Asia in 2016: India

Asia in 2016: IndiaLandmark economic reforms introduced in India last year contrasted sharply with rising extremism, suggesting that the rapidly growing country is still battling old demons of religious divisiveness, rigidity and orthodoxy even as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopts a more streamlined financial outlook. Growing intolerance of dissent was highlighted in February 2016 during…

Asia in 2016: Australia

Asia in 2016: AustraliaAfter a decade of political instability in Australia – the prime-ministership has changed hands five times since 2007 – last year might have brought a dose of normality to the country’s national affairs. Instead, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fought a close election that was marked by a surge of right-wing populism that saw stridently anti-immigrant…

The Dangerous Philosophy Behind Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’

The Dangerous Philosophy Behind Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’Six months after the election of Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte as President of the Philippines, the country remains divided as to whether this represents a new era in Philippine politics or the country's tragic downfall. Regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum, the tragic loss of life caused by his "war on drugs" cannot…

UN warns Myanmar Against Rohingya Demolitions

UN warns Myanmar Against Rohingya DemolitionsThe UN has warned authorities that plans to demolish hundreds of homes belonging to ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims will “heighten tensions” in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the military is accused of abusing civilians during counterinsurgency operations. The warning came in a Dec. 28 letter obtained by IRIN and addressed to Rakhine State Chief Minister Nyi Pu.…

Journalist Deaths Down Globally

Journalist Deaths Down GloballyOn Dec. 19, Larry Que, the publisher of Catanduanes News Now, became the fourth journalist to die in the Philippines in 2016 when he was shot in the head by a lone gunman as he was about to enter the building that houses his office. While any journalist’s murder is ominous, Que’s murder is doubly so…

Australia-US  Immigration Deal is “One-off”

Australia-US  Immigration Deal is “One-off”Despite evident dangers, irregular maritime migration through Southeast Asia tripled between 2012 and 2014, with countless people dying. Often, rather than finding refuge, these people are sold into sex slavery or other forms of modern-day servitude by people smugglers. Indeed, human traffickers have profited greatly in trafficking in this human misery.  In recent years, few…

Violence Against Myanmar’s Rohingya Spreads to Aid Workers

Violence Against Myanmar’s Rohingya Spreads to Aid WorkersSoe Aung works for an international aid agency in his hometown of Sittwe, the capital of Myanmar’s Rakhine State. It’s a good job, but he isn’t eager to discuss it in a public setting or outside his close circle of friends and family. That’s because his agency helps Rohingya Muslims. “I stay low-profile here,” said…

Indian Women Take On their Predators

Indian Women Take On their PredatorsUrban Indian women, long besieged by sexual predators, are empowering themselves to teach their tormentors a lesson – including, in some cases, banding together to beat and berate them. Realizing how Indian law enforcement agencies can no longer be trusted for their safety, they are employing a range of methods from buying small arms and…

As ASEAN Turns 50, Rights Lag

As ASEAN Turns 50, Rights LagAs the international backlash continues over Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, the lack of due process and the consequent deaths of “suspects” in his campaign, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with its individual member states, has been characteristically silent. For instance, ASEAN’s leaders and ministers met at their summit in…

Thailand Faces Uncertain Future Under Erratic Pretender

Thailand Faces Uncertain Future Under Erratic PretenderWith the Oct. 13 death of Thailand’s 88-year-old monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country enters unknown territory, with his heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, widely recognized as an erratic and out of control womanizer. And given the growing use of social media, the Thai public largely knows the sordid tales despite the overwhelming efforts of the…