Africa
tigray protest

Podcast: solidarity with Tigray

In Episode 70 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Daniel Woldu, US representative of Omna Tigray, an international network calling for action to halt the genocide in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Woldu discusses the abrogation of Tigray’s self-rule under the Ethiopian regime of Abiy Ahmed, atrocities that have taken place under cover of an information blockade, the ongoing plunder and weaponization of humanitarian aid, why Eritrea has intervened on the side of the Ethiopian central government, and the urgent need for accountability and an independent investigation into war crimes and genocide. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Omna Tigray via Twitter)

Mexico
Squadron 421

Zapatistas launch symbolic ‘invasion’ of Spain

Seven indigenous Maya members of Mexico’s Zapatista movement set sail from Isla Mujeres, off the coast of the Yucat√°n Peninsula, on a trans-Atlantic voyage meant to symbolically reverse the Spanish¬†conquest of Mexico 500 years ago. Sailing in a wooden vessel they built themselves, christened La Monta√Īa, the delegation hopes to reach Madrid by Aug. 13, anniversary of the 1521 fall of Tenochtitl√°n, Mexico’s ancient capital, to the conquistador Hernan¬†Cort√©s. The delegation intends to land at Vigo, on Spain’s northern coast, and then continue to Madrid, beginning a tour of some 20 European countries. (Photo: Pie P√°gina)

Africa
Tigray

Abuses, aid blocking continue in Ethiopia

International pressure on parties to the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is building, but abuses of civilians and aid blockages and looting continue. The Eritrean military remains in Tigray, and is accused of looting and abuses despite a pledge by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed¬†that its forces would pull back. AFP news agency obtained documents from Tigray’s Abiy-appointed interim government describing harassment and looting of aid supplies by Eritrean troops. Meanwhile, reports mount of the rounding up and detention of thousands of Tigrayans, seemingly¬†on grounds of ethnicity. The UN says 90% of displaced people have still not received help with shelter, and a major road into the region was blocked by hostilities for 12 days. (Photo:¬†UNHCR)

The Andes
Cauca

Massacres, assassinations continue in Colombia

Police killed at least eight people in Colombia‚Äôs southwestern city of Cali, amid national protests against President Iv√°n Duque’s proposed reform of the tax code. Clashes between police and protesters also took place in Bogot√°, Medellin and other cities. In response to the protest wave, Duque said he would revise his proposed reform,¬†and that new taxes on sales of food and gasoline would be dropped. The protests come¬†as political violence is escalating nearly across Colombia, but especially the southwest. Amid the violence, a locally-organized “Caravan for Peace” is making its way through the region, calling for a dialogue with armed actors and civil society to arrive at a new “Pact for Life & Peace,” addresing needs for security, land, and economic sustenance. (Photo: Colombia Informa)

Central Asia
kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz-Tajik border clash over control of water

The armed forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan clashed at a disputed section of their border, leaving 30 dead and thousands displaced before a ceasefire was declared. The fighting broke out near the strategic Golovnoi water pumping facility, in the Tajik-controlled exclave of Vorukh. Kyrgyz protesters gathered on their side of the de facto border after Tajik authorities installed surveillance cameras at the facility. The two sides began hurling rocks across the line before military troops intervened. The Golovnoi facility pumps water from the Isfara River, a tributary of the Syr Darya, to irrigate agriculture in the area. It is in the Fergana Valley, a small fertile pocket in the arid Central Asia region. Soviet authorities drew the boundaries so that Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan each got a portion of it. However, this meant intricate, twisting borders, and territorial¬†disputes have arisen. Tajik authorities accuse Kyrgyzstan of seeking to seize the Vorukh exclave. (Map: Perry-Casta√Īeda Library)

Palestine
apartheid

HRW accuses Israel of ‘apartheid and persecution’

Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Israeli authorities of crimes against humanity, specifically those of apartheid and persecution, targeting the Palestinian people. The report charges that there is “an overarching Israeli government policy” to mitigate what authorities have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. The 213-page report, A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, cites definitions in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. (Image: HRW)

