Amnesty International on Human Rights in Asia Pacific 2019

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Anchor Moy
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Amnesty International on Human Rights in Asia Pacific 2019

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'Bleak domineering vision': Amnesty says human rights at risk as Asia Pacific's strongmen rise
The year has been dominated by repression but also by resistance, says the human rights organisation in its annual review
Ben Doherty
Wed 29 Jan 2020 16.30 GMT
Last modified on Thu 30 Jan 2020 00.05 GMT

The year across the Asia-Pacific has been dominated by repression, but also resistance, as the two largest countries on Earth sought to impose a “bleak domineering vision” for the region, according to Amnesty International’s annual human rights review.

The 2019 review, released on Thursday, paints a bleak picture for minorities across the region, with Uyghurs in China interned in “re-education camps”, and a siege imposed across Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.
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But Amnesty said while governments became increasingly repressive, it was countered by emerging public resistance: in Hong Kong, where protests against a proposed extradition law metamorphosed into broader demands around respect for human rights, free expression and peaceful assembly; in India, where millions turned out to resist new laws that discriminate against Muslims taking out citizenship; and in West Papua, where Papuans demonstrated against racist and discriminatory treatment and reaffirmed demands for independence from Indonesia.

The region is increasingly governed by strongman leaders: in Sri Lanka, former military chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected president, in the Philippines, president Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” claimed hundreds more lives through extrajudicial killings, and HE consolidated his grip on power in Cambodia as political violence worsened.

“Across south-east Asia, repressive governments entrenched themselves further, silenced their opponents, muzzled the media and shrank civic space to the point where, in many countries, even participation in a peaceful protest can trigger arrest,” the report said. “In south Asia, governments appeared anxious to keep up, innovating new ways to perpetuate old patterns of repression – especially through the introduction of draconian laws that punish dissent online.”

Amnesty argued that repression is often legitimised by governments demonising critics as “as pawns of ‘foreign forces’, who are at best ‘naive’ and at worst ‘treasonous’”. ... ngmen-rise
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