Protestors in Myanmar Resonate with Audiences Abroad & Global News

by Debra Brown

Myanmar protests

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.


Protestors in Myanmar Resonate with Audiences Abroad

Thousands of anti-coup protesters in Myanmar hit the streets as an internet blackout failed to stifle growing outrage at the military’s overthrow of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The military has now detained Suu Kyi and the party’s civilian leadership as part of its takeover.

The coup has sparked international outrage, with the United States considering sanctions against the generals and the UN Security Council calling for the release of all detainees.

Experts and advocates said the military coup gives the new Biden administration and international partners an opportunity to put renewed pressure on Myanmar, especially when it comes to its human rights abuses and atrocities against the Rohingya.

A three-fingered salute that originated in the Hunger Games film series has been adopted by activists from Thailand to Myanmar, becoming a symbol of resistance and solidarity for democracy movements across south-east Asia.

The gesture is part of a suite of symbols adopted from global popular culture by a new generation of young activists reared on the internet and savvy about making their struggles resonate with audiences abroad.

The three-fingered gesture was first used in Myanmar protests last week by medical workers, then youth protesters started raising it in opposition to the military coup.

In the Hunger Games, the three fingers represented solidarity in a dystopian world where rebels fought for freedom against an all-powerful tyrant.

The gesture first surfaced in Thailand just days after a military coup in May 2014 that caused outrage among voters across the kingdom. It was later banned.


Amazon Workers in Alabama Begin Historic Vote on Unionization

Amazon workers in Alabama begin voting today on whether to unionize, in what could become the first successful union drive at a U.S. Amazon warehouse. Workers are demanding stronger COVID safety measures and relief from impossibly high productivity standards that leave many unable to take bathroom breaks. Organizers report employees were required to attend anti-union captive audience meetings and have been bombarded with text messages promoting Amazon’s anti-union website. Workers will be able to cast ballots by mail through the end of March, when votes will be counted.

The only other US Amazon employees to make it as far as a union election was a smaller group of maintenance workers at a Delaware warehouse in 2014. That effort failed after an aggressive anti-union campaign from a company that has long been hostile to worker organizing.

Workers say that one of the primary issues driving the union push is Amazon’s grueling and automatically enforced productivity metrics, a complaint that has prompted demonstrations at other Amazon facilities as well. 


Colombia Offers Temporary Legal Status to Venezuelan Migrants

Colombia will offer temporary protective status to nearly one million undocumented Venezuelan migrants, enabling them to work in the country legally as well as access healthcare and other essential services.

It constitutes a major humanitarian act by a country that is home to some 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans, more than half of whom lack regular status, according to the UNHCR.

Political, humanitarian and socioeconomic turmoil have prompted more than 4.5 million Venezuelans to leave their home country since 2014, in what the UN describes as one of the largest displacement crises in the world.


Haiti’s President Refusing to Acknowledge the End of His Term

Activists and political officials have demanded President of Haiti Jovenel Moïse honor the practice of democracy and vacate his post as his five-year term ended on Sunday.

Haiti’s judicial system ruled over the weekend that Moïse’s term ended Sunday.

Moïse, who has led the country by presidential decree since last year, contends that an interim government held power during the first year of his term and that he’s not leaving office until next year.

Moïse defended his claim as the legitimate president and his administration announced the arrest of nearly 20 people accused of being involved in a coup plot to kill the president. The detainees, who include a Supreme Court judge and a police general inspector, argue that the charges against them have been exaggerated.


Covid-19 Updates from Around the World: Vaccine Rollout 

More than 138 million shots have been given worldwide.

South Africa is considering giving a COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, the country’s health minister announced. The original plan to use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was scrapped because it “does not prevent mild to moderate disease” of the variant that has spread widely in South Africa.

Johnson & Johnson has asked US regulators to approve its single-dose Covid-19 vaccine. The one-shot J&J vaccine is still being tested internationally and has not been approved in any country. 

China’s CanSino Biologics Inc. said its vaccine has been approved for emergency use in Mexico. The approval comes days after Pakistan, where CanSino held its biggest clinical trial, said that the one-shot vaccine was 91% effective in preventing severe disease.

South Korea’s drug-safety agency approved AstraZeneca’s and the university of Oxford’s vaccine under the condition that the partners submit results of additional clinical trials. The vaccine will be used for people aged 18 years and over, including the elderly.

The U.S. government plans to increase vaccine allocations by another 5% for the next three weeks. Only about half of U.S. adults surveyed late last year said they were certain or very likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans town halls aimed at building trust and confidence in the vaccine, NBC reported, citing a Biden administration official.


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