Weekly Reports — CANVAS

Weekly Reports

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CANVAS produces a weekly report on several countries where nonviolent resistance can play an important role in confronting challenges to democracy. 

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Weekly Report August 14 2020

Weekly Report August 14 2020

 

Coronavirus

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a locally developed vaccine for Covid-19 has been given regulatory approval after less than two months of testing on humans. Amid fears that safety could have been compromised, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged Russia last week to follow international guidelines for producing a vaccine against Covid-19. Meanwhile, global cases of coronavirus have passed 20 million, with over 5 million in the United States, 3 million in Brazil, and 2 million in India.

 

United States

President Trump repeated the claim this week that the election could be riddled with fraud if mail ballots were widely used, and he made clear that he opposed Democratic demands for additional funding for both the post office and election security measures because of his opposition to mail-in voting. He left open the possibility that he could come to a deal as part of a larger negotiation over a new round of economic stimulus. Meanwhile, large-scale protests continue in the U.S.; this past week in Portland, protesters set fire to the police union headquarters, and in Chicago, hundreds of young people responded to reports of a police-involved shooting by looting downtown stores.

 

China

The U.S. and China will reportedly review the progress of their “phase one” trade deal later this week — roughly six months after the agreement came into effect. This comes as President Trump imposed sanctions on top Chinese officials after China imposed Hong Kong’s new security law, which has already led to the arrest of journalists and activists.

 

Hong Kong

As a result of Hong Kong’s new security law, Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media tycoon and prominent pro-democracy figure, was arrested on Monday, on suspicion of committing foreign collusion crimes in breach of Beijing’s national security law, and conspiracy to defraud. Nine others were also arrested, including his two sons and four senior executives at his company Next Digital Media, the publisher of Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s largest daily tabloid. Separately, Agnes Chow, a young pro-democracy activist, was also arrested on foreign collusion accusations.

 

Myanmar

An independent election monitoring group in Myanmar has been prevented from observing polls for the country’s November 8th election. Rohingya Muslim Abdul Rashid of the Democracy and Human Rights Party has been denied the right to run for office in the upcoming election. Officials cite his parents not having been citizens upon his birth, which he refutes. Facebook has not yet released alleged evidence to the International Court of Justice of “serious international crimes” related to the country’s current charges of genocide of the Rohingya Muslim population.

 

Zimbabwe

The Human Rights Watch called on the Zimbabwean authorities to end the inhuman prison conditions in which prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe Party leader Jacob Ngarivhume are being held. Chin’ono and Ngarivhume, currently in pretrial detention at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare, were arrested on July 20 for allegedly inciting public violence. The activists had helped expose high-level corruption in Zimbabwe and called for nationwide anti-corruption protests on July 31.

 

Chile

The Chilean government plans to lift the world’s longest quarantine lockdown restrictions in the capital city of Santiago on Monday. With one of the highest death tolls per million people in the world, residents of Santiago have been urged to continue to engage in safety measures such as social distancing, frequent handwashing and wearing a mask.

 

Iraq 

On Tuesday, a Turkish air raid killed two members of the Iraqi border guard as well as their driver. Iraqi government officials have cancelled a visit to Baghdad by Turkey’s defense minister as a rejection of the aggressor’s airstrikes, but may not take any further action in order to not sever ties with the major trading partner. The Assyrian International News Agency reported on Tuesday the call of Iraqi PM Al-Kazemi to Iraqi Christians to “return home,” citing the defeat of Daesh. On Thursday, the country reported a new record of 3,841 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours.

 

Libya

US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland consulted with senior Turkish officials in Ankara on Wednesday about ways to achieve a demilitarised solution in central Libya, with a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, and stressed the need to enable the country’s National Oil Corporation to resume its vital work.

 

Syria 

Reuters reported yesterday of a rift in the Syrian ruling elite as Rami Makhlouf, cousin of President Bashar Al-Assad and a member of his inner circle, published a video on social media lashing out against the President. In the video, Makhlouf spoke directly to the president, calling the state security forces “inhumane” and criticising the President for allowing them to attack people’s freedoms. An American journalist based in Idlib province, an area controlled by state opposition, has been arrested by the Hay-at Tahrir al-Sham on Thursday following the arrest of a British aid worker on Tuesday. These arrests have prompted concerns about the role of torture in the  HTS prison system. The Guardian reported on Thursday of the lack of support for sexual assault survivors and the sexual violence LGBTQ protestors were forced to face by Syrian intelligence agents. Eight children under the age of five have died within the past week in aYPG/PKK controlled camp in northern Syria due to health problems.

