FSRN Weekly Edition – April 14, 2017

(Photo credit: Franklin Heijnen via Flickr / Creative Commons)
  • U.S. drops “mother of all bombs” – Trump says he gave “his” military “total authorization”
  • Human rights activists push for ISIS to face UN war crimes tribunal
  • 60,000 immigrants held at Colorado facility sue GEO Group for forced labor
  • Rohingya refugees fear expulsion from India
  • Myanmar’s transition to democracy provides opening for deeper social change
  • Families in Mexico launch their own searches for missing loved ones

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U.S. drops “mother of all bombs” – Trump says he gave “his” military “total authorization”

In eastern Afghanistan Thursday evening, U.S. forces deployed the most powerful conventional munition in the country’s arsenal – second only to a nuclear bomb — targeting a series of caves used by ISIS fighters the Achin district of Nangarhar province. Nell Abram has more.

 

Human rights activists push for ISIS to face UN war crimes tribunal

The U.S.-led fight against ISIS spans multiple countries. In Iraq, the offensive in Mosul continues, and in Syria ground forces are closing in on the last of ISIS’s major urban strongholds — the city of Raqqa. If ISIS loses its territorial claims across Iraq and Syria, what comes after military action? To human rights activists the answer is a war-crimes tribunal. FSRN’s Patricia Nunan has more from New York.

 

60,000 immigrants held at Colorado facility sue GEO Group for forced labor

Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to the US-Mexico border in Arizona this week, where he issued new guidelines for ramped up immigration enforcement. He ordered additional charges be brought against undocumented immigrants when possible and directed that repeat entrants be charged with felony crimes. The new guidelines also call for the prosecution of anyone involved in transporting or harboring undocumented immigrants. While the stated goal aims to target people smugglers, members of mixed status families fear that provision could be used against them for things as basic as living together or for traveling in the same car.

Private prison operators are already cashing in on the Trump-era crackdown. The GEO Group announced Thursday it has secured a contract with the government to build a new 1000 bed, $110 million immigration prison in Conroe, Texas – just north of Houston. The contract comes as the GEO Group faces a class-action lawsuit in Colorado, where at least 60,000 immigrants accuse the for-profit detention company of forcing them to work for little or no pay under threat of solitary confinement. Hannah Leigh Myers reports.

 

Rohingya refugees fear expulsion from India

Anti-refugee sentiment coming from the top office of the world’s most powerful country seems to have emboldened nationalist tendencies elsewhere. Human rights groups in India are concerned about  the government’s plan to deport Rohingya refugees. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar are living in exile in India but, Hindu nationalist groups have launched a campaign to drive them out of the country. Bismillah Geelani reports.

 

Myanmar’s transition to democracy provides opening for deeper social change

In Myanmar, violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority hasn’t let up despite profound political changes. A year ago, citizens the country also referred to as Burma – saw their first civilian president take office in a government led by pro-democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi. This major step toward a representative government came after more than half a century of brutal military rule. While for decades, any talk of human rights was banned, the country is now seeing hundreds of civil society organizations mushroom – but human rights advocates say not everyone is benefiting from the new freedoms in the country. FSRN’s Lena Odgaard reports.

 

Families in Mexico launch their own searches for missing loved ones

In Mexico, families of the disappeared have been leading efforts to uncover mass graves. More than 300 bodies have been unearthed in recent weeks, and along with the bodies come hints at the answers thousands of families have been seeking since loved ones went missing in the decade of militarized drug war in the country. The graves also expose the tense relationship between the families of the victims and the authorities tasked with solving crimes. Clayton Conn reports from the Mexican capital.

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