From our Daily Report:

Africa
North Mara

Tanzania villagers sue Barrick Gold over rights abuses

A group of Tanzanian villagers filed legal action with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Canadian mining company Barrick Gold over human rights violations at its North Mara Gold Mine. It marks the first time that the mining company has faced legal action in Canada for rights violations abroad. The plaintiffs, members of the indigenous Kurya community in northern Tanzania, allege that special “mine police” assigned by the security forces to protect the facility use extreme violence against local residents. The mine has been the site of repeated protests over environmental degradation and forced displacement of villagers. The legal action includes claims for five deaths, five incidents of torture and five injuries from shootings. (Map via Semantic Scholar)

Planet Watch
Tuvalu

Imperiled Tuvalu to become first ‘digital nation’

Tuvalu, the Pacific island nation beset both by rising sea levels and extreme drought, used the COP27 climate summit to announce that it will move to the so-called metaverse. “As our land submerges, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation,” Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s foreign affairs minister, said in a pre-recorded address from TeAfualiku islet—likely one of the first places in Tuvalu to sink beneath the waves in the coming years. “Piece by piece, we’ll preserve our country, provide solace to our people, and remind our children and our grandchildren what our home once was,” Kofe said. Tuvalu has indeed taken early steps to explore its digital survival under worst-case scenarios. But the overarching message is clear as world leaders emerge from another summit with still-gaping questions on climate action: “Only concerted global effort can ensure that Tuvalu does not move permanently online, and disappear from the physical plane,” Kofe said. (Image via Pixabay)

Planet Watch
COP27

COP27: progress on ‘loss and damage,’ not mitigation

The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed with what was hailed as a breakthrough agreement to establish a “loss and damage” fund for vulnerable countries on the frontlines of climate disasters. Yet no action was taken to stop oil and gas expansion from fueling further disasters. India had pushed a proposal to extend to all fossil fuels the agreement to “phase down” coal reached last year at COP26 in Glasgow. A broad coalition of more than 80 countries took up the call, but host country Egypt, holding the presidency of the conference, was able to block the measure, acceding to powerful opponents prominently including Saudi Arabia and Russia. It should be noted that while Saudi Arabia and Russia are key oil and gas producers, India is a major coal producer—and fought for weaker language on the coal “phase down” at Glasgow. So the battle lines seem to reflect competition between different sectors of the hydrocarbons industry. (Photo: Tribal Army)

Iran
Iran Protests

Iran: oppose death penalty for detained protesters

Sixteen UN-appointed human rights experts called on Iranian authorities not to indict people on charges punishable by death for participating in peaceful demonstrations. “We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression,” the experts said in a statement. Since then at least five people have been sentenced to death on the charge of moharebeh (“enmity against God”) in connection with the anti-government protests that have been raging for two months. A popular Kurdish rap artist, Saman Yasin, is among those facing execution. Days before the UN statement, 227 members of Iran’s 290-member parliament approved a resolution demanding that the judiciary “deal decisively” with “rioters”—taken to mean imposing the death penalty. (Photo: Ottawa protest in support of Iranian uprising, via Wikimedia Commons)

Syria
rojava

Turkey bombs Rojava, pressures Sweden

Turkish warplanes carried out air-strikes on several towns within the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, known as Rojava. Among the towns hit was Kobane, from where Ankara says the order was given for the suicide attack in Istanbul that left six dead. ”Kobane, the city that defeated ISIS, is subjected to bombardment by the aircraft of the Turkish occupation,” tweeted a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Both the SDF and affiliated Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), named by Turkish authorities as behind the Istanbul attack, deny any involvement. Three days after the blast, Sweden acceded to Turkish demands that it stiffen “anti-terrorist” measures as a precondition for joining NATO. The Swedish Riksdag adopted a constitutional amendment facilitating passage of laws to limit freedom of association for those who engage in or support “terrorism.” Turkey has long accused Sweden of giving harbor to exiled PKK sympathizers. (Photo via ANF)

Europe
kherson

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine II

In Episode 150 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the panelists at The People’s Forum event on “The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine“—including the inevitable Noam Chomsky and Medea Benjamin—for actually spreading Russian war propaganda, in Orwellian manner. As Ukraine advances on the ground, liberating the city of Kherson (which Moscow had declared “annexed”), Russia retaliates with massive missile strikes targeting civilian infrastructure such as heating plants as the bitter Ukrainian winter approaches—clearly war crimes, aimed at breaking the will of the populace. But rather than protesting the Russian bombardment, these pseudo-anti-war voices join with the Trumpian right in calling for an end to military aid to Ukraine. And rather than Russian mass atrocities and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, they point to imaginary pressure on Kyiv from the US not to negotiate as the obstacle to peace. This war propaganda is all the more sickening for being disguised as peace propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Razom for Ukraine)

Palestine
Apartheid wall

Robo-Zionist policing of West Bank

The Israeli military has installed robotic weapons that can fire tear-gas, stun-grenades and “non-lethal” bullets in two volatile locations on the West Bank. One is atop a turret at al-Aroub refugee camp; the other in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian residents. When young protesters pour into the streets hurling rocks and improvised firebombs at Israeli soldiers, the robotic weapons unleash gas and projectiles on them, according to witness accounts. The robo-weapons, produced by Israeli firm Smart Shooter, use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives—both Israeli and Palestinian. But, as YNet states in its report on the installation, “critics see another step toward a dystopian reality in which Israel fine-tunes its open-ended occupation of the Palestinians while keeping its soldiers out of harm’s way.” (Photo: Filippo Minelli)

Africa
Lundin

Swiss oil CEO faces trial for Sudan war crimes

The Supreme Court of Sweden ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. The high court held that Schneiter’s alleged crimes are subject to “universal jurisdiction,” which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. The case concerns an area called Block 5A in southern Sudan, which was then wracked by a pro-independence insurgency. The indictment holds that Lundin demanded that government forces and allied militias provide security for its operations, knowing that this would entail deadly force and enflame the conflict. (Map via Rixstep)

East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong: first conviction under Anthem Ordinance

A Hong Kong court sentenced citizen journalist Paula Leung to three months in prison—the first conviction under the territory’s National Anthem Ordinance. The law was enacted in Hong Kong on June 12, 2020, pursuant to an act passed by the People’s Republic of China in September 2017, which mandated that the semi-autonomous city bring its legal code into conformity. According to regional news outlets, Leung attended a mall screening of Olympic fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long receiving his gold medal on July 30, 2021. During the playing of the Chinese national anthem, attendees waved the colonial-era Hong Kong flag. This was found to be in violation of Article 7 of the law, which makes it a criminal offense to “insult the national anthem,” punishable by up to three years imprisonment. (Photo: VOA via Jurist)

Greater Middle East
syria

Multiple interventions continue in Syria

An air raid on the convoy of an Iran-backed militia in eastern Syria’s Deir az-Zor province left 14 presumed fighters dead and made brief headlines. There was immediate speculation that the raid was the latest in the small but growing handful of times over the course of the 10-year Syrian war that the US has bombed forces allied with the Assad regime. The strikes did immediately follow the slaying of a US aid worker in Iraq. However, Israel has for years also carried out sporadic air-strikes on similar targets in Syria, and has likewise come under suspicion in this attack. Getting far less media attention are ongoing air-strikes by Russia and the Assad regime on the remaining pocket of rebel control in Syria’s northwest. Just three days before the Deir az-Zor attack, Russian or regime strikes in Idlib province targeted a displaced persons camp, leaving at least seven noncombatants dead—and winning few international headlines. (Image: Pixabay)

Watching the Shadows
Kremlin

Wagner Group revelations expose Kremlin lies

Russia’s heretofore secretive private mercenary force, the Wagner Group, has opened its first official headquarters, in an office building in the city of Saint Petersburg—with a stylized W logo and the words “Wagner Center” in Russian emblazoned on the glass door facing the street. Putin-allied oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin last month also publicly confirmed for the first time that he is the founder of the mercenary outfit. These are amusing developments after years of claims that the Wagner Group—which is accused in a string of horrific human rights abuses both in Ukraine and across Africa—doesn’t actually exist. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Europe
Ukraine

