Travel With the Pompeos: Bangkok, Thailand; Sydney, Australia; and Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia

 

From July 30-August 6, Secretary Pompeo and his wife, Susan traveled to Bangkok, Thailand; Sydney, Australia; and Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia “to deepen our long-standing alliances and vibrant bilateral relations with these countries, and reaffirm our commitment to ASEAN, which is central to our vision for the Indo-Pacific region” according to state.gov. Enjoy some pics from the trip!

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More Protests Expected, Post Closures: Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, HK, Lebanon, Pakistan

We’re trying to keep up with the protests breaking out across the globe over the anti-Islam movie. Here is what we know based on publicly available information:

Malaysia:   US Embassy Kuala Lumpur informs U.S. citizens of planned demonstrations on Friday, September 21, 2012. It says the embassy is not aware of specific threats to U.S. citizens in Malaysia at this time but will close to the public on mid-day tomorrow.

The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been informed by the Royal Malaysian Police that demonstrations are scheduled to take place in the afternoon on  Friday, September 21, 2012 at the following locations:   on Jalan Tun Razak in the vicinity of the Embassy;  in front of the Tabung Haji Mosque and proceed by foot to the vicinity of the Embassy; in the vicinity of Jamek Kampung Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, approximately 3 kilometers north of the U.S. Embassy on Jalan Raja Abdullah;  at the  Taman Perling Mosque in Johor Bahru, Johor state;  and at all district mosques in Sabah state.  U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all areas noted above in Kuala Lumpur on Friday afternoon.
From noon until late afternoon on Friday vehicular and foot traffic in the area around the U.S. Embassy will be disrupted.  Given the uncertainty inherent in this situation, the Embassy will close to the public at 11 a.m.   Visa and American Citizens Services appointments scheduled for the afternoon of September 21 will be rescheduled for later dates.  In the event of an emergency, U.S. citizens may call (03) 2168-5000 at any time.   The Embassy plans to re-open for normal business on Monday, September 24.

Indonesia: US Embassy Jakarta informs U.S. citizens of the continuing closure of APP Medan, and closure of US Embassy Jakarta and USCG Surabaya on September 21, 2012:

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, the American Presence Post in Medan, the U.S. Consular Agency in Bali, and the U.S. Mission to ASEAN will be closed tomorrow, Friday, September 21 because of the potential for significant demonstrations that might be held in front of these facilities.  The American Presence Post in Medan continues to be closed today, September 20. We apologize for any inconvenience. We advise, as always, that people should avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates, if needed.

Australia: US Consulate General Sydney informs U.S. citizens of possible new protests in Sydney and Melbourne on September 22, and September 23.

Sydney law enforcement authorities have advised of possible anti-American demonstrations in Sydney for Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.   U.S. citizens should avoid Sydney’s Hyde Park and its perimeter area and Martin Place on both Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.  Previous demonstrations in Sydney on September 15, 2012 occurred in Martin Place and Hyde Park and turned violent.

Melbourne law enforcement authorities have also advised of possible anti-American protests in downtown Melbourne on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.  Should they occur, U.S. citizens should avoid the immediate demonstration areas.

Nepal: US Embassy Kathmandu informs U.S. citizens of a planned demonstration on September 21.

A demonstration is planned for Friday, September 21 in the area of Ratna Park in Kathmandu in the early afternoon (1 pm or sometime thereafter).  (Ratna Park is located in central Kathmandu, approximately one mile south of Thamel, an area popular with backpackers and other tourists, and about a half mile east of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, another popular tourist destination.)  Ratna Park is a major transit point for local public transportation buses, so a demonstration in the area could cause traffic disruption.

Japan: US Embassy Tokyo notifies U.S. citizens of planned demonstrations on September 21.

The Embassy has been advised that there will be a demonstration starting in the Shibuya area and arriving at the U.S. Embassy at approximately 4:00PM on Friday, September 21. The Government of Japan has designated the Japan Tobacco (JT) building as the designated location near the U.S. Embassy for these demonstrations to gather legally and peacefully.

China: US Consulate General Hong Kong informs US citizens in Hong Kong of planned demonstration this weekend:

The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong informs U.S. citizens that local Muslim leaders have announced plans for peaceful demonstrations to take place in Chater Garden in Central in the early afternoon of Sunday, September 23. Consulate General personnel have been instructed to avoid the immediate area around Chater Garden on Sunday, September 23, and we advise you to avoid the area also.

Pakistan: The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and Consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar will be closed tomorrow (Friday, September 21). The Government of Pakistan yesterday officially declared September 21 a Love for Muhammad Day, a national holiday (see more below).

Meanwhile, the State Department has issued updated Travel Warnings for both Lebanon and Pakistan:

Travel Warning Lebanon: September 17, 2012

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 8, 2012, to emphasize information on security, kidnappings, and an upsurge in violence in Lebanon and the region.
[…]
The Fulbright and the English Language Fellow programs that provided grants to American scholars to live and work in Lebanon during the academic year have been suspended in country because of the deteriorating security situation and the increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon.

