Attacks Across Afghanistan Leave Police and Children Dead

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KABUL, Afghanistan – On April 14 and 15, several attacks occurred across Afghanistan late at night and early in the morning.  It appears that three of the attacks were coordinated, targeting government posts.  Two all-girls schools were also attacked.  No organization has claimed responsibility, but the government suspects the Taliban attacked the government facilities.

Image of burned girls’ school in Logar Province. Photo courtesy of the Afghanistan Ministry of Education.

Two government checkpoints were attacked in the Sancharak District of Sar-i-Pul. This region has a history of bouncing back and forth between Taliban and government control.   Naqibullah Daqiq, the governor, said Taliban forces attacked with night-vision equipment and sniper rifles.  One guard was killed in the initial confrontation.  When local pro-government militiamen arrived, they attempted to engage the attacking forces. Another 10 were killed.

An attack in the Helmand province left 4 young children dead after a rocket hit their home and another child was wounded in a separate attack.

In Faryab province, the district of Dawlat Abad, 2 more government checkpoints were attacked. The police chief, Nematullah Tofan, reported that 4 government defenders were shot in the head by Taliban snipers and consequently died.

An additional two checkpoints in the Jaghatu district of Ghazni Province were attacked early in the morning on April  15.  Eight officers in this encounter died with another 4 wounded.

On Sunday afternoon, a group attacked three university guards in Jalalabad, who were on break for worship. The men rode by on motorcycle and opened fire while the men were praying.  Two died on site.  The third guard ran but was killed shortly as the gunmen followed him.

Earlier in the week on April 11, a group attacked a girls’ high school in Logar Province.  They attacked and locked up the guardsmen and proceeded to burn down the school.

For more information, please see:

The Washington Post – Officials: 4 kids, 2 police killed in Afghan attacks – 14 April 2018

The New York Times – Attacks in Afghanistan Leave Dozens Dead and 2 Schools Burned – 15 April 2018

Voice of America – Insurgents Attack Checkpoint in Afghanistan, Kill 4 Police – 15 April 2018

Protests in Southern Kashmir

By: Katherine Hewitt
News Reporter, Asia

KASHMIR, India – In Southern Kashmir, conflict between soldiers and rebels left 19 dead over March 31st and April 1st.

Funeral prayers being said over one of the dead from clash in southern Kashmir. Photo Courtesy of Mukhtar Khan.

The government raided three villages, Dialgam, Dragad, Kachdora in the Shopian district, in response to a tip-off that rebels were present.   They were members of the largest rebel party in Kashmir – Hizbul Mujahideen. During the ensuing gun battle, 13 rebels were killed.  Among them were top commanders. Three soldiers were also killed.

Villagers marched in the direction of the conflict to help the rebels get away in the confusion.  Indian soldiers fired live ammunition into the crowds.  As one villager Manzoor Ahmad noted: “The forces fired live ammunition at the civilians. Several young people received pellet injuries in their eyes; two people received bullets in front of my eyes.”  In the end 4 civilians lost their lives and more than 25 were wounded.  Homes were also damaged in the conflict.  It was reported that the Indian forces attached civilian homes with explosives.

On April 1, many villagers took to the streets protesting the previous day and nights events.  They chanted anti-India slogans and demanded the end of Indian rule.

As a result, the government has restricted mobile internet access in the region and cut off train routes.  Additionally, paramilitary troopers were rushed into volatile parts of Kashmir to guard the streets and prevent future protests.  Some areas are now under curfew as well.

The separatist leaders in response to the killings called for a citywide shutdown.  Many business have also participated in the shutdown.

For more information please visit: 

AlJazeera – Massive anti-India protests erupt in southern Kashmir –  1 April 2018 

Washington Post – Anti-India protests erupt in Kashmir amid deadly fighting – 1 April 2018 

Chicago Daily Herald  –  Anti-India protests erupt in Kashmir as troops kill 8 rebels – 1 April , 2018

Former Opposition Party Leader Calls for Election Boycotts in Cambodia

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – In November of 2017, the Supreme Court of Cambodia dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition party to Prime Minister’s Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).  Now, the former leader of the CNRP is asking people to boycott the upcoming elections in protest of the party’s ban.  The current leader of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, was arrested in late 2017 on charges of treason.

