Beijing, Nov 3 - Chinese stocks opened higher Monday with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index…
Political activists imprisoned in Malaysia, secular bloggers hacked to death in Bangladesh, human rights lawyers detained in China – Amnesty International’s latest annual report says repression in Asia is on the rise.
Thailand Soldaten Festnahme 23.05.2014 Bangkok
“Your rights are in jeopardy,” warned Amnesty International (AI) as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Not only are our rights under threat, so are the laws and the system that protect them,” said AI’s Secretary General Salil Shetty.
Released on Wednesday, February 24, the 400-page report provides an overview of the human rights situation in 160 countries in 2015. The authors claim that there is a global trend of undermining human rights, which has come from governments “deliberately attacking, underfunding or neglecting institutions that have been set up to help protect our rights.”
China Bahnhof Kunming Anschlag
China enacted a controversial national security law last year, which critics say could be used to further suppress rights defenders
In this context, the situation in the Asia Pacific is particularly bleak as repression of dissent has become an “alarming and intensifying trend” in the region, Champa Patel, AI director for South and Southeast Asia, told DW, adding that the very people fighting to uphold the rights governments are meant to protect have come under sustained attack in several Asian countries.
Lack of accountability
The states’ failure to ensure accountability along with a sense of widespread impunity remain the drivers of human rights violations in these countries. For instance, in Thailand – which has been ruled by a military junta since mid-2014 – authorities abused the judicial system to stamp out peaceful dissent or criticism, the report pointed out. Students, journalists and academics were arbitrarily arrested and held in secret detention.
The massive crackdown against human rights lawyers in China is another example.
IFJ: Asia Pacific is world’s ‘deadliest region for journalists’
While news are dominated by events in the Middle East, the most dangerous place for journalists to work in is the Asia Pacific, which features 3 of the top 10 worst countries for journalist killings in the past 25 years. (11.02.2016)
Asylum seeker ruling ‘clears way for deportation of Australia-born babies’
Amnesty points to ‘endemic flaws’ in Indonesia’s justice system
The implications of China’s new security law
Besides arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment, many governments in the Asia Pacific also introduced legislation claiming to ensure “national security,” which rights groups criticize as a means by the authorities to silence dissent.
In Malaysia, the Sedition Act was amended last year, with the scope of offences increased to cover electronic media. The amendment also allows for tougher penalties such as mandatory and increased prison sentences. The report says that at least 15 people were charged under the Act over the past year, including political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque.
“The Sedition Act is a colonial era relic that gives the authorities sweeping powers to crack down on any ‘inconvenient’ individuals, and it must be repealed immediately,” said AI’s Patel.
In China, the criminal charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” continued to be used to arrest and detain political activists, lawyers and worker rights advocates.
Five women’s rights activists were arrested under this charge in March because of their plan to launch a campaign against sexual harassment. In December, prominent lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was put on trial for the same reason. Also charged with “inciting ethnic hatred” in connection with comments he made on social media, the lawyer was given a three-year suspended sentence.