Archive | Asia

Why is a Hong Kong “Activist” in Bangkok?

The New Atlas 

Joshua Wong’s alleged arrest at a Bangkok airport is portrayed as a slight against “democracy,” yet the US-funded and backed agitator undermines his own principles of “self-determination” by meddling in another nation’s politics.

Thai PBS in its article, HK democracy activist Joshua Wong detained in Bangkok,” would claim:

Wong, 19, famed for his galvanising role in the city’s 2014 pro-democracy “umbrella movement”, was held as he landed at the airport late Tuesday, his party Demosisto said in a statement, citing a Thai student activist, Netiwit Chotipatpaisal, who was due to meet him.

Wong was invited by Thai student activists to take part at an event marking the anniversary of a military crackdown in October 1976.

Demosisto “strongly condemns the Thai government for unreasonably limiting Wong’s freedom and right to entry, and requests the immediate release of Wong,” the statement said.

What Thai PBS fails to mention is that Joshua Wong and his party, “Demosisto,” are US-funded and directed, and represent Western interests attempting to subvert Chinese control over its own territory of Hong Kong, as well as undermine national sovereignty across the entire Asian region.

Indeed, the entire “Occupy Central” movement, also referred to as the “Umbrella Revolution,” was led by US-backed opposition figures, including Joshua Wong, Benny Tai and Martin Lee, the latter of which was literally in Washington D.C. lobbying for backing just months before the 2014 protest began.

While the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) initially denied it provided any assistance to the movement and denied specifically that Martin Lee served any role in leading the protests despite his Washington visit, NED through its subsidiary Freedom House, would eventually invite Wong, Tai and Lee back to Washington afterwards to award them for role in leading the protests.

Joshua Wong in Washington D.C. attending a US State Department award ceremony held in his and other US-backed agitators’ honor

At the award ceremony titled, Three Hong Kong Heroes,” Lee would shuffle onto stage with an umbrella prop in hand, a virtual admission to his leadership role in the protests and confirmation that NED’s previous statement was intentionally false.

Wong’s political party, Demosisto, headed by Nathan Lee, is also tied directly to the US State Department’s NED.

Nathan Law (left) with Carl Gershman of the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

Nathan Law in particular was featured on the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website “World Movement for Democracy” in a post titled, Democracy Courage Tribute Award Presentation.” In it, NED would write in regards to the award presented to Nathan Lee:

The Umbrella Movement’s bold call in the fall of 2014 for a free and fair election process to select the city’s leaders brought thousands into the streets to dem­onstrate peacefully. The images from these protests have motivated Chinese democracy activists on the mainland and resulted in solidarity between longtime champions of democracy in Hong Kong and a new gen­eration of Hong Kong youth seeking to improve their city. The Hong Kong democracy movement will face further obstacles in the years to come, and their ide­alism and bravery will need to be supported as they work for democratic representation in Hong Kong.

The ceremony was yet another in a long line of post-Occupy Central award ceremonies the US State Department conducted, rewarding its proxies for their efforts in the streets of Hong Kong in 2014.

Joshua Wong Was Barred Entry into Malaysia for Similarly Inappropriate Political Pandering 

In 2015, Malaysia too would confront Wong and his attempts to spread US-backed subversion across Asia.

That PBS would also report in an article titled, HK student activist Joshua Wong denied entry to Malaysia,” that:

Immigration officials on Tuesday barred Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong from entering Malaysia at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas, The Star Online reported.

Wong was scheduled to attend a forum titled “The Uprising of Youth and New Social Activism in Singapore and Hong Kong” at Auditorium A in Komta on Tuesday night.

It is also worth noting that after Wong was denied entry, US-funded organisations posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) immediately took to social media in an attempt to criticise the Malaysian government’s decision.

Malaysian online news service, The Star, in an article titled,Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong denied entry to Malaysia,” would further elaborate:

Malaysia… explain why he is sent back to Hong Kong? Afraid of more street protests,” tweeted Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.

