From our Daily Report:

Palestine
Jerusalem

Podcast: the electoral dilemma in apartheid Jerusalem

Amid the mounting horror in Gaza, Israel held municipal elections—which saw gains for the ultra-Zionist right, including in Jerusalem. But the city for the first time saw a Palestinian council candidate—Sondos Alhot, a pro-coexistence activist who ran with a new list called Kol Toshaveha (All Its Residents). Her candidacy, which came in defiance of a boycott called by the Palestinian leadership, nonetheless posed a challenge to the system of apartheid Israel has imposed in the Holy City. In Episode 215 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores what this electoral question may tell us about the prospects for an eventual just peace in historic Palestine. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

East Asia
ĂśrĂĽmqi Road

China: activist filmmaker faces prison

Police in China charged Chen Pin Lin, director of documentary Not the Foreign Force, with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to Chinese human rights monitors Weiquanwang and Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch. The charge, an offense under Article 293 of China’s Criminal Act, has been widely criticized for its elusive definition and use against dissidents and human rights defenders. The film, also known as ĂśrĂĽmqi Road in Chinese, depicts the nationwide protests against COVID-19 lockdown measures in China. Posted online by Chen under the pseudonym “Plato,” the film criticizes the Chinese government for attempting to blame foreign forces for the protests. (Image via YouTube)

Africa
ethiopia

Ethiopia: ‘secret committee’ to suppress Oromo insurgency

An investigation published by Reuters reveals that a “secret committee” of high-ranking officials in Ethiopia has been overseeing a campaign of extra-judicial killings, illegal detentions and other human rights violations in an effort to eliminate the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)insurgent group. The so-called Koree Nageenyaa (Security Committee in the Oromo language) has ordered “hundreds of arrests” and “dozens of killings” of any persons suspected of involvement with the OLA, as well as a “massacre of 14 shepherds in Oromia in 2021 that the government has previously blamed on OLA fighters.” The Koree Nageenyaa is reportedly headed by Prime Minister Abiy’s former chief of staff and current president of the Oromia region, Shimelis Abdisa. (Map: Political Geography Now)

Syria
al-zar

Turkish air-strikes deepen privation in northeast Syria

Months of Turkish air-strikes on Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria have left more than a million people without power and double that number with no reliable access to water. Starting in early October, an initial series of heavy Turkish drone strikes knocked out civilian infrastructure and killed dozens—apparent retaliation for a suicide bombing outside a government building in Ankara. The strikes have intensified since. Attacks in December and January struck healthcare facilities as well as roads that are key for aid access, while a series of strikes in mid-January hit even more power stations. (Photo: al-Zarba oil field in northeast Syria, after it was hit by an air-strike in mid-January. Credit: Ivan Hasseeb/TNH)

Palestine
IDF

UN rights experts warn against arms exports to Israel

A statement released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on behalf of United Nations rights experts warns countries against the transfer of war material to Israel, as such transfers could constitute violations international humanitarian law if weapons are used contrary to the Geneva Conventions. Invoking the recent Word Court orders concerning Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza, the statement asserts that “states must accordingly refrain from transferring any weapon or ammunition—or parts for them—if it is expected, given the facts and past patterns of behaviour, that they would be used to violate international law.” (Photo: IDF via Flickr)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Ecological disaster looms after Houthi ship attack

The internationally recognized Yemeni government issued an urgent plea to the international community following a Houthi attack on the Rubymar, a British-owned cargo ship carrying hazardous materials through the Red Sea. The attack has raised fears of an imminent environmental disaster due to the potential leakage of fertilizer and oil from the abandoned and damaged vessel. Yemen has formed an emergency committee tasked with crafting a plan to mitigate the threat. But the Houthis, who control much of Yemen’s territory, say they wil only allow salvage or mitigation efforts in exchange for entry of relief aid into the Gaza Strip. US Central Command reports that a a 30-kilometer oil slick is already spreading from the stricken vessel, foreboding a significant ecological crisis in the area. (Map via PCL)

