Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two middle schools destroyed in western Afghanistan

Two middle schools in the Shindand district of Herat Province were destroyed on Wednesday when four armed men planted explosives in them, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported, citing Pajhwuk Afghan News.

The men planted the bombs around midnight and no one was killed or injured in the incident. However, several classrooms and educational materials were destroyed.

According to the article: “Insecurity and violence, including targeted killings of teachers, education officials, and students, continue to plague the education system in Afghanistan, forcing schools to remain closed and children to stay at home.”

For the full article, click here.

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With threat of incursion looming, Kurds look for talks with Ankara on common concerns

The situation has hardened between Turkey and Iraq since Ankara’s decision this week to allow troops to be dispatched into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas, leaving Iraqi leaders in a difficult position, The New York Times reported today.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) posted a statement on its website calling for direct dialogue with the Turkish government to avoid a military incursion into northern Iraq in pursuit of PKK fighters. “The KRG welcomes a direct dialogue with Ankara on all issues of common interest or concern, including the PKK. An incursion would be detrimental to all Iraq, to Turkey and the Middle East,” the statement said, as reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported today.

The KRG also affirmed its opposition to the PKK’s violent acts, but warned against meddling on the part of Turkey. “We do not interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey, and we expect the same in return,” the statement said, as reported by The New York Times. The statement also says that the KRG “condemns the killing of innocent people in Turkey and does not believe that violence solves any problem.”

Qubad Talabany, the KRG’s representative in Washington, also weighed in on the matter.

“We would like stronger reassurances by the United States that they would defend the Iraqi people, be it in the south, north or center, if they were threatened in any way,” Talabany told the Washington Times.

Meanwhile, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey, responding to a question Thursday regarding U.S. contact with PKK leaders, said: “We consider the PKK a terrorist organization. We do not engage with – in conversations with terrorist groups.”

For the New York Times article, click here.

For the RFE/RFL article, click here.

For the Washington Times article, click here.

For the State Department’s Daily Press Briefing from Thursday, click here.

New human rights treaty means EU can be sued for rights violations

A new European Union treaty endorsed earlier today means that EU institutions can be sued for human rights violations, The Associated Press reported.

The EU Reform Treaty includes terms that hold the EU, as a legal entity, to the European Convention on Human Rights. According to the Council of Europe, the treaty allows EU institutions to be taken to court for civil liberty breaches.

The 27 members of the EU have joined the convention previously; however, the EU and its institutions cannot currently be taken to a human rights court.

Europe’s human rights court is open to citizens of the 47 member states in the Council of Europe, as well as any third country citizens who believe their rights have been violated by one of the European countries.

For the full article, click here.

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Vietnamese World Heritage site in danger from flooding

The central Viet Nam World Heritage town of Hoi An was threatened by flood waters on Thursday, Reuters reported the same day. At least 10 people have died, and thousands were forced from their homes.

The government has reported that at least 30,000 people have been relocated in the provinces of Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri, where two people have died due to a capsized boat.

Hoi An was designated as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999 for being an exceptional example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

The government also said in a disaster report that three key coffee growing provinces – Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kontum – in the Central Highlands are in danger from flash flooding and landslides. These areas account for almost half of Viet Nam’s coffee production, with 535,000 metric tons, or 8.92 million bags.

Floods earlier this month killed almost 100 people after Typhoon Lekima struck the country’s coast. Viet Nam’s three-month flood and storm season is expected to end this month.

For the full article, click here.

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Urban Afghans face severe housing shortage

The need for adequate housing overshadows Taliban violence as the greatest concern among Afghan citizens’, according to the World Politics Review.

Rapid population growth, the return of exiled citizens, and a lack of foreign investment in housing has created a volatile living situation, particularly for large cities like Kabul.

The acute housing shortage is also accompanied by scarce sanitation facilities and potable water, as well as daily power cuts.

According to the article: “Afghanistan’s Ministry of Urban development, with World Bank assistance, is now in the process of upgrading formal and informal settlements in Kabul city. This $28.2 million project, which will take at least a few years to implement, will help improve infrastructure and provide basic services like drinking water, sanitation, surface water drainage, concrete roads and street lighting.”

