Syria
Daraya

Remembering the Daraya massacre

In Episode 139 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the 10th anniversary of the 2012 Daraya massacre, in which the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad killed some 700 civilians while taking back the city from the secular pro-democratic revolutionary forces that had seized power there. These early Syrian revolutionaries were inspired by the grassroots-democratic vision of the anarchist thinker Omar Aziz, and the ethic of nonviolent resistance propounded by Jawdat Said, the “Syrian Gandhi.” Daraya was re-taken by rebels later that year, but fell a second time in August 2016, putting an end to the experiment in parallel power and direct democracy. Most of the remaining inhabitants were evacuated to Idlib province in the north, which remained in rebel hands, and the model of parallel power survived there for another two years—before extremist factions linked to the Nusra Front began to take over. The November 2018 assassination of civil resistance leader Raed Fares was another turning point. The following year saw a popular uprising in idlib by the pro-democratic resistance against jihadist rule. But the legacy of Daraya, once the frontline of a peaceful revolution, is largely forgotten history, its true heroism betrayed by the world. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Daraya, 2011 via Leila’s Blog)

Syria
Daraya

Syria: 2012 Daraya massacre documented

Human rights organization the Syrian British Consortium published the findings of its investigation into the massacre of civilians by the Syrian government and allied forces in the town of Daraya a decade ago. The investigation found that in August 2012, government forces killed at least 700 people, including women and children, through indiscriminate shelling and mass executions. Daraya, southwest of Damascus, was one of the most prominent centers of the uprising against Bashar Assad in 2011, and was widely recognized as the frontline of nonviolent resistance in the country. (Photo: Daraya, 2011 via Leila’s Blog)

North Africa
Tunis

Tunisia: president dissolves Supreme Judicial Council

Tunisian President Kais Saied officially dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, sending police to seal the chamber where the body meets. The Council’s head, Youssef Bouzakher, called the dissolution “illegal,” and said it is aimed at bringing Tunisia’s jurists under control of the executive. Established in 2016, the Council is a constitutional body entrusted with ensuring the independence of the judiciary, responsible for appointing judges and taking disciplinary action. Bouzakher said the Council intends to continue working in defiance of the president’s announcement. The move is a further consolidation of Saied’s power following his “self-coup” last year, in which Tunisia’s parliament was suspended. (Photo: XLR Media via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
UAE

UAE ‘cybercrime’ law restricts free speech: civil society

A coalition of human rights and civil society organizations published a joint statement protesting the United Arab Emirates’ new cybercrime law, saying it “severely threatens and unduly restricts the right to freedom of expression (both online and offline) and the rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.” The letter says that the language of the statute creates ambiguity prone to misuse, especially regarding issues related to “national security,” which provide the authorities with “excessive discretion to impose lengthy prison sentences” for political dissent. The wording of these provisions is so broad that they can be used to target journalists, whistle-blowers, activists, and peaceful critics of the government. The letter notes that the law stipulates no maximum prison sentence for acts that “harm the State’s interests,” which violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Photo: Pixabay)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: political crisis deepens

Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison, convicted of “undermining the external security of the State.” The charge is evidently a reference to his calls on social media for protest against current President KaĂŻs Saied, and for an end to French support of Saied’s regime. Marzouki calls Saied a “dictator,” and accuses him of having conducted a coup when he suspended parliament and fired the prime minister amid a wave of national unrest in July. (Image: Pixabay)

Greater Middle East
Alaa Abd El Fattah

Egypt: prison term for activist Alaa Abdel Fattah —again

An Egyptian court sentenced prominent activist Alaa Abd El Fattah to five years in prison after he was convicted on charges of “spreading false news” and “undermining national security.” Alongside Abd El Fattah, the Emergency State Security Court also sentenced human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer and blogger Mohammed “Oxygen” Ibrahim to four years each. All three defendants faced charges concerning their social media posts on human rights violations. Both Abd El Fattah and El-Baqer had been held in pretrial detention for more than the legal limit of two years. Verdicts issued by the emergency court cannot be appealed. Human rights groups have criticized the use of “emergency trials,” due process violations, and general repression of freedom of expression in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Africa
khartoum

