January 22, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers the indictment of 12 Hong Kong protesters, internet crackdowns in Thailand, escalating protests in Kurdistan, and EU sanctions on Belarus.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has won a sixth term, despite election controversies. Opposition leader Bobi Wine remains under house arrest with authorities citing his presence in public a threat to public safety. As of Tuesday, there is an indefinite ban on social media, which has been restricted in the country since elections took place last week. In Ethiopia, there have been reports of extreme sexual violence in the Tigray region, which has been embroiled in a civil war since November. Information is limited because phone networks are down and the government has barred reporters from entering the region. On Wednesday, a reporter in the region was shot. Aid agencies estimate that between 2 and 4.5 million people are in need of assistance but the government has stalled the delivery of 450 tons of supplies. In Russia, prominent opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was arrested on Sunday upon his return to the country. In the wake of his arrest, the team led by Navalny has published a video detailing an investigation into one of Putin’s residences which claims the estate has a value of over $1 billion USD. The Kremlin has denied the report. Navalny’s allies have planned demonstrations in 65 cities on Saturday, which prosecutors have warned against, calling them “illegal,” and prosecutors are demanding a ban on sites where protests are being organized. As of Friday, Russian authorities have detained five of Navalny’s aides.
The world has surpassed 2 million Covid-19 deaths, with the highest number of deaths in the US and Brazil. In Brazil, where two new variants have been detected, vaccinations have begun, although rollout is expected to be slow. Concerns over “vaccine hoarding” continue as it is revealed that 39 million doses have been distributed across 49 wealthier countries, compared to just 25 doses distributed across Guinea, the only low-income country to have received vaccines. In other news, new studies have raised concerns that some variants of COVID-19 may make vaccines less effective.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and 49th Vice President of the United States, respectively. This came just hours after the United States reached 400,000 Covid-19 deaths as the virus claims more lives than any other condition. Kamala Harris is breaking history by becoming the first woman vice president, the first South Asian vice president, and the first Black woman vice president that the United States has seen. In his first 100 days in office, Biden plans to help curb the Covid-19 pandemic, provide economic relief to Americans, and combat the joint challenge of climate change and racial justice. On his first day in office the President signed multiple executive orders, many of which reversed Donald Trump’s previous orders. The list of executive orders includes, mandating masks to be worn on federal property, the boosting of federal support for underserved communities, a revision of regulations and policies in federal agencies that prohibit sex discimination to include sexual orientation and identity, and the rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement, among many other actions. These actions are just the beginning of the changes that Biden and his administration will be making over the next 100 days and the rest of his term.
A day before Joe Biden was sworn in as the next U.S. President, the U.S. State Department officially accused the Chinese government of committing genocide against the Uighurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang. In other news, China imposed sanctions on 28 former Trump Administration officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A statement released just minutes after President Biden took office in the United States, China’s foreign ministry released a statement which described China’s decision to impose sanctions on those “who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for U.S. moves on China-related issues.” Sanctions bar these individuals from entering Mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau, as well as prohibiting them from doing any business with Chinese companies.
Hong Kong is placing tens of thousands of residents in the Jordan and Sham Shui Po districts in a lock down to contain the spread of a new Covid-19 outbreak in the Chinese city-state. These are the first lock down measures that Hong Kong has taken since the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic last year. In other news, pro-China lawmakers are pushing for surveillance cameras to be installed in classrooms to monitor teachers’ speech. After last year’s mass resignation of opposition politicians, pro-Beijing lawmakers now dominate Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. Two independent members of the chamber voted no on the surveillance measures.
Foreign minister Sibusiso Busi Moyo and Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza have died from COVID-19, now four top ranking Zimbabwe officials have died from the virus. In other news, the clergy have stated they wish to have Personal Protective Equipment as they perform their national duties.