The Afghan government is also advocating improvement, not further destruction of homes: “Given a vast majority lives in these settlements, the solution is to upgrade, not demolish these homes and make more people homeless,” said Yousaf Pashtun, the Afghan minister of urban development, who is an architect and town planner by training.

For the full article, click here.

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Viet Nam and Libya elected to two-year terms on U.N. Security Council

Viet Nam and Libya were approved by the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to serve two-year terms as non-permanent members of the Security Council, The New York Times reported the next day.

The two countries, once shunned by the West, ran unopposed for their regions, and were elected on the first ballot.

The Security Council comprises 15 members, and is the central decision-making forum within the U.N. The Council has the power to impose sanctions and pass binding resolutions, as well as send peacekeeping missions to countries around the world.

In order to be appointed, countries must receive a two-thirds majority vote by the 192-country General Assembly. Viet Nam was elected with 183 votes and Libya with 178.

This will be Viet Nam’s first time serving on the Security Council. Libya served on the Council in 1976-1977.

For the full article, click here.

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U.N. envoy concerned about rising violence in Afghanistan

Tom Koenigs, the United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, said on Monday that the frequency of violent incidents there has increased by around 30 percent, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported the next day, citing Xinhua news agency.

Koenigs also expressed concern about the significant increase in civilian casualties, citing the deaths of at least 1,200 Afghan civilians since January.

He said that the greatest threat to Afghans is the “ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction, and execution being carried out by antigovernment elements against all those seen to have a connection with the Afghan government or the international community.”

In reference to this campaign, he called for the development of an “integrated political-military strategy” that would both combat violence and establish sustained peace in the country.

For the full article, click here.

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Iran among 4 worst nations for press freedom, Reporters Without Borders says

Reporters Without Borders, an international media rights group, released its annual World Press Freedom report Tuesday, listing Iran among the four worst nations in the world for press freedom, Voice of America reported the same day.

According to the report, Iran has jailed the most journalists in the Middle East, with eight currently imprisoned, and many others facing possible jail time. Iranian authorities do not tolerate criticism, and journalists have often been targets, it added.

Egypt, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories are also listed for significant violations of press freedom.

For the full article, click here.

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Afghanistan hosts first regional trade conference in decades

The relatively stable Afghan city of Herat on Wednesday hosted the first day of a Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) conference, the kind of regional gathering that has not taken place in the country for decades, Reuters reported.

The ECO was founded by Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan in 1985. The conference is expected to address investment, export of oil and gas and trade relations.

The event marks an important step in Afghanistan’s development, as it has not been able to secure major local or foreign investment due to a number of factors including the Taliban-led insurgency, a lack of infrastructure, and widespread corruption.

The Afghan government recently abolished taxes on exported goods in an effort to bolster trade.

For the full article, click here.

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Three men hanged in public in Iran for kidnap, rape

Iranian media has reported the public hanging of three men on Wednesday for kidnapping and raping two women, Reuters said Wednesday.

The men were executed in the city of Shiraz at the site of the crime.

“These three criminals were charged with kidnapping, disturbing public security, rape and molestation,” said Shiraz Public Prosecutor Jaber Baneshi.

Iran’s high execution rate has drawn harsh criticism of late from rights groups and the EU, but Tehran maintains that it is prosecuting criminals under Islamic law.

For the full article, click here.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Egyptian converts to Christianity reported missing

Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy and his pregnant wife Zeinab, both converts to Christianity involved in a legal battle against the Egyptian authorities, have been missing since Monday, The Media Line reported Thursday.

Their lawyer Ramsis Raouf A-Naggar said that they have not responded to phone calls. The article, citing remarks made by A-Naggar, says that “it was unclear who was responsible for their disappearance. It could be a number of groups, including radical Muslims, terrorists or even the Egyptian police.”

“He hadn’t left his home in a month,” the lawyer said, citing death threats.

The Egyptian government refused to recognize Hegazy’s new religion on his national identification card, which is why he filed the lawsuit.

