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Showing posts for "Human Rights"

The Indian Elections and Indian Foreign Policy: What Tamil Nadu Parties Have to Say

by Alyssa Ayres
Jayalalithaa File photo: J. Jayalalithaa, current chief minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of Anna Dravida Munnetra Khazhagam (AIADMK), greets her supporters from the balcony of her residence (Babu Babu/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections

Campaigning for India’s national elections is in full swing. Parties have begun nominating candidates and 543 races for the lower house of parliament are on. But despite the election fever pitch, the two major national parties—the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party—have not yet released their election platforms, or “manifestos,” as they are called. This leaves voters and observers playing a parlor guessing game on the domestic and foreign policy priorities each will formally prioritize. This year’s manifesto writing process even has a new crowdsourcing twist: Both Congress and BJP are accepting suggestions on the web. Read more »

Should Thailand be Downgraded to Tier 3 in Trafficking in Persons Report?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Rohingya-Thailand-detention-center Rohingya Muslims gather at the Immigration Detention Center during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in Kanchanaburi province in July 2013. The stateless people arrived in Thailand in early 2013 after fleeing a bloody conflict between the Buddhist and Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine State. A Reuters report claims Thailand has clandestinely been removing Rohingya migrants from detention centers to deliver them to human traffickers (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters).

The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report likely will be released in June. Despite warranting a lower rating, Thailand has barely escaped being downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest possible rating in the report, for five years now. Although Thailand almost certainly has deserved to be put in the lowest tier, because of the massive amount of human trafficking routed through Thailand and the complicity of Thai government officials. Thailand has been exempted from the downgrade for years because of close ties between the United States and the kingdom, including cooperation on many other issues. Washington basically did not want to offend Thailand’s government by lumping it in at the bottom of the report, in Tier 3, alongside countries like Congo (DRC), Mauritania, and Sudan. Countries in Tier 3 are states “whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards [on combating trafficking in persons] and are not making significant efforts to do so,” according to the definition provided by the TIP report. Read more »

Doctors without Borders Kicked out of Rakhine State; Hatred Rising

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A nurse walks past as a child sitting at Medecins Sans Frontieres Holland's clinic in Yangon on March 3, 2014. (Minzayar Minzayar/Courtesy Reuters) A nurse walks past as a child sitting at Medecins Sans Frontieres Holland's clinic in Yangon on March 3, 2014. (Minzayar Minzayar/Courtesy Reuters)

News this past weekend that the Myanmar government appears to have kicked Doctors without Borders/Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) out of Arakan/Rakhine State is just another disturbing piece of news suggesting that inter-religious hatred in the country is rising, and the Myanmar government continues to deny this powder keg is close to exploding. Doctors without Borders had been working across Arakan/Rakhine State,  where it has treated thousands of people. The organization has been working in Myanmar for two decades and, in addition to its work in Arakan/Rakhine State, where over 100,000 people have become refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the past three years, Doctors without Borders also has been a central part of Myanmar’s anti-HIV strategy and treatment for years. Read more »

Sex Has Become the Main Mode of HIV Transmission in China

by Yanzhong Huang
Sex shops with neon signs are seen at a wealthy district in Beijing May 6, 2013 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters) Sex shops with neon signs are seen at a wealthy district in Beijing May 6, 2013 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Fifteen years ago, in light of the rapid spread of the HIV cases and the absence of effective government response, UN officials warned that China could have over 10 million HIV cases by 2010.  Thankfully, that prophesy was not fulfilled.  In fact, China today has an estimated 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.  The adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is only 0.1 percent, the same as Japan’s and less than the United Kingdom’s (0.2 percent) and the United States’ (0.6 percent).  Comparatively, in 2010, China had 36,200 AIDS-related deaths—the same number of people die annually as a result of seasonal flu in the United States—compared to 1.7 million who died of stroke and nearly 1 million who died of heart disease. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 24, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters of Xu Zhiyong, one of China's most prominent rights advocates, shout slogans near a court where Xu's trial is being held, in Beijing on January 22, 2014. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters of Xu Zhiyong, one of China's most prominent rights advocates, shout slogans near a court where Xu's trial is being held, in Beijing on January 22, 2014. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Report reveals that several of China’s top leaders hold trillions in offshore accounts. A new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed nearly 22,000 tax haven clients from Hong Kong and mainland China. Among the confidential files cited, there are details of a real estate company co-owned by President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law, and British Virgin Island companies set up by former Premier Wen Jiabao’s son and son-in-law. The report also states that PricewaterhouseCooper, UBS, and other Western banks have acted as middlemen aiding in setting up the offshore accounts. According to the report, “by some estimates, between $1 trillion and $4 trillion in untraced assets have left the country since 2000.” The ICIJ website is now blocked in China. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 10, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a media conference in Dhaka on January 6, 2014. (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters) Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a media conference in Dhaka on January 6, 2014. (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Bangladesh’s governing party wins vote despite unrest. Bangladesh’s Awami League won 232 of 300 seats in the country’s new Parliament, with nearly half of the seats uncontested due to a boycott from the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), which labeled the election a sham. The government declared the average turnout to be 39.8 percent, though the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, said that the turnout was closer to 10 percent. Twenty-two protesters were killed on Sunday, and seven were killed on Monday; the government also arrested seven high-ranking BNP leaders this week, including a close aide to Zia. The government has also demanded that the BNP cut ties with the banned Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami. Read more »