 

Lebanon  

The Lebanese government has declared a two-week state of emergency following last week’s brutal explosion in Beirut that left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. This statement grants the military expansive power to deny citizens the freedom of assembly and free speech. Angered by the protection of the ruling class and apathy of the government, residents have begun to protest across the capital city to demand the dismantling of the political system of Lebanon. Despite the government stepping down on Monday, street demonstrations move forward in the face of brutal police force and endemic homelessness.

 

Palestine 

Following the agreement of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize ties, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of social affairs spoke out about Palestinians being left out in negotiating the deal, and other Palestinian leaders claim the normalization of ties aims to”liquidate Palestinian national rights.” Despite the deal with the UAE to suspend declaring sovereignty over the West Bank, Israeli prime minister was said to have only agreed to delay the annexation, according to US President Donald Trump. However, Aljazeera reported plans for 30 structures being bulldozed in a village in the West Bank this past week, as well as a water reservoir that would force community members to travel to other villages for their water supply. The Israeli army carried out an airstrike on the Gazan city of Rafah in a retaliation against incendiary balloons being released into Israel on Tuesday. The attack left an unexploded bomb in a UN-run school in the Shaiti refugee camp.

 

Russia

Russia has approved the world’s first coronavirus vaccine despite concerns that offering a vaccine to the public before the final stage of trials may put people in danger. The vaccine, called the “Sputnik-V,” is expected to be available for medical personnel by the beginning of September and for a mass roll-out by October.

 

North Korea

Despite no having no confirmed cases of COVID-19, North Korea continues to place a strict quarantine on its citizens. The North Korean Red Cross has also deployed more than 43,000 volunteers to provide aid to areas plagued by heavy rain and flooding.

 

Iran 

The US circulated a revised UN resolution to indefinitely ban weapons sales to Iran, which will be put to vote today. The US has also seized the cargo of four Iranian fuel tankers transporting oil to Venezuela at the request of federal prosecutors in Washington. This week, two Iranian men were convicted on charges of espionage on behalf of Israeli, German and British intelligence and have been sentenced to ten years in prison. Throughout the summer, Iran has arrested, convicted, and executed numerous citizens for serving as spies to foreign powers as for acts of public destruction during protests, citing concerns from human rights advocacy groups about access to fair trials and legal representation.

 

Nicaragua

Amnesty International has reported the quick spread of coronavirus through Nicaraguan prisons. In a surge of detainment of political opponents of the government and student organizers, Nicaraguan prisons have become overcrowded, lacking safe drinking water and medical access to those at risk of infection. The northern coast of the country adjacent to the Carribean is reported to be facing severe flooding due to a tropical wave and overflowing rivers, leaving hundreds of homes submerged in water.

 

Sudan

Al Jazeera reported that at least 25 people have been killed in clashes between ethnic groups in a port city in eastern Sudan. The Central Doctors’ Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that about 90 others were wounded in the fighting that began on Sunday between members of the Bani Amer and Nuba ethnic groups in Port Sudan, a key international trade harbour on the Red Sea. The United Nations says that almost 10 million people in Sudan face food shortages as a result of conflict.

 

Venezuela

The Foreign Policy Magazine wrote an article this week depicting how Maduro has used the pandemic to solidify his control over the country. In mid-June, Venezuela’s top court, which remains loyal to Maduro, ousted the leaders of two major opposition parties, replacing them with chavista loyalists. In early July a similar move suspended the leadership of Voluntad Popular, the former party of Guaido?, the U.S. backed opposition leader. Journalists have reported harassment by authorities and Maduro’s supporters while covering the pandemic.

 

Bolivia

Bolivia has been brought to a standstill as the country moves into the 14th day of a nationwide highway blockade and general strikes, shutting off access to nearly all highways in and out of major cities. Opponents of the government that ousted former president Evo Morales are protesting the continual deferral of Bolivia’s first presidential election since the coup of November 2019. The strikes and blockades have been primarily organized by rural groups, indigenous groups and labor unions allied to the political party of Morales. On Monday, the Bolivian government deployed military personnel to disperse protesters and protect the transportation of oxygen tanks amid attacks on protesters by pro-government paramilitary groups.

