Africa
DRC

Podcast: a cannabis coup in the Congo?

The attempted coup d’etat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may or may not have been assisted by the CIA, but one of the Americans arrested in the affair is named as a “cannabis entrepreneur“‚ÄĒpointing to the possibility of legal cannabis playing the same destructive role in Central Africa that bananas have played in Central America. Yet while corporate power sees a lucrative new cash crop, lives (and especially Black lives) are still being ruined by cannabis prohibition in the United States. In Episode 228 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg argues that the old anarchist slogan¬†“Neither your war nor your peace”¬†can be updated as “Neither your prohibition nor your legalization!” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: CIA)

Planet Watch
UNDROP

World peasant movements mobilize for UNDROP

The world organization for land-rooted peasant farmers, Vía Campesina, launched an international campaign for full approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants & Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), and for implementation of policies in line with its principles. Several events were held around the world marking the International Day of Peasant Struggle. El Salvador was one of the first countries to commit to ratifying UNDROP after it was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. However, Vía Campesina affiliates in the Central American nation accused the government of pursuing policies contrary to its spirit, noting that in the years since then, there has been a reduction in cultivated areas of maize and beans, with a loss of at least 10,000 hectares of maize. (Image: Vía Campesina)

Palestine
settlement

UN condemns increase in West Bank settlement

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker T√ľrk released a statement¬†condemning Israel’s latest expansion of settlements in the West Bank as well as the marked increase in “illegal” Israeli settlements over the last year, along with increasing extremist settler violence against Palestinians residing in the territory. T√ľrk stated: “The West Bank is already in crisis. Yet, settler violence and settlement-related violations have reached shocking new levels, and risk eliminating any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State.”¬†(Photo: delayed gratification via New Jewish Resistance)

The Amazon
Pataxó

Brazil to back indigenous group in deadly land dispute

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva vowed¬†to provide the indigenous Patax√≥ H√£ H√£ H√£e people of Bahia state with federal support in a land dispute with farmers who are encroaching on their territory. The dispute led to the death of an indigenous leader in a confrontation with armed farmers; her brother, a traditional indigenous chief, was also shot but survived after undergoing surgery. Others suffered non-deadly injuries in the clash¬†at Itapetinga municipality, including a broken arm. (Photo: Povos Indigenas no Brasil)

Iraq
Kirkuk

Oil, ethnicity at issue in Kirkuk land dispute

Residents of a disputed neighborhood in Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk staged a sit-in¬†to protest eviction orders and criminal charges filed against them by a state-owned oil company. Hundreds of Kurdish families who were pushed out of Kirkuk during Saddam Hussein’s Arabization campaign returned to the city following the fall of his regime in 2003. With their former homes now occupied by Arab families, many took up residence in a residential complex in Arafa neighborhood, previously inhabited by functionaries of Saddam’s Baath party. Now, the North Oil Company is claiming ownership of the residential complex, and ordering the Kurdish families to vacate. Arrest orders have been issued against residents who have refused to comply. In the background lie ongoing tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government over control of the Kirkuk oil-fields.¬†(Photo:¬†Rudaw)

Palestine
West Bank

West Bank tips deeper into crisis

With international eyes on the catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, an economic and human rights crisis is rapidly unfolding in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Violence by both the Israeli army and settlers is escalating, with entire Palestinian¬†villages emptied, the residents forced to flee.¬†Intensified restrictions on mobility are being imposed by the occupation forces, work permits are being cancelled by the¬†tens of thousands, and tax revenues that Israel collects on West Bank exports are being withheld¬†from the Palestinian Authority. At least 290¬†Palestinians, including 75 children, have been killed since Oct. 7‚ÄĒdouble the figure for¬†all of last year. (Photo: B’Tselem)

