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Weekly Round-Up

1. Tensions over Essequibo resurface on the 55th anniversary of Guyana’s independence.

Speaking on the 55th anniversary of Guyana’s independence from Britain, President Irfaan Ali noted that the occasion could not be properly marked without remembering that “the Venezuelan government sought to stifle our birth by falsely laying claim to two-thirds of our country.” and that “they have spent the last fifty-five years of the independence of all of Guyana pursuing this claim”. Ali continued on to thank the Commonwealth for the solidarity it has shown in defending Guyana’s territorial integrity. The Venezuelan government responded antagonistically by reasserting its weak claim to the Essequibo region, which is recognised as Guyanese territory under international law.

2. Rwandan army repels rebel attack near border with Burundi.

The Rwanda Defence Force repelled an attack by around fifteen FLN militants near the border with Burundi on Sunday the 23rd of May. According to a statement, two of the militants were killed and a weapons cache was recovered which included automatic weapons and grenades. The rest of the militants retreated back over the border into the Kibira Forest. This incident has occurred as 21 accused members of the FLN are on trial including founders Paul Rusesabagina and Callixte Nsabimana. The FLN are an ethnically Hutu political group in Burundi that was active as a militant group during the Burundian civil war, and armed activities continue in their name to this day.

3. Air India subject to cyber attack exposing data of millions of customers.

India’s national airline, Air India, has been hit by a cyber attack which may have exposed the data of up to 4.5 million customers. The breach was first recognised in February but is only coming to the attention of the public this week. It is not currently known who was behind the attack and the data accessed dates back to 2011. However, the company reassures users that critical data, like credit and debit card data was not accessed.

4. Container ship ablaze off of Sri Lankan coast threatens oil spill.

Naval rescue teams from the Sri Lankan military and Indian coastguard are rushing to extinguish a blaze on a container ship off the coast of Sri Lanka amid fears that the fire could cause a major oil spill. The Singapore registered X-Press Pearl has been burning since the 19th of May and is carrying 278 tons of bunker oil and 50 tons of marine gas oil. Extreme weather and rough seas have hampered efforts to combat the fire thus far and continue to prevent pre-emptive efforts to contain an oil spill, which could cause major ecological damage.

5. India and New Zealand agree closer ties in order to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

During a virtual meeting between the foreign ministries of India and New Zealand, the countries have agreed to greater strategic cooperation in order to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. India’s Ministry of External Affairs noted in a statement that further collaboration was agreed in key areas such as “defence and security, trade and investment, space, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, disarmament and climate change”. Also discussed was the response to the pandemic, and access to vaccines and therapeutics for combatting COVID-19.


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