Palestine
Gaza

Gaza humanitarian response: ‘convenient illusion’

In a message delivered to the UN Security Council, the head of MĂ©decins Sans Frontières, Christopher Lockyear, said that the “illusion” of a humanitarian response in Gaza “perpetuates a narrative that this war is being waged in line with international laws.” The already low volume of aid being delivered to Gaza has collapsed in recent weeks, despite Israel having been ordered by the World Court to enable the provision of humanitarian aid. The World Food Program announced that it has suspended aid deliveries to northern Gaza—where the suffering is most extreme—because of the dissolution of public order. A new report from the Gaza Health Impact Projections Working Group estimates that, even in the best-case scenario of an immediate permanent ceasefire, there will be more than 6,500 excess deaths in Gaza over the next six months due to the catastrophic food, shelter, sanitation, and healthcare situation in the enclave. If the status quo of ongoing bombardment continues, the projections rise to more than 74,000 deaths. Reports are beginning to emergeof children dying of hunger. (Photo: Maan News Agency)

Planet Watch
Daouda Diallo

Frontline fighters (and martyrs) for free speech

In Burma, the mutilated body of independent journalist Myat Thu Tan was found at the military base where he had been detained, after the camp was overrun by rebels of the pro-democratic resistance. In Kazakhstan, detained activist Aqylbek Muratbai is fighting extradition to Uzbekistan, where he had been speaking out against bloody repression faced by his Karakalpak ethnic minority. And in Burkina Faso, human rights defender Daouda Dialloremains missing months after was “disappeared,” presumably at the hands of the ruling military junta. Yet neither the mainstream media nor “progressives” in the West pay heed to these cases—while the reactionary and Kremlin-coopted Julian Assange is a cause cĂ©lèbre. In Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: CISC via OHCR)

Central Asia
Karakalpakstan

Karakalpak activist detained in Kazakhstan

Police in Almaty, Kazakhstan, detained Aqylbek Muratbai, an activist who has been working to raise international awareness about the bloody crackdown on a mass protest in his native Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of western Uzbekistan, last July. It is feared that Kazakh authorities intend to deport him to Uzbekistan, where he could face a severe prison sentence. (Map: Wikipedia)

Southeast Asia
Burma

Burma: investigate killing of journalist Myat Thu Tan

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called for the Burmese military government to investigate the killing of journalist Myat Thu Tan and prosecute the perpetrators. The journalist’s remains were found buried in a bomb shelter at a military camp in Rakhine state. The body, bearing signs of torture, was discovered along with six other political detainees after the camp was overrun by the insurgent Arakan Army. Since September 2022, authorities had held Myat Thu Tan in pre-trial detention. At the time of his death, he had not been tried or convicted of any offense. He was accused of disseminating “defamatory material” on social media, in violation of the Burmese Penal Code. According to Human Rights Watch, the offense is used “to target those speaking critically of the military” following the coup of February 2021. (Map: PCL)

Europe
chemical warfare

Ukraine accuses Russia of using chemical weapons

The Public Relations Service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine accused Russia of using chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict, with a staggering total of 815 recorded attacks since the commencement of the large-scale war. The report highlights the use of munitions equipped with poisonous chemical substances, particularly grenades such as the K-51, RGR, and RG-Vo, which contain the dangerous chemical compound CS. To gather evidence, Ukrainian radiation, chemical and bacteriological intelligence units have been carrying out sampling of soil, vegetation, and ammunition fragments, which are then sent for analysis. Documented cases of the use of dangerous chemicals are being submitted to investigative bodies as part of open criminal proceedings. (Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine via WikiMedia Commons)

