AHRC TV: Three years after devastating Nepal earthquake and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 218

This week Just Asia begins with Nepal, where April 25 marked the third year since the devastating Gorkha-centered earthquake. The 2015 earthquake killed 8,979 people and destroyed around 900,000 homes. It is a tragedy that many victims continue living in tattered makeshift camps and tents. As yet another monsoon nears, people hope that the new government can speed up the reconstruction process.

Next, India has finally withdrawn the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 from the entire state of Meghalaya, and also from eight out of 16 police stations in Arunachal Pradesh. The Act gives special powers and immunity to the armed forces deployed in areas declared “disturbed”, effectively a license to kill on mere suspicion. Though a welcome development, the government must remove the Act from all states.

A court in Cambodia declined bail for two journalists charged with espionage for filing news reports to a US-funded radio station. Journalists Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin have been in pre-trial detention since their arrest in November 2017. They were charged after being caught filing stories to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia. Both journalists deny the charge, which carries a prison term of up to 15 years.

Moving to Indonesia, the police have yet to identify the perpetrators of the acid attack against Mr. Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission. Over a year after the attack, the police are no closer to resolving the case, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo is also reluctant to establish a fact finding team to investigate. At the time of the attack, Novel was leading an investigation into the electronic identity card corruption case, which has implicated several members of the House of Representatives and high ranking government officials.

Next, in Bangladesh, a large number of students took to the streets demanding reforms of the existing quota systems in the recruitment process of the Bangladesh Civil Service Commission on April 7. On the following day, the government deployed the police who baton charged, fired rubber bullets and tear shells against students, resulting in countless injuries to the protesters. The reservation policy prevents young job-aspirants from securing employment, while the government recruits candidates with ruling party affiliations.

Pakistan’s first school for transgender people has opened in Lahore city, recording 25 enrolments on its opening day. The Gender Guardian School is hailed by human rights activists, lawyers, teachers and students as an unprecedented initiative to mainstream the marginalized community. Transgender people face various challenges in conservative Pakistan, where they are harassed and sidelined by society.

Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features one case from Indonesia.

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