Archive for ‘Human rights’

12/03/2014

Police: Rebels kill 18 soldiers in central India – Businessweek

Police say Maoist rebels have killed 18 paramilitary soldiers in an ambush in central India.

Mukesh Gupta said rebels ambushed a paramilitary camp on Tuesday in a remote and dense forest in Chattisgarh state.

The police said the rebels surrounded the camp and opened fire, killing 18 instantly. Several others were injured in the attack in the Jiram Ghati area in southern Chattisgarh.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

via Police: Rebels kill 18 soldiers in central India – Businessweek.

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07/03/2014

China’s restless West: The burden of empire | The Economist

After a brutal attack in China, the Communist Party needs to change its policies towards minorities

A GROUP of knife-wielding assailants, apparently Muslims from western China, caused mayhem and murder on March 1st in the south-western Chinese city of Kunming, stabbing 29 people to death at the railway station and injuring 140 others. The attack has shocked China. The crime against innocents is monstrous and unjustifiable, and has been rightly condemned by the Chinese government and by America. But as well as rounding up the culprits, the Communist Party must face up to an uncomfortable truth. Its policy for integrating the country’s restless western regions—a policy that mixes repression, development and Han-Chinese migration—is failing to persuade non-Han groups of the merits of Chinese rule.

The party says the attackers were “Xinjiang extremists”, by implication ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic people with ties to Central Asia who once formed the majority in the region of Xinjiang. The killers may have been radicalised abroad with notions of global jihad. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that Uighurs are committing ever more desperate acts. Scarcely a week passes in Xinjiang without anti-government violence.

The party claims that Xinjiang has been part of China for 2,000 years. Yet for most of that time, the region has been on the fringe of China’s empire, or outside it altogether. An attempt to incorporate these lands began only with the Qing dynasty’s conquests in the mid-18th century. (The name Xinjiang, “new frontier”, was bestowed only in the 1880s.) During the chaos of the 1940s, Uighurs declared a short-lived independent state of East Turkestan. But from 1949 the Communists began integrating Xinjiang into China by force. Demobbed Chinese soldiers were sent to colonise arid lands, the state repression of Uighurs drawing heavily on the Soviet tactics for handling “nationalities”. Uighur resentment of the Han runs deep. The feeling is mutual. Many Chinese are openly racist towards Uighurs, and the government thinks them ungrateful. In 2009 hundreds of people were killed during street fighting between Uighurs and Han, who now make up two-fifths of Xinjiang’s population and control a disproportionate share of its wealth.

Identity crisis

The Kunming killers’ motives may never be known. But fears of militant Islamism arriving at the heart of China must not obscure the broader problem of Chinese oppression in Xinjiang. Recent crackdowns hit at the heart of Uighur identity: students are banned from fasting during Ramadan, religious teaching for children is restricted, and Uighur-language education is limited. Many Uighurs, like their neighbours in Tibet, fear that their culture will be extinguished. Xinjiang and Tibet (and Inner Mongolia) are still China’s colonies, their pacification under the Communist Party a continued imperial project. Were it not for the Dalai Lama’s restraining influence, violence in Tibet might be as bad as it is in Xinjiang. As it is, over 100 Tibetans have burned themselves to death in protest at Chinese rule.

There is a large military presence in China’s west. The government seems to believe that unless Uighurs and Tibetans are held in check by force, the western regions could break away. That is always a danger. But suppression, which leads to explosions of anger, may increase the risk, not mitigate it.

The only way forward is to show Uighurs (and Tibetans) how they can live peacefully and prosperously together within China. The first step is for the party to lift the bans on religious and cultural practices, give Uighurs and Tibetans more space to be themselves, and strive against prejudice in Chinese society. Economic development needs to be aimed at Uighur and Tibetan communities. Otherwise, there will be more violence and instability.

via China’s restless West: The burden of empire | The Economist.

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28/02/2014

* Report Details India’s Worst Recent Human Rights Abuses – India Real Time – WSJ

Abuses by the police and security forces including extrajudicial killings, torture and rape, as well as corruption at all levels of government, are the most significant human rights problems in India, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress and published by the State Department this week.

The world’s largest democracy is also dogged by separatist violence, life-threatening prison conditions, sex trafficking of children and an atmosphere of impunity resulting from the overburdened judicial system, the “India 2013 Human Rights Report” said.

The 68-page document, released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to mark the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out a timeline of recent human rights abuses by the police, bureaucrats and security forces.

The U.S. report found continuing allegations that the police raped women, including while in police custody. Tribal girls were gang-raped in government hostels, and 48,338 child-rape cases were recorded from 2001 to 2011, the authors said.

“Some rape victims were afraid to come forward and report the  crime due to social stigma and possible acts of retribution, compounded by lack of oversight and accountability, especially if the perpetrator was a police officer or other official,” they added.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives state governments the right to declare any state a “disturbed area,” allowing security forces to fire on any person to maintain law and order and to arrest anyone without informing the detainee of the reason for doing so, was also a cause for concern, according to the report. The law gives security forces immunity from civilian prosecution in regions where it operates.

A government-commissioned report on changes needed to the law after the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi in Dec. 2012 had said the AFSPA was being used to legitimize “impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of internal security duties” and needed to be reviewed. The government had taken no action in this direction during 2013, according to the authors of the human rights report.

They also provided evidence of a complaint long-held by Indians: that corruption exists at all levels of government and leads to a denial ofjustice.

Nonprofit organizations, the report said, had noted that bribes typically were paid to expedite services, such as police protection, school admission, water supply, or government assistance.

“The CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] registered 583 cases of corruption between the months of January and November,” of last year the report said.

via Report Details India’s Worst Recent Human Rights Abuses – India Real Time – WSJ.

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01/12/2013

Xinjiang college says approved political views needed to graduate | Reuters

College students in China\’s restive western Xinjiang region will not graduate unless their political views are approved, a university official said, as the country wages what school administrators called an ideological war against separatism.

A Uighur student attends a lesson at the Xinjiang College of Uighur Medicine in Hotan in the southwestern part of China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region September 15, 2003. REUTERS/Andrew Wong

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic group, many of whom resent controls imposed by Beijing and an inflow of Han Chinese migrants. Some Uighur groups are campaigning for an independent homeland for their people.

University officials from Xinjiang said their institutions were a frontline in a \”life and death struggle\” for the people\’s hearts and a main front in the battle against separatism, the ruling Communist Party\’s official newspaper in the region, the Xinjiang Daily, reported on Tuesday.

\”Students whose political qualifications are not up to par must absolutely not graduate, even if their professional course work is excellent,\” said Xu Yuanzhi, the party secretary at Kashgar Teachers College in southern Xinjiang, which has been an epicenter for ethnic unrest.

It is unclear if such a policy has been officially implemented throughout the region.

\”Ideology is a battlefield without gun smoke,\” Xinjiang Normal University President Weili Balati said.

\”As university leaders, we have the responsibility to do more to help students and teachers properly understand and treat religion, ethnicity and culture and help them distinguish between right and wrong,\” he said.

China blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for an attack on October 28, when a vehicle ploughed through bystanders on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and burst into flames, killing three people in the car and two bystanders.

Uighur exiles, rights groups and some experts have cast doubt on the official accounts of what China has deemed terror attacks and foreign reporting of the incident has discussed whether it was motivated by punitive ethnic policies.

An Islamist militant group has released a speech claiming responsibility for the incident, which China\’s Foreign Ministry said should silence those who are skeptical about the threat of terror within China\’s borders.

The Uighurs are culturally closer to ethnic groups across central Asia and Turkey than the Han Chinese who make up the vast majority of China\’s population.

via Xinjiang college says approved political views needed to graduate | Reuters.

04/11/2013

In China’s Xinjiang, poverty, exclusion are greater threat than Islam | Reuters

If the analysis in this report is correct, then it is good news for China and Xinjiang. Alleviating poverty is difficult, but far easier than eliminating religious extremism.

“In the dirty backstreets of the Uighur old quarter of Xinjiang\’s capital Urumqi in China\’s far west, Abuduwahapu frowns when asked what he thinks is the root cause of the region\’s festering problem with violence and unrest.

A police officer stops a car to check for identifications at a checkpoint near Lukqun town, in Xinjiang province in this October 30, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files

\”The Han Chinese don\’t have faith, and the Uighurs do. So they don\’t really understand each other,\” he said, referring to the Muslim religion the Turkic-speaking Uighur people follow, in contrast to the official atheism of the ruling Communist Party.

But for the teenage bread delivery boy, it\’s not Islam that\’s driving people to commit acts of violence, such as last week\’s deadly car crash in Beijing\’s Tiananmen Square – blamed by the government on Uighur Islamist extremists who want independence.

\”Some people there support independence and some do not. Mostly, those who support it are unsatisfied because they are poor,\” said Abuduwahapu, who came to Urumqi two years ago from the heavily Uighur old Silk Road city of Kashgar in Xinjiang\’s southwest, near the Pakistani and Afghan border.

\”The Han are afraid of Uighers. They are afraid if we had guns, we would kill them,\” he said, standing next to piles of smoldering garbage on plots of land where buildings have been demolished.

China\’s claims that it is fighting an Islamist insurgency in energy-rich Xinjiang – a vast area of deserts, mountains and forests geographically located in central Asia – are not new.”

via In China’s Xinjiang, poverty, exclusion are greater threat than Islam | Reuters.

24/10/2013

In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters

So public protests sometimes works. See alsohttp://chindia-alert.org/2013/10/23/china-paper-in-detained-journalist-plea-bbc-news/

“China’s central publishing regulator, in a rare acknowledgement of the rights of journalists, expressed concern on Thursday about a detained reporter, a case that has stirred outrage after a newspaper pleaded with police on its front page to let him go.

Chen Yongzhou was detained after writing more than a dozen stories criticizing the finances of a major state-owned construction equipment maker, a move that coincides with new curbs on journalists, lawyers and internet users in China.

“The General Association of Press and Publishing (GAPP) resolutely supports the news media conducting normal interviewing and reporting activities and resolutely protects journalists\’ normal and legal rights to interview,” the China Press and Publishing Journal, which is overseen by the association itself, said, citing an association official.

“At the same time, it resolutely opposes any abuse of the right to conduct interviews.”

The article said the association was paying “close attention” to the matter.”

via In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters.

17/09/2013

China Communist Party investigators tried over drowning

The Communist Party of China seems to be trying hard to apply the ‘rule of law’ to its own cadres.  Must be a good thing.

BBC: “The trial has begun in China of six Communist Party officials accused of causing the death of a man who drowned after his head was repeatedly plunged in icy water during an investigation.

File photo: Yu Qiyi poses for a photo at an exhibition held at a hotel in Beijing, 2 September 2012

Yu Qiyi, the chief engineer of a state-owned company in Wenzhou, was being interrogated by party officials – and not police – when he died on 9 April.

As the trial got under way, the family lawyer said he was ejected from court.

Analysts say the case casts light on the darker side of party discipline.

Indeed the case, which is being heard in the city of Quzhou, appears to be a rare acknowledgement of some of the methods that lie behind the country’s well publicised crackdown on corruption, according to correspondents.

The case is extremely sensitive and the lawyer for Mr Yu’s family has already expressed his anger at being removed from court, saying the legal process was flawed.

Reuters also reports that the lawyer for one of the accused expressed concern about the court’s actions because her client wanted to apologise.

There has been no comment from the lawyers of the other accused men and neither the government nor the Communist Party has commented publicly on the case.”

via BBC News – China Communist Party investigators tried over drowning.

11/09/2013

Guangzhou to empty labour camps

SCMP: “Guangzhou plans to empty its hard-labour camps by year’s end, state media reported yesterday, the latest locality to phase out the notorious punishment.

china_labour_camp.jpg

Rights advocates have long complained that the “re-education through labour“, or laojiao, system which lets police send suspects to work camps for up to four years without trial, is widely abused to silence dissidents, petitioners and other perceived troublemakers.

In March, newly installed Premier Li Keqiang promised nationwide reforms to the system this year, but concrete steps have yet to be announced. In the meantime, some cities or provinces have been moving away from the punishment.

“All [100 or so] detainees in Guangzhou labour camps will have completed their sentences and be released by the end of the year,” the China Daily reported, citing a senior judge in the city. Guangdong province stopped taking new re-education through labour cases in March, it said.

In February, Yunnan said it would no longer send people to labour camps for three types of political offences.

Four cities designated as testing grounds have replaced the system with an “illegal behaviour rectification through education” programme, domestic media said at the time.

The forced labour system was established under Mao Zedong in the 1950s as a way to contain “class enemies”. A 2009 UN report estimated that 190,000 mainlanders were locked up labour camps.

Calls to scrap the system grew last year after the media exposed the plight of Ren Jianyu , a former official who spent 15 months in a Chongqing labour camp for reposting criticisms of the government on his microblog.”

via Guangzhou to empty labour camps: state media | South China Morning Post.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/2013/01/07/china-turns-dark-page-of-history-puts-end-to-labour-camps/

20/07/2013

China officials held over watermelon-seller death

BBC : “Six urban security personnel have been detained by police investigating the death of a fruit seller in southern China, state media say.

Local residents demonstrate with a banner saying "urban enforcers (chengguan) killed people" in Linwu county, central China's Hunan province, 17 July 2013

Deng Zhengjia, in his 50s, died on Wednesday in Chenzhou City, Hunan.

He was hit with a weight from a set of scales after a row erupted with the officials, known as “chengguan”, Xinhua reported, citing Mr Deng’s niece.

The six are being held on suspicion of intentionally harming others, added the news agency.

 

The row in Linwu county, Chenzhou, erupted after Mr Deng, 56, and his wife tried to sell home-grown watermelons at a scenic riverside spot without a licence, the county government said in a statement.

Having asked the couple to leave, “the enforcers temporarily confiscated four of the watermelons, requesting that the couple sell their melons in an authorised location instead”.

The couple began “insulting” the officers when they encountered them again 50 minutes later, the statement said.

“The enforcers tried to reason with the couple, the dispute between the two sides became a physical conflict, and in the process Deng Zhengjia suddenly collapsed and died,” it added.

There were anti-chengguan protests in Linwu on Wednesday, and the fruit seller’s death has also sparked outrage on China’s microblogs.

In July 2011, the death of a disabled street vendor who was reportedly beaten by local law enforcers sparked a riot in Guizhou province.

Who are the chengguan?

Urban law enforcers tasked with enforcing ”non-criminal administrative regulations” such as traffic, environment and sanitation rules

Chengguan operate separately from the police

They are employed by the Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureaux of their individual cities

Critics call them “violent government thugs”

Reports that a disabled street vendor was beaten to death by chengguan in 2011 sparked riots in China’s Guizhou province

There are thousands of chengguan in at least 656 cities across China, Human Rights Watch says

The chengguan, or Urban Management Law Enforcement force, support the police in tackling low-level crime in cities and have become unpopular with the Chinese public after a series of high-profile violent incidents.

“They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention and theft,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report last year.

via BBC News – China officials held over watermelon-seller death.

19/07/2013

Probe over China fruit-seller ‘beaten by enforcers’

BBC: “Police are investigating the death of a fruit seller in China, state media say, amid reports he was beaten by “chengguan” urban security personnel.

Local residents demonstrate with a banner saying "urban enforcers (chengguan) killed people" in Linwu county, central China's Hunan province, 17 July 2013

Deng Zhengjia, in his 50s, died on Wednesday in Chenzhou City, Hunan.

He was hit with a weight from a set of scales after a row erupted with chengguan officials, Xinhua news agency said, citing Mr Deng’s niece.

Chengguan are unpopular with the Chinese public after a series of high-profile violent incidents.

The chengguan, or Urban Management Law Enforcement force, support the police in tackling low-level crime in cities.

But the force’s ”thuggish” behaviour had led to public anger and undermined stability, a report by Human Rights Watch said last year.

“They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention and theft,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), when the report was released in May 2012.

via BBC News – Probe over China fruit-seller ‘beaten by enforcers’.

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