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PEC demands unconditional release of all scribes in Myanmar
Source: Press Emblem Campaign website

by Thakuria Navajyoti

Geneva/Guwahati: As the imprisonment of scribes and other democratic activists under arbitrary laws becomes a new normal in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (  urges the military regime in NayPieTaw to release all media workers unreservedly.

The military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing is presently trying its best to control the public outrages since the south-east Asian nation faced the coup on 1 February throwing the elected government virtually led by Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi out of legitimate power. The civil disobedient movement, called by NLD chief Suu Kyi, has already lost over 840 demonstrators to the brutalities of security personnel.

At least 85 journalists were arrested in the last four months where over 50 scribes are still behind bars as they faced a newly revised law on spreading wrong information. Lately, two reporters namely Ko Aung Kyaw (associated with Democratic Voice of Burma) and Ko Zaw Zaw (working for Mizzima media group) were imprisoned by a military court for two years because of their coverages of public unrests.

The military generals targeted the news industries by cancelling their licences, slowing down the internet services and also physically assaulting the media workers on different occasions. Even foreign journalists too are not spared as Danny Fenster, who edits Frontier Myanmar magazine, was picked up by the security agencies recently while he was about to board a flight to his home in the USA.

Mizzima chief editor Soe Myint informed PEC south & southeast Asia representative Nava Thakuria that Mr. Zaw became the sixth Mizzima staff to be detained by the militaries. Five of Mizzima’s members including its co-founder Thin Thin Aung are currently in jail facing three years of imprisonment. They are sentenced under section 505(a) of the penal code, which makes it a crime to publish any alleged rumor or misinformation with intent to cause alarm among the public or incite them to commit a crime against the government.

“We always believe and pursue that journalism can not be a crime. The media fraternity in Myanmar must get the freedom to work fearless,” asserted PEC general secretary Blaise Lempen, adding that three more journalists engaged with DVB were sentenced to seven months of imprisonment by a Thai court as they escaped from Myanmar to enter Thailand recently. Lempen also requested the Thai government not to extradite them to Myanmar hurriedly and release the scribes.

06.06.2021 – Santiago de Chile – Redacción Chile

This post is also available in: Spanish

Fake News: Ruling Class Weapons of Mass Domination

By Jorge Molina and Patricio Mery Bell

“You can fool everyone for a while. You can fool some all the time. But you can’t fool everyone all the time. ” Abraham Lincoln

The dominant ideology has been more committed to nothing than to hide the oppressor’s plunder of the product of work and of natural wealth. Also, to hide crimes and torture in the name of their prerogatives and unparalleled greed.

In the course of the press genuflecting to the neoliberal capitalist establishment, it is clear the meticulous development of the system of fallacies, which accompanies the accumulation of capital and the dispossession of those who only have their workforce to feed their offspring. There is a mystification of factuality to try to make it credible, a situation that many times has proliferated into an uncritical and unreflective “truth”, weaving a web of fallacies immune to verification.

According to the writer Buen Abad “That cataract of lies that we see today unfold as part of the dominant ideological landscape is a distorted model of distortion, perfected (also) by groups of intellectuals, academics and scientists subservient to the model of deception that the bourgeoisie needs, daily, to give yourself survival. In the cenacles of these “notables”, vocabularies and typologies are forbidden to meticulously trace the effects of their deceptions, which are dying out, to advise on the production of “novelties” capable of ratifying, deepening or broadening “successful” deceptions. Nothing new. In the top ten of bourgeois fallacies we have, for example: The United States won the Second World War, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the “End of History” and the paradise of the “market economy”, the front page of the Spanish newspaper El País on the death of Hugo Chávez, the Frida-Sofía girl invented by Televisa, from Mexico, the Pope’s support for Donald Trump, Cuban doctors are spies, according to the Argentine oligarchic press.

