October 15, 2021
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
In this issue, we cover the latest updates on conflicts in Lebanon and Palestine, upcoming U.S. strikes, continued censorship of pro-democracy causes in Hong Kong, and protests in Georgia.
Seven were killed and dozens injured when gunfire broke out during a protest by Shia Muslim groups against the judge investigating last year’s explosion at the city’s port that killed 219 people in August 2020. Hezbollah had organized the protest and said demonstrators were shot by gunmen on rooftops, blaming a Christian faction, although the group denies the charge. The protest began outside the Palace of Justice, the main court building, with hundreds of people arguing the investigation had become politicized and demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar, who some claimed was biased. The situation escalated when heavy gunfire began in the central Tayouneh-Badaro area. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea condemned the violence and appealed for calm.
In Palestine, IDF troops shot at Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles in the southern West Bank. One man succumbed to his wounds, and the Israeli soldiers claimed to have found a Hamas flag at the sight of the bombing. Near this sight, the village of Kisan, along with other Palestinian land in the southeast, has been seized by Israel for the purported creation of a nature reserve. The village was told by the IDF that settlement buildings would go up just outside the village, and then their village would be destroyed and the land would be taken care of by the settlers. Reports from the town’s residents have claimed targeted violence by the settlers living nearby, and children receiving frequent injuries from rocks being thrown by settlers. One child is reported to have said “It’s scary walking to school and back as there are always problems,” another woman reports an attack on her son by four settlers who “ tried to stab him in his head,” and adds another report of “Bilal Said, 16, [who was] was run over by a settler car who broke his leg.” The UN Reports that since September 7th, 11 Israeli settler attacks have occurred, and in the whole of 2021, 290 of such attacks occurred that resulted in property damage, and 93 of which resulted in casualties.
This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the establishment of a new scientific advisory group whose function is to identify the origin of COVID-19 and establish a framework for combating future pandemics. The group–the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO)–will consist of scientists selected from a pool of more than 700 applicants, with the final team including scientists from countries like the U.S., China, and around two dozen other countries.
Furthermore, the formation of the SAGO occurs amid ongoing Chinese resistance to investigations. After an initial investigation conducted by the WHO, Beijing rejected a second probe in July that examines more closely various hypotheses about the origin of the virus–including that it came from a Chinese laboratory from the city Wuhan. Although this “lab-leak theory” was initially dismissed by the WHO, it has received renewed traction due to Beijing’s secrecy. In response, an editorial co-authored by the director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated: “[all] hypotheses must continue to be examined.” He subsequently called for audits of Wuhan laboratories. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency expert, emphasises that the WHO’s new panel is about science, not politics: “[we aim to] take a step back, create an environment where we can again look at the scientific issues….This is our best chance, and it may be our last chance to understand the origins of the virus.”
In response, China’s ambassador to the UN Chen XU told a news conference that the results of the earlier joint study was “quite clear” and that “it is time to send teams to other places” aside from China.
In other news, the announcement of interim clinical trial results from an experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 has spurred worldwide global interest. The drug, molnupiravir, is intended to alleviate the symptoms of those infected with COVID-29.. One significant advantage of the pill is that it could reduce the number of patients who require hospitalization, thus lightening the burden of the pandemic on the healthcare industry. A number of countries–including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Australia–have allegedly already signed agreements with the American pharmaceutical firm behind molnupiravir, Merck. Nonetheless, the South China Morning Post warns: “the pills are about treating the coronavirus, not preventing it. No matter whether molnupiravir is approved, vaccination will remain the best way of defeating Covid-19.”
This week, the Japanese Education Ministry released a report stating that child suicides in Japan has reached a record high in more than four decades. Since schools closed down last year, 415 children from elementary to high-school age have reportedly taken their own lives–more than 100 cases from the previous year. The recent report echoes concerns by medical health experts who believe that the pandemic has resulted in global unprecedented challenges to mental health. Speaking at a conference in the Royal College of Psychiatrist in June 2021, physician Christ Witty stated that the pandemic head led to higher levels of fear and public anxiety, particularly as national lockdowns put a strain on people’s social support and financial vulnerability. “Something that is different is the chronic nature of this pandemic,” Whitty added. “This has provided a significant challenge to the provision of mental health services.”
