Chinese Prime Minister Fights Corruption

By Greg Donaldson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is taking a stand against corruption within the Chinese government and its officers. Mr. Wen was quoted in the Qiushi (a conservative Communist Party journal) when he stated “the government must hold officials accountable for corruption that occurs on their watch and make the results of corruption investigations open to public inspection.”

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has vowed to fight corruption within the Chinese government (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

Mr. Wen has taken strong stances against corruption since the February scandal surrounding former Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai. Mr. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, is accused of murdering Neil Heywood, a British businessman. It is believed that the Bo’s and Mr. Heywood had a good relationship until a financial dispute. It is alleged that after the financial dispute Gu Kailai arranged for the killing of Mr. Heywood.

As a result of Mr. Heywood’s death, Mr. Bo was removed from his political positions and party officials released a report which accused him of “serious disciplinary violations.” Government officials have hinted that Mr. Bo will have criminal charges filed against him in the future.

Analysts believe Bo’s case creates a major dilemma for top officials. If the government only reveals small portions of evidence against Bo it will lead many to believe he was removed solely for political reasons. If the accusations are very serious in nature, many will ask how Bo was able to become so powerful. Furthermore, people will begin to wonder how powerful other government officials are and what activities they may be involved in reports The Guardian.

Prime Minister Wen has proposed several focuses that he believes will help halt corruption in the government. In the article published by Qiushi, Mr. Wen demanded that priorities be given to the reforms in the administrative examination and approval system, the allocation of public resources, and many other services provided by the government.

One of the changes Mr. Wen hopes to see in the current system is local governments immediately responding to and investigating problems reported by the people and the media, and publicizing the results of various investigations in a timely manner.”

Mr. Wen explained the importance of upholding the law throughout the country. He explained “China is a socialist country ruled by law, and the dignity and authority of the law cannot be trampled… there is no special citizen before the law. It does not allow any special party members to override the law within the party.”

For more information please see:

International Business Times – Wen Jiabao Again Warns of Threat Posed By Corruption – 16 April 2012

New York Times – Prime Minister Calls for Corruption Crackdown in China – 16 April 2012

China Daily – Premier Wen Vows Greater Anti-Corruption Resolve – 15 April 2012

The Guardian – Wen Jiabao Promises Crackdown on Corruption in China – 15 April 2012

Malaysia Introduces New Law to Replace Internal Security Act

By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian government has proposed a new law, the Security Offense Bill, to replace the former Internal Security Act but many fear that the new proposal will lead to future human rights abuses.

Malaysia has proposed a bill, the Security Offense Act, to replace the former Internal Security Act (Photo Courtesy of Human Rights Watch).

Creation of the proposal, which was introduced to parliament on April 10, began seven months ago after Prime Minister Najib Razak promised to scrap the Internal Security Act.

Despite the Prime Minister’s claims the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Phil Robinson, doubts that the proposed law will improve the condition of human rights in Malaysia. He states, “while the new law has improvements, the authorities still hold too much power to detain people on broad grounds, for too long, and without judicial oversight.”

For example, the proposed bill allows an individual to be detained for twenty-eight days without being brought before a judge, the ISA allowed for sixty days, and the individual is not required access to an attorney for forty-eight hours after arrest.

In addition, the proposal prohibits arrests that are based solely on political beliefs or activity but defines activity narrowly allowing the opportunity for law enforcement to arrest based on other peaceful political actions.

Police are given extensive power to search private property and are permitted to use electronic monitoring devices on those released from detention.

This power is especially unsettling given that the Security Offense Act authorizes in court use of any information obtained from communication interception, raids and investigations. As such, there is a presumption that some evidence admitted into trial will have been illegally obtained.

Furthermore, the Security Offenses Bill allows an arrest to be made without a warrant if the police officer has “reason to believe” that the person is involved in a security offense.

Individuals charged with a security offense will be denied bail under a blanket provision included in the proposal and the prosecution will be allowed to keep certain witnesses from the defendant and their attorneys.

Even if the defendant is acquitted, the proposal allows them to be detained until all appeals have been exhausted which can sometimes take years.

Despite the repeal of the fifty-two year old Internal Security Act, Malaysian media has reported that the Prime Minister has no intention of repealing the Sedition Act which has been increasingly used to detain activists and protestors.

