On Friday, June 24th, at least 23 migrants from various Sub-Saharan African countries, attempting to cross the Morocco-Spain border were killed in Melilla, Spain. Next to the 23 deaths, about 58 migrants and 140 border security officers were also injured in this Melilla massacre.
According to Spanish officials the conflict started with around 2,000 people gathering to cross the Spanish border. With the use of shears, more than 500 people managed to cut their way through the iron fence, breaking into a border control area.
It is still unclear how the deaths occurred; whether from a stampede, falling from the fence or because of the actions taken by border control officers. According to some non-profit organisations, 37 people died while according to Moroccan authorities at least 23 people died.
According to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the mass crossing was a “violent assault” and “an attack on the territorial integrity of Spain”. Sánchez also accused the occurrence of this incident on the “mafias that traffic in human beings.” Initially Sánchez had also said that the crisis had been “well resolved”. However, after facing criticism for his “irresponsible” words, Sánchez claimed that he had not seen the full images before making his statement.
“There are no mafias, nor do we have the money to pay them. We organise ourselves.”Mohamed, 20 years old migrant from Sudan
“There are no mafias, nor do we have the money to pay them. We organise ourselves.” 20-year-old Mohamed, a migrant from Sudan, said. Mohamed is one of the 133 people who managed to jump the Melilla fence.
This massacre, now being labelled ‘the deadliest day on the border’, has resulted in a lot of worldwide criticism and dismay.
“These were horrifying deaths, the scenes from Melilla are downright dystopian, exemplifying everything that is unconscionable about Spain and the EU’s approach to migrants and refugees, particularly if they are Black or Brown”, said Jude Sunderland of the Human Rights watch.
AMDH, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, also shared a video showing numerous migrants lying closely on the floor, being watched by armed officers. The organisation criticised the treatment of the border control officers as “violent” and “inhumane”. They also added “[They were] left without help on the spot for hours, which increased the number of deaths.” The group shared another video of dead and injured migrants lying on the ground, while authorities walked around them. The group again condemned authorities, saying “[they] do nothing to help them.”
In a demonstration in Melilla by Sub-Saharan immigrants three days after the massacre, a banner criticised the Spanish government saying “You receive the Ukrainians with flowers and because we are black, you send us to hell.”
Compared to the 1,092 people that reached Spain through the same border in 2021, the number of migrants in last week’s event are quite high. However, these shocking events are becoming more common. In March of this year alone, 2,500 Sub-Saharan migrants tried reaching Spain through the Melilla border.
US Operations in Afghanistan and Beyond: A threat to locals
The assassination of Ayman Al- Zawahiri through a drone attack shows the US has still not given up on its operations in Afghanistan.
The assassination of Ayman Al- Zawahiri through a drone attack shows that US operation in Afghanistan have still not ended.
The Al- Qaeda leader, wanted for his role in various terrorist attacks around the world and in the US, has not only left an empty place for a future successor but has also opened a place for the Taliban to calculate their moves against the US and the groups within the country.
The Twitter feeds of Afghan journalists are filled with various videos of clashes between Taliban militants and the Islamic States sympathizers of Khorasan Province (ISKP). The clashes have resulted from the former group’s attack on Shia gatherings and busses that has caused numerous casualties. These videos containing several graphic scenes of blood and bodies are just an insight into the state of Afghanistan after a year of America abandoning it in the hands of the Afghan Taliban.
Since the United States removed its forces from Afghanistan after 2 decades of controlling the country’s borders and shifting the political and social dynamics of the region, the country has been struggling to regain its identity and strength. While the Taliban forces are trying to imitate governance with an Islamic rule in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, extremist groups from the inside of the country are becoming a challenge for them. ISKP has already claimed the lives of more than 300 people between January 2020 and July 2021. The casualties from the Kabul airport attack and the recent attacks on Shia groups in the Holy month of Muharram hike the number up to around 600.
The recent killing of Al- Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a drone attack orchestrated by the US in Kabul has further fueled the unrest. Zawahiri, who was leading Al-Qaeda’s operations since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, had been on the United State’s wanted list for years. His involvement in the infamous 9/11 plans had put a bounty of 25 million dollars on his head. The attack through which according to the US “justice has been delivered,”, has been called a violation of the Doha pact signed between the Taliban and US officials in 2020. While Al-Qaeda is deciding on a new leader, the group is also being prompted to respond to this loss. Several statements from ISKP’s telegram have been made to frame the Taliban for assistance in the attack, mocking the apparent alliance between Al-Qaeda and The Taliban forces.
The situation in Afghanistan keeps getting worse but it appears that America is using the savior narrative, to explain the US operations in Afghanistan, for its people to distract from the bigger changes that are taking place in the dynamics of foreign affairs, seeming to be a threat to locals. The narrative that aided its involvement in Iraq, sanctions on Iran, and 20 years long control over Afghanistan have not bore any fruitful results, but rather have overturned the sociological and international stature of the region.
