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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
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)].