Weekly Report August 9 2020

Weekly Report August 9 2020

 

Coronavirus

The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July, but the momentum of the recovery appears to be slowing. Africa has surpassed one million cases of the coronavirus, but the true toll may be much higher, hidden by extremely low testing rates. The global number of confirmed cases approach 20 million, and deaths approach 750,000; the top 3 centers of the virus remain the United States, Brazil, and India.

 

United States

Oregon has experienced violent clashes this week between protesters and police, ratcheting up tensions in the city days after an agreement between state and federal officials appeared to bring calm. Demonstrators continued to rally in Portland on Thursday night, hours after the city’s mayor criticized the current unrest that has roiled Portland since George Floyd was killed. “You are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Thursday in a hastily called news conference alongside Portland police chief Chuck Lovell. Earlier this week, Amnesty International released a report documenting widespread and egregious human rights violations by police officers against protesters, medics, journalists and legal observers who gathered to protest the unlawful killings of Black people by the police and to call for systemic reform in May and June of 2020.

 

China

Last week, a video surfaced showing a first-hand account of China’s highly secure and secretive detention system in Xinjiang. Over the past few years, estimates suggest more than one million Uighurs and other minorities have been forced into a network of highly secure camps in Xinjiang that China has insisted are voluntary schools for anti-extremism training.

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Chinese officials condemned and mocked a Friday move by the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and 10 other senior officials for their roles in a prolonged crackdown on political dissent in the city. Last week, the government arrested four activists who had posted pro-democracy sentiments online, and barred a dozen pro-democracy candidates from running in the upcoming legislative elections, before postponing the elections entirely.

 

Myanmar

A court in Myanmar has sentenced a Canadian pastor to three months in jail for holding church services in defiance of a ban on gatherings to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Myanmar’s military and 10 ethnic armed groups agreed to hold bilateral meetings during the state-level Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee meetings to discuss the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, amidst hopes of a renewed peace process between the groups.

 

Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government cracked down on peaceful anti-corruption protests on July 31, 2020. Zimbabwe authorities have arrested at least 60 people, including the novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and the opposition MDC Alliance spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, in connection with the protests. Sixteen people were injured and required medical attention. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s president Mnangagwa has vowed to “flush out” his opponents, as anger with his government grows over alleged corruption and economic mismanagement. Over the last few days, in response to this brutal clampdown by security forces, the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter has gone viral, globally. 

 

Chile

In southern Chile, a confrontation between Mapuche indigenous protesters and residents turned violent Sunday. Several government buildings in the Araucanía region were damaged as the violence erupted. Local media reported that residents tried to force the Mapuche protesters out of the municipality buildings, before burning and overturning vehicles belonging to them. Chilean police intervened to evict the protesters and prevent other violent acts.

 

Iraq 

This week the Iraq prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has called for early parliamentary elections for June 2021. The United Nations has praised the prime minister’s announcement stating that it would promote “greater stability and democracy.” The original election was scheduled for May 2022. On the 1st of August, 16-year-old Saeed was released from Iraqi custody following extensive police brutality. Prime Minister Mustafe al-Kadhimi stated in a press briefing that those responsible have been suspended pending investigation. Saeed was originally arrested in May 2020 while selling water and taking part in an anti-government protest on Baghdad’s Tahrir.

 

Libya

This week, the Trump administration backed UN calls for a cease-fire amid the many factions, and signaling again that the country’s oil fields are off limits to those seeking to profit on the war. The US initiative comes during an escalation of fighting between the Libyan Government of National Accord, which is recognized by the UN and backed by Turkey, and the insurgent forces of former general Khalifa Hifter, who has the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and France.

 

Syria 

On Monday this week an Israeli aircraft attacked targets in Syria as a retaliation for an attempted bombing of the border fence by an enemy squad. The strike hit Syrian observation posts, intelligence collection systems, anti-aircraft batteries and command-and-control bases. Meanwhile, opposition factions fired several rockets on the Russian positions in Kensaba frontlines in the northern countryside of Latakia. There is yet to be a full report on the number of casualties.

 

Lebanon  

Thousands are left homeless following a massive explosion on Tuesday in Beirut. The explosion killed at least 157 people with 5000 injured. Lebanese authorities have taken into custody 16 individuals as part of an investigation into the Beirut port warehouse explosion that shook the capital, state news agency NNA said on Thursday. Protesters in Beirut are calling however for the government’s resignation following the investigation probe. Following investigations it has become apparent that the explosion could not have happened without a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate. The exact details of the explosion are still under investigation.

