This week Just Asia begins with Bangladesh, where police arrested a prominent government critic on Monday. Police said Moinul Hosein, a top lawyer and publisher of an English daily, was detained after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina slammed him for his comments against a pro-government female journalist. His arrest comes in the wake of a recent government crackdown against the opposition before upcoming general elections.
Moving to India, corruption within the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation is being exposed as the agency wars within itself. Agency director Alok Verma suspended his deputy Rakesh Asthana, and a police complaint was filed against him. In turn, Asthana accused Verma of extortion. Finally, the Central Government has sent both Verma and Aasthana on forced leave, while the Supreme Court hears Verma’s plea challenging his removal.
Prominent Vietnamese activist and blogger, known online as Mother Mushroom, was released last week to fly to the United States. Mother Mushroom was arrested in 2016 and accused of “conducting propaganda against the state.” She had written about sensitive subjects such as corruption, land appropriation and pollution. She was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2017. In recent years, Vietnam has engaged in a widespread crackdown on online dissent.
Human rights activists from various Asian nations are demanding the release of Asia Bibi and an end to religious intolerance in Pakistan. Convicted of blasphemy, Asia Bibi has been on death row since 2010. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard her appeal, but reserved its judgment. In response, the extremist group Tehrik-e-Labaik has promised a “horrible end” to judges who dare to free Bibi.
Next, a regional workshop on the Asian Human Rights Charter was held in Sri Lanka. The workshop was a platform to discuss three new declarations, the Right to Justice, the Right to Peace and the Right to Culture, prepared on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Asian Human Rights Charter.
Moving to Indonesia, four years after President Joko Widodo’s inauguration, there has been no resolution of past cases of human rights abuse. Even current human rights cases have been ignored, such as the acid attack against senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission, Mr. Novel Baswedan. As a result, victims and family of victims are still conducting weekly Black Thursday demonstrations in front of the Presidential Palace.
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