The article, again citing A-Naggar’s remarks, says that “one of Hegazi’s houses had been broken into and trashed. The police have so far taken a written statement, but they were not taking action on the grounds that they did not have enough information.”

For the full article, click here.

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Iraq ‘not comfortable’ after Turkey OKs military incursion

After Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday gave its military the green light to hunt members of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari expressed concern over the prospect of an incursion, Reuters reported Thursday.

“If something happens it is possibly going to be air strikes on some suspected PKK positions,” Zebari said on Thursday. “But to talk about a major military offensive and major cross-border incursion, that I do not expect.”

The article says that Washington and other allies caution that an incursion into northern Iraq “would bring chaos to the region, threaten oil supplies and harm U.S. attempts to quell relentless violence in the country.”

Zebari added: “Our formal request is that they leave Iraqi soil and leave Iraq for its people and do not bring us more problems than we’re already suffering.” He also said that the PKK should leave “as soon as possible.”

This was the first public call made by Zebari, who is a Kurd, for the PKK to leave Iraq.

“(Turkey has) a problem, we are ready to discuss it, talk about it and fulfill our commitments,” Zebari said. “But the starting point should be sitting at the dialogue table to agree on mechanisms.”

Thousands of people in several northern Iraqi towns took the streets Thursday to protest against the Turkish vote, carrying banners with slogans and calling for peaceful dialogue with their northern neighbor to end the crisis.

For the full article, click here.

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Human rights seem to be forgotten in U.S.-Egypt relationship

Last month, the only Egyptian winner of an award from the National Endowment for Democracy met with President Bush in Washington. Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian human rights advocate, said after his meeting that Bush had spoken effusively about promoting democracy to the other recipients, but he did not address the topic when it came to Egypt, The New York Times reported.

According to the article, Kassem and other democracy campaigners in Egypt said that when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Egyptian officials this week as part of her preparation for a Middle East peace summit meeting, they expect from her a similar approach to Egyptian human rights and democracy and even if she does raise the issues, Egyptian analysts say, it will have little impact.

Last June, Bush singled out a handful of political dissidents as “unjustly imprisoned.” The group included Ayman Nour, the opposition political leader and onetime presidential candidate. He also greeted democracy advocates, including Saad Eddin Ibrahim.

However, today Nour remains in prison; one year into his five-year sentence. Ibrahim, meanwhile has been living in self-imposed exile, fearful that a return to his homeland will result in more time in prison.

The article says: “With Mr. Nour in prison and Mr. Ibrahim on the run, with a human rights organization recently shut down, with journalists being imprisoned, with arrests of those out of step with the government, there is little evidence that Egypt – or any other nation in the region – is under any real American pressure for democratic reforms and human rights.”

“I like to compare the U.S. to the European settlers of the past century,” said Sateh Noureddine, a columnist at As-Safir, a pro-Syrian newspaper in Lebanon. “The European settler said, ‘I am coming to liberate, to develop, to modernize.’ But after a while he stumbled upon realities and facts that he did not know before and that could not be ignored. This is what is happening to the U.S. today, hence the change in its policies, from an ideological agenda to a pragmatic one. They are looking to protect themselves and their interests.”

Congress has recently debated what the U.S is getting in return for the $1.7 billion in aid that they are providing Egypt with each year. “The increased aid has not translated into increased influence on the domestic political process. It has become purely a matter of foreign policy,” the article says.

For the full article, click here.


USIP holds discussion on international conflict management

The United States Institute of Peace hosted a panel discussion Tuesday to discuss the book “Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World.”

Daniel L. Byman, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, began the discussion by arguing that we tend to forget the positive things that are going on in the world. He pointed out a few examples, including stability in Europe and the number of democratic countries has increased significantly over the past 50 years.

Byman also discussed U.S. military power. “We are dominant in air, space, land and sea and we have the power to send troops all around the world,” he said. On terrorism, he added: “terrorism is just a cheap weapon,” saying that if one nation does not sponsor the terrorists they will simply move somewhere else.

