East Asia
ĂśrĂĽmqi Road

China: activist filmmaker faces prison

Police in China charged Chen Pin Lin, director of documentary Not the Foreign Force, with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to Chinese human rights monitors Weiquanwang and Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch. The charge, an offense under Article 293 of China’s Criminal Act, has been widely criticized for its elusive definition and use against dissidents and human rights defenders. The film, also known as ĂśrĂĽmqi Road in Chinese, depicts the nationwide protests against COVID-19 lockdown measures in China. Posted online by Chen under the pseudonym “Plato,” the film criticizes the Chinese government for attempting to blame foreign forces for the protests. (Image via YouTube)

Planet Watch
Daouda Diallo

Frontline fighters (and martyrs) for free speech

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 Dialloremains 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 cĂ©lèbre. In Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: CISC via OHCR)

Central Asia

Karakalpak activist detained in Kazakhstan

Police in Almaty, Kazakhstan, detained Aqylbek Muratbai, an activist who has been working to raise international awareness about the bloody crackdown on a mass protest in his native Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of western Uzbekistan, last July. It is feared that Kazakh authorities intend to deport him to Uzbekistan, where he could face a severe prison sentence. (Map: Wikipedia)

Southeast Asia

Burma: investigate killing of journalist Myat Thu Tan

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called for the Burmese military government to investigate the killing of journalist Myat Thu Tan and prosecute the perpetrators. The journalist’s remains were found buried in a bomb shelter at a military camp in Rakhine state. The body, bearing signs of torture, was discovered along with six other political detainees after the camp was overrun by the insurgent Arakan Army. Since September 2022, authorities had held Myat Thu Tan in pre-trial detention. At the time of his death, he had not been tried or convicted of any offense. He was accused of disseminating “defamatory material” on social media, in violation of the Burmese Penal Code. According to Human Rights Watch, the offense is used “to target those speaking critically of the military” following the coup of February 2021. (Map: PCL)

Afghanistan women

Afghanistan: UN decries restrictions on women’s rights

A United Nations report found that the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s attire and its requirement that women have a male guardian in public are limiting Afghan women’s freedom of movement and access to education, employment, health care and other basic rights. The report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) states that many Afghan women are not leaving their homes alone due to decrees issued by the Taliban. The hardline Islamist regime has demanded women wear specific attire in public, such as the all-covering burqa, and only venture outside if accompanied by a close male relative, known as a mahram. (Photo: 12019/Pixabay via Jurist)

East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong executive pushes new security law

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced the commencement of a four-week consultation period for a new local security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Article 23 mandates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) pass its own laws to prohibit crimes such as treason, secession, sedition and subversion against China’s Central People’s Government. Massive protests involving an estimated 500,000 participants halted the previous attempt to legislate Article 23 in 2003. The current push highlights the Hong Kong government’s efforts to address “soft resistance,” such as online activity that may jeopardize national security. (Photo: HKFP)

Moscow protest

Dozens detained at Moscow anti-mobilization protest

Russian law enforcement detained at least two dozen people at a protest in Moscow, as wives and relatives of service members fighting in Ukraine demanded their return. Those arrested included journalists covering the protest and human rights monitors. Kin of the soldiers gathered to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Kremlin walls. The demonstration marked 500 days since President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilization of up to 300,000 military reservists for the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. The call-up prompted more than 260,000 men to flee the nation, with Moscow reportedly setting up draft offices at borders to intercept fleeing reservists. (Photo: astrapress via The Moscow Times)

Southeast Asia

Burma junta extends state of emergency again

Burma’s ruling military junta announced that it has extended the country’s state of emergency period for another six months. The junta last extended the state of emergency by six months in July 2023 and postponed an election it had promised to hold that August. The state of emergency was first declared after the February 2021 coup, and has been continuously extended since then. While Article 425 of the Constitution stipulates that a state of emergency may only be extended twice at maximum, the junta stated that the extension was necessary as Burma is in an unusual situation. The junta blamed opposition organizations for keeping the country from conducting multi-party democratic elections. (Map: PCL)

East Asia
china labor

Wildcat labor actions spread in China

Although winning no coverage in English-language media, labor actions are spreading across China in the current economic downturn in the People’s Republic. This week, workers hung banners outside the headquarters of the Guilin No. 3 Construction Company in Guangxi province to demand payment of outstanding wages owed to hundreds of employees. On the same day, migrant workers in Jinan, Shandong province, raised banners in the city’s central business district demanding payment of backlogged wages by the China Railway Construction Corporation. By definition, such actions are not authorized by the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Numerous such recent actions were described at the symposium “Non-violent Resistance, High-Tech Totalitarianism and China’s Future,” held last weekend in Washington DC. (Image: China Labour Bulletin)

North America
rio grande

Feds blame Texas in deaths on US-Mexico border

Two migrant children and their mother drowned while trying to cross from Mexico into the United States, after Texas authorities prevented US Border Patrol agents from reaching the victims to render life-saving aid, charged US Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents a district on the border. The US Department of Homeland Security said the three migrants drowned near Shelby Park in the border town of Eagle Pass after Texas Guardsmen “physically barred” Border Patrol agents from entering the area. Mexican officials recovered the bodies the next morning on their side of the Rio Grande, in Piedras Negras. “This is a tragedy and the State [Texas] bears responsibility,” said Cuellar in his statement detailing the series of events. (Map: Google)

The Andes
Luis Flores SolĂ­s

Peru protests: one year later

A year after the height of a protest wave that swept Peru, demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, we finally see an initial step toward justice for the some 50 slain by security forces in the repression unleashed by her regime. Judicial Power, Peru’s justice department, ordered the “preventative detention” of an officer of the National Police, as he is investigated in the slaying of a Cuzco youth last January.  On the other hand, there is outrage that Luis Flores SolĂ­s, a National Police general and a former agent of the elite Special Intelligence Group, has been named as the new chief of the Counter-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE)—despite the fact that he is under internal investigation by the police force in the killing of protesters in Andahuaylas. Meanwhile, Pedro Castillo, the president whose removal from power and replacement by Boluarte in December 2022 sparked the protest wave, remains imprisoned on pre-trial detention orders. But ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year term for corruption and human rights abuses, was released last month on order of the Constitutional Tribunal, Peru’s highest court. (Photo: Wayka)

The Andes
Quito police

‘State of armed conflict’ declared in Ecuador

Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency in the country after the escape of Adolfo MacĂ­as Villamar AKA “Fito,” leader of the Los Choneros narco-gang, from Littoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil. MacĂ­as had been serving a 34-year sentence since 2011 for drug trafficking, murder, and organized crime. As news broke of his disappearance, six other correctional facilities across the country exploded into riots. The situation escalated the following day, when hooded gunmen interrupted a live television broadcast in Guayaquil, taking reporters and staff hostage. Noboa responded by declaring a state of “internal armed conflict” in the country, ordering security forces to “neutralize” designated “terrorist organizations” and “non-state actors,” including Los Choneros, Los Lobos and Los Tigueronesnarco-gangs. (Photo: Indymedia Ecuador)