The Global Digest

Asia Pacific

POSCO Judgment of National Green Tribunal - Briefing Note

Protest against POSCO Company in India

On Mar. 30, 2012, the National Green Tribunal held in Prafulla Samantra and Anr. vs Union of India and Ors. that the 31.1.2011 final order of the Environment Ministry - permitting the POSCO project to go ahead with certain conditions - should be suspended until a full review of the project can be undertaken (by specialists with fresh terms of reference). The NGT Bench consisted of Justice C.V. Ramulu, Judicial Member, and Dr. Devendra Kumar Agarwal, Expert Member.

The tribunal has observed that, “A close scrutiny of the entire scheme … reveals that a project of this magnitude particularly in partnership with a foreign country has been dealt with casually, without there being any comprehensive scientific data regarding the possible environmental impacts. No meticulous scientific study was made on each and every aspect of the matter leaving lingering and threatening environmental and ecological doubts un-answered.” (para 7, page 22)

It has also seriously questioned the appointment of Ms. Meena Gupta as the chairperson of the review committee which was set up by the MoEF in 2010. The judgement states that Ms. Gupta's appointment was "definitely hit by personal / official / departmental bias, in other words, she supported the decision made by her earlier. This is in gross violation of principles of natural justice." (para 6.9 page 22)

Key Directions of the Green Tribunal

The Tribunal has directed a "fresh review of the Project" (para 8.1) that has to look at the problems noted in this judgment as well as the majority and minority reports of the earlier Enquiry Committee (see list of dates), etc. In particular it has to look at:

Land and infrastructure: The clearance was given for a 4 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant, but the land, water etc. were allocated for a 12 MTPA project (which has been POSCO's stated plan). The judgment directs MoEF to "consider optimizing the total land requirement for 4 MTPA steel plant proportionately."(para 8.5) Moreover, the impacts of other infrastructure for the plant have not been assessed at all, even though they were planned for a 12 MTPA plant.

Issues that should have been done now, but which MoEF left for future studies: On several points highlighted by the review committee, the MoEF just said future studies should be done and ignored the issue. The Tribunal finds this deeply unsatisfactory, and notes the following among other issues:

Water: The Tribunal said that "We are all aware that ... the drinking water is becoming scarce commodity and at every level precaution needs to be taken for protecting the drinking water supply to human habitation and preventing from utilizing such water for industrial use ... alternative water source for the present project, like creating/ constructing a small barrage or augmenting any other existing source at the cost of project proponent to avoid the utilizing the water meant for Cuttack city... could be examined." (para 7.4, page 29)

Pollution: The plant's discharge was also left for future study by MoEF. The Tribunal says this is a "serious environmental concern." (para 7.4, page 30)

Impact on surrounding wetlands and mangroves, as well as cyclone risk: This was left for vague future studies without any time frame or modus operandi. In addition, the Ministry has to frame a policy to ensure large projects are assessed in full for a single clearance (rather than being allowed to get piecemeal clearances for each component, as in this case) and for their full capacity at the start (paras 8.7,8.9). It also has to do a strategic assessment of the ports in Orissa. (para 8.8)

POSCO and the government sought to argue that the case cannot be filed as the original clearances were given in 2007 (and, incidentally, will expire in May/July this year). The Tribunal held that the 2011 order can still be looked at even if the 2007 ones cannot be; it therefore directed review and suspension of the 2011 order.

POSCO and/or the government can appeal this decision in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, MoEF has to constitute a review committee of subject specialists (para 8.3), define timelines for compliance with conditions (para 8.4), establish a committee for monitoring compliance with these conditions (para 8.4). No work can start on the project until the review process is over.

The case was argued by Sr. Adv. Raj Punjwani, Adv. Ritwick Dutta and Adv. Rahul Choudhary for the petitioners.

Key Events

June 2005: POSCO, Orissa government sign MoU for 12 million tonne steel plant, private port and captive iron ore mines. Protests begin in steel plant area and area is cordoned off by peaceful protesters.
May 2007: Environmental clearance for port granted by Environment Ministry, then under A. Raja.
July 2007: Environmental clearance for plant granted by Environment Ministry, then under PM. Secretary is Meena Gupta. Protests continue in the face of violent attacks and numerous arrests.
December 2009: Forest clearance granted for taking over forest land by Environment Ministry, then under Jairam Ramesh.
August 2010: Forest clearance suspended following complaints of violations of law, and Enquiry Committee constituted under Meena Gupta.
October 2010: Three member majority of enquiry committee gives report saying environmental and forest clearances illegal. Meena Gupta dissents, holds clearances legal but recommends additional study and time to ensure compliance.
January 31, 2011: Environment Ministry disregards both majority and minority reports, upholds environment and forest clearances, while prescribing some additional conditions (mostly consisting of additional studies to be done in future).
June 2011: Prafulla Samantray challenges final order in National Green Tribunal.
March 31, 2012: Green Tribunal judgment.

For further information:

Prafulla Samantray, activist and petitioner in this case, 09437259005
Prashant Paikray, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, 09437571547
Kanchi Kohli, activist, 9811903112,
Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, 9873657844


Local authorities threaten to cut electricity and water in UBCV Executive Institute at the Giac Hoa Pagoda in Saigon

Mar. 27, 2012

Local officials inspect at Giac Hoa Pagoda on 22 March

PARIS (IBIB) –The right to religious freedom is formally guaranteed in the Constitution of Vietnam. Yet in reality, the authorities implement a host of repressive measures to restrict and paralyze religious activities. Alongside the detention and house arrest of Buddhist leaders and intimidation of its followers, the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) is facing administrative harassments in every aspect of monastic and religious life.

The International Buddhist Information Bureau has received an urgent appeal from the UBCV’s Executive Institute at the Giac Hoa Pagoda, at 15/7 No Trang Long Street in District 7, Binh Thanh Ward, Saigon. After approving renovation work at the Monastery on 1st March and carrying out regular inspections over the past three weeks, the 7th District People’s Committee has suddenly issued a Decision ordering the work to be torn down. If the monks do not comply within a delay of three days, the People’s Committee will cut off the electricity and water to the Pagoda and bring workers in to tear down the work. The Pagoda will also be fined 12 million VN Dongs.

Giac Hoa Pagoda’s Superior monk Venerable Thich Vien Dinh, who is also Head of the UBCV Executive Institute Viện Hóa Đạo, the No. 2 UBCV official under the Patriarch Thich Quang Do, says that on 1st March officials from the local land department told him that the renovation work on the Pagoda did not require planning permission. The work consists of erecting a sheet iron roof over a courtyard on the upper floor provide shade, laying bricks on the courtyard’s floor to prevent rain seeping through to the floor below, and building a frame to hang orchids. The officials said the monks had simply to fill in a questionnaire describing the nature of the construction and submit it to the local Land Department. The officials fetched the questionnaire and helped the monks to fill it in. They submitted it the very same day.

The next day, 2nd March, local officials came to ask further questions and take photos. On 5th March, the builders began work, which lasted three weeks. During this period, inspectors from the building department came six times to inspect the site. Apparently, everything was in order. On the last visit, however, on 22 March, they drew up a report stating that some of the workers were not wearing protective helmets nor using security ropes.

The next morning, 23 March, inspectors from the building department returned to Giac Hoa Pagoda, accompanied by Security Police. They drew up another report, accused the monks of “violating construction regulations” and summoned them for a “working session” at the People’s Committee that afternoon.

After this working session, the Chairman of the 7th District people’s Committee Ho Ky Lan issued Decision 53/QD-UBND, 24.03.2012 ordering the works to be torn down within three days, otherwise the electricity and water will be cut off and the work will be forcibly torn down. The deadline is today.

In his statement to the International Buddhist Information Bureau, Thich Vien Dinh declared: “The government officials say one thing today and exactly the opposite tomorrow. They have the power, so they can say what they like. We live in a dictatorship, so we are used to this arbitrary treatment. There is no rule of law in Vietnam.”

South Korea

Africa-Asia Destitute Relief Foundation annual meeting held in Seoul

By Salai Thang
Staff reporter
Mar. 25, 2012

Visitor look at the ADRF's posters

Africa-Asia Destitute Relief Foundation(ADRF) annual meeting was held at the Socho Government complex building in Seoul on March 24, 2012. In this meeting, a special report on ADRF’s previous year activity was presented, at the same time, artist performance was also presented and fundraising was conducted. Approximately 300 peoples attended at the meeting.

ADRF is a non-government organization based in South Korea. It was started to support refugee and extremely poor children, especially on education field. ADRF supports school building, child sponsorship and teaching special subjects to the needy students.

