Connect with us

International

Bolsonaro Joins Anti-Lockdown Protests as Unrest Grows Internationally

Published

on

  • Protests over coronavirus restrictions have broken out globally, and experts believe general unrest will continue to grow.
  • In Brazil, President Bolsonaro, who has long-defied his government’s social distancing recommendations, joined a group of right-wing protestors calling for a military coup.
  • Meanwhile, other countries have started to open up again.

Bolsonaro Joins Protests

Protests over coronavirus restrictions have been breaking out all around the world as economic uncertainties continue to grow.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people in major Brazilian cities held demonstrations against restrictions imposed by governors that have shut down businesses. 

One of the most notable protests was held in the capital Brasilia, in front of the army headquarters. According to reports, around 600 demonstrators gathered, many of whom did not wear masks or protective gear.

In addition to calling for an end to the restrictions, the demonstrators demanded the closure of the Supreme Court and Congress, while also calling on the military to step in and handle the pandemic.

The protestors were mostly right-wing supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, who showed up and to give a speech supporting the movement. Like many of protestors, the president did not wear a mask or gloves. Video footage showed him coughing into his hands multiple times throughout his speech.

While Bolsonaro did not directly call for Congres to be closed or for there to be a military coup, his appearance was widely condemned. Brazil was under a military rule for over two decades from 1964 to 1985, and calls to give the military more power are highly controversial.

Former presidents, politicians, and newspaper editorial boards criticized Bolsonaro. Even top military officials reportedly told local newspapers they were upset with the move.

Bolsonaro and the Coronavirus.

However, Bolsonaro’s appearance was just one part of his continued efforts to downplay the coronavirus and actively defy his government. 

Not only has the Brazilian leader openly opposed lockdowns imposed by governors, but he has also gone against social distancing measures advised by both the World Health Organization and Brazil’s health ministry numerous times.

In recent weeks, he has stepped up his public appearances, meeting with supporters and protestors as well as business owners and others.

Despite Bolsonaro’s attempts to downplay the virus and flout health recommendations, Brazil currently has the highest number of confirmed cases in all of Latin America, with over 39,000 cases and 2,400 deaths as of Monday.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro took his standoff with the government one step further when he fired his health minister, who had urged Brazilians to socially distance and stay inside.

But that decision did not seem to have pubic support. A survey from the first week of April found that a large majority of Brazilians— abut 76%— approved of how the health minister was handling the crisis.

According to reports, a poll published this Saturday also showed that a majority of Brazilians still approve the government’s regulations, despite the impact on the economy.

Other Protests Around the World

Brazil, however, is just one of several countries facing social unrest.

Anti-lockdown riots broke out in Paris over the weekend and continued Monday morning, where rioters reportedly threw fireworks at police who responded with tear gas.

Last week, tens of thousands of migrant workers who do not have work or a way to get home held demonstrations in Mumbai, India. 

There have also reportedly been protests breaking out in Lebanon and Iraq, which is significant because both countries had been the sites of prominent, on-going protest movements that took place all over the world before the pandemic.

Leading up to the coronavirus crisis, there had been a surge of global protest movements with a common thread. People in numerous countries held weeks and months long demonstrations against government corruption, economic injustice, and demands for reforms.

When the pandemic hit, those protests largely died out. But now, many experts say these movements are likely to start up again or spread to other parts of the world for several reasons.

First is the economic downtown that the coronavirus has caused and is continuing to cause globally.

One reason for this is that numerous experts, including the UN Secretary General, have warned that the economic situation risks increased social unrest and violence. Some have said that this will disproportionately impact poorer countries that cannot afford subsidies for lost jobs or other similar social safety nets.

Another possible cause of future protests is the fact that some leaders are using the coronavirus to expand authoritarian measures. At the end of March, Hungary passed a law allowing the Prime Minister to rule by decree indefinitely, basically giving him the ability to rule the country however he wants.

Kenya also started crackdowns on people breaking curfew which have now reportedly killed more people in the country than the coronavirus.

