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Asia

Conflict in Kashmir (11/99)

One of the world’s most disputed places, the northernmost state of India consists of the two regions – Jammu and Kashmir. Known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), it shares borders with Tibet and southwestern China to the east and Pakistan to the west. In the north lie the Himalayas. Although often equated to paradise for its beauty, danger lurks behind the awe-inspiring landscape.

On July 19, 1999, for example, nightfall brought another nightmare for Indians in the area’s Doda district. After overcoming resistance, militants supported by Pakistan – and allied with Osama Bin Laden’s network – rounded up 15 Hindu men, women, and children, and pumped bullets into them. Meanwhile, in the Poonch region, four Hindus were separated from a group of road construction workers and ruthlessly killed. read more

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Betrayal in East Timor (11/99)

As East Timor descended into chaos in September, with militia thugs and Indonesian troops burning buildings, killing thousands, and forcing at least 200,000 people to flee into the countryside, an obvious question arose. How could Western powers have entrusted security during the August 30 referendum on independence to the police and, for good measure, leave 15,000 government troops in place?

After all, it was abundantly clear to anyone with even a basic knowledge of Indonesia’s army that leaving it in charge would put the inhabitants in grave peril. This is the same military force that spent the past quarter-century terrorizing, killing, and torturing the East Timorese. It certainly showed no inclination to let them opt for independence. Well before Indonesia and Portugal signed the accords in May this year – under UN auspices – to hold a referendum, the newly created militias were already running riot through the territory with the army’s connivance. read more

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Thailand’s Sex Trade (11/98)

At an age when we still regard them as children, thousands of young girls from northern Thailand are being lured into prostitution. Girls as young as 10 are sold to the brothels of Bangkok, other Thai cities, and overseas. Others drift into prostitution when they move to larger towns for employment. From there, they migrate to cities, where they’re likely to end up in poorly paid factory or restaurant jobs with substandard conditions and links to the sex industry.

They come from families in the Golden Triangle area trapped in a cycles of poverty and debt. Their parents are subsistence farmers or villagers with few work opportunities, their traditional lifestyle and values constantly eroded by development and consumerism. read more

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Asia Goes Mad (8/98)

 

When I was a boy, my family and I joined hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in yearly anti-nuclear demonstrations through the center of London. The demonstrations were replicated in every capital city of democratic Europe, in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. We would go to "die-ins" outside Britain’s nuclear research facility at Aldermaston, and my mother would frequently join the women camped outside the military base of Greenham Common, protesting the presence of the US-made Cruise missiles. Few people now know what Greenham Common represented. But for politically aware Brits of my generation, the very words evoke a maelstrom of emotions. read more

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India and Pakistan Move Closer to Destruction (6/98)

Pakistan was forced to riposte in late May to India’s nuclear tests by detonating five nuclear devices. Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had waited, hoping the west would punish India for sparking an Asian arms race. Instead, the west and Japan merely slapped India’s wrists. Sharif finally bowed to fierce public pressure.

Though dramatic, the tests merely revealed the poorly kept secret that both old enemies, who have fought three wars since 1947, were nuclear capable. Far more important, India’s nuclear tests, and ongoing development of intermediate, intercontinental and sea-launched missiles, were clear signals of Delhi’s determination to become a great power, and dominant force in South Asia, Central Asia. and the Indian Ocean. read more

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Asia

Slouching Toward Disaster (1/98)

Remember the "Asian miracle?" Less than six months ago, it was the main engine pushing stock markets around the world to new records. In the US and parts of Europe, inflation was low and trade was booming. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, immense projects that boggled the mind were being pursued. As long as Asia’s growth continued, criticism about pay, working conditions, and environmental damage could be downplayed. Any suggestion that the "miracle" wasn’t what it seemed sounded like paranoid party-pooping. read more