Weekly Reports Archives — CANVAS

Weekly Report December 6th, 2019

Myanmar Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi has flown to The Hague for legal hearings, as she faces genocide charges in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Suu Kyi has been accused of orchestrating an offensive with security forces and local Buddhists that systematically killed Rohingya Muslims and forced a large portion of the population to flee. The lawsuit was filed by the largely Islamic Gambia, as a show of religious solidarity with the Rohingya community in Myanmar. Suu Kyi has denied the allegations of genocidal intent and will be attending the hearings in hopes of refuting the conclusions drawn by the international community. Vietnam This week, the The Global Climate Risk Index 2020 (CRI) report noted that Vietnam’s position in terms of climate risk has worsened, moving from 9th place in 2018 to 6th place in 2019. The measure of the global vulnerability ladder is supplemented by Vietnam’s increase in extreme weather events over the last decade. With a reported 226 extreme weather events, killing on average 285.80 people per year and causing annual economic losses of US$2 billion per year, the report painted a grim picture for Vietnam’s future at this week’s 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid.  Malaysia The People’s Justice Party (PKR) of Malaysia has continued to shown signs of fracture, as fights during the PKR Youth Congress were taken to the street this Friday. Though there was a ceasefire between rival groups in the party,  the Youth Congress event saw high levels of hostility within the organization. The fight outside of the political convention resulted in one person needing medical attention. As...

Weekly Report November 29th, 2019

Myanmar This Tuesday, Myanmar’s military began a court martial to try soldiers accused of committing atrocities during a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, according to an Army spokesperson. Myanmar prepares to face genocide charges at an international court in The Hague within the next month. Occurring in 2017 and resulting in a mass influx of Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh, the military crackdown has been labeled by the UN as “executed with genocidal intent”. Under investigation will be soldiers, police and local Buddhists that allegedly razed hundreds of villages in the Rakhine State.  Cambodia The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has responded positively to diplomatic efforts by the Trump administration. Hun Sen accepted an invitation to the United States for a meeting of Southeast Asian countries and agreed to promote talks between Cambodia and the United States. Additionally, Hun Sen also appeared with the Trump administration’s push for democracy in the region, following a trend of increased liberty in Cambodia in the past few weeks. Despite improvement in freedoms, Hun Sen still intends to rule until 2028 and remains a stringent leader; many see his alleged efforts to foster democracy and human rights as a show to maintain trade relations with democratic countries.  Thailand Thailand confirmed that mandatory conscription in the country will not be abolished due to low numbers of volunteers. The current conscription system targets men over the age of 21 and uses an annual lottery to pick servicemen. Public opinion concerning the system has been unfavorable, but the latest statement from the Thai Deputy PM indicates that conscription will continue.  Laos The Laos economy has been steadily...

Weekly Report 21 November, 2019

Myanmar    Within the last week, three separate cases against Myanmar were been filed on counts of human rights abuses and genocide. The Gambia filed a genocide case with the International Court of Justice (IJC) against Myanmar on November 11th, urging the United Nations court to immediately issue orders to to stop atrocities and genocide against the Rohingya people. On November 14th, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched its own investigation into Rohingya prosecution, while a separate lawsuit was filed in an Argentine court against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader. Though the three cases complement each other, they are distinct in the crimes they charge Myanmar with, the identity of the accused and the remedies the courts can order, which creates significant and differing advantages. The UN has stated that The Hague will hold public hearings in the case next month.  Aung San Suu Kyi, former Burmese leader and icon of democracy, will lead a delegation to the Hague next month and defend Myanmar against allegations of genocide. Prior to her election as State Counsellor in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi spent decades under house arrest in Myanmar for campaigning for democracy. Though she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts in spreading democracy, she has repeatedly refused to condemn the actions of the military against the Rohingya, claiming there is not enough evidence to definitively say whether or not a genocide occurred in Rakhine, and blaming “terrorists” for the situation.  Cambodia  The first political prisoners in Cambodia were freed this week following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s promise to release over 70 individuals....

Weekly Report 15 November, 2019

Myanmar     On Thursday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved an investigation into Myanmar’s mistreatment of the Rohingya minority ethnic group. ICC judges have backed a prosecution request to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity committed in Myanmar’s 2017 military crackdown against the Rohingya. The investigation approval came on the heels of a case against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader, who was named in an Argentine lawsuit over crimes against the Rohingya, while Myanmar faced a separate genocide lawsuit at the United Nation’s top court. Though Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, the Hague ruled last year that it has jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya minority because Bangladesh, where they are now refugees, is a member. Myanmar has long denied accusations it committed ethnic cleansing or genocide. Cambodia  The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has ordered the release of 70 opposition activists amongst rising tensions with trade partners. Hun Sen has been in power for 34 years and has received criticism from the international community for human rights abuses and the erasure of free speech; the European Union’s threat to withdraw trade benefits likely prompted the release of opposition activists. Additionally troubling the Hun Sen administration is opposition leader Sam Rainsy; Rainsy recently called for a peaceful uprising by the people of Cambodia and urged military forces not to shoot at protestors. Rainsy went on to criticize Hun Sen’s alleged deal with Beijing that allows a Chinese military base in the country, saying “Cambodia must be neutral”.   Maldives On Thursday, the Maldivian government released a statement strongly condemning Israel’s airstrikes against the...

Weekly Report November 8, 2019

Myanmar    On Tuesday, the Arakan army released 25 people that it seized from a ferry in the war-torn Rakhine State on October 26, according to a spokesperson from the armed ethnic group. The civilians were each given the equivalent of $10 USD for travel expenses, and their personal items returned. The 25 people were among 168 taken from the ferry, resulting in a total of 150 freed since the seizure. Of the 18 remaining hostages, it is unknown how many are still alive. A Rakhine police spokesperson said this week that the suspects from the Arakan Army will face trial under the Anti-Terrorism Law.  The 10 ethnic armed groups that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) have yet to agree on whether to convene a Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM), the highest meeting of the national peace process. The meeting, which is usually attended by top government and military officials as well as the 10 groups, has been indefinitely postponed due to friction between the NCA signatories at an event marking the NCA’s fourth anniversary last week. Cambodia  A Cambodian opposition leader, Mu Sochua, has been detained in Malaysia this week whilst on her way to Cambodia. The Malaysian Prime Minister announced that Sochua will be deported and will not be able to enter her home country. Sochua’s failed efforts to return to Cambodia indicate the likely outcome of fellow opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s attempts to re-enter the nation. Rainsy’s upcoming return to Cambodia has put officials on edge, resulting in the deployment of 20,000 troops; extreme precautionary measures by the Cambodian government have cast doubt on...

Weekly Report November 1, 2019

Myanmar  This Wednesday, two satirical performers from the group “Peacock Generation” were given one-year prison sentences after they were found to be mocking Myanmar’s military. The performers, who were arrested back in April and May, were performing “thangyat” – a traditional show of poetry and dance that has historically been used to mock the country’s leaders since the 19th century. Live-streamed on Facebook, the performance channeled popular anger about the military’s control over the economy. After being held for months at Yangon’s Insein prison and denied bail, the performers have become a symbol for the dire state of freedom of expression in Myanmar. The remaining performers, who face additional charges of defamation, still await their sentences which will be given next month.  Cambodia  Cambodian officials have continued to prepare for the expected return of exiled political leader Sam Rainsy on November 9th. Though there has been speculation as to whether Rainsy will be able to get into Cambodia, the Interior Minister has nonetheless prepared local policymakers for future arrest efforts; he has asked all governors to be present on the weekend of November 9th in order to ensure that Rainsy does not go undetected.   The friendly relations between China and Cambodia were underlined this week by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s praise for Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni. During the celebration of his 15th coronation anniversary, Jinping congratulated Sihamoni for fostering national unity and development in Cambodia. The leaders have a long history of mutual commendation.   Thailand The United States has decided to suspend Thailand’s exemption from trade tariffs due to labor issues. Thai authorities have 6 months to negotiate with...