This Week in Asian Conflict… November 24th-30th, 2011.

  • Security officials in India reportedly killed senior Maoist commander, Molajula Koteswar Rao on Thursday, the latest in a series of senior leaders of the movement to be killed.  More than 100,000 security personnel have been deployed to the remote areas of centre and eastern India to fight this leftist guerrilla insurgency.  The Indian Parliament is experiencing a political crisis as continued stalemating disruption tactics are reportedly preventing any progress from being made. On Wednesday, police arrested six men said to be members of a homegrown armed group in connection with a series of fatal bombings.
  • On Thursday, President Karzai ordered an investigation into a NATO air attack in southern Afghanistan that allegedly killed six children and one adult; and at least seven Afghan guards working for a private security company were killed in the west after Taliban militants allegedly ambushed a NATO convoy. On Friday, a car bomb exploded near an ISAF convoy, with no reported casualties. On Saturday, Afghan and foreign troops killed 13 alleged insurgents during joint operations near Kabul; and gunmen killed two Afghan police officers in Helmand province. On Monday, France announced that it will pull out a further 200 soldiers from the country by the end of the year; insurgents killed two Afghan army soldiers in the west; and Afghan security forces and foreign troops killed one alleged insurgent and detained another seven in three provinces. The 49 nation international force in Afghanistan announced on Tuesday that the number of foreign troops would shrink by 40,000 by the end of 2012 as Afghan soldiers and police are seen as ready to secure the nation. On Wednesday, an ISAF service member was killed by a homemade bomb in Kabul; Afghan security forces and foreign troops killed three alleged insurgents, wounded three and detained 14 in Herat, Kandahar and Khost provinces; and Bulgaria announced its plans to reduce its military presence in the country by cutting 600 troops by three fourths by the end of 2014.
  • On Friday, troops in the northwestern region of Pakistan reportedly killed some 35 militants while four soldiers died in an assault on militant strongholds. NATO aircraft allegedly killed as many as 28 soldiers in Pakistan on Saturday morning in a “friendly-fire” attack after a joint US-Afghan force operating near the border came “under attack”. Pakistani officials say they were attacked first and merely responded to deliberate aggression, vehemently denying reports that they opened fire first. Pakistan has since banned NATO’s supply trucks from crossing into Afghanistan from their border and issued an order demanding the US quit the Shamsi airbase, where it operates unmanned drone aircraft, within 15 days. NATO apologized for the incident and said it would investigate the attack, though the US announced that their war effort would continue despite the sealing of the Afghani border to NATO cargo. On Tuesday, Pakistani cable television operators began blocking the BBC’s international TV channel in response to a documentary entitled Secret Pakistan; while the government said it will boycott an international conference on the future of Afghanistan in Germany next week in protest of the recent NATO attack. On Wednesday, a cross-border heavy artillery fire incident between NATO and Pakistani forces was quickly defused, with no casualties; the International Press Institute expressed concern at increasing violence against journalists in the country, after a banned militant group threatened to target six journalists; and five people were killed and 17 wounded in a suicide bomber attack in the northwest city of Bannu.
  • Australia launched a new Transparency Charter for its international aid program that is said will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the country’s aid program. The program will publish online detailed, up-to-date information on what the aid program is achieving through its country programs.  On Friday, the government loosened its highly charged policy of mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat.
  • The ruling National Party in New Zealand  was called as the winner of the general elections on Saturday, with John Key to return as PM. The National Party had just over the 50% mark, with opposition Labour Party at 27% and the Green Party at 11%.
  • Reporters Without Borders expressed concern this week over increasing acts of religious intolerance in the Maldives after a blog was shut down by the government. The blog was allegedly shut down because it subscribes to a Sufi Muslim and not Sunni Muslim perspective and is critical of religious fundamentalism.
  • North Korea warned South Korea on Thursday that any military clashes on their disputed maritime border could escalate into an attack on the presidential office in Seoul, a day after South Korea conducted military drills near the Yeonpyeong, calling the drills “a renewed political and military provocation”.  On Wednesday, the government claimed that it is making rapid progress enriching uranium to build a light-water nuclear power plant, increasing worries that the country is developing another way of making atomic weapons.
  • Lawmakers in Myanmar/Burma passed a bill on Thursday allowing citizens to stage peaceful protests, as long as they have gained advanced permission. The bill still requires ratification by the President to become full law. A relief group declared on Monday that the country’s soldiers are committing serious human rights abuses that could amount to war crimes, including extra-judicial killing and rape in a campaign against Kachin guerillas in the north, despite reforms aimed at ending harsh military rule.
  • A new report by Amnesty International details the forced evictions faced by tens of thousands in Cambodia. The report outlines the specific impacts these evictions have had on women, and details the 85% of households that do not have land titles who are vulnerable to land grabbing.
  • The Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka announced that the military will act against any soldiers who may have committed war crimes or any other excesses in the last months of its 25-year civil war on Thursday. The international community is hoping that credible actions could negate the need for an outside probe.
  • The government of Thailand warned facebook users that liking posts on the social networking site that might be offensive to the monarchy could result in their prosecution. A Thai criminal court found a man guilty and sentenced him to 20 years in prison just two days earlier for sending text messages deemed insulting to the queen.
  • China has announced that it will launch joint police patrols of the Mekong River with Thailand, Laos and Burma/Myanmar. The first joint patrol is expected to begin before the 15th of December. On Wednesday, more than 100 workers blockaded a Tesco in eastern China, the latest in a wave of industrial action around the country.
  • Four prison officials in central Kazakhstan may face trial in connection with the death of a prisoner who was held in custody earlier this month. The original autopsy suggested that the man died of natural causes, though a second one bore numerous signs of abuse and torture. On Wednesday, Kazakh police arrested six suspected associates of an alleged terrorist who is accused of killing seven people earlier this month.
  • A bomb blast in southern Philippines killed at least 3 people and wounded another 27 in a budget hotel on Sunday. The blast was believed to be one of two simultaneous bombings planned by the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaff, though the other explosives were found and safely defused by authorities before they could be detonated. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch chastised the Philippine armed forces for their unlawful use of schools for military purposes, after they exposed five cases where the military set up barracks on school campuses since 2009.
  • The Parliament in Bangladesh passed a landmark bill on Monday that will enable the return of property seized in the 1960s from the country’s Hindu minority. The new bill reverses a law, initially known as the Enemy Property Act, which allowed authorities to take over land and buildings of Hindus who migrated to India before Independence.
  • A new Equality and Participation Bill that would guarantee up to 22 seats in Parliament for women was passed last week in Papua New Guinea. The Parliament is said to have a dramatic gender imbalance with only four female members in 36 years.
  • On Tuesday, the Parliament of Malaysia passed a ban on street protests, despite a rally against the bill by crowds of lawyers. The government says the legislation strikes a balance between the right to protest and public security needs.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s