This week, Taliban officials confirmed reports of receiving US humanitarian aid. Despite this, the U.S. still refuses to recognize the Taliban as the leaders of Afghanistan. All this news came from Qatar, the sight of the first talks between the Taliban and the US since US withdrawal in August.
They also reportedly discussed the containment of extremist groups and the continued evacuation of US citizens, leading the US to announce plans this week to continue evacuation flights from Afghanistan.
Another issue broached was the inclusion of women in the workplace and in education, coming at the same time as reports of women still being barred from education. The measure was implemented allegedly temporarily. However, after the takeover in August, most secondary schools were able to begin classes in late September, and women have continued to be absent from the classroom. Taliban leadership continue to claim that women will be kept out of education only until a “safe learning environment” is established.
Taliban leadership have also met with European Union envoys in Doha looking for aid. These talks have resulted in the nation securing 1 billion euros in emergency aid to prevent total economic collapse. Germany also has pledged an additional 600 million, and spoke about plans to evacuate German citizens, but have also refused to recognize Taliban leadership.
Myanmar’s deposed President testified on Tuesday that the military tried to force him to relinquish power hours before its February 1 coup, warning him he could be seriously harmed if he refused, according to his lawyer. The testimony of Win Myint, his first public comments since he was overthrown, challenges the military’s insistence that no coup took place, and that power had been lawfully transferred to the generals by an acting President. Win Myint was testifying alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace laureate and de facto government leader before the coup, at their trial on Tuesday on charges including incitement, stemming from letters bearing their names that were sent to embassies urging them not to recognize the junta. Win Myint, who was Myanmar’s head of state, told the court in the capital Naypyidaw that senior military officials approached him on February 1 and told him to resign due to ill health.
An Indian government-controlled arms maker with high-profile U.S. and European shareholders has been supplying Myanmar, even after the country’s military toppled a democratically elected government on February 1st and killed hundreds of civilians in a bid to crush any resistance, a local rights group has said. The group, Justice for Myanmar, said in a report earlier this month that data obtained from global trade tracking service Panjiva shows that India’s Bharat Electronics Ltd. shipped several parts for a “remote-controlled weapons station” to Mega Hill General Trading Co. Ltd., a known broker for Myanmar’s military, in July.
More than 100,000 US workers will strike as a wave of industrial action dubbed “Striketober” hits America. On Thursday, 10,000 workers at farm equipment maker John Deere walked out over pay and conditions. This is to be followed by a strike of some 60,000 TV and film crew workers on Monday and 24,000 nurses could also protest. There is a rise in US union activity after decades of decline being seen among workers after labour shortage that has forced them to push up wages for the lowest paid. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has also shown her support for the action using the hashtag #Striketober which has gone viral.On Monday, Indigenous people of the United States celebrated the Indigenous day with celebrations and protests across the country. During protests, they demanded the Biden administration to do more to combat climate change and ban fossil fuels. “As long as you’re on Native land and stolen land, it’s Indigenous People’s Day,” said Ms. Pavlat, a cultural interpreter at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington. While, Spanish right-wing politician slammed Biden for recent acknowledgement of the atrocities suffered by Indigenous people of the U.S. by Spanish colonists which the leader of the conservative popular party, Pablo Casado has described as “the most important event in history after the Roman empire”, on the eve of Spain’s 12 October holiday marking Christopher Columbus’s 1492 arrival in the New World. The statement was released after Biden stated the explorer’s arrival had led to “a wave of devastation” for Native Americans and he urged Americans not to “bury these shameful episodes of our past”.
A United States court of appeals reinstated the Texas abortion law that bans most abortions after six weeks after a federal judge blocked its implementation earlier this week. The Biden administration also filed an emergency motion to stop the bill from enforcing after huge protests across the United States.
While the Taliban on Saturday agreed for cooperation with the U.S. to contain the extremist groups in Afghanistan but ruled out the position of the U.S. on containing the Islamic State being established in Afghanistan after U.S. troops withdrawal in August.On Sunday, Approximately 170 Haitian children returned to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in one day with their parents after being expelled from the U.S. and Cuba as reported by UNICEF. Most of them left the U.S. after the August earthquake hit the country.
