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CrisisWatch Database

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Korean Peninsula

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

DPRK army conducted live-fire ballistic missile exercise into Sea of Japan 2 March; also live-fire surface-to-air missile exercise and Air Force exercise. ROK, U.S. and coalition allies began annual combined and joint military exercises. ROK media quoted anonymous ROK intelligence source 25 Feb saying DPRK conducting conventional high-explosive tests for nuclear weapons, would enable DPRK to conduct higher yield nuclear tests in future. DPRK’s Korean Workers Party held enlarged meeting of Central Military Commission (CMC) 23 Feb; CMC Chairman Kim Jong-un called for “full combat readiness” ahead of ROK-U.S. military exercises, stressed need to simplify and reorganise military. Seoul 17 March announced DPRK behind Dec 2014 cyber-attacks on ROK nuclear reactor operator; DPRK denied. UNSC’s DPRK Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts released report 23 Feb revealing country’s continued efforts to circumvent sanctions against its nuclear and missile programs. Russia and China discussed possible resumption of six-party talks on DPRK nuclear program late April/May. Japan 31 March said it was extending sanctions on DPRK citing lack of progress in talks on release of kidnapped Japanese nationals. ROK and DPRK sparred over Kaesŏng Industrial Complex wages and governance.

Uzbekistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Head of National Security Service Rustam Inoyatov 19 March claimed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) joined forces with Islamic State Oct 2014, due to financial difficulties; not confirmed by IMU. President Karimov re-elected 29 March with over 90% of votes; OSCE criticised lack of genuine opposition, legal and organisational shortcomings in vote.

Turkmenistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Nine people arrested 8 March for allegedly planning terror attacks; suspects reported to have links with Afghanistan insurgents. Ethnic Turkmens living in Afghanistan claim Turkmen security services abducted three people during standoff over land rights 15 March. At least four ethnic Turkmen Afghans shot by Afghan police 16 March while protesting in Qarqeen, Afghanistan. Head of Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) Bordyuzha 16 March said regrettable that neither Turkmenistan not Uzbekistan will accept CSTO assistance to strengthen borders. New law passed allowing peaceful protest, dismissed by observers as window dressing.

Tajikistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

President Rahmon’s party 1 March won parliamentary elections which OSCE said “failed to meet basic democratic standards”. Atmosphere of harassment against opposition intensified: alleged Group 24 opposition party member sentenced to 17.5 years’ jail 4 March; Group 24 leader Umarali Kuvatov murdered 5 March in Istanbul; two men jailed for 16.5 years 13 March for having offensive pictures of president, attending Group 24 meeting. President’s son Rustam appointed head of anti-corruption agency 16 March. Large scale military exercises held along Afghan border 11-14 March; Russian news agency 18 March claimed 1,000 militants, including Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Islamic State supporters, only 60-80km from Tajik border.

Kyrgyzstan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Ongoing ethnic tensions in south exacerbated by officials singling out Uzbek community as members and supporters of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Parliament 10 March passed bill similar to Russian law on foreign agents, restricting non-commercial organisations. Patriotic group Kalys 18 March announced formation of El Namysy paramilitary group, claiming to protect state against homosexuals, paedophiles and people who attend NGO meetings. Govt considered launching inquiry into why President Atambayev travelled to Moldova by private jet en route to Moscow to visit President Putin. Rights groups called on EU leaders to raise rights issues during Atambayev’s EU visit.

Kazakhstan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Ahead of 26 April presidential elections President Nazarbayev, in power 25 years, announced candidacy 11 March. Electoral commission 25 March registered two other candidates: Communist party leader Turghyn Syzydyqov and head of Kazakh Unions Federation Abdelghazy Husainov.

Kashmir

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Indian FM Jaishankar visited Pakistan early March, met with PM Sharif and FM Chaudhry; Pakistan’s foreign ministry described visit as “ice-breaking development”, Jaishankar said countries “agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences”. Followed 26 Feb visit by Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif to locations in Punjab along working boundary separating Pakistan and India-administered Kashmir, during which he said “any provocation along the LoC (Line of Control) or the Working Boundary will meet a befitting response”. Six people including two terrorists, three security forces and a civilian killed in militant attack on police station in Jammu 20 March. Indian Defence Minister Parrikar 21 March said security forces had killed 26 terrorists so far in 2015. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mufti Mohammed Sayeed sworn in as chief minister of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir 1 March, 7 March ordered release of separatist leader and general secretary of All-Parties Hurriyat Conference Masarat Alam Bhat, provoking strong opposition from coalition govt partner PM Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Islamabad High Court 13 March ordered release on bail of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operative Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in 2008 Mumbai attack, provoking strong reaction from New Delhi; Rehman detained by Punjab govt.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt and international backers hopeful of kickstarting peace talks with insurgents: President Ghani's special representative on reforms and good governance 12 March said Taliban had shown willingness to meet officials. Ghani 14 March reportedly visited Riyadh to consult with Saudi govt on potential talks; Pakistan and China also reportedly taking steps to facilitate process. Taliban deny taking part in negotiations. Ghani visited U.S. late month, addressed Congress; President Obama 24 March announced U.S. will slow withdrawal of troops, to train and assist Afghan forces in face of increased Taliban aggression: will maintain 9,800 troops till year-end, stick to 2017 exit plan. Series of kidnappings targeting Hazaras raised concerns about sectarian conflict and extremist groups claiming to have connections with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Zabul province’s police chief 3 March said at least 60 militants killed/wounded in operations to rescue 31 Hazaras kidnapped 26 Feb. Other insurgent attacks included: over a dozen killed in/around Lashkar Gar 10, 18 March; at least seven police killed in Kunduz province ambush 12 March; gunmen shot dead at least thirteen on Kabul-Kandahar highway 24 March; nine killed in two suicide attacks in Kabul late March. Govt reported army killed ten insurgents in Helmand 15 March; authorities reported U.S. drone strikes killed twenty Pakistani militants in Nangarhar province late March. Independent Electoral Complaints Commission 1 March said at least 10,000 temporary and twenty permanent officials of Independent Election Commission involved in fraud during 2014 elections. Visiting Indian FM Jaishankar reportedly reiterated plans to develop mineral resources. Deputy chairman of High Peace Council 11 March complained body being sidelined by presidential palace amid preparations for peace talks with insurgents.

Indonesia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt launched military exercises in Sulawesi late month as part of response to reported threat posed by militants with links to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) – blamed by police for 23 Feb chlorine bomb in Jakarta shopping centre.

Myanmar

  |  1 Apr 2015

Improved

Govt and ethnic armed groups 31 March agreed text of historic Nationwide Ceasefire Accord following seventh round of peace talks 17-22, 30-31 March, after hiatus of almost six months, and first-ever senior KIO delegation to Naypyitaw 16 March. Formal signing expected May at earliest, although sides need to agree which armed groups are eligible to sign. Several contentious political and military issues left for subsequent political dialogue process, including shape of future armed forces; little time for this before elections. Progress made despite serious clashes continuing in Kokang region between military and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). Military continues to incur regular casualties, including at least sixteen military personnel killed 18 March, but controls major roads, most hills. Attempt to retake hills from MNDAA using air force saw fighting spill across border into China 8 and 13 March; in latter incident stray bomb apparently from Myanmar aircraft killed five Chinese nationals, prompting strained relations and public warnings from China, deployment of military jets to step up patrols along border. Protests by students against Sept 2014 education law that started in Jan continued despite govt 14 Feb agreeing to all eleven of their demands; around 200 continued march from Mandalay to Yangon. Police 3 March blocked protest march at Letpadan, just N of Yangon, 10 March violently broke up protest there, arrested 127; released some 50 “genuine students” and bystanders, prosecutions underway against 69 others. Protest in Yangon in support of protestors violently broken up 5 March, first by plainclothes auxiliaries as uniformed police looked on, then by police.

Thailand

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Grenade at Bangkok Criminal Court 7 March caused minor damage; two suspects arrested near scene allegedly confessed to being part of Red-Shirt conspiracy to stage multiple attacks. Lawyers for four further suspects 17 March alleged military had tortured their clients; army denied. PM Prayuth 9 March warned future general election contingent on stability. More details of draft constitution emerged late Feb indicating diminished role for elected politicians; Constitution Drafting Committee announced senate will be “indirectly elected”, PM will not be required to be elected MP nor affiliated with political party. Senior National Reform Council member 11 March said new constitution would be completed by