Southeast Asia

UN report: try Burma leaders for genocide

The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar issued a report urging the investigation and prosecution of Burma's top military generals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Mission "found patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States that undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law," adding that there is likely sufficient evidence to establish "genocidal intent." (Photo: European Commission via Flickr)

Southeast Asia

Demand ICC investigation of Burma over Rohingya

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (Burma) Yanghee Lee  called for the Human Rights Council to support an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into crimes against the Rohingya people. "I strongly recommend the persons allegedly responsible for the violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law be investigated and prosecuted by the ICC or a credible mechanism," said Lee. She  expressed disappointment that the Security Council has not yet referred Burma to the ICC, stating said that none of the investigations by the Burmese government have met international standards, and were likely initiated to distract the international community. (Photo: European Commission via Flickr)

Southeast Asia

Indonesia approves draconian anti-terrorism bill

The Indonesian Parliament unanimously approved a new anti-terrorism law that will allow the military to directly participate in operations against militant groups. The legislation comes following a slew of suicide bombings in Surabaya by individuals supposedly tied to the Islamic State. President Joko Widodo stated that involvement of the Indonesian National Army in counter-terrorism is necessary in addressing the crisis faced by the nation. A related measure also gives police the power to detain suspects for 21 days without charge. (Photo: Indonesian Navy Special Forces Kopaska)

Southeast Asia

Indigenous environmental activist killed in Burma

Indigenous and environmental activist Saw O Moo is reported killed in Burma's conflicted Karen State. According to the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), Saw O Moo was killed in an ambush by Burmese army soldiers while returning home from a community meeting to help organize humanitarian aid for villagers displaced by renewed hostilities between the military and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). Saw O Moo was one of the most active local community leaders pushing for the creation of the Salween Peace Park, a proposed 5,400-square-kilometer protected area to be overseen by indigenous peoples. “We will never forget his dedication in the ongoing struggle to build peace and protect ancestral lands,” KESAN said in a statement. (Photo: Burma Link)

Southeast Asia

Razed Rohingya villages turned into military bases

Burma's Rakhine state is being militarized at an alarming pace, as authorities build security force bases on lands where Rohingya villages were burned to the ground just months ago, Amnesty International charges in a new report. The chief UN official investigating human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, called for an immediate investigation into "clearance operations" in Rakhine state, stating she is increasingly convinced that actions by the Burmese security forces amount to genocide. (Photo: VOA via Wikimedia Commons)

Southeast Asia

UN official: ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Rohingya continues

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said that the "ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues," after a four-day visit to Bangladesh. During his visit, he focused on the situation of thousands of refugees who have fled from Burma (Myanmar). Recently-arrived Rohingya gave credible accounts of continued violence against their people, including killings, rape, and forced starvation, Gilmour reported. Burma has been saying that it is ready to receive returning Rohingya refugees, but Gilmour maintains that safe returns are impossible under current conditions. (Photo: EU/ECHO via Flickr)

Southeast Asia

Philippine paradox: martial law, medical marijuana

In flagrant violation of the Philippine constitution, President Rodrigo Duterte extended martial law in Mindanao for another year. Simultaneously, he announced a return of the National Police to drug enforcement after they were removed due to outrageous human rights abuses. But opposition lawmakers are trying to put the breaks on the militarization, and have even introduced a bill to legalize medical marijuana. (Photo: Anakpawis)

Southeast Asia

Rohingya refugees face forced repatriation

Bangladesh and Burma agreed to complete the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees within two years, establishing a system of camps and "reception centers" along the border zone to facilitate their transfer. But humanitarian and human rights organizations are warning that this time frame is insufficient to guarantee a safe and voluntary return. A representative of the Burma Campaign UK stated: "Bangladesh and Burma are effectively playing ping-pong with the Rohingya, while the rest of the international community stands by. They will be returned to giant prison camps, have no rights, and be at constant risk of further attacks by the Burmese military." (Photo: European Commission via Flickr)

Southeast Asia

Duterte fudges police death toll to justify drug war

The Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte—trying to justify sending the National Police back into drug enforcement after he was pressured to withdraw them by a public outcry over their slaying of innocent civilians—has been caught in a lie. He stated that 300 police officers have been killed in anti-drug operations since he took office in June 2016—this by way of providing a rationale for the police killing thousands of Filipinos in this same period. But official figures from the Philippine National Police put the number at 86. Even if one adds army troops killed batting Islamist militants in Mindanao, the number is only 250. (Photo: Anakpawis)

Southeast Asia

Aung San Suu Kyi to face genocide charges?

UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein raised the possibility that Burma's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi could face international genocide charges over the military campaign targeting the Rohingya Muslim people. "For obvious reasons, if you're planning to commit genocide you don't commit it to paper and you don't provide instructions," he told BBC News. "The thresholds for proof are high. But it wouldn't surprise me in the future if a court were to make such a finding on the basis of what we see." (Photo: IRIN)

Southeast Asia

Duterte backtracks on drug war de-escalation —surprise!

Just weeks after the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte won rare favorable headlines by pledging to pull the National Police out of his ultra-deadly "drug war," he's already threatening to send them back if the "drug problem becomes worse again." Not coincidentally, the threat comes just as Trump green-lighted Duterte's campaign of mass murder, meeting with him at the Manila ASEAN summit and issuing only praise—with not a peep about human rights. 

Southeast Asia

Duterte drug war de-escalation: how real?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won rare favorable international headlines when he said he would pull his National Police force out of his brutal "war on drugs," which has now reached the point of mass murder. The move came after public outrage over the police slaying of an unarmed youth. But Amnesty International notes that he made such promises after a similar outrage a few months back—and nothing changed.