Bersih, like Joshua Wong’s Demosisto, is openly funded by the US State Department and represents Washington’s, not the people of Malaysia’s interests. Bersih would be revealed in 2011 to have received funding and training from the US State Department via the National Democratic Institute (NDI), another NED subsidiary.

Democracy Means Self-Determination, Not Dictates from Washington & its Proxies  

It is perhaps ironic that Wong himself and his supporters portray him as a “democracy activist,” considering that one of the central principles of democracy is the concept of self-determination. Self-determination means that a nation’s people themselves determine what course of action is in their best interests, free from the influence of foreign interests.

The concept of self-determination underpins the national identity of many nations across Southeast Asia, having had their respective national destinies dictated to them at various points throughout their history by European colonialism. Independence and self-determination across the region represent hard-fought achievements threatened by US-backed political fronts wielding “soft power” in place of the overt “gunboat diplomacy” practised by the British Empire in days past.

Worse than mere foreign backing, Wong and his Demosisto political party work ceaselessly to promote the parting demands made by British colonial administrators as Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. These demands, including upholding the “one country, two systems” and “Basic Law” drafted just ahead of the British handover of Hong Kong, are echoed by the current governments of both the United States and the United Kingdom.

Thus, Wong and his political party, Demosisto, work contra to Hong Kong’s self-determination, promoting the parting policy of the British Empire imposed on a still emerging China in 1997.

By Wong meddling in the internal affairs of neighbouring Asian states, attempting to bolster US State Department efforts elsewhere to create proxy political fronts to serve Washington rather than local interests, he is also trampling the concept of regional self-determination, and thus of democracy itself.

In Thailand specifically, Wong sought to support anti-government agitators likewise seeking to subvert Thai sovereignty and return to power political parties loyal to Washington.

Wong’s admirers find among themselves a common denominator of affinity toward the United States and American politics. They believe themselves to be enlightened supporters of freedom, democracy and human rights, despite the reality of US foreign and domestic policy standing firmly against all three of these basic and essential principles.

From the invasion and occupation of foreign nations around the globe, to the detainment and torturing of people worldwide, to the violence and brutality American police deploy against the American population at home, to the invasive abuse of the American people’s right to privacy, American politics in reality exist separately from the ideals cadres of indoctrinated foreigners have been led into believing the US stands for.

Wong and his Demosisto political party and other US-backed political fronts like them, represent a danger to freedom, democracy and human rights, serving as a facade behind which US special interests hide their true, self-serving agenda and all of the abuse that surrounds it. By serving as a facade for foreign interests, merely posing as a proponent of democracy and self-determination, it is Wong and those like him that truly endanger democracy’s future in Asia, not those awaiting him at airports, turning him and his US-backed agitation away.

Posted in China0 Comments

US probe into Kunduz bombing leaves too many questions, independent inquiry needed

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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) are still not able to reopen the hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz a year after it was bombed by American planes as a US investigation has failed to ensure the tragedy won’t repeat itself, the head of MSF Office in Brussels told RT.

The infamous US airstrike on October 3, 2015 killed 42 people, including three children, at the Doctors Without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.

MSF informed the Americans that the hospital was targeted 11 minutes into the attack, but the airstrike continued for another half an hour.

The head of the MSF Office in Brussels, Michael Hoffman, described the bombing as “severe,” saying that it “completely destroyed the hospital building.”

“Ever since that attack we’ve been trying to figure out from the parties in this conflict – the Afghan government and the international force, led by the US, why this hospital was attacked,” Hoffman told RT.

Doctors Without Borders had “clear agreements in place with the warring parties: Taliban, Afghan government and the US that they knew that this hospital was there and they agreed with it,” Hoffman stressed.

The US carried out its own investigation into the incident, calling it an “honest mistake,” apologizing before the aid group and providing cash to reconstruct the medical facility.

But the MSF isn’t satisfied with the results of the American enquiry as they were only allowed to see a “quite heavily redacted report – 890 pages from a 3,000-page paper – that was accessible to the general public.”

According to Hoffman, the US investigation into the attack on the hospital left a number of key questions unanswered.

