US warns citizens against travel to Bolivia due to ‘civil unrest’

Police officers take part in a march to protest against Bolivian President Evo Morales in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on November 9, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 November 2019

US warns citizens against travel to Bolivia due to ‘civil unrest’

  • Seven people have died in unrest that broke out after Evo Morales was controversially declared the winner of October 20 presidential polls
  • Weeks of protests followed and Morales resigned on Sunday after losing the support of the security forces, going into exile in Mexico

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Tuesday warned American citizens not to travel to Bolivia and limited its diplomatic presence in the country due to unrest that followed recent disputed elections.

“Do not travel to Bolivia due to civil unrest,” the State Department said in a travel advisory, adding that it has ordered diplomats’ family members to leave and authorized “the departure of non-emergency US government employees due to ongoing political instability in Bolivia.”

“There are recurring demonstrations, strikes, roadblocks, and marches in major cities in Bolivia,” it said. “Some protests have resulted in violent confrontations, and local authorities have used crowd control measures to discourage protests.”

Bolivia’s attorney general said Tuesday that seven people have died in unrest that broke out after Evo Morales was controversially declared the winner of October 20 presidential polls that were said to have been tainted by fraud.

Weeks of protests followed and Morales resigned on Sunday after losing the support of the security forces, going into exile in Mexico.


Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

Updated 34 min 3 sec ago

Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

  • Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown
  • China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage

HONG KONG: Thirteen prominent Hong Kong democracy activists appeared in court on Monday charged with holding an unauthorized gathering to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the latest in a string of prosecutions against protest leaders in the restless financial hub.
Last month tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown against students pushing for democracy.
The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds. It has taken on particular significance in recent years as the semi-autonomous city chafes under Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
This year’s vigil was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures. At the time local transmission had largely been halted.
But thousands turned out to hold candles in their neighborhoods and in Victoria Park, the traditional site of the vigil.
Police later arrested 13 leading activists who appeared at the Victoria Park vigil.
All appeared in court on Monday to be formally charged with “inciting” an unlawful assembly, which carries up to five years in jail.
Among them are Jimmy Lai, the millionaire owner of the openly pro-democracy Apple newspaper, veteran democracy activists such as Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho as well as young campaigner Figo Chan.
When asked if he understood the charge, Lee invoked the hundreds who were killed by Chinese tanks and soldiers at Tiananmen.
“This is political persecution,” he said. “The real incitement is the massacre conducted by the Chinese Communist Party 31 years ago.”
Some of those charged on Monday — and many other leading democracy figures — face separate prosecutions related to last year’s huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage and portrayed the protests as a plot by foreigners to destabilize the motherland.
Earlier this month Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law aimed at stamping out the protests once and for all.
The law targets subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion, with sentences including life in prison.
But its broad phrasing — such as a ban on encouraging hatred toward China’s government — has sent fear rippling through a city used to being able to speak its mind.
Police have arrested people for possessing pro-independence or autonomy material, libraries and schools have pulled books, political parties have disbanded and one prominent opposition politician has fled.
The law bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature and its contents were kept secret until the moment it was enacted.
It empowered China’s security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, while Beijing has also claimed jurisdiction for some serious national security cases — ending the legal firewall between the mainland the city’s independent judiciary.
China has also announced global jurisdiction to pursue national security crimes committed by anyone outside of Hong Kong and China, including foreigners.