Wednesday, 09 April 2008 19:00 Gordon Fairclough Editorial Dept - Asia

The troubled journey of the torch is stirring anger among people in Shanghai and Beijing at what they feel is unfair treatment of China.

"Chinese people should all be indignant," said Du Chunhua, who works for a trading company in the Chinese capital. "I think it's really bad that they are trying to ruin such a peaceful event."

Activists have spent months planning similar protests for San Francisco, where the torch will travel Wednesday. It made a difficult journey through a snowy London Sunday, where a protester managed to break through security and momentarily grip it.

Many, if not most, Chinese, however, see their country as freer -- and more prosperous -- than at any time in their lifetimes. For them, the Games are seen as a celebration of their economic, political and social progress.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008 19:00 Jeremy Page Editorial Dept - Asia

Western tourists emerging from Tibet yesterday described their shock and fear as they watched a “howling” mob of Tibetans stoning and beating Chinese passers-by in two days of rioting in Lhasa last week.

They said that the crowd turned on anyone and anything that looked Chinese, knocking over motorcyclists, hitting them with metal rods and setting fire to their motorcycles.

Their testimony illustrated the ferocity of the riots, which have undermined not only China's claims to have brought peace and prosperity to Tibet but also the Dalai Lama's longstanding creed of non-violent resistance.

“It's hard to pick a side in what happened,” said John Kenwood, a 19-year-old backpacker from Canada who flew into Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, yesterday after spending ten days in Lhasa.

Friday, 21 March 2008 19:00 Steve Crawshaw Editorial Dept - Asia

Ibrahim GambariNone of this should have been a surprise. The Burmese generals sent Ibrahim Gambari away empty-handed. The military rulers treated Gambari, special envoy to Burma and under secretary general of the UN, with unconcealed contempt.

Gambari - who is due to report back to the security council in the next few days - was not allowed to meet General Than Shwe or other senior leaders when he visited Burma this month. He met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in a (presumably bugged) government guest house.

But the regime refused to make any of the concessions that Gambari asked for, including international observers and technical support for the May referendum on the generals' draft constitution aimed at cementing their hold on power. Instead, they described the ultra-cautious Gambari as biased".

The question now is: will the world finally wake up to the dangerous games which the Burmese generals like to play? Right now, there is depressingly little sign of that.

Monday, 03 March 2008 19:00 Sara Colm Editorial Dept - Asia

Donors must demand reforms before pledging funds - The long-delayed trials of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge began dramatically last week with a judicial ''re-enactment'' at the regime's notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where more than 14,000 people were tortured and executed from 1975-79.

Part courtroom, part spectacle, the three remaining prison survivors were brought face-to-face with Kaing Gech Eav (Duch), the former prison chief, as he led international and Cambodian judges, prosecutors, lawyers and a coterie of court photographers on a tour of the prison.

Officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is a ''hybrid'' court, consisting of a majority of Cambodian judges sitting alongside international judges, with international and Cambodian co-prosecutors.

Duch is among five former Khmer Rouge leaders jailed on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the deaths of as many as two million Cambodians during their four-year rule, which ended in 1979.


Tuesday, 08 January 2008 19:00 Dr. John Dayal Editorial Dept - Asia

In the last few days, All India Christian Council (aicc) leaders released two reports on the anti-Christian violence in Orissa (India) which began on Christmas Eve. Newly confirmed cases of arson, murder, and assault make this violence qualify as the largest attack on the Christian community in the history of democratic India. Both reports show that the Dalits - formerly known as untouchables - were the main group affected by the violence.

Four leaders from aicc chapters in Orissa visited the affected villages from January 3-5 and released their report on Jan. 7, 2008. The report says 95 churches were vandalised or destroyed, 730 Christian homes burnt, and four Christians killed with many still missing and presumed dead. To view the entire Fact Finding Report,

On Jan. 5, 2008, aicc Secretary-General John Dayal released a white paper after visiting the area. Advocate Nicholas Barla, a lawyer and human rights expert, and Mr. Hemant Nayak, a social scientist and human rights and development activist, were also part of the fact finding team. They concluded that the attacks on Christians included simultaneous, planned violence by extremist Hindutva supporters and complicity and consistent incompetence by police and local authorities. To view the entire white paper, see:

According to media reports, two members from India's National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Dileep Padgaonkar and Zoya Hasan, are currently in Orissa to investigate the violence. Aicc leaders met with the NCM chairman on Dec. 27, 2007 in New Delhi. "We are saddened to acknowledge the violence in Orissa will go into the history books as an unprecedented attack on Christians in India. The tragedy is deepened by proof that the violence was avoidable if the authorities had enforced the rule of law," said Dr. Joseph D'souza, aicc President.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:00 Nellie Wong Editorial Dept - Asia

 Over the past three years, a fresh burst of criticism has arisen in China over the trek toward neoliberal capitalist restoration, especially among Chinese Communist Party veterans and prominent intellectuals. The spark for much of the discussion is a new property law, more than 10 years in the making, passed by the national legislature in March and due to take effect in October - the same month as the next five-year congress of the CP.

This renewed spate of energetic comment follows a period after the mid-1990s during which it seemed that debate in official circles over the country's course of economic "reform" was effectively over.

Since that time, however, the harsh results of the transition back to capitalism for China's 1.3 billion people have become ever more clear. Protests by workers and peasants have grown steadily, reaching an officially reported average of 240 every day by 2005.

And these grass-roots protests are once again stirring vocal dissent by writers and university teachers, especially in Beijing, and some members of the ruling bureaucracy. As a group, these high-profile critics of the country's traumatic capitalist course are often misleadingly called China's "New Left."


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