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Issue #1788      August 2, 2017

Region Briefs

Bhutan: The Doklam (Donglang) tri-junction is an area that lies between the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, China and India. Chinese soldiers had arrived with bulldozers and excavators, and were reported to be building a high-mountain road towards Bhutan near India’s border which apparently India had earlier objected to. China has claimed that they were constructing the road within their territory that is historically considered part of the delimitation of the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet which was agreed by Great Britain and China in 1890. China’s foreign ministry said that Beijing would make no compromises on the border issue. This is a low point for bilateral relations since the Sino-Indian war in 1962, with difficulties recently getting India on board with the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. Bhutan joined India in boycotting May’s Belt and Road Summit in Beijing.

Philippines: In a very worrying development in Mindanao, the Philippines’ Congress on Saturday approved President Duterte’s request to extend martial law over the whole island of Mindanao till the end of 2017. Given the track record of gross human rights violations already committed during the term of Duterte government in the war against drugs thus far, the extension of martial law will only lead to further militarisation and more human rights abuses. The Communist Party of the Philippines and a number of political organisations have condemned this new development as part of a continuing attack on workers. Protest camps have been set up by workers in Manila and will be the focus of anti-martial law demonstrations as the struggle to remove the martial law of Mindanao continues.

Cambodia: At the Chung Fai Knitwear factory in Cambodia, around 208 workers are still fighting for justice one year on from the sudden closure of their factory. On July 1 2016, these workers, mostly women, were terminated without notice, without severance pay and without receiving their final salaries for the previous month. The factory in question was producing products for the famous UK brands, Marks and Spencer and Bonmarche, as well as Canadian brand Nygård. The workers are now demanding that the companies behind the sudden closure of the factors compensate them for their labour and loss of jobs.

India: Activists have become outraged following a number of deaths of people working in the sewer system of New Delhi. In the last 100 days, 39 workers have died during sewer cleaning and these deaths were not rare occurrences. Activists have said that despite providing documents for 56 workers who died while cleaning sewers, they have yet to be identified by authorities, preventing their families from getting any compensation or peace of mind.

Next article – Culture & Life – Automation, robots in developing countries

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