Afghanistan
Andarabi

Afghan folksinger executed by Taliban

The Taliban killed an Afghan folk musician  days after stating that they would ban music from being played in public places. Fawad Andarabi was shot dead by Taliban fighters who arrived at his farm in Andarab district, Baghlan province. The district is near the Panjshir Valley that harbors a resistance force rejecting Taliban rule. Four days earlier, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told the New York Times: “Music is forbidden in Islam, but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.” Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace and people. Former Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi (presumably no relation but from the same district) tweeted that the musician had recently sung that “our beautiful valley, land of our forefathers” would not submit to Taliban rule. (Photo via Digital Music News)

East Asia
anthony wong

Hong Kong: crackdown on dissident Cantopop

Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICACcharged pro-democracy activist Au Nok-hin and Cantopop singer Wong Yiu-ming, AKA Anthony Wong, with “corrupt conduct” for allegedly breaching election laws by having Wong perform two songs at a rally for Au in his 2018 run for the Legislative Council. The ICAC cited provisions of the Elections Corrupt & Illegal Conduct Ordinance, which define as corrupt conduct  meeting “all or part of the cost of providing food, drink or entertainment for another person for the purpose of inducing a third party to vote or not vote for a particular candidate at an election.” Hong Kong’s Department of Justice withdrew the charges against the pair two days after Wong was arrested, but they were placed under a “bind-over order.” Under terms of the order, they each put up a $2,000 bond and will face no criminal charges if they maintain “good behavior” for a period of 24 months. “Hongkongers keep singing, Hongkongers keep going,” Wong told reporters as he left the courtroom. (Image: IFC via Twitter)

Africa
Juba protest

South Sudan: protests after singer’s death

Juba, capital of South Sudan, saw street protests after popular singer Trisha “Cee” Cosmaswas killed when the bici-taxi she was riding in was struck by a truck. At least a score were arrested in the demonstrations, and the local Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) charged that peaceful protesters were swept up by police. A demonstration called by youth group Anataban decried both lawless motorists on the capital’s streets and a lack of emergency services. Tanker-trucks delivering water to districts where residents have no indoor plumbing have been involved in several such incidents. Speaking before his arrest, one activist told local Radio Tamazuj, “The same government that gives foreigners driving licenses, without a street driving test, has failed to provide health services, and many people have died because of water truck accidents.” (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

Europe
Hasél

Spain: protests follow arrest of Catalan rapper

The arrest of Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy has sparked angry protests in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and other Spanish cities. Facing charges in relation to his tweets and song lyrics, Hasél barricaded himself alongside supporters inside Catalonia’s University of Lleida. His supporters sprayed fire-extinguishers at troops when the building was raided by the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. As he was led away, supporters shouted, “They will never silence us; death to the fascist state!” Hasél was turned over to Spanish authorities to begin serving a nine-month term. Angry protests immediately broke out, with several demonstrators arrested that night. Protests have continued throughout the week. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Iran
ahwaz women

Iran: sweeps target Ahwazi women activists

Rights advocates in Iran’s Khuzestan province, homeland of the marginalized Ahwazi Arab people, report another wave of sweeps and incommunicado detention of local activists. Among those detained in raids by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are Zeinab Sawari, a teacher and prominent Ahwazi advocate for women’s and children’s rights, who had recently been involved in fundraising for victims of the severe flooding that devastated the region this year. Also detained by IRGC agents were Maryam Ameri and Fatema Tamimi, whose homes were searched and ransacked, with computers and extensive archival material confiscated. Maryam and Fatema had worked on Ahwazi cultural programs together, cataloguing traditional folk songs and producing short documentaries about Ahwazi music, lore and history. Azhar Alboghbiesh, a young activist volunteer for the project, was likewise arrested in a raid on her home, in which agents reportedly fired in the air to intimidate her family. All remain in detention at undisclosed locations. (Photo of Azhar Alboghbiesh and Maryam Ameri via Dur Untash Studies Center)

The Caribbean
san isidro movement

Havana: dissident hunger-strikers arrested

Cuban police agents raided the headquarters of the dissident San Isidro Movement (MSI) in Old Havana and arrested the 14 activists who were inside the building, several of whom had been on hunger strike for the past week. Simultaneously, authorities cut off access to Facebook and Instagram across the island, in an apparent attempt to prevent images and reports of the raid from being disseminated. A tweet from MSI stated: “Agents of the dictatorship broke into our headquarters, savagely beat our compañeros, took them away and we do not know their whereabouts. We fear for their physical integrity.” Cuban authorities said the raid was carried out over a violation of pandemic restrictions. (Image via CiberCuba)

