Sri Lanka: General strike launched as Tamil prisoners renew hunger strike

The entire northern province of Sri Lanka, an area mainly inhabited by Tamils, was "brought to a standstill" on November 13, according to the Tamilnet website, in support of Tamil prisoners on hunger strike for their freedom.

All private and public activities, except for medical services, came to a standstill. Students did not attend schools. Roads remained deserted except for the army and police.

Indonesia: Silence marks 50 years since mass killings

October marked 50 years since the start of the campaign of mass killing of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and sympathisers in Indonesia. It is estimated as many as 1 million people were killed or jailed during 1965-1966, carried out as part of Suharto's Western-backed military coup.

Malaysia: Activist charged over Facebook posts needs support

Khalid Ismath, a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), was arrested on October 7 and later charged under Malaysia's sedition and communication acts for posting allegedly offensive comments on social media.

He was initially denied bail over posts relating to the arrest of lawyer Kamal Hisham Jaafar, a former legal advisor to the Johor royal family. As of October 27, Khalid had been held in solitary confinement for 18 days. His lawyer had not been permitted to visit him.

Malaysia: Jailed socialist student a 'prisoner of conscience', says Amnesty

An international campaign has been launched to call for the release of Khalid Mohd Ismath, a Malaysian student activist and a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), who has been detained since October 7.

Khalid has been active in highlighting human rights violations and misuse of power by the authorities in Malaysia. He was arrested on October 7 under the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Act 1998 for allegedly posting offensive comments on social media.

Indonesia: Open statement condemning massive attack against freedom of expression

The following statement was issued in Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 24, 2015):

Indonesia's freedom of expression and critical thinking are under attack. Series of repressive and violent acts by the authorities against attempts to critically revisit and review the 1965 communist purge for the betterment of the nation and its people are a strong proof that the totalitarian legacy from the New Order Regime is still alive and kicking.

West Papua: High school student assassinated by Indonesian police

Indonesian police shot two senior high school students in Gorong Gorong, Timika, West Papua on September 28, the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) said the next day.

The IPAHR said 17-year-old Kaleb Bogau was shot in the chest and died on the scene. Efrando Sabarofek, also 17, was shot in the chest and leg and is in a critical condition in the Timika hospital.

China's economic troubles spell woe for world

Every year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sends a group of economists to Australia to survey the domestic economy, comment on the effects of government policy and make some suggestions as to what might best be done in the coming year. It is known as an “article IV consultation”.

The IMF executive board’s latest report was publicly released in early October. After commending Australia’s economic performance during the past two decades, the report noted some challenges ahead. Chief among them is the prospect of “slow growth” in the coming year.

UN report slams Sri Lanka's 'pattern of abuse' against Tamils

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) has welcomed a September 16 report released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which "identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, strongly indicating that war crimes and crimes against humanity were most likely committed by both sides to the conflict".

Myanmar’s military desperate to hold power

Campaigning kicked off on September 8 for the first competitive elections in Myanmar (Burma) since the 1950s. The November 8 poll will pit the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) against more than 100 opposition parties, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

Myanmar’s military ceded power to a quasi-civilian government through 2010 elections that were boycotted by the NLD, ending a military dictatorship that spanned from 1962.

Thai junta’s draft constitution blocks democracy

No one with an ounce of intelligence would have expected Thailand's junta, and its herd of “academics for hire”, to come up with a democratic constitution - or anything other than a host of counter-reforms to set the authoritarian political agenda for years to come.

Overall, the current draft differs little in its tone from the previous draft, although there is a shocking additional article towards the end. The general tone is patronising and banal, with constant references to the monarchy.

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