East Asia
Nanjing

China: nationwide protests challenge dictatorship

Following weeks of sporadic protests against the recurrent draconian COVID-19 lockdowns in China, spontaneous demonstrations broke out in cities across the country. Street demos were reported from Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangdong, Chengdu and Wuhan as well as Beijing. In addition to slogans against the lockdowns and for freedom of speech and assembly, such verboten chants were heard as “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist party, step down.” The spark was an apartment block fire in Urumqi, capital of western Xinjiang region, that killed at least 10 who were under lockdown orders and unable to flee. Hong Kong-based Borderless Movement left-dissident website has issued a list of “Demands from Chinese and Hong Kong Socialists” in response to the outburst, calling for an end to lockdowns and forced testing, provision of multiple vaccines, and the right to citizen and worker self-organization. The statement calls for “marginalized groups in the mainland and abroad, including Hongkongers, Taiwanese, Uyghurs and Tibetans to continue building a long-term strategic program for democratic struggle in China.” (Photo of student protest in Nanjing via Twitter)

Europe
Ukraine

Ukraine: Russia accused of forced transfer of civilians

Russian forces have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully transferring or deporting civilians from occupied parts of in Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to an Amnesty International report. Russian and Russian-backed authorities have also forced civilians through an abusive screening process known as “filtration,” during which some were arbitrarily detained, subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and separated from their children. (Map: PCL)

Central Asia
Xinjiang

Podcast: state capitalism and the Uyghur genocide

In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of “crimes against humanity” in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as “propagandistic.” Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang—and how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia’s Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a “Return of Red China,” blaming the PRC’s increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration via The Diplomat)

Greater Middle East
Turkey

Turkey: hundreds of refugees deported to Syria

Human Rights Watch reports that Turkish authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained and deported hundreds of Syrian refugees between February and July 2022. The report found that refugees are arrested in their homes, workplaces and on the street, then detained in harsh conditions, and forced over the border to Syria. According to the UN, Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population with 3.7 million Syrians under temporary protection. The deportation of refugees is contrary to the prohibition of refoulement under international law—meaning the return of refugees to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to life. HRW says the EU must “acknowledge that Turkey does not meet its criteria for a safe third country and suspend its funding of migration detention and border controls until forced deportations cease.” (Map: CIA)

New York City
Randall's Island

NYC: island emergency camp for asylum seekers

New York City workers have started erecting a series of sprawling tents in vacant parking lots on Randall’s Island, between the East and Harlem rivers, to house undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers. The so-called “Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers” are to hold some 500, officially for no more than five days. At least two more tent cities are planned, with Orchard Beach in the Bronx named as another possible location. Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered National Guard troops to help staff the centers. Since the spring, some 17,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in New York—many sent to the city on buses by authorities in Texas. The city has already opened 42 emergency shelters to deal with the influx, and Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency. (Map via Google)

Central Asia
Uyghurs

Uyghur Tribunal accuses China of genocide

The Uyghur Tribunal, a “people’s tribunal” established in the UK, appended a December 2021 judgment, incorporating nearly 300 additional pages of historical background, legal definitions and evidence. The initial judgment found that hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims have been detained in China’s western Xinjiang region, and many been subject to torture. The appended judgment accuses Chinese authorities of genocide. It acknowledges that, in contrast to treatment of Jews during the Holocaust, the detained Uyghurs are allowed to eventually return to society in most cases. However, it notes that, coinciding with mass detention, mosques have been destroyed and religious activity suppressed. Those who use the Uyghur language in public are punished, and child separation from families is common. The appended judgment concludes that taken together, these practices constitute genocide. (Photo: Leonhard Lenz/Wikimedia Commons)

Central America
antibitcoin

El Salvador: Bitcoin flop, pseudo-war on gangs

A year ago, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele declared Bitcoin legal tender in the country—a global first. Since then, Bitcoin has lost half its value. Many Salvadorans, who were dubious on the plan to begin with, cashed in on a $30 bonus offered as an incentive to download the Bitcoin app, only to delete it once they received the money. The lack of enthusiasm may have protected people from losses due to Bitcoin’s dive. But many in the country have still sunk deeper into poverty in the past year. One reason is a crackdown on gang violence by the self-described “dictatorial” president that has seen more than 52,000 alleged gang members rounded up since March. Instead of catching criminals, innocent people are being arrested to meet quotas. The majority of those detained may not even have links to gangs, and the arrests have left many poor families without breadwinners. (Photo via Twitter)

Europe
crimea

UN documents Russian rights abuses in Ukraine

The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission (UNHRMM) accused Russia of hundreds of arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances in Ukrainian territory, and violating the basic human rights of Ukrainian war captives. The UNHRMM documented numerous cases of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, finding that at many detention sites they lack adequate food, water, healthcare and sanitation. The UNHRMM also documented 416 cases of forced disappearance of Ukrainian civilians. (Photo: chief39/Pixabay)

Europe
ter apel

Netherlands asylum center conditions bashed

The Council of Europe published a letter criticizing conditions at the Netherlands’ Ter Apel “registration center” for asylum seekers. According to the Council’s findings, more than 700 asylum seekers are forced to sleep outside at the center, and many lack access to clean water, food and sanitary facilities. The Council said these conditions “fall short of even the minimum standards under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.” Article 3 of the ECHR establishes the right to absolute freedom from torture and inhumane treatment. (Photo: Refugees in the Netherlands)

Watching the Shadows
Guantanamo

Afghan detainee released from Guantánamo

The US Department of Defense announced the release of Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan national, who had been held for 15 years without charge at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Gul was incarcerated at Guantánamo in 2007 on accusations of being a member of al-Qaeda and Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), an insurgent group that fought against the US in Afghanistan. HIA signed a peace agreement with the US-backed Afghan government in 2016. Human rights organization Reprieve subsequently filed a habeas corpus petition demanding Gul’s release. (Photo: Gino Reyes/Wikimedia Commons)

Central America
salvador

‘Massive’ human rights violations in El Salvador

Amnesty International reported that authorities in El Salvador have committed “massive” human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, due process violations and torture, under cover of an ongoing state of emergency. Amnesty found that 35,000 individuals have been illegally detained without due process since President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency in response to gang violence in March, suspending constitutional guarantees. At least 1,190 minors are among the detained, and more than 18 detainees have died in custody. The National Assembly has twice extended the so-called “regime of exception” by 30-day intervals. The day after Amnesty issued the report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged El Salvador’s government to comply with international human rights obligations in implementing security measures. (Photo: Presidencia de El Salvador)

North Africa
libya

Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities

A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya—especially naming Russia’s Wagner Group. The report was classified “confidential,” but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the war in Syria. GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been “regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture.” The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar’s forces from April 2019 to October 2020. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)