The continued existence of the Sedition Act has led some to believe, including Wong Chin of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, that  “[the new laws] are far from sufficient, since the Sedition Act is still out there.”

Parliament is expected to approve the proposal as early as next week. If it is approved, it will be sent to the upper house of the legislature before being signed into law by the Malaysia monarch, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah.

The Internal Security Act was a relic from British colonial rule era and was designed to combat the Communist threat by allowing political opponents to be detained without a trial.

Between 2000 and 2010 the Internal Security Act was used to detain approximately 4, 500 people.

 

For more information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Malaysia: Security Bill Threatens Basic Liberties – 10 April 2012

The New York Times – Malaysia Weighs End to Indefinite Detention – 10 April 2012

The Wall Street Journal – Malaysian Activists Still Worry Over Country’s Security Laws – 10 April 2012

The Wall Street Journal  – Malaysia Proposes to Ease  Strict Security Law – 10 April 2012

Tibetan Anger Continues

By Greg Donaldson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DHARMSALA, India — More than thirty-three Tibetans have set themselves on fire in recent protests against the Chinese government. The Tibetans believe the Chinese government is attempting to destroy their identity and force Tibetans to conform to the culture the government has established.

A Tibetan Monk sets himself on fire in protest of the Chinese government (Photo Courtesy of Boing Boing)

The protests and self-immolations began in China but now have spread to the nearby country of India. Many Tibetans who have been exiled from China reside in India.

Since last Monday two Tibetans have died from setting themselves on fire in India. The self-immolations came in protest of the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s to India to attend an economic summit. Each protestor set themselves on fire and then ran to a public place where they could be heard protesting the Chinese government. Both demonstrators were rushed to the hospital after the fires were extinguished but each died in local hospitals.

The first demonstrator, Jamphel Yeshi, set himself on fire last Monday. By Tuesday afternoon more than two-hundred supporters marched through the city center of Dharamsala, India proclaiming Mr. Yeshi a martyr. The supporters carried Tibetan flags and posters with several images of Mr. Yeshi’s body on fire.

Tenzing Namdak, a man who participated in the Tuesday march told reporters that Mr. Yeshi “self-immolated for the cause of Tibet.” He continued “all the Tibetans have tried so many ways to get the attention, and somebody had to take the lead.”

The march continued throughout the upper part of the city with the crowd chanting “What do we want? Freedom!” “United Nations , please support us.” “Stop the killing.”

The second demonstrator, Lobsang Jamyang, gave three messages to a friend he dined with before self-immolating himself. The first message was that Tibetans in his village should work hard to preserve their language against the onslaught of Mandarin. The second message was that a couple in his village should reunite after being recently divorced. The third message was that Tibetans should be strong against China and not be cowards.

China’s crackdown seems to have created a sense of nationalism among the Tibetans. Kelsang Nyima, who left Tibet in 1998 and recently returned, to his Tibetan village in China, said he “can strongly feel the growing sense of nationalism among Tibetans. It is a huge change.”

Each Wednesday across the Himalayan plateau, Tibetans wear traditional dress, only speak in Tibetan, and avoid purchasing from shops run by Han Chinese.

The government controlled newspaper, The China Daily, has proposed a solution for the Tibetans: “embrace the goodwill of the Chinese government.”

For more information please see:

Boing Boing – Tibet is Burning: Exiles Mourn Latest String of Self-Immolation Suicide Protests – 2 April 2012

News Track India – Tibetan Exiles Mourn Recent Self-Immolation Incidents – 1 April 2012

Washington Post – Self-Immolations Reflect Rising Tibetan Anger – 1 April 2012

New York Times – Tibetan Exiles Rally Around Delhi Self-Immolator – 28 March 2012

 

 

 

 

NGO Angered At U.S. Decision to Suspend Food Aid to North Korea

By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

 PYONGYANG, North Korea – An NGO have expressed anger at the United States decision to suspend food aid to North Korea after it became known that North Korean planned a satellite launch said to violate an agreement between the two nations.

Food aid to North Korea has been suspended following plans to launch a test missile (Photo Courtesy of Top News).

The agreement provided that the U.S. would deliver 240,000 tons of food over the next year if international inspectors were permitted to visit North Korean nuclear facilities and missile tests were suspended.

The U.S. claims that North Korea breached its agreement when it launched a satellite atop a rocket that believed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead because it “…reflects their lack of desire to follow through on their commitments….”

