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Worldview Weekly Security Update – 26 August – 29 August 2019
Monday 26 August 2019:

China (Security threat level – 3): Over the weekend of 24-25 August 2019, anti-government protesters in Hong Kong engaged in a number of clashes with police officers. On the evening of 25 August, police officers fired tear gas, water cannons and a single warning gunshot to disperse protesters during a violent anti-extradition protest in the Tsuen Wan district. The demonstration turned violent in the evening after hundreds of protesters participated in an authorized demonstration that began near Kwai Chung Sports Ground. The march was scheduled to end at Tsuen Wan Park at 1500 local time (0700 UTC); however, protesters began to erect barricades at intersections along Yeung Uk road, which resulted in a standoff with police officers. During the clashes, police officers used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters, who responded by throwing bricks, Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at the officers. A police officer fired a single shot into the air after demonstrators surrounded a group of police officers. Groups of protesters later mobilized to various areas of Hong Kong to block roads and erect additional barricades. Police officers arrested 36 people over various offenses, including assaulting police officers, possession of offensive weapons and unlawful assembly. There were no reports of injuries.

On the same day, members of Police Relatives Connection — a group formed by relatives of officers of the Hong Kong police force — organized a protest march in Central district. The activists gathered at Edinburgh Square at 1500 local time and marched to the Chief Executive Office and on to the police headquarters, located in Wan Chai district. According to organizers, approximately 400 demonstrators attended the event. The protesters called for an independent investigation into allegations of police brutality, for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to fulfill demands made by protesters in the ongoing protest movement, and increased efforts by police forces to minimize clashes with protesters. There were no reports of violence at this protest march.

Meanwhile, on 24 August, police officers deployed tear gas and conducted a baton charge to disperse protesters who had set up barricades outside a local police station in Kwun Tong district. The protesters threw bottles, stones and other debris at police officers, who detained a number of participants.

In another development on 24 August, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit railway (MTR) suspended services between Choi Hong Station and Tiu Keng Leng Station from 1200 local time onward. The announcement came one day after the rail operator announced that authorities had granted the service an injunction allowing MTR to cease services immediately if “fights, vandalism or other acts of violence occur” at its stations.

France (Security threat level – 3): On 24 August 2019, hundreds of people gathered in the historic city center of Bayonne, located near the southwestern French coast, to protest various economic issues and to demand action on the issue of climate change. The unauthorized protest occurred as world leaders had gathered for the G7 Economic Summit, which was taking place in nearby Biarritz, located 9 km (6 mi) west of Bayonne. Police officers deployed water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters, who reportedly threw stones and chanted anti-police slogans. There were no reports of significant injuries; however, police officers arrested at least 68 protesters. French authorities had banned demonstrations in Biarritz and Bayonne for the duration of the G7 Summit, which took place from 24-26 August. More than 13,000 law enforcement and military officers were deployed to secure the Hôtel Palais Biarritz — the G7 Summit venue — and the surrounding areas during the event.

Meanwhile, on the morning 24 August, an estimated 9,000 people participated in an approved march to the town of Irun from Hendaye, located approximately 30 km (18 mi) south of Biarritz near the Spanish border. The march — the participants of which included a number of economic, social, political and environmental activists — concluded peacefully.

Previously, on the evening of 23 August, a smaller group of protesters clashed with police officers near Urrugne. The protesters reportedly blocked a portion of the A63 motorway leading toward Biarritz, and threw projectiles and at least one homemade explosive device toward police officers. Police officers responded with tear gas and arrested at least 17 protesters. At least four people were injured during the clashes.

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 25 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding protests in Bangladesh, which reads in part as follows: “There have been reports of insecurity, protests and some violence in the areas of Ukhia and Teknaf in the southern part of Cox’s Bazar district, and specifically in the camps in the Teknaf area since 23 August 2019; you should exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities.”

China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for China regarding border crossings between the mainland and Hong Kong, which reads in part as follows: “In light of ongoing protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong, there are reports of greater scrutiny from mainland authorities at border crossings between the mainland and Hong Kong. This includes reports that travellers’ electronic devices have been checked at border crossings. You should be aware that the thresholds for detention and prosecution in China differ from those in Hong Kong.”

Tuesday 27 August 2019:

Germany (Security threat level – 3): During the morning of 27 August 2019, officials at Munich Airport (EDDM/MUC) temporarily closed Terminal 2 and areas B and C of Terminal 1 due to a security breach. Authorities closed the areas after a passenger accessed the secure area of Terminal 2 through an emergency exit door without completing mandatory security checks. Police officers detained the passenger, and all passengers who had previously completed security screening were required to complete security checks a second time. Check-in procedures at both terminals resumed after a four-hour shutdown. At least 5,000 passengers were affected and 130 flights were canceled during the episode.

