November 17, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
Protests erupted across Spain as tens of thousands voiced opposition to acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s amnesty deal with Catalan separatists in exchange for political support. The controversial agreement, including a law granting amnesty for 2017’s Catalonia secession attempt, triggered accusations of jeopardizing the rule of law for personal gain. Critics, led by the People’s Party, organized demonstrations in major cities, with Madrid’s gathering drawing 80,000 according to authorities. Protesters, waving Spanish flags, accused Sanchez of betraying democracy.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian and Russian officials both confirmed that Ukrainian troops have established a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, constituting a major advance for Ukraine’s now months-long counteroffensive. Ukrainian officials believe the latest operation will allow for new avenues of attack towards Crimea. This development comes as support for the war effort among Ukraine’s allies has waned over the past several weeks, which Ukraine hopes will change with more battlefield victories.
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for both the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors in Gaza for “a sufficient number of days” to allow safe and unhindered access for UN agencies and partners to administer aid. Twelve members voted in favor of the resolution with none voting against and three abstentions (Russia, United Kingdom, United States). The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen in Gaza, as food, fuel, and water shortages are pervasive even in the better-supplied southern part of the region. More than 1.5 million are estimated to have been internally displaced in Gaza by the conflict, including close to 800,000 sheltering in over 100 temporary UN facilities.
Concurrent with the Security Council meeting, Israeli forces entered Al-Shifa hospital—Gaza’s largest—on Wednesday, combing through the complex over two days as they searched for Hamas militants and weapons. Israel has long claimed that Hamas uses the hospital and bunkers underneath the grounds as a headquarters (though Hamas denies this), and late Thursday the Israeli military said they had uncovered a Hamas tunnel shaft and a vehicle with weapons at the Al-Shifa hospital complex.
Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was released from prison following her posting of bail on November 15th. She has been arrested after attending the funeral of Armita Garavand, a Tehran teenager who was allegedly beaten then arrested on the subway for improperly wearing her hijab before succumbing to her injuries. Sotoudeh had begun a hunger and medication strike late last month over her own arbitrary arrest and the conditions of her detention.
Over the weekend, the U.S. launched a series of airstrikes on Iranian facilities in Syria killing an unknown number of militants. The airstrikes come on the back of increased strikes on U.S. forces in the Middle East and fears of a greater regional conflict.
Venezuela stated to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that they will continue with their referendumregarding the disputed oil-rich areas between Guyana and their state. This week, Guyana’s request that the court halt the vote organized by Venezuela yielded no results. In April, the ICJ ruled that the court has jurisdiction over the border issue, however Venezuela announced in September that they will hold a referendum to let their people decide on the issue.
Negotiations have continued this week between Georgian and Russian representatives in Geneva concerning border delineation between Abkhaia, South-Ossetia and Georgia. Following the death of a Georgian nationalat the hands of Russian forces near the border with South-Ossetia, Russia demanded that Georgia mark their official borders with the contested enclaves on Wednesday. A new round of negotiations between the two parties is slated for December.
Ethnic minority insurgent groups launched attacks on security posts in Myanmar, intensifying conflict on two new fronts. The Arakan Army (AA) seized positions in Rathedaung and Minbya, while fighting erupted in Chin State bordering India. Myanmar’s military junta, facing a significant challenge since the 2021 coup, claimed the country was at risk of breaking apart due to the rebellion. Thousands sought refuge in India as violence escalated. The junta faces an overextended military and growing opposition. Analysts warn of challenges as rebel forces probe weaknesses on multiple fronts.
Zimbabwean opposition activist Tapfumaneyi Masaya was found dead after being abducted during a political campaign near Harare, according to the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). Masaya, campaigning for CCC ahead of the upcoming by-elections, was reportedly tortured and left on the outskirts of Harare. His body was discovered in a mortuary by CCC members. This marks the second recent abduction of an opposition party member, following the attack on CCC lawmaker Takudzwa Ngadziore. Zimbabwe’s recurring political violence has prompted opposition claims of involvement by the ruling ZANU-PF party. Authorities are now conducting a formal investigation into the recent abduction and killing, underscoring persistent concerns over political stability in the nation.