CANVAS Weekly Update – November 1, 2020


November 1, 2020

Dear friends,

CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This report covers police brutality protests in the United States and Iraq, a contested election in Tanzania, a new Nicaraguan cyber crimes law, sanctions on Iran, and much more!

Conflict Update

Over 100,000 people flooded the streets in Budapest on Friday, protesting the Hungarian government’s efforts to undermine academic freedom for students of the University of Theatre and Film Arts, calling it an “attack on culture.”

A top court in Poland ruled in a decision that is not subject to appeal to ban all abortions, prompting widespread women-led protests across the country despite a spike in coronavirus infection rates.
Somewhat violent anti-coronavirus restriction protests broke out across Italy on Monday following the national government’s order to close restaurants, bars and gyms, as well as the implementation of a curfew by some local governments. Both protestors and police exhibited violence towards each other.

Anti-lockdown protests also took place in London, United Kingdom following the government’s decision to strengthen social gathering restrictions, leading to 18 arrests.

Amid accusations of “shameless vote-rigging” by the ruling party’s opposition, 11 Tanzanian members of the opposition were shot and killed by police after trying to prevent soldiers from depositing pre-filled ballots before the polls opened in order to sway the upcoming election.

Coronavirus [UPDATE]

Friday, NBC reported that coronavirus antibodies may provide protection against reinfections, though they may wane over time. The prime minister of Belgium announced a national lockdown which may be the country’s “last chance” to keep the country’s overrun healthcare system from collapsing. European countries have been documenting new daily records each week, showing no sign the pandemic will slow down on the continent. The United States surpassed nine million known coronavirus cases this week, recording a new daily average of 89,000 infections, as well.


On Tuesday, a Bolivian the Plurinational Legislative Assembly approved a report penned by Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party members that recommended ex-interim president Jeanine Áñez and her advisors face consequences for their involvement in the massacres of Senkata, Sacaba and Yapacani peoples of Bolivia, including a judgement for involvement in genocide. Áñez has declared herself to be innocent, but stated that she will remain in Bolivia for an investigation she hopes will be “impartial.” Unrelatedly, a regional news source reported on Friday that formerly ousted president Evo Morales will resume leadership of the Six Federations for the Tropic of Cochabamba, a powerful union for coca growers.

United States of America

Tensions are high leading up to the U.S. general election on November 3rd. On Monday, 27-year old Walter Wallace Jr. was murdered by two cops in Philadelphia during a wellness call regarding Wallace’s ongoing psychological episode. In the following days, protesters and police officers clashed in another instance of national outcry over police brutality. The demonstrations grew increasingly violent, with police officers aggressively targeting protestors, firing tear gas and striking them with batons. In many local elections, police brutality and police reform have become the centerpiece of campaigns, however the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots and concerns surrounding whether they will be counted remains at the forefront of election concerns.


As protests against Indonesia’s unpopular omnibus law continue, local news sources have reported that intruders have disrupted the peaceful protests and damaged a dozen traffic cameras. Unrelatedly, inmates have tested positive for coronavirus at a prison in Pekanbaru, a major economic hub located on the country’s Sumatra island. With one death thus far, concerns of prison overcrowding leading to quick coronavirus transmission have been voiced by authorities within the corrective facility and international media.


Protests calling for reform of the Thai monarchy that started mid-June continue to rage on despite Prime Minister Prayuth refusing to step down, citing loyalty to the Thai king. Prayuth has faced criticism for his engineering of last year’s elections to keep himself in power. Other members of parliament have also called upon him to step down, adding to the mounting local and international pressure for democratic reform. There have been increasing instances of royalist counter-protestors showing up at demonstrations and raising tensions. Analysts have voiced concerns about the protests, calling upon activists to keep a watchful eye on Thailand lest the protests turn violent and lead to a military coup.


Nationwide strikes began this week after President Lukashenko refused to resign by the Sunday deadline given to him by opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Since the beginning of the strikes, police have detained doctors, forcing them to postpone life-saving operations for their patients, who participated in the protests and Lukashenko threatened to conscript student participants. Dozens of student protesters have already been expelled from their universities for the same reason. General hostility towards protesters continues: police fired stun grenades into crowds on Sunday, detained over 500 demonstrators nationwide that same day, and even violently raided homes that protesters took shelter in after receiving orders to do so from Lukashenko.


