Human Rights Activist Searched, Questioned At Belarus Border
Anisiya Kazlyuk, a volunteer for the human rights center Viasna, was detained by Belarusian border guards on October 22 after participating in the human rights forum in Vilnius. She was kept at the border crossing for several hours. The guards carefully inspected Kazlyuk’s personal belongings. A book by former political prisoner Ales Byalyatski caught their eye. The woman was questioned about her recent activity in Vilnius.
China Is Creating a Database of Its Citizens’ Voices to Boost its Surveillance Capability
Joseph Hincks, TIME
The Chinese government has collected tens of thousands of “voice pattern” samples from targeted citizens and is inputting them into a national voice biometric database, according to a Human Rights Watch report published Monday. The idea is that an automated system, thought to still be in development, will use the database to pick out individual voices in telephone and other conversations, boosting the government’s already expansive surveillance capabilities.
Daughter Fears For Swedish Bookseller’s Safety After “Release” From Chinese Prison
Tom Phillips, The Guardian
The daughter of a Swedish bookseller who has spent more than two years in Chinese custody after vanishing from his holiday home in Thailand says she is deeply concerned for his safety and fears he has been forcibly disappeared for a second time, amid unconfirmed reports that he has been freed. Gui Minhai vanished from his beachfront apartment in the Thai resort town of Pattaya in October 2015 and subsequently reappeared behind bars in mainland China, where he was accused of involvement in a hit-and-run incident and forced to make a televised confession.
Freed Hong Kong Activist Vows To Fight On Over China “Suppression”
Tom Phillips, The Guardian
The Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong has vowed to continue his struggle against Communist party “suppression” after being released from prison while he appeals against his sentence for unlawful assembly. Wong and Nathan Law, a fellow activist, were jailed in August for their roles in a demonstration that helped spark the city’s large-scale “umbrella movement” pro-democracy protests in 2014. On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s chief justice, Geoffrey Ma, who heads the court of final appeal, granted the pair bail while they appeal their six-month and eight-month jail terms respectively, saying there was no flight risk.
Senior Chinese Official Attacks Foreign Leaders For Meeting Dalai Lama
Stuart Lau, South China Morning Post
A senior Chinese official has criticised foreign leaders for meeting the Dalai Lama, and vowed to stop religiously-inspired secessionist movements. Zhang Yijiong, vice-minister of the United Front Work Department—the agency responsible for relations with non-Communist groups—said on Saturday that the Communist Party had made progress on the “Sinification” of religions. Human rights observers have reported an official crackdown on religious activities, including Tibetan Buddhism of which Dalai Lama is the leader, but the central government has denied the accusation and emphasized the need for public security.
House Panel Approves Bill To Strengthen Cuban Airport Security
Melanie Zanona, The Hill
A House panel easily approved legislation on Wednesday that would beef up security at Cuban airports, but not ground US flights to the country. The new bill would require U.S. airlines operating in Cuba, which sometimes pay an agency controlled by the Cuban government to conduct airline operations on the ground and hire their employees, to publicly disclose those contracts. The legislation also would require the Transportation Security Administration to assess each of Cuba’s ten international airports and brief Congress about it.
Mariel Is Cuba’s Big Industrial Gamble. Could US Companies Be Among The Investors?
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
After years of Cuba talking about the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone as the island’s economic future, the sprawling site west of Havana is beginning to take shape with huge tracts of land leveled and ready for construction of two major manufacturing operations. So far 27 companies have been given the green light to set up shop in the 115,000-acre zone. Only nine are currently operating there. But Cuba envisions the zone and the Mariel port as the beginning of a bustling commercial city built on high-tech, advanced manufacturing and sustainable development.
A Pressure Point For North Korea
Ted Cruz, The New York Times
On October 31st, the State Department faces a critical decision in our relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Iran-Russia-North Korea sanctions bill enacted in August included legislation I introduced that requires the secretary of state to decide whether to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism within 90 days. Look at the accusations against Pyongyang: the unspeakable treatment of Otto Warmbier; the assassination of a member of the Kim family with chemical weapons on foreign soil; collusion with Iran to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles; cyberattacks on American film companies; support for Syria’s chemical weapons program; arms sales to Hezbollah and Hamas; and attempts to assassinate dissidents in exile. Given this, the decision should be easy. In fact, Americans could be forgiven for wondering why North Korea is not already designated as a sponsor of terrorism.
North Korea Is Making Millions From Construction Projects In Africa
Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY
North Korea is making tens of millions of dollars from construction projects in a number of African countries that are members of the United Nations, a U.N. official has told CNN. Hugh Griffiths, the coordinator of the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea, which monitors the enforcement of sanctions on the reclusive nation, told CNN that the money Pyongyang is making is “highly significant.” The North Korean state-owned entity Mansudae is carrying out many of the contracts, CNN reported. The countries where construction projects have taken place include Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and Senegal, according to the broadcaster.
North Korea May Be Using Algae To Work Around International Sanctions
Nyshka Chandran, CNBC
One of the world’s most secretive states is going green—for national security reasons. Pyongyang may be interested in developing algae as “a strategic resource,” according to a recent note on 38 North, a website focused on North Korea that’s part of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Using data from nine North Korean facilities, the note estimated that 2,851 tons of algae biomass could be produced each year. That contains approximately 1,425.5 tons of nutritional mass and could be converted to the equivalent of 4,075.6 barrels of oil.
Poland And Ukraine Honor Victims Of Stalinist Crimes
Poland’s Piotr Gliński and Ukraine’s Yevhen Nyshchuk led the ceremonies on Sunday during which wreaths were laid and prayers said for the souls of those murdered. The cemetery in Bykivnia near Kyiv holds the remains of both Ukrainian and Polish victims of communism, including several thousand Poles who were murdered by the Soviet Union’s NKVD secret police as part of its “Polish Operation” in the late 1930s. Nyshchuk said that Bykivnia is one of the largest mass grave sites in Europe and a “holy place” for both Poles and Ukrainians. “The trees in the Bykivnia forest stood witness to the inhumane tragedy of both our peoples,” he added.
Russia Used Interpol “Loophole” Against EU Activist
Andrew Rettman, EUobserver
Russia has used Interpol for a fifth time to attack one of its European enemies—British human rights activist Bill Browder. It called for his arrest and extradition via a “diffusion” that it filed in the international police agency on October 17th, Browder told EUobserver. It had previously called for his arrest on four other occasions via Interpol alerts called “Red Notices.” Interpol’s internal oversight body rejected those on grounds they were politically motivated, but Interpol member states can file diffusions without the same kind of checks.
Venezuela Swears In Opposition Governors Despite Boycott
Four newly-elected opposition governors in Venezuela have agreed to be sworn in by the constituent assembly, defying their coalition’s official position. The Roundtable for Democracy (MUD) had said none of its candidates would kneel before the pro-government assembly, which it regards as illegitimate. However governors for Táchira, Mérida, Nuevo Esparta and Anzoátegui have all pledged allegiance. The MUD says it was denied victory in several states in the 15 October vote.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
October 24th, 1945: The United Nations Charter is ratified by the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, officially creating the United Nations.
October 24th, 1980: The dissident trade union Solidarność (Solidarity) is legalized by the communist regime in Poland.