North Korea, however, maintains that the rocket is not a missile test and is instead a scientific weather satellite.

Despite the suspension of food aid, the U.S. State Department has continued to state that the aid does not depend on political concession but is instead an attempt by the U.S. to regain “confidence in the commitments” about promises by the North Korean government to monitor and distribute the food appropriately.

The state department has stated, “[w]e’re not going to send food to a country where it might be diverted to the elites…[So] there’s a link in the sense that we don’t have confidence in the good faith of the government…If they want to restore our confidence in their good faith, they can cancel the plans to launch this satellite.”

Samaritan’s Purse, a U.S. aid agency disagrees with the account of the State Department. The organization’s Vice President, Ken Isaacs, has stated that “there is evidently a strong linkage in the negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea-the linkage being an exchange for discontinuation of enriching uranium in swap for food…”

Isaacs continued to express that the people who would suffer as a result of the United States’ decision would be the individuals living in the rural areas who are already hungry and malnourished.

In February 2011, Samaritan’s Purse and four other NGO’s sent a food assessment to North Korea reporting that children in many parts of the country were suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

As a result, the organization determined that an intervention was necessary to save the lives of those at risk. The organization also determined through interviews with those who had received food aid that there has never been any direct information that food was being inappropriately diverted making the refusal to send the food aid unnecessary.

North Korea has relied on foreign food aid since the 1900’s when famine struck the country and marked the beginning of constant famine.

 

For more information, please see:

Radio Free Asia – ‘No Political Links’ to Food Aid – 29 March 2012

Reuters – U.S. Suspends Food Aid to North Korea Over Missile Plans – 29 March 2012

BBC – U.S. Confirms it has Suspended North Korea Food Aid Plans – 28 March 2012

Independent Candidate, Liu Ping, Reports Being Beaten

By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China –  Liu Ping was detained by local authorities on March 6 for running as an independent candidate in China’s Jiangxi province.

Liu Wang was detained and abused in prison following an attempt to run against the Communist Party as an Independent candidate (Photo Courtesy of The Hindu).

Liu was detained by security who worked from her former employer, Xinyu city Steel Group, which is state owned.

Following her detention Liu was taken to a “black jail”, the common name for an unofficial prison, where she was aggressively strip searched and beaten.

According to the China Human Rights Defenders, “her belongings were confiscated, and she was held temporarily in a black jail…her captors forced Liu into a car and drove her back to Jiangxi.”

After being driven to a secret location, while blindfolded, Liu was strip-searched by three women who left her virtually naked and with little food.

While in this location, Liu was forced to stay in a windowless room equipped with padded walls and surveillance cameras where she was monitored daily.

When Liu confronted her captors about the condition she was being kept in, she was beaten until she fell to the ground.

Liu was returned home on March 19 after she became sick.

Since being returned, Liu has endured surveillance cameras being placed at her home and negative treatment of her family members by authorities.

The treatment of Liu was caused by the strong following she had obtained during her candidacy as an independent candidate  for district People’s Congress.

Chinese authorities have reportedly warned that independent candidates do not exist and any person desiring to run for election for the People’s Congress will have to obey legal procedure.

Wang Songlian, a researcher at Chinese Human Rights Defenders, described  the arrest of Liu as another example of detentions made annually shortly after the yearly meeting of the National’s People Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Wang asserts that this meeting typically leads to detention of people identified as troublesome to the government. Despite the regularity of these meetings and the subsequent detentions, Wang has express the opinion that “…this year is more serious than previous years.”

Interestingly, Liu was detained the National People’s Congress was focused on passing a revision to the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law which would require authorities to detain citizens in official detention centers rather than black jails.  The amendment would also require that family members of detainees to be informed of the detention within twenty-four hours.

Parties opposing the Communist Party are banned in China, with the exception of a few “democratic parties”, leading those who try to run against the ruling party to be subjected to lengthy prison terms.

Elections take place every five years and is responsible for appointing two million lawmakers at the county and township levels in over 2,000 counties and 3,000 townships.

 

For more information, please see:

The Hindu – Activist’s “Disappearance” Exposes China’s Legal Limits – 27 March 2012

Radio Free Asia – Independent Candidate Stripped, Beaten – 27 March 2012

The New York Time – Activist Said to be Missing in China – 19 March 2012