AHRC TV: Rohingya abuse may be ‘crimes against humanity’, says UN and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 150

This week, in its 150th episode, Just Asia begins with Burma, where the crackdown on the Rohingya may amount to ‘crimes against humanity’, says UN’s human rights agency. Since October, the Burmese military have been burning Rohingya homes, shooting people and raping women. According to John McKissick of the UN refugee agency, the government’s “ultimate goal” is of “ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority”. Leading a commission to look into issues in Rakhine, former UN Chief Kofi Annan began his week-long trip to Burma on Tuesday.

After Thailand’s Appellate Court upheld the acquittal of the sole suspect accused of killing land rights activist Mr. Chai Bungthonglek in 2015, the Rights Coalition expressed concern at the lack of accountability and failed prosecutions in murder cases of land activists in the southern part of the country. Since 2010, four activists seeking community land title in the area have been murdered. The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia has requested Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation to look into this disturbing pattern.

In India, while a high court ordered the release of human rights defender Mr. Khurrum Parvez on November 25, police refused to release him. The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir said that Parvez’s detention “is not only illegal, but the Detaining Authority has abused its powers in ordering his detention.” Just Asia speaks to Bijo Francis, AHRC’s Executive Director, for more details.

In Nepal, police used excessive force against Dr. C K Raut and over 200 of his supporters on November 25, as they were peacefully commemorating anti-racism day. They were commemorating the day as more than 300 Madhesis had been arrested in Kathmandu on 26 November 2014 for having black color skin. 

Moving to Indonesia, the Central Jakarta district court finally released 23 labor activists, two public lawyers and one university student on November 22, charged after participating in a protest against the government’s new wage regulation. The judgment releasing them stated that the activists had protested in accordance with the law, while the police had taken a repressive approach against them. The judgment is good news for Indonesian civil society, since there are many fabricated cases against local activists, human rights lawyers and land rights defenders.

Next, Filipinos in Hong Kong staged a ‘MarcosNoHero’ protest at the Philippines Consulate, against the burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Manila heroes’ cemetery. According to the organizing group BAYAN, Marcos’ burial there is an affront to the tens of thousands of Filipinos who were killed, disappeared, tortured and raped during his regime, as well as all the Filipinos who continue to pay for the debts incurred by his regime.

Sri Lanka has been called to account for allegations of torture by the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT). While the Sri Lankan police admitted they tortured 30 people from 2011-2014, the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission said that 2,210 people were abused. According to Philip Disanayaka, of the Right to Life Human Rights Center, this indicates that torture is a routine method used to force confessions from suspects. The Human Rights Commission further reported that they received 413 complaints of police torture in 2015.

Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features two cases from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

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