Behind every invention produced in the bowels of the dominant ideology are the most perverse mercantile interests in the history of mankind. That has also broken its own limits and has been perfected. The level of lies also requires perfecting their liars and that is why they are trained in the production and distribution of fallacies. Some, mercenaries of falsehood, are willing to always go further and are able to arrange any scene or text to flatter their masters and feel like “phony opinion leaders.” They long to lead the agenda of lies and make a hearty business out of it. Such is the Clarín group, BBC, CNN, Televisa, Azteca TV… and the entire mafia of the media condor plan, which operates in Latin America and the entire world. Where there are military bases, there are media bases. There are eight owners of 90% of the world’s mass media ”.

Once in power, the Nazi party controlled not only the press and radio, but also the cinema, theater, and other forms of artistic and cultural expression. Nazi propaganda, led by Joseph Goebbels, consisted not only of bombarding the benefits of Nazism, but also of attacking its political rivals and hiding the miseries of the regime. An example is the famous Reichstag fire of 1933, which today, it is still unknown whether it was caused by members of the Communist Party of Germany or by the Nazis themselves, although the latter version is mostly accepted. The attack on the German parliament was used by Adolf Hitler to pass the so-called Enabling Law, which gave him absolute powers over the country. Nazi propaganda tactics marked a before and after, guiding the path of subsequent governments around the world. With the advent of World War II, fake news continued to be used, which continued throughout the Cold War.

It is at this time that the extreme right resurfaces supported by the Western bloc, under the umbrella of NATO, the CIA and MI6, developing what was known as a strategy of tension, which aimed to manipulate public’s opinion with tactics such as repression, fear, misinformation and propaganda.

Something very proven is that two operations were organized: Condor in Latin America and South America, and Gladio in Europe.

The Operation or Plan Cóndor aimed to directly support authoritarian and dictatorial regimes of the right and extreme right, as well as mutual collaboration and coordination between them. This explains the rise of Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973), Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay (1954), Juan María Bordaberry in Uruguay (1973), Hugo Banzer in Bolivia (1971), Humberto de Alencar in Brazil (1964) and Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina (1976).

For its part, Operation Gladio was developed to secretly train paramilitary groups in Europe to, theoretically, prevent an eventual invasion by Soviet troops. In practice, however, they engaged in terrorist actions, infiltration, torture and countless actions in all European countries that aimed to discredit all political parties and movements not related to American politics. The rise to power of Georgios Papadopoulos in Greece (1967), different attacks and attacks in European countries, as well as the appearance of terrorist groups, are related to this operation.

In both operations, it is known that there was close collaboration with far-right groups and parties and that various disinformation strategies were used. In fact, former Nazi sympathizers who enjoyed the favor of the Western bloc took refuge in Operation Gladio.

With the Cold War over, it was found that the self-proclaimed democratic countries have had no problems resorting to far-right groups and information manipulation tactics in order to stop movements and ideas that did not align with the prevailing policies at the time.

While it is true that the variety of information sources have increased, in reality they have been available to a very select group of people, who have also progressively grouped themselves into broad media conglomerates, giving an appearance of diversity that is not such. And while it is true that with the veracity of their information they put their own prestige at stake, it is evident that their biases and unsubtle interests mark a specific direction. An example was seen during the attacks of March 11, 2004 at the Atocha train station in Madrid. Even when it was shown that it was a jihadist cell in retaliation for Spain’s entry into the Iraq War, certain newspapers such as El Mundo, as well as personalities and politicians – of conservative ideology – insisted that it was the terrorist group ETA.

The media and traditional parties try to discredit, criminalize, attack or ignore in many ways the new political options and social movements that are refractory to accept the totalizing neoliberal policies. The extreme right, in many cases relegated to minority and marginal political positions, continues to have many resources. It continues to be supported, in some cases by economic lobbies, important personalities and, in other cases, by the State apparatus, totally or partially. And when not, foreign countries or governments.

This is how the “alternative right” enters the picture, in which white supremacist Richard B. Spencer, president of one of the largest supremacist foundations in the United States, the National Policy Institute, gives it its current meaning.

Those who identify with this right carry out their main activity on the Internet and through social networks. Its ideals include its opposition to any type of progressive ideology, promoting anti-feminism, anti-communism, anti-immigration, racism, anti-Semitism and nationalism, but also emphasizing economic protectionism and, in a vague way, against current liberalism and conservative movements, those they consider sold to the establishment, for being too liberal and progressive.

