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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Lack of Details on China Hacking Claim Puzzles Analysts

Lack of Details on China Hacking Claim Puzzles Analysts

A netizen in Leping, Jiangxi province uses a smartphone to browse the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) website, July 17, 2013.
A recent cyberattack on China's country-level .cn domain may not be all that it seems, computer experts said this week.

Beijing's China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which maintains the registry for the top-level domain, announced this week that it was crippled by two distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites using the .cn suffix in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The first started around midnight Beijing time, and service was restored by around 2:00 p.m. local time, CNNIC said in a statement.

The second, which hit at around 4:00 p.m. local time, was the largest ever DDoS attack to hit China's Internet.

Many websites were rendered completely inaccessible or extremely slow to load for an unspecified period of time, it said.

Beijing's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversees CNNIC, has launched "specific contingency plans" to protect national domain name resolution services.

But no details of the attack or the contingency plans were made public, leading cybersecurity experts to question the point of the announcement.

Call for details

Rutgers University computer scientist Zhou Shiyu called on Beijing to make detailed information about the attack public.

"The problem is that there's no evidence that indicates whether this attack came from within China or from overseas," Zhou said. "They must explain this clearly."

"All we know is that [DDoS] attacks are the commonest method of attack," he said.

He added that China was no stranger to carrying out large-scale cyberattacks itself.

"The Chinese government has spent huge amounts of money and resources on developing its ability to carry out online attacks," he said.

Smokescreen attack?

Meanwhile, U.S.-based Internet security analyst Li Hongkuan said the likelihood of Chinese government-backed attacks against the .cn domain existed, but wasn't large.

Beijing could even have staged the attacks as a smokescreen, given that its standard response to allegations of government-backed cyberattacks overseas is that it, too, is the target of such attacks.

"It's quite possible that the Chinese government is a thief crying 'thief,' or that it's bluffing," Li said.

"It's also possible that these attacks came from hackers within China who are critical of the government."

For the time being, CNNIC has apologized for the disruption promised that more details will be made public as soon as they are discovered.


China has rejected claims that its People's Liberation Army (PLA) was behind a series of hacker attacks on U.S. corporate networks described in February report by the security firm Mandiant.

Beijing's Ministry of National Defense denied claims made in a 74-page report by U.S.-based Mandiant which said it had traced a large number of transnational cyberattacks to IP addresses assigned to a building it said belonged to the PLA in Shanghai.

Mandiant said the building was the home of the PLA's cyberespionage "Unit 61398," which it said had stolen data, including intellectual property, from at least 141 companies since 2006.

Mandiant's report said it was "highly unlikely" the Chinese government was unaware of the hacking attacks, and was possibly supporting the cyberespionage.

New York Times

In the same month, The New York Times newspaper accused hackers traced to China of "persistently" infiltrating its computer networks over the last four months, also sparking an angry denial from Beijing.

The paper had hired a team of computer security experts to trace the attacks and block any back doors through which they were gaining access to the system, it said.

Cybersecurity experts said the report should be taken in the context of widespread cyberespionage carried out by a large number of countries.
Read more »

Crowd Protests Planned Incinerator in China's Guangdong Province

Crowd Protests Planned Incinerator in China's Guangdong Province

Protesters were injured in clashes with police during a demonstration over the planned waste incinerator plant in Huadu, Guangdong on July 19, 2013.
Photo courtesy of a protester
Hundreds of people demonstrated outside government buildings in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Thursday over plans to build a waste-incineration plant on their doorstep, residents said.

The protesters hung banners outside government headquarters in Guangdong's Puzhai township, which read "Boycott the garbage incinerator power plant!" "Say no to cancer!" and "Protect the health of future generations!".

The protest is the latest in a string of similar demonstrations in Guangdong against waste incineration power generators, which earn huge sums in government subsidies for every ton of garbage burned.

"[It went on for] one or two hours," a Puzhai resident surnamed Chen said in an interview after the demonstration dispersed peacefully.

He said feelings were running high against the plant in Puzhai, where people fear their health will be ruined by pollution.

"This most certainly cannot be built," Chen said. "All my family, all my relatives, went [to protest]."

'Everyone very worried'

Plans for the waste incineration plant first became known on July 19, after they had progressed as far as the contract-signing stage without local people finding out, according to a post from user @1988niankaishiweile on Monday.

A second Puzhai resident said the government had gone ahead with its plans without any public consultation.

"If they are going to build it here, then they should seek the opinions of local people," said the resident, who declined to give his name.

"Everyone living nearby is very worried about it."

He said local people had first heard about the plans in early August after activists took steps to alert the public about the planned incinerator.
"Some of them were handing out leaflets to all of us around here," the Puzhai resident said. "Ordinary people like us don't get to see [official documents], not even if they are made public."

Growing middle-class movement

Three decades of breakneck economic growth have left Guangdong with a seriously degraded environment, causing a fast-maturing environmental movement to emerge among the region's middle class.

Previous attempts to build similar plants elsewhere in the province have drawn widespread criticism over local government access to the huge potential profits linked to waste disposal projects.

