Connect with us

Global Affairs

Myanmar’s junta torching ‘village after village’ in bid to quell opposition | Myanmar

On the morning of 6 January, Boi Van Thang set out on a motorbike across the mountainous terrain of Chin state in western Myanmar. He would travel to a nearby village, he told his wife, and bring back meat for her and their seven children.

He never returned. Three days later his wife, Thida Htwe, received a call. Boi Van Thang’s body had been found. The bodies of eight other men and one boy had also been discovered.

Thida Htwe said that her husband’s throat was cut, that he had a knife wound in his chest and as well as several in his back, and that one of his legs was broken.


Photographs apparently from the scene, seen by the Observer, show a body that Thida Htwe identified as her husband. He is naked apart from his underwear, and his feet are tied. His clothes are in a pile beside his body.

Further images provided by Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) show other victims of the massacre who were reportedly found nearby. In one photograph, five bodies are lying beside one another; some have their hands tied or material placed over their eyes or mouth. They have numerous wounds to their throats, chests and stomachs.

The youngest of those killed was 13. Chin journalist Pu Tui Dim was among the dead. He had been travelling with villagers, apparently on his way to visit family. He has been described as an “experienced ethnic media personnel who helped pave the way for independent news media in Chin state”.

Almost one year ago, Myanmar’s military ousted the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power in a coup. Since then, the country has descended into turmoil. The UN estimates the crisis will have driven almost half the population into poverty in 2022. Public services are barely functioning, as large numbers of teachers and medical staff are refusing to work in junta-controlled facilities, and instead operate their own networks.

The military has used violence and terror to stamp out dissent and silence opponents. Some 1,500 people have been killed by the military, and 11,800 arrested, according to a local human rights group. But opposition remains. As well as peaceful protest movements, local civilian defence forces have emerged, some of which are supported by established ethnic armed groups. The military has in turn launched artillery and air strikes.

In Chin state, where there is a strong resistance movement, as many as 80,000 people have been forced to flee their homes by fighting, according to the CHRO. Almost 900 were arrested between February and December last year alone, according to the group, while 182 people were killed during the same period. Some are thought to have been kidnapped and used as human shields.

“I have lived through the previous military regime and I read stories and reports from all over Chin state,” said veteran activist Salai Za Uk Ling of the CHRO. “I have never seen this level of brutality in my life.”

In December, more than 30 people, including children, were killed in Kayah state on Christmas Eve. Their bodies were found burned beyond recognition. Earlier in the month, the military rounded up and killed 11 people in the Sagaing region of Myanmar’s north-west. The group was shot and then set on fire, according to local media reports.

A pro-democracy protester, handcuffed and with hands above his head, is detained by riot police in Yangon.
A pro-democracy protester is detained by riot police in Yangon. Photograph: Reuters

Alongside such massacres, the military has increasingly deployed a scorched earth campaign as part of its intensifying reign of terror. Myanmar Witness, which collects evidence of military abuses, has corroborated 57 incidents where buildings in villages and other civilian areas have been set alight. Many have been attributed to the military. Extensive damage has been recorded within Thantlang, in northwest Chin state.

Such violence was reminiscent of the Rohingya crackdown in Rakhine state in 2017, said Aung Myo Min, human rights minister of the National Unity Government (NUG), the administration in exile. “They sent more troops, they went village to village and torched all the houses, and forced the massive displacement to other areas,” he said. “It’s the same pattern.”

The NUG is investigating the killing of Boi Van Thang and other civilians murdered that day. It will submit its findings to a group established by the UN Human Rights Council to collect evidence of violations of international law committed in Myanmar.

“It is important for us to bring justice and make sure the culture of impunity is no longer in the future of Myanmar,” said Aung Myo Min.

Activists suspect the junta has targeted Chin state because it wrongly believes local resistance can easily be silenced. “They always have this perception that the people of Chin state are weak and can be easily subjugated,” said Salai Za Uk Ling.

The state, in western Myanmar, is the nation’s poorest, and home to the Chin people, a mostly Christian ethnic minority that has long suffered oppression in the Buddhist-majority country. Churches are among the buildings that have been torched.

Activists say the military’s assumption that it could impose order in Chin state have been wildly inaccurate. According to CHRO, close to 80% of its civil servants are refusing to work after joining the civil disobedience movement. “The administrative apparatus no longer functions in Chin state apart from in towns or capitals like Hakha,” said Salai Za Uk Ling.

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar, he said, but added: “The coup has not succeeded yet.” In some villages, most young people had joined the armed resistance, he said.

The murder of Boi Van Thang and others on 6 January has prompted a fresh wave of people from villages near to Matupi, a strategic crossroads in Chin state, to flee their homes.

El Zamoon was among those who fled. He spent eight days travelling, mostly by foot, across steep roads to seek safety across the border in India’s Mizoram state. Children, exhausted, fell from their bikes along the journey.

El Zamoon fled when the military began firing heavy artillery at his village. “Everyone here wants to go back to their homes, but they are afraid of the soldiers,” he said.