“There’s nothing in this report that gives any insight into the role of the Afghan military forces. They were the ones doing the operation [against Taliban] in Kunduz city and they were the ones who called in air support from the US,” he said.

“The second thing that we really don’t understand from this report is how this building lost its protected status, why it was decided that it was legitimate target,” the MSF official said.

Doctors Without Borders believe that that only “an independent investigation” will be able to clarify the reasons for the tragedy, Hoffman stressed.

“Right from the start, we stated that in our view the most relevant international body to investigate those issues is the Independent Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) based in Switzerland,” he said.

“IHFFC sent a request to the governments of Afghanistan and the US. As far as we know, they have not received a response. We are just assuming that this means ‘no,’ but we don’t know,” the MSF official added.

Posted in Afghanistan, USA0 Comments

Prejudices mar Indian view of CPEC


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By M K Bhadrakumar 

The reported decision by Asian Development Bank to lend $2.5 billion to Pakistan and be a collateral financier for upgrade of Lahore-Peshawar segment of the Karachi-Peshawar railway line is a significant development. India should analyse it carefully. (Business Standard )

Firstly, Karachi-Peshawar railway line upgrade falls within the ambit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). That is to say, ADB is joining hands with China (which is the co-financier for the railway line upgrade) in a CPEC project.

Now, this is a big concessional loan ($2.5 billion at low interest rate less than 2 percent) and it wouldn’t have been possible without approval by Japan and the United States, which dominate ADB’s decision-making. We need to take note that Japan and the US are showing pragmatism here, given the reality that CPEC is a flag carrier of China’s One Belt One Road.

In sum, this is a political affirmation of their interest in Pakistan’s stability and development.

The other salience that emerges here is that it is an extremely untimely and counterproductive move on our part to raise dust on Baluchistan. It complicates India’s relations with not only Pakistan but also with China, considering that a significant segment of the CPEC activity is located in Baluchistan, and, equally, our campaign on Baluchistan will not get a sympathetic ear in the world capitals. It will only make us look small-minded and petulant.

Similar pragmatism toward One Belt One Road as ADB is showing also characterises the attitudes of Asian, Middle Eastern and European countries. No doubt, projects enhancing regional connectivity attract all countries. India probably stands out as solitary exception, in its perspective on One Belt One Road derived exclusively through the geopolitical prism.

Secondly, we need to take note that the CPEC is indeed going ahead despite the ‘hawks’ amongst us hoping against hope that it may not take off. The ADB loan itself wouldn’t have been forthcoming without expert opinion saluting the CPEC. The ADB decision has prompted China to fill in with an additional loan of $5.5 billion for the railway project, which now makes CPEC a $51.5 billion eighth wonder in the world.

Two things become clear. One, China is determined to build Pakistan’s infrastructure development and make its economy resilient. Clearly, it is a ‘win-win’ for China too for a variety of factors at work in regional politics and China’s own national strategies. Two, China usually puts its money (big or small) only where the mouth is, which means it is becoming a stakeholder in Pakistan’s future and prosperity with a long-term perspective.

And where China goes, the US and Japan are bound to follow. Simply put, Indian diplomacy runs into almost-impossible headwinds to ‘isolate’ Pakistan in the prevailing circumstances.

It is about time we wake up and put to ourselves some searching questions. Do we have the ghost of a chance to annex Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, as the present government is leading the domestic opinion  to believe? To my mind, our government is whistling in the dark and leading the public opinion in a wrong direction.

Again, from a regional security point of view, if the POK and Northern Areas of Pakistan, which are hopelessly impoverished regions, are set on a path of infrastructure development and economic activity, there is less chance of them becoming the sanctuaries of terrorist groups. In fact, this is also one consideration China would have. Don’t we have a congruence of interests with China on regional security and stability in this regard? This is one thing.

Besides, if Pakistan integrates these regions politically, doesn’t it open up an interesting avenue to resolve the Kashmir problem? A realistic perspective would be that without any redrawing of boundaries as such, if the Line of Control gets legitimacy as an internationally recognised border – with Pakistan keeping the areas under its control and India keeping J&K as an integral part of it – won’t that be a basis of durable settlement?