Cuba had earlier announced it will be conducting annual military exercises on the date of planned human rights protests around the country. Because of this clash of events, the initially planned protests across the country for November 20 was switched and the group Archipelago, consisting of government critics, asked the government for permission. But the government on Tuesday denied government opponents permission to stage what they said would be a peaceful march for civil liberties in the capital Havana and a few other provinces on grounds that it was part of efforts to overthrow the government, according to a letter handed to organizers. “National Defense Day” is being celebrated on the 20th during which citizens practice preparedness for a U.S. invasion. The fallback date of the 15th, however, falls on the same day Cuba plans to reopen tourism after two years of shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuban activists however are positive and say the pro-democracy march will go ahead despite the government’s disapproval.
Alejandro Behmaras, the first Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the UN, stressed how unilateral coercive measures are violating a wide range of human rights, regardless of their objectives´ nature. He called it a hostile policy and further added that such a policy was deliberately and opportunistically tightened amid the Covid-19 pandemic to unprecedented levels. The US blockade is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of all Cuban people’s human rights. It breaches the UN Charter and international law, Behmaras said.
On Friday, Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres spoke at the Anadolu Agency on an official visit to Turkey. Colindres spoke on the similar foreign policy both countries are following. He agreed that Turkey and Nicaragua are in favor of strengthening the principles of international law and their shared criticism of the US and EU aggressive actions towards both nations. During the meeting he also pushed to have a Nicaraguan embassy opened in Turkey.
Opposition groups met on Thursday October 7th, 2021, to declare their joint rejection of the upcoming election on November 7th, encourage the international community to declare the illegitimacy of the election and call for increased sanctions. There are still divisions among the opposition parties. In an opinion piece one activist wrote, “Of course a total or perfect unity is not going to be achieved. There will be groups that prefer to continue working on their own and there will be other platforms and coalitions that will continue to function. That is fine.” Activists believe that uniting all forces within the opposition will help them be more effective.
On Monday, October 10, Bolivian opposition protested in the streets of the country’s biggest cities, decrying Luis Arce’s government for “political persecution.” They are demanding the release of political prisoners, including former president Jeanine Anex and the mayors of La Paz, Cochabamba, and the governor of Santa Cruz. Protestors are also demanding legislative reform, specifically, the overruling of a law enabling the government to investigate the assets of any citizen without a court order, and force lawyers and journalists to reveal clients’ and correspondents’ (respectively) information. The biggest protests occurred in La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and Tarija, with police reportedly firing teargas at protestors.
A few days later, on October 14, the bill in question was withdrawn by the government. The announcement was made by the minister of the presidency, María Nela Prada, who cited that the reason for the government’s decision was to reduce fear mongering from the opposition, who is allegedly using the bill to spread disinformation and alarm the public. Nonetheless, Prada also admits that the government had inadequately socialized the bill, thus stoking fear, and added that the government always has the Bolivian people’s best interest in mind.
Now Belarusians who subscribe to social media channels deemed “extremist” face up to seven years in prison under new proposals published by the authorities on Wednesday. Noting how social media channels were used to coordinate demonstrations and sharing of footage from the protests during last year’s mass street protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, the government is planning to take yet another decision that hampers people’s freedom of speech. Some of the most well-known Telegram channels were categorised as “extremist” after the protests began. This list includes NEXTA, which has nearly 1 million subscribers and Telegram channel of the TUT.BY news portal with 500,000 subscibers.The saga of EU accusations on Belarus of luring global migrants into other European countries continues. Poland’s government announced on Thursday that it plans to build a new barrier on its border with Belarus. Poland’s foreign ministry has also summoned the Belarusian charge d’affaires for the second time on Thursday after Polish police found yet another body of a migrant near the border with Belarus. Questions about the situation at the frontier and discussions on the humanitarian convoy which Poland wants to be allowed into Belarus were the highlight of this meeting. Now Germany’s federal police department has stated that more than 4,300 people illegally crossed the border from Poland this year, with most of the migrants coming from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran. The number of migrants coming from the “Belarus route” increased from 26 people in January to July this year, to 474 in August, 1,914 in September and 1,934 during the first 11 days of October. All these people arrived in Germany without authorisation.
Russia’s foreign minister discussed the Russian media situation in Belarus on Thursday following the arrest of a journalist who worked for a top Russian newspaper and the subsequent shutdown of the news site because of a report about the shootings in the capital of Belarus. The authorities have arrested more than 200 people who posted social media comments about the incident.
