Turkmenistan uses Athletic Games to mask Human Rights Violations

By: Katherine Hewitt 
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov welcomed the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to Ashgabat on 17 September 2017. Turkmenistan is considered to be one of the most repressive countries in the world, with Freedom House scoring the “highly repressive authoritarian state” a 3/100. In addition, Turkmenistan is one of the most closed off countries in the world.

The capital city of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, is pristine but oddly quiet. Photo courtesy of The Atlantic.

In preparation for these games, there have been reports of multiple human rights violations. To make available real estate to build the sports facilities, athlete housing, and a new airport among other construction projects, homes have been demolished.  The government handed out inadequate compensation to those afflicted in order to create available real estate. The cost of the new construction is roughly $7.3 billion.

At the same time the government charged citizens higher rent for adequate sized housing. Many families could not afford the rise in prices, as Turkmenistan is in a severe economic crisis.

Other violations included restricting travel, requiring “minders” for foreign journalists, and denying entrance of human rights workers form the UN.

As the games progress throughout the 10 day period (17 September to 27 September 2017), the state continues to block the athletic village off form the rest of the capital city with barriers. Traffic cannot enter the central part of the city. It appears that Ashgabat is isolated from the rest of the country. The government claims this is for security measurers.

Homeless citizens, prostitutes, and drug users are removed from the city center to provide an illusion of a perfect city. In addition, a curfew is in effective during the games. Schools in the city center are closed for the duration of the games. Citizens are not to be seen outside after 8 pm. It is enforced by police. Small privately-owned businesses in the city-center will remain closed during the games.  The government is less clear on why these polices are in place.

Deputy Director at Human Rights Watch, Rachel Denber suggests that these measures are less about security than they are about repression of the Turkmen citizens. “The government deeply fears what will happen when Turkmen come into contact with foreigners. They worry that the government’s secrets about how repressive it is and how poor the social conditions are will suddenly spill out. It is doing everything to prevent that from happening.”   Whatever the rational, the government is intent on limiting the contact of the Turkmen from the outside visitors.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian – IOC turns blind eye to Turkmenistan using sport to legitimize tyranny – 17 September 2017

Freedom House – Turkmenistan Country Report 2017 

Human Rights Watch – Turkmenistan: Repression Casts Shadow on Asian Games – 13 September 2017

The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights – Cordoned off roads, curfew, soldiers guarding pyrotechnics and toilets made from freight containers. Ashgabat gets ready for the Asian Games – 17 September 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi Speaks Publicly About the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader finally spoke publicly on the Rohingya refugee crisis on Tuesday, September 19th. During her statement, she mentioned that she “feels deeply” for the suffering of “all people” who are impacted by the Rakhine state conflict. She went further and condemned any “human rights violations.”

Aung San Suu Kyi finally speaks publicly about the crisis against Rohingya Muslims. Photo courtesy of NPR.

She commented that the government does not fear “international scrutiny” over the crisis and the intention of the government is not to “apportion blame or to abnegate responsibility.” Aung San Suu Kyi, who does not have control over the military, maintained that the country’s military is not responsible for the attacks against the Rohingyas.

This was Aung San Suu Kyi’s first statement since the violence started last month.

On September 18th, leaders from the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia called upon the Myanmar’s leader to end the violence against the Rohingya.

According to the United Nations, over 370,000 Rohingya – Muslims, who live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have resettled to Bangladesh since August 25th. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights stated that the crisis in Myanmar seems to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Myanmar’s presidential office cited numerous reasons and announced that Aung San Suu Kyi will not be attending the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s recent speech in the nation’s capitol drew criticisms from the international community. Many have stated that Aung San Suu Kyi did not denounce the crimes against the Rohingya community. Moreover, Amnesty International described her speech as a “mix of untruths and victim blaming.”

NPR – Aung San Suu Kyi To Skip U.N. Meeting As Criticism Over Rohingya Crisis Grows – 13 September, 2017

Aljazeera – Aung San Suu Kyi condemns ‘all human rights violations’ – 19 September, 2017

CNN – Aung San Suu Kyi breaks silence on Rohingya, sparks storm of criticism – 19 September, 2017

North Korea Threatens Additional Nuclear Tests

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

PYONGYANG, North Korea – On Tuesday, September 19th, President Donald Trump made his first appearance before the United Nations General Assembly. During the speech, President Trump stated that the North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un is “on a suicide mission.”  He further stated that the United States would “have no choice but to totally destroy” the country.