Wednesday 28 August 2019:

 Argentina (Security threat level – 3): Civil society groups have announced plans to protest against President Mauricio Macri’s economic policies in central Buenos Aires on 28 August 2019. Protesters plan to gather at the intersection of Avenida Belgrano and 9 de Julio, two major thoroughfares, beginning at 1300 local time (1600 UTC). Similar demonstrations on 15 and 22 August caused significant traffic disruptions.

Finland (Security threat level – 2): On 28 August 2019, authorities announced plans to restrict transportation in Helsinki from 28-30 August during a scheduled meeting of European Union (EU) officials and a visit by the president of Latvia. Authorities will interrupt vehicular traffic while delegates travel from one location to another and will restrict aviation and pedestrian traffic, as well as alter public transportation routes. Traffic disruptions are expected along the route that connects Helsinki Airport (EFHK/HEL) to Finlandia Hall from 1030 local time (0730 UTC) through the evening on 28 August. There will be additional disruptions in the city center on 29 and 30 August from 0730-0830, and along the route between Finlandia Hall and the airport from 1000-0000 on 29 August and from 1200-1900 on 30 August. The most significant disruptions are expected on 29 August from 1400-1900. Authorities have warned that travel delays of at least one hour should be expected between the city center and the airport and recommended that travelers use alternate routes.

In addition, public transportation routes will be re-routed during the morning hours of 29 and 30 August, and bicycle and pedestrian traffic will be prohibited near Finlandia Hall. Officials advised travelers to keep abreast of updates via the Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) website .

A no-fly zone will be established around Finlandia Hall from 0800 local time on 28 August to 2100 local time on 30 August. The cordon will extend 700-1,000 m (2,300-3,280 ft) outward and 300 m above ground level. Airspace restrictions will not apply to emergency, military or police activities.

Yemen (Security threat level – 5): On 28 August 2019, security forces loyal to the internationally-recognized Yemeni government retook control of large parts of Aden — including Aden International Airport (OYAA/ADE) — from southern separatist forces. Reports indicate that government troops have also recaptured the presidential palace, but fighting is ongoing in large parts of the city. Members of the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) have held the city since 9 August.

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): As of 28 August 2019, clashes between security personnel and rioters are ongoing in Pretoria’s Central Business District (CBD). During the morning hours, thousands of taxi drivers used their vehicles to block several main roads in the CBD to protest the killing of a taxi driver, allegedly by individuals involved in drug-related activity, on 27 August. The gathering later descended into violence as protesters reportedly looted and set fire to several businesses in the area. Police officers deployed tear gas canisters and fired rubber bullets to disperse the rioters. Several areas of the CBD are “no-go zones” and authorities have advised the public to avoid the area. City officials also suspended bus services throughout Tshwane municipality — which comprises Pretoria — on 28 August due to the protests.

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 28 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bolivia, which reads in part as follows: “Presidential elections will be held on 22 October 2019. Social conflict may escalate in the coming months, resulting in regular demonstrations and blockades. Do not attempt to cross blockades, and before travelling check local advice.”

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 28 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Malawi, which reads in part as follows: “On 27 August, the Malawi Supreme Court issued a 14-day moratorium preventing a coalition of Civil Society Organizations, the Human Rights Defenders Consortium, from holding any demonstrations in Malawi. However, further protests are possible. If you’re in Malawi, avoid large crowds or demonstrations, monitor this travel advice and local media for updates and keep any local and international travel plans under review. You may also wish to stock up on petrol, food and essentials, including any medication, in case normal service provision is disrupted in the short term.”

Thursday 29 August 2019:

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): Demonstrations to protest against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposed suspension of Parliament are planned across the United Kingdom beginning on 29 August 2019. On 29 August opposition activists plan to demonstrate in Leeds’ City Square beginning at 1730 local time (1630 UTC). Meanwhile, on 31 August protests are planned throughout the day in several cities, including Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield and York. Travelers should expect traffic disruptions and an increased police presence at these locations during planned demonstrations.

Impromptu protests broke out across the United Kingdom on 28 August following an announcement regarding the suspension of Parliament. In central London, demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square and outside the Palace of Westminster, blocking roads and disrupting traffic in the surrounding area. Elsewhere, smaller protests took place in the cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh. There were no reports of significant violence at any of the protests, although a minor scuffle reportedly broke out between anti- and pro-Brexit demonstrators in London’s Parliament Square before police officers intervened.