Sudan’s foreign ministry announced on Sunday that the country will discuss cooperation agreements on trade and migration with Israel in the weeks to come. The announcement has been met with opposition from Iran, who says Sudan was held “ransom” by the U.S., and high-level Sudanese officials who say that such normalization should not take place until the formation of a transitional parliament. Normalization has also led some 6,000 Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel to fear deportation back to their home country. On a more positive note, a representative of the International Monetary Forum said that Sudan’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror “eliminated one of the hurdles to possible…debt relief,” an encouraging sign for the country in a time of economic crisis.


On October 25, thousands of Iraqis hit the streets of Baghdad, Najaf, Nasiriyah, and Basra, renewing a movement against government corruption and emphasizing earlier demands for the prosecution of those who killed protesters during the past year. The protests first began just over a year ago, but were temporarily halted due to COVID-19 concerns. Police and protesters exchanged blows in this new round of demonstrations: as the police employed tear gas and stun grenades, protesters hurled molotov cocktails, burned tires, and threw rocks. Dozens of civilians were injured in the process. In other news, Kurdistan authorities announced this week that they had foiled a PKK-led attack on diplomats in the city of Erbil.

Hong Kong

Lasting unrest in Hong Kong has taken a toll on its citizens’ feelings of security: the city, which previously ranked 5th in the world on Gallup’s Global Law and Order Index, tumbled to 82nd place in 2020. Official figures show that an increasing number of Hong Kongers are seeking asylum, especially in Canada and Australia; this week, four activists attempted to seek asylum at the U.S. Consulate but were rejected within hours. One of the activists, 19-year-old Tony Chung, was arrested on charges of secession soon after. Meanwhile, calls for the Chinese government to release twelve Hong Kongers who have been detained ever since attempting to flee to Taiwan are intensifying around the world. Opposition lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan hung up banners saying #save12HKyouths, a hashtag echoed by prominent activists such as Greta Thunberg.


China, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, and the African Union have all urged the international community to halt sanctions on Zimbabwe after the country’s anti-sanction campaign this week. The series of events ended with an all-night online “extravaganza” with Zimbabwe’s top musical talent that drew just 14 viewers. Separately, the government has amended the Criminal Law Act to criminalize “unauthorized communications with foreign governments,” “protesting during international events or visits,” and making “unsubstantiated claims of torture or abduction” in a move that experts say takes aim at opposition activists and charities. The ruling party drew additional fire this week when a relative of President Mnangagwa was arrested after attempting to smuggle 14 gold bars past airport security prior to boarding her flight to Dubai.


Nicaragua’s legislature has approved the Special Cyber Crimes Law, which includes provisions for imprisoning anyone who “promote[s] or distribute false[s] or misleading information that causes alarm, terror, or unease in the public,” “incites hatred or violence,” or “puts at risk economic stability, public health, national sovereignty or law and order.” Many fear that this law will be disproportionately applied to members of President Ortega’s political opposition, which is why the European Union and United States expressly disavowed the law after its proposition.


On Thursday, China unveiled a new 5-year economic plan, emphasizing quality growth over speed in order to become a self-reliant “technological powerhouse.” This plan aims to encourage domestic demand and slowly open up the economy throughout the duration of the plan. It is expected that President Xi Jinping’s pledge of making the country carbon neutral by 2060 will heavily shape how the country carries out the five year plan. China has announced its plans to impose sanctions upon Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing following the U.S. approved a nearly $ 2 billion arms sale to Taiwan last week.


On Thursday, United States announced it would place sanctions upon 11 firms and individuals for their alleged participation in the sale and purchase of Iranian petrochemical products. Additionally, the country announced it had seized missiles and oil from Iran on route to Yemen. UN atomic power watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran is in the process of building an underground centrifuge assembly plant after the country’s previous one exploded. Following the hit of a new coronavirus infection number, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has called for stricter rules for those who flout public health rules.