Worldview Security Update – December 13, 2019
13-Dec-19

ASIA

India (Security threat level – 3): As of 13 December 2019, violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) have continued in the northeastern Indian states. In Assam, mobile internet suspensions were extended through 1900 local time (1330 UTC) on 14 December and an indefinite curfew remains in effect in Guwahati; however, the curfew order was temporarily lifted from 0800-1300 local time, during which residents in the city rushed to retail stores in order to stock up on food and other supplies. The Indian government has put an additional 2,000 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel on standby for deployment to Assam. Associated protests also occurred in the neighboring states of Meghalaya and Tripura. In parts of Shillong, Meghalaya’s capital, the curfew has been temporarily lifted from 1000-2200 local time on 13 December and the overall situation is relatively calmer than in Assam. Residents of these states oppose the CAB, which grants fast-track citizenship to undocumented immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan; the bill, however, prohibits Muslim migrants from applying for the citizenship.

Meanwhile, in the capital New Delhi, hundreds of students of Jamia Millia Islamia university clashed with police officers near the university campus, located in Jamia Nagar. Police officers resorted to baton charges after the students threw stones at the officers; an unspecified number of students suffered minor injuries. During the clashes, operations through Patel Chowk and Janpath metro stations were temporarily suspended. The protesters had gathered near the university and had plans to march to Parliament to protest the exclusion of Muslim immigrants in the bill.

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 13 December 2019, the leader of the opposition Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangruangruangkit, called for protests at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in the city’s Pathumwan district beginning at 1700 local time (1000 UTC) on 14 December. However, authorities have not received a request for permission to hold any gatherings at the location, and it remains unknown if the demonstration will proceed as planned. Thanathorn called for the demonstration after the Election Commission’s 11 December announcement that it would petition the Supreme Court to disband the Future Forward Party due to alleged campaign finance violations. Thanathorn was elected to the lower house of Parliament in March 2019, but the Constitutional Court disqualified him in November over charges that he held shares in a media company that he owned at the time of his candidacy, a violation of electoral laws. 

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 12 December 2019, Jetstar Airways staff members announced plans to observe a strike from 14-15 December to demand increased wages and better working conditions. In response to the planned strike, Jetstar officials have canceled more than 100 planned flights and have stated that travelers should expect flight disruptions at every airport where airline personnel are scheduled to strike, to include Sydney Airport (YSSY/SYD), Brisbane Airport (YBBN/BNE), Melbourne Airport (YMML/MEL), Avalon Airport (YMAV/AVV), Cairns Airport (YBCS/CNS) and Adelaide Airport (YPAD/ADL). Given the extent of the planned strike, other Australian airports are also expected to experience knock-on disruptions. The Transport Workers’ Union has also announced plans for Jetstar workers to hold another strike on 19 December if their demands are not met. Individuals who have travel plans with Jetstar from 14-15 December should contact the airline to check the status of their flights.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 13 December 2019, trade unions across France continued to strike against a proposed pension reform. Ground transportation services remain significantly disrupted throughout the country, as workers across most public transportation sectors, including bus, rail and tram workers, continue to strike. National rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) and Paris public transport provider Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) continue to warn of significantly reduced services in the Paris Metro, along with Transport express regional (TER) trains and long-distance TGV trains.

SNCF announced that approximately 80% of services were canceled. Approximately 25% of TGV trains were running, and 40% of TER lines were operational. In Paris, only Metro lines 1 and 14 were operating normally; however, Lines 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 11 were operating on reduced services; Lines 2, 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis, 10, 12 and 13 remained suspended. Commercial aviation services are unaffected and operating as usual in Paris-Charles De Gaulle Airport (LFPG/CDG) and other airports in the country. Additionally, due to strikes at four of the country’s eight petroleum refineries, deliveries of gasoline were affected and some gas stations have little or no fuel in stock. Union leaders have called for additional protests on 17 December and have warned that these protests could continue through 25 December if their demands are not fulfilled.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 13 December 2019, anti-government protests continued in cities across Algeria following violent election day confrontations that took place on the previous day. Demonstrations occurred in the capital Algiers, where protesters marched along Hassiba Street to protest the presidential election and its results. A similar demonstration occurred in Tizi Ouzou, located approximately 105 km (65 mi) east of Algiers. While a significant number of security personnel were deployed to both aforementioned cities, there were no reports of violence.

Significant protests and related violence marred the 12 December poll. In Algiers, police officers used tear gas and batons to disperse peaceful demonstrators near the main post office in the downtown area, which has been a main gathering place for anti-government protests. Meanwhile, demonstrators in the town of Bouira, located approximately 110 km southeast of Algiers, attacked and set fire to the provincial electoral commission headquarters. A total of 50 protesters and 22 police officers were injured in Bouira. Additionally, at least six people are currently receiving medical treatment at a hospital in the town of Bejaia, located approximately 250 km east of Algiers, for injuries sustained during protest-related violence on 12 December.

Despite the election-related protests, on 13 December election officials declared former Prime Minister Abdelmajid Tebboune as the winner and president-elect in the election that occurred on the previous day. Tebboune secured approximately 58% of the vote in the election; voter turnout was 41%.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

China (Security threat level – 3): On 13 December 2019, the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau issued a Demonstration Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Locations:

  • Hong Kong Island
  • Kowloon
  • New Territories
  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • Hong Kong Transit Systems
  • Hong Kong Shopping Malls
  • Hong Kong Higher Education Facilities
  • Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Salisbury Park
  • Central
  • Edinburgh Place

“Events:

“On Friday, December 13 at 6:00 p.m., media report a “Yau Tsim Mong District x Sham Shuipo” student rally at Salisbury Park in Tsim Sha Tsui. On Saturday, December 14 at 4:00 p.m., media report that a pre-strike rally for the social welfare sector will occur at Edinburgh Place in Central.

“This list is not necessarily exhaustive; protests at other times and locations may also occur. Any protests that take place without a permit are considered illegal.

“Protests are likely to disrupt transportation across Hong Kong. MTR stations can be closed and other transportation options can be cancelled on short notice. Over the past several weeks, some MTR stations have been closed for extended periods of time and the MTR network has closed earlier than usual.

“Since June 2019, large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including MTR stations, shopping malls, universities, and at Hong Kong International airport. While many demonstrations have been peaceful, some have resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and police, or between protesters and people who oppose the demonstrations, and have led to serious injuries. Police have used a variety of crowd control measures, including the deployment of tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons.

“Protests, which can take place with little or no notice at any time of the week, are likely to continue and are often accompanied by vandalism and/or violence.”

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 13 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Along Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square in downtown Tbilisi at approximately 3:00pm on Saturday, December 14

“Event: A potentially large political rally is expected to take place. Counterdemonstrations could occur as well, which may lead to confrontations. Patrol Police may close Rustaveli Avenue from Republic to Freedom squares starting before 3:00pm until the rally is over. Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can quickly turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. government personnel have been advised to avoid the main downtown area where people will gather for the event.”

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 12 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following places in Bamako, Mali:

  • Bourse du Travail
  • Babemba

“Events: There will be a demonstration organized by the Patriot Group of Mali (GPM) and the Yiribacoro Association of Mali on Friday, December 13th at 15:00 to demand the departure of French forces from Mali. The march is expected to begin at Babemba and end at Bourse du Travail. This demonstration is authorized by the local government. While this demonstration is expected to be peaceful, recent events have encountered a strong police/security force presence, the use of tear gas, and other riot control measures. Demonstrations often cause traffic disruptions. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the listed locations on December 13th.”