Asia

Foreign parliaments are not powerless to help the Rohingya – their pressure on Myanmar is vital

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As the pope made a high profile visit to Myanmar in late November, attention turned to how to help the thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled their homes to Bangladesh following violence and what UN officials have described as ethnic cleansing. Wessel Vermeulen Andreja Pegan  A deal struck between the two countries to start returning the refugees, has been criticised for going against international refugee law. The Conversation Western politicians have also travelled to Myanmar and Bangladesh to witness ... Read More »

Is this Israel’s “most hated” man?

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Author and commentator Gideon Levy has been called both “the most hated man in Israel” and “the most heroic.” ABC LateLine While he describes himself as a “patriotic Israeli”, he’s highly critical of what he calls his country’s ‘moral blindness’ to its acts of war and occupation. Emma Alberici spoke to Gideon Levy ahead of his talk at the University of Sydney this week. Transcript Read More »

Egypt jails 14 for homosexuality

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An Egyptian court on Nov. 26 sentenced 14 men convicted of being homosexuals to three years in jail each for “abnormal” sexual relations, a defence lawyer said. Cairo – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Ishaq Wadie said the men were released on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($283, 230 euros) each until an appeals trial. The trial of three other suspects was delayed over procedural reasons, the lawyer said. Homosexuality is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but gays have previously been charged ... Read More »

Pakistan calls on army in Islamabad to restore order as blasphemy protests spread

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Pakistan’s Government has called on the army to help clear a sit-in by Islamist hard-liners blockading the capital after police clashed with activists and religious protests spread to other cities. Reuters ABC More than 100 people were wounded in clashes on Saturday, including at least 65 members of the security forces, according to reports from hospitals. About 1,000 activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik, a new hard-line Islamist political party, have blockaded the main road into the capital for two weeks, accusing the ... Read More »

What Has China Accomplished in Central and Eastern Europe?

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Each year, the 16+1 summit has Central and Eastern European states clamoring for Chinese money Valbona Zeneli The Diplomat It is that time of the year again when optimism about new investment in Eastern Europe is thick in the air Expectation are high as the sixth “16+1” meeting will take place in Budapest this upcoming Sunday. Launched first in 2012, the “16+1” Cooperation Framework includes 16 countries in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. This regional approach brings together a very ... Read More »

In Times Of Crisis We Must Work Especially Hard To Protect Women And Girls

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Violence against women and girls anywhere and at any time is not acceptable Julie Bishop In conflicts and crises across the world, women and girls can suffer terrible abuses HuffPost The UN estimates that seven in 10 women are exposed to violence in crises The risk of abuse increases when they flee without the family or community networks that would normally support them, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking or assault. The trauma of such experiences cannot be overstated, severely affecting ... Read More »

Humanitarian aid arrives in Yemen as coalition allows UN flights

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The first shipments of humanitarian aid arrived at Sanaa airport overnight after a weeks-long closure which aid groups said deprived Yemen’s residents of badly needed food and supplies. tvnz On Saturday, the airport received two flights – one from the Red Cross and another from UNICEF. Both carried medical supplies, among them polio vaccines.They also carried UNICEF and Red Cross aid workers. The Saudi-led coalition that has imposed an air, sea and land blockade on war-battered Yemen since November 6 ... Read More »

Asia Code for Sea Peace Expected to Tilt Toward China

The Royal Australian Navy HMAS Adelaide crueses alongside landing crafts with Philippine Marines and Australian troops as they conduct a joint Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise off Subic Bay in northwestern Philippines Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. The HMAS Adelaide, along with another Australian Navy ship, the HMAS Darwin, a guided missile frigate, are here for a goodwill visit aimed at strengthening relations between the two navies as well as maritime security and stability in the region. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

A code of conduct aimed at avoiding mishaps in the contested South China Sea is likely to sidestep concerns that are offensive to the chief claimant, Beijing, analysts forecast. Ralph Jennings VoA China and 10 Southeast Asian Nations agreed at summits in Manila this month to start negotiations on a code of conduct for the resource-rich sea, where sovereignty is contested by six governments. Beijing claims about 90 percent of the sea from its south coast to the island of ... Read More »

Trump tells Turkish president U.S. will stop arming Kurds in Syria

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The Trump administration is preparing to stop supplying weapons to ethnic Kurdish fighters in Syria, the White House acknowledged Friday, a move reflecting renewed focus on furthering a political settlement to the civil war there and countering Iranian influence now that the Islamic State caliphate is largely… By Carol Morello and Erin Cunningham The Washington Post Word of the policy change long sought by neighboring Turkey came Friday, not from Washington but from Ankara.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters ... Read More »

Myanmar and Bangladesh strike a shameful deal on Rohingya refugees

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Many Rohingya people who have fled the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar are now living as refugees in Bangladesh Rosa Freedman The Conversation And now, the two countries have reportedly struck a deal to return them home. Returning Rohingya people to the hands of their persecutors not only violates international law, but raises fundamental questions about how the world protects those fleeing the most heinous crimes and abuses. This deal comes just days after Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life imprisonment ... Read More »

Beijing outmanoeuvres US in the South China Sea – at least for now

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Mark J. Valencia says Manila’s acceptance of Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea shows that the erosion of US influence is real, though probably overstated by hand-wringing Asia policy pundits Mark J. Valencia South China Morning Post The struggle between China and other claimants for political domination of the South China Sea is over, for now. China has won this round. This is a political setback for the US, which supported the other claimants – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines ... Read More »

Opportunities and Challenges Await Kyrgyzstan’s Incoming President

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The inauguration of Kyrgyzstan’s new president on 24 November is a tribute to the country’s parliamentary democracy Deirdre Tynan  ICG But to overcome continued vulnerability, Sooronbai Jeenbekov must manage powerful southern elites, define the role of religion in society and spearhead reconciliation with Central Asian neighbours Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Sooronbai Jeenbekov will be inaugurated as Kyrgyzstan’s fifth president on 24 November, the victor of a tight, unpredictable, contested but ultimately legitimate election. The new leader, a loyal member of the ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last

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The crown prince has big plans for his society. RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style. Unlike the other Arab Springs — ... Read More »

Is Indo-Pacific the ‘New’ Pivot?

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It is unclear exactly what the Indo-Pacific concept entails—especially regarding the future relations between New Delhi and Beijing Zhiqun Zhu  The National Interest Government officials and scholars around the world have quickly switched their labels for Asia from “Asia Pacific” to “Indo-Pacific” after President Donald Trump popularized the latter during his first Asia trip in November 2017. “Indo-Pacific” as a geopolitical concept first appeared in European publications in the 1920s. For example, it was mentioned in retired German general Karl Ernst ... Read More »

‘Slow, painful death’ of Yazidi woman’s body and soul while enslaved by the Islamic State

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The Islamic State’s attempt to exterminate the Yazidi people of Iraq did not involve only murder Alia Malek When the militants swept through the north of the country after taking Mosul in the summer of 2014, they executed the religious minority group’s men and elderly women. The Washington Post The children and the other women they took captive. They brainwashed and conscripted the young boys and turned the women and girls into sexual slaves. This enslavement was justified by edicts ... Read More »

What next for the unresolved Cyprus question?

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Despite high expectations, the conference on Cyprus at Crans-Montana in Switzerland from 28 June to 5 July did not lead to a breakthrough. Andreas Theophanous Friends of Europe The stakes were high, given the conference’s broader goals, which included addressing the need for multilateral cooperation, involving Turkey, in the Eastern Mediterranean on energy and security issues. Furthermore, a solution to the Cyprus problem in times of regional turmoil and conflict would have been considered a success for the United Nations ... Read More »