Southeast Asia Theater

Burma: investigate killing of journalist Myat Thu Tan

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Feb. 16 called for the Burmese military government to investigate the killing of journalist Myat Thu Tan and prosecute the perpetrators. The journalist's remains were reportedly found buried in a bomb shelter at a military camp in the ttown of Mrauk-U in Rakhine state. The body, bearing signs of torture, was discovered along with those of six other political detainees after the camp was overrun Feb. 5 by the insurgent Arakan Army. It was determined that he had been shot and killed on Jan. 31.

Thailand: southern insurgency accepts peace plan

Muslim separatists in Thailand's Deep South agreed in principle to an "improved" peace plan with the government on Feb. 7. The agreement, facilitated by Malaysia, follows years of abortive talks. The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the main separatist organization, announced a unilateral ceasefire in 2020 in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, facilitating a new round of negotiations on greater autonomy for the region. More than 7,000 people have been killed in 20 years of intermittent fighting between government forces and separatists in the country's three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, whose populations are overwhelmingly Malay Muslim. (TNH)

Burma junta extends state of emergency again

Burma's ruling military junta announced Jan. 31 that it has extended the country's state of emergency period for another six months. The junta previously extended the state of emergency by six months on July 31, 2023 and postponed an election it had promised to hold in August 2023. The state of emergency was first declared in the aftermath of the February 2021 coup, and has been continuously extended since then.

Burma: key border city falls to rebels

Burma's ruling junta acknowledged that it withdrew its forces from a key city on the border with China after it was seized by an alliance of ethnic rebel armies. The fall of Laukkai Jan. 4 is the most significant defeat the junta has suffered since the self-declared Three Brotherhood Alliance launched its offensive in northeastern Shan state Oct. 27. (AP, Myanmar Now) Days earlier, on Dec. 30, at least 150 junta soldiers fled across the border into India's Mizoram state, driven from their outposts in Burma's northwestern Chin state by the rebel Arakan Army. The soldiers turned themselves over to a detachment of India's paramilitary Assam Rifles, and had to be flown back to Burmese territory. (Tribune India, The Economic Times, BNI)

Podcast: the Burmese struggle in the Great Game

The US uses its veto on the UN Security Council to protect its client state Israel amid the criminal bombardment of Gaza, while Russia and China pose as protectors of the Palestinians. In Burma, the situation is precisely reversed: Russia and China protect the brutal junta on the Security Council, while the US and UK pose as protectors of the pro-democratic resistance. Yet another example of how a global divide-and-rule racket is the essence of the state system. Bill Weinberg dissects the mutual imperial hypocrisy in Episode 206 of the CounterVortex podcast.

China seeks ceasefire in Burma border zone

China's government announced Dec. 14 that it had mediated a short-term ceasefire to the conflict between the Burmese junta and armed groups of ethnic peoples in the northern regions near the Chinese border. The conflict has been escalating since the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) launched Operation 1027 in Burma's northern Shan state in late October. None of the parties to the conflict have commented on the supposed ceasefire.

Philippines: agreement with rebels to reset peace talks

In a joint statement released Nov. 28, the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced an agreement to reset peace negotiations in an attempt to end a 54-year-long conflict. The agreement was facilitated by Norway and signed in Oslo by representatives of both President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and the NDFP. The statement cited "socioeconomic and environmental issues," as well as "foreign security threats facing the country" as reasons for the re-opening of negotiations. Talks most recently stalled in 2017 when then-president Rodrigo Duterte broke off a peace process and declared the NDFP-affiliated New People's Army (NPA) a "terrorist organization." 

UN call to disband Philippine 'counterinsurgency force'

The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry, called Nov. 15 for the disbandment of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which he called a "counter-insurgency force" in the Philippines.

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