Attendees are full in the hall

Today, ADRF is operating its activity in more than 6 poor countries in Africa and Asia, which are including Liberia, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Nepal, Cambodia, and recently initiated its activity in Myanmar. On the other hand, the developed countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia are financial supporters.

Most of its fund comes from private sector and ordinary citizen, and operated by combination of many volunteers, most of them are youth and student. So, it is important to transparency and interaction with the people through such kind of the organization's public meeting, which makes more understanding and clarification among the people. It is also hope people will more interest in ADRF’s activity and willing to support it through financially or volunteer works across the world at their frontier fields.

USCIRF Report lists Vietnam as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom at a meeting

PARIS, Mar. 22, 2012 (IBIB) – In its Annual Report for 2012 unveiled in Washington D.C. this week, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has named Vietnam as one of the world’s worst religious freedom violators along with Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and recommended that these countries be designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) by the US administration for “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations” of religious freedom.

The USCIRF, a federal government commission that monitors global religious freedom, was created under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act to provide independent policy recommendations to the US President, Secretary of State, and Congress. Each year since 2001, the USCIRF has urged the US to place Vietnam on the CPC list. Vietnam was designated CPC by the State Department in 2004 and 2005, but removed in 2006 prior to the visit of President Bush to Vietnam for the APEC summit conference. Under the 1998 Act, the U.S. may impose a series of measures, including economic sanctions, on countries blacklisted as CPCs. In its 21-page chapter on Vietnam, the USCIRF reported that “the government of Vietnam continues to control all religious communities, restrict and penalize independent religious practice severely, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority”.

It noted “marked increases in arrests, detentions, and harassment of groups and individuals viewed as hostile to the Communist Party” over the past four years, and an overall climate of religious repression in which “individuals continue to be imprisoned or detained for reasons related to their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy; independent religious activity remains illegal; legal protections for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors.” The USCIRF also observed that “the U.S.-Vietnamese relationship has grown quickly in recent years, but it has not led to needed improvements in religious freedom and related human rights in Vietnam.” The report urged the US government to use the CPC designation to press for “measurable improvements”, and adopt programmes to “protect and support those in Vietnam peacefully seeking greater freedom and the rule of law”. The report detailed widespread abuses against the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), “Vietnam‘s largest religious organization with a history of peaceful social activism and moral reform”, noting that the UBCV had “faced decades of harassment and repression for seeking independent status and for appealing to the government to respect religious freedom and related human rights”.

It deplored the detention of UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do and other senior monks, restrictions on humanitarian activities of UBCV Provincial Committees and the UBCV Buddhist Youth Movement, and harassment of UBCV followers. Mr. Vo Van Ai, Director of the International Buddhist Information Bureau and international spokesman of the Unified Buddhist Church in Vietnam (UBCV) welcomed the USCIRF’s report, commenting that it reflected the reality endured by UBCV followers and members of all other religious confessions in Vietnam. “Having failed to eradicate religion by force, Vietnam is increasing controls on religious activities and reducing religion to the practice of quasi-superstitious rites”, he said. “The recent nomination of Major-general Pham Dung, a high-ranking Public Security official as the Head of the Government Religious Board shows how Hanoi intends to pursue its religious policies in Vietnam”. Mr. Ai stressed that UBCV members all over the country routinely suffer harassments and abuses in all aspects of their lives. Earlier this month, UBCV monk Thich Thien Phuc was intercepted by Police and subjected to interrogations and harassments as he attempted to visit Venerable Thich Thanh Quang at the Giac Minh Pagoda in Danang. The Giac Minh Pagoda, which is also the headquarters of the UBCV’s Buddhist Youth Movement and the UBCV Provincial Committee for Quang Nam-Danang, has been the target of systematic Police surveillance in recent years. Police prohibit the celebration of Buddhist festivals such as Vesak and Vu Lan at the Pagoda, and intercept all Buddhists who try to attend.

In Dong Nai province, UBCV monk Thich Vien Duc, Superior monk at the Buu Duc Meditation Centre has been repeatedly interrogated and harassed. In Quang Tri, UBCV monk Thich Tu Giao has been intercepted and threatened by Police, who broke into his Pagoda during the monks’ summer retreat and assaulted several Buddhists. In Hue, senior UBCV official Thich Thien Hanh reports routine Police harassments and intimidation at many UBCV Pagodas, including the Kim Quang Pagoda of which he is Superior monk, and at the Mai Vinh Buddhist Centre, which has been confiscated by the authorities. Mr. Ai noted that religious freedom violations, notably against the UBCV, are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Instead of imprisoning UBCV leaders or staging well-publicized public crackdowns, the government’s policy is to quietly isolate UBCV leaders by maintaining them under de facto house arrest, threaten and intimidate Buddhist followers to prevent them attending UBCV Pagodas, and prevent UBCV Pagodas celebrating major Buddhist festivals, thus cutting off all contacts between the UBCV leadership and their followers. This is exactly the strategy devised by the Communist Party in 1981 when it set up the State-sponsored Vietnam Buddhist Church (VBC) to supplant the UBCV. The architect of this policy, former high-ranking religious cadre Do Trung Hieu*, described this policy in “Buddhist Unification”, a document circulated underground in 1994, which led to his arrest and subsequent imprisonment. According to Do Trung Hieu, the Communist Party’s aim was to “transform Vietnamese Buddhism into a people’s association.

Its structure should be inferior to that of an ordinary association, restricted exclusively to monks and nuns without any participation of lay-followers - a top-level structure without any popular structural base”. The activities of the State-sponsored VBC, he said “should be confined exclusively to the celebration of religious ceremonies and worship in Pagodas. It must on no account be allowed any activities related to society or to the people... Thus, the mass following of Buddhist laity will never be allowed to structure its forces into organic units of the Church.”


“Green signal for Koodankulam is a red signal for our lives”

Special Contribution
By Jeemon Jacob
Mar. 21, 2012

Protest in front of St Lourdes church

People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy activists continue indefinite hunger strike even as police arrest 212 protesters...Thousands of Koodankulam protesters gathered in front of St Lourdes church

Tamil Nadu government started “operation Koodankulam “on Monday 19 March, arresting 203 protesters and blocking all entry points to the coastal villages surrounding the Nuclear power plant. Police arrested 185 men including parish priest Father Suseelan at Kottupuli village where they were protesting against the deployment of police forces. They were taken to Tirunelveli Armed Reserve Camp. Later Police arrested 18 men from Koodankulam on charges of staging protests and violating Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code.

Police started the crackdown on anti-nuclear plant protesters early on 19 March arresting nine people including People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) legal advisor Sivasubramanian and Rajalingam. They are being charged with sedition including Sections 121, 121A and 153A. They were taken to Tirunelveli. Around 4000 state police and 400 central police officials have been deployed in the area. Police have set up seven more police pickets around Koodankulam Nuclear plant and blocked entry points.

According to Dr SP Udaykumar , convener People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy, who is on a indefinite hunger strike along with Pusparayan, his associate at Idinthakarai, around 5000 people assembled at the St Lourdes Church ground since Monday. “We, eight men and seven women, are on an indefinite hunger strike. The green signal for Koodankulam is a red signal for our lives. We will continue our protest till we die,” said Udayakumar.

To beat the police blockade, protesters were seen using fishing boats to ferry people to the protest grounds. “We were able to bring our people to Idinthakarai On Monday. But this morning (Tuesday) onwards, the Coast Guard and Navy used helicopters for surveillance in the area,” said Udayakumar.

Police have also intensified patrolling in the area and are waiting for orders from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha to enter Idinthakarai. Additional Director General of Police S George, is camping in the area and overseeing the Koodankulam operation.

According to a senior Police official, the state government wanted a ‘silent clearance operation’ in Koodankulam. “We have requested media to vacate the premises and sealed all entry points. We will use force only as a last resort,” said the police official who wished to remain anonymous. According to sources, the Police have cut power supply to Idinthakarai and are planning to delink the water supply to the village.

7 women and 8 men have been on an indefinite hunger strike

“We are protesting peacefully. We will continue our protests till our demands are met,” said Pushparayan. According to him, they protesters want an immediate release of people arrested and the withdrawal of Tamil Nadu cabinet resolution. “We have been ditched by the Tamil Nadu government, they will pay for the betrayal and treachery,” Udayakumar told TEHELKA.

Udayakumar asked why the state government was not ready to conduct the safety drill around the 30 kilometer radius of the power plant which mandatory before commissioning a Nuclear plant. “The government is violating basic safety requirements before commissioning the plant. In such a situation ,we have no other option,” said Udayakumar. He warned of public health problems and food shortage at Idinthakarai and appealed to the people of Tamil Nadu to be aware of, “this assault on the Tamil community”.

“They [government] are preparing to load uranium fuel rods into the reactor without conducting safety or evacuation drills. This kind of Fascist development is taking our country to another round of New East India Companies and Neo-colonialism,” said Udayakumar. Dr V Suresh, National Secretary, PUCL, Tamil Nadu-Puducherry condemned the of police action by the Tamil Nadu State Government against peacefully demonstrators in Koodankulam.

“The Police action against Idinthakrai villagers resembles the Jalianwalabagh incident and raises concerns about the state government’s intention. This action comes immediately after the Sankarankovil by-elections.” said Dr Suresh. The PUCL has demanded an immediate and unconditional release of all arrested villagers and withdrawal of Police force from the area.

Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.


Thai government urged to review another extension of states of emergency in the Southern Border Provinces

Mar. 12, 2012

States of emergency in the Southern Thailand

With the submission of an Open Letter no. 2 to the Prime Minister of Thailand, the Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MAC) would like to urge the government to review the extension of states of emergency in the Southern Border Provinces (SPBs) with the following reasons and recommendations;

1. The enforcement of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) has compromised the roles of normal justice process as well as safeguards of people's rights and liberties. The judiciary is supposed to provide for checks and balances with the administrative and legislative powers.

2. 78.50% of security cases tried in 2011 were acquitted by the Courts of Justice in the SPBs, mainly due to that the implicating evidence submitted to the Court had been derived from interrogation invoking the Emergency Decree and carried no weight in the conviction of a person. It has led to a loss of faith among public in state justice process.

3. The Legislature, an elected body, should play more roles in verifying the reasons and necessities for imposing the states of emergency. And such a decision to impose the states of emergency should be subjected to open debates in the Parliament and public and academic sector should be encouraged to be part of the review of the decision, too.

4. The Thai government is obliged to genuinely act in compliance with recommendations derived from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) under the UN Human Rights Council, particularly the recommendations which urge Thailand to take immediate steps to revoke the implementation of security-related laws and another recommendation by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which urges Thailand to review its security-related laws with a view to prohibiting criminal or administrative proceeding against children under the age of 18.

CrCF and MAC urge that the Thai government review the extension of the imposition of the Emergency Decree in the SPBs and make their effort to encourage all concerned parties, state sector and civil society, to share their opinion and information in order to identify comprehensive solutions to make possible lasting peace. The immediate revocation of the states of emergency shall assure ASEAN of lasting peace and fling open spaces to collaborate among ASEAN countries in response to threats to state stabilities and wellbeing of people.

For more information, please contact Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet 02-6934939/ Mr. Sitthipong Chantharawirote 089 873 1626, Ecls: A copy of a letter to the Prime Minister dated 12 March 2012

South Korea

Korean Independent movement Day Held in Seoul

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Mar. 7, 2012

The bowl of national soul

Korean Independent movement Day was Held at the Soedaemun Prison in Seoul on Mar. 1, 2012. On that day was full of visitors at Soedaemun Prison History Hall including many foreign visitors. The ceremony with a slogan, music and memorial activity were held at its main plaza in the prison hall.

Inside the prison campus, there are various exhibitions, including the bowl, execution room, tunnel, prisoner’s room, cafeteria, and so on.

The tunnel used for delivering the death body

The bowl of national soul- this monument was constructed to patriotic martyrs who die in Soedaemun Prison for their devotion to the independent movement and to remind people of their noble sacrifices. And the tunnel was used to deliver the death body secretly out of the prison.

The Korean independence movement grew out of the Japanese colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. However, Japanese oppressive rule was caused to the many Korean resistance movement that first arose in the nationwide March 1st Movement in 1919.

Inside the prison building

The March 1st Movement, also known as Samil Movement, was one of the earliest public displays of Korean resistance during the occupation of the Korean Empire by Japan. The name refers to an event that occurred on March 1, 1919, hence the movement's name, literally meaning "Three-One Movement" or "March First Movement" in Korean. Seodaemun Prison History Hall is a museum and former prison in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It was constructed beginning in 1907. The prison was opened on October 21, 1908, under the name Gyeongseong Gamok. Its name was changed to Seodaemun Prison in 1923.

People rally for the event

The prison was used during the Colonial period to house anti-colonial activists, and could accommodate around 500 people. After the colonial era ended in 1945, the prison was used by the South Korean government until 1987, when it was replaced by a facility in Uiwang City, Gyeonggi Province. In 1992, the site was dedicated as the Seodaemun Prison History Hall, part of Independence Park. Seven of the prison complex's original fifteen buildings are preserved as historical monuments.


Acid test for being antinational is foreign funding?

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
Mar. 6, 2012

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

According to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, Narayanaswamy, Chidambaram and Congress the acid test for being anti-national is foreign funding , coming to the NGOs. As per FCRA an NGO is supposed to give annual returns to the Home Ministry every year. Home Ministry has all the details and if there is a violation of FCRA , home ministry should take action against the violators.But you have to prove this violation in the Court. But these leaders are accusing the Anti-Koodankulam movement of receiving foreign funds, there is no iota of truth. The movement has published their total amount they have collected about 25 lakhs rupees and they have done this collection from the people who are the victims of Koodankulam Nuclear Plant.

If the acid test for being anti-national is foreign funding, the PM and UPA are the first anti-nationals since the Koodankulan Plant is being built by Russian Funding, all the MNCs are responsible for all the so called development that is taking place in Auto-Mobiles, IT, Agriculture Researches, Indo-US deal and the new proposed Nuclear Plants, Mines, Natural Resources, SEZs etc etc. Corruption is organically linked with MNCs and Politicians. Where is the money invested after taking away all the public money? Then you people are saying that we are the agents of American NGOS? Then you are saying that Koodankulam is Safe like Bhopal was safe. You are not able to handle such disasters.

This is what we want to say. Dr. heal thyself before you heal others. You are all having Jaundice, and you see Jaundice in all of us. You want kill us-dogs, by calling us mad dogs.

We love our country. We are loyal citizens of India. As you have links with MNCs all over the World we have links with all those who are against nuclear energy, mass destructive weapons and atomic bombs without any financial commitments. These mass destructive weapons are dangerous to the whole World. We can have safe energy from Wind, Solar, Bio-mass. We can save the present production of electricity by converting the transmission through underground cables and CFL bulbs.


Farmers Suicide in Maharashtra

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Mar. 3, 2012

Protest by members of MPJ

Parliamentary committee on agriculture visited on 2nd March 2012 to the suicide-prone areas of Vidarbha& termed the spiraling suicides by farmers as 'National Shame'.

The worst hit region is both Marthwada and Vidarbha as this region lack the basic facility of irrigation and crop failure due to ‘false seed’ supply (BT cotton). The agrarian crisis still persists the farmers are still debt ridden; the year 2011 saw nearly 900 farmers’ suicides cases and this year about 70 farmers and every day at least one or two farmers die alone in entire State which is sad and shocking.

MPJ‘s demand to implement Dr Narendra Jadhav report on Dec 2010 & for the same a rally was taken to Nagpur Assembly on 7th Dec 2010 to highlight the plights of our farmers and demanding the implementation of Dr Narendra Jadhav report and the memorandum was submitted to the minister. If the Govt of Mahrashtra had then accepted the demands made by MPJ regards to progress of farmers and agriculture as a whole, we would had seen a better prospect in our State now.

Farmers in Maharashtra Vidarbha& Marathwada region have been committing suicides unfailingly, this inspite of the debt waiver packages.MPJ had even that time protested that the land holding for debt waiver to be increased for dry land farmers and that merely the debt waiver will not liberate the farmers and farm crisis unless farming becomes profitable and a long term solution is mooted out. Seeking the long term vision to make our State progressive and stop the farmer’s suicide. We are again demanding the implementation of Dr. Narendra Jadhav committee report in Mah. Dr.N.Jadhav has given various recommendations for the benefit of farmers like:-

1) Irrigation Facilities: - For accelerating the annual agricultural growth rate to 4.4%&above in the State of Maharashtra, a very substantial improvement in the irrigation facilities in a balanced manner would be necessary. 2) Supply of Credit:-Reorganization of Rural Financial Institutions. 3) Reasonable Prices for Agricultural Produce. 4) Creation of Agent-free Marketing System. 5) Supply of Good Quality Seeds. 6) Improved Crop Insurance Scheme. 7) Coupon-based Grants for Fertilizers and Pesticides. 8) Medication for Crop-Diseases. 9) Infrastructural Facilities- Setting up of rural warehouses and cold storage facilities. 10) Appropriate Technology, Distribution and Marketing.

For Food security, progress of Agriculture and its development, farmers must be protected which is only possible when our planning are farmer’s centric. If the report is not implemented MPJ will pressurize the Govt of Mah. in all democratic ways.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully, Soheb Lokhandwala MPJ Media (Mah.)

