Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Don’t make human sacrifice a part of US foreign policy

November 16, 2018

Like most American consumers of news, we’ve become accustomed to watching the Beltway commentariat run around like so many headless chickens with every non-story emanating from the Trump administration. We’ve learned to wait for verification, to double-check, and go back to original sources before believing alarming claims. For as often as not the five-alarm stories of the day turn out to be misleading or false.

But on Thursday, NBC News reported a story that was truly disturbing, and well-sourced enough to get our attention.

Here’s the context: Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an increasingly unreliable ally to the U.S., caught the Saudis red-handed murdering a dissident journalist on his country’s soil. Although no respecter of human rights himself, Erdogan rightly sees that this outrage gives him some leverage, especially because President Trump has aligned himself with the Saudis against Iran and in favor of achieving a peace deal in Israel.

Washington Examiner

Erdogan has therefore been relentless in publicly denouncing the Saudis. And officials from the Trump administration, watching the Saudi monarchy’s current self-destruction, understandably want to salvage what chances there are for such a peace. So how to get Erdogan to back off of the Saudis? The Trump administration may be considering a human sacrifice.

One thing Erdogan has wanted consistently from the U.S. since 2016 is the head of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen on a platter. Erdogan has long blamed Gulen, without presenting any credible evidence, for masterminding the 2016 military coup against his regime.

Image result for Fethullah Gulen, bbc, photos

Fethullah Gulen

Gulen, the head of an international movement promoting a peaceful and tolerant vision of the Islamic religion in contrast to other movements, is a legal resident in the United States. If he really were responsible for the coup in Turkey, a NATO ally, the U.S. would extradite him. But until now, both the Obama and Trump administrations have resisted Turkish demands for his extradition. Even when Erdogan was holding pastor Andrew Brunson as a hostage on ludicrous, trumped-up charges, demanding Gulen in exchange, the Trump administration refused, citing the lack of evidence for Gulen’s involvement in the coup, to say nothing of the zero-percent chance that Gulen would get a fair trial in Erdogan’s Turkey.

Unfortunately, however, this might be changing. And this is where the worrying news story comes in.

NBC reported exclusively this week that White House officials made inquiries of the Justice Department about possibly removing Gulen from the United States in order to placate Erdogan. Officials specifically asked about two possibilities — extraditing the cleric to Turkey, where he would certainly be killed, or making him live in a third country such as South Africa, where he would merely be less safe.

We sincerely hope that such inquiries — especially the ones about extradition — are not an expression of actual Trump administration policy. It would be bad enough to sacrifice an innocent man’s life or well-being in order to placate an unsavory dictator like Erdogan. It would be even worse to do it with the long-term goal of protecting a Saudi monarchy that has become a moral stain upon the earth.

Perhaps the U.S. has good long-term reasons to stand by the Saudis. But if so, it will have to justify the relationship on its merits, such as they are.

Human sacrifice has been out of fashion in America for the last 500 years. We sincerely hope there is nothing to these reports of the Trump administration’s willingness to bring it back.


Russia stifled mobile network during protests — Russia’s Federal Security Service involved in surveillance of online communications, illegal arrests

November 16, 2018

Russian authorities ordered two mobile operators to cut most access to mobile data services in the region of Ingushetia as protesters were massing outside government offices there, according to a document from the state telecoms regulator.

The Ingushetia case, the first time such an order has been documented in Russia, indicates Russia is restricting access to social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter so they cannot be used to organize anti-government protests.

Image result for Ingushetia, map

The same techniques have been deployed in the Middle East where, faced with popular uprisings, governments have limited access to mobile data services, according to activists and mobile operators.

The document seen by Reuters, from the Ingushetia office of the Roskomnadzor regulator, states that 3G and 4G mobile Internet services were turned off in Ingushetia from Oct. 4 to Oct. 17 “on the basis of the justified decision of the law enforcement authorities”.

The document did not mention the protests or say on what basis the law enforcement authorities took their decision.

The Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry did not respond to requests by Reuters for comments. A spokesman for Roskomnadzor, in response to questions, did not say why the services were switched off in Ingushetia.