Guangdong authorities last month detained a large number of people who had called for the cancellation of a controversial waste incinerator in Shiling township in the provincial capital Guangzhou's outlying Huadu district.
They had planned to stage a mass march to government offices on July 23 to voice their opposition to the waste project, four days after a 30,000-strong protest led to bloody clashes with the police.

In 2009, during a similar protest in Panyu, local residents said that incinerators could earn 140 yuan (U.S. $20) in government subsidies for every ton of trash burned, which could amount to 480,000 yuan (U.S. $70,000) per day, or 173 million yuan (U.S. $25 million) each year.

Local residents fear the plants will endanger their health and the environment, while officials say Guangdong has to find some way to dispose of mountains of garbage.

Ordinary Chinese people are becoming increasingly active in support of environmental issues in recent years, putting pressure on local governments to implement the country's comprehensive environmental protection laws
Read more »

Vietnam ‘Threatened’ by Chinese, Thai Investments in Laos

Vietnam ‘Threatened’ by Chinese, Thai Investments in Laos

A vehicle drives past an advertisement in Vientiane for a Vietnamese company with a rubber concession in Laos, March 16, 2011.
Vietnam “feels threatened” by increasing Chinese and Thai investment in neighboring Laos and is concerned that the two countries will dethrone it as the top investor there, according to a senior Lao official.

The concern was expressed in a letter from the secretariat of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party to its Lao counterpart, the official told RFA’s Lao Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The letter reaffirmed Vietnam’s aim to be the leading foreign investor in Laos for years to come, said the official, who is a member of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party’s Central Committee.

He said Vietnam felt threatened that the investments from the two other leading investors will eclipse its own.

laos-seasia-map-400.jpgVietnam emerged this year as Laos’s top foreign investor, pumping in a total of U.S. $5 billion in 449 projects in Laos.

Thailand and China are a close second and third, respectively, and all three compete for projects in Laos’s energy, mining, and agriculture sectors.

Thailand has some 760 projects amounting to more than U.S. $4.8 billion and China has more than 800 projects in Laos with a value of about U.S. $4 billion.

Vietnam has planned to increase its investment in Laos to U.S. $7 billion by 2015.

Laos and Vietnam, which have had a special friendship and cooperation agreement since 1978, have in recent years offered each other investment incentives and tax breaks to boost investment and trade.

The two countries plan to increase bilateral trade from about $725 million at present to $2 billion in 2015 and to $5 billion in 2020, according to the Vientiane Times.

Southwestern Laos's Champassak province, known as a tourism, social, and economic hub, has attracted the most investors.

Other leading investors in Laos over the past two decades include South Korea, France, Malaysia, Japan, India, Singapore, and the United States.
Read more »

In Old Tibetans Province Omado- Kham booted by PLA

In Old Tibetans Province Omado- Kham booted by PLA

Chinese police move against Tibetan protesters in Dzatoe, Aug. 16, 2013.
 Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.
Authorities in China’s Qinghai province have warned Tibetans of “serious consequences” if they restart protests against Chinese mining operations after massive demonstrations were violently suppressed, leaving dozens injured, according to sources.

Local Tibetan leaders in Qinghai’s Dzatoe county where the mining activity faced opposition have also been forced to undergo “political education” classes, the sources said, adding that protesters are considering sending a delegation to Beijing to petition authorities for help.

“For now, we have lost, and work on the mines has resumed,” a Tibetan living in Qinghai’s Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) county told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.

“Mine workers escorted by police are moving in groups of two from village to village and are collecting stone samples to check for signs of minerals,” he said, adding, “They have warned local Tibetans that they should stay away.”

“Otherwise, we will face serious consequences,” he said.

'Political education'

Meanwhile, Chinese officials have begun a three-month of program of political education for Tibetan county, township, and village leaders at the Dzatoe county center, the source said.

The course began on Aug. 26, he said.

“It is said that after the leaders are trained, a program to enhance ‘political knowledge’ will also be started for the general public,” he said.

“Local Tibetans believe that this is a Chinese ploy to distract them from their protests against the mines, so that mining activity can proceed without obstruction.”

Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of polluting the environment and disrupting sites of spiritual significance.

Difficult to predict

On Aug. 15-16, hundreds of Tibetan villagers blocked work at three mining sites—Atoe, Dzachen, and Chidza—in Dzatoe county, sparking clashes with Chinese security forces in Atoe and Dzachen that left eight detained and dozens injured.

Work has now resumed at Atoe, while miners are set to start work at Dzachen and developments at Chidza remain unclear.

All but one of those detained in the protests have now been released, RFA’s source said, adding, “Ketsa Sonam, who disappeared early in the protests, is still missing."

Claiming that the Dzatoe mining sites fall within an area described by China’s central government as a protected area, protesters now plan to send a delegation to Beijing to petition authorities for help, RFA’s source said.

“It is difficult to predict the outcome, though,” he said.