US President Biden, in his remarks on the attack, assured the people of America of their safety and security, “We will always remain vigilant, and we will act. And we will always do what is necessary to ensure the safety and security of Americans at home and around the globe.”
In the meantime, the US continues aid to Ukraine against Russia, and its visit to Taiwan amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan is signaling a threat that is potentially greater than Al-Qaeda.
As Biden pledges to “continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond”, it remains unclear how the US plans to address the impact of these operations on the lives of the people in Afghanistan and beyond where people are already living under a threat of a humanitarian crisis.
The Horrifying Abuse of Uyghur Muslims in China
The horrifying abuse of Uyghur Muslims in China
On a recent visit to the Xinjiang region, China’s President Xi Jinping said, ‘Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation.’ There he spoke to officials and said religions should adapt to ‘the socialist society.’
With the tightened grip on society that the President has, his government has been repeatedly accused of oppressing Muslims and detaining them in “re-education camps.” Ever since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) implemented its five-year plan to “sinicize” Islam, there have been countless Mosques across China that have been deconstructed or repressed. However, it does not stop there, an estimated ‘three million Uyghur Muslims have been unjustly detained in Chinese concentration camps.’ China has proclaimed that these facilities are so called ‘re-education camps’ however survivors have confirmed it to be ‘worse than prisons.’
The Human Rights Watch has said that Uyghurs – the largest minority ethnic group in China’s north-western province of Xinjiang – are subjected to intense surveillance and forced to provide DNA and biometric samples. Anyone who has relatives residing in at least twenty-six “sensitive” countries have been reportedly rounded up and swept into detainments. From there, they are made to learn Mandarin Chinese, and to criticise or renounce their faith.
Approximately nearly half a million Muslim children have been torn and separated from their families and placed in boarding schools. The detainees have been subjected to forced labour, medicine is forcibly administered to women to stop their menstrual period and several women survivors – even during their teenage years – have reported being gang-raped by guards at their facilities.
A recent article was released by the BBC revealing all the human lives that had been torn apart by China’s Uyghur concentration camps. These leaked secret CCP documents known as Xinjiang Police Files were obtained by unidentified hackers and exposed the prison-like nature of the concentration camps that officials insisted to be “Vocational Training Centres.”
Amongst files upon files of rules and regulations, there were police manuals describing shoot-to-kill policies on any Uyghurs attempting to escape and the document also provided a solid amount of evidence towards a policy which was targeted to any expression of Uyghur identity, culture, or the Islamic faith – with a chain of command that ran all the way up to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.
Many have been detained just for ordinary, apparent signs of their Islamic faith or for visiting countries with majority Muslim populations. Offences such as “growing a beard under the influence of religious extremism” have led people to become interments for more than sixteen years and the Chinese state have then determined their expression of Uyghur identity to be illegal.
This ongoing rights issue has led to questions of consent and whether it has been applied to this situation. In Tumxuk, Chinese scientists are trying to find a way to create an image of a person’s face using a DNA sample. This facial recognition technology is advancing and being used to sort people by ethnicity and the usage of DNA is to tell if an individual is Uyghur.
Ethics of science have been pushed beyond the barriers of privacy, China has been accused of creating “technologies used for hunting people.”
Religious indoctrination is being forced upon Muslim Uyghurs; they are made to chant “Communist Party Akbar” instead of the traditional “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) that Muslims say to praise and glorify God.
These “re-education camps” have led to slow, painful deaths for many Uyghurs. Physical and mental torture, beatings, crowded cells, no toilets, and forced medication.
Four People Shot near Vancouver by Gunman
- Four people were shot near Vancouver, Canada at a casino, homeless center, bus stop, and highway before the gunman was found and killed by the police.
- Two people were shot fatally, and the gunman is suspected to have been targeting homeless people, with the motive still unclear.
- The shooting began at midnight and ended early in the morning. Residents in the area received public service alerts about the shooting at 6:15am.
- Mayor Val van den Broek commented on the tragedy and spoke about the problem of homelessness in the British Columbia province, calling on officials to work harder to address it.
Britain First: a violent far-right group still active in the UK
A report by the organisation Hope Not Hate on the British First group was released last month. It delved into the violent tendencies of the group members due to their anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, and racist views.
The group was founded in 2011 by current and former British National Party (BNP) members. It was formed by Jim Dowson and initially targeted Muslim communities. They received much attention at one point with over nine million likes on Facebook and former President Donald Trump even retweeting the group’s Islamophobic videos.
In September of 2021, Britain First registered as a political party after its application was approved by the Electoral Commissioner.
While assassinating Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, far-right extremist Thomas Mair shouted “Britain first” before committing the murder.
The report by anti-hate charity Hope not Hate talks about the violent tendencies of the group members as they are described as “criminals, racists and those with violent pasts” by the report. It says the group is one of the most “active” far-right groups in the UK and is “dysfunctional, dangerous and in our communities”. Its chairman Paul Golding has been convicted many times. The most recent one was in 2020 under the Terrorism Act because he refused to show his mobile to the police after his political trip to Moscow. The group is known for its pro-Putin stance.
