In Burma, the mutilated body of independent journalist Myat Thu Tan was found at the military base where he had been detained, after the camp was overrun by rebels of the pro-democratic resistance. In Kazakhstan, detained activist Aqylbek Muratbai is fighting extradition to Uzbekistan, where he had been speaking out against bloody repression faced by his Karakalpak ethnic minority. And in Burkina Faso, human rights defender Daouda Diallo remains missing months after was "disappeared," presumably at the hands of the ruling military junta. Yet neither the mainstream media nor "progressives" in the West pay heed to these cases—while the reactionary and Kremlin-coopted Julian Assange is a cause célèbre. In Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that?
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.
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'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)
Meta has tweaked the Facebook algorithm to sideline links to news articles and boost "memes"—precisely the format most subject to the fabrications and distortions being aggressively peddled by both sides (yes) in the Gaza conflict. Such propaganda has already been implicated in genocide in Burma and Ethiopia. But even apart from such egregious abuses, memes are dumbing down discourse and entrenching groupthink and dogmatism—and are being pushed by Meta as part of its sinister corporate design to enclose the internet. In Episode 207 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls for a total moratorium on posting or sharing memes as a means of pressure on Meta to re-emphasize actual news articles, and deep-six the war propaganda.
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'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.
Burma's rebel Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has taken control of nearly the entire town of Namkham in northern Shan state, besieging the last remaining junta outpost there on Nov. 6. The town is located along the Shweli River, a main trade route on the Chinese border. Meanwhile, in Mongko—northeast of Namkham and also located on the border with China—TNLA allies the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army have reportedly captured four junta bases, representing a serious loss of strategic territory for the regime. These rebel armies together make up a force known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance, now emerging as the junta's most formidable military challenge. (Myanmar Now, The Diplomat)