 

Palestine 

Israeli forces have destroyed numerous irrigation ponds in the al-Jiftlik village in Jordan Valley. The three ponds that were destroyed were used to irrigate 70 dunums of village land. The further restricts Palestinians access to water in the area both for drinking and for farming irrigation. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council in a press statement condemned the arrest of human rights defender Mahmoud Nawajaa. Last Thursday, Nawajaa was arrested in his home by the Israeli occupying forces and relocated to the Al-Jalama interrogation centre. This was done in violation of International Humanitarian laws. Coronavirus cases have surged in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, reaching 13,457 last friday.

 

Russia

Thousands of demonstrators have gathered again for a fifth week in Russia’s southeastern city of Khabarovsk to denounce the arrest of the region’s governor a month ago. Sergei Furgal was arrested on July 9 on suspicion of involvement in murders and taken to jail in Moscow. Russia is about to become the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, with mass vaccinations planned as early as October.

 

North Korea

North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country’s response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free.

 

Iran 

An investigation over the weekend suggests that Iran’s actual coronavirus death toll is three times the official government numbers. An anonymous source leaked data which showed vastly more people had tested positive and further died from the virus suggesting the suppression of data by the Iranian government. Iran’s health ministry claimed that 279,000 people had been infected and only 14,000 have died; however, the BBC’s Persian service has reported more than 451,000 positive cases with more than 42,000 deaths. Meanwhile, The United Nations Security Council will vote next week on a US bid to extend an international arms embargo on Iran.

 

Nicaragua

Aljazeera reported this week about the pattern of incarceration of opposition-minded people in Nicaragua that human rights organisations have been documenting since the mass protests of 2018. There are more than 90 activists imprisoned on trumped-up charges. Daniel Ortega’s administration has been accused of using the judiciary to punish those who have dared criticise its policies and practices.

 

Sudan

Local reporters warn against plans by the Sudanese army to file legal complaints against journalists for cyber libel and “insulting” the armed forces, saying that these actions echo the intimidation tactics used under the rule of ousted President Omar al-Bashir. In a statement last month, the armed forces said a cybercrime military commissioner had been appointed. The commissioner, working under the military prosecutor, will monitor and document “insults” against the army, and any violations will result in criminal complaints brought against journalists in Sudan or outside its borders.

 

Venezuela

The Venezuelan government is being accused of taking punishing measures against people who break quarantine rules imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Witnesses and rights groups say that security forces are punishing some Venezuelans who violate anti-coronavirus measures with physical exercise, sitting under the sun and even beating. A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former American soldiers to 20 years in jail for trying to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. 

 

Bolivia

Anti-government protesters in Bolivia blockaded some of the country’s main roads this past week to challenge the delay of general elections and rebuke the government’s poor response to the coronavirus pandemic. The protesters, who support Bolivia’s former president, Evo Morales, say they have set up 70 roadblocks, marooning about six million residents of three highland regions, including Bolivia’s most important metropolis, La Paz. The government on Thursday said it would break up the blockades by force if it can’t reach an agreement with the protest organizers.

Weekly Report July 17 2020

Weekly Report July 17 2020

 

Coronavirus

The United States reported more than 75,600 new cases on Thursday shattering its previous single-day record. It was the eleventh time in the past month that the record has been broken, and the number of daily new cases has more than doubled since June 24th. Elsewhere, India became the third country to see more than one million total cases, joining Brazil and the United States. Brazil passed two million cases, adding one million cases in a month.

 

United States

 The United States is steadily increasing its case count, repeatedly shattering its daily virus count record. On Thursday, the U.S. daily record hit 75,600 new cases, with the number of deaths also increasing. This week, the Trump administration announced that it is considering a sweeping ban on travel to the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party, based on the same statute in the Immigration and Nationality Act that inspired a travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries.

 

China

The U.K. has barred the use of Huawei’s 5G equipment in its high-speed wireless infrastructure, marking a victory for the Trump administration. The U.S. government is also purportedly considering a sweeping travel ban on Chinese Communist Party members amid worsening relations. The CCP has 92 million members, and enforcement would be unclear. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has accused Hollywood and U.S. tech firms of bowing down to Beijing in order to do business in China. Barr further alleged that the Chinese government was able to access Apple phones though the company had denied similar access to the US government, emblematic of an emerging “double standard.” In the race for a coronavirus vaccine, a state-owned Chinese company is boasting that its employees, including top executives, received experimental shots even before the government approved testing. The Chinese economy is also growing again after its worst three-month period in decades, indicating good news for global coronavirus recovery.

