Chinese Forces Kill Mine Attack Suspects in Xinjiang Region

By Christine Khamis

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia


BEIJING, China –

Chinese authorities confirmed on Friday that 28 people suspected of involvement in a coal mine attack in September had been killed. News of the killings had surfaced earlier in the week, but the killings have not been officially acknowledged until now.

Because China censors information in Xinjiang, there is still limited information on the killings known at this time. Initially, 17 people were reported to have been killed for their involvement in the coal mine attack at the Sogan Colliery in Aksu. It is believed that three main suspects were killed, along with their families.

Radio Free Asia, a news source funded by the United States, first reported earlier this week that officials had killed 17 suspects, including women and children. The report stated that the suspects were killed in the Xinjiang region, an area near the China-Kazakhstan border. Radio Free Asia quoted a Xinjiang police officer as saying that Chinese military forces blew up a cave where the suspects were hiding.

The Xinjiang region is near the China-Kazakhstan border. (Photo courtesy of BBC)

A statement posted on China’s Ministry of Public Security website last week stated that the “terrorists were killed on the 56th day of a ‘pursue and attack’ operation in the region”. Radio Free Asia reports that the statement was taken down shortly after.

The Chinese government has not officially addressed September’s attack on the Sogan Colliery. Radio Free Asia has reported that most of the victims were Han Chinese, the ethnic majority in the region. A report by Tianshin, a state-run news website, stated that only 16 people were killed in the coal mine attack. However, according to the victims’ relatives and residents in the area, the attack killed over 50 people.

Chinese officials have heightened their campaign against what they see as a growing radical separatist movement led by the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. The Chinese government has increasingly restricted the Uighurs’ culture and religion, including their right to participate in religious worship.

Hundreds of people have died in Xinjiang and other areas of China over the past three years. China has placed the blame for the unrest on Islamic militants, but the Uighurs say that China’s controls over their religious and cultural practices are inciting violence in the region.

China has denied committing human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region and states that it is fighting against Islamic radicals in the area. Following the attacks on Paris last week, Chinese leaders called for foreign nations to join China’s efforts to eliminate terrorist movements in Xinjiang. Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, stated that there could be no double standards and that terrorism was also occurring in China. Some have criticized China’s statements, saying that nations should be cautious of accepting China’s definition of terrorism.


For more information, please see:

New York Times – China Acknowledges Killing 28, Accusing Them of Role in Mine Attack – 20 November 2015

BBC – Chinese Forces ‘Kill 17 in Xinjiang’ After Colliery Attack – 18 November 2015

New York Times – Police in China Kill 17 Linked to Mine Attack, Report Says – 18 November 2015

Reuters – Chinese Security Forces Kill 17 in Xinjiang: Radio Free Asia – 18 November 2015

Radio Free Asia – Chinese Authorities Kill 17 Suspects in Xinjiang Attack, Including Seven Women and Children – 17 November 2015

U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee Condemns North Korea’s Human Rights Violations

By Christine Khamis

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia


PYONGYANG, North Korea –

A committee of the United Nations General Assembly condemned on Thursday what it described as rampant and planned human rights violations in North Korea. Pyongyang has rebuked the resolution, saying that it was a hostile plot coordinated by the United States and its allies.

The resolution, which urges North Korea to end all human rights abuses, was drafted by the European Union and Japan and is non-binding. It was adopted by the General Assembly’s Third Committee, whose focus is on human rights and includes 193 nations. The General Assembly has condemned human rights abuses every year since 2005. For the second consecutive year, the resolution encourages the U.N. Security Council to consider sending North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The resolution will be voted on in the full General Assembly next month.

112 of the countries in the Third Committee supported the resolution, while 19 voted against the resolution. 50 countries abstained from voting. Among the countries that voted against the resolution were China, Russia, Nicaragua, and Syria. Many of the countries that voted against the resolution said that they object to resolutions singling out specific countries for human rights abuses.

The resolution stated that there have been “ongoing, systematic, widespread, and gross violations of human rights” in North Korea. The resolution accused North Korea of abuses such as torture, rapes, use of prison camps, enslavement, forced abortions, and forced transfers of populations. The Third Committee also stated that Pyongyang has not cooperated with the U.N.’s special rapporteur for North Korea, Marzuki Darusman.

Before the Third Committee’s vote, North Korea’s Deputy Director for U.N. Affairs, Choe Myong-Nam, called for nations to vote against the resolution and said that Pyongyang will “react in the strongest possible terms” to the resolution. North Korea’s U.N. mission emailed reporters a statement rejecting the resolution, saying that the resolution is a product of political confrontation, plot, and conspiracy by the United States and other countries who are hostile toward North Korea and that the resolution is irrelevant to promoting and protecting human rights. The mission stated that North Korea’s government has always maintained a policy of taking responsibility for and promoting human rights of the “popular masses”.

