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Podcast: against Putin's Big Lie

In Episode 115 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin's ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Putin presides over Nuremberg-type mass rallies celebrating war and conquest, spews overtly genocidal rhetoric, and prepares concentration camps for the Crimean Tatars. Alexander Dugin, "Putin's Rasputin" and the intellectual mastermind of his revanchist imperial project, has openly called for "genocide" of the Ukrainians. In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, a forced mass deportation of the populace is reported. Putin is clearly approaching a genocidal threshold in Ukraine—while imposing a totalizing police state within Russia. Yet, with unimaginable perversity, all this is done in the name of a campaign  to "denazify" Ukraine. The painting of Ukraine as a "Nazi" state on the (dubious) basis of a few ugly right-wing paramilitaries on the Ukrainian side is vigorously repudiated by the leadership of Ukraine's Jewish community. Yet this "Big Lie" is credulously (or cynically) echoed by elements of the "left" as well as far right in the United States—who arrogantly refuse to listen to Ukrainians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

'Emergency' ends in Ethiopia — but not the war

Ethiopia's parliament voted on Feb. 15 for an early end to a six-month state of emergency, with the government citing its improved military position. The measure—introduced as Tigrayan rebel forces threatened Addis Ababa in November—gave the government power to detain citizens without charge, and thousands of Tigrayan civilians were rounded up. Tigrayan forces have since withdrawn to their stronghold in the country's north. Before doing so, they committed atrocities, including gang rapes, in the contested Amhara region, according to a report by Amnesty International. Government forces and their Eritrean allies are also accused of widespread abuses. Both sides are under international pressure to find a political solution to the war—with the release of detainees held under the state of emergency seen as an important step to dialogue. But fighting continues in Tigray and Afar, and the humanitarian situation remains dire. Medical supplies this month reached Tigray for the first time since July 2021—but there is no fuel for distribution of these critical supplies. The last time the government allowed in fuel for humanitarian operations was in August.

SCOTUS hears cases on indefinite migrant detention

The US Supreme Court this month heard oral arguments for two immigration cases that address the right of detained non-citizens to have a bond hearing after six months of detention. Both cases were brought by asylum-seekers who had been detained for extended periods without bond hearings following the issuance of a removal order.

UN experts condemn Gitmo on grim anniversary

A group of United Nations experts have condemned the US Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, calling it a site of "unparalleled notoriety." The statement came on the eve of Jan. 11, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the arrival of the first terrorism suspects at Guantánamo.

Denmark: ex-minister gets prison for family separation

The Danish Court of Impeachment, or Rigsretten, on Dec. 13 sentenced former immigration minister Inger Støjberg to 60 days in prison. The decision follows a rare impeachment trial in February, in which she was found to have ordered the illegal separation of married asylum-seeking partners while in office. The Rigsretten found Støjberg to be guilty of violating Section 5 (1) of the Ministerial Accountability Act, which holds that a minister will be punished if she or he, intentionally or through gross negligence, "neglects the duties incumbent on him under the constitution or legislation, in general, or according to the nature of his position."

Corporate sponsors of Beijing Olympics under pressure

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. 

Podcast: Ilshat Kokbore on the Uyghur struggle

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.

Crimes against humanity in Libya?

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.

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