Afghanistan
Afghanistan women

Afghanistan: UN decries restrictions on women’s rights

A United Nations report found that the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s attire and its requirement that women have a male guardian in public are limiting Afghan women’s freedom of movement and access to education, employment, health care and other basic rights. The report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) states that many Afghan women are not leaving their homes alone due to decrees issued by the Taliban. The hardline Islamist regime has demanded women wear specific attire in public, such as the all-covering burqa, and only venture outside if accompanied by a close male relative, known as a mahram. (Photo: 12019/Pixabay via Jurist)

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Featured Stories

EZLN

THE NEW ZAPATISTA AUTONOMY

Last week the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) released a declaration, setting out a new structure for the autonomous indigenous communities in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. Uri Gordon of the British anarchist journal Freedom spoke to Bill Weinberg, a longtime radical journalist in New York City, for insight into this change and its significance. Weinberg’s book about the Zapatistas, Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico, was published by Verso in 2000. He spent much time in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico during the 1990s, covering the indigenous movements there, prominently including the Zapatistas. In recent decades he has reported widely from South America and is now completing a book about indigenous struggles in the Andes, particularly Peru. He continues to follow the Zapatistas and Chiapas closely, and covers world autonomy movements on his website CounterVortex. In this interview, he explores new pressures in the encroachment of narco-paramilitaries on their territories as a factor prompting the Zapatistas’ current re-organization, and how it actually represents a further localization and decentralization of the movement.

Continue ReadingTHE NEW ZAPATISTA AUTONOMY 
Siberia Pipeline

GAS INTRIGUES, ECOLOGY AND THE UKRAINE WAR

Over the past decades, Russia has sought to expand natural gas exports, necessitating construction of pipelines to Europe and China. In addition to profits for the Russian state, fossil fuel exports are a valuable tool for Moscow’s geopolitical ambitions. Since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014 and the full-scale invasion in 2022, the economic and political stakes have skyrocketed. Russia”s green movements had previously been able to mobilize effective campaigns, winning concessions on pipeline routes through natural areas. Since 2014, however, they have come under increasingly harsh scrutiny from the Russian government, with organizations branded “undesirable” or declared “foreign agents.” Control of pipelines routes through Ukraine itself are also a goad of the Russian war effort. Eugene Simonov and Jennifer Castner of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group demonstrate how war fever and militarization threaten resources and ecology across the Russian Federation as well as in Ukraine.

Continue ReadingGAS INTRIGUES, ECOLOGY AND THE UKRAINE WAR 
Ukraine tribunal

UKRAINE’S DIFFICULT PATH TO JUSTICE

This August, Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv hosted a large international conference entitled “Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine: Justice to be Served.” The conference was aimed at reinvigorating global efforts to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine—a crime which cannot be prosecuted under the current jurisdictional regime of the International Criminal Court. Many in Ukraine believe that justice can be served only when a fully-fledged international special tribunal for the crime of aggression is created. However, some of Ukraine’s most powerful allies endorse a “hybrid” tribunal, such as those created for Sierra Leone and Cambodia—which would rely in large part on Ukrainian national law and raise questions about the reach of jurisdiction. Despite optimistic expectations at the beginning of the year, disagreements between Ukraine and its allies have left some wondering: in the end, will justice indeed be served? International law scholars Mariia Lazareva of Ukraine’s Taras Shevchenko National University and Erik Kucherenko of Oxford provide an analysis for Jurist.

Continue ReadingUKRAINE’S DIFFICULT PATH TO JUSTICE 
Gaza attack

GAZA’S SHOCK ATTACK: UNVEILING THE CONTEXT

The shock attack from the Gaza Strip has terrified Israelis, and the government appears to be preparing a massive retaliation. But writing for Israel’s independent +972 Magazine, Haggai Matar insists that the current horror must bring home the overwhelming context. Contrary to what many Israelis are saying, this is not a “unilateral” or “unprovoked” attack. The dread Israelis feel now is a sliver of what Palestinians have experienced daily under the decades-long military regime in the West Bank, the siege and repeated assaults on Gaza. In recent months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been marching for “democracy and equality” across the country, with many even saying they would refuse military service because of this government’s authoritarian turn. What those protestors and reserve soldiers need to understand—especially now, as many of them announce they will halt their protests to join the new war on Gaza—is that Palestinians have been struggling for those same demands for decades, facing an Israel that to them is already, and has always been, completely authoritarian.

