The National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary & Opposition Forces, which maintains an Istanbul-based government-in-exile, issued a press release Nov. 25 with details of the latest aerial attack in rebel-held Iblid province by forces of the Bashar Assad regime. At the village of Qaqfin, regime warplanes "specifically targeted a family engaged in the olive harvest, resulting in the tragic loss of nine innocent lives, including women and children," according to the statement. "This appalling crime underscores the urgent need for a resolute international response to strengthen accountability for the ongoing war crimes perpetrated by the Assad regime against the Syrian people."
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry, called Nov. 15 for the disbandment of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which he called a "counter-insurgency force" in the Philippines.
Brazil's Supreme Federal Tribunal on Sept. 21 struck down the spurious thesis behind a legislative proposal advancing in the country's Congress, which would impose a marco temporal or "time limit" on indigenous land recovery claims. The marco temporal law would nullify any indigenous group's claim to traditional lands that they weren't physically occupying on Oct. 5, 1988, the day of the enactment of Brazil's Constitution, which for the first time recognized native peoples' territorial rights. Instead, these lands would be considered the property of those currently in occupancy, or of the state. The thesis ignores the forced displacements that occurred during Brazil's dictatorship in the generation before 1988, as well as the nomadic lifeways of some indigenous groups. Environment Minister Marina Silva declared the high court's annulment of the marco temporal thesis an "act of justice."
Colombia recorded the world's highest number of killings of environmental defenders in 2022, with 60 individuals murdered, according to a report released on Sept. 12 by activist group Global Witness. The organization, which has been documenting environmental defender deaths since 2012, found that the number of environmental defenders slain in Colombia nearly doubled in 2022, compared to the previous year. These killings have pushed Colombia's environmental defender death toll to 382 since 2012.
A Buddhist monastery carved out of a cave complex in the rainforest of Malaysia stands to be evicted after losing a legal appeal in its case against a cement manufacturer that seeks to demolish it to mine limestone Sept. 8. The Court of Appeal ruled for Associated Pan Malaysia Cement in the case brought by the century-old Dhamma Sakyamuni Caves Monastery, finding that the company has the right to evict "squatters" from the tract at issue on a limestone massif known as Gunung Kanthan—despite the fact that it lies within the Kinta Valley National Geopark. The forested massif is home to several endangered species of both flora and fauna, and most of it has already been cleared for quarries. After the appeals court ruling, the Perak state government formed a special committee to mediate in the conflict. The Dhamma Sakyamuni monks pledge they will resist eviction. (The Star, New Straits Times, NST, Free Malaysia Today)
Thousands of indigenous people from the northwestern Argentine province of Jujuy arrived in Buenos Aires on Aug. 2 after marching cross-country to protest a provincial constitutional reform allowing greater lithium extraction from the lands they reside on. The marchers said that increased mining of lithium would exacerbate drought conditions, and cause soil contamination and other environmental damage. The protesters called on the Argentine Supreme Court to strike down the reform, saying indigenous voices were largely left out of the debate that led to its approval. Justice Minister Martín Soria asked the court to declare the reform unconstitutional in June, citing indigenous rights concerns.
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.
Israel's right-wing nationalist government announced new plans June 18 to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the US and EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: "The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues."