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Toward Freedom: a progressive perspective on world events.

Toward Freedom

1 day 7 hours ago

Sharing a story today that was first published by openDemocracy, which looks at the recent revival of the "night watchmen" in Turkey & what it could mean for opponents of President Erdogan.

"... the reinstatement of the neighborhood watchmen recruitment and the recent expansion of their powers constitutes a further step in the transformation of the structure and functioning of the internal security apparatus in Turkey in line with the security concerns of the increasingly autocratic Erdogan and the AKP regime, who would like to secure their survival against their perceived enemies, including political opponents, such as leftists, Gulenists, and Kurdish activists, as well as potential coup plotters inside the formal security apparatus.

Indeed, during Turkey’s authoritarian transformation which further crystallized following the AKP’s victory in the 2011 parliamentary elections, especially following the anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013 which unraveled the public outcry against AKP’s increasingly authoritarian policies, several transformations happened with critical implications for policing and internal security structure in Turkey.

Following major corruption charges against senior members of the AKP government in December 2013, and particularly after the failed coup attempt of July 2016, the ruling AKP government launched mass purges in the National Police, which resulted in the mass dismissals of about thirty three thousand police officers over their alleged links to Gulenists, the former ally of AKP who have been since then criminalized as a national security threat in Turkey."

Toward Freedom

2 days 6 hours ago

This piece from The Appeal looks at a court case brought by Breonna Taylor's family that alleges that the "raid that killed Taylor was part of a broader effort to evict residents" as part of a "redevelopment initiative" in Louisville.

"...academic research and historical scholarship show that policing can be particularly intense during the process of gentrification. This research suggests that the continued use of police to pursue economic development will most likely result in more needless stops, arrests, and deaths like Breonna Taylor’s. Recent protests have demanded that police no longer be used as the first response to social problems like mental health crises and drug addiction. That demand might also extend to excluding police from urban 'renewal.'

We need non-police responses to housing policy that create affordable housing and keep long-term residents in their homes. Cities should move funding away from police and toward housing, community development, and poverty alleviation—the kinds of efforts that can prevent crime."

Toward Freedom

4 days 8 hours ago

Today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. We've got an op-ed by Joan Carling and Mike Taylor looking at the threat of eviction and the power of Indigenous resistance up on the site.

"As people take to the streets in parts of the world to protest for justice and equity, we’re seeing an alarming trend where Indigenous peoples and communities are being hit with the “same old” threat of land grabbing, only now under the guise and cover of a government sanctioned lockdown. This in turn facilitates the impunity of such evictions and puts displaced communities at a higher risk of being exposed to the global pandemic in a vicious cycle.

Defending the planet has never been more deadly for Indigenous peoples. Data released last week by Global Witness shows that 40% of the land and environmental defenders who lost their lives in 2019 were from Indigenous communities.

Looking ahead to recovery from the pandemic, we fear an acceleration of evictions. Governments trying to kick-start economies may ignore high social and environmental costs and target Indigenous peoples and local communities’ lands and territories, which are rich in biodiversity and resources."

Toward Freedom

6 days 8 hours ago

Today we've got a story up from The Conversation that, in light of the tragic explosion on Tuesday, helps us understand some of the rich history of the port of Beirut.

"The port of Beirut also stands close to the dense residential areas of Gemmayzeh, Geitawi and the upmarket urban pockets of Sursock and Tabaris, separated only by a motorway. East of the port, and directly adjacent, are the neighbourhoods of Mar Mikhail and Karantina – the Ottoman quarantine station which marked the point of arrival and settlement for successive waves of refugees, including from Armenia in the 1920s and Palestine from the 1940s.

This cluster of neighbourhoods hosts many of Lebanon’s state and private services, including the electricity provider (EDL), a bus terminal and three hospitals. Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael, in particular, have undergone a process of gentrification in the last decade, prompting protests from residents against demolitions of heritage buildings, noise pollution and soaring property prices.

The popular quarters around the port and the reconstructed city centre present two sides of Beirut’s postwar reconstruction. Top-down regeneration with a master plan has taken place in the Beirut Central District, while a slow-burning gentrification characterizes the other neighbourhoods."

Toward Freedom

1 week 9 hours ago

Sharing this story from The Conversation US on the clear-cut case for reparations in Haiti.