A protest rally in Moscow against a court decision to block the Telegram messenger service because it violated Russian regulations, on Monday. Photograph: Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

A protest rally in Moscow against a court decision to block the Telegram messenger service because it violated Russian regulations, on Monday. Photograph: Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

Protests broke out in Ingushetia, a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia, on Oct. 4 after a deal was agreed delineating Ingushetia’s border with the neighboring Russian region of Chechnya.

The protesters said the deal conceded too much land to Chechnya, and thousands of them gathered in the region’s administrative capital, Magas, to demand it be rejected. At one point, security forces fired into the air to try to disperse the protests.

From Oct. 4, phone users across Ingushetia complained about a lack of mobile internet services, according to lawyer Khusen Daurbekov. He said he was representing some of the complainants pro bono because he wanted to force the authorities to say why they restricted the mobile network.

Daurbekov filed a complaint to the local office of Roskomnadzor against two mobile operators, Megafon and Vimpelcom. The reply, from the head of the office, Aslan Koloyev, exonerated the operators and said the switch-off was requested by law enforcement.

See also:

Kremlin steps up surveillance of online communications


Russia’s Federal Security Service Illegally Held Alexei Navalny

Europe’s top human rights court has found that the repeated detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was politically motivated.

Mr Navalny filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and was there to hear the ruling on Thursday.

Russian police officers detain Alexei Navalny (right) outside a detention centre in Moscow. Photo: 24 September 2018

Alexei Navalny has been frequently arrested by Russian authorities. BBC photo from video

The court found that his seven arrests between 2012 and 2014 had been aimed at “suppressing political pluralism”.

Since then, police have arrested him several times again under protest laws.

“We’ve won,” he tweeted after the verdict. “Completely. The government has been thrashed. They recognised Article 18 [of the European Convention on Human Rights]. Hurray!”

Under Article 18, citizens’ rights and freedoms may not be restricted for political purposes.

Mr Navalny arrived in Strasbourg after initially being refused permission to leave Russia over a court fine.

Since leading mass protests in Moscow in 2011-12, he has campaigned against corruption under President Vladimir Putin and has embraced political causes such as opposition to the raising of the retirement age.

He has been barred from standing for political office because of a conviction for embezzlement, which he says was trumped up.

What does the ruling mean?

The court found that Mr Navalny’s allegation that he had become a “particular target” “appeared “coherent in the context of a general move to bring the opposition under control”.

Alexei Navalny poses for a selfie with a student in Strasbourg, 15 November 2018Image copyright EPA
Mr Navalny posed for selfies with Russian students in Strasbourg

Russia was ordered to pay him damages and costs of €63,678 (£55,409; $71,950).

“It is a very clear judgment,” Mr Navalny was quoted as saying by AFP news agency after the ruling.

“The European court recognises that it was a politically motivated arrest and persecution. It was very important not just for me but for other people all over Russia who are arrested every day.”

Will Russia heed the court?

The ECHR’s role is to rule on alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia ratified in 1998 when it joined the Council of Europe, an organisation which upholds the rule of law in Europe.

After Mr Navalny was convicted of embezzlement involving a state-run timber company, Kirovles, in 2013 and given a suspended prison sentence of five years, the ECHR found the Russian verdict had been based on “arbitrary interpretation of the law”. Mr Navalny insisted the case had been fabricated in order to keep him out of politics.

As a result the case was retried in Russia last year but Mr Navalny was again convicted and given the same suspended sentence.

Russia has taken issue with previous ECHR verdicts such as one in 2014 which ordered Moscow to pay compensation to shareholders in the defunct Russian oil firm Yukos.

In 2015, the Russian parliament passed a law allowing the country’s Constitutional Court to overrule ECHR judgements.

How often has Navalny been arrested?

He has spent a total of 172 days in jail, an unnamed spokeswoman was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Usually he is held for a few weeks or made to pay a fine.

In addition to the seven arrests detailed by the ECHR, Mr Navalny was detained at least four times this year:

As a result of the Kirovles case, he was placed under house arrest for a period of time.

The court fine he had to pay this week, which amounted to 2.165m roubles (£24,600; $32,000), related to the Kirovles case. He said the fine had been deliberately enforced to stop him leaving Russia.

