September 9, 2022
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
In this issue, we cover the latest developments in Ukraine, the sentencing of LGBT activists in Iran, the protests of coca growers in Bolivia, and more.
The U.S. State Department has announced an additional $2 billion in aid—including $675 million in military aid—to Ukraine and “other countries at risk of Russian invasion,” according to the New York Times. The recent pledge from Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III involves the shipment of ammunition and rockets to Ukraine. This comes as previously-classified American intelligence establishes Russia’s plan to procure military equipment from North Korea after already receiving drones manufactured by Iran. Russian President Putin has also suggested plunging Europe into a winter “freeze” by withholding needed energy imports.
Human Rights Watch reports that hundreds of Hazaras have been targeted and killed by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). According to this report, the Taliban has done too little to protect minorities from bombings and violence as well as provide medical assistance, one of the pledges that the Taliban government made in August 2021. In March, the Taliban delayed opening schools for girls in accordance with Islamic Law. This week, some girls’ high schools have opened in eastern Afghanistan under local authority, but have not been officially approved.
Two LGBT activists have been sentenced to death by a hardline revolutionary court. They have been charged with “corruption on Earth, spreading homosexuality, propagating Christianity, and making contact with hostile foreign media.” According to the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network, they have been denied lawyers and pressued into confessions. In lieu of these civil crack downs, 75% of Iranians are willing to join protests, according to a leaked study by the Strategic Studies Center of the Iranian Armed Forces’ command.
The Coordination Framework has expressed that the political crisis can only be solved through dialogue, agreeing to talk with As-Sadr and developing a roadmap to new elections. The willingness to discuss the demands of the Sadrist Movement has helped avert escalation after violence broke out last week. As-Sadr’s withdrawal has also helped prevent escalations, but the Sadrist Movement has been absent from “National Dialogue,” making these talks pointless.
Amidst the economic crisis in Lebanon, President Aoun said that he might not leave the Baabda Palace at the end of his presidential term, this October 31st. He says that the caretaker government is not eligible to assume his powers and that he will cooperate in forming a new government or the current government with changes.
The Sudanese government is seeking to bury in mass graves more than 3,000 unclaimed people killed during recent civil unrest. The plan has sparked the ire of families who have accused the government of attempting to “bury the truth” about protestors killed during the country’s 2019 coup. The bodies were revealed to the public following their discovery at hospital morgues in Khartoum.
On Monday, four activists of the Torture Survivor Movement UG were arrested in the capital city, Kampala, as they marched in protest of the increasing torture cases of Ugandan migrant workers. The deputy police spokesperson said the four activists would be charged with inciting violence. Many public groups have spoken out against these arrests and the leader of the National Unity Platform has stated that rather than arresting them, the government should listen and act on the acivists’ demands.
This week, approximately 700 children in Zimbabwe have died from measles. Many of those who have died were in fact not vaccinated due to the rise in popularity of anti-vaccine religious groups. Regardless, the government has launched a mass-vaccination effort in which children are the main focus of the campaign, encouraging traditional faith leaders to support the drive.
Former Clergy members expelled from Nicaragua by the Ortega regime are beginning to be reassigned into other parts of the world by the Vatican, who to some, has been too silent on the matter. However, according to other analysts, the Pope’s response which he issued the previous week was carefully calculated so as not to give Ortega any further reason to strengthen his attacks on the Clergy.
On Thursday, thousands of coca farmers marched into the capital city of Bolivia to protest and set ablaze what they are claiming was an illegal new market for the leaf. The coca farmers marched for five days, broke through police lines, attacked with dynamite and more, although no one was injured. The coca growers said they would not return to their regions until the government resolved the conflict.
President Biden and various international leaders sent condolences to the people of the United Kingdom after the Sept. 8 death of their longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. In a White House statement, the president called the 96-year-old “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.” As Great Britain enters a month-long period of mourning, President Biden has ordered the White House flag to fly at half-staff until the monarch’s burial.
Ahead of the 20th Chinese Communist party congress on 16 October, China has reintensified efforts to contain COVID-19, with around 65 million people placed under semi-lockdown measures. 33 cities were placed on China’s lowest tier of lockdown. The restrictions include closures of offices and schools, with specialised health clinics forced to close as well. Xi ordered local authorities to balance his zero-COVID strategy with economic growth, as reports suggest the cities under lockdown account for around 35% of the country’s total GDP. The lengthy measures continue to anger locals with their unpredictable nature.
The country’s Constitutional Court has called for more evidence to rule on a petition challenging the Prime Minister’s ability to stay in his current position, demonstrating that it is under no pressure to make a decision on a dispute that is dividing the population. While the nine-person court has gathered before, it will meet again next week with more evidence.
As the Hong Kong government continues its crackdown on dissent and opposition, several prominent Facebook groups have been the latest victims of anti sedition laws. Many residents anonymously trade gossip on “Hong Kong Facebook secrets” pages about government and educational institutions, with some having more than 200,000 followers. Last week, two men were arrested by the national-security police for being the group administrators and promoting “feelings of ill-will”. Hong Kong has recently detained several citizens over content they posted online.
The UN’s special envoy to Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, is “very concerned” about the health and safety of Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been imprisoned ever since the military coup in February 2021, which led to mass demonstrations across the country. Suu Kyi was found guilty of a number of offences by opaque military courts, with sentences now amounting to 17 years of imprisonment with hard labour following her latest guilty ruling. The UN’s envoy is demanding a meeting with Suu Kyi as one of the preconditions for her visit to Myanmar.
Indonesia announced it would investigate 13 unresolved human rights violations from the Suharto era, a 31-year dictatorship that ended in 1998. Current President Joko Widodo formed a committee to look at the settlement of past human rights violations, representing a marked shift in the Indonesian government’s policy, where ministers previously dismissed any call for justice by saying “people should stop bringing up the past”.
The Belarusian government announced that it would soon release legislation that would permit Lukashenko’s regime to revoke the citizenship of political opponents who have fled the country. The law states that those who were involved in “extremist” activity are subject to the legislation. Those who fled the country for their own safety would not only have their citizenship revoked but would also be banned from entering the country for 30 years. Estimates suggest that somewhere between 100,000 to 300,000 people who have left Belarus for political reasons since 2020 would be affected by this decision.
Belarus has sentenced human rights defenders Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapyuk, and eight others alongside them in trial to lengthy prison terms. Some of the charges against the two prominent members included, “organizing, participating in and training others to participate in mass riots”, “inciting social hostility towards the government”, and “involvement in a criminal organization”. In reality, Rabkova and Chapyuk were documenting human rights violations and protests following the August 2020 disputed presidential election, in which Lukashenko took his 6th term in office.
Following the EU-Georgia Association Council Meeting in Brussels, the historical importance of the decision of the European Council on June 23rd to recognize the European perspective of Georgia was highlighted. Oliver Varhelyi, the European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policy stated that Georgia was “a country with a recognized European perspective”. He called upon “all domestic political actors”, as well as the civil society, to work together for the common goal of EU membership. To emphasize the advantages of such a partnership, the Commissioner communicated the financial advantages, both public and private, for Georgia, as well as the option of visa-free travel between the EU and Georgia.