CANVAS Weekly Update – September 24th, 2021


September 25, 2021

Dear Friends,

CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of the weekly report! This week covers the rising tensions at the Serbia-Kosovo border, calls for governmental change in Hong Kong, and an alleged coup attempt in Sudan.

Conflict Update:

In Israel, Arab residents are protesting the onslaught of murders within the community. Just this week, three more Arab-Israelis have been killed, including one who was the victim of a shooting during a wedding. The majority of the killings, termed “communal murders” – counting 89 victims in the last year – are a result of gang infighting, family feuds, and violence against women. Earlier this year, there were already protests raised decrying the lack of police attention to Arab-Israeli murders, calling attention to the importance of race in Israel’s policing.

As a result of a new policy in Kosovo of removing Serbian license plates upon entry and replacing them with temporary Kosovo ones, ethinic Serbs have blocked two border crossings in Jarinje and Brnjak to protest for five days. Serbia has also raised combat readiness of border troops in response. Kosovar officials have denied responsibility for the reports of police beatings of three ethnic Serbs in Bernjak/Brnjak. The men claim to have been gathering wood when they were beaten and verbally attacked by Kosovar police. The police claim to have “detained, verified and then released” the three men, of Kosovar nationality, and that the Serbian media coverage is attempting to further heighten tension in the region. In Zubin Potok, Kosovo, a vehicle registration office in a municipal building was set on fire by ethnic Serbs protesting the new vehicle registration policy. In Zvecan, another public building was targeted with grenades that did not explode. It is significant that this new registration policy has been in effect in Serbia for many years, as the country does not recognize Kosovo, it’s former province, as a state, and regards the border crossing as a “temporary administrative boundary”.

In Melbourne, Australia, police arrested over 200 people in an anti-lockdown protest on Friday. The county carries some of the strictest measures on the planet – and has recently become the city to endure the longest lockdown of 253 days. Police exercised questionable measures to prevent protests by “picking off and detaining individual protestors on their way to the” planned large scale protests. This follows the protest Wednesday at the shrine of remembrance that ended with police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Many have questioned the rapid pick up of Australia’s authoritarian enforcement of covid-regulations in the last year, including the use of military police, facial recognition, and tracking. Similarly, on Friday Quebec passed a law to make protesting outside of schools, hospitals, and vaccination sites illegal for the next 30 days.


Coronavirus Update:

On Tuesday, September 21, U.S. producer of vaccine materials Cytiva announced it will invest US$52.5 million in South Korea from 2022 until 2024. The announcement was made at a ceremony in New York, attended by President Moon Jae-in, about partnerships between South Korea and the U.S. Yonha News Agency attributes the investment to South Korea’s biopharmaceutical production capacity–the second-largest in the world. Furthermore, the investment is part of South Korea’s strategy to become a “global vaccine hub,” which includes a US$1.8 billion plan.

The theme of global cooperation in the COVID-19 pandemic was repeated by U.S. President Joe Biden in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, also on Tuesday. The speech focused on Biden’s detailed vision for a new era of diplomacy in the United States–one that he claimed will move away from an “America First” era of foreign policy. Among other concerns, Biden repeated his commitment to using technological innovation and global cooperation, not war, to address challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that the US has shipped more than 160 million Covid-19 doses to countries around the world, and put more than $15 billion toward the global Covid response. Biden also announced additional Covid-19 commitments during a US-hosted global Covid-19 summit on Wednesday. 

Speaking remotely from Tehran, newly elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi responded to Biden’s speech by slamming U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran as a mechanism of war, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Raisi, who was sworn in last month after an election, is described by CNN as “a conservative cleric and former judiciary chief seen as close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In his speech, Raisi stated that “sanctions are the U.S.’ new way of war with the nations of the world,” and that during the Covid-19 pandemic, such sanctions amounted to “crimes against humanity.” To note, although U.S. sanctions allow for humanitarian aid, it has made the international purchases of medicine and equipment much more difficult.

