South Asia
ahmadiyya

Pakistan: crackdown on Internet ‘blasphemy’

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued notices to Google and Wikipedia censuring them for “disseminating sacrilegious content” through their platforms. The notices¬†accused the these sites of hosting “misleading” content referencing the present khalifa (spiritual head) of Islam. The PTA specifically cited articles and search results allegedly portraying Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the current leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, as the “present khalifa of Islam.” Additionally, the PTA demanded the platforms remove an “unauthentic” version of the Quran published by the Ahmadiyya community from the Google Play Store. The PTA warned the platforms “to remove the sacrilegious content to avoid any legal action” under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act. (Image:¬†Ahmadi Answers)

Central Asia
Uighurs

Huawei ethnicity-recognition tech tracks Uighurs

Top Chinese technology firms have registered patents for tools apparently designed to detect, track and monitor Uighurs, according to research by the Pennsylvania-based video surveillance watchdog group IPVM. A 2018 patent filed by Shenzhen-based tech giant Huaweiwith the State Intellectual Property Office¬†lists attributes by which an individual may be targeted, including “race (Han, Uighur).” IPVM also released details of a document issued by Huawei and its Beijing-based corporate partner Megvii, dubbed an “Interoperability Test Report,” which boasted of a “Uighur alarm” among the “basic functions of Megvii’s facial recognition system.” Said Rushan Abbas, executive director of the DC-based Campaign for Uyghurs:¬†“We cannot ignore the fact that these technologies have been developed in order to be able to efficiently carry out…brutal oppression.”¬†¬†(Photo:¬†Mvslim.com)

New York City
BLM

New York AG sues NYPD over excessive force

New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed suit in federal court against the New York City Police Department over its handling of peaceful protests and use of excessive force. In her complaint, James charged that the NYPD unjustifiably used pepper-spray and batons against Black Lives Matter protesters in violation of official department policies, asserting that such action caused protesters to suffer both physical and psychological harm. Additionally, James charged that officers corralled protesters without an opportunity to disperse, resulting in mass arrests without probable cause. James stated that this use of excessive force violated protesters’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Photo: The Village Sun)

Southeast Asia
Malaysia

Malaysia: elections suspended amid lockdown

Authorities in Malaysia have declared a state of emergency that suspends Parliament and puts on hold any new general elections at least through August. The order is ostensibly a measure to contain COVID-19, coming as Kuala Lumpur and other cities are being placed under near-total lockdown. But critics are portraying it as a ploy by embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to remain in power despite a corruption scandal engulfing his ruling party, the right-wing¬†United Malays National Organization (UMNO). The accusations prompted Muhyiddin to go on national television after the declaration to insist the move is “not a military coup.” But the left-opposition Pakatan Harapan alliance issued a statement assailing Muhyiddin over the order: “Do not hide behind COVID-19 and burden the people with a declaration of emergency for the sake of saving yourself.” (Photo via CodeBlue)

South Asia
kashmir

India extends internet restrictions in Kashmir

The government in the Indian union territory of Jammu & Kashmir issued an order extending the suspension of high-speed 4G internet services. The government said it received credible reports of terrorists attempting to infiltrate from across the Line of Control that separates the territory from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The order ostensibly seeks to deter recruitment of youth into terrorist groups, and the circulation of provocative videos and “fake news” on social media. The restrictions are held to constitute the longest such outage ever imposed¬†by a “democratic” government. The Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) called the outage a form of “collective punishment” against Kashmiris and accused New Delhi of “digital apartheid.” (Photo: Daniel Bachhuber/Flickr via Oxford Human Rights Hub)

Central Asia
uighur-women

China-Turkey extradition treaty to target Uighurs

China announced¬†the ratification of an extradition treaty with Turkey that it intends to use,inter alia, to accelerate the return of refugees and Uighur Muslims suspected of “terrorism.” Since the 1950s, Turkey has welcomed Uighurs fleeing persecution in China. Uighurs and Turks have linguistic, cultural and religious ties. Currently, more than 50,000 Uighurs call Turkey home. While the treaty does provide grounds for refusal of extradition on the basis of Turkish citizenship, it is feared by many Uighurs that Chinese persecution will follow them to Turkey. “This extradition treaty will cause worry among Uighurs who have fled China and do not yet have Turkish citizenship,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told AFP. (Photo of Uighur women in Xinjiang: mikepryan¬†via¬†Wikimedia)