To address the terrorist issue, Byman called for enhanced training efforts for the military and police in countries where terrorism is a major concern. He also pointed to the utility of diplomatic pressure.

Chester A. Crocker, a strategic studies professor at Georgetown University, pointed to the need for statecraft and diplomacy. “Statecraft is all the forms of power, also hard power,” he said. Adding, “we need to use all tools of state craft, we need to connect the dots.”

Crocker said that the U.S. tends to do a good job of connecting the military dots, but asserted that all aspects of statecraft must be utilized. He also said common misinterpretations of the nature of U.S. dialogue with other nations, saying that in reality, “we might tell them: ‘what do you need from us to behave better?’”

Crocker also said that “we need to redefine the global war on terror.” Even if the terrorist is intent on war against the U.S. it does not mean that the U.S. needs to declare war against them, he said, adding, “we should use our brains as well as our guns.” Crocker also said that we should be paying more attention to failing states instead of just focusing on the global war on terror.

Barbara Slavin, a reporter with USA Today, agreed with Crocker and Byman – especially Crocker’s comments on using the whole statecraft tool kit. Slavin has made six trips to Iran and she said that “the situation is complex and there are challenges, but there is also hopes and opportunities.” She noted that there have been talks about military intervention in Iran, which she said would not be good.

Slavin recounted that “we had high-level talks with Iran in 2000-2001 in Paris.” However, the situation was a lot different then, she said, with the U.S. in a more favorable situation with regards to Iraq, a different president in office in Tehran, and the nuclear issue not yet a major concern.

To help address tensions with Iran, Slavin said that regional integration is key. “I cannot see how the U.S could stabilize Lebanon, Syria and Palestine without Iran,” she said. She added that, “instead of using a sledgehammer, maybe we should try something that might work, work together.”

The final panelist, Andrew Mack, director of the Fraser University’s Human Security Report Project, focused on statistics such as the decline in battle death rates and the decline of armed conflicts. “Conflict prevention has been failing and peace building is what is particularly important,” he said. Mack also stressed that preventing wars from restarting is imperative and that this is also the best way to achieve peace.

U.S. lawmakers call for tougher action on Burma

With the international spotlight beginning to shift away from the crisis in Burma, where a military government continues its crackdown on pro-democracy activists, U.S. government officials on Wednesday sought to reaffirm Washington’s commitment to promoting meaningful change in the Southeast Asian nation.

Scot Marciel, the State Department deputy assistant secretary for Southeast Asia, told a House subcommittee that the U.S. strategy is to “maintain maximum pressure on the regime, both bilaterally and multilaterally to end the repression, release the prisoners, and initiate a genuine dialogue with [detained activist and Nobel peace laureate] Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition, and with the ethnic minority group that leads to peaceful transition to civilian, democratic rule.” To do this, Marciel said that Washington is supporting the diplomatic salvos of U.S. Special Advisor on Burma Ibrahim Gambari, while working “to tighten sanctions on regime leaders and their cronies” by freezing their assets in banks under U.S. jurisdiction and considering further measures.

Lawmakers pressed Marciel on the need for tougher action though. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asserted that the U.S. government should have a list of all members of the Burmese military engaged at any level in the murder of pro-democracy activists, saying they should be deemed war criminals. He also called for junta leaders to be jailed, calling them “gangsters.”

“These people will respond to pressure. They will respond to counterforce. And they won’t respond to anything else,” Rohrabacher said.

Others called for closer scrutiny of foreign investment in Burma by major international powers. U.S.-based oil companies like Unicol and Chevron provide Rangoon with hundreds of million in revenue and China also has vested economic interests there, Reps. Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Diane Watson (D-Calif.) and others noted.

For his part, Marciel said that the State Department had seriously considered the possibility of a Chevron withdrawal, but argued that the impact would be largely symbolic and not economic, as another multi-national oil company would likely move in to take its place.

Marciel also argued that China should see a stable and prosperous Burma as in its best interests, saying that the fact that Burma is “exporting refugees and infectious disease” should be a major concern to its neighbor to the north.

