February 12, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers China’s ban on the BBC, Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in Nicaragua, and the “All Belarus People’s Assembly.”
In Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting since the coup on 1 February despite curfews, internet shutdowns and a ban on large gatherings. At least three people were shot during a protest where security forces deployed both live and rubber as well as a water cannon. Leaders of the coup have been sanctioned by the United States. In Haiti, 23 people have been arrested for an alleged coup attempt. President Jovenel Moïse claims his term in office ends in February 2022 while opponents say it ended this past Sunday. Protesters have taken to the streets to demand his resignation. Talks between India and China have led to the removal of troops from the disputed Himalayan border after months of high tension and casualties on both sides. In Madagascar, all political rallies have been banned by police in anticipation of protests organized by the opposition, Miara-manonja. The protests were organized to bring attention to rising unemployment, poverty and Miara-manonja’s request that the security forces deployed outside the house of former president Marc Ravlomananabe removed. In Somalia, 13 members of the security force were killed in a bombing attack after election management negotiations failed. The failed negotiations led to the postponement of the February 8 election. The opposition is refusing to recognize Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as president and are calling for the creation of a council to elect a temporary leader.
A new program, headed by the WHO and the EU, is going to deploy $60 million worth of Covid-19 vaccines to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. Another program, the UN-led COVAX initiative, is going to be shipping 90 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Africa. Specific vaccines will have to be deployed to the continent as South Africa has to suspend its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week due to evidence from a clinical-trial that revealed the vaccine failed to prevent illness derived from the South African variant. That decision led the director of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention to encourage countries that have not found cases of the variant to use the AstraZeneca vaccine. In contrast, the WHO is encouraging its use even in countries where the variant is circulating widely.
The second impeachment trial against former President Trump for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol is ongoing. Democrats are emphasising the danger he poses to the U.S. democracy, and arguing that the rioters were encouraged by the “following order from their commander-in-chief”. Meanwhile, a group of break-away Republicans, frustrated by the parties handling of Trump, are in talks to form a new anti-Trump centre-right party based on “principled conservatism”. In New York, Governor Cuomo is receiving backlash following allegations that he and his senior staff concealed the figures of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes. In foreign policy news, President Biden is yet to call Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu, raising questions about the state of the alliance.
BBC World News has been banned inside of China following the BBC’s report on the persecution of the Uighur minority. In response, UK regulators are banning China Global Television Network’s (CGTN). Meanwhile, the Chinese tech company Huaweiis taking the British bank HSBC to court to gain access to documents relating to the US fraud case against Huawei’s chief financial officer. Indian-Chinese relations are cooling as they agree to pull back troops from the border at Ladakh.
A new wave of Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong has ignited a series of racist incidents targeting people of South Asian descent in the Chinese-controlled city state. Racism against South Asians is not a new phenomenon in Hong Kong, where an estimated 92% of the population is ethnic Chinese, but the Coronavirus Pandemic has brought about a new surge of racist incidents. These include comments from a health official who suggested that minorities were spreading the virus. In other news, RTHK, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, announced this week that programming by the United Kingdom’s BBC would be pulled from public broadcasts. The move came shortly after China’s National Radio and Television Administration banned BBC broadcasts “within Chinese territory,” citing the public broadcaster’s failure to meet broadcasting requirements.
An independent legislator and critic of President Mnangagwa, Temba Mliswa, was arrested today during a press conference for allegedly violating Covid-19 regulations. In other news, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) is drawing attention to widening inequality in the mining sector, resulting from both Covid-19 and unequal access to natural resources. In particular, gender inequality is also exacerbating, with women being segregated and discouraged from participating. Zimbabwe’s mining sector has been in the limelight since the Transparency International Zimbabwe report recently revealed the billions of USD lost via financial leakages. Finally, the leading party, Zanu PF, is supporting proposals to tear down housing developed illegally, including housing cooperatives with links to party figures.
Cuba has been faced with dramatic growth in Covid-19 cases as they have reported over 800 new cases Thursday. Authorities from the provinces with the highest ratesmet virtually with government officials, including President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who asked the leaders multiple times the numbers of cases in their area and what they are doing to prevent the spread. This meeting will hopefully bring more efficient job managing during this pandemic and a decrease in cases. Cuba has presented an initiative to improve resilience to drought by strengthening hydrological monitoring. This is a project that will be worked on with Russia and other UN nations.