

After claiming that Russia has defied the terms of the arms treaty between Russia and the United States, President Trump has withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. After stating the official plans for withdrawal, Trump declared that “we’re not going to let them [Russia] violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

On Monday, LGBT activists took to the streets in order to defy the recent push to take away rights for transgender people. The Trump Administration is proposing allowing Health and Human Services define gender as biological and an immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. The new definition could be submitted by the end of the year. Furthermore, it would abolish federal protection and recognition for transgender people.

This week, a series of pipe bombs were sent out through mail to a variety of prominent Democrats, the CNN headquarters, former President Obama and the Clintons. A total of five pipe bombs have been discovered. Officials are unclear as to who has sent them and some reports say that a few of the bombs were hand delivered. None of the packages reached their intended targets, thanks to security forces. The CIA sees this situation as a large threat and is continuing to investigate the matter.

Cambodia

A Cambodian-American political activist formerly jailed in Cambodia from 2015 until this past August has stated that he wishes to continue fighting for democracy and fair elections in Cambodia and may even return to his home country in the future. This man, Meach Sovannara, brought his family to America in 2003 after receiving death threats due to his work as a journalist with Radio Free Asia, where he covered government corruption and rule-of-law violations. Meach was held in the notorious Prey Sar prison, although he claims that he was treated rather well and visited often by members of NGOs, likely due to his American citizenship.

This week marked the anniversary of the Paris Peace Accord, which ended the war between Cambodia and Vietnam 27 years ago and was lauded as a development pushing Cambodia on a course towards democracy. Unfortunately, due to the state of the Cambodian government currently, the anniversary was met with very little celebration and fanfare among the previously involved parties as Cambodia has been suffering from a long democratic backslide over the past few years.

Despite the perceived closeness between Chinese and Cambodian officials, anti-Chinese sentiment has been rising among Cambodian citizens due to the increase of Chinese nationals living and working in Cambodia on Chinese construction projects. Hun Sen claimed that the influx of Chinese nationals was necessary due to the level of work needed by Chinese projects. However, those in affected provinces have claimed that the Chinese nationals living in Cambodia have caused land prices to rise, something that is negatively impacting the livelihoods of locals.

Mexico

Demanding entrance into Mexico, a caravan of nearly 4,000 Central American migrants are camped outside the border between Guatemala and Mexico. The large crowd of people is a mix of men, women, and children. There has been a standoff between Mexican authorities and those trying to cross the border. The caravan eventually plans to cross into the United States. Cries from the migrant crowd said, “we’re not criminals, we’re international workers!” While metal barriers and police with pepper spray continue to hold off the rush of people crossing the border, some have managed to use rubber rafts or get past police in small, manageable groups in order to continue on their journey north.

The Maldives

The top court of the Maldives has unanimously rejected outgoing President Abdulla Yameen’s bid to annul the results of the presidential election this September, claiming that no claims of fraud were substantiated and that there was “no constitutional basis…to order a new poll.” Yameen, who lost the vote by a margin of 16 percent to his opposition, filed a complaint against the results after initially appearing to accept them. Thankfully, it appears Yameen’s desperate attempt to cling to power ends here.

The High Court also freed an opposition leader on Monday, setting aside his lower court conviction for bribery – which he conveniently was sentenced to after he joined forces with the opposition. This man, Qasim Ibrahim, is only one of many who have been jailed by Yameen’s administration after a series of politically motivated trials, and it is hoped that this will be a sign of good things to come as Mohamed Nasheed prepares to take the presidency this November. After a long hiatus, the Maldivian parliament will reconvene this Sunday to decide the start date of the next presidential term.

Zimbabwe

The ongoing economic crisis in Zimbabwe has led to what has been described as an “acute shortage” of medical drugs, and an increasing amount of Zimbabweans have turned to the black market in order to fulfill their healthcare needs. For some with chronic medical needs, the prices of necessary drugs soared. Furthermore, the government has neglected to import enough antibiotics in recent months – as, according to the government, these drugs are not a priority. However, this neglects the fact that many Zimbabweans with chronic respiratory illnesses disproportionately rely on cough medicines to control their symptoms – and that many of those affected by conditions that require short-term antibiotics are vulnerable, such as children.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says that in order to resolve the current economic crisis, it is necessary that Zimbabwe create a transitional authority, claiming that his party is “ready to discuss” the issues with current President Emmerson Mnangagwa – though Chamisa stressed that he would still refuse to recognize Mnangagwa’s presidency as legitimate.

Laos

Repercussions from the collapse of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy saddle dam in Southern Laos this July are still being felt by Lao citizens; many of the other dam projects within the Southeast Asian country have come under scrutiny by both Lao citizens and international actors. Many of these dams – funded and supported by important agents of development such as the World Bank – have displaced a huge number of people and even destroyed livelihoods due to the creation of reservoirs, which has flooded wide swaths of farmland, forests, and otherwise crippling important industries to Lao citizens.  The consequences are mainly felt by the masses, as the dams do not generate income for them while forcing them to uproot and destroying their industries. The affected civilians are also the most disadvantaged due to the repressive nature of the Lao government and little infrastructure for civil society that would allow them to advocate against these large construction projects. A panel of water experts that met this week claimed that specifically the World Bank’s promotion of these dams – referred to as a “hydro-power myth” by some – has been a massive failure in terms of obtaining sustainability.

