Hello all! Hope all is well!
Still having difficulty adding links here, but hopefully I will have it worked out by tomorrow. In the meantime, you can access a version with all the links here.
Special thanks to Michael Southcott for his submissions this week!
• On Friday, suspected insurgents killed two civilians and wounded another four in a triple bombing attack in Thailand, near the Malaysian border. Thailand faces an election July 3rd, in a vote that the opposition is expected to win away from the ruling Democrat Party.
• Authorities in Malaysia have accused 30 detained opposition members of conspiring to overthrow the government and to revive communist ideologies. The activists, who call the allegations ludicrous, were arrested before a banned political rally where they planned to fight to introduce transparent voting procedures to prevent what they call manipulation of election results by the ruling party to preserve its nearly 54 year rule.
• The UN backed war crimes trial of the four most senior surviving members of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime has commenced this week in Phnom Penh. All four defendants have denied the charges against them, and are expected to enter not guilty pleas.
• Conservative Nepal has opened its first ever shelter for ostracized gays, lesbians and transgender people, alongside an adjoining hospice that provides shelter for those living with HIV/AIDs who have been abandoned by their families. Although there are no laws specifically against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders exist, “unnatural sex” is punishable by up to one year in jail.
• A Kachin women’s organization in Myanmar/Burma accused the military of using sexual violence extensively in their offensive against ethnic Kachin separatists in the north of the country. On Friday, four explosions rocked the capital and two other towns, causing many injuries, but no reported deaths. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks.
• China and Vietnam both pledged on Sunday to resolve their maritime dispute over the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations without foreign intervention following talks between China’s foreign affairs chief and Vietnam’s vice foreign minister, though an Australian think tank warned that the risk of war in Asia was growing. China released Hu Jia, a prominent dissident on Sunday after serving a three and a half year sentence for “inciting subversion”, and is now reportedly banned from talking to the media.
• Two men were killed and 15 wounded in a bomb attack in a restaurant on Saturday on Mindanao Island in the Phillipines. President Aquino ordered security forces to investigate the attack that they believed coud be a tactic to threaten peace talks with separatist guerrillas.
• On Friday, India and Pakistan issued a joint statement announcing they have agreed to try to ease mutual fears about their nuclear arsenals after what were deemed successful talks between the two countries’ diplomats. The officials also announced they would try to improve trade and travel across the ceasefire line dividing disputed Kashmir.
• Fifteen suspected militants were killed and 8 wounded in a clash between rival militant groups in the northwest Orakzai region of Pakistan on Saturday; a low intensity bomb exploded near the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Karachi, with no injuries or damage; and at least 12 were killed in an attack on a police station in the northwest, thought to be perpetrated by a Talibani husband and wife suicide team, dressed in burqas and heavily armed. On Sunday, a bomb planted outside a police station in eastern Pakistan wounded four policemen. On Monday, a suspected US drone missile killed 8 suspected militants in Wana; another drone strike on a Taliban training centre killed 13 suspected militants; gunmen attacked and killed a Pakistani Taliban commander in North Waziristan; and the main coalition partner in the government announced it had quit the government, citing the “dictatorial” and “brutal” approach of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
• Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to agree to a framework document to set the stage for a resolution over Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday, increasing the risk of new war in the Caucasus region. On Saturday, the two sides blamed each other for the failure, though they both pledged to continue talks. On Sunday, Azerbaijan held its biggest military parade since the fall of the Soviet Union. On Tuesday, an Armenia military official said that his country is not intimidated by Azerbijan’s ongoing military buildup.
• On Thursday, a court in Bangladesh sentenced the younger son of the former PM Zia to six years in prison for laundering $2.7 million received as kickbacks from foreign companies. Many fear the verdict could fuel street protests by those who say the charges are politically motivated.
• On Wednesday, at least six Afghan police were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Ghazni, Afghanistan; while another four officiers were killed by a roadside bomb on their way to the scene; and US President Obama announced his plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from the country by the end of the year, and another 20,000 by the end of next summer, with Hamid Karzai welcoming the decision and assuring his troops would be ready to take over. On Thursday, an ISAF service member was killed in an insurgent attack in Kabul; a special court set up by Karzai threw out results in about a quarter of the seats in the parliamentary assembly, raising fears of a constitutional crisis; Britain announced it too was in contact with Taliban insurgents, alongside the Americans in an attempt to build future peace talks; the Taliban called the US plan to withdraw droops symbolic and warned of more bloodshed if they didn’t all immediately withdraw; and Afghani authorities complained to Pakistan for a second time about its shelling of Afghan villages that resulted in the killing of four children this week. On Friday, a suicide bomber killed six people and wounded two in an attack on a group of policemen in eastern Kunar province (later reported as 10 killed, with 24 wounded); France announced it would bring home hundreds of soldiers between now and the end of 2012; Spain announced it would withdraw 10% of its troops in the first half of next year, 40% by the first half of 2013 and all of its troops by 2014; and MPs unseated in Thursday’s court decision threatened to call for protests, including blocking the country’s roads. On Saturday, a suicide bomber killed more than 30 people outside a hospital in Logar province, the victims were mostly those in the materinty ward; two ISAF service members were killed in separate attacks in Kabul; an ISAF helicopter crashed near Kabul, with no reported injuries; and 183 of the 190 lawmakers who attended parliament voted to fire the five most senior judicial officials over the firing of 62 MPs unseated in Thursday’s court decision, creating a political crisis. On Sunday, two ISAF service members were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Kabul; an eight year old girl was killed when a bomb in a bag she was alledgely given to carry by Taliban insurgents exploded; an ISAF service member was killed in an attack by insurgents in Kabul; and a remotely detonated bomb wounded 8 in Ghazni. On Monday, the central bank Governor announced he was resigning from his post because he feared for his life following his role in investigating a scandal surrounding Kabulbank, while the government said he had not resigned but rather was trying to escape prosecution over his own role in the scandal; and a former security contractor for Blackwater Worldwide was sentenced to 30 months in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in the 2009 death of an Afghani man in Kabul. On Tuesday, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and two other militants were captured during a combined Afghan and ISAF mission in Kabul; two ISAF service members died after separate insurgent attacks in Kabul; at least 5 insurgents were killed during a combined Afghan/ISAF security operation in Nimroz province; insurgents burnt down an elementary school in Nangarhar province; an anti-personnel mine killed two Afghan women and wounded a child in Kandahar; the government issued an arrest warrant for the central bank Governor who previously said he was resigning and Kabul began pursuing talks with international donors for foreign aid after a breakdown in discussions with the IMF left millions of dollars in limbo. A 46-page study by International Crisis Group discusses the problems of rampant corruption in the country that is only getting worse, and how the billions of international aid dollars have only brought wealthy officials and insurgents together to create more violence.
• Two journalists in Uzbekistan have been temporarily detained and fined after trying to begin a hunger strike outside the Presidential palace to protest censorship. On Thursday, a court handed out six and seven year jail sentences to a group of men accused of taking part in the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir group. Uzbek border guards have been accused of shooting dead at least 13 people who were crossing into the country from Kyrgystan over the past two months, though Uzbek officials say they only fire on those crossing illegally and smugglers who disregard orders from the guards.
• On Thursday, some 40 soccer fans were detained in Dushanbe, Tajikistan for rioting after their team’s victory in the country’s top soccer league. This is the second such incident involving soccer fans in the past 10 days. On Monday, the head of the Council of Islamic Scholars said that a special Islamic education program for children is being planned to quell criticism over a draft law banning children from entering a mosque.