This week Just Asia begins with Thailand, where police issued summons to at least another 47 individuals on May 29, for exercising their freedom of peaceful assembly to call for elections and democracy. Fifteen others were charged by the police earlier, also for participating at an assembly held at Thammasat University and the UN ESCAP building in Bangkok on May 21-22nd. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights is calling on all concerned groups and individuals to monitor the legal proceedings against the accused, and to urge the Thai government to hold free and fair elections this year as promised.
Next, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told a UN human rights expert to “go to hell”, warning against interference in domestic affairs. Duterte said this after UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego Garcia-Sayan, noted that the dismissal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte called an “enemy” for voting against controversial government proposals, was ‘sending a chilling message to other supreme court judges and members of the judiciary’.
Indian farmers went on a 10-day strike beginning June 1, facing an ever aggravating agrarian crisis. The farmers are demanding better minimum support prices for their produce, farm loan waivers, higher compensation for damaged crops and full implementation of the MS Swaminathan report. They have refused to sell anything to cities in these 10 days, leading to a shortage of even basic amenities like milk and vegetables.
Moving to Burma, the country’s National Security Adviser Thaung Tun, said Burma is willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh amidst a military crackdown if they volunteer to return. Burma signed an agreement with the United Nations on Thursday to this effect. It also said it would set up an independent commission to investigate “the violation of human rights and related issues” in Rakhine. Thaung Tun said that while the military had the right to defend the country, if investigations showed they had acted illegally, action would be taken.
Next, Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited victims and family members of past human rights abuses to the Presidential Palace last Thursday, and promised to prioritize resolving their cases. While the President did not give any detailed policies or steps regarding how he would deal with the past abuses, the victims and family members urged him to ensure that the cases are tried before the ad hoc human rights court as mandated by Law No. 26 of 2000 on Human Rights Court.
Lastly, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features three cases from the Philippines.
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