From our Daily Report:

New York City

Podcast: anti-Semitism and propaganda —again

In Episode 90 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines claims from New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul and local politicians of “anti-Semitic graffiti” spray-painted along Manhattan’s Harlem River Drive on the eve of Yom Kippur. The governor’s press release did not tell us what the graffiti actually said. This is rather critical information, given the contemporary controversies about what constitutes an anti-Semitic slur, and the confusion between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Yet most media coverage uncritically accepted Hochul’s claims. Weinberg parses the facts in the case, and (as usual) finds plenty to criticize on both sides: the spray-painters and the politicians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
displaced

Shifting the frame on climate migration

A lot of attention is paid to the possible impacts of the climate crisis on international migration—particularly the potential movement of people from the Global South to the Global North. Now, a new report from the World Bank says that climate change could force 216 million people to migrate within their countries by 2050. People living in under-developed regions, including much of Africa, are the most likely to be forced to move. The report is a reminder of what gets overlooked in the focus on South-North migration: There are currently 48 million internally displaced people compared to 20.7 million refugees. Of those refugees, 80% live in countries neighboring their country of origin, and only 16% live in countries in the Global North. (Photo of displaced families in Somalia: UN Photo/Tobin Jones via Flickr)

Africa

South Sudan: fighting, flooding, aid suspension

Close to 80,000 people have been displaced in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria, as a result of fighting between government forces and the opposition SPLA-IO–even though both sides are supposed to be forming a new unified army. A delay to security sector reform continues to set back implementation of a 2018 peace agreement. Faction fighting within SPLA-IO has added to the insecurity. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is suspending aid to more than 100,000 displaced people—part of a “prioritization exercise” driven by a finance crunch. The fall in funding is despite the country experiencing the highest rate of food insecurity since independence in 2011, with more than 60% of South Sudanese going hungry. Months of flooding has added to that toll. (Photo: Phillip Mbugo/UNMISS via ReliefWeb)

Afghanistan
afghan women

Taliban ‘stamping out human rights’ in Afghanistan

The Taliban are steadily “dismantling the human rights gains of the last 20 years,” said Amnesty International in a new briefing issued jointly with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), documenting the militant group’s wide-ranging crackdown since their seizure of Kabul little more than five weeks ago. Contrary to the Taliban’s repeated claims that they will respect the rights of Afghans, the briefing, entitled “Afghanistan’s Fall Into the Hands of the Taliban,” details a litany of human rights abuses including targeted killings of civilians and surrendered soldiers, and the blockading of humanitarian supplies into the Panjshir Valley, which constitute crimes under international law. Restrictions have also been re-imposed on women, freedom of expression and civil society. (Photo: Khaama)

The Caucasus
Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia brings World Court case against Azerbaijan

The Republic of Armenia instituted proceedings against the Republic of Azerbaijan at the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ top judicial organ, over alleged violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by Azerbaijani authorities. In its application, Armenia contended that “for decades, Azerbaijan has subjected Armenians to racial discrimination,” including mass killings, torture and other abuses. The complaint charged that “Armenian cultural heritage has also been systematically destroyed, erased and falsified.” Armenia has requested the Court to take provisional measures “as a matter of extreme urgency” in order to “protect and preserve Armenia’s rights and the rights of Armenians from further harm.” (Map: Wikipedia)

Syria
Idlib displaced

Syria unsafe for refugees to return: UN report

The latest report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic stated that Syria is “not fit for safe and dignified returns of refugees.” The report found that between July 2020 and June 2021, armed conflict increased in the country. The report documented 243 civilian deaths, but estimated that the total number of fatalities is actually far greater. The report also stressed the humanitarian crisis and ongoing human rights abuses in the country. Conditions were also found to be precarious for the 6.7 million displaced persons within the country. The report estimated that 40,000 children are being detained in camps for suspected ISIS collaborators in the Kurdish-controlled east of the country. Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the Commission of Inquiry, said that these conditions indicate that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is being “completely forgotten.” (Photo: UNHCR)

Planet Watch
Fikile Ntshangase

Record number of ecologists slain in 2020

A record number of environmental defenders were murdered last year, according to a report by advocacy group Global Witness. The report, “Last Line of Defense,” counts 227 activists killed around the world in 2020—the highest number recorded for a second consecutive year. Many of the murders were linked to resource exploitation—logging, mining, agribusiness, and hydroelectric dams. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the organization found on average of four activists have been killed each week. (Photo via Groundwork)

Watching the Shadows
anti-bitcoin

Podcast: rage against the technocracy

In Episode 89 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart at the national uprising in El Salvador against the imposition of Bitcoin as legal tender, and draws the connection his own incessant struggles against corporate cyber-overlords Verizon—as well as the to the automated drone terror in Afghanistan. As we are distracted (or, at any rate, should be distracted) by the more obviously pressing issues such as police brutality and climate destabilization, the digitization of every sphere of human activity lurches forward at a terrifying pace—with zero resistance. Until now. The heroic protesters in El Salvador have launched the long overdue revolution of everyday life. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
drone

Turkish drones decisive in regional wars

The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded “unmanned combat aerial vehicle,” the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı is a more advanced version of Turkey’s iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and carry more missiles. The TB2 has been used by Ankara against Kurdish guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces. Turkey has also provided the TB2 to various foreign militaries; it is held to have been decisive in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenian forces in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as the Libyan government’s victory over the warlord Khalifa Haftar. Ukraine, having already tested an initial dispatchment of the drone, is now ordering 24 more for use in its war against Russian-backed separatists. (Photo: Wikipedia)

South Asia
adivasis

India: tribal rights activists accused as ‘Naxals’

The Bombay High Court issued a notice to India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), directing it to file a reply to the bail plea of Anand Teltumbde, a Goa-based professor and civil rights activist who faces charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in relation to the notorious Bhima Koregaon case. In the case, dating to 2018, several advocates for Dalits (“untouchables”) and Adivasis (tribal peoples) are accused of links to the Maoist guerillas known as the Naxalites. Fifteen face lengthy prison terms and are still being denied bail. The case was back in the news in July, when a 16th among the accused, Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, 84, died in a hospital in Mumbai after taking ill in jail. His medical bail plea was still pending when he expired. (Photo via Intercontinental Cry)

Europe
ISIS

French firm charged with abetting ISIS atrocities

France’s highest court overturned a lower-court decision to dismiss charges of complicity in crimes against humanity by cement company LaFarge, which is accused of paying ISIS and other militant groups at least 13 million euros to keep its factory in northern Syria running. The ruling by the Court of Cassation marks a major setback for Lafarge, which contested its responsibility for acts committed with funds it provided to the extremists. The Paris Court of Appeal accepted the company’s argument that the payments were not aimed at abetting ISIS atrocities. But the Cassation Court found that “one can be complicit in crimes against humanity even if one doesn’t have the intention of being associated with the crimes committed. Knowingly paying several million dollars to an organization whose sole purpose was exclusively criminal suffices to constitute complicity, regardless of whether the party concerned was acting to pursue a commercial activity.” (Photo via MEMO)

Afghanistan
Kandahar

Afghan protests continue despite repression

Protests broke out in the traditional Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, as the city’s new administrators issued an order that the families of soldiers in the vanquished Afghan army vacate a military-owned housing complex where they had been living for years. In a demonstration led by women, thousands took to the streets and marched on the provincial governor’s house to protest the eviction order. The some 3,000 families, many of whom have lived in the complex for 20 years, were given three days to vacate. The demonstration came days after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement condemning the Taliban’s mounting violence against peaceful protestors in Afghanistan. (Photo: Khaama)

More Headlines

Featured Stories

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.

Continue ReadingTHE TRAGEDY OF AHWAZ 
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.

Continue ReadingAFGHAN WOMEN WHO ARE SPEAKING OUT 
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.

Continue ReadingWOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST CONFRONTS A DIVIDED BANGLADESH 
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.

Continue ReadingROHINGYA FEMINIST SEEKS INTER-ETHNIC UNITY 
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.

Continue ReadingIRAN: A NEW WAVE OF MASS PROTEST 
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.

Continue ReadingBURMA’S GENOCIDE —THE VIEW FROM BANGLADESH 
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.

Continue ReadingANARCHY IN BELARUS 
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 
Haitian_immigrants

BIDEN MUST STOP DEPORTING HAITIANS

While Haiti is facing its worst violence since the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Biden Administration is expelling or deporting thousands of Haitians back to a country in turmoil, where civilians experience brutality at the hands of government and criminal forces. Both immigrant advocates and voices on Capitol Hill are urging the administration to re-designate Haiti for Temporary Protective Status (TPS). The Trump administration declined to redesignate Haiti for TPS, meaning the status granted by the Obama Administration is set to end in October. Meanwhile, Haitians are beng summarily expelled under Title 42 of the Public Health Code, which had been invoked by Trump in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden White House has designated Myanmar and Venezuela for TPS, while continuing to send Haitians back to face state terror. In a commentary for Jurist, Anne Bloomberg calls upon the new president to live up to his promises to protect asylum seekers and refugees.

Continue ReadingBIDEN MUST STOP DEPORTING HAITIANS 
burma ethnic protest

ETHNIC MINORITIES AND BURMA’S DEMOCRATIC RESISTANCE

With its February coup d’etat, Burma’s military—known as the Tatmadaw—has unwittingly created a nonviolent resistance that is more diverse and inclusive than any movement in the country’s history. The threat of death, torture or prison has not deterred protesters from continuing to participate in acts of civil disobedience against the military junta. And unlike past protest movements in Burma, this new movement features an alliance between the Burman Buddhist majority and the country’s ethnic minority groups. The Kachin, Karen, Shan and Rohingya have harshly criticized deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for acquiescing in the Tatmadaw’s genocidal campaigns of repression, counter-insurgency and ethnic cleansing. But these ethnic minorities and pro-democracy protesters from the ethnic Burman majority now perceive that they have a common enemy in the new military dictatorship. Journalist Andy Heintz explores the question in a special for CounterVortex.

Continue ReadingETHNIC MINORITIES AND BURMA’S DEMOCRATIC RESISTANCE