But what is the reality behind global vaccine cooperation? According to a 64-page report released on 22 September by Amnesty International called A Double Dose of Inequality: Pharma companies and the COVID-19 vaccine crisis, big pharma (Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, etc.) is responsible for an unprecedented human rights crisis. The report, which reviewed all six of the big pharma companies’ human rights policy, vaccine pricing structure, intellectual property records, and transparency records, concluded that overall, these companies have failed to meet their human rights responsibility. Additionally, all six companies have yet to take part in international initiatives for sharing knowledge and technology to boost global vaccine supplies. They have also opposed proposals to temporarily lift intellectual property rights to their vaccines.

According to a research article by the BMJ, published by the British Medical Association, an intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines would significantly advance global equity. “The barrier to adequate vaccine supply today is not lack of vaccine options, nor even theoretical production capacity; the problem is the intellectual property (IP) protection governing production and access to vaccines,” the article writes. The full article goes on to explain how the lack of an IP waiver worsens (among other reasons): 1) A global political economy that allows some countries to purchase more vaccines than they need, 2) Suppliers failing to meet manufacturing targets, 3) The ability to protect against Covid-19 variants, some of which have already shown signs of resistance to current vaccines.  


Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh, heading the anti-Taliban resistance in the Panjshir Valley, have been reported to have fled into Tajikistan on September 6th, in opposition to claims that they were in the Panjshir Valley. They are also reported to have lost US backing, but have gained the support of US politicians in favor of the US return to Afghanistan, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The U.S. has approved two humanitarian licences for aid to Afghanistan in spite of the current sanctions placed against the country. The licenses allow for the U.S., NGO’s, and international organizations such as the UN to participate in humanitarian transactions with the Taliban/Haqqani Network. This comes after unilateral advice, from former aides to the Tajik government, that without aid, many Afghans face death and starvation in the coming winter. Due to the increase in internally displaced peoples living in refugee camps, winter conditions will affect many more people than usual.

The Taliban have appointed an Afghan UN envoy, and requested to conference with global leaders on Tuesday. Currently, they have not been accepted to speak before the General Assembly, which finishes on Monday.

Taliban founder and chief enforcer confirmed Thursday that executions and harsh punishments such as hand amputation will return under the new regime. He cited practices such as hand cutting for thieves as necessary for safety under the new regime. Judges, including female judges, will decide verdicts, but the law will follow the foundations of the Quran.



Earlier this week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned of the human rights catastrophe under military rule in Myanmar and urged the international community to do more to prevent conflict from worsening that would further affect the country and the region. Following the coup in February earlier this year, Western countries have condemned the junta and imposed targeted sanctions, but critics say a tougher stand must be taken, including an arms embargo. Myanmar has so far failed to deliver on its agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to cease violence and start a dialogue towards democracy. More than 230,000 civilians who have been displaced as a result of the junta, and humanitarian aid is needed for more than 3 million Myanmar people who are in need of assistance, and the UNHCHR has warned that the situation is certain to worsen without more outside effort and that the abuses perpetrated since the coup may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Myanmar’s military junta has been reported to be systematically abducting the relatives of people it is seeking to arrest when they are unable to be located, including children as young as 20 weeks old, according to the UN special rapporteur for the country. As of July, the junta had killed at least 75 children ranging in age from 14 months to 17 years old. Only 6% of Myanmar’s 54 million people are vaccinated, and the country’s shadow government is planning to channel much of its revenue from global crowdfunding campaigns towards a mass inoculation campaign. The National Unity Government’s (NUG) finance minister Tin Tun Naing said in a recent interview that the effort would first focus on areas not under the full control of the military, and was expected to cost US$300 million

The United States:

President Joe Biden shows the readiness of the U.S. to help deal with significant global perils. In his address at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden expressed how the new america is past wars but he’s willing to stand up with his old allies and called this “an era of relentless diplomacy”. Although the country will be prepared  to defend its  vital national interest, focus on the use of military will take a back seat. Biden also directly acknowledged growing tensions with China to add that this is not a cold war situation and we don’t want to divide the world in two blocks.
The search for Gabby Petito, a 22 year old white woman, by five different U.S. agencies turned massive after questions of why don’t missing people of color get the similar kind of attention. This case has highlighted the disparity of police resources and media attention in cases concerning people of color. A report says 710 Indigenous people were reported missing in the state over the past decade. In other news, the thousands of Haitian migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border have temporarily housed at the facility is located on the same military base where the a prison for foreign terrorism suspects of 9/11 operates. White House on Thursday clarified that it is not sending Haiti migrants at border to Guantanamo.
On 23 September, abortion providers in Texas asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on an urgent basis and hear their case before lower courts have finished ruling on the dispute. The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, imposed a near-total ban on abortion. This law also has a provision where private citizens can sue anyone who assists a woman in getting an abortion past the six-week cutoff, and this has made the it more difficult to directly sue the government for it. As the U.S. Senate gets closer to voting on a measure to suspend the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling and keeping federal agencies operating after Sept. 30, the White House is expected to ask federal agencies to prepare for a possible U.S. government shutdown. This comes after the continuous struggle of health authorities to deal with COVID19 and the fight of Democrats and Republicans over funding.


Nacho Rocha, a native of Spaniard whose family lives in Cuba, is on a hunger strike for the past 26 days demanding the United Nations grant him a meeting, so as to address human rights violations in Cuba. his demands include the U.N. publicly creating a resolution denouncing the humanitarian crisis in Cuba, providing proof of life and subsequent release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and Cuba’s expulsion from the United Nations Human Rights Council. A recent report by the human rights nonprofit Prisoner Defenders alleges that more than 5,000 people were detained and hundreds remain in jail. On the other hand, Miguel Marion Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the President of Cuba, underlined the importance of multilateralism and the UN in his speech to the high-level General Debate at the General Assembly on Thursday. He also condemned the foreign policy of the United States.
Cuban cultural ministry plans to forge ahead with the 14th edition of the Havana Biennial despite having a chance of delay due to the covid19 pandemic. The festival invites the arrival of hundreds of arts professionals and collectors who make the event successful, but this year the artists who participated in the recent protest may not be able to participate.
The government finally put into effect the laws on the operation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), state and private, as well as those of non-agricultural cooperatives, which were halted four years ago. This can be a hope for many, bringing in a new era for private companies. On 20 September, Vietnam has signed an agreement to import five million doses of Cuban Vaccine Abdala.


On Monday, 21 August, Nicaraguan police reported that they had detained Sandinista “dissident” Irving Isidro Larios Sánchez, for “conspiracy, inciting foreign interference in internal affairs, adn requesting military action against the [Ortega} government.” Larios is a sociologist and member of the Articulation of Social Movements (AMS): a group composed of different civil society organizations. He also heads the Institute for Research and Social Management (INGES). Larios is the latest of the 37 independent professionals and dissidents systematically arrested by the National Police, which began this operation on May 28. Among the arrested are seven individuals who announced their intention to run for president in the upcoming November 7 elections.
With regard to the 37 people arrested, two of them were recently sent to trial on Wednesday, 22 September. Human rights lawyer Maria Oviedo and community leader Pedro Mena were accused by the Prosecutor’s office of allegedly conspiring to undermine national integrity. Their hearing was closed-door. 
In a further bid to maintain the Ortega regime, on Monday, 21 September,  the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) banned large face-to-face events in the run up to the November 7 elections. The official reason for the ban, which prohibits gatherings of more than 200 people for up to an hour, is due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, despite their supposed “concern” for the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ortega regime is still going forward with en masse in-person elections. Additionally, glaring discrepancies between government-reported Covid data and that reported by citizen groups further call into question the Ortega regime’s commitment to the pandemic. For example, whereas a network of doctors called the Citizen Observatory in Nicaragua reported 26,252 suspected cases of infection, the government only reported 12,828 infections and does not recognize the data by the Citizen Observatory.
In response to the ban on mass campaigns as well as the arrests of potential opponents, activist groups like the aforementioned AMS and families of the 37 people arrested have called for an electoral strike. According to AMS member Julia Diaz to the EFE news agency, the call for an electoral strike is because “mobilizing to the polling stations is playing into the hands of the dictatorship.” She explained that the November 7 elections are a farce, i.e. that it is designed for Ortega to win considering there are: 1) No strong opposition parties due to the recent restrictive Electoral Law and (she implied) recent arrests, and 2) A Sandinista-majority CSE. In sum, Diaz reasons that going to vote (even if not for Ortega) would only increase Ortega’s legitimacy when he eventually— through underhanded methods— wins. 


