East Asia

China: rights lawyer arrested for urging reform

Human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng was charged with “inciting subversion of state officials” after calling for reform to China’s constitution. Yu was arrested by a SWAT team at his home in Beijing just hours after he wrote an open letter urging democratic changes, including multi-party presidential election. He is now being held incommunicado at a secret site under the special status of “Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location.” The “subversion” charge carries a sentence of 15 years. Since the current crackdown began in July 2015, more than 300 rights activists and lawyers have faced charges in China. (Photo: chinaworker.info)


Turkey's Offensive in Afrin Follows Assad's Offensive in Idlib

by Aron Lund, IRIN

A Syrian government offensive in northwestern Syria has already forced more than 200,000 civilians to flee in less than a month, with tens of thousands more at risk as fighting escalates. And with Afrin now under fire from the Turkish army and its allies, it could get much worse still.

Over the past month, Syrian government forces have been pushing into rebel-controlled Idlib Province, and Turkey is now in the early days of an attack on the nearby Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

Both areas, particularly Idlib, house large numbers of civilians who have already been internally displaced. While Afrin’s crisis is just beginning, some 210,000 people are on the run in Idlib Province. More than half are minors, and Save the Children describes this wave as one of the worst displacement crises of Syria’s nearly seven-year war.

"Many are sheltering in the open in freezing temperatures or in abandoned buildings," the group said in statement. "With fighting closing in on all sides, many are trapped with nowhere left to flee."


ISIS claims latest Kabul attack

A coordinated attack on a compound of the Afghan army in capital Kabul left at least 11 soldiers dead. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the barracks of the army's 111th division in Qargha district before a small team of gunmen moved in. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency. This was the third large attack in Kabul since Taliban insurgents launched an assault on Intercontinental Hotel that left over 20 dead. The second attack came when presumed Taliban militants denoted an ambulance packed with explosives near an Interior Ministry compound, killing over 100. Another six people were killed in an assault claimed by ISIS on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad. (Photo: Khaama Press)