Welcome to Monday, where India reels from COVID surge, at least 82 die in Iraq hospital fire, and the Academy Awards go to … We also have Le Monde reporting from Azerbaijan about allegations that the government is using a new, more intrusive form of scare tactics.
• India's coronavirus situation worsens: Several nations have pledged to send urgent medical aid to India, where COVID-19 appears to be spiraling out of control. The country hit another record for the fifth day in a row, rising to 352,991. Political tensions are also growing as the Indian government has asked social media platform Twitter to remove tweets that denounced the government's handling of the crisis.
• Fire kills 82 in Iraqi COVID-19 hospital: At least 82 people were killed by a fire in the coronavirus intensive care unit of a hospital in the Iraqi capital of Bagdad. The health minister has been suspended by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi and three days of national mourning has been declared.
• Myanmar activists call for non-cooperation campaign: Pro-democracy activists have called on people to stop paying electricity bills and agricultural loans and to keep their children away from school, in another move to oppose Myanmar's military junta. On Saturday, leaders from nine Southeast Asian countries called for an immediate end to the violence in Myanmar.
• EU to allow U.S. vaccinated tourists this summer: U.S. tourists vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to visit European countries next summer, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with The New York Times.
• Indonesian navy submarine found, no survivors: The KRI Nanggala navy submarine that disappeared last Wednesday has been found split into three pieces on the sea bed and none of the 53 passengers survived.
• Academy Awards 2021: The 93rd Academy Awards was held virtually and in-person due to the ongoing pandemic. Chloé Zhao made history as the first woman of color and second woman to win best director while her film Nomadland also won best picture. The movie's star Frances McDormand won best actress, while Anthony Hopkins claimed best actor for his role in The Father.
• A dog's day: The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has a new national holiday dedicated to a breed of dog, the Alabay. The native variety of shepherd dog was honored Sunday and will be so annually in the former Soviet Republic, as a source of national pride and the best friend of a certain breed of mammal always looking for a reason for a party and a day off from work.
Ukrainian daily Vesti commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
The hashtag (a transliteration of मोदी हटाओ देश बचाओ, meaning "Remove Modi, save the country" in Hindi) started trending on Twitter over the weekend, in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's request to have Twitter remove 50 tweets critical of the Indian government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter partially complied, blocking some of the content.
In Azerbaijan, the "sextape" is an instrument of repression
Critics of Ilham Aliev's regime accuse the Azerbaijani government of using sexually explicit material — including images of wives and daughters — to strong-arm its opponents, reports Paul Tavignot in French daily Le Monde.
For some of Azerbaijani's opposition figures, Big Brother has moved into the bedroom, with the result being the distribution of "sex tapes' on social networks. Often the videos are filmed by cameras hidden in the victims' homes without their knowledge. Once recorded, the intimate images are "shared" — along with nude photographs and/or personal correspondence — onto a Telegram channel or Facebook accounts. And it's happening with increasing frequency.
The victims tend to be outspoken feminists, but sometimes men are targeted through the bodies of women. On March 28, it was Jamil Hasanli, president of the National Council of Democratic Forces party, who was targeted with a video showing his daughter having sex. The opponent immediately pointed the finger at Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, whom he accuses of orchestrating these publications in order to exercise "political blackmail" intended to make him give up politics.
The authorities formally deny any involvement in the cyber harassment campaign and say they are investigating the complaints filed with the police. "This is a campaign to discredit our secret services. These activists are marginal and pose no risk to our political system," says a source close to the government, who wished to remain anonymous. But the attitude of the authorities is causing a stir among the elite. A prominent academic, Elvar Mirzaoglu, announced on March 30 that he was leaving the ruling New Azerbaijan Party to join Jamil Hasanli's party because of the incident.
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More than one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered across 172 countries according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker earlier today, with an approximate daily rate of 19.2 million doses. The United States is leading the way in total vaccines administered with nearly 229 million doses, while Israel is first in the proportion of the population who have received the vaccine, with nearly 6 out of 10 Israelis fully inoculated.
They are rebels, which is why we are bombing them. We are waging war, that's all.
— Azem Bermandoa Agouna, spokesman for Chad's new ruling junta, said Sunday, took a hard line the day after rebels offered a truce. Fresh clashes have rocked the north-central African country, after longtime strongman Idriss Deby was killed on the frontlines last week. A military council headed by Deby's son, seized power, a move seen as a coup by rebels.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Emma Flacard & Bertrand Hauger