Travel Warning Pakistan | September 19, 2012

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan.
[…]
Movements by U.S. government personnel assigned to the Consulates General are severely restricted. U.S. officials in Islamabad are instructed to limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations. Only a limited number of official visitors are placed in hotels, and for limited stays.  Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as hotels, markets, and restaurants off limits to official personnel.
[…]
There have been several terrorist attacks in the past few years, targeting civilians and security personnel. On September 3, 2012, unidentified terrorists attacked a U.S. government vehicle convoy in Peshawar, injuring U.S. and Pakistani personnel.  On April 24, 2012, an explosion at the Lahore Railway Station killed three people and injured at least 30.  On April 5, 2012, a suicide bomber attacked a police vehicle in the Malir Area of Karachi, not far from the airport, causing a number of deaths. On November 16, 2011, a vehicle driven by suicide bombers exploded in the Defense Area of Karachi, killing the three bombers and two police officers. On May 20, 2011, a U.S. Consulate General vehicle in Peshawar was attacked, killing one person and injuring a dozen, including two U.S. employees of the Mission. On April 5, 2010, terrorists carried out a complex attack on U.S. Consulate General Peshawar, with several Pakistani security and military personnel killed or wounded.  On February 3, 2010, ten persons, including three U.S. military personnel, were killed and 70 injured in a suicide bombing at a new girls’ school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A side note here.  Pakistani news report that the Federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday has decided “to observe September 21 as ‘Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh)’ day to express reverence for Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and register the government’s protest against the recently released anti-Islam film in the US.” The day has been declared a national holiday.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, addressing the Cabinet meeting, was quoted as saying: “At this moment, I call upon the people of Pakistan to register their protests peacefully but to observe restraints and not to damage their own property.”

On Radio Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has reportedly said that special security arrangements will be made on Friday on the occasion of “Day of Ishq-e-Rasool and that no one will be allowed to take the law into his own hands and damage private or public properties during the protests.

Protests Spread, Embassy Warnings and Temporary Suspension of Public Services

The Atlantic Wire’s John Hudson mapped on Google the protests breaking out across the globe due to a 14-minute YouTube clip of an anti-Muslim movie.   The protests are directed primarily against U.S. embassies, but also against institutions and businesses like the American International School in Tunis (burned and looted, also photos here of the US Embassy Tunis from an Arabic website), and the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hardee’s in Lebanon (burned and ransacked).

The British and German Embassies in Khartoum, Sudan were attacked, and there were reported protests as far away as Kashmir and Kut and also against the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, the United States protecting power in Iran.

Over the weekend, there were also protests in Adana and Istanbul in Turkey,  in Chisinau, Moldova and in Sydney, Australia.  It looks like the protesters range in number from as small as 30 individuals to as much as 2,000.

Map of Muslim Protests via The Atlantic Wire
(click on map to view the large interactive map)

Several posts overseas have announced temporary closure and suspension of services.

The US Embassy in Yemen sent an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens in Sana’a informing them of continuing demonstrations in the vicinity of the embassy, and consular services closure through Saturday, September 29.

US Mission Pakistan issued an Emergency Message for U.S Citizens in the country announcing the temporary suspension of consular services in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi on September 17  due to the potential for demonstrations in the vicinity of the Embassy. A second message informs U.S. citizens living in Pakistan that the U.S. government has instituted travel restrictions for its employees throughout the country. U.S. government employees can now undertake essential travel only, including within the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, due to possible demonstrations moving along major routes.

US Embassy Tunisia announced that the embassy, including the Consular Section and American Citizen Services (ACS), will be closed to public access on September 17, 2012.

US Mission India announced that due to planned demonstrations in New Delhi and Kolkata on September 18, 2012, the American Center including the library and USIEF in the two cities will be closed.

Other posts have issued warning messages of possible protests:

In Azerbaijan, the U.S. Embassy Baku informs U.S. citizens of a planned demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy at 3:00 pm on Monday, September 17.  The demonstration is assumed to be connected to other anti-American demonstrations ongoing worldwide.

US Embassy Lebanon issued an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens on “the reaction to the controversial film and internet event and says that “The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon is concerned about the continued threat of demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. interests in Lebanon.” The AP’s Matt Lee reports that “A State Department status report obtained Monday by The Associated Press said the Beirut embassy had “reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.”

Here is part of the Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens from the US Embassy Jakarta on 9/17/2012:

“The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia has been informed of planned demonstrations in Jakarta and Medan. Today, Monday, September 17 there will be a demonstration in Jakarta starting at 12:00pm. Approximately 1,000 people are expected to march from the Hotel Indonesia Circle outside of Grand Indonesia to the U.S. Embassy. A demonstration also started in Medan today at around 9:00am. Another protest is planned in Medan for tomorrow, Tuesday September 18. The U.S. Embassy has been informed by the Indonesian National Police that approximately 150 police will be present in Medan and approximately 1,500 police will be present in Jakarta during the demonstrations. We advise, as always, that people should avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent.”

US Embassy Conakry informs U.S. Citizens of anti-American demonstration at the U.S. Embassy on Monday, September 17. Embassy staff have been told to remain at home Monday morning. U.S. citizens are urged not to attempt to come to the Embassy. The American International School was also closed on Monday.

In Afghanistan, the US Embassy in Kabul restricted travel for Chief of Mission personnel across Afghanistan until further notice.