- Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Myanmar/Burma and its army of continuing a “systematic repression” of citizens, including the use of anti-personnel landmines, child soldiers, forced labour, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and the use of human shields, despite the government’s promise of reform and ceasefire agreements with some ethnic armed groups. On Wednesday, the EU lifted travel restrictions on the top leaders after they freed certain political prisoners and eased some sanctions. On Sunday, thousands of supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi lined the roads of several southern towns on her first political trip since announcing a run for parliament.
- Protests continued in the Maldives over the military arrest of the Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. The country is now facing a judicial crisis, with the Vice President calling upon his own government to release the judge. On Sunday, the country asked the United Nations to mediate in the standoff with the opposition.
- US drone aircraft fired missiles in the northern Waziristan region of Pakistan on Monday, killing at least four alleged militants. On Tuesday, a blast occurred near a religious procession of minority Shi’ite Muslims in Lahore, killing three and wounding five. On Wednesday, gunmen on motorcycles reportedly shot dead three lawyers and wounded another in Karachi; gunmen killed a local politician in Peshawar; while at least 23 people were killed in clashes between soldiers and militants in the Kurram region near the border. On Thursday, gunmen reportedly attacked a military checkpoint in southern Balcuchistan Province, killing six soldiers. On Friday, an aide to former President Musharraf, who is facing arrest in connection with the killing of former PM Bhutto, says he called off his planned return to the country, but will be returning in the near future; border guards in Iran reportedly shot and killed six Pakistanis and wounded two others after they strayed across the Iranian border; RPGs struck a top military academy in Abbottabad with no reported injuries; gunship helicopters attacked two militant camps in the Kurram region, killing seven militants; and a paramilitary soldier was killed in a landmine explosion in the southwest during mine-clearing operations. On Saturday, at least three people were injured in a hand grenade attack in Karachi; and a roadside bomb killed two soldiers in the Kurram region. On Sunday, a car bomb blast killed five people and wounded 15 in Kohat; security forces, backed by helicopter gunships, killed nearly a dozen militants near the Afghan border; a car bomb outside the residence of a senior police officer wounded eight people in Quetta; and two people were killed and six wounded after security forces opened fire following a rocket attack on a military convoy in Khyber. On Monday, three people were killed and eight others wounded in an alleged suicide bombing at a house of a pro-government militia leader in Peshawar; while the Supreme Court lifted restrictions barring the country’s former envoy to the US, who was forced to resign amid allegations of drafting a secret memo to American officials to help curb the power of the military, from leaving the country.
- Troops in Thailand killed four suspected insurgents during a gunfight in the south over the weekend. Both Thailand and China have apparently welcomed the social media network Twitter’s controversial new censorship policy.
- More than 1,000 detainees in prisons in Kyrgyzstan sewed their lips together after they were force fed to break a hunger strike in protest at their conditions, though most had ended their protest by the end of the week after the government agreed to look at their living standards. On Friday, the Foreign Ministry announced that three Kyrgyz citizens were rescued from de-facto 10-year slavery in neighbouring Kazahstan.
- A court in Kazakhstan ordered the arrest and detention of three opposition activists on Saturday for holding an unauthorized rally condemning the recent election as fraudulent and demanded the release of their colleagues. President Nursultan Nazarbaev announced that he does not plan to prolong the curfew in the restive town of Zhanaozen beyond its scheduled end at the end of January. On Tuesday, the leader opposition issued a call for the country’s leadership to halt “political repression” following a series of raids the day before that resulted in the arrest of an opposition leader and editor of an independent newspaper. On Wednesday, the former leader of a political party barred from taking part in the parliamentary elections earlier this month fled the country, fearing possible pressure and arrest by authorities. On Thursday, the authorities announced a whole slew of charges against government critics and police in connection with deadly violence last month.
- Some 15 fishermen were killed by gunmen who opened fire on them in the southern Philippines over access to lucrative fishing waters.
- A high-profile political ally of the President of South Korea quit on Friday over his alleged involvement in the latest corruption scandal to hit the government. On Monday, authorities raided the foreign ministry offices as part of an investigation into claims that officials were share-rigging.
