Archive for the ‘opposition’ Category

Thailand: Thaksin phones up Bangkok rally

November 2, 2008

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has given an emotional address by phone to tens of thousands of supporters at a rally in Bangkok.


The rally was aimed at demonstrating the continuing popularity of Mr Thaksin, who has been living in exile since August after a court verdict.

He was convicted in absentia of breaking conflict of interest rules.

Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra supporters shout slogans during ... 
Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra supporters shout slogans during a rally at Bangkok’s Rajamanangala Stadium. The former Thai premier denounced his opponents in a telephone address to 90,000 loyal supporters that were packed into a sports stadium.(AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Mr Thaksin accused his opponents of destroying democracy in order to keep him out of power.

Saturday’s rally was a well organised show of strength by the Thaksin camp, reminiscent of the slick campaigns that helped the former prime minister win three successive elections, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from the rally.

The aim, said the organisers, was to demonstrate popular support for the Thaksin-inspired government, at a time when it is under pressure to step down from the People’s Alliance for Democracy protest movement, which has been occupying the prime minister’s office since August.

‘Miss you all’

Dressed in a sea of red shirts, to distinguish them from their yellow-shirted opponents, many had travelled long distances to the rally from the north and north-east, where the government has its strongest following, but there were many from Bangkok as well.

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Russia’s Muslim Opposition Reports Killing 50 Russian Soldiers

October 18, 2008

An opposition website in southern Russia said more than 50 soldiers were killed by militias on Saturday in clashes that officials told Russian news agencies had killed only two soldiers.

By Dario Thuburn, AFP

The website cited a local official from the interior ministry giving the casualty figure, which would represent one of the worst losses for Russian forces since the end of major combat operations in Chechnya.

Russian commandos engage in military exercises near the border ... 
Russian commandos engage in military exercises near the border of South Ossetia and the restive southern region of Ingushetia in May. An opposition website in southern Russia has said more than 50 soldiers have been killed by militias in clashes that officials told Russian news agencies had killed only two soldiers.(AFP/File/Kazbek Basayev)

The website also quoted hospital sources and its own correspondent.

Russian officials in Moscow and in the province of Ingushetia where the clashes took place could not be reached for comment on the report.

Ingushetia, a mainly Muslim province neighbouring war-ravaged Chechnya, has been racked by a growing number of attacks against security forces that are frequently blamed on separatist rebels and Islamist fighters.

“A source from the Sunzhensky region interior ministry said around 50 soldiers were killed” in a single attack in which armoured personnel carriers and trucks were also destroyed, the website reported.

Five more soldiers were killed in two other attacks, the website said.

Interfax news agency quoted local prosecutor Pavel Belyakov saying two interior ministry soldiers were killed and nine others were injured in an attack on a military column that was carried out by rebel fighters.

Officials earlier said two soldiers were killed and five injured.

“The situation in Ingushetia is under control,” Belyakov told Interfax, adding that Russian authorities had declared the area where the attack took place a “counter-terrorist operation zone.”

“A search of the area is currently taking place, the bandits who carried out the attack on a defence ministry military column are being tracked,” a spokesman for the armed forces in southern Russia, told Interfax. said one attack occurred near the village of Galashki in which the 50 soldiers were killed, while another was on the road between the villages of Surkhakhi and Alkhasty where two more soldiers were killed.

There was also a third attack on a military column that had come as reinforcement to the road between Surkhakhi and Alkhasty in which at least three soldiers were killed, reported.

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From the BBC

Ingushetia map

Russian troops have launched a search for militants in the volatile southern region of Ingushetia after a deadly attack on a military convoy.

Official Russian reports of the ambush, which has been blamed on local Muslim separatists, said two soldiers were killed and at least seven injured.

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Opposition to Iraq war is divided after 5 years

March 13, 2008

By Susan Page
USA Today
March 13, 2008

WILMINGTON, Del. — Five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bree Tease is trying to balance the obligations she feels to Iraqis and to the children whose needs she sees every day in her fourth-grade class.

“Over here, there are so many ways we could use that money,” the teacher, 27, says. “But then I think about the poor families and children in Iraq, and they didn’t do anything wrong.” If U.S. troops withdraw, Iraq could fall into chaos. So should they stay? “You have to leave at some point,” she says, uncertain over when.

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Taiwan Opposition Group Calls for Boycott of Name Referendum

March 12, 2008

 By Jane Richards

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TAIPEI, Taiwan, March 12 — Taiwan’s main opposition group, the Nationalist Party, called on its supporters Wednesday to boycott a government-sponsored referendum asking whether the island should apply for U.N. membership under the name Taiwan. The move appeared likely to reduce the chances that the referendum would succeed.

Both China and the United States have denounced the referendum as a needlessly provocative maneuver, designed by President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party to emphasize the self-ruled island’s claim to formal independence.

The referendum will be on the ballot on March 22, when Taiwan will hold its presidential elections. The presidential candidates include Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalist Party and Frank Hsieh of Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party.

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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.”

Pakistan elections delayed by 1 month

January 2, 2008
By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Elections will be delayed by one month following the turmoil sparked by Benazir Bhutto‘s assassination, despite opposition threats of street protests unless the crucial vote is held Jan. 8 as originally planned, a top official said Tuesday.

A senior Election Commission official told The Associated Press that the commission has agreed on a new date. He indicated it would not be before the second week of February, but refused to disclose the exact schedule before the formal announcement on Wednesday.

Opposition parties accused Pakistan‘s government of delaying parliamentary elections to avoid likely defeat and said Wednesday they feared the move could ….

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Muhammad reports: Some In Pakistan Applaud Mrs. Bhutto’s Death; Some Mourn

December 27, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

Whole Pakistan has plunged into complete choas after the killing of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi. The reaction is very severe in various parts of the country including the tribal areas.

Presently the terrorists have been celeberating the killing of great leader of Pakistan as she was the last hurdle in their way.

What will be the future of Pakistan? No one knows as there is complete confusion all over the country.

The death of Benazir Bhutto, the last hope of people of Pakistan has been received with great shock and terror. At the moment there is terror everywhere. The administration is also confused as they do not know how to control the situation.

Dear Sir, please remember us in your prayers and good wishes. We have been needing your good wishes and sympathies and help. At the moment I am in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province where the situation is out of control as loud voices of firing can be heard from everywhere.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

In the Heart of Pakistan, a Deep Sense of Anxiety

November 7, 2007

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 7, 2007; Page A01

LAHORE, Pakistan, Nov. 6 — Three days after President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule, a deep sense of anxiety prevails among Pakistan’s students, rights activists and intellectuals, who say the mass arrests being carried out by the government mark an unprecedented assault on civil society.

When Musharraf suspended the constitution Saturday, he said he had been forced to act by rising extremism and judicial interference in his efforts to protect the country. But in Lahore, an ancient city that has long served as the cultural and intellectual heart of Pakistan, many government critics see a smoke screen being used to quash opposition.

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Key Leaders Silent in Pakistan

November 6, 2007

By Shahan Mufti – and Mark Sappenfield 

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN; and NEW DELHI – Two days after President Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan‘s stuttering transition to democracy by declaring a state of emergency and dismissing most of its Supreme Court, a familiar pattern has set in.

Lawyers who took to the streets were beaten and arrested by the hundreds. Meanwhile, the country’s fractured political establishment waits to see what will happen next. It is a similar dynamic to the one that emerged eight months ago, when Mr. Musharraf sought to sack an independent-minded Supreme Court chief justice for his willingness to defy the government.

Then, as now, the organized political opposition has responded with caution and indecision. Yet if opposition leaders such as former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were to turn the power of their parties to supporting the lawyers, the result could be transformative, experts agree – creating a popular movement that might persuade the Army to depose Musharraf – fearing that he could no longer govern.

