This week Just Asia begins with Hong Kong, where protests are continuing over the government’s proposed extradition bill. Thousands gathered outside the Legislative Council headquarters on Wednesday, where the bill was meant to be discussed for the second time. While the protest began peacefully, towards the latter part of the day police resorted to using tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray to keep protesters away from parliament headquarters. As of 10 p.m. on Wednesday, 72 persons were injured, with two in critical conditions. Just Asia speaks to Hui Chi-Fung, a Hong Kong Legislative Council Member for his views.
Moving to the Philippines, a group of United Nations human rights experts is calling for an international inquiry into the “staggering number” of unlawful killings under President Duterte. Prior to a new session of the Human Rights Council this month, 11 UN special rapporteurs have made a statement condemning the violence and intimidation practiced by Duterte’s government, and the prevailing climate of official impunity.
In Indonesia, several national human rights groups in the country conducted an investigation into the violence and excessive use of force by the police during the massive public protest on May 22 in Jakarta. The investigation found that police committed a number of human rights violations when forcibly dispersing the protest against alleged election fraud, including torture and a lack of legal aid for detainees. The investigation was conducted by Jakarta Legal Aid, Press Legal Aid and KontraS, amongst other organizations.
Next, in Vietnam, an environmental activist has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment under a new cybersecurity law. The European Union has called the sentence a breach of Vietnam’s international human rights agreements. Nguyen Ngoc Anh, a 39-year old shrimp farmer from the southern town of Binh Dai, was arrested and tried for what state media described as “making, storing, releasing, and circulating information and documents against the state.”
Lastly, Thailand continues to see intimidation against political activists. In the most recent case, democracy activist Sirawith Seritiwat was attacked on June 2 after launching a campaign against voting for the Prime Minister. On May 13, Aekachai Hongkangwan was violently attacked in front of the Bangkok Criminal Court after attending a hearing on the case against activists protesting for elections. Similarly, Anurak Jeantawanich was subjected to two physical attacks this year, the latest of which took place on May 25. A joint statement issued by The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and other concerned organizations notes that there have been hardly any proper investigations into this intimidation, with no one brought to justice.
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