- Some 676 rebel fighters reportedly lined up to surrender their weapons on Tuesday as several local insurgent groups formally joined a cease-fire with the government in northeastern India. On Wednesday, a bus driver reportedly went on a rampage in central India killing at least nine and injuring about two dozen people. On Sunday, 485 young boys dressed up as Gandhi at a peace rally in Calcutta on the eve of the anniversary of Gandhi’s death to create a new Guinness World Record and promote non-violent protest. A report in the Times of India this week quoted that one bride is killed, often by being burnt alive, every hour in the country as a result of demands for dowry.
- Food prices have skyrocketed in Afghanistan since the border shutdown with Pakistan last November. On Monday, a negotiator with the outlawed Hizb-i-Islami group said that the US and Afghan officials have shown great flexibility in secret talks with the insurgent group; and reports suggest that the winter weather has forced a lull in fighting along the Pakistani border, while the east has emerged as the new frontline. On Wednesday, an ISAF service member died following a homemade bomb attack in Kabul; joint Afghan and coalition forces killed 12 alleged insurgents during operations in Kabul, Laghman and Kapisa provinces; and several insurgents were killed during a combined Afghan and ISAF operation. On Thursday, at least four people were killed and another 31 injured in a suicide bomb attack in Helmand province. On Friday, senior Afghan peace negotiators said they believe the Taliban are willing to significantly soften past hardline ideologies and possibly enter into peace talks; and a British soldier was shot dead by alleged insurgents in Helmand province. On Saturday, UK PM Cameron confirmed that he was sticking to the 2014 deadline for withdrawing combat troops from the country while meeting with President Karzai; France called upon a speedier NATO exit, a move Afghan lawmakers sharply criticized; joint Afghan and ISAF operations killed five alleged insurgents in Kabul; and two insurgents were killed by their own explosives while attempting to plant a roadside mine in Ghanzi. On Sunday, the Taliban reportedly kidnapped a member of the Afghan peace council in a bid to promote talks in the east; four armed insurgents were killed and one wounded during security operations in several provinces; and an Afghan-led combined force killed a leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Takhar province. On Monday, officials announced they were planning direct peace talks with Taliban militants in the upcoming weeks; and reports of an Afghan man who killed his wife because she gave birth to a daughter instead of a son made major headlines.
- The US has placed terrorist designations on two members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and one member of the Uzbekistan’s Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). On Thursday, the brother of the self-exiled Erk (Freedom) party leader Muhammad Solih was expected to be released from a labour camp, but was reportedly sentenced to five more years on terrorism charges.
- Two Uyghurs deported from Cambodia to China have been reportedly jailed for life. The two were among a group of around 20 who had sought asylum in Cambodia following ethnic riots between Muslim Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese in Xinjiang in 2009. Much ado was had this week over abusive working conditions in the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen province in China after several hundred workers threatened mass suicide in recent weeks. A video also went viral that appears to show six Chinese soldiers playing a game similar to “hot potato” with some sort of explosive. On Wednesday, reports emerged of deadly clashes between Chinese security forces and ethnic Tibetans spreading to new areas, with at least two Tibetans shot dead, though China accused Tibetan activists and Western governments of “distorting truth”. On Monday Chinese authorities announced they would boost police forces in the western Xinjiang region, recruiting up to 8,000 new officers to help control “ethnic strife”.
- A nearly 5-hour riot at a prison in Sri Lanka on Tuesday injured at least 28 people. The inmates were allegedly protesting a move to curtail drug smuggling into the prison, though the inmates said they wanted better food and conditions. Police in the country announced that former Tamil Tiger fighters are free to apply to join the force in the latest efforts to recruit Tamil speaking police officers.
- A man was arrested this week in Indonesia for his purported atheist blasphemy, after he wrote that “God does not exist…” on Facebook.
- Aid performance could improve thanks to a newly launched geocoded global map outlining how much individual donors have given to which aid projects and where, highlighting aid gaps, imbalances and duplication.
- The UN is calling on all Member States that have not yet ratified the treaty banning nuclear testing to do so immediately. China, Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the US still need to ratify before the pact can enter into force.
- The Somali government claims that ten anti-government fighters have been killed by their own bombs after the devices went off prematurely. Days later, at least 32 people were killed, including 6 MPs and five government officials, after men disguised as government soldiers attacked a hotel. Al Shabab declared a “massive war” on the African Union force on Monday, describing the 6,000 peacekeepers as “invaders” and killing at least 80 people.