Turkish police detain 12 academics, activists in raids

November 16, 2018

Police in Istanbul detained 12 academics, businesspeople and journalists as part of an investigation into an association that was headed by a jailed prominent businessman and activist, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Friday.

Anadolu Agency said professors Betul Tanbay and Turgut Tarhanli of Istanbul’s Bosphorus and Bilgi universities and journalist Cigdem Mater were among those detained in simultaneous police operations in the city.

Those arrested were being questioned over their links to the Anatolia Culture Association founded by Osman Kavala, a philanthropist businessman, who himself had been jailed a year ago. (AFP)

They are being questioned over their links to the Anatolia Culture Association founded by Osman Kavala, a philanthropist businessman who was arrested a year ago pending trial, accused of alleged attempts to “abolish” the constitutional order and the government. No indictment has been issued against him.

Anadolu said police were searching for eight other people linked to the association which says it aims to promote peace and minority rights through culture.

Since an attempted coup in 2016, Turkey’s government has been accused of stifling freedom of expression for arresting thousands of people for alleged connections to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the failed attempt, or links to terror groups. It has purged many more people from state institutions and jailed dozens of journalists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Kavala “Turkey’s Soros,” a reference to American billionaire George Soros, whose Open Society Foundations have funded education, health, justice and media projects around the world. Pro-government media in Turkey accuse Kavala of engaging in anti-government conspiracies.

Eleven prominent activists, including Amnesty International’s former Turkey chairman, were arrested last year at their hotel on an island off of Istanbul while training. They were eventually released from jail pending the outcome of their trial for supporting terror groups.

Separately on Friday, police detained 86 people, most of them former Air Force personnel, in operations across Turkey and were looking for 100 others for alleged links to Gulen’s movement, Anadolu reported.
More than 15,000 people have been purged from the military since the coup, Turkey’s defense minister has said.

The cleric denies involvement in the coup.

Mexico rules military fight against drug cartels is unlawful

November 16, 2018

Mexico’s top court has struck down a law that formalized the decade-old domestic deployment of the military. The military are widely seen as the only trustful agency capable of fighting against powerful drug cartels.

A Mexican military man guards the area where the 134 tons of marihuana are being cremated in a military base in Tijuana

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that had legalized the domestic deployment of the military against drug cartels.

Deploying the military against cartels has been commonplace in the country since 2006, but the situation was only formalized by legislation last year.

However, nine of the 11 justices in Mexico’s highest court ruled that the legislation violated the constitution. President Enrique Pena Nieto sent the bill directly to the court for review after signing it in, amid widespread outcry over the law.

The court found that Mexico’s Congress lacked the authority to legislate on “domestic security,” saying only the executive branch can dispatch troops.

The ruling comes just a day after the team of Mexico’s incoming president said withdrawing the military was not viable, as they are more trustworthy and capable than the often-corrupt police force.

Ahead of the ruling, human rights groups had warned the law could lead to further abuses by the military.

Read more: Mexico fighting endless war against cartels

No alternatives

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has long criticized the domestic military deployment, but is hamstrung by a lack of realistic alternatives. He has proposed creating a national guard uniting elements of the army, navy and federal police, but that would require lengthy constitutional reform.

An estimated 170,000 people have died in drug violence in Mexico and thousands more have gone missing. Last year alone, more than 31,000 people were murdered. The violence is driven by conflict between cartels over supply routes for heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs to the US.

The incoming president also hopes cut into the power of cartels by legalizing recreational and medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is on trial in the US, having reached the upper echelons of the cartel business before being extradited.

aw/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Hong Kong lawyers demand explanation over journalist ban — Beijing is running Hong Kong now

November 16, 2018

Steady erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy under President Xi Jinping — “We are all Uighurs now.”

Hong Kong’s powerful bar association, a group of the city’s top lawyers, has upped pressure on the government to explain the blacklisting of a British journalist in what was widely seen as an unprecedented attack on press freedom.

Victor Mallet, a senior journalist with the Financial Times, was refused a work visa extension and then barred from entering the city as a tourist after he chaired a talk by an independence activist at the city’s press club.

Image result for Carrie Lam, Xi Jinping, photos

Carrie Lam and Xi Jinping

The government has refused to explain the decision despite calls from the public and rights groups, and criticism from foreign governments including Britain and the United States.

