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

Vietnam Jails Six Human Rights Activists

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

HANOI, Vietnam – In Vietnam, six human rights activists were sentenced to between 7 and 15 years in jail. The activists were charged for “attempting to overthrow the state” on Thursday, April 5th, 2018. The sentenced imposed on the activists is the harshest sentence in years in Vietnam. All of them will face up to five years under house arrest when they are released from prison.

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday, April 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of Lam Khanh via REUTERS.

The six activists were connected to the Brotherhood for Democracy group. They were accused of pushing multi-party democracy and receiving money from overseas. Blogger Pham Van Troi, priest Nguyen Trung Ton, journalist Truong Minh Duc, entrepreneur Nguyen Bac Truyen, and human rights worker Le Thu Ha were all sentenced on Thursday.

The Hanoi People’s Court gave Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer, the longest sentence for “trying to overthrow the people’s administration.” He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Ms Vu Minh Khanh, Dai’s wife, expressed her disappointment with the trial. She claims that “he is innocent and he pleaded innocent at the trial.”

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the Communist Party of Vietnam has ruled the country. Although the country has been reforming its economy and its social policies, the government retains a tight grip on media censorship.

Amnesty International believes that there are around 97 prisoners being held in jail for their human rights work in the country.

On the recent actions taken by the Vietnamese government, the United States State Department stated that “the United States is deeply concerned by the Vietnamese government’s efforts to restrict these rights, through a disturbing trend of increased arrests, convictions, and harsh sentences of peaceful activists.” Moreover, the spokesperson went further by stating that “individuals have the right to the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, both online and offline.”

CNN – Six activists jailed in Vietnam amid crackdown on dissent – 5 April, 2018

The Guardian – Vietnam jails six activists for up to 15 years for trying to ‘overthrow state’ – 5 April, 2018

The Straits Times – Vietnam jails human rights lawyer, five other activists – 6 April, 2018

North and South Korean Leaders Agree to Meet on April 27th

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

SEOUL, South Korea – On April 27th, 2018, North and South Korea have agreed to their first summit in more than a decade. The two leaders will meet at the border village of Panmunjom. Since the Korean War, Kim Jong-un will be the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South.

Head of the presidential National Security Office meets with Kim Jong-un on March 5, 2018 in Pyongyang. Photo courtesy of South Korean Presidential Blue House.

Since the North’s involvement in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month, both countries have been negotiating for the two leaders to meet. On March 29th, 2018, senior negotiators from both countries met to decide on a date and other aspects of the meeting.

The meeting in April will be the third summit between leaders of North and South. Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, met with President Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and Roh Moo-hyun in 2007 in Pyongyang.

The South Korean Unification Minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, mentioned a potential discussion of denuclearization of North Korea at the meeting. The minister stated that “the South and North agreed on efforts to make the summit successful, sharing its historic significance in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, settling peace there and improving inter-Korean relations.”

The recent agreement was welcomed by the United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres. He stated that the meeting is “an opportunity for a peaceful solution to something that, a few months ago, was haunting us as the biggest danger we were facing.”

Although the date has not been set, the North Korean leader offered to meet with President Trump, who accepted the offer. The potential meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un will most likely occur after the North and South meet later this month. If the meeting is set, President Trump will be the first sitting United States president to meet with a North Korean leader.

According to a recent survey conducted by RealMeter, 73.1 percent of respondents welcomed the meeting. However, around 64 percent expressed that they did not trust the North’s intentions.

Al Jazeera – South Korea to host talks before inter-Korean summit – 28 March, 2018

CNBC – North, South Korea to hold first summit in years on April 27 – 29 March, 2018

The New York Times – North and South Korea Set a Date for Summit Meeting at Border – 29 March, 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

Singapore Criticizes Human Rights Watch Report

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

SINGAPORE, Singapore – Singapore’s government has responded to the 2017 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, which alleged “creative repression” inside the city-state. The report suggested that the government is actively silencing political oppositions. Moreover, many groups have criticized the government for using laws to limit free speech.

Many people gathered to protest the new anti-fake news legislation in Singapore. Photo courtesy of Edgar Su.

In response, the Ministry of Law stated that “HRW’s stance is disappointing, but not surprising. HRW has a pattern of issuing biased and untruthful statements about Singapore.” In addition, the government discredited the report by stating that the report “cannot be taken seriously as a commentator or interlocutor on issues relating to Singapore.”

Vikram Nair, a member of the parliament, also wrote to the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehood that the report “seems to advocate the use of false and fabricated allegations in political discourse… Singapore looks and feels different from many other countries. We stand out for our efficiency, the educational and social development of our population, the real freedoms that our people enjoy: the freedom from want, the freedom from deprivation, the freedom to walk around without fear of crime.”

Many believe that Singapore’s proposed anti-fake news legislation was taken into consideration. Although the details have not been finalized, the critics believe that the new law could allow the government to exert more influence over the country’s media. Reporters Without Border (RSF) also commented on the country’s already “draconian laws.”

At the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods hearing, representatives from Google, Twitter, and Facebook warned against the proposed legislation.

In comparison to 180 countries, the World Press Freedom Index for 2017 ranked Singapore at 151.

For more information, please see:

Channel News Asia – PAP Policy Forum slams Human Rights Watch report on Singapore, calls it a ‘deliberate falsehood’ – 23 March, 2018

Rappler – Human Rights Watch ‘biased’ and ‘untruthful’ – Singapore – 23 March, 2018

Asian Correspondent – Singapore calls Human Rights Watch ‘biased and untruthful’ – 26 March, 2018

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Human Rights Award Rescinded

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, March 7th announced that it was rescinding the Elie Wiesel Award given to Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012. The Nobel laureate, who is serving as Myanmar’s civilian leader is accused of failing to intervene in the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority crisis. Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized for failing to use her “moral authority” to halt the brutality against the minority.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum strips Aung San Suu Kyi of her Elie Wiesel Award. Photo courtesy of Hein Htet.

The prestigious Elie Wiesel Award is named after the late Holocaust survivor who is also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Sara Bloomfield, the director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum stated that the organization “did not take this decision lightly.” Furthermore, the museum felt that they were compelled to act due to the mass displacements and killings of the Rohingya minority. Bloomfield continued to say that Suu Kyi’s political party “refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators, promulgated hateful rhetoric against the Rohyingya community, and denied access to and crack down on journalists trying to uncover the scope of the crimes in Rakhine State.”

Myanmar’s embassy in Washington, D.C. released the following statement in regards to the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s decision: “We immensely regret that the … Holocaust Museum has been misled and exploited by people who failed to see the true situation in making fair judgment on the situation in Rakhine State.”

Since August, more than 688,000 Rohingya refugees have left Rakhine State. Myanmar’s military continues to claim that it is combating a terrorist insurgency in the province.

In November, Aung San Suu Kyi was also stripped of the Freedom of the City of Oxford award. This was awarded to her in 1997 for “her opposition to oppression and military rule in Burma.” She studied at Oxford University, but her portrait in the university has since been removed.

For more information, please see:

The New York Times – U.S. Holocaust Museum Revokes Award to Aung San Suu Kyi – 7 March, 2018

The Guardian – US Holocaust Museum withdraws Aung San Suu Kyi’s human rights award – 7 March, 2018

CNN – Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi stripped of human rights award – 8 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 Proposes Lifting President Xi’s Term Limit

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – The legislatures open its annual session with a constitutional amendment to end the two-term limit for President Xi Jinping’s presidency. This move was predicted when President Xi did not nominate a clear successor in October. By removing the two-term limit, President Xi’s status will be elevated to president for life. Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has been tightening control over the country. Over the past five years, he has solidified himself as a father figure and cracked down on his opposition.

President Xi’s two-term limit is expected to be removed at the annual meetings of China’s top legislative bodies. Photo courtesy of Mark Schiefelbein.

The presidency in China combines the three pillars of power in China: president, party chairman, and head of the Central Military Commission. In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping established the collective leadership model. Since its formation, every leader was expected to hand the power over to its successor for a smooth transition.

Based on Xi’s rule, many analysts believe that the Chinese politics has shifted from collective autocracy to one-man rule. Xi has laid out his vision to turn china into a top innovative nation by 2035. By achieving the “China Dream,” he has proposed to fully modernize the country by mid-century. Moreover, he has lead a campaign to end corruption and end poverty by establishing the National Supervisory Commission.

Xi has also laid out his vision to eclipse the United States as the world’s largest economy and pushing it out of the Asia-Pacific sphere.

On March 4th, the spokesman for the congress defended the constitutional amendment publicly. Zhang Yesui stated that the move is “conductive to uphold the authority of the (Communist Party) Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core.”

Although the constitutional amendment is expected to pass with near-unanimous approval, the proposal has been criticized by independent political commentators.

Business Insider – Xi Jinping’s permanent presidency has terrifying ramifications for the Chinese people – 3 March, 2018

The Guardian – Eight signs that Xi Jinping was planning to cement his grip on China – 3 March, 2018

The Washington Post – Xi term-limits controversy looms at China political meeting – 4 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