North Korea Forces Workers Returning from Russia to Snitch on Each Other

North Korean authorities are conducting ideological examinations on workers who have returned from Russia, attempting to discover if any have seen South Korean movies or TV shows when they were abroad, sources say. Workers who were sent to Russia to earn hard currency for the Kim Jong Un regime have been returning to North Korea en masse recently. Last week, RFA’s Korean Service reported that hundreds of them were spotted at the Vladivostok air..

South Korea Divided Over Nomination of Controversial Justice Minister

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on September 9 appointed a controversial figure Cho Kuk as the country’s justice minister, a month after he became the nominee. Over a month, countless allegations emerged over Cho, who served as the administration’s first presidential senior secretary for civil affairs, that he and his family members had engaged either illegal or unfair practices seeking personal gains. Among the allegations are that Cho’s dau..

Indonesia’s New Capital Challenge Kicks Off

Late last month, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo effectively ended years of speculation and months of promises by announcing the area straddling the regions of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara in Indonesia’s province of East Kalimantan on Borneo will be the site of Indonesia’s new capital. Jokowi wants the transition done by 2024, which would time well for the next election and secure his legacy as the Indonesian president who finally del..

Why Imran Khan’s ‘Kashmir Hour’ Fell Flat

To show solidarity with Kashmir, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on August 26 that “Kashmir Hour” would be observed across the country. However, the common Pakistanis, unnerved by deteriorating security and economic conditions did not show much passion to honor the prime minister’s appeal. Very few Pakistanis observed the much publicized “Kashmir hour” this past Friday, indicating a genuine source of concern both for Khan’s populari..

Can US Legislation Halt INTERPOL Abuse by Central Asian Autocrats?

On Thursday, U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Alcee Hasting (D-FL) and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to tackle abuse of INTERPOL communications by autocracies. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) plan to introduce the TRAP Act in the Senate on Monday. Autocrats worldwide take advantage of I..

A Lockdown in Central Beijing

On September 5, hotels in the vicinity of Tiananmen Square in Beijing gave their guests a notice. From Saturday, September 7 at 4:00 pm, to Sunday, September 8 at a then yet-to-be-determined time, guests staying in the hotel would not be able, under any circumstances, to go outside the hotel doors. Nor would they be able to enter the hotel if they were not already inside by Saturday at 4:00 pm. The notice was clear. The word used by hotel managem..

Bridging the Gaps in the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway

In remote rural villages in Bangladesh, women in pink and blue uniforms, known as the Info Ladies, arrive on bicycles bringing a connection to villagers who want to see the faces of their loved ones working overseas. Among 163 million people in the country, only 24 million are connected to the web. As the world becomes even more interconnected online, there are still many who cannot access the information they need for daily life. Inclusiveness ..

Reports of China’s Repression in Xinjiang ‘100 Percent True’: Jordanian Journalist

A Jordanian journalist who traveled to northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) found reports by the international media about Beijing’s repressive policies targeting ethnic Uyghurs to be “100 percent true,” and warned that the situation is “feeding extremism” within the community. Nihad Jariri visited the XUAR for three weeks in July to get a “more realistic perspective” on life in the region, where authorities are believed to ..

Chinese Ships Must Leave Vietnamese Waters, Hanoi Again Demands

Vietnam renewed calls on China on Thursday to withdraw from waters claimed by Vietnam, saying that the continued presence of the Chinese oil survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and escort vessels in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) violates Vietnam’s sovereign territory. China’s intrusions into Vietnam’s EEZ challenge Vietnam’s jurisdiction and threaten peace and stability in the area, foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said, according t..

Rights Group Calls for Action on Fate of Missing Panchen Lama, Other Disappeared Tibetans

A Finland-based rights group renewed calls this week for information on the fate of missing Tibetan religious leader the Panchen Lama, urging that he and other Tibetans who have disappeared in Chinese custody remain on the world’s agenda. The case of the Panchen Lama, who vanished 24 years ago, has come to represent Beijing’s efforts to “interfere with and undermine Tibetan Buddhist culture,” Kai Mueller of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Righ..

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