The effective blacklisting of Mallet comes as concern grows that Hong Kong’s cherished freedoms are disappearing as Beijing tightens its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

In a statement late Thursday the bar association said the rights enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, including freedom of expression, should be respected “whether one agrees with the information or ideas or not”.

“The HKBA considers that the public, both domestically and internationally, is justifiably concerned whether the decisions (over Mallet’s visa and entry to Hong Kong) constitute undue interferences with the right to freedom of expression,” it added.

It urged the government to explain the decisions “so that the public can see if good reasons exist for them”.

Hong Kong enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland, protected by an agreement made before the city was handed back by Britain to China in 1997, but there is growing evidence those rights are being eroded.

A report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission this week said there had been a “steady erosion” of Hong Kong’s autonomy under President Xi Jinping and cited Mallet’s visa denial as an example of challenges to freedom of speech.

“Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s political system, rule of law and freedom of expression is moving the territory closer to becoming more like any other Chinese city,” the report said.

USCC, a congressional body that monitors national security and trade issues between the US and China, also called on the US Department of Commerce to publish assessments of the safety of exporting sensitive technology to Hong Kong.

City leader Carrie Lam denied the accusations in the report, saying it saw the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing with “coloured glasses”, an expression meaning to view something with prejudice.


In Pakistan, the illegality of the rich is almost always glossed over while the poor bear the brunt

November 16, 2018

The rich get richer. The poor go nowhere….

WHEN images of the extensive clear-up operation in Karachi’s historical Empress Market hit our TV screens and social media platforms last week, a set of fairly typical reactions followed. The most vociferous was the one proclaiming a victory for the proverbial rule of law and the imperative of protecting public property from encroachers. This refrain generally emanates from ‘cultured’ circles, betraying a heavy class bias that makes a mockery of the principle that all citizens are indeed equal before the law.

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

‘Encroachers’ hailing from the lower orders of society — which include small vendors but more prominently tens of millions of poor households — only make claims to public property via the connivance of state functionaries. Put simply, state functionaries (and small-time land dealers) receive regular payments from ‘encroachers’ in exchange for occupation of public property which, strictly speaking, is illegal.

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Katchi abadi dwellers protest — The are katchi abadi makeshift communities with limited fresh water, sewage and other services

If and when high-ups in the bureaucracy, or in the superior judiciary, order that the land be reclaimed, all under-the-table payments are forgotten and the law is dramatically enforced. No policymaker or politician stands in the way, despite the fact that they otherwise spend a lot of time pontificating about the needs of all segments of the population, particularly the poor.

Indeed, during such operations no one seems concerned with the very basic matter of where the displaced vendors and katchi abadi dwellers will go. After all, they still have livelihood and residential needs and will inevitably find a way to rehabilitate themselves in the city — which in turn needs them to supply labour for a host of tasks that no other class in the urban environment is willing to provide.

The illegality of the rich is almost always glossed over.

In effect, such ad hoc operations reinforce a persistent long-term anti-poor bias in our planning and development paradigm, which means that the underlying structural crises — in our cities in particular — are exacerbated. The population of dispossessed people is, after all, increasing, whereas our policies and actions are becoming progressively less responsive to this very population.

This ugly reality can only be understood in its entirety when one acknowledges that the most flagrant violations of the law in terms of encroachments are committed by the rich and powerful. Take the case of the sitting prime minister’s Banigala bungalow; the Supreme Court has also taken up this matter but has granted relief to the prime minister by simply asking him to pay for his property to be regularised. There are similar cases in which no authority even bothers to take notice of encroachments, or illegal land acquisitions, most notably those undertaken by elite property developers.

In sum, the poor are penalised for sitting on small plots of government land, whereas the illegality of the rich is almost always glossed over. Over the course of Pakistan’s history, there have been occasions when governments have made promises to the poor to regularise katchi abadis, or provide formal licences to small-time vendors. But these promises are never kept in their entirety, and all the while the anti-poor bias in our planning paradigm becomes more entrenched, while the rich continue to encroach at will.