North Korea

Protests Continue for North Korean Defectors Arrested in China

By Barry Welsh
Staff writer and editor
Feb. 25, 2012

The protestors gathered in Gwanghwamun square

Thursday February 23rd: The arrest of 31 North Korean defectors in China over the past three weeks has led to a series of protests at the Chinese embassy in Seoul. Several NGOs have come together to support one another and to try and exert pressure on the Chinese government. The protestors are concerned about the fate of the arrested defectors because China has a policy of repatriating North Koreans captured on Chinese soil. Last December the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, stated that all defectors would be executed along with three generations of their family.

Yesterday’s protest was organised by the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) and Now Action and Unity for Human Rights (NAUH). Peter Jung, a former pastor and member of another NGO – Justice for North Korea (JFNK), was also present as was National Assembly member Park Sun-Young from the Liberty and Forward party.

The protestors gathered in Gwanghwamun square in the centre of the South Korean capital at 1pm. They comprised a mixture of high school and university students, activists and young North Korean defectors. Underneath a famous statue of South Korea’s iconic figure King Sejong they lined up, holding balloons emblazoned with ‘Save my friend’ in Korean and English. This phrase, ‘save my friend’, was apparently yelled by one of the defectors as they were arrested by the Chinese police earlier in the month.

At 1.30pm they marched through downtown Seoul to the Chinese embassy where another group of protestors had already gathered. The protest was led by Ji Seong-ho, a former defector and president of NAUH. Popera tenor singer Wan Park sang two songs and there were several tearful appeals from former defectors and concerned South Korean citizens.

Kim Il-sim, a young North Korean defector, told the story of his own escape and anguish at the arrest of his younger brother: “Though we were poor in North Korea, my brothers and I were raised with all the love of our parents. As the economy got worse, my older brother, though he was just a child, walked dozens of kilometres to China looking for food. My family subsisted on the rice and corn my brother earned from China. When it became known that he left North Korea for China, he could not come back home again.

The protestors gathered in front of Chinese Embassy

Nevertheless, he was fortunate enough to meet a nice Chinese man and come to South Korea. For my family, I, in place of my brother, crossed the cold river to China to look for food in 2009. In North Korea, I left my younger brother, now kept by Chinese police; father, who was suffering from tuberculosis and at death’s door; and mother, who was suffering from malnutrition. Life in China was hard. Now I live in South Korea with the help of kind people. I am a second year high school student; I am studying very hard and dream of becoming a doctor who helps people in need like those who helped me. Though I gathered some money after I arrived in South Korea and sent it home for my family, my father and mother passed away after all.

My parents who adored us so much died, missing us and gasping our names. My youngest brother, who is only 16 years old, was left alone and could not live by himself. This month, February 2012, I heard that he crossed the river into China by himself. I was so happy. Without stopping to grieve for my parents, I decided to help bring my beloved brother to South Korea. However, he was caught by the police on the way to Seoul.

My baby brother is a sweet and good boy. He did not even talk back to my parents. Even in extreme poverty, he was always trying to help others. During my absence at home, he was always so devoted to our parents; he went up to the mountains in severe, cold weather to gather wood for fuel to keep my parents warm from the cold.”

These sentiments were echoed in a moving testimony from Kim Eun-ju, another young defector: “My name is Kim Eun-ju, a girl who escaped North Korea with my mother and sister in 1999. We were suffering from hunger and China was our only hope of staying alive. We escaped, thinking that being shot while crossing the Tumen River would have been preferable to starving to death in North Korea. Although the Chinese government hardly welcomed us, I miss my childhood in China. Farming in the countryside, playing together with Chinese kids my age, and playing marbles are all good memories. I am grateful to the villagers who didn’t report us even though they knew we were defectors. After North Korea, China is the place I’ve lived longest. It is my second home.

Unfortunately, in 2002 we were arrested by the Chinese police and were repatriated to North Korea. Never have I been treated in such an unspeakable manner than in the country that I was born in and had missed. Wearing tattered shoes full of holes I had to go out into the cold bog and pull weeds. I had to go out into the frozen fields and till the land using only a broken shovel. I lost my mother to sickness, but no one cared. People died of malnutrition at the prison.

It still gives me chills when I remember the moment I was repatriated to North Korea. However, my experience was nothing compared to suffering that 31 North Korean refugees will encounter if they are repatriated. If they are repatriated back to North Korea, there will be no hope for them. In the worst case scenario, they will be publicly executed. At a minimum they will spend the remainder of their lives in a prison camp. Among those to be repatriated, there are young children as well. The only fault of theirs was having felt hunger, having wished to live with their parents and siblings, and having escaped from North Korea. There is absolutely no reason for them to be killed. My heart aches for them.”

The last speech of the protest was the reading of a statement released by the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights which included the following criticism of Chinese policy: “The international law upholds the principle of non-refoulment. The UN Refugee Convention to which China is a state party prohibits the forcible repatriation of people to a country where they are at risk of facing persecution, torture or death. This principle reflects the voice of conscience of all humans who pray for the safety of refugees who escaped the land of persecution. Such a voice of conscience has been resonating today among people from all walks of life – lawmaker, human rights organizations, UN agencies, and civilians just like us.”

Prior to yesterday’s protest the Global Digest met Ji Seong-ho, the NAUH president, who explained what he thought was happening inside North Korea: “I make calls to friends in North Korea, always monitoring the situation in North Korea. It’s worse since Kim Jong-il died. Based on phone calls to North Korean friends, society itself is greatly weakened. There is a 100 day mourning period for the death of Kim Jong-il. People are very cautious because of the mourning period. After the mourning period expect more defectors. The guards are corrupt and the social foundation in North Korea is very weak. Kim Jong-un does not have much respect at all. North Korean peoples’ respect for regime had already weakened during Kim Jong-il’s regime but they were too scared. Kim Jong-un is much less charismatic and has no respect. He cannot deny the legacy of his father and grandfather.”

Ji Seong-ho escaped North Korea five years ago. His journey to South Korea was a difficult one. Before leaving North Korea he was hit by a train whilst gathering food for his family. Due to a lack of proper treatment his leg had to be amputated. He had to trek through China and Laos for 6 months using a crutch. He learned about the substantial differences in quality of life between North and South Korea from watching South Korean dramas on illegal DVDs. He also heard about the world outside of North Korea from people who had been to China. One day he decided he had to try and escape and with the encouragement of a friend who had already re-settled in South Korea he crossed the border into China.

“I feel like it is heaven” is how Ji Seong-ho describes life in South Korea. Although he admits there were difficulties at first. He had to adapt to the South Korean dialect and to an artificial leg provided for by the government.

Since arriving in South Korea Ji Seong-ho committed himself to helping those still living in North Korea. He started studying Human Rights law at university and whilst there organised a student NGO, the NAUH. He formed the NAUH in April 2010 to support North Korean human rights, and the group currently has around 100 members. Every Saturday since forming the NGO they have conducted some kind of awareness raising activity to support North Korean human rights. This includes “short wave radio broadcasting, street picket demonstrations, international campaigns, sending funds to inside North Korea and rescuing women from North Korea and China.” The NGO also established a ‘Unification School’ to educate students about what a potential reunification of the peninsula might look like. Furthermore, last year they rescued 10 defectors from China with the aid of donations.

On Saturday March 3rd at 2pm (the date marks the 100th Saturday since the formation of the NAUH) they have organised a rally to “focus on love and compassion for North Koreans in the ailing nation”. The location is Seoul Station Plaza.

The last thing Ji Seong-ho tells me before we say goodbye is this: “North Korean people just want to overcome the oppression and for the regime to not interfere in their lives anymore.”

North Korea

Seoul Protest for North Korean Defectors Arrested in China

By Barry Welsh
Staff writer and editor
Feb. 15, 2012

Protest in-front of Chinese Embassy in Seoul

Tuesday February 14th: Over 100 passionate demonstrators gathered opposite the Chinese embassy in downtown Seoul yesterday to protest China’s arrest of between 29 and 33 North Korean defectors. Chinese police, in an apparent crackdown led by the Chinese Public Security Ministry, arrested several groups of defectors over the past week who now face repatriation. If returned to their homeland they will likely suffer severe forms of punishment. Many Seoul citizens at the protest were angry; Jang Jong-un, a retired office worker, said he was there to ‘tell the Chinese government to stop repatriating North Korean refugees. I want the refugees of North Korea to come to Seoul, not Pyongyang, because the North Korea ruler, Kim Jong-un, will put them to death. We are all Korean people. People want to have freedom in Korea.”

Although similar protests have been staged before, with varying levels of success, yesterday’s protest had a greater degree of urgency. North Korea is currently undergoing an official 100 day mourning period for former leader Kim Jong-il who died from a heart attack in December last year. After Kim’s death his son Kim Jong-un assumed power and stated that all defectors would be executed along with three generations of their family. Kim Young-ja, Secretary General of the Citizen’s Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, explained that “31 people were captured in China. 31 defectors were caught trying to come to South Korea. If repatriated defectors most often die. They can either go to a political prison camp or Kim Jong-un proclaimed to kill all defectors on the spot. So if there is a case of forced repatriation a lot of lives will be lost.” Her colleague, Kim Eun-Young, explained further, “after Kim Jong-il died Kim Jong-un said three generations will be executed. So if they are sent back then three generations will die. This protest is different, it’s more serious. Not just about repatriation.”

Whilst flanked by approximately 100 Seoul police officers the protestors chanted “bohohara”, meaning ‘protection’, at the Chinese embassy and heard speeches from a series of activists. Amongst those protesting were several family members of the arrested activists. Peter Jung of the NGO Justice for North Korea made a speech during which he expressed his anger at the “silent politicians” and “silent press” ignoring the issue. He also revealed that the information regarding the arrests came to light when one of the arrested defectors contacted a family member already in South Korea. The family member then contacted the South Korean government and foreign ministry to try and mobilise support.

The protest was then organised by National Assembly member Park Sun-Young from the Liberty and Forward party. Her office contacted local NGOs involved in campaigning for North Korean human rights and asked them to participate. Suk-Woo Kim, a member of the advisory committee for the Citizen’s Alliance for North Korean Human Rights praised her rapid actions:

“We read the news report this morning and then Park Sun-Young’s office called me to suggest we participate in this demonstration. This quick response has a kind of power. We have asked the Chinese side to abide by international law. They signed very important conventions regarding the status of refugees and prevention of torture, discrimination against women and rights of the child. China has acceded to important human rights conventions. These are very important obligations for China to abide by. According to conventions China should not forcefully send defectors to North Korea where they are subject to persecution. The main point – We are not requesting a favour but requesting that China acts properly according to their legal obligations under international law. If they violate, if they don’t abide then China has no status as a responsible country in international society. As a member of the Security Council, who will respect China as a big country or a leader in human society?”

These sentiments were echoed by another speaker at the protest, So Kyong Sok, who said that “we do not respect China because they do not respect human rights.” He had the following message for the Chinese government: “If you want respect from the world and to be a leader you need to stop repatriation and regard defectors as refugees and follow international conventions.”

Human rights activist have long criticised China’s refusal to recognise North Korean defectors’ refugee status. China instead views them as “illegal economic migrants.” China’s treatment of North Korean defectors found in China is in defiance of international agreements and an abandonment of its obligations as a UN member. It has been well documented for over ten years that China has systematically and consistently carried out forcible repatriation of North Korean refugees under the dubious pretext that North Korean defectors are not refugees. In the past legal questions have been posed and formal appeals have been made by a series of NGO’s and other international organizations regarding the policy.

However, the questions and appeals have so far been entirely ignored. Yet the question of refugee status is unarguably a global issue subject to international law. Although perhaps not quite universally recognized the definition of refugee has been agreed upon by a majority of UN members via international instruments. Two such instruments are the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status or Refugees. In these a refugee is defined as someone with “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinions” and who is “unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” or “outside the country of his former habitual residence and unable or unwilling to return to it.” 137 nations including China have acceded to both the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol and clearly the definition describes North Korean defectors who escape to China.

Nobody knows exactly how many defectors are currently hiding in China but activists claim the figure could be anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000. After the demonstration ended Mr. Suk-Win Kim informed the Global Digest that they would try and deliver their request to the Chinese embassy.

Park Sun-young said "I understand that China and North Korea agreed at security meetings Sunday and Monday to repatriate the defectors soon." Meanwhile, the Dong-A Ilbo quoted a Chinese public security source as saying that “We will repatriate all of them by Feb. 20 at the latest.” The situation could not be more urgent.


Trial of webmaster charged for computer crime resumes tomorrow‏

Feb. 13, 2012

Webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn

AHRC-FPR-006-2011: THAILAND: Calling to observe for court trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai website, on 4 - 17 February 2011, 9.00am - 4.00pm at the Criminal Court

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is calling for court observers at the resumption of the trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of the Prachai website, who is being prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act after her arrest in March 2009. The trial of her case, after it was delayed for a variety of reasons, will again resume on February 14 to 16, 2012 at the Criminal Court in Bangkok.

The details about the schedule of trial and the witnesses on which the defense would be presenting are below:

Dates: 14-16 February 2012 Venue: At Court Room 910, the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road, Bangkok Witnesses for the defense:

1. Professor Sawatree Suksri, lecturer of the Faculty of Law, Department of Criminal Law at the Thammasat University. She is an expert on Computer Crime Law. 2. Professor Jittat Fakcharoenphol, Ph.D, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University. He is an expert on IT Technology 3. Doctor Kitibhoom Chutasmith, Director of Bhusing Hospital, Sri Sakhet Province. Prachatai Webboard user 4. Mr. Wanchat Bhadungrat, Founder of 5. Assistant Professor Pirongrong Ramasoota Rananan, Associate Dean, Department of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University. She is a scholar in Mass Media who researched on the Internet Content Regulations

For details about on which day these witnesses will be testifying: 14 February 2012 (whole day session) Professor Sawatree, Professor Jittat and Doctor Kitibhoom 15 February 2012 (morning session) Mr. Wanchat Bhadungrat 16 February 2012 (afternoon Session) Assistant Professor Pirongrong

For those interested, the court's timetable usually runs 9am to 12nn for morning sessions and 1pm to 4pm for afternoon sessions. Simultaneous interpretation will be also be made available for international observers. You can also contact Ms. Kheetanat Wannaboworn at or call +84-899-0509 for more details on the prior arrangement you may require.

You can also read our previous appeals AHRC-FPR-006-2011, containing the details of the previous court trials; and our press release AHRC-PRL-008-2011, containing views and extracts of the report of Margaret Sekkaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, regarding Chiranuch's case:

In her appeal calling for court observers, Chiranuch wrote:

"Three years, are the time I have to live my life being accused of committing a crime under Section 14 and 15 of the Computer Crime Act. Still, I have to continue a life like this without knowing an end. For all these time, I would like to thank you for your assistance, support and keen interest on the trial observation always.

The police arrested me at Prachatai Office on 6 March 2009 while the prosecutor filed the case to the Criminal Court on 31 March 2010. On the latter date, I was detained in the court basement for four hours before THB 300,000 bail was guaranteed by my sister’s career (she is a nurse in the government hospital) as an exchange for my contemporary release. The court then arranged a meeting on 31 May 2010 to investigate the witnesses, collect the evidence as well as decide on the hearing dates.

At first, the hearings were scheduled for eight consecutive days in February 2011 but could only continue for four days with five prosecutor witnesses’ presence. The rest of the witnesses said they were not available on the mentioned dates required the judges, prosecutors, and the lawyers’ team to set up a new hearing schedule from September to October 2011. Due to a large time gap; the composition of the judges in the second period were changed with regards to the annual shift occurred in the bureaucratic system.

In September, the hearings of the prosecutors’ witnesses were completed and the hearings of the Defense witnesses had started including that of myself. In October, massive flooding in Bangkok prevented the continual court trial, Mr. Danny O’Brien from Committee to Protect Journalists who was traveling all the way from San Francisco being the only witness allowed.

At the hearing, an interpreter provided by the court was unable to give an accurate interpretation. The lawyers’ team; as a result, was decided to submit the testimony written by Mr. O’Brien beforehand and would like to postponed the rest of the hearings to 14-16 February, 2012."

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme, Asian Human Rights Commission (


Buddhist dissident Thich Quang Do is nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize

Feb. 9, 2012

Thich Quang Do

PARIS, (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) - The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is informed that the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) has been nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. The deadline for nominations expired on 1st February 2012, and the winner will be announced in mid-October. Below are extracts from some of the letters sent to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo by a range of academics and legislators from the European Parliament, the US Congress and national parliaments of Italy and France.

Prominent US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, (Democrat, California) wrote: “I have had the personal honor to meet with the Venerable Thich Quang Do at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery and I was most impressed by his selflessness and dedication to bring democracy to his fellow citizens in Vietnam. He is an inspiration to the people of Vietnam… Venerable Thich Quang Do continues to be under house arrest, deprived of the right to freedom and increasingly, the government of Vietnam is using all avenues to isolate and silence him… I am confident that no matter how much the Government of Vietnam continues to persecute the Venerable Thich Quang Do, he will continue to fight from the inside to bring democracy to Vietnam. By awarding the Venerable Thich Quang Do the Nobel Peace Prize, the international community would be making a clear statement that Vietnam’s human rights abuse is not invisible to the community’s eyes but very much apparent”.

Mr. Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, a Catalan Member of the European Parliament from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) commented: “Thich Quang Do is one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents. His fight and struggle is a struggle for all Vietnamese people. The Nobel Prize would give hope to all the people who fight for freedom and democracy in Vietnam… The European Parliament has repeatedly called for an end to human rights abuses and a process of democratic reform in Vietnam in its resolutions. I am personally committed to continue to follow these issues closely and use all my parliamentary tools to keep the light on what is happening in Vietnam…”

Mr. Matteo Mecacci, Italian MP and President of the Commission for Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, stressed that Thich Quang Do “despite continuous harassments and surveillance by Security Police, continues his peaceful campaigns for the rights of all Vietnamese. He has opposed the death penalty, broken out of house arrest to support demonstrations of farmers protesting official corruption and State confiscation of lands, called for a movement of civil disobedience to oppose Bauxite mining in the Central Highlands that threatens to destroy the life-style and environment of thousands of Montagnards and ethnic tribes-people in this region”.

Mrs. Françoise Hostalier, Member of the French National Assembly and former Secretary of State for Education recalled that “Thich Quang Do was awarded the Rafto Memorial Prize by the Norwegian Rafto Foundation for his role as a “unifying force” and a “symbol of the growing democracy movement in Vietnam”, and the “Democracy Courage Tribute” by the World Movement for Democracy. He was not allowed to travel to receive these awards”.

UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, 83, continues his appeals for democracy and human rights in Vietnam from house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon. In a recent letter to the Secretary-general of the Vietnamese Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong (21.10.2011) following a wave of anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi and Saigon, Thich Quang Do openly challenged the VCP: “Faced with China’s ambitions and expansionist policies, what does the Vietnamese Communist Party plan to do?” He provided his own solution to the problem – democracy in Vietnam: “The VCP and the government cannot breathe forever through China’s nostrils. The only way to avoid this is by initiating a peaceful transition to democracy, so that our country can breathe through the nostrils of the 90-million people of Vietnam.”


Displacement and humanitarian needs in Kachin and in northern Shan State continue to rise as a result of continued instability.

Special Report
By Dr. Gerhard Baumgard
Feb. 4, 2012

An IDP camp in Waingmaw Township

The total number of IDPs increased from an estimated 29,000 in October 2011, to 50,000 in December to over 55,000 in mid-January 2012. Reports indicate that a number of people fled to China, but information is still sketchy and cannot be independently verified at the moment. Reports available also indicate that, since 11 December, some 1,000 IDPs also fled some areas of northern Shan State and reached four IDPs camps in Namkhan Township. In support of the Government’s efforts to assist the IDPs there, humanitarian partners provided assistance in the education, food, NFIs, shelter and WASH sectors.

In early January, displacement was also reported in a new area of Kachin state, Hpakan, following security incidents. Information available indicate that some 2,500-3,000 migrant workers working in Hpakan fled to their places of origin. In addition, an estimated 2,000 natives reportedly sought refuge in camps or with friends and relatives in the area. The Hpakan General Administration Department and local partners reported that, as of 16 January, some 1,932 IDPs have been accommodated in eight temporary camps have been established in Hpakan Town (1,489 IDPs) and in six sites in Kar Maing area (443 IDPs). On 9 January, the Kachin State Government organized a relief convoy to Hpakan carrying supplies such as rice, tarpaulins and NFIs. The UN entrusted a local partner with some 500 NFI family kits for distribution to IDPs.

Following discussions between the Government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the UN were able to dispatch, on 12 December, a team and non-food items (NFI) for some 800 families to Laiza. This was the first delivery of UN relief supplies to IDPs in areas previously not covered by UN assistance. The UN team travelled from Bhamo to Laiza and experienced logistical difficulties along the road, as road conditions are poor and several bridges have been damaged in recent months. The team visited six IDP camps (four in Laiza and two in the vicinity) and identified shelter, NFIs (particularly tarpaulins, blankets and warm clothes), education materials, vaccines and psychosocial support as the most urgent needs. The UN NFI kits were distributed in two IDPs locations in Laiza in collaboration with camps committees. However, these items were insufficient to cover the basic needs of the population and dispatch of additional assistance to all affected locations is being planned.

The UN continues to advocate with all parties for UN and partners additional convoys and relief distribution to take place in all IDPs locations across the affected areas. A UN team, on 11 January, visited the camp of Shan Kyaing village, Kan Paik Yi sub-township, Waingmaw Township, an area previously not covered by UN assistance and where some 1,398 IDPs have been displaced since November. The team conducted a rapid assessment in the camp and identified shelter, food and WASH as the most urgent needs. In consultation with the camp management committee, UNHCR distributed NFIs to 268 IDPs households.

Partners are finalizing a more comprehensive monitoring system targeting IDPs locations/camps on the basis of the assessment exercise carried out in September 2011 in Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Bhamo, Momauk and Mansi. Such system is crucial to identify trends of population, identify gaps and remaining needs and to ensure timely response. The system should be launched at the end of January 2012 in the same areas covered by the September assessment. Concurrently, the Relief Action Network for IDPs and Refugees (RANIR), a coordination setting operating in affected areas along the Myanmar-China border, together with camp volunteers is undertaking an a assessment of 25 IDPs camps/locations in areas where government services are unavailable using a similar data collection format administered during the September assessment. Initial findings are expected to be available by end January 2012.

The Kachin State Government is developing a framework for recovery operation for IDPs in Kachin, including resources needed/available to establish an enabling environment for a safe return of IDPs. The Myitkyina Relief and Resettlement Department is the focal point for elaborating the document. Meanwhile, on 29 December, the Kachin State Social Affairs Minister met with camp management teams in Myitkyina and Waingmaw and discussed the issue of IDPs return, highlighting that some areas where the situation stabilized could be considered for IDPs to return. Similar meetings were organized by the General Administration Department in other townships.


Who has killed Adnan Patrawala? Get Justice to Adnan-uphold the law of the land!

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Feb. 1, 2012

Adnan Patrawala

Four-and-a-half years after the sensational murder of Lokhandwala teenager Adnan Patrawala, a sessions court on Monday freed four men accused of the brutal strangulation. Pronouncing the verdict at 1.30pm, judge S A Deshmukh acquitted Sujit Nair, now 33 years of age, Ayush Bhat, 23,Rajiv Dhariya, 28, and Amit Kaushal, 29.

The judgment was pronounced in-camera without the media present. The entire judgment was not read out. Even the families of the accused were not allowed in court when the judgment was pronounced.

Nair's defence lawyer Ashish Chavan, who was present in court during the pronouncement, said, "The court has rubbished the conspiracy theories by the prosecution. With the chain of circumstances not being proved in court, the case has gone in favour of the defence."

The prosecution had alleged that on the night of August 18 and on August 19, Nair, Bhat, Dhariya, Kaushal and a minor had kidnapped Adnan, the son of a Lokhandwala businessman. They drove off with him from Malad's Inorbit mall and allegedly strangled the teenager in Navi Mumbai after a plan to extort Rs 2 crore from his family as ransom went awry and the police got wind of the kidnapping. Patrawala's body was found near his car in the marsh by Palm beach Road, Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

The entire judgement, along with the reasons for the acquittals, will be available only after the judge releases the document. Special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam was not present in court on Monday.

Though Patrawala's parents were not in court on Monday, they were keenly involved in all aspects of the case. Patrawala's father Aslam said, "We are in deep shock after hearing the judgment. Justice has been denied to us. It was a clear case for conviction, but I don't know what went wrong. After discussing the details with the special public prosecutor, we will decide our further course of action."

Bhat, when asked for his reaction outside the court after his acquittal, told "I am very relieved. It hasn't sunk in yet."

During the trial, the prosecution examined about 25 witnesses, of whom one turned hostile. The case was largely based on circumstantial evidence, which the prosecution dubbed as "strong". According to the prosecution, two key witnesses were a man who had seen the victim in a drowsy condition in the company of the accused on the night of the kidnapping and another man who heard the conspiracy being hatched.

The defence had argued that there were several lapses in the investigation. Chavan told "The court rejected the witness's claim that he had heard the accused hatching the plan to kidnap Adnan in a shopping mall. The entire chain of circumstance is required to establish that the evidence is of believable and cogent nature, and this is lacking. The prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt." Chavan further stated that the court raised questions on the prosecution's claims about the recovery of the body.

A fifth accused, who is a minor, is still to stand trial in a juvenile court for the murder that unfolded during a weekend in August 2007. The observations of the sessions court will be taken into consideration then.