Former CNRP leader, Sam Rainsy (front left) with Kem Sokha, the current leader who is in jail facing charges of treason. Photo courtesy of Tang Chhin Sothy.

Following the ban on the CNRP several countries have cut aid, imposed travel bans, and condemn the actions.  Many nations like Japan are demanding free and fair elections in Cambodia.  The CPP is predicted to win the next election almost completely unopposed.

Sam Rainsy, the former CNRP leader, recently tweeted, “I call on all my Cambodian fellow compatriots who believe in democracy to boycott the  July 29, 2018 elections if the CNRP is not allowed to participate.”  Rainsy has been extremely critical of the current Prime Minister, Hun Sen, for several years now; it is not clear whether his tweet reflects his personal beliefs or those of CNRP.

A spokesperson of the CPP said of Rainsy’s tweet, “The CNRP is already dead by the Supreme Court’s decision.  Even if Sam Rainsy appeals until he dies, people no longer believe him.”

Many of the former members of the CNRP and its factions have found exile in the United States.  It is here that they continue to mobilize and speak on Cambodian politics.  One professor of diplomacy says, “Is the spirit of the CNRP still alive? Of course it’s still alive.”  It is just continuing its work elsewhere until its reconstituted.

For more information please visit:

Reuters – Cambodia’s former opposition leader calls for election boycott – 8 April 2018

South China Morning Post – Cambodia’s former opposition leader Sam Rainsy calls for election boycott if his dissolved party remains excluded – 8 April 2018

Voice of America – Cambodia’s Former Opposition Leader Calls for Election Boycott – 8 April 2018

Asia Times – Can Cambodia’s fractured opposition survive? – 5 April 2018 

Detained Journalists’ Lawyers Argue for Case Dismissal

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

YANGON, Myanmar – Court hearings have been taking place since January for two Reuters journalists that were arrested on December  12, 2017.  Myanmar officials arrested Wa Lone and Kyaw She Oo for obtaining state secrets from two police officers working in the Rakhine state.  The journalists had been working on a story in relation to the mass killings of Rohingya in the Rakhine state.

Wa Lone pictured after April 4, 2018’s case hearing. Photo Courtesy of Reuter/ Ann Wang.

So far, 17 witnesses gave testimony in court in 13 hearings that have taken place.  Lone’s and Oo’s lawyers say that the witnesses called forth by the prosecution are weak.  There are inconsistencies in the testimonies. Additionally, several procedural mistakes were revealed during the court sessions. Testimonies included a witness who burned notes from the time of the arrest, another who wrote the information down on his hand, and one who signed the search form before the section detailing the items seized had been filled in. The defense attorney has called for the dismissal of the case based on this.  The judge will decide at the next hearing on 11 April.

The prosecution team responded to the request to dismiss the case by stating that the information that the two journalist had was secret and that the journalist intended to hurt the country with that information. The defense team presented that that the prosecution could not establish that the information that the journalist obtained was secret as it had been published by both state and private media outlets.

Wa Lone told journalist after the court hearing, “We only did our work as reporters. I want the people to understand that and want to tell them that I never betrayed the country.”  She Oo said, “We followed the news and uncovered the Inn Din story. The reason why we did it is to give the vitally important information to the country.”

For more information please visit:

Reuters – lawyers for Reuters reporters argue for Myanmar court to dismiss case –  4 April 2018

Democratic Voice of Burma – Court hears arguments on motion to dismiss charges against Reuters duo – 4 April 2018

Washington Post -Lawyers ask Myanmar to dismiss case vs. Reuters journalists – 4 April 2018

Thai Court Finds Labor Activist Guilty of Defamation

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BANGKOK, Thailand – A court decision in a Bangkok on March 26th found a human rights activist guilty of defamation.