This ingrained elitism not only plays out in reproducing our gaping class divide, but also vis-à-vis the natural environment. Land, forests, water, mineral resources — all are being pillaged at rates that are simply unsustainable. The often desperate attempts of poorer segments to survive the daily travails of life certainly contribute to the problem, but the primary responsibility for this growing ecological crisis lies with the rich and powerful, along with our planners who are generally unconcerned with the fate of future generations.

In my experience, the poor are willing to contribute for whatever public resources they use. Katchi abadi dwellers would happily pay the government (or private sector) for affordable housing rather than stuffing the pockets of low-level state functionaries. The same applies to small-time vendors who would prefer security of tenure over personalised under-the-table transactions. The burden of responsibility again falls on those whose very job it is to make formal arrangements to facilitate the livelihood and residential needs of all segments of the population.

While the Empress Market operation was operationalised by the KMC, the sitting government’s silence speaks louder than words. The prime minister recently constituted a task force for housing to build five million homes. But even a layperson observing developments in the process can gauge the absence of serious planning, and there is every reason to believe that unless on-ground realities are acknowledged and political will generated, this project will also fall prey to speculators and rent-seeking state functionaries.

Moral of the story: encroach if you are rich and expect more of the same if you are poor.

The writer teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

UN committee criticizes human rights violations in Iran

November 16, 2018

Resolution singles out discrimination against women and the intimidation and persecution of religious minorities, and is virtually certain to be approved next month

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/ Don EMMERT)

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/ Don EMMERT)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A UN committee on human rights approved a resolution Thursday urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its “alarmingly high” use of the death penalty.

The General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee adopted the resolution by a vote of 85-30, with 68 abstentions. It is virtually certain to be approved by the 193-member world body next month.

The resolution “strongly urges” Iran to eliminate discrimination against women in law and practice and expresses “serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”

It singles out violations including harassment, intimidation and persecution against religious minorities including Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians and members of the Baha’i faith — and urges the release of religious practitioners including Baha’i leaders.

The resolution, sponsored by Canada, also calls on Iran to end “widespread and serious restrictions” including on freedom of assembly of political opponents, human rights defenders, labor leaders, environmentalists, academics, filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, social media users and others.

An Iranian Jewish youth group prays at the Rabeezadeh Synagogue in Shiraz in southern Iran, April 12, 2000. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

While the resolution welcomes the elimination of the death penalty for some drug-related offenses, it expresses serious concern at the “alarmingly high frequency” of Iran’s use of the death penalty, including against minors.

Iran’s deputy UN ambassador, Eshagh Al Habib, dismissed the resolution as a “political charade,” saying promoting the human rights of Iranians “is not simply a legal and moral responsibility, but a paramount requirement of national security.”

“Similar to any other country, deficiencies may exist, and we are determined to address them,” he said. “However, it is not for those who traditionally, historically and practically supported colonialism, slavery, racism and apartheid to lecture Iranians on human rights.”

Alluding to the resolution’s sponsor and more than 30 co-sponsors, including the United States, Al Habib said that threatening cuts in financial and development funds to get votes “further exposes the dishonesty of these self-assured champions of human rights.”

Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi of Saudi Arabia, a regional rival of Iran, said, “The Iranian people continue to suffer under a regime that does not respect human rights, that denies freedoms, that persecutes religious and racial minorities.” He called on Iran not “give shelter to terrorists.”


UN Palestinian agency says overcoming Trump funding cuts

November 15, 2018

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has nearly overcome a crippling funding crisis caused by President Donald Trump canceling the US aid contribution, agency chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl said Thursday.

The organization, known as UNRWA, had counted on a budget of $1.2 billion (1 billion euros) for 2018 but faced a gap of $446 million when the Trump administration announced it was cutting support.

UNRWA responded to its “unprecedented” financial pressures by seeking support across UN member-states and raised an additional $382 million, bringing the shortfall for the year down to just $64 million, Kraehenbuehl told reporters in Geneva.

Switzerland’s Pierre Kraehenbuehl, UNRWA Commissioner-General gestures during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP)

He said he hoped the gap could still be trimmed further in the coming weeks.

“I’ll be very honest in saying, I don’t think many people believed that we would be able to overcome a $446 million shortfall at the beginning of the year,” said Kraehenbuehl, who took charge of UNRWA in 2014.
He credited the European Union and especially four Gulf countries with increasing support.

Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates upped their support to $50 million each to offset Trump’s cuts, the UNRWA chief said.

The agency’s 2019 budget has not been finalized, but Kraehenbuehl stressed it was important “to preserve those new levels of funding.”

The United Stated had previously been UNRWA’s largest contributor.

But the Trump administration as well as Israel say they oppose the way the organization operates and how it calculates the number of Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA was set up in 1950 to help Palestinian refugees who lost their homes because of the 1948 Middle East conflict. Its assistance includes schools, health care centers and food distribution.

More than 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

They and all their descendants are deemed by the UN agency to be refugees who fall under its remit.


Top Chinese university warns students to avoid activism

November 15, 2018

One of China’s top universities has warned students they face arrest if they associate with a labour-rights organisation that has drawn support in a recent surge of Chinese campus activism.

Peking University sent a message to all students on Wednesday accusing Jasic Workers Solidarity of “criminal activity”, according to a student involved with the labour group.

Image result for Jasic Workers Solidarity, china, photos

Jasic Workers Solidarity

“After today’s message, if there are still students that want to defy the law, they must take responsibility,” said the note seen by AFP.

Chinese universities have historically been a wellspring for radical political movements and any hint of campus activism sparks deep concern among authorities.

The warning marks the latest move in a crackdown on Jasic Workers Solidarity after at least a dozen activist and student supporters in several cities were detained last week, according the the group.

Rights campaigners told AFP on Tuesday that five of the detained activists had been released.

Jasic Workers Solidarity rose to prominence this summer when student activists backed its efforts to form a workers’ union at welding machinery company Jasic Technology in southern Guangdong province.

In its warning, Peking University mentioned the case of graduate Zhang Shengye — a member of the group who last week was beaten on campus and taken away by people in dark clothing, according to an eyewitness AFP spoke to and a statement from Jasic Workers Solidarity.

The university accused Zhang of participating in the group’s “illegal” activities and confirmed that he had been taken away by government security forces.

The school also accused another student, Yu Tianfu, of conspiring with Zhang and interfering with his arrest. Yu had published an eyewitness account of Zhang’s abduction online.

Peking University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The institution in Beijing is one of China’s most prestigious universities, and has produced many top political leaders.

Student activists around China have recently reported increased pressure.

Many members of Jasic Workers Solidarity belong to student-run Marxist societies, some of which say they have been unable to register with their universities.

Earlier this week, a university in the southern region of Guangxi said it would check students’ and teachers’ phones, computers and external hard drives for “illegal” audio and video content, according to media reports.

The university later appeared to back off after an online uproar and as lawyers chimed in to contest the legality of the move.

In 1989, thousands of university students joined workers in pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square that eventually provoked a bloody crackdown.


Pakistan PM orders probe after policeman found dead in Afghanistan

November 15, 2018

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday ordered an inquiry into the death of a senior police officer who disappeared from Islamabad last month and whose body was found in Afghanistan.

The body of Tahir Dawar, a superintendent of police in the northwestern city of Peshawar, was recovered on Tuesday in the Afghan province of Nangarhar, nearly three weeks after he went missing.

SP Tahir Khan Dawar. — Photo courtesy Facebook
SP Tahir Khan Dawar. — Photo courtesy Facebook

Khan said he had ordered authorities to carry out “an inquiry immediately”.

Pakistan’s foreign office said it had twice summoned the Afghan Charge d’Affaires to “seek clarity”. Afghan officials were not immediately available for comment.

“His abduction, move to (Afghanistan), murder and follow up behavior of (Afghan) authorities raise questions which indicate involvement or resources more than a terrorist organization,” military spokesman Major General Asif Ghrafoor said on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear how he knew Dawar had been adducted and murdered.

The governor’s office in Nangarhar said it had delivered the body to tribal elders near the Pakistani border.

Rights activists have questioned how Dawar, who was visiting family in Islamabad from Peshawar on Oct. 26, came to be in Afghanistan.

“The police cannot tell us anything and the entire state is silent about the investigation,” parliamentarian Mohsin Dawar (no relation) told Reuters.

Editing by Nick Macfie