Fr. Alysius D Fernandes 62 is no more

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
Jan. 27, 2012

On the way back from Andhra Pradesh in the train Aloysius had a chest pain. He was admitted to a hospital by the companions travelling with him , but he died of heart attack. His body was brought to home Kumbalam, Kerala. Yesterday. Then his body was brought to Janajagrithy, Alleppey. This morning at 10 am 26-1-2012, his body will be taken to the Alleppey Medical College and will be given to the College for the sake of the study of the students. He was a secular in all sense.

He was the editor of ORA, a monthly magazine. He took so much trouble to publish this. This magazine has been a secular magazine. He was a critic of Political institutions, Religious Institutions particularly Church. He was opposed to all kinds of fundamentalism in our society. He tried to relate Marxism with Bible. This is the 30th year of its publication.

He supported fisher people’s struggles and he went on indefinite fast for a seasonal trawl ban. ORA had a regular feature on fisher people and fishing issues. His CD on MEENTHONY by E.G.Peter is a classic.

Fisher people are the owners of sea.
By E.G.Peter

The children of the sea are roaring like waves, All over India sea is raging, To the comrades that are marching along the coast, Welcome, welcome, Revolutionary welcome to you all.

Let us come together to create a new future, Let us come together in a new way, We are not going to be any more slaves, Comrades, comrades, comrades.

History is calling us for the future generation, Inspiring us everywhere in India, Everywhere in India, in India.

To chase all the foreign fishing vessels, To chase them, to chase them, To establish our authority over the sea, To establish, to establish, to establish

The children of the sea are united, It is time to take over the sea, It is time, it is time, it is time.”

E.G.Peter sums up the spirit of Aloysius. His another adventure was the Feature film on fisher peoples struggle is PURAPPAD. He tried to depict the heart of fisher peoples struggles through this feature film.

He has written almost 50 books on different themes. These are expressions of a free thinking. One may not agree with his stand and thinking, but it is an expression of his freedom on any issue in the world. His writings on priesthood, church, secularity, sex, are all expressions of such free thinking. This kind of a person is very rare. He did not believe in an in an institutional priesthood, but he believed in a priesthood that is sacrificing oneself for Justice and an inclusive society like the kingdom of God and its Justice. Jesus stood for such a Kingdom. He believed in a culture that is all inclusive. He has made an impression in history through his activities all WHOLISTIC.


An Open Letter from the Malaysian Support Group for Democracy in Thailand on behalf of Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Jan. 16, 2012

Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk

Dear friends,

Dec. 30, 2011: With reference to the campaign from 8 international human rights organizations from Asia, Europe and Canada which has requested that the Thai government releases Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and revise the law no. 112 or Lese Majeste law, I and delighted and really appreciated the meaningful movement that is being developed to protect human rights and democracy in Thailand.

Law no. 112 is a criminal law that has been in existence for a long time has severe punishments and has been used to diminish the freedom and rights of the Thai people. In the past years, there have been approximately 109 trials and more than 10,000 websites which were closed due to the violation of this law. Many people charged by this law have suffered from being detained and imprisoned for long periods without fair treatment including the right to bail

I am 50 years old and in my lifetime I have seen 4 periods of political violence in Thailand. There have been high numbers of killings of student leaders, politicians and labor unionists because of the Lese Majeste law. In addition, many people have been forced into exile to avoid punishment, violations of human rights that are being ignored by Thai society.

As a result of our movement and campaigns, involving international human rights organizations in collaboration with academic communities and labor unions we have been able to alert society to the need to revise law no.112. Thai people are becoming empowered to raise their demands for the abolition of this law, something we have not seen over the last 50 years.

I vigorously ask you to continue campaigning against this law, regardless of the personal consequences to me. Even if I spend my entire life as a political prisoner, I will not surrender until my last breath.

My faith in alliance

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Petchaboon Prison
231 Praputabat Rd, Ni-Muaeng Sub-district
Muaeng District Petchaboon 67000


Non-exhaustive list of human rights defenders and activists of particular concern in detention or under house arrest in Vietnam

Jan. 11, 2012

Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien

- Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) Supreme Patriarch Thich Quang Do, under house arrest without trial at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Ho Chi Minh City. He is deprived of the right to travel, his communications are censored, and all visits monitored. He is deprived of basic citizenship rights, such as the obligatory residence permit (ho khau), without which one is considered an illegal citizen. Thich Quang Do has spent over 29 years in prison, house arrest and internal exile for his peaceful appeals for religious freedom, human rights and democracy. He has been declared a victim of arbitrary detention by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Opinion 18/2005).

- Although blogger Mr. Nguyen Van Hai (pen name Dieu Cay), founding member of the Club of Free Journalists, should have been released from prison in October 2010 after completing his prison term, he remains detained under new charges of “propaganda against the State”, which were brought against him on October 20, 2010. He had been sentenced to two and a half years in prison on trumped-up charges of “tax evasion” in September 2008. His family has not been allowed to see him since then and his current whereabouts are unknown. On July 5, 2011, Dieu Cay’s wife was told by Lt.-Colonel Dang Hong Diep of the Ho Chi Minh City Security Police Investigations Department that Dieu Cay had “lost his hand (or arm)” in prison.

- On April 4, 2011, Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, a legal expert and defender of environmental and political rights, was sentenced to seven years in prison and three years under house arrest by the Hanoi People’s Court on charges of “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (Article 88 of the Criminal Code), following a trial during which he was denied his right to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. His sentence was upheld at an appeal trial on August 2, 2011. Two weeks before his arrest on November 5, 2010, on October 21, 2010, Mr. Ha Vu had filed a lawsuit against the Prime Minister for signing Decree 136 in 2006, which prohibits class-action petitions.

- Freelance journalist Mr. Truong Minh Duc, sentenced to five years in prison at an unfair trial in Kien Giang province on July 18, 2008, charged with “taking advantage of democratic freedoms and rights to abuse the interests of the State” (Article 258 of the Criminal Code), for writing about official corruption in Kien Giang. Mr. Truong Minh Duc’s wife reports that her husband is in very poor health, and is currently subjected to extremely harsh detention conditions. He was transferred in early April 2010 from the main K2 camp of Xuan Loc prison in Dong Nai province, where he was held since 2007, to a section in the jungle known as K4.

- Writer Mr. Nguyen Xuan Nghia, sentenced on October 9, 2009 by Haiphong People’s Court to six years in prison and three years’ “probationary detention” (i.e. house arrest) under Article 88 of the Criminal Code on “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” after writing and advocating for human rights and actions calling for democratic reforms.

- Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien, sentenced by the People’s Court in Haiphong on January 29, 2010 to four years in prison followed by three years under house arrest on charges of “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (Article 88 of the Criminal Code) for organising peaceful demonstrations and advocating land rights.

- Internet entrepreneur and blogger Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a pro-democracy activist who advocated for more freedoms in his writings, sentenced to 16 years in prison and five years’ house arrest at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on January 20, 2010 on charges of “activities aimed at subverting the people's administration” (Article 79 of the Criminal Code), using the Internet and blogs to circulate democratic ideas. Along with a group of activists, he was initially accused under Article 88 of the Criminal Code on conducting anti-Socialist propaganda, and their “confessions” were broadcast on the State-run television. The charges were suddenly changed to Article 79, a more serious crime which incurs the death penalty. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc received a harsher sentence that his colleagues because he refused to admit he had committed a crime and demanded clemency. The other members of this group are:

- French-trained IT engineer and blogger Mr. Nguyen Tien Trung, sentenced to seven years in prison and three years house arrest for using the Internet to call for political reforms;

- Businessman Mr. Le Thang Long, sentenced to five years in prison and three years house arrest (reduced to three and a half years on appeal), also for publishing pro-democracy appeals on the Internet;

- Mr. Tran Kim Anh, former lieutenant-colonel in the People’s Army, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and three years house arrest under the same charge on December 28, 2009 at the People’s Court in Thai Binh province for publishing pro-democracy articles on the Internet.

- Mr. Vi Duc Hoi, a pro-democracy activist who has extensively written on corruption and injustice in Vietnam, was arrested on October 27, 2010. On January 26, 2011, he was convicted of “spreading anti-Government propaganda” and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment, followed by five years of house arrest. On April 26, 2011, his jail sentence was reduced to five years by an appeals court in northern Lang Son province, to be followed by three years’ house arrest.

- Messrs. Nguyen Van Lia and Tran Hoai An, practitioners of an unofficial religious sect and advocates of the respect of the right to religious freedom, were found guilty on December 12, 2011 of the charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State” under Article 258 of the Criminal Code by the People’s Court of Cho Moi District in southern An Giang province. They were respectively sentenced to five and three years of prison.

