March 19, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers the fifth denial of bail of pro-democracy activists in Thailand, the increasing tensions in North Darfur, and the new cyber patrol established by the Indonesian police force.
Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped three teachers from a primary school in the northwestern part of the country on Monday as parents of students kidnapped in another school last week staged a protest demanding the government bring home their children safely. Monday’s attack was the fifth mass school abduction in Nigeria’s northwest since December 2020, where a surge in armed militancy has led to worsening security conditions and kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative industry. Hundreds of school campuses have been closed across four states out of fear of further abductions, leaving an estimated 20 million Nigerian children out of school. North Korea on Friday severed ties with Malaysia after that country’s highest court agreed to extradite a North Korean man accused of money laundering to the United States. In a ruling last week, Malaysia’s high court approved the extradition of Mun Chol-myong, a North Korean citizen, rejecting his argument that the case against him was politically motivated. The American government has sought to bring Mun to the United States to face criminal charges that he laundered money through front companies and violated international sanctions by helping to ship prohibited luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea on behalf of the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang. Mr. Mun would be the first North Korean citizen to be extradited to the United States to face a criminal trial. Thirteen Mexican prosecutors and police officers were killed in an ambush by gunmen south of Mexico City on Thursday. The Mexican government convoy was conducting a security patrol southwest of the Mexican capital when gunmen opened fire, marking the deadliest assault on Mexican law enforcement personnel in well over a year. Thursday’s killings in central Mexico added to the 86 police officers who have already been killed this year, according to Causa en Comun, a Mexican anti-corruption group that focuses on public security. The attack was a major setback to government security forces and President Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has promised to make Mexico a safer place.
A number of countries paused their use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine due to fears that it could be causing blood clots this week. European countries will resume use after the vaccine was deemed “safe and effective” by the EU’s medical regulator, who said there was no association to higher blood clot risk. Norway and Sweeden have chosen to wait and will issue guidance on usage of the vaccine at the end of the week. In other vaccine news, the WHO has approved the Johnson and Johnson jab for global use while China has approved a fifth vaccine for emergency use. In Brazil, which reported it’s highest number of Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the healthcare system is facing “the most severe crisis in its history” with a lack of staff in intensive care units and patients dying as they wait for beds. Papua New Guinea is also facing a crisis, which Australia has responded to by providing 8,000 vaccines and critical health equipment.
The crackdown by Myanmar’s junta government against protesters continues to escalate. Security forces reportedly shot and killed nine anti-government protesters on Friday, bringing the number killed since the February 1 coup to well over 200. According to the latest report from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Myanmar-focused human rights organization based in Thailand, some 224 people have been killed and 2,258 have been arrested, charged, or sentenced. Among the recent arrests is U Kyi Toe, a leading spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (N.L.D.). Before his arrest Thursday, Kyi Toe had been a primary source of information about the events in Myanmar for the outside world. In other news, members of the Myanmar parliament who were removed by the military are exploring whether the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) can investigate any crimes against humanity committed since the February 1 coup. Myanmar is not a state party to the I.C.C., but U.N. human rights experts in Geneva have denounced forced evictions, arbitrary detentions, and the killings of pro-democracy protesters. The protests against Myanmar’s junta have also expanded beyond the country’s borders. Since the coup, some protesters have launched an online campaign to denounce family members and associates of the Myanmar junta living abroad. Aside from shaming friends, associates, and family of the ruling government, activists have also created a website, called socialpunishment.com, information from which has been widely shared on Facebook.