Greater Middle East
Cumhuriyet

Turkey convicts newspaper editor on ‘terrorism’ charges

Can D√ľndar, the former editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, was convicted on charges of terrorism in Turkey and sentenced in absentia. The Istanbul court found D√ľndar guilty of aiding a terrorist organization and espionage, sentencing him to 27 years and six months in prison. D√ľndar was first sentenced to five years in 2016 on espionage charges and attempting to overthrow the government for publishing footage that allegedly showed Turkey’s state intelligence agency transporting weapons to Syrian rebels in 2014. D√ľndar was later released when the matter went to appeal. Upon his release, D√ľndar fled the country while Turkish authorities ordered the seizure of his property and froze his bank accounts. He is now living in exile in Germany. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)

Watching the Shadows

Podcast: Rule of the Strongmen

In Episode 59 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of Trump’s evident preparation for a coup d’etat and what could be a culminating moment for the current crisis of American democracy. In the context of this dilemma, he discusses two very timely new books with similar titles that both examine the mechanics by which dictators seize and maintain power: Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy by Kenneth C. Davis and Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present by Ruth Ben-Ghiat.¬†Listen on SoundCloud¬†or via Patreon.¬†(Image via Macmillan)

Planet Watch
Line 3

Global petro-resistance greets 2021

As the year comes to a close, Native American activists and their allies in Minnesota are launching a weekly protest vigil against the planned Line 3 pipeline, that would bring more Canadian shale-oil to US markets. The¬†self-proclaimed “water protectors” pledge to continue the campaign into the winter. The Conservation Council of Western Australia¬†meanwhile launched¬†legal challenge against approval of the new Burrup Hub liquified natural gas facility,¬†asserting that¬†it is¬†the “most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed in Australia,” and “undermines global efforts [to mitigate climate change] under the Paris Agreement.”¬†While Denmark has pledged to end North Sea oil exploitation by 2050 as a step toward meeting the Paris accord goals, other Scandinavian governments remain intransigent. The Supreme Court of Norway¬†has¬†upheld¬†a judgment allowing the government to grant oil licenses in new sections of the country’s continental shelf. The decision was challenged by environmental groups including¬†Nature & Youth Norway, who claimed that it violates the European Convention on Human Rights. (Photo: Stop Line 3)

Greater Middle East
Selahattin DemirtaŇü

Demand Turkey release detained Kurdish leader

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held¬†that Turkey must take all necessary measures to secure the immediate release of Selahattin DemirtaŇü, a Kurdish politician held by the government on terrorism charges. The Grand Chamber found that there had been multiple violations of the European Convention of Human Rights in his case. It also found no evidence supporting DemirtaŇü’¬†detention that linked his actions and the alleged offenses. The Court concluded that “the purposes put forward by the authorities for the applicant’s pre-trial detention were merely cover for an ulterior political purpose, which is a matter of indisputable gravity for democracy.” (Photo:¬†DemirtaŇü’¬†presidential campaign launched outside Edirne prison where he is incarcerated, May 2018, via Wikipedia)

Iran
ahwaz women

Iran: sweeps target Ahwazi women activists

Rights advocates in Iran’s Khuzestan province, homeland of the marginalized Ahwazi Arab people, report another wave of sweeps and incommunicado detention of local activists. Among those detained in raids by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are Zeinab Sawari, a teacher and prominent Ahwazi advocate for women’s and children’s rights, who had recently been involved in fundraising for victims of the severe flooding that devastated the region this year. Also detained by IRGC agents were Maryam Ameri and Fatema Tamimi, whose homes were searched and ransacked, with computers and extensive archival material confiscated. Maryam and Fatema had worked on Ahwazi cultural programs together, cataloguing traditional folk songs and producing short documentaries about Ahwazi music, lore and history. Azhar Alboghbiesh, a young activist volunteer for the project, was likewise arrested in a raid on her home, in which agents reportedly fired in the air to intimidate her family. All remain in detention at undisclosed locations. (Photo of Azhar Alboghbiesh and Maryam Ameri via Dur Untash Studies Center)

Europe
paris protest

France: mass protests over new security law

Police and demonstrators clashed in Paris as some 45,000 filled the streets to protest a new security law, with large mobilizations also seen in Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier and Nantes. The new law would severely restrict publishing of the images of police officers. The issue was given greater urgency by video footage of Paris police savagely beating local Black music producer Michel Zecler days earlier. President Emmanuel Macron said the images “shame us,” but critics point out that their release could have been barred if his new security law had already been in force.¬†(Photo:¬†@T_Bouhafs)