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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Human Rights"

What Will Happen in Rakhine State after Myanmar’s Election?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
myanmar-elections-Rakhine Supporters react as Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi gives a speech during her campaign rally for the upcoming general elections in Toungup, Rakhine state, on October 16, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Myanmar’s election last Sunday has been hailed, by the world, as a major step forward for the country’s young democracy. The excitement on the ground in Myanmar in the days leading up to the election, and on Election Day, was intense—Myanmar residents reported a kind of giddy feeling in many cities and towns, as people thrilled to the idea of voting in a real national election for the first time in twenty-five years. On the campaign trail, Aung San Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders drew enormous and often jubilant crowds, similar to the situation before the 1990 national elections. Read more »

Is a Genocide Taking Place in Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
rohingya-idp-camp Rohingya people pass their time in a damaged shelter in Rohingya IDP camp outside Sittwe, Rakhine state on August 4, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Since 2011, when Myanmar’s political reforms began, launching a stuttering process of democratization, attacks on Muslim Rohingya in western Myanmar have become common. The violence often has been abetted by paramilitary groups, hard-line Buddhist monks, and Buddhist civilian groups affiliated with the hard-line monks. Since the violence worsened in 2012, neither the government nor the leaders of the National League for Democracy have taken any effective steps to stop anti-Rohingya discrimination, provide suitable accommodations for Rohingya who have left their homes, help Rohingya who were stripped of their Myanmar citizenship regain it, or halt the activities of paramilitary organizations. Read more »

China’s Role in Myanmar’s Dangerous Jade Trade

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Jade-trade-11-2-15 A man checks the quality of a jade stone found in the mine dump piled by major mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant township in Myanmar's Kachin State, January 10, 2010. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Gabriel Walker is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In late October, Global Witness released an important report that systematically explored Myanmar’s jade industry, calling it the “biggest natural resource heist in modern history.” The mining and trade of the gem have been catalogued by journalists, photographers, and authors in the past, but most accounts only mention China’s economic role in driving demand for jade. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 16, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Ma-Ba-Tha-rally - 10-16-15 Leaders of radical Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha arrive during a celebration of the recent establishment of four controversial bills decried by rights groups as aimed at discriminating against the country's Muslim minority, at a rally in a stadium at Yangon, October 4, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Hard-line Buddhist monks sway politics in Myanmar. One of the most influential groups in Myanmar’s upcoming election may not be a political party, but a nationalist Buddhist group called the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion. The group, better known by the acronym Ma Ba Tha, does not officially back any party. However, the controversial monk and Ma Ba Tha member Ashin Wirathu, who was imprisoned for stoking anti-Muslim attacks in 2003, has expressed support for the Union Solidarity and Development Party rather than Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 2, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Jinping-United-Nations-10-2-15 President Xi Jinping of China addresses attendees during the seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York, September 28, 2015. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. China commits billions to international development. Addressing a United Nations conference on the UN sustainable development goals late last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China would pledge $2 billion in aid to the United Nations to help developing countries. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 17, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Police officers hold barricade tapes to form a cordon outside the parliament building expecting the arrival of crowds for a second day of protests against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security-related legislation in Tokyo on  July 16, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Courtesy: Reuters). Police officers hold barricade tapes to form a cordon outside the parliament building expecting the arrival of crowds for a second day of protests against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security-related legislation in Tokyo on July 16, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Rough week for human rights in China. Chinese police detained dozens of human rights lawyers this week on allegations that they were running a “criminal gang.” The “gang’s” offense? Creating “social chaos” by appealing to authorities and the public on behalf of their clients. The lawyers have been the subject of harsh criticism in state media; authorities have also rolled out the increasingly familiar tactic of televised confessions to publicly shame those arrested. Read more »

Toward a Solution to the Rohingya Crisis

by Joshua Kurlantzick
migrants-rakhine-myanmar Migrants, who were found at sea on a boat, collect rainwater during a heavy rain fall at a temporary refuge camp near Kanyin Chaung jetty, outside Maungdaw township, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar on June 4, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

So far, despite global coverage of Southeast Asia’s desperate migrants, Myanmar leaders continue to try to cast doubt on the idea that there is a migration crisis at all, though Myanmar officials attended the regional conference on the migration crisis held in Thailand in late May. Still, Myanmar officials reportedly refused to attend the meeting unless it was pitched as a broad discussion about migration, rather than a meeting to address the crisis of fleeing Rohingya. At the meeting, Myanmar “categorically refused to discuss its role as a cause for the crisis,” notes Matthew Davies of Australian National University, an expert on human rights in Southeast Asia. Read more »

Small Steps Forward on the Rohingya Crisis

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-myanmar-aung san suu kyi An Indonesian student holds a poster of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest against what they say is the killing of Muslims in Myanmar, as police stand guard in front of the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 29, 2015. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

For more than three years, as Rohingya in western Myanmar have faced violent attacks, seizure of their homes, and a growing climate of intolerance in public discourse, leaders across the Myanmar political spectrum have either remained silent or actually encouraged discrimination. The Myanmar government surely deserves much of the blame for this environment. Thein Sein’s government participated in last month’s regional crisis meeting in Bangkok on migration only reluctantly, and only after the scope of the meeting was publicly changed so that it addressed migration generally and not the Rohingya. Read more »

No Movement on Rohingya From Myanmar Government

by Joshua Kurlantzick
myanmar-rohingya-protests Monks and protesters participate in a march to denounce foreign criticism of the country's treatment of stateless Rohingya Muslims, in Yangon, Myanmar on May 27, 2015. (Aubrey Belford/Reuters)

Over the past week, the worldwide news coverage of Rohingya migrants at sea in Southeast Asian waters has helped convince some of the region’s governments to take action to prevent an imminent crisis. Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia last week agreed to take in around 7,000 migrants, at least temporarily, and the Thai government is apparently considering taking in migrants as well. The United States and other donors apparently will cover some of the costs of providing shelter and care for the migrants temporarily. Read more »

Human Rights Conditions of Overseas Laborers from North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean men look up as they work along the banks of the Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, in this photo taken September 8, 2014. (Jacky Chen/Courtesy: Reuters) North Korean men look up as they work along the banks of the Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, in this photo taken September 8, 2014. (Jacky Chen/Courtesy: Reuters)

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) has released a new report entitled Human Rights and North Korea’s Overseas Laborers: Dilemmas and Policy Challenges, by Yoon Yeosang and Lee Seung-ju This report provides the most comprehensive picture to date on the scope and conditions under which North Koreans are contracted for overseas labor assignments. The report was discussed at an event last week in Washington held at the Korea Economic Institute of America. Read more »