Andy Hall, a labor rights activist, was doing research on working conditions in Natural Fruit Co., Ltd., a pineapple tinning company in Thailand. His 2013 report described cases of extortion of migrant worker labor, labor trafficking, child labor, and violence. His research was in collaboration with the Finish NGO, Finnwatch. Following the publication of his research, Hall sat down with Al Jazeera for an interview. As a result, National Fruit filed a complaint under article 420 of the Civil and Commercial Code for defamation.

Andy hall talking to press outside Thai courthouse in 2016. Photo courtesy of Sakchai Lalit.

This is just one of four cases Natural Fruit Co., Ltd. has brought forward against Hall. In 2013, the court dismissed the case as a result of lack of jurisdiction as Al Jazeera had interviewed Hall while he was in Myanmar, not Thailand. Natural Fruit Co., Ltd. appealed, and the case was accepted in August 2017. On March 26th, the court found Hall guilty and subjected him to pay $312,500 USD (10 million Thai baht) as well as lawyer and court fees to Natural Fruit Co., Ltd. Hall plans to appeal this court decision.

In 2016, Hall was also found guilty of criminal defamation and computer crimes against Natural Fruit Co., Ltd. He was sentenced to 4 years in jail and a $6,250 USD (200,00 baht) fee. He appealed this case. His appeals trial is set for next month on April 24, 2018.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) believes that these cases against Hall will discourage further research into labor rights in Thailand.  A HRW researcher said of the situation, “The Thai government should not look the other way while companies use the courts to undermine corporate accountability for labor rights abuses. If the Thai government is really against labor exploitation, it should promote changes in the law that would prevent abusive libel cases.”

The Thai government said last year that they remain committed to the UN values of human rights and that they have implemented statutes to protect laborers.

 For more information, please see:  

Human Rights Watch – Thailand: Verdict Threatens Labor Abuse Reporting – 28 March 2018

Al Jazeera – HRW condemns libel verdict against rights worker Andy Hall – 28 March 2018

Andy Hall’s Blog – Washington Post/AP 26th March 2018: Thai court finds British labor activist defamed fruit firm – 27 March 2018

Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan Kills 14, Wounds More

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KABUL, Afghanistan – On the evening of March 23, 2018, a suicide bomber drove into a crowd. A traditional wrestling match had been held that night in Lashkar Gah. After the match ended, the spectators joined in evening prayers in the stadium before leaving. The bomber drove his car though the gates, where it exploded.

As a result fourteen were killed. Forty-two were left injured. Some of the dead and injured are security guards who were stationed at the gates. However, the majority of the victims are civilians. Children are among the dead and critically wounded. The local hospital believes the death will rise, as many people are in critical condition.

A man carries an injured child from the bombing in Lashkar Gah. Photo courtesy of Abdul Khaliq.

The bomber had attempted to enter the stadium. However, the security guards recognized him and refused to let him enter. It was at this moment that he detonated the bombs.

At this moment, no group has claimed the attack as part of their operation. The Helmand province, where Lashkar Gah is located, has heavy Taliban influences. The Taliban carried out a similar attack in Lashkar Gah in the past.

The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, released a statement that condemned the bombing saying: “the enemies of Afghanistan cannot prevent the celebration of traditional, religious and cultural events in the country.”

For more information, please see:

New York Times – Suicide Attack in Afghanistan Kills at Least 14 at Wrestling Match – 23 March 2018

Aljazeera – Afghanistan: Deadly car bombing near Helmand stadium – 23 March 2018

BBC – Car bomb targets spectators at Afghanistan wrestling match – 23 March 2018

Five killed in Pakistan and India Border Conflict

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NEW DELHI, India – Tensions between India and Pakistan have been increasing recently in relation to control over Kashmir. A new round of conflict began late on March 17, 2018 and continued into the next day. Both India and Pakistan were involved in heavy shelling around the Line of Control, which is the de facto border between the two nations in the Kashmir region.

As a result, several civilians on both sides were injured or killed. In the village of Devta Dhar five people were killed and two were injured on the Indian side of the border by Pakistani troops. All are members of the same family. A shell hit a civilian’s house killing the mother, father, and three sons. The two daughters were hospitalized with critical injuries.

One of the injured daughters being transported to the hospital, after her family home was shelled by Pakistani forces. Photo courtesy of Channi Anand.

At least 6 others were injured on the Indian controlled side of Kashmir. On the Pakistani controlled side Indian shells wounded 9 people, including 5 women.  Both sides claim that the other side started the firing, and they were just returning fire.

Indian officials see this as a violation of the 2003 cease-fire agreement between the two nations. An Indian military spokesperson said of the situation, “They are specifically targeting civilian areas. Army troops retaliated strongly and effectively to silence Pakistani guns.”

For more information, please see:  

Reuters – Five Indians killed in cross-border shelling by Pakistani troops – 18 March 2018

Gandhara – Five Killed In Pakistani Shelling In Disputed Kashmir – 18 March 2018

The Washington Post – India: Pakistan shelling kills 5 family members in Kashmir – 18 March 2018

The Philippines plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

MANILA, Philippines – In a statement on Wednesday, March 14, President Duterte announced that he plans to remove the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In accordance with the ICC treaty, the withdrawal will take place a year after official notification of intent to withdraw is received.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to the ICC. Photo courtesy of Noel Celis.

The Court opened a preliminary examination into the Philippines as of February 8, 2018 in the context of its “war on drugs.” Findings would be used to determine if investigations for a criminal case should take place. The Court is following the extra-judicial killings that began in July 2016.

Duterte originally allowed the preliminary examination to proceed hoping that the investigation would end accusations of crimes against humanity. However, in his speech, Duterte said his withdrawal was because of “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” and the ICC prosecutor seeking jurisdiction “in violation of due process and presumption of innocence.”

Authorities believe that there is no need for the ICC to get involved in the situation. In the ICC founding statute, the Court has jurisdiction over a situation only when the country is unable or unwilling to investigate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. Harry Roque, spokesman for Duterte, said that local authorities and the national criminal justice system are capable of carrying out investigations and plan to look into those who violate the laws. Duterte also states that these killings are not crimes against humanity but rather accidental killings of self defense during legitimate police operations.

Yet, international human rights organizations don’t agree. No public evidence of in regards to the extra-judicial killings is available. Human Rights Watch reported, “No one has been meaningfully investigated, let alone prosecuted, for any of the ‘drug war’ killings.”

  For more information, please see:

CNN- Philippines to withdraw from International Criminal Court – 14 March 2018

The Washington Post – The International Criminal Court moved to investigate Duterte. Now he wants out. – 14 March 2018

International Criminal Court – Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, on opening Preliminary Examinations into the situations in the Philippines and in Venezuela – 8 February 2018

NPR – Duterte Pulls Philippines Out Of International Criminal Court – 14 March 2018

Sri Lanka Declares a State of Emergency

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

 COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – After recent acts of community violence between religious groups in Kandy, Sri Lanka, the government declared a state of emergency. Soldiers are now patrolling civilian areas in the city of Kandy. The declaration will last 10 days, after which the parliament will need to vote on furthering military action.

Sri Lankan soldiers remove debris after an attack in Digana, a suburb of Kandy. Photo courtesy of Pradeep Pathiran/ AP.

The violence in Kandy began in March 2018 when a group of Muslim men were accused of killing a Sinhala Buddhist man. Buddhists represent 75% of the population of Sri Lanka. In response, they targeted Muslim-owned businesses, homes, and a mosque, burning them down. Upon their arrest a group of Buddhist monks, known for violence, traveled to Kandy to attempt to release the men. However when they were not successful in their mission, they turned to creating violence in the city. The police stepped in arresting several and setting a curfew.

This is not the first attack against Muslims by Buddhists in Sri Lanka.  Since the end of the Civil War in 2011, tensions between the two religious groups have grown more tense.  A Sri Lankan expert at International Crisis Group notes that Buddhist attacks on Muslim populations occur quite regularly.

The government is concerned about the potential spread of religious violence throughout Kandy and the nation after this last wave. The Prime Minister posted on Twitter “As a nation that endured a brutal war we are all aware of the values of peace, respect, unity & freedom. The Gov[ernment] condemns the racist & violent acts that have taken place over the last few days. A state of emergency has been declared & we will not hesitate to take further action.”

The state of emergency also widens the power of the police to detain suspects. Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik, is afraid that these powers could threaten the rights of minority groups and cautions the Sri Lanka government to follow obligations under International Human Rights Law.

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Sri Lanka: State of emergency must respect human rights – 6 March 2018

The Guardian – Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after communal violence – 6 March 2018

Human Rights Watch – State of Emergency Declared in Sri Lanka – 7 March 2018

China to Consider Banning Term Limits on President

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – At the Party Congress meeting held in late 2017, no successor was named for Chinese President, Xi Jinping. At the time this broke with tradition and left many people with questions about the future of Chinese leadership and governance.

Image of Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Photo Courtesy of Chris Ratcliffe.

In late February 2018, the Communist Party of China provided an answer to the questions. In a meeting, the party proposed to do away with term limits on the President of China. Since 1982, the numbers of years a president could serve was restricted to two five-year terms. Now, Jinping could be president for life. Some are likening his power and prestige to former Chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong.

It is suspected that this proposal will be accepted at the March 5, 2018 meeting. Analysts believe that the Party Congress will justify this action by referencing that Jinping desires a modern and wealthy China by 2050 and only he can deliver on that promise. Hu Xingdou, a political commentator in Beijing, says that keeping Jinping in power “is beneficial to pushing forward reforms and the fight against corruption, but it’s impossible for China to have lifetime tenure again.” He believes term limits will return once Jinping leaves power.

For more information please visit: 

NPR – China Plans To Abolish Term Limits For President Xi Jinping – 28 February 2018

The Diplomat – The CCP’s Proposed Term Limit Change Shocks China – 26 February 2018

Time – Proposal to Scrap China’s Term Limits Could Allow President Xi Jinping to Stay in Office – 25 February 2018

Myanmar Bulldozes Rohingya Villages

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – Since the increase in violence against the Rohingya in September of 2017, 362 villages were destroyed in the violence. Recently, Human Rights Watch released satellite images that depict further damage to Rohingya villages.  This time it’s the complete demolition of villages.

The images reveal what appears to be a deliberate and systematic action on behalf of the Myanmar government.  Previous areas that showed buildings and greenery now show empty brown space. So far Human Rights Watch identified 55 villages that were bulldozed.

Satellite Image of village before and after bulldozing. Photo Courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

Many of these villages were scenes of the ethnic violence against the Rohingya.  Now with the state bulldozing over them, evidence is destroyed and hidden. Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch said that these villages need to be preserved so that experts can “document these abuses and can properly evaluate the evidence to identify those responsible” for the violence.

The bulldozing also serves an additional purpose. It “threatens to erase both the memory and the legal claims of the Rohingya who lived there.” The Rohingya are a minority in Myanmar who the government claims are not citizens, but illegal migrants. Their only legal claim to living in Myanmar is that they have been doing so for generations.

Additionally image of destroyed village. Photo Courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

Recently, Bangladesh and Myanmar settled on a repatriation timeline for refugees in Bangladesh. But this action may make returning home not an option.

Officials within Myanmar have stated that they have built houses in over 20 Rohingya villages. A social welfare minister stated that the bulldozing is actually part of a plan to build back villages of a higher standard on or near Rohingya places of origin for the returning refugees.

For more information, please see:

Human rights watch – Burma: Scores of Rohingya Villages Bulldozed – 23 February 2018

NPR – PHOTOS: Myanmar Apparently Razing Remains Of Rohingya Villages – 23 February 2018

Aljazeera – Myanmar accused of ‘bulldozing’ proof of crimes against Rohingya – 23 February 2018

Human Rights Organizations call for the Release of 2 Uzbek Journalists

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BISHKEK, Uzbekistan – On February 14, various human rights organizations called for Uzbekistan to investigate the claims of torture and mistreatment of two journalists currently in jail – Bobomurod Abdullaev and Hayot Nasriddinov. The statement also called for the immediate release of the two as well as other journalists detained. Twelve groups partook in this petition: Amnesty International, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Civil Rights Defenders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom Now, ARTICLE 19, and the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.

Left: Hayot Nasriddinov. Right: Bobomurod Abdullaev. Photo courtesy of AsiaTerra and Fergananews.

Both were arrested in the later half of 2017. Abdullaev was a reporter for Fergana. He was arrested for “conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional regime” by the National Security Service (SNB). His articles were described as ‘extremist’ and as part of a conspiracy theory to overthrow the government. The charge comes with a 20 year jail sentence. He told relatives of his torture and mistreatment.

Nariddinov was a blogger and economist. The reasoning for his arrest is unclear, but it is believed to be similar to Abdullaev’s. He could also face up to 20 years of prison if charged. There are concerns that he is also facing ill-treatment.

Abdullaev shared his abuse with his mother and wife, when they visited him in January. He said he was approached by SNB who did not show identification. He was beaten, a bag thrown over his head, and pushed into a car. He was kept naked standing in freezing jail cell with no food for 5 days.

On January 31st, the chief of the SNB was replaced. Under his tenure there were multiple cases of torture and ill treatment. Two SNB officers involved in the abuses have been suspended from the case, reportedly.

Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch said, “At a time when the Uzbek government appears to be taking steps to reform the country’s feared security services, reports of a journalist’s torture in their custody should prompt an immediate investigation and decisive, public condemnation.”

For more information, please see:

 Committee to Protect Journalists – CPJ joins call for Uzbekistan to investigate claims jailed journalists were tortured – 14 February 2018

Human Rights Watch – Uzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist- 14 February 2018

Article 19 – Uzbekistan: Investigate torture of journalist – 14 February 2018

Activist Returned to Tajikistan Against His Will

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BISHKEK, Tajikistan – A Tajik man, Namunjon Sharipov, was extradited back to his come country on February 19, 2018 against his own will. Sharipov was living in Turkey at the time when Turkish forces arrested him on the 16th.

Image of Namunjon Sharipov in Turkey. Photo Courtesy of the Sharipov family.

Sharipov immigrated to Turkey in 2015 after political turmoil in Tajikistan. He is a high-ranking member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), an opposition party of the Tajik government. The party was deemed a terrorist organization after a coup attempt on the Tajik government. There were no links between the IRPT and the coup. Nevertheless, several members of the party were arrested and found guilty.

On February 2nd, Tajik officials appeared at Sharipov’s business, a tea house, to encourage him to return to Tajikistan voluntarily and denounce the IRPT. The officials offered him money and ‘whatever he wanted.’ However, Sharipov gave no definite answer.

In the following days, the interactions became more heated. The officials threatened to cause problems for Sharipov if he did not comply with their request.

Turkish police became involved on February 5th when they arrested Sharipov on the street outside his tea house. The officials at the detention house, where he was taken, notified Sharipov of the Tajik arrest warrant against him for being a terrorist. The officials went further to say that he would not be deported. They suggested that he leave Turkey and travel to a safer country.

However, neither Sharipov nor his lawyer were informed that Tajikistan filed a formal extradition order. His lawyer was preparing travel accommodations to another country for Sharipov on February 19th under the direction of Turkish officials. However on that day, Tajik officials drove Sharipov to the airport and forced him on a plane destined for Tajikistan.

While there are reports that Sharipov notified a Radio Free Europe office in Tajikistan that he was safe and free, there are doubts to the credibility of this. It is believed that he is being held against his will and being forced to make contact with outside sources. There are also concerns about torture as those arrested after the aforementioned coup were reported to have been tortured.

For more information, please see:

National Helsinki Committee – Tajikistan: Activist Forcibly Returned From Turkey – 21 February 2018

Times of Central Asia – Tajikistan: banned Islamic party activist forcibly returned from Turkey – 21 February 2018

Human Rights Watch – Tajikistan: Activist Forcibly Returned From Turkey – 20 February 2018

Child Rapist Convicted in Pakistani Court

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – On 17 February 2018, Imran Ali was found guilty of rape an murder of Zainab Ansari, a 7 year old girl.  He received life imprisonment with the death sentence on four counts.

Protests spark after the rape and murder of Zainab Amin. Photo Courtesy of Mohsin Raza.

Ali confessed to raping 9 girls in total and killing 7 of them over 18 months. DNA evidence provided by the police from eight girls, including Zainab Ansari, matched Ali’s. He will sit trial for the other cases at a later point.

Zainab was declared missing on 4 January 2018 after leaving her house. She was on her way to her Aunt’s house, 30 miles away, where she was to partake in lesson on the Quran. Just 4 days later her body was found lying on a trash dump near her home.

The prosecution team provided the court with substantial evidence. Over 50 witnesses testified. The DNA matches were entered as evidence against Ali. There was also video footage from security camera show Zainab walking off with a man.

Police discovered that Ali was a neighbor of Zainab’s family. He was a construction worker and known for his pious demeanor. He was arrested two weeks after he killed Zainab.

The discovery of her body sent people into the streets to protest the government’s delayed response to bring justice to Zainab and her family. The case has also sparked debates on sexual abuse and how to protect women and children from sexual assault.

While her parents are “thankful to the chief justice” for the respect and sensitivity in the case, emotions are still tense as her mother said, “I want him hanged where he threw Zainab’s body. And he should be stoned. Hanging him is just ordinary for him. Everyone should take part in stoning him. And this thing about four hangings, one hanging, two hangings, what difference does it make? I want him hanged where he killed my girl.”

For more information, please see:  

The Guardian – Pakistan court sentences man to death for rape and murder of girl,7 – 17 February 2018

 The New York Times – Pakistan Serial Killer Sentenced to Death for Murder and Rape of Girl, 7 – 17 February 2018

Al Jazeera – Kasur rapist-murderer sentenced to death in Pakistan – 17 February 2018

Detained Migrants Face Forced Repatriation to China

By: Katherine Hewitt
News Reporter, Asia 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A group of 11 migrants are detained in Malaysian custody.  It is probable that these 11 are a part of a group that escaped from a Thailand immigration detention center back in November of 2017. Originally, a group of 200 were found in Thailand’s Sonskhla province.  They were detained while authorities verified their nationality.  A group of 20 escaped and 11 of them are these migrants now detained in Malaysia.

Uyghur in Turkey protesting the Chinese. Photo Courtesy of Lefteris Pitarakis.

The group identifies themselves as Turkish citizens.  However, China claims them as members of an ethnic group called Uyghurs who are a Muslim Turkish minority living in Western China.  While China demands them back, the migrants have asked to be sent to Turkey.

Many Uyghurs have fled China as a result of the authoritarian governance in the region.  The Chinese government conducts house aids and restricts islamic practices, culture, and language.  Through the years several Uyghurs have been forcibly deported back to China.  Upon their returns, they face threats of imprisonment and torture.  China rationalizes this state behavior by blaming the group for ‘terrorist’ attacks.

Malaysia and China have tightened their relationship over the past years. China has been pushing Malaysia to return the migrants.

International Customary Law holds Malaysia accountable to not send those in custody to a place where persecution, torture, and other human rights violations are a risk.

Human Rights activists like Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch want Malaysia to “allow these individuals access to a fair process to determine their refugee claims, not ship them to China based on Beijing’s demands.”

For more information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Malaysia: Don’t Send 11 Detainees to China – 9 February 2018

Radio Free Asia – China Demands Return of 11 Uyghur Escapees Caught in Malaysia: Officials – 8 February 2018 

The New York Times – Exclusive: Uighur Thai Jail Escapees Detained in Malaysia and China Wants Them Back-Sources – 8 February 2018