An activist protests outside the North Korean embassy in Germany. Photo courtesy of CNBC.

Following the speech, Kim Jung Un stated that President Trump has “made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard” and said that “a frightened dog barks louder.” Kim has said that he is considering the highest level of retaliation against the United States for President Trump’s comments made during the United Nations Assembly meeting.

Ri Yong Ho, North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that North Korea is considering a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean. The Minister of Foreign Affairs described the possible test as “the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”

Since the exchange, United States Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew over waters east of North Korea. The military exercise, according to the Pentagon, is to display the range of military options available. It is reported that the flight was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone that any United States fighter bomber had flown in the 21st century.

President Trump met with South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to continue its discussion on imposing new sanctions against North Korea.

Soon after President Trump issued a new executive order which expanded United States sanctions on North Korea, China’s central bank also ordered financial institutions to implement United Nations sanctions rigorously. President Trump thanked China’s president Xi Jinping on his bold move against North Korea.

For more information, please see:

Business Insider – North Korea suggests testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific after Kim Jong Un calls Trump ‘mentally deranged’ – 21 September, 2017

CNBC – North Korea may detonate nuclear bomb in Pacific, foreign minister tells reporters – 21 September, 2017

The Guardian – Japan braces as North Korea threatens hydrogen bomb test in Pacific – 22 September, 2017

Reuters – Trump cranks up North Korea threats as Pyongyang holds anti-U.S. rally – 23 September, 2017

Silent Protest Erupts in Singapore after Uncontested Presidential Election

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

SINGAPORE – Thousands of Singaporeans held a silent protest on September 16th to express their discontent with the recent uncontested presidential election. Mostly dressed in black, the protest started with a crowd of about 200 people but grew to around 2,000 people.

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock attends the silent protest at Hong Lim Park. Photo courtesy of Yahoo.

Two former presidential candidates, Tan Cheong Bock and Tan Jee Say, both attended the protest. On Facebook, Tan Cheng Bock wrote: “It is not President Halimah as a person that Singaporeans are unhappy about. It is about the way our government has conducted this whole walkover presidential election.”

In order to unite the country, Singapore had decreed that the presidency would be reserved for candidates from the minority Malay community. In Singapore, the presidency is viewed as a ceremonial six-year post.

There were five total applications for the presidency, but two were not Malays and two did not meet other requirements to be considered for the position. Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament, was selected as the country’s first female president. She had automatically qualified as she held a senior public post for over three years. Halimah was declared elected as soon as the nomination period closed on Wednesday, September 13th.

Gilbert Goh, one of the main organizers, stated that the protest was silent as the organization needed a special permit from the police if speeches made during the protest touch on race and religion.

In Singapore, displays of dissent are very unusual. As one of the richest and most political stable countries in the world, political protests are rare.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) has been ruling the country since 1965. The current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, is considered as the country’s founding father.

For more information, please see:

Channel News Asia – Silent protest held at Hong Lim Park against reserved presidential election – 16 September, 2017

Yahoo – Hundreds turn up at Hong Lim Park for silent protest against reserved presidential election – 16 September, 2017

Reuters – Singaporeans protest against uncontested presidential election – 16 September, 2017

Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines Receives $25

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines government reduced the annual budget for the Commission on Human Rights from $17 million to just $25. The vote was supported by a margin of 119 to 32 in the country’s congress.

President Duterte’s government slashes the annual budget for the Commission on Human Rights.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pantaleon Alvarez, spoke to local television stations and stated that the commission deserved the cut for being “useless.” He went further and said that the commission defends criminals’ rights.

Although the Senate still needs approve the budget, many believe that it will pass as President Duterte has a majority in both the house’s chambers.

The opposition members believe that this is the government retaliation against the Commission on Human Rights for being critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, accused the government of attempting to eliminate independent institutions from investigating President Duterte’s possible examples of abuse of power.

Since President Duterte started his anti-drug campaign last year, more than 3,800 people have been killed in police operations. The government’s goal is to eliminate any drug trade in the Philippines, but the campaign has drawn international criticism over the number of deaths.

An opposition member, Congressman Edcel Lagman, who opposes the budget cut stated that the President is “virtually imposing the death penalty on a constitutionally created and mandated independent office.”

