Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Pakistan PM Imran Khan Renews Calls For United Nations Human Rights Investigation in India-Held Kash­mir

January 19, 2019

Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qure­shi on Friday raised the Kash­mir issue in their meetings with United Nations General Assem­bly president Maria Espinosa, asking her to set up a commission to probe rights abuses in the India-held valley and take steps for the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on the dispute.

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The UNGA president is here on a five-day visit. This is the first visit by a UNGA president to Pakistan since 2010. It is also Ms Espinosa’s first to any country in the Asia-Pacific region since her election last September.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Khan “drew the attention of the president to the massive human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, that have been documented in the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report of June 2018” and demanded an “early establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these abuses, as recommended by the UN”.

It should be recalled that the first-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir — which was published last June — had called for a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

Benazir Income Support Programme chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar and BISP secretary Omar Hamid Khan present a memento to UN General Assembly president Maria Espinosa on Friday.—APP
Benazir Income Support Programme chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar and BISP secretary Omar Hamid Khan present a memento to UN General Assembly president Maria Espinosa on Friday.—APP

Mr Khan asked Ms Espinosa to play her role in preventing the abuse of free speech rights in the shape of publication of provocative blasphemous caricatures. He said such acts hurt the feelings of billions of Muslims.

Mr Qureshi, in his meeting with the UNGA president at the Foreign Office, conveyed Pakistan’s deep concern over the systematic human rights abuses in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He underscored the need for the UN to ensure implementation of the Security Council resolutions.

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Ongoing UNSC reforms were also discussed during the meeting and it was noted that the process should be led by the member states and that the way forward lay in a consensus-based approach.

“Both agreed that the United Nations remained an indispensable institution for advancing dialogue, cooperation and pursuing collective solutions to global challenges,” an FO statement on the meeting said.

Kashmir is split between the two nuclear-armed rivals. (File/AFP)

Talking to Ms Espinosa during a meeting, Benazir Income Support Programme chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar said poverty reduction is top priority of the government and that a recently formed Poverty Alleviation and Coordination Council would address issues being faced by the most vulnerable segments of society.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019

https://www.dawn.com/news/1458412/imran-asks-unga-chief-to-probe-rights-abuses-in-held-kashmir

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Real progress needed at Trump-Kim II: analysts — Is China the real Winner?

January 19, 2019

The planned second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un needs to make tangible progress on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons if it is to avoid being dismissed as “reality TV”, analysts say.

Their summit in Singapore in June was undoubtedly historic, the first ever encounter between the leaders of two nations whose forces — backed by arrays of allies from each side of the Cold War — fought each other to a standstill decades ago.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has sought to engage the North, hosting three summits with Kim

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has sought to engage the North, hosting three summits with Kim Pyeongyang Press Corps/AFP/File

The world’s media were transfixed as the pair shook hands on the verandah of a historic hotel and strolled together in its grounds, before Trump held an hour-long press conference extraordinary even by his own unique standards.

But the agreement they signed was long on rhetoric and short on details, with Kim pledging to work towards the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Progress has since stalled as Pyongyang and Washington disagree over what that means and how to achieve it, with each accusing the other of dragging their feet and acting in bad faith.

Critics say North Korea has made no concrete commitments and is unlikely to surrender its atomic arsenal, while Washington’s policy of maintaining pressure through isolation and sanctions has left Pyongyang seething.

Even so the White House said Friday Trump would meet the North Korean leader again “near the end of February” at a location yet to be announced.

“Now the hard work begins,” said Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest in Washington.

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Harry Kazianis

“Both nations must now show at least some tangible benefits from their diplomatic efforts during a second summit, or risk their efforts being panned as nothing more than reality TV.”

– Tangible measures –

The North has carried out six nuclear tests and launched missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland, but the exact size of its atomic armoury remains unconfirmed.

“All efforts should be poured into having the North come to the table with a complete list of its nuclear arsenal,” Kim Sung-han, professor of international relations at Korea University, told AFP.

The declaration would be a tangible step in itself, he said, adding Trump should not lift sanctions or agree to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War — when hostilities stopped in a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty — for “anything other than the list”.

When South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has sought to engage the North as he brokered the talks process, went to Pyongyang in September for his third summit with Kim, his host offered to shutter a missile-testing site and the Yongbyon nuclear complex if the US takes unspecified “corresponding measures”.

Washington has repeatedly said it expects the North to give up its nuclear arsenal, doggedly developed over decades by the Kim dynasty, at a vast cost in resources and isolation, and multiple sets of international sanctions.

But the North sees denuclearisation more broadly, seeking an end to the sanctions and what it sees as US threats against it — sometimes referencing Washington’s military deployments in the wider region, such as Japan and Guam.

An absence of a clearly-worded agreement will raise scepticism over Pyongyang’s sincerity, pointed out Lim Eul-chul, professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University.

“If the wording of a second summit agreement is similar to the June 12 statement, it will make it very difficult for Trump to defend his North Korea policy,” he said.

Pyongyang might agree to shut down the Yongbyon complex and a missile test centre in the presence of international inspectors, Lim said, but “only if Washington eases sanctions and agrees to the end-of-war declaration”.

And some analysts have raised concerns about recent Trump administration comments about removing the threat to the US, suggesting that could imply the North giving up its intercontinental ballistic missiles while retaining its bombs and the ability to threaten its near neighbours.

– Good to talk? –

The issues are complex and the details will be key. But unlike other such diplomatic processes, there have not been repeated rounds of lower-level talks to prepare for the second Kim-Trump summit.

Stephen Biegun, the US special representative on North Korea, is to attend a conference in Sweden starting Saturday that will involve Pyongyang officials.

He is expected to sit down with Choe Son Hui, a top North Korean diplomat intimately involved in the US-North Korean relationship.

For the next summit to go well, Biegun and Choe “need to spend scores of hours talking in the next weeks”, tweeted Ankit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists.

But there was a “fundamental tension” between the two sides, MIT professor Vipin Narang responded: “For the summit to be worthwhile for the US, the working level talks have to make a lot of progress. But for the summit to be worthwhile for NK, they want to make as little progress as possible”.

AFP

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday. PHOTO: SHEN HONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping met in China’s in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on May 7-8, 2018

Otto Warmbier

“In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind.”

Vietnam artists seek ‘liberation’ from cybersecurity law

January 18, 2019

Vietnamese authorities have recently passed a law requiring social media censorship of “anti-state” content. Dissident artists and activists fear that their space for expression and protest will soon vanish.

    
Dissident singer Nguyen Mai Khoi

Mai Khoi (pictured above) is not afraid to push boundaries in her native Vietnam. The 35-year-old musician is known for criticizing the country’s communist government and has built a large following on social media. Her latest album “Dissent” features titles like “Cuffed In Freedom” and “Re-education Camp.”

“Re-Education Camp highlights how the communist government forcibly puts people into jails and controls free speech. It also suggests that the people who created these camps should be in jail,” she said.

Read more: Mai Khoi’s youthful tone to aged politics

However, artistic protest is risky in Vietnam. In March 2018, Mai Khoi was detained for eight hours at Hanoi airport by Vietnam’s immigration authorities after returning from a tour in Europe where she promoted her album.

“Look at this cat,” said Khoi pointing to the album cover. “She is alert and anxious, just as we are in this country because we never know who is snooping on us.”

And Khoi has a new reason to be anxious. On January 1, Vietnam enacted a new cybersecurity law that requires internet companies to remove content the government deems subversive, and bans users from posting “anti-government” content that could “cause harm to national security, social order and safety.”

Vietnam Nguyen Van Hoa vor Gericht in Ha Tinhi (picture alliance/AP Photo/Vietnam News Agency/C. Tuong)In 2017, ‘citizen journalist’ Nguyan Van Hoa, was sentenced to seven years in prison for ‘spreading anti-state propaganda’

A new wave of censorship?

According to the law, Vietnam’s government can force technology giants such as Google and Facebook to hand over personal information of account holders, store user data and to censor anti-government posts.

On January 9, Reuters news agency reported that Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication accused Facebook of violating the law by allowing users to post “slanderous” anti-government comments. Facebook reportedly has yet to respond to the ministry’s request that the posts be removed.

Read more: Is Vietnam sliding deeper into authoritarianism?

Hanoi keeps a close eye on its critics by tapping their phones, sending spies to private gatherings and intimidating artists who perform abroad.  Now social media, once a safe haven for artists to express their opinions and protest the government, is coming under state control.

Issues in Vietnam like the assault on free speech, arrests of human rights defenders and criticism of the government’s move to sell land to foreign investors, were formerly addressed by protesters on social media. But it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to protest online.

“Online space is a refuge in this repressive state,” Khoi told DW. “But this space is vanishing now.”

Singer- songwriter Ngoc DaiSongwriter and singer Ngoc Dai

‘Last nail in the coffin’

Hanoi-based songwriter Ngoc Dai, who has been censored for his songs with “sexual overtones” and “anti-state” content, uses YouTube to release his music.  He thinks the new law is the worst form of state repression. “It was the last nail in the coffin,” he told DW.

Last year, 40-year-old poet Chieu Anh Ngueyn was detained by the police for half a day for protesting against the cybersecurity law.

“The space for free thinkers is shrinking further,” she told DW. Nguyen’s poetry is popular online for its harsh criticism of the state with prose that expresses contempt toward the “barbarous” who “steal and sell the motherland.”

Read more: Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai among six given jail terms

A refuge on social media

For these artists, social media has allowed them to bypass vetting by authorities. In 2007, Mai Khoi couldn’t release her song, “Night Flower,” because of its language praising a woman’s body. In response, she stopped sending her songs to the Ministry of Culture for screening and released them directly on YouTube instead. Her most popular songs on YouTube include the 2014 “Selfie Orgasm.”

Similarly in 2013, Ngoc Dai released his album, “Thang Mo 1” (Village Herald 1), without the permission of the authorities because it suggested the state controls how people think. “We have to create a sense of freedom through our work,” he said.

Author Nguyen Vien, known for his criticism of the government through novels like “Dragon and Snake,” said it is important to talk about “forbidden” things. “It gives you a sense of liberation,” he told DW.

Last year, Vien used a Facebook campaign to protest a government move to sell land to Chinese investors.

Poet Chieu Anh Nguyen with author Nguyen VienPoet Chieu Anh Nguyen (L) with author Nguyen Vien (R)

The struggle continues

Although social media has made it easier for artists to express themselves, it also exposes them to critics and trolls.

Poet Chieu Anh Ngueyn said pro-state teachers often appoint college students to harass dissidents in exchange for good marks. She fears the new cybersecurity law will only embolden trolls and state propagandists.

Read more: It’s not just Cambodia, Vietnam – Southeast Asia struggles with Internet freedom

Dissenting artists could also face imprisonment. In December 2018, police issued an arrest warrant for Nguyen Van Trang, a member of the banned group, “Brotherhood for Democracy,” for posting articles, photos and videos on Facebook. According to the government, Trang had misrepresented government policy, and incited protest.

Nguyen Vien has a strategy to deal with censorship. He said he would probably use the encrypted network Minds.com if Facebook banned him. Many internet users in Vietnam are meanwhile accessing YouTube through proxy networks. Groups like “The League of Independent Writers of Vietnam” plan to hold more sessions at cafes and members’ houses.

Despite the imminent crackdown, Vietnam’s artists feel that more dissent is needed to challenge the system.

The Rudderless West — Failing to effectively govern undermines democracy, freedom

January 18, 2019
Preserving the foundations of free government is difficult, necessary work

We are drifting, in the absence of mind and will, toward a moment of civilizational self-negation.

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

In August 1990, George H.W. Bush met Margaret Thatcher in Aspen right after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The pair resolved not to allow Iraq’s “naked aggression” to stand, and it did not. This was how the West was supposed to work — and how, sometimes, it did.

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Today the U.S. and Great Britain scarcely govern themselves, never mind shape world order. Theresa May, who as prime minister resembles Thatcher in no respect other than gender and party, just suffered the worst parliamentary defeat in nearly a century over her Brexit deal. Donald Trump, who as president resembles Bush in no respect other than gender and party, presides over a shuttered government, a revolving-door administration, a furiously divided nation, and a mistrusted and mocked superpower.

The West is now rudderless. To be rudderless puts you at the mercy of elements. The elemental forces of politics today are tribalism, populism, authoritarianism and the sewage pipes of social media. Each contradicts the West’s foundational commitments to universalism, representation, unalienable rights, and an epistemology built on fact and reason, not clicks and feelings. We are drifting, in the absence of mind and will, toward a moment of civilizational self-negation.

When did the drift begin? Probably in 1989, when Francis Fukuyama published his landmark essay “The End of History?” and a decade of democratic complacency took hold. Why worry about the health and fate of liberal democracy when its triumph was inevitable and irreversible? Why teach the benefits of free markets and immigration — or the dangers of socialism and nativism — when history had already rendered a verdict?

And why do the tedious work of preserving the foundations of free government when it is so much more interesting to reinvent it?

Complacency breeds heedlessness. Liberals were heedless when they wrote off moral character as an essential trait of a good presidency. Conservatives (like me) were heedless when we became more concerned about the state of democracy in Iraq than in Iowa. Liberals were heedless when they embraced identity politics without ever thinking it could also be used against them. Conservatives (again, like me) were heedless when we downplayed the significance of the populism and scaremongering infecting the movement via talk radio and Fox News.

The heedlessness occurred on the other side of the Atlantic, too. European integration is a blessing; integration without genuine democratic accountability and consent isn’t. Similarly, immigration is a blessing; immigration without assimilation is a curse. Two generations of European leaders allowed the former without requiring the latter, and then airily dismissed public discontent as politically insignificant and morally illegitimate. Now they are living with the consequences.

From left, Reps. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and Katie Hill, D-Calif, after delivering a letter to the Russell Building office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.Getty Images

As for Brexit, the 2016 decision by 52 percent of the British electorate to leave the European Union over the vehement objections of the 48 percent (details to be hashed out later, if ever), must surely count as one of the worst considered in the island’s storied history. But not as foolish as the decision by former Prime Minister David Cameron to put a foundational question up for a popular vote — just as he had put another foundational question, the independence of Scotland, to a vote two years earlier — without seriously considering the consequences of things going the wrong way.

 

The problem here wasn’t a failure by Cameron and the “Remain” camp to make a stronger case for staying in the European Union, or to read the polls better. It was a philosophical failure — a failure to understand that the purpose of representative government is to save democracy from itself. I now find myself vaguely rooting for a hard Brexit, on the theory that lasting lessons are only learned the hard way.

Or not. Bad typically begets worse, and a hard Brexit will most likely accelerate every other fissiparous and dangerous trend in British politics: a new push for independence by Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland and Wales; a greater chance of NATO-skeptical, anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister; Britain’s extended absence as a meaningful and active presence on the world stage.

What about the United States? Among many conservatives I know, the view of Trump is that chaotic management, clownish behavior and ideological apostasies are irritants, not calamities, and prices worth paying for deregulation, tax cuts, and conservative courts.

Really? These same conservatives spent the past 30 years preaching the importance of judgment, good character, and respect for institutions in the person of the president. They were right. What will they say when they find these attributes missing in the person of a president whose policy preferences and political affiliation they don’t share?

The West is not adrift in placid waters. With limited resources but ruthless methods, Vladimir Putin has gone about undermining democracy from Kiev to Kansas. With equally ruthless means and far greater resources, Xi Jinping has raised the banner of efficient authoritarianism as the preferred model of 21st century governance.

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What does the West have to say in its own defense? Who does it have to say it? And who will fix the rigging and reset the rudder in time for the next squall?

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Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Bret L. Stephens has been an Opinion columnist with The Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 and was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post.

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Yellow Vest protest in France.  Photographer: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

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Pakistan: Anti-forced marriage campaign launched

January 18, 2019
Dia Praxis, also known as, Dialogue in Practice, a transnational diaspora organisation based in Norway and Pakistan, has teamed up with Pakistani public policy and gender reforms specialist Salman Sufi to launch a campaign against forced marriages.

The project, launched at an event held in Oslo on Thursday, is not limited to Pakistan and will eventually apply in all Saarc countries that have legislation in place against forced marriage.

Panel at the launch event of the anti-forced marriage campaign.
Panel at the launch event of the anti-forced marriage campaign.

For this project, Dia Praxis, which has worked extensively with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has teamed up with Sufi, author of the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016 and founder of South Asia’s first survivor centric anti-violence against women centre, to help victims of forced marriages in Pakistan from the expatriate Norwegian-Pakistani community.

Speaking at the event, Nina Bjorlo of the Norway Police said the initiative is aimed at tackling the issue plaguing the diaspora community, adding that she had dealt with such cases during her work at the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Norway, Arusha Cooray, who was in attendance as well, said she was pleasantly surprised at some of the work done in Pakistan to combat gender-based violence, adding that it will be a great avenue for both countries to collaborate on.

Pakistani public policy and gender reforms specialist Salman Sufi at the launch event of the anti-forced marriage campaign.
Pakistani public policy and gender reforms specialist Salman Sufi at the launch event of the anti-forced marriage campaign.

The anti-forced marriage campaign also proposes the establishment of a Saarc-wide hotline where a collective database will be maintained of tips and complaints of forced marriages.

Furthermore, the blue print of violence against women centres already established in Punjab will be made available to Saarc countries for replication. The proposed centres will be used to rescue victims and provide them with shelter.

The campaign also proposes a strategy to establish an airlines alliance operating from within the EU and other countries where expatriates from the Saarc region reside. Under this alliance, the airlines will team up to provide brochures with helpline numbers in seat pockets and specific codes for victims that are in distress and are being forced to travel.

Under the project, calls to the helpline numbers and text codes will be free and victims will be able to use certain codes and texts to alert immigration and custom authorities upon arrival.

Embassies of concerned countries will be connected with these helplines in order to facilitate immediate repatriation of victims with the help of local law enforcement.

The campaign proposes that under this project, forced marriage victims residing within the Saarc region will also be able to use the same hotline to provide them with immediate support.

Saarc governments that already have legislation in place barring forced marriage will be provided with implementation mechanisms that have already been developed.

Local NGOs and organisations working on the issue will also be made part of the campaign. Starting from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, the campaign aims at getting the entire Saarc bloc on board.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1458301

Chinese police must guard against ‘color revolutions’, says top official

January 18, 2019

China’s police must focus on withstanding “color revolutions”, or popular uprisings, and treat the defense of China’s political system as central to their work, the top law-enforcement official said.

China’s stability-obsessed Communist Party has long tasked the nation’s police force with stamping out any form of grassroots social or political movement.

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However, those efforts have intensified under Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has warned that China needs to do more to withstand “Western” influence that might undermine party rule.

China’s police must “stress the prevention and resistance of ‘color revolutions’ and firmly fight to protect China’s political security”, Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi said on Thursday, according to a post on the ministry’s website.

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“(We) must firmly defend our national security, with regime and system security at its core, and firmly defend the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and our nation’s Socialist system,” he said.

Police must also “strike back against all kinds of infiltration and subversive activities by hostile foreign forces”, he told the ministry’s annual national meeting.

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The term “color revolution” refers to popular uprisings experienced by former Soviet states, such as Ukraine, that often swept away long-established rulers.

Chinese officials have previously mentioned such uprisings as a warning to their own people about the trouble that might result from overthrowing long-standing governments.

China’s domestic security budget has not been detailed by the government in its annual work report since 2014, after the figure outstripped the military budget three years in a row.

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Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi

Analyst estimates suggest spending has continued to soar, with security-related construction tripling in 2017 in the far western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of individuals from Muslim ethnic minorities have been held in camps as part of a “de-radicalization” drive.

Government procurement documents suggest that China’s police have also increased spending across China as they adopt new high-tech devices, such as phone scanners, to help surveillance.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait

AFP

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Plainclothes security officers take away a supporter of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang near the Secondary Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality, on Dec. 26. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

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Intimidation: Nike, Apple, Amazon among top firms named by China for ‘misidentifying’

January 17, 2019

China’s psychological bullying campaign…

Dozens of transnational companies accused of violating Chinese law

Taipei condemns Beijing report as latest effort to pressure self-ruled island into unification talks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2019, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2019, 5:47pm

Taiwan has condemned a Beijing effort to pressure foreign companies – including Nike, Apple and Amazon – to list the island as part of China, in what observers said was a fresh attempt to force Taipei to the negotiating table for unification talks.

A total of 66 international firms were singled out for “misidentifying” Taiwan on their websites, in an annual report on cyber rule of law in China published this week by the Social Science Academic Press in Beijing.

The report, which covered 500 top transnational companies based in 32 countries, including the US, Japan and Germany, also named 53 firms for “misidentifying” Hong Kong.

The 2018 Annual Report on Cyber Rule of Law called for the relevant authorities to punish the companies by either removing their licences or suspending their operations on the mainland if they refused to correct their mistakes.

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The report said the companies had either deliberately violated or were not aware of the one-China principle, which it said was backed by international and domestic law, adding that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China must be protected.

The fresh effort to pressure international companies follows a call by Chinese President Xi Jinping for cross-strait unification talks based on the Hong Kong model of ‘one country, two systems’.

Alex Huang, Taiwan’s presidential spokesman, said on Thursday that Beijing’s actions could in no way remove Taiwan from the sight of the world.

The island, he said, had forged close links with the international community and was backed by countries which shared its values of democracy and freedom.

“Regardless of whether to use ‘one country, two systems’ to coerce Taiwan, or to resort by political and economic means to pressure international enterprises to change our title, what China has done would not only impact regional stability, but would also make China lose the world’s trust and respect,” Huang said.

“It would also serve to sabotage the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”

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Here’s the Latest on How Apple Is Expanding in China

Huang said the Taiwanese people would not give up their belief in freedom and democracy and bow to pressure from the mainland over its demands.

Washington – which recognises Beijing diplomatically instead of Taipei – came to the aid of its unofficial ally, telling Beijing to stop its coercion and resume a dialogue with Taiwan.

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Amanda Mansour, spokesperson for the American Institute in Taiwan – Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei – said last week that the US had a “deep and abiding interest in cross-strait peace and stability”.

“Any resolution of cross-strait differences must be peaceful and based on the will of the people on both sides,” she said.

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Mansour’s comments followed a similar statement in support of Taiwan on Twitter by Garrett Marquis, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, on Monday.

The latest pressure from Beijing follows a demand, in mid-2018 from Chinese aviation authorities, that 44 international airlines stop referring to Taipei as being located in Taiwan and instead update their websites to say that Taipei was part of China.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/2182534/nike-apple-amazon-among-top-firms-named-china-misidentifying

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See also:

US report says rapidly modernizing Chinese military has set sights on Taiwan

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/15/politics/china-military-report/index.html

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A Taiwan fighter jet keeps watch on a Chinese mainland bomber.

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Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the United States

Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the United States. AFP/File

Chinese dissident’s daughter ‘detained and bullied’ by China airport security staff as she traveled to Canada

January 17, 2019

A Canadian woman whose father is a dissident jailed in China was briefly detained and “bullied” by security officials while transiting through Beijing’s main airport on Wednesday, the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper said.

Ties between China and Canada have been strained since the December arrest in Vancouver of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, on a US arrest warrant, which was followed by China’s detention of two Canadians on suspicion of endangering state security.

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Ti-Anna Wang

In the most recent incident, the woman, Ti-Anna Wang, was taken off a plane by six police officers, separated from her husband and detained with her daughter for almost two hours while travelling through Beijing en route to Toronto from Seoul, South Korea, the paper said.

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“It was a shocking, terrifying and senseless ordeal with no purpose but to bully, punish and intimidate me and my family,” Wang was quoted as saying in an email to Irwin Cotler, head of the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

China has expressed anger over Canada’s arrest of Meng, who is alleged by US authorities to have deceived international banks into clearing transactions with Iran in contravention of US sanctions against Tehran.

In what many analysts and diplomats believe to be tit-for-tat arrests, China has detained two Canadians and, on Monday, sentenced a third to death on drug smuggling charges after a hasty retrial.

The Chinese foreign ministry denied there was a link.

The Globe and Mail said Wang was denied use of her phone and computer, and refused access to the Canadian embassy. Chinese officials told her she was not allowed to return to Canada and put her on a flight back to South Korea, it said.

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Wang Bingzhang

Wang’s father, Wang Bingzhang, is a pro-democracy campaigner who was abducted in Vietnam in 2002 by Chinese agents before being imprisoned for life in China on charges of espionage and terrorism, the campaign group Human Rights in China said.

The Globe and Mail said Ti-Anna Wang was barred from entering China last week when she arrived at Hangzhou airport in Zhejiang province despite having obtained a visa in August to visit her ailing, jailed father.

Reuters

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/2182478/chinese-dissidents-daughter-detained-and-bullied-beijing-airport

Zimbabwe doctors’ group says 68 treated for gunshot wounds after protests

January 17, 2019

Sixty-eight Zimbabweans have been treated for gunshot wounds, 17 of whom underwent emergency surgery, after violent protests this week triggered by a steep rise in fuel prices, a doctors’ group said on Thursday.

 Despite crackdown, Zimbabwe fuel protests continue

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said its members had treated 172 people, some with dog bites, in private and public hospitals since Monday, when the protests erupted in the capital, Harare, and the second city, Bulawayo.

People arrested during protests wait to appear in the Magistrates court in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 16, 2019.

People arrested during protests wait to appear in the Magistrates court in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 16, 2019. 
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

“There are cases of patients who had chest trauma and fractured limbs who were forcibly taken from hospital to attend court despite the advise of doctors,” ZAHDR said in a statement.

Phill Magakoe, AFP | Protesters sing during a demonstration of Zimbabwean citizens outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria on January 16, 2019, following the announcement of a petrol price hike and the shut down of mobile phone and internet networks.

The protests pose a major challenge for President Emmerson Mnangagwa who promised to repair the creaking economy after he replaced long-time leader Robert Mugabe ousted in a November 2017 coup.

Scores of civilians, including a prominent activist and an opposition legislator, have been detained and are expected to appear in court on Thursday to face public violence charges.

Others were beaten, lawyers and witnesses said, pointing to a heavy crackdown on dissent by security forces.

A protesters burns tyres on a road during a "stay-away" demonstration against the doubling of fuel prices on January 14, 2019 in Emakhandeni township, Bulawayo.

Zimbabweans had hoped Mnangagwa would make good on pre-election pledges to revive the economy and break with the Mugabe era, but Zimbabwe has fallen back into familiar ways.

Dollar shortages are battering the economy, rocketing inflation is destroying the value of citizens’ savings and the government is reacting forcefully to crush dissent.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Paul Tait and Darren Schuettler

Reuters

See also:

How Zimbabwe became world’s most expensive place to fuel a car

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/16/africa/zimbabwes-impoverished-billionaires-africa/index.html

and

Scores arrested, beaten as Zimbabwe police crack down on protests

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/africa/2019-01-17-scores-arrested-beaten-as-zimbabwe-police-crack-down-on-protests/

Nearly 140 million Christians persecuted in Asia — China seems to be forcing Christians into ‘the North Korean model’

January 16, 2019

Asia is ‘new hotbed of Christian persecution’ with situation in China worst since Cultural Revolution, report claims

Nearly 140 million Christians suffered high levels of hostility in Asia last year, a region the report describes as ‘the new hotbed of persecution’

Experts say China seems to be forcing Christians into ‘the North Korean model – weak, small and invisible in the deep underground’

cchristian communist china

Christians in China — China Photos/Getty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2019, 11:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2019, 11:48am

South China Morning Post

Nearly 140 million Christians suffered high levels of persecution in Asia last year, according to a new report, which described the situation facing the faith in China as the worst since the Cultural Revolution.

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Christians in China

The annual Open Doors World Watch List, released on Wednesday, said Asia is “the new hotbed of persecution for Christians”.

It noted a sharp increase in the persecution of Christians in Asia over the past five years – but with a dramatic spike in 2018, driven by the likes of a rise in Hindu ultra-nationalism in India, radical Islamism in Indonesia and tougher religious regulations in China.

North Korea was ranked as the world’s most anti-Christian country for the 18th consecutive year. Pakistan and India were determined to have “extreme” levels of Christian persecution, with the Maldives, MyanmarLaos and Vietnam rounding out Asian countries in the top 20.

An aerial view shows members of hardline Muslim groups attending a protest against Jakarta’s incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian running in the upcoming election, in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Beawiharta
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Indonesia has become anti-Christian

Open Doors defines persecution, in simple terms, as “any hostility experienced as a result of one’s Christian faith. This can include hostile attitudes, words, and actions towards Christians”.

China and Indonesia, both entering the top 30, were singled out for a drastic deterioration in the treatment of Christians.

A protester holds a placard during a rally in Mumbai by hundreds of Christians against attacks on churches nationwide.Danish Siddiqui/ReutersA protester holds a placard during a rally in Mumbai by hundreds of Christians against attacks on churches nationwide.

“The report confirms my impression of what’s going on around the world and confirms my knowledge of what has been happening in China,” said Yang Fenggang, the founder of the Centre on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in the United States.

“Under Xi Jinping, the suppression of Christian churches and other religious organisations is being carried out nationwide with unprecedented determination.”

Of about 403 million Christians from Afghanistan to the Korean peninsula, an estimated 139 million – or one in three – were found to live under “high persecution”, or where “prominent Christians are targeted, churches themselves subject to significant restrictions, and the culture remains largely hostile to a Christian presence”.

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‘ALL AT ONCE’

Militant atheism, radical Islamism and nationalism are three basic motives for Christian persecution, said Nina Shea, the director of the Centre for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, a US think tank. Asia, in her words, is exhibiting all three.

“There are different reasons for it in each country. It’s baffling that they have all come at once,” said Shea, a former head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. “Intolerance is gaining strength, but these trends are not consistent with each other or any pattern. You certainly can’t say it’s from one source.”

Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, said he was “very concerned” about the rise of religious intolerance. “Freedom of religion is routinely violated across much of Asia,” he said in a speech in Bangkok in August.

“In many countries, the civic space is closing and restrictions on expression and other civil liberties are rising. The persecution of religious minorities is increasing, a worrying trend confirmed by the 2019 World Watch List report,” Shaheed, a former Maldivian foreign minister, told the South China Morning Post. “Governments need to recognise the close links between respect for freedom of religion or belief, and societal peace and economic prosperity.”

Open Doors, a Britain-based charity, was founded in 1955. In 1981, the group smuggled 1 million outlawed Chinese Bibles to a beach in southern China. Its yearly watch list compiles field interviews and reports, questionnaires and news reports, scoring countries out of 100 for “persecution points” to determine their rank on the list. The watch list is independently audited by International Institute of Religious Freedom.

NATIONALISM AND IDENTITY

Myanmar, home to more than 4 million Christians, went up six places due to Buddhist-led sectarian repression, and Laos rose one spot but increased on the persecution scale by four points out of 100. Indonesia, which suffered a triple bombing of churches in May, jumped eight places, with the report citing intolerance linked to the upcoming election.

