South Asia
Teesta Setalvad

India: ‘interim bail’ for detained Gujarat truth activist

The Supreme Court of India granted “interim bail” to detained human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, allowing her release while the justices consider the granting of formal bail. Setalvad was arrested in June, accused of fabricating documents related to the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots, and faces charges including forgery and criminal conspiracy. However, human rights groups have questioned the charges against her. Amnesty International India called Setalvad’s arrest a “direct reprisal against those who dare to question” Indian authorities’ human rights practices. (Photo via Boomlive)

Planet Watch
doomsday

Nuclear war would cause global starvation: study

More than 5 billion people would die of hunger following a full-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia, according to a study led by Rutgers climate scientists, published in the journal Nature Food. The team estimated how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms that would be ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers calculated soot dispersal from six scenarios—from a regional India-Pakistan exchange to a large US-Russia war. Under even the smallest nuclear scenario, global average caloric production decreased 7% within five years of the conflict. In the largest scenario—a full-scale US-Russia nuclear conflict—global average caloric production decreased by about 90% three to four years after the exchange. “The data tell us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening,” said Alan Robock, professor of climate science with the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and co-author of the study. (Image: MoreSky)

South Asia
naxals

Podcast: India’s forgotten wars

In Episode 137 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores two of the many under-reported internal conflicts in India, which are rooted in unresolved issues left over from the colonial era in spite of 75 years of Indian independence. In the east-central interior, the Naxalite insurgency has been met with harsh repression from the security forces—especially against the Adivasis, or indigenous peoples who make up the movement’s support base. In the remote Northeast, the long struggle of the Naga people is still met with massacres at the hands of the military today. For three generations the Naga have been fighting for their independence, keeping alive their indigenous culture, and protesting the genocide of their people—to the silence of the international community. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via MIM)

South Asia
Adhivasi

India: high court rejects probe of Adivasi killings

The Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition seeking an independent investigation into extra-judicial killings of Adivasis, or tribal people, in villages in Chhattisgarh state. The petition charges that state security forces, including the Chhattisgarh Police and affiliated paramilitary groups, were responsible for the deaths of villagers during operations against the Naxalite guerillas that took place in the area in 2009. The petition was filed by Gandhian social activist Himanshu Kumar and 12 relatives of the slain villagers. The Indian government opposed the petition, and sought perjury charges against the petitioners for supposedly false accusations against the security forces. (Photo: IMPRI)

South Asia
gujarat

India: high court dismisses ‘conspiracy’ in Gujarat pogrom

The Supreme Court of India dismissed an appeal alleging a “larger conspiracy” by then-chief minister of Gujarat state (now prime minister) Narendra Modi and 62 other senior state officials in connection with anti-Muslim riots in 2002. The case was brought by Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri, a Congress Party MP who was killed in the riots. One day after the ruling, the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who was a co-litigant in the case, on allegations of fabricating evidence, forgery and criminal conspiracy. Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, expressed “deep concern” over Setalvad’s detention, and called for her release. (Map: Google)

Afghanistan
kunar

Pipeline plans threatened by Af-Pak border clashes

Afghanistan authorities say some 60 civilians, including five children, were killed as Pakistan launched air-strikes across the border on Khost and Kunar provinces. The strikes follow a series of attacks on security forces by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan’s borderlands. The escalation was harshly condemned both by the Taliban regime and the Afghan permanent mission in the United Nations—the loyalty of which remains unclear more than six months after the Taliban takeover. The new tensions come a week after top diplomats from China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and other regional states met for a summit in China’s Anhui province on reviving the long-stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which would deliver Central Asian gas to world markets through Afghan territory. (Photo via Khaama Press)

South Asia
Kashmir

Protests in Baltistan amid Pak political crisis

Pakistan has seen mass mobilizations both in protest and celebration since parliament voted to remove Imran Khan as prime minister. Opposition to Khan has especially been mounting in the remote and contested Himalayan region of Baltistan, with residents demanding the return of properties they say have been usurped by local officials. Protesters accuse the Khan administration of illegal and forceful acquisition of their properties on behalf of “land mafias” dominated by regional oligarchs. (Map via Wikipedia)