Mr. Chito Gascon, who is serving as the head of the Commission on Human Rights, believes that the budget cut is an attempt to force his resignation. If necessary, he has vowed to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

The Commission on Human Rights was founded in 1987 after the fall of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

BBC – Duterte drug war: Philippines cuts rights body’s budget to $20 – 12 September, 2017

ABC – Philippines: Commission on Human Rights budget cut to almost nothing amid Duterte’s drug crackdown – 13 September, 2017

Independent – Philippines cuts its human rights budget to £15 – 13 September, 2017

40 Million People Affected by Historic Flood in South Asia

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 
NEW DELHI, India – Since August, millions of people in South Asia have been impacted by the region’s worst flood in 40 years. It is reported that around 40 million people are affected by the massive flood.
The flood leaves over 1,000 deaths in South Asia. Photo courtesy of BBC.

Over 1,400 have died so far and tens of thousands are living in tents all across the region. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states in India, the Terai region in Nepal, and Kurigram and Chimari districts in Bangladesh have been hit the worst.

In Bangladesh alone, over 8 million people are affected. It also reported that over 13,000 people are currently suffering from diarrhea and respiratory infections after the flood. According to the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, diarrhea, malaria and dengue are on the rise in some parts of the country.

In Nepal, around 1.7 million people are affected with 26,844 cases of illness around the country. Although no epidemic has been reported, many health officials are taking extreme caution and monitoring the situation closely.

With the danger of mosquito and waterborne diseases, the risks are said to be greater for children and women. In India, around 17 million children were in need of humanitarian assistance.

Because the floods were so extreme, many families have been struggling to find proper burial grounds due to the lack of dry land.

Recently, the Scottish government donated from the government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund. The money is to provide any immediate and life saving aid in the region.

Reuters – Thousands hit by malaria, dengue as South Asia’s worst floods in a decade recede – 6 September, 2017

ABC – South Asia floods: Estimated 40 million across India, Bangladesh, Nepal affected – 8 September, 2017

BBC – South Asia floods: Scottish government donates £300,000 from emergency fund – 9 September, 2017

Cambodia’s Main Opposition Leader Arrested for Treason

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – On Sunday, September 3rd, Cambodia’s main opposition leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for treason. He is accused of violating Article 443 which prevents officials from “colluding with foreigners.” If convicted, Mr. Sokha could face a 30 year jail term.

Kem Sokha was arrested outside his house in Phnom Penh. Photo courtesy of New York Times.

The opposition leader was arrested during a heavy crackdown on critics of Prime Minister Sen’s government. The government officals accused Mr. Sokha of discussing plots with the United States government to undermine Cambodia.

The government, as evidence, disclosed a four-year-old video of Mr. Sokha giving a speech and stating that he has received advice from the United States government on establishing an opposition group in Cambodia.

According to Mr. Sokha’s daughter, Ken Monovithya, more than 100 police officers surrounded their home and arrest her father without a warrant. She stated that Mr. Sokha was handcuffed and escorted to an unmarked vehicle by numerous officers. It is reported that he is currently being held at a remote prison near the Vietnamese boarder. He has not been given an opportunity to speak to an attorney.

Upon Mr. Sokha’s arrest, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh commented that the charges “appear to be politically motivated.”

The Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party will face a tough election next year. After ruling the country for more than three decades, Mr. Sen’s critics have accused him of trying to eliminate his oppositions prior to the upcoming election.

The New York based Human Rights Watch group has recently stated that “the government and the ruling CPP have manufactured these treason charges against Kem Sokha for political purposes, aiming to try and knock the political opposition out of the ring before the 2018 electoral contest ever begins.”

NYT – Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason – 2 September, 2017

Reuters – Cambodia charges opposition leader with treason – 5 September, 2017

Aljazeera – Cambodia politician Kem Sokha charged with treason – 6 September, 2017

North Korea Conducts its Sixth Nuclear Test

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

PYONGYANG, North Korea – North Korea on Sunday, September 3rd, carried out its sixth nuclear test. It is reported that the explosion was heralded by a 6.3- magnitude earthquake near the nuclear test site. The tremor was felt near the Chinese border in Yanji.

North Korean media releases a photo of Kim inspecting the new bomb. Photo courtesy of CNN.

The North Korean officials claimed that it has tested a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded on to an intercontinental ballistic missile. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a photo of Kim Jung Un inspecting the weapon and stated that North Korea has “succeeded in making a more developed nuke.”

The South Korean officials estimated the blast to yield at between 50 to 60 kilotons. In a later report released by the South Korea’s parliamentary defense committee, the blast was as high as 100 kilotons which equates to 100,000 tons of TNT.

The regime’s sixth test is reported to be five to six times stronger than their September test. The officials estimated the fifth test to have been about 10 kilotons.

