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Independence activist

Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung released from prison and ordered to remain silent — Radio Free Asia

Edward Leung, a prominent Hong Kong politician who advocated ‘separation’ between the former British colony and mainland China, was released after serving a six-year prison sentence for ‘rioting’ during the unrest of 2016 in Mong Kok.

A former spokesperson for the now disbanded Hong Kong indigenous group, Leung was released from Shek Pik prison on Lantau Island around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“I was released this morning and returned home safely with my family,” Leung said in a post on his Facebook page.

“As required by law, I am subject to a supervision order upon my release,” he wrote. “I have to lay low and deactivate my social media accounts.”

His family later issued a warning to supporters not to try to visit Leung and announced the deletion of Leung’s Facebook account, which was unavailable Wednesday evening local time.

Leung was sentenced to six years in prison in 2018 for “rioting” and “assaulting a police officer” during the 2016 “Fishball Revolution” clashes in Mong Kok.

Hong Kong lawyer and former lawmaker Siu Tsz-man said supervision orders are sometimes issued to released prisoners involved in violent crimes, including murder and manslaughter, and require the former prisoner to remain in contact with surveillance officers and to stay in a stable residence.

But Siu said the order to stay out of the spotlight was unprecedented.

“I’ve never heard of this before,” Siu said. “My staff have never heard of a supervision order under which the person is not allowed to give interviews to the media.”

Siu declined to say whether the order was appropriate without knowing the details of the case.

“The purpose of a supervision order is not to confine someone to a certain place and not let them go,” he said.

Some have drawn parallels between Leung’s release and the continued checks on released political prisoners in mainland China.

Hong Kong news commentator Johnny Lau said the treatment of prominent Chinese dissidents has varied greatly in the past, depending on the level of political sensitivity of their cases as perceived by the Communist Party of China (CCP). ) in power.

Maintaining stability

Mainland human rights lawyer Wang Yu said mainland Chinese authorities often negotiate terms with released dissidents, including telling them to shut up after their release.

“It can be done through the detention center, the courts, the local police department or the state security police, or even neighborhood committees,” Wang told RFA. “Anyone can be commissioned as a stability keeping officer.”

“These agreements may or may not involve something in writing.”

Fellow rights lawyer Bao Longjun said Leung’s experience shows that Hong Kong has gradually moved away from the rule of law.

“The Hong Kong government’s continued expansion of how it interprets and implements [existing laws] seriously violated the rule of law and the interpretation of freedom of expression as granted by the constitution,” Bao told RFA.

Video footage of the riots showed a large crowd throwing bricks and other objects at riot police, who responded with pepper spray and batons, injuring an unknown number of people. Others set fire to debris in the street, while business owners reported property damage.

Judge Anthea Pang said in delivering her sentencing that “political pleas” could never justify violence. Leung, a by-election candidate for the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous at the time, said he went to the scene in an attempt to act as a buffer zone in the clashes, but later admitted to giving in to anger.

Hong Kong’s former colonial governor, Lord Patten of Barnes, criticized Leung’s sentencing as politically motivated at the time, saying public order legislation was used politically under the CCP regime to mete out extreme punishments. to Democratic politicians and other activists.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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Self government

Local Self-Government Forum in Ukraine: a key annual event

What is the agenda for democratic governance in Ukraine and other parts of Europe? What are the main achievements and challenges of the decentralization reform underway in Ukraine? What will be the constitutional amendments on decentralization and reform of state representation at sub-national levels?

These issues were addressed in the framework of the VI Forum on Local Self-Government in Ukraine, held on November 11-12, 2021. Other issues included: the right of association of local authorities; democratic governance in metropolitan areas; the development of mountain areas; protection of the rights of internally displaced persons.

The Local Self-Government Forum has been organized annually since 2017 to discuss the development of local self-government in Ukraine, including in conflict-affected regions (Donetsk and Luhansk). In 2021, the Center of Expertise for Good Governance, together with national partners, widened the target audience, and the Forum became a national level with the participation of local authorities from all over Ukraine.

The 2021 Forum brought together more than 750 participants from Ukraine via an online platform and 65 speakers. In addition, more than 1,100 viewers followed the broadcast live via social media, and National Broadcaster Radio posted 10 interviews with Forum speakers and guests.

In her video address, Ms Snežana Samardžić-Marković, Director General for Democracy, underlined that “… the good news is that you are not alone… at your request, the Council of Europe will continue to do its best. to support Ukraine in its efforts to improve democratic governance and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The event was organized by the Center of Expertise for Good Governance through its program “Strengthening decentralization and reform of public administration in Ukraine” in cooperation with the Parliamentary Committee on State Building, Local Governance, Regional and Urban Development, Ukrainian Ministry of Community and Territory Development, Donetsk Oblast State Administration, Lviv Oblast State Administration and Luhansk Oblast State Administration.

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Independence activist

Indonesian police arrest Papuan independence activist on suspicion of treason following 2019 unrest – benarnews

Indonesian police have arrested an independence activist in Papua on suspicion of treason and sedition in connection with anti-Jakarta protests that turned into deadly riots in the region two years ago, authorities said on Monday.

The arrest of Victor Yeimo, chairman of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), a Papuan civil organization seeking to hold a referendum on self-determination for Papua, came over the weekend against a backdrop of escalating tensions in the Far East region.

The Indonesian president has ordered a crackdown on armed Papuan separatist rebels after he assassinated the government’s intelligence chief for the region in late April.

Yeimo was arrested in the provincial capital Jayapura on Sunday after being on the run for almost two years, said Iqbal Alqudusy, police spokesman for a counterinsurgency task force known as the ‘Operation Nemangkawi.

“He was named a suspect based on testimony which described him as the leader of the protests, who delivered speeches on Papua’s independence,” Iqbal told BenarNews.

