From our Daily Report:

Oceania
Kanak

France accuses Azerbaijan of interfering in New Caledonia

France accused Azerbaijan of interfering in the conflict in New Caledonia, and spreading anti-French propaganda on social media to enflame the unrest in the French overseas territory. The charge was based on a report published by the French state investigative agency Viginum, alleging that Azerbaijan has disseminated “manifestly inaccurate or misleading content…blaming France for its handling of the situation in New Caledonia in the context of the riots.” The report came one day after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Azerbaijan of making an agreement with the New Caledonia independence leadership, implying that this was retaliation for French support of Armenia in the conflict between the two Caucasus nations. Darmanin further added that France will not cede to the violence, and that it maintains sovereignty over New Caledonia. (Photo: New Caledonia protesters fly flag of Azerbaijan alongside that of the independence movement. Credit: @BabakTaghvaee1)

Syria
Idlib

Syria: protests against HTS face repression in Idlib

Security forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Islamist militia that controls much of northwest Syria, put down protests that broke out in cities and towns across Idlib province. In the Idlib cities of Binnish and Jisr al-Shughour, HTS forces beat protesters with batons, deployed armored vehicles, and fired tear-gas and even live rounds to disperse demonstrations calling for the fall of the militia group and its leader, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani. Since then, HTS has increased security in the region, establishing checkpoints and roadblocks, especially aimed at preventing protesters from gathering in the provincial capital, Idlib City. Protests against HTS rule have been mounting in Syria’s northwest since the start of the year. (Photo: Macro Media Center)

Oceania
Tuvalu

Tuvalu regains full sovereignty over security relations

Australia and Tuvalu released a joint statement announcing new commitments to improve security relations, and remove the veto power Australia previously had over the small island nation’s security relations with other countries. The announcement concerned implementation and interpretation of the Falepili Union, a bilateral treaty entered into last November, which expands upon the Australia-Tuvalu Security Partnership of 2017. However, it eliminates the 2017 provision that limited Tuvalu’s sovereignty in foreign affairs—a sensitive matter given Australia’s growing regional rivalry with China. (Image via Pixabay)

Planet Watch
WajĂŁpi

Protect indigenous rights in biodiversity framework

Amnesty International cautioned against potential threats to indigenous peoples’ rights in the monitoring process for progress towards the Global Biodiversity Framework. The organization emphasized the imperative for states to engage in consultations with indigenous communities and secure their “free, prior, and informed consent” in conservation projects, in line with the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The statement warned against “fortress conservation” methods in which original inhabitants are forcibly evicted from protected areas. (Photo of WajĂŁpi indigenous people in Brazil via Mongabay)

North Africa
Tunis

Tunisia: lawyers strike amid crackdown on dissent

In an unprecedented move, striking lawyers from across Tunisia rallied in front of court buildings in Tunis, effectively bringing all proceedings to a halt. The unified action comes in response to what legal professionals are describing as a dangerous escalation by the government targeting their community. The Tunisia Lawyers Council called for a nationwide strike after police conducted a raid on the headquarters of Tunisia’s bar association and arrested Sonia Dahmani, a prominent attorney and critic of the government. The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) joined other civil society organizations in lending their support to the striking lawyers. (Photo: Abir Khlif/Jurist)

Africa
Darfur

Podcast: the betrayal of Darfur —again

In Episode 226 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the alarmingly under-reported humanitarian disaster in Darfur. A generation later, the genocide is back on—but this time there is no global campaign to stop it. Even last time around, elements of the campist pseudo-left portrayed the “Save Darfur” movement as a Zionist conspiracy, because atrocities by an Arab-led regime happened to be useful to Israel in the “whataboutery” game. Alas, such cynical voices are at it again. Yet another example of how a global divide-and-rule racket is the essence of the state system. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (19th century map of Sultanate of Darfur via GlobalSecurity)

South Asia
AJK

Uprising in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

Three protesters were killed and six injured as Pakistani security forces fired on crowds during angry street demonstrations in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). The paramilitary Rangers were mobilized to Muzaffarabad after a police officer was killed amid protests over high food, fuel and electricity prices. A “wheel-jam and shutter-down” strike had been called by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), but was called off as Islamabad agreed to a Rs 23 billion ($86 million) subsidy for the region. The new deadly violence erupted just as the Rangers were starting to withdraw from Muzaffarabad. A curfew remains in place in the city. (Photo of vigil for slain protesters via Twitter)

Africa
Mali

War crimes seen in Mali conflict

An Islamist armed group linked to al-Qaeda killed at least 32 civilians, including three children, and set fire to over 350 homes in central Mali in January, forcing about 2,000 villagers to flee, Human Rights Watch reports. Earlier in January, a Bambara ethnic militia formed to oppose the jihadists killed at least 13 civilians, including two children, abducted 24 other civilians, and looted property and livestock in central Mali. These attacks, which HRW said are apparent war crimes, occurred amid a cycle of reprisal killings and communal violence in central Mali, pitting the Dogon and Bambara against the Fulani. (Map: PCL)

Africa
Sudan

Darfur: ‘ethnic cleansing’ targets Massalit

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that “ethnic cleansing” and crimes against humanity are being committed in El Geneina, capital of Sudan’s West Darfur state. The crimes are described as “among the worst atrocities against civilians so far in the current conflict in Sudan.” The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are responsible for the widespread attacks and massacres that have been carried out against the Massalit ethnic minority. The wave of attacks commenced in April 2023, with the start of the conflict. Since then, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people have been killed in El Geneina. HRW called for these killings to be investigated as genocide. The RSF meanwhile continues to close a ring around El Fasher, North Darfur, the last city in Darfur region it has not yet taken.  (Map: PCL)

North America
Kent State

Podcast: Four dead in Ohio. And two in Mississippi.

As the police crackdown on the Gaza protests continues coast-to-coast—drawing concern from Amnesty International—Bill Weinberg notes that this repression comes in the month marking the 54th anniversary of slayings of student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio and Jackson State University in Mississippi. With police now unleashing violence on student protesters in Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon, there is an unsettling sense of deja vu. In Episode 225 of the CounterVortex podcast, Weinberg warns that the world could be headed toward an historical moment that rhymes with May 1970. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Kent State University Libraries via Britannica)

Planet Watch
UNDROP

World peasant movements mobilize for UNDROP

The world organization for land-rooted peasant farmers, Vía Campesina, launched an international campaign for full approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants & Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), and for implementation of policies in line with its principles. Several events were held around the world marking the International Day of Peasant Struggle. El Salvador was one of the first countries to commit to ratifying UNDROP after it was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. However, Vía Campesina affiliates in the Central American nation accused the government of pursuing policies contrary to its spirit, noting that in the years since then, there has been a reduction in cultivated areas of maize and beans, with a loss of at least 10,000 hectares of maize. (Image: Vía Campesina)

Africa
Somalia

Somalia drone strikes could be war crimes: Amnesty

Two strikes that killed 23 civilians during Somali military operations supported by Turkish drones must be investigated as war crimes, Amnesty International said. Civilians killed in the strikes included 14 children, five women and four men. Another 17 civilians were injured. All were from the marginalized Gorgaarte clan. The strikes hit a farming community in the Lower Shabelle region amid operations against the Shabaab insurgents. “The Somali and Turkish governments must investigate these deadly strikes as a war crime, and put an end to reckless attacks on civilians,” said Amnesty’s regional director for East Africa. (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

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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