World in Brief: June 24, 2009

A Disputed Election

IRAN – On June 12, Iranians went to the polls. The election featured President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad striving for a second term in office and moderate candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who promed voters a “coloured revolution.”

After a heated presidential election campaign; today, Iran’s top leadership post remains locked in dispute.

CNN reported that while Ahmadinejad has claimed a majority victory, Mousavi remains in opposition to this result.

On June 16, Iran’s Guardian Council made motions to commence a recount. They have since admitted to election errors in some cities. The number of votes cast in many regions surpasses the number of registered voters.

As mass protests ensue and tension mounts, the international community appears to be approaching the botched Iranian election with caution.

According to The Associated Press, American vice-president Joe Biden answered, “You know I have doubts” when questioned on the fairness and legitimacy of the Iranian presidential election results.

Meanwhile, a crackdown on dissenters commences, as Ahmadinejad continues to tout his election win as “real and free.”

In 2007, Ahmadinejad got himself into hot water with the international community.

Fox News reported that while giving a lecture at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad made several, now infamous, statements including, “If the Holocaust is a reality, why don’t we let more research be done on it?” and, “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”

Tiananmen 20 years later

BEIJING, CHINA – On June 4, 1989, the Chinese army stormed Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The square was filled with protestors, the majority of whom were students.

Upon entering the square, military personnel fired indiscriminately on the unarmed dissenters. In the end, hundreds of civilians lay dead.

This dramatic use of force brought to an end seven weeks of demonstration, during which students and intellectuals had demanded democratic reforms from the Chinese government.

International condemnation of the Chinese government’s violent actions in the square followed.

In 1989, the Canadian government issued a statement calling the People’s Republic of China’s use of force “inexcusable.”

According to the Washington Post, today, the People’s Republic of China is engaging in practices to erase any memory of the massacre at Tiananmen.

It has been reported that everything from textbooks to state-run media have been censored.

On June 4, 2009, foreign journalists were barred from entering the square.

WHO raises flu alert level

At a conference in Geneva on June 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) made the decision to raise the pandemic alert to the highest level – phase six.

The move to phase six means the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, is now recognized as a full-scale pandemic or global epidemic.

WHO regulations state that for a virus to gain recognition as a phase six pandemic, the following questions must be answered in the affirmative: “Is the virus new? Does it cause severe diseases? Does it move efficiently between people?”

In the case of H1N1, the answer to all three is yes.

During the conference Margaret Chan, WHO’s director general, explained that further spread of the H1N1 virus is “inevitable.”

According to the CBC, Chan furthered, “The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic of the 21st century.”

The Washington Post reports that throughout the course of the 20th century the globe suffered the wrath of three flu pandemics, which claimed the lives of over 50 million people.

Chan also warned countries already infected with the H1N1 virus to brace for the second wave of this influenza pandemic.