September 30, 2022
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
In this issue, we cover the more protests in Iran, internet shutdowns, and more.
President Putin’s plan to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine met with a sharp rebuke from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who condemned Russia’s territorial claims as a violation of the U.N. Charter. “Any decision by Russia to go forward will further jeopardize the prospects for peace,” said Guterres on Thursday. “It will prolong the dramatic impacts on the global economy … and hinder our ability to deliver life-saving aid across Ukraine and beyond.” While the United Nations has remained publicly critical of Russian aggression in Ukraine, it is unclear what specific disciplinary actions — if any — the international body will take against a current member of its Security Council.
Protests have erupted across Iran and the world in support of Mahsa Amini. The protests have centered around the authoritarian government and theocratic rule, suppressing numerous protests with deadly force. The death toll is now at 76 as the government cracks down. Students and teachers at over 20 universities are on strike and walked out of their classrooms in support. The government says it has arrested 1200 people, including several journalists. Meanwhile, an internet shutdown has been put in place.
Women protesting for Mahsa Amini outside the Kabul Iranian embassy were dispersed by the Taliban, who fired rounds into the air. Women carried banners reading “Iran has risen, now it is our turn!” and “From Kabul to Iran, say no to dictatorship!” The Taliban took the banners and tore them in front of the protesters. They also threatened to beat the protesters and ordered journalists to delete rally videos.
Kids in Afghanistan, as young as four, work in factories to support their families. It is estimated that half of the Afghan children have been put to work in brick factories and are missing out on education.
In the northern city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurds are protesting the death of Mahsa Amini. As protests in Iran occur all over the country, they have now also spread into Kurdish parts of Iran. Meanwhile, Iran has launched missiles and drones into Iraqi Kurdistan, allegedly targeting Iranian Kurdish separatist groups hiding across the border in Iraq’s mountainous Kurdish region. Iran claims the dissidents were involved in the protests in Iran’s Kurdish region against the death of Mahsa Amini.
The numerous bank holdups and protests on Friday last week led to Lebanon’s 3-day bank closure, which has now been extended indefinitely due to the economic crisis. The Association of Lebanese Banks says that banks will close indefinitely due to a lack of protection by authorities. Additionally, the Lebanese boat bound for Europe with 120-150 people onboard that sank off the Syrian coast last week reportedly claimed the lives of 94 passengers. The Lebanese army has arrested a Lebanese national who admitted smuggling people from Lebanon to Italy on an irresponsibly small boat.
At least 31 people have been infected with Ebola as Uganda struggles to contain this current outbreak of the often-fatal virus. There are six confirmed deaths from outbreak cases in Mubende, central Uganda. BBC News reports that there is no current and available vaccine for this circulating strain, first discovered in Sudan. In response, immunologists have initiated a “multipronged international effort” to develop an effective vaccine as the fatality rate within Uganda soars to 64 percent.
This week in Zimbabwe, the prize-winning novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga, a prominent critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, has been fined and given a six-month suspended jail sentence. She will remain out of jail provided she does not commit a comparable “offense” in the next five years. The court found her guilty of “inciting public violence” during a 2020 anti-government protest. Police arrested Dangarembga at the end of July 2020, civilly marching and holding a banner that read ‘We want better — reform our institutions.’ Police forced her into a vehicle as security forces sent to stop the protest arrested dozens. Despite government denial, human rights lawyers noted cases of abductions and torture. Dangarembga told reporters shortly afterward that the crackdown showed the right to peaceful protest had been “seriously eroded” in Zimbabwe.
This week, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua aired further attacks on the catholic church, calling bishops and priests “killers” and “coup plotters” and publicly accusing the clergy of working on behalf of “American imperialism.” The other accusations included several characterizations of the church as a “perfect dictatorship.” Ortega views the clergy as backing protests against the government, which four years ago were met with a harsh crackdown killing hundreds. Such actions had faced international criticism, as they had this week when Ortega lashed out attacking numerous foreign actors. President Ortega criticized US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols and the government of Chile, who both recently charged the Nicaraguan president with human rights violations. Additionally, Ortega’s government expelled Ambassador Muscheidt of the European Union after the body had urged that Nicaragua restore democracy, respect human rights and release political prisoners.
This week citizens of Bolivia participated in protests promoting the legalization of abortion procedures. These protests all over Latin America marked “International Safe Abortion Day.” This procedure is only limitedly legal in a handful of Latin countries. However, in Bolivia, it remains legal only for extreme circumstances such as rape, incest, and risk to the mother or issues with the fetus. Protestors were recorded saying that they wanted a future where women had the choice to decide. Reports also noted that protesters specifically called for expanded sexual health education in Bolivia.
Hurricane Ian decimated the Cuban power grid, plunging the island into darkness, with the violent storm taking two lives at the very least. On Wednesday, workers restored power to part of Havana and a few other regions, but the country’s western half remains broadly unserviced. It was the first time in memory—perhaps ever—that the whole island had lost power,” reported the Associated Press. The damage beyond electrical services is equally extensive, namely the damage to crucial Cuban tobacco farms.
In a speech Thursday, President Biden predicted a “substantial loss of life” in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. This highly-destructive tropical cyclone caused significant flooding after making landfall in southwest Florida. Considered “one of the most devastating storms in U.S. history,” the hurricane cut power to nearly two million Florida residents and, by early estimates, wrought up to $40 billion in damage. On Wall Street, investors have whiplash from stock market volatility driven by the highest inflation rates in a generation. On Thursday, one U.S. stock index declined to its lowest point in nearly two years.
Han Lay, a model from Myanmar who called out to the international community for help against Myanmar’s military junta, was denied entry to Bangkok. She was stopped at Bangkok airport due to an Interpol notice. The junta’s crackdown targeted activists ranging from politicians to social media influencers. She will arrive in Canada with refugee status from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The junta’s helicopters have killed 13 people and seven children in an attack on a school. Helicopters were checking the village for resistance, firing heavy weapons at the school in the Buddhist monastery for an hour. Since the coup, the UN has recorded 260 attacks on schools. Internet shutdowns, which have become regular under the junta’s regime, are being used to target the resistance movement in the countryside. Blackouts limit the ability to organize and keep photos, videos, and information from reaching the outside world.
The West Papua National Liberation Army has shot four people. Due to the Indonesian military’s heavy presence in the region, sporadic attacks on civilians are meant to target undercover Indonesian intelligence personnel. As the independence movement in Papua and West Papua intensifies, peaceful protests and campaigns for international awareness are being sidelined by the armed wing’s attacks on civilians this year.
After being held for a year, a Belarusian court sentenced six members of a journalism advocacy group to lengthy prison terms this week. The court in Minsk charged the members with “terrorism” and “activities disrupting social order,” with sentences ranging between 8 and 15 years. Their lawyer was arrested the day after. As is reported by numerous organizations and international bodies, these arrests and charges come as the regime continues to crack down on independent journalists, opposition politicians, and rights activists.
Over 53,000 fleeing Russians have entered Georgia following Putin’s mobilization announcement, fearing the Kremlin could announce a border closure. This situation has left an accumulating line of thousands waiting to reach the only border checkpoint into Georgia. Reportedly, there have been more than a few cases of the Georgian government or police turning away prominent Russian democratic opposition members.