East Asia
Open the Gate for All

Japan: protest against restrictive immigration bill

A rally in Tokyo highlighted opposition to a proposed immigration law currently under consideration in Japan’s National Diet, seen as a yet further tightening of the country’s already highly selective refugee system. The rally, under the slogan “Open the Gate for All,” was organized by opposition lawmakers and human rights organizations including¬†Amnesty International Japan and the¬†Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, all seeking to halt the legislation currently under consideration in the Diet. The proposed reform would permit asylum-seekers to be deported after a third failed application, and introduce new procedures for forcible deportation¬†of individuals who entered Japan illegally or overstayed their visas. As the bill includes no cap on the length of detention or judicial review of cases, it has been criticized by human rights experts at the United Nations. (Photo via Twitter)

Syria
syria chemical attack

Syria stripped of voting rights by OPCW

Syria was stripped of its voting rights at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), after recent findings evidenced the regime’s use of poisonous gas throughout the nation’s civil war. A two-thirds majority of nations voted to strip the Bashar Assad regime of its rights and privileges as a member of the organization, including the right to vote at OPCW conferences. The OPCW, monitoring body for the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, has 193 members, 87 of whom voted in favor of suspension of Syria’s rights. Out of the 136 countries participating in the Conference of State Parties where the vote was taken, 34 states abstained and 15 voted against, including Russia, Iran and Syria. (Photo:¬†SNHR)

Syria
qamishlo

Syria: Kurdish forces take Qamishlo from regime

The local Kurdish Asayish militia announced that it has¬†taken control of the last contested district of the northeast Syrian town of Qamishli from pro-regime forces. An Asayish statement said that after several days of fighting, al-Tay neighborhood is to be in their hands under terms of a truce with the pro-regime National Defense Forces (NDF), enforced by Russian troops and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).¬†The Qamishlo District Council, an organ of the Rojava autonomous administration, issued its own statement, charging¬†that NDF attacks on Asayish checkpoints were “evidence of their desire to inflame the discord among the components of the region…in particular the Kurdish and Arab.”¬†(Photo of Qamishlo District Council reading statement:¬†ANHA)

Planet Watch
air pollution

Biden: cut US carbon emissions in half by 2030

President Joe Biden announced at the Leaders Summit on Climate that the US will aim to reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. Climate experts have urged world leaders to cut carbon emissions in order to limit the warming of the planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris Agreement sets a 2 C rise within the current century as a maximum, but urges countries to work toward a 1.5 C rise. Recent studies have found that the 1.5 C rise will be reached within five years. (Photo: Ralf Vetterle, Pixabay)

Europe
openarms

Italy: Salvini to stand trial on kidnapping charges

Former deputy prime minister and current leader of Italy’s right-wing League party Matteo Salvini must stand trial for kidnapping, a Palermo judge ruled. The charges concern an incident in August 2019 in which he barred 147 migrants who had been rescued by Barcelona-based NGO Open Arms from disembarking at a Sicilian port. An indictment of the former minister was requested by Open Arms and nine migrants who were on board the vessel,¬†which had been blocked for 19 days off the coast of Lampedusa. (Photo via Twitter)

Africa
somalia

Somalia: drought compounds political crisis

The political heat is rising in Somalia over the determination of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, to cling to power despite his term having ended¬†in February. He’s embraced a decision by the lower house of the Federal Parliament to extend his (and their) stay in office for an extra two years, to allow the running of delayed elections. The move was rejected by the Senate as “unconstitutional. The Senate called on Farmajo to rejoin UN-led talks‚ÄĒwhich he has rejected. As the crisis deepens, there are reports of a troop build-up in the capital and the fragmentation of the security forces. Yet this political tussle is being played out in the Mogadishu bubble. In the countryside, where the government holds little sway, a new drought emergency is underway. Almost 40,000 people have been forced from their homes in the first three months of the year due to poor rains, joining the 1.3 million displaced in 2020 by combined humanitarian disasters. (Photo: Joe English/UNICEF)