After long being spared the violence that has characterized Basque separatist agitation in the Spanish Basque country, the French Basque country has in recent months been hit by a series of increasingly spectacular attacks. French police investigations in connection with one such attack led to the arrest last month of 13 people, including some with known links to the Basque terrorist group ETA. An internal ETA document uncovered last month by the local Basque news service Vasco Press suggests that the upswing in violence may be the result of a new ETA “strategy of confrontation” with France. -o- In a […]

IT ALL STARTED WITH MALTA — It was clear from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s personal involvement with last Monday’s summit on climate change sponsored by the world body that he wants to make the issue a priority of his term of office. A senior U.N. adviser said shaping the proposed post-Kyoto agreement (the Kyoto Protocol emission reduction targets will expire in 2012) will continue to be one of Ban Ki-moon’s main targets. The Korean doesn’t have his predecessor Kofi Annan’s public persona, but inside the organization he is widely judged to have had an effective first year in the […]

In the past week, up to 200 of people have died in Burma in the government’s violent suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations, according to various reports. But thousands more in Burma are routinely forcibly relocated and their villages burned by the army in an ongoing campaign against the country’s ethnic minorities. Now the Washington, D.C.-based American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is using commercially provided satellite imagery to catalogue the abuses. The AAAS’ “Science and Human Rights Project,” funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Open Society Institute, released a report Sept. 28 that documents the destruction of rural […]

NEW YORK — As the government of Taiwan revives its multifaceted push for recognition as an independent state, Washington faces a crucial test of its international credibility on the issue of democracy. The Taiwan Straits is one of the world’s deadliest flashpoints, with more than 900 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party calls a “renegade province.” The United States is, perhaps understandably, wary of supporting Taiwan’s desire to hold a referendum or seek independence, which it fears could trigger an armed conflict with China. But by failing to clearly voice its support for Taiwan, the United […]

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a weekly column covering the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. BURMA LAUNCHES CRACKDOWN — Officials in Burma (or Myanmar as the ruling military junta insists on calling it) ended their brief period of tolerance for growing street protests last week, introducing measures to quell dissent and sending security forces out into the streets with orders to take “extreme measures” if necessary. The crackdown began early Wednesday morning when state security forces reportedly broke into two Rangoon monasteries and began beating and arresting monks. Authorities also […]

Developments during the past month suggest that relations between China and major European governments will remain problematic for the next few years. Chinese and European officials have engaged in disputes on several important issues that could prove difficult to resolve. Nevertheless, the governments of China and Europe also share important interests that should limit the impact of these conflicts. Many of the differences between China and Europe became apparent during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s three-day visit to China at the end of August. The itinerary for Merkel’s second trip to China as chancellor included stays in Beijing and Nanking. In […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — When Natalia Rodrigues was 15, Marxist guerrillas invaded her family’s apartment building and took nine residents hostage, including her, her father and an uncle. For more than three years, the three were held captive in guerrilla jungle camps, never knowing when they would be freed — or whether their captivity would end at all. “There were moments in which one became desperate,” she said. “Everything was very monotonous, every day you did the same thing, the same rules, sit down, eat, sleep, and kill the hours,” Rodrigues, now 21 and a university student, recalled. During that time, […]

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — After a week of mass protests against Myanmar’s military regime, the scale of which had not been seen in two decades, the uprising has been effectively crushed by the country’s armed forces. Sunday saw the numbers of demonstrators on the streets of Yangon plummet from an estimated 100,000 earlier in the week to several dozen, while sources on the ground confirm that today (Monday) streets in the former capitol remain vacant. While protests inside the country have been effectively extinguished by security forces, demonstrations continue outside Myanmar’s embassies in capitols around the world. Meanwhile, United Nations […]

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