Social Movement

STATEMENT FROM UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS

As the Russian army masses its forces on the Ukrainian border and  threatens to intervene if the US and NATO do not meet the Kremlin’s demands, Ukrainian socialists call on the international left to condemn the imperialist policies of the Putin government and to show solidarity with the people who will suffer from an escalation of the war. In an international call for anti-war solidarity, Ukraine’s democratic-left Social Movement exposes the revival of Russian imperialism, describes the situation in the conflicted Donbas region, and proposes steps to ensure peace.

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ON THE ETHIOPIAN CIVIL WAR

In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched full-scale war on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which governed Ethiopia’s Tigray regional state. He claimed this was a mere police operation against terrorists, and lied that no troops from the neighboring country of Eritrea were involved. Since then, Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have attacked the Tigrayan people as a whole, by looting farms, factories and hospitals, burning crops and food supplies, and raping women. Some 60,000 Tigrayans have fled to Sudan as refugees, and more than two million Ethiopians are now internally displaced. Abiy has used mass starvation as an instrument of war, which has left some 900,000 Tigrayans haunted by famine. Frank Arango of Seattle Workers’ Voice traces the conflict to rival visions of a federal versus unitary state system for Ethiopia over the course of successive regimes, going all the way back to the empire of Haile Selassie. He urges support for the current struggle for a democratic and federalist future for the country, rejecting the new drive for a unitary state under the war criminal Abiy Ahmed.

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INDIA: OUTCRY AGAINST ‘SPECIAL POWERS’ AFTER NAGALAND MASSACRE

Northeast India’s conflicted state of Nagaland, on the Burmese border, is seeing a mass public outcry against long-standing emergency measures in the wake of an army massacre of civilian mine workers. Army and paramilitary troops laid an “ambush” on a truck on a rural road, opening fire when it failed to stop. Troops apparently believed the truck was carrying a unit of one of the militant groups that have for generations waged an insurgency seeking independence for Nagaland. In fact, the truck was carrying coal miners returning from work. At least 14 were killed. The massacre sparked an immediate upsurge among the villagers of the area, who vented their rage at the security forces. Since the bloody incident, the state has seen continuing protests and strikes demanding repeal of India’s 1958 Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the military broad power to use deadly force without judicial review. A special report for CounterVortex from reporter Nava Thakuria in Northeast India.

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Row, NH

‘WHAT MUST BE DONE’ FOR THE PLANET

The regional coalition No Coal No Gas has launched a direct-action campaign to shut down New England’s last coal-burning power plant, Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire. In an October civil disobedience, campaign members planted gardens on company property, including a bed hacked out with pickaxes in the middle of an access road. Rail lines to the plant were occupied, while a flotilla of “kayaktivists” on the Merrimack River blocked the plant’s access to the waterfront. Several were arrested by state police troops in full riot gear. But campaigners have also organized an ongoing utility bill payment strike to pressure local utility Granite Shore Power. Arnie Alpert, a longtime nonviolent action trainer in New Hampshire, provides a first-hand account of this uncompromising grassroots response to the global climate crisis for Waging Nonviolence.

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Zurg Xiong

ANTI-ASIAN PERSECUTION IN CALIFORNIA’S CANNABIS COUNTRY

Even as California grapples with its ugly past of discrimination and even pogroms against Asian immigrants and their descendants, a survival of this legacy persists in remote parts of the state. A disturbing escalation is reported in far-north Siskiyou County, where Hmong immigrants from Laos have been getting in on the cannabis economy—sparking a xenophobic backlash. Conservative politicians are making hay of the tensions, even cutting off water to Hmong farms—in a supposed crackdown on unlicensed cannabis cultivation. This finally prompted local Hmong to stand up and protest. This summer, a Hmong evacuee from the region’s wildfires was killed at a police checkpoint on a county road—further enflaming the situation. Bill Weinberg reports for The Progressive.

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THE TRAGEDY OF AHWAZ

The protests in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan region have won some international media attention. But coverage has not noted that this region, known to its Arab inhabitants as Ahwaz, had for centuries been an independent emirate before its incorporation into Iran in 1925. This annexation was effected through military force, and with the acquiescence of the Great Powers of the day—principally Britain and Russia. With the US and European Union now attempting to revive the nuclear deal with the Tehran regime, it remains to be seen if the Ahwazi people’s re-emerging aspirations to self-determination will again be betrayed. Rahim Hamid, writing for Canada’s Dur Untash Studies Centre, provides an in-depth analysis.