- Rwandan authorities have arrested Lt. Col. Rugigana Ngabo, brother to Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa for “individual criminal liability”. Nyamwasa survived an assassination attempt two months ago in South Africa that was thought to be ordered by Rwandan authorities.
- A suicide bomb attempt at military barracks was foiled in Mauritania on Wednesday. The attack was attributed to Al-Qaeda.
- Concerns of an increasingly antagonistic political climate in Burundi threatens to dismantle the 10-year-old power sharing deal in the government. At least 3 opposition leaders have gone into hiding, after some 12 people were tortured in June and July. Grenade explosions have also been increasing recently, with over 100 in the past two months alone.
- The UN has dispatched an envoy to the DRC after a reported nearly 200 were systematically raped or sexually assaulted within a few short days in one eastern township and has announced plans to improve communications to prevent any such recurrence. It has been suggested that the UN was well aware of the rebel take-over of the area and should have done more to protect the victims. The FDLR, one of the groups accused of committing the atrocity outright denies the claims, saying they were in “no way involved” in the mass rapes reported.
- A new leaked UN report takes a new view on the Rwandan genocide, charging the invading troops for Rwanda of killing thousands of Hutus, including many civilians. Rwandan government reacted angrily, completing dismissing the report and attempted to pressure the UN not to publish their findings by threatening withdrawal of their support for international peacekeeping missions.
- Nine policemen were killed in Afghanistan on Friday in two separate incidents, five civilians were killed after a bomb explosion on Saturday, and another 8 police officers were killed on Thursday. At least 10 people working for a female candidate running in the upcoming parliamentary election have disappeared, and are assumed kidnapped. NATO took claim for killing three Afghan policemen in a “friendly fire” incident on Friday, while four US troops were killed on Sunday in fighting. Taliban fighters claimed to have attacked and burned 24 trucks carrying fuel and supplies to US troops in southern Afghanistan, which NATO subsequently denied, while NATO claimed to have killed some 40 Taliban insurgents this week in eastern Afghanistan. On Wednesday, an argument between an Afghan police trainee and his two Spanish trainers exploded, resulting in the death of all three, which was followed by an angry protest of several hundred villagers who stormed the compound. Dozens of students and teachers at an all girls’ school in Kabul were sickened by an unknown gas that spread through their classroom. Attacks on schoolgirls have happened in the past after the Taliban banned education for girls.
- Police imposed a ban on political campaigns in Dhaka, Bangladesh ahead of a protest called by the main opposition party in response to the cancellation of parole of the younger son of the party chief.
- At least 21 people were killed on Monday after two explosions rocked Pakistan in apparent suicide bomb attacks, a girls’ elementary school was blown up on Tuesday night and another 12 people killed in a US drone strike in the northwestern region. A released video showing two teenage brothers being beaten and then hanged to death in front of a large crowd resulted in the arrest of 10 people, including four police officers who looked on but did nothing to stop the attack.
- A former Philippine police captain held a tourist bus hostage for 11 hours on Monday. The stand-off ended in bloodshed, with police killing the hijacker.
- Thai insurgents shot two dead and wounded at least 5 others in three separate attacks over the weekend and a grenade attack in central Bangkok on Friday seriously wounded a security guard. Anti-government (“red shirt”) protesters relaunched their rallies just days after authorities lifted a state of emergency, filling Thai jails with political prisoners.
- A cameraman for SUN TV on the Indonesian island of Maluku was hacked to death by a group of villagers trying to hide their clash with a neighbouring village. According to local sources, policemen at the scene did not to assist the man. Two other Indonesian journalists have died recently in suspicious circumstances.
North and Central Americas
- Mexican police found four decapitated and mutilated corpses hung from a bridge on Sunday, and on Tuesday marines found the bodies of 58 men and 14 women in a ranch in Tamaulipas state, the latest in the country’s escalating drug war. The government has purchased Israeli-made unmanned drone aircraft to spot remote drug fields in its fight on powerful cartels. An anonymous bomb threat at the headquarters of the Mexico City’s stock exchange on Monday turned out to be unfounded and another car bomb in Ciudad Victoria on Friday exploded outside of Televisa, a television studio.
