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Asia

Asia on the Brink: Behind the India-Pakistan Showdown (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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Asia

Communist Comeback (11/99)

Less than a decade ago, Kazakstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were integral parts of a highly centralized Soviet Union, with the Communist Party firmly in charge. Electors simply voted for a list of candidates provided by party bureaucrats, and parliaments were rubber stamps. Now the Communist empire is gone, but the Soviet-era leaders remain, the same men who held office when the USSR collapsed. The only exception is Tajikistan, whose Communist leader, Rahman Nabiyev, died in 1994. read more

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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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Asia

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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Asia

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

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