Thousands of supporters of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, jailed after returning to Georgia from exile this month, protested in Tbilisi on the 15th to demand his release as his lawyer called on them to help save the country. The rally attracted the most protesters since pro-Western Saakashvili’s arrest on October 1st for abuse of power and concealing evidence when he was president, charges he says are politically motivated. Saakashvili, president until 2013, led the Rose Revolution in 2003 that ended the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze. He is a figurehead for some in the opposition, but derided as a clown by detractors in the ruling Georgian Dream party. Protester Misha Mshvildadze said: “This is not justice what’s going on with him, this is a political vendetta.”
Saakashvili has also been on a hunger strike in jail, and allegedly needs treatment in the hospital as his condition is worsening. Georgia’s penitentiary service said in a statement such claims were untrue and Saakashvili’s condition was “satisfactory”. He had declared a hunger strike on October 1st, was arrested after returning to Georgia, having lived abroad for years. Georgia sentenced him in 2018 for abuse of power and concealing evidence when he was president.
Chinese President Xi Jinping slammed the protesters and issued a warning against dissent, saying any attempt to divide China will end in “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder”, the statement was made during the visit to the state of Nepal. Although He didn’t mention any particular region, it was seen as a warning to Hong Kong, where anti-Beijing protests have been ongoing for months as on Sunday the peaceful protest turned into clashes. In the past few days, 100 academicians in Hong Kong have grouped together to defend the academic freedoms of Hong Kong in response to the threat posed by article 38 of Hong Kong’s new national security law, putting pressure on China.
Xi Jinping on Saturday stated that ‘reunification’ with Taiwan must happen peacefully and did not mention the use of force despite the display of aggression in Taiwan’s air defense zone. In recent months China has increased pressure on independently governed Taiwan. China has revealed that it had foiled “hundreds of espionage attempts” by the island’s agents to sabotage efforts to reunify it with the mainland. Also, Microsoft in its 2021 Digital Defence Report revealed that Chinese hackers are targeting varsities in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Taiwan times revealed that between July 2020 and June 2021, 47% of China’s targets are government entities. These universities in HK and Taiwan act as hubs for Beijing resistance movements against mainland China.
China is set to join the United Nations Human Rights Council with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Pakistan. While the Rights campaigners voiced concern over their elections as elected countries must “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”. Nigel Adams speaking at yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on China’s policies towards Uighurs stated that the UK government would stick to its policy of refusing to comment on UN elections by secret ballot.
A 26-foot-high sculpture commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is set to be removed from the campus of the University of Hong Kong in what activists see as the latest sign of Beijing’s suppression of freedom in Hong Kong. The university set a deadline of Wednesday for the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, an activist group that was forced to disband last month, to take the memorial down. Representatives of the now-defunct group have asked for more time, due to a typhoon that has battered the territory in recent days, but it’s not clear if the extension would be granted. As of Wednesday evening local time, the memorial appears to remain at the university.
A second mega court aimed at clearing a backlog of cases arising from the anti-government protests in Hong Kong two years ago will accommodate up to 250 people and be available for use in mid-2023. The judiciary on Wednesday said the new space at the District Court building in Wan Chai Tower would help judges process 249 pending criminal trials, many of which were connected with the social unrest and involved a large number of defendants and lawyers.
Hong Kong police to trial new anti-riot weapon for tackling violent disorder. Frontline officers will be equiped with a new anti-riot weapon they say is capable of firing irritant pepper solution at targets with more accuracy than offered by existing hardware while inflicting less harm. The force said some of its officers would be supplied on a three-month trial basis with the pistol-shaped OC launcher, an upgrade designed to deliver a faster and safer response to violent disorder. In the wake of the 2019 social unrest, the force said it needed to obtain alternative weapons that were more effective at minimising the impact on those who were not the intended target.
Activists are criticising the Indonesian government for pushing ahead with plans for establishing a military reserve (Komcad)–a branch of the military composed of civilian-soldiers. The latest development of which came last week, when President Joko Widodo announced the inauguration of around 3,100 civilians as military reservists. The law to establish a military reserve was passed in 2019 but is currently under judicial review after being contested by a number of activists and civilian groups at the Constitutional Court. These groups include the Commision for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM).