Ukraine: Russia accused of forced transfer of civilians

Russian forces have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully transferring or deporting civilians from occupied parts of in Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to an Amnesty International report. Russian and Russian-backed authorities have also forced civilians through an abusive screening process known as “filtration,” during which some were arbitrarily detained, subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and separated from their children. (Map: PCL)

More Headlines

Featured Stories

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 
deportations

THE CRIMEAN CLAUSE OF THE UKRAINE QUESTION

The current Russian-Ukrainian war started eight years ago with the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which fell with hardly a shot fired, and largely without notice in the world at large. The most important thing to understand about Crimea is that it is indigenous land, and that the Crimean Tatars are its people. The Crimean Tatars overwhelmingly favor Kyiv over Moscow, but a large majority of the peninsula’s population has been Russian since 1944. Stalin’s genocidal forced relocation of the Tatars that year was carried out under a pretext of “denazification.” Under the new Russian occupation, the Tatars have again become a terrorized minority,  their language and culture again threatened by policies of Russification and “denazification.” In an analysis for CounterVortex, Kyiv-born writer and activist Yevgeny Lerner sees a foreboding historical cycle at work.

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Taliban

AFGHANISTAN: GOING BACK TO ZERO

The international community and the United States spent billions of dollars on rebuilding the Afghan legal and judicial system and improving the rule of law and governance over the past two decades. However, after the Taliban takeover, any such progress quickly disappeared, and the foundations for the Afghan legal system that had been expensively rebuilt over the last 20 years are in state of collapse—approaching the state of lawlessness that existed prior to 2001. In a commentary for Jurist, Mahir Hazim argues that is the responsibility of the United Nations and countries engaging with the Taliban to make rescuing the legal system and ensuring rule of law a top priority when they negotiate with the regime.

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LFJL

LIBYA: INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT WORSENING PROSPECTS FOR PEACE

Eleven years ago, courageous women and men took to the streets of Libya with an unflinching desire for rights, justice, and democracy. They were met with an unprecedented international response, ostensibly to protect them. The UN Security Council quickly established a no-fly zone, while NATO launched airstrikes. On the anniversary of the start of the uprising against Qaddafi, the country’s future could not be more precarious. Amid delayed elections and fragmented governance, the UN-led political process for Libya is unravelling. The international community has dramatically failed to live up to its promises to Libya. In fact, as geopolitical interests take center stage, it is making things worse. Writing in The New Humanitarian, Elham Saudi and Cristina Orsini of Lawyers for Justice in Libya say the international community must urgently refocus on human rights and accountability.

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Ukraine anarchists

UKRAINE: KHARKOV ANARCHISTS SPEAK

Ukraine is in the world headlines now as a frontline of confrontation between Russia and the West. Putin is implicitly threatening to invade the country if his demands are not met for a guarantee that it will not be granted NATO membership. Amid the geopolitical chess-game, few recall that during the Russian Revolution and the preceding years, Ukraine had one of the most powerful anarchist movements that the world has seen. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, anarchist groups have started to re-emerge in Ukraine, intransigently rejecting the regimes in Kiev and Moscow, and the power blocs around NATO and Russia, alike. CounterVortex communicated via email with one such group, the newly formed Assembly, which mostly functions as a media collective, reporting on labor and social struggles in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkov.

Continue ReadingUKRAINE: KHARKOV ANARCHISTS SPEAK 
thantlang

MYANMAR: CRISES SPIRAL ONE YEAR AFTER COUP

Volatile new conflict zones, aerial bombardment, rising hunger, and hundreds of thousands uprooted: A year after the military coup, crises are spiralling across Myanmar. But aid blockades by the junta are cutting off assistance to stricken areas even as humanitarian needs reach record levels. Irwin Loy of The New Humanitarian takes stock of what is fast becoming a forgotten disaster, relegated to “tier-two” by the world media.

Continue ReadingMYANMAR: CRISES SPIRAL ONE YEAR AFTER COUP