Opposition threatens strike
The country’s opposition party yesterday threatened a nationwide general strike to protest what it says was a rigged election and the illegitimate return to power of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he is considering calling a one-day strike for factory workers, civil servants and shopkeepers unless the ruling party agrees to an independent probe of electoral fraud and a program of immediate reforms. He made the comments a day after ruling party lawmakers extended Hun Sen’s rule for another five years, despite a boycott of parliament by the opposition. Official results of the July 28 polls gave the ruling party 68 seats in parliament, compared with 55 for the opposition. The opposition says it was cheated out of victory and has staged several mass demonstrations against the election results.
Brotherhood paper closed
Authorities have shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper in Cairo, the latest move aimed at crushing the Islamist movement, the Brotherhood said yesterday. “We the journalists of the Freedom and Justice newspaper condemn the security forces for closing down the headquarters of the newspaper,” the Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. Police stormed the building overnight and removed the contents. A source at the Cairo Security Department said the raid followed Monday’s court ruling that banned the Brotherhood and ordered its funds seized.
Holding without trial mulled
The government proposed an amendment to crime laws yesterday that would give authorities the power to hold suspects for years without trial, in what critics said was a lurch back to draconian security policies that were only recently eased. The government is justifying the proposed toughening of security laws as necessary to curb a rise in violent crime in recent months, including the murder of a prominent former banker in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, that has alarmed the public. However, the move to amend the 1959 Prevention of Crime Act has political resonance in a country where tough security laws have been used in the past to detain opposition figures and government critics and following an election in May that deepened ethnic and political divisions. Teo Nie Ching, an opposition member of parliament, said the new proposal appeared to be a “fundamental breach of human rights.”
Street vendor to be executed
The country will execute a street food vendor who stabbed two urban security officials following a street dispute, a court said yesterday, provoking outrage online. The Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against Xia Junfeng (夏俊峰), who killed two “city management” officials after a dispute over his streetside stall in 2011, the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court said in a verified social media account. Xia had appealed his sentence on the grounds he killed the two officers in self-defense when they savagely attacked him and others in Shenyang as he sold food, reportedly barbecued meat, on the street. Xia’s case drew widespread sympathy amid regular reports of abuses by quasi-police city management officials. The officials, known as chengguan, “have earned a reputation for brutality and impunity... They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention, and theft,” a spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch said last year.