- The body of the ninth journalist to be killed so far this year in Honduras was found on Tuesday. The 2009 coup d’etat has seen decreasing media freedom in the country.
- Fidel Castro made a claim that Osama bin Laden is on the CIA payroll and that President George Bush summoned him up whenever he needed to increase the fear for upcoming attacks or maneuvers.
- A groundbreaking decision by American courts ruled that international organizations are not immune from a lawsuit in the US. This could mean that organizations like the World Bank could possibly face legal battles on US soil. The Obama administration admitted that it has a less than perfect human rights record in its first-ever report to the UN Human Rights Council on conditions in the US. A Congress report sent to the Pentagon urged the creation of suicide prevention programs for military personnel. More than 1,100 members of the armed forces have committed suicide from 2005-9, which are not typically included in death tolls regarding the Iraq or Afghani wars. Five American soldiers in Afghanistan are facing charges of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, and murder after it was revealed that they had discussed how easy it would be to “toss a grenade” at Afghan civilians. A key aide to Afghani president Karzai at the centre of a corruption investigation has been reported to be on CIA payroll, in contradiction to the American policy forcing Afghanis to root out government corruption. Many other of Karzai’s administration are also said to be on CIA payroll.
- A group of heavily armed men held 35 hostages for about 2 hours in a Rio de Janeiro hotel on Sunday. 10 suspects were arrested.
- A small explosion rocked the home of some Cuban doctors living in Venezuela on Friday after a grenade was detonated. No word yet on who caused the explosion or why.
- Iran has announced its first domestically built, long-range, unmanned bomber aircraft, called the “ambassador of death” by Ahmadinejad. Reporters without borders condemned the closure of three newspapers and the arrest of a journalist in the government’s continual crackdown on the media. The government has also prohibited the media from mentioning opposition leaders in the news.
- The government of Yemen said it killed seven al-Qaeda’s fighters on Saturday only a day after 13 people, including 10 soldiers were killed in clashes at a market in southern Yemen. Nearly 80,000 people fled a city in southern Yemen after clashes between al-Qaeda and government forces killed dozens of people. The US is considering sending in CIA armed Predator drones to the fight.
- More than a dozen car bombs rocked Iraq on Wednesday killing dozens of people, and destroying a police station in the capital. On Thursday, a group of armed men attacked a village in Diyala province killing 8 members of the government backed Awakening Council (Sahwa) militia.
- Three people were killed in clashes in Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday after a shootout erupted between a Shia Hezbollah supporter and a Sunni al-Ahbash supporter. The personal fight escalated into a firefight, but both groups confirmed to set aside their differences and put an end to all armed presence on the street. The UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) handed over 39 vehicles to the Lebanese armed forces in an effort to boost their security along the southern Israeli border following the firefight earlier this month. They should also be able to get a boost in security from the arms that Iran is prepared to sell them, should they ask for help equipping their military.
- Tensions among the radical Palestinian factions in Gaza erupted on Wednesday following the detainment of four members of the rival Islamic Jihad.
- A deputy mayor was seriously wounded in an apparent assassination attempt on Monday in Daghestan, North Caucasus. Another two people were killed after a suicide attack exploded in a car. At least 4 people died in violence in Ingushetia, after rebels opened fire at a police checkpoint. Another five people were killed by Russian security forces in Daghestan on Wednesday.
- Georgia has accused Russia of deploying its newly acquired S-300 air defense missiles in South Ossetia in an effort to fence of the strategic South Caucasus. Russia has denied such claims. Georgian officials have come under fire from human rights groups over the forced eviction of hundreds of displaced people from state-owned buildings that it hopes to privatize.
- Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has made peace with his longtime rival Isa Yamadayev, in a deal seen as a product of Russian pressure.
- Bosnian police have arrested Dragan Neskovic, a former Bosnian Serb police officer suspected of taking part in the Srebrenica massacre. Twelve have so far been jailed, seven acquitted and eleven more are still being tried for their role in the 1995 massacre.
- A UN panel criticized France for its crackdown on the Roma population and urged them to avoid collective deportations. Earlier this month the government had expelled nearly 300 Roma to Romania.