Human Rights Watch on Nov. 12 accused the corporate sponsors of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics of ignoring China's crimes against humanity in its far western region of Xinjiang, thus "squandering the opportunity" to pressure China to address its "appalling human rights record." Coca-Cola, Intel, Toyota and Airbnb are among the 13 Olympic Partners who were accused by name of overlooking China's mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups, as well as the repression of free speech in Hong Kong.
In Episode 96 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Ilshat Kokbore, former president of the Uyghur American Association and current director for China affairs with the World Uyghur Congress. Kokbore relates the story of his exile from his homeland in East Turkistan, known to its current Chinese rulers as Xinjiang, for petitioning against the purge of the Uyghur language from the educational system in 2003. Since then, of course, the situation has escalated to mass detention and even, in the opinion of many international legal experts, genocide. Kokbore discusses the history of the independence struggle in East Turkistan and the current campaign to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
At least six people were killed and dozens more wounded by guards who opened fire at asylum seekers and migrants attempting to escape en masse from an overcrowded detention center in Tripoli on Oct. 8. This came after the Libyan authorities rounded up and detained at least 5,000 asylum seekers and migrants in the capital, starting on Oct. 1. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council said it believes "crimes against humanity" have been committed in Libya's detention centers. So far this year, more than 26,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard and returned to the centers, where they face a well-documented cycle of abuse. Despite the human rights concerns, the EU's executive body, the European Commission, is reportedly aiming to deliver new patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard.
The Uyghur Tribunal, an "independent people's court" convened by exile and human rights groups, concluded last week after months of hearings in London. Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress, the Tribunal was organized last year by Sir Geoffrey Nice, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Uyghur Tribunal heard testimony from some 500 witnesses, including survivors of the detention camps in Xinjiang, on torture, sexual abuse, coerced labor, and forced sterilization.
A new memorandum of understanding allowing Australia to continue to indefinitely detain asylum seekers at a facility on the Pacific island of Nauru was signed on Sept. 24. Since 2012, asylum seekers arriving by boat have been barred from settlement in Australia and sent to offshore detention centers instead. The deal extending use of the Nauru facility comes just as the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) finally reached an agreement to close the contentious Manus Island Regional Processing Center. In the deal announced Oct. 6, Australia and the PNG finalized a Regional Resettlement Arrangement in which detainees on Manus Island will either be transfered to Nauru or allowed to remain in Papua New Guinea with a "migration pathway" allowing eventual legal residency.
Of more than 24,000 asylum seekers and migrants intercepted at sea this year by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard, only 6,000 are accounted for in Libya's official detention centers, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told the Associated Press last week. The fate of thousands of others returned to the country remains unknown, and it is suspected that many are being sold to human traffickers.
The latest report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic stated on Sept. 14 that Syria is "not fit for safe and dignified returns of refugees." The report found that between July 2020 and June 2021, armed conflict increased in the country. The report documented 243 civilian deaths, but estimated that the total number of fatalities is actually far greater. The report also stressed the humanitarian crisis and ongoing human rights abuses in the country. Conditions were also found to be precarious for the 6.7 million displaced persons within the country.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department on July 28 imposed sanctions on eight prisons run by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's intelligence unit, for human rights abuses against political prisoners and other detainees. Additionally, OFAC added five senior security officials of al-Assad's regime who control the detention facilities to the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons List. According to OFAC, the regime has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Syrians during the war, of whom at least 14,000 have been tortured to death, with a further 130,000 missing and believed to be under arbitrary detention. OFAC also placed sanctions on Syrian armed rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqiya and two of its leaders for abuses against civilians.