Suu Kyi Faces Growing Criticism

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as she leads a news conference at the foreign ministry in Rome on October 28, 2013. (Max Rossi/Courtesy Reuters) Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as she leads a news conference at the foreign ministry in Rome on October 28, 2013. (Max Rossi/Courtesy Reuters)

Just a short blog item to think about over your holiday season; Asia Unbound will be back in force in the new year.

Over the past two years, as Buddhist-Muslim violence in Myanmar has spread from western Arakan/Rakhine State to other areas across the country, few leading Burman Buddhist politicians have been willing to criticize the Buddhist paramilitary groups responsible for starting most of the violence. President Thein Sein, to his credit, has on occasion condemned the violence, though his government has done little to address the root causes of the unrest. But Aung San Suu Kyi has, over the past two years, been even more reticent to comment on the unrest than Thein Sein or other top government officials. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 13, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters) South Korean soldiers walk past a television showing reports on the execution of Jang Song-taek, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, at a railway station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. (Kim Hong-ji/Courtesy Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. North Korea announces execution of top official. The Korean Central News Agency announced yesterday the execution of Jang Song-taek, a top North Korean official and uncle of leader Kim Jong-un. The announcement follows Jang’s highly publicized arrest, which was unprecedented in North Korea; at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, Jang was charged with “anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts” against the “unity and cohesion of the party.” Read more »

When Protests Halt Progress

by Alyssa Ayres
Smoke rises as a bus burns on a street after a nationwide strike was called, in Dhaka November 9, 2013 (Mahmud Opu/Courtesy Reuters). Smoke rises as a bus burns on a street after a nationwide strike was called, in Dhaka November 9, 2013 (Mahmud Opu/Courtesy Reuters).

If I were to describe a country that has achieved around 6 percent economic growth for much of the last decade, has the eighth largest population in the world, has delivered maternal and child health improvements on a scale comparable to the great Meiji restoration of 19th century Japan, is the world’s second largest exporter of ready-made garments after only China, and has achieved a 94 percent infant immunization rate, what place would come to mind? As much as it pains me to write this, I don’t believe the average Western reader would blurt out “Bangladesh, of course” after hearing that roster of accomplishments, as true as they are. Read more »

Challenges in Designing an Effective North Korean Human Rights Policy

by Scott A. Snyder
refugee-interview-photos North Korean refugees provide some of the mounting evidence against systemic human rights abuses in North Korea. Here, one refugee shows pictures of his family in North Korea. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters).

There is no more vexing issue than the challenge of how to support the improvement of human rights in North Korea, a country that has consistently ranked at the bottom of international indices rating human freedom around the world.  The U.S. Congress passed the North Korea Human Rights Act almost a decade ago, the United Nations has appointed a rapporteur to examine the human rights situation inside North Korea for almost as long, and the Korean Institute for National Unification has published an ever-growing annual white paper on North Korean human rights since 1996.  This year the UN Human Rights Council appointed a Commission of Inquiry that has held public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington, DC; the commission will report back to the UN Human Rights Council with its assessment and recommendations by spring of next year.  But the stream of North Korean refugee testimony to unspeakable atrocities and evidence of systemic abuses inside North Korea continues to grow. Read more »