Yeimo, 42, faces up to 12 years if convicted of treason, police said.

His arrest was not his first run-in with the law.

In 2009, Yeimo was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison for leading a rally demanding a referendum on self-determination for Papua. The Melanesian-majority region, which includes the provinces of Papua and West Papua, was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN administered ballot.

In 2019, more than 40 people were killed in Papua in protests and riots sparked by the harsh and racist treatment of Papuan students by government security personnel in Java in August.

Papua Police Chief Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri said Yeimo fled to neighboring Papua New Guinea after the 2019 unrest.

“Yeimo admitted that he returned to Jayapura in September 2020,” Fakhiri said, as quoted by Suara.com.

On August 19, 2019, Yeimo shouted “Free Papua” as he delivered a speech outside the provincial governor’s office, Fakhiri said, accusing Yeimo of being the “mastermind” of mass protests that “took place. ended in anarchism and damage to public facilities. “

In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded the region of Papua – which constitutes the western half of the island of New Guinea – and annexed it.

Many Papuans and rights groups said the 1969 vote, known as the Free Choice Act, was a sham because it only affected around 1,000 people.

Last year at least 13 Papuan activists and students were convicted of waving Morning Star flags – the symbol of the Papuan independence movement – at pro-referendum rallies in 2019 as part of nationwide protests against racism against Papuans . They were sentenced to between nine and eleven months in prison for treason.

“A far-fetched accusation”

Last month, the Indonesian government designated the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) and its armed wing, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), as terrorists.

This happened after the TPNPB claimed responsibility for the murder of the army brigadier. General I Gusti Putu Danny Nugraha Karya in a roadside ambush in the Puncak regency on April 25. Putu Danny led the State Intelligence Agency’s Papua operation.

The TPNPB also said it killed two teachers, a motorcycle taxi driver and a 16-year-old teenager in separate incidents in April. The rebels said the civilians were working as spies for the government.

The killings prompted President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to order government forces to step up operations against the rebels.

Sam Awom, the Papuan coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), called Yeimo’s arrest “arbitrary” and said it was the result of the government’s designation of the separatists as well as terrorists.

“We, the activists, are very worried about this, because the designation [of Papuan rebels] because terrorists will not solve the problem. In fact, what the government needs to do is open as much space as possible for dialogue between the government and the OPM, ”he told BenarNews, referring to the Free Papua Separatist Movement.

By using the anti-terrorism law to prosecute the Papuan rebels, the police will have the power to arrest more people because they do not need hard evidence, Awom said.

“There is a huge potential for human rights violations such as forced detention and summary executions,” he said.

Awom defended Yeimo, claiming he led a protest in Jayapura in September 2019 that ended peacefully.

“Victor being the mastermind of the riots is a far-fetched accusation, I think,” he said, urging the government to release all political prisoners instead.

Veronica Koman, an Indonesian lawyer who has represented Papuan activists in the past, said Yeimo’s arrest could lead to more unrest in the region.

“Indonesia is giving West Papuans a boost to come back to the streets. Anger has built up since the terrorist labeling, ”Koman said in a message posted on Twitter.

“Several organizations have announced that they would mobilize if Victor Yeimo was not released.

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Independence activist

Indonesia: police arrest independence activist – JURIST

Indonesian police arrested Victor Yeimo, an independence activist, according to a statement from Iqbal Alqudusy, the head of the Nemangkawi special commission, on Monday.

Yeimo is known as the former spokesperson and current chairman of the National Committee for West Papua, a group of peaceful protesters calling for a self-determination referendum. He was arrested on charges of makar who, according to local reports, refer to treason, subversion and rebellion. The makar charges are brought under the country’s controversial Penal Code.

The accusation refers to Yeimo’s alleged public statements inspiring unrest and allegedly spreading lies. This follows his involvement in anti-racism protests in 2019. The protests drew thousands, left dozens dead and sparked an internet blackout.

Alqudusy commented that the police “arrested a person [Yeimo] on the wanted list in a case of racism and riots in Papua in 2019. ”

Indonesian police also suspect Yeimo of having insulted the country ”[a]s referred to in the wording of article 106 in conjunction with article 87 of the penal code (KUHP) and / or article 110 of the KUHP and / or article 14 paragraphs (1) and (2) and l Article 15 of Law No. 1/1946 on Penal Regulations.

Yeimo has already been the subject of police action. He has been arrested several times during his activism, largely for his involvement in the protests.

Likewise, many human rights defenders and activists face sanctions for their work. Arrests are a method commonly used by Indonesian authorities in an attempt to discourage dissent.

The arrests of peaceful protesters and dissenting voices raise concerns over Indonesia’s respect for international law. Indonesia signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2006. The treaty provides for a right of peaceful assembly in article 21. Article 19 provides for the right of individuals to hold opinions without interference and to freedom of expression.

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Self government

Leendert Verbeek: “Respect for the European Charter of Local Self-Government is essential for the resilience and sustainability of local democracy”

Addressing the General Assembly of the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS), on April 13, 2021, Congress President Leendert Verbeek underlined the importance of the European Charter of local self-government to ensure the sustainability of local democracy and local self-government. -government. He also expressed concern about the negative impact of Covid-19 on human rights, local democracy and constitutional values. “The pandemic has worsened the so-called recurring problems in the application of the Charter. These include the lack of consultation, an inadequate distribution of powers and financial resources and excessive supervision, ”warned President Verbeek.

He called on the member states of the Council of Europe to support local communities in their fight against the pandemic without compromising local autonomy, which is essential for building democratic and sustainable societies. “It is our responsibility, as local and regional elected representatives, to be alongside our citizens, to preserve democracy and to create an environment conducive to the sustainable economic development of our cities and regions”, underlined the president. .

