Africa
Africa mining

Appeals court dismisses child labor case against Big Tech

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a child labor case against technology companies and refused to hold them accountable for complicity in the use of children in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Former cobalt miners and their representatives filed a lawsuit against Alphabet (Google), Apple, Dell Technologies, Tesla and Microsoft under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). The TVPRA penalizes anyone who “knowingly benefits financially from participating in a venture that engaged in trafficking crimes.” They claimed that the companies were involved in a “venture” with their suppliers that engaged in forced labor of children to obtain the metal. The court rejected these claims and dismissed the lawsuit, upholding a lower court’s decision.¬†(Photo via Africa Up Close)

The Andes
Ecuador

UN: poverty, oppression at root of Ecuador crisis

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights Olivier De Schutter issued a report¬†citing impoverishment and exploitation as the “root cause” of the fast-mounting violence and instability in Ecuador. Criminal groups exploit the desperate while gang wars deepen desperation, in a “vicious cycle linking insecurity and poverty.”¬†Following a 12-day visit to the country, De Schutter warned against a purely militarized response to the crisis that ignores social and economic factors. (Image:¬†Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Africa
eritrea

Harsh abuses in Eritrea ‘national service’ program

A report from a UN independent investigator is putting a fresh spotlight on allegations of torture, sexual violence, forced labor, and abusive conditions in Eritrea’s system of compulsory, indefinite national service. The investigator noted that Eritrea has ignored repeated calls to ensure legal limits for national service. Since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago, Eritrea has been led by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election. (Map: PCL)

Central Asia
China prison

Probe corporate profit from Uyghur forced labor

Canada’s Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise¬†has launched an inquiry into accusations over use of Uyghur forced labor in the People’s Republic of China¬†by Western corporations Nike and Dynasty Gold.¬†While the initial evaluation stipulates that Nike has not engaged in the direct use of such labor, the company’s association with Chinese third-party entities does not absolve it of accountability. Vancouver-based Dynasty Gold faces allegations of directly employing coerced labor of Uyghurs at a mining site in China. The initial evaluation finds that the company’s denial of operational control over the mine at Hatu, Xinjiang region, “should not be taken at its face value,” as Dynasty still possess a controlling interest in the operation. (Photo via Bitter Winter)

Africa
South Sudan divisions

UN panel: prosecute South Sudan officers

A panel of UN rights experts named senior officials and military leaders in South Sudan who they say warrant criminal prosecution for their part in grave atrocities against civilians. A year-long investigation by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan details the involvement of both government and rebel leaders in widespread murder, rape, and sexual slavery. Both military officers and a state governor are identified in the report in relation to state-sanctioned killings and other abuses. (Map: Wikipedia)

North Africa
libya

Libya: ‘crimes against humanity’ ‚ÄĒand European complicity

The UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya released a report¬†finding grounds to believe Libyan authorities and armed groups have been responsible for “a wide array” of war crimes and crimes against humanity in recent years. The report further charged that European Union states have been complicit in crimes against humanity by Libyan forces targeting migrants trying to reach Europe. Legally barred from deporting migrants to Libya, EU governments instead give funding and technical aid to the Libyan Coast Guard, which has been accused of widespread “arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, enslavement and enforced disappearance” against migrants since 2016. (Map: Perry-Casta√Īeda Library)

Central Asia
Xinjiang

Podcast: state capitalism and the Uyghur genocide

In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of “crimes against humanity” in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as “propagandistic.” Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang‚ÄĒand how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia’s Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a “Return of Red China,” blaming the PRC’s increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration¬†via The Diplomat)

Central Asia
China prison

UN report confirms forced labor in Xinjiang, Tibet

United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery Tomoya Obokata released a report¬†on contemporary forms of slavery, which found that it is “reasonable to conclude” that forced labor “among Uygur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing” is taking place in China’s Xinjiang region. The report added: “Similar arrangements have also been identified in the Tibet Autonomous Region,¬†where an extensive labour transfer programme has shifted mainly farmers, herders and other rural workers into low-skilled and low-paid employment.”¬†(Photo via Bitter Winter)

Iraq
Rojava

Podcast: Rojava and Ezidikhan in the Great Game

In Episode 127 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Kobani, which became a global icon of resistance to ISIS in 2014, is now under threat of Turkish aggression. The Syrian Kurds were betrayed in 2019, when their autonomous zone of Rojava was greatly reduced by Turkey’s first thrust into their territory. Erdogan is now threatening to extinguish it altogether, and incorporate all of Rojava into his “security zone.” There is growing speculation that the US could “green light” this aggression in exchange for Turkey dropping its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Meanwhile, the Yazidis of northern Iraq, who were subjected to genocide at the hands of ISIS in 2014, now¬†face¬†extermination of their hard-won autonomous zone of Ezidikhan at the hands of Baghdad’s military‚ÄĒacting under pressure from Turkey. Great Power meddling in Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan alike is pitting the peoples of the region against each other, portending a disastrous Arab-Kurdish ethnic war. How can activists in the West help break this trajectory? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.¬†(Photo: Rojava Solidarity NYC)

North Africa
libya

Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities

A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya‚ÄĒespecially naming Russia’s Wagner Group. The report was classified “confidential,” but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the war in Syria. GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been “regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture.” The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar’s forces from April 2019 to October 2020. (Map: Perry-Casta√Īeda Library)

Southern Cone
napalpi

Argentina: state liable for 1924 massacre

A federal judge in Argentina’s Chaco province ruled that the national state bears responsibility for the 1924 massacre of some 500 indigenous laborers in the region, and ordered that reparation measures be instated. On July 19, 1924, national police and vigilantes linked to the area’s landowners fired on a large group of indigenous protesters, who were marching over harsh conditions on the cotton plantations where they had been reduced to forced labor. The case was brought by Argentina’s Secretariat of Human Rights and the local Chaque√Īo¬†Aboriginal Institute. The verdict was read in the indigenous languages Qom and Moqoit as well as Spanish.¬†(Photo:¬†Secretar√≠a de Derechos Humanos)

North Africa
Libya detainee

Libya: militia accused of grave abuses against migrants

A¬†report from Amnesty International finds that a militia funded and backed by Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Unity is responsible for a litany of crimes, including unlawful killings, torture, rape, forced labor, and the interception and return of migrants and refugees to the country‚Äôs notorious detention centers. Created by government decree in January 2021, the Stability Support Authority (SSA) is commanded by one of the most powerful militia leaders in Tripoli, Abdel Ghani al-Kikli AKA “Gheniwa.” who was appointed despite a well-documented history of crimes and other serious human rights violations committed by forces under his command.¬†(Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)