Archive for the ‘activists’ Category

Prison Terms Cripple Myanmar Democracy Movement

November 16, 2008

In a devastating week for Myanmar’s democracy movement, dozens of its members have been sentenced to length prison terms, as the military-ruled government locks away writers and Buddhist monks — as well as musicians, a poet and at least one journalist.

By MICK ELMORE, Associated Press Writer

By the weekend, more than 80 had received sentences of up to 65 years — a move that seemed designed to keep them jailed long past the upcoming elections, activists and analysts said Sunday.

“They are clearing the decks of anyone who is likely to challenge their authority ahead of the election” in 2010, Larry Jagan, a Bangkok-based newspaper columnist and Myanmar analyst, said of the generals who rule the country.

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three ... 
Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three pro-democracy activists arrested during anti-junta demonstrations in Myanmar last year were each sentenced to 65 years in jail.(AFP/MYANMAR NEWS AGENCY/AFP)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_re_as/as_
myanmar_dissidents;_ylt=AhTQlhJm7cgret4Kc8UKg5Ks0NUE

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North Korea threatens to reduce South to ruins

October 28, 2008

North Korea’s military threatened on Tuesday to use everything in its arsenal to reduce South Korea to rubble unless Seoul stops civic groups from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the communist state.

The North has lashed out at the South’s president who took office in February for his pledges to get tough with his neighbor and has been enraged by a fresh wave of propaganda leaflets sent by balloons launched in the South in recent months.

“We clarify our stand that should the South Korean puppet authorities continue scattering leaflets and conducting a smear campaign with sheer fabrications, our army will take a resolute practical action as we have already warned,” the official KCNA news agency quoted the military spokesman as saying.

From Jack Kim, Reuters

North Korean soldiers clap their hands at an undisclosed location ... 
North Korean soldiers clap their hands at an undisclosed location in North Korea in a picture released by KCNA on August 16, 2008.(KCNA/Reuters)

At a rare round of military talks on Monday, North Korea complained about the leaflets while South Korean activists sent a new batch of 100,000, despite warnings from Seoul not to do so.

“The puppet authorities had better bear in mind that the advanced pre-emptive strike of our own style will reduce everything opposed to the nation and reunification to debris, not just setting them on fire,” the spokesman said.

South Korean groups have been sending the leaflets into the North for years. Analysts said the recent wave appeared to have touched a nerve because they mentioned a taboo subject in the North — the health of leader Kim Jong-il.

U.S. and South Korean officials have said Kim may have suffered a stroke in August, raising questions about who was running Asia’s only communist dynasty and making decisions concerning its nuclear arms program.

North Korea mostly refrained from threatening the South when it was receiving a steady stream of unconditional aide under liberal presidents who ruled for 10 years before President Lee Myung-bak.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081028/ts_nm/
us_korea_north_threat;_ylt=AvuodveSchTNpY95dCxWGdas0NUE

China snubs CNN apology over Cafferty remarks

April 17, 2008

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer

BEIJING – China on Thursday snubbed an apology from CNN over remarks by one of its commentators as a wave of verbal assaults on foreign media raised concerns over coverage at this summer’s Beijing Olympics.
.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu rejected CNN’s explanation that commentator Jack Cafferty was referring to China’s leaders — not the Chinese people — when he described them as “goons and thugs.” CNN said it apologized to anyone who thought otherwise.

Jack Cafferty prepares for an appearance on CNN's 'The Situation ... 
Jack Cafferty prepares for an appearance on CNN’s ‘The Situation Room,’ Wednesday, June 21, 2006, at CNN’s New York headquarters. China on Thursday April 17, 2008 snubbed an apology from CNN over remarks by one Cafferty as a wave of verbal assaults on foreign media raised concerns over coverage at this summer’s Beijing Olympics. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu rejected CNN’s explanation that commentator Jack Cafferty was referring to China’s leaders — not the Chinese people — when he described them as ‘goons and thugs.’ CNN said it apologized to anyone who thought otherwise.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens, FILE)

But Jiang said at a regularly scheduled news conference that the CNN statement lacked sincerity and instead “turned its attack on the Chinese government to try to sow division between the Chinese government and the people.”

The head of the ministry’s information department summoned CNN’s bureau chief in Beijing on Wednesday night to deliver a near identical protest.

CNN has been singled out by the Chinese government and unknown activists who have phoned and e-mailed death threats to Western reporters. Most of the criticism of the Atlanta-based network concerns a photograph posted on its Web site weeks ago which cropped out Tibetans throwing stones at Chinese security forces.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080417/ap_on_en_tv/china_cnn;_ylt=AhH0z2
fwGthvmz4iStEZYTas0NUE

Activist: Dozens still jailed in China over 1989 protests

March 29, 2008

HONG KONG – A human rights activist says at least 60 people are still jailed in China for protests by pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989 at Beijing‘s Tiananmen Square. John Kamm said in a speech in Hong Kong today that between 60 and 100 such protesters remain jailed and he urged China to release them before the Beijing Olympics.

