AHRC TV: Protests as Pakistan’s Asia Bibi acquitted of blasphemy and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 241

This week Just Asia begins with Pakistan, where the overruling of Asia Bibi’s blasphemy conviction and death sentence last week has mired the country in protests. To end the protests, the government made a deal with the Islamist hardliners, where Asia Bibi would remain in Pakistan while a final review of the Supreme Court ruling takes place. This has sparked anger against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s new government, for giving in to the Islamists.

Next, Indian soldiers shockingly attacked a police station in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. According to the officer in-charge of the police station, the soldiers were armed. They vandalized property and threw stones, as well as assaulting a civilian bystander and the Superintendent of the Police. The soldiers were reportedly incensed at the police having detained two inebriated army men for misbehaving with the locals and having brought them to the police station.

In Indonesia, police have finally compensated a victim of wrongful shooting after 12 years. The West Sumatera regional police was ordered to pay Mr. Iwan Mulyadi an amount of IDR 300,000,000, after a stray police bullet in 2006 left him paralyzed from the waist down. Mr. Mulyadi sued the police, and the district court ordered the police to pay compensation in 2011. It took Mr. Mulyadi and his lawyer seven years however, to receive the compensation.

Moving to Nepal, police illegally arrested and tortured an innocent man to force him to confess to the murder of Ms. Asha Dev. Asha was found murdered on October 18th, and the police subsequently took 25-year-old Bikki Mehtar into custody without any arrest warrant. Although Mehtar told the police he was innocent, the police tortured him for a confession.

In Burma, Human Rights Watch has said Rakhine state is not ready for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, who fled the violence last August. While Bangladesh, host to the majority of the refugees fleeing from Burma, and Burma have been working on a repatriation plan to begin mid-November, human rights groups and even the UN have urged caution. Human Rights Watch has said Burma has “done nothing to allay the Rohingya’s fears of being returned to the same violence and oppression they fled”.

Lastly, Thailand’s recent crackdown on illegal migrants is hurting asylum seekers as well. Some 200 asylum seekers, mainly from Cambodia, Vietnam, Syria and Pakistan, have been arrested. Thailand has not ratified the UN convention recognising the status of refugees, and considers refugees and asylum seekers the same as any other migrant. This means that refugees are unable to work legally in the country or fully access health services and tertiary education.

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