July 2015 report on Burma & North Korea

AMNESTY REPORT JULY 2015 

Letterwriting:  

  • We signed 35 letters last time and 37 this month.  
  • I am delighted to report that two Sudanese activists, Yasir M. Abdabrahman and Nasreen A. Mustafa, about whom we wrote a letter last month, have been released. 

Burma: 

  • Quoted in the paper 18 June: “Amnesty International claimed that the Burmese government has made increased efforts to restrict freedom of expression, and said that at least ten members of the media had been jailed over the past year. The government formally opened the press to competition but has aggressively prosecuted critical media outlets, which Amnesty called “repression dressed up as progress”.   Ye Htut, Burma’s information minister, denied the claims. 
  • With regard to the latest on the boat migrants, mostly Rohingya from Burma, I attach a statement from Amnesty International (see end of post).

North Korea:

  • Reported on 15 June that NK test-fired 3 short range missiles, launching them into the sea from a site near its eastern city of Wonsan. Last month they claimed to have test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile.  However, experts have questioned the authenticity of this. 
  • NK is facing its worst drought for 100 years which will of course have a repercussion with regard to food production and China is offering aid. 
  • Private enterprise is creeping into NK in the realm of taxis, long haul transport, restaurants and fishing. 
  • According to N. Koreans who have escaped to SK, there were 1382 public executions between 2000 and 2014 for crimes that include watching DVDs of SK soap operas. 
  • According to a NK scientist who has defected to Finland, he has digital evidence of testing of chemical and biological weapons on mentally and physically handicapped children. 

800th anniversary of Magna Carta: 

  • Jane and I joined the Salisbury Amnesty Group and Judith from Frome at the reading by Edward Fox of parts of Magna Carta followed by a debate with our own Kate Allen from Head Office, a rather radical Professor from LSE and Ben Rawlence who had been a researcher for Human Rights Watch, which was both informative and enjoyable. 

Street Collection:

  • It is time for me to set this up initially, so next week I will be in touch again but do please email me either atinfo@bathamnesty.co.uk or wendyhug8@gmail.com or phone 01225 316246 if you would like to help us out for 2 hours either at 9 am or 11 am on that morning, please, being Saturday 10th October this year.

Wendy Hughes 
Burma & N.Korea Co-Ordinator

 

Statement from Amnesty International (referred to in report above):

 

1 July 2015
South East Asia: Inaction paves the way for future refugee disaster 

 

South East Asian governments have so far failed to take sufficient action to protect refugees and migrants one month after a key summit to address the crisis that saw thousands of people stranded on boats over the past months, Amnesty International said in an open letter today.
 

The Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean in Bangkok on 29 May brought 17 countries together
to discuss the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. “One month after the Bangkok summit, there 
are few signs that governments are doing what is necessary to address the desperate plight of migrants and refugees. There’s still inadequate coordination on search and rescue operations, and a lack of clear protection measures for people who have landed on their shores,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director.

 

The International Organization for Migration at one point in May estimated that there were as many as 8,000 people – refugees and migrants mainly from Myanmar and Bangladesh - stranded on boats close to Thailand.

 

Indonesia and Malaysia have since committed to providing temporary protection for up to a year for 7,000 people on the condition that third governments resettle or repatriate the  The next sailing season will likely start in October when seas are calmer and refugees and migrants will again take to boats to leave their home countries.  “Inaction now could pave the way for disaster later. Although it might look like the worst of the immediate crisis at sea is over, it is likely to escalate again once the sailing season starts.
 

Those facing persecutions in their home countries will continue to flee to seek asylum. It is crucial that regional governments put measures in place to ensure that more lives are not lost, and ensure there are safe and legal means for seeking asylum or migrating,” said Richard Bennett.
 

In the open letter, Amnesty International urges the governments of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia and Bangladesh to take urgent measures to address the crisis. ASEAN foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1-6 August 2015 Measures must include stepping up coordinated search and rescue efforts, ensuring that human rights of migrants and refugees are protected and respected, and addressing the root causes of the current crisis, in particular by calling on the government of Myanmar to end systematic discrimination against the Rohingya minority.
 

“Now is the time not to relax but to intensify efforts to address he situation of refugees and migrants who have or are likely to undergo dangerous journeys at sea. This latest episode in a long-standing crisis is by no means over and should be at the top of the agenda for regional governments. The upcoming ASEAN meeting is another opportunity to put in place comprehensive measures for regional action,” said Richard Bennett.
 

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