From our Daily Report:

Oceania
solomon islands

Solomon Islands uprising in the New Cold War

Australia has dispatched some 100 police and military troops to the Solomon Islands following days of rioting and looting in the capital Honiara. Calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign, protesters set the parliament building ablaze, and torched and looted shops, causing millions of dollars in damages. The looting centered on the city’s Chinatown, where three charred bodies have been found amid the ruins. Tensions between Guadalcanal and Malaita islanders have been enflamed by massive Chinese capital flows into the former island, while the latter remains comparatively impoverished. The two provincial governments are bitterly at odds over Sogavare’s recent decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

Europe
Moria

‘Absurd’ trial of Lesvos migrant helpers

The Greek trial of 24 aid volunteers accused of people-smuggling got off to a shambolic false start, with the case delayed as it was sent directly to a higher court due to jurisdictional disputes. The defendants were members of Emergency Response Center International (ECRI), an NGO that performed rescue activities in the Aegean Sea and provided humanitarian assistance to people in Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos between 2016 and 2018. Human rights groups say the accusations are part of a broader trend of governments across Europe criminalizing people providing humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers and migrants. They have called on Greece to drop the charges, describing the case as “absurd.” (Photo: Robin Hammond/Witness Change via TNH)

The Amazon
Peter Gorman

Podcast: entheogenic adventures with Peter Gorman

In Episode 99 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews an old friend and colleague—legendary journalist, naturalist and adventurer Peter Gorman, who reflects on his long years collecting (and personally sampling) psychoactive and shamanic plants, from the Peruvian Amazon, to the Rif Mountains of Morocco, to the Palani Hills of southern India. Now approaching 71, Peter is about to head back down to the Amazon to revisit the remote Matsés indigenous people, who he first contacted in 1985. His latest collection of first-hand accounts is Magic Mushrooms in India & Other Fantastic Tales. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo courtesy of Peter Gorman)

Central America
Mélidas

Feminist, humanitarian groups raided in El Salvador

Agents of El Salvador’s Fiscalía, backed up by police troops, raided seven non-governmental organizations, ostensibly on the grounds of investigating “corruption.” The Salvadoran popular movement describes the raids as the latest in an escalating campaign of political persecution by President Nayib Bukele against voices critical of the regime. Among the groups targeted were Las Mélidas, a long-standing women’s rights organization, and PRO-VIDA, a humanitarian association that works in areas of healthcare, ecology, and strengthening of democratic institutions. In a statement following the raids, a representative of Las Mélidas condemned them as “unjustified” and meant to “criminalize” the group’s initiatives, which include literacy, violence prevention, sexual health campaigns, and other programs serving the country’s most marginalized women. (Photo via Twitter)

The Andes
Quito police

Ecuador: president extends state of emergency

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso extended the country’s state of emergency by a second 30 days. The decree is ostensibly an attempt to combat the insecurity generated by drug-related crime and re-establish public order. It provides for the mobilization of military forces to assist the functions of the National Police in several provinces. The emergency was originally declared last month for a period of 60 days, but the duration was reduced to 30 days by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. The renewed state of emergency will be enacted in nine of the 24 provinces in the country. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Africa
DRC

Martial law fails to stop killings in DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Senate once again extended martial law in two of the country’s eastern provinces, despite increasing criticism of the measure, which has done nothing to stem decades of violence. Since May, civilian officials in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have been replaced by police and military figures. The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo has thrown its weight behind the measure, even as local rights groups accuse authorities of using the “state of siege” to curtail civil liberties. And attacks by armed groups have continued at the same rate as before, with at least 1,000 civilians killed since May, according to the Kivu Security Tracker. More than one million people have been internally displaced in eastern Congo so far this year. (Photo: MONUSCO via Defense Post)

Africa
#EndSARS

Nigerian army accused of #EndSARS ‘massacre’

A judicial panel of inquiry found the Nigerian army killed at least 11 people when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos just over a year ago—a politically seismic event that still reverberates. The panel’s report, submitted to the Lagos state government, describes the shootings as a “massacre.” The findings cast a shadow over repeated denials by the government and the army that any killings occurred—consistently labelling such reports “fake news.” The sit-in at the Lekki toll gate in October 2020 was one of many across the country against police brutality, which initially focused on the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The government has continued to hound activists, claiming they are “anarchists.”  (Photo: Sahara Reporters)