Put differently, if Pakistan integrates Northern Areas and POK, it is tantamount to a unilateral move to ‘solve’ the Kashmir problem. We should actually applaud Pakistan if it goes on to integrate those regions just as it plans at present to integrate the tribal areas. Which in turn would also enable India to work out its own terms of integration of J&K in terms of our democratic principles.

Frankly, India’s paranoia over the CPEC has no rationality. It is based on contrived and often trivial arguments lacking basis and/or unsupported by empirical evidence or are outright falsehoods, which are assembled uncouthly with the ulterior motive to arrive at a certain pre-determined conclusion.

The name of the game is Sinophobia – to somehow complicate the Sino-Indian normalization itself. See a paper by the Vivekananda Foundation on the topic titled Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Posted in India, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Afghanistan: UN mission condemns killing of at least 15 civilians in airstrike

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UN News Centre

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned the killing of at least 15 civilian men and the injuring of at least 13 others, including at least one boy, in an airstrike targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) conducted yesterday in the country’s eastern district of Achin.

In a press statement, the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) reiterated the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.

“UNAMA calls on the Government and international military forces to launch a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident,” the mission said.

In the early morning of 28 September, an international military forces unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an airstrike, reportedly targeting members of ISIL/Da’esh, which struck a civilian home, killing the 15 civilians, according to UNAMA.

The civilians had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of a tribal elder from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred. Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families considered to be pro-Government. Government sources report that ISIL/Da’esh personnel also died in the attack, UNAMA said.

The mission highlighted that in a press release issued yesterday, United States Force-Afghanistan acknowledged conducting the airstrike, but refrained from elaborating further, indicating that they “are still reviewing all materials related to the strike.”

UNAMA also expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the incident and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

Afghanistan has been in protracted conflict for almost 35 years, which, in addition to being prone to recurrent natural disasters, has seriously hampered poverty reduction and development, strained the fabric of society and depleted the country’s coping mechanisms.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Kabul heading for night of the long knives

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By M K Bhadrakumar 

There is, understandably, a degree of triumphalism in Delhi that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani lost no time to follow India’s footfalls and relay to the SAARC that he too cannot attend the planned summit of the grouping in Islamabad in November. But his explanation will raise eyebrows.

Ghani explained that the security situation in his country is acute. Fair enough. But then, he went on to add that that he will be “fully engaged” due to his “responsibilities as the Commander in Chief”. Ghani at least seems certain that he will continue to be the C-in-C six weeks hence. That is, perhaps, the only ray of hope at the present juncture when political uncertainties loom large.

The 2-year term of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) headed by Ghani is expiring today. From tomorrow, Afghanistan enters unchartered waters. The compromise deal on co-habitation between Ghani and the present Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, which was literally imposed on them by the US Secretary of State John Kerry two years ago, envisaged that Afghanistan would make political transition to a parliamentary system latest by today on the basis of a new constitution and electoral laws.

But with Ghani and Abdullah caught in the cobweb of factional politics, NUG got paralysed and could not fulfil the expectations placed on it during its 2-year life span. Meanwhile, elections have not been held for the Afghan parliament either, despite its term ending over a year ago. With the executive and the legislative body lacking legitimacy, a constitutional deadlock arises.

What happens now? When the US state department spokesman Mark Toner was asked about the fate of the NUG and whether Obama administration (which is entering lame duck phase) would undertake any further mediatory mission on a constitutional transition, he was evasive, saying,

  • I’m not going to predict what role (US will play), except to say that we’re – we remain committed to working with the Afghan Government and leadership in trying to continue along the reform agenda that they’re working on, but also, as you note, to ensure the smooth democratic transition to the next government.

The US seems to look away from the legitimacy question that hangs above the Ghani government beyond today and prefer to cast its eye on the horizon toward a “smooth democratic transition to the next government”. But, how will the transition be possible? (See the RSIS commentary The Coming Political Crisis in Afghanistan.)