On Wednesday, 15 September, United States President Biden accused Bolivia and Venezuela of failing to take drug-fighting measures over the past year as specified in an international counternarcotics agreement. Both countries have denied Biden’s accusations. The Bolivian Minister of Internal Affairs, Eduardo de Castillo, stated that Luis Arces’s administration had actually succeeded in eradicating more than 6,000 hectares of coca plants, and shut down a criminal organization. “We are rejecting this report because it was prepared unilaterally,” Castillo said to journalists, adding that the U.S. has not conducted research in Bolivia unlike what multilateral organizations targeting illegal drug trade do.
On Friday, 24 September, a violent clash occurred between coca growers and national police during a protest, leaving dozens detained and injured. The protest in question was carried out by coca growers from the Los Yungas and La Paz region to regain control of coca markets under the Departmental Association of Coca Producers (Adepoca). The protest in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, led by Armin Lluta, was an attempt to recover the Adepoca headquarters, which is currently under the control of Arnold Alanes, supported by the government. According to newspaper El Deber, residents in the area have denounced the excessive use of force by the police, who allegedly used tear gas.
During the UN General Assembly on 24 September, President Arce proposed to work with multilateral organizations to refinance or relieve foreign debt at a global level. Bolivia, which has been going through an economic crisis, was hit hard by the pandemic as well as its socio-political situation. While addressing debt relief, Arce also leveled criticism at the Organization of American States (OAS) for supporting coups, promoting divisiveness, and generating destabilization. He added that the OAS and its Secretary General Luis Almagro were involved with the 2019 Bolivian crisis.


The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and migration agency IOM have called for an immediate investigation into the deaths of four people near the border between Poland and Belarus. The agencies expressed their shock and condolence in a joint statementon 21st September. Out of four, two of the victims are identified as Iraqi nationals.  BBC reports that the migrants were illegally deported from the European Union by Polish border troops and died of hypothermia. On Friday 24th, another migrant reportedly died at the Poland-Belarus border. Amid the accusations of Lukashenko using migrants as a weapon, these deaths have shocked many.

Christopher Cavoli, the commanding general of the U.S Army Europe and Africa said on Thursday that the United States and Lithuania would work to preserve the continent’s peace “no matter who positions what, where” after speaking to Lithuanian General about the region’s security. Both the counties are concerned about the recent war games between Belarus and Russia. Lithuania has further limited the electricity imports from Belarus.

According to the report Freedom on the Net 2021, global Internet freedom has declined dramatically in Belarus under the continuous “repressive campaign” by authorities.

Belarusian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs with Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held a discussion about the format of future interactions this week, ahead of the UNHCR’s decision to shut down its dedicated office in the country.



The Council of Europe Office in Georgia is implementing “Get Out the Vote” initiatives and voter education campaigns to encourage more active participation by Georgian citizens in upcoming local elections on the 2nd of October. This campaign is planned to be in cooperation with local NGOs, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), and Public Movement Multinational Georgia (PMMG). The campaign aims to educate and inform Georgian voters about their electoral rights and the most up-to-date electoral regulations and practices. All the activities are implemented within the framework of the Council of Europe Project “Supporting Transparency, Inclusiveness, and Integrity of Electoral Practice and Process in Georgia”.