Kamm also says he’s concerned that China has released fewer names of political prisoners since 1989.

Kamm is executive director of the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, a group that advocates for political prisoners and researches Chinese prisons.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080329/ap_on_re_as/oly_tiananmen_prisoners_1

Human rights worsened in Pakistan in 2007: US

March 12, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Human rights in Pakistan worsened in 2007 despite President Pervez Musharraf‘s repeated pledges to foster democracy in the key US ally, a State Department report said.

Pakistani lawyers during a protest rally in Rawalpindi on March ...
Pakistani lawyers during a protest rally in Rawalpindi on March 10, 2008. Human rights in Pakistan worsened in 2007 despite President Pervez Musharraf’s repeated pledges to foster democracy in the key US ally, a State Department report said.(AFP/File/Aamir Qureshi)

“Despite President Musharraf‘s stated commitment to democratic transition, Pakistan’s human rights situation deteriorated during much of 2007,” the department’s annual report on human rights said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080312/wl_sthasia_
afp/usrightspakistanreport_080312065250

China Says Security Not A Worry After Plots Foiled

March 10, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – China insisted on Monday it will be able to hold a safe Summer Olympics after officials said they had foiled two terrorist plots, while activists expressed skepticism about the extent of any threat.

Paramilitary and uniformed police stop and search a man in a ...
Paramilitary and uniformed police stop and search a man in a wheelchair (L) in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. China has repeatedly warned of the terrorism threat ahead of the Olympics posed by its Muslim-populated far northwest, but analysts questioned Monday the true extent of the danger.(AFP/Peter Parks)

Wang Lequan, Communist Party boss in Xinjiang, where the largely Muslim, Uighur minority has agitated for greater autonomy and rights, told reporters police had shot dead two members of a “terrorist gang” in a January raid and rounded up 15 others whose aim was to disrupt the Games.

Other officials from the far-northwestern region said a passenger jet originating in Xinjiang was forced to halt on Friday after the discovery of what the state-run Xinhua news agency called a “planned terrorist attack.”

“From the very beginning we have attached great importance to Olympic security,” said Sun Weide, a spokesman for Beijing’s Olympic Organising Committee. “We are confident that we will be able to have a safe Olympic Games.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-olympics-security.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Activists warn China’s Olympic PR woes set to deepen

February 17, 2008
By Charles Whelan

BEIJING (AFP) – China‘s public relations woes over the Olympics are just beginning, activists have warned, after a torrid stretch of headlines highlighted by Steven Spielberg ending his links to the Games.

A woman cycles past an old billboard showing the Olympic rings ...
A woman cycles past an old billboard showing the Olympic rings in Beijing February 15. China’s public relations woes over the Olympics are just beginning, activists have warned.(AFP/Peter Parks)The international leg of the torch relay during April is set to be a target for protests over the many complaints about the Chinese government, while Beijing itself will likely be a magnet for critics during the August Games.

Jill Savitt, director of Olympic Dream for Darfur, an organisation set up to pressure China into helping end the bloodshed in the western Sudanese region, told AFP protests were already being planned for the torch relay.

“We will be targeting the various stages of the torch relay for demonstrations and we plan to be in Beijing during….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080217/wl_asia_afp/
chinarightsdarfursudanunrestoly200
8chn_080217042841

Performers wave Olympic flags during the unveiling of the official ...
Performers wave Olympic flags during the unveiling of the official uniforms of volunteers, technicians and referees of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympic Games in Beijing in this January 20, 2008 file photo. Volunteers, unpaid and self-supporting, have become an integral part of the Olympics over the last few decades and Beijing is recruiting a record 100,000 for the Summer Games in August and the following Paralympics.Picture taken January 20, 2008. To match feature OLYMPICS-CHINA/VOLUNTEERS REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV/Files (CHINA)

Vietnam releases rights activist

February 1, 2008

January 31, 2008

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Vietnam has released imprisoned dissident writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, but continues to hold other dissidents under house arrest, Human Rights Watch said.
Tran Khai Thanh Thuy 
Thuy was arrested April 21, 2007, on charges of “causing public disorder.” She was released Thursday following an unpublicized trial in Hanoi, at which she was sentenced to nine months and 10 days, or time served, the rights organization said in a release.

Thuy, 47, was the 2007 winner of the Hellman/Hammett prize for persecuted writers. She was one of an estimated 40 activists who have been imprisoned or held under house arrest during the past 18 months in Vietnam, Human Rights Watch said.

