North Africa
libya protest

Migrant protest camp broken up in Libya

More than 600 asylum-seekers and migrants were detained when Libyan security forces cleared a protest encampment in front of an aid center run by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in the capital city of Tripoli. The protesters—who were asking for protection, and evacuation from Libya—had been camped out since last October, when Libyan security forces violently rounded up more than 5,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, forcing them into notoriously grim detention centers. Before the raid on the protest camp, UNHCR permanently closed the center in Tripoli, leaving thousands without humanitarian assistance. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the most recent arrests were the “culmination of a disastrous situation,” and Médecins Sans Frontières called on the EU to “stop supporting…an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya.” The EU backs the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted more than 32,000 asylum-seekers and migrants at sea last year, returning them to detention centers. (Photo: Kaka Fur via InfoMigrants)

North Africa

Libya: unrest as elections postponed

Several Libyan parliamentary candidates are calling for nationwide protests over the cancellation of the country’s long-awaited presidential election. The electoral commission has proposed putting off the polls for a month, citing lack of preparedness amid bureaucratic chaos. But the postponement threatens the country’s fragile peace deal. Clashes broke out last week in the southern city of Sabha between local security forces and fighters loyal to eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, who has announced his candidacy for president. Another presidential hopeful is Saif al-Islam Qaddafi—who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed during the revolution that overthrew his father 10 years ago. Also running is current interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. All three have faced challenges to their right to run, and Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over whether the elections can be free and fair given the atmosphere of insecurity and repression. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Watching the Shadows
killer robot

UN chief calls for action against autonomous weapons

UN Secretary General António Guterres called upon member states to devise “an ambitious plan…to establish restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons” ahead of the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). A coalition of over 65 CCW states has endorsed a proposed ban on lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS). But some member states, including the US and Russia, oppose the ban. States such as the US, Israel, India and France are believed to oppose the ban owing to their heavy investments into the development of AI for military use. (Photo: Future of Life Institute)

Planet Watch
Aleppo

Podcast: R2P in the 21st Century

In Episode 101 of the CounterVortex podcast, we present the audio from a panel at the Ninth International Herbert Marcuse Society Conference, held in October at Arizona State University in Tempe. The panel, “The Responsibility to Protect in the Twenty-First Century,” features two presentations. Javier Sethness speaks on “Realism, Egalitarianism, and Internationalism,” providing a theoretical and historical framework, including a discussion of Herbert Marcuse‘s work with US intelligence in World War II. Bill Weinberg, speaking from New York, follows with “For Solidarity; Against Dictators and Campism,” discussing contemporary examples, including Syria, Libya, Burma and Taiwan. A third presentation was to have been offered by Anner G. in Ethiopia, on “The Responsibility to Protect in Tigray,” but she was unable to join. The work of her group, Horn Anarchists, is discussed in Weinberg’s presentation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Destruction of Aleppo, via 7ee6an)

North Africa
libya

Crimes against humanity in Libya?

At least six people were killed and dozens more wounded by guards who opened fire at asylum seekers and migrants attempting to escape en masse from an overcrowded detention center in Tripoli. This came after Libyan authorities rounded up and detained at least 5,000 asylum seekers and migrants in the capital. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council said it believes “crimes against humanity” have been committed in Libya’s detention centers. So far this year, more than 26,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard and returned to the centers, where they face a well-documented cycle of abuse. Despite human rights concerns, the EU executive body, the European Commission, is preparing to deliver new patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
Libya detention

Migrants ‘disappearing’ in Libya

Of more than 24,000 asylum seekers and migrants intercepted at sea this year by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard, only 6,000 are accounted for in Libya’s official detention centers, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told the Associated Press. The fate of thousands of others returned to the country remains unknown. The situation has been worsening for months. The IOM warned last year of returnees vanishing from Interior Ministry “data-collection facilities,” and said it suspected that thousands are being sold to human traffickers. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

Greater Middle East
drone

Turkish drones decisive in regional wars

The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded “unmanned combat aerial vehicle,” the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı is a more advanced version of Turkey’s iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and carry more missiles. The TB2 has been used by Ankara against Kurdish guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces. Turkey has also provided the TB2 to various foreign militaries; it is held to have been decisive in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenian forces in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as the Libyan government’s victory over the warlord Khalifa Haftar. Ukraine, having already tested an initial dispatchment of the drone, is now ordering 24 more for use in its war against Russian-backed separatists. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Afghanistan
Aleppo

Podcast: humanitarian intervention reconsidered II

In Episode 86 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg returns to the book The Responsibility to Protect in Libya and Syria: Mass Atrocities, Human Protection, and International Law by Syrian American legal scholar Yasmine Nahlawi, exploring applicability of its analysis to the current disaster in Afghanistan. This discussion is taken up at the request of Eric Laursen, author of The Duty to Stand Aside: Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort. Laursen is the first to take up the CounterVortex special offer, by which new Patreon subscribers get to choose a topic for exploration on the podcast. When do we have a responsibility to protect, and when do we have a duty to stand aside, and how can these imperatives be reconciled? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Destruction of Aleppo, via 7ee6an)

North Africa
Libya detainee

Libya: ‘horrific violations’ in migrant detention

Fresh evidence of harrowing violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children intercepted while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and forcibly returned to detention centers in Libya, highlights the grave consequences of Europe’s ongoing cooperation with Libyan authorities on migration and border control, said Amnesty International in a report. Since late 2020, Libya’s Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration, a department of the interior ministry, has “legitimized abuse” by integrating two new detention centers under its structure where hundreds of refugees and migrants had been “forcibly disappeared” in previous years by militias. Amnesty is calling on European states to suspend cooperation on migration and border control with Libya. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

Europe
orwell

Podcast: George Orwell’s wartime dilemma

In Episode 76 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses and critiques The Duty to Stand Aside: Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort by Eric Laursen. Orwell and Comfort were divided on the question of Allied bombardment of Germany in World War II—although they both united to support the free-speech rights of anarchist anti-war dissidents. With fascism and genocide again emerging on the world stage, their quarrell sheds light on the contemporary wars in Syria, Libya and elsewhere—and how progressives and especially anarchists in the West should respond. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: The Orwell Archive)

Europe
migrants

UN report blames EU and Libya for migrant deaths

Policy decisions of European Union member states and Libya have caused thousands of deaths along the central Mediterranean migrant route, according to a report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. At least 2,239 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe last year. In 2021 alone, at least 632 have died along the route. According to the report, the deaths were not a “tragic anomaly,” and could have been prevented. The lack of human rights protection for migrants during their journey is a consequence of the “concrete policy decisions and practices” of Libyan authorities, the EU, and its member states. (Photo: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

Europe
Lesvos

Greece urged to end pushback of asylum seekers

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Greek government to end its practice of illegal “pushbacks” of asylum seekers at both the land and sea borders with Turkey. Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said she had “received a number of consistent and credible allegations concerning acts by the Greek Coast Guard to prevent boats carrying migrants reaching the Greek islands.” Following reports of verbal and physical abuse inflicted on migrants being pushed back to Turkey, she indicated that acts of the Greek state may be in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on prohibition of torture. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)