November 10, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
Over the past two weeks, thousands have protested across Panama against a new mining contract between the Panamanian government and Canadian mining firm First Quantum Minerals. The protests intensified in Panama City on Tuesday this week, when two people were killed by an unknown assailant, though a suspect was taken into custody. Proponents of the mine say the project will provide a much needed stimulus to Panama’s economy, but opponents are against the increased extraction of natural resources. The protests are the largest in Panama since the National Civic Crusade of 1987.
President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, elected to a five year term in 2019 that would end in 2024, ruled out holding a vote next spring and said this week that he believes “that now is not the right time for elections.” Elections in Ukraine are banned when the country is under martial law, which it has been since Russia first invaded the country in 2022. In his address on Monday, Zelenskyy cited the war and the necessity for national defense and unity, urging Ukrainians to avoid political divides and that they must concentrate all resources on fighting Russia.
On Monday, the Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll in Gaza had surpassed 10,000 since the Israeli assault on the region began following the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,400 people. This week, Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza advanced into the heart of Gaza City, further engaging in direct combat with Hamas fighters.
Support for Israel has continuously waned over the last month of the conflict, as governments across the world have been intensifying their calls for a cease-fire, including the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. The US, Israel’s closest ally, has also begun to more forcefully push Israel to commit to humanitarian pauses in the fighting. Thursday, Israel agreed to begin daily 4-hour pauses to allow Gazans to continue to flee south down designated corridors. In response to Israeli comments that Israel would be responsible for security in Gaza indefinitely after the war, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken refuted this idea, saying there should be “no reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends.”
Nobel Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi began a hunger strike on Monday protesting both the denial of her request to be transferred to a hospital amidst her poor health as well as the nation’s strict hijab laws. Mohammadi had been denied hospital treatment because of her refusal to wear a hijab. By Thursday, Mohammadi was transferred to a hospital outside of the notorious Evin prison where she was being held and had ended her hunger strike. Doctor’s earlier in the week had described her condition as “unfavorable” and her husband, Taghi Rahmani emphasized her need for urgent medical attention.
Venezuela objected to the decision by the ICC to continue an investigation into alleged human rights abuses by Venezuelan officials. In June, the ICC ruled that Venezuela’s own investigation was not enough and therefore they took further action. The investigation would re-examine the actions by security forces in 2017, when large demonstrations against the government were held. The security forces are accused of torture, arbitrary arrests and abuse. The government stated that they already investigated these claims and concluded that there were no large-scale crimes against humanity.
After the US eased sanctions on Venezuela, oil firms have revived production and new agreements are signedbetween oil firms and energy companies. It is expected that incomes from this industry will arrive gradually. If the sanctions relaxations continue next year, it could improve popular support for the government ahead of elections in 2024, as it will positively impact Venezuela’s economy.
On Wednesday, the EU’s executive recommended granting Georgia candidate status, which was warmly welcomed by the President and Georgian citizens. The Presidential administration started a petition called ‘Our voice to Europe’ in which they request European leaders to vote for the Georgian candidacy status in December. It can be signed online or in person at the Presidential Palace.
On the border with Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia, Russian troops killed one Georgian citizen and detained another, according to Georgia’s prime minister. On Friday, Levan Dotiashvili, the civilian that was arrested, was released. It is the first fatal incident in the region since the war in 2008. The line of control remains undefined and it is not the first time a civilian has been arrested.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders concluded her official visit to Georgia on Tuesday. During her visit, she met with governmental representatives, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, and many more people from civil society. She found that many human rights defenders do not feel supported by their government. Moreover, she addressed the SSSG’s allegations against CANVAS about a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Upon reviewing the footage of CANVAS workshop, she noted there is nothing in the video that in any way supports the allegations made against CANVAS and participants. In her final briefing, she praised the strong civil society in the country and was critical towards the government.
The People’s Defense Force, a coalition of loosely organized resistance groups, captured the district capital of Kawlin in the Sagaing region. The region has been a focal point of armed resistance, prompting the military to launch brutal airstrikes, displacing numerous residents and causing widespread destruction. Over 50,000 people have been displaced in the region due to violence.
Earlier in the week rebel groups scored a large series of victories in the northern Shan state against junta forces. The Three Brotherhood Alliance, a similarly loosely organized force of various ethnic groups, took control of 100 military outposts and a series of strategically important highways in the region.
Junta forces and the Russian navy held joint training sessions off the western coast of Myanmar. Russia has continuously sold weapons to the ruling junta in Myanmar, providing 400 million USD worth of ammunitionin their civil war against an amalgam of various armed ethnic groups.