February 2020 — CANVAS

Weekly Report 28 February 2020

Syria 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike Friday, further escalating tensions between Turkey and the Russia-Assad alliance. In response, citizens gathered outside the Russian consulate in Istanbul, chanting “murderer Putin!” The attack was just one in a long week of violence, coming a day after Turkish-backed rebels re-captured Saraqib in Idlib, a strategic town and crossroad of highways M4 and M5. The ongoing violence is becoming increasingly geopolitical as well. Turkey’s NATO membership is causing other member nations to hold emergency talks over intervention. The Turkish government also announced that they would no longer stop the passage of refugees from Turkey to the European Union. An estimated 3.6 million Syrians live in Turkey and had previously been banned from crossing the border into Greece and Bulgaria. India This week, India experienced some of its worst sectarian violence in years as mobs of Hindus and Muslims clashed over President Modi’s controversial citizenship bill. At the same time that US President Trump visited the country, at least 38 people were killed and nearly 200 were wounded. On paper, the Citizenship Amendment Act gives citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants to India, but it has been widely seen as a way to discriminate against the country’s Muslim minority. President Modi, a nationalist, called for peace, but his police were criticized for both failing to stop the violence and for using tear gas, pellets, and smoke grenades. Lebanon The protests that came to define this fall and winter in Lebanon have died down in recent weeks, but many are worried that if the worsening economy is not fixed soon, tensions may flare up...

Weekly Report 21 February 2020

Iran Iranians head to the polls today to elect a new parliament, but recent tensions in the country will test what the citizens think of its leaders. Many citizens of Iran have little to no confidence in their leaders. Little has improved since the last elections four years ago, and recent embarrassments on the national scale does not help. However, Iran’s religious government leaders hold a tight grip on who can run; disqualifying more than 7,000 candidates in favor of those loyal to the Supreme Leader. Hardline loyalists are thus expected to dominate the elections. It is likely that voter turnout will be low, despite Khamenei’s tweet that said that voting will “display our unity against the enemies. China As the number of COVID-19 cases passes 75,000, new sectors of the population are put at risk. Health care employees make up 4% of confirmed cases, with one hospital director passing away Tuesday morning. The widespread ramifications are being felt in new ways. One estimate has the virus costing the airline industry almost $30 billion. Similar declines are being felt in the automobile industry. Also: A new report shows exactly how and why the Chinese government has placed thousands of Uighur Muslims into detention camps. A whistleblower leaked a database that has confirmed that people are placed into camps strictly based on “their religion and their family ties,” contradicting the Chinese government’s claim that these camps are meant to curb political violence and have no relation to religion. Germany Nine people were killed in two shootings on Wednesday night. The far-right gunman targeted neighborhoods that have a large immigrant population,...

Patrick George Zaki: Egyptian activist jailed on his return from Italy

[Regeni embraces Zaki in graffiti on the Egyptian Embassy in Rome: “this time everything will be fine”]   In the early morning of February 7th, Patrick George Zaki, Gender and Human Rights researcher at The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) was taken into custody by the Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA) at Cairo Airport and disappeared for the following 24 hours. Zaki left Egypt in August 2019 after winning an EU-Funded scholarship to participate in the GEMMA Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. At the time of his arrest, he was a student at the University of Bologna in Italy. Samuel Tharwat, his lawyer, told Amnesty International that Zaki was kept blindfolded and handcuffed throughout a 17-hour interrogation at the airport and then at an unknown NSA location in Mansoura. During the interrogation, Zaki was beaten and tortured with low-voltage electric shocks, while being questioned about his work on human rights and his residence in Italy. The day after, Zaki appeared before the Public Prosecutor in Mansoura and was presented by the police with a report which falsely claimed that he was arrested at a checkpoint in his hometown, pursuant to an outstanding warrant issued in September 2019. He was accused of publishing rumours and false news that aim to disturb social peace and sow chaos; inciting protests without permission from the relevant authorities with the aim of undermining state authority; calling for the overthrow of the state; managing a social media account that aimed to undermine social order and public safety; inciting violence and terrorist crimes. With these accusations, the Prosecutor ordered his detention...

Weekly Report 14 February 2020

Special Feature: The Plight of Women This week, we are highlighting stories of femicide, female genital mutilation, and sexual abuse across five different nations. *Due to the nature of these stories, reader discretion is advised* Mexico The execution of a young female artist is the most recent example of the ongoing war on women in Mexico. Isabel Cabanillas was riding her bike home from a bar when she was shot twice, sparking protests throughout the country. Cabanillas belonged to the feminist group Hijas de su Maquilera Madre. Many of the group’s participants were the first women in their families to attend university, and this “new generation is a new kind of target.” Murals of the artist and feminist art installations have appeared around Cabanillas’s town following her untimely death. Egypt There has been renewed outcry against female genital mutilation (FGM) after a botched operation left a 12-year-old girl dead. The doctor who performed the surgery and the parents of the young girl were arrested last week. A doctor-led movement has taken to the streets, protesting the procedure that has been illegal since 2008, but is still widely practiced. Effects of FGM include both mental and physical health issues like “chronic infections, menstrual problems, infertility, [and] pregnancy and childbirth complications.” Egyptian conservatives have defended FGM, stating that “it is a religious thing” and that doctors “only listen to what the West is saying.” Zimbabwe In a recent poll, more than 57% of women in Zimbabwe revealed that they have been forced to perform sexual favors for employment or business offers. Women have been subject to this quid-pro-quo for years; one...

Weekly Report 7 February 2020

The United Kingdom MEPs in Brussels ratified the United Kingdoms’ official withdrawal agreement from the European Union with 621 votes in favor and 49 against. What comes next: The UK now has to navigate tough trade agreements with the EU, turning the two former partners into rivals. Foreign ministers have also visited Australia and Japan to strike other trade deals. Can They Do It: Boris Johnson has promised to finish these negotiations by the end of the year, but many experts say that this is much too optimistic. It seems that the first clash will occur overfishing policies, as the UK has refused so far to ensure members of the EU free access to its waters. Related: Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has renewed its calls for Scottish independence but has ruled out a second referendum for now. China As the count of coronavirus cases climbs to over 30,000, the entire world is feeling the effects. China’s economy is experiencing a massive slump, the worst since 2015. Their stock market reopened on Monday after being closed for the Lunar New Year. China tried to jumpstart the economy with a decision to half additional tariffs on 1,717 products imported from the United States. This economic policy will be enacted on February 14th; it is worth $75 billion of goods. On Thursday, the market responded positively to the Chinese attempt to boost financial confidence. A Publicity Nightmare: China has accused the United States of causing panic and fear over the coronavirus. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the US was wrong for pulling its nationals out of the country...