From our Daily Report:

The Andes
Machángara

Ecuador court rules that river in capital has rights

A court in Quito ruled that the Machángara River, which runs through the city, possesses rights under the Constitution of Ecuador, making the municipal government responsible for keeping it free from pollution. The court recognized the river as a living entity, subject to rights under Chapter 7 of the Constitution, which establishes that nature possesses a right to protection, promotion and restoration. The provision states that “all persons, communities, peoples or nations are able to call on public authorities to enforce the rights of nature.” The municipality released a decontamination strategy after the ruling, that centers on constructing three new wastewater treatment plants. (Photo: Plan V)

Europe
Ukraine

Ukraine: Russian strikes hit largest children’s hospital

Russian missile attacks on Ukraine killed dozens of people, injured hundreds, and damaged the country’s largest children’s hospital, UN and Ukrainian officials announced. Numerous commercial and residential buildings were struck in the wave of strikes on cities including Dnipro, Kramatorsk, Pokrovsk, Kryviy Rih and Kyiv, leading to the death of at least 36 and injuries to no less than 140 people. Kyiv’s Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital was damaged with at least 16 injured, including children and medical staff, and two adults dead. UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown stated: “It is unconscionable that children are killed and injured in this war. Under international humanitarian law, hospitals have special protection. Civilians must be protected.” (Map: PCL)

Palestine
We Are All Hostages

Protesters march in Israel to demand hostage deal

Anti-government protesters marched across Israel’s major cities, aiming to pressure the authorities to instate a ceasefire in Gaza and reach a hostage deal with Hamas. Demonstrators blocked roads and gathered in front of the homes of government officials. The protesters marched to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, calling for immediate elections to replace his government. Simultaneously, thousands assembled in Tel Aviv, where Einav Zangauker, whose son is being held in Gaza, staged a symbolic protest by isolating herself in a cage suspended from a bridge over Begin Road. Addressing the crowd below, Zangauker described the entire region as being held hostage by Netanyahu and Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza. (Photo via We Are All Hostages)

Central America
Darién

US-Panama deal to shut down Darién Gap migration route

Immediately upon taking office, Panama’s new President JosĂ© RaĂşl Mulino struck a deal with the United States to shut down the migration route through the DariĂ©n Gap, which sees thousands annually making the perilous jungle trek while seeking to reach North America. The US has committed to cover the cost of repatriation of migrants who illegally enter Panama and to deploy Homeland Security teams on the route. Last year, a record 520,000 migrants risked their lives, often at the hands of human traffickers, to traverse the DariĂ©n Gap, an expanse of roadless jungle stretching some 100 kilometers from Panama’s border with Colombia. (Photo: David González/TNH)

South Asia
Orakzai

Pakistan: cross-country march against counter-terrorism operation

Protestors marched between two towns of Pakistan’s restive Swat district in response to proposed plans by the military for a major new “counter-terrorist” operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the border with Afghanistan. The protest, organized by local groups Ulasi Passon (Public Revolution) and Orakzai Peace Movement, saw thousands marching with white flags and signs reading “We want peace” and “We hate government terrorism.” However, the government reiterated that the operation against militant organizations in the region, dubbed Azm-e-Istehkam (Resolve for Stability), will go ahead. The armed forces insisted that unlike the last major push against the insurgents, Operation Zarb-e-Azb of 2014, the new operation will not result in mass displacement of residents. (Photo via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Yemen: demand Houthis release detained UN staff

Amnesty International called for Houthi authorities in Yemen to immediately release detained staff from the UN and civil society organizations. Amnesty’s call comes one month after the arbitrary arrest or enforced disappearance of some 30 aid and human rights workers following raids on homes and offices. Amnesty charges that the Houthis continue to restrict the delivery and movement of humanitarian aid by imposing bureaucratic constraints, cancelling humanitarian initiatives, and enforcing the “male guardian requirement” on Yemeni women humanitarian workers traveling around the country. A Houthi media campaign has accused human rights and humanitarian groups of “conspiring against the country’s interest.” The actions of Houthi authorities are seen as an attempt to distract from their governance failures, especially after a humanitarian aid pause by the World Food Program following concerns over aid manipulation. (Map via PCL)

New York City
Yippie

Podcast: Bill Weinberg’s neo-Yippie memoir

In Episode 233 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg recalls his days as a young neo-Yippie in the 1980s. A remnant faction of the 1960s counterculture group adopted a punk aesthetic for the Reagan era, launched the US branch of the Rock Against Racism movement, brought chaos to the streets at Republican and Democratic political conventions, defied the police in open cannabis “smoke-ins”—and won a landmark Supreme Court ruling for free speech. The Yippie clubhouse at 9 Bleecker Street, the hub for all these activities, has long since succumbed to the gentrification of the East Village, but it survived long enough to provide inspiration to a new generation of radical youth during Occupy Wall Street. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo from the CounterVortex collection)

