Europe
bosnia

Bosnia re-balkanizing?

The US administration imposed sanctions on several Bosnian officials and a TV station for alleged corruption and for trying to destabilize the state of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Last month lawmakers in the Serb Republic National Assembly voted to begin pulling their republic out of Bosnia’s armed forces, judiciary and tax system. Largely at issue is legislation in the unified Bosnian parliament banning the denial of genocide. Bosnian Serb political leaders refuse to acknowledge that the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at the town of Srebrenica constituted genocide. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

The Andes
Uber Velásquez

Another assassination at Colombian ‘peace community’

A new assassination of a campesino leader is reported from the self-declared “peace community” of San José de Apartadó, in Colombia’s conflicted northern Urabá region. Uber Velásquez was slain by unknown assailants at the hamlet of La Balsa, one of those adhering to the “peace community” which for more than 20 years has refused all cooperation with armed actors in Colombia’s conflict—and whose leaders have been repeatedly targeted for death. Days later, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) formally declared that the February 2005 massacre at San José de Apartadó—in which eight residents were slain, including three children—was a “crime against humanity.” (Photo via Twitter)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia: inactive guerillas join active paras off US terror list

The US State Department announced that Colombia’s disbanded FARC guerilla army has been removed from the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” The statement acknowledged that the FARC “no longer exists as a unified organization.” In fact, the de-listing came on the fifth anniversary of the peace agreement under which the FARC agreed to demobilize. However, the right-wing paramilitary groups now active across the country are still not listed by the State Department. These paramilitary forces are overwhelmingly behind the ongoing campaign of assassinations of social leaders across Colombia.  (Photo via Contagio Radio)

Europe
Belgrade protest

‘Environmental uprising’ in Serbia —and Kosova

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)

Africa
ethiopia

‘Crimes against humanity’ seen in Tigray conflict

A joint investigation by the independent Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Human Rights Office has found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. In its report, the Joint Investigation Team details violations and abuses including unlawful killings and extra-judicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced displacement of civilians. (Map: Political Geography Now)

Iraq

Cycle of sectarian reprisals in Iraq

A cycle of attacks and counter-attacks in eastern Iraq raises concerns about a return of deadly sectarian violence in the country. Gunmen killed 15 people in the largely Shi’ite village of al-Rashad, Diyala governorate. The attack was blamed on remnants of the so-called Islamic State. Revenge attacks shortly followed on a nearby Sunni village, Nahr al-Imam, including the burning of crops and homes, forcing some residents to flee. The reprisal attacks were said to have included the participation of members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)—a network of Shi’ite militias now formally under the command of the official state security forces. Baghdad sent troops and delegations to the region, but tensions remain high. (Map: MapSof.net)

Africa
Sudan

Counter-revolutionary coup in Sudan

Sudan’s interim prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and his senior officials were arrested as the military seized full power in a coup d’etat and imposed a state of emergency. The two principal pro-democracy formations, the Forces for Freedom & Change and Sudanese Professionals Association, have called for a popular mobilization to overturn the coup, and thousands have answered the call, filling the streets of Khartoum, Omdurman and other cities. Troops fired on protesters outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, killing at least three and injuring more than 80. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have also been mobilized. The military head of the now officially dissolved joint civilian-military Transitional Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is apparently behind the coup and in control. The putsch follows days of rival demonstrations in Khartoum, with pro-democracy protesters demanding full civilian rule and pro-army counter-demonstrators demanding that the military take complete control. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia’s most wanted para boss arrested

Colombia’s most wanted fugitive, the notorious paramilitary commander Dairo Antonio Úsuga AKA “Otoniel,” was arrested by security forces following a years-long manhunt, the government announced. The chief of the outlawed Gaitanista Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) was apprehended in a joint operation by the army and National Police in Necocli, a municipality of Urabá region on the Caribbean coast. The raid on Necocli involved hundreds of troops and some 20 helicopters. The US government considers the AGC Colombia’s largest drug trafficking organization, and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Otoniel in 2017, eight years after he was indicted by a federal court in New York. It is unclear if the Colombian government intends to extradite. (Photo: Colombia Reports)

Mexico
machete

Paramilitary violence escalates in Chiapas

Tensions are fast mounting in Mexico’s conflicted southern state of Chiapas following a new outbreak of paramilitary violence. Protests have been held in the state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez over the past weeks to demand the return alive of 21 residents of the highland village of Pantelhó, who were abducted in July amid raids by a self-proclaimed “self-defense force” in which houses and vehicles were also set on fire. The state prosecutor who was assigned to investigate the case was himself gunned down on a street in the highland city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) issued a communiqué warning that Chiapas is at “the brink of civil war.” (Photo: Chiapas Paralelo)

Central America
Darién

Danger grows on Darién Gap migrant route

The Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle route used by a growing number of migrants trying to reach the United States from South America, has become even deadlier, according to Panama’s Forensic Sciences Institute. It reports over 50 migrant deaths to date in 2021, although the figure is believed to be far higher. Towns on the Colombian side of the border are swelling with migrants waiting to cross the Gap—mostly Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans, but some from as far as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso. Colombian authorities say 67,000 migrants have passed through the border zone so far this year, more than 15 times the number in 2020. Former paramilitaries operating in the area are now preying on the migrants, who face rape, armed violence and extortion. (Photo: David González/TNH)

Africa
jihadis

Russian mercenaries to Mali?

France, now in the process of drawing down its military presence in West Africa’s Sahel nations, criticized plans that could see Russian mercenaries brought to Mali, where jihadist groups tied to ISIS or al-Qaeda operate in large parts of the country. Reports suggest that Mali’s transitional government is considering a deal with the Wagner Group, which has close links to Vladimir Putin and is also active in Central African Republic. The Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015, likewise expressed its “firm opposition” to any agreement to bring in the Wagner Group. (Photo: FIDES)

Africa
Sahel

Mounting massacres across Africa’s Sahel nations

The tri-border region where the Sahel countries of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso come together is the scene of fast-mounting massacres by presumed Islamist militants. Attacks on civilians and security forces alike have left hundreds dead this month. In Niger, peasants were gunned down while working their fields in Banibangou village—an attack attributed to a local ISIS franchise. In Mali, ongoing deadly attacks have caused a massive population exodus in several regions of the country, including Menaka, Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu and Sikasso. “Violence is spreading so rapidly across Mali that it threatens the very survival of the state,” said UN human rights expert Alioune Tine after a visit to the country. (Map: Wikivoyage)