It is not just the chairman with a violent past; others have also been convicted.
Zakrocki was a Britain First fan who told a police officer: “I’m going to kill a Muslim. I’m doing it for Britain. This is how I’m going to help the country. You people cannot do anything.”
Right after this, he drove into Kamal Ahmed outside Spicy Night restaurant in Harrow, northwest London in 2018. He did not serve time in jail although he was sentenced to 33 weeks in jail. The man was also accused of drunk driving and beating his wife.
A violent man who drove his van into a London Mosque killing one person and injuring 12 others in 2018. He was sentenced to life in prison for this horrific act.
He wanted to attack a pro-Palestinian march and kill socialist opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan but due to road blockage, he couldn’t. Shortly after midnight, he rammed his van into Muslims leaving after prayer in Ramadan, and killed Makram Ali. He told the court he tried murdering as many people as he could.
This man was jailed for six years for sharing hate speech videos.
“Barraclough posted appalling racist material online, with the intention of encouraging others to adopt his extremist views and hatred of black people,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Dominic Murphy.
Yates was an active member of the group that took part in anti-migrant protests while downloading instructions on how to make fireballs and explosive devices.
The man was detained for 30 months in a young offenders institute with a one-month concurrent term for possession of an extreme pornographic image on his phone.
Lundy was accused in 2016 for “possessing documents in preparation for an act of terrorism that included the UDA code of conduct”. Prior to this arrest the man was also accused by his ex-girlfriend of stomping on her head and choking her with the shower hose.
These are just some of the crimes by the group member that is also known for following conspiracy theories that believe that white Europeans are being replaced by immigrants. In fact, the group has been accused of scamming their own supporters and stealing from the elderly by making donation buttons confusing. The donor thinks they are making one-off donations while the banks think withdrawals are being made as a standing order.
Guantanamo Bay Still Open Despite International Condemnation
The infamous U.S detention centre known as Guantanamo Bay is still open despite repeated international calls for its closure. Founded under the Bush administration in January 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the consequent U.S invasion of Afghanistan, Guantanamo bay was the intended prison for those suspected to be linked to the terrorist groups Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
However it soon gained notoriety for being a place where those of Afghan or Middle Eastern identity were held without trial for years, denied access to lawyers, humiliated, beaten and tortured – in direct contravention of international law.
According to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Further, the June 1987 UN Convention Against Torture declares that “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture.”
To sidestep this legal small print, the Bush administration chose Cuba as the destination for Guantanamo Bay, arguing that it rendered the convention inapplicable and that prisoners belonging to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups were exempt from reprieve. This justification was rejected by the Supreme Court many years later.
Just two weeks ago, the last of two Afghan nationals held in Guantanamo without trial was released after talks between the U.S and the now-Taliban-headed Afghan government. Asadullah Haroon Gull was released from the facility after being held there for the last 15 years. He was first detained in Afghanistan, Jalalabad by American forces before being sent to Guantanamo bay.
According to the UK based rights group Reprieve, Gull’s family feared him dead for many years and he was blocked access to a lawyer for the first nine years of his captivity. Eventually in 2016 Reprieve worked with the law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss to obtain his release by citing habeus corpus – a writ aiming to dispute the legality of the defendant’s imprisonment before the court. In October 2021, the firm won its case and Gull’s was released after the District Court of Clumbia ruled that he was unlawfully imprisoned since he had not been a member of Al-Qaeda but Hezb-e-Islami (HIA) which had formally been at peace since 2016. Gull is the first detainee in Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade to win a habeus corpus case.
Former U.S President Barack Obama tried to have Guantanamo Bay closed down by signing an order for its closure when he took the presidential seat in 2009. However this was reversed by President Donald Trump in 2018 who signed an executive order to keep it open. Since its inception in the Bush era, around 800 Muslim men and boys have passed through the gates of Guantanamo Bay. Currently 36 prisoners remain, of which 27 have never been charged of any crimes, and it remains open despite its existence being ruled unlawful by the world’s ruling legal bodies.
Sri Lankans Demand Change as President Rajapaksa Flees to Maldives
- Sri Lanka’s Air Force has confirmed that President Rajapaksa has fled the country to Maldives with his wife and two security officials.
- The President also announced that he will resign by Wednesday, but still hasn’t sent an official resignation letter; meanwhile, he has appointed Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting President.
- Rajapaksa’s leave officially ends his family’s control on politics after 20 years; he had been hiding in his residence, until protesters stormed him and forced him to pledge that he will resign.
- Acting President Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency and has ordered the military to do “whatever is necessary to restore order.” He stated, “We can’t tear up our constitution. We can’t allow fascists to take over. We must end this fascist threat to democracy.”
- Nevertheless, protestors are saying they won’t stop demonstrating until both leaders resign. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Columbo, rallying against the government and leaders through their fiery speeches on a makeshift stage.
- For months, Sri Lankans have been struggling with power shortages, fuel, food, and healthcare, and they blame the president for the worst economic crisis in decades.
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