But, by a curious coincidence, today has also been fixed as the date for the formal signing of Ghani’s peace deal with the famous Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (‘Butcher of Kabul’) at a ceremony in Kabul. Hekmatyar himself will participate in the ceremony via a video conference from his undisclosed location in Pakistan.

Hekmatyar is not taking chances – nor his Pakistani mentors. After all, you only live once and there is no knowing whether Hekmatyar will be physically safe in Kabul, where his sworn Tajik enemies from Panjshir and various other assorted old Mujahideen war horses who would have old scores to settle with him, are present.

For a start, it will be interesting to see what brave face Abdullah puts on the Ghani-Hekmatyar deal. He is between the rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he knows the deal is intended to get political space for Ghani who lacks a power base of his own. Also, he will be savvy enough to know that Hekmatyar’s entry, a Mujahideen leader who was more than a match for Ahmed Shah Massoud himself in many, is bound to change the Afghan calculus radically and his own prospects of realising his overvaulting presidential ambitions recede significantly.

On the other hand, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai is waiting in the wings to be invited by any Loya Jirga that may be convened, to head the interim government. Abdullah seems to have weighed his options and decided that it is tactically prudent to allow the NUG to limp along for a while, given his congruence of interests with Ghani (as well as with Uncle Sam) to somehow keep Karzai out in the cold.

However, the known unknown is going to be Hekmatyar’s role in the power structure. It is all very well to say his group Hezb-i-Islami will be allowed to function as a political party and the US and UN are preparing to delist him as a dangerous terrorist. But politics, for Hekmatyar, is about power.

And it is improbable he can be kept waiting in a ‘safe house’ in Pakistan for long. He will insist that his due place of habitation is the presidential palace in Kabul; at the very least, he will expect a position that is on par with Abdullah’s (who was after all only Massoud’s English-language interpreter when he himself was the iconic figure of the Afghan jihad who was lionised by both Pakistan and the US.)

To be sure, Hekmatyar’s re-entry will evoke strong feelings among Afghans who see him as an agent of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. There have been demonstrations in Kabul against Ghani’s Faustian deal with him. Afghans have not forgotten the savagery with which Hekmatyar pursued power.

The widely-held belief among Afghans is that Hekmatyar killed more Afghan Mujahideen than he cared to kill Soviet troops. He incessantly lobbed rockets into Kabul City from the surrounding mountain tops and systematically reduced the capital to rubble in his bitter struggle for power with Massoud in the early nineties after the Mujahideen takeover. ((See an excellent piece by Terry Glavin at the National Post, The rehabilitation of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Butcher of Kabul.)

How could the Mujahideen forget that Hekmatyar waded through a river of Afghan blood? The Afghans will expect an answer to the big question: If Hekmatyar is okay, why not the Taliban, too?

The thought seems to have occurred to Karzai already, who remarked two days ago that if the Taliban control territory in Afghanistan, he doesn’t see anything incongruous because it is, after all, their country, too.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Afghans Learned the Art of Torturing Their Prisoners From the West


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There were 77 cases of prisoner torture registered in Afghan jails last year, almost 10 times more than in 2000, a local human rights commission announced in a report.

According to the report, inmates were being tortured in Kunduz, Baglan, Nangarhar, Kandahar and Herat – provinces controlled by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The torturers went unpunished

In an interview with Sputnik, Sima Samar, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission chief, said that none of those responsible for mistreating prisoners have so far been brought to justice.

“Our commission has registered multiple instances of excesses committed by Interior and National Security Ministry officials working in state penitentiaries. We condemn this practice and hope that such inhuman and anti-Islamic actions will never happen again,” Sima Samar said.

She added that a thorough investigation by state and security officials was the only way to of improving the situation.

Taliban supporters tortured

According to the report, people suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks and of links to the Taliban were tortured until they started making confessions.

Inmates were subjected to various kinds of physical abuse from beatings and electric shocks to being beaten with canes, sticks, rifle butts and whips. Many were also forced to stand for hours on end.

