Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

Activists rounded up in Hong Kong

International | Officials use a Beijing-backed security law to silence dissent
by Mindy Belz
Posted 1/06/21, 04:57 pm

HONG KONG: Police on Wednesday morning arrested 53 elected pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, an unprecedented crackdown under the new national security law imposed by Beijing to quash dissent last year.

Those arrested include American lawyer John Clancey, chairman of the Asian Human Rights Commission and a member of a firm supporting pro-democracy activists. They also include members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, the largest opposition party, and Benny Tai, who led protests in 2014.

Hong Kong police last month froze the bank accounts of a church, its pastor, and his wife. Pastor Roy Chan founded a group to aid demonstrators and mediate with police during protests.

Christians have prepared for arrests and further restrictions. “We will turn our churches into small groups, as long as we are not caught,” one believer told International Christian Concern. Another: “As a Hong Kong Christian, now is the time when I feel like I understand the Bible the most.”

IRAN: New York air traffic controllers heard this threat on Monday: “We are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged.” The intercepted audio came one year after a U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, an attack for which Iranian officials have long vowed to get revenge. The Pentagon dispatched B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf and returned the USS Nimitz to the region, anticipating retaliation. At the same time, Iran announced it had resumed advanced uranium enrichment in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal, and it seized a South Korean–flagged oil tanker and its crew—all provocations likely to frustrate the incoming Biden administration’s foreign policy priorities.

NIGERIA: Boko Haram militants attacked and killed 11 people in a Christian village in Borno state on Christmas Eve. Islamic militants killed more than 2,200 Nigerian Christians in targeted attacks in 2020, according to a Nigeria-based civil liberties nonprofit.

NIGER: Islamic extremists are behind attacks in the Niger-Mali border region that claimed 100 lives in two villages.

ISRAEL is leading the world in the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

GERMANY: Needle shortages and other roadblocks are putting Europe far behind on coronavirus immunizations. Health officials in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo could teach the world a few things about rolling out a new vaccine.

MINE: The Trump team’s bold approach on international religious freedom cut both ways, say insiders—giving a needed jolt in secularized diplomatic circles while sometimes backfiring in the hands of a polarizing president. I examined what a Biden administration may do. Also, one way President-elect Joe Biden can “heal the nation” at home is to build trust abroad, reengaging allies without kowtowing to them—and a good place to start is Turkey.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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