Africa
khartoum

Sudan: civil resistance rejects ‘power-sharing’ deal

Sudan’s ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who had been placed under house arrest with last month’s military coup, appeared on TV to sign a new power-sharing agreement with putsch leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. But the deal officially restoring Hamdok as prime minister was immediately rejected by the pro-democracy movement in the streets. Just after the announcement, security forces in Khartoum fired tear-gas at protesters marching toward the presidential palace to demand the military’s complete withdrawal from politics. “The future of the country will be determined by the young people on the ground,” said Siddiq Abu-Fawwaz of the Forces for Freedom & Change coalition. (Photo via Twitter)

North America
standwithmashpee

Podcast: Thanksgiving and Atonement

In Episode 98 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick. A work of Thanksgiving boosterism, it nonetheless recognizes the dissidents who reject the holiday as a celebration and sanitization of genocide, and even call for replacing it with a day of atonement. The idealized portrayal the first Thanksgiving in 1621 belies the bloody realities of the Pequot War and King Philip’s War that shortly followed. Perversely, the Wampanoag indigenous people, who shared in that first Thanksgiving and were later defeated in King Philip’s War, were the target of a new attempt at “termination” by the Trump administration, which sought to disestablish their reservation at Mashpee, on Cape Cod just 30 miles south of Plymouth Rock. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Indianz.com)

The Caribbean
Osorbo

Imprisoned Cuban rapper on hunger strike

Supporters of imprisoned Cuban rap artist Maykel Castillo, better known by his stage name “El Osorbo,” warn that his life is in danger one week into a hunger strike, and that he has been removed to a “punishment cell” where he is being held incommunicado. Castillo is a leader of the San Isidro Movement, a collective of Cuban dissident artists and intellectuals, and co-author of the viral song “Patria y Vida,” which became an anthem of the protest wave across the island in July. He has been repeatedly arrested since 2015, including for protesting the controversial Decree 349, which places restrictions on artistic expression. He has been held at the maximum-security Pinar del Río prison since his May arrest for the vague crimes of “resistance” and “contempt.” He launched his total hunger and thirst strike in protest of his own detention and the crackdown on freedom of expression in Cuba. (Image: FreeMuse)

Planet Watch
spacedebris

Dangerous debris from Russian space kablooie

Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, in a test of its PL-19 Nudol DA-ASAT (direct-ascent anti-satellite) system. The blast created thousands of pieces of debris that have spread out into Earth orbit. The US says it has identified more than 1,500 trackable pieces of debris from the strike, and many thousands of smaller ones. That same day, the Russia’s RosCosmos space agency reported that the astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to shelter in place due to a cloud of debris passing by the station every 90 minutes, the time it takes for the ISS to orbit the Earth. It was unclear if the debris threatening the space station came from Russia’s ASAT test. But Washington charges that the new debris field poses a danger to the space station. (Image: MIT News)

South Asia
tripura

India: press freedom at stake amid communal violence

Charges under India’s draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been brought against two human rights advocates and a journalist for their reporting on an outbreak of communal violence in the northeastern state of Tripura. Widespread attacks on Muslims erupted in response to attacks on Hindus across the border in Bangladesh during the Durga Puja festival. In the Tripura violence, mosques were vandalized, and Muslim shops and homes ransacked. These attacks were denied by the authorities until they were documented in a report by the rights advocates—who now face criminal charges for their efforts. Journalist Shyam Meera Singh was charged merely for tweeting “Tripura is burning.” (Photo via Twitter)

More Headlines

Featured Stories

Row, NH

‘WHAT MUST BE DONE’ FOR THE PLANET

The regional coalition No Coal No Gas has launched a direct-action campaign to shut down New England’s last coal-burning power plant, Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire. In an October civil disobedience, campaign members planted gardens on company property, including a bed hacked out with pickaxes in the middle of an access road. Rail lines to the plant were occupied, while a flotilla of “kayaktivists” on the Merrimack River blocked the plant’s access to the waterfront. Several were arrested by state police troops in full riot gear. But campaigners have also organized an ongoing utility bill payment strike to pressure local utility Granite Shore Power. Arnie Alpert, a longtime nonviolent action trainer in New Hampshire, provides a first-hand account of this uncompromising grassroots response to the global climate crisis for Waging Nonviolence.