Over the last few months, Moscow has used the negative “foreign agent” label to describe several independent media outlets and individual journalists, and Navalny’s countywide network has been branded as “extremist.” Students, activists, and artists have received prison time for voicing support for anti-government protests. Georgia has always been seen as a political safehaven for Russian dissidents who are unsafe in Russia, and the new generation of activsts have followed this pattern, with many protestors who have recently been forced out of the country due to safety concerns moving to Georgia. However, some of those in exile have been worried as critics of the ruling Georgian Dream party say it is taking Tbilisi into Moscow’s orbit while damaging democratic institutions. With the upcoming October elections, Georgia is not as stable as it used to be and is going through political instability.


The U.S., U.K. and Australia announced a new security partnership to strengthen stability in the Indo-Pacific region over the concerns of China’s military presence. Through this deal, the U.S. and U.K shall assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, to allow Australia’s navy to help counter Chinese nuclear-powered vessels in the region, hinting how the military balance of power is going to grow more contested now. In other news, China has urged France to boost cooperation after the announcement of the Aukus submarine deal between the U.S., UK and Australia. The Chinese ambassador expressed that this cooperation is in the interest of the whole world and later told the Russian media how this pact between three countries undermines non-proliferation efforts. Vietnam expressed its willingness to share its experience and information with China as China bids to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). CPTPP is an open free trade agreement and the members include Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore apart from Vietnam.
Two activists based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have lost all contact with their keens, raising fears that they both might have been detained by the police. China’s well-known women’s rights campaigner Sophia Huang Xueqin and labour activist Wang Jianbing lost contact with their friends since Sunday. Huang is a leading figure in china’s 2018 #MeToo movement. Their friend’s calls to the activists’ families and to the police authorities of the region were unsuccessful.
A trial involving 150 children found that China’s single-shot COVID19 vaccine, CanSino, is safe for children if given a lower dose. The study finds it successfully triggered an immune response in children aged six to seventeen, although the extent of protection is yet to be calculated.

Hong Kong:

The UK has warned critics of Hong Kong staying in the country about traveling abroad, due to concerns surrounding the cross-border national security law by China, according to high-profile human rights advocate Bill Browder. Browder is a well-known lobbyist for sanctioning foreign governments that are involved in human rights abuses. Browder said he was contacted by the UK Foreign Office earlier this month after he was named in a Hong Kong court during a foreign collusion case. Browder has been very outspoken on the Hong Kong crackdown and has called for foreign governments to use Magnitsky-style sanctions against affiliated officials. The national security law, introduced in June 2020, broadly outlaws many acts and activities as foreign collusion, secession, subversion, and terrorism. It has been invoked to arrest more than 140 people so far, including pro-democracy figures, student activists, media executives, journalists, and human rights activists. A national security case against 47 Hong Kong democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion will resume on November 29th. It was ruled that more time was needed for pre-trial legal proceedings to be finalized and the case is then expected to move to the High Court, where longer and more severe sentences are dealt out. Hong Kong laws prohibit the media from publishing the contents of such proceedings. The 47, who include opposition politicians, are among more than 100 people who Hong Kong police have arrested under the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020. Beijing and the city’s government say the law is necessary to ensure stability, safeguard prosperity and guard against outside interference. The 47 were arrested on charges of participating in an unofficial and independently organized primary vote last year to select candidates for a since-postponed city election, which authorities say was a “vicious plot” to subvert the government. Diplomats and rights groups are closely watching the case amid increasing worry over the independence of Hong Kong’s judicial system, which is seen as the foundation on which its financial reputation was built.
A core member of the group behind Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square vigil group has openly objected to calls by two other leaders to disband the alliance following political and social pressure. Chow Hang-tung, the vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, made her objections clear in a Facebook post on Thursday, two days before group members are to vote on disbandment. On Monday, chairman and former vice-chairman of the alliance appealed to members to back the dissolution during an emergency general meeting. Writing from prison, the duo said they believed the best solution for the alliance was to voluntarily dissolve given the current social environment; this motion would require the approval of three-quarters of the voters present. Chow countered by saying the move will mean it loses its voice irreversibly. “I do not see how dissolving the alliance on our own will help us continue promoting our beliefs. Perhaps legal dissolution will ultimately be inevitable, but choosing to disband ourselves will immediately and irreversibly result in the alliance losing its voice and right to speak, and cut off any possibility of continuing to fight in the name of the group”. On Monday Hong Kong police arrested three members of Student Politicism, a pro-democracy student group, accusing them of a “conspiracy to incite subversion” including by helping deliver snacks to prisoners with the aim of recruiting followers.  Hong Kong police have arrested more than 100 people under a national security law imposed by Beijing June 2020. Beijing and the city’s government say the law is necessary to safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and guard against outside interference. Police Senior Superintendent told reporters that police arrested the three young dissidents saying they incited hatred of the government and had urged others not to obey the law and subvert state power. The group had set up street booths to spread what he called hateful speech against the government, including urging people not to use a government app aimed at tracking the spread of the coronavirus. Police raided the group’s warehouse and seized large quantities of items on a list of goods prisoners are allowed to receive from outside. The officer suggested the the activists were using the items to win over followers in prison. “Helping prisoners is not a problem but it depends on the intention. If the intention is to help prisoners with the same beliefs and to recruit followers … to continue to violate national security, it is a problem for sure”. The group also used slogans declared illegal under the new national security law and told people to “prepare for the next revolution”.


