AHRC TV: Schools attacked in Pakistan and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 231

This week Just Asia begins with Pakistan, where 14 schools have been attacked by militants. Last Friday and Saturday saw schools in the Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan ransacked, torched and destroyed. Most of the schools were for girls. No one was hurt, as the buildings were closed at the time of attack. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has called for the rebuilding of the schools.

In Bangladesh, an attack occurred on the motorcade of the United States ambassador to Bangladesh. The attack on Ambassador Bernicat came at a time when armed activists of the ruling party were attacking student protesters in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh. The protesters were demanding justice for the deaths of their classmates in a road accident on July 29. The students protested peacefully and innovatively in establishing road discipline on the streets of Dhaka for eight days. Tragically, the students experienced brutal attacks by ruling party goons under police protection.

Next, Nepal’s Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee has finally rejected the nomination of Acting Chief Justice Deepak Raj Joshee to the position of Chief Justice, after numerous meetings. Deepak Raj Joshee is a controversial figure, famous for holding lavish weddings for his children. Investigations indicate that he holds questionable academic certificates.

Moving to Indonesia, last week’s Black Thursday demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace urged President Widodo to address past human rights abuses prior to the 2019 elections. In particular, there were calls for the government to cancel the proposal of Retired Army General Wiranto on the establishment of a Council for National Harmony, and to replace Wiranto as a Cabinet Minister with someone not involved in any past human rights abuse.

Lastly, in Kerala, India, women workers collectivised into a group called ‘Penkootu’ and agitated for the right to sit at work, especially in saree and jewellery showrooms. After many years of struggle, the Kerala Cabinet recently passed the amendment to the Kerala Shops and Establishments Act, 1960, which includes amongst other rights, the right to sit. This is a big victory for the activists and workers who have been fighting for their basic right to privacy and dignity, as they were reportedly even denied the use of washrooms while at work.

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