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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

May Day Marches around the world

In Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America on May 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

WORLD — Hundreds of thousands of people around the world march on May Day for better working conditions, pay, or against capitalism.

Thousands of workers protested in the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and other Asian nations, with demands for wage hikes amid soaring oil prices a common theme, Associated Press reports. In Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, nearly ten thousand protesters marched dressed in red toward the presidential palace which was blocked by the police.

In Greece thousands of people marched in the capital city of Athens to protest the austerity measures that have crippled the country. Marches and protests are planned in other European countries as well. In Germany May Day is often preceded by riots in the night before, especially in Berlin and Hamburg. This year left-wing youths merely threw bottles and fireworks at police cars.

In other countries, May Day has been co-opted by the establishment to promote themselves. In Russia around 100,000 people marched including president Medvedev and president-elect Putin in the capital city of Moscow. The May Day march in Moscow targeted opposition groups.




CPI ready to merge with CPM

In Asia on April 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm

INDIA– The newly elected general secretary of the Communist Party of India, Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, reiterated here on Friday the party’s stand that it wants “a reunification of the Communist movement” in the country, but such a development was not possible unless the Communist Party of India (Marxist) responds.

“The CPI in principle stands for reunification of the Communist movement, but this does not depend on the CPI alone,” Mr Reddy told journalists emphasising that the party did not want to “create a controversy on the issue.”

“If the CPI (M) would like to respond at any time, we can certainly have discussions with them on the matter. But at the moment we would want to focus on the joint action that the Left parties can take that will bring our party cadres in closer contact,” he said when asked if he felt that the two parties should merge.

“The issue of merger of CPI and CPM is also being discussed for the last two decades. As a matter of fact we can only say that the we stand for the reunification of the Communist movement in India,” Reddy told journalists emphasizing that the party did not want to “create a controversy on the issue”.

“CPI is for reunification of the Communist movement. But it does not depend on the CPI alone. At the same time we don’t want to make it a point of controversy. We want to take up programmes that will bring the cadres of the both parties together that will ultimately lead to unification”.

– Viktor

1,200 Palestinians on hunger strike

In Asia on April 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Jeruzalem, Israel — Circa 1200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons went on hunger strike on Tuesday for an undisclosed time to protest prison conditions.

Another 2300 Palestinian prisoners decided to refuse food for one day. This was affirmed by a spokesperson of the Israeli government.

The Palestinians protest the Israeli use of so-called “administrative detention” which means anyone can be imprisoned for an indefinite period of time without any formal charge. Administrative detention is six months, but it can be renewed an infinite amount of times, in practice meaning any prisoner can be imprisoned for life without any due process or formal charge.

The hunger strike began on the Palestinian Day of the Prisoners.


Taliban Raid Causes 400 Prisoners To Escape

In Asia on April 15, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Bannu, Pakistan —  Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as “very dangerous” insurgents, authorities and the militants said.

Pakistan’s al Qaeda-linked Taliban movement, which has close links to al Qaeda, said its fighters mounted the assault, which triggered clashes. Several people were wounded.

“We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way,” a Taliban spokesman said.

While the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan have staged several jailbreaks, such operations are rare in Pakistan, one of the most unstable countries in the

A police official said most of the escapees from the jail in the northwestern town of Bannu were militants.

“I don’t remember the exact time, but it must have been way past midnight. There were huge explosions. Plaster from the ceilings fell on us,” said prisoner Malik Nazeef, speaking by mobile phone from the jail in the town of Bannu.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, is seen as the biggest threat, staging suicide bombings and shootings in a drive to impose its harsh version of Islam in the nuclear-armed country.

The attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at the black, metal gates of the prison, blowing them open. Debris was strewn on the ground inside, including locks that were shot off doors. Walls were pockmarked with bullet holes.

An assault of this scale will likely generate fresh questions over Pakistan’s progress in fighting militancy since joining the U.S.-led campaign against militancy, launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Pakistan’s performance has come under more intense scrutiny since U.S. special forces in May last year found Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town, where he had apparently been living for years, and killed him in a secret raid.

– Viktor

N Korea launches missile, but fails to reach space.