Vietnam

This Tuesday, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was confirmed as Vietnam’s new President, giving him unparalleled control and solidifying him as a strongman despite the original structure of the Vietnamese government having been meant to diffuse power among four distinct individuals. Trong is known for his close ties with Chinese leaders, as well as his large anti-corruption campaigns – although it is thought that he has little actual governing experience. It is thought that his double role as president and party head will allow him to take an unprecedented amount of power, especially when it comes to trade and foreign relations with an eye towards China and the United States.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

The harassment and arresting of journalists continue to be an issue in the DRC with the most recent abduction of five journalists. After publishing articles about “misappropriation of rations” for the police in AfricaNews, Octave Mukendi, Bruce Landu, Roddy Bosakwa, Dan Luyila, and Laurent Omba were taken. Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog, called for the release of the five journalists. Reportedly, they were soon released after 12 hours.

In the midst of the most recent Ebola outbreak, Congolese rebels have kidnapped 12 children and killed 15 civilians. The attack appeared to be in the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, making it extremely difficult for aid workers to continue with their job in stopping the spread of the disease.

Over the weekend, reports came out about eleven political prisoners who were released. The prisoners backed opposition presidential candidate Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko during elections, two years ago. According to local civil rights groups, dozens of political prisoners have been jailed. While advocacy groups for human rights continue to defend political prisoners, the current president of the Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso faces criticism and pressure to improve human rights within the DRC.

Colombia

Up until 2016, most landmines and explosives were placed throughout Colombia by ELN and FARC groups. After the peace treaty was signed between the Colombian Government and FARC, Colombian authorities and international organizations have been working together in order to remove them. Although, Red Cross reports that this year, 106 people, mostly civilians have fallen victim to landmines. There is a target to rid the country of the explosives by 2021, but some regions are still plagued. The 106 people affected by the devices is a large spike in comparison to last years, 56 victims.

On Monday, Pope Francis and President Duque met to discuss the issues facing Colombia today. While Duque did not speak much about the conversation between the two, the Vatican stated that the Pope underlined the importance of collaboration and dialogue between the church and the state. Further, the Pope gave input in the peace process between the government and FARC, given Pope Francis is a large supporter of proceeding with peaceful means.

Venezuela

Amidst Venezuela’s plunging economy, Coca-Cola Femsa is getting ready to lay off about 2,000 employees. There are a total of 4,800 current employees at the site in Venezuela. Given the country’s recession since 2015, consumer demands have increasingly gone down. Furthermore, because Venezuela is inconsistent with meeting demands of import basic goods such as sugar, large plants like Coca-Cola have needed to halt production.

President Maduro has been “looting” Venezuela of its gold, according to the U.S. Treasury’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing. Reports came out this week that Maduro is illegally exporting Venezuelan gold to Turkey in the attempt to save his country amidst its economic collapse. In recent months, the Venezuelan government has shipped more than 21 metric tons of gold without legal approval. This comes after the United States sanctioning on gold exports.

Malaysia

According to Malaysia’s opposition leader, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck neighboring state Indonesia was “punishment from Allah” for the activities of LGBT people. Ahmad Zahid is only the latest in a series of Malaysian politicians making increasingly homophobic statements, including the current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Currently, Ahmad Zahid has been arrested for corruption and is facing jail time. On Friday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister rejected the very concept of LGBT marriage during a state visit to Thailand on Thursday, claiming that the “institution of the family has…been disregarded in the West.”

Palestine

In a statement on Wednesday, China’s commerce ministry confirmed the signing of a free trade agreement with Palestine. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) is an agreement between Palestine and China stating that both sides will “step up” negotiations.

This week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the government of Palestine for carrying out human rights abuses. HRW reports that Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza have systematically tortured and imprisoned people. In response to these accusations, Palestinian Authorities said: “The state of Palestine has signed all international laws and conventions that ban human rights abuses and torture and is committed to enforc[ing] them.” They further claim that Human Rights Watch is biased.

Other News

Russia —  After Trump announced his decision to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Russian President Putin warned that this action could lead to a new “arms race” between the two countries. (Radio Free Europe)

Hungary — A planned Holocaust museum set to open in Budapest has continued to come under fire for erasing the role of Hungarian perpetrators in violence against Hungarian Jews, portraying Hungarians only as “rescuers” in what scholars from the World Holocaust Remembrance Center call a “grave falsification of history.” (Channel News Asia)

Poland— On Thursday, the outcome of last weekend’s local elections came out. Accordingly, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has taken the lead within regional parliament but did not win mayoral contests in Poland’s largest cities. (Politico)

The Philippines — Despite widespread international criticism, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has finally faced his first serious drop in popularity ratings as a result of the worsening Philippine economy. (The Guardian)

Pakistan — For the first time in history, Pakistan plans to send their first human into space. This will take place in 2022 with the help of China. (Times of India)

China — China has claimed that it will defend its ‘territory’ in the South China Sea and Taiwan ‘at any price’ – despite Taiwan’s self-governance and the territories in the South China Sea being widely disputed. (Al Jazeera)

Iran Iran has been called on by Human Rights Watch to immediately discharge eight environmental activists. Accordingly, the activists have been detained since January. Reports say that at least four of them could face the death penalty. (Radio Free Europe)

Yemen After a Saudi-led attack on Yemen at a vegetable market, 21 people have been confirmed dead. (Al Jazeera)