The Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Cambodia charged four environmental activists with conspiracy and insulting the king, a prosecutor confirmed after three activists were arrested for documenting raw sewage discharge into the Tonlé Sap River. Three of the charged conservationists were sent to pre-trial detention, while the fourth, Mother Nature Cambodia co-founder Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, was charged in absentia. The four face a sentence of up to 10 years for the conspiracy charge. The charge for insulting the king carries an additional one to five years. (Photo of Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson via Phnom Penh Post)
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors rejected a complaint filed by exiled Uighurs calling for an investigation of China on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The complaint was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds; the People’s Republic of China, like the United States, does not recognize the ICC. But on the question of forcible removal from countries where the ICC does have jurisdiction, the text of the rejection parsed definitions very closely. While acknowledging forced deportations of Uighurs from Tajikistan and Cambodia back to China to face potential internment and persecution, the ICC stated: “Not all conduct which involves the forcible removal of persons from a location necessarily constitutes the crime of forcible transfer or deportation.” (Photo: ETNAM)
Lawyers submitted a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC), demanding that an investigation be opened into senior Chinese leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed against the Uighurs and other Turkic peoples. The complaint was filed on behalf of the East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM). China is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, but the lawyers argue that the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over these crimes because part of the criminal conduct occurred within the territory of two signatory states—Tajikistan and Cambodia. The complaint asserts that Uighur victims have been unlawfully deported to the People’s Republic of China from Tajikistan and Cambodia to face abuses including murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, forced sterilization, and forced marriages. (Photo: ETNAM)
In countries across the world, the impoverished are in a grimly paradoxical position: disproportionately impacted both by COVID-19 and by the police-state measures imposed in response to the pandemic—and consequent economic pain. In Lebanon, which had been in the midst of a national uprising before the lockdown, protests have been re-ignited—and with far greater anger. In Venezuela and Argentina, harshly overcrowded prisons have exploded into uprisings over emergency restrictions that leave inmates incommunicado. As in India, stranded migrant laborers line the highways in Peru, defying lockdown orders that have left them destitute, far from home and without employment. UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet warns that “the public health emergency risks becoming a human rights disaster, with negative effects that will long outlast the pandemic itself.” (Photo: Rebelión)
It’s an irony that with police-state measures mounting worldwide to enforce lockdowns and contain COVID-19, Trump is now claiming sweeping executive power to lift lockdowns in the US in spite of the pandemic. Asserting his prerogative to override state governors and order economies open again, Trump stated: “When someone is president of the United States, the authority is total.” The media response has been to call this out as blatantly unconstitutional. While it is necessary to point out the illegitimacy of Trump’s pretended power-grab, it is also side-stepping the real threat here: of the pandemic being exploited to declare an actual “state of exception” in which constitutional restraints are suspended altogether—perhaps permanently. (Photo of protest outside “morgue truck” in New York City: Donna Aceto/Rise and Resist)
Cambodia's National Assembly passed a bill prohibiting political parties from being affiliated with convicted criminals—clearly aimed at weakening the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, whose leader Sam Rainsy was sentenced to two years on "defamation" charges. The CNRP is building support among peasants angered by land-grabbing, and several peasant leaders also face politically motivated charges for opposing land-grabs by agribusiness interests.
Xi Jinping is weighing whether he will be invited to join the authoritarian New Order—or whether Putin will desert him for Trump, and the two of them will gang up on China.
Journalist Taing Tri, of a local newspaper in Cambodia's Kratie province, was shot dead as he attempted to photograph trucks transporting illegal luxury wood.
A Cambodian court convicted 23 unionists of inciting violence during a mass garment workers' strike but suspended their prison terms under international pressure.
Cambodian military police opened fire on striking garment factory workers, killing four, and then dispersed a protest encampment from a central square in Phnom Penh.
Prominent Cambodian rights activist Mam Sonando was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being convicted of insurrection and inciting rebellion against the state.
Beijing's move to set up a military garrison on disputed Yongxing Island—claimed by the Philippines as part of the Paracel chain—is escalating tension in the South China Sea.