In Episode 184 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that Israeli President Isaac Herzog's address to Congress was happily boycotted by members of the "Squad," and comes as even establishment voices are calling for a cut-off of US aid in light of the deep political crisis in Israel. Unhappily, Rep. Pramila Jayapal was forced to issue an apology for having called Israel a "racist state"—which is a mere statement of political reality. In contrast, Ron DeSantis was not forced to issue any such apology for openly embracing Israel's illegal annexationist designs on the West Bank—even as they are protested by UN international law experts. All this comes as Israel has joined the US as the only countries on Earth to recognize Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, a condition of the so-called Abraham Accords. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo accused authorities of "political persecution" July 21, after police raided his center-left Semilla party headquarters. Arévalo condemned the raid as an attempt to hinder his campaign for the 2023 presidential election, the second round of which is scheduled for Aug. 20. Prosecutors say they were enforcing a court order that suspended Semilla due to alleged irregularities in party member registration. However, that order was canceled on July 13 by Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
UN Special Rapporteur for human rights Fionnuala Ní Aoláin released a statement July 22 urging the cessation of "indefinite mass detention without legal process," particularly of children, in northeastern Syria detention centers. After arriving in Damascus, Ní Aoláin visited prisons and detention sites at various places around the country and witnessed "major humanitarian challenges," including inadequate access to water and electricity and issues with health services.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on July 12 said it is concerned about reports that hundreds of Burkinabé refugees fleeing to Ghana, including women and children, are being deported. For the past years, Burkina Faso has been experiencing widespread violence and displacement amid an insurgency by extremist groups. According to UNHCR, more than 17,500 Burkina Faso nationals have fled to neighboring countries, also including Niger, Mali, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire, since January 2021 as a result of the ongoing conflict. Ghana is accused of having forcibly deported more than 500 Burkinabé seeking protection along the border this month. A video on Twitter showing expelled women and children sitting in a parking lot near the border has been widely circulated.
Amnesty International condemned a new migration agreement between the European Union and Tunisia on July 17, saying it makes the EU "complicit in the suffering that will inevitably result" from what represents a "dangerous expansion" of failed policies. The deal, signed the previous day, commits the EU to providing financial support to Tunisia to deter Europe-bound migration. The EU is to provide €105 million (around $120 million) in aid to combat irregular immigration, contingent on approval by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Canada has launched an inquiry into accusations over use of Uyghur forced labor by Western corporations Nike and Dynasty Gold. Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise Sheri Meyerhoffer announced the inquiry July 11 as part of a broader initiative to evaluate grievances against corporations operating within Canada. Both Nike and Dynasty Gold are believed to have derived advantages from the utilization of coerced labor involving Uyghurs in the People's Republic of China. 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. Nike contends that it has terminated relationships with Chinese third-party companies implicated in employing coerced labor.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague dismissed India's objections concerning its authority to address the ongoing Indus River disputes between India and Pakistan on July 6. The ruling reinstates a case that had been impeded for several years. Pakistan asserts that India's proposed hydroelectric energy projects will substantially diminish the Indus' flow, negatively affecting Pakistani agriculture. Pakistan initiated legal proceedings against India in 2016, seeking arbitration to address the issue. India raised objections regarding the jurisdiction of the PCA.
A group of United Nations human rights experts called on the Russian Federation July 7 to investigate a violent attack against journalist Yelena Milashina and human rights lawyer Alexander Nemov, and bring to justice the perpetrators. The incident occurred on July 4 in the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Milashina was covering, and Nemov participating in, the trial of Zarema Musaeva, the mother of exiled opposition activists who challenged the leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.