This week Just Asia begins with a message of solidarity for the victims of the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand. In a cowardly act of terrorism, a lone gunman shot people attending Friday prayers at two mosques, with the death toll reaching 50. The Asian Human Rights Commission in its statement, noted that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s exemplary leadership at this time, supporting the affected communities and proposing changes to the country’s gun laws, is worthy of ‘emulation by other countries’.
Next, the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court came into effect on Sunday, March 17. In response, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda noted that the court’s preliminary examination into Duterte’s war on drugs would continue, since the ICC “retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time in which the State was party” to the Rome Statute.
Moving to Cambodia, a court on Monday issued warrants for top opposition leaders living in exile, after they started making plans to return. The Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders Sam Rainsy, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhai Eang are accused of incitement to commit a felony and plotting to commit treason. The party was disbanded by the government in 2017, clearing the way for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party to control all 125 National Assembly seats and strengthening his power. In response, the European Union has begun the process of withdrawing its preferential trade agreement with Cambodia.
Moving to Indonesia, victims and family members of the Talangsari massacre are outraged by an unlawful agreement between local parliamentarians, government officials, community and military representatives. According to the agreement, all the signatories will end all investigation into the Talangsari massacre. The Talangsari massacre of 1989 resulted in 5 abductions, 47 summary killings, 88 disappearances, 36 cases of torture, and 175 arbitrary arrests by the military.
In Hong Kong, police arrested five women staging a protest inside government headquarters last Friday. The women were protesting over a proposal to allow fugitives to be extradited to mainland China, raising human rights concerns.
Lastly, Vietnam saw the rejection of the appeal of five activists who were sentenced to lengthy imprisonment on charges of subversion last year. The Ho Chi Minh City high court on Monday upheld their sentences ranging from eight to 15 years, which also include three years of probation. Another activist, Le Minh The, will go to trial on March 20, for his posts on Facebook. Since Vietnam’s problematic Cyber Security Law became effective in January this year, the police have arrested at least three people for their Facebook posts.
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