On Friday, 24 September, vice head of the Indonesian House of Representatitves (DPR) Azis Syamsudin was officially listed as a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) for the bribery of former KPK investigator Stepanus Robin Pattuju. According to the KPK’s spokesman Ali Fikri, investigations are currently ongoing. Syamsudin, who was formerly a lawyer/ advocate (in Indonesia, all lawyers are given the term advocate), joined the DPR as a member in 2009. He has risen in rank over the years to eventually become vice head of the DPR for the period of 2019-24. Syamsudin’s last reported net value, or LHKPN, in April 2021, was 89.4 billion IDR (more than 6,000,000 USD). In contrast, in 2003, his net worth was listed as 11 billion IDR (more than 770,000 USD).
In West Papua, a shootout between the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) in Kiwirok District, in the mountainous region of Bintang, has left one health worker, a 22-year-old female, and a TNI soldier dead, as well as an unspecified amount injured–although the exact number of casualties is not yet known. The shootout follows a string of incidents beginning on Monday, 21 September, which includes the burnings of several buildings: a public clinic in Kiwirok, the office of Papua Bank, and a district school. It is unclear how the shootout happened, whether it was planned by the KNBP, if the Indonesian Commission of  Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) will be conducting a fact-finding mission, and if state rhetoric will remain the dominant account of the shootout. 
In a statement earlier, on Monday, 21 September, Major General Ignatis Yogo  Triyono of the XVII/Cendrawasih Commando promised protection for all the citizens of Papua. Yogo’s statement was in response to a declaration of war and intent to remove all non-Papuans by the TPNB. “From the beginning, they have  always issued these kinds of threats. What is clear is that the police and army in conflict  regions in Papua have already secured these areas from these separatist terrorists, and we will protect the people,” said Yogo. Nevertheless, Yogo added that up until now, there had been no plans to send in additional troops. But later, after a soldier died during the Kiwirok shootout, the army eventually sent reinforcements in a reversal of their previous stance.
Meanwhile, U.N. experts have urged the government for better treatment of imprisoned Papuan Independence Movement spokesperson Victor Fredrik Yeimo, 39. Yeimo is currently imprisoned in Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura; he was arrested in May 2021 for treason, inciting violence, and social unrest. Yeimo, who suffers from chronic tuberculosis, has been denied medical treatment by prison authorities and thus, is at risk of dying. Several different civil society groups have previously urged the Jayapura judiciary to allow Yeimo access to treatment, but to no result.


