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Repression on the rise in Asia: Rep

Subject: Repression on the rise in Asia: Report.

		Repression on the rise in Asia

	For human rights activists in Burma, Cambodia, China and 
Indonesia, 1996 will be remembered as a year os set-backs as repression 
worsened in those Asian countries, Human Rights Watch says in its annual 
report released today.

	More than 1000 democracy activists were arrestes in Burma in 
1996, extrajudicial killings and torture were on the rise in Cambodia and 
dozens of students who joined an oppostion movement in Indonesia faced 
trial, the report by America's largest human rights group said.

	In China, a fresh wave of arrests and heavy sentences handed down 
to the few remaining activists, including an 11-year jail term to Wang 
Dan, "left the dissident movement effectively crushed", the report said.

	"The Chinese Government has utterly silenced the pro-democracy 
movement," said the Human Rights Watch executive director, Mr Kenneth 
Roth, who faults the United States and other powers for sacrificing human 
rights for commercial interests.

	"Chinese leaders who rub shoulders with Western leaders are not 
learning lesson of capitulation on human rights," Mr Roth said.

	Human Rights Watch said China's failure to respect dissent "did 
not bode well" for Hong Kong and its transition to Chinese rule in July 
and noted that prospects for the British territory's autonomy under 
Beijing "seemed slim".

	Charges that governments were putting profit before human rights 
were aslo directed at Asian governments comprising the Association of 
South-East Asian Nations, which has opted for continued ties with Burma 
despite mass arrests of opposition activists.

	Human Rights Watch noted that Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and 
Indonesia, all members of ASEAN, had growing investments in Burma.

	Despite these shortcomings, the report welcomed a rise in 
consumer and media interest in labor rights in Asia and noted that 
campaigns in the US and Europe prompted clothing maker Liz Clairborne and 
breweries Heinken and Carlsberg to leave Burma, which is believed to use 
forced labor.

	Pakistan was cited for its firm enforcement of child labor laws 
that led to 2500 prosecutions and 395 convictions of employers this year.

	The report also described 1996 as a "banner year" for Taiwan 
where 14 million voters for the first time chose their president in March 
elections after an open campaign.

	The vote was a "stunning refutation of the 'Asian values' 
argument that Asians care more about strong, efficient government than 
about popular participation".

[AFP, Washington (5 December 1996)].