Those being held include human rights lawyers, opposition party members, underground publishers, religious activists, Internet dissidents and labor union leaders.

“Like the dozens of other peaceful dissidents who have been jailed, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy should never have been arrested in the first place,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “The Vietnamese government should stop locking people up simply for expressing their views.”

Vietnam Frees French-Vietnamese Activist, Jails Others

December 13, 2007

HANOI (AFP)–Communist Vietnam has freed a French-Vietnamese journalist and political activist after 25 days’ detention, the fourth foreign dissident released this week, state media reported Thursday.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, 51, a member of the U.S.-based Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party), which is banned in the Asian country, was arrested along with several U.S., Thai and Vietnamese citizens in Ho Chi Minh City last month.

Van was deported in the presence of French consular officials and placed on a Paris-bound flight at the southern port city’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport late Wednesday, said the Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The VNA report said Van, a reporter for the “Democratic Vietnam” newspaper and “New Horizon” radio, both banned in Vietnam, “regularly wrote articles with distorted information to undermine the Vietnamese state.” Van was arrested on Nov. 17, along with two U.S. citizens, a Thai, and two Vietnamese nationals in the southern port city, when security forces found them preparing Viet Tan pro- democracy pamphlets.

The arrests triggered protests from the U.S., France and Vietnamese dissident groups worldwide.

Vietnam has labeled Viet Tan and its members terrorists and accused them of plotting the overthrow of the one-party state, but the California-based group says it supports only nonviolent political change.

U.S. ambassador Michael Michalak, in a briefing he gave Tuesday, said he saw no evidence linking the group to terrorism.

Hours after he spoke, Vietnam freed three U.S. citizens – Leon Truong, as well as Nguyen Thi Thinh and Le Van Phan, a couple arrested on Nov. 23 at the city’s airport, accused of carrying a handgun in their luggage.

Also arrested on Nov. 17 were another Vietnamese-American Viet Tan member, California-based Nguyen Quoc Quan, accused of having entered Vietnam on a fake Cambodian passport, and Thai national Somsak Khunmi.

A southern Vietnamese court, meanwhile, has jailed three activists charged with slandering the communist government, and police also arrested one Buddhist monk for pro-democracy activism, state media reported.

The Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People’s Army) daily said a Dong Nai court Tuesday sentenced Nguyen Van Ngoc and Trinh Quoc Thao to four years in jail each and Truong Minh Nguyet to two years, for spreading anti-state propaganda.

The three, arrested in June, had distributed “reactionary propaganda documents,” violating article 258 of the criminal code, the report said.

Nguyet is a member of an association of former political prisoners, said a US- based pro-democracy activist, who added that all three people jailed had discussed Vietnam’s political and economic situation on the Internet.

A Dong Nai court earlier this week also jailed four members of the banned United Workers-Farmers Organization for “spreading distorted information to undermine the state.” In the southern provincial capital of Bac Lieu, police said they arrested a Buddhist monk on December 2 for inciting people against the state in leaflets and speaking on US-based pro-democracy live radio broadcasts, reports said.

State media identified him as Huynh Van Ba, with the Buddist name of Thich Thien Minh, and said police confiscated documents with “reactionary content against the state,” a computer, three cellphones and several SIM cards.

Another monk, identified as Thich Nhat Ba, with the civilian name of Ho Buu Hoa, and three other people – Nguyen Thu Tram, Nguyen Thi Hanh and Tran Thi Ngoc Tuyet – were fined and expelled from the town, the report said.

Peace and Freedom Group: November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

Here’s a locator of our top posts for Tuesday, November 20, 2007:

On Peace and Freedom:

Pakistan: Musharraf Is the Problem

Feds urge vigilance on toy safety

Russia’s Putin: Wants NATO to Back Off; Says His Nuclear Forces are Ready

Six activists arrested in Vietnam, says dissident group

Thailand: Elephant Roundup!

Four new posts on “Peace and Freedom III”; these can be found at:
http://johnib.typepad.com/

1. China urges Iran to abide by U.N. resolutions
2. Pakistan releases opposition supporters
3. Chinese Dam Projects Criticized for Their Human Costs
4. Southeast Asia Leaders Adopt Charter

And don’t forget to check out all the great reading at Peace and Freedom II (just scroll down from here):

Two primary topics today: China and American Culture/Society.

China:

China’s Growing Inflation Woes Could Spur Price Hikes
In U.S.

Wen says China behind on pollution goals

Germany looks to Asia, at China’s expense

Calif Suing Toy Companies Caught Using Lead 

American Culture/Society:

Government study: Americans reading less

Vick Dog In Slammer; Wants a Mike Tyson Free Ride

U.S. Marine Lost in Vietnam Laid to Rest

Politically Incorrect: McCain Says It’s O.K. To Make People Mad

Downward mobility trend threatens black middle class