This week Just Asia begins with Malaysia, which has become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after signing the tribunal’s founding treaty Monday. Malaysia becomes the 124th member of the court since its establishment in 2002, a boost to the court, which has suffered several setbacks recently. The ICC is the world’s only permanent war crimes court, and aims to prosecute gross abuses when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.
Next, Bangladesh’s minister for disaster and relief management confirmed that the government will relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island by mid-April. Bhashan Char, an island that emerged from the Bay of Bengal in 2006, is about 30 kilometers from the mainland. While the Minister said that all facilities to make the island livable have been provided, rights groups and others have repeatedly said the island is unsafe for habitation.
Moving to Indonesia, there have been massive protests against the government’s plan to place military officers within civilian institutions. According to civil society groups, allowing the military back into civilian institutions will seriously endanger the future of democracy and civil liberties in Indonesia. It will also undo the steps taken since the 1998 political reform after former dictator Suharto stepped down.
India’s agricultural crisis is deepening, with the lowest farm income growth observed in the country over the past five years. According to government data, 2018 was the worst year for farm incomes in almost two decades, resulting in farmers throwing their produce on roads, after not even getting transport costs. There has also been an increase in the number of farmers killing themselves. Just Asia speaks to Avinash Pandey, Right to Food Coordinator at the AHRC, for his views.
Lastly, in Bangladesh, at least three garment manufacturers that supply European brands such as H&M and Next, have laid off thousands of workers weeks after they joined wage protests. Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Bangladesh authorities to immediately investigate the workers’ allegations of arbitrary dismissals and false criminal cases. After strikes in mid-January, union leaders have reported at least 7,500 garment workers were dismissed from their jobs. Some of those dismissed were vaguely accused of vandalism and looting.
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