Ri Hung Sik, Ambassador at-large of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry gestures while speaking to reporters at North Korean Mission to the United Nations this week. (Photo courtesy of Reuters UK)

The United Nations General Assembly Committee also approved resolutions concerning human rights violations in Iran, Syria, and Myanmar. The resolutions will now also go on to the full General Assembly.


For more information, please see:

Channel NewsAsia – UN Votes to in Record Number to Condemn North Korea Rights Violations – 20 November 2015

CBS News – U.N. Panel Condemns N. Korea for Gross Human Rights Abuses – 19 November 2015

New York Times – Human Rights Committee Condemns North Korea – 19 November 2015

Reuters UK – U.N. Panel Condemns North Korea Abuses, Pyongyang Cites U.S. ‘Plot’ – 19 November 2015



Colombia/FARC Peace Talks Slowing Down According to Rebels

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia — FARC rebels have accused the Colombian government of stalling the peace talks. In a statement released on Tuesday, FARC head Timoleon said that FARC was “worried that on the government side there seems to be a deliberate effort to slow down (negotiations), to complicate the progress of the agreement.”

FARC Leader Timoleon Jiminez speaking in Havana, Cuba. (Photo courtesy of TeleSur)

FARC fears that the alleged stalling and the government’s emphasis on maintaining the March 23, 2016 deadline for a final agreement is a tactic to coerce the rebels to make concessions.

Negotiations for peace have been in the works in Havana, Cuba since the end of 2012. In September, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leadership signed an agreement on transitional justice.

However peace is not simple: there are a number of complexities which both the government and FARC leadership will have to contend. For example, FARC is not the only paramilitary group active in Colombia, and there is a concern among members that if they give up their arms they will be at risk of attack from other groups.

President Santos has said that the government plan was for FARC to set up communities in secured areas, both for their own protection and so they can be ruled out in the case of violence committed elsewhere. FARC has yet to agree to this.

During a visit to the Philippines early this week to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, President Santos also announced that he would request a UN resolution to bring official monitors into the country to oversee the ceasefire once the final peace agreement is signed. He said that the resolution would be “the best way possible” to ensure the success of the peace process.

The conflict between Colombia and FARC rebels has been ongoing since 1948. If ended, it would signal the end of a civil conflict which has left at least 220,000 people dead.


For more information, please see:

Colombia Reports – Santos will ask UN to monitor and verify pending ceasefire with FARC – 16 November 2015

Latino Post – Colombia Government Seeks to Help FARC Rebels Become Law-Abiding Civilians? – 16 November 2015

TeleSur – FARC Calls on Colombian Government to Stop Stalling Peace Talks – 17 November 2015

Latin American Herald Tribune – FARC Chief Accuses Colombian Government of “Slowing Down” Peace Process – 18 November 2015

Manila Times – PH to help Colombia in peace talks – Aquino – 18 November 2015

Syria Deeply: ‘Women Key to Syrian Future’ – Q&A with Raed Fares

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the weekly Syria Deeply newsletter. We’ve rounded up the most important stories and developments about Syria and the Syrians in order to bring you valuable news and analysis.

‘Women Key to Syrian Future’ – Q&A with Raed Fares

“Women have the most critical role in rebuilding Syria and raising the next generation of Syrians,” said Raed Fares, a community leader in Idlib whose plethora of projects aims to strengthen Syrian civil society through a combination of awareness, education and inclusivity.

Inside ISIS Inc: The Journey of a Barrel of Oil

ISIS controls most of Syria’s oil fields, and crude is the militant group’s biggest single source of revenue. Here, we follow the progress of a barrel of oil from extraction to end user to see how the ISIS production system works, who is making money from it and why it is proving so challenging to disrupt.

Islamic State Authorities Ban Syrian Banknotes

ISIS has banned the use of newly pressed 500 and 1,000 Syrian pound notes, and while some residents fear this could be the beginning of a currency switch throughout the jihadist-controlled territory, others told Syria Deeply it’s a ploy by the upper echelon of ISIS to make a quick buck.

More Recent Stories to Look Out for at Syria Deeply:

• Will Paris Attacks Prompt U.S. Boots on Ground?
• Paris Terror Attacks Have Benefited Assad?
• ISIS and the Paris Attacks, ‘An Act of War’

Find our new reporting and analysis every weekday at
You can reach our team with any comments or suggestions at

Top photo: People lay flowers and candles in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday’s gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, November 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacks – one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)