Africa
uganda protest

Electoral violence rocks Uganda

At least 16 people have been killed in protests in Uganada since the arrest of two leading opposition candidates in upcoming presidential elections. One of the detained candidates, the popular musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine, was accused of breaking COVID-19 restrictions at campaign rallies. Both he and fellow candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi were detained while on their way to attend rallies. Four candidates, including two former military generals, have suspended their campaigns following the arrests. The military has been deployed to put down the protests in Kampala and other cities. Protesters are tearing down and burning campaign billboards of incumbent President Yoweri Museveni who has been in power since 1986, before the majority of Ugandans were born. (Photo: Badru Katumba)

Africa
Hachalu

Ethiopia: slaying of musician sparks Oromo uprising

The military has been deployed in the Ethiopian capital amid a general uprising by the Oromo people that broke out after the assassination of a popular singer. Hachalu Hundessa, shot while driving on the outskrits of Addis Ababa, was an icon of the Oromo protest movement that has been mounting since 2015. His songs have been hailed as the “soundtrack of the Oromo revolution,” and he was named “Oromo Person of the Year” by cultural advocates in 2017. Two have been arrested in the killing, but rebellion continues to spread across Central Ethiopia. At least 80 have been killed and many detained. Oromo leader Jawar Mohammed is among those arrested. (Photo: DAGI Pisctures via BBC News)

Central Asia

US companies profit from Uighur forced labor?

A top US sportswear company announced that it has dropped a Chinese supplier over concerns that its products were made by forced labor in detention camps in Xinjiang. Reports have mounted that the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs believed to be held in a fast-expanding system of detention camps are being put to forced labor for Chinese commercial interests. An Associated Press investigation tracked recent shipments from one such detention-camp factory, run by privately-owned Hetian Taida Apparel, to Badger Sportswear of North Carolina. After long denying that the camps exist, Chinese authorities now say they are "vocational training centers" aimed at reducing "extremism." (Photo via Bitter Winter)

Mexico

Mexican police crisis in prelude to power transition

Mexican federal police and the military have taken over policing duties in Acapulco, after the entire municipal force was disarmed due to suspected co-optation by criminal gangs. But the federal forces are also accused of endemic corruption and brutality. The country's National Human Rights Commission just accused military troops in Puebla of extrajudicial executions of suspected fuel thieves in a bloody incident in Puebla that left 10 dead. Meanwhile, a new Internal Security Law vastly expands the powers of federal troops operating in a domestic security capacity against the drug trade, and frees them from public oversight. Mexico's left-populist president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador is scheduled to take office Dec. 1 amid an escalating human rights crisis in the country. (Map: CIA)

North Africa

Podcast: Homage to Lounes Matoub

In Episode 12 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg pays homage to the martyred Berber singer and songrwiter Lounes Matoub on the 20th anniversary of his assassination. It remains unclear to this day if Matoub was killed by agents of the Algerian state or militants of the Islamist opposition—as both were equally opposed to the Berber cultural renaissance that he represented. The Berbers, or Imazighen (singular: Amazigh), are the indigenous people of North Africa, whose language and culture have been suppressed to varying degrees by Arab-dominated regimes from Morocco to Libya. The 1980 "Berber Spring" in the Kabylia region of Algeria was key to Matoub's politicization, and his assassination was followed by a second round of "Berber Spring" protests in 2001. This presaged the international Arab Revolution that broke out a decade later—which in North Africa was really also a Berber Revolution. The 2011 ptotests and uprisings resulted in advances for Berber cultural rights and autonomy in Algeria, Morcco and Libya alike—a sign of hope amid the current atmosphere of counter-revolution and reaction throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Image via Le Matin d'Algéria. Lounes Matoub shown accosted by Algeria's ruling generals on one side and the Islamist opposition on the other.)

South Asia

Pakistan: death penalty in slaying of Sufi singer

Pakistan's army high command approved the death penalty for 10 condemned jihadists who were convicted by a military tribunal of attacks that claimed over 60 lives—including the assassination of Amjad Sabri, one of the country's most revered singers of qawwalii, traditional Sufi devotional music. Sabri was on his way to a televised Ramadan performance in Karachi when his car was attacked by gunmen, and his many followers hailed justice in the case. But in the two years since Sabri's death, attacks on Sufis in Pakistan have continued, with suicide blasts and horrific massacres at shrines and mosques. (Photo via PTI)