The other witness present, Lisa Chiles of the U.S. Agency for International Development, discussed assistance efforts in Burma to date, highlighting U.S. initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS and improve access to education and healthcare for several thousand displaced persons. Still, she acknowledged that extreme hardship persists, with 35 percent of Burmese children under the age of five malnourished and 32 percent underweight and physically stunted. Circumstances have only worsened of late, she said, with the impact of rising fuel and food prices falling hardest on the disadvantaged.

USAID is ready to “explore additional assistance oportunitites,” Chiles said, but the agency cannot “make a strong contribution to Burma’s future development” until the political situation there improves.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dalai Lama visit could damage U.S.-China relations, Chinese officials say

Chinese officials have said that this week’s U.S. congressional ceremony to honor the Dalai Lama could have “an extremely serious impact” on relations between the two countries, The New York Times reported today.

The Dalai Lama, who has been in exile since 1959 after the Chinese army crushed an uprising in Tibet, is scheduled to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday.

“We are furious,” Zhang Qingli, Tibet’s Communist Party boss, said. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”

Chinese officials condemned the Dalai Lama as a resolute separatist, and said foreign leaders must stop encouraging his “splittest” mission. China has pressured the United States to stop the award event for months.

China recently cancelled its human rights dialogue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after she met with the Dalai Lama.

Both Washington and Beijing, however, say relations have been warm, and China often uses strong language without taking action. According to the article, the United States has often tried to protect Chinese dissidents and retain ties to Taiwan.

For the full article, click here.

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Economic progress key to securing human rights in Viet Nam, U.S. Ambassador says

The newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Viet Nam, Michael Michalak, said on Sunday that he would push for human rights in the country, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The ambassador, speaking at a town hall meeting in Westminster, California, said his focus on encouraging foreign investment to boost Viet Nam’s economy and strengthening the education system will enable greater human rights and political reform in the country.

“There are some things in an open society that are needed to attract large amounts of investment in Vietnam,” Michalak said. “The Vietnamese government will be forced to be more transparent.”

“Human rights will follow when people have a better life, and that comes from a better economy,” said Peter Duong, president of Westminster-based Vietnamese Federation of Labor in Overseas.

Michalak warned, however, that change cannot be expected to occur overnight. He urged Vietnamese Americans – some of whom have called on the U.S. to increase pressure on Hanoi before engaging in more trade – to have patience.

For the full article, click here.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Christian rights group supporting Egyptian man in conversion case

Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, the first Muslim to file suit against the Egyptian government for not allowing him to change his religion to Christianity on his national identification card, today fears for his life and has been forced into hiding as a result of death threats, according to Open Doors USA, a Christian rights group advocating on his behalf.

According to the article, “Some believe the punishment for apostasy from Islam should be death.”

“I’m full of heartache that in my own country, society has been radicalized to such an extent that I can’t have the right to convert,” Hegazy said.

The Egyptian constitution states that freedom of religion is guaranteed, and converting from one religion to another is permitted. However, as the article notes, “there is no legal way for a Christian convert to have this change recorded on the official ID cards that Egyptian citizens are required to carry. If an Egyptian converts to Islam, the interior ministry readily issues a new ID card verifying that the carrier is Muslim. Yet if a Muslim converts to Christianity, the ministry refuses to issue a new ID card.”

“When Muslims convert to Christianity, they face persecution at the hands of both their family and the Egyptian government,” the article says. Hegazy was imprisoned in 2002 when the police found out about his conversion.

For full article, click here

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Iraq’s Yazidi sect shrinking rapidly

As Iraq celebrated the Id al-Fitr holiday, which ends the holy month of Ramadan, the Yazidi minority celebrated the Jema feast, a similar holiday, at a near empty shrine, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The sect has suffered great losses in Iraq this year. A suicide bomb in August killed around 500. Before that, there had been reports of assassinations and kidnappings. Both Arab and Kurdish Muslims have put pressure on the sect to convert to Islam.

