slavery

UN: poverty, oppression at root of Ecuador crisis

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights Olivier De Schutter issued a report Sept. 8, citing impoverishment and exploitation as the "root cause" of the fast-mounting violence and instability in Ecuador. Following a 12-day visit to the country, De Schutter warned against a purely militarized response to the crisis that ignores social and economic factors. The report states:

Harsh abuses in Eritrea 'national service' program

A report from a UN independent investigator is putting a fresh spotlight on allegations of torture, sexual violence, forced labor, and abusive conditions in Eritrea's system of compulsory, indefinite national service. The investigator noted that Eritrea has ignored repeated calls to ensure legal limits for national service. Since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago, Eritrea has been led by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election.

Probe corporate profit from Uyghur forced labor

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.

UN panel: prosecute South Sudan officers

A panel of UN rights experts on April 3 named senior officials and military leaders in South Sudan who they say warrant criminal prosecution for their part in grave atrocities against civilians. A year-long investigation by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan details the involvement of both government and rebel leaders in widespread extrajudicial killings, as well as rape and sexual slavery.

Libya: 'crimes against humanity' —and European complicity

The UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya released a report March 27 finding grounds to believe Libyan authorities and armed groups have been responsible for "a wide array" of war crimes and crimes against humanity in recent years. The report further charged that European Union states have been complicit in crimes against humanity by Libyan forces targeting migrants trying to reach Europe. Legally barred from deporting migrants to Libya, EU governments instead give funding and technical aid to the Libyan Coast Guard, which has been accused of widespread "arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, enslavement and enforced disappearance" against migrants since 2016. (UN News, TNH)

Podcast: state capitalism and the Uyghur genocide

In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of "crimes against humanity" in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as "propagandistic." Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang—and how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia's Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a "Return of Red China," blaming the PRC's increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism.

UN report confirms forced labor in Xinjiang, Tibet

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."

Podcast: Rojava and Ezidikhan in the Great Game

In Episode 127 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Kobani, which became a global icon of resistance to ISIS in 2014, is now under threat of Turkish aggression. The Syrian Kurds were betrayed in 2019, when their autonomous zone of Rojava was greatly reduced by Turkey's first thrust into their territory. Erdogan is now threatening to extinguish it altogether, and incorporate all of Rojava into his "security zone." There is growing speculation that the US could "green light" this aggression in exchange for Turkey dropping its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Meanwhile, the Yazidis of northern Iraq, who were subjected to genocide and slavery at the hands of ISIS in 2014, are facing extermination of their hard-won autonomous zone Ezidikhan at the hands of Baghdad's military—acting under pressure from Turkey. Great Power meddling in Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan alike is pitting the peoples of the region against each other, portending a potentially disastrous Arab-Kurdish ethnic war. How can activists in the West help break this trajectory? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

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