North Africa
abu salim massacre

Survivors of Libya prison massacre demand justice

A group representing families of the victims of Libya’s Abu Salim Prison Massacre protested in Tripoli on the 28th anniversary of the killings, decrying the failure to achieve justice in the case. The association urged “that the secrets of the crime be revealed, justice be established, retribution be imposed, and that everyone who participated in this horrific massacre receive their deserved punishment.” Thirteen years after the fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi’s regime, there has still been no legal judgment or even serious investigation in the case. It is believed that over 1,000 were killed by prison guards in the 1996 incident, sparked by an inmate protest over poor conditions. (Photo: Libya Observer)

Africa
Mali

ICC convicts Mali militant of war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted al-Qaeda-linked militant leader al-Hassan ag-Abdoul Aziz ag-Mohamed ag-Mahmoud of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in terrorizing the civilian population of the Malian city of Timbuktu. The charges against al-Hassan stem from his time as de facto leader of the Islamic Police, an unofficial enforcement body established by armed Islamist groups when they controlled the city between 2012 and 2013. The group patrolled the city day and night, imposing harsh new rules that severely restricted daily life. The force imposed extreme punishments, including flogging and amputation, for such perceived violations of Islamic law as extramarital relations, alcohol consumption, and smoking. The Court found that al-Hassan played a “key role” in the Islamic Police throughout the period of of control of Timbuktu by Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  (Map: PCL)

Africa
west africa

Uranium at issue in Great Game for West Africa

The ruling junta in Niger revoked the operating license of French nuclear fuel producer Orano at one of the world’s largest uranium mines. Russian companies have meanwhile indicated interest in picking up the lease for the giant Imouraren mine. However, exports are stalled by closure of the border with Benin, the vital sea corridor for landlocked Niger, as tensions mount between the two countries. The uranium dispute comes as French and US troops have been forced to withdraw from Niger, and Russian forces have moved in. The Pentagon’s AFRICOM commander Gen. Michael Langley has acknowledged that the US is seeking to establish new bases in neighboring West African countries, including Benin. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Africa
Niger

Niger: jihadis score deadly blow against junta

Authorities in Niger declared three days of national mourning after an ambush on security forces near the village of Tassia resulted in the deaths of at least 20 soldiers and one civilian. Tassia lies in the western Tillabéri region bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, long a stronghold of jihadist​ insurgents. The incident highlights the growing challenges facing the ruling junta one year after it came to power in a July 2023 coup, overthrowing the civilian government led by Mohamed Bazoum. (Map: PCL)

Europe
Crimea

ECHR: Russia liable for rights violations in Crimea

Ruling in the case Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea), the European Court of Human Rights unanimously found that Russia is guilty of a pattern of human rights violations since 2014 in Crimea, as codified under under the European Convention on Human Rights and international humanitarian law. These violations included ill-treatment, intimidation, disappearances, forced Russian citizenship, and suppression of Ukrainian media and press. (Photo: chief39/Pixabay)

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Featured Stories

REVOLUTION 9

In a brief memoir written for Canada’s Skunk magazine, CounterVortex editor Bill Weinberg recalls his days as a young neo-Yippie in the 1980s. A remnant faction of the 1960s counterculture group adopted a punk aesthetic for the Reagan era, launched the US branch of the Rock Against Racism movement, brought chaos to the streets at Republican and Democratic political conventions, defied the police in open cannabis “smoke-ins” —and won a landmark Supreme Court ruling for free speech. The Yippie clubhouse at 9 Bleecker Street, the hub for all these activities, has long since succumbed to the gentrification of the East Village, but it survived long enough to provide inspiration to a new generation of radical youth during Occupy Wall Street.

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paramilitaries

CHIQUITA TO PAY FOR PARAMILITARY TERROR IN COLOMBIA

In 2007, Chiquita—one of the world’s largest banana producers—admitted that for years it had been knowingly paying a Colombian terrorist organization to protect its operations in the country. The consequence was predictably violent, resulting in thousands of murders, disappearances, and acts of torture. This week, nearly two decades later, a federal jury in South Florida ordered the company to pay upwards of $38 million in damages in the first of multiple waves of wrongful death and disappearance lawsuits. In an explainer for JURIST, Ingrid Burke Friedman explores the factors that drove the multinational to make these payments, the consequences, and the legal impact.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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