Southeast Asia
Java repression

Land conflicts escalate in Indonesia

Agribusiness and resource companies embroiled in land disputes with rural communities in Indonesia appear to be using the lull in oversight during the COVID-19 outbreak to strengthen their claims to contested areas. Since the first confirmed cases of the disease were reported in the country last month, two local land defenders have been killed and four arrested in connection with disputes in Sumatra, Java and Borneo. (Photo: Mongabay)

Southeast Asia
Indonesia anarchists

Police raid Java ‘anarcho-syndicalists’

Police in Jakarta arrested five suspected members of an “anarcho-syndicalist” group they claim was hoping to trigger unrest across the island of Java amid public anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic. The group allegedly painted graffiti inciting people to riot with messages such as “time to burn,” “kill the rich,” and “die ridiculously or fight” on the walls of a shopping complex in Tangerang, an outlying city of the Greater Jakarta metropolitan area. Their plan to spark mass looting was announced on social media, police said. The five have been charged with “misinformation” and “public provocation,” and face up to 10 years imprisonment. (Photo: Anarchist Communist Group)

Southeast Asia
Sulawesi atrocities

Netherlands to pay over Indonesia atrocities

The Hague District Court ordered the Netherlands to pay compensation to the relatives of 11 men executed by Dutch soldiers in South Sulawesi in 1946 and 1947, during the 1945-49 Indonesian War of Independence. Ten of the cases under consideration were found to be summary executions; there was one case in which a man was randomly shot. The largest compensation, in the form of intangible damages of €10,000, was awarded to a man who witnessed his father’s summary execution when he was a child. The relatives of other men were awarded material compensation for lost livelihood, varying from €123.48 to €3,634. The court explained that the amounts are low because many of the executed men were farmers who only earned about €100 a year. This judgment follows a series of “Indonesia cases,” which the Dutch courts have been hearing since 2011. (Photo: KITLV)

Southeast Asia
Rohingya refugees

ICJ: Burma must prevent Rohingya genocide

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled unanimously that Myanmar (Burma) must take “provisional measures” to address the “ongoing risk of genocide” faced by the remaining Rohingya people within the country’s borders. The Gambia brought the complaint before the ICJ, and the trial commenced in December. The Gambia requested that the ICJ institute “provisional measures” against Myanmar to ensure the protection of the Rohingya people during the trial and to preserve evidence. The court found that given the inherent gravity of genocide allegations and the prima facie evidence already presented, provisional measures were necessary to preserve the rights of the Rohingya currently remaining in Myanmar. (Photo: VOA via Jurist)

Southeast Asia
Indonesia

China-Indonesia maritime stand-off

Dozens of Chinese vessels that were fishing in Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone off the disputed island of Natuna began leaving the area after days of stand-off. Indonesia deployed eight warships and four fighter jets to the area, and summoned Beijing’s ambassador to complain. China reportedly sent three coast guard cutters into the area during the stand-off. The Natuna archipelago, off the northwest coast of Borneo, occupies a strategic spot in the South China Sea. Its waters contain significant oil and gas reserves, and it guards the eastern opening of the narrow Malacca Strait, a critical chokepoint for shipping lanes. The archipelago falls within China’s “nine-dash line,” covering nearly the entirety of the South China Sea. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Southeast Asia

Killings of ecological defenders rise in Philippines

Named the most dangerous country in the world for land and environmental defenders, the Philippines has become an even deadlier place for activists in 2019, with 46 recorded deaths so far this year, according to the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. The same organization recorded 28 killings of land and environmental defenders in 2018. Global Witness, an environmental watchdog, tallied 30 such killings in the Philippines that year and designated the country the most dangerous in the world for defenders based on sheer number of deaths. Small farmers and agricultural workers accounted for the majority of the deaths recorded by Kalikasan PNE this year with 29, or 63%. This was followed by forest rangers or government officials involved in environmental oversight, at 35%. Next were members of the Philippines’ indigenous peoples at 20%, and finally lawyers and church workers at four percent. (Image of man from the Manobo tribe of Mindanao via Mongabay)

Southeast Asia

Philippines: convictions in Maguindanao massacre

More than a decade after 58 people were killed in the worst case of election-related violence in Philippine history, a court in Quezon City found Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan guilty of overseeing the November 2009 massacre at Maguindanao. They were sentenced to 40 years without parole. The pair were convicted on 57 counts of murder in the attack on a convoy that included journalists covering an opposition candidate for the governorship of Maguindanao province. Police said 58 were killed in the massacre, but the body of one victim was never found. Their father, then-incumbent governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., was arrested in connection with the case and died in prison while awaiting trial in 2015. The court sentenced a further 15, including more Ampatuan family members and police officials, to between six and 10 years as accessories to the crime. (Photo: Relatives of victims burn portraits of Ampatuan clan members during visit to massacre site. Credit: MindaNews)

South Asia
rohingya girl

Bangladesh denies education to Rohingya children

Human Rights Watch reports that the Bangladesh government is violating the right to education of nearly 400,000 school-age Rohingya refugee children by barring UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs from providing the children with any formal, accredited education. The government’s policy prevents Rohingya from integrating into Bangladeshi society, barring their children from enrolling in schools in local communities outside the camps or taking national school examinations. According to HRW, Bangladesh is violating its obligations to ensure the right to education under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other treaties, and its obligation to the integration of refugee children into national education systems under the Global Compact on Refugees. (Photo: Wikimedia/Shirin Kona)

Southeast Asia
Rohingya refugees

Aung San Suu Kyi to face genocide charges

Human rights groups, together with the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, filed a criminal lawsuit in Argentina, alleging that the government and military of Burma, including State Counsellor (and de facto leader) Aung San Suu Kyi, have committed crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya minority. The complaint includes numerous accounts of mass killings, rapes and torture committed by government forces. The suit was filed with the Argentine federal courts under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that any country can prosecute for certain grave crimes regardless of whether the crimes were committed within that country’s territory. (Photo: VOA via Jurist)

Southeast Asia
Indonesia anarchists

Indonesia: inauguration amid revolt, repression

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo was sworn in for a second term amid an official ban on protests, and Jakarta’s streets flooded with military troops. The inauguration was preceded by a wave of mass protests, led by students but joined by labor unions and radicalized anarchist youth. The demonstrations were sparked by a new law that weakens Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency, and another instating such moralistic measures as a ban on extramarital sex. But anger was also directed at plans for a tough new criminal code, at troops mobilized to put down unrest in Papua region, and failure to stem forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo now causing toxic haze across Southeast Asia. (Photo: Anarchist Communist Group)

South Asia
Rohingya

Bangladesh: ‘climate of fear’ in Rohingya camps

Rights groups say there’s a “climate of intense fear” in the Bangladesh refugee camps for Rohingya who have fled Burma, following the killings of six refugees by police officers. Police officials say the men were involved in the murder of a local Bangladeshi man and killed in “crossfires”; critics say such language is often used to cover up extrajudicial killings. Tensions in southern Bangladesh have risen over the last two years as the refugee emergency evolves into a long-term crisis. (Photo: UNHCR)

Southeast Asia

Duterte defiant in ‘crimes against humanity’

Both UN human rights experts and Amnesty International are accusing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte of “crimes against humanity” in his drug war. Calls for an international investigation were endorsed by a vote of the UN Human Rights Council. But Duterte remains intransigent and refuses to recognize the International Criminal Court. Amid growing international scruitny, his police killed a three-year-old girl in a drug raid. Duterte’s former police chief, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, now a political ally in the Senate, dismissed the incident with the comment “Shit happens,” fueling further outrage. (Photo via Rappler)