In Asia on April 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

SEOUL, South Korea — The launch of the three-stage Unha-3 rocket took place at 7:39 A.M. local time, according to South Korean officials. Pyongyang has claimed that the launch was to place a communications satellite in space, but the U.S., Japan, South Korea and other nations view it as part of North Korea’s attempt to advance its military ballistic missile capacity.

Within minutes of the early morning launch, the U.S. and South Korea declared it a failure. North Korea acknowledged that hours later in an announcement broadcast on state TV, saying its satellite hadn’t enter into orbit.

The launch was timed to celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, the deceased founder of the state, and to coincide with the ascent to power of his grandson Kim Jong-un.

“The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit,” a newsreader said on North Korea’s state TV.

“Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure.”

It was an unusual admission of failure by the unpredictable regime, since it will be seen by its 23 million people who are only given access to state-controlled news sources. A similarly-failed launch in 2009 was touted by the North as a success.

Friday’s launch breached the terms of a recent aid deal struck with the United States as well as United Nations sanctions. Washington, Tokyo and Seoul issued sharp rebukes and said they would step up cooperation and vigilance.

“Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

“The missile traveled one to two minutes and broke apart in the air. It broke into 20 separate pieces,” Shin Won-shik, a South Korean Defense Ministry official, said at a briefing Friday morning.

Shin said some of the debris fell 60 to 90 miles off the west coast of South Korea.

The leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations meeting in Washington, including Russia, condemned the launch. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, scheduled an emergency meeting for later Friday, and Washington said it was suspending plans to contribute food aid to the North in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programs. Russia had earlier urged Pyongyang not to conduct the launch, saying it would violate a UN Security Council resolution regardless of its purpose and complicate efforts to revive six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program.

“UN Security Council Resolution No. 1874 demands that the DPRK (North Korea) refrain from any launches using ballistic rockets. This applies to both military and civilian launches,” Interfax quoted the Russian official as saying.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, said the first stage fell into the sea west of South Korea, and the remainder of the satellite-carrying missile was deemed to have failed.

“No debris fell on land,” NORAD said. “At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat.

The world’s most militarized border separates North and South Korea and the two states remain technically at war after an armistice ended the Korean War in 1953.

South Korea said it was dispatching ships to try to retrieve the rocket, which it said split into 20 fragments as the first and second stages failed to separate, showing that the new rocket had failed to travel as far as the previous one in 2009.

A Russian observer, a space policy expert from the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, told Reuters in Pyongyang that long range rocket launches took time to perfect.

“So I would be quite surprised if the third launch of a North Korean rocket would end up in a success, although I believe that they had from 60 to 70 percent chance to successfully put the satellite into orbit,” said Yuri Karash.

– Viktor

Israel plans to block pro-Palestinian Fly-In

In Asia on April 11, 2012 at 1:30 am

ISRAEL — Israel has finalised plans which, it hopes, will stop pro-Palestinian activists’ plans to fly to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on Sunday and then travel on to the West Bank.

Organisers of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign hope this years campaign will welcome atleast 2,000 people from Europe to attend the event.

“The Israelis say what we want to do is an agressive act. The point is to see friends and also to challenge the Israelis stopping people going to Palestine. I just want to visit. Why can’t I?” – Dee Murphy says.

Israel doesn’t agree with Dee Murphey, they instead view the campaign as a “flytilla”, and is doing its best to stop the activists from boarding flights at European airports.

Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israeli public security minister, stated that pro-Palestinian campaigners who arrive at Israeli airports will be held at airport detention facilities until flights are available to take them home.

“Israel will prevent this provocation, the same way any other country bars the entry of hostile entities,” Yitzhak said. “We will handle the provocateurs as quickly and efficiently as possible, but we will not be chasing them down the airport halls.”

West Bank organisers of the campaign said the aim was to highlight Israel’s control of access to the area.

This is the third time a fly-in has been arranged. In 2010 organisers claimed that about 100 foreigners were able to arrive without incident, reach the West Bank and participate in a series of solidarity events.

– Viktor

Chinese Politician Loses Power; Wife Accused of Murder.