Europe
babiyar

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism: Moscow’s propaganda offensive

Russia announced plans to host an international “Anti-Fascist Conference“—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. The surreal announcement came from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Moscow will hold the conference in August, in conjunction with an arms expo sponsored by his ministry. Among the invited countries are China (accused of genocide in Xinjiang), India (now emulating China’s mass detention policies), Pakistan (a fast-consolidating police state), Saudi Arabia (similarly moving toward a mass detention state), the UAE (a burgeoning police state), Azerbaijan (accused of war crimes in last year’s war with Armenia), Uzbekistan (an entrenched dictatorship), and Ethiopia (accused of crimes against humanity in the Tigray war). (Photo of Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

South Asia
hijab

India: hijab at issue in Karnataka unrest

Protests for and against the right of young women to wear the hijab in classrooms have swept across the Indian state of Karnataka, with incidents of stone-pelting and “lathicharge” (police baton-charge). The dispute began when hijab-wearing Muslim students were denied entry at colleges, or segregated from the main student body. Muslim students challenged this before the Karnataka High Court, which denied injunctive relief while the matter is pending. The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Basavaraj S. Bommai of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile ordered the closure of all schools and colleges. The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) condemned the exclusion of the Muslim students, saying: “It is deplorable that instead of upholding constitutional values and fundamental rights, the administration of these institutions have become willing participants in an agenda set by Brahminical forces.” (Image: Counterview)

South Asia
naga

Podcast: solidarity with Nagaland

In Episode 109 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the under-reported conflict in India’s northeastern state of Nagaland, which has seen a multi-generational pro-independence insurgency. Popular protest is rising there since an army massacre of coal-miners in December. The armed conflict began in 1956, when the Naga National Council declared independence from India in the face of Delhi’s intransigence on recognizing local autonomy, and adopted a constitution emphasizing village self-rule. The traditional Naga territory is divided by the border with Burma, which has complicated their self-determination struggle. With Burma now going over the edge into civil war, there are growing fears that India’s conflicted Northeast could be further enflamed. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Naga Student Union Delhi via My Nagaland)

South Asia
Nagas

Nagaland: cross-country march against ‘special powers’

Hundreds in India’s conflicted eastern state of Nagaland held a two-day cross-country march to protest the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the military broad power to use deadly force in areas where it is declared to be in effect. The march swelled to a thousand by the time it reached state capital Kohima. The action was called in response to last month’s massacre of 14 residents in the village of Oting, where army troops fired on what proved to be truck filled with mine workers—not guerillas, as had apparently been suspected. The march was organized by the Naga Mothers’ Association, whose spokesperson Rosemary DzĂĽvichĂĽ accused the Indian government of viewing Nagas as “the other.” She lamented: “We still have this colonial attitude being shown to us.” (Photo: Nagaland Express)

Planet Watch
freeway

Podcast: against ‘normalcy’

In Episode 105 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality. Amid the relentless COVID-19 denialism, even mainstream voices are calling for a return to “normalcy” (sic)—which is not even a word. The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020’s pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. President Biden just released oil from the Strategic Reserves to control soaring prices. Simultaneously, the administration is moving ahead with the largest offshore oil lease sale in US history. While during the 2020 lockdown. the usually smog-obscured Himalayas became visible from northern India for first time in decades, Delhi is now choked with emergency levels of toxic smog. During the 2020 lockdown, the total US death rate actually dropped because people were staying off the roads; US traffic deaths are now soaring. New York’s new Mayor Eric Adams wants to stake the city’s economic future to the cryptocurrency industry, even as China is cracking down on Bitcoin “mining” (sic) because of its “extremely harmful” carbon footprint. And amid all the empty hand-wringing about climate change, airlines are flying thousands of empty “ghost flights” in order to keep their slots at congested airports. The “return to normalcy” must be urgently resisted. As Bruce Cockburn observed long ago, the trouble with normal is it always gets worse. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: malingering via The Source Metro)