Worldview Weekly Security Update – 12 August – 15 August 2019
16-Aug-19

12 August – 15 August 2019

Monday 12 August 2019:

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 10 August 2019, tens of thousands of opposition supporters gathered in cities across the country to protest the government’s decision to bar opposition candidates from participating in the September 2019 local elections. In the capital Moscow, officials estimated that at least 20,000 protesters gathered on Sakharov Prospect near Garden Ring Road, while protest organizers claimed that at least 50,000 people attended the demonstration. Police officers detained more than 220 protesters who attempted to push past police barriers toward the city center and presidential administration building. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, security forces detained more than 80 protesters during a rally in the city center. Additionally, an unspecified number of protesters were arrested at concurrent protests in the cities of Bryansk and Rostov-on-Don. There were no reports of significant clashes or injuries.

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

Location: Honduras, countrywide

Event: Ongoing demonstrations against the Honduran government.

Because of the ongoing demonstrations at or near National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), which at times have turned violent as they did on Wednesday, August 7, the U.S. Embassy has determined this area to be unsafe for U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members to transit. In Wednesday’s confrontation, police deployed tear gas in response to students throwing Molotov cocktails, bottle rockets (fireworks), and other projectiles at police. The previously restricted area in Colonia Kennedy continues to be off-limits for U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members. 

U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members are, effective immediately, directed to avoid these two areas until further notice:

  • Colonia Kennedy: The area around Instituto Tecnico Honduras from Boulevard Kennedy (not including Blvd. Kennedy) and Primera Entrada of Colonia Kennedy to the Anillo Periferico.
  • Blvd. Supaya in front of National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) from Calle Trapiche (not including Calle Trapiche) to the Anillo Periferico at Blvd. Suyapa and the UNAH entrances from Villa Olimpica located on the north side of UNAH campus.

"Additionally, U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members should use caution while transiting through the following areas: 

  • Anillo Periferico near Blvd. Suyapa
  • The exit from Anillo Periferico to Danli
  • Blvd. Centroamerica continuing along Blvd. Kennedy"

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Department of State upgraded its travel advisory for Kyrgyzstan from "Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions" to "Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution" due to civil unrest.

Tuesday 13 August 2019:

NSTR

Wednesday 14 August 2019:

China (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 13 August 2019, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) plans to hold a protest march in Hong Kong beginning at 1500 local time (0700 UTC) on 18 August. Protesters plan to initially gather at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and march to Chater Road in Central. The motive of the demonstration is to reiterate demands of the ongoing protests, including a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent investigation into alleged police brutality, the release of all detained protesters, the withdrawal of the government’s classification of the protests as riots and the implementation of a requirement that all lawmakers in the territory be elected.

Violence broke out at the airport at approximately 2300 local time on 13 August, when protesters occupying the airport clashed with police officers attempting to release an individual whom the protesters had detained on suspicion of being an undercover police officer. The confrontation occurred as police officers attempted to extract the hostage after he lost consciousness and demonstrators refused to allow him to receive medical attention. Protesters then threw objects at police officers, who responded with pepper spray and arrested five demonstrators after retrieving the hostage. Protesters also later briefly detained a journalist from a Chinese state news outlet, but later released him to paramedics to receive treatment for injuries the protesters had inflicted on him. Police officers left the area by 0000 local time on 14 August, and many of the protesters left shortly afterward. Airport authorities have obtained a temporary injunction against demonstrations on the airport premises following the violence.

Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 14 August 2019, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated its travel advice for Iran to read in part as follows: “Reconsider your need to travel, due to the risk that foreigners including Australians could be arbitrarily detained or arrested. Dual nationals are also at risk. We can’t guarantee access to consular services or legal representation if you’re detained or arrested.”

Thursday 15 August 2019:

Libya (Security threat level – 5): Early on 15 August 2019, an airstrike targeted Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport (HLLM/MJI). The strike reportedly caused a large fire inside the airport and forced authorities to suspend air traffic at the facility. Flights have been redirected to Mistrata Airport (HLMS/MRA). At least one person was killed and several others were injured in the attack. Attacks targeting HLLM are frequent and often result in the suspension of flight operations, but casualties and large-scale damage are rare.

Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): Beginning on 16 August 2019, several civil society groups and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party are expected to gather in the capital Harare and elsewhere in the country to protest against the policies of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic situation. The MDC has stated that the protests will continue indefinitely, and additional demonstrations are scheduled to take place in the cities of Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare through at least 22 August. As of 15 August, there is a notable presence of riot police officers and military vehicles throughout Harare, including along major roads, in the central business district and in the city’s suburbs, in preparation for the anticipated protests.

Protest organizers have stated that participants would engage in peaceful protests to increase political pressure on Mnangagwa to address issues such as rising costs and nationwide shortages of food, fuel, water and other basic commodities. Mnangagwa, meanwhile, has called on the MDC to cancel the upcoming protests. The government has not sanctioned any of the gatherings; as such, these demonstrations will likely turn violent, as authorities often use heavy-handed tactics to forcibly disperse protesters.

China (Security threat level – 3): On 14 August 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Hong Kong, which reads in part as follows: “Exercise increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest.

Since June 2019, several large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including at Hong Kong International Airport. Most have been peaceful, but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes. Police have used a variety of crowd control measures, including the deployment of tear gas. The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighborhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue.

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On 15 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

Location: Koy Tash and Central Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Event: U.S. Embassy Bishkek has lifted restrictions of travel in and around the village of Koy Tash and throughout the downtown area of Bishkek for U.S. citizens and government personnel, following the arrest of former President Atambaev and the end to demonstrations by his supporters. U.S. citizens should continue to take all normal precautions when traveling in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 15 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

Location: Eastern Mandalay Division and Northern Shan State, Burma

Event: There are reports of ongoing armed engagements between the Burmese military and ethnic armed organizations in the area between Pyin Oo Lwin and Nawnghkio. As of the afternoon of August 15, 2019, roads and railways between these townships are closed. U.S. Embassy staff members are not permitted to travel between Pyin Oo Lwin and Nawnghkio at this time.

“Actions to Take:

  • Avoid the area between Pyin Oo Lwin and Nawnghkio at this time.
  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Notify friends and family of your safety.
  • If you are northeast of Nawnghkio (Hsipaw or Lashio), check with local authorities for travel options. Travel toward Mandalay by land might not be possible at this time."