 

Hong Kong 

U.S. President Donald Trump has ended Hong Kong’s preferential trade status following China’s decision to impose a new security law. Hong Kong is expected to be treated the same as mainland China, meaning its goods will be subjected to increased tariffs. Trump also signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act passed by Congress, which would introduce sanctions on banks doing business with Chinese officials responsible for the security law. Meanwhile, China has moved to dramatically increase tax rates on Hong Kong residents, prompting bankers and professionals to mull leaving the financial hub. TikTok recently announced that it would withdraw from Hong Kong to avoid complying with government requests for user data under the new security law. However, the app is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that will still operate in Hong Kong. Additionally, many virtual private network (VPN) operators are now removing or limiting Hong Kong servers to avoid turning over user data to authorities under the security law. Amidst a new outbreak of coronavirus cases, Hong Kong will impose the most stringent social distancing measures the city has seen since the start of the breakout.

 

Myanmar 

Fresh fighting between government forces and the rebel Arakan Army in Myanmar’s Rakhine state made more than 3,000 civilians flee villages over three days. These refugees join a tide of 200,000 civilians living in Buddhist monasteries and crowded camps. Myanmar is set to hold its third general election in nearly six decades on November 8. The Fourth Session of the 21st-Century Panglong Peace Conference is also scheduled to be held in August to discuss the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, and further talks on forming a federal Union are planned after the election. Ahead of the election, a group of interfaith leaders are appealing to all ethnic armed groups and political parties to work for peace and democracy. 

 

Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe is now among the four most food insecure countries in the world alongside Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan. Along with high inflation and an economic recession, there is increasing political instability and civil unrest; Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga is now reportedly being prepared to assume authority, as President Mnangagwa has lost much popularity.

 

Chile

Struggling in the grips of the pandemic, Chile announced on Tuesday that it will widen emergency support for middle-class citizens hit hard by the economic shutdown. Some theorise that the pressure of the health crisis will have implications for the country’s market-led economic model, and may shift it to become more socially democratic. The pandemic has revealed many inequities in the country.

 

Iraq

On the 16th of July the United Nations and The International coalition Religions for Peace held an online discussion for the key signatories of a landmark Interfaith Statement on the Victims and Survivors of ISIL. Participants condemned ISIL’s ideologically-driven acts of terror and reaffirmed their commitment to support survivors of crimes perpetrated by ISIL terrorist fights in Iraq. Meanwhile, two businessmen have been convicted of a £4.9million bribery plot in order to secure oil contracts following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Central Criminal Court in London found them guilty of “conspiracy to make corrupt payments.” Both men will face sentencing next week. On the ground, however, Iraq’s Prime Minister has instituted measures, such as  security force supervision of border guards, to help curb corruption and bribery.

 

Libya

The Libyan civil war continues to escalate. Already exacerbated by international backers, the civil war could soon have a new actor, as the Egyption President, on Thursday, said they “will not stand idle” against threats to national security and could arm Libyan tribes against the internationally recognised government in Tripoli. The GNA is based in Tripoli, supported by Turkey, while Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia. Libya is a major gateway for migrants, and a recent report shows that Libya has seen an increase this year in kidnappings and torture of migrants by militia groups, who extort ransom payments from desperate family members.

 

Syria  

British aid worker Tauqir Sharif has been released on bail after spending more than three weeks in detention by the dominant armed group Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham. Sharif was arrested on June 22 from his home along the Syria-Turkey border for “mismanagement of humanitarian funds and its use towards projects that sow sedition and division.” Sharif will appear in front of a military court in 15 days. Meanwhile, judges announced on Thursday that a British-born woman who was sent to Syria as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State can return to the UK to challenge the government’s removal of her citizenship. Shamima Begum, left London in 2015 at only 15 and married an Islamic State fighter; she was discovered in 2019 in a detention camp in Syria, however, Britain stripped her of citizenship on security grounds. 

On the 10th of July, the UN Security Council approved aid deliveries to Syria through only one border crossing from Turkey, a day after the six-year-long humanitarian operation officially ended. Russia and China vetoed an extension of the original aid mission, halving the amount of aid, reducing the aid provided to almost 1.3 million syrian people.