Continue ReadingGAZA’S SHOCK ATTACK: UNVEILING THE CONTEXT 
Crimean Tatars

CRIMEA: UKRAINE’S OTHER NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE

Many would-be “peacemakers” on the political right as well as on the political left have “very helpfully” suggested that Ukraine should give up some territories, which they describe as “Russian-speaking,” in order to appease the aggressor. When these self-styled “peacemakers” lay out exactly how Ukraine should be unmade piece by piece, Crimea is always the first territory mentioned. Crimea is, we are told, the most “Russian speaking” region in Ukraine, and voted for union with Russia in 2014. In an analysis for CounterVortex, Kyiv-born writer and activist Yevgeny Lerner debunks both these claims. Not only was the 2014 referendum illegitimate, but the “Russian speaking” majority in the region was effected through generations of ethnic cleansing of its indigenous inhabitants: the Crimean Tatars. The struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for land recovery and territorial autonomy is now unified with the general struggle of Ukraine for national survival against Russian aggression.

Continue ReadingCRIMEA: UKRAINE’S OTHER NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE 
kharkiv

UKRAINE: DEBUNKING RUSSIA’S WAR PROPAGANDA

In a special analysis for CounterVortex, Bill Weinberg debunks Vladimir Putin’s “de-Nazification” propaganda for his invasion of Ukraine, a paramount example of the ultra-cynical phenomenon of paradoxical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. The Ukrainian state that he demonizes as “Nazi” has been experiencing a democratic renewal since the Maidan Revolution, as Russia has descended into autocratic dictatorship. Putin’s stated justifications for the Ukraine war are either paranoid delusions or outright lies. His real objectives are to rebuild the Russian Empire, re-establish the Russian dictatorship, and exterminate Ukraine as a cultural and political entity. These are the open aims of Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Putin’s revanchist imperial project, and the political heir of Ivan Ilyin, the 20th century theorist of “Russian Fascism.”

Continue ReadingUKRAINE: DEBUNKING RUSSIA’S WAR PROPAGANDA 
Kosovo-Serbs

RUSSIA’S STRATEGY TO DESTABILIZE THE BALKANS: IT’S WORKING

Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is emboldening Russia’s ally Serbia to press its claims on Kosovo, which declared its independence in 2008. As ethnic Serbs launch violent protests in Kosovo, Serbian officials are threatening to launch a campaign to “de-nazify” the Balkans. Meanwhile, leaders of the autonomous Bosnian Serb Republic have announced their intention to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina. The wars in the states to emerge from the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s were an early harbinger of the current conflagration in Ukraine. Now, in a grim historical cycle, the war in Ukraine could re-ignite the wars in the Balkans. Nicholas Velazquez, in an analysis for Geopolitical Monitor, sees an intentional Moscow design to destabilize the region.

Continue ReadingRUSSIA’S STRATEGY TO DESTABILIZE THE BALKANS: IT’S WORKING 
mariupol ruins

RUSSIAN GENOCIDE OF THE UKRAINIAN NATION

Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has sparked a strong international reaction, with most states referring to the actions of the Russian army as war crimes. A number of parliaments and heads of state have recognized that yet another international crime—genocide—is being committed by the occupation’s troops. Poland’s parliament, the Sejm, was the first to pass a resolution in March, strongly condemning “acts of genocide…committed on the territory of sovereign Ukraine by the Russian Federation armed forces, together with its allies, at the behest of military commanders being under the direct authority of President Vladimir Putin.” Since then, especially after the infamous Bucha massacre, other parliaments have joined Poland in condemning Russia’s actions as genocide, including those of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Canada, Czechia and Ireland. However, the International Criminal Court investigation has been slow to examine charges of genocide, and any binding action by the UN against Russia is effectively blocked by its veto on the Security Council. The dilemma is explored by Ukrainian law student Nastya Moyseyenko in a commentary for Jurist.