A significant concern over establishing a military reserve comes from Indonesia’s violent past with communism (the civilian security guard or Pam Swakarsa during the New Order) and current separatist movements (the Free Papua Movement). The 2019 law contains a provision that allows reservists to be mobilized during manmade conflict (terrorism threats, separatism, communismn, terrorism) and natural disasters. Because of this provision, activists are concerned that the military reserves could be used to harm civilians and cause horizontal conflict in communities.
Also this week, the Indonesian police experienced one of their worst PR crises in recent years when the hashtag #PercumaLaporPolisi (there’s no use going to the police) went viral. The hashtag was started by an alternative media platform called Project Multatuli, who published a story about a mother in East Luwu (in South Sulawesi), who reported her ex-husband to the police for sexually abusing her children but was dismissed due to a “lack of evidence.” The hashtag went viral as users on social media started posting their own police complaints–this comes as no surprise. According to the Indonesian Ombudsman, in 2020 they received 699 complaints about the police, with 12 of them being unresolved high-profile cases. Since #PercumaLaporPolisi went viral, Project Multatuli’s website was taken down by a DDoS cyber attack.
Citizens in Bangkok are outraged because of the government’s poor handling of the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant. Anti-government protesters are taking to the streets, despite the risks of getting infected, becoming injured, or being arrested. Still, activists say that they will continue to protest in favor of the resignation of Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha. There are minimal vaccines available for citizens, even those who are most at risk of being infected. Muktita Suhartono and Hannah Beech, who report from Bangkok for the New York Times, said, “This summer’s vaccine rollout, already late, was further hampered by manufacturing delays. A company with no experience making vaccines, whose dominant shareholder is Thailand’s king, was given the contract to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically. The government’s failure to secure adequate imported supplies has made matters worse.”
Thailand commemorated Wednesday the fifth anniversary of the death of King Bhumibol, who was on the throne for 70 years, with religious ceremonies and floral offerings countrywide.
In the early hours of the morning, a dozen Buddhist bonzes prayed for the late monarch at Siriraj hospital in Bangkok, where he died at 3:52 p.m. local time on Oct. 13, 2016 at 88 after a long illness. In the afternoon, thousands were expected to lay flowers in the memory of the king, considered by royalists as the “father of the nation”. Since his death, authorities decreed this day a national holiday. Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha also participated in another commemoration ceremony at the government headquarters, where a huge photo of the king presides over an altar surrounded by white and yellow flowers, colors linked to the monarch.
Iran has agreed to participate in further talks about the Nuclear Deal with the EU in Brussels in the coming days. The deal, which has stalled since June, has been picked up by the EU in response to Western powers’ loss in patience, as the deal has been stalled since June.
Iran’s new President, in his first speech in the UN as a leader, decried U.S. sanctions as a method of war against his nation, stating “Sanctions are the U.S.’ new way of war with the nations of the word.” He also claimed that the continued use of methods such as sanctions during the COVID-19 crisis is tantamount to “crimes against humanity,” as they have made international purchasing of medicine and equipment very difficult. In US President Biden’s speech at the U.N. he stated that the US “remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon” The US, and more importantly it’s allies in Gulf Arab states and Israel, don’t want Iran gaining rival military power.
In response to reports of Israeli military presence in Azerbaijan, Iran and Azerbaijan had a diplomatic crisis. This week, the nations agreed to respect each other’s principles, and mend ties through dialogue.
Elections occurring in Iraq this week had the lowest turnout in years due to citizens’ decreased support for the democratic system brought in post 2003. Only 41% of eligible voters participated in the election last Sunday. Results were released online on Monday, showing that populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc gained the most parliament seats, gaining control in multiple provinces including Baghdad. The number of seats held by the group has grown from 54 to 70, again showing the citizens of Iraq’s disapproval for western influence, as the head of the party Al-Sadr, is infamous for leading an insurgency against the US forces in the 2003 invasion. He is also known for speaking out against Iranian influence in Iraq.
The Fatah Alliance, headed by paramilitary leader Hadi al-Ameri, and made up of pro-Iranian Shiite groups affiliated with Iranian Popular Mobilization forces and other militias, lost more than half of the seats gained in the 2018 elections, leaving less than 24 seats.Under the law, the bloc which wins the most seats chooses the Prime Minister. Despite Al-Sadr’s gain in power, most blocs held the remaining seats, leaving no clear winner. Other blocs, many of which are pro-Iranian, must work with Al-Sadr, who will have more political power due to the gaining of seats, to pick a PM. However, many of the pro-Iran blocks still hold the coercive power of violence, with the Hashed having over 160,000 armed men.