Protests in Israel and Other Countries Open Back Up

Already, protests have broken out in Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over the weekend, more than 2,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Tel Aviv where they stood six feet apart.

The demonstrators accused Netanyahu of using the crisis to escape prosecution over corruption charges and form an emergency government with his rival, Benny Gantz.

Some reportedly held up black flags that have been featured at other recent Israeli protests, and which reportedly symbolize Netanyahu’s attacks on democratic institutions.

Earlier this year, Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of justice, and accepting bribes. 

On Monday, Netanyahu and Gantz announced that they had formed an emergency government. Under their agreement, Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister until October 2021, then Gantz will take over.

The move further solidifies Netanyahu’s power after more than a year of political stalemate and three separate elections.

Meanwhile, a number of other countries have started to open back up again. On Monday, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Norway all lifted some restrictions.

Outside of Europe, South Korea has also eased social-distancing rules. Australia and New Zealand have also said they are going to roll back some restrictions soon, despite the fact that New Zealand also said it is extending its lockdown for five more days.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Al Jazeera) (ABC News)

International

Russia Takes Over 900 Azovstal Fighters Prisoner as Mariupol Surrenders

Published

on

Ukraine said the soldiers successfully completed their mission, but the fall of Mariupol represents a strategic win for Putin.


Azovstal Waves the White Flag

Russia’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that it had captured 959 Ukrainians from the Azovstal steelworks, where besieged soldiers have maintained the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol for weeks.

A ministry spokesperson said in a statement that 51 were being treated for injuries, and the rest were sent to a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of Donetsk.

The defense ministry released videos of what it claimed were Ukrainian fighters receiving care at a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk. In one, a soldier tells the camera he is being treated “normally” and that he is not being psychologically pressured, though it is unclear whether he is speaking freely.

It was unclear if any Ukrainians remained in Azovstal, but Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, said in a statement Wednesday that the “commanders of the highest level” were still hiding in the plant.

Previously, estimates put the number of soldiers inside Azovstal around 1,000.

Ukraine officially gave up Mariupol on Monday, when the first Azovstal fighters began surrendering.

Reuters filmed dozens of wounded Ukrainians being driven away in buses marked with the Russian pro-war “Z” symbol.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said in a Tuesday statement that the Ukrainian prisoners would be swapped in an exchange for captured Russians. But numerous Russian officials have signaled that the Ukrainian soldiers should be tried.

Mariupol Falls into Russian Hands

After nearly three months of bombardment that left Mariupol in ruins, Russia’s combat mission in the city has ended.

The sprawling complex of underground tunnels, caverns, and bunkers beneath Azovstal provided a defensible position for the Ukrainians there, and they came to represent the country’s resolve in the face of Russian aggression for many spectators.

Earlier this month, women, children, and the elderly were evacuated from the plant.

The definitive capture of Mariupol, a strategic port city, is a loss for Ukraine and a boon for Russia, which can now establish a land bridge between Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. The development could also free up Russian troops around Mariupol to advance on the East, while additional reinforcements near Kharkiv descend from the north, potentially cutting off Ukrainian forces from the rest of the country.

The Ukrainian military has framed events in Mariupol as at least a partial success, arguing that the defenders of Azovstal completed their mission by tying down Russian troops and resources in the city and giving Ukrainians elsewhere more breathing room.

It claimed that doing so prevented Russia from rapidly capturing the city of Zaporizhzhia further to the west.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (BBC) (BBC)

Continue Reading

International

Convoy of Up to 1,000 Vehicles Evacuates Refugees From Mariupol as Russian War Effort Stalls

Published

on

Russia may have lost a third of its ground invasion force since the war began, according to British military intelligence.


Hundreds Make It Out Alive

A convoy of between 500 and 1,000 vehicles evacuating refugees from the southern port city of Mariupol arrived safely in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday.

People have been trickling out of Mariupol for over two months, but the recent evacuation was the single biggest out of the city thus far. Russian troops, who control most of the city, did not allow the convoy to leave for days, but eventually, they relented.