Are all those tortured really guilty?

Judging from the report, however, almost 300 people across Afghanistan were sentenced either by mistake or without any solid proof of their guilt.

These people are the type who could have been subjected to torture.

The report also mentioned hundreds of prisoners who went missing in 2015, adding that the past few years have seen a steady rise in the number of such “disappearances.”

See also:

UN Claim 35% of Detainees in Afghanistan Conflict Subjected to Torture

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

North Korea: Rogue Aggressor or Cornered Victim of Aggression?

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North Korean officials and state media are well-known for their bombastic rhetoric and threats to ‘wipe out their enemies’, while conducting a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests condemned by the international community, Russia included. But once in a while, Pyongyang manages to offer a somewhat reasonable explanation for their behavior.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday may have been such an occasion.

During his speech, Ri stated bluntly that Pyongyang would continue to build up its nuclear arsenal to deter against threats, including US nuclear weapons and conventional US and South Korean military forces, which regularly engage in ‘provocative’ military exercises along North Korea’s borders.

“The acquisition of a nuclear arsenal is the policy of our state,” the diplomat bluntly admitted. “As long as a nuclear-armed state exists that has hostile relations with our country, our national security and peace on the Korean peninsula can be defended only with reliable nuclear deterrence,” Ri added.

At the same time, the diplomat stressed that his country “is doing everything to prevent armed conflict and its escalation, taking countermeasures for self-defense when met with aggressive US exercises by the US and South Korea.”

“Our decision to strengthen our nuclear arsenal is a justified measure of self-defense to protect our nation from the constant nuclear threat posed by the United States,” Ri said.

Finally, justifying North Korea’s intensification of missile and nuclear testing in recent weeks and months, the official suggested that the “successful test of a nuclear warhead carried out recently is part of the practical countermeasures against threats and sanctions – to the hostile sanctions of the United States.”

North Korean officials and the country’s state media are well-known for making loud, aggressive statements. For instance, in response to recent reports that South Korea was creating a special military unit capable of decapitating the North Korean leadership, Pyongyang announced that it might just respond by loading a hydrogen bomb into an artillery piece and dropping it on Seoul.

The country makes such threats on a regular basis, perhaps feeling that this was the only way for it to get the attention of their opponents. But for Russia, it is Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile testing, leading to the inevitable beefing up of the US presence on the Korean peninsula, which causes infinitely more concern.

Ultimately, Moscow’s only promising avenue of approach to resolving tensions on the Korean peninsula is the resumption of the six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization. However, for this to occur, Moscow and Beijing must be able to convince their American, Japanese and South Korean partners that Pyongyang’s saber-rattling stems from genuine fears of the conventional and nuclear threats posed by the US and its allies.

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Kashmir: “We The People” Should Stand Up


The armed conflict in Kashmir has reached a dangerous point. The killing of 17 Indian soldiers in the Uri camp, 6 kilometres from the Line of Control (LoC) that separates the two state protagonists, India and Pakistan, could lead to a further deterioration of a volatile situation that threatens to spiral into a much larger conflagration.  Indian authorities allege that the four militants who killed the soldiers were trained by Pakistan. Pakistan has denied the allegation.

Both India and Pakistan should not allow the situation to escalate into an open war between the two states. Starting with the first Kashmir War in 1947, they have already fought three wars over Kashmir. These wars have only witnessed the loss of thousands of lives on both sides.

The Kashmir conflict cannot be resolved through war and violence. Indian and Pakistani leaders know this. The people of Kashmir themselves are deeply aware of the importance of a peaceful solution.

Right from the beginning of the Kashmir conflict 69 years ago, many commentators from Kashmir, other parts of India and Pakistan and indeed from other countries have argued that a peaceful solution must be built around a free and fair plebiscite that would allow the people of Kashmir to determine their own future. Self-determination then is the key to ending the conflict in Kashmir. This was the position adopted by the United Nations itself in 1949. At that time, the people of Kashmir, it was felt, should be allowed to choose between joining India or Pakistan. Today, however, it is obvious that Kashmiris should be given a third choice: of establishing their own independent, sovereign state that is not a part of either their two neighbours.