In Asia on April 11, 2012 at 12:47 am

BEIJING, CHINA — Bo Xilai, The Communist leader who sought to destroy gangsters that controlled the mega-city of Chongqing, was removed from power and his wife has been accused of murder.

According to Xinhua News Agency, a state-ran media agency reported the news Tuesday, just weeks after Bo was relieved of his duties in the city that he helped become a powerful economic city of China.

“[Bo] has been suspended from the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee and its powerful 25-member Politburo. The son of a Maoist-era revolutionary, Bo is under investigation for “serious discipline violations.” Xinhua reported.

His wife, Gu Kailai, and family aide Zhang Xiaojun have been handed over to authorities as suspects in the death of of British businessman Neil Heywood, Xinhuar said.

Heywood’s body was discovered dead on Nov. 15 in a hotel room in Chongqing. Chinese officals first stated Heywood died from alcohol posioning.

Bo’s reputatin hit rock bottom when his police chief, Wang Lijun, made an apparent asylum bid in February at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, casting a shadow over preparations for the once-a-decade handover of power this fall to a new lineup of leaders. Until then, he was set to join the nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo, the top decision-making body in China.

“the Chinese government tells the world defiantly that it has nothing but disdain for human rights and that it treats its international and constitutional obligations merely as decorations,” said Renee Xia, international director of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Hong Kong-based rights group.

– Viktor

Turkey accuses Syria of killing two civilians on Turkish soil

In Asia on April 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Killis, Turkey — The Turkish authorities have accused Syria of shooting at Syrian refugees who resided near the Syrian border on Turkish soil, on Sunday.

Syrian activists claim that a large number of Syrian troops and armor resided near the Turkish border. A Turkish government official said the three people who were wounded — two of whom were Syrian and one Turkish translator — were hit when they tried and failed to rescue two civilians who were shot and killed near the border. The incident occurred six miles into Turkey, near the town of Killis. The Turkish Foreign Ministry had asked a Syrian diplomat in Ankara to provide information, the officials said, and there were conflicting accounts about the episode.

The shootings indicate the fragility of the cease-fire proposal which entailed the withdrawal from all major cities, 48 hours before the truce begins. Both the Syrian government and the insurgents going by the name of the Free Syrian Army seem unwilling to hold to their end of the bargain. Syria demanded written guarantees from rebel forces that they would lay down their arms before the government forces withdrew. The Free Syrian Army responded by saying that they expected the truce to fail as a result of this.

Thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed the border into Turkey since the uprising broke out last year.

Human Rights Watch: ‘more than 100 executions in Syria’

In Asia on April 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

Damascus, Syria — Syrian security forces are alleged to have executed more than 100 civilians, wounded, and captured combatants, in the past months. The number of opponents executed under the regime of Al-Assad is possibly much higher, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

In this report, Human Rights Watch describes ten incidents in which a total number of 101 people were killed since late 2011. In a war or armed conflict, soldiers are a legitimate target. Wounded or captured combatants and civilians are not, and is considered war crimes.

Earlier, Human Rights Watch published a report which stated Syrian rebels committed war crimes as well. Human Rights Watch calls for those responsible to be send to trial in the International Criminal Court.


Veteran communist leader Promode Gogoi passes away

In Asia on April 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

New Delhi, India — Senior CPI member and veteran communist leader Promode Gogoi has passed away at the age of 82 on Friday.

Gogoi was the president of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and vice-president of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and was re-elected to the CPI National Executive at the recent party congress held in Patna from March 27 to 31. From 1996 till 2001 he served as water resource minister.

He joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) in the pre-independence period and worked to improve the lives of peasants, workers, and the poor throughout his life.

Gogoi was elected to the Assam Assembly in 1967 from Sibsagar, and he won from the same constituency in 1972, 1978, 1991 and 1996. He also served as Assam CPI State secretary from 1975 to 1988; had been a member of the Central Secretariat since 1975.

Governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi described his death as an “irreparable loss” to Assam. The Chief Minister said the State would always remember the service he rendered for the poor and for its overall development.

Mr. Gogoi was admitted to a private hospital here on April 2 following nasal bleeding and passed away Friday.

Published by Tim Cornelis