Worldview Security Update – June 21, 2019
21-Jun-19

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 21 June 2019, thousands of people gathered outside the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong’s Admiralty area for a peaceful sit-in protest, where they called for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation. The protesters then marched from the Legislative Council Complex to the Hong Kong Police Headquarters in Wan Chai district, blocking traffic on Harcourt Road. Outside police headquarters, protesters erected barricades and demanded investigations into allegations of police brutality and the release of protesters arrested in the previous 12 June demonstration. The protests were organized after the government failed to meet pro-democracy activists’ four demands, which comprise: the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the start of an investigation into police brutality following violence on 12 June, the retraction of the government’s claim of the 12 June protests as a “riot” and the elimination of all charges against arrested protesters.

Taiwan (Security threat level – 2): On 21 June 2019, Eva Air officials reported that the airline had been able to conduct 60% of its regular flights despite the ongoing Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union labor strike, which began the previous day. At least 71 flights, however, were canceled, affecting approximately 15,000 passengers. It remains unclear how long the flight attendant strike will last; the airline has posted flight cancellations on its website through 25 June. Union and airline management have been at an impasse on several issues, including overseas allowances and working hours.

EUROPE

Czech Republic (Security threat level – 2): As of 21 June 2019, several thousand protesters plan to take part in an anti-government protest in Prague’s Letna Park on 23 June. The protesters are calling for the resignation of the Czech prime minister for his involvement in a European Union subsidy fraud scandal and the removal of the new justice minister, who is a key ally of the president and prime minister. Travelers should avoid the demonstration as a precaution.

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 21 June 2019, opposition leaders announced plans to gather near the parliament building in central Tbilisi at 1900 local time (1500 UTC) to call for snap parliamentary elections and the resignation of the interior minister following clashes late on 20 June. Police officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at several thousand people who attempted to storm the parliament building after a member of a Russian delegation sat in the speaker’s chair and addressed the assembly in Russian. At least 240 people were injured, including 80 police officers.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 21 June 2019, Algerian security forces fired tear gas at several hundred pro-democracy demonstrators who had gathered outside the Algiers Grand Post Office as part of weekly protests to keep pressure on Algeria’s interim government to institute major reforms. It remains unclear why police officers deployed tear gas, but reports indicate they may have been specifically targeting demonstrators who waved Berber flags. There were no reports of injuries.

Analyst Comment: While demonstrations have become a weekly occurrence in Algiers, security forces rarely intervene forcefully to disperse the protests. Travelers to Algeria should monitor the situation closely.

Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 20 June 2019, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order prohibiting U.S. aircraft from entering Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman due to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region.” The FAA order comes after Iranian forces shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone on 19 June while there were “numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area.”

In response to the FAA order, United Airlines suspended its regular flight from Newark, New Jersey to Mumbai, India, citing the need to conduct a “thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace.” Several other major international airlines — including British Airways, Qantas, KLM, Malaysia Airlines and Emirates — have announced that they are rerouting flight paths to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 20 June 2019, thousands of opposition activists took to the streets in cities across Malawi — including Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba — to protest against President Peter Mutharika’s reelection in the 21 May polls. The demonstration significantly disrupted business activities in the capital Lilongwe, where approximately 15,000 demonstrators marched to Capitol Hill to deliver a petition demanding the resignation of the chief of the electoral commission. During the march, a group of demonstrators forcefully entered the parliament building and pulled down national flags and a portrait of Mutharika. In addition, protesters in the capital reportedly vandalized shops and threw stones at police officers, injuring two officers. Meanwhile, in Blantyre, police officers fired tear gas at protesters near the headquarters of the electoral commission.

Opposition activists allege the elections — in which Mutharika secured reelection with less than 40% of votes cast — were marred by vote rigging. The opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Transformation Movement Party (UTM) are challenging the election results in court and a verdict is expected on 21 June.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Guinea-Bissau (Security threat level – 4): On 20 June 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Guinea-Bissau, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Guinea-Bissau suffers from political instability. On 18 June 2019, José Mário Vaz, President of Guinea-Bissau, announced his intention to hold Presidential elections on 24 November 2019. In the run up to the elections, there may be an increase in protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings, which you should avoid. In the event of any political unrest you should follow the advice of local authorities.”
  • Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 20 June 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Honduras, countrywide
  • “Event: Ongoing demonstrations against the Honduran government.
  • “In light of the outbreaks of violence that occurred during protests on June 19, 2019, the U.S. Embassy has instructed U.S. government employees to minimize unnecessary travel. Unannounced protests and road blockades are likely to continue and may lead to the closure of businesses and roads throughout mainland Honduras.”
  • Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.