Whatever it is, the fundamental principle that should be observed at all costs is the right of the people of Kashmir to decide their own destiny. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the elite in New Delhi or in Islamabad will willingly allow the people of Kashmir to exercise this right. The UN is in no position to compel the Indian and Pakistani authorities to give the green light to Kashmir’s sovereign right.

Major world powers will not be able to play a role either. The United States of America which has developed increasingly close ties to India in recent years will not try to persuade New Delhi to grant Kashmiris their sovereign right because it is not in its interest to do so. China which has tremendous rapport with Islamabad has no reason to ask the latter to acknowledge the right of self-determination of the people of the whole of Kashmir, including that part of Kashmir which is under the control of Pakistan. Incidentally, it is self-determination for the whole of Kashmir that the UN had in mind in 1949.

If the people of Kashmir cannot depend upon major powers or the UN to help them to exercise their right, who do they turn to? What can they do to achieve their goal of independence? Perhaps they should begin by acknowledging what they cannot do. Resorting to violence is not the solution — though it is true that freedom-fighters in Kashmir have been subjected to unspeakable brutality and horrific torture. This is also true of the present cycle of violence which reveals that the harsh measures adopted by the Indian armed forces have been mainly responsible for the retaliatory tactics of the freedom-fighters. But violence and counter-violence have only increased the immense suffering of the people of Kashmir which has been under a curfew for more than two months.

This is directly linked to another dimension of the conflict that demands the immediate attention of the international community. If freedom-fighters should not resort to violence, it is even more important for the Indian army to exercise maximum restraint in addressing peaceful dissent. Its excessive use of force must cease immediately. The world should demand this. Indeed, to develop a modicum of trust between the Indian authorities in Kashmir and the people, a substantial portion of the army should be withdrawn.

Just as the Indian authorities should demonstrate that they are capable of changing their behaviour, so should the Pakistani army and the Pakistani elite desist from any sort of conduct that would suggest that they are interfering in the domestic affairs of Indian occupied Kashmir. This will help to create an atmosphere that makes it easier for Kashmiris themselves to articulate their interests and mobilize the popular will in pursuit of their own agenda.

In ensuring that both India and Pakistan respect the rights of the people of Kashmir, the UN peace keeping force in Kashmir should perhaps expand its mandate beyond the LoC and play a more vigorous role in maintaining security and stability.  As a general principle, the UN should be more involved in trying to find a solution to the Kashmiri conflict — arguably one of the longest conflicts in the world that weighs heavily on the UN’s conscience.

For the UN to be more involved, global civil society should also give more attention to Kashmir. If world opinion could be mobilized on behalf of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people, it could well accelerate the peaceful resolution of this longstanding conflict.

The time has come for “we the people” in the language of the UN Charter to stand up for the sons and daughters of Kashmir.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Duterte calls out ‘devil’ Ban Ki-moon & EU in latest tirade

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte © Lean Daval Jr
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says the UN chief and the EU are welcome to investigate his controversial drugs crackdown, while also challenging the organizations to visit the Philippines and debate human rights and extrajudicial killings with him.

“I am inviting the United Nations’ Ban Ki … what’s the name of that devil? … Ban Ki-moon,” Duterte said, as cited by Reuters.

“I am inviting the EU, send the best lawyers of your own, also the rapporteurs, to come to the Philippines. I will write them a letter to invite them for an investigation.” 

Read more

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. © Manman Dejeto

Guilty feelings’: EU aims to atone for own ‘sins’ by picking on Philippines drug war, Duterte says

Since taking office 11 weeks ago, around 3,000 people have been killed during Duterte’s crackdown on drug users and suppliers. He called for the UN and EU to “investigate” him, before adding that he would like to pose them questions of his own.