“At least 70,000 Yazidis have fled the country,” the article says, citing Khairi Shankaly, the director of Yazidi affairs for the Kurdistan Regional Government. That figure constitutes nearly 15 percent of the some 500,000 Yazidis in Iraq.

“The Yazidi faith is rooted in religions that predate Christianity, and its beliefs are an amalgam of Christianity and Islam. Yazidis believe in God the creator and also revere the prophets that figure in Islam and Christianity. But the central figure of worship is an archangel who is often represented as a peacock,” the article explains.

For full article click here.

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Urgent appeal made to U.N. official regarding execution of Arab-Iranians

The Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has made an appeal to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour regarding six Ahwazi-Arabs facing execution in Iran. The organization is asking Arbour to call upon the Iranian authorities to stop the executions, as well as to urge the country to ensure due legal process in accordance with internationally recognized standards and to uphold its obligations with regard to civil and political rights

According to AHRO, the six men face charges of hoisting the Ahwazi flag, naming their children Sunni names, converting from Shi'ism to Sunnism, preaching Wahabbism and being “Mohareb” or enemies of god, which carries the death sentence. Other charges include “destabilizing the country,” “attempting to overthrow the government,” “possession of improvised explosives,” “sabotage of oil installations” and being a “threat to national security.”

Last year, Emadeldin Baghi, a leading human rights activist in Iran, called the trials of Ahwazi Arabs flawed, with baseless charges, sentencing that was based on spurious interpretation of the law, and a lack of substantial evidence.

A statement made in January by a team of independent experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council urged the Iranian government to “stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing.” Nevertheless, seven Ahwazi-Arab men were killed between January and February, bringing the number of Ahwazi-Arab political and human rights activists executed in the past 9 months up to at least 13.

Ahwazis face many troubles in Iran, including repression, racial discrimination, land confiscation, forced displacement, and forced assimilation. Moreover, the Ahwazi community suffers from extreme levels of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy, despite the fact that Khuzestan Province, their traditional homeland, produces 90 percent of Iran’s oil.

The upcoming executions are part of an ongoing crackdown on Ahwazi protestors against ethnic discrimination and persecution, AHRO says.

To access the full letter on AHRO’s site, click here.

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New internet regulations possible in Viet Nam after latest "blog war"

Viet Nam is looking to prepare new blog regulations after a comment made by a journalist on the internet incited a “blog war,” Earthtimes.org reported today.

According to the VietnamNet news site, the spat began after journalist Huong Tra made a comment on her widely read blog about singer Phuong Thanh, saying Thanh needed to give out free tickets to her latest concert because her career was so ailing. Thanh’s fans retaliated by making abusive comments on Tra’s blog, until Tra took the post down.

Officials in Viet Nam are using this case to call for more state control over the internet, where the government already uses firewalls to control access to political and pornographic websites.

“It is right to apply state management over blogs,” said Nguyen Viet Chuc, a former National Assembly member who sat on the Committee on Culture. He added, “Many people are abusing blogs to say negative things about the government and to slander other people’s honour.”

Both women have threatened to sue for damage to their reputations, which could lead to Viet Nam’s first test case of internet libel.

For the full story, click here.

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Anti-death penalty activist arrested in Iran

Iranian activist Emaddedin Baghi, head of the Committee for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, was arrested on Sunday, Agence France-Presse reported the same day.

“He is charged with spreading propaganda against the regime and publishing secret government documents,” said his lawyer Saleh Nikbakht. Nikbakht added that, according to the charges, Baghi obtained secret information from prisoners detained in security prisons and then disseminated the information during seminars held by his rights group.

For the past few months, Baghi has been publicly protesting the recent wave of hangings, many of which occur in public. He also wrote an open letter in September to the heads of reformist parties about their lack of action on this issue.

Much of Baghi’s work has been dealing with cases in the western Khuzestan Province, which has a large Arab population and has seen a wave of executions since deadly bomb attacks occurred in 2005 and 2006.

Baghi, a former journalist, was imprisoned between 2000 and 2003 for writings in several pro-reform newspapers. He also has a case under appeal from earlier this year regarding his activities.

For the full article, click here.

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