But politics in Pakistan has always been personal and sometimes deadly. The threat of jail or even assassination – combined with political leaders’ mutual animosities built up over decades of bitter power struggles – has often led to little action.

One leader in Ms. Bhutto’s party, Syeda Abida Hussein, says she does not expect Bhutto to act for a week as Bhutto waits for the effects of Musharraf’s move to become clearer. “I would not want her to do anything too quickly,” she says.

On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that parliamentary elections would be conducted as scheduled before Jan. 15. But virtually the only major political leader who so far remains outside prison is Bhutto.

Bhutto’s delicate balancing act

Publicly, she has excoriated Musharraf, characterizing his state of emergency as martial law and claiming that his dictatorial tendencies are only fueling extremism. But privately, the waltz between Musharraf and Bhutto continues – and Bhutto is still considering her options, Ms. Hussein says.

For both, the lure of a union remains – giving Bhutto an avenue to power and Musharraf a means of salvaging some popular legitimacy. The new chief justice is favored by Bhutto, and the Army general who would replace Musharraf if he were ever to drop his position as Army chief, which he holds along with the presidency, is a close ally.

“[Musharraf] is making a flat-out effort to create the conditions to make her come to his rescue,” says Hussein. Indeed, virtually the only major political leader who escaped the purge is Bhutto. Hussein says she is being told by Musharraf’s agents not to move or cause a stir.

But other Pakistani political leaders have already leveled damaging charges against Bhutto, claiming that she is colluding with Musharraf.

For the middle class, which had been increasingly influencing the nation’s political conversation before the emergency order blacked out all independent media, this is a crucial moment for Bhutto.

“This is Benazir’s moment to shine,” says Asha Amirali, a political activist with the People’s Rights Movement of Pakistan, an Islamabad-based social justice advocacy group. “But if she decides to support Musharraf,” she will be discredited.

Whether it would influence the legions of less-educated rural voters who make up the backbone of her support and back her with almost feudal devotion is a key question. Bhutto’s father, one of Pakistan’s most revered historical figures, was executed by a military dictator.

Entering into an allegiance with the head of the military could significantly damage Bhutto’s credibility, even among her loyal supporters.

Should Bhutto take it to the streets?

What is more certain is that Bhutto and all of Pakistan’s political leaders could have a substantial impact if they threw their weight behind the lawyers and took their case to the streets, experts say.

Since March, the lawyers’ community has become the nucleus of the larger movement against Musharraf. Through their efforts, Pakistan’s judiciary was able to become more active and defiant. Musharraf said this activism was a major reason for the emergency order.

The high court was set to rule this week in a case questioning the legality of Musharraf being both president and Army chief.

Even amid baton-wielding police, lawyers contended that “we still have a legal case,” says Akram Shiekh, a lawyer who had filed a case against Musharraf’s eligibility.

“But personally I have serious doubts that the lawyers’ community will now look to a legal recourse.”

Instead, many have vowed to stay in the streets and boycott all legal proceedings, hoping to bring the country to a standstill. For all intents and purposes, Mr. Sheikh says, “there is no Supreme Court” now.

Some of Pakistan’s political parties agree. But their leaders have been arrested. “Our leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad, is under house arrest now, we will join the street movement of the lawyers everywhere,” says Shahid Shamsi, secretary of information for Jamaat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan’s largest opposition Islamic parties.

“We feel the opposition needs to unite now, and we would like to work with all parties – the Pakistan People’s Party as well – in this struggle,” he says, referring to Bhutto’s political party.

Musharraf’s opponents arrested in Pakistan

September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007; 3:30 AM

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani police have arrested more than a dozen opposition activists in a bid to scupper protests against President Pervez Musharraf’s plans for re-election on October 6, officials said.

Most of those arrested in the capital Islamabad late on Saturday belonged to the party led by exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whose return to Pakistan was blocked earlier this month, and from parties in a conservative religious alliance.

“We have detained …

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