China Won’t Let Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate, Get Cancer Treatment Abroad
Steven Lee Myers, THE NEW YORK TIMES
The Chinese authorities have refused permission for Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace laureate paroled from prison for cancer treatment, to go abroad for care, one of his lawyers said on Thursday. The authorities did not explain the rejection, according to the lawyer, Shang Baojun. The news undermined hopes among supporters of Mr. Liu, a writer and dissident, that he might be freed altogether, if not allowed to leave China. He remains under police guard in a hospital. There have been signs that China’s leaders were growing sensitive to the international attention that Mr. Liu’s case has received, especially allegations that the government had effectively caused him to become gravely ill by failing to treat his liver cancer while he was incarcerated. The judicial department of the northeastern province of Liaoning, where Mr. Liu has been serving his sentence and is being treated, released a statement Wednesday evening saying that he had received regular checkups in prison and that the cancer had been detected only a month ago.
Beijing Warns Hong Kong Marchers Not To Challenge Mainland Rule
Benjamin Haas, THE GUARDIAN
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters delivered a rebuke to Communist Party leader Xi Jinping after the Chinese leader warned that Hong Kong must not become a launchpad for challenges to Beijing’s authority. Organizers said 60,000 people joined the two-mile march—held every year since 1997—blaming thunderstorms for falling short of the goal of 100,000 demonstrators. Police reportedly put the turnout at 14,500. This year’s rally coincided with the first visit by the Chinese leader and creeping pessimism over Beijing’s increasingly hardline stance towards the territory. “Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses a red line and is absolutely impermissible,” Xi said as he ended his trip. He was hundreds of miles away when the protest march began.
China’s Xi Jinping Greets PLA’s Hong Kong Troops In Show Of Force
Katie Hunt, James Griffiths and Yuli Yang, CNN
In the largest display of military might since Hong Kong was handed to China 20 years ago, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping inspected the Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation Army on Friday. The PLA is normally barely visible in Hong Kong, where its presence is still a sensitive subject, but it was out in force for Xi, with 20 squadrons taking part, including land, navy and air forces. Xi, standing in an open-top military vehicle, drove past 3,000 troops lined up at the Shek Kong base in the northern New Territories, near the Chinese border. Surrounded on all sides by tree covered mountains and under a baking sun, Xi greeted the rows of troops in turn. “Hello hard working comrades,” Xi said from open top car reminiscent of the type he rode in during a major military parade in Beijing last year.
In Cuba, Growing Numbers of Bloggers Manage To Operate In A Vulnerable Gray Area
Carrie Kahn, NPR
In recent years, a growing number of news and political websites have popped up in Cuba. Some are taking advantage of what they say has been a small but vibrant opening afforded them since former President Obama reestablished US relations with Cuba. But others worry that President Trump’s harder line toward the Communist Castro government could have a chilling effect on the independent media movement afoot. Harold Cardenas Lema runs his blog La Joven Cuba, The Young Cuba, out of the two-room apartment he shares with his mom and girlfriend in a dilapidated building just blocks from Havana’s oceanfront esplanade, the Malecon. Despite its mundane office, discussions on Cardenas’ seven-year-old blog are anything but boring. And they are popular. He says the blog gets about 2,000 unique visitors a day, nearly 70 percent coming from inside Cuba. That’s quite a following, given how expensive and difficult it is to access the Internet on the island.
Five North Koreans Found In South’s Waters Appear To Be Defectors
Choe Sang-hun, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Five North Koreans crossed into South Korean waters in a boat on Saturday, sailing across a heavily guarded maritime border between the two nations in what appeared to be an attempt to flee the North. The North Koreans—four men and one woman—indicated that they wanted to defect to the South when their boat was stopped by a South Korean Coast Guard patrol ship south of the maritime border and off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, the officials said. Despite these initial indications, South Korean officials said a formal investigation was required before concluding that the North Koreans were indeed defectors. “Investigators from relevant government agencies are currently interrogating them to determine whether the North Koreans want to defect and other details,” said Choi Su-jun, an officer at the Coast Guard office in the city of Donghae on South Korea’s eastern coast.
From Seeking Refuge To Slavery: How North Koreans Become Victims Of Human Trafficking
Sylvia Yu, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
The great famine that struck North Korea during the 1990s triggered a mass exodus from the reclusive country. An untold number of people have since fled to China and more than 30,000 have defected to a third country such as South Korea. But North Korean refugee women have been trafficked as soon as they cross into China, often sold as brides to poor farmers or forced into cyber pornography that caters to South Korean men, according to frontline workers. Dan Chung of Crossing Borders, a non-governmental organisation that provides humanitarian support for trafficked North Korean women and their children of forced marriages, says there’s not enough resources to help care for traumatised children born to North Korean refugees with a Chinese father. Many do not have citizenship and, as a result, are unable to attend school even though China gave identification cards to some children of North Korean refugees in 2009.
Blacklisted China Bank Cited As A North Korea Conduit To Global Finance
Matthew Miller & Josephine Mason, REUTERS
The US Treasury on Thursday accused the Bank of Dandong of facilitating millions of dollars in transactions for companies tied to North Korea’s weapons development, as Washington ratchets up pressure on Beijing to rein-in its isolated neighbor and ally. “The Bank of Dandong will in effect be shunned by the US banks that may in the past have been used to clear its transactions,” said William Newcomb, a former member of the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea. “Most international banks will also cease dealing with Bank of Dandong because of reputational risk.” “Similarly, other Chinese banks could damage their own ability to clear transactions should they try to act on Bank of Dandong’s behalf and be found out,” he said, calling the move “an overdue step.”
Russia Behind Cyberattack, Says Ukraine’s Security Service
Ukraine says it has proof that Russian security services were involved in the cyber-attack that targeted businesses around the world earlier this week. The country’s security service, the SBU, said it had obtained data that points to a link with an attack on the nation’s capital, Kiev, in December. Ukrainian firms were among the first to report issues with malicious software on Tuesday, before the virus spread. Moscow denied any involvement, adding that the allegations were “unfounded.” The virus, which disrupted IT systems across the globe, froze computers and demanded a ransom be paid in the digital currency Bitcoin, which is untraceable. However, the attack also hit major Russian firms, leading some cyber security researchers to suggest that Moscow was not behind it. But on Saturday, Ukraine’s SBU said in a statement that—through data obtained from international anti-virus companies—it had established a connection with a previous attack involving the so-called Petya virus, which it alleges was not designed to secure ransom payments.
Venezuela Prosecutors To Question Ex-National Guard Chief On Human Rights
Diego Oré, REUTERS
Venezuela’s state prosecutors’ office said that it is calling in the former head of the National Guard for questioning about “serious and systematic” human rights violations during the recent wave of anti-government protests. For three months, critics of President Maduro have taken to the streets almost every day to protest against what they call the creation of a dictatorship. The protests, which have left nearly 80 dead, frequently culminate in violent clashes with security forces. Maduro says they are an attempt to overthrow him with the support of Washington. General Antonio Benavides, who was taken off the job last week after troops under his command were filmed firing handguns at protesters, is to appear before prosecutors on July 6. “There has been evidence of excessive use of force in the repression of demonstrations, the use of unauthorized firearms … cruel treatment and torture of persons apprehended, as well as raids without warrant and damages to property,” the office said in a statement.
UN Urges Venezuela’s Maduro To Uphold Rule Of Law
Stephanie Nebehay, REUTERS
The United Nations criticized President Maduro’s government for curtailing the powers of the chief state prosecutor and called on it to uphold the rule of law and freedom of assembly in Venezuela amid a clampdown on protesters. Ruling Socialist Party officials have launched a series of attacks against chief state prosecutor Luisa Ortega, from accusations of insanity to promoting violence, after her high-profile break with the government. “The decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court on 28 June to begin removal proceedings against the Attorney General, freeze her assets and ban her from leaving the country is deeply worrying, as is the ongoing violence in the country,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a Geneva briefing. The Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber has nullified Ortega’s appointment of a deputy attorney general, naming someone else in violation of the law, he said. It also transferred some of her functions to the ombudsperson.
For Struggling Venezuelans, Relief Lies Just Across The Bridge In Columbia
Khushbu Sha, Leyla Santiago, and Habib Maglioni, CNN
A short bridge that connects Venezuela and Colombia offers a vital lifeline for thousands of people who cross between the two countries every day. The Puente Internacional Simon Bolivar has become a relief route for Venezuelans facing a humanitarian crisis on their side of the border. Each day the bridge to Colombia sees a steady stream of people—a mix of young and old, alone and in family groups—cross back and forth looking for basic supplies. Most are carrying empty suitcases or a handful of plastic bags as they cross into Colombia. On the return trip, the bags brim with goods they can’t get at home. The bridge is flanked by lush palm trees as it leads to a patch of land teeming with makeshift storefronts, mini supermarkets and currency conversion shops. As the road opens into the border town of Cucuta, young women pass out yellow sale fliers to entering Venezuelans. Enrique Sanchez, wind beaten and darkened by the sun, is thankful to Colombia, he said, “Because they have enough for themselves and us.”
Vietnam Jails Prominent Activist For Propaganda Against State
Robert Birsel, REUTERS
A Vietnamese court jailed a prominent blogger for 10 years for publishing propaganda against the state, her lawyer said, the latest crackdown on critics of the Communist Party. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as “Me Nam” (Mother Mushroom), was found guilty at a one-day trial in the province of Khanh Hoa, six months after she was arrested for posting what police described as anti-state reports, including one about civilians dying in police custody. Despite sweeping economic reform in Vietnam, and increasing openness towards social change, the Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate criticism. “The verdict was too heavy and unfair,” said Vo An Don, one of her lawyers, adding that she would appeal. The sentence comes at a time when Vietnam’s human rights record is in the spotlight. A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Le Thi Thu Hang, said the court proceedings were public and “in accordance with Vietnamese law.”