In Episode 100 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses recent uprisings in two disparate parts of the world—the South Pacific archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands and two of the states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. In both cases, people who were pissed off for damn good reason took to the streets to oppose foreign capital, and corrupt authoritarian leaders who do its bidding. But in the Solomon Islands, popular rage was deflected into campism and ethnic scapegoating, while in Serbia and Kosova the people on the ground actually overcame entrenched and bitter ethnic divisions to make common cause against common oppressors. The contrast holds lessons for global protest movements from Hong Kong to New York City. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In what local media are calling an “environmental uprising,” protesters blocked roads and occupied public squares in Belgrade and other towns across Serbia to oppose plans for a lithium mine at Loznica, on the Drina River. Transnational Rio Tinto has been buying up land in the area, in anticipation of final approval of the project. But concerns over a toxic threat to local waters have sparked widespread outrage over the plan. Meanwhile, across the border in Kosova, environmentalists claimed a victory as the country’s high court suspended the permit for the proposed Brezovica hydro-power plant on the Lepenc River. Local Albanians and Serbs alike came together to oppose the project, which would flood agricultural lands while depriving water to downstream communities (Photo: Masina)
Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic lost his appeal of a 2017 conviction for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) upheld the life sentence for his role in the killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995. The Chamber also upheld his convictions for persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and terrorizing the population of Sarajevo with a campaign of shelling and sniping during the siege of the city. The Chamber also reaffirmed his acquittal on charges of carrying out genocide in five other Bosnian municipalities in 1992—a disappointment for surviving residents. However, Russia’s Foreign Ministry protested the upholding of the convictions, accusing the The Hague court of “hypocrisy.” (Photo of Srebrenica Genocide Memorial via Wikipedia)
President Hashim Thaci resigned and traveled to The Hague to turn himself in after the Kosovo Specialist Chambers formally confirmed his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 1990s armed conflict against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) for Kosovo’s independence. Thaci was indicted on crimes of persecution, imprisonment, illegal or arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, murder, and enforced disappearance, that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is said to have committed against opponents. Opponents included persons who were or were perceived to have been collaborating with FRY authorities, and persons of Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities. Thaci held a leadership position with the KLA. (Photo of Kosova Liberation Army via IBNA)
The prime minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, resigned after being called in for questioning by a war crimes court in The Hauge. The court is investigating ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army for actions during the war from 1998-9 that led to Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. Haradinaj was a KLA commander in that war. Although technically a body of the Kosovo government, the war crimes court is based at The Hague and made up of foreign prosecutors and judges—an unusual arrangement pointing to the limited sovereignty of ostensibly independent Kosovo. (Photo of Kosova Liberation Army via IBNA)
The mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch have left at least 49 dead and some 20 wounded, many gravely, including children. The attacks took place when the mosques were packed for Friday prayers. An Australian-born man named Brenton Tarrant has been arrested as the gunman, and three suspected accomplices also detained. Marking a new extreme in depravity, Tarrant live-streamed the massacre on Facebook, with a camera mounted on his head. The video has been removed from the web. Alas, so has his lengthy manifesto, in which he laid out his motivations for the attack. The removal is ill-considered, as being ignorant of the rhetoric employed to justify mass murder only makes potential recruits more vulnerable. CounterVortex was able to review the document before it was scrubbed from the web, and it is a study in Red-Brown politics—employing populist phrases appropriated directly from the left and wedding them to a white-supremacist ideology. (Photo via Ma’an)
The Parliament of Kosovo approved a package of bills that will allow Kosovo to form a military and defense ministry. All three bills—one establishing a Defense Ministry, one that converts the limited Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) into a professional army, and another that regulates service in the forces—garnered convincing majority votes in Kosovo’s 120-seat legislature, with 101, 98 and 96 yes-votes respectively. Notably absent for the vote, however, were the Parliament’s ethnic Serb MPs. Serbia will seek an urgent session of the UN Security Council over Kosovo’s decision, holding that the adoption of these laws amounts to a violation of the Kosovar Constitution. (Photo of Kosovo Security Forces via Balkan Insight)
Street-fighting in Kosova's capital Pristina was portrayed as more Serb-Albanian "ethnic hatred," but it came as workers occuiped the Trepca mining complex to resist privatization.
Lawmakers in Kosova voted 89-22 to create an EU-backed court that will investigate crimes committed by ethnic Albanian rebels during the 1998 war with Serbia.
Samantha Power’s appointment as UN ambassador may signal a determination on the part of the Obama administration that intervention in Syria is inevitable.
Ramush Haradinaj, the former KLA commander and Kosova prime minister, was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The Parliament of Kosovo approved a package of bills that will allow Kosovo to form a military and defense ministry. All three bills—one establishing a Defense Ministry, one that converts the limited Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) into a professional army, and another that regulates service in the forces—garnered convincing majority votes in Kosovo's 120-seat legislature, with 101, 98 and 96 yes-votes respectively. Notably absent for the vote, however, were the Parliament’s ethnic Serb MPs. Serbia will seek an urgent session of the UN Security Council over Kosovo’s decision, holding that the adoption of these laws amounts to a violation of the Kosovar Constitution. (Photo of Kosova Liberation Army via IBNA)