April 10, 2020
As the novel virus continues to viciously rampage through the international community, governments are using lockdowns and curfews as a means to violently disband activist groups. Venezuelan volunteer medic Antonio Cueto told journalists that “the virus is just what the government needed” for it to enforce draconian policies that will affect demonstrators. Chile, Hong Kong, and Lebanon, global hot spots of civil unrest, “are zapping the momentum from pro-democracy movements.”
In lieu of the governmental crackdowns, activists are “adopting creative tactics” to disseminate their messages throughout their communities. Activist organizations are donating thousands of masks and other protective medical gear to people in need. These groups are expanding their networks while solidifying the roles they play within their respective communities, gaining both respect and legitimacy.
Assassination: Hezbollah commander Ali Mohammed Younis, a “close associate” of Qasem Soleimani, was assassinated over the weekend. No group has claimed to be responsible for Younis’s death, the “Massad ‘and its mercenaries” [are] suspects in the assassination.”
Prison Protests: After prisoners tried to escape over fears of contracting COVID-19, a “fiery” riot broke out on Tuesday. Security forces fired rubber bullets into the crowd, injuring at least four inmates.
Prison Protests: Detainees in Iranian prisons have been protesting against their facilities over “fears of contracting the coronavirus, sparking deadly responses from prison officers and security forces.” Approximately 36 inmates have been killed so far. The prisoners’ demands are simple – they are requesting that they be protected from the novel virus while serving their sentences.
The public has not seen President Daniel Ortega in 25 days, leaving citizens to wonder about his health. Nicaragua has yet to mandate any school or border closures, and the government has only confirmed four COVID patients and one death. Ortega has missed rallies, government events, and the funeral of a close ally. The Civic Alliance opposition group believes that his “extended absence [is] a deliberate move to manipulate the public.”
Zimbabwean doctors have sued the government because of its failure to provide hospitals with protective gear and testing kits. The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has warned that without protective equipment medical professionals could die.
On Thursday, courts stated that chief executive Carrie Lam can use colonial-era laws to make emergency decrees regarding public safety. Lam has categorized the ongoing protests as “public danger[s.]” She has also banned the wearing of masks at both lawful and unlawful assemblies.
Wuhan has reopened after completing its two-month lockdown. 93% of businesses have “resumed operations,” but officials have recommended that people continue to engage in minimal social contact for the time being.
Sudanese doctors have gone on strike after enduring physical attacks from policemen. Doctors are trying to warn citizens of the dangers of COVID-19, but their attempts have been futile. The police have denied all accusations.
Oil has become a scarce product in Venezuela; people are lining up in their cars for hours to fill their tanks. Prices have skyrocketed – one gallon is $5.67. The oil shortage is the catalyst that will raise “the specter of a repeat of deadly unrest from earlier years.”
Colombia’s new policy restricting Venezuelan refugees from engaging in economic activity has resulted in an influx of migrants returning to Venezuela. All returning Venezuelans are being quarantined along the border; their return has posed a significant threat to the already overwhelmed medical system.
Shelling: A hospital fell victim to a shelling on Monday that injured six health care
Professionals. The United Nations has condemned this attack, saying that is was a “clear violation of international law.”
Scarce Resources: Tripoli’s water and power supplies were cut on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving many Libyans without essential resources that were already scarce due to the war and the coronavirus.
Lockdown: Interim president Jeanine Anez signed a decree to extend the lockdown in Bolivia. Article 13-2 of the decree states that “individuals who incite non-compliance with this decree or misinform or cause uncertainty to the population will be subject to criminal charges for crimes against public health.” Those who fail to abide by the new policies can face one to 10 years in prison.
Human Rights: Critics of the Bolivian government have stated that officials are “taking advantage of the pandemic to give itself the power to punish anyone who publishes information the government deems ‘incorrect,’ in violation of free speech protections.”
Since the COVID-19 breakout, Myanmar’s government has gone to great lengths to censor media and news outlets. Activists have claimed that the “government is ‘taking advantage’ of the pandemic to ‘censor legitimate information and curtail freedom of expression.’” Over 260 organizations have released statements condemning the government’s actions.
Shellings: An “American oil company” connected to Halliburton was targeted in a missile attack on Monday. While the report’s validity is being questioned, the attack is yet another example of “Iran’s attempt to play up attacks on the US in Iraq as a part of a media campaign trying to warn the US to leave.”
Government: Iraqi President Barham Salih has appointed a new prime minister-designate – the third one this year. The new designate, head of intelligence Mustafa al-Kadhimi, is believed to have recently strengthened ties with Iran and has a history of “close links” with the United States. He must propose his cabinet to parliament in 30 days to undergo a vote of confidence.
The international chemical weapons watchdog confirmed that the Syrian air force used sarin and chlorine in three chemical attacks in 2017. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the findings represent “‘the latest in a large and growing body of evidence that the Assad regime uses chemical weapons attacks in Syria as part of a deliberate campaign of violence against the Syrian people.”
Despite the fact that there have been more than one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, North Korea has yet to report any cases. The government has stated that it has placed hundreds of people into quarantine. More than 700 people have been tested, but officials have stated that all of the results were negative.
Jerusalem’s Palestinian governor, Adnan Gaith, was arrested by Israeli authorities for running Palestinian activities in Jerusalem – a feat that Israel has deemed illegal.
A Russian man was arrested for fatally shooting five people “after asking them not to be so loud” during the government-mandated lockdown.