Features

APOLOGY TO THE 'WITCHES': WHY NOW?

witch-hunt

by Carole Linda Gonzalez

Why apologize for something you are not responsible for? Especially when no one is left alive who deserves an apology.

That was the first thought many doubtless had when reading that the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, offered a formal apology to those who had been accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries and were subsequently executed. The apology was issued on International Woman's Day, this past March 8. Sturgeon said she was taking the occasion to acknowledge an "egregious historic injustice."

ENVIRONMENTAL WAR CRIMES IN UKRAINE

Kyiv

by Elliot Winter, Jurist

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has entered its third month. The suffering of Ukrainian civilians has been awful and the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is satisfied that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe war crimes have been committed. Media attention has, quite rightly, focused on the plight of those individuals caught up in the carnage—many of whom have died in terrible circumstances. However, in the background, there is another victim of the invasion: the environment. This brief piece is intended to highlight instances of environmental destruction that have occurred in the context of the invasion and to show that—despite the rigorous tests that apply—these too might qualify as war crimes.

ECHOES OF SYRIA, AS PUTIN BOMBS HOSPITALS IN UKRAINE

Mariupol

by Dr Houssam al-Nahhas, The New Humanitarian

Many Syrians are experiencing heart-wrenching flashbacks as we watch the mounting devastation in Ukraine and the millions of refugees fleeing. As a Syrian physician who provided medical care amid the war in my country, it's especially painful when clinics or hospitals are bombed.

I'm haunted by the escalating attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine, which leave me feeling that I have been here before.

Since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, my colleagues at Physicians for Human Rights have documented 601 attacks on 400 healthcare facilities there. In Ukraine, it's happening again: At least 119 attacks on health facilities, workers, and transports like ambulances have reportedly been perpetrated since Russia's invasion began in late February, according to the World Health Organization.

Even after 11 years of such attacks on healthcare targets in Syria, no perpetrator has been held accountable for these crimes.

THE CRIMEAN CLAUSE OF THE UKRAINE QUESTION

deportations

by Yevgeny Lerner

The current Russian-Ukrainian war started eight years ago with the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which fell with hardly a shot fired, and largely without notice in the world at large.

The most important thing to understand about Crimea is that it is indigenous land, and that the Crimean Tatars are its people. The Crimean Tatars overwhelmingly favor Kyiv over Moscow, but a large majority of the peninsula's population has been Russian since 1944. Under the latest Russian occupation, the Tatars have once again become a terrorized minority, and their language and culture are now being threatened by the current policy of Russification.

AFGHANISTAN: GOING BACK TO ZERO

Legal and Judicial System Collapsing Under Taliban Regime

Taliban

by Mahir Hazim, Jurist

The international community and the United States spent billions of dollars on rebuilding the Afghan legal and judicial system and improving the rule of law and governance over the past two decades. However, after the Taliban takeover, any such progress quickly disappeared and the foundations for the Afghan legal system that had been expensively rebuilt over the last 20 years are in state of collapse, approaching the state of lawlessness that existed prior to 2001. It is the responsibility of the United Nations and the countries engaging with the Taliban to make rescuing the legal system and ensuring rule of law their top priority when they negotiate with the regime.

LIBYA: WORSENING PROSPECTS FOR PEACE

LFJL

by Elham Saudi & Cristina Orsini, The New Humanitarian

Eleven years ago, courageous women and men took to the streets of Libya with an unflinching desire for human rights, justice, and democracy.

At the time, they were met with an unprecedented international response, ostensibly acting to protect them. The UN Security Council quickly established an arms embargo, a no-fly zone, and a rare referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC); NATO launched airstrikes.

Today, on the anniversary of the day when mass protests against Muammar Gaddafi began, the country's future could not be more precarious. Amidst delayed elections, fragmented governance—as of last week, there are two competing prime ministers—and prospects of renewed conflict, the UN-backed political process that was to set Libya on a path to peace and democracy is unravelling.

The international community has dramatically failed to live up to its promises to support Libya on this journey. In fact, as narrow geopolitical, security, and economic interests have taken center stage, it is making things worse.

UKRAINE: KHARKOV ANARCHISTS SPEAK

Ukraine anarchists

by Bill Weinberg, CounterVortex

Ukraine is in the world headlines now as a frontline of confrontation between Russia and the West. Russian-backed separatists have held the country’s eastern Donbas region since 2014, after a pro-Russian government was ousted in Kiev by the so-called Maidan Revolution. Russia also unilaterally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014. Putin is now threatening to directly invade the country if his demands are not met for a guarantee that it will not be granted NATO membership. Amid the geopolitical chess-game, few recall that during the Russian Revolution and the preceding years, Ukraine had one of the most powerful anarchist movements that the world has seen. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, anarchist groups have started to re-emerge in Ukraine, intransigently rejecting the regimes in Kiev and Moscow, and the power blocs around NATO and Russia, alike. CounterVortex communicated via email with one such group, the newly formed Assembly, which mostly functions as a media collective, reporting on labor and social struggles in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkov.

MYANMAR: CRISES SPIRAL ONE YEAR AFTER COUP

thantlang

by Irwin Loy, The New Humanitarian

Volatile new conflict zones, rising hunger, and hundreds of thousands uprooted: A year into a military coup, crises are spiralling across Myanmar, but aid blockades are cutting off assistance even as humanitarian needs reach record levels.

Conditions have worsened dramatically since the military seized power in a pre-dawn coup on February 1, 2021. Existing conflicts in border areas are deepening, and new crackdowns have emptied entire towns or villages—including in areas that hadn't seen major clashes in years.

At least 425,000 people have been newly uprooted over the last 12 months, more than doubling the number of internally displaced from before the coup. Yet humanitarian access has slowed to a trickle as the military tries to quell an armed resistance movement.

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