Belarus officials charged in 'crimes against humanity'
Two international human rights organizations accused six high-ranking members of the Belarusian security authorities of committing crimes against humanity in a criminal complaint filed in Germany Nov. 1. The complaint was filed with the German Public Prosecutor General by the Geneva-based World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). The complaint was filed in Germany because of its universal jurisdiction doctrine, which allows its courts to prosecute crimes against humanity that are committed anywhere in the world. As ECCHR program director for international crimes Andreas Schüller, stated: "We expect the initiation of preliminary proceedings by the Federal Prosecutor General against those responsible, as there is no foreseeable investigation into these violations of international law in Belarus itself."
Protest ongoing Turkish intervention in Iraq, Syria
Kurdish rebels launched a mortar attack on a Turkish military position in northern Iraq, killing one soldier Aug. 13. The troops were stationed at the outpost as part of Ankara's "Operation Claw-Lightning" to hunt down fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey's Defense Ministry said its forces immediately retaliated for the attack, and three PKK fighters were "neutralized" (killed). (Al Jazeera) The following day, thousands of Kurds marched in Dusseldorf, Germany, to protest ongoing Turkish military operations in Turkey's eastern Kurdish region, in northern Iraq, and in Syria's Rojava region. The demonstration was timed for the 37th anniversary of the start of the PKK's armed struggle against the Turkish state. Organizers reported that local police banned slogans calling for the release of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. (Rudaw)
Podcast: climate change and the global struggle
In Episode 81 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the fast-mounting manifestations of devastating climate destabilization—from Oregon to Siberia, from Germany to Henan. In Angola, traditional pastoralists are joining the ranks of "climate refugees" as their communal lands are stricken by drought. In Iran's restive and rapidly aridifying Ahwazi region, protests over access to water have turned deadly. These grim developments offer a foreboding of North America's imminent future. Yet media commentators continue to equivocate, asking whether these events are "linked to" or "caused by" climate change—rather than recognizing that they are climate change. And the opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by last year's pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. Oil prices are again rising, with the return to pre-pandemic dystopian "normality."
Podcast: George Orwell's wartime dilemma
In Episode 76 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses and critiques The Duty to Stand Aside: Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort by Eric Laursen. Orwell and Comfort were divided on the question of Allied bombardment of Germany in World War II—although they both united to support the free-speech rights of anarchist anti-war dissidents. With fascism and genocide again emerging on the world stage, their quarrell sheds light on the contemporary wars in Syria, Libya and elsewhere—and how progressives and especially anarchists in the West should respond. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Germany acknowledges Namibia genocide
The Federal Republic of Germany on May 28 formally recognized the crimes committed by its colonial troops in what is now Namibia as "genocide." From 1904 to 1908, German colonial forces carried out a genocide against indigenous peoples in what was then German Southwest Africa, through starvation, disease and forced labor, in order to gain access to their lands. The victims were also subject to sexual violence and medical experiments in concentration camps. The genocide led to the deaths of approximately 80,000, representing about 80% of the Herero people and 50% of the Nama people.
Ten years after: the Syrian Revolution betrayed
Ten years ago this week, the Syrian Revolution began with peaceful pro-democracy protests. The first demonstrations broke out in the city of Deraa after local schoolchildren painted a mural depicting scenes and slogans from the recent revolutions in other Arab countries, and were detained and brutalized by the police. The Bashar Assad regime responded to the demonstrations with serial massacres. After months of this, the Free Syrian Army emerged, initially as a self-defense militia to protect protesters. But the situation soon escalated to an armed insurgency. The regime lost control of large areas of the country, and local civil resistance committees backed by the FSA seized control. Assad then escalated to levels of violence rarely seen on Earth since World War II.
Landmark verdict against Syrian ex-officer
The Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, on Feb. 24 convicted a former officer of Syria's General Intelligence Directorate, Eyad A., on charges of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity—specifically, torture and deprivation of liberty committed against 30 persons. Eyad received a sentence of four years and six months in prison for his role in arresting people who were later tortured. The 30 persons, who were all civilians, had been participating in anti-government protests in Douma in 2011 when they were rounded up and sent by bus to Branch 251, or the al-Khatib detention center in Damascus. At Branch 251, they suffered grave physical, emotional and psychological abuse, in addition to being subjected to inhumane and degrading conditions. The court stated that "Eyad A. had already known about the regular and systematic torture in the prison of department 251 when the demonstrators were arrested... He also expected that the torture was part of a planned, organized action by the government to suppress opposition forces."
Can Iran nuclear deal be salvaged?
President Joe Biden's pledge to rebuild the Iran nuclear deal is already deteriorating into a deadlock—a testament to the effectiveness of the Trump-era intrigues that sabotaged the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On Feb. 7, Biden and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei each traded "You Go First" statements. Biden was asked on Face the Nation, "Will the US lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?" He replied, "No." He was then asked, "They have to stop enriching uranium first?" Biden nodded. On that same day, Khamenei told military commanders and staff: "If they want Iran to return to its JCPOA commitments, the US should remove all sanctions in action. After they have done this, we will check if the sanctions have truly been removed. Once this is done, we will resume our JCPOA commitments." (EA Worldview)
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