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AFGHAN WOMEN WHO ARE SPEAKING OUT

Before the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, some of the country’s loudest voices for peace belonged to women. In southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, for example, “seated demonstrations” demanding an end to the fighting in July drew hundreds of women from different walks of life. Some of those voices have been pushed underground with the Taliban takeover, but they haven’t been silenced. In private chat groups or on social media like Twitter, Afghan women discuss their fears, find support, share reports of what’s happening in the country through the Afghan diaspora, and speak about defending hard-won opportunities for women and girls. Journalist Robyn Huang of The New Humanitarian spoke with Pashtana Durrani and Fahima Rahmati—two Kandahar women who head community organizations, and have chosen to remain in Afghanistan and continue speaking out.

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WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST CONFRONTS A DIVIDED BANGLADESH

Shireen Huq has never shied away from taking a stand. Huq, founder of the women’s rights organization Naripokkho (meaning Pro-Women or For Women), has been on the front line of feminist causes in Bangladesh since the group was founded in 1983. Today, however, she not only faces the continuing struggle for basic rights and gender equality in Bangladesh, but a host of related crises that are roiling the country. In a telephone interview from Dhaka, she speaks with CounterVortex journalist Andy Heintz on issues ranging from the plight of more than a million Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar district, impacts of the military coup in neighboring Burma, and the crackdown on freedom of speech and expression within Bangladesh.

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MEXICO: WILL CANNABIS DECRIM DE-ESCALATE DRUG WAR?

Two years and counting after Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered the country’s Congress to legalize cannabis, the high court justices ran out of patience with the legislative paralysis and issued a new ruling—this one removing penalties for personal use by judicial decree. But there is no provision for commercial production, and the decree calls for tight federal regulation even of personal cultivation. Will this move prove to be at least a beginning in the daunting challenge of ending Mexico’s long and bloody narco-nightmare? Bill Weinberg takes an in-depth look for Project CBD website.

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Razia Sultana

ROHINGYA FEMINIST SEEKS INTER-ETHNIC UNITY

Nearly four years after the Burmese army’s genocidal attack, more than a million Rohingya remain in overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh. Repatriation efforts have failed, as the Rohingya don’t feel safe returning to their homeland. A large percentage of Rohingya women and girls living in the camps have suffered sexual violence at the hands of the Burmese army, witnessed the death of loved ones, or been victims of domestic violence. Razia Sultana, a Rohingya lawyer and educator, has documented these crimes and is organizing advocacy and empowerment programs for survivors in the camps. In a phone interview with CounterVortex correspondent Andy Heintz, she speaks about the prospects for building unity with Burma’s other persecuted minority peoples—and even with the ethnic Burman majority now also facing harsh repression since this year’s military coup.

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khuzestan

IRAN: A NEW WAVE OF MASS PROTEST

Iran is experiencing another wave of mass protests and strikes as economic, social, political, environmental and health problems make it impossible for the large majority of the population to have the bare minimums needed to live. Protests over a severe water shortage in the mainly ethnic Arab province of Khuseztan have now been joined by wildcat work stoppages in the petrochemical and agricultural sectors. In addition to pressing for the right to independently organize, workers are expressing solidarity with the protests over water, and demanding COVID-19 vaccines. Frieda Afary of Iranian Progressives in Translation argues that any effort to engage in solidarity with the people of Iran means not only calling for the removal of US sanctions but also holding the Iranian regime accountable for its repression and exploitation.

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Sri Lanka flag

SRI LANKA’S ANIMAL EMBLEMS

Much controversy surrounds use of the flags associated with the Sri Lankan peoples, as they are loaded with ethnic symbolism in a country recovering from a generation-long civil war along ethno-nationalist lines. The flags of concern here all feature big cats as central to their designs—the Sinhalese identifying with the lion and the Tamils with the tiger. The lion adorns both the flag of the Sinhalese people as an ethnicity and the national flag of Sri Lanka. The tiger adorns both the flag of the Tamil people as an ethnicity and that of the Tamil Tiger rebels—which is officially outlawed. Yet neither of these animals can actually be found on the island of Sri Lanka. In a commentary for Jurist, legal scholars Samir Pasha and Naga Kandiah make the case for the indigenous Sri Lankan leopard as a new, neutral symbol for a unified post-civil war nation aspiring to ethnic co-existence and social justice.

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