Features

PANAMA: CRIMINALIZATION OF THE NGÄBE

Ngabe

by Tracy Barnett, Intercontinental Cry

Manolo Miranda, leader of an indigenous community recently flooded by Panama's Barro Blanco dam, now faces up to two years in prison for causing delays and financial losses to the company that has ruined his community's way of life.

Miranda began trial Aug. 18, together with two other leaders of the Ngäbe-Buglé who opposed the dam, regional cacique Toribio García and religious and protest leader Clementina Pérez. All three face up to two years in prison for trespassing and interfering with the "inviolability of work" for their alleged role in an encampment that blocked the entrance to the hydro dam site in May and June of 2015. Charges against two other activists who were present at the encampment, Oscar Sogandares and Carmen Tedman, have been provisionally dismissed.

CUBA VERDE REVISITED

Will Island's Ecological Solutions Survive Economic Opening?

Vedado

by Bill Weinberg, Earth Island Journal

Bicycle-taxi driver Yeral García has a keen sense of the events on the world historical stage that led to him pedaling me around Old Havana.

"In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Russia cut back subsidized oil to Cuba," he told me while deftly maneuvering through the traffic. "The country was paralyzed. Those were terrible years. But the government began importing bicycles."

Indicating the pedal-cab he was assiduously working as he spoke, he added, "That’s where this came from."

But these taxis, while plentiful on the streets of Havana, are lone survivors of that era. Although universally called bici-taxis, they are actually tricycles—retrofitted work-trikes initially imported from China to carry loads around the city during that interval of crisis and scarcity referred to officially as Cuba's "Special Period."

DISMANTLING POWER

Zapatista Presidential Candidate's Vision to Transform Mexico from Below

Marichui

by Benjamin Dangl, Toward Freedom

The Zapatistas and National Indigenous Congress (CNI) held an assembly in May in which they chose María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, a Nahua indigenous healer, as their spokesperson and presidential candidate for the 2018 elections in Mexico.

Patricio's candidacy and radical vision for Mexico challenges conventional politics and marks a new phase for the Zapatista and indigenous struggle in the country. The 57-year-old traditional Nahua doctor and mother of three from western Mexico is the first indigenous woman to run for the presidency in Mexico.

Patricio joined the struggles related to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in 1996, when she was involved in the formation of the CNI, a network of indigenous communities in the country. She began helping out sick members of her community with herbal remedies when she was 20-years-old. Her skills as a healer were passed down to her from elders in the community, and are based on a close relationship with the local ecosystem.

A FEMINIST FUTURE FOR FREE KURDISTAN

Interview with Houzan Mahmoud

Houzan Mahmoud

by Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Conatus News

Houzan Mahmoud is the co-founder of the Kurdish Culture Project (or the Culture Project) and the valued partner of Conatus News in the Conference on Defending Progressivism. She is a women’s rights activist, campaigner and defender, and a feminist. In this wide-ranging and exclusive interview, Mahmoud discusses the Kurds, Iraq, women's rights, and more.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You are a women's rights activist, feminist, and an anti-war activist. You were born in Iraqi Kurdistan. What were the moments of political awakening for you?

Houzan Mahmoud: One of the things I'll never forget is the break-out of war between Iraq and Iran. I was only six-years-old at the time. Iraq's bloody dictator Saddam Hussein coming to political power in 1979 changed our lives in Kurdistan and Iraq forever. Being Kurdish poses all sorts of problems as it is, and living under the fascist regime of Saddam made things incredibly hard for my family. Prior to Saddam coming to power, my brothers took up arms during late 70's against Iraq's regime, I was too little to remember the particulars. However, what I do know is that from 1973 to 1991 I grew up and lived under one of the most horrendous regimes in modern history.

THE GAZA SIEGE AT TEN

Reaching a Humanitarian and Political Breaking Point

Gaza

by Chloe Benoist, Ma'an News Agency

BETHLEHEM — As the Gaza Strip marked the ten-year anniversary of Israel's siege of the small Palestinian enclave on June 15, the humanitarian situation has continued to alarm rights groups, which have denounced the "inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world."

Gaza, which has often been compared to an "open air prison" for its 1.9 million inhabitants crowded into 365 square kilometers, has suffered from a decade of isolation and deprivation, made all the worse by three devastating Israeli military operations, and persistent intra-Palestinian political strife.

The recent decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to request that Israel reduce its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip has made many fear that the situation in Gaza could soon reach a political and humanitarian breaking point with unforetold consequences.

CHINA'S IVANKA TRUMP SWEATSHOPS

Huajian Group

by Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info

Three Chinese activists have been detained and face criminal charges after an undercover investigation of working conditions at two factories belonging to the Huajian Group, a supplier of shoes for the Ivanka Trump fashion label. The arrests came just weeks after the brand owned by the US president’s daughter secured three new exclusive trademarks in China.

On June 5, the US State Department called for the release of the three men. No statement has been issued by Trump or her father however. The Chinese authorities immediately rejected the US call, stating on June 6 that foreign countries have no right to "interfere" in China's judicial sovereignty and independence. This is a standard response from the Chinese dictatorship using nationalism to avoid deeper scrutiny of its increasingly repressive rule.

The past few years, especially since Xi Jinping came to power, have seen a deepening crackdown on labor activists, lawyers, feminists, NGOs and social media. A raft of new laws under the banner of "state security" is being used to criminalize peaceful protests and actions to expose human rights abuses, environmental crimes, and violations of workers’ legal rights. Forced disappearances, televized "confessions," taking family members or colleagues hostage, and torture, are all features of this crackdown.

MUSSOLINI IN LOWER MANHATTAN

by Bill Weinberg, The Villager

This May Day season has been a real political eye-opener for me.

On International Workers' Day itself, I was part of the Free Syria bloc at the Foley Square rally—consciously dissident, in repudiation of the growing flirtation by elements of the American left with the genocidal dictatorship of Bashar Assad. In our contingent was a woman from Syria's Idlib—capital city of the province of that name, where last month the regime carried out a deadly chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun.

It was heartening that we got a lot of positive reactions from the crowd. One young woman who gave us the thumbs up had a handwritten sign reading: "I am the product of Mexican & Syrian immigrants. This is what an American looks like."

But some other moments were not so heartening—indeed, downright disturbing.

I FOUGHT IN LIBYA

Please Don't Call Us Terrorists

by Belal Younis, Middle East Eye

I fought in Libya against the oppressor Muammar Gaddafi. I think what I and others did was for a worthy cause. It certainly was not terrorism.

For 41 years, Libyans were forced to live under Gaddafi's police state where human rights abuses were routine.

Student demonstrations were put down violently, security forces rounded up academics and lawyers, and political opponents were arrested and sometimes disappeared, if not gruesomely publicly executed for trumped up charges.

In 1980 Gaddafi introduced a policy of extrajudicial executions of political opponents across the world whom he called "stray dogs." And according to Human Rights Watch in 1996 up to 1,200 out of 1,700 prisoners were shot dead in cold blood by security forces in a span of two days.

Then, when on 15 February 2011, a group of locals turned out for a peaceful demonstration, and received bullets in return, we knew that we had no choice but to fight.

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