Asia Rights

Journal of Human Rights, Media and Society in Asia and the Pacific

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Democracy is left impoverished when freedom of hate speech is protected more zealously than freedom of reasoned political debate… To read further, click here

Meanwhile, IN AUSTRALIA...

Senator Cory Bernadi fails to distance himself from the anti-Islamic comments of Dutch far right politician Geerd Wilders. To read more, click here.

INDONESIA: Help two men detained and feared tortured in Papua province

Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap are currently detained at the Jayapura district police station in Papua province. Police officers allegedly tortured them and five other men during interrogation about the whereabouts of two pro-independence activists. They have not received medical treatment and they have not had access to a lawyer since their arrest. Go here to read more and take action.

 JAPAN: The hidden cost of Fukushima – Depression and Anxiety – Two years ago, an earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Hundreds of thousands of people living near the plant were forced to flee. The World Health Organization recently predicted a very small rise in cancer risk from radioactive material that was released. For the nuclear refugees, though, anxiety and depression could be the more persistent hazard. Go here to read or hear the distressing report from America’s National Public Radio.


Rise in anti-Korean feeling: The House of Sharing in Korea is a special place located about 45-minutes southeast of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province. Built in 1995, the house is home to seven elderly Korean women in their 70s and 80s. The house and the halmonis (할머니), or grandmothers, who live there have painful stories to tell. During World War II, they were forced by the Japanese military to become “comfort women,” or sex slaves. A Japanese rock band has sent a song to this house of sharing calling for the killing of the residents of the house – possibly a reflection of the state of discourse in Japan at the moment relating to the history question and other ethnic minorities. See here for the article in Japanese. This freedom of ‘hate’ speech contrasts with the restrictions in expression placed on those in Japan trying to counter this tide of aggression and racism. See here for more information on the House of Sharing.

See also here for a thoughtful commentary on experiences of racism in Japan written by a Japanese-American working in Japan.


Dr Ross Tapsell writes here about social media in Indonesia and the opportunities and limitations of this channel for expanding freedom of speech and  debate.


Dr Ross Tapsell writes here about media convergence between traditional and new forms of media in Malaysia and consequences for freedom of speech in the country.


Police arrest a Papuan pro-separatist demonstrator in Jayapura on March 22, 2010 © AFP PHOTO / BANJIR AMBARITA

Police arrest a Papuan pro-separatist demonstrator in Jayapura on March 22, 2010.


Please join us next week to mark the ninth anniversary of the disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit with a discussion on forced disappearance in Southeast Asia. Please share this announcement with your networks.


Forced disappearance is the secret abduction or imprisonment by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law.

12 March 2013 is the ninth anniversary of the forced disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit, noted Thai lawyer and human rights defender. At the time of his disappearance, Somchai was working on behalf of five men who had alleged that they were tortured by state security officials while they were in state custody in Narathiwat, one of the three southern-most Thai provinces, which has been under martial law since January 2004 and under emergency regulations since July 2005. On 11 March 2004, the day before his disappearance, Somchai submitted a complaint to the court which detailed the forms of torture experienced by the five men. He argued that this was both a violation of their rights and the Criminal Code, which prohibits torture. He also spoke out publicly and passionately on the case, accusing the police of gross wrongdoing. On 12 March 2004, one day after he submitted the complaint, five policeman pulled Somchai from his car on a main road in Bangkok. To date, no one has been charged with murder because his body has not been recovered. Attempts by his family and human rights activists to hold the involved police officers responsible for crimes of assault and coercion have similarly been fraught with difficulty; these difficulties reveal the flaws present in the structures of accountability in Thailand and signal the urgent need for specific legislation dealing with enforced disappearance.

Join members of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific on the afternoon of 12 March 2013 to mark the anniversary of Somchai Neelaphaijit’s disappearance through a discussion of forced disappearance throughout the Southeast Asian region. In the years since his disappearance, activists, human rights defenders, and ordinary citizens in and beyond Thailand have continued to face danger. Yet simultaneously, courageous struggles for justice continue to take place.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013
4-5:30 pm
Sparke Helmore Theatre 2
ANU College of Law

With contributions from:
Budi Hernawan, School of Regulation, Justice, and Diplomacy
Keith Barney, Crawford School of Public Policy
Nick Cheesman, School of International, Political, and Strategic Studies
Sri Wahyuningroem, School of International, Political, and Strategic Studies
Tyrell Haberkorn, School of International, Political, and Strategic Studies

For more information, please contact Tyrell Haberkorn on 02-6125-3303 or

This event is cosponsored by Asia Rights and the Department of Political and Social Change.



Crisis in Fiji - AsiaRights talks to Brij Lal;
How to Start a Social Movement in Japan - Yuasa Makoto in conversation with Kang Sang-Jung;
Okinawa - a special report by Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki
North Korean re-migrants and the ethnic-Korean diaspora- Articles by Professor Kim Kyungmook  and Markus Bell.