Donald Trump resumed the strategy of mass propaganda through fake news as the main basis, but he used social networks or WhatsApp, spreading messages that contained falsehoods about immigration, climate change, weapons, the economy, etc. based on the personalized tastes of potential voters.

On the other hand, we find the statements of Jair Bolsonaro, among which are praising the torture of communists or the Brazilian military dictatorship of 1964. During his campaign, he relied on the WhatsApp messaging service to spread up to 1,000 messages a day with data and made-up news. A repeated, massive and degrading attack on the traditional media was disclosed, in addition to lies on various topics.

In Spain, the case occurred involving the former Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz who, during the government of Mariano Rajoy, allegedly surrounded himself with a series of personalities within the police command (among them the ex-commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, in prison for different cases of corruption), the so-called “patriotic brigade”, which were commissioned to manufacture false evidence and information to attack political rivals, which would later be leaked to different related media, including Ok Diario and El Confidencial, and that they have been sources of fake news. In this way, fake news was issued against Podemos and against Catalan pro-independence political parties between 2016 and 2018, which gained momentum during the celebration of the self-determination referendum in Catalonia on October 1, 2017. During that period, false news was widely disseminated, taken advantage of by a far-right political party up to that point with broad political irrelevance: Vox. Various analyzes and studies, including one carried out by the Security Union of the European Union, have concluded that Vox has used extensive resources to manipulate social networks with bots and false accounts for the dissemination of false information and in WhatsApp messages. Messages and fake news focused especially on false data about rival politicians and parties, about immigration, about feminism and about concrete facts.

In America, there are far-right organizations, but whose speeches, ideas, and voters are often taken up by broad-spectrum parties of the conservative and neoliberal right. In the same way, they also assume the use of fake news, it is the case of the Social Democratic Movement of Bolivia or Chile Vamos in Chile.

In total, it is estimated that more than 30 countries have suffered from this plague in recent years. Mostly by far-right parties and movements.

Post-truth describes the fact of manufacturing news in a systematic and organized way based on the distortion of reality or the creation of false data to appeal to people’s emotions and low instincts and thus develop an imaginary or even a “subculture” or “Current” that favors the manipulation of people towards a certain political, economic and / or social objective. In this post-truth there is a pattern: blaming the weakest sectors of society. And thus to be able to sell the lie that the privileged groups of it are, in reality, the victims. For this, the sectors whose demands were beginning to be heard and the movements that support them are usually blamed; such as: immigrants, workers, the LGTB group or women. And, in this way, that they fight to preserve their privileges and thus divide society. A strategy that, taking advantage of mistrust, fears and the lack of general culture, delve into anti-intellectualism, contempt for the different and the loss of rights. Distrust and fear fueled by the media. Thus, a set of lies encouraged by the extreme right has suddenly become popular which, although easily dismantled, somewhat blur reality. Lies like fascism or Nazism are left-wing.

The case of Chile

The coup d’état carried out on September 11, 1973 and the subsequent 16 years of torture, executions, disappearances and political persecution, were justified for more than a decade by false news and communicational montages of the newspapers El Mercurio, La Segunda, La Tercera, Las Últimas Noticias and the radio and TV channels controlled directly by the Military Junta (all opposition media were censored, while their journalists were tortured, executed and exiled); as an example:

– La Tercera, September 22, 1973 “Uncovered the sinister Plan Z” (“Al descubierto el siniestro Plan Z): first fake news of the dictatorship. The “Plan Z” was an invention to justify, in front of the eyes of the world, the coup d’état and the images of mass arrests that circulated the press internationally. Federico Willoughby himself (the first spokesman for the Military Junta) acknowledged that it was a “great maneuver of psychological warfare.” The alleged objectives of the plan were the assassination of several officers and their families for the seizure of “total power.”

– La Segunda, February 9, 1977 ” There were no such disappearances.( ” No hay tales desaparecidos »): between late November and mid-December 1976, there were 13 arrests of Communist Party and MIR militants. General Raúl Benavides Escobar (Minister of the Interior at that time), indicated to the courts that the disappeared “had left on foot to Argentina through the Los Libertadores pass.” This version was disseminated by the press, and it was not until years later that it was verified that the “group of thirteen” was annihilated by the DINA in the Simón Bolívar barracks. The plaintiff’s lawyer, in this case, Nelson Caucoto, revealed that said barracks remained unknown because none of those who were prisoners there managed to survive.

– Las Últimas Noticias, March 20, 1976 “Optimal treatment of political prisoners” (Óptimo trato a presos políticos” ): in 1976, the President of the Supreme Court, José Eyzaguirre and the Minister of Justice, Miguel Schweitzer, received authorization to visit Tres y Cuatro Álamos (Puchuncaví) and Villa Grimaldi. These visits only served to demonstrate the existence of the detention centers (denied by the regime up to that moment), since it was a publicity stunt to deny the torture and disappearances. Under Eyzaguirre’s speech of “fighting terrorism” but with “respect for the guarantees of the accused”, the versions that pointed to the harassment of the military and their complicity in the disappearances were discredited. Showing the press that the political prisoners were, supposedly, in good condition.

– La Tercera, July 23, 1975 “The MIR has assassinated 60 of its men”( “El MIR ha asesinado a 60 de sus hombres”) : it is the same news published in La Segunda with the headline “Exterminated like mice.” After the disappearance of 119 people between May 27, 1974 and February 20, 1975, pressure from international human rights delegations and Chilean bishops led the Pinochet regime to carry out a sophisticated assembly that crossed the mountain range, the so-called “Operation Colombo”. Army Major Raúl Iturriaga Neumann met agent Enrique Arancibia Clavel in the city of Buenos Aires in April 1975. Between them, they prepared a montage to make believe that the former manager of Chiquicamata, David Silbermann, had been assassinated in the capital. Argentina, although in reality he was kidnapped by the DINA. The assembly was carried out with an anonymous corpse left in a basement, with a sign with the words “Discharged by the MIR”, in that way they also did it with three other bodies. Thus, the dictatorship with the press invented an alleged Mirista “purge”, installing the version that the 119 who disappeared were murdered by their own organization when all the cases of kidnappings by the secret police of Pinochet were dealt with.

Western dominance of global news remains overwhelming. The Russian news agency RT has a budget of 300 million dollars a year without a network that coordinates its messages with, for example, the Chinese CCTV, Iranian television or TeleSur. But the western network is indeed a sum of fairly coordinated devices. In its report on Russia and many other topics, the Deutsche Welle has a budget of US $ 350 million, the French RFI, US $ 380 million, the BBC US $ 524 million and almost all of the news in the United States, which has been broadcasting in almost decades. all the languages of the former USSR (and there are many languages), many more than hundreds of millions. And all this without counting on the private media and without taking into account the enormity that Hollywood represents, which, as they say “is the continuation of Washington’s policy by other means.”

On the other hand, can currently powerful human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, serve as guides for protection and impartiality in matters of defense of fundamental rights of the people? Many times they cannot. The very authority that human rights organizations possess, with their appearance of principle and neutrality, has become too valuable a commodity for the powerful to pass up. The result? Human rights organizations have sacrificed their credibility and become a sophisticated part of the machinery of US foreign policy, constantly on the side of the empire, despite the contradictions and contortions that such a position requires. Amnesty did not give Chelsea Manning a “prisoner of conscience” designation. Amnesty representatives told journalist Joe Emersberger in 2013 that her investigation was ongoing, and that they were not sure whether Manning had “responsibly released information.” On the contrary, the Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who led multiple violent coup attempts against the government, was quickly declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Were his coup attempts carried out more responsibly than Manning’s denunciation?

Finally, although organizations of all ideologies have used fake news at one point, it is the far-right movements that have bet the most on this type of gadget, since they have served to perpetuate their tyranny of privilege to the detriment of the most disadvantaged.

Translation by Lulith V., from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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