News in Asia

MYANMAR (AL JAZEERA) Renewed violence between Rohingya and Buddhists in Western Myanmar has displaced more than 22,000 people according to the UN. The unrest has killed dozens and razed whole neighborhoods, mostly Muslim communities. There have been increasing tensions between the Buddhist majority and the stateless Muslim Rohingya minority since June when deadly violence broke out. There were already tens of thousands of people living in camps around Sittwe, the state capital of Rakhine state already. Now the estimated number of displaced people has reached about 100,000. Security forces have been deployed to the affected areas and the UN has already started mobilising to take food and shelter to displaced communities; however, more resources will be needed very quickly. Images released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) show satellite images of a highly populated coastal community reduced to ashes; “a near total destruction” of a predominantly Rohingya part of Kyaukpyu. “Burma’s government urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Arakan [Rakhine] State, who are under vicious attack,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy Asia director. The UN is concerned that Myanmar’s fledgling democracy could be irrevocably harmed by the violence. Rohingya are officially stateless and though many have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are seen largely as intruders from neighbouring Bangladesh who steal scarce land.

INDONESIA (BBC, AL JAZEERA) Indonesian police arrested 11 people who were suspected of planning attacks on Western targets, including the US embassy and a mining company whose offices are near the Australian embassy. The suspects were arrested in raids Friday and Saturday in four provinces and belonged to a new group  called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or HASMI according to national police spokesman Suhardi Alius. A number of bombs, explosive materials, a bomb-making manual and ammunition were seized. Videos and images of violence against Muslims from all over the world were also recovered. Alius said the group planned to target the US embassy in Jakarta and a plaza near the Australian embassy and the local office of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, plus the US consulate in Surabaya and the headquarters of a special police force in Central Java. It was unclear if the group is connected to more established militant groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah. An investigator who spoke 0n condition of anonymity said HASMI’s apparent leader, Abu Hanifah, was a Jemaah Islamiyah sympathiser. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has been battling militants since the 2002 bombings in Bali by a group linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

CHINA (AL JAZEERA) Censors in China have blocked searches related to the New York Times as well as the newspaper’s websites, after it published an investigation into the wealth of the Chinese premier’s family. The words “New York Times” in Chinese and “NYT” were blocked on Friday on the popular social networking website Sina Weibo, which is similar to Twitter. The paper’s accounts on Sina Weibo were also deleted on Friday. Searches for premier “Wen Jiabao” were also blocked. The NYT launched a Chinese-language website in June, “designed to bring New York Times journalism to China”, the company said. That website, and its English equivalent, were inaccessible to ordinary Chinese users on Friday. The paper reported that Wen’s family had controlled assets worth $2.7 billion according to filings seen by the newspaper from 1992-2012. This is in contradiction to Wen’s image as a self-made man from humble origins, a reformer who fights abuse and corruption within the party. After a thorough investigation, the paper found that many relatives of Wen, who is the number two man within the Chinese government, had become very wealthy during his time in office. The businesses and investments of Wen’s wife, son and mother were worth at least $2.7 billion.

Other News and Tidbits

In Taiwan, a record of over 50,000 people from across Taiwan and abroad marched through the streets of Taipei Saturday afternoon for the 2012 LGBT Pride Parade, with many calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Thai authorities arrested a truck driver after 16 tiger cubs were discovered in the back of his vehicle (this includes a video of adorable baby tigers.)

There is an interesting piece on the battle of perceptions in South Korea over foreign retailers vs. “mom and pop” stores.

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

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