“I asked the police to go after [drug dealers] and if they present violent resistance, kill them. With those words, many were killed but they were the ones who fought [with authorities],”  the president said, while maintaining that his security forces were not behind the killings, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.

“With regard to those who were killed with their hands tied, those were the handiwork of co-conspirators in the drug trade,” he added, noting that he had urged those involved in drug dealing to report their companions to the authorities.

His statement follows a recent broadside he launched at the EU after the bloc blamed him for stoking up anti-drug violence, with Duterte reinforcing his message through the use of his middle finger.

“I have read the condemnation of the European Union. I’m telling them, ‘F**k you. You’re doing it in atonement for your sins,” Duterte said, speaking in his home town of Davao City before local authorities on Tuesday, as cited by the Inquirer Global Nation.

“They are now strict because they have guilt feelings,”  he added, according to the Philippine Star. Duterte pointed to the backing by EU member countries, in particular, the UK and France, for military campaigns in the Middle East, which have resulted in far more deaths than his drug crackdown.

Duterte is no stranger to launching outbursts littered with profanities against high-profile world leaders, with US President Barack Obama also being on the receiving end of a tirade of abuse.

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© Erik De Castro

Philippine leader seeks arms from Russia & China, pursues policies independent from US

The Philippines president called his US counterpart a “son of a b*tch/whore” earlier this month after hearing news that the US leader was to address the country’s ‘war on drugs.’ The comment, which Duterte later said was not directed towards Obama, led to the White House canceling scheduled talks between the two leaders.

This outburst was shortly followed by Duterte ordering US troops to leave the south of his country, after blaming them for inflaming tensions with the local Muslim population.

“For as long as we stay with America, we will never have peace in that land,” Duterte said, as cited by the AP.

In his speech on Thursday, Duterte gave a hint of a possible warming of ties with China by telling businessmen from the country, “You will see me often in China.” 

He did not expand on that particular point, but did mention that he planned to visit China before the end of the year and would be promoting the rights of fishermen from the Philippines to be left to fish in the Scarborough Shoal without any restrictions.

Duterte has already said that the Philippines will pursue “independent” foreign and military policies separate from US interests in the region and may look towards closer ties with China and Russia.

Posted in Far East0 Comments

North Korea’s Understandable Fears


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

By James Bradley 


North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test on Friday, drawing condemnation from President Obama and a charge Pentagon that the test was a “serious provocation.” Ho-hum, here we go again.

Every year, America pays its vassal-state South Korea huge sums of U.S. taxpayer money to mount 300,000-man-strong military “games” that threaten North Korea. North Koreans view images that never seem to make it to U.S. kitchen tables: hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. armaments swarming in from the sea, hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops – their turrets and rifles pointed north – and nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes screaming overhead.

But when a young dictator straight out of central casting responds to U.S. threats with an underground test on North Korea’s founding day, it’s the number-one story on the front page of the New York Times.

Let’s connect some dots. Washington and their note takers in the American press constantly tell us that crazies in Pyongyang and Tehran are nuclear threats. The misplaced, but easily sold, fears of the “North Korean missile threat” and the “Iran missile threat” allows the Pentagon to install “defensive” missile systems in South Korea and Eastern Europe which actually amount to offensive systems targeting Beijing and Moscow (by making first strikes against China and Russia more feasible).

We need to look beyond the simplistic, race-based cartoon-like scaremongering to see that far more reality-based and frightening is the nuclear threat posed by the United States.

President Obama — the Nobel Prize winner who pledged to lead a nuclear-free world — has committed over $1 trillion dollars to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal. Almost unreported by the press, we have been spending a bundle to make nukes “usable,” by miniaturizing them. And to top it off, Obama has maintained a “first use” option for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un


Forget the tin-pot dictator with a bad crew-cut who leads an impoverished country. Here’s for some really scary reading:

Obama’s Trillion-Dollar Nuclear-Arms Train Wreck
Obama plans to retain first-use nuclear option
New U.S. Nuclear Bomb Moves Closer to Full-Scale Production
THAAD: A Major Security Risk for the ROK

Posted in North Korea0 Comments

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