Filipino Activist Walden Bello got arrested

in the Philippines, where we’re joined by Walden Bello, the longtime scholar and activist who ran for vice president of the Philippines earlier this year. On Monday, Walden Bello was arrested on “cyber libel” charges, in what was widely viewed as a politically motivated case.

Walden’s arrest comes just weeks after the inauguration of the Philippines’ new president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the former U.S.-backed Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who brutally ruled the Philippines for two decades, from ’65 to 1986, when he was overthrown in the People Power Revolution. The Philippines’ new vice president is Sara Duterte, the daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose so-called war on drugs killed tens of thousands of people.

The charges against Walden Bello stem from comments he made about a member of Sara Duterte’s campaign. On Twitter, Walden Bello wrote, “These people are mistaken if they think they can silence me and suppress my exercise of free speech.”

I was basically at home on Monday afternoon. And the police came in and served me the warrant of arrest, that had been issued a few hours earlier in the southern city of Davao, which Mayor Duterte used to be the head of, and it was transmitted to Quezon City here. And so, it was — we had been waiting for the warrant for weeks. But we didn’t expect the speed, within one day, that the warrant would be issued in Davao, which is several hundred miles away, and issued here to me in Manila.

So, I was brought to the police station. And it was too late to post bail. And people said that that was deliberate, to make me spend a night in jail. And the next day, the bail for

— source | Aug 12, 2022

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Burma Executes Four Activists as Resistance to Military Government Grows

The execution of the four pro-democracy activists, who were sentenced to death in secretive trials, marks the first executions in Burma in over 30 years. Kyaw Min Yu was the prominent pro-democracy activist also known as Ko Jimmy. He was a student leader in the 1988 uprising, spent many years as a political prisoner. Also executed was Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former rapper who was a founding member of Generation Wave, an anti-military youth-led movement, and became a lawmaker in Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy. The two other men executed Saturday were were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners says they were involved in the resistance protest movement since the 2021 coup, like many other Burmese.

You know, two of the executed, I met them, and I consider them my younger comrades. You know, Jimmy, or Kyaw Min Yu, had been involved since 1988, when he was only 19 years old. And Zeya Thaw is in his mid-forties and a well-known hip-hop artist and a committed supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership. And although we had differences of opinion about her leadership or NLD, but nonetheless, you know, I felt the pain.

Also, the other two were younger-generation comrade brothers. They were accused of killing someone who was credibly accused of being a informer for the military.

So, these are, you know, the four dissidents that were barbarically executed on Saturday. The families have not been given any indication in what manners they were executed, or,

— source | Jul 26, 2022

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Burma in the balance

A military junta and multinational corporations on one side, and Buddhist democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi on the other, are engaged in battle for Burma.

Milan Kundera once wrote that the “struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”. Few outside Burma know about the epic events that took place here between 1988 and 1990. Few have heard of the White Bridge on Inya Lake in the centre of Rangoon, now known to foreign business people as the site of an “inter- national business centre”.

Yet it was here that an uprising as momentous as the storming of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was sparked. On March 18th, 1988, hundreds of schoolchildren and students marched along the bridge, singing the national anthem, signaling that they wanted no more of the authoritarian rule that had been in place since a 1962 military coup. The march was as joyful as it was defiant. When suddenly they saw behind them the steel helmets of the riot police, they knew they were trapped.

Then again, after months of rising popular confidence, the moment of general uprising came precisely at eight minutes past eight on the morning of the eighth day of the eighth month of 1988. This was the auspicious time the dockers chose to go on strike, and the country followed: teachers, journalists, railway-workers, weather-forecasters, grave-

— source | john pilger | 21 Jul 2000

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Under the Influence

For the few of us who reported East Timor long before it was finally declared news, the “disclosures” last weekend that Washington had trained Indonesia’s death squads are bizarre.

That the American, British and Australian governments have underwritten proportionally the greatest savagery since the Holocaust has been a matter of unambiguous record for a quarter of a century. All it needed was reporting.

In December 1975, after US secretary of state Henry Kissinger returned from Jakarta, having given Suharto the green light to invade East Timor, he called his staff together and discussed how a congressional ban on arms to Indonesia could be circumvented. “Can’t we construe a communist government [in East Timor] as self-defence?” he asked. Told this would not work, Kissinger gave orders that he wanted arms shipments secretly “started again in January”.

A few weeks later, on January 23 1976, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, sent a top-secret cable to Kissinger in which he boasted about the “considerable progress” he had made in blocking UN action on East Timor. Moynihan later wrote: “The department of state desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective

— source | john pilger | 21 Sep 1999

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Sri Lankan PM Resigns

Sri Lanka, where the government has granted emergency powers to its military and police forces after protests erupted in the capitol Colombo as the country faces its worst economic crisis in its history. This comes after Sri Lanka’s prime minister was forced to resign, following large anti-government protests in recent weeks that have demanded the ouster of all members of the Rajapaksa family. The move clears the way for the formation of a new cabinet as Sri Lanka looks for ways to end the devastating economic crisis. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is the brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has faced charges of nepotism and corruption since he installed three siblings into high-level government posts. On Monday, supporters of his ruling party violently stormed a major peaceful protest site in the capital Colombo, attacking protesters and prompting clashes with police, who fired tear gas and water cannons.

Sri Lanka is going through perhaps the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. There are shortages of essential items. Gas and diesel prices have doubled, and there are huge lines because of shortages. The price of bread has doubled. The price of rice has doubled. And shortages of medicine. So, all of this — and the people are asking: What is the reason for this? And people are putting the blame squarely on the Rajapaksa regime, that came to power in late 2019.

— source | May 10, 2022

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Rentier Capitalism and Class Warfare in Kazakhstan

Blame ‘free’ market reforms that benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of the working class for the country’s recent protests.

The recent protests in oil-rich Kazakhstan have highlighted the devastating effects of rent extraction. The country’s largest sellers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), including KazMunaiGas, Kazgermunai, CNPC-AktobeMunaiGas and Kazakhoil, have been accused by the government of increasing fuel prices by abusing their oligopoly power. When the state lifted its price cap on LPG at the start of 2022, the market price doubled within a couple of days. The impact was immediately felt by poor and vulnerable sections of Kazakhstani society, which relied on the commodity for heating and vehicles.

Ultimately, the price hike was a violent attempt by powerful oil corporations to extract rent – they knew that most of the population had no alternative but to pay up or go without. Akin to social historian EP Thompson’s moral economy of the 18th-century English crowd that rioted against soaring food prices, Kazakhstan’s working class revolted against the market price and the injustice of the ‘free’ market.

— source | Balihar Sanghera, Elmira Satybaldieva | Jan 19, 2022

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Australia ignores the plight of the East Timorese,

Howard has been adept at exploiting the popularity of Australian troops’ peacekeeping in East Timor. He has dished out honours, made a triumphant trip to East Timor and generally wrapped himself in the flag. It is a remarkable feat, for behind it is yet another betrayal of the East Timorese by a western government, and one that seeks to deny urgently needed resources to a nation still stricken from the long years of Indonesia’s genocidal occupation.

In 1975, the then Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam agreed with the dictator Suharto, in effect, to look the other way while the Indonesians annexed the Portuguese colony. Three months prior to the invasion, the Australian ambassador to Jakarta, Richard Woolcott, sent this cable to Canberra: ‘It would seem to me that [the] Department [of Minerals and Energy] might well have an interest in closing the present gap in the agreed sea border, and this could be much more readily negotiated with Indonesia than with Portugal, or with independent Portuguese Timor. I know I am recommending a pragmatic rather than a principled stand, but that is what national interest and foreign policy is all about.’ In other words: if we back Suharto, we’ll get East Timor’s oil and gas fields, the seventh largest on earth.

Official documents from 1975, released by Howard in September, leave little doubt about the duplicity of a policy that promoted self-determination for East Timor in Australia

— source | john pilger | 11 Dec 2000

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At least 52 young workers perish in Bangladesh factory fire

In yet another shocking inferno, at least 52 mostly teenage workers died in a sweatshop factory, when a blaze engulfed a multi-storey food and beverage factory, just outside Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka, on Thursday night. The factory was exploiting cheap labour to export products to Western markets. Fire officials said 49 of the victims’ bodies were burned beyond recognition, after they were trapped behind a locked door, a supposedly illegal practice, which is commonly used by employers in the country to prevent workers from leaving their workplace without permission or being searched. Three workers died after jumping off the building’s roof. About another 50 were injured.

The blaze broke out on Thursday night at the Hashem Foods Ltd. factory, in Rupganj, an industrial town 25 kilometres east of Dhaka. The group’s website states that the company exports its products to numerous countries, including Australia, the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and nations in the Middle East and Africa.

— source | 10/07/2021

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