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)

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)

South Asia
Indian Farmers

Farmers’ march on Delhi met with repression

Amnesty International released a statement decrying the Indian government’s disproportionate restrictions on the right to peaceful protest instated to quell the “Dilli Chalo” (on to Delhi) farmers protest. In response to farmers’ cross-country mobilization to protest agricultural policies, Indian authorities imposed limitations on group gatherings, erected barricades along the route of the march, and used tear-gas and rubber bullets against the farmers. (Photo: Ravan Khosa via Wikimedia Commons)


Ethiopian regions battle starvation

Nearly 400 people have died of starvation in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Amhara regions in recent months, according to the national ombudsman. This is a rare admission of hunger-related deaths by a federal body—the government normally dismisses famine warnings as “politicking.” Despite the lifting of a nationwide food aid freeze imposed by USAID and the World Food Program over large-scale government-linked food thefts, just 14% of 3.2 million people targeted for food relief in Tigray received rations last month. There have reportedly been technical problems over fitting GPS trackers to food trucks and putting QR codes on ration cards. A lack of money is also an issue: the UN called on donors last month to urgently ramp up funding to avoid a catastrophe in Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, and southern Ethiopia, where some 4 million people need immediate food aid. (Map via EthioVisit)


US sanctions Sudan companies accused of funding war

The US Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on a Sudanese financial institution and two private companies accused of funding belligerents in the ongoing civil war in the African country. The sanctions name Alkhaleej Bank and metal ore company Al-Fakher Advanced Works, said to be controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as well as development company Zadna International, controlled by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). The Treasury Department accused the companies of fueling the conflict, laundering money, and engaging in “actions or policies that threaten the peace, security and stability of Sudan.” (Map: PCL)

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)

Watching the Shadows
computer smash

Podcast: for a meme moratorium

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. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

Southeast Asia

China seeks ceasefire in Burma border zone

China’s government announced that it has mediated a short-term ceasefire to the conflict between the Burmese junta and rebel armies of ethnic peoples in the northeastern region near the Chinese border. The conflict has been escalating since the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) launched Operation 1027 in Shan state in late October. The rebel armies have joined as a self-declared Three Brotherhood Alliance seeking control of Burma’s northeast. None of the parties to the conflict have commented on the supposed ceasefire. China, a major backer of the junta, continues to conduct live-fire military exercises on its side of the frontier. (Map: PCL)

Daouda Diallo

Burkina Faso’s leading rights activist ‘disappeared’

Regional NGO alliance the People’s Coalition for the Sahel is demanding the immediate return alive of human rights defender Daouda Diallo, secretary general of Burkina Faso’s Collective Against Impunity & Stigmatization of Communities (CISC). The CISC announced that Diallo was abducted on a Ouagadougou street by at least four unidentified men in civilian clothes. Diallo’s CISC has been raising the alarm about ethnically targeted killings in Burkina Faso under the military regimes that have been in power since a January 2022 coup. It is believed Diallo may have been “requisitioned” by the armed forces to participate in the very counterinsurgency campaign that his group has been protesting. (Image: CISC via OHCR)


Suit charges Biden administration with genocide complicity

Palestinian human rights organizations and others have sued President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for complicity in genocide and violating the duty to prevent genocide in relation to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the case in US District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Defense for Children International-Palestine, Al-Haq and individual plaintiffs affected by the conflict, asserting violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention and the Genocide Convention Implementation Act. (Photo: The White House/Wikimedia Commons)


Israel orders north Gaza evacuation —but to where?

One week after the unprecedented and bloody Hamas incursion, Israel has ordered 1.1 million people living in the north of the Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south of the enclave within 24 hours, ahead of an expected ground invasion. The UN is calling on Israel to rescind the evacuation order, with a spokesperson saying it is “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.” Since the Hamas incursion, which left some 1,300 dead, Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza, cutting off electricity and water, and blocking the entry of food and fuel. It has dropped more than 6,000bombs on the enclave, killing more than 1,500 people—a third of them children. The evacuation order has created fear and confusion, as north Gaza residents flee south with little idea of where they will find shelter or how their basic needs will be met. All the borders of the enclave are now closed to civilians trying to flee. (Photo: Maan News Agency)


US leans on Mexico to increase deportations

Mexico will step up efforts to deport asylum-seekers and migrants to their countries of origin in order to “depressurize” northern cities bordering the United States, the country’s National Migration Institute announced following a meeting with US officials. Texas border cities such as El Paso and Eagle Pass are scrambling to find shelter space as thousands now cross the border on a daily basis, overwhelming reception capacity. But thousands more still wait in northern Mexico, trying to make appointments using a government cell phone application to enter the US and lodge asylum claims. (Map: PCL)