February 5, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers a military coup in Myanmar, Isis regrouping in Northern Iraq and a decision by the ICC to hear Iran’s case against the US.
On Monday, Myanmar’s military seized control of the government, declared a one year state of emergency and detained the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, along with other members of her party. Across Myanmar there have been demonstrations, with the most outspoken groups being healthcare workers, teachers and students. Read our full report on the coup here. On Tuesday, a court jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for 3.5 years on the basis that he violated the terms of a suspended sentence. Hundreds of Navaly’s supporters took to the streets once the news was released and over 5,100 people were arrested by security forces. On Wednesday a report was released by the BBC which alleges that the women in the Chinese detention camps for Uighur muslims have been raped, sexually abused and tortured. Beijing denies the accusations. The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) has worsened significantly, with rebel forces now controlling two thirds of the country. Since the start of the conflict last month, it has been estimated that 200,000 people have fled their homes. Key supply chains have been interrupted limiting the movement of relief aid like medical supplies and food. In Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the opposition party has released an estimate that more than 52,000 people have been killed since conflict began in the region in November.
On Monday the World Health Organization reported that COVID-19 cases have fallen globally for the third week in a row. Disparities in international vaccine distribution continue as the Red Cross reports that the world’s 50 poorest countries have received 0.1% of vaccine doses administered worldwide so far, while the 50 richest countries have received 70%. Vaccine distribution pressure could be relieved if the first one-dose coronavirus vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson, is approved. Concerns over vaccine effectiveness against variants remain high as trials of the aforementioned Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed that it is almost 20% less effective against the South African variant. Amidst Europe’s continuing struggle with vaccine distribution, Germany has flown a team of doctors, ventilators, and beds to Portugal, where the national health service has been overwhelmed by the influx of cases.
Vice President Kamala Harris cast her vote to decide a 50-50 vote to pass the Democrats Covid-19 relief budget. The relief package worth $1.9trillion is now scheduled to pass by Mid-March, and the plans include a $15 minimum wage, stirring oppositions from the Republicans. Congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Green, has been stripped of her committee roles after she spouted conspiracy theories including from QAnon. Meanwhile, deportations to Haiti are being halted as President Biden wrestles judges to bring ICE under his control. Finally, Virginia is set to be the first Southern state to abolish the death penalty as the topic continues to remain present in public debate.
The BBC has published a report detailing “systemic rape” against detained Uighur women, as China continues to face international backlash over the extensive persecution of Uighurs though a network of internment camps, particularly in the Muslim populated Xinjiang region. Despite officials attempts to downplay what some are calling attempts at genocide, victims and satellite imagery continues to uncover crimes. The Chinese foreign ministry is attacking the BBC for the report, calling the witnesses actors. Pressure is building on governments to boycott the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games as 180 organisations lobby in solidarity for the Uighur peoples. In other news, a US destroyer entered the disputed South China Sea for the first time since President Biden took office. China is protesting this move.
Hong Kong’s Education Bureau this week ordered schools in the Chinese-ruled city to adopt a more patriotic curriculum and advised teachers to report any violations of the new national security law. Students as young as six will be required to memorize offenses criminalized by the new law, including terrorism, secessionism, and collusion with foreign powers. The new regulations will also likely impact the fifty-two international schools operating in Hong Kong, which are primarily attended by the children of expatriates. In other news, twenty-four activists appeared in a court in Hong Kong Friday on charges pertaining to a June vigil which commemorated the anniversary of China’s crackdown on demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. Hong Kong traditionally holds the world’s largest vigil marking the 1989 crackdown, but the gathering was banned in 2020 because of Covid-19 restrictions. Regardless, thousands of Hong Kong citizens took to the streets to stage candlelight gatherings.
Zimbabwe is mobilizing USD 100 million in order to acquire Covid-19 vaccines. Following public backlash, the government U-turned on its previous announcements about personal costs for the vaccine. Mthuli Ncube, the finance minister, has now reassured that the vaccinations will be free, however, PCR tests are still subject to personal costs. The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has stated: “Our workers union which is pro-miners since obtaining the essential services status to monitor and enforce Covid-19 regulations within mining sites has noted that there are more unreported Covid-19 cases in mines and the cases seem to be very high,”. This comes after they found many cases going unreported on mining sites. In other news, the completion of the Kariba Dam refurbishment will be delayed by 2 years due to technical and Covid-19 related setbacks; the works are meant to improve safety standards.
A Cuban military helicopter has crashed on the east side of the island and killed all five on board. There has been an investigation launched into the crash and identities of those on board have not yet been released. In other news, Havana has enacted a total lockdown of persons and vehicles from 9pm to 5am each night that will continue until the Covid-19 situation is more favorable. The country also has 4 differentvaccine candidates currently in their human trials stage and they have the advantage of not requiring the refrigeration chambers that other vaccines do.