Continue Reading‘WHAT MUST BE DONE’ FOR THE PLANET 
Zurg Xiong

ANTI-ASIAN PERSECUTION IN CALIFORNIA’S CANNABIS COUNTRY

Even as California grapples with its ugly past of discrimination and even pogroms against Asian immigrants and their descendants, a survival of this legacy persists in remote parts of the state. A disturbing escalation is reported in far-north Siskiyou County, where Hmong immigrants from Laos have been getting in on the cannabis economy—sparking a xenophobic backlash. Conservative politicians are making hay of the tensions, even cutting off water to Hmong farms—in a supposed crackdown on unlicensed cannabis cultivation. This finally prompted local Hmong to stand up and protest. This summer, a Hmong evacuee from the region’s wildfires was killed at a police checkpoint on a county road—further enflaming the situation. Bill Weinberg reports for The Progressive.

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THE TRAGEDY OF AHWAZ

The protests in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan region have won some international media attention. But coverage has not noted that this region, known to its Arab inhabitants as Ahwaz, had for centuries been an independent emirate before its incorporation into Iran in 1925. This annexation was effected through military force, and with the acquiescence of the Great Powers of the day—principally Britain and Russia. With the US and European Union now attempting to revive the nuclear deal with the Tehran regime, it remains to be seen if the Ahwazi people’s re-emerging aspirations to self-determination will again be betrayed. Rahim Hamid, writing for Canada’s Dur Untash Studies Centre, provides an in-depth analysis.

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kabul protest

AFGHAN WOMEN WHO ARE SPEAKING OUT

Before the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, some of the country’s loudest voices for peace belonged to women. In southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, for example, “seated demonstrations” demanding an end to the fighting in July drew hundreds of women from different walks of life. Some of those voices have been pushed underground with the Taliban takeover, but they haven’t been silenced. In private chat groups or on social media like Twitter, Afghan women discuss their fears, find support, share reports of what’s happening in the country through the Afghan diaspora, and speak about defending hard-won opportunities for women and girls. Journalist Robyn Huang of The New Humanitarian spoke with Pashtana Durrani and Fahima Rahmati—two Kandahar women who head community organizations, and have chosen to remain in Afghanistan and continue speaking out.

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huq

WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST CONFRONTS A DIVIDED BANGLADESH

Shireen Huq has never shied away from taking a stand. Huq, founder of the women’s rights organization Naripokkho (meaning Pro-Women or For Women), has been on the front line of feminist causes in Bangladesh since the group was founded in 1983. Today, however, she not only faces the continuing struggle for basic rights and gender equality in Bangladesh, but a host of related crises that are roiling the country. In a telephone interview from Dhaka, she speaks with CounterVortex journalist Andy Heintz on issues ranging from the plight of more than a million Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar district, impacts of the military coup in neighboring Burma, and the crackdown on freedom of speech and expression within Bangladesh.

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mexico

MEXICO: WILL CANNABIS DECRIM DE-ESCALATE DRUG WAR?

Two years and counting after Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered the country’s Congress to legalize cannabis, the high court justices ran out of patience with the legislative paralysis and issued a new ruling—this one removing penalties for personal use by judicial decree. But there is no provision for commercial production, and the decree calls for tight federal regulation even of personal cultivation. Will this move prove to be at least a beginning in the daunting challenge of ending Mexico’s long and bloody narco-nightmare? Bill Weinberg takes an in-depth look for Project CBD website.

