Iran demolishes houses, farms of Baha'i community
Security forces laid siege to a village in northern Iran on Aug. 2, demolishing houses and farms belonging to members of the persecuted Baha'i faith. Over 200 troops were deployed to Roshankouh, in Mazandaran province, blocking the road into the village and confiscating residents' cell phones before commencing demolition of several properties. However, video footage of heavy machinery demolishing buildings was posted to social media by the Baha'i International Community. The organization reports that six homes were destroyed and over 20 hectares of land were confiscated. Troops used tear-gas and fired shots in the air to disperse residents who gathered to protest the demolitions.
Tanzania: troops fire on Maasai herders
Tanzanian security forces on June 10 fired on Maasai herders in a dispute over seizure of traditional grazing lands for a new game reserve. The trouble started when hundreds of troops of the Field Force Unit arrived in Wasso village of Loliondo division, in northern Ngorongoro district, to demarcate a 1,500 square-kilometer area for the new reserve. Maasai gathered to protest, and were met with bullets. Some 30 were reportedly shot, and two killed. Video footage shared on social media shows residents running from live fire. Other images show some Maasai with gunshot wounds. Afterwards, troops went house-to-house in local villages, beating and arresting those they believed took part in the protests, or distributed images of the violence. Thousands of Maasai have fled their homes into the bush following the raids.
Protests in Baltistan amid Pak political crisis
Pakistan has seen mass mobilizations both in protest and celebration since parliament on April 10 voted to remove Imran Khan as prime minister. The vote took place three days after the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that an order by Khan to dissolve the parliament was unconstitutional. Parliament's lower house appointed the leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, as the new prime minister. Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, staged a walkout from the Assembly ahead of the vote.
Bedouin land protests rock the Negev
As part of a "forestation" plan, Israel's Jewish National Fund began clearing cultivated lands at the "unrecognized" Bedouin village of Sawa in the Negev desert this week, sparking angry protests by the villagers. The protests started Jan. 10, when villagers and Bedouin leaders expressed their objections the JNF plan to plant trees on an area of 5,000 dunums (1,250 acres), much of which had been planted with wheat only a few months ago. Tractors arrived at the area the following day to begin clearing the fields, and villagers physically resisted. Police detained 18 local youth for throwing stones. Protests continued for the following two days, with the security forces firing rubber-coated bullets, tear-gas and malodorous "skunk water," causing several injuries. Border Police joined the Israeli Police force at the scene.
'Environmental uprising' in Serbia —and Kosova
In what local media are calling an "environmental uprising," protesters blocked roads and occupied public squares in Belgrade and other towns across Serbia on Nov. 27 to oppose plans for a lithium mine at Loznica, on the Drina River. Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto has been buying up land in the area, in anticipation of final approval of the project. But concerns over a toxic threat to local waters have sparked widespread outrage over the plan.
Podcast: Thanksgiving and Atonement
In Episode 98 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick. A work of Thanksgiving boosterism, it nonetheless recognizes the dissidents who reject the holiday as a celebration and sanitization of genocide, and even call for replacing it with a day of atonement. The idealized portrayal the first Thanksgiving in 1621 belies the bloody realities of the Pequot War and King Philip's War that shortly followed. Perversely, the Wampanoag indigenous people, who shared in that first Thanksgiving and were later defeated in King Philip's War, were the target of a new attempt at "termination" by the Trump administration, which sought to disestablish their reservation at Mashpee, on Cape Cod just 30 miles south of Plymouth Rock. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Protests shut down Peru's largest copper mine
Peru's massive Antamina copper mine had to halt operations Oct. 31 due to protest blockades on an access road by local campesinos. The company, owned by the Australian BHP Billiton and the Swiss Glencore, urged the government "to restore order" and open dialogue with the protesters, stating that as long as "these conditions are not met, we cannot continue to operate." Residents of the local Aquia district (Bolognesi province, Áncash region) charge that Antamina "usurped" campesino lands for the project, which brings no benefit to the community. After a week of blocking the access roads, the campesinos on Nov. 2 agreed to lift the protest following intercession by the Ministry of Energy & Mines. However, they pledged to maintain the blockades until Antamina signs a formal agreement recognizing them as dialogue partners. (MercoPress, Mining.com, Caretas, Reuters)
Angola: drought threatens traditional pastoralists
Millions of people in southern Angola are facing an existential threat as drought continues to ravage the region, Amnesty International said July 22. The organization highlighted how the creation of commercial cattle ranches on communal lands has driven pastoralist communities from their territories since the end of the civil war in 2002. This shift has left huge sections of the population food-insecure, and especially vulnerable as the acute drought persists for over three years. As food and water grow increasingly scarce, thousands have fled their homes and sought refuge in neighboring Namibia.
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