Families of those killed left without the opportunity to hold a ceremony for their loved ones.

Thida Htwe was unable to see her husband’s body or hold a memorial. She said he was a kind-hearted man who, in his spare time, would tutor village children. “He was only 38 and a good father to our kids,” she said.

“Now I am left with seven kids. I don’t know how to raise them without him,” she said. When she sees other families she feels a deep sadness. “I wish he were here with us. We will never forget him.”

Source link


Assessing The Potential of The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Against China’s Belt And Road Initiative (BRI)

(THE VOICE OF EU) – In a recent address, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the newly unveiled India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) as a transformative force poised to shape global trade for centuries. While the IMEC undoubtedly presents a significant development, it’s vital to scrutinize its potential impact compared to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMEC was jointly announced by US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in Delhi. Designed to fortify transportation and communication networks between Europe and Asia via rail and shipping routes, the project not only holds regional promise but also reflects a strategic move by the US in its geopolitical interests, particularly concerning China.

However, the IMEC faces a formidable contender in the form of China’s BRI, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Despite facing some headwinds, including a slowdown in lending due to China’s economic deceleration and concerns raised by nations like Italy, Sri Lanka, and Zambia regarding debt sustainability, the BRI remains a monumental global undertaking.

With investments surpassing a staggering $1 trillion and over 150 partner countries, the BRI has transformed from a regional initiative to a near-global endeavor.

Comparatively, the IMEC may not immediately match the scale or ambition of the BRI. While the US, Japan, and the G7 nations have introduced similar initiatives like the Global Gateway and Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, none have achieved the expansive reach or influence of the BRI.

The emergence of these projects over the past five years, however, demonstrates the BRI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for global economic growth.

Viewing the IMEC solely through the lens of opposition to the BRI may not provide a comprehensive understanding of its potential.

Instead, the IMEC contributes to a broader trend of transactional partnerships, where countries engage with multiple collaborators simultaneously, underscoring the complex and interconnected nature of global trade relations.

Yet, realizing the IMEC’s aspirations demands meticulous planning and execution. A comprehensive action plan is expected within the next 60 days, outlining key governmental agencies responsible for investments, allocated capital, and implementation timelines.

Establishing a streamlined customs and trade infrastructure is equally critical to facilitate seamless transit, a challenge highlighted by the Trans-Eurasian railway’s 30-country passage through Kazakhstan.

Navigating geopolitical complexities between partner countries, particularly the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, poses another potential hurdle.

Ensuring these nations maintain a unified strategic vision amid differing priorities and interests requires careful diplomatic coordination.

Furthermore, the IMEC will compete directly with the Suez Canal, a well-established and cost-effective maritime route.

While the IMEC may enhance relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it could potentially strain ties with Egypt, prompting critical assessments of the project’s economic viability.

Beyond trade and economics, the IMEC ambitiously aims to incorporate diverse sectors, from electricity grids to cybersecurity.

This multi-dimensional approach aligns with discussions held in security forums like the Quad and, if realized, could significantly contribute to a safer, more sustainable global landscape.

As we contemplate the potential of the IMEC, it is with hope that the lofty ambitions outlined in New Delhi will culminate in a tangible and positive transformation for the world.

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Safe Mobility Initiative Faces Challenges In Delivering On Its Promises For Latin American Migrants

In June, the United States introduced the Movibilidad Segura, or Safe Mobility, program, a new immigration initiative aimed at expanding legal routes for refugees and migrants from South and Central America.

The program’s objective is to reduce irregular migration and strengthen transportation and communication links between the Americas. While the intentions behind Safe Mobility are commendable, its execution has faced several challenges, leaving thousands of applicants in limbo.

For many hopeful migrants like Eliezer Briceño, a 40-year-old Venezuelan residing in Ciudad Bolívar, Colombia, the application process has proven to be a complex and tedious endeavor.

Briceño’s experience highlights the technological barriers that applicants face, emphasizing the need for reliable internet access and suitable devices for successful registration.

Unfortunately, these prerequisites pose significant challenges for those without adequate resources.

Migrantes Darién
Migrants cross a river in the Darién rainforest, October 2022.Fernando Vergara (AP)

The overwhelming response to the program has led to the temporary closure of the website in Colombia, further complicating the application process. With quotas quickly filled during the limited application periods, the backlog of hopeful migrants has grown, exacerbating the frustration and uncertainty surrounding Safe Mobility.

Of the nearly 29,000 applicants from Colombia, less than 1% have progressed through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) as of August 28. This statistic underscores the significant delays and challenges faced by applicants. Eliezer Briceño, like many others, anxiously awaits news about his application status, armed only with a receipt indicating a forthcoming call.

Safe Mobility, while a response to the migration crisis in Latin America, is one of several initiatives addressing the challenges faced by millions of displaced individuals.

Its collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) demonstrates a multi-lateral effort to find solutions to the region’s complex humanitarian, political, and economic issues.

Migrantes Tapón del Darién
A group of Haitian migrant women & their children wait to board a boat from Necocli, Colombia to Capurgana & then cross the Darién Gap to Panama.

