Southeast Asia
Insein

Burma: prison protests after execution of activists

Inmates at Burma’s Insein Prison launched a protest in response to the announcement by the ruling junta that four political prisoners who had been held in the Yangon facility were executed. Several people who took part in the uprising were physically assaulted by prison authorities, and some 15 were removed to isolation cells separate from the general population, according to a source within the facility. Among the executed were two of Burma’s leading dissidents—Ko Jimmy, 52, a veteran of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, and Phyo Zayar Thaw, 41, a hip-hop star and former MP with the National League for Democracy (NLD). The two longtime activists were sentenced to death in January for allegedly plotting to carry out attacks on regime targets. Amnesty International said it believes the charges against them were politically motivated. (Photo: Myanmar Now)

Planet Watch
Pulau Pari

Indonesian islanders sue corporation over climate change

Four residents of the Indonesian island of Pulau Pari filed a lawsuit against Swiss cement giant Holcim over the effects of climate change on the island. Swiss Church Aid (HEKS), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) are backing the suit brought in the Swiss courts. The residents claim that climate change has caused rising tides and devastating floods. HEKS warns that the island will be underwater by 2050 if nothing changes. According to a study from the University of Massachusetts, Holcim is the 48th biggest global polluter. A report from the Climate Accountability Institute finds that Holcim emitted seven billion tons of CO2 from 1950 to 2021—more than twice as much as the entire country of Switzerland. Said one plaintiff: “If Pari is submerged, where are we to go, where are we to live?” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Southeast Asia
burma

War crimes, displacement in Burma’s east

Amnesty International released a report documenting potential war crimes committed by Burma’s armed forces in eastern Kayin and Kayah states, where an insurgency has mounted against the military regime that came to power in the February 2021 coup. The report saysthe military has subjected civilians to “collective punishment,” including “arbitrary detentions that often result in torture or extrajudicial executions, and the systematic looting and burning of villages.” Amnesty finds that military attacks have killed hundreds of civilians, and displaced more than 150,000. The rights group calls for urgent action from the international community, and referral of situation to the International Criminal Court. (Map: PCL)

Southeast Asia
detention

Malaysia: calls to end mass detention of refugees

Rights groups in Malaysia are calling for the release of thousands of detained refugees and asylum-seekers, after a deadly incident in the northern state of Penang. Six Rohingya refugees were struck by vehicles and killed when hundreds fled a detention center after breaking through barriers and attempted to escape across an adjacent highway. “There is no discernible reason as to why so many of them were cramped into a makeshift depot in the first place,” stated advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty. Malaysia has long been a destinationfor Rohingya fleeing persecution in Burma, but the government has cracked down on asylum-seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Hasnoor Hussain/TNH)

Southeast Asia
burma

Burma junta leader accused of crimes against humanity

Burma’s military junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hliang was accused of crimes against humanity in a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP). Article 15 of the Rome Statute empowers the ICC prosecutor to initiate an investigation upon receiving information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. MAP, a human rights advocacy group, has requested that the ICC under Article 15 launch a criminal investigation into “the use of torture as part of the violent crackdown against the protest movement in Myanmar.” MAP’s submission is accompanied by evidence of the widespread and systematic use of torture in Burma (Myanmar) since the military seized control from the democratically elected government in February. (Photo: Myanmar Now)

Oceania
Free West Papua

Indonesia: ‘treason’ charges over West Papua flag

Indonesian police arrested eight Papuan university students on charges of treason for raising the banned “Morning Star” flag at a demonstration for the independence of the West Papua region. The demonstration took place in Jayapura, capital of Papua province. The region, comprising the contemporary provinces of Papua and West Papua, was liberated from Dutch colonial rule on Dec, 1, 1963 now considered by Papuans to be their “independence day.” Following a UN-sanctioned referendum, the region fell under Indonesian rule in 1969. But an independence movement rejects the referendum as illegitimate, and has adopted the flag as a symbol of West Papuan sovereignty. Independence activist Felip Karma served an 11-year sentence for raising the outlawed flag. (Photo of Melbourne protest via Wikipedia)

Southeast Asia
burma protest

Burma: resistance escalates as Suu Kyi sentenced

Ousted Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi was found guilty of “incitement” and breaking COVID restrictions—the first of a series of 11 charges that could see her imprisoned for life.Despite harsh repression, protests continue against the junta—now usually organized through social media as “flash mobs.” The day before Suu Kyi’s sentencing, a military truck rammed into a crowd of protesters in Yangon, with troops firing on the fleeing demonstrators. At least five were killed. The armed resistance network known as the People’s Defense Force (PDF) has meanwhile carved out a liberated zone in the northern Irrawaddy plains. Thousands of locals have fled their homes amid attacks by junta soldiers as part of Operation Anawrahta, a military campaign aimed at crushing the armed resistance. (Photo: Myanmar Now)

South Asia
underground asia

Book review: Underground Asia

A dauntingly detailed book from Harvard University Press on the roots of Asia’s anti-colonial movements documents the early influence of anarchism, and how it was ultimately displaced by nationalisms of different stripes—from the Moscow-aligned Leninist nationalism of Ho Chi Minh, to the fascist-inspired Hindutva movement that effectively rules India today. The early vision of a universalist, libertarian anti-colonialism evokes a tantalizing sense of what might have been. A timely book for a moment of re-emerging popular rebellion, from the militant farmer protests in India to the pro-democracy upsurges in Thailand, Burma and Hong Kong. (Image: Harvard University Press)

Southeast Asia
mohibullah

Fear in Rohingya camps after slaying of activist

The killing of Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya community leader, has drawn international condemnation and renewed deep-rooted fear in the Bangladesh refugee camps. Mohib Ullah was shot and killed outside the office of the civil society group he headed, the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace & Human Rights (ARSPH). A relative reportedly blamed members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a militant group active in the camps. Mohib Ullah had become one of his community’s most prominent voices in the aftermath of the 2017 Burmese military assault that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh. He led early attempts to document atrocity crimes, stood up for his community before governments and aid agencies, and addressed the United Nations. (Photo: HRW)

Southeast Asia
Rohingya

Court: Facebook must reveal role in Burma genocide

A US federal judge ordered Facebook to produce documents relating to its involvement in violence against the Rohingya people in Burma. The Gambia brought a claim against Facebook, Inc before the International Court of Justice alleging that the social media platform played a key role in the genocide of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority. The Gambia then filed suit against Facebook in the District of Columbia, seeking documentation related to the World Court case. The Gambia’s case contended that it was only in 2018, six years into the genocide, that Facebook began deleting accounts and content used by Burmese government officials to enflame attacks on the Rohingya. (Photo: UNHCR)

Southeast Asia
Duwa Lashi La

Burma shadow government declares ‘resistance war’

The acting president of Burma’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) announced that the people’s “resistance war” against the coup-installed regime has started, and urged the public across the country to revolt against the military junta. In the video statement from an unknown location, Duwa Lashi La also called on the NUG’s People’s Defense Force (PDF) and allied ethnic rebel armies to target “every pillar of the junta’s ruling mechanism,” as well as to protect the lives of Burma’s people. He warned local administrators working under the junta’s authority to resign immediately. He urged citizens to stock up on food and medical supplies, and to help the PDF and civilian resistance forces by informing them of the military’s activities. “This revolution is a just and fair revolution and is necessary to build a federal union with sustainable peace,” Duwa Lashi La said in the speech. (Photo: Myanmar Now)