This week Just Asia begins with Hong Kong, where continuing protests are seeing an increase in police violence. Video footage shows police firing tear gas in enclosed areas, keeping a bleeding protester on the ground, and using batons to hit fleeing protesters. One woman suffered a ruptured eye due to a fired bean bag round, although authorities say there is a lack of evidence that the round was fired by police. A press briefing by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the HK authorities to ‘act with restraint’, and to uphold all international norms regarding the use of force.
Next, in Indian controlled Kashmir, residents have been unable to make phone calls, access the Internet or move freely, ever since India announced a move to strip Kashmir of its autonomy last week. Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s special constitutional status on August 5, the Indian government imposed broad restrictions on freedom of movement and communication, and sent thousands of additional troops to Kashmir. Hundreds of political leaders and party members were detained or placed under house arrest.
In Cambodia, two journalists charged with espionage said they were hopeful they will go free after their trial concluded last Friday. The case against Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin is seen as a flagrant attack on freedom of the press. The two have been charged with undermining national security, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. They were arrested in November 2017 during a crackdown on the media and political opponents of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, in the run-up to the 2018 elections. The verdict will be announced on August 30.
In Nepal, police have been calling human rights activists and inquiring about their professional affiliations. The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that at least three senior activists received calls from persons identifying themselves as police officers. The callers made inquiries about the activists’ organizations and other affiliations. This is particularly alarming as Nepal’s current government has shown itself to be critical of dissenting voices.
Moving to Bangladesh, the UN Committee Against Torture called on the government to investigate credible allegations that police and security forces routinely torture detainees, and to prosecute perpetrators. This was the first time that the independent experts examined the record of Bangladesh, since its ratification of the Convention against Torture in 1999.
The panel voiced concern at allegations of “widespread and routine commission of torture and ill-treatment in (Bangladesh) by law enforcement officials for the purpose of obtaining confessions or to solicit the payment of bribes”.
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