India

Pipeline plans threatened by Af-Pak border clashes

Afghanistan authorities say some 60 civilians, including five children, were killed as Pakistan launched air-strikes across the border on Khost and Kunar provinces April 15 and 16. The strikes, carried out by both missiles and warplanes, follow a series of attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan's borderlands, including an April 14 ambush on a military convoy in North Waziristan district in the volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Protests in Baltistan amid Pak political crisis

Pakistan has seen mass mobilizations both in protest and celebration since parliament on April 10 voted to remove Imran Khan as prime minister. The vote took place three days after the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that an order by Khan to dissolve the parliament was unconstitutional. Parliament's lower house appointed the leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, as the new prime minister. Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, staged a walkout from the Assembly ahead of the vote.

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism: Moscow's propaganda offensive

Russia announced on March 1 that it intends to host an international "Anti-Fascist Conference"—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. Russia struck the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial in a raid apparently targeting a nearby TV tower, killing five people. The memorial marks the site of the murder of 33,771 Jews by the Nazis in one of the most heinous acts of World War II. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s first Jewish president, last year attended a ceremony for the opening of a synagogue at the site. He responded to the missile attack on the monument by tweeting: "To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? ...History repeating…"

India: hijab at issue in Karnataka unrest

Protests for and against the right of young women to wear the hijab in classrooms have swept across the Indian state of Karnataka, with incidents of stone-pelting and "lathicharge" (police baton-charge). The dispute began Jan. 1, when hijab-wearing Muslim students were denied entry at PU College in Udupi. Protests erupted this week at Udupi's Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College, where students organized by the right-wing Hindu Jagarana Vedike (youth arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS) demanded that school authorities either allow them to wear saffron shawls or call upon Muslim students remove their headscarves. The college acceded to the latter demand. In other schools, students wearing the hijab were made to sit in separate classrooms.

Podcast: solidarity with Nagaland

In Episode 109 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the under-reported conflict in India's northeastern state of Nagaland, which has seen a multi-generational pro-independence insurgency. Popular protest is rising there since an army massacre of coal-miners in December. The armed conflict began in 1956, when the Naga National Council declared independence from India in the face of Delhi's intransigence on recognizing local autonomy, and adopted a constitution emphasizing village self-rule. The traditional Naga territory is divided by the border with Burma, which has complicated their self-determination struggle. With Burma now going over the edge into civil war, there are growing fears that India's conflicted Northeast could be further enflamed. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Nagaland: cross-country march against 'special powers'

Hundreds in India's conflicted eastern state of Nagaland began a two-day cross-country march Jan. 10 to protest the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the military broad power to use deadly force in areas where it is declared to be in effect. Some 200 set out from Dimapur, the state's largest city, and the march had swelled to over a thousand by the time it reached state capital Kohima, 75 kilometers away. The action was called in response to last month's massacre of 14 residents in the village of Oting, where army troops fired on what proved to be truck filled with coal-miners on their way home after work—not separatist guerillas, as had apparently been suspected. The march was organized by the Global Naga Forum and the Naga Mothers' Association, whose spokesperson Rosemary Dzüvichü accused the Indian government of viewing the Naga people as "the other." She lamented: "We still have this colonial attitude being shown to us." (Nagaland Post)

Podcast: against 'normalcy'

In Episode 105 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality. Amid the relentless COVID-19 denialism, even mainstream voices are calling for a return to "normalcy" (sic)—which is not even a word. The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020's pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. President Biden just released oil from the Strategic Reserves to control soaring prices. Simultaneously, the administration is moving ahead with the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history. While during the 2020 lockdown. the usually smog-obscured Himalayas became visible from northern India for first time in decades, Delhi is now choked with emergency levels of toxic smog. While during the 2020 lockdown, the total US death rate actually dropped because people were staying off the roads, US traffic deaths are now soaring. New York's new Mayor Eric Adams wants to stake the city's economic future to the cryptocurrency industry, even as China is cracking down on Bitcoin "mining" (sic) because of its "extremely harmful" carbon footprint. And even amid all the empty hand-wringing about climate change, airlines are flying thousands of empty "ghost flights" in order to keep their slots at congested airports. The much-vaunted "return to normalcy" must be urgently resisted. As Bruce Cockburn observed long ago, the trouble with normal is it always gets worse. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

War on Christmas (yes, really) in Modi strongholds

Hindu militant groups disrupted Christmas celebrations and vandalized decorations in parts of India this season, local media report. The most serious incident was in Silchar, in the northeastern state of Assam, where apparent followers of the Bajrang Dal "manhandled" Hindu youth who attempted to join observances at a Presbyterian Church on Christmas Day. In a video posted on social media, one follower said: "We have nothing against the Christians who have every right to celebrate Christmas. Our issue is with the Hindus who went against their dharma to sing Merry Christmas instead of observing Tulsi Divas." Dec. 25 is recognized by some Hindus as Tulsi Divas, dedicated to the spiritual significance of the basil plant—although it appears to be a recent invention, aimed at helping Hindus resist the lure of Christmas. Bajrang Dal is the youth arm of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing organization allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The VHP has been named as one of the groups involved in the 2002 Gujarat genocide.

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