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)

South Asia
Nagas

Podcast: the struggle in Northeast India

In Episode 178 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the new eruption of ethnic violence in Northeast India’s state of Manipur, which was the scene of far deadlier inter-communal clashes last month. The spark was the current bid by the Meitei people to become a “scheduled tribe,” granting them access to resource-rich forestlands. This is opposed by the Kuki and Naga peoples, whose tribes are already “scheduled”—but are nonetheless being targeted for eviction from Manipur’s forestlands under the guise of a crackdown on opium cultivation. The Kuki and Naga leadership perceive a land-grab for their ancestral forest territory by the Meitei—the dominant group in Manipur, who already control the best agricultural land in the state’s central Imphal Valley. The Kuki (including their Jewish sub-group, the Bnei Menashe) and Naga have long waged insurgencies seeking territorial autonomy, or even independence from India. And both their traditional territories extend across the border into Burma (where the Kuki are known as the Chin), pointing to potential convergence of the armed conflicts either side of the international line. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Naga festival: Yves Picq via Wikimedia Commons)

The Amazon
Brazil congress

Brazil: anti-indigenous laws advance in congress

The Brazilian Congress has approved two measures that undermine indigenous land rights and clash with the environmental policy of the new President Luiz Inácio da Silva. First, the Lower House voted in favor of a bill that limits the demarcation of indigenous territories to lands that native peoples can prove they physically occupied when Brazil’s current constitution was enacted in 1988. Advocates for indigenous peoples say this marco temporal or “time limit trick” could wipe out scores of legitimate land claims by groups who had already been evicted from their traditional territories before 1988. Then, both houses approved a bill that transfers responsibility for demarcation from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples to the Ministry of Justice & Public Security. The changes still need the approval of President “Lula” da Silva—although he may face a veto override by Congress. (Photo via Mongabay)

Africa
Tigray

Ethiopia: Tigray protests demand land restitution

Thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray state took to the streets in demonstrations, demanding a prompt return to their homes and the withdrawal of central government troops. Protesters in multiple cities, including regional capital Mekele, chanted slogans such as “return us quickly to our homelands” and “invading forces should leave our land.” Nearly 3 million people have been displaced due to the conflict in Tigray, which broke out two and half years ago and officially ended with a a peace agreement last November. Efforts to address the humanitarian crisis and resolve outstanding conflicts on the ground are ongoing, with international organizations led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs providing assistance to the affected. (Photo: TigraiTV via Twitter)

The Amazon
Brasilia

Indigenous peoples march on Brazil capital

Hundreds of indigenous people from across Brazil marched in Brasilia, the country’s capital, to demand government protection of their land and rights against invaders. The march was part of the 19th Free Land Camp, an annual national mobilization by indigenous peoples. “The demarcation of Indigenous Lands is an ancestral right provided for in the Federal Constitution,” Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), said in a statement. “Those who invade an Indigenous Land destroy forests and attack indigenous people, who have been fighting for the protection of their families, cultures, and lands for over 500 years.” (Photo via Twitter)

Mexico
Chimalapas

Mexico border change leaves locals ‘stateless’

The Oaxaca state congress voted to modify the border with neighboring Chiapas state, complying with a March 2022 order from Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN). A 162,000-hectare territory of montane forest known as the Chimalapas is ostensibly to be returned to Zoque indigenous communities of Oaxaca, who have protested to demand that the state comply with the SCJN ruling. The decision came as the result of a decades-long campaign by the Zoque communities, who filed a case with the SCJN in 2012, arguing that their rightful lands had been invaded by ranchers and loggers from Chiapas with approval of that state’s government. However, the border change also impacts campesino communities that have since settled in the area from the Chiapas side. Mexico’s National Electoral Institute has stopped issuing credentials to 20,000 residents of these settlements until it is determined whether they are legally citizens of Oaxaca or Chiapas. (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
RSF