Since the test, many countries in the region have condemned North Korea and their actions. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea called the test “utterly disappointing and infuriating.” Furthermore, China strongly condemned the test and Japan asked an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. In a joint statement released from the European community, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and President Emmanuel Macron of France also condemned North Korea’s recent test.

The North Korean leader has repeatedly used American holidays to test its missiles. It is reported that the timing of the Sunday’s test was purposefully scheduled for the American Labor Day weekend. Saturday is also the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean government.

Although hydrogen bombs and atomic bombs both involve detonating nuclear energy, hydrogen bombs are more powerful due to the usage of a second stage that increases the chain reaction.

President Trump is reported to be in conversations with world leaders and relying on similar strategy his predecessors have used.

For more information, please see:

NYT – North Korea Says It Tested a Hydrogen Bomb Meant for Missiles – 2 September, 2017

CNN – North Korea says it can make new bomb in volume – 3 September, 2017

The guardian – North Korean nuclear test confirmed in major escalation by Kim Jong-un – 3 September, 2017

Violence Erupts in India after Guru is Sentenced to 20 years for Rape

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NEW DELHI, India – On Friday, August 18th, India’s spiritual guru was sentenced to 20 years in prison. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation announced that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of raping two of his followers. Two women accused Singh of rape at the headquarter of his sect. In India, the minimum sentence for rape is seven years.
Singh’s followers are protesting their leader’s 20 year prison sentence in northern India. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Singh, leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, has an immense following in Haryana and Punjab states. He is an influential figure in the country as thousands consider him as a cult icon. Also known as “the guru of bling,” he is the star of five films and many popular music videos. He currently has 3.75 million Twitter followers and claims to have 60 million worldwide followers. On his website, Singh’s work is described as a “social humanitarianism and selfless services to others.”

On the day of his sentencing, thousands of troops were deployed to control Singh’s supporters. Since the conviction, 30 people were killed and 200 were injured when clashes occurred across northern India. Many followers came out to the streets and smashed cars, torched buses and attacked police officers. An army officer stated that the troops were deployed because “the police couldn’t control the situation.”

His followers mostly sit at the bottom of the social hierarchy in India. They have relied on Singh and his sect for basic needs, such as food, medicine, and a sense of equality.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the Indian people on his monthly address that India was the home of “Gandhi and Lord Buddha.” He went on to condemn the violence.

Singh is also facing murder charges in connection with the death of a reporter.

NYT – Violent Protests in India Turn Deadly After Guru’s Rape Conviction – 25 August, 2017

The Guardian – Indian states in lockdown for guru’s rape sentencing after deadly protests – 27 August, 2017

CNN – Indian guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 20 years for rape – 28 August, 2017

NPR – After ‘Guru Of Bling’ Sentencing, Indian State Stays On Alert For Violence – 28 August, 2017

Hong Kong Jails Three Young Activists

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

HONG KONG – On August 17, 2017, three Hong Kong activists were sentenced to prison. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow led a pro-democracy protest in 2014. The three were among a group of students who occupied Hong Kong’s legislative headquarters in 2014. The forcible removal of these students from the premise angered the public.

Joshua Wong, a pro-democracy activist, led a demonstration in 2014. Photo courtesy of NYT.

After the incident, the activists were convicted of unlawful assembly.

They were originally sentenced to community service and a suspended jail term, but in a rare move by the Hong Kong government, an appeal was filed to reconsider their “lenient” sentences.

A Hong Kong court recently sentenced Joshua Wong to six months in prison, Law was sentenced to eight months, and Chow was sentenced to seven months. In Hong Kong, one is ineligible to run for local elections for the following five years if they were sentenced to more than three months in jail.

After the ruling, Amnesty International referred to the appeal for jail terms as a “vindictive attack” on freedom of expression. Many other organizations have condemned the authorities.

However, the government stated that “there is absolutely no basis to imply any political motive.” The authorities went further by stating that freedom of speech is guaranteed in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” principle. Although this governing principle assured a degree of autonomy, the public has been skeptical as the Chinese government has been asserting their power.

For example, the Chinese government removed seven dissident lawmakers from Hong Kong’s citywide elections last year. Nathan Law, who was the youngest-ever legislator, was removed last month.

