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—acting 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—especially 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-Castañeda 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 Chaqueño Aboriginal Institute. The verdict was read in the indigenous languages Qom and Moqoit as well as Spanish. (Photo: Secretaría 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’s 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)

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)

Central Asia
Uyghur

Uyghur Tribunal in UK hears testimony on abuses

The Uyghur Tribunal, an “independent people’s court” convened by exile and human rights groups, concluded after months of hearings in London. Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress, the Tribunal was organized last year by Sir Geoffrey Nice­, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal heard testimony from some 500 witnesses, including survivors of the detention camps in Xinjiang, on torture, sexual abuse, coerced labor, and forced sterilization. (Photo via Coda)

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)

North America
Fort Bliss

Migrant kids languish at Fort Bliss

Advocacy groups for migrants on the US southern border are protesting conditions at Texas’ Fort Bliss, an Army base that the Biden administration has opened as an emergency holding facility. Nearly 5,000 minors who crossed the border without a parent or guardian are currently being held in large tents at the base. This is about a quarter of the total number of minors in the care of the US Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. As of late May, nearly 600 of these had spent 40 days or longer at the “megasite.” Nearly 1,700 minors had been there for at least a month, according to government data. Unlike traditional HHS shelters for migrant children, Fort Bliss and other emergency “influx” sites are not licensed by state authorities to care for minors, and have lower standards of care. (Photo via Border Report)

Iraq
Yazidi genocide

‘Clear and convincing’ evidence of Yazidi genocide

The head of a UN team investigating the atrocities by the Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (ISIL), Special Advisor Karim Khan, reported to the UN Security Council that the team has established “clear and convincing” evidence of genocide against the Yazidi religious minority. The UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) has finalized preliminary case briefs on two key priorities: the attacks against the Yazidi community in the Sinjar region of Iraq starting in June 2014, and the mass killing that month of predominantly Shia unarmed cadets and military personnel at Iraq’s Tikrit Air Academy. (Photo via Ezidikhan Public Information Bureau)

Africa
South Sudan

South Sudan: ‘localized’ violence despite ceasefire

In a new report, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan found that over two years after the signing of a peace agreement officially ending a seven-year civil war, the country is still experiencing extreme levels of violence. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of armed struggle. But civil war erupted in the new nation in 2013 following President Salva Kiir’s dismissal of then-Vice President Riek Machar—respectively belonging to the largest rival ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer. The war ended in 2020, after claiming over 400,000 lives. But commission chair Yasmin Sooka said that violence is currently at its highest level at any time since the start of the war—if now at hands of “localized” militias. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
ICC

ICC convicts former Uganda rebel commander

The International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down convictions in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a former brigade commander of the Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA), on 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed from July 2002 to December 2005. In a 1,077-page judgment, the ICC found Ongwen guilty of ordering attacks against civilians, including murder, attempted murder, torture, enslavement, outrages upon personal dignity, pillaging, destruction of property, and persecution. These were committed successively on four camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) set up by the government in northern Uganda, where the LRA was active for four decades. (Photo: OSeveno/WikiMedia)

Central Asia
Chamdo

Report: forced labor and relocation in Tibet

A new report by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and the Jamestown Foundation, a DC-based policy think-tank, has found evidence of a system of forced displacement and labor in Tibet, mirroring that put in place over the past two years in Xiinjiang. The report, entitled “Xinjiang’s Militarized Vocational Training System Comes to Tibet,” finds that over half a million people received instruction at “military-style” training centers as part of the program in the first seven months of 2020—around 15% of the region’s population. Of this total, almost 50,000 have been transferred to jobs away from their homes within Tibet, and several thousand have been sent to other parts of China. Many end up in low-paid labor, including textile manufacturing, construction and agriculture. Those targeted for the program are designated “rural surplus laborers,” which according to the report usually refers to traditional pastoralists and nomads. (Photo: military-style training of “rural surplus laborers” in the Chamdo region of Tibet, June 2016, via Phayul)