October 27, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
Activists have taken to the streets in Iceland to push for an end to unequal pay and gender-based violence. The 24-hour strike took place on Tuesday, and the absence of women workers was supported by public institutions. Public transport was delayed, hospitals only accepted emergency cases, and schools were closed down. In certain sectors, including childcare and education, women comprise the majority of workers but are undervalued, and in others, women make 20% less than men. Activism runs deep in Iceland—between 70,000-100,000 women (nearly a third of the country’s population), including the prime minister, were present during the protests.
On Thursday and Friday, small sets of Israeli tanks and troops twice entered northern Gaza before withdrawing shortly afterward. Officials called the operations preparation for “the next stages of the war.”While a ground invasion still seems imminent, many of Israel’s allies are advocating for Israel to delay a widespread ground operation. US officials have said a delay would allow for more time to negotiate the release of hostages held in Gaza, allow increased aid into Gaza, and provide Israel’s military with time to refine its military objectives. Four hostages held by Hamas have been released since last Friday, but Hamas still holds over 200 hostages taken during their initial attack on October 7th, and further negotiations are ongoing.
Israel continued to bombard Gaza with devastating airstrikes this week in its efforts to target Hamas fighters and military infrastructure. The Gaza Ministry of Health reports a total death toll of over 7,000 as of Thursday, of which nearly 3,000 are minors. In response, leaders across the international community have called for a ceasefire or for humanitarian pauses. At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, European leaders called for a halt to the fighting between Israel and Hamas to establish humanitarian corridors and get desperately-needed aid into Gaza.
EU leaders met in Brussels on Thursday for a summit that, while largely dominated by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, also sought to ensure that the war in Ukraine does not slip from the top of the bloc’s political agenda—officials have expressed that any distraction from Ukraine would play into the hands of the Kremlin.The summit comes as the EU’s diplomatic position on the conflict in Ukraine has shown signs of unraveling, as both Hungarian President Viktor Orbán and the newly elected Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, have been criticized recently for their more pro-Russia stances. According to Slovak media, Fico said at the summit that he would not back further military aid for Ukraine nor support further sanctions against Russia.
Amidst fears about a widening conflict across the Middle East, U.S. forces struck two weapons and ammunition facilities used by Iranian backed militias and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp in Syria. Since the onset of the conflict in Israel and Gaza, U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq have been targeted 19 times by Iranian backed groups in the region. Iran’s foreign minister warned that the U.S. would not be spared if the Israeli campaign against Gaza continued while speaking to the UN on Thursday.
The opposition in Venezuela held primaries last weekend. Maria Corina Machado, a former lawmaker, has won with a landslide. The question remains whether she can run for the Presidency next year, as the government banned her from running this June. The agreement between the government and the opposition made last week might give room for her ban to be lifted.
On October 26 and 27, the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum was held, where international political and business professionals come together to discuss trade. At the forum, the Georgian Prime Minister stated that Georgia deserves to get EU membership candidacy status. Moreover, the Armenian Prime Minister presented a ‘Crossroads to Peace’ project, amidst Armenia and Azerbaijan almost reaching a comprehensive peace agreement. The project aims to reopen railroads that have been closed for decades, between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Grievances against the junta have been formally filed in a Philippine criminal court. On Wednesday, five victims from Myanmar’s Chin state came together to make a statement, discussing and condemning a mass arson attack from September 2021, where 250 citizens died and 60,000 civilians were driven toward the Indian border. The complaints have been filed under the 2009 International Humanitarian Law Act, which states that international courts have jurisdiction against militant groups who commit acts of genocide or war crimes. The filing is essential to bringing the military government in front of an international court, where accountability and justice can bring peace to victims.
Members of the opposition party have decided to boycott the upcoming Parliamentary elections. The elections come after 15 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) parliament members were ousted due to fraudulent statements made by an unknown third-party, who claimed that the members have abandoned their political party. Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition party, claimed that the by-election is a “criminal” effort by the ZANU-PF party to gain parliament seats. The election places the CCC in a precarious position, if members run for reelection, they are legitimizing the suspension. A case challenging the recall of the MPs will be heard on 2 November.