Thailand’s disease control committee has proposed cutting in half the current two-week hotel isolation requirement for vaccinated arrivals, amid delays in plans to waive quarantine and reopen Bangkok and other tourist destinations starting in October. Thailand is keen to welcome back foreign visitors, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies caused a collapse in tourism, a key economic sector for the country. Senior health official, Opas Karnkawinpong, also said that this will benefit both business workers and students who have been struggling with required travel for work or study. The proposal will be presented on Monday, proposing that those without vaccination proof would be isolated for 10 days if arriving by air, and 14 days if by land. Less than a quarter of the estimated 72 million people living in Thailand have been fully innoculated. The country is still fighting its worst wave of COVID, which has accounted for about 99% of its 1.5 million cases and 15,884 deaths.
According to a study by the Siriraj Institute of Clinical Research, one of Thailand’s main Covid-19 vaccine regimes generates a lower immune response than inoculation combinations that include an mRNA-based dose. Preliminary results showed that a Sinovac vaccine as a first shot, followed by an AstraZeneca shot, which is a pairing widely used in Thailand following successful trials, elicited a weaker immune response than a two-dose regime in which the Pfizer vaccine was administered as the second shot four weeks after an initial jab of either Sinovac or AstraZeneca. Thailand pioneered the Sinovac-then-Astra combo, with the goal of increasing protection against the more contagious delta variant amid a national shortage of vaccine doses.
One of Thailand’s most prominent union leaders, president of the State Railway Union of Thailand, Sawit Kaewvarn, is facing three years in prison for his role in organizing a campaign on railway safety. The case was described as the biggest attack on organized labor in the country in decades. Human rights advocates in Thailand say the case involving and threatens to further weaken unions and general workers’ rights in the country. Sawit, who is also head of the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation, the largest body of trade unions in Thailand, was convicted of omission of duties and sentenced to three years in prison last October. Twelve other national and local union leaders received the same sentence.


In Iran, prisoner Shahin Naseri was reported dead this week. His fellow inmate, political prisoner Farhad Salmanpour-Zahir has claimed that he was incapable of committing suicide, and many suggest his death comes as a result of his testimony in the 2020 murder trial of Navid Afkari, claiming that his cellmate Afkari had been tortured into confessing to the murder of Hassan Turkan in 2018 during an anti-government protest.
Naseri has previously claimed to have been threatened by an investigation judge that his testimony was interfering with the case. Akfair’s lawyer has alleged that Naseri had reached out to him three times in the days before his death asking him for representation. His death is the third such questionable death in Iranian prison of late, with the Human Rights Organization reporting this week that two Kurdish detainees, members of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, were detained and killed in custody by torture methods exercised by the Revolutionary Guards. After long delays, the Iranian government has confirmed that they will resume nuclear talks for the JCPOA deal “very soon”.


On Sunday, US officials released reports confirming they carried out an airstrike on a weapons storage facility in Iraq. Allegedly, they were targeting Iran-backed militias in the region, as well as in Syria. They claimed that the attacks were carried out in retaliation to drone attacks against US personnel in Iraq. Death tolls were not released, but two Iraqi militia members claimed 4 militia members were killed in the airstrikes.

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have vowed revenge on the US airstrikes, promising to “attack American military facilities with missiles.” Iraqi politicians affiliated with the PMF have said that the US “only understands the language of force”. With 2,500 US military members in Iraq, there have been 40 attacks against the US in the region since the start of the year. With the new tensions added, there are likely to be more.