Continue ReadingMEXICO: WILL CANNABIS DECRIM DE-ESCALATE DRUG WAR? 
Razia Sultana

ROHINGYA FEMINIST SEEKS INTER-ETHNIC UNITY

Nearly four years after the Burmese army’s genocidal attack, more than a million Rohingya remain in overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh. Repatriation efforts have failed, as the Rohingya don’t feel safe returning to their homeland. A large percentage of Rohingya women and girls living in the camps have suffered sexual violence at the hands of the Burmese army, witnessed the death of loved ones, or been victims of domestic violence. Razia Sultana, a Rohingya lawyer and educator, has documented these crimes and is organizing advocacy and empowerment programs for survivors in the camps. In a phone interview with CounterVortex correspondent Andy Heintz, she speaks about the prospects for building unity with Burma’s other persecuted minority peoples—and even with the ethnic Burman majority now also facing harsh repression since this year’s military coup.

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khuzestan

IRAN: A NEW WAVE OF MASS PROTEST

Iran is experiencing another wave of mass protests and strikes as economic, social, political, environmental and health problems make it impossible for the large majority of the population to have the bare minimums needed to live. Protests over a severe water shortage in the mainly ethnic Arab province of Khuseztan have now been joined by wildcat work stoppages in the petrochemical and agricultural sectors. In addition to pressing for the right to independently organize, workers are expressing solidarity with the protests over water, and demanding COVID-19 vaccines. Frieda Afary of Iranian Progressives in Translation argues that any effort to engage in solidarity with the people of Iran means not only calling for the removal of US sanctions but also holding the Iranian regime accountable for its repression and exploitation.

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Sri Lanka flag

SRI LANKA’S ANIMAL EMBLEMS

Much controversy surrounds use of the flags associated with the Sri Lankan peoples, as they are loaded with ethnic symbolism in a country recovering from a generation-long civil war along ethno-nationalist lines. The flags of concern here all feature big cats as central to their designs—the Sinhalese identifying with the lion and the Tamils with the tiger. The lion adorns both the flag of the Sinhalese people as an ethnicity and the national flag of Sri Lanka. The tiger adorns both the flag of the Tamil people as an ethnicity and that of the Tamil Tiger rebels—which is officially outlawed. Yet neither of these animals can actually be found on the island of Sri Lanka. In a commentary for Jurist, legal scholars Samir Pasha and Naga Kandiah make the case for the indigenous Sri Lankan leopard as a new, neutral symbol for a unified post-civil war nation aspiring to ethnic co-existence and social justice.

Continue ReadingSRI LANKA’S ANIMAL EMBLEMS 
Rohingya

BURMA’S GENOCIDE —THE VIEW FROM BANGLADESH

It has been four years since Burma’s military launched an assault against the country’s Rohingya Muslim population with genocidal intent, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee across the border to Bangladesh. Today, the number of Rohingya living in Bangladesh has climbed to more than a million. Plans by the Bangladeshi government to relocate the refugees from overcrowded camps to an isolated island off the coast have rightly drawn protests from international human rights groups. But it must also be acknowledged that Bangladesh has received all too little aid from the international community to address the refugee crisis in the country’s south. Andy Heintz provides an in-depth look for CounterVortex.

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belarus

ANARCHY IN BELARUS

The former Soviet republic of Belarus exploded into angry protests last August in the wake of contested presidential elections that resulted in a totally implausible landslide victory for long-ruling strongman Alexander Lukashenko. Police, riot squads and army troops unleashed harsh repression, using rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and water-hoses against demonstrators in the capital Minsk and other cities. Since then, protests have been held every weekend. Industrial strikes have spread across the country as sectors of the working class broke from the regime-controlled labor unions to organize independently. Over the past months, tens of thousands have been detained, and hundreds have been subject to torture. Anarchist Black Cross Belarus has been specifically monitoring repression against anarchists and anti-fascists in the ongoing protest wave. One member of the group, known as “Sonya,” spoke with Bill Weinberg in an email interview for the American anarchist journal Fifth Estate.

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Tecun Uman

U.S. MILITARIZING BORDERS IN CENTRAL AMERICA

The Biden Administration recently came to agreements with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala to increase their border enforcement. These agreements aim to reduce the number of migrants who are able to make their way to the US-Mexico border by extending American border defense thousands of miles south of that border. And they do so in a very American fashion—through deterrence achieved by militarizing borders. Now, the US is outsourcing the militarization to other nations. Legal scholar Kevin Lapp critiques the policy in a commentary for Jurist.

Continue ReadingU.S. MILITARIZING BORDERS IN CENTRAL AMERICA