TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has won a power struggle with officials of Turkmenistan’s government who played key roles in building and maintaining the oppressive regime of his predecessor, and who helped bring the new president to power. It remains unclear, however, whether Berdymukhammedov intends to use his consolidated power to continue down the dictatorial path of former leader Saparmurat Niyazov, or to institute promised reforms. The influential head of the presidential security service, Akmurad Rejepov, who served the late Niyazov loyally for nearly 20 years, was removed from office in mid-May. While Turkmenistan’s state television said Rejepov […]

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Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a new weekly column on the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. CHINESE LABOR PRACTICES — Revelations concerning widespread abuse of workers in brick kilns continue to shake China, where authorities have arrested dozens amid growing calls for the resignations of Communist Party officials linked to kiln owners and the adoption of new municipal and regional regulations to halt the practices. Shanxi’s provincial government Wednesday enacted new regulations banning the purchase of cheap clay bricks for all cities beginning at the end of next year, while […]

HERAT, Afghanistan — Thirteen-year-old Morvary’s face had melted away as a candle does, with only the faintest of breaths as proof she was still alive after setting herself ablaze. Mummified in white gauze and full of morphine to ease the pain of third-degree burns covering her entire body, she died two days later at Herat regional hospital, yet another victim in this conservative Western province where nearly 100 self-immolation cases were recorded last year. Human rights officials and doctors say the real number is much higher since only those who seek help are registered and even then causes are not […]

DENPASAR, Indonesia — After a military-civilian clash over disputed land in East Java turned deadly last month, outraged locals are urging Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to act decisively in taming trigger-happy soldiers and reigniting the stalled reform of the Indonesian armed forces. The incident is bound to echo in Washington, where some legislators in the now Democrat-controlled Congress have shown signs of uneasiness over President George W. Bush’s 2005 decision to resume U.S. ties and funding to the Indonesian military, also known as the TNI. The latest uproar was precipitated May 30 when Indonesian marines fired on protestors gathered […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a new weekly column on the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. HUMAN TRAFFICKING A MAJOR GLOBAL PROBLEM: The U.S. State Department released its annual victims of human trafficking report on Tuesday, looking at the situation in 164 countries and ranking countries on their individual efforts to combat the trade. The annual report ranks countries on a three-tier system: Tier 1 includes countries that are extremely active in protecting trafficking victims; Tier 2 countries are those that may be falling short but are making significant efforts; […]

HONG KONG — Pakistan’s main lawyer’s organization plans to fight until Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is removed from power, according to an attorney representing Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhry, whose dismissal from Pakistan’s Supreme Court earlier this spring sparked a nationwide backlash that threatens Musharraf’s grip on power. Musharraf suspended Chaudhry March 9, leading to the largest political protests Pakistan has seen in 24 years. Pakistan’s lawyers, or “blackcoats” as Pakistanis have taken to calling them, were among the first to protest in the wake of Chaudhry’s suspension. Television images of lawyers battered by government police forces helped galvanize the nationwide […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a new weekly column covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. GOING DIGITAL ON DARFUR — Amnesty International launched a new program Wednesday to monitor villages in Darfur in the hopes of putting pressure on the Sudanese government to admit a large United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force. Under the program, the rights group is using satellites to track some of the most vulnerable villages in war-ravaged Darfur, posting images online and urging members of the public across the world to log on to www.eyesondarfur.org and […]

KABUL, Afghanistan — The arrival of close to 100,000 deported Afghan migrants from Iran over the past month has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis in a country already strained by poverty, corruption and a robust insurgency in its southern and eastern provinces. Iran says the mass expulsion is targeting only those Afghans working illegally and plans to forcibly remove one million people by next March. But there are reports some migrants have been deported in spite of having proper documentation; others have allegedly been beaten, split up from their families and whisked away without any personal belongings. “We lost […]

LONDON — “He killed my ma. He killed my pa. I will vote for him.” With those words chanted in the ruined streets of impoverished, war-torn Liberia, Charles Ghankay Taylor was swept into office in 1997, capping a bloody eight-year campaign that began with the savage ouster of dictator Samuel Doe. Meanwhile, in next-door Sierra Leone, one of the most brutal wars in modern history raged, fought by drug-addled youngsters and characterized by savage rapes and the hacking off of limbs that left thousands of people without arms or legs, lips or noses. It is for the crimes he is […]

From May 28 through June 1, the International Federation of Journalists held its 26th World Congress in Moscow. The hundreds of media representatives present chose the Russian capital as their venue for the prestigious triennial event in part to draw international attention to the Russian government’s encroachment against media freedoms. In March 2007, the U.S. State Department published its 2006 Reports on Human Rights Practices, which reviews civil rights practices in foreign countries. The report on Russia, whose dismal findings were echoed the following month in a separate State Department assessment on global media freedoms, warned that the Russian government […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a new feature covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. VENEZUELA MEDIA MAELSTROM — President Hugo Chavez Wednesday lashed out at Globalvision, Venezuela’s last private television station, in a nationally broadcast speech. He called the station an enemy of the state and threatened to shut it down. The Chavez speech came just days after Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) was taken off the air on May 27 to be replaced by a government-run channel. Thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets every day this week […]