However, the program’s operational secrecy, with undisclosed office locations, underscores the challenges faced by its administrators.

The need to protect both applicants and program staff from potential overcrowding and disruptions mirrors the situation in Tapachula, Mexico, where large groups of migrants have sought assistance, albeit without violent incidents.

The interview process for Safe Mobility applicants introduces another layer of complexity, marked by confidentiality agreements.

While applicants are required to sign agreements consenting to share personal data with program partners, the imposition of non-disclosure clauses appears unusual and unprecedented.

The UNHCR argues that confidentiality is crucial for the protection of individuals in need of international refuge.

The uncertainty persists even after interviews, as those rejected receive prompt notifications while others remain in a state of perpetual waiting. The apparent randomness of selections and the lack of clear communication only heighten the frustrations of applicants.

As Safe Mobility nears the midpoint of its announced six-month pilot period, questions about its effectiveness and future persist.

While the initiative addresses a critical need, its slow start and operational challenges highlight the complexity of addressing the migration crisis in the Americas.

Cooperation from multiple nations, alongside initiatives like Safe Mobility, will be essential in finding lasting solutions to this pressing global issue.

Continue Reading


“The Creator”: A Glimpse Into A Future Defined By Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

By Cindy Porter

In “The Creator” visionary director Gareth Edwards thrusts us into the heart of a dystopian future, where the battle lines are drawn between artificial intelligence and the free Western world.

Set against the backdrop of a post-rebellion Los Angeles, the film grapples with pressing questions about the role of AI in our society.

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

While the narrative treads familiar ground, it is timely, given the rising prominence of artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

A Fusion of Genres

Edwards embarks on an ambitious endeavor, blending elements of science fiction classics with contemporary themes.

The result is a cinematic stew reminiscent of James Cameron’s “Aliens” tinged with shades of “Blade Runner” a dash of “Children of Men,” and a sprinkle of “Akira” This concoction, while intriguing, occasionally veers toward familiarity rather than forging its own distinct identity.

Edwards’ Cinematic Journey

The British filmmaker, known for his foray into doomsday scenarios with the BBC docudrama “End Day” in 2005, has traversed a path from indie gem “Monsters” (2010) to the expansive Star Wars universe with “Rogue One” (2016).

“The Creator” marks another bold step in his repertoire. The film introduces compelling concepts like the posthumous donation of personality traits, punctuated by impactful visuals, and raises pertinent ethical dilemmas. It stands as a commendable endeavor, even if it occasionally falters in execution.

Navigating Complexity

In his pursuit of depth, Edwards at times stumbles into the realm of convolution, leaving the audience grappling with intricacies rather than immersing in the narrative.

While adept at crafting visual spectacles and orchestrating soundscapes, the film occasionally falters in the art of storytelling.

In an era where classic storytelling is seemingly on the wane, some may argue that this approach is emblematic of the times.

AI: Savior or Peril?

“The Creator” leaves us with a question that resonates long after the credits roll: Will artificial intelligence be humanity’s salvation or its undoing? The film’s take on machine ethics leans toward simplicity, attributing AI emotions to programmed responses.

This portrayal encapsulates the film’s stance on the subject – a theme as enigmatic as the AI it grapples with.

“The Creator”

Director: Gareth Edwards.
Starring: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Madeleine Yuna Boyles, Ken Watanabe.
Genre: Science fiction.
Release Year: 2023.
Duration: 133 minutes.
Premiere Date: September 29.


Top 5 Movies by Gareth Edwards:

1. “Monsters” (2010)

– A breakout hit, “Monsters” showcases Edwards’ talent for blending intimate human drama with towering sci-fi spectacles. Set in a world recovering from an alien invasion, it’s a poignant tale of love amidst chaos.

2. “Rogue One” (2016)

– Edwards helms this epic Star Wars installment, seamlessly integrating new characters with the beloved original trilogy. It’s a testament to his ability to navigate complex narratives on a grand scale.

3. “End Day” (2005)

– This BBC docudrama marked Edwards’ entry into the world of speculative storytelling. Presenting five doomsday scenarios, it set the stage for his later exploration of dystopian futures.

4. “The Creator” (2023)

– Edwards’ latest venture, “The Creator,” immerses audiences in a future fraught with AI warfare. While not without its challenges, it boldly tackles pertinent questions about the role of artificial intelligence in our lives.

5. Potential Future Project

– As Edwards continues to push the boundaries of speculative cinema, audiences eagerly anticipate his next cinematic endeavor, poised to be another thought-provoking addition to his illustrious filmography.

“The Creator” stands as a testament to Gareth Edwards’ unyielding vision and his penchant for exploring the frontiers of speculative cinema.

While it doesn’t shy away from the complexities of AI, it occasionally falters in navigating its intricate narrative.

As we peer into this cinematic crystal ball, we’re left with a stark question: Will artificial intelligence be our beacon of hope, or will it cast a shadow over humanity’s future? Only time will unveil the answer.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Cindy Porter

— For more information & news submissions:

— Anonymous news submissions:

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!