- Journalist Mr. Nguyen Van Khuong (pen name Hoang Khuong), a reporter on the official Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, was arrested on January 2, 2012 for exposing police corruption. He is in custody in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of “professional shortcomings”. In July and September 2011, Hoang Khuong wrote a series of articles revealing bribes received by traffic police. One policeman was subsequently arrested. On November 28, 2011, the Ho Chi Minh City Investigation Police complained about the articles and called on Tuoi Tre to withdraw Hoang Khuong’s press card. At the same time, the Ho Chi Minh City Police Newspaper published several articles denouncing Hoang Khuong and calling for “punishment” against him. On December 3, 2011, Tuoi Tre’s Editorial Board suspended him.


MPJ Campaign on ‘Health Rights for All’

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Jan. 9, 2011

Indian mother and her baby

India has worst data on child and mother maternal deaths every year nearly 1.50lacs children and 55 thousands mother die ie: 23% children and 18.5% according to World population. We have 79% children and near 90% adolescent girl child are aneamic.Every year 4.5lacs die due to TB&25% die due heart related diseases. The developed World has increased their GDP to near 5% in the area of health care but we have just used 1.1%.Our is very poor and developing nation where near 80% of population lives at Rs.20/- a day. These are serious health issues where every citizen and basically the poor suffer the most.

Maharashtra report on health issue is also dismal where mostly the Govt hospital doesn’t function and if they do there are many problems like non-availability of medicines, doctors, adequate staff, first-aid, sonography, x-ray and other health facilities which Govt hospitals must provide to patients. Our State lags behind in health infra structure regards to District Hospitals (DH), Primary Health care (PHCs) & Sub-centre (SCs) as per the defined norms& are ill-equipped& also health expenditure is not adequately given and used. On the other hand ‘Trust Hospitals’ where poor patient are supposed to get free health care being dined access or limited due to lack of awareness. The private hospitals are gaining grounds due non access of Universal health care and neo-liberal policies of State Govt.

Under this alarming situation MPJ (Mah.) has launched a campaign called ‘Health Rights for all’. This campaign will be from 15Jan 2012 to 15Feb 2012.We will be conducting various campaign for awareness and make the Govt. health care system more effective and accountable. We will make People& Govt aware to their rights and duties; also guide to people’s welfare policies related to health care.

To this we make appeal to all concern citizenry and media to join the campaign so as to make poor people alleviate from poverty& lead a healthy dignified life.

Protest Against Japanese Oppression On The Korean Independence Day

By John S Thang
Jan. 5, 2012

The Global Friendship Club Chairman Sungon Oh (2nd L)

Global Friendship Club members’ protest rally in front of the Japanese embassy took place on the Korean independence. In Korean, this day is called “Gwangbokjeol,” (literally "Restoration of Light Day") in order to celebrate the end of the Japanese colonization on August 15, 1945. On that day many Korean activists were released from the Japanese colonial government. As a result, this day is an annual public holiday and the Korean President and other Korean political leaders attend and celebrate this historic Independence Day across the Korean Peninsula.

During the most recent annual protest, in the presence of a large Korean policmen surrounding the Japanese Embassy, the Global Friendship Club members and comedian Kim Satgat drew pictures of Japanese soldiers persecuting the Korean people.

A comedian Kimsatgat drawing pictures

Afterward, Kim Satgat said to the Global Digest, “The Japanese main interest was occupying the Korea peninsula. Indeed, since the Japanese live on islands they needed a mainland territory in order to increase commerce and to pursue their social and political interest.”

Kim Satgat historical interpretation is indeed correct. In 1895, for example, the Japanese assasinated a Korean Empress Myeongsong during their attempt to occupy Korea. In addition, the Japanese pursuit of occupying Korea was part of its larger plan to establish and control a Japanese led Greater East Asian Empire. However, this Japanese led Greater East Asian Empire was destroyed and replaced with an American after World War II.

The Dokdo Crisis

Mr Kim Hong Sik(3rd R)

Dokdo is still a critical issue between South Korea and Japan, where both countries claim ownership. At the moment, Dokdo is indeed the primary cause of tension between the two nations. For example, the Korean government expelled three Japanese law makers from the Gimpo International Airport in-order to prevent them from accessing Dokdo from Korea.

The Global Digest also had a brief conversation with Mr Kim Hong Sik, the son of a former Korean Dokdo gaurd. Hongsik Kim said that his late father Kyeongho Kim, who voluntarily guarded Dokdo from 1953 to 1956, did so even though he faced a great deal of hardship from many armed Japanese fishermen. For example, many Japanese fishermen used their arms to act in a very threatening manner towards Kyeongho Kim. Such behavior is very similar to how a large number of Japanese soldiers treated Koreans during the Japanese occupation between 1910 and 1945.

Protest in-front of Japanese embassy

In conclusion, Japan states in its school textbooks that Dokdo is a part of its national territory. Nevertheless, Dokdo remains under the control of South Korean troops to this day.

The Global Digest editor Daniel Rhodes edited to this story.

South Korea

Seoul city’s mayor Park Won Soon meets foreign communities

By John S Thang
Dec. 15, 2011

Mayor Park Won Soon(C) and foreigners

The 13th annual Seoul Town Meeting was held at the Seoul City Hall on December 9, 2011, and was attended by the Seoul city’s mayor Park Won Soon and a dozen Seoul Metropolitan government officers as well as special invitees; the conference hall was filled to its maximum 100 seat capacity.

The Seoul Town Meetings are organized with the intention of encouraging better cooperation and harmony between Korean and foreign residents in the capital city. This year’s meeting focused on general issues regarding life in Seoul including education, medical services and housing.

Mayor Park said during the opening speech that there are more than 350,000 foreigners resident in Seoul city. There are a significant number of migrants in the city and there are more than a million migrants across the country.

The meeting highlighted the situation of migrant women who marry Korean men and their children. Women from China, Vietnam and the Philippines have the highest rates of marriage to Korean men.

A German diplomat Alexander Nowak

One Philippine mother complained about the discrimination their children receive from the Korean children in the schools they attend. She asked the Seoul metropolitan government to provide a multicultural school as well as programs to educate Korean students about discrimination issues in Seoul.

Similarly, a Chinese woman made a strong request that the reality of migrants living situations in Seoul be thoroughly examined. She informed at the meeting that she was totally frustrated by her life here.

Furthermore, a German diplomat, Alexander Nowak spoke out saying that South Korea has tendency of favour American schools and ignore other national schools. Generally, American influences over the South Korean people such as the American English accent, the American army, economics and entertainment.

Another group to attend the meeting were international students in the city; they asked for more scholarships for studying here, since Korea has one of the highest university tuition fees in the world. There are more than thirty thousand international students in Seoul city.

Although scholarships for foreigner students are under the administration of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, due to the absence of the person in charge a Seoul metropolitan officer explained that they will support students with special financial needs as much as they possibly can.

The Global Digest representative Thang John Smith and mayor Park Won Soon

A human rights lawyer turned mayor, Park Won Soon, expressed hope and promised the attendees to solve their social plights and other difficulties of living in the city. At the end of the meeting Mayor Park also privately informed the Global Digest that he wants to see and help refugees in Seoul as well.

An American professor from Yonsei University, Sean Watts, asked the officials to consider sport class in the school, and regulations on vehicles and motorbikes. Motorbikes in the city are a concern for pedestrians and their presence is very dangerous for children. He advised that many parents are worried.

Only a limited number of participants were allowed to express their opinions, freely exchange their ideas and have a live discussion with the officers. Although, most of the attendees were not able to speak out this is the only chance for foreigners to meet face to face with the Seoul city Mayor.

The Global Digest editor Barry Welsh edited to this story.


It would be an honour to die with my head up than to live like a coward having my eyes down, Uzma says in an interview

International personalities and over 4,000 Buddhists celebrate the consecration of Most Venerable Thich Quang Do Fifth Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

THAILAND: Twenty years in prison for four SMS messages

An academic conference to be held: Asian values based on Human Rights

Clean Chit to Law-Breaker Lavasa is a Blot on India’s Democracy and Environmentalism

Price Rise is a sign of Progress says Prime Minister of India!

UNDP has released HDI(Human Development Index) report:-Where we Stand?

In an Open Letter to VCP Secretary-general Nguyen Phu Trong: Buddhist leader Thich Quang Do: Democracy alone can protect Vietnamese sovereignty from Chinese encroachment

Malnutrition in India: Where we stand in Human Development Index?

Nobel Peace Laureate joins Appeal to end Death Penalty in Vietnam PARIS, 11 October 2011

9th World Day against the Death Penalty: Vietnam makes the Death Penalty “more humane”

A Statement from the Coalition for the International Criminal Court forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Oct-Dec, 2011

Jul-Sep, 2011

Apr-June, 2011

Jan-Mar, 2011