On Jan. 7, Cameroon’s gay rights community received a rare bit of good news. In what activists described as a breakthrough, the Court of Appeal in Yaoundé, the capital, overturned a ruling against two men found guilty of homosexuality in 2011. Jonas Singa Kimie, 19, and Franky Ndome Ndome, 25, were arrested in July 2011 by authorities who accused them of violating Article 347 of the penal code, which explicitly outlaws gay sex acts. The authorities had no proof of the alleged acts, but claimed the men’s clothing, manner of speaking and drink of choice proved they were gay. A […]

A Vietnamese court has convicted 14 bloggers and activists on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. In an email interview, Vietnam expert Adam Fforde, a professor at Victoria University’s Center for Strategic Economic Studies and honorary principal fellow at University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, discussed the significance of the convictions and how they fit into the broader state of civil liberties in Vietnam. WPR: What is the overall state of civil liberties in Vietnam? Adam Fforde: The state of civil liberties in Vietnam has two very different aspects. On the one hand, since the de-Stalinization of the late-1980s, Vietnamese […]

As China prepares to complete its leadership transition with the handover of the presidency in March, activists are seeing positive signs about government HIV/AIDS policy, with incoming Premier Li Keqiang prominently endorsing grassroots treatment efforts. In an email interview, Jia Ping, the founder and chief executive officer of the China Global Fund Watch Initiative, discussed China’s HIV/AIDS policies. WPR: How have China’s efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS evolved in recent years? Jia Ping: China has made some progress but not enough. The government has begun to pay attention to marginalized groups. The number of nongovernmental organizations is increasing; there is an […]

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech condemning government censorship, calling for greater Internet freedom and reiterating that freedom of expression was a vital U.S. value. But during the past two weeks, as issues of press censorship in China have become front-page news, the State Department has remained noticeably silent, even as that censorship has impacted the U.S. media. On Dec. 31, 2012, the New York Times announced that the Chinese government had failed to process the journalist visa of one of its Beijing correspondents, Chris Buckley, before his old visa expired. Without a valid […]

Yesterday, the president of Sri Lanka formally ordered the removal of the country’s chief justice from office, capping a controversial impeachment process against the chief justice. In an email interview, Erik Jensen, professor of the practice of law and senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, explained the circumstances surrounding the constitutional crisis. WPR: What are the circumstances surrounding the impeachment of Sri Lanka’s chief justice? Erik Jensen: The critical events surrounding the impeachment rapidly evolved over the course of only four months: from the precipitating act — a Supreme Court ruling […]

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In a year marked by democratic setbacks, Myanmar emerged as an unlikely success story. After nearly half a century of military rule, rights to unionize and protest were restored; opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest; and censorship was eased. Remarkably, these reforms happened because of, rather than despite, longtime dictator Gen. Than Shwe, in particular his decision to hand power willingly over to President Thein Sein. Than Shwe’s voluntary retirement ensured a peaceful transition, but the circumstances of his departure present unique challenges for the quasi-civilian government that has succeeded the junta. The military maintains […]

Last week, Myanmar’s military launched airstrikes against ethnic rebels from the northern state of Kachin, the latest salvo in a conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Myanmar’s central government that has escalated since a 1994 cease-fire came apart in 2011. Like other ethnic minorities in Myanmar, the Kachin have long sought more autonomy from the central government of the Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, which was under repressive military rule for five decades but has experienced a modicum of reform since President U Thein Sein came to power in 2011. Yet Thein Sein’s ascent was soon […]