New York City
BLM

New York AG sues NYPD over excessive force

New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed suit in federal court against the New York City Police Department over its handling of peaceful protests and use of excessive force. In her complaint, James charged that the NYPD unjustifiably used pepper-spray and batons against Black Lives Matter protesters in violation of official department policies, asserting that such action caused protesters to suffer both physical and psychological harm. Additionally, James charged that officers corralled protesters without an opportunity to disperse, resulting in mass arrests without probable cause. James stated that this use of excessive force violated protesters’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Photo: The Village Sun)

The Caribbean
havana

US returns Cuba to ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ list

The US Department of State has once again designated Cuba as a state that sponsors terrorism. In 2015, the Obama administration removed Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, which currently includes North Korea, Iran and Syria. In a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department accused Cuba of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.” Ironically, this is¬†a reference to Havana’s hosting of peace delegations from Colombian guerilla groups in their efforts to broker an accord with Bogot√° over the past six years. (Photo: Falkanpost/Pixabay)

South Asia
kashmir

India extends internet restrictions in Kashmir

The government in the Indian union territory of Jammu & Kashmir issued an order extending the suspension of high-speed 4G internet services. The government said it received credible reports of terrorists attempting to infiltrate from across the Line of Control that separates the territory from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The order ostensibly seeks to deter recruitment of youth into terrorist groups, and the circulation of provocative videos and “fake news” on social media. The restrictions are held to constitute the longest such outage ever imposed¬†by a “democratic” government. The Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) called the outage a form of “collective punishment” against Kashmiris and accused New Delhi of “digital apartheid.” (Photo: Daniel Bachhuber/Flickr via Oxford Human Rights Hub)

Iraq
iraq

Iraq issues arrest warrant for Trump

The Iraqi judiciary issued an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump, for the killing of paramilitary commander¬†Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis last January. Trump is charged under Article 406 of the Iraqi Penal Code, which carries the death sentence in all cases of premeditated murder. Al-Muhandis died in the drone strike Trump ordered to kill Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. Al-Muhandis was a top leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a state-sanctioned umbrella organization that oversees an array of militias formed to fight the Islamic State.¬†(Image: Pixabay)

North America
capitol

Pro-Trump rioters storm US Capitol

Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC on Jan. 6 after Trump supporters rallied by the thousands on the National Mall. President Donald Trump had addressed them in a rambling speech laden with grievances and falsehoods just after noon and encouraged them to move on to the Capitol. As they did so, the House and Senate were evacuated, and the Capitol building and surrounding locations put on lockdown. The rioters breached police lines and security barriers at several points and appeared to roam the Capitol corridors at will. Several broke into the House and Senate chambers and sat unopposed in the chairs of the presiding officers. The scenes were disturbingly reminiscent of the moment in 1814 when invading British forces seized the Capitol and their commanding officer mounted the empty Speaker‚Äôs Chair, and asked mockingly, “Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All for it will say ‘Aye!'”¬†(Photo:¬†@BGOnTheScene)

Planet Watch
tongass

Alaska Native tribes challenge Tongass logging

Five Alaska Native tribes filed a lawsuit to challenge the Trump administration’s move to allow logging in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest.¬†In October, the Trump administration announced that it would exempt the Tongass from the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule, or the “roadless rule.” The roadless rule blocks logging and road construction in specified forests. Alaskan state leadership petitioned for the reversal, which puts nine million acres of the Tongass at risk. According to the United States Forest Service, the Tongass is the “largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.”¬†The complaint details the environmental criticality of the Tongass as a carbon sink and sole habitat of rare endemic species, as well as its importance to indigenous groups. The suit states:¬†“The Tongass National Forest is central to the life ways of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people who have lived in and depended on the forest since time immemorial.” (Photo via EBEB)

Central Asia
uighur-women

China-Turkey extradition treaty to target Uighurs

China announced¬†the ratification of an extradition treaty with Turkey that it intends to use,inter alia, to accelerate the return of refugees and Uighur Muslims suspected of “terrorism.” Since the 1950s, Turkey has welcomed Uighurs fleeing persecution in China. Uighurs and Turks have linguistic, cultural and religious ties. Currently, more than 50,000 Uighurs call Turkey home. While the treaty does provide grounds for refusal of extradition on the basis of Turkish citizenship, it is feared by many Uighurs that Chinese persecution will follow them to Turkey. “This extradition treaty will cause worry among Uighurs who have fled China and do not yet have Turkish citizenship,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told AFP. (Photo of Uighur women in Xinjiang: mikepryan¬†via¬†Wikimedia)

Greater Middle East
Cumhuriyet

Turkey convicts newspaper editor on ‘terrorism’ charges

Can D√ľndar, the former editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, was convicted on charges of terrorism in Turkey and sentenced in absentia. The Istanbul court found D√ľndar guilty of aiding a terrorist organization and espionage, sentencing him to 27 years and six months in prison. D√ľndar was first sentenced to five years in 2016 on espionage charges and attempting to overthrow the government for publishing footage that allegedly showed Turkey’s state intelligence agency transporting weapons to Syrian rebels in 2014. D√ľndar was later released when the matter went to appeal. Upon his release, D√ľndar fled the country while Turkish authorities ordered the seizure of his property and froze his bank accounts. He is now living in exile in Germany. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)

South Asia
Karima Baloch

Pakistani rights activist found slain in Toronto

Pakistani human rights activist Karima Baloch, 37, was found dead in Toronto, Canada. Baloch went missing the previous day. The Toronto Police stated that “officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected.”¬†But Baloch, from Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region, fled her country¬†in 2015 because of threats on her life. As a campaigner with the Baloch Students’ Organization, she harshly¬†criticized the Pakistani military and state over ongoing rights abuses in the region. She continued to campaign for the rights of people in Balochistan while in exile, and the threats against her did not stop after she left Pakistan. Baloch’s close friend, Lateef Johar Baloch, told reporters that she had recently received anonymous threats. (Photo via TimesNowNews, India)

Africa
Ethiopia

Ethiopia: ‘war crimes’ seen in Tigray conflict

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet addressed allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations in Ethiopia,¬†calling for an investigation into the claims, and urgent protection of civilians. The conflict between central government forces and the Tigray People‚Äôs Liberation Front (TPLF) began seven weeks ago, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. The claims include bombardment of civilian populations and ethnically targeted massacres. Abuses were reportedly carried out by both central government and TPLF forces‚ÄĒas well as by the armed forces of¬†neighboring Eritrea, which has entered the conflict on the side of the Ethiopian¬†central government.¬†(Map via EthioVisit)

Greater Middle East
Selahattin DemirtaŇü

Demand Turkey release detained Kurdish leader

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held¬†that Turkey must take all necessary measures to secure the immediate release of Selahattin DemirtaŇü, a Kurdish politician held by the government on terrorism charges. The Grand Chamber found that there had been multiple violations of the European Convention of Human Rights in his case. It also found no evidence supporting DemirtaŇü’¬†detention that linked his actions and the alleged offenses. The Court concluded that “the purposes put forward by the authorities for the applicant’s pre-trial detention were merely cover for an ulterior political purpose, which is a matter of indisputable gravity for democracy.” (Photo:¬†DemirtaŇü’¬†presidential campaign launched outside Edirne prison where he is incarcerated, May 2018, via Wikipedia)

The Andes
paramilitaries

UN rights chief warns of heightened violence in Colombia

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged state authorities in Colombia¬†to respond to heightened violence with concrete action and stronger protection. According to the UN Human Rights Office, 375 killings have been recorded in Colombia thus far in 2020. Of these killings, 255 people were¬†slain in 66 massacres, and 120 human rights defenders have also been killed. What is more, since Colombia‚Äôs peace agreement was signed in November 2016, a total of 244 demobilized FARC fighters have been slain. The killings continue to be committed “by non-state armed groups, criminal groups and other armed elements,” moslty in remote areas of Colombia, and particularly targeting “peasants, indigenous and Afro-Colombian people.” (Photo via Contagio Radio)