The convoy first traveled to Berbyansky some 80 kilometers to the west, then stopped at other settlements before driving 200 kilometers northwest to Zaporizhzhia. Many refugees told reporters they took “secret detours” to avoid Russian checkpoints and feared every moment of the journey.

Nikolai Pavlov, a 74-year-old retiree, told Reuters he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed.

“We barely made it,” he said. “There were lots of elderly people among us… the trip was devastating. But it was worth it.”

63-year-old Iryna Petrenko also said she had stayed in Mariupol initially to take care of her 92-year-old mother, who subsequently died.

“We buried her next to her house, because there was nowhere to bury anyone,” she said.

Putin’s Plans Go Poorly

In Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters continue to hold the Azovstal steelworks, the only part of the city still under Ukrainian control.

On Sunday, a video emerged appearing to show a hail of projectiles bursting into white, brightly burning munitions over the factory.

The pro-Russian separatist who posted it on Telegram wrote, “If you didn’t know what it is and for what purpose – you could say that it’s even beautiful.”

Turkey is trying to negotiate an evacuation of wounded Ukrainians from the factory, but neither Russia nor Ukraine have agreed to any plan.

After nearly three months of war, Mariupol has been left in ruins, with thousands of civilians reportedly dead.

“In less than 3 month, Mariupol, one of Ukraine’s fastest developing & comfortable cities, was reduced into a heap of charred ruins smelling death, with thousands of people standing in long breadlines and selling their properties out to buy some food. Less than three months,” Illia Ponomarenko, a reporter for The Kyiv Independent, tweeted.

On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry estimated that Russia has likely lost a third of its ground invasion forces since the war began.

Moscow is believed to have deployed as many as 150,000 troops in Ukraine.

The ministry added that Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine have “lost momentum” and are “significantly behind schedule.” Moreover, it said Russia failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the last month while sustaining “consistently high levels of attrition.”

“Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days,” the ministry concluded.

Sweden also signaled on Sunday that it will join Finland in applying for NATO membership.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (U.S. News and World Report) (The Hill)

Continue Reading

International

Israel Moves to Build Over 4,000 West Bank Settlements as Palestinian Homes Demolished

Published

on

The Israeli military is proceeding with a plan to evict at least 1,000 Palestinians from the West Bank.


Settlers Get Ready to Move in

On Thursday, a military planning body in the Israeli-occupied West Bank approved the construction of 4,427 housing units, according to the watchdog group Peace Now.

“The State of Israel took another stumble toward the abyss and further deepened the occupation,” Hagit Ofran, an expert at Peace Now, said via the Associated Press.

The plan is the largest advancement of settlement projects since President Joe Biden took office in the United States.

The U.S. opposes settlement expansion and said as much when the plan was first announced last week, but critics say Washington has done little to pressure Israel to stop.

In a statement, U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland called the settlements a “major obstacle to peace.”

“Continued settlement expansion further entrenches the occupation, encroaches upon Palestinian land and natural resources, and hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population,” he said.

In October, Israel approved some 3,000 settlement homes despite a U.S. rebuke. There are currently over 130 Israeli settlements in the West Bank harboring almost 500,000 settlers, in addition to the nearly three million Palestinians living in the territory.

Palestinians Pushed Off Their Land

On Wednesday, the same day Israeli soldiers allegedly shot and killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the military demolished at least 18 buildings in the West Bank, including 12 residential ones.

Israel’s supreme court has also ruled that eight Palestinian hamlets can be expelled, potentially leaving at least 1,000 Palestinians homeless.

The area targeted is known as the Masafer Yatta, and its residents say they have been herding animals and practicing traditional desert agriculture there for decades, long before Israel took over the West Bank in 1967. Israel, however, claims there were no permanent structures there before the military designated it a firing zone in the 1980s

“What’s happening now is ethnic cleansing,” Sami Huraini, an activist and a resident of the area, told the Associated Press. “The people are staying on their land and have already started to rebuild.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Peace Now) (Associated Press)

Continue Reading