Africa
Central African Republic

ICC takes CAR war crimes suspect into custody

The International Criminal Court (ICCannounced that former militia leader Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, who is suspected to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic, was surrendered by the Republic of Chad. A warrant for Mokom’s arrest was issued in December 2018, when the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II determined that Mokom was the “National Coordinator of Operations” for the Anti-Balaka militia. In this capacity, he is believed to have committed murder, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution and other crimes against humanity. He also allegedly committed war crimes by targeting Muslim civilians. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Greater Middle East
Marib

Yemen: Biden warned against Houthi ‘terrorist’ tag

President Joe Biden is said to be considering re-designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization following the group’s missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates, which leads the anti-Houthi military coalition with Saudi Arabia. Aid groups—part of a successful lobbying campaign that saw Biden remove the label shortly after he took office last January—warn that a redesignation would have “catastrophic consequences for Yemeni civilians.” Not only would it hit the economy hard, making it even more difficult to import food, fuel, and medicine, but it would also decrease the flow of much-needed aid to Houthi-controlled territory. Violence is meanwhile escalating, and not just around the battlefields of the contested province and city of Marib. Between early October and early February, 1,535 civilians were reportedly killed or injured, more than double the figure for the previous four months. (Photo of displaced persons camp in Marib by Mohamed Ghazi/TNH)

South Asia
hijab

India: hijab at issue in Karnataka unrest

Protests for and against the right of young women to wear the hijab in classrooms have swept across the Indian state of Karnataka, with incidents of stone-pelting and “lathicharge” (police baton-charge). The dispute began when hijab-wearing Muslim students were denied entry at colleges, or segregated from the main student body. Muslim students challenged this before the Karnataka High Court, which denied injunctive relief while the matter is pending. The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Basavaraj S. Bommai of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile ordered the closure of all schools and colleges. The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) condemned the exclusion of the Muslim students, saying: “It is deplorable that instead of upholding constitutional values and fundamental rights, the administration of these institutions have become willing participants in an agenda set by Brahminical forces.” (Image: Counterview)

Afghanistan
afghanwomen

Afghanistan: Taliban repress women’s protest

Taliban fighters—now acting as the security forces of the self-declared “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”—used tear-gas to break up a protest by women in Kabul, called under the banner of “Rights and Freedom Now.” The small demonstration in the vicinity of Kabul University especially called attention to two incidents in recent days—the detention of three women activists at a protest in the northern city of Balkh, in Mazar province, who have yet to be released; and the slaying of two young women of the Hazara ethnic minority by Taliban gunmen at a checkpoint in Kabul. In the continuing protests since the Taliban seizure of power, women have been in the vanguard. (Photo: TOLO News)

South Asia
jesus in india

War on Christmas (yes, really) in Modi strongholds

Hindu militant groups disrupted Christmas celebrations and vandalized decorations in parts of India this season. The most serious incident was in Silchar, Assam state, where apparent followers of the Bajrang Dal “manhandled” Hindu youth who attempted to join observances at a Presbyterian Church on Christmas Day. Bajrang Dal is the youth arm of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing organization allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The VHP has been named as one of the groups involved in the 2002 Gujarat genocide. So it turns out that in one country on Earth where there really is a “War on Christmas,” it is being waged by followers of Donald Trump’s good friend and ally Narendra Modi. Life’s little ironies. (Photo via Article 14)

Iraq
Iraq mass grave

UN team delivers report on ISIS atrocities in Iraq

The United Nations team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq delivered its report to the Security Council, accusing Islamic State (ISIS) actors of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (UNITAD), uncovered evidence of massacres including the deaths of at least 1,000 Shi’ite prisoners at a prison in Mosul in June 2014. The executions had been planned in detail by senior ISIS members. The team also carried out an analysis of battlefield evidence that showed ISIS developed and deployed chemical weapons as part of a long-term strategic plan. The team identified more than 3,000 victims of ISIS chemical attacks to date. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)

South Asia
tripura

India: press freedom at stake amid communal violence

Charges under India’s draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been brought against two human rights advocates and a journalist for their reporting on an outbreak of communal violence in the northeastern state of Tripura. Widespread attacks on Muslims erupted in response to attacks on Hindus across the border in Bangladesh during the Durga Puja festival. In the Tripura violence, mosques were vandalized, and Muslim shops and homes ransacked. These attacks were denied by the authorities until they were documented in a report by the rights advocates—who now face criminal charges for their efforts. Journalist Shyam Meera Singh was charged merely for tweeting “Tripura is burning.” (Photo via Twitter)

South Asia
ayodhya

Indian writer sued over Hindutva-jihad comparison

A criminal complaint was registered against Indian politician and former union minister Salman Khurshid over statements made in his recent book Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times. The complaint was filed under sections of the Indian Penal Code that protect “religious sentiments.” It alleges that Khurshid offended the religious sentiments of Hindus by comparing Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) with the ideology of terror groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Khurshid’s book on the Ayodhya holy site dispute created an uproar upon its release, with Hindu militant organizations calling for its suppression. (Image: Penguin Books)

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)

Afghanistan
hazara massacres

Afghanistan: massacre and cleansing of Hazaras —already

The Shi’ite Hazara people of Afghanistan were targeted for genocide by the Taliban when the fundamentalist militant group was last in power, and Amnesty International now reports that new massacres targeting the ethnicity have already started. Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including a 17-year-old girl, in Daykundi province after members of the security forces of the former government surrendered in August, the Amnesty investigation revealed. Since then, local Hazaras have been forced to flee the area. Residents of Daykundi said that the Taliban ordered them to leave, sometimes giving them only three or four days to pack up and go. Then, after families are gone, Taliban fighters set fire to their homes or blew them up. Many have taken a precarious refuge in Kabul. (Map: Amnesty International)

Afghanistan
afghanistan

Afghanistan: no, the war is not over

With absurd hubris, Biden in his speech as the last US troops left Kabul declared that “the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan.” It’s perverse enough that he called the US evacuation of some 120,000 Afghans and Americans an “extraordinary success”—despite the fact that more than 100 US nationals and many thousands of desperate Afghans were left behind. But this reality-denying “ended the war” rhetoric is being uncritically echoed by media accounts. The war in Afghanistan began in 1979, with the massive Soviet military intervention to put down the Mujahedeen, and the country hasn’t seen a moment of peace since then. Nor is there much prospect for peace any time in foreseeable future. This is the same imperial narcissism we heard with the much-hyped US “withdrawal” from Afghanistan in 2014, and the “withdrawal” from Iraq in 2011. But this time, Afghanistan is essentially being turned over to the Taliban as a US-collaborationist or even near-proxy force to fight ISIS. The Taliban remain a brutal, intolerant and ultra-reactionary Islamist entity, but are now baited as co-opted moderates by the even more extremist ISIS. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Africa
Nigeria

Sectarian massacre in Nigeria’s Plateau state

Nigerian authorities imposed a curfew in Jos, capital of north-central Plateau state, after at least 20 Muslim travelers passing through the city were massacred by a presumed Christian militia. The Muslims, mostly of the Fulani ethnicity, were in a convoy of vehicles, returning to their homes in Ondo and Ekiti states from a celebration in neighboring Bauchi state marking the start of Muharram, the Islamic new year. In Jos, the convoy was caught in a traffic jam, and the vehicles set upon by militiamen, the occupants slain with machetes, daggers and other weapons. The assailants were apparently Christians of the Irigwe ethnicity. Northern and central Nigeria have for years seen growing violence between Muslim semi-nomadic herders and Christian farmers over control of land and water. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)