United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery Tomoya Obokata released a report Aug. 16 on contemporary forms of slavery, which found that it is "reasonable to conclude" that forced labor "among Uygur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing" is taking place in China's Xinjiang region. Obokata's assessment was made "based on an independent assessment of available information, including submissions by stakeholders, independent academic research, open sources, testimonies of victims, consultations with stakeholders, and accounts provided by the Government."
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Aug. 3, speaking at an Indigenous Rights Forum in Taipei held to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day, pledged new measures to protect and promote the languages, cultures and territorial rights of the island nation's Aboriginal communities. Tsai noted that the new Indigenous Peoples Basic Act seeks to bring Taiwanese law and policy into conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and calls for re-assigning the country's place names to reflect Aboriginal languages. Her office has established a Transitional Justice Committee to oversee implementation of the law in collaboration with Aboriginal communities.
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.
China's banking regulator on July 24 announced that it has opened an investigation into officials at its bureau in Henan province, which this month saw protests by depositors unable to withdraw funds. The China Banking & Insurance Regulatory Commission said a local inspector is suspected of "serious disciplinary violations" concerning fraud and embezzlement at five rural lenders. Several members of a "criminal gang" accused of taking control of the banks have been arrested. The situation turned violent on July 10, after some 1,000 depositors protested outside the People's Bank of China branch in Zhengzhou, demanding access to their savings in frozen accounts. The protesters were assaulted by a group of unidentified men in matching white outfits, as police held back and did not intervene. Video of the incident went viral on social media.
Fighting between Hausa and Berta tribespeople broke out in Sudan's Blue Nile state last week, leaving dozens dead. The clashes, centered on the localities of Gaissan, Roseiris and Wad Al-Mahi, apparently began in a land dispute. Tensions were elevated following calls to recognize a chiefdom for the Hausa people, who originate from Nigeria but have been settling lands in the region for generations. Authorities have imposed a curfew and mobilized the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to the state, ostensibly to restore calm. But the Forces for Freedom & Changes (FFC) opposition coalition accused the military of instigating the conflict by encouraging Hausa demands to establish a chiefdom in territory traditionally inhabited by the Hamaj, a clan of the Berta people. Before a 2020 peace deal, many Hausa served in paramilitary forces to help the regime fight the SPLM-N rebels. "The…FFC hold the coup authority fully responsible for the successive renewal of these events in most parts of the country," the opposition group said in a statement. (Sudan Tribune)
Despite a peace process that has faltered under President Ivan Duque, the internal war in Colombia continues nearly across the country—now involving multiple armed actors: remnant guerilla groups, resurgent paramilitary forces, regional cartels, and the official security forces. Thousands have been displaced in recent months, as campesino and indigenous communities are either caught in the crossfire or explicitly targeted.
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.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on June 2 released its 2021 Annual Report, revealing that Colombia only partially adopted necessary measures to prevent human rights violations both by its security forces and unofficial paramilitary groups. The report called on Colombia to: "Adopt the appropriate measures for the members of the security forces who are allegedly involved in cases of violations of human rights or IHL [international humanitarian law] to be suspended from active duty until a final decision is issued in the disciplinary or criminal proceedings in such cases." Noting "the reorganization and persistence of illegal armed groups on its territory," the report also called on Colombia to "dismantle the armed groups that emerged after the demobilization of the paramilitary organizations or that continue to pursue the same objectives." (Jurist, June 5)