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Issue #1797      October 4, 2017

Region Briefs

Indonesia: On September 16, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) planned to hold a discussion meeting at their offices between survivors of the military-perpetrated 1965-1967 massacres and human right activists. During the meeting their building was surrounded by hundreds of anti-communist activists who threw stones and bottles at people and the building. These reactionaries were fuelled by an online smear campaign claiming those participating in the meeting were members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The meeting was eventually cancelled and participants were only able to safely leave much later in the early hours of the morning. Since last year’s Jakarta elections for Governor, the prominence of far-right organisations has grown and is a sign of real danger to all workers in Indonesia.

Hong Kong: On September 22, three people were killed and 31 others injured when a double-decker bus mounted a pavement in Hong Kong and ploughed into pedestrians. The driver, 44, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death and released on bail. The driver had recently been working 14 hours a day, or the maximum number recommended for drivers. But Citybus, the employer, claimed he had sufficient rest time of at least 10 hours as stipulated by regulation, between shifts. Both the union and the separate Federation of Bus Industry Trade Unions have called for a more progressive pay scale for drivers, to lower reliance on overtime work amid low salaries and a manpower shortage.

India: On September 23, KJ Singh, 64, a former news editor with The Indian Express, and his 92-year-old mother were found murdered at their residence in Mohali. This is the third murder of a journalist in India in September and highlights the deteriorating environment India’s media are working in. The victims include Gauri Lankesh’s murder in Bengaluru on September 5 and Shantanu Bhowmik’s killing in Tripura on September 20. According to International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) records, Singh is the sixth journalist to be killed in India this year.

Myanmar: The World Food Program (WFP) head David Beasley called last week for countries to ramp up relief for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh to escape ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. He called for £60 million to meet the need for food aid. The WFP is currently helping 460,000 people there. “If we don’t get the support we need, from healthcare to proper nutrition and safe water and sanitation and sheltering, this could explode into a catastrophic humanitarian disaster.”

Andrew E Rayment

Next article – Culture & Life – Exit, Stage Left

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