Letterwriting: great news that individuals at risk in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been released recently. I received a reply to the letter we wrote to the Afghani Embassy about the 10 year old raped girl Brishna. The Ambassador says that legislation was passed in 2001 to protect females from honour killing as well as programmes raising awareness about the immorality and legal consquences of such actions.. At least we got a reaction. We signed 30 letters last month. Reported in the press this month from the Committee to Protect Journalists based in New York about nearly 400 journalists having been killed in the last decade with no one being convicted in 90% of the cases. This Committee says 100 were killed in Iraq in the last decade and with their record not being much better in Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Brazil, Somalia, Syria and Russia with 20 “missing” in Syria.
Burma: reported in the media a meeting on 31October between Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein about the possibility of her standing for the elections next year. However, she was not very positive about this development stating that it was probably in order to give the impression of flexibility before a visit this month by President Obama for a regional summit. In that connection ASSK has said that there has been no meaningful political reforms in Burma in the last two years and accusing the US of being overly optimistic over their attitude towards the Generals. They have failed to curb abuses by the majority Buddhists against the Rohingya muslims in the NW of the country and at least 16 journalists have been arrested over the last year in a renewed crackdown on the media. At the 10th Asia Europe Meeting in Milan on 16October the President said that the EU should stop submitting annual reports on human rights in Burma even though the UN Special Rapporteur for Burma, Yanghee Lee, released a report on the “possible signs of backsliding” with regard to the above two points.
North Korea: as usual good and bad news: reported today 2 Americans released from prison after an “earnest apology” from the US authorised by Obama. Reported on 4Nov they are developing their own version of Britain’s Trident: a submarine with the potential to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles while S. Korea says the capability could take a year. Reported on 6Nov: that they had begun operating a new nuclear plant, enabling it to double its potential output of uranium nuclear warhead according to S. Korea. This was detected by heat emissions by infrared cameras on US spy satellites. Reported 29Oct: trying to prevent Kim Jong Un and others being prosecuted for crimes against humanity, they may allow an unprecedented visit by a UN human rights investigator as part of a concerted attempt to stall efforts to refer its leadership to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Reported 31Oct: Experience North Korea had a stand at the World Travel Market in London …..as the article says while 20million people are starving, 20,000 political prisoners languish in its gulags and that it has a rogue nuclear weapons programme……why not see the “unspoilt scenery”!! Reported 30Oct: that 50 people were executed, including ruling party cadres, for crimes such as watching imported soap operas, bribery and “philandering”
Wendy Hughes, Burma & N. Korea Co-Ordinator, Bath Amnesty 10 November 2014