"To deny that the consequences of slavery were also material is to deny French history itself. France belatedly abolished slavery in 1848 in its remaining colonies of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion and French Guyana, which are still territories of France today. Afterwards, the French government demonstrated once again its understanding of slavery’s relationship to economics when it took it upon itself to financially compensate the former 'owners' of enslaved people.

The resulting racial wealth gap is no metaphor. In metropolitan France 14.1% of the population lives below the poverty line. In Martinique and Guadeloupe, in contrast, where more than 80% of the population is of African descent, the poverty rates are 38% and 46%, respectively. The poverty rate in Haiti is even more dire at 59%. And whereas the median annual income of a French family is $31,112, it’s only $450 for a Haitian family."

Toward Freedom

1 week 1 day ago

Today we've got a review of John Washington's new book The Dispossessed up on the site.

"In The Dispossessed, John Washington, an activist with No More Deaths–No Mas Muertos, longtime Spanish translator, and journalist, takes Arnovis’s story—his harrowing escapes from El Salvador and repeated rejections for asylum in the US—and uses it breathe feverish life into that nightmarish global border system. By illustrating the life of a man torn apart by asylum, Washington paints a jolting vision of a world of cleaved by global economic apartheid.

Arnovis made three trips from El Salvador to the US. Each time he was rejected, funnelled instead through a gulag archipelago of immigration jails and then sent back injudiciously to El Salvador, where he feared he would be killed by gangs or the policemen or soldiers working with them. By the end, fearing for his daughter’s life, Arnovis took her North too. She too, in the end, would be stolen from him.

Washington makes it abundantly clear that Arnovis’s story is far from unique. Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras were ripped to shreds by US-backed counterinsurgencies in the 1980s, inundated with weapons, and stripped of their wealth by asymmetric 'free trade agreements' in the 90s and 2000s, are now as notorious for belching out US-bound migrants as they are for rampant gang and state violence."

Toward Freedom

1 week 3 days ago

Today we've got a video report up about the Tren Maya which features interviews with folks in the Mexican state of Campeche.

The video was shot in March before Covid-19 began to shut down Mexico and the US. Journalist and activist Caitlin Manning spoke with numerous local members of the Regional Indigenous and Popular Council of Xpujil, who oppose the project.

Toward Freedom

1 week 6 days ago

Today we've got a piece up on the contradictions of urbanization in two cities in India.

"The village of Lonikand, on the northeast side of Pune, had long produced green, leafy vegetables but is now growing sugarcane. This crop is easier to manage, as factories send labourers to harvest and transport it. Many local landowners preferred to rent or sell their estates for commercial ventures, but some resisted.

'My family had migrated to Lonikand near Pune, where there was more social acceptance for lower castes, and bought a piece of agricultural land. We have been producing sufficient cereals and vegetables for the household, as well as to sell,' said Pushpa, a woman farmer, during an interview with our student research team last year. 'I want my children to be educated farmers and do not want our land sold off, although there is pressure on my husband currently to sell off our land, by wealthy farmers and contractors.'"

Toward Freedom

2 weeks 1 day ago

Today we've got a previously unpublished interview with Honduran activist Berta Cáceres up on the site.

"Building democracy is a life-long project, together, as part of a collectivity, in society. It also has to do with making an anti-democratic attack permanent, a project of domination which has not only invaded all of our [Honduran] territories, our neighborhoods, our communities, urban and rural alike, but which has expanded and is being consolidated: model cities, the Alliance for Prosperity, military bases, the whole national territory being offered to transnational mining corporations on a silver platter. And criminalization, in order to finish off the opposition by any means necessary. This whole project of domination has been consolidated in Honduras.

This is an impact that, for me, has to do with power—with the concept of power created from within capitalism, which is very patriarchal and racist in its form of domination. And it’s sucking us dry from all sides, advancing. And they carried out a coup d’état in order to not have to cede anything. It’s what we’ve been saying since day one. They carried out the coup because they are not willing to cede an inch."

Toward Freedom

2 weeks 2 days ago

Since October, over 400 people in Chile have been partially blinded by police in the context of a sustained social uprising. Recently they've launched a campaign to raise funds & awareness.