For more information, please see: 

CNN – Joshua Wong and two other Umbrella Movement leaders jailed in Hong Kong – 17 August, 2017

NYT – Joshua Wong and 2 Others Jailed in Hong Kong Over Pro-Democracy Protest – 17 August, 2017

BBC – Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong jailed for six months – 17 August, 2017

Violence Continues in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – Members of the Rohingya minority group stormed 30 police stations on August 25th. Around 150 fighters, armed with guns and machetes, attacked Myanmar security forces. The officials believe that around 60 of the insurgents and 12 Myanmar security forces were killed. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Myanmar police are heavily patrolling parts of Rakhine. Photo courtesy of BBC.

This conflict occurred soon after the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released the long-awaited report.

The commission was established last year to evaluate the situation in Rakhine State. Soon after the report was released, Annan stated that “unless concerted action – led by the government and aided by all sectors of the government and society – is taken soon, we risk the return of another cycle of violence and radicalization, which will further deepen the chronic poverty that afflicts Rakhine State.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s leader, stated that the attacks were deliberately planned to coincide with the release of the Advisory Commission’s report.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, requested that the commission evaluate the conflict in Myanmar last year. However, many humanitarian groups have been critical of her leadership and expressed their disappointment.

Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director publicly stated that since the report has been published, “the ball is now in Suu Kyi’s court.”

Because of the ongoing chaos, Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing to Bangladesh by the thousands. However, the Bangladeshi officials have been turning people back at the Ghumdhum border area. The officials estimate that around 3,000 Rohingya have found refuge in Bangladesh since the attack.

Reuters – At least 71 killed in Myanmar as Rohingya insurgents stage major attack – 24 August, 2017

Fox News – Myanmar: Attacks on police, border guards kill at least 12 – 25 August, 2017

CNN – Police killed in new violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State – 25 August, 2017

BBC – Myanmar Rakhine: Thousands flee to Bangladesh border – 28 August, 2017

Maldives Tries to Resume Execution in 60 Years

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

MALE, Maldives – The Maldives is planning to carry out its first execution since the mid-1950s. The last execution in the country was carried out during the British colonial rule which ended five decades ago.

Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom is photographed with his wife, Fathimath Ibrahim. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Chronicles.

As the Maldives government plans to carry out its first execution in 60 years, many human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development have expressed concerns about the recent decision. These organizations have sent a letter to President Abdulla Yameen about human rights violations. According to these organizations, three prisoners who are on death row did not receive fair trials.

Currently, Hussain Humaan Ahmed, Ahmed Murrath, and Mohammed Nabeel are believed to be at risk of execution. All three were convicted of murder since 2009.

In 2014, Mr. Yameen’s administration reintroduced the death penalty. After the military coup removed then president Mohamed Nasheed, Mr. Yameen’s government worked towards restoring the death penalty in the Maldives.

The South Asia director for Amnesty International, Biraj Patnaik, stated that the talks of executions were a “feeble attempt to look tough and distract attention” from the current political climate against the president.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has been working to stop the Maldivian government from conducting planned executions. In their recent letters, the committee stated that “should your government go ahead with the executions, it would violate Maldives’ obligations under international law, including to protect the three men’s right to life.”

For more information, please see: 

Financial Times – Maldives set to restore death penalty as political crisis deepens – 7 August, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle – Rights groups alarmed over planned executions in Maldives – 10 August, 2017

ABC – Rights groups alarmed over planned executions in Maldives – 10 August, 2017

U.N. Security Council Votes in Favor of New North Korean Sanctions

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

PYONGYANG, North Korea – On August 6th, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to pass Resolution 2371 to impose new sanctions on North Korea. The resolution received 15 votes in the affirmative by the member states as North Korea continues to test its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities. North Korea’s actions are in clear violation of United Nations resolutions.

Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, met with North Korea’s foreign minister in Manila at the ASEAN Regional Forum. Photo courtesy of BBC.

After difficult negotiations with China, Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, stated that the newly imposed sanctions will cut North Korea’s annual export revenue by $1 billion. Ambassador Haley went further to state that the sanctions are “the strongest sanctions ever imposed in response to a ballistic missile test.”

Although China has protected North Korea in the past by using its veto power on the United Nations Security Council, Beijing voted in favor of the resolution. Liu Jieyi, the Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, was also cautious of the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea by the United States. Both Russia and China have expressed their discomfort in THAAD and warned against disturbing the regional security.

The United States Secretary of State stated that the United States does not hope for a regime change in North Korea. As Secretary Tillerson attends the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in the Philippines, the conversation is expected to heavily focus on North Korea.