Continue ReadingRUSSIAN GENOCIDE OF THE UKRAINIAN NATION 
Crimea protest

CRIMEA: LEGACY OF THE DEPORTATION

May 18 is commemorated as a memorial day for the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. On that day in 1944, Joseph Stalin began a mass deportation of the entire population of Crimean Tatars who survived the German occupation of the peninsula. Over 200,000 Tatars, baselessly accused of collaborating with the Nazis, were packed in railroad cattle-cars and sent to remote locations in Central Asia and Siberia. Over 46 percent of the Crimean Tatar people perished during the first two years of the exile due to harsh conditions. Only in 1989 did the USSR condemn the deportation, after which the indigenous people of Crimea started returning to their homeland. The deportation was recognized as a genocide by Ukraine in 2015, and later by Latvia, Lithuania and Canada. In a commentary for Ukraine’s Euromaidan Press, Olena Makarenko notes that today, thousands of Crimean Tatars have been forced once again to leave the Crimean Peninsula due to the Russian occupation of 2014; hundreds of those who stayed are persecuted.

Continue ReadingCRIMEA: LEGACY OF THE DEPORTATION 
witches

APOLOGY TO THE ‘WITCHES’: WHY NOW?

Scotland and Catalonia have issued formal apologies for the burning of thousands of women as “witches” between the 15th and 18th centuries. An apology for a crime committed hundreds of years ago, with the victims and perpetrators alike both long dead, may seem like an empty exercise. However, the contemporary world still sees periodic frenzies of “witchcraft” hysteria, with women and the least powerful in society “tried” and lynched—especially in rural areas of Africa and Asia. Last year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Cameroon calling for “Elimination of harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks.” New York area neo-pagan practitioner and commentator Carole Linda Gonzalez argues that, in this light, the new apologies are all too relevant.

Continue ReadingAPOLOGY TO THE ‘WITCHES’: WHY NOW? 
Kryuchki

ENVIRONMENTAL WAR CRIMES IN UKRAINE

The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, finding that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe war crimes have been committed. Media attention has, quite rightly, focused on the plight of individuals caught up in the carnage—many of whom have died in terrible circumstances. However, in the background, there is another victim of the invasion: the environment. Bombardment of oil depots, the release of radiation at the Chernobyl nuclear site, the forest fires engulfing the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve—these may constitute environmental war crimes under the Rome Statute. However, the criteria are rigorous, and the perpetrators ever standing trial seems contingent on a political upheaval in Russia. In a commentary for Jurist, international law scholar Elliot Winter of Newcastle University in the UK examines the odds for prosecution of such crimes in the Ukraine conflict.

Continue ReadingENVIRONMENTAL WAR CRIMES IN UKRAINE 
mariupol

ECHOES OF SYRIA, AS PUTIN BOMBS HOSPITALS IN UKRAINE

Many Syrians are experiencing heart-wrenching flashbacks as they watch the mounting devastation in Ukraine, the millions of refugees fleeing—and the targeting of hospitals by Russian bombs, as so recently and repeatedly happened in their own country. Physicians for Human Rights have documented hundreds of attacks on healthcare facilities in Syria over 11 years of war, and no perpetrator has been held accountable for these crimes. Just a month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the figure already stands at over 100. But with timely action by the UN and International Criminal Court, things can be different in Ukraine. In a commentary for The New Humanitarian, Dr Houssam al-Nahhas, a Syrian physician and a researcher at Physicians for Human Rights, urges: “Whether a hospital is bombed in Mariupol or Aleppo, in Sana’a or in Kunduz, those responsible must be held to account.”

Continue ReadingECHOES OF SYRIA, AS PUTIN BOMBS HOSPITALS IN UKRAINE