September 11, 2020
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers protests in Belarus, and Iraq, constitutional debates in Chile, human rights abuses in Myanmar, as well as many other topics!
Across the globe, colleges and universities have become coronavirus hotspots, In the United States alone, schools in their fall semester have reported an additional 36,000 infections, bringing the total number of campus infections since the virus entered the country to 88,000. France has witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases, and now aims to eradicate testing delays and create more space in hospitals in preparation for another wave. The New York Times reported on how coronavirus deaths and lockdown measures have been increasing global hunger.
Pro-democracy protests have consistently been taking place in Belarus surrounding President Lukashenko’s declaration that he won a sixth term amidst widespread allegations of election rigging. Protest leader Maria Kolesnikova announced this week that she received death threats from security officials, around the same time as 121 people were arrested on protest-related charges in just one day. On Friday, the U.S. indicated that it was preparing to sanction Belarusian individuals tied to protest crackdowns and election fraud.
A middle school student was suspended after attending online classes with a background that read “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now.” Students have been advised by the Education Minister to avoid everything from protesting the national security law at school to “singing songs that contain political messages,” which he said were “clearly propaganda.” The suspension comes against the backdrop of another change in the city’s education system: textbook publishers are set to “change the way they describe the territory’s constitutional arrangements” so that students no longer learn about the government’s system of separation of powers; rather, “students will be taught that all three [branches] operate under a political framework that ultimately answers to Beijing.”
Human rights group Fortify Rights published video testimony from two deserters of Myanmar’s army in which the former soldiers confirmed that they had received direct orders to kill and rape Rohingya Muslims en masse. One soldier said that his commander ordered him to “shoot all you see and all you hear” and “exterminate” members of the ethnic group. On Thursday, three students were arrested for participating in protests calling for the restoration of internet access in the Rakhine state.
Chile has experienced yet another earthquake this week, of magnitude 6.5 near the city of Tocopilla. While there were no reported injuries or deaths. the city and a nearby municipality have experienced power outages and other utility delays. The country is also in the process of constructing a new constitution in order to remove itself from the constitution written during the reign of military dictator Augusto Pinochet. Critics of the current constitution claim the lack of recognition of the indigenous Chilean population erases Chile’s history of genocide against indigenous groups. Chileans will vote on the new constitution on October 25th, 2020.
At least six reporters from Diljah TV, a local television station, have quit and gone into hiding after receiving violent threats for broadcasting a concert on a day of mourning for Shia Muslims. Two days of protests are set to begin on Sunday due to the government’s refusal to employ some 31,000 medical graduates for budgetary reasons, despite the country’s rising COVID-19 caseload and alarming lack of practitioners. Organizers say that if they are not successful, doctors in non-emergency sectors will begin a partial strike. Meanwhile, families of ISIS militants, including women and children, are being detained at Iraq’s border with Syria.
This week, Palestine recorded its highest daily record of coronavirus infections at a total of 37,214. The West Bank and Gaza were shielded from the first global wave of the pandemic, but are now seeing a quick spread of the virus through the nation. An upcoming Arab League meeting on Wednesday will likely be dominated by discussion of the UAE’s “peace deal” with Israel and how other countries will continue to stand on the Palestinian cause for self-determination. Experts predict the conversation will be more divided than in past conversations.
American software giant Microsoft found that hackers tied to the Russian government have targeted over 200 organizations linked to the U.S.A’s upcoming election, mirroring the election interference that led up to the controversial 2016 presidential election. Local sources reported on the same day that the U.S. imposed sanctions on Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian politician with “close connections” to Russian intelligence who fueled conspiracy theories about American presidential candidate Joe Biden. In other news, teachers in St. Petersburg have been “instructed to comb through their students’ social media pages and submit detailed reports on students who post ‘LGBT symbols’ to the police,” raising alarms with rights groups working in the already LGBT-unfriendly nation.
Sudan’s government has declared a three-month state of emergency over record-breaking floods that have killed dozens of people and wrecked over 100,000 homes. The floods are also putting two of Sudan’s “invaluable historical relics”, the royal pyramids of Meroe and Nuri, at risk. Separately, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel group, which did not sign onto last week’s historic peace agreement between the government and nine rebel groups, has agreed to new peace talks with the government.
On Monday, a court blocked a senate bid by former Bolivian president Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president of the Movement for Socialism Party. Morales resigned from the presidency following claims of election fraud and military pressure, and was later exiled to Mexico. The Human Rights Watch has released a statement condemning the courts decision, claiming the interim government is abusing the justice system to carry out politically-motivated persecutions.