On Tuesday morning, Sudan’s government claims there was an alleged coup. Government officials and military personnel stated that a group of officers attempted to occupy a state-operated media building. The Sudanese army claim that 21 officers along with an unspecified group of soldiers have been arrested in connection with the coup attempt. Military officials see this coup attempt as a threat for a power grab and have escalated tensions between the two sides. The paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, known for his nickname Hemeti, stated, “We will not allow a coup to take place. We want real democratic transition through free and fair elections, not like in the past.” This message falls directly in line with the military’s position that they are the ones who will allow for free and fair elections. Hemti and other government officials went on to accuse civilian politicians of encouraging a coup attempt. The military wants to covey the message that the civilian politicians have been too concerned with internal problems and have neglected public welfare. The August 2019 power-sharing agreement that started after the overthrowing of Omar al-Bashir declared that Sudan would be run by a joint military and civilian government. The civilian body, titled the sovereign council, was enacted to oversee a transition to full civilian rule.
In midst of the borders conflict with Ethiopia in the Al-Fashaga region, Sudan has accepted a mediation offer from Turkey. Regarding the offer to mediate the President of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “We are ready to make any contribution to an amicable resolution of the problem, including mediation.” The conflict in the Al-Fashaga region is an on-going conflict about territory originated back from colonial times. The conflict in Tigray has heightened tensions in this region due to the influx of refugees fleeing from Ethiopia to Sudan. Sudan additionally has asked the U.N. Security Council to drop international sanctions. The conflict in Darfur region prompted the international community to impose sanctions however Sudan needs the support of global community to implement the Juda peace agreement. Reports state the Sudan has accepted to open offices for the U.N. Human Rights Council and at the ICC.


An electric fence initiative started by a partnership between the NGO Space for Giants and Uganda Wildlife Authority is one solution to stop crop raids and poaching. Local farmers are relieved by the move as they can relax their heightened security around their property. Since the electribe was erected in 2018, farmers have seen a significant decrease in human-wildlife contact. Even though poachers and crop raiders are deterred by the fence, animals have found ways to maneuver around which means this initiative will need to be updated to adapt to the animals new behavior.

In efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates around Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni said they will dismiss local government and health officials who do not mobilize the population. They describe someone who fails to mobilize as someone who lets vaccines expire or go to waste.  Museveni’s goal is to vaccinate at least half the nation. Additionally, Museveni’s cabinet considered introducing a new law to fine people for violating measures that were created to stop the spread of COVID. For the moment, Uganda has given out at least 1.8 million doses.



Studies from UNICEF show that Zimbabwe is lacking diversity in nutrition for children. In the report, UNICEF finds that between 2010-2020 Zimbabwean 20% of children age six to 23 months received the minimum dietary diversity. As an explanation as for why this is happening the researchers report that seventy-nine percent of women said they could not afford nutritious food for their families. This is resulting in young children consuming high levels of ultra-processed foods and drinks which will have negative long term effects on their health; twenty-nine percent of children in Zimbabwe consume juices with high levels of artificial sweetener. UNICEF has urgently asked the Zimbabwe government, along with the 19 countries that are failing to provide adequate food for children, to increase the availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious food.
Human Rights Watch reports that three year after a deadly cholera outbreak Zimbabwe’s capital Harare still faces a potable water crisis. Officials fear that the crisis could lead to another outbreak of cholera as deadly as the outbreak in 2008 when more than 4,200 residents were killed and 100,000 were infected. The main sources of water in Harare come from shallow wells, taps, and boreholes. These sources of water are often contaminated producing water that is brown and with a distinct odor. The government has not released any widespread information about what water is safe to drink leaving citizens to determine their risk by themselves. Human Rights Watch encouraged Zimbabwean officials at both the national and local level to work together to end Harare’s water problems.
The new bill titled the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill are awaiting the signature of Zimbabwe’s signature to become a law. It has been a decade since the Bill was first proposed and there is hope that it will foster technology-driven business around the country. The Bill includes measures to encourage technological development and lawful use of technology. However there is controversy due to the lack flexibility regarding updating to the Bill as technology advances. As mobile money and electronic transactions are arising as popular forms of banking within Zimbabwe there is no mention of any protection on mobile banking platforms. A majority of Zimbabwean cyber criminals target online mobile banking platforms for fraud yet the legal framework has no provision for mobile money crimes. The Data Protection Bill also lacks provisions covering user data protection over social media. This is concerning because messages sent through social media platforms are a main source of communication in Zimbabwe.