Posts Tagged ‘lawyers’

U.S. State Department calls on Vietnam to release ‘prisoners of conscience’

August 17, 2018

The U.S. State Department on Friday called on Vietnam to release all “prisoners of conscience” immediately, one day after a Vietnamese court conducted a one-day trial of an activist and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Le Dinh Luong stands to hear his sentence in court in Nghe An province, Vietnam, Aug. 16, 2018.

Le Dinh Luong stands to hear his sentence in court in Nghe An province, Vietnam, Aug. 16, 2018. AFP photo

Le Dinh Luong, 53, was arrested last year after encouraging people to boycott a National Assembly election, writing Facebook posts that expressed views against the party and state, and inciting protests against a Taiwanese steel firm, according to the communist-party-run newspaper Nghe An. He had been charged with attempting to overthrow the state.

Luong’s lawyer said he will appeal the verdict.

Reuters

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Makini Brice

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See also:

Viet Nam: New research reveals almost 100 prisoners of conscience as crackdown on dissent intensifies

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/04/viet-nam-new-research-reveals-almost-100-prisoners-of-conscience-as-crackdown-on-dissent-intensifies/

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Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, better known as Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom)

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Le Dinh Luong, 53, a Catholic, was taken into custody on July 24, 2017, and accused by authorities of membership in the U.S.-based Vietnamese opposition party Viet Tan, which Vietnam regards as a terrorist organization, and of calling for a boycott of parliamentary elections in 2016.

A veteran of Vietnam’s 1979 border war with China, Luong had also written on Facebook calling for compensation for fishermen affected by the April 2016 waste spill by Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s steel plant.

The environmental disaster destroyed livelihoods across Vietnam’s central coast and led to widespread protests and arrests in Nghe An and other coastal provinces affected by the spill.

Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service after Thursday’s trial, defense lawyer Ha Huy Son slammed the sentence handed down to his client, saying the court had presented “no evidence” to show that Luong had worked to overthrow the government, a charge frequently brought under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code to arrest and imprison democracy and human rights activists in the country.

“They based their decision on the testimony of two witnesses, Nguyen Van Hoa and Nguyen Viet Dung,” Son said. “But both of them have retracted what they said in earlier testimony.”

“They now say that they were beaten and forced to say what they did,” he said.

Also speaking to RFA, defense lawyer Dang Dinh Manh said that Luong’s attorneys had asked that both men be brought to court so they could be questioned on their previous testimony.

“However, a police officer came forward and said that Nguyen Van Hoa had a sore throat and Nguyen Viet Dung had a stomach ache, and so neither of them were fit to testify,” he said.

‘More will step forward’

Writing in an Aug. 15 statement, Phil Robertson—Deputy Asia Director for the international rights group Human Rights Watch—called for Luong’s immediate release and demanded that Vietnam drop all charges against him.

“The government should understand that locking people up for simply exercising their rights isn’t working, and [that] more activists will continue to step forward to speak their mind and hold protests against government injustices.”

“Vietnam is well on its way to having the largest population of political prisoners in Southeast Asia, and foreign trade partners and donors should demand this rolling crackdown stop,” Robertson wrote.

“Le Dinh Luong has done nothing wrong and the People’s Court of Nghe An province should drop all charges and release him immediately.”

Meanwhile, the U.S.-based Viet Tan organization on Thursday condemned what it called Luong’s “unjust conviction,” saying the charges against him were “vague” and based mainly on police investigations of his Facebook postings and community organizing activities.

“Criminalizing peaceful activism and the use of Facebook is a violation of human rights and civil liberties,” Viet Tan said.

Rights group Amnesty International estimates that at least 97 prisoners of conscience are currently held in Vietnam’s prisons, where many are subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/overthrow-08162018144518.html

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China Urged To Release Jailed Human Rights Lawyers

July 11, 2018

More than 321 human rights lawyers and civil rights advocates, as well as members of their families, remain arrested in China

A coalition of human rights groups and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) yesterday called on Beijing to release the lawyers arrested in Beijing’s “709 crackdown” of 2015 as they marked its third anniversary.

While the crackdown is considered the largest ever on the legal profession in China, it was only the beginning of a series of clampdowns.

As of May 17 this year, more than 321 human rights lawyers and civil rights advocates, as well as members of their families, have been arrested, summoned for questioning, banned from leaving the country and placed under surveillance or house arrest, the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said in a statement yesterday.

As part of efforts to raise awareness of the issue, a coalition of human rights groups from around the world last year jointly declared July 9 as Chinese Human Rights Lawyers’ Day, and this year they are honoring Chinese human rights lawyers Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) and Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), Taipei Bar Association director Wang Lung-kuan (王龍寬) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Wang Quanzhang, who disappeared in July 2015, was charged with state subversion, but no official indictment has been made so far, Wang Lung-kuan said.

Gao’s family members said he disappeared in July last year.

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Wang Quanzhang with his family before arrest

Before that, he was being closely monitored by the Chinese government and was banned from leaving his hometown in Shanxi Province after completing a three-year prison sentence for defending Falun Gong practitioners.

As a member of the international community and China’s neighbor, Taiwan can do more to help support Chinese human rights advocates, Wang Lung-kuan said.

“A draft refugee act is already under review at the Legislative Yuan and as far as we know neither the DPP nor the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is opposed to it. The bill should be passed as soon as possible,” he said.

Last month, Chinese dissident Huang Yan (黃燕), who has been granted refugee status by the UN, came to Taiwan seeking political asylum, which shows that Taiwan can provide much-needed help to Chinese political refugees, he added.

Taiwan can also better support Chinese political dissidents by protecting their freedom of speech, assembly and other rights while they are in the nation, Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling (邱伊翎) said.

A number of Taiwanese have allegedly been recruited by Chinese authorities to collect evidence against Chinese dissidents engaging in pro-democracy activities in Taiwan, she said.

“Evidence collected by Taiwanese led to the conviction of Chinese human rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng (周世鋒) and human rights advocate and pastor Hu Shigen (胡石根) on charges of state subversion,” Chiu said.

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Zhou Shifeng was sentenced to seven years in jail

“They were sentenced to seven and seven-and-a-half years in prison respectively. However, the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office decided not to press charges [against the Taiwanese] on grounds that they were not government employees and their actions were unrelated to national security,” she said.

Taiwan’s defining difference from China is being a democracy that values freedom and human rights, Yu said. “If we cannot stand up to fight for such values, how can we ask other nations to do the same for us?”

In a joint statement issued yesterday, Yu and more than 50 civic groups and political organizations from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands and the US — including the Judicial Reform Foundation, Japan’s Human Rights Now and the Netherlands’ Lawyers for Lawyers — urged Beijing to immediately release all human rights lawyers arrested during the crackdown.

Beijing should also reverse their guilty verdicts, return their license to practice law and end all forms of political repression against them, they said.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2018/07/10/2003696426

See also:

Hong Kong lawyers and activists hold silent protest 3 years into China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers

Source:https://hkplg.org/2018/07/11/hong-kong-lawyers-and-activists-hold-silent-protest-3-years-into-chinas-crackdown-on-human-rights-lawyers/

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Vietnam activist vows to continue pressing for democracy despite house arrest

March 1, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | Vietnam’s communist leadership has been accused of tightening its grip on activists, arresting and convicting dozens

HANOI (AFP) – A high-profile Vietnamese writer says she has gone into hiding after being interrogated about her banned book and placed under de-facto house arrest by plainclothes police, vowing Thursday to continue pressing for democracy in the one-party state.Activist Pham Doan Trang said she was held for questioning by security officials for several hours on Saturday over her most recent book “Politics for the Masses” (or “Politics for All”), which is outlawed in Vietnam and includes sections on democracy and political ideology.

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Plainclothes police surrounded her home in Hanoi after her release late Saturday, she told AFP.

“I escaped… which is a miracle,” she said from an undisclosed hideout in Vietnam, adding that she was targeted because of her 2017 book, which she called a political science textbook.

“Vietnam’s Communist Party simply dislikes anyone who purports to be more legitimate than them, more worthy than them to hold power,” she said.

The former journalist has previously been detained in Vietnam, which routinely locks up bloggers, lawyers and dissidents who are critical of the state.

A conservative leadership in charge since 2016 has been accused of tightening its grip on activists, arresting and convicting dozens.

Trang, 39, has long been a thorn in the side of the authorities with her pro-democracy writing and her work on an environmental disaster in central Vietnam (Formosa steel) in 2016 that prompted rare protests across the country.

Prague-based rights group People in Need said last month it would award Trang for her activism.

The former journalist for prominent news website VietnamNet was held for more than a week in 2009 after she was accused of planning to print controversial T-shirts, which she denies.

Despite repeated threats of arrest, she vowed to continue speaking out.

“I feel strongly about writing more, I cannot stay silent,” she said, adding she would remain in her country.

Human Rights Watch says at least 24 activists were convicted in Vietnam last year and another 28 arrested in one of the harshest years for dissidents.

When asked about Trang’s case on Thursday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said anyone breaking the law would be “punished in accordance with Vietnamese laws”.

“Vietnamese functional authorities did their duty correctly,” she told reporters.

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Pham Doan Trang, author of ‘Politics For All,’ tells RFA’s Vietnamese Service in an Oct. 3, 2017 interview that she aims to prove politics are not only for the elite and are relevant to everyday life in Vietnam.

RFA: Why did you name your book ‘Politics For All?’

Pham Doan Trang: I chose the words “for all” because I want many people to read this book. That is also why I used words that are easy to understand, made it less academic, and included fewer formulas and tables. I don’t use words that are too complex or ancient language. I only used modern terms associated with current events in Vietnam … Almost 99 percent of the examples are about Vietnam.

Secondly, I wanted to erase the idea that politics are for a minority of people and the elite. Vietnamese people regularly say that everything will be taken care of by the [ruling Communist] Party and the state. I want people to understand that politics are everywhere in our lives—even connected to the food we eat and the clothes we wear.

RFA: How will you ensure that Vietnamese readers have access to the book, as the government will not allow it to be published in Vietnam?

Pham Doan Trang: I want to use everything possible, including online publication and e-books. I might even split the book into small sections to be published in newspapers, or allow it to be pirated. It is true that this year the government is exercising tight control over the large printing houses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. I will try to disseminate it through all possible means—no method is preferred to any others.

RFA: Why did you decide to write a book about a topic considered sensitive in Vietnam?

Pham Doan Trang: The desire arose after I became involved in political activities in 2009. It was then that I realized I did not truly understand politics. I knew I was fighting for democracy, but I didn’t know what democracy was. I realized that if I wanted to write about social and political issues, I had to first understand them. If you don’t understand something, how can you guide others? I began to learn and realized that most people were like me.

In Vietnam, since [the end of the Vietnam War in] 1975, there have been few accessible political documents. [These days] there are only sporadic articles [about politics] on the internet, but they aren’t written systematically, and they cover issues that nobody ever talks about, such as social movements, propaganda, and why elections in Vietnam are considered undemocratic. I’m lucky to have many friends living overseas and I also studied abroad. At that time I spent most of my money buying books about politics and I read all of them. Then I leaned on the knowledge I gained from those books and simplified it on my own.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/politics-10032017162222.html

United Nations Human Rights Experts Campaign to Improve Human Rights Among ASEAN Nations at Philippine Summit

November 11, 2017
Riot police prepare to push back people protesting the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump outside the main venue of the ASEAN summit meetings Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Trump is currently on a visit to Asia with the Philippines as his last stop for the ASEAN leaders’ summit and related summits between the regional grouping and its Dialogue Partners. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — Four United Nations human rights experts urged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss “pressing” regional rights issues during the bloc’s key summit in Manila.

From November 11 to 14, 21 world leaders—along with the UN chief—will sit down for talks in Manila for the 31st ASEAN meet.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

In a statement dated November 10, the UN experts, while recognizing the “important work of the many active civil society organizations across the region,” expressed concern over the “worrying deterioration in the environment” where human rights defenders operate.

They also expressed dismay at the “increasing harassment and prosecutions” of bloggers, journalists and social media users.

“Human rights defenders, social activists, lawyers, journalists, independent media and even parliamentarians trying to speak out and protect the rights of others, increasingly face a multitude of risks ranging from judicial harassment and prosecution to threats, disappearances and killings,” the experts said.

“We condemn the public vilification, harassment, arrests and killings of members of civil society, and call on Member States to rigorously uphold their duty to ensure the freedom and protection of those exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” they added.

“Independent media, members of civil society and human rights defenders should be viewed as partners and as an essential element of democracy.”

The Philippines, one of the bloc’s founding states, chairs this year’s ASEAN summits. Members of the 10-nation bloc take turns at chairmanship.

Among the human rights issues hounding the region were the Philippines’ bloody “war on drugs,” the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the crackdown on dissenters in Vietnam and Cambodia, and junta rule in Thailand.

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi steps down from her plane upon arrival at Clark International Airport in Clark, Pampanga province north of Manila, Philippines Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Suu Kyi is one of more than a dozen leaders who will be attending the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Manila. AP/Bullit Marquez

READ: Leaders urged to bring up regional rights issues at APEC, ASEAN

According to the UN rapporteurs, the ongoing ASEAN meetings in Manila should be used by member-states as an opportunity to “make real progress” on the region’s rights issues and to show that the bloc is “fully committed to securing human rights.”

They likewise encouraged Southeast Asian governments to see human rights monitoring and reporting, not as a threat, but as a positive tool that can help them comply with these commitments.

The statement was issued by UN special rapporteurs Annalisa Ciampi, Michel Forst, Yanghee Lee, and Agnes Callamard, who has been verbally attacked by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for criticizing Manila’s deadly drug war.

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Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

Faced with strong criticism of the administration’s violent campaign against drugs, Duterte on Thursday floated the idea of calling for a global summit on human rights violations by other countries.

“Not zero in on me. Why just me? There are so many violations of human rights, including by the United States, including the continuous bombing in the Middle East killing civilians. Even of children… of their schools,” he said.

READ: Int’l watchdog reacts to Duterte’s plan to hold human rights summit

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/11/1757884/un-rapporteurs-raise-alarm-asean-rights-problems

Trump administration’s lack of emphasis on human rights takes a toll in Vietnam

August 2, 2017

(Reuters) – A crackdown on communist Vietnam’s increasingly vocal dissidents has become the biggest in years and activists say authorities have been emboldened by the Trump administration’s lack of emphasis on human rights.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s early decision to drop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal also removed a clear incentive for Hanoi to show a better rights record, they said.

The U.S. State Department, however, said it continues to insist that better bilateral ties will depend on Hanoi’s progress on human rights.

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Vietnam has stepped up measures to silence bloggers and critics whose voices over issues such as a steel mill’s toxic spill last year have been amplified by social media in a country that is among Facebook’s top 10 by users.

At least 15 people have been arrested so far in 2017 – more than in any year since a crackdown on youth activists in 2011 – according to a Reuters tally of arrests for anti-state activities reported by local and national authorities. Four dissidents — a pastor, an engineer, a journalist and a lawyer – were arrested last week.

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH

“Civil society and the democracy and human rights movement increased quite a lot in the last few years and with social media their voices are stronger and stronger,” said Nguyen Quang A., a retired computer scientist and vocal government critic.

“That poses a problem for the leadership.”

Over the past 18 months, Nguyen said he had been detained 12 times without being charged, compared to not once in the previous 18 months.

Vietnam’s government says it is only acting against lawbreakers, with its strict curbs on freedom of speech often flouted on social media.

“All acts of violation of law are strictly treated in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang, responding to U.N. criticism of the jailing of one blogger.

Economic growth of more than 5 percent a year for over 16 years has turned Vietnam into a manufacturing powerhouse for everything from Samsung phones to Nike sneakers and brought a surge in prosperity and a revolution in social openness.

Politics has changed more gradually.

LEADERSHIP SHIFT

The start of the crackdown is dated by activists, diplomats and analysts to the Communist Party congress in January 2016, when the leadership balance shifted towards conservatives prioritising internal security and discipline.

“Although Vietnam has only one party as per the constitution, it actually has many factions and interest groups behind the scenes,” said activist Nguyen Lan Thang. “The political landscape is going through strong movement, not only for activists, but also within the Communist Party.”

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Nguyen Lan Thang

Indications of fissures in the ruling Communist Party Politburo came this week when the party proposed sacking a vice-minister over alleged corruption at her former role in an electricity company. Early this year, a top official was demoted and expelled from the Politburo in a rare move.

Manoeuvring had intensified ahead of the expected selection of a new General Secretary of the Communist Party, said Jonathan London of Leiden University, although no date has been set for that.

Meanwhile, activists had grown more vocal after street protests erupted last year over a toxic spill from the Taiwanese owned Formosa steel mill.

Among bloggers whose profiles rose over the Formosa protests was Ngoc Nhu Quynh – known as Mother Mushroom – who was jailed for 10 years in July. Another was Tran Thi Nga. She was given a nine-year prison sentence last month.

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Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh – known as Mother Mushroom

TRUMP FACTOR

Every activist and analyst that Reuters interviewed mentioned a perceived shift in U.S. priorities under Trump as a new factor in reducing pressure on Vietnam’s government.

Not only was Washington paying less attention to the region or to human rights, but Trump gave Vietnam less reason to show willingness to address human rights issues when he dropped the TPP trade deal, in the name of an “America First” policy.

“Vietnam now finds there is much less of a downside for cracking down the way it wanted to in the first place,” said Phil Robertson of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, which recently reported on the beating of activists.

“Trump and his policies bear a lot of responsibility for this worsening situation.”

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signalled that the United States would de-emphasize human rights concerns in some of its interactions with other countries, saying that while U.S. values remain constant, they needed to be balanced against national security and economic interests.

The U.S. State Department said the trend of increasing arrests of activists in Vietnam since early 2016 was “deeply troubling” and it called for the release of all prisoners of conscience.

“Progress on human rights will allow the U.S.-Vietnam partnership to reach its fullest potential,” said Justin Higgins, the spokesman for the State Department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs bureau.

(Additional reporting by Donna Airoldi in Bangkok, Yeganeh Torbati in Washington; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

Related:

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Blogger Trần Thị Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison

 

See:

Vietnam: End Attacks on Activists and Bloggers
Pattern of Thuggish Assaults Against Rights Campaigners Across Country
https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/18/vietnam-end-attacks-activists-and-bloggers

Turkey Seeks Detention of 189 Lawyers in Post-Coup Probe — Fethullah Gulen and users of encrypted messaging

June 14, 2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP/File photo

ANKARA — Turkish authorities issued detention warrants for 189 lawyers as part of an investigation into followers of a Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.

The scope of purges that have also seen more than 130 media outlets shut down and some 150 journalists jailed has unnerved rights groups and Western allies, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup bid as a pretext to muzzle dissent.

The 189 suspects were sought by anti-terrorist police across eight provinces including Istanbul for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the agency said. He has denied involvement in the failed putsch.

Police have so far detained 78 of the lawyers, some believed to be users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen’s followers.

Since the July coup attempt, authorities have jailed pending trial 50,000 people and sacked or suspended 150,000, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links with terrorist groups, including Gulen’s network.

Erdogan says the crackdown is necessary due to the gravity of the coup attempt in which 240 people were killed.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Ralph Boulton)

Pakistan: Terror Attacks on Christian District and Court

September 2, 2016

BBC News

Pakistani soldiers cordon off a street leading to Christian colony following an attack by suicide bombers on the outskirts of Peshawar on September 2, 2016

Soldiers cordoned off a street following the attack on a Christian district. AFP

A suicide bomber has attacked a court in the northern Pakistani city of Mardan, killing at least 11 people and injuring nearly 30, officials say.

The attacker threw a hand grenade before running into the court area and detonating a bomb, police told the BBC.

Lawyers, police officers and civilians are said to be among the dead.

Also on Friday, four suicide bombers targeted a Christian neighbourhood near Peshawar before being shot dead by security forces.

Both attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in north Pakistan.

No group has said it carried out the attack on the courthouse, but Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed the attack on the Christian district.

Militants have targeted lawyers in the past, including a bomb attack in Quetta last month that killed 18 lawyers. That attack was also claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Ijaz Khan, deputy inspector general of police for Mardan district, told reporters three lawyers and two police officers were among the dead at the courthouse.

The suicide bomber attempted to reach the court’s bar room, where several lawyers had congregated – but was shot by police before he could enter, Mr Khan said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37253739

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Map: peshawar and Mardan are west of Islamabad and near Afghanistan. One attack was near the Warsak Dam on the Kabul River approximately 20 km northwest of the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Militant bomb attacks in northwestern Pakistan — Militant gunmen wearing suicide vests storm Christian neighborhood — Separate attackers near court detonate explosives

September 2, 2016

The Associated Press

Northwestern Pakistan was struck by two separate militant attacks on Friday, when gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a Christian colony near the town of Peshawar, killing one civilian, and a suicide bomb attack on a district court in the town of Mardan killed 10 people and wounded 41 others.

Militants stormed the Christian neighborhood early on Friday morning, triggering a shoot-out in which four attackers were killed and one Christian died, police and the military said. Three security officials and two civilian guards were wounded in the attack.

Map: peshawar and Mardan are west of Islamabad and near Afghanistan. One attack was near the Warsak Dam on the Kabul River approximately 20 km northwest of the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement that the attack was quickly repulsed and that security forces were searching for any accomplices.

Local police official Shaukat Khan said four suicide bombers entered the Christian colony. One of them went into a church, but no one was there at the time. He said the attackers killed one Christian in the neighborhood. It was not immediately clear if any of the suicide bombers had detonated their explosives.

The quick response from the local civilian guards and security forces prevented more deaths, Khan said.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction, claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the town of Mardan, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Peshawar, a suicide bomber threw a grenade at the district court before detonating his explosives, according to government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani. He said that lawyers, policemen and passers-by were among the 10 people killed in the attack. Some of the wounded were critically injured, Ghani said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for second attack.

Pakistan has been struck by a number of large-scale militant attacks in recent months, including a March suicide bombing targeting Christians celebrating Easter in a park in the city of Lahore that killed around 70 people. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the bombing and warned of further attacks.

Christians are a tiny minority in this majority Muslim nation. While some Christians live in Muslim areas, many choose to live together in Christian-only neighborhoods.

Last month, a bomb blast targeting lawyers and journalists gathering outside a hospital in the city of Quetta killed some 70 people. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Islamic State group issued competing claims of responsibility for the attack.

The Pakistani army said on Thursday it had prevented IS from establishing a network in the country, saying it had arrested over 300 IS militants in recent years, including fighters from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued statements condemning both attacks, saying “these cowardly attacks cannot shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism.”

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Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.

Related:

Pakistan: Two explosions kill at least 12 people, many lawyers, 52 wounded outside a district court

September 2, 2016

Reuters

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: At least 12 people were killed and 52 wounded when two bomb blasts were detonated outside a district court in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, a rescue official said.

“So far we recovered 12 bodies of the lawyers, police personnel and civilians. Besides this, we rescued 52 injured, including lawyers, police personnel and civilians from the spot,” Haris Habib, chief rescue officer in the city of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the blasts took place, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Jibran Ahmad: writing by Drazen Jorgic)

China’s Human Rights Lawyers Need Our Support

August 12, 2016

Chinese human rights lawyers. Photo taken before several wer jailed.

Sir, – China’s expressed goal of achieving a system of government based on the rule of law must be encouraged.

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In all cultures courageous lawyers perform an essential role in protecting basic rights integral to the rule of law. Yet in China, human-rights lawyers have been detained, intimidated, or disappeared.

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For example, the lawyer Zhou Shefeng, who represented activists and families taking legal action over tainted baby formula, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the crime of subverting state power.

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The notion that defending human rights amounts to the vague and overbroad crime of subverting state power or inciting the subversion of state power is antithetical to the rule of law.

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Concern must be heightened because the use of torture and ill-treatment is a feature of the Chinese criminal-justice system.

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Ireland’s embassy in China has expressed the Irish Government’s concern about the Chinese government’s behaviour.

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Shouldn’t the legal professions, law schools, law firms, and China-oriented businesses be more publicly active in defending the human rights of China’s rule-of-law defenders? Surely morals come before money. – .

Yours, etc,
TOM COONEY,
Rathfarnham,
Dublin 16.

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/defending-china-s-defenders-of-human-rights-1.2751775

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