Sudan: civil resistance rejects ‘power-sharing’ deal

Sudan’s ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who had been placed under house arrest with last month’s military coup, appeared on TV to sign a new power-sharing agreement with putsch leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. But the deal officially restoring Hamdok as prime minister was immediately rejected by the pro-democracy movement in the streets. Just after the announcement, security forces in Khartoum fired tear-gas at protesters marching toward the presidential palace to demand the military’s complete withdrawal from politics. “The future of the country will be determined by the young people on the ground,” said Siddiq Abu-Fawwaz of the Forces for Freedom & Change coalition. (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
sfax

Tunisia: uprising over waste disposal crisis

Anger over a regional garbage crisis in Tunisia exploded into street clashes after a man died following exposure to tear-gas during protests against the reopening of a landfill site. Abderrazek Lacheheb, 35, died in the town of Aguereb in the coastal region of Sfax, punctuating weeks of demonstrations over a growing waste and public health crisis. The powerful UGTT trade union confederation announced a general strike the day after his passing, condemning the “savage intervention by security forces.” (Photo: Leaders.com.tn)

Africa
Sudan

Counter-revolutionary coup in Sudan

Sudan’s interim prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and his senior officials were arrested as the military seized full power in a coup d’etat and imposed a state of emergency. The two principal pro-democracy formations, the Forces for Freedom & Change and Sudanese Professionals Association, have called for a popular mobilization to overturn the coup, and thousands have answered the call, filling the streets of Khartoum, Omdurman and other cities. Troops fired on protesters outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, killing at least three and injuring more than 80. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have also been mobilized. The military head of the now officially dissolved joint civilian-military Transitional Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is apparently behind the coup and in control. The putsch follows days of rival demonstrations in Khartoum, with pro-democracy protesters demanding full civilian rule and pro-army counter-demonstrators demanding that the military take complete control. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

North Africa
Hirak

Algeria: protest dissolution of civil society group

Five international rights groups are urging Algerian authorities to drop their effort to dissolve a prominent civil society group over alleged violation of the “law on associations.” The five groups—Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the MENA Rights Group—say the government’s move “threatens freedom of association.” A appeals tribunal in Algiers upheld a petition to dissolve the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (Youth Action Rally, or RAJ). The petition claimed that the group’s political activities violated the purposes set forth in its own bylaws. RAJ leaders said that authorities targeted the association due to its support of the Hirak pro-democracy movement. (Photo: Faten Aggad/Africa Arguments)

Planet Watch
anarchy

Podcast: for pragmatic anarchism

In Episode 93 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg responds to the request from Patreon subscriber and legendary folksinger Dave Lippman to discuss the contemporary significance of anarchism. Weinberg cites recent examples of an “anarcho-pragmatism” that aspires to libertarian socialism but also works toward concrete victories in the here-and-now: the Zapatistas in Mexico, piqueteros in Argentina, the Rojava Kurds and other liberatory elements of the Syrian Revolution, and Occupy Wall Street in New York. Since last year’s Black Lives Matter uprising, anarchist ideas have started to enter mainstream discourse—such as calls for “decarceration” and to abolish the police. Weinberg also makes note of pointed criticisms of some contemporary anarchist thought from the Marxist-Humanists. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Africa
Sudan

Sudan: Omar Bashir plots comeback?

A failed coup by army officers allegedly linked to ousted long-ruling strongman Omar al-Bashir underscored the fragility of Sudan’s transition to civilian rule. Some 20 officers were arrested in the coup attempt. Military leaders from the country’s power-sharing government, the Sovereign Council, blamed their civilian counterparts for neglecting public welfare and opening the door to the coup plotters. Civilian cabinet minister Khalid Omer Yousif called the officers’ comments “astonishing” and “a direct threat to the transition.” Bashir, overthrown in 2019 after nearly 30 years in power, is presently in prison in Khartoum, where he faces multiple trials. He continues to be wanted on genocide charges by the International Criminal Court. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)