This week Just Asia begins with Pakistan, where police brutality and violence continues. Three videos show how law enforcement officials regularly transcend their authority and abuse ordinary citizens, with a complete lack of accountability. In the most recently surfaced video, a group of police officers are baton charging unarmed women mill workers in Muzaffargarh, Punjab.
Next, three journalists have been arrested in Burma, after watching a rebel group burn drugs in Shan state. After their arrest on June 26, the journalists were charged under the colonial era Unlawful Associations Act for ‘alleged contact with rebel groups’, causing local outrage. The charges could lead to three-year sentences for the journalists, with the first court hearing on July 11. The arrests are worrying amidst an increasing climate of suppression of free speech in the country.
In India, the recent death of a woman prisoner in Mumbai is drawing attention to poor prison conditions in the country. On June 23, Manjula Shetye was found dead in Byculla jail. According to reports, Shetye complained about shortage of food to the jail staff, resulting in an altercation and allegedly, her torture, rape and murder by jail officials. While six prison officials have been arrested and remanded in police custody, it is not yet clear who killed Shetye.
In Nepal, the extent of abuse of power and politicization within the police is such that even senior police officers are maltreated. On 24 April 2017, a team of police officers arrested Mr. Nawa Raj Silwal, Director of Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), from his lawyer’s residence. Silwal was in consultation with his lawyer regarding his case challenging the government’s appointment of the Police Chief. To support the government’s decision to appoint its own Police Chief, and to show Silwal as unfit for the job, the government and the police have fabricated charges against Silwal.
Moving to Indonesia, human rights defenders continue to be at risk for their work, with no government policy or regulation regarding their protection. Most recently, there was an acid attack against anti-corruption activist Sukma Hidayat and a brutal attack against environmental activist Arifin Wardiyanto. In both cases, the perpetrators have yet to be held to account. Earlier, Mr. Jopi Peranginangin, another environmental activist was killed by navy personnel, and the responsible officers were given only light punishment.
Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features three cases from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.