Demonstrators Attacked as Cambodian Court Convicts Prominent Activist
RADIO FREE ASIA
Security guards outside a Phnom Penh courthouse attacked demonstrators who came to support land rights activist Tep Vanny during her trial Thursday for a 2013 protest near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home. As the Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed Tep Vanny a 30-month sentence for aggravated intentional violence, Makara district security forces were chasing and beating about 50 supporters. Song Sreyleap, Bov Sophea, and Tep Vanny came to prominence as activists who fought the Boeung Kak Lake land grab, when some 3,500 families were evicted from the neighborhood surrounding the urban lake in Phnom Penh.
China Cracks Down on Xinjiang’s Christians in “Anti-Terror” Campaign
RADIO FREE ASIA
Chinese authorities in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang have banned all Christian activities not linked to state-approved churches, launching a region-wide crackdown on unofficial worship in the name of “anti-terrorism” measures, RFA has learned. Underground Catholic churches and Protestant house churches were warned to halt all activity throughout the region, a religious affairs official confirmed on Thursday. The ruling Chinese Communist Party, which embraces atheism, has stepped up controls over any form of religious practice among its citizens in recent years, increasing pressure on faith groups to join the Protestant Three Self Patriotic Association or the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which has no ties with the Vatican.
US Senators Say Castro Keen to Continue Détente
Sarah Marsh, REUTERS
Cuban President Raúl Castro made it clear to a visiting US congressional delegation that his country was intent on pursuing market reform and deténte with the United States, US Senator Patrick Leahy told a news conference on Wednesday. Leahy, a Democrat who has been key in efforts to normalize relations, was leading a bipartisan group of five US senators and a representative on a three-day visit to the Communist-run island to discuss ties and explore business opportunities.
Venezuela Denying Trial to US Man Held Since June, Case Goes to the UN
Alex Vasquez E., FOX NEWS
In the nearly eight months that he’s been held in a bleak intelligence facility in Caracas, Joshua Holt has not been able to argue his case before a judge. He has been in court just once, on July 4, 2016, when the 24 year old Mormon from Utah was charged with illegal possession of weapons. Amid Venezuela’s deep political turbulence—and increasing tensions with the US—his lawyer said she is taking the case to foreign courts. Holt was arrested on June 30 alongside his Venezuelan wife, who is also incarcerated without trial.
Venezuela Loses Right to Vote in the UN Until it Pays its Debts
Sabrina Martin, PANAMPOST
Venezuela’s right to vote has been suspended at the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) after racking up a debt of USD $24 million. This is the second time in three years that the large debts of the government of Nicolás Maduro have gone unpaid to the United Nations. Article 19 allows a vote in the General Assembly if it can be proven that the country can not pay its dues “for reasons beyond its control” but Venezuela, which is experiencing a severe economic crisis due to falling oil prices, inflation, and an alleged “economic war,” has given no explanation.
EU Says Trade Pact Approval Rests on Vietnam’s Rights Record
European parliamentarians warned communist Vietnam on Thursday (Feb. 23) that a failure to improve its human rights record threatens to hinder the ratification of a free trade pact negotiated by the two powers. The trade agreement, which was approved by Brussels and Hanoi in 2015 and is slated to come into effect next year, would slash nearly all tariffs between the two economies. Vietnam’s rapidly-growing, export-led economy stands to gain enormously from broader access to European markets, especially as its hopes fade over the Trans Pacific-Partnership (TPP) trade deal in the wake of the US’s abandonment under President Donald Trump.