The Amazon
Secoya

Ecuador: court orders return of Siekopai homeland

In what is being hailed as an historic decision, an appeals court in Ecuador ordered the return of a 42,360-hectare expanse of the Amazon rainforest to the Siekopai indigenous people, generations after they were driven from the territory by the military. The Provincial Court of Sucumbios ruled that the Siekopai retain indigenous title to their ancestral homeland, known as P√ę‚Äôk√ęya, which lies along the border with Peru in remote country. The lands were seized by Ecuador’s army during the war with Peru in 1941, and remained a military-controlled zone until being incorporated into Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in 1979. Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment has been given 45 days to deliver a property title to the Siekopai Nation, and make public apologies for the usurpation of their homeland. (Photo: Amazon Frontlines)

Southeast Asia
NTF-ELCAC

UN call to disband Philippine ‘counter-insurgency force’

The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry,¬†called for the disbandment of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which he called a “counter-insurgency force” in the Philippines. In a press conference held after his 10-day trip to the Philippines, Fry stated that the NTF-ELCAC has “operated with impunity” and that an independent investigation into the group is necessary. The trip, which was meant to assess how climate change is impacting human rights in the Philippines, began to focus on the NTF-ELCAC as several local rights groups brought attention to its involvement in violence against land defenders and opponents of extractive industries. The group is accused of “red-tagging,” in which those resisting projects are accused of being fighters or supporters of the communist insurgency, effectively making them targets. (Photo:¬†Ryomaandres/Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
west bank

UN human rights office ‘alarmed’ at West Bank violence

In a statement, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights brought attention to an “alarming and urgent” situation on the occupied West Bank, with “multi-layered human rights violations of Palestinians” mounting while the world is focused on the greater crisis in Gaza. The statement notes that 132 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been killed on the West Bank since the current crisis began on Oct. 7. Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed. Settler violence, which was already at record levels, has escalated dramatically, averaging seven attacks a day. In more than a third of these attacks, firearms were used, the statement charged. In many of these incidents, “settlers were accompanied by members of the Israeli forces, or the settlers were wearing uniforms and carrying army rifles,” raising¬†concerns¬†that “armed settlers have been acting with the acquiescence and collaboration of Israeli forces and authorities.” (Photo:¬†Ralf Roletschek/WikiMedia¬†via Jurist)

The Amazon
Ato Pela Terra

Brazil: high court nixes ‘time limit’ on native land claims

Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal¬†struck down the spurious thesis behind a legislative proposal advancing in the country’s Congress, which would impose a marco temporal or “time limit” on indigenous land recovery claims. The marco temporal law would nullify any indigenous group’s claim to traditional lands that they weren’t physically occupying on Oct. 5, 1988, the day of the enactment of Brazil’s Constitution, which for the first time recognized native peoples’ territorial rights. Instead, these lands would¬†be¬†considered the property of those currently in occupancy, or of the state. The thesis ignores the forced displacements that occurred during Brazil’s dictatorship in the generation before 1988, as well as the nomadic lifeways of some indigenous groups. Environment Minister Marina Silva declared the high court’s annulment of the marco temporal thesis an “act of justice.” (Photo via Twitter)

Southeast Asia
Dhamma Sakyamuni

Malaysia rainforest at issue in fight over historic monastery

A Buddhist monastery carved out of a cave complex in the rainforest of Malaysia stands to be evicted after losing a legal appeal in its case against a cement manufacturer. The Court of Appeal ruled for Associated Pan Malaysia Cement in the case brought by the century-old Dhamma Sakyamuni Caves Monastery, finding that the company has the right to evict “squatters” from the tract at issue in a limestone massif known as Gunung Kanthan‚ÄĒdespite the fact that it lies within the Kinta Valley National Geopark. The forested massif is home to several endangered species of both flora and fauna, and most of it has already been cleared for quarries. After the appeals court ruling, the Perak state government formed a special committee to mediate in the conflict. The Dhamma Sakyamuni monks pledge they will resist eviction. (Photo via¬†Free Malaysia Today)

Palestine
settlement

Defiant Israel to expand West Bank settlements

Israel’s right-wing nationalist government announced new plans¬†to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the USand EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: “The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues.” The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called for US and international action to press the Israeli government to backtrack on the decision. (Photo of settlement outside¬†Za’atara:¬†Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons)