Posts Tagged ‘human rights activists’

Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

October 30, 2017


© AFP/File / by Fulya OZERKAN | The case is being heard in Sincan at a purpose-built facility to hear coup-related trials

ANKARA (AFP) – A mass trial in Turkey is set to resume Monday of more than 220 suspects, including former generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of last year’s coup bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The suspects face life sentences if convicted of charges ranging from using violence to try to overthrow the government and parliament, to killing nearly 250 people.

Turkey blames the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, is among several of the 221 suspects named in the indictment but are on the run, with the rest set to appear in court.

The attempted coup left 249 people dead, not counting 24 coup-plotters killed on the night of the putsch attempt.

Also among the suspects in one of Turkey’s highest-profile prosecutions are several high-ranking military officers including ex-air force commander Akin Ozturk.

Several of those on trial are accused of leading the so-called “Peace At Home Council”, the name the plotters are said to have given themselves the night of the failed overthrow.

The case is being heard in Sincan near the capital Ankara, at a facility that was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials.

– Massive crackdown –

In the opening trial in May, alleged coup plotters were booed by protesters as they entered the courtroom, with some shouting slogans in favour of “death penalty” for the suspects.

The trial is one of many being held across the country to judge the coup suspects in what is the biggest legal process of Turkey’s modern history.

The government has launched a massive crackdown under state of emergency laws imposed in the wake of the failed coup which have been extended several times.

Over 140,000 people, including public sector employees, have been sacked or suspended over alleged links to the coup while 50,000 people have been arrested since July 2016.

This week will also see other hearings in Istanbul including journalists from opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper who are standing trial on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist organisations.

One of Turkey’s acclaimed authors Asli Erdogan will appear before a court Tuesday on charges of spreading terror propaganda on account of her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

In December she was released pending trial, after 132 days of pre-trial detention.

Last week, an Istanbul court ordered the release on judicial control of eight human rights activists including Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, as well as a German and a Swede.

The cases involving journalists have received criticism from human rights advocates who claim the government is seeking to stifle dissent.

by Fulya OZERKAN

Turkish PM Tries to Downplay Tensions With Germany — Turkey continues to regard Germany as a “strategic partner in Europe”

July 21, 2017

BERLIN — The Latest on Germany’s tougher stance on Turkey following the jailing of a human rights activist (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

Turkey’s prime minister has sought to downplay worries of growing tensions between Turkey and Germany following the jailing of six human rights activists, which included one German.

Image result for Binali Yildirim, photos

Binali Yildirim

Binali Yildirim said Turkey continues to regard Germany as a “strategic partner in Europe” and that now and then there may be “tensions in the relations due to considerations caused by domestic politics.”

Yildirim urged “cool-headedness” and said there is “no benefit to Germany or to Turkey if relations are damaged.”

Yildirim’s comments came a day after Germany toughened its stance toward Ankara following the jailing of six human rights activists, which included four Turks, a Swede as well as the German.

Berlin told German citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for investments.


8:50 a.m.

Germany’s finance minister is comparing Turkey with communist East Germany after his government toughened its stance toward Ankara following the jailing of a German human rights activist.

The government a day earlier told German citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for investments.

Image result for Wolfgang Schaeuble, photos

Wolfgang Schaeuble

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Friday’s edition of Bild newspaper that Turkey is now arresting people arbitrarily and failing to comply with minimum consular standards.

He was quoted as saying: “It reminds me of how things used to be in East Germany. It was clear to anyone who traveled there: if something happens to you, no one can help you.”

Schaeuble added that if Turkey doesn’t stop playing “games,” Germany will have to tell people: “You travel to Turkey at your own risk.”


Turkey Accuses Germany of Harbouring ‘Terrorists’ — Germany Overhauls its Foreign Policy for Turkey — Germany reviews export credits to Turkey over blacklisted firms

July 21, 2017

Al Jazeera

Reaction follows German threat to slap sanctions and decision to issue travel advisory amid row over activists’ arrest.

Image may contain: 1 person

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister. Reuters photo

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, has accused Germany of harbouring “terrorists” after the country stepped up a travel advisory for Turkey and considered slapping sanctions over its arrest of human rights activists.


Germany told its citizens on Thursday to exercise caution if travelling to Turkey, with Sigmar Gabriel, foreign minister, warning that his government could no longer guarantee its citizens’ safety in the face of “arbitrary” mass arrests.

The warning came after Turkey arrested six human-rights activists, including a German national, on accusations of “terrorism”.

READ MORE: Rejected asylum – From Karachi to Germany and back again

Germany, Turkey’s chief export partner, called the allegations absurd.

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File photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. © Tobias Schwarz / Reuters

Gabriel said Germany would review state guarantees for foreign investment in Turkey, and reconsider its support for billions in European Union financial flows to Turkey.

Germany’s Bild newspaper, citing government sources, reported that the country was also putting arms projects involving Turkey on hold.

Stance ‘unacceptable’

Cavusoglu called Germany’s stance “unacceptable”.

“As a country providing shelter to PKK and FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards and unacceptable,” he said on Twitter, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party and the network of the US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Turkey for last year’s failed coup.

Germany and Turkey have clashed over numerous issues in recent months, including the pre-trial detention of a Turkish-German journalist, Deniz Yucel, and Germany’s refusal to extradite asylum seekers Turkey alleges were involved in the coup attempt.

The latest row broke out after a Turkish court on Tuesday ordered six rights activists, including German national Peter Steudtner and Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, to remain in custody for allegedly aiding a “terror” group.

Gabriel broke off his holiday to deal with the crisis.

He said Steudtner “never wrote about Turkey, he had no contacts in the political establishment … and never appeared as a critic.”

He said any German national travelling to Turkey could suffer the same fate.

Gabriel also accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of trying to muzzle “every critical voice” with mass arrests.

Erdogan says the crackdown, in which roughly 50,000 people have been detained and 150,000 sacked or suspended from the judiciary and journalism to academia, was essential after the failed coup.

Many companies have also been seized on allegations of links to “terrorism”.

Without legal certainty

Gabriel said he could not advise companies to invest in a country without legal certainty where “even completely innocent companies are judged as being close to terrorists”.

“I can’t see how we as the German government can continue to guarantee corporate investments in Turkey if there is the threat of arbitrary expropriation for political reasons.”

Germany still wanted to rebuild relations with its long-time ally, he said, but added that Erdogan’s government must first “return to European values”.

Juergen Hardt, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative party, said the EU candidate country had now “left the path to Europe”.

Gabriel, left, and Cavusoglu have engaged in a war of words over the Turkish arrests [File: AP]


“No one invests in a country … in which the judiciary has been degraded to be a helper of the ruling AKP party,” he said.

Cavusoglu hit back at Gabriel’s remarks, saying threats and blackmail would find no answers in Turkey, and that Germany and Turkey needed to focus on their long-term mutual goals instead.

“We don’t see such threats against Turkey as worthy of a serious country,” Cavusoglu said in Cyprus.

The foreign ministry in Ankara said Turkey would not make concessions on its judicial independence and struggle against “terrorism” “for financial matters such as loans, funds or the [European] Customs Union”.

READ MORE: Germany to withdraw troops from Turkish base

For his part, Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey’s presidential spokesman, accused Germany of “great political irresponsibility” in stepping up its travel warning.

He suggested Gabriel’s remarks were intended to win votes at national elections in two months. “They need to rid themselves of this abdication of reason and think rationally,” Kalin said.

Gabriel’s warnings to private as well as business travellers could deal a blow to Turkey’s tourism industry. So far this year, bookings from Germany have accounted for about 10 percent of Turkey’s tourists.

List of companies

The German newspaper Die Zeit reported on Wednesday that Turkish authorities had, several weeks ago, handed their German counterparts a list of 68 German companies they accused of having links to Gulen.

They included chemicals manufacturer BASF, which confirmed it was on a list that had been passed to it by German police but declined to comment on the allegations.

Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, said on Thursday the reports were untrue.

Germany was Turkey’s top export destination in 2016, buying $14bn worth of Turkish goods.

It was also the second biggest source of Turkish imports, at $21.5bn. Only China, at $25.4bn, exported more to Turkey.

Source: News agencies


Germany overhauls Turkey policy

Germany is sharpening its policy toward Turkey in response to jailings of journalists and human rights activists. The new tone together with an increased travel warning has been met with outrage in Ankara.

Germany’s foreign minister interrupted his vacation on the North Sea to return to Berlin to deliver the most strongly worded statement yet against Turkey’s imprisonment of German journalists and human rights activists.

“We want Turkey to be a part of the West, or at least remain in its current position, but it takes two to tango,” Sigmar Gabriel at a press conference in Berlin. “I cannot make out any willingness on the part of the current Turkish government to follow this path with us. For that reason Germany is forced to reorient its Turkey policy. The first consequences will be new travel advisories for German citizens in Turkey.”

Gabriel said that Germans traveling to Turkey were incurring “risks,” and the ministry website recommended Germans should exercise “heightened caution” when visiting Turkey since “consular access” to Germans detained in Turkey had been “restricted in violation of the obligations of international law.”

Read more: Germany reviews export credits to Turkey over blacklisted firms

Gabriel said that the measures were being taken after consulting with both conservative chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic chairman and chancellor candidate Martin Schulz. Although they stopped short of a travel warning against Turkey, they do represent an increased frostiness between the two countries.

 Screenshot of website Peter Steudtner

Steudtner’s detention has prompted the latest crisis

‘Obviously unfounded accusations’

The re-calibration of Germany’s Turkey policy came after a court in Istanbul ordered six human rights activists, including Peter Steudtner from Berlin, to investigative custody on Tuesday. Turkey accuses them of supporting terrorism.  Gabriel specifically mentioned Steudtner.

“These accusations are obviously unfounded and have simply been dragged out irrationally,” the foreign minister said, adding that Steudtner had taken no position on current Turkish politics and was quite possibly present in the country for the first time.

The Amnesty International representative was arrested earlier this month at a conference in Istanbul while teaching Turkish colleagues about IT security and non-violent conflict resolution. German journalist Deniz Yucel has been held in investigative custody since late February. Seven other Germans are also currently in such custody.

Gabriel said that Germany had showed patience in the ongoing row with Ankara and hadn’t responded to incendiary comparisons between the Federal Republic and Nazi Germany. He said Berlin had tried to restart relations with Turkey, but had been “repeatedly disappointed.”

“The government and the coalition parties will be discussing further consequences,” Gabriel said, adding that a range of financial sanctions were also under consideration.

Access to German detainees

On Wednesday, Turkey’s ambassador to Germany was summoned to the German Foreign Ministry and warned that Berlin does not accept the detention of its citizens. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said that Germany must take a tougher stance towards Turkey, but cautioned that diplomatic relations also had to be maintained.

“We have to keep in mind that German citizens are sitting in Turkish jails, and we need access to them,” Maas told the DPA news agency. “I think it would be a mistake right now to give Turkey any arguments to deny us that access.”

Turkey has accused Germany of interfering in its internal affairs. There has been speculation that Erdogan is using the German detainees essentially as hostages in an attempt to force Berlin to deport Turkish citizens in Germany whom Ankara considers terrorists.

Other German politicians have called for a range of measures to punish Turkey from general economic sanctions to a cancellation of the deal between the EU and Turkey on refugees.

Türkei Protest an der Uni Ankara (Getty Images/AFP/A. Altan)

There have been mass arrests since the failed attempt to bring down Erdogan last July

Turkish non-delight

The Turkish government criticized Gabriel’s remarks and the announced change in the German position. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meanwhile reacted by accusing Germany of harboring terrorists:

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

As a country providing shelter to PKK&FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards&unacceptable.

Cavusoglu said on Twitter said on Twitter that “As a country providing shelter to PKK and FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards and unacceptable,” referring to the outlawed, militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the religious-inspired network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen that Ankara blames for the July 15, 2016 failed coup.

Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, meanwhile said: “We strongly condemn statements that German citizens who travel to Turkey are not safe and that German companies in Turkey should have hesitations and concerns.”

The Chairman of the Commission for Foreign Affairs Taka Ozhan, a member of Erdogan’s AKP party, repeated Turkish accusations that Germany is harboring Turkish citizens who are trying to overthrow the government – in particular, Kurdish separatists and members of the Gulen movement.

“What we’re seeing in Germany at the moment is a crisis of principals,” Ozhan said in a statement to Deutsche Welle’s Turkish division. “The question is whether terrorism is supported or not…The Terrorists think ‘Once we get to Germany, we’re home safe.’ That has to change.”

The number of Turks applying for asylum in Germany dramatically increased last year amidst a government crackdown after the failed Turkish coup on July 15, 2016. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been arrested and more than 100,000 have lost their jobs in Turkey.

Philippine President Duterte threatens human rights activists

November 29, 2016
By   – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 12:02 AM November 30, 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AP

President Duterte has threatened to kill human rights activists critical of his war on illegal drugs and called warnings he could be charged in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the bloody campaign “bullshit.”

In a speech in Malacañang on Monday night, Mr. Duterte said those accusing him of ordering the summary execution of drug suspects should be blamed if the country’s drug problem worsened.

“The human rights (defenders) said I ordered the killings. I told them ‘OK. Let’s stop. We’ll let them (drug users) multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die,” the President said at the inaugural switch-on of a coal-fired power plant.

“I will include you because you are the reason why their numbers swell,” he said in Filipino.

Official figures show that police antidrug operations have left 2,500 dead since Mr. Duterte took office on June 30. Another 2,500 drug-related deaths mainly attributed to vigilantes have been reported.

An ICC prosecutor last month said The Hague-based tribunal may have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators of the drug-related killings.


“You threaten me that you will jail me? International Criminal Court? Bullshit,” Mr. Duterte said on Monday.

He scolded the United States for what he called hypocritical threats to try him in the ICC, to which Washington itself is not a signatory. He did not specify when the US threat was made.

The United States chose not to sign the Rome Statute to protect former President George W. Bush, Mr. Duterte said, without elaborating.

“America itself is threatening to jail me in the International Criminal Court,” Mr. Duterte said. “It is not a signatory of that body. Why? Because at that time, they were afraid Bush would face it.”

For months, the President has been ridiculing concerns that extrajudicial killings could be taking place in his antidrug war, and the United States, European Union and United Nations have been the preferred targets of his comments.

The brash former mayor and prosecutor said lawyers in Europe were “rotten,” “stupid” and had a “brain like a pea.”

This month, Mr. Duterte said he might follow Russia’s move to withdraw from the ICC, describing it as “useless.”

According to Mr. Duterte, the West has failed to comprehend the gravity of the Philippines’ drug problem. He has said he is ready to “rot in jail” to achieve his goals.

There is nothing wrong with threatening to kill bad elements, he said on Monday.

“I will never allow my country to be thrown to the dogs,” the President said. “I said, when I was a mayor, ‘If you destroy my city with drugs I will kill you.’

“Simple as that …. When was it a crime to say, ‘I will kill you,’ in protecting my country?”

Validated list

Mr. Duterte showed his audience a 10-centimeter-thick pile of documents containing the “validated list” of about 5,000 public officials allegedly behind the illegal drug trade.

He said most of those benefiting from the illicit business were villageofficials who were earning “easy money.”

“[That’s why] I acceded to [the postponement of] an election this year for the barangay captains. We would have lost to the money of the drug industry,” he said.

Mr. Duterte said he also showed the documents to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during a one-on-one meeting.

The President had blamed Arroyo and his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, for allowing the drug trade to proliferate during their incumbency.

“I am not trying to scare you,” he said.

“This is the drug industry of the Philippines. These are all the names,” he said.

“I showed this to [former] President Arroyo. I said, ‘Ma’am, we are in a bind. I really do not know how to [handle this]. I surrender. I cannot do this.’”

Even if he wanted to kill all those on the list, Mr. Duterte said he “would not have the time and resources to do it.”

He said “narcopolitics” was already existing in the Philippines “given the so many thousands of policemen and mayors involved” in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

Read more:
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China’s drug rehab assistance astounds Duterte (They Really Want Sole Ownership of The South China Sea) — “China’s government has absolutely no credibility in drug addiction treatment”

October 11, 2016

China is known for its cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of drug addicts.

By Genalyn Kabiling
Manila Bulletin

As other western nations pounded on the government over its bloody drug crackdown, China is planning to build more drug rehabilitation centers in the country, a move that drew praises from President Duterte.

The President said he was “astounded” by China’s assistance to his anti-drug campaign without “any publicity” as the first Beijing-funded rehabilitation center at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija will be completed soon.


“The 1,500[-bed] dormitory is about to be finished and they are promising for more,” the President said in his remarks before a business forum in Davao City last Friday.

Duterte expressed gratitude to China for helping the country, especially amid his administration’s present budgetary constraints on building rehabilitation facilities for drug addicts.

“Four million drug addicts is no joke. We are not a rich country. It is only China who has helped us,” he said.

“China is about to complete [the facility] sub rosa. Walang hambog, walang news, neither any publicity, it’s about to be completed. It would house 1,400 drug addicts in Fort Magsaysay,” he added.

Duterte said he has asked the military to open their camps “to allow people who would want to donate rehab facilities.”


Peace and Freedom note: Addiction treatment has almost nothing to do with the brick, concrete and furniture. You will need dedicated, competent drug treatment professionals. You won’t find them in China. If you do, send us an email.


China’s new opium wars: Battling addiction in Beijing

China has absolutely no credibility in drug addiction treatment

In China, addicts face mandatory detention and must contend with the stigma Chinese history has placed on drug use.

 Shirley, a former drug addict, believes Chinese society has been ‘scared of drugs’ since the Opium Wars [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]
ByAllison Griner
Allison Griner is a freelance foreign correspondent from Jacksonville, Florida.
  • The opium trade hit its peak in 1906, with 35,000 tonnes grown in China
  • 13.5 million Chinese were thought to be addicted to opium at the time
  • By the time the Communist Party came to power in 1949, 20 million Chinese were addicted
  • By the 1990s, that number had dropped to around 70,000
  • But it started to climb again as China grew more prosperous

Beijing, China – She appeared out of the black of an early spring night, wearing a biker jacket and a slicked-back ponytail. One of Beijing’s biggest commercial areas was only a block away, but instead she turned down a narrow alleyway and into a small restaurant.

She strode past the diners, the cash register too, and pushed open a plywood door. Inside was a small circular table surrounded by low orange stools, sandwiched in a room containing a row of industrial kitchen sinks and a drying rack for dishes.

She sat down, opened her laptop and waited. It was 7:30pm on a Monday. The Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting would start once more people showed up. Only two others did, ultimately. Much of China was busy celebrating the yearly Tomb-Sweeping holiday.

But the meeting went ahead as usual. They passed around plastic cups of Coke and laminated reading material, then bowed their heads to pray, as they did at the start of every meeting.

What they were about to share was personal, achingly so, and anonymity was crucial, as the group’s name suggests.

Shirley, who asked to be identified only by her English alias, is one of the Beijing branch’s founding members. She knows NA’s dictates well – particularly, that members conceal their identities “at the level of press”.

Addiction has been part of Shirley’s life since she was a teenager, but finding the right treatment took years. Drugs weren’t the only problem. She also had to contend with the weight of Chinese history, and the acute stigma it has placed on drug use.

‘Great shame’ 

China is believed to have more narcotics regulations than any other country in the world, with more than 500 laws and guidelines implemented at various levels of government over different periods of time.

These “relentless and draconian countermeasures” have done little to lessen China’s drug problem, according to a report released last year by the Brookings Institute, a Washington, DC-based think-tank.

In 2012, the NGO Human Rights Watch included China in its report, Torture in the Name of Treatment. It condemned China, along with several Southeast Asian countries, for “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of drug addicts.

Before Shirley had ever even touched drugs, she knew the stigma that addiction carried.

The Opium War brought great shame to China … I think the whole nation has been frightened by drugs since then.

Shirley, former drug addict

Even as a young girl, the mere possibility that she might develop a drug habit was a constant source of anxiety for her parents. Her mother had once given her a gold-plated clock, and Shirley remembers coming home from middle school one day to find her parents eyeing the polishing powder she used to buff it.

“My parents were terrified. They thought it was drugs,” she recalls. They were relieved to hear that it wasn’t.

“But what they didn’t expect is that I became a drug addict in the end anyway.”

The story of how she first encountered drugs is common. She says she wanted to hang out with the cool, rich kids in her neighbourhood, so she started binge drinking when she was about 16.

That escalated to heroin, China’s most popular drug at the time, followed by ecstasy, weed and other banned substances.

It was the 1990s, and a heroin craze was taking off, fuelled by China’s burgeoning economy.

But Shirley says that part of the blame for her generation’s addiction problems also lies with the Chinese media.

Fear tactics and intimidation were the tools used to scare young people away from drugs, she says. At school, she was subject to dire warnings: Take drugs, and your family will fall apart. On TV, documentaries like The Chinese Sword (1995) depicted explicit, drug-related violence.

When she first tried heroin, Shirley expected to become addicted instantly, to be sucked into a wormhole of vice and decay. That was what she had learned from the media, but when that didn’t happen, she began to wonder: What if I’m an outlier? What if I’m special somehow?

RELATED – The other China boom 

Her understanding had been distorted by the media, which in turn had been skewed by China’s traumatic history with drugs.

“The Opium War brought great shame to China,” Shirley says. “I think the whole nation has been frightened by drugs since then. The reason why drug education is exaggerated stems from this fear.”

Shirley’s arms bear the scars of heroin injections [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]

The opium scourge

Opium, in particular, is blamed for launching a “century of national humiliation” in China.

It arrived through traders as early as the 7th century, under the Tang dynasty, but it was only in the 18th and 19th centuries that it was identified as a scourge against the Chinese people.

It wasn’t as if opium’s “poisonous” qualities were previously unknown. They were. But for several centuries, opium enjoyed a reputation as a pastime for the elite. Its value rivalled gold, and its uses were myriad; it was a medicine, an aphrodisiac and a means of socialising.

Traders from Portugal, Britain and elsewhere saw profit in China’s opium demand. The ruling Qing dynasty, however, saw a threat. As its power started to collapse, opium’s influence expanded, reaching across China’s social strata.

A succession of emperors, some opium users themselves, would grapple with how best to control China’s drug use. Under the Qing dynasty, China became one of the first nations to institute opium regulations. Early on, it debated treatment methods and deterrents – a debate that still finds resonance today. Governments continue to weigh the merits of drug prohibition and legalisation, just as China did so long ago.

RELATED – Breaking bad habits: Mindful addiction recovery 

One 1729 edict, recorded by the British social reformer Joshua Rowntree, proposed a whole series of punishments – banishment, beatings and strangulation among them – for participants in the opium trade, but not the opium smokers themselves.

A letter to Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1839 shows a shift in this policy, just over a century later. Lin Zexu, an official in China’s imperial court, explained: “He who sells opium shall receive the death penalty and he who smokes it also the death penalty.”

By the dawn of the 20th century, yet another system was put in place. Proven addicts could purchase opium legally with a licence, on the condition that they commit to a detoxification schedule. Government officials, for instance, had only six months to get clean.

As the Communist Party rose to power in 1949, it zeroed in on the remaining vestiges of China’s ‘shame’ – the country’s ever-growing addict population.

The opium trade hit its peak in 1906, with 35,000 tonnes grown domestically and an extra 4,000 tonnes brought in from abroad. By that time, China had lost two wars over opium to “barbarians” from Europe, and its “celestial court” was fatally weakened. A whopping 13.5 million Chinese, out of an estimated population of 400 million, were hooked on opium, including 27 percent of the country’s male population.

Only after World War II did the “century of humiliation” come to a close.

As the Communist Party rose to power in 1949, it zeroed in on the remaining vestiges of China’s “shame” – the country’s ever-growing addict population. Estimates suggested there were as many as 20 million, or five percent of the population.

“Because of the Opium Wars, China was still in a crisis mode, in terms of its political, economic and cultural identity,” says Hong Lu, co-author of the book China’s Drug Practices and Policies. Contemporary drug laws were an opportunity for the new government “to reflect upon the shame, the degrading past”.

Under the Communist Party, opium fields were razed. As with previous governments, addicts had to subscribe to a detoxification schedule, or else suffer punishment. More than 800 traffickers were put to death, and many more were successfully prosecuted.

A nationwide campaign spread an anti-drug message, and systems of neighbourhood surveillance were implemented to report local drug users.

In 1953, barely five years into the new regime, the Communist leadership made a stunning announcement: China was effectively drug-free. No official statistics were released, but addiction rates are widely believed to have plummeted, thanks to the new measures.

Later, when China started registering drug addicts in the 1990s, it found only 70,000 – a dramatic drop compared with the millions four decades earlier. That number, however, would climb as China grew increasingly prosperous.

Opium smokers in China, in the 1880s [Lai Afong/Public Domain]

Mandatory detention

Techniques for treating addiction from the early Communist era survived into modern times.

Shirley encountered the mandatory detention system, a brand of treatment the United Nations denounces the world over. In a 2016 joint letter, several UN bureaus stated that these systems are “not scientifically valid”. Moreover, they warned that mandatory detention can lead to “some of the most egregious forms of human rights abuses”.

The Chinese government, for its part, fired back at its critics during a UN special session on drugs this April. In his speech, state councillor Guo Shengkun warned other world leaders not to “interfere in other countries’ internal affairs”.

RELATED – Mexico’s ‘lost generation’ of drug addicts

He said that the country had recorded 1.21 million instances of “compulsory isolation” for addicts over the past decade. It remains one of the most common forms of treatment.

Shirley’s family discovered her drug habit when she was about 22. Her father sent her out of Beijing to stay in a different province for eight months, hoping that the distance would help her get clean.

“That was the longest time I’d stayed away from drugs,” she says.

When she returned home, she dropped to her knees and swore to her father that she would never take heroin again. But then she relapsed.

“This time I felt completely crushed,” she recalls. “It gives you the feeling that the confidence and dignity you harbour inside your heart is collapsing, little by little.”

She tried to stop. She even came up with a strategy: For every three days she was using, she would spend three days clean.

“During that time, I would stare at the clock every day until the last minute of the third day. Then I would storm out to find drugs,” she says. “I felt as if my whole body was being torn apart.”

She even came up with a strategy: For every three days she was using, she would spend three days clean.

Her boyfriend, whom she had known since childhood, had been held in custody for drug use, and she arranged to meet him after his release. He was furious to find out that she had been seeing other men in his absence.

Their meeting didn’t go as planned. Shirley had come over to resolve their dispute, but the police had arrived too, to check up on her boyfriend. The officers ended up taking them bothto the station for drug tests.

“It was like a car being side-swiped by another car,” Shirley recalls.

Shirley tested positive.

She was sentenced to mandatory detention, in a new programme modelled after Daytop, a therapeutic treatment option founded in the United States.

She was allowed to leave in 2003, after six months of detoxification, but she chose to stay on longer, doing volunteer work for several years. The whole process was a relief, she says.

“I felt relaxed from the moment I was caught by the police,” Shirley says. There were no more drugs or boyfriends to be bothered with, she explains with a laugh. “I felt free.”

‘Re-education through labour’ 

But not everyone who passes through China’s mandatory detention system has such a good experience.

In 2012, the United Nations released a statement condemning compulsory drug detention worldwide. It said that detainees were denied their legal rights, and that they faced violence, forced labour and heightened health risks while in lock-up.

The system has its share of supporters in China, notably Zunyou Wu of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. He wrote a rebuttal to the UN’s statement, saying that the UN focused too much on the individual rights of drug users.

“Under some circumstances, the individual’s autonomy must be overridden for the sake of the community as a whole,” Wu wrote. He also attacked the science behind the report.

RELATED – My mother’s battle with drug addiction in Pakistan 

Yunnan-based activist Gao Qiang ended his last stint in detention in 2007, after spending more than a decade in and out of mandatory treatment. Like Shirley, he became addicted to heroin at a young age, 15, without understanding much about drugs.

He was only a teenager in 1992 when he was first arrested and placed in a compulsory treatment centre.

For three months, Gao says that he was locked in a room no bigger than 20 square metres, where he was left to fight his addiction cold turkey.

“There was no so-called treatment at all. The only treatment was to lock you up every day,” Gao says.

For three months, Gao says he was locked in a room no bigger than 20 square metres, where he was left to fight his addiction cold turkey.

Multiple relapses forced Gao back into custody several times after that and he soon became intimately familiar with the two institutions China employs for drug treatment: compulsory detoxification centres and “re-education through labour” camps.

Both systems required detainees to work, Gao says, but they were worse than any normal job. The hours were long, the workloads heavy. He also alleges that police would beat the inmates.

Gao preferred the “re-education through labour” camps, a system created in the 1950s to hold a range of criminals, including political dissidents, often without trial. There, he farmed sugar cane and rice from 8am to 6pm.

It was an easier schedule than that he faced at the rehab centres, where he says he worked from morning until midnight, with days off only for public holidays. His jobs included manufacturing shoes on an assembly line and making artificial diamonds for clothing.

A bar in Beijing’s fashionable Sanlitun district displays a sign saying ‘No Drugs!’ [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]

The shrinking advocacy community

China abolished the system of “re-education through labour” camps in late 2013. But, human rights activists like Shen Tingting say “they just changed the [camps’] names”. Now they’re simply drug detox centres, too.

Shen, the advocacy director for the NGO Asia Catalyst, does believe the treatment facilities are improving.

The law now acknowledges that addicts should be seen as patients, rather than criminals, and China has built the world’s largest system of methadone therapy to wean users off drugs such as heroin.

RELATED – The country with the world’s worst drink problem 

That said, Shen still sees a number of flaws in the system. For instance, law enforcement officials often operate the detention facilities, rather than medical professionals. Shen is also emphatic about the need for more voluntary treatment alternatives, but for these to succeed, the mandatory detention system needs to ease up.

“Basically, now, it’s arrest and detention. I think that’s made people really scared,” Shen says. “Even if you have voluntary treatment, in a system like that, people won’t show up.”

It’s hard for her to be optimistic about change. A few years back, she remembers letter-writing campaigns and advocacy work being done on behalf of drug users. “Now it’s just silence. There’s just no voice at all,” she says. “I just think the [drug advocacy] community is getting smaller but not stronger.”

Part of the dilemma lies with a lack of international engagement, Shen says. As the world’s second-largest economy, China no longer attracts as many donors for its social issues as it used to. And besides, international groups are increasingly met with suspicion. Just this April, China passed a law requiring foreign NGOs to submit to police supervision.

Then there’s the issue of stigma. When it comes to drug users, many Chinese still hold staunchly conservative opinions, Shen says.

Shirley’s family had trouble accepting her as an addict. While she stayed at the detention centre, an uncle from her mother’s side was the only family member to visit her.

“Though my family loves me very much, they still think that I, as a drug addict, am a humiliation,” she says.

Shen Tingting of the NGO Asia Catalyst says the drug advocacy community has grown smaller and weaker in recent years [Allison Griner/Al Jazeera]

Fractured social credibility

“Humiliated” was exactly how Gao felt, even after he had finally become clean. Now, at 42, he still remembers his first trip from Yunnan to Beijing. He and a friend visited Tiananmen Square, then he retired to his hotel for a rest. A knock at his door interrupted his sleep.

The police were there with handcuffs, ready to take him to the station for a random urine test, Gao says. He didn’t even have time to grab a shirt.

In China, addicts are registered on a police database, unless they can prove that they have been clean for three years. Each time they use their ID cards, like at a hotel, the police are made aware of their whereabouts.

“It was like a surveillance camera watching you 24/7, leaving you no privacy at all,” Gao says.

RELATED – China’s Fake Boyfriends 

He doesn’t deny that addicts need some level of supervision, but he finds the current system excessive.

Gao dedicated himself to learning about Chinese law, to help other drug users overcome addiction and face down discrimination.

You have no social credibility, which makes it almost impossible to make a living.

Gao Qiang, Yunnan-based activist and former drug addict

Many of his friends returned to drugs after confronting the difficulties of life as a registered addict. Their drug histories prevent them from landing jobs and even getting a driver’s licence.

“You have no social credibility, which makes it almost impossible to make a living,” Gao says.

It was a sense of social acceptance that drew Shirley to Narcotics Anonymous. She travelled all the way from Beijing to Shanghai for her first meeting, and left shocked. She had never been among people so tolerant of drug addicts. That’s when she and other NA attendees decided to hold their own meetings in Beijing.

But it hasn’t always been easy to cope with her addiction since then, Shirley explains one afternoon at an Italian restaurant.

She is now 38, with two young daughters to take care of.

While she talks, her youngest, a blur of lavender tulle and strawberry hair charms, bounces around the restaurant booths. Her mischievous smile, flashed in a game of peekaboo, reveals two missing front teeth.

Shirley was racked with postnatal depression after her daughter’s birth. But taking medication was out of the question. She had been clean since 2007 and didn’t want to risk a relapse.

“Every night after my family fell asleep, there were different voices resonating around my ears,” Shirley says.

One voice would remind her of her pain, and another would taunt her: “Just die. Everything will be fine after you are dead.”

Returning to Narcotics Anonymous after her pregnancy helped Shirley to overcome those suicidal impulses, she says, but she knows it’s not for everyone.

When it comes to offering treatments, “diversity is the word,” Shirley says. “With more methods, more people will be helped.”

Follow Allison Griner on Twitter at @alligriner


Peace and Freedom Note: People that have no interest in human rights generally are unwilling and unable to successfully treat the addicted. Modern addiction treatment is fundamentally founded upon the worth of the human individual as a child of God. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) both teach that only a “higher power” can get someone who is addicted to become “cured.”

This is why China has such a miserable record in drug and addiction treatment.

It is sad to us at Peace and Freedom that the Philippines, with such a large Catholic population, has chosen to follow the path of “execution” instead of treatment. This morally reprehensible path will certainly lead to more as yet unimaginable trouble for the Philippines. Drug addicts are human beings and they can be cured.

Every thinking person in the Philippines should feel ashamed at what is going on.

Because each and every drug addict is a human being in need of help. And each and every one can be cured and returned to a productive life. Execution without any legal process is an undeserved fate that demeans us all.


I know, because I am a cured drug addict myself.

John Francis Carey

Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Faces 12 Years in Prison — Defended Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, Artist Ai Weiwei, Liu Hui Other Critics of Chinese Communist Party

September 22, 2016

Xia defended many high-profile politically sensitive cases


By Jun Mai
South China Morning Post
Thursday, September 22, 2016, 3:53 p.m.

A prominent Chinese rights lawyer who defended high-profile politically sensitive cases has been sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for fraud, according to his lawyer.

Xia Lin, 46, was found guilty of fraud involving 4.8 million yuan (HK$5.6 million) by the Beijing No 2 Intermediate Court on Thursday.

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and camera

 Policemen stand behind Lin Ru, the wife of civil rights lawyer Xia Lin, as she talks to media near the Beijing Number 2 People’s Intermediate Court after her husband was sentenced to 12 years in prison on fraud charges on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

 Lin Ru, the wife of civil rights lawyer Xia Lin, is surrounded by police near the Beijing Number 2 People’s Intermediate Court on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Xia was taken away by police in the middle of a case while defending rights activist Guo Yushan in November 2014. He had also defended dissident artist Ai Weiwei, Sichuan earthquake rights activist Tan Zuoren, rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, and Deng Yujiao, a Hubei waitress who killed a government official in self-defence during a sexual assault in a case that made national headlines.

It is unclear whether the charges against Xia had anything to do with the cases he defended, but the court verdict made no mention of any of the politically sensitive cases mentioned above.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

 Ai Weiwei’s wife, Lu Qing right, heads to court with lawyers Xia Lin in 2011. AP photo

It is not uncommon for authorities to use non-political charges against activists. Ai Weiwei, for instance, was detained for more than two months for suspected tax evasion in 2010. Liu Hui, the brother in-law of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in jail for fraud in 2013. Liu Hui’s case was dropped by prosecutors who cited insufficient evidence in 2012, but was picked up again months after Liu Xia gave interviews to oversea media.

Is it Important to Discuss Human Rights?


File photo: Pu Zhiqiang (R) stands with dissident artist Ai Weiwei (L) in the Caochangdi district of Beijing, 20 July 2012

Weiwei (left) detailed his torture inside a Chinese prison. At right is his lawyer Pu Zhiqiang who represented artist Ai Weiwei in a tax evasion case that critics complained was politically motivated. He also campaigned for the eventual  abolition of the labour camp system, under which suspects could be detained for years without trial. AFP photo

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Zhao Wei

Zhao Wei was released by China on July 7, 2016

China Sentences Human Rights Lawyer, Government Critic Xia Lin to 12 Years

September 22, 2016


The Associated Press


A Chinese lawyer who defended activists and others involved in politically sensitive cases was sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday on fraud charges, his lawyers said, in what is believed to be the harshest penalty handed down in years against those few willing to take on the ruling Communist Party.

Xia Lin was sentenced Thursday by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court, nearly two years after being detained, lawyer Ding Xikui said.

“We’ve been striving to defend his innocence,” Ding said. “Even one day in prison is too much.”

There was no immediate comment from the court. Ding said Xia planned to file an appeal.

Xia’s sentencing comes amid a string of recent cases and subversion trials demonstrating the ruling Communist Party’s determination to silence independent human rights activists and government critics. But the most those accused received was 7 ? years.

By comparison, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, identified by the party as an existential threat to its rule, is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion.

“The harsh sentence against Xia Lin sends the sternest warning yet to the community of human rights lawyers that they must toe the party line,” said Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch.

Wang said president and party leader Xi Jinping has made clear that, despite its calls for strengthened rule of law, the party intends to use the legal system to enforce its uncontested rule. “Anyone who challenges this aspiration will not be tolerated.”

Ding and advocacy group Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders said the charges against Xia, who was born in 1970, related to money he had borrowed from friends, who asserted they did so freely and had not brought legal complaints against him. He was accused of defaulting on that debt, but no convincing evidence was provided, they said.

“He had indeed borrowed money from people, but it is just normal borrowing and lending money,” Ding said.

The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders said that Xia was detained on Nov. 8, 2014, as he began preparing to defend Guo Yushan, the head of the Chinese think tank, the Transition Institute. It said Guo had been detained a month early for supporting the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous Chinese region of Hong Kong.

The group said that, lacking evidence of fraud, investigators instead focused on Xia’s association with government critics, including artist and human rights activist Ai, whose design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., he helped defend from a demand for $1.85 million in back taxes and fines brought in 2011 that was widely seen as a further form of government harassment following his illegal detention earlier that year. Ai ultimately lost the case, despite claims of widespread legal irregularities.

“The numerous legal violations, not least the length of time it took to bring Xia to trial, demonstrate the flimsiness of the authorities’ case. Xia Lin should be freed on Thursday and compensated for his time in detention,” human-right researcher Frances Eve said in a statement.

Xi’s campaign against dissent began gathering steam in the summer of 2015, when about 300 activists and lawyers were initially seized in a roundup and questioned before most were released.

But more than a dozen of those detained last year remain in custody, their legal fates still unknown.


Associated Press researcher Liu Zheng contributed to this report.


Chinese Court Sentences Ai Weiwei’s Lawyer to 12 Years for Fraud

BEIJING — A Beijing lawyer whose clients included the artist Ai Weiwei joined the swelling population of Chinese rights advocates in prison on Thursday, when a court sentenced him to 12 years after convicting him on fraud charges.

The lawyer, Xia Lin, and his wife and supporters strongly rejected the prosecutors’ claim that he had defrauded people, and said the case was part of the government’s campaign to silence Chinese rights lawyers who have challenged arbitrary state power. There had been little doubt that the court in Beijing would declare Mr. Xia guilty: Defendants in politically sensitive cases rarely, if ever, walk free in China.


China: Rights lawyer says he was forced to smear fellow activists caught in China crackdown — “I was forced against my own will”

August 30, 2016

Zhang Kai, a Christian, says he was pressured into making critical comments during a televised interview

By Mimi Lau
South China Morning Post

UPDATED : Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 3:04 a.m.
Zhang Kai among 270 human rights lawyers and activists detained or arrested.
Zhang Kai (center), a Christian, helps carry a wooden cross at Xialing Church, hours before his arrest. Courtesy of AsiaNews


A Christian lawyer is retracting criticisms he made of other rights activists targeted in the “709” crackdown, saying he made the comments against his will.

Christian and rights lawyer Zhang Kai, 36, has confirmed that he wrote a notice released online yesterday.

A crane winching a large red cross from one Guantou’s three domes

A crane winches a large red cross from one of three domes on the Guantou church in Wenzhou, China

It essentially overturned an interview given on the evening of August 4 about the trial of lawyer Zhou Shifeng, who sits at the centre of a campaign that saw more than 319 lawyers and activists arrested in an unprecedented crackdown that began last July.

The statement was also posted on Zhang’s Weibo account, but the account was deleted by authorities yesterday afternoon. Zhang refused to comment beyond what is in his statement.

Zhang was detained last August for representing about 100 churches, whose crosses were demolished by government officials in Zhejiang province.

He was subsequently seen in a state television confession in February urging other human-rights lawyers to refrain from colluding with foreigners.

In March, Zhang was released, and was then seen after the trial of Zhou on August 4, in which Zhou was charged with subversion and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Zhang Kai

“With a Christian faith and a free conscience, I am officially stating that the interview with a number of media, including Phoenix Television, over the trial of Zhou Shifeng was against my own will,” Zhang’s statement read.

“It was a forced act out of fear and I’m retracting all of my comments,” it added.

During the interview earlier this month, Zhang said that from the perspective of a lawyer, the court in Tianjin had handled Zhou’s case fairly.

“I personally think they might have gone too far,” Zhang said during the interview, referring to activists Zhai Yanmin, Hu Shigen and Zhou, who were among the first three detainees to go on trial over the crackdown.

“An individual’s belief and political advocacy should remain consistent to the background of our era and historical circumstances,” Zhang said in the interview, adding that “we should refrain from harming national security and unity with overseas funding”.

Zhang’s statement yesterday said such comments were forced out of him.

“My elderly parents were living in fear and worry during the six months of detention in which I was held in darkness. [I was] powerless to resist the pressure imposed by a strong regime,” Zhang wrote.

“I am willing to confess to God for [my] weakness and fear in my heart and spirit and I ask the forgiveness of other family members of 709 [victims],” he added.

Currently, 17 people who were detained as part of the 709 crackdown are waiting for their trials.

Xie Yang, a detained lawyer, has complained to his lawyer that he was subjected to torture while behind bars.


Below from September 2015

China has arrested the leader of “Lawyers for Protection of the Cross.” The group defends churches whose crosses have been forcibly removed amid a government campaign to strip skylines of Christian symbols.

Zhang Kai is the latest of more than 250 attorneys, pastors, and human rights activists detained or arrested since July in connection with the 400 to 1,200 cross removals in the eastern province of Zhejiang, a Christian stronghold.

On August 25, police in Wenzhou, a coastal city known as “China’s Jerusalem,” jumped a wall at Xialing Church and arrested Zhang Kai and his intern, Liu Peng. The arrests occurred on the eve of a scheduled meeting with David Saperstein, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

“These detentions fit into the disturbing pattern of state intimidation of public-interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, [and] religious leaders,” Saperstein said to news media. “Other people that I have met, or tried to, have suffered harassment of some kind. [The US government] demands the immediate release of these activists, who boldly underline the precariousness of religious life in China.”

According to China Aid, Zhang and Liu are being held for six months in a so-called “black jail,” one of several detention facilities outside the established penal system. Torture is common in such centers, where prisoners may be held without trial, China Aid said.

Lawyers representing Zhang and Liu requested to meet with them, but authorities denied that request. Sources told the attorneys that Zhang and Liu have been charged with endangering state security and “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order.”

In July, Zhang assembled a team of 30 lawyers, mostly Chinese Christians, to represent pastors and churches in Zhejiang province. Their name: “Lawyers for Protection of the Cross.”

Zhang took up residence at Xialing Church in Wenzhou, meeting with dozens of Christian leaders whose churches were subject to the cross removal or demolition orders.

For months, Zhang and his team pursued an aggressive legal strategy, challenging state actions at every possible point. “He did not let a single legal question lapse,” said Zhang Peihong, a lawyer who worked with Zhang, according to

At one point, a female state security agent told him, “You’re just looking for trouble” by defending churches. “You’re wrong,” he replied. “I have God as my backer.”

On August 8, Zhang shared his stance on WeChat, an Asian social media site with 500 million monthly users: “I’ve made up my mind: the most they can do is jail me. But if I stay silent, I’ll regret it my whole life.” Two weeks later, plainclothes police arrested him.

Zhang’s arrest comes just before China’s Premier Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit the United States in late September. Human rights activists have launched a public petition calling on the Obama administration to cancel Xi’s visit.

“[Zhang] did nothing but legally defend hundreds of churches’ crosses from being barbarically demolished by the Zhejiang government,” said Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid. “Free world leaders, especially President Obama, should make it clear to President Xi Jinping that these acts of total disregard for basic human rights and religious freedom should and will be condemned by all during Xi’s visit to the United Nations and the United States next month.”

This week, a group of human rights leaders in Asia called for the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested since July. “We strongly encourage … the government to ensure that … those who are facing charges are allowed legal representation and that their rights are protected in accordance with the law; to ensure that no individual is detained incommunicado or held at an extra-legal facility,” the Saakshi Project stated. Christian Solidarity Worldwide also called for the immediate release of Zhang and others from detention.

In recent months, CT has covered the cross-demolition campaign and the counter-campaign by local Christians to return crosses to public display.

In 2006, CT published China’s New Legal Eagles, a feature about evangelical lawyers in that country. It has also covered the case of renowned Christian attorney Gao Zhisheng, who was released last year after serving prison time for “inciting subversion of state power.”


Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland


Cross is shown on a church in Zhejiang province, July 27, 2015.

Philippines President Elect Duterte calls Human Rights Groups “Stupid”

June 28, 2016


“I believe in retribution. Why? You should pay. When you kill someone, rape, you should die,” Duterte said in a speech Monday in Davao City, where he was mayor for two decades before winning the presidency this year and has been succeeded by his daughter, Sara Duterte. “These human rights (groups), congressmen, how stupid you are,” he added, promising to restore the death penalty. “He promised that tens of thousands of people would die, with security forces being given shoot to kill orders,” Agence France-Presse notes.

“When they describe or characterise a human rights violator, these fools make it appear that the people you kill are saints, as if they are pitiful or innocent,” he said of human rights activists and United Nations officials who have publicly reprimanded Duterte for his repeated promises to kill as many violent criminals as possible and offer police who perform extrajudicial killings legal protection.

Duterte won the presidency by a wide margin in early May, campaigning on his record as mayor. Davao City remains one of the few safe places on the southern island of Mindanao, home to the nation’s largest Muslim population and jihadist gangs like Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Following his victory, he has repeatedly vowed to increase the number of drug suspects killed by law enforcement.

On Saturday, Duterte vowed to kill not only drug traffickers, but drug addicts. “If I couldn’t convince you to stop, I’ll have you killed… if you’re into drugs, I’m very sorry. I’ll have to apologize to your family because you’ll surely get killed.” he said in a speech, adding, “the problem is once you’re addicted to shabu [methamphetamine], rehabilitation is no longer an option.” The Philippines website Rappler notes that at least 54 drug suspects have been killed since Duterte won the presidential election.

In addition to insisting on the return of capital punishment, Duterte has asserted that he prefers hanging to more expensive forms of execution. “I’m asking for re-imposition of death penalty so that I can hang them,” he said last week, arguing that the influence of drugs “reduced human beings into bestial state [sic].”

He also reiterated in different remarks last week that he neither believes that capital punishment deters criminals, nor does he believe deterrence is a relevant issue in reviving the practice. “Death penalty to me is the retribution. It makes you pay for what you did,” he stated clearly.


A LA UP OBLATION Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte strikes a pose like the UP Oblation at the flag-raising ceremony at Davao City Hall. Duterte, a known night person who had not attended the regular Monday event for a long time, spoke of his impending war on illegal drugs, crime and corruption. ACE MORANDANTE/CONTRIBUTOR

In the same speech, to police, he said, “If you kill 1,000, tell them it was ordered by Duterte. Period. I will deal with everybody.”

In response to Duterte’s repeated calls for the execution of drug criminals, leading drug traffickers have placed a million-dollar bounty on Duterte himself. He has responded by offering government-sanctioned bounties available to civilians if they killed the drug lords placing a bounty on his head. “If he (drug lord) puts P50 million for my life, I will put P60 million. Kill him. No questions asked. We can match each other’s price,” Duterte said last week.

Duterte also bizarrely stated on Monday that he would not run for president again if he knew that he would win. “You know, if I can go back in time, I would decide not to run for president. Honestly, swear to God. If this is just a bad dream, I hope it is,” he said Monday, “during his final flag ceremony as mayor of Davao City.” He added a protest that his salary is not enough to maintain his common-law wife and pay his ex-wife alimony.

While Duterte has given speeches this month, he has not entertained questions from the media sine early June. “I won’t grant interviews. Sorry. It’s really a boycott,” he announced, adding the boycott would lift when his six-year term as president was over.

Duterte will be inaugurated into office on Thursday, June 30.


Missing Booksellers Have Hong Kong Leader ‘Highly Concerned’ — many suspect that Chinese agents crossed over into Hong Kong for kidnapping

January 4, 2016

HONG KONG — Jan 4, 2016


Protesters hold photos of missing booksellers during a protest outside the Liaison of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers say they’ll press the government for answers after a fifth employee of a publisher specializing in books critical of China’s ruling communists went missing. The Chinese words on banner reads “Where is Lee Bo? Liaison of the Central People’s Government of Hong Kong explain!”(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong’s leader said Monday that he was “highly concerned” about the recent disappearances of five people associated with a publishing company in the city that specializes in titles critical of mainland China’s leadership.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also told reporters that there’s no evidence so far to support suspicions that security agents from the mainland were involved in the disappearances.

Despite being the chancellor of Hong Kong’s eight public universities, he reported told private sector not to donate money to local universities. Photo: Sam Tsang

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying

Five people associated with Hong Kong publisher Mighty Current and its Causeway Bay Bookstore have vanished in recent months.

The disappearances have raised fears that Beijing is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory that enjoys civil liberties such as freedom of the press that don’t exist on the mainland.

The latest and most startling case came last week, when the publisher’s chief editor, Lee Bo, failed to return home after paying a visit to a book storage warehouse.

Four other people linked to the company went missing in October, but they were last seen either in mainland China or Thailand.

In Lee’s case, his wife told local media that he had called her from a number that indicated he was in Shenzhen, the mainland Chinese city next door to Hong Kong. That has led many to suspect that Chinese agents crossed over into Hong Kong, snatched Lee and spirited him to the mainland.

“The government and I are highly concerned about the case” of the missing booksellers, Leung said.

Hong Kong’s leader also said there’s “no indication” yet that Chinese agents are involved, and appealed for information from anyone who could help give a better idea of the missing people’s whereabouts or the reasons for the their disappearance.

“If mainland Chinese law enforcement personnel are carrying out duties in Hong Kong, it would be unacceptable because it goes against the Basic Law,” the mini-constitution under which Beijing agreed to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle after taking control of the city from Britain in 1997, Leung said.

The Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing said Monday that it had no information on the case.

Mighty Current specializes in sensationalistic books about Chinese political scandals and other sensitive issues that mainland publishers are forbidden from covering. The books are banned in China but are available in Hong Kong, where they’re sold at bookshops frequented by visiting tourists from the mainland.

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho said Sunday that there were rumors the publisher was preparing a book on an old “girlfriend or mistress” of Chinese President Xi Jinping and had faced pressure to scrap it.


Associated Press writer Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this report.