Afghanistan
afghanistan

Afghanistan: Taliban kill, ‘disappear’ ex-officials

Taliban forces in Afghanistan have summarily executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in just four provinces since taking over the country in August, despite a proclaimed amnesty, Human Rights Watch charges. The report, ‘No Forgiveness for People Like You’—Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban, documents the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)—military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and militia—who had surrendered or were apprehended by Taliban forces. HRW gathered credible information on more than 100 killings from Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces alone. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North America
border

Biden administration to restart ‘Remain in Mexico’

The US Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy forcing asylum-seekers to “Remain in Mexico” for the duration of their immigration proceedings. The announcement follows a Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration. The policy may, however, violate international law. The 1951 UN Convention & Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees requires states to grant refugees the right to seek asylum, to have free access to courts, and to be afforded movement within the country. It also prohibits expulsion (“refoulement”) to a country where their lives or freedom may be threatened. (Photo: WikiImages via Jurist)

Planet Watch
countervortex

Podcast: the countervortex of global resistance II

In Episode 100 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses recent uprisings in two disparate parts of the world—the South Pacific archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands and two of the states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. In both cases, people who were pissed off for damn good reason took to the streets to oppose foreign capital, and corrupt authoritarian leaders who do its bidding. But in the Solomon Islands, popular rage was deflected into campism and ethnic scapegoating, while in Serbia and Kosova the people on the ground actually overcame entrenched and bitter ethnic divisions to make common cause against common oppressors. The contrast holds lessons for global protest movements from Hong Kong to New York City. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

South Asia
North East India

India: Northeast marks 2021 without journo-murder

If nothing sad happens in the next weeks, India’s restive Northeastern region will complete another year without any incident of journo-murder, maintaining a hopeful trend. The region, comprising eight states with multiple armed insurgencies, witnessed the slaying of journalists for the last time in 2017. However, the country as a whole continues to lose scribes to targeted killings. To date, the nation in 2021 has seen the murder of five journalists, while acclaimed Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed in Afghanistan. India lost 15 scribes to assailants in 2020, one of the worst records on Earth. (Map via TFI Post)

Africa
Gambia

Gambia Truth Commission calls for prosecutions

The Truth, Reconciliation & Reparations Commission (TRRC) of Gambia delivered its report to President Adama Barrow. The report, while not indicting any specific individual, recommends prosecutions for anyone who was associated with atrocities committed during the 22-year presidency of Yahya Jammeh. Based on nearly three years of inquiry and testimony from some 400 witnesses, the report details systemic crimes including widespread incidents of rape, killing, and torture. Officials of the National Investigative Agency and Jammeh’s alleged personal hit squad known as “Junglas” were the main focus of the inquiry. At least 250 people were confirmed to have been killed by the state under Jammeh’s rule. (Map: CIA)

The Amazon
Guiana shield

French troops hunt outlaw miners in Guiana

France has dispatched hundreds of army troops to the overseas territory of French Guiana, to hunt down outlaw gold miners who have destroyed thousands of hectares of rainforest along the Maroni River. But apprehending the garimpeiros is nearly impossible; they abandon their camps and dredges and melt into the jungle as the troops approach. Some 9,000 illegal miners are believed to be operating at around 150 sites across the territory—up from little more than 100 a decade ago. The garimpeiros, however, are the smallest links in a chain, paid a pittance—while the dealers they sell the gold to race up and down the river in speedboats. “We’re only catching the little guys,” admitted French Guiana’s public prosecutor Samuel Finielz. (Map of Guiana Shield: WikimediaCommons)

Europe
Belgrade protest

‘Environmental uprising’ in Serbia —and Kosova

In what local media are calling an “environmental uprising,” protesters blocked roads and occupied public squares in Belgrade and other towns across Serbia to oppose plans for a lithium mine at Loznica, on the Drina River. Transnational Rio Tinto has been buying up land in the area, in anticipation of final approval of the project. But concerns over a toxic threat to local waters have sparked widespread outrage over the plan. Meanwhile, across the border in Kosova, environmentalists claimed a victory as the country’s high court suspended the permit for the proposed Brezovica hydro-power plant on the Lepenc River. Local Albanians and Serbs alike came together to oppose the project, which would flood agricultural lands while depriving water to downstream communities (Photo: Masina)

Oceania
solomon islands

Solomon Islands uprising in the New Cold War

Australia has dispatched some 100 police and military troops to the Solomon Islands following days of rioting and looting in the capital Honiara. Calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign, protesters set the parliament building ablaze, and torched and looted shops, causing millions of dollars in damages. The looting centered on the city’s Chinatown, where three charred bodies have been found amid the ruins. Tensions between Guadalcanal and Malaita islanders have been enflamed by massive Chinese capital flows into the former island, while the latter remains comparatively impoverished. The two provincial governments are bitterly at odds over Sogavare’s recent decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

Europe
Moria

‘Absurd’ trial of Lesvos migrant helpers

The Greek trial of 24 aid volunteers accused of people-smuggling got off to a shambolic false start, with the case delayed as it was sent directly to a higher court due to jurisdictional disputes. The defendants were members of Emergency Response Center International (ECRI), an NGO that performed rescue activities in the Aegean Sea and provided humanitarian assistance to people in Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos between 2016 and 2018. Human rights groups say the accusations are part of a broader trend of governments across Europe criminalizing people providing humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers and migrants. They have called on Greece to drop the charges, describing the case as “absurd.” (Photo: Robin Hammond/Witness Change via TNH)

The Amazon
Peter Gorman

Podcast: entheogenic adventures with Peter Gorman

In Episode 99 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews an old friend and colleague—legendary journalist, naturalist and adventurer Peter Gorman, who reflects on his long years collecting (and personally sampling) psychoactive and shamanic plants, from the Peruvian Amazon, to the Rif Mountains of Morocco, to the Palani Hills of southern India. Now approaching 71, Peter is about to head back down to the Amazon to revisit the remote Matsés indigenous people, who he first contacted in 1985. His latest collection of first-hand accounts is Magic Mushrooms in India & Other Fantastic Tales. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo courtesy of Peter Gorman)

Central America
Mélidas

Feminist, humanitarian groups raided in El Salvador

Agents of El Salvador’s Fiscalía, backed up by police troops, raided seven non-governmental organizations, ostensibly on the grounds of investigating “corruption.” The Salvadoran popular movement describes the raids as the latest in an escalating campaign of political persecution by President Nayib Bukele against voices critical of the regime. Among the groups targeted were Las Mélidas, a long-standing women’s rights organization, and PRO-VIDA, a humanitarian association that works in areas of healthcare, ecology, and strengthening of democratic institutions. In a statement following the raids, a representative of Las Mélidas condemned them as “unjustified” and meant to “criminalize” the group’s initiatives, which include literacy, violence prevention, sexual health campaigns, and other programs serving the country’s most marginalized women. (Photo via Twitter)

The Andes
Quito police

Ecuador: president extends state of emergency

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso extended the country’s state of emergency by a second 30 days. The decree is ostensibly an attempt to combat the insecurity generated by drug-related crime and re-establish public order. It provides for the mobilization of military forces to assist the functions of the National Police in several provinces. The emergency was originally declared last month for a period of 60 days, but the duration was reduced to 30 days by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. The renewed state of emergency will be enacted in nine of the 24 provinces in the country. (Photo via Wikipedia)