Saturday, December 16, 2017

Protests in Northern China As Migrants’ Children Excluded From Schools

As Beijing clears thousands of low-income migrant workers from the city following fatal dormitory fires, authorities in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi have stepped up requirements for school enrollments in Yulin city, prompting protests from parents, local residents said.
Migrant workers who brought their children to live with them in Yulin’s Yuyang district have been informed by provincial education bureau officials that they must now provide extra paperwork, including proof of purchase of compulsory pension insurance, before they can enroll them in local schools.
Earlier this week, hundreds of migrant workers gathered outside the provincial bureau of education with banners protesting the new rules, because they say insurance premiums are beyond their means, given their low income.
A migrant worker surnamed Xu who attended the protest said insurance, at around 5,000 yuan annually, is beyond her means on earnings of between 2,000-3,000 yuan a month.

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Liu Xia ‘Going Crazy’ With Loneliness Amid Growing Calls For Her Release

Liu Xia, widow of late Nobel peace laureate and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo, is shut up in an apartment, “talking to myself and lying here like a dead thing,” a hand-scrawled note posted by a friend to Twitter has revealed.
“I can’t leave here, and I’m so lonely I think I’m going crazy,” says the note, addressed to Herta Mueller, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature.
“Someone is banging on the door, and I curled up,” the note reads. “My neck started to get stiff but I couldn’t move.”
“I am lonely I could go mad, but no power to speak, to speak out loud,” the note says. “I lie here in a vegetative state, like a dead thing, muttering to myself.”
Liu, who has committed no crime, but who has been under tight surveillance or house arrest since her husband’s Nobel prize was announced in October 2010, suffers from a number of mental and physical health problems.

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European Parliament Adopts Resolution Condemning Lack of Freedom of Expression in Vietnam

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution condemning Vietnam’s authorities for jailing activist blogger Nguyen Van Hoa, detaining citizens who voice opinions critical of the government, and severely curtailing press freedom, drawing praise from rights groups and observers Friday.
In a statement Thursday, following a vote on the resolution, the European Parliament said 22-year-old Hoa had “exercised his right to freedom of expression” when he disseminated content online about Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s April 2016 release of toxic chemicals from its massive steel plant located at the deep-water port in Ha Tinh province, and called on the government to free him.

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Hong Kong’s Legislature ‘Castrated’ by Rule Changes Despite Rowdy Protests

Authorities in Hong Kong on Friday removed a number of pro-democracy lawmakers from the city’s legislature amid rowdy scenes, ahead of a key rule change that will leave pan-democrats less able to hold officials to account, critics said.
Land Justice League lawmaker Eddie Chu was physically carried from the Legislative Council (LegCo) chamber by security guards. He and several other deputies including Ray Chan of People Power, tied themselves to chairs in protest at the rule changes.
Chu had also unfurled a banner that read “Don’t be the National People’s Congress,” a reference to Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament where deputies invariably vote with the government.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui was also removed after he locked a blaring personal alarm inside a drawer.
Pan-democrats tabled 10 resolutions in a bid to delay the rule changes, all of which were voted down.

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Pakistan’s Supreme Court Rejects Bid To Disqualify Khan

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has rejected a bid to disqualify opposition politician Imran Khan for concealing his financial assets, a charge that could have barred him from holding public office.
The three-judge bench said it found no evidence that Khan had contravened the law, although the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to investigate whether Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party had received funding from abroad.
The court disqualified one of Khan’s closest aides, Jahangir Tareen, as a lawmaker because of corruption charges during the same hearing on December 15.
Khan was accused of concealing his financial assets, owning offshore companies, and heading a foreign-aided party.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party filed the petition seeking charges against Khan in November 2016.
The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from office in July over the concealment of financial assets, forcing him to step down.

Charities Ordered Out Of Pakistan Warn Thousands Will Lose Life-Saving Aid

International aid groups that have been ordered out of Pakistan say that hundreds of thousands of victims of violence and natural disasters might stop receiving life-saving assistance as a result of the move.
Pakistani authorities have ordered more than 20 global charities to wind up their operations within two months, including billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and the ActionAid womens’ charity, the aid groups and Interior Ministry officials said on December 14.
Open Society said the charities were given 90 days to appeal the orders, but it was “not clear how this process will be managed.” The Soros group has provided $3 million for earthquake relief and $6 million for flood relief since 2005.
The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, which represents foreign aid groups, says their work directly benefits about 29 million people in Pakistan.

Hundreds Protest Proposal To Merge Pakistani Tribal Areas With Khyber Province

Hundreds of tribesmen on December 14 gathered in the Khyber tribal district to express their opposition to a proposal to merge Pakistan’s tribal areas with the adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
While the tribes living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that stretch from North to South along the Afghan border have called for reforms of colonial-era laws and borders that are more than a century old, they have been divided over how to integrate the region into Pakistan in the future.
One group of tribesmen wants the tribal region to be a separate province, which would make it the fifth province in Pakistan, while another group is in favor of the proposed merger with adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The tribesmen protesting such a merger on December 14 warned the federal government that it would meet with resistance, however, if it tries to carry through with that plan.
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Chinese-backed Megaprojects in Myanmar Continue to Raise Ire of Residents

Myanmar activists and the leader of the country’s Catholic Church on Thursday hit out at two controversial Chinese-operated infrastructure megaprojects that they say have caused environmental damage and subjected local residents to land expropriations without adequate compensation.
Activists from the Myanmar town of Letpadaung submitted a written complaint to China’s President Xi Jinping about the Chinese company operating a controversial copper mine in Salingyi township in the country’s northwestern Sagaing region, saying the firm had failed to act on recommendations outlined in a government report.
The large project run by China’s Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd. Company and Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. (UMEHL), a Myanmar army-owned conglomerate, has come under fire by local residents and farmers who have long protested the company’s land takeovers in the area.

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Cambodia Opposition Chief Kem Sokha Calls on Court to Drop ‘Treason’ Charges

The head of Cambodia’s now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) requested that a court in the country’s capital drop all charges against him during a hearing Thursday in which he was questioned over allegations he colluded with the U.S. in a bid to topple the government.
CNRP President Kem Sokha, who has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest in September for “treason,” urged the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to dismiss the charges and release him unconditionally so that he can help to solve Cambodia’s “ongoing political crisis,” his lawyer, Hem Socheat, told RFA’s Khmer Service.
“Kem Sokha made his oral submission during the questioning hearing,” the lawyer said.
“He asked that all the charges against him be dropped and that he be released. His submission was recorded by the court clerk.

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NGO: Myanmar Violence Killed at Least 6,700 Rohingya in August-September

At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed during the first month of a crackdown in Myanmar this year, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Thursday in a report based on surveys of refugees who fled to Bangladesh, marking the highest death toll given to date.
The number of people who died in Myanmar’s Rakhine state from being shot, burned inside their homes, beaten and other grisly causes between Aug. 25 and Sept. 24 (see table) includes 730 children under age 5, according to MSF.
The combined number of Rohingya who died of violent or non-violent causes during that period was at least 9,000, but the overall death toll could be as high as nearly 14,000 people, the Geneva-headquartered international NGO said.
“We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar, who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh.

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