12 June 2019   Leave a comment

The second worst outbreak of the Ebola virus has spread from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to neighboring Uganda. Uganda is better prepared than most countries to deal with Ebola, but the fact that the virus has spread is deeply unsettling. Three people–two children and their grandmother–had traveled from the DRC to Uganda and one of the children has died. This outbreak has killed about 2000 people in the DRC, largely in one area of the DRC that has been wracked by violence which limited the ability of health professionals to address the outbreak. Medecin sans Frontieres has excellent information on the disease and how it is contained.

Police in Hong Kong fired tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters who are opposed to an extradition bill which might allow dissenters in Hong Kong to be tried in the more draconian courts in Beijing. The protesters believe that the bill is an attempt to erode the democratic freedoms guaranteed in the agreement by which Great Britain left its former colony in 1997 (an agreement that was supposed to last for 50 years). CNN outlines the supporters and opponents of the bill:

Who’s against the bill

Civil rights activists: Critics say the bill will leave anyone on Hong Kong soil vulnerable to being grabbed by the Chinese authorities for political reasons or inadvertent business offenses and undermine the city’s semi-autonomous legal system.

Businesses and trade unions: More than 100 firms said they would shut doors Wednesday to protest the bill and allow employees to join a rally outside the legislature. Trade unions have also suggested they might call on members to stop work in protest.

Journalists: Earlier this year, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement that the amendment would “not only threaten the safety of journalists but also have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression in Hong Kong.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu tweeted in support of the anti-extradition protests: “I stand shoulder to shoulder with the hundreds of thousands in #HongKong fighting the extradition bill & for rule of law. Please know you are not alone. #Taiwan is with you! The will of the people will prevail!”

European and US agencies: Representatives from the European Union have met with Hong Long leaders and expressed concern over the bill. Members of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China have also spoken out against the bill, warning it could “negatively impact the relationship between the United States and Hong Kong.”

And who’s for it

Hong Kong’s leader: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to withdraw the extradition bill, saying it is needed to plug loopholes to prevent the city from becoming a haven for mainland fugitives.

China’s Foreign Ministry: Chinese officials have supported the Hong Kong government as it attempts to table to the bill in Parliament.

The protests seem to be the next step for the pro-democracy protests that occurred in 2014. But the number of protesters is much larger and the demands seem to be more urgent. The US response to the protests has been mildly supportive to the demands, but a strong condemnation from President Trump over the treatment of the protesters is not likely.

Posted June 12, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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