 

Lebanon 

On the 9th of July, the Lebanese attorney general’s office filed criminal charges against Neshan Der Haroutiounian, a Lebanese-Armenian TV host, for his remarks about Turkish President Erdo?an. In the filing it is alleged that Der Haroutiounian’s remarks critical of Erdo?an in a June 10 episode of his “Ana Heik” (“I am Like This”) talk show violated the Lebanese penal code, which criminalize harming ties to a foreign country and inciting sectarian strife. Furthermore, a Nigerian domestic worker has arrived back in Nigerian following being detained for six-weeks in Lebanon on charges of theft and attempted murder. Ariwolo Olamide Temitope documented her abuse by former employers in Lebanon. The family has been blacklisted by the Lenabese labor ministry.

 

Palestine 

On July 9th, hundreds of Palestinian women participated in a rally in besieged Gaza to protest Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Banks. The rally was organized by the “Popular March Against Annexation” where protests called on international actors to take action. Some signs read “#StopAnnexation No to Annexing the West Bank.” The rally paid tribute to Palestinian women killed and imprisoned by Israeli forces. The UK and France have both made calls this week to drop the annexation of the West Bank as it will contravene international law. Moreover, a social media post that accused Google of removing Palestine for all online maps has gone viral. However, Google responded stating that there has never been a ‘Palestine’ label.

 

Russia 

Intelligence agencies in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have alleged that Russian hackers have attempted to steal valuable private information about a coronavirus vaccine. The alleged culprit is the same hacking group blamed for American election interference four years ago. British officials have also said that they are “almost certain” that “Russian actors” sought to interfere in the U.K.’s general election last year. Additionally, following Vladimir Putin’s win in Russia’s national referendum, a new wave of raids and arrests targeting journalists and Kremlin critics have spurred fears of opposition crackdown.

 

North Korea

South Korean prosecutors have launched an investigation into Kim Yo Jung, Kim Jong Un’s sister, over Pyongyang’s move to blow up a liaison office last month. The complaint was filed by a lawyer, who said that Kim “used explosives to destroy” South Korea’s “quasi-diplomatic mission building that served the public interest.” A recent report by the U.S. government’s Congressional Research Service has found North Korea is developing nuclear arsenal to evade missile defenses.

 

Iran

Protests break out on the streets of Shiraz and Behbahan following the Supreme Court death penalty sentencing of three young men who were arrested during the November 2019 protests. The three men were arrested on charges of “enmity against God” through acts of arson and vandalism.” Iranians have also taken to social media to voice their opposition to the sentencing using the hashtag “Don’t execute” that topped Twitter trends in Iran and reached 4.5 million retweets worldwide. Further, last week, Iran executed a former defence ministry employee convicted of spying on behalf of the US’s Central Intelligence Agency. Reza Asgari worked in the aerospace department of the Iranian ministry and retired in 2016; however, in the last years of his service he was accused of selling Iranian missile information to the CIA. Additionally, on the 14th of July, two men convicted of a 2010 bombing at a military parade in northwestern Iran that killed 12 spectors and injured 75 more, were hanged.

 

Nicaragua 

The pandemic continues to be met with silence in Nicaragua, leading Nicaraguan doctors to declare that the population is fighting both the virus and its own government. Doctors who have been outspoken about the government’s failing response face intimidation and punishment. On Friday, the United States Treasury sanctioned President Daniel Ortega’s son for alleged ties to drug trafficking.

 

Sudan

Sudan and Egypt raise alarms as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) starts to fill up. Sudan and Egypt are both downstream from Ethiopia on the Nile, and worry this project will hurt the livelihoods of people who rely on the river for cultivation. Earlier this week, talks between the three nations over the $4bn dam project ended without agreement, Ethiopian officials said.

 

Venezuela

A report, published by the UN Human Rights Council, revealed that gold, diamond, and bauxite mines in Venezuela’s Amazon region are controlled by criminal gangs, and that Venezuelan military forces have not only failed to intervene, but have also participated in much of the violence and criminality. The UN has urged the Venevuelan government to dismantle the gangs involved. Off the coast of Venezuela, the US Navy is challenging what it calls Caracas’ “excessive maritime claims in international waters,” by carrying out another “freedom of navigation” operation on Wednesday. The Venezuelan government denounced the move as an “inexcusable act of provocation.”

 

Bolivia

Thousands in Bolivia defied quarantine restrictions on Tuesday to march in an anti-government protest, inspired largely by grievances about health and education policies and widespread layoffs. Many attendees chanted in favour of immediate elections in hopes to oust interim President Jeanine Anez. The current elections are scheduled for September.