Russian ‘fingerprints’ on Sudan coup attempt

As fighting continues in Sudan, derailing a transition to democratic rule that was slated for this month, commentators note Russia’s connection to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that sparked the crisis by attempting a coup d’etat. The Kremlin’s notorious mercenary force, the Wagner Group, is said to be engaged in illegal gold mining operations in Darfur and Kordofan regions in collaboration with the RSF. Operations at a Wagner-protected mine owned by RSF warlord Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo AKA “Hemeti” in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan have sparked protests by locals over land-grabbing and pollution. The arrangement points to a Kremlin-backed design to make the RSF economically independent of the Sudanese state in preparation for a seizure of power. (Photo via Dabanga Radio)

Greater Middle East
Palestine

From Palestine to Iran: free the land

In Episode 160 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes hideous ironies in the current horrific headlines. Russia was excluded from the official commemorations of Holocaust Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau as it pursues its war of aggression and extermination in Ukraine in the perverse name of “de-nazification.” But Israeli flags were of course displayed at the commemoration—even as Israel escalates toward a genocidal solution to the Palestinian question. The fundamental contradiction driving the conflict is the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their lands, and the denial of their self-determination by Israel. The emergence of an explicitly anti-Zionist bloc in the protests against the new far-right government in Israel is a sign of hope. The US, however, is undertaking its biggest joint military exercises ever with the new Israeli regime, despite Biden’s supposed rejection of its extremist policies of settlement expansion and annexation—viewing the Jewish State as a strategic ally against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Meanwhile, the oppressive regime in Iran treats minority peoples such as the Kurds, Baluch, Ahwazi and Baha’i much as Israel treats the Palestinians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: B’Tselem)

Palestine
khan al ahmar

New Israeli admin in West Bank propaganda ploy

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel’s new far-right government—despite the Biden administration’s supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel’s eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call the “Samaria” region of the West Bank. Simultaneously, the Israeli government announced it is preparing to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, home to at least 180 people. Khan al-Ahmar lies within a key corridor stretching to the Jordan Valley, where Israel aims to expand and link settlements, effectively cutting the West Bank into two. (Photo: B’Tselem)

North America
Tortuguita

Outrage after police slaying of Atlanta forest defender

Protests and vigils have been held across the US following the police slaying of environmental activist Manuel Teran, 26, also known as Tortuguita, in Georgia’s Dekalb County. A protest over the killing turned violent in downtown Atlanta, with a police car burned, windows smashed, and several arrested. Tortuguita was shot in a police raid on an encampment in the Weelaunee Forest, a threatened woodland within the South River Forest conservation area. The Atlanta Police Foundation seeks to clear a large area of the forest in order to build a $90 million Public Safety Training Center, referred to as “Cop City” by local residents. Authorities say a Georgia state trooper was also shot and injured in the raid. (Image: It’s Going Down)

Iran
ivel

Iran demolishes houses, farms of Baha’i community

Security forces laid siege to a village in northern Iran, demolishing houses and farms belonging to members of the persecuted Baha’i faith. Over 200 troops were deployed to Roshankouh, in Mazandaran province, blocking the road into the village and confiscating residents’ cell phones before commencing demolition of several properties. However, video footage of heavy machinery demolishing buildings was posted to social media by the Baha’i International Community. The organization reports that six homes were destroyed and over 20 hectares of land were confiscated. Troops used tear-gas and fired shots in the air to disperse residents who gathered to protest the demolitions. (Photo of Baha’i village in Mazandaran: Baha’i Communiyu of Canada)

Africa
maasai

Tanzania: troops fire on Maasai herders

Tanzanian security forces fired on Maasai herders in a dispute over seizure of traditional grazing lands for a new game reserve. The trouble started when hundreds of troops of the Field Force Unit arrived at the village of Wasso, to demarcate a 1,500 square-kilometer area for the new reserve. Maasai gathered to protest, and were met with bullets. Some 30 were reportedly shot, and two killed. Afterwards, troops went house-to-house in Maasai villages, beating and arresting those they believed took part in the protests or distributed images of the violence on social media. Thousands of Maasai fled their homes into the bush following the raids. UAE-based Otterlo Business Company, which runs hunting excursions for the Emirates’ royal family, is reportedly to operate trophy-hunting concessions in the new reserve. (Photo: Survival International)