The ASEAN foreign ministers were divided on a proposal presented by the United States on suspending North Korea from the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Secretary Tillerson will be meeting with his Japanese counterpart and South Korean counterpart on Monday to discuss the issue further. The South Korea’s foreign ministry stated that “the three foreign ministers will share their assessments of situations caused by the series of provocations by North Korea and discuss necessary future countermeasures.”

For more information, please see: 

NBC – Tillerson Says North Korea Can Show Interest in Talks by Ending Missile Tests – 7 August, 2017

BBC – North Korea: China urges neighbour to stop missile tests – 6 August, 2017

CNN – UN Security Council imposes new sanctions on North Korea – 6 August, 2017

Supreme Court of India Modifies Anti-Dowry Law

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

NEW DELHI, India – The Supreme Court of India stated that the anti-dowry law is being misused in the country. Until dowry harassment charges can be verified, the court has ordered the authorities to stop arresting the accused.

Many have been protesting against the tough anti-dowry law. Photo courtesy of BBC.

Under the dowry system in India, the bride’s family transfers property or money to her husband as a condition of the marriage.

The practice of dowry, a long tradition in the Indian culture, has been banned since 1961. The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 implemented a tough anti-dowry law in the country. The law allows for immediate arrest of the accused but many have argued that it allows for women to file false cases. The original intent of the law was to help women, but many critics of the law stated that it is being used as “a weapon by disgruntled wives.” Although not many are convicted under this law, thousands of people are arrest every year.

To combat these issues, on July 27th, 2017, the Supreme Court of India ordered the states to establish family welfare committee to address dowry related problems. The court further established that all complaints received by the authorities must be given to the family welfare committee for its review. It is noted that no action can be taken against the husband and the in-laws until a full report is released.

In 2015, the Indian government’s data estimated that around 7,634 women were killed due to dowry-related issues. The centuries-old tradition of dowry continues to be an issue in India. Many anti-dowry proponents have argued that the tradition leaves women vulnerable to material issues which sometimes leads to violence and event death.

For more information, please see: 

BBC – India top court orders changes in anti-dowry law to stop misuse – 28 July, 2017

India Times – SC Stops Misuse Of Anti-Dowry Law By Women, No Arrest Can Be Make Until Charges Are Verified – 28 July, 2017

The Times of India – No arrest in dowry cases till charges are verified, says Supreme Court – 28 July, 2017

Tough New Orders to Combat “Narcotics Emergency” in Indonesia

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

JAKARTA, Indonesia – President Joko Widodo of Indonesia imposed a new order against drug dealers and traffickers as he attempts to fight the drug issues he is facing in the country. The new shoot-to-kill order is his call for tougher action against drug traffickers in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has implemented tough rules to combat the country’s “narcotics emergency”. Photo courtesy of ABC.

At an event in Jakarta on July 21, Mr. Wido warned against a potential national emergency due to the drug situation. He stated that “if they resist arrest, just gun them down, show no mercy.”

His recent comments have been compared to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines as Mr. Duterte has issued controversial anti-drug laws in his country. Since the beginning of his campaign to stop drug trafficking in the Philippines, Mr. Duterte’s police force has killed around 7,000 Filipinos. His actions have been condemned by the international community.

In 2015, Mr. Widodo’s government executed two Australian drug smugglers despite the Australian Government’s plea for a stay of execution. With its already tough laws against drugs, Mr. Widodo has been heavily criticized for ordering executions for drug offenses.

The new order was implemented after a Taiwanese national was shot dead for being involved with a drug smuggling operating around Jakarta. The man was reported to be a part of a group trying to smuggle one tonne of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia. The man was shot for resisting arrest.

Indonesia is one of 33 countries that use capital punishment for drug-related convictions and since 2013, 18 people have been executed by the firing squad. Currently, the government estimates around 1.2 million drug-abusers in the country. Ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine are widely used in Indonesia.

General Tito, the Indonesian National Police chief, stated that imposing the death penalty against drug offenders is a good way to deter people from committing drug-related crimes.

However, General Tito’s comments drew strong condemnation from the international community and from Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, Mr. Phelim Kine. Mr. Kine was recently quoted in saying that General Tito’s should “denounce the Philippines’ war on drugs.”

For more information, please see: 

ABC – Indonesian President tells police to shoot foreign drug dealers who resist arrest – 22 July, 2017

Reuters- Joko Widodo: Police should shoot suspected drug dealers – 22 July, 2017

The Straits Times – Jokowi issues order to shoot drug traffickers – 23 July, 2017

Aljazeera – Joko Widodo: Police should shoot suspected drug dealers – 23 July, 2017