From Our Daily Report
The Popular Municipal Court of Central Havana sentenced artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Pérez to five and nine years in prison, respectively. Activist artist Otero Alcántara was sentenced for contempt, public disorder, and "insulting symbols of the homeland"—a reference to his public performances involving the Cuban flag. Rapper Maykel Castillo was found guilty of contempt, public disorder, and "defamation of institutions, heroes and martyrs." The latter charge relates to a meme Castillo posted on social media last year criticizing Communist Party leaders. Amnesty International accused the Cuban government of "using the judicial system to criminalize critical voices." (Photo: Hyperallergic)
Crimean Tatars Again Being Erased from History in Their Homeland
by Olena Makarenko, Euromaidan Press
May 18 is commemorated as a memorial day of the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. On that day in 1944, Joseph Stalin began an operation to deport the entire population of Crimean Tatars who had survived the German occupation of the peninsula. Over 200,000 Tatars, baselessly accused of collaborating with the Nazis, were expelled in just two days. In packed and locked railroad cattle-cars and with few provisions or water, they were sent on an arduous journey to remote locations in Central Asia and Siberia. Over 46 percent of the Crimean Tatar people perished during the trip or in the first two years of the exile due to the harsh conditions. A year after the deportation, when World War II ended, demobilized Crimean Tatar soldiers were sent from the Soviet Army directly into exile too.
Only in 1989 did the USSR condemn the deportation, after which the indigenous people of Crimea started returning to their homeland. The deportation was recognized as a genocide by Ukraine in 2015, and afterwards by Latvia, Lithuania and Canada.
by Carole Linda Gonzalez
Why apologize for something you are not responsible for? Especially when no one is left alive who deserves an apology.
That was the first thought many doubtless had when reading that the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, offered a formal apology to those who had been accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries and were subsequently executed. The apology was issued on International Woman's Day, this past March 8. Sturgeon said she was taking the occasion to acknowledge an "egregious historic injustice."
by Elliot Winter, Jurist
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has entered its third month. The suffering of Ukrainian civilians has been awful and the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is satisfied that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe war crimes have been committed. Media attention has, quite rightly, focused on the plight of those individuals caught up in the carnage—many of whom have died in terrible circumstances. However, in the background, there is another victim of the invasion: the environment. This brief piece is intended to highlight instances of environmental destruction that have occurred in the context of the invasion and to show that—despite the rigorous tests that apply—these too might qualify as war crimes.
by Dr Houssam al-Nahhas, The New Humanitarian
Many Syrians are experiencing heart-wrenching flashbacks as we watch the mounting devastation in Ukraine and the millions of refugees fleeing. As a Syrian physician who provided medical care amid the war in my country, it's especially painful when clinics or hospitals are bombed.
I'm haunted by the escalating attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine, which leave me feeling that I have been here before.
Since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, my colleagues at Physicians for Human Rights have documented 601 attacks on 400 healthcare facilities there. In Ukraine, it's happening again: At least 119 attacks on health facilities, workers, and transports like ambulances have reportedly been perpetrated since Russia's invasion began in late February, according to the World Health Organization.
Even after 11 years of such attacks on healthcare targets in Syria, no perpetrator has been held accountable for these crimes.
by Yevgeny Lerner
The current Russian-Ukrainian war started eight years ago with the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which fell with hardly a shot fired, and largely without notice in the world at large.
The most important thing to understand about Crimea is that it is indigenous land, and that the Crimean Tatars are its people. The Crimean Tatars overwhelmingly favor Kyiv over Moscow, but a large majority of the peninsula's population has been Russian since 1944. Under the latest Russian occupation, the Tatars have once again become a terrorized minority, and their language and culture are now being threatened by the current policy of Russification.
Legal and Judicial System Collapsing Under Taliban Regime
by Mahir Hazim, Jurist
The international community and the United States spent billions of dollars on rebuilding the Afghan legal and judicial system and improving the rule of law and governance over the past two decades. However, after the Taliban takeover, any such progress quickly disappeared and the foundations for the Afghan legal system that had been expensively rebuilt over the last 20 years are in state of collapse, approaching the state of lawlessness that existed prior to 2001. It is the responsibility of the United Nations and the countries engaging with the Taliban to make rescuing the legal system and ensuring rule of law their top priority when they negotiate with the regime.
by Elham Saudi & Cristina Orsini, The New Humanitarian
Eleven years ago, courageous women and men took to the streets of Libya with an unflinching desire for human rights, justice, and democracy.
At the time, they were met with an unprecedented international response, ostensibly acting to protect them. The UN Security Council quickly established an arms embargo, a no-fly zone, and a rare referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC); NATO launched airstrikes.
Today, on the anniversary of the day when mass protests against Muammar Gaddafi began, the country's future could not be more precarious. Amidst delayed elections, fragmented governance—as of last week, there are two competing prime ministers—and prospects of renewed conflict, the UN-backed political process that was to set Libya on a path to peace and democracy is unravelling.
The international community has dramatically failed to live up to its promises to support Libya on this journey. In fact, as narrow geopolitical, security, and economic interests have taken center stage, it is making things worse.
by Bill Weinberg, CounterVortex
Ukraine is in the world headlines now as a frontline of confrontation between Russia and the West. Russian-backed separatists have held the country’s eastern Donbas region since 2014, after a pro-Russian government was ousted in Kiev by the so-called Maidan Revolution. Russia also unilaterally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014. Putin is now threatening to directly invade the country if his demands are not met for a guarantee that it will not be granted NATO membership. Amid the geopolitical chess-game, few recall that during the Russian Revolution and the preceding years, Ukraine had one of the most powerful anarchist movements that the world has seen. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, anarchist groups have started to re-emerge in Ukraine, intransigently rejecting the regimes in Kiev and Moscow, and the power blocs around NATO and Russia, alike. CounterVortex communicated via email with one such group, the newly formed Assembly, which mostly functions as a media collective, reporting on labor and social struggles in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkov.