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)

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)

East Asia
Bridge Man

Xi Jinping consolidates self-coup —amid repression

After years of centralizing power in his own person, China’s president and party secretary Xi Jinping secured a third leadership term at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee is stacked with loyalists, abandoning the practice of balancing rival tendencies within the body. This cements Xi’s place as China’s “paramount leader” in the autocratic tradition of Mao Zedong. On the eve of the Congress, a lone protester draped a banner from a Beijing overpass calling for strikes to bring down “dictator” Xi. He was immediately arrested, but his brief action quickly became a sensation on Chinese social media—before all such content was censored by authorities. Some who expressed support online for “Bridge Man” have been harassed by the police. The lead-up to the National Congress saw another wave of arrests and “pretrial detention” of dissidents and human rights defenders. (Photo via China Change)

Iran
Asalouyeh

Iran: oil workers strike, join protests

The national uprising in Iran continues to spread, with petrochemical workers walking off the job at the major Asalouyeh plant on the Persian Gulf coast of Bushehr province—shortly followed by a similar wildcat strike at Abadan refinery in the neighboring restive province of Khuzestan. Videos posted to social media show workers at the Asalouyeh complex chanting “This year is the year of blood, Seyed Ali Khamenei is done!” and “Down with the dictator!”—both references to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Security forces fired on protesters in Sanandaj, capital of Kordestan, another traditionally restive province. Lawyers in Tehran gathered in front of the Iranian Central Bar Association to protest the repression, and were themselves dispersed by tear-gas. In scenes across the country, schoolgirls held protests in which they removed their hijabs in defiance of authorities. In the southern city of Shiraz, Fars province, dozens of schoolgirls blocked traffic on a main road while waving their headscarves in the air and shouting “Death to the dictator!” (Photo via Iran International)

Europe
RKAS

Ukraine: anarchists reject Moscow propaganda

The British anarchist journal Freedom features an interview with Ukraine’s Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (RKAS), challenging the hegemony of Russian propaganda on the supposed anti-war left in the West, entitled “‘Leftists’ outside Ukraine are used to listening only to people from Moscow.” The two longtime RKAS militants interviewed are Anatoliy Dubovik, born in Russia but now living in Dnipro, and Sergiy Shevchenko, from Donetsk but forced to relocate to Kyiv after the Russian-backed separatists seized power in Donbas. Both have been involved in protests against the Ukrainian government’s gutting of labor protections and other “neoliberal” reforms. But they strenuously reject the flirtation between elements of the international left and the authoritarian Donbas separatists and their Russian sponsors. They especially protest Western lecturing to Ukrainians that they must “negotiate”—which inevitably means ceding territory to Russia in exchange for “peace.”

Central Asia
China prison

UN report confirms forced labor in Xinjiang, Tibet

United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery Tomoya Obokata released a report on contemporary forms of slavery, which found that it is “reasonable to conclude” that forced labor “among Uygur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing” is taking place in China’s Xinjiang region. The report added: “Similar arrangements have also been identified in the Tibet Autonomous Region, where an extensive labour transfer programme has shifted mainly farmers, herders and other rural workers into low-skilled and low-paid employment.” (Photo via Bitter Winter)

Planet Watch
#ariseghana

Ghana to Peru: more ripples from Ukraine storm

Governments around the world are scrambling to shore up economies hard hit by rising oil and wheat prices as a resut of the Ukraine war. Ghana has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency relief after angry protesters flooded the streets of the capital Accra, clashing with police. Protests were called under the slogan “Arise Ghana” to pressure President Nana Akufo-Ad to address a dramatic spike in the cost of food and fuel. Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru is to raise its key interest rate in a bid to quell inflation, after freight shipping was briefly paralyzed across the country. The truckers’ union, the National Council of Terrestrial Transport, announced an “indefinite” strike, although it was suspended following a pledge by the government of President Pedro Castillo to bring soaring fuel prices under control. (Image via Twitter)

The Andes
colombiahr

Protest closing of ICC Colombia investigation

A coalition of Colombian human rights groups and survivors’ organizations released a statement decrying as “shocking” the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to close its preliminary examination of possible war crimes carried out in the country. The statement, jointly issued by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the JosĂ© Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), said that closure of the examination “could mean that hundreds or thousands of victims of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC will be deprived of knowing the truth and obtaining justice concerning the crimes committed. In Colombia…there is still a systematic absence of investigation of those responsible at the highest levels for crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC.” (Photo: Prensa Rural)

Africa
Sahel

Sahel: deadly violence in mining sector

At least two were killed as security forces attacked protesting gold miners at Burkina Faso’s western HoundĂ© commune. The protesters were demanding release of 12 of their comrades who had been arrested a week earlier, when informal miners angered by government moves to expel their camps overran and ransacked the facilities of HoundĂ© Gold Operation, a subsidiary of UK-based multinational Endeavour Mining. In far greater violence, fighting between rival groups of informal gold miners in the remote north of Chad left an estimated 200 dead. The clashes at Kouri Bougoudi, in the Tibesti mountains on the Libyan border, apparently pitted ethnic Arabs against members of the Tama community. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Southern Cone
napalpi

Argentina: state liable for 1924 massacre

A federal judge in Argentina’s Chaco province ruled that the national state bears responsibility for the 1924 massacre of some 500 indigenous laborers in the region, and ordered that reparation measures be instated. On July 19, 1924, national police and vigilantes linked to the area’s landowners fired on a large group of indigenous protesters, who were marching over harsh conditions on the cotton plantations where they had been reduced to forced labor. The case was brought by Argentina’s Secretariat of Human Rights and the local Chaqueño Aboriginal Institute. The verdict was read in the indigenous languages Qom and Moqoit as well as Spanish. (Photo: SecretarĂ­a de Derechos Humanos)

Europe
belarus

Belarus: ‘partisans’ sabotage rail lines to Ukraine

Belarus has served as a staging ground for one leg of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv officials warn that Belarusian forces may join Putin’s war effort. But resistance to the Russian aggression is emerging in Belarus—apparently including acts of sabotage. Ukrainian Railways announces that the rail links into Ukraine from Belarus have been effectively cut, preventing the transport of Russian reinforcements and equipment. Belarusian news site Zerkalo reports that “in the Mogilev, Gomel and Minsk regions three cases of destruction of signaling equipment, blocking of railways were recorded.” Belarusian security forces acknowledge the sabotage was motivated by opposition to the war in Ukraine. Named as behind the sabotage are the banned groups Busly Lyatsyats, a pro-democracy social-media network ordered suppressed by the regime last year, and BYpol, a union of dissident Belarusian security officers. A representative of exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya saluted the work of these “partisans,” adding: “Ukraine will win! Belarus will also be liberated!” (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library)

The Andes
Playa Cavero

Peru demands Repsol pay in coastal oil spill

Peru’s authorities declared an environmental emergency after announcing that 21 beaches around the Lima area were contaminated by an oil spill at a refinery run by Spanish multinational Repsol, calling it the “worst ecological disaster” in the city’s history. The Environmental Evaluation & Control Organism (OEFA) estimated some 6,000 barrels of crude had spilled—dramatically above the mere seven gallons that Repsol had initially reported to authorities when the disaster occurred days earlier. Some 1,740,000 square meters of coastline and 1,1187,000 square meters of sea have been covered in sludge that has blackened beaches and killed marine life. Peru is demanding compensation from Repsol, accusing the company of trying to cover up the scale of the disaster and not having a contingency plan in place. (Photo: Andina)