This week Just Asia begins with Malaysia, where more than one hundred foreigners in immigration detention centers have died in the past two years. There were 83 deaths in 2015, and at least 35 in 2016, from various diseases and unknown causes. More than half of the 118 dead are from Burma. A commissioner from the National Human Rights Commission who has visited several detention centers, described conditions as “appalling” and said the deaths should be investigated as a criminal matter.
In Pakistan, the government continues to harass academics. Most recently, a professor at Karachi University, Dr. Riaz Ahmed, was arrested by Pakistan Rangers on April 1, just before he was to address a press conference regarding the detention of his colleague.
Next, Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che has been detained by authorities in China, on suspicion that he took part in activities endangering state security. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office announced his detention on March 29, 10 days after Lee went missing in the Chinese territory of Macau. Campaigners in Hong Kong and Taiwan are calling for Lee’s release, as well as guarantees that he will not be tortured.
In India, the Hyderabad High Court acquitted Satyam Babu in the Ayesha Meera rape and murder case on March 31, on grounds of no evidence. Satyam Babu has been serving a life sentence for the past eight years, after a court found him guilty in 2010. Nineteen year old Ayesha Meera, a pharmacy student, was found to have been raped and murdered in a hostel in 2007.
In China, a group of international and local NGOs and lawyers are calling on the Chinese government to uphold fair trial principles and due process in the upcoming trials of prominent lawyers and activists. Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang, Xie Yan and Wu Gan are all awaiting trial for allegedly ‘subverting state power’. All four individuals have complained of torture and inhuman treatment during detention. Since July 2015, the Chinese government has cracked down on over 300 human rights lawyers, law firm staff and human rights defenders.
Lastly, in Indonesia, Jakarta police have announced they will investigate and summon activists involved in the death of cement factory protester Mrs. Patmi, despite the doctor stating that Mrs. Patmi passed away due to health issues. Meanwhile, President Widodo has taken no action since the protests and death of Mrs. Patmi on March 21, to stop the development of the cement factory in Kendeng, Rembang regency, Central Java. Protesters and human rights activists are very disappointed with the government’s indifference to this matter. Just Asia speaks to Mr. Fatkhul Khoir, coordinator of Kontras Surabaya, for his views.
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