Other Southeast Asian nations fared better. Malaysia improved dramatically, dropping 19 places. Vietnam dropped two places and Brunei fell 10 spots.

Terence Chong, deputy director of the Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said that in some parts of Southeast Asia nationalism was synonymous with ethnicity.

Such “exclusivism”, in his words, becomes problematic in multicultural societies, and he cast doubt on the methodology of the Open Doors watch list.

“Christian persecution is nowhere as intense in Southeast Asia as it is in China or some parts of Africa,” Chong said.

“For the most part Christians and Muslims coexist in harmony. There are occasional tensions, but it’s hardly persecution. It would be a mistake to identify single incidents, such as the persecution of [Christian ex-mayor of Jakarta] Ahok in Indonesia, and extrapolate from it.

“Many such incidents are triggered by local politics and forces resistant to a personality who happens to be a Christian. As such, religion becomes embroiled by way of local politics and may not signal a concerted persecution of Christianity.”

Papang Hidayat, an analyst for Amnesty International in Indonesia, agreed persecution in the country had become politicised.

“I would not say the Christians being ‘persecuted’ because of their belief in the country,” he said. “It is more that politicians use religious identity as their arsenal for their political campaigns. In many districts and some provinces, it is the logic of majority against minority, although in most cases it is Muslims being the majority.”

Even so, he conceded that the harassment, discrimination and attacks against religious minorities were troubling.

“The situation is clearly worsening,” he said.

A faded photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen near a Christian poster with the word “Grace” outside a house church near Nanyang in central China’s Henan province. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982. Photo: AP

‘HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL?’

The report’s toughest comments were aimed at China, where by some estimates the country’s 97 million Christians outnumber the membership of the Communist Party.

By Open Doors’ reckoning, more than 20 million Christians experienced persecution last year, and it forecasts that number to increase to 50 million in 2019. It cited the country’s revised Religious Affairs Regulations, which have governed the practice of all religions since the 1980s; an array of crackdowns and raids; and a wave of church closures such as that of Beijing’s Zion Church in September.

“In China, our figures indicate persecution is the worst it’s been in more than a decade – alarmingly, some church leaders are saying it’s the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976,” said Henrietta Blyth, chief executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland, in a statement.

Shea, of the Hudson Institute, called the situation in China a turning point.

“China had been on the trajectory of being the biggest Christian country in the world in a decade or two. It now seems headed towards forcing its Christians into the North Korean model – weak, small and invisible in the deep underground,” Shea said.

“Remnants will survive but the community will be vastly diminished and facing an existential threat. The officially tolerated Christianity will conform with the teachings of Xi and the Communist Party.”

Yang said persecution reached Chinese Christians worshipping in both official and unsanctioned churches – but that it’s important to look at the other side. Beijing has also worked to mend relations with Chinese Catholics, as evidenced last month when it recognised two previously excommunicated Chinese bishops.

“Is the bottle half empty or half full? Almost half of the estimated 90 million Chinese Protestant Christians did not feel the persecution,” Yang said.

Open Doors, a Britain-based charity, was founded in 1955. In 1981, the group smuggled 1 million outlawed Chinese Bibles to a beach in southern China. Its yearly watch list compiles field interviews and reports, questionnaires and news reports, scoring countries out of a possible 100 persecution points to determine their rank on the list. Photo: AFP

He also that he believed the intensity of the Chinese crackdown against Christians had reached its peak and was unlikely to be sustained because of its astronomical costs.

“It is simply impossible to return to the Cultural Revolution to completely eradicate religions, because there are simply too many Christians today,” he said.

Pastor Eric Foley is the chief executive of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, the Asian sister mission to Release International – which monitors and reports international persecution of Christians – and a member of the International Christian Association (ICA).

The missions of the ICA, called the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), work with persecuted Christians. For 18 years, VOM Korea has worked with underground Christians in North Korea and China.

“For governments and activists, religious freedom is a kind of ‘canary in the coal mine’ for human rights issues overall,” he said.

“In wealthy nations, religion is often regarded as simply as a matter of private devotion, and so religious persecution can seem only to affect zealots. But careful studies, like the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, continue to demonstrate a correlation between failure to protect religious liberty and systematic human rights abuses.

“So where Christian persecution occurs and certainly where it is on the upswing, even non-Christians should be motivated to take notice.”

Additional reporting by Mimi Lau

https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2182260/asia-new-hotbed-christian-persecution-situation-china-worst

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