Chinese citizens who press complaints in China’s capital against government abuses have increasingly been targeted for punishment by officials, with many reporting being ignored by complaints bureaus, detained in unofficial “black jails,” beaten, and harassed.
Read more »

SAARC pledges to strengthen regional economic integration

SAARC pledges to strengthen regional economic integration

The 6th SAARC Finance Ministerial Meeting concluded in Colombo on Friday, passing a resolution to strengthen economic integration in the region.
Participating finance ministers at the meeting expressed commitment to make collective efforts for protecting the region from adverse effects of financial crisis that other major economic in the world are facing. They also expressed worries over weakening local currencies against US dollar, energy crisis and rising price of petroleum products.

The meeting has decided to speed up implementation of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) - a trade agreement to boost regional trade -- by removing existing tariff and non-tariff barriers and enhancing mutual cooperation in key sectors of economy such as tourism and agriculture.

The meeting has cleared the way for SAARC Investment Fund, which has so far been investing on social projects, to expand its programs to economic and infrastructure sectors. It also passed a resolution to organize the meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers and Finance Secretaries in Nepal in 2014.

Addressing the meeting, Finance Minister Shanker Prasad Koirala stressed the need to launch people-centric economic activities for the benefit of people in the region. Saying that trade and investments are keys to trigger inclusive economic growth, he urged countries in the eight-member bloc to double their efforts for removing the roadblocks in regional trade.

Koirala also underscored the necessity to carry forward the concept of SAARC Energy Ring and the regional energy trade.
Expressing concern over the continued depreciation of local currencies against US dollar, Koirala asked member countries to put collective efforts for addressing the problem. He also said the member countries should work for closer economic integration in terms of monetary and fiscal measures such as currency convertibility, common customs union, harmonization of standards, reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, and investment promotion in key economic sectors.

“We can reap the benefits of regional cooperation through active participation of private sector in the exchange of trade, commerce and financial cooperation,” he added.
Read more »

India preparing road map for SAARC electricity grid

India preparing road map for SAARC electricity grid

State-run Power Grid is preparing a road map for setting up an electricity grid to connect SAARC nations including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The feasibility study for an under sea line with Sri Lanka is being finalised, according to transmission utility Power Grid Corp.

In its annual report for 2012-13, the company said it continues to play an active role in "preparing a road map for developing South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) market for electricity to develop a cross country power grid".

The proposed cross country grid is being envisaged for harnessing each SAARC nation's capacities and resources to address growing energy needs in the region. India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are part of SAARC.

Among others, India plans to export electricity to Pakistan. "... discussions at government level are being held for interconnection between India and Pakistan through Amritsar (India)-Lahore (Pakistan) line," the report said.

For interconnection between India and Sri Lanka, feasibility study for a 400kV, 500/1,000 MW under sea HVDC bipole line is under finalisation, the report said.

Besides, a transmission line between India and Nepal for transfer of bulk power is under finalisation. An electricity transmission line with Bangladesh which is being implemented, is expected to be completed by 2013.

Already, India has electricity inter connections with Bhutan and Nepal.

For evacuation of power from various upcoming hydel projects in Bhutan, Power Grid is working on another transmission line, which is expected to be ready by 2015.

Currently, Power Grid has more than 1 lakh circuit km of transmission lines.
Read more »

India's foreign policy is shrinking now

India's foreign policy is shrinking now

Pakistan, Russia vow cooperation in energy, power generation

Pakistan and Russia wrapped up their first strategic dialogue with a commitment to remaining engaged and maintaining the momentum in the relationship.
“Both sides noted with satisfaction the growing understanding between the two countries and discussed in detail the state of bilateral relations. They reaffirmed their commitment to further deepening and diversifying the bilateral relationship to their mutual benefit,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office on the conclusion of the strategic dialogue said on Friday.

At the talks held at the foreign secretaries’ level in Moscow, the Pakistani side was led by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Russia’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Gennadievich Titov led his side. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov also participated in the consultations.

The dialogue, the Foreign Office says, lays an institutional framework for building closer relations between the two countries through discussions for cooperation in political, economic, defence and other sectors. The two sides exchanged views on regional and international developments. Broadly, Pakistan and Russia agreed for more high-level contacts, closely coordinating positions on regional and international issues, and expanding trade and investment relations and cooperation in the field of energy and power generation.

Pakistan and Russia, which have a history of estrangement and remained on opposite sides during the cold war era, now look to have policy convergences on a number of international issues, including Afghanistan and Syria. This similarity in views coupled with growing warmth in defence ties has helped the two countries to come close.
Read more »

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Rising Muslim-Buddhist tensions in Sri Lanka

Rising Muslim-Buddhist tensions in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, 12 June 2013 (IRIN) - An increasing number of Muslim Sri Lankans, who make up around 9 percent of the population, are feeling uneasy amid fears of growing sectarian tensions, say local people and observers. 

“We just don’t feel we belong here any more,” Fadhil Ahamed, who works in a food store in Colombo, told IRIN. “I had a shop where I sold halal food, but several Buddhist monks who were aligned with a government politician told me not to sell halal food as this was a Sinhalese Buddhist country.” 

There is increasing fear within Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim community, the 54-year-old said, and many feel they are being targeted by ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups because of their faith. 

"Tensions are clearly on the rise. There is a lot the government and especially the police can do to handle this situation. It does not look like this is happening, and thus tensions are on a high as we speak,” said Ahamed Lebbe, a former school teacher and community activist in Batticaloa. 