Already, pro-Iran groups have claimed that the elections were manipulated, likely due to their loss in power in parliament. Figureheads of such groups have claimed that they will not accept the results “whatever the cost”, going further to claim that the Hashd al-Shaabi brothers are the victims.
Facebook has announced it will remove multiple accounts, Facebook Groups and pages connected to Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In Facebook’s report from the Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) it states the exact number of activities in corporation with the group that have been removed are the following: 116 pages, 666 Facebook accounts, 69 groups and 92 accounts. The accounts were removed because they violated the platforms guidelines. The official statement from Facebook said, “…they combine deceptive techniques with the real-world power of a state.” The platform went on to explain that the danger these accounts posed due to their praise of the military and criticism of opposing factors.
Since the overthrow of Omar Al Bashir in 2019, the government has not been transparent about the country’s issues in the banking and financial sector. The financial advisors finally gave an update stating that to rebuild the economy the country needs to prioritize banking reform. In a document called the Sudan Banking Sector Reforms and Asset Recovery written by the Sentry’s Senior Advisor Oliver Windridge, he offers recommendations on how Sudan can create democratic and creative economic rebuilding.
Sudan security forces have enacted a travel ban targeting top civilian government politicians. The politicians who are affected by the ban are primarily the officials overseeing the democratic transition. This ban is considered to be a sign that tensions continue to boil after an attempted coup last month. Military leaders blame the civilian government for encouraging the coup, however the civilian government disputes this accusation.
The Kasubi tombs, tombs erected by King Mukaabya Walugembe Muteesa I in 1856, were mysteriously torched by a fire on March 16th, 2010. The tombs hold the remains of four former kings of Buganda a Bantu kingdom. The fire was set just nine years after being declared a UNESCO world heritage site. The restoration of the tombs began this year. The current Katikkiro (prime minister) Charles Peter Mayiga says it will take time to construct because there are compulsory rituals that must be performed. The people of Buganda believe that repairing the tombs is a debt owed to them from the Mayiga administration because eight years ago he had a deadline that the structure would be rebuilt in only a year.
Twenty-seven Ugandans are stuck in dentation facilities in China following arrests as they were found to have stayed illegally in the country after the expiration of their visas. Ugandan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has reportedly asked the embassy in Beijing to ensure the release and repatriation of people detained, which some sources reports are students.
The United Kingdom as issued a report that there is heightened risk of a potential terrorist groups attack in Uganda. The UK has urged their nationals to be vigilant and avoid large gatherings of people. While local police state there is no need to elevate the threat levels, the police spokesman Fred Enanga has confirmed there are sleeper cells of terrorists groups within Uganda. In a statement Enanga said, “despite the emerging sleeper cells our terror alert levels are not elevated yet.” Authorities have reported that efforts to break apart suspected terrorist cells. Ugandan security officials have recently accused the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) of attempting to carry out an attack. This statement by the UK could severely hamper Ugandan’s tourism, a sector of the economy that has already been suffering due to the pandemic, as at least 35,000 tourists from the UK visit Uganda every year.
This week Zimbabwe welcomed the United Nations Special Rapporteur Dr. Alena Douhan to evaluate the impact of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western nations. In a statement, spokesperson for the ruling party Zanu PF, Dr. Mike Bimha said, “Zanu PF is fully convinced that the Special Rapporteur will be able to witness and uncover how these sanctions have been causing untold suffering to our people as well as the Government and business.” The report by the Special Rapporteur will be reviewed on October 25th when the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will decide if they want to call for the unconditional removal of economic sanctions which have hindered Zimbabwe’s development.
In efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy in rural areas, members of the Christian Apostolic church have decided to start a new campaign. Many church congregants do not trust modern medicine and are skeptical about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Followers believed in the religious guidelines to avoid medicines and medical care but to see healing through their faith alone. Yvonne Binda is a vaccine advocate working to build trust with the community and increase vaccination rates. Binda says it’s a hard discussion and many people continue to resist. In the rural town of Seke acknowledged soap and masks as a way to protect against the virus but still believe that faith alone will protect them from the virus.