The General Assembly of NALAS was opened by the President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, the President of the Congress of Local Authorities of Moldova, Tatiana Badan, and the Mayor of Chisinau and head of the Moldovan delegation to the Congress, Ion Ceban . They welcomed the cooperation with Congress, including the post-monitoring roadmap and the technical assistance provided for various projects.

President Verbeek underlined that the partnership between the Congress and NALAS plays a key role in the discussions on decentralization and local self-government in the South East European region. He also underlined the excellent cooperation with the Moldovan authorities and the importance of the post-monitoring roadmap to be signed with the authorities.

See also:

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Self government

Scottish law incorporates the European Charter of Local Self-Government

The European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) bill was incorporated into Scottish law after Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) voted unanimously to approve it.

Introduced by Andy Wightman MSP, the bill aims to strengthen local government in Scotland, made up of 32 councils.

The European Charter of Local Self-Government was established in 1985 by the Council of Europe and sets out 10 principles to protect the basic powers of local authorities with regard to their political, administrative and financial independence, and was ratified by the UK in 1997.

The Council of Europe is an international organization which promotes democracy and protects human rights and the rule of law across the European continent and the UK is one of its 47 member states.

Mr. Wightman said that the incorporation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government The Bill in Scottish Law would allow the Charter to be directly relied on to settle matters in Scottish courts and would allow individuals and organizations to challenge the Scottish Government in the courts if its laws or rulings are inconsistent with the chart.

The bill also contains a section which places a general duty on the Scottish government to promote local government.

Commenting on Twitter, Mr Wightman said: ‘Delighted that my European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) bill is passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament. Thanks to all the supporters. The culmination of decades of efforts by COSLA and others.

Chair of the Scottish Local Authorities Convention (COSLA) Councilor Alison Evison added: “I am absolutely delighted, it is a long-standing ambition of COSLA to see this charter incorporated into national law.
“This is a major achievement for local government and for communities.

“This means that the status and position of local government as a democratic representative of local communities will be strengthened by enshrining international legal rights in Scottish law.

“This in turn will strengthen the voice of our local communities and help achieve better results, the agreed results, with and for them.

“It will mean parity between government partners as we work together, for example on the national performance framework.

“The incorporation of the charter will formalize and integrate better partnership work and ensure that subsidiarity is a flaw in policymaking through the democratic system.

“Most importantly, it will help us achieve the lasting change around empowering communities that we seek.

“Finally, I would like to express our thanks to Andy Wightman MSP for bringing forward a private member’s bill on the charter, his role in bringing us here today cannot be overstated. “

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Independence activist

Western Sahara: harassment of an independence activist

(Washington) – Moroccan security forces have maintained an almost constant massive presence outside the home of a Western Sahara independence activist for more than three months, Human Rights Watch said today. They provided no justification and prevented several people, including family members, from visiting them.

The surveillance and violations of activist Sultana Khaya’s right to freely associate with others, at her home in Boujdour, Western Sahara, are emblematic of Morocco’s intolerance of calls for self-determination Sahrawis in defiance of Morocco’s claim to the territory. Khaya is known locally for her displays of vehement opposition to Morocco’s control of Western Sahara. She often demonstrates in the street, alone or with others, waving Sahrawi flags and chanting independence slogans in front of members of the Moroccan security forces.

“Moroccan authorities may well dislike Sultana Khaya’s pro-independence views and her blunt style,” said Eric Goldstein, acting director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. “Yet expressing oneself peacefully remains her right, and nothing justifies blocking her home without any legal basis.”

Khaya returned to her family on November 19, 2020, after a visit to Spain. While she was out that day, members of the Moroccan security forces raided the house. During their operation, they hit her 84-year-old mother on the head, Khaya told Human Rights Watch. Security guards have since remained outside the house.

Human Rights Watch viewed several videos, shot on different dates between November 19 and today, showing groups of uniformed security forces mixed with men in civilian clothes, some stationed near police vehicles, at the outside Khaya’s home as she shouts for independence slogans from a window or a few feet from the front door. Some show the men blocking the way to visitors or pushing them back.

Since November 19, Khaya has left the house less than a dozen times, walking a few meters, filming members of the security forces with her phone, then re-entering the house. She said she often stood at a window, waving the Sahrawi flag and chanting independence slogans.

Khaya has only ventured further from her home once since November 19, she told Human Rights Watch. At the end of December, she said, she walked about 150 meters from her door, until a group of security forces gathered near her. “They didn’t stop or touch me, but I felt threatened and feared for my life, so I walked home,” she said.

The Moroccan authorities have long firmly kept aside any public demonstration against Moroccan domination in Western Sahara and in favor of self-determination of the territory. They beat activists in their custody and in the streets, imprisoned and convicted them in trials marred by due process violations, including torture, hindered their freedom of movement and openly followed them. Moroccan authorities have also denied entry to Western Sahara to dozens of foreign visitors in recent years, including journalists and human rights activists.

On January 18, 2021, police officers prevented Khaya’s cousin from entering the house. They also brutally pushed Khaya, who was standing outside, through her front door, she told Human Rights Watch.

On February 13, while filming the police from an open window, Khaya was hit in the face by a stone that a member of the security forces threw from the street. The National Human Rights Council, an organ of the Moroccan state, on February 16 asked the Boujdour prosecutor to investigate the incident.

Human Rights Watch interviewed Hassanna Duihi, a Sahrawi independence activist who lives in Boujdour. Duihi said he had tried to visit Khaya four times since December. The first two times, members of the uniformed security forces pushed him back, providing no reason other than that they had “orders,” Duihi said. Human Rights Watch reviewed a video of one of the incidents, provided by Duihi. Filmed from inside the house, the one-minute video matches Duihi’s description of the incident. Duihi was able to visit Khaya on February 19 and 21 in the early hours of the morning, he said.

At around noon on February 21, a man in civilian clothes snatched Khaya’s cell phone from her as she stood in the street outside her front door, filming members of the security forces as they blocked a visitor. Duihi and Babouzid Buihi, another independence activist interviewed by Human Rights Watch, witnessed the incident from inside Khaya’s home, which Buihi had also reached earlier in the day. Both men said she held a sit-in outside her front door until 11 p.m. The phone was slipped under her door half an hour later, but Khaya said she refused to use it, fearing spyware had been installed there.

On February 23, Khaya said, a police officer attempted to give him a summons to appear before a prosecutor. She refused to take the document, claiming that she did not recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, and therefore jurisdiction over it. Human Rights Watch does not know the basis for the summons.

In response to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, the Moroccan inter-ministerial delegation for human rights said, “Neither (Khaya) nor his family are subjected to any form of harassment or surveillance. They added that on November 19, Khaya, returning from a trip, was “greeted by a group of people on the street in front of her house”, and that authorities urged the group to “respect security measures” in response. to the Covid-19 pandemic. . This request, they said, resulted in Khaya’s mother “losing consciousness” for reasons they did not specify.

Khaya said no local official had ever mentioned Covid-19 to justify the continued presence of police forces around his home since November or to block some visitors. Duihi said Moroccan authorities did not impose any Covid-19 security measures on Boujdour beyond the nighttime curfew they imposed across Morocco and Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. He said that to his knowledge, the police did not maintain such intense surveillance outside any other private residence in the city and that the pandemic had not prevented various overcrowded events in the city, including pro-political rallies. Moroccans.

Most of Western Sahara has been under Moroccan control since Spain, the territory’s former colonial administrator, withdrew in 1975. In 1991, Morocco and the Polisario, the Western Sahara liberation movement, agreed of a ceasefire negotiated by the UN to prepare a referendum on self-determination. This referendum never took place. Morocco sees Western Sahara as an integral part of the kingdom and rejects demands for a vote on self-determination that would include independence as an option.

“The muscular police surveillance around Sultana Khaya’s home illustrates Morocco’s determination to maintain pressure, including psychological ones, on those who reject its claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara,” Goldstein said.

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Sovereignty

Congress monitors implementation of European Charter of Local Self-Government by Azerbaijan

A Congress delegation monitored Azerbaijan’s compliance with the European Charter of Local Self-Government from February 23 to 25, 2021.

Two co-rapporteurs on local and regional democracy in Azerbaijan, Bernd Vöhringer, Germany (L, PPE / CCE) and Stewart Dickson, UK (R, GILD) focused on developments since the last follow-up in 2012.

Due to the current health situation, the rapporteurs had online meetings with the national delegation of Azerbaijan to the Congress, the national associations of local and regional authorities, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Relations of the Assembly State, the Constitutional Court, the Court of Auditors and the Commissioner for Human Rights of Azerbaijan.

They also met with the Deputy Minister of Justice, the head of the Center for Work with Municipalities, Baku Executive Power and other local authorities.

The resulting report will be examined by the Monitoring Committee.

Azerbaijan ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2002. The countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires the implementation of a minimum set of rights which constitute the fundamental basis of local self-government in Europe. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures that these principles are respected in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

Contact:

Stéphanie POIREL, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee, Tel: +33 (0) 3 90 21 51 84, email: [email protected]

Meetings program

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Self government

Opinion: Helping Xinjiang and Tibet through Divestment and Self-Government

These days, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on outside the United States, yet China continues to commit human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet with impunity. In fact, the pandemic has increased restrictions. Fortunately, the international community is speaking out, the Member States of the United Nations decry abuses in Xinjiang and human rights experts raise concerns on the “enforced disappearance” of the Panchen Lama. As the number of these convictions increases, we would like to propose two more: the disengagement of companies complicit in human rights violations and the recognition by the United Nations as non-self-governing territories.

Tibet and Xinjiang both have a disputed history of conflict with China, mostly over sovereignty issues. China claims Tibet has been under Chinese sovereignty for 1793. In contrast, the Tibetan government-in-exile claims that Tibet was invaded in 1949-50. Tibet had its own language, currency, army, government, culture, religion and treaties, which display their independence. Meanwhile, in comparison, in Xinjiang, China began asserting more sovereign control over the region – which borders Russia – as it became more interested in trade. A history of separatist violence challenging Chinese sovereignty claims has only heightened China’s resolve.

China’s human rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang in the name of state sovereignty are truly endless. China has implemented the forced transfer of populations; public executions; murder of demonstrators; torture of monks, nuns and citizens in the country, including Tibet. Tibet also suffered from the genocide. Both regions suffered “re-education” and mass surveillance, and China has denied the basic rights of the two populations. Less direct infringements of rights such as destruction of monasteries, exile of religious leaders, attempted installation of religious leaders and Tibetan flag bans and Dalai Lama photos also took place.

Despite China’s draconian control over the two regions, divestment could be an effective means of exerting economic pressure on China. In Xinjiang, in particular, the divestiture could have the additional effect of ensuring that US-based businesses and consumers are not complicit in these human rights violations. In Tibet, US companies should consider disengaging from strategic sectors that will weaken either Chinese economic growth or the People’s Liberation Army. Meanwhile, in Xinjiang, Americans and US companies own millions of shares in Chinese tech companies like Hikvision and Dahua, which are implicated in human rights abuses, while other US-based companies companies, like Nike and Adidas, can source materials from the forced labor of the Uyghurs themselves, for which these companies should be held accountable. Marion smith, the executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, endorses this approach through Congress. All of these measures may not force China to completely stop the persecution of Uyghurs, but it would make participation in human rights abuses costly for American businesses, investors and consumers.

In addition to divestment, the UN should officially recognize Tibet and Xinjiang as Non-self-governing territories, which is defined as “the territories whose population has not yet reached a full measure of self-government”. A formal label like this would constitute a strong UN challenge to China’s claims to sovereignty in the two regions, and it would require China to report annually on the status of each territory’s progress towards independence. . retaliation, but China status on the UN Special Committee on Decolonization could influence the definition of decolonization, which would also have consequences for the rest of the world. In addition, the presence of Han Chinese settlers, attracted by incentive migration policies, complicates the eventual process of decolonization for the two regions. However, it should be noted that the two regions, which still have high ethnic concentrations of their indigenous populations, can serve as buffer states and benefit from growing international recognition of human rights violations. A more in-depth conversation on this idea would certainly help shed light on the extent of China’s resistance and more details on the effectiveness of this proposal.

As should be evident by now, these propositions are neither simple nor holistic. Our argument is that resuming the debate, even with non-exhaustive solutions, is the only way to find better answers. While talking about the problem isn’t a guarantee of a solution, ignoring it is a sure-fire way to make sure there never is one.

Fatima Bamba, Katie Engsberg, Mitchell Macheske and Sarah Salkowski are masters students at the School of International Service. The opinions expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Eagle and its staff.


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Independence activist

Uyghur diaspora remembers pro-independence activist Isa Yusuf Alptekin on the anniversary of his death – Radio Free Asia

Members of the Uyghur diaspora recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the death of Isa Yusuf Alptekin, one of the ethnic group’s most prominent intellectuals and a figure who dedicated his life to Beijing’s independence in the Uyghur Autonomous Region. of Xinjiang (XUAR).

Alptekin was born in Yengisar County (in Chinese, Yingjisha), in what was then Kashgar (Kashi) Prefecture of the Qing Dynasty, in 1901. At the end of 1949, following the Chinese Communist invasion from the Uyghur region, he left China and finally relocated to Turkey in 1954.

In 1960, Alptekin established the East Turkestan Expatriate Society in Istanbul, using the name preferred by many Uyghurs for their homeland, and later the East Turkestan Foundation. He fought tirelessly for the freedom of his people until his death on December 17, 1995.

During his half-century struggle for independence, Alptekin has traveled the world attending international conferences to raise awareness of the situation in XUAR, where Uyghurs are discriminated against and cannot practice their Muslim religious traditions, using their own language and preserving their culture, despite the protections of Chinese law.

Hamuthan Göktür, who worked for Alptekin from 1965 to 1995, told RFA’s Uyghur service that the late intellectual had made a significant contribution to the recognition of the Uyghur independence movement in Turkey.

“If you asked someone in Turkey where they heard about the East Turkestan cause, that there was a region and a country called East Turkestan, they would say Isa Yusuf Alptekin,” he said. declared.

After being blinded in a traffic accident in 1978, Alptekin did not give up his campaign for the independence of East Turkestan. He founded a publishing center in Istanbul in 1980 and the East Turkestan Foundation in 1985.

“The torch of independence”

Omer Kanat, executive director of the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and chairman of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) executive committee, worked with Alptekin for over seven years, starting in 1980.

“Mr. Isa tirelessly waved the flag of independence, the torch of independence,” he said. “In his final days, Mr. Isa spoke of our homeland, of our nation… he wouldn’t talk about anything else. “

In addition to publishing in newspapers and magazines, holding press conferences, giving statements to reporters, and writing letters to leaders of various countries, Alptekin has also written numerous articles and books. Many of his writings have become important sources in Uyghur studies today.

WUC President Dolkun Isa called Alptekin “not only a politician but also an opinion writer”, noting that he had also written numerous books, several of which were published in English, Turkish, in Arabic and other languages.

From his arrival in Turkey in 1954 until his death in 1995, Alptekin met with all Turkish presidents and prime ministers, as well as several ministers, to discuss the Uyghur issue and address the plight of Uyghur migrants in Turkey.

“He spoke eloquently and he had a human demeanor,” said Kanat of the UHRP.

“I was with him when he met world leaders … If you paid attention, it seemed from the words he used and the way he interacted with people that the leaders of two countries met. “

Isa Yusuf Alptekin was buried in Topkapi Cemetery, where former Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and former President Turgut Özal are buried. His funeral was attended by Turkish President Süleyman Demirel and several ministers, and major Turkish TV channels covered the service live. His legacy lives on through the work he did for the Uyghur community and in the many parks, streets and schools that bear his name in Turkish cities.

Reported by Erkin Tarim for the RFA Uyghur service. Translated by Uyghur service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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Independence activist

Hong Kong police accuse independence activist Tony Chung of ‘secession’ – Radio Free Asia

Authorities in Hong Kong have accused 19-year-old independence activist Tony Chung of “secession” under a draconian national security law that went into effect in the city on July 1.

“Chung has been formally charged with one count of ‘secession’, one count of” conspiracy to publish seditious material “, as well as two cases of” money laundering “,” the group said. now disbanded Chung activists Studentlocalism on his Facebook page.

Chung appeared in West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning, where his application for bail was denied, the statement said.

Chung was arrested on October 27 for allegedly violating Article 21 of the National Security Law, which prohibits anyone from providing assistance to anyone who breaks the law and which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

He is accused of “actively organizing, planning, implementing or participating in acts aimed at dividing the country and undermining national unity in Hong Kong from July 1 to October 27 this year, along with others.” , according to the charges against him.

The money laundering charges relate to a crowdfunding campaign by Studentlocalism, which called for donations only from those who supported Hong Kong’s independence, and payments totaling nearly HK $ 700,000 made to the bank account Chung staff between January 2018 and July 2020.

Chung is also accused of conspiring to publish seditious publications in Hong Kong between November 30, 2018 and June 9 this year, before the National Security Act came into force.

After the hearing, Chung was taken to the infamous Pik Uk Correctional Facility, where he will remain in detention for at least the next 10 weeks pending another hearing in January, the group said.

The judge’s decision to deny bail came after the prosecution claimed Chung was likely to reoffend and run away if released, given that the alleged offenses took place while he was out on bail pending a different charge.

Four under arrest

Chung was one of four youths arrested by Hong Kong police on July 26 on suspicion of “secession” under the National Security Act, which came into force on July 1.

The arrested persons, aged 16 to 21, were taken into custody during raids in the districts of the New Territories of Yuen Long, Shatin and Tuen Mun, suspected of having “organized and incited secessionist activities”.

Police said they were suspected of posting ads online calling on people to fight to establish a “Hong Kong nation”, to declare that they will use whatever means necessary to achieve this goal and to call for the union of separatist groups.

Studentlocalism was dissolved before the law was implemented, but as the posts were published after the new law came into force, they fell under articles of the law prohibiting “incitement” to secessionist activity, he said. police said at the time.

Chung and two other activists were separately arrested by the national security police on Tuesday after Chung was refused permission to enter the US consulate, where he is said to have planned to seek political asylum. The other two arrested, former studentlocalism members William Chan and Yanni Ho, have been released on bail.

Hours later, when news of Chung’s arrest became public, four more activists entered the consulate, but were told that they could not be protected and were finally ordered to leave. one of them later told Voice of America (VOA).

News commentator Liu Ruishao said that the fact that Chung has been charged means authorities expect to make an example of him.

“The fact that they are making such accusations means that they (…) expect a result that will be in favor of the government,” Liu said. “In fact, it will probably have the effect of restricting everyone’s behavior in the future.”

“The effect of [such a prosecution] will be magnified, which means that a much larger portion of the population is actually targeted, “Liu said.” That’s what they want to achieve: a crippling effect where people limit their own behavior. “

Call for release

Rights groups denounced Chung’s arrest and the charges against him as a violation of his right to free speech.

The overseas-based Chinese Network of Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) called for Chung’s immediate release, in a statement posted on its website Thursday.

“The charges against Chung, a former member of the Studentlocalism group, relate to posts he made on social media platforms and his advocacy, in violation of his fundamental rights to freedom of expression and association, ”the group said.

Chung is the second person to be charged under the National Security Law since it came into force. The first was Tong Ying-kit, who rode his motorbike among a group of police officers during a July 1 protest while carrying a flag bearing the popular protest slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolutionize Now!”

“The National Security Law, imposed in Hong Kong by the Chinese legislature on June 30, criminalizes the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly under the pretext that non-violent speech or behavior can ‘put endangering national security, ”the CHRD said.

He called for an independent international review, led by the United Nations, of human rights violations in China.

Broken promises

Under the 1997 handover agreement, Hong Kong was promised to maintain its traditional freedoms of expression and association, as well as universal suffrage.

But Beijing’s decision to exclude fully democratic elections in 2014, its insistence on the prosecution and disqualification of key opposition figures, and its subsequent imposition of the national security law following mass popular protests against declining freedoms throughout 2019 have shown that the ruling Chinese Communist Party has no intention of keeping those promises.

The loosely-worded new security law threatens anyone who criticizes Chinese or Hong Kong authorities anywhere in the world.

The dreaded Chinese State Security Police have now established a seat in the city to enforce the law, while the government has warned that slogans linked to last year’s protest movement, including “Free Hong Kong, do the revolution now! “, will come under the mandate of the law. .

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) earlier said the law would be “devastating” for the protection of human rights in the city.

It created specialized secret security agencies, denied the right to a fair trial, granted expanded new powers to the police, increased restrictions on civil society and the media, and weakened judicial oversight, the group said in a statement. report published on its website.

The law will also affect the right to education and freedom of information, opinion and expression in schools, as political statements and discussions are prohibited in city classrooms and the books of prominent figures. -Democracy are being removed from its public libraries, HRW said. .

Reported by Lu Xi and Man Hoi-tsan for the Cantonese and Mandarin services of FRG. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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Sovereignty

The Eternal Dream of Self-Government

The multiple feelings of déjà vu were surprisingly overwhelming. It happened while I was listening to the BBC about developments in Belarus, where Alexander Lukashenko is currently late. While reporting factory workers chanting ‘Go’ in the face of the struggling president who had sought to strengthen his position by speaking out in front of what he believed to be a sympathetic audience, the BBC presenter commented on how his hold on power seemed to be tenuous. It was then that the flood of memories from history, our own and beyond, came with a rush. Memories that recalled not only how such moments fervently embodied the hopes of a nation, but also the certain disappointment that awaited Belarusians.

This is not some sort of guesswork as to how Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya would behave if and when Lukashenko resigned. Like most reasonably well-informed people far from its immediate neighborhood, all I know about Belarus is that it has long been ruled by an “elected” strongman who has tied himself closely to Russia. With my very limited knowledge of his politics, I had never even heard of Tikhanovskaya either. The above was just a personal reflection on how often similar times of hope have been common over the past four decades or so – and how badly these usually end.

Hope for democracy and fairness

The first one I remember when I was 13: the independence of Rhodesia (and the gradual transition to Zimbabwe). The names that stuck in my mind were Ian Smith, the last Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. Nkomo is now almost forgotten and the reason I still remember him, besides being such an imposing personality, was due to my wonder at the time before instant information on how to pronounce his last name ( it is en-Komo). However, over the next 40 years, we learned a lot about Mugabe, how he wiped out this resource-rich country before being ousted after years of discontent. Unfortunately, for a country that has suffered so much, the record of its successor has not been much better, having now spawned the human rights campaign, #ZimbabweanLivesMatter. Enough said.

In 1979, when I was 14, we were able to witness history being made. With student unrest appearing to threaten the regime itself, King Birendra hastily announced a referendum on the Panchayat system. Political activism that had gone underground after the royal coup of 1960 has become possible again. Although having virtually no understanding of politics other than what I could absorb by listening to adult conversations conducted quietly in private circles, I did begin to attend political events in Khula Manch. I was there when BP Koirala first spoke in public after his impeachment two decades earlier and still remember the shock many onlookers felt upon first hearing the squeak that his voice had become due to. throat cancer that would eventually consume him.

My way back from school got me to change buses in the Ratna Park area and I became Khula Manch from Bir hospital on my way to the mini-bus stop in front of the old headquarters. Nepalese electricity company. Speeches were held in the late afternoon and I stopped almost every day to listen. Over the months, I must have heard most worthy politicians (I can’t remember any “sounds”) speaking in words that we of the Panchayat generation had never heard before. Here we were piling up propaganda to get through the subject known simply as Panchayat, and there were all these legendary names calling the lie to what our textbook said. The multiparty system lost the following year in the plebiscite which is widely believed to have been rigged. We were a long way from knowing how those who thundered against an irresponsible regime were to prove such havoc when their time came.

But there was enough time for that, a full decade. In the meantime, things have shifted here and there in favor of the popular will, notably that of Argentina in 1982, that of the Philippines in 1986, then the major dismemberment of the Soviet empire in 1989-90. We followed the precedent with our own Popular Movement of 1990 and saw the restoration of democracy after three decades. And, almost immediately, they found themselves face to face with the inexplicable reality that politicians, whether revolutionary or otherwise, invariably belies the great hopes that propel them to power. The only notable exception in recent decades may have been Nelson Mandela’s South Africa, but here, too, the downfall began soon after he left the scene.

Only hope remains

Despite all the repeated disappointments everywhere we look, hope is eternal as people continue to strive for the ideal of a government that listens to its citizens. The absolute certainty of better times after the current crisis is over is what drives Belarusians right now. This heightened sense of optimism is something we have been (badly) fortunate enough to experience twice in a generation: in 1990 and 2006. At least the second time around, our politicians seemed contrite and in fact promised to not to repeat their past mistakes in what they said would become a New Nepal.

Even though they had really wanted to at the time, the feuds began soon after their return to power following a popular mobilization of a kind never seen in Nepal’s history. Instead of focusing on writing a constitution, we saw governments come and go in a repeat of the bad ’90s. It took almost a decade and a devastating earthquake for the new statute to be put in place. in place.

The story with the majority government elected on the strength of fantastic promises of transforming the country was no different, and the results were there for all even before the last shameful months. A naked power struggle has devoured the ruling party amid a pandemic that is not only likely to devastate the economy, but also cause enormous loss of life. Yet despite all the fire and brimstone emanating from both sides, neither has come up with a game plan on how best to tackle the coronavirus threat. The last time we heard was that resolving all these months of political wrangling that ensured the lack of any political leadership in the country would take the form of a cabinet reshuffle. Talk about a wet firecracker.

Poet Sylvia Plath wrote: “If you don’t expect anything from anyone, you are never disappointed”. This, unfortunately, cannot apply to the relationship between people and their government. Expectations are always high and politicians almost always fail to deliver them; it seems to be an unalterable truism of the human condition, no matter how many times we opt for something else. The only constant is the human desire for freedom with dignity.

Mugabe started out as prime minister before ascending to the presidency and developing a regime that has secured his re-election time and time again. The art of winning elections is what Lukashenko also perfected. This game plan has evolved over time and is used around the world. Considering half the chances, there are many among our current generation of leaders who would have liked to have been at the helm of a similar political system. This model has also not been tried here, with the introduction of all kinds of laws that would overthrow democracy by undermining the media and civil society. Fortunately, the popular will is still strong enough in Nepal to have thwarted most of these attempts.

That’s why I get shivers every time someone talks about the stability that an executive presidency would bring. The only solace we can have in Nepal is that we will have the pleasure of ousting the leaders by the ballot box if things do not improve between now and the elections. This is more than what can be said about the current situation in Belarus.

***

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Independence activist

Indonesia: Papuan independence activist jailed for hoisting flag finally freed

Papuan independence activistFilep Karma tasted freedom today after being wrongfully jailed for more than a decade for simply waving an independence flag at a political ceremony in 2004, Amnesty International said.

“Filep Karma spent more than a decade of his life in prison when he shouldn’t even have been imprisoned one day. It was an outrageous travesty of justice and he should never have been brought to justice, ”said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for South East Asia.

“Every Indonesian should have the right to express himself freely and to assemble freely, but these rights have been cruelly denied to Filep Karma. “

Filep Karma spent over a decade of his life in prison when he shouldn’t even have been in jail one day. It was a scandalous parody of justice.

Josef Benedict, Amnesty International Campaigns Director for South East Asia

Amnesty International has long viewed Filep Karma as a prisoner of conscience and campaigned for his release. In 2011, supporters of the organization in more than 80 countries sent him over 65,000 messages of support as part of his “Write for Rights” campaign and called for his unconditional release.

Filep Karma has consistently refused to accept a lesser sentence offered by the government, saying he would only accept full release and should never have been jailed in the first place.

The organization believes he was arbitrarily arrested for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly by raising a flag and attending a political event.

“We hope this will be the first step towards the release of all prisoners of conscience detained for their peaceful political expression in Papua and elsewhere in Indonesia,” said Josef Benedict.

Amnesty International hopes that Filep Karma’s release marks the abandonment of repressive tactics frequently used by the authorities to silence peaceful dissent in the Papuan region. In addition to the release of all prisoners of conscience, the Indonesian authorities must put in place a mechanism to combat the culture of impunity in Papua and deal with current and past cases of human rights violations by the security forces.

Fund

Filep Karma was among some 200 people who took part in a peaceful ceremony in Abepura, in the province of Papua, on December 1, 2004. In commemoration of the Papuan declaration of independence in 1962, the flag of the morning star – a forbidden symbol of Papuan independence – was hoisted. The police then advanced into the crowd, hitting people with batons. Filep Karma was subsequently arrested and charged with “rebellion” under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. He was convicted on May 26, 2005 and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.

During his visit to the provinces of Papua and West Papua in May, President Joko Widodo took steps that appeared to mark an abandonment of the repressive policies of past administrations. These include the release of five political activists, who were jailed after unfair trials based on forced confessions following torture or other ill-treatment, and the pledge to grant clemency or amnesty to other political activists detained throughout the country.

He also announced that the authorities were lifting restrictions on foreign journalists, allowing them access to Papua, to travel freely and to cover the region.

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Independence activist

Independence activist returns home to Western Sahara

Aminatou Haidar had been on a hunger strike for 32 days, but was eventually sent home after Morocco admitted her to Western Sahara.

HIGHLIGHTS OF HISTORY

  • Aminatou Haidar finally returns home after 32 days of hunger strike in Spain
  • Morocco allowed her to return home to Western Sahara
  • Haidar was hospitalized the day before after complaining of abdominal pain
  • Haidar still refuses to recognize Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara

Madrid, Spain (CNN) – An award-winning independence activist returned home to Western Sahara early Friday from Spain.

She ended a 32-day hunger strike when Morocco admitted her to disputed territory following multinational negotiations over her case.

A Spanish government plane carrying activist Aminatou Haidar, 43, left Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands at around 10:30 p.m. local time on Thursday for El Aaiun airport in Western Sahara. CNN’s partner channel CNN + reported.

On his arrival, the Moroccan authorities returned his passport to him. They had taken the passport last month when they refused entry to her at the same airport when she refused to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, Lamine Baali of the separatist Polisario Front told CNN.

“This is a victory for international law and human rights and for the cause of Western Sahara,” Haidar said in Lanzarote before boarding the plane.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement, saying: “I was delighted to learn of the Moroccan government’s decision to readmit Aminatou Haidar on humanitarian grounds after her month-long hunger strike in Spain.

“This humanitarian gesture reflects the true spirit and generosity of the Moroccan government and people, and underlines the urgency of finding a permanent solution to the conflict in Western Sahara,” Clinton added.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who met Clinton in Washington last Monday, said in Brussels on Friday that Spain had “made no concessions”.

“We have had broad negotiations with the Moroccan authorities. And we have worked in a coordinated manner with the United States and France” to find a solution, said Moratinos.

It is a victory for international law and human rights and for the cause of Western Sahara
–Aminatou Haidar

On Thursday evening, Haidar left a hospital in Lanzarote, where she had visited a few hours earlier complaining of abdominal pain, and returned to the airport, where she had conducted most of her hunger strike from 32 days. She then took the plane to her home.

The plane took off moments after the Spanish prime minister’s office issued a statement claiming that Spain “shares the concern of the international community” over the status of the disputed territory of Western Sahara, but that pending a agreement negotiated by the United Nations, Spain “confirms that Morocco’s law applies to the territory of Western Sahara.

Haidar had demanded that she be able to return to Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, without having to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over it.

Baali said Morocco this time did not ask Haidar to fill out a disembarkation card upon arrival, which was a flashpoint last month, when she wrote on a disembarkation card that her nationality was Sahrawi and not Moroccan, Baali said.

Haidar arrived at the airport on the island of Lanzarote – just off the west coast of Morocco – on November 14, shortly after the Moroccan woman refused entry at El Aaiun airport.

She began her hunger strike on November 16, but it ended shortly after she returned home on Friday in the Hay Hazari neighborhood of El Aaiun, about a 30-minute drive from the airport. Baali said, as supporters allegedly cheered her on.

Haidar was initially taking fluids to regain strength, Baali said, and was with her two children and other family members.

Earlier Thursday, the European Parliament abruptly stopped before voting on the Haidar affair when German lawmaker Martin Schulz told parliament it appeared “there would be a solution today”.

“We can help Mrs Haidar more by remaining silent rather than passing a resolution,” Schulz said, according to the parliament’s press office.

During her hunger strike, Madrid offered her Spanish nationality or political asylum, but she refused.

In an emailed statement to reporters, Haidar thanked Spain but said: “I have no intention of applying for Spanish, American or Italian citizenship. I live under Moroccan occupation and I defend, like the rest of the Saharawi people, for ourselves. -determination. “

Spain officially withdrew as a decades-long colonial power in Western Sahara in early 1976, shortly after the Moroccan king led a “green march” with 350,000 Moroccan civilians in the territory to claim it. .

A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front – a group made up mainly of Sahrawis, which promotes the independence of Western Sahara – ensued and was finally halted, after more than a decade, in 1991, thanks to a ceasefire. fire brokered by the United Nations, according to the CIA World Factbook.

A referendum organized by the UN on the final status of the territory has been postponed several times. Morocco presented an autonomy plan to the United Nations, but the Polisario responded with an independence plan for the 405,000 inhabitants of the territory, Muslims of Arab or Berber origin.

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington, DC, awarded Haidar a Human Rights Fellow last year.

Haidar was recently in New York City to receive another award, the Train Foundation Civil Courage Award for 2009, just before flying to Western Sahara and being denied entry in November, a spokesperson for the foundation, Barbara Becker.

A senior Moroccan government official, Khalihenna Ould Errachid, told CNN + earlier in December in an interview that Haidar “has always been Moroccan”.

“She was never part of the former Spanish Sahara”, added the Moroccan official, “and I say that Aminatou Haidar must regain her Moroccan nationality and say it clearly, and tomorrow she will be able to return, without problem” .


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