genocide

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine II

In Episode 150 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the panelists at The People's Forum event on "The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine"—including the inevitable Noam Chomsky and Medea Benjamin—for actually spreading Russian war propaganda, in Orwellian manner. As Ukraine makes advances on the ground, liberating the city of Kherson (which Moscow had declared as "annexed"), Russia retaliates with massive missile strikes targeting civilian infrastructure such as heating plants as the bitter Ukrainian winter approaches—clearly war crimes, aimed at breaking the will of the populace. But rather than protesting the Russian bombardment, these pseudo-anti-war voices join with the Trumpian right in calling for an end to Western military aid to Ukraine. And rather than Russian mass atrocities and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, they point to imaginary pressure on Kyiv from the West not to negotiate as the obstacle to peace.

Swiss oil CEO faces trial for Sudan war crimes

The Supreme Court of Sweden on Nov. 10 ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. This claim was rejected by the lower courts, and now by the high court. The Supreme Court held that Schneiter's alleged crimes are subject to "universal jurisdiction," which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. Justice Johan Danelius concluded: "The fact that the defendant is not [resident] in Sweden does not constitute an obstacle to Swedish jurisdiction, provided that the connection to Sweden in other respects is sufficient." The criminal case will now proceed in the Stockholm District Court.

Ukraine: Russia accused of forced transfer of civilians

Russian forces have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully transferring or deporting civilians from occupied parts of in Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to an Amnesty International report released Nov. 10. Russian and Russian-backed authorities have also forced civilians through an abusive screening process known as "filtration," during which some were arbitrarily detained, subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and separated from their children.

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.

ICC rules Afghanistan investigation may proceed

Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Oct. 31 authorized prosecutors to resume their investigation into atrocities committed in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, following a two-year hiatus. The Chamber found "that Afghanistan is not presently carrying out genuine investigations." The Chamber emphasized that the authorization is limited to crimes falling within the conflict as it existed at the time of the original investigation request in November 2017. The Chamber rejected that request in April 2019. This decision was overturned by the Appeals Chamber in March 2020. However, the investigation was halted following a request from the government of Afghanistan. ICC prosecutor Karim AA Khan sought to review the deferral in September 2021. At that time, Khan said he concluded, "there is no longer the prospect of genuine and effective domestic investigations into Article 5 crimes within Afghanistan."

'War footing,' paramilitary drive in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's new military government said Oct. 26 that the country is on a "war footing," and launched a drive to recruit 50,000 civilian defense volunteers to help the overstretched army fight jihadist insurgents. The recruits receive two weeks of basic training and then join the Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP), a village-based militia network. Created in 2020, the VDP was supposed to represent each "region, ethnicity, political opinion, and religious denomination." But the reality is few recruits have been drawn from the pastoralist Fulani, and the ethnicity—accused by some in the security forces of siding with the jihadists—has been targeted in extra-judicial killings.

Tough congress for Brazil's new indigenous caucus

In Brazil's Oct. 2 general elections, five self-identified indigenous candidates won seats as federal deputies and two as senators—the highest number in the country's history. The most celebrated victory was that of Sônia Guajajara, a leader of her own Guajajara people in Maranhão state who has emerged as a voice for indigenous peoples on the national stage, and now takes a seat as deputy. But this new "Bancada do Cocar" (Feathered Headdress Caucus) will face tough odds in a generally more conservative National Congress. More seats were won by supporters of the reactionary outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, and especially the Bancada Rural (Rural Caucus, dominated by the agribusiness lobby), in both the lower and upper houses. (Mongabay)

UN documents damage of cultural sites in Ukraine

A preliminary report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Oct. 25 revealed the extent of damage to Ukraine's cultural heritage since Russia invaded in February. UNESCO verified damage to 207 cultural sites, including 88 religious sites, 15 museums, 76 buildings of historic or artistic interest, 18 monuments, and 10 libraries.  The report is sourced from satellite images taken before and after the start of the war by both the UN and private companies. UNESCO defines cultural properties under Article 1 of the 1954 Hague Convention (Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict). The worst damage was found to be in Donetsk region, now declared annexed by Russia, with 59 damaged sites. 

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