Chinese Police Release Video of Rights Activist to Refute Torture Claim
Christian Shepherd, REUTERS
Chinese police released a video on Thursday of detained human rights activist Jiang Tianyong to refute what it described as rumors he had been tortured. Jiang’s wife said the clip had not assuaged fears for her husband’s safety. Disbarred lawyer Jiang, 46, who had spoken out against a government crackdown on dozens of rights activists in 2015, went missing in Changsha city in November last year. Authorities later confirmed his detention. His wife, Jin Bianling, who is in the United States, said on Twitter on May 11 that an “unnamed individual within the Changsha system” told her Jiang had been tortured. Changsha police released a video on their social media account showing Jiang walking up and down a corridor of what appeared to be an apartment building in shorts and sandals.
When Chinese Rights Activists Were Jailed, Their Wives Fought Back
Chris Buckley and Didi Kirsten Tatlow, THE NEW YORK TIMES
After their loved ones disappeared in the wave of arrests in China, some family members, especially the wives of the detained lawyers, overcame their fear and fought back, often in a theatrical fashion. They used online appeals and visits to jails, prosecutors and courts. They gathered in bright red clothes and with red buckets to publicize their demands for information and access to the prisoners. Their tongue-in-cheek slogan became “Leave the dressing table and take on the thugs,” said Li Wenzu, whose husband, Wang Quanzhang, a human rights lawyer, has remained in secretive custody 21 months after he was detained in August 2015. “The story of the wives is one of the great stories of the whole crackdown—it is a brilliant adaptation by the activists to repression,” said Terence Halliday, a researcher at the American Bar Foundation.
China’s Propagandists Are Using Adorable Kids To Take On Donald Trump
Ana Swanson, THE WASHINGTON POST
At first glance, it looks like a standard cartoon for kids. But it’s a propaganda film from the Chinese state-run media outlet People’s Daily aimed at promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt, a massive investment infrastructure project to link Asia and Europe. The video is just one piece in a series of articles, speeches and videos from within China that have recently portrayed the country as a defender of globalization and free trade. In another from the state media organization China Daily, cute kids of various ethnicities peek out from behind giant animated camels and jump around in front of animated factory settings. “When trade routes open up, that’s when the sharing starts. Resources changing hands and shipping auto parts!” they sing.
More North Koreans Become Scientists to Reap Privileges from the Regime
RADIO FREE ASIA
In the past, North Koreans who settled for careers as scientists and engineers were doomed to a life of relative poverty. But now the five-year-old regime of current leader Kim Jong-un is granting exceptional privileges to those who study nuclear and missile technology and development. As a result, parents have displayed an eagerness to raise their children to become scientists, sources said. “Scientists who used to live with a tight budget are now receiving the highest level of treatment for nuclear and missile development since Kim Jong-un came to power. Apartment buildings for scientists and engineers were built in Pyongyang, and the [Korean Workers’ Party] Central Committee decided to give preference to scientists for new apartment buildings under construction in every province,” said a source in North Hamgyong province.
UN: Ten Million North Koreans Are Starving
Elizabeth Shim, UPI
Levels of hunger not found in other parts of East Asia persist in North Korea, according to a report from two United Nations agencies. The Food and Agricultural Organization and World Food Program’s 2017 Global Report on Food Crisis states 17 percent of the North Korean population, or 4.4 million, are in a state of “crisis, emergency and famine.” Nearly one out of five5 North Koreans face the most severe form of food insecurity, classified as “phase three and higher,” according to the UN scale. That assessment makes the relatively isolated country an economic outlier in the region. North Koreans struggling with the highest level of food insecurity have “food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition.” They are “marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with accelerated depletion of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps, even with any humanitarian assistance,” according to the UN definition.
Taiwan’s Failure to Face the Threat from China
Enoch Y. Wi, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Beijing’s belligerence presents an existential threat to Taiwan, a country that Chinese leaders have long vowed to take by force if they deem necessary. For years, the political establishment in Taipei has delegated responsibility for responding to Beijing to the United States. Taiwan needs a new approach for its security. The political leadership must correct decades of mismanagement of the military and accept ultimate responsibility for the defense of the country. Taiwan’s capitulation to Beijing would not only destroy the way of life for the 23.5 million Taiwanese—who have become accustomed to personal freedom and democracy—but it would also harm the interests of the United States and its allies.
CIA Director Met High-Level North Korean Defector
Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON
CIA Director Mike Pompeo discussed the potential for fomenting an insurrection against the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea with a high-level defector, according to US intelligence officials. The meeting between Pompeo and Thae Yong-ho, one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to defect to South Korea, took place during the CIA director’s visit to South Korea earlier this month. Disclosure of the meeting between the CIA chief and the defector comes as tensions remain high on the peninsula because of increased Trump administration concern about North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. Pompeo visited Seoul from April 29 to May 2 and met with American diplomats and military officials, according to South Korean news reports.
US to Sanction Venezuelan Supreme Court Judges Over National Assembly Power Grab
Patricia Mazzei and Nora Gámez Torres, MIAMI HERALD
The US will sanction eight judges on Venezuela’s Supreme Court as punishment for stripping the Venezuelan Congress of all powers earlier this year, a decision the court later reversed amid widespread international outcry. The sanctions, confirmed to the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald by several congressional sources, would be the first imposed by the Trump administration against high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government that are not related to drug trafficking. The penalties are intended to continue to isolate the embattled administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, which has been besieged by weeks of escalating protests following an economic collapse that has left scores of Venezuelans tired, poor and hungry.
Venezuela President Says Politicians Are “The New Jews That Hitler Pursued”
The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, has likened the harassment of government officials and their families outside of Venezuela to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis. Maduro also said in comments to a televised cabinet meeting late on Tuesday that planned opposition rallies in Caracas on Wednesday evening were reminiscent of rallies during the rise of Nazism and fascism in pre-second world war Europe. “We are the new Jews of the 21st century that Hitler pursued,” Maduro said during the cabinet meeting. “We don’t carry the yellow star of David… we carry red hearts that are filled with desire to fight for human dignity. And we are going to defeat them, these 21st-century Nazis.”
Venezuela Opposition Leader Barred From Leaving the Country
Jim Wyss, THE MIAMI HERALD
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he was barred from leaving the country Thursday as he planned to address a United Nations session in New York about the country’s escalating violence. In a video posted on Twitter, Capriles said his passport had been “stolen” from him by Venezuelan immigration authorities at Caracas’ international airport. In a subsequent release, he said authorities had annulled his passport, even though it was valid through 2020. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he hoped the passport revocation was not a “reprisal” linked to his scheduled meeting with Capriles on Friday. Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro took to Twitter to call the government’s move “unacceptable” and a “flagrant violation” of human rights.