ICYMI | #159

Charges against rescue workers dropped | Violence in the West Bank | Berlin youth centres forced to close

By Staff

Our weekly roundup of stories you may have missed.

Iuventa crew acquitted

After a 7-year legal battle, the crew of the Iuventa rescue ship has been acquitted by an Italian court. The decision represents a major victory for activists in a high-profile case seen by many as emblematic of the EU’s broad criminalisation of solidarity with migrants. The Iuventa, operated by German NGO Jugend Rettet, helped save around 14,000 people at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean before 2017 when it was seized by Italian authorities and its crew put on trial for aiding and abetting illegal migration.

As is common in such cases, the decision to throw the charges out for lack of evidence followed a long and strenuous legal battle. Read our interview with activist on trial Seán Binder to learn more about why these cases go on for so long and what you can do to support the accused.

Israeli violence on the rise in the West Bank

Last week Israeli military forces raided the Nur Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarem in the West Bank. The 3-day raid killed at least 14 Palestinians and caused what has been described as the worst destruction of infrastructure seen in the West Bank since the Second Intifada of the early 2000s. In a new report by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s government has also been found responsible for a rise in deadly settler violence across the territory that has displaced hundreds and uprooted 7 entire communities – all with the backing of the Israeli state. The escalation is fuelling fears that the West Bank could be the next target for the Israeli military once the assault on Gaza draws to a close.

Mass grave discovered in Khan Younis

The bodies of around 200 Palestinians have been uncovered in a mass grave at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, Gaza. Reports indicate that many of the bodies were of those killed by Israeli forces in a raid last month or while the hospital was under siege, during which it was impossible for those trapped in the hospital to bury their dead. Israeli strikes across Gaza continue, including in the southern city of Rafah, where much of Gaza’s displaced population is sheltering. Tensions between Iran and Israel are also on the rise, with unconfirmed reports of Israeli drones shot down over the Iranian city of Isfahan on 19 April. The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 34,000 people.

Haiti establishes a temporary government

Haiti has announced the members of the new Presidential Transitional Council that will take power following the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry last month. The establishment of a transitional government is intended to reintroduce security and stability in the island nation wracked by violence and on the brink of famine.

 Parallel to these developments, civil society groups have urged France to repay the money that was originally paid by Haiti to the colonial power as a “ransom” for independence. The ransom was imposed on Haiti in 1806 after revolts of enslaved people led the country to independence, forcing the new nation to pay billions of dollars to its former coloniser, and plunging Haiti into economic debt that continues to damage the country’s economy.

Forced closure of Berlin youth centres

Over the weekend, Berlin authorities announced the immediate closure of queer-feminist youth centres Alia and Phantalisa. In a letter, the Senate cited private social media activity and the attendance of members at pro-Palestine demos as grounds for this decision. The closure of the youth centres without notice deprives dozens of marginalized girls and queer youth of important spaces and presents a worrying escalation in policing of political, left, and queer-feminist organisations. Follow Frieda-Frauen*zentrum e.V to stay up to date.

Syrians under attack in Lebanon

Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are facing rising hostilities. Last week news came to light of the racially motivated killing of Syrian refugee Ali Walid Abdelbaki, as well as several cases of assault and vandalism of Syrian property. Lebanese media organisations have been accused by activists of fuelling the rise in violence through their history of scapegoating refugees for the country’s ongoing economic and political crises. 90% of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country rely on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs, according to the UN.

Fashion retailers are profiting from illegal deforestation in Brazil

H&M and Zara have been linked to illegal deforestation and land grabs in Brazil. A new report by Earthsight draws on analysis of satellite images, shipment records, and court documents to trace the cotton supply chain for global fast fashion companies. Cotton providers SLC and Hiorita Group, who claim to be harvesting sustainably, are accused of involvement in illegal deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado region and the use of poisonous pesticides. Earthsight and local communities call on the Brazilian government to stop illegal deforestation and hold global companies like H&M and Zara accountable for enabling and funding these practices. 

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