Africa
Guinea

Guinea: violence mounts ahead of election

Weeks ahead of elections in Guinea, where Alpha Cond√© is running for a controversial third presidential term, Amnesty International released a report documenting harsh repression of the political opposition by his security forces. The crackdown on protests has claimed at least 50 lives¬†in less than a year, Amnesty said. The protest wave was unleashed when Cond√© proposed a constitutional change allowing him to seek a third term. This was approved by referendum in March amid an atmosphere of terror, and a boycott by the opposition. According to a second report, issued by Human Rights Watch, the violence has taken on an ethnic dimension. Victims and witnesses told HRW that armed gangs of Guerz√©, a group seen as sympathetic to the opposition, are facing off with equally well-armed ethnic Koniank√© and Malink√©, largely considered ruling-party supporters. (Map: Perry-Casta√Īeda Library)

Central Asia
bishkek

Revolution in Kyrgyzstan: who is in control?

Protestors in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, occupied and set fire to the White House, the building that houses both the president’s office and parliamentary chamber. The headquarters of State Committee for National Security, which oversees the secret police, was also taken over. Opposition politicians imprisoned there were liberated‚ÄĒand one installed as prime minister, as contested election results were¬†officially annulled. President Sooronbay Jeenbekov has gone into hiding, but released a statement from an undisclosed location claiming to be “in control.” Also released from secret police prison was his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev, who had tilted to Russia and booted the US from its airbase at Manas. Jeenbekov, in contrast, had been in a public spat with Vladimir Putin. With the current chaos in Washington, Moscow seems well-positioned to exploit the new upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo via Twitter)

The Caucasus
Nagorno-Karabakh

Campaign to recognize Republic of Artsakh

Amid renewed heavy fighting over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the enclave’s capital, Stepanakert, is coming under heavy shelling by Azerbaijan. The self-governing enclave within Azerbaijan has since 1994 been under the control of ethnic Armenians, who constitute the majority there, and have declared the de facto Republic of Artsakh. The National Assembly of Artsakh issued a statement accusing Azerbaijan of intentionally targeting civilians and using banned weaponry such as cluster munitions. The statement also accused Turkey of directing the offensive, and backing it up with mercenary fighters. The National Assembly called upon the international community to formally recognize the Republic of Artsakh as “the most effective way to put an end to the ongoing grave crimes against the peaceful population of Artsakh, and to protect their rights.” (Map: Wikipedia)

East Asia
Kamchatka

Mysterious ‘ecological catastrophe’ in Kamchatka

Fears are mounting over an environmental disaster of still unknown origin in Russia’s Far East after residents reported dozens of dead sea animals washed onto a beach from the Pacific. Greenpeace Russia said tests conducted on water samples taken from Khalaktyrsky beach in Kamchatka krai showed petroleum levels four times higher than usual, and phenol levels 2.5 times higher. “The scale of the contamination has not yet been determined, but the fact that dead animals are found all along the coast confirms the seriousness of the situation,” the organization said in a statement, warning of an “ecological catastrophe.” Residents who used local beaches also complained of vomiting, fever and¬†rashes.¬†Krai authorities have launched an investigation.¬†Some scientists suggest¬†that rocket fuel may have leaked into the sea from the military’s Radygino firing range, which is six miles from the seashore and was used for missile tests as recently as August. (Photo: Einar Fredriksen via WikiTravel)

Europe
Bloody Sunday

No prosecution for soldiers in Bloody Sunday

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service announced that after reviewing evidence against 15 British soldiers suspected of killing civilians in Derry on “Bloody Sunday,” Jan. 30, 1972, they will maintain the decision not to prosecute. The final decision, announced in a statement from the PPS, upholds an earlier one from 2019, which found that “the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.” After the 2019 announcement, families who lost loved ones and survivors injured in the massacre asked for a review of the decision. Bloody Sunday was the deadliest episode of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement; 13 were killed and several wounded when Parachute Regiment troops opened fire on demonstrators. The final decision means that only one prosecution will proceed for the deaths. The PPS is prosecuting a man referred to as Soldier F, a former member of the Parachute Regiment, for two murders on Bloody Sunday and attempted murders of four others at a separate civil rights march. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes
jorge 40

Colombia: paramilitary boss returns to face justice

Rodrigo Tovar AKA “Jorge 40,” one of Colombia’s most wanted paramilitary leaders, was flown back to his home country after 12 years in US prisons for drug trafficking. Once an official in his hometown of Valledupar, Tovar became commander of the feared “Bloque Norte” of Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary network. Revelations upon his demobilization in 2006 triggered the so-called “parapolitics” scandal, with his testimony implicating top government figures in the officially illegal armed networks. But Tovar stopped cooperatingwith Colombian justice after his brother was assassinated in 2009, a year after his extraditionto the US. He now faces multiple charges of war crimes and human rights violations in Colombia, most notoriously the 2000 massacre of 60 civilians at the village of El Saldado. (Photo via Colombia Reports)

Mexico
Oscar Eyraud Adams

Water protector slain in Baja California

Oscar Eyraud Adams, a community activist in the Mexican border town of Tecate, Baja California, was assassinated in an attack on his home by what local accounts described as an “armed commando.”¬†The following day, his brother-in-law was gunned down in a convenience store along the Tecate-Ensenada highway. Adams had been a prominent advocate for the Kumiai (also rendered Kumeyaay) indigenous people in their struggle for irrigation concessions for their remote communities in outlying rural areas of Tecate and Ensenada municipalities, which have been denied by the National Water Commission (ConAgua). Friends and supporters of Adams are blaming the assassinations on the “narco-state” and demanding that authorities investigate them as political crimes. (Photo:¬†@AguaParaTodxsMX)

The Andes
Oruro

Bolivia: street confrontations in prelude to elections

Tensions are escalating in Bolivia ahead of the first post-coup elections, which after numerous postponements are now slated for this month. In one incident, a¬†youth meeting of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) in the Manufacturing Complex of the working-class city of El Alto was attacked with tear-gas bombs by unknown assailants, causing an exodus from the cavernous space. Days earlier, MAS supporters in the mining hub of Oruro hurled stones at a vehicle caravan of the right-wing Creemos (We Believe) coalition, forcing it to retreat from their barrio, known as the Mining Helmet for the strength of organized labor there. The protesters shouted “Out, out, out! Oruro must be respected!”¬†(Photo:¬†Bolivia Prensa)

New York City
Bronx

Human rights violations seen in NYPD repression

The NYPD’s violent mass arrest of peaceful protesters in the South Bronx violated international human rights law and will likely cost New York City taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits, according to a new investigation by Human Rights Watch. The in-depth report examines the June¬†incident in the Mott Haven district, where hundreds of demonstrators were “kettled” behind barricades before being arrested. As riot police blocked protesters’ path minutes before Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 8 PM curfew, a second line of officers charged them from behind, “unprovoked and without warning, wielding batons, beating people from car tops, shoving them to the ground, and firing pepper spray into their faces before rounding up more than 250 people for arrest.” The report documents¬†at least 61 cases of protesters, legal observers and bystanders who sustained injuries in the operation. HRW counts the incident as “among the most aggressive police responses to protests across the United States following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.”¬†(Image: Human Rights Watch)

Mexico
Bloque Negro

Mexico City: militant protest for reproductive rights

A march for abortion rights turned violent in Mexico City as a group of women wearing ski-masks and armed with hammers clashed with police. Members of the Bloque Negro feminist collective joined the protest after departing from the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which they had been occupying for weeks and had turned into a shelter for victims of gender violence. With their path to the city’s historic center blocked by riot police, some threw Molotov cocktails¬†and charged the police lines. Some of the women also bared their breasts, even as they wore goggles and helmets. Authorities said 11 police were injured in the confrontation. The demonstration was part of a Day for Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin America & the Caribbean on the eve of International Safe Abortion Day. In Mexico, abortion is only legal in the Federal Distriact and southern state of Oaxaca during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In the rest of the country, it only permitted under limited circumstances, such as if a woman has been raped. (Photo via¬†Mexico News Daily)

Central America
Maria Elena Cuadra Movement

Nicaragua: sweeps target opposition activists

Over 30 opposition figures were detained by the National Police in nationwide sweeps across Nicaragua. Most were released after questioning, but some are still being held. The majority of the detained were members of a newly formed opposition body, the National Coalition, which brings together three political parties and several dissident organizations. Among the detained were 17 indigenous Rama and Kriol (Afro-Nicaraguan) activists from the Caribbean coast, including Kriol environmentalist Princess Barberena and Jaime McCrea Williams, president of the Territorial Government of Rama & Kriol. In Managua, police surrounded the offices of the Maria Elena Cuadra Movement, which advocates for the rights of working women, and interrogated the group’s representative Sandra Ramos when she arrived on the scene. Ramos told reporters she believed the group was targeted for its work representing the mothers of political prisoners since the protest wave of 2018. “We’re not a terrorist organization or anything resembling one,” said Ramos. “We’re a shitload of women who defend other women.” (Photo of Sandra Ramos confronting police via Nicaragua Confidencial)

Central Asia
Chamdo

Report: forced labor and relocation in Tibet

A new report by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and the Jamestown Foundation, a DC-based policy think-tank, has found evidence of a system of forced displacement and labor in Tibet, mirroring that put in place over the past two years in Xiinjiang. The report, entitled “Xinjiang’s Militarized Vocational Training System Comes to Tibet,” finds that over half a million people received instruction at “military-style” training centers as part of the program in the first seven months of 2020‚ÄĒaround 15% of the region’s population. Of this total, almost 50,000 have been transferred to jobs away from their homes within Tibet, and several thousand have been sent to other parts of China. Many end up in low-paid labor, including textile manufacturing, construction and agriculture. Those targeted for the program are designated “rural surplus laborers,” which according to the report usually refers to traditional pastoralists and nomads. (Photo: military-style training of “rural surplus laborers”¬†in the Chamdo region of Tibet, June 2016, via Phayul)