In recent months, groups led by Buddhist monks have spread allegations that Muslims have been dominating businesses, while at the same time claiming they are trying to take over the country by increasing their birthrate, local media reports say. 

Sinhalese-Buddhists comprise almost 75 percent of the country’s 20 million people, according to the Department of Statistics and Census. 


In May, Azard Sally, an outspoken Muslim politician and a former deputy mayor of Colombo, was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorist Act, for “instigating communalism”, according to police sources. 

Sally is an outspoken critic of a new hardline Sinhalese Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Strength Force), which since February 2013 has reportedly attacked a number of Muslim-owned commercial establishments, and agitated against certain religious practices, including the halal system of slaughtering animals for Muslims. 

Sally is also a vocal critic of the government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and blames the authorities for allowing an anti-Muslim campaign that culminated in an arson attack on two Muslim-owned businesses in March. 

Though released on 10 May, his arrest underscores growing anxiety among many Sri Lankan Muslims. 

"It seems as if they [the government] pervert the law to arrest anybody who stands to protect the Muslim community," said Fatima Mira, a university student from Colombo. 

“When Sinhalese extremists attack Muslims, the government watches as spectators, while when Muslim politicians stand up for their community, they are arrested and painted as terrorists,” the 32-year-old said - a sentiment echoed by others. 

“There is no peace for Muslims this year in Sri Lanka," said 46-year-old Muslim Colombo resident Hazeel Segu, a local community leader. 

Polarized society 

According to Jehan Perera, who heads the National Peace Council in Colombo, Sri Lanka continues to be a polarized and fragmented society at various levels - economic, social, religious and political, more than four years after the country’s 26-year civil war officially came to an end. This has led to a lack of communication and acute mistrust between parties on different sides of various divides, including Buddhists and Muslims. 

“There is a sense of exclusion among communities, who feel they are not being included in national decision-making and in enjoying the fruits of development,” Perera said. 

Since 18 May 2009, when government forces declared victory over the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), who had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland for more than 25 years, the country has failed to make a successful transition to a sustainable peace, said Dayan Jayatilleka, former Sri Lankan ambassador (2007-2009) to the UN in Geneva. 

“The blocked transition is due to the unwillingness of both major communities [Sinhalese and Tamil] to be self-critical and to reach out to one another in order to forge a new social contract,” he told IRIN. 

Moreover, the recent upsurge of anti-Muslim rhetoric from Sinhala Buddhist extremist groups like Bodhu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya has rekindled fears of an inter-communal conflict, said Jayatilleka. 

Call for more inclusive government 

Meanwhile, Rajiva Wijesinha, a ruling party MP and Sri Lanka's former secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, described recent agitation by certain groups as “counterproductive”, and has called on the government to do more to mitigate racial and religious tensions. 

“What [the] government must do is be much more inclusive and have more discussion between all parties and make it very clear that the government rejects extremisms in all its forms,” Wijesinha said. 

“While we understand that there are fears of certain groups, we cannot allow fears to dominate the discourse. Driving concepts should be concepts of national unity and sympathy for others. One very simple thing that government can do is to arrest people who are engaged in violence and it is disgraceful that this has not been done. The fact that Azard Sally was arrested for a comment shows a complete bias.” 
Read more »

Bangladesh apparel export to India rises on tariff concession

Bangladesh apparel export to India rises on tariff concession

Bangladesh’s export of apparel products to India rose by about 37% to US$75m in the fiscal year 2012-13 thanks to duty-free and quota-free access of some textile products into Indian market.
The earnings increased from $55m in the fiscal 2011-12, after India offered the tariff concession to 46 textile products of greatest sensitivity from September 2011.

In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported knitwear worth over $14m, an increase of about 12% compared to the previous fiscal year’s value of about $13m.

“Bangladesh has bright export potential in India as the country is densely populated and has strong middle-class consumers,” said a BGMEA director.

He said garment exports to India are increasing due to high demands for Bangladeshi products like trousers, shirts, blouses, skirts, kids wear, cotton nightwear and jeans.

Woven garments worth $61m was exported during the period, which was more than 42% higher compared to $42m of the previous fiscal year.

“Bangladesh’s garment export to India increased due to the tariff concession and geographical proximity, but we could not achieve expected growth,” Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) told the Dhaka Tribune.

To achieve the target, the government and stakeholders in the sector should showcase the products in different states of India through holding fairs, he said.

If Bangladesh takes measures to cut a slice from the huge Indian market, Salam said it can become the second big destination for the country’s apparel products.

About the possible impact of substantial devaluation of Indian Rupee against dollar, Murshedy said it would have little impact on our RMG exports as the manufacturers, at the same time, will get inputs at lower prices.

RMG exports may face a setback in the days ahead due to devaluation of the Rupee as the Indian consumers would cut consumption, said a senior official of EPB.

He, however, argued the local manufacturers will also get the privilege of lower import cost for raw materials, which would allow them to cut the export products too.

Bangladesh’s overall exports to India rose to about $564m in 2012-13, which is more than 13% higher compared to the previous year’s $498m.

Readymade garment exports from Bangladesh to India have seen a significant jump, said a statement of Indian High Commission to Bangladesh.

Item-wise break-up of Bangladeshi exports to India reveal that textile fibres, paper yarn, and woven fabric constitute about 24% of the exports followed by other man made textile articles, which constitute about 14%.
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First-ever Pakistan-Russia Strategic Dialogue in Moscow today

First-ever Pakistan-Russia Strategic Dialogue in Moscow today

Pakistan and Russia are all set for the first ever Strategic Dialogue that is aimed at upgrading political, diplomatic, economic and defence relations.
The inaugural session of the Dialogue begins in Moscow today (Wednesday) with Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani leading the Pakistan side.
The decision to have this dialogue at foreign secretary-level was taken by the two countries last year. The dialogue could subsequently be upgraded to the level of foreign ministers, just like the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue.
Diplomatic sources told The Nation that the two sides will discuss bilateral economic, political, defence and security cooperation. Regional and global issues of mutual interests will also figure in the dialogue, including the Afghanistan situation. Notably both the countries have general convergence of views on key international issues including Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Disarmament, counter-terrorism, drug-trafficking and global security are also among the key areas of convergence between the two countries at bilateral and multilateral levels.
For Islamabad the initiation of a strategic dialogue with Moscow assumes special significance as Russia is a major global power and is now effectively asserting itself as one of the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council.
Pakistan has ongoing defence cooperation with Russia and prospects of it bolstering are evident by recent exchange of visits by the military top brass on both sides. In a significant development military Chiefs of both the countries exchanged visits for the first time recently.
Pakistan’s army chief Gen Ashfaq Kiyani visited Moscow last year and the Russian Air chief visited here earlier this month. Diplomatic sources refer to the exchange of visits as a signal of mutual interest in augmenting collaboration in the key areas of defence and security.
Pakistan and Russia have been exploring the prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation through joint economic projects in the areas such as energy, power, railways, telecommunications and IT. Russia, which is one of the world’s leading energy producers, has offered Pakistan collaboration in oil exploration and its major transportation projects.
The two countries have had collaboration in the area of space and satellite technology and in the aviation field.
At present the two-way trade between Pakistan and Russia stands at almost US $542 million with the balance tilting in favour of Russia. The numbers are considered far low and the potential of increased trade is estimated in vicinity of US $4 billion.
Russia has been supportive of Pakistan becoming full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Pakistan has also shown its eagerness to develop strong political ties with Russia. In June 2005 Pakistan supported Russia’s bid for observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and in turn Russia helped Pakistan obtain the observer status in the SCO.
Pakistan’s relations with Russia have been growing over the past decade with top-level political and diplomatic engagement. Pakistan’s Parliament and its envoys have repeatedly advocated the need for stronger ties with Russia during debate and discussions on Pakistan’s foreign policy priorities. Think tanks and former diplomats also appear to agree to this view.
Moscow re-established a political dialogue with Islamabad in February 2003 when President Musharraf visited Russia. However, due to Russia’s active engagement with India not much headway could be made on this front at that time.
President Musharraf blamed Moscow’s pro-India policy as an obstacle in the qualitative development of Pakistan-Russia relations in the post-Cold war world. 
Moscow and Islamabad have been cooperating in the UN and on key international issues. Both share the view on the need for a multi-polar world and the centrality of the UN role in the world affairs. -The Nation
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Mosques declared terrorism organisations by NYPD: Report

Mosques declared terrorism organisations by NYPD: Report

This means that anyone attending the prayer service can potentially be investigated and go under surveillance. PHOTO: AFP
NEW YORK: The New York Police Department (NYPD) has secretly label entire mosques as terrorism organisations, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
The label has allowed the department to spy on imams and record sermons without having specific evidence of criminal activities.
This means that anyone attending the prayer service is part of organisation and can potentially be investigated and go under surveillance.
As per confidential police documents and interviews, NYPD has initiated more than a dozen “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques following the terror attacks on World Trade Centers (WTC) in New York.
Although mosques have never been charged for a criminal activity in New York, many TEIs have expanded to continue the on-going surveillance. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.
The confidential document also reveals that NYPD investigated numerous innocent Muslims and kept their information in secret files. According to interviews with federal law enforcement officials, as NYPD conducts at least a dozen enterprise investigations, FBI never did one.
Following the strategy, NYPD has also sent numerous undercover officers into mosques in order to plant informants in the Islamic institutions.
The documents were disclosed in a lawsuit against NYPD accusing the department over racial profiling while combating crime. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the department’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional.
Two groups in the US, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have sued NYPD stating that the investigation programs are unlawful and an obstacle for Muslims to practice their faith with freedom.
These accusations have been denied by the Police Commissioner and Mayor Mike Bloomberg stating that the police do not target people without a lead.
The NYPD spokesman also refused to comment on the matter.
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Militant wings of political parties involved in Karachi violence: DG Rangers

Militant wings of political parties involved in Karachi violence: DG Rangers

KARACHI: Claiming that the situation in Karachi improved after Supreme Court’s verdict in the law and order suo motu case, DG Rangers Major General Rizwan Akhtar said that militant wings of political parties are responsible for the ongoing violence in the city, Express News reported on Wednesday.
The DG Rangers appeared before the apex court’s Karachi registry today for proceedings regarding implementation of orders passed in the suo motu case.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry headed the five-member bench, which also comprises Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, as its members.
Explaining the recent surge in violence, the DG Rangers said the political parties were receiving Fitra during Ramazan and the situation was calm in the city but as the money has stopped coming in, the political parties are creating problems.
He further said that violence increases as soon as political workers are released from police custody on bail.
Issuing remarks on the comments made by the DG Rangers, the chief justice questioned who will terminate the militant wings.
The proceedings are based on a suo motu notice taken by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after the city went through one of its bloodiest summers in August 2011.
The five-judges had passed a detailed judgment which contained various orders and directions on how to control lawlessness in the port city. A year later, the apex court had initiated follow-up proceedings to see to what extent the authorities at different levels had implemented its orders. The proceedings, starting today, are a part of the follow-up to check the implementation of the court’s orders.
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‘Entire country suffering from violence in Karachi’

‘Entire country suffering from violence in Karachi’

“After the May11 elections, we hoped the law and order situation would improve but the scenario has become worse,” Sirajul Haq. PHOTO: INP/ FILE
Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif should take immediate steps to nab those involved in heinous crimes as the entire country is suffering from the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi.
This was said by a senior minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Jamaat-i -Islami leader, Sirajul Haq, while speaking at a programme at the Karachi Press Club, on Monday. “After the May11 elections, we hoped the law and order situation would improve but the scenario has become worse.” He urged the central government and the provincial governments to step up and unite on a one-point agenda to save democracy.
Prolonged load-shedding, abject poverty, increased lawlessness and the deteriorating law and order situation in the country have discouraged people.
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Bo Xilai: Trial or Theater?

Bo Xilai: Trial or Theater?

Chinese police surround a protester (C) outside the Intermediate People's Court where Bo Xilai will go on trial in Jinan, Shandong Province, Aug. 21, 2013.
August 22 will be an important day: Maybe. The eyes of the world are on the Bo Xilai case, but it would be better to focus on the process of this "trial," rather than on any "judgment" which results from it.

Because this trial is taking place in the People's Republic of China, where the judicial system has a bad reputation. Under our state system, with its Chinese characteristics, fair-minded lawyers and upstanding judges are marginalized.

Even the [former] president of the Supreme People's Court, Dong Biwu (1886-1975) suffered injustice and was pushed aside after 1957, because he argued that the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party shouldn't be allowed to interfere in judicial decisions.

The rule of law has lost battle after battle, while authoritarian power has won, time and again. The legal system has become the slave of power, merely there for decoration.

Mao Zedong, a first-generation core member of the Communist Party, espoused lawlessness and complacency, while second-generation leader Deng Xiaoping made himself world famous by opposing the separation of powers.

If a case involves a political figure, or political factors, or will have political consequences in China, then a courtroom becomes a theater, and trials merely plays.

Everything revolves around the Party's public image, or its inner workings. There is no longer any such thing as legal or illegal.

However, no-one else is allowed to disparage the court. Courts at every level only exist as compliant tools of the Party.

In the space of about three years, [former premier] Hu Yaobang directed the overturning of millions of miscarriages of justice. These figures show us just how rotten China's judicial system has become.

When [former premier] Zhao Ziyang was in power, the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Party committees at every level swore off involvement in individual cases. It's a shame that these policies died with the person [who instituted them]. Since then, there has been an unending stream of new miscarriages of justice.

The Party central leadership has brought members of the Politburo to trial in the 80s and 90s of the last century, and in the early years of this century.

The trial of the "Gang of Four" created, in a unique experience, four devils and a savior, while the trial of the "Lin Biao Counterrevolutionary Clique" established as cast-iron truths the bizarre myths that Lin Biao was "a traitor who planned to betray his country" and "was planning to assassinate Mao Zedong."

The trial of former Beijing Party secretary Chen Xitong, meanwhile, revolved entirely around a specific aim, and succeeded in suppressing the right of the defendent to argue in his own defense.

Former Shanghai Party secretary Chen Liangyu was subjected to a highly selective trial, in which the minor charges against him were emphasized, while the major ones were ignored.

All of this kept the leaders and the criminals happy, but the real victims lost out, as did the lawyer who represented them, Mr. Zheng Enchong.

All of these past events have become a matter of casual gossip. Now there is a new leader, yet another Politburo member, who will be climbing into the dock very soon.

Those on the outside can only wait and see whether the China dream will be able to revive the dead spirit of the law: perhaps it will, and perhaps it won't.
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Veiled Muslim Uyghur Woman Evicted from Rented Home

Veiled Muslim Uyghur Woman Evicted from Rented Home

A notice in Chinese from the Ceramic Factory Neighborhood Committee indicates that Arzugul Memet's residence was sealed on Aug. 16, 2013.
 Photo courtesy of an RFA listener
Authorities in China’s Xinjiang region have evicted a Muslim Uyghur woman from her rental property for wearing a veil covering her face, despite having no legal basis to do so, claiming that the action was taken for “security reasons.”

Arzugul Memet was informed on Aug. 4 in writing by her neighborhood residence committee that her apartment in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi would be sealed because she “did not cooperate with our … rule against covering up and wearing a face veil,” according to a notice hung on her door.

The notice, issued by the Tengritagh district’s Ceramic Factory Neighborhood Committee, was based on general rules for renting of homes in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to a copy of the document provided to RFA’s Uyghur Service by an area resident.

Officials said the action was taken based on security grounds, indicating that they were unable to identify Arzugul Memet as her face was covered. But there are no specific laws in Xinjiang, home of the mostly Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs, barring veiled women from renting homes.

A copy of a second notice from the neighborhood committee, also posted on the door, confirmed that the order to seal the residence had been carried out on Aug. 16.

According to a report on Uyghur Online, a website managed by Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti which discusses social issues and news from Xinjiang, Arzugul Memet was given 72 hours from the date the notice was served to vacate the premises.

Attempts to contact her were unsuccessful, as she had already left the neighborhood and her whereabouts were unknown.

‘Public security’

RFA contacted an official with the local residential management office who confirmed that Arzugul Memet had been evicted from her apartment, despite a lack of a legal basis to do so.

“Yes. We dealt with her issue, so what,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We do not have any law that says we are not allowed to rent houses out to Uyghurs who cover themselves, but it has been administered like that in our district across the board.”

The official said that the internal regulation for the residential management office was a matter of “public security.”

“If they cover themselves up completely, how can we match their IDs if we cannot see their faces when we go to check on them? How do we know who is coming into the building and who is going out,” he asked.

“This is a matter of public security.”

A notice in Uyghur from the Ceramic Factory Neighborhood Committee dated Aug. 4, 2013, informs Arzugul Memet of her eviction. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener
Daily checks

The official said that ID checks of residents are carried out daily and that if women who cover their faces do not comply with orders to remove their veils, they are told to “move to other places where they do not have such regulations.”

“Especially when they leave, they must show their faces. The rule here is: show your face or return to your hometown where you belong.”

He said that the regulation had been in effect since July 5, 2009, when clashes in Urumqi between the minority Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese left some 200 people dead and 1,700 injured, according to official media reports.

“We have to make sure that there will be no covered-up ladies here in our district. That is the order,” he said.

“We cannot be humane here, because [our superiors] are not going to be humane to us. I do not want to lose my job.”

‘Orders from the top’

A neighborhood committee worker, who also spoke to RFA on condition that her name be withheld, said that she knew about Arzugul Memet’s case, adding that while she disagrees with the policy, she felt compelled to enforce it at the risk of losing her livelihood.

“That is correct, she was a covered-up woman,” the worker said of Arzugul Memet.

“We cannot do anything about it but carry out the orders from the top … We have nothing to do with this policy.”

The worker reiterated that orders were to force covered women to show their faces or they would not be allowed to rent a home.

“[Unrest] is happening in other parts of our region so [officials] are afraid for their safety and ordered us to do this, I think. We have no choice,” she said.

“But people do not like this policy which forces them to uncover their faces.”

The worker said that officials from the neighborhood committee usually speak with the apartment owners first and ask them to tell their tenants not to cover their faces, but would also pressure them not to rent their properties to women who wear veils.

“We have orders that if covered women come to our offices we will not serve them. Period.”

Recent violence

Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang regularly complain of strict religious controls, including curbs on traditional and Islamic dress and appearance such as men’s beards and women’s veils.

Xinjiang has seen a spate of violence across the region in recent months that has led to a crackdown, with hundreds of Uyghurs detained for questioning by the authorities.

Chinese authorities usually blame the outbreaks on "terrorists" among the region's ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs, but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against Uyghurs.

Uyghurs in Xinjiang say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness, blaming their hardships partly on a massive influx of Han Chinese into the region.
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Tibetans Clash with Chinese Poachers in a Protected Zone

Tibetans Clash with Chinese Poachers in a Protected Zone

Tibetan herders drive their herd of yaks in Qinghai's Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, March 30, 2012.
Tibetan villagers assigned to guard protected forests in a Tibetan prefecture in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have clashed for a second time with Chinese poachers who appear to be shielded by the authorities, according to a local source.

The July 22-23 confrontation in the Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Pema (Banma) county followed the killing of wildlife in the officially protected area, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“This year, several Chinese poachers entered the Chapayang forest in the Markok Chenpo area and killed a number of animals,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They set up wire traps in the forest and killed several deer, musk deer, and monkeys,” he said.

When local Tibetans heard about the poaching, the second such incident within a year, “a group of 20 Tibetans went to the site and confronted the Chinese poachers,” the man said.

The poachers responded by throwing stones and clubbing the Tibetans assigned by officials to protect the area with “iron bars,” and the Tibetans in turn struck at the Chinese with their fists, injuring several, he said.

“Though police arrived at the site, they did not resolve the issue and left,” he said.

Authorities 'don't respond'

When poachers had hunted in the area the year before, local Tibetans enforcing the protected area had seized the men’s belongings and appealed to local authorities to take action against them, RFA’s source said.

They never learned that anything had been done, though, he said, adding, “Whenever local Tibetans raise concerns about this issue, the authorities don’t respond.”

Directives from China’s central government urging protection of Tibet’s vulnerable environment are often flouted at the local level by Han Chinese migrants to the region, experts say.

“Despite wildlife protection laws and nature reserves, the general direction seems to be to remove wildness from those lands still possessing it,” said University of Montana conservationist Richard B. Harris in a 2008 article, “Wildlife Conservation in China: Preserving the Habitat of China’s Wild West.”

“The future … is one that I believe the Chinese themselves, both in the western plains and the eastern cities, will ultimately come to regret.”
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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Imam Stabbed to Death After Supporting Crackdown Against Uyghurs

Imam Stabbed to Death After Supporting Crackdown Against Uyghurs

Local residents mill about the street in front of Abdurehim Damaolla's house in Turpan city on Aug. 16, 2013 on the morning after he was stabbed to death.
 Photo courtesy of an RFA listener
A Uyghur Muslim religious leader in China’s restive western Xinjiang region has been stabbed to death after calling members of his ethnic minority community involved in June violence "terrorists" and backing a government crackdown against them, residents and officials said.

Authorities have deployed extra police and security forces following Wednesday night’s attack on the imam in Turpan city, which comes after a slew of deadly clashes in the Muslim Uyghur region in recent months, including deadly June 26 clashes in Lukchun township also in Turpan prefecture.

Abdurehim Damaolla, 74, deputy chairman of Turpan city’s government-affiliated Islamic Association and linked to a powerful national political advisory body, was stabbed in front of his home after returning home from leading evening prayers at Kazihan Mosque, according to local residents and officials.

Police have apprehended two suspects in the killing and are searching for a third, according to officials at the city’s United Front Work Department, an agency under the command of the Central Committee of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Police have not issued a report or made any announcement about the assassination of  the Abdurehim Damaolla, the officials said, but had told them that three men were involved in the incident.

One Turpan resident told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Abdurehim Damaolla had likely been targeted by his attackers because he had helped police apprehend suspects wanted in connection with the Lukchun violence.

The imam had given police “key information” about their whereabouts while they were hiding in Turpan that had led to their arrest, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

'Pro-state and pro-party'

Local officials at the United Front Work Department—which is tasked with guiding religious and ethnic policy—said Abdurehim Damaolla had been targeted because of his support for strict policies in the wake of the Lukchun crackdown.

“He was a pro-state and pro-party senior religious figure in our city,” Alim Ablimit, a United Front Work Department official in charge of religious affairs in the district where the Kazihan Mosque is located.

“He was targeted simply because of his firm stance against the ‘three forces,’” he said, referring to the “three evils” of separatism, extremism, and terrorism that the Xinjiang government has vowed to crack down on.

Chinese authorities blame outbreaks of violence in the region on Uyghur "terrorists," but rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against Uyghurs.

Local anger

Abdurehim Damaolla had angered some members of the local community by referring to those involved in the Lukchun violence as “terrorists,” according to Alim Ablimit.

State media have said the Lukchun incident occurred after police opened fire on Uyghurs who had attacked local police stations with knives as part of a planned “terrorist attack.”

Chinese authorities said 35 people were killed in the violence in a predominantly Uyghur township but officials and residents said the death toll was at least 46.

Uyghurs in Turpan were also angry that the imam had advocated a government-introduced policy discouraging Uyghurs from wearing beards or headscarves as part of curbs on traditional and Islamic dress, Alim Sattar, another United Front Work Department official said.

The city had stepped up political education propaganda efforts, including strict enforcement of policies discouraging beards and headscarves in the wake of the Lukchun unrest, he said. 

Toeing the party line

Abdurehim Damaolla had taken on a strong role in such efforts and received warnings from unknown persons and had been involved in disputes with those who disagreed with his toeing the party line.

"Just two weeks ago he was in a dispute with some young guys who were disappointed with his praising CPP policies at a funeral ceremony,” Alim Ablimit said.

“The youths’ anger was only stopped [from boiling over] that day because of the police’s warnings and intervention in the dispute,” he said.

Last month officials had had to cancel one public meeting on the beards and headscarves policy planned at the Kazihan Mosque “out of concern for Abdurehim Damaolla’s safety” after he received warnings from unknown persons not to speak there, Alim Sattar said.

Abdurehim Damaolla, who had eight children, was known as an outspoken imam who was experienced in defusing conflicts, according to Alim Sattar.

Three years ago, he had prevented a riot in nearby Chatqal village where tensions were running high after 25 people died in a dynamite explosion linked to official negligence, Ablim Sattar said.

His death follows a slew of violence across Xinjiang that over the past two months has left about 70 dead, including the Lukchun incident, the worst in the region since July 5, 2009 ethnic unrest in the capital Urumqi triggered a massive crackdown.

Last week, at least three Uyghurs were killed in Aksu prefecture’s Aykol town when security forces opened fire at a crowd trying to stop police from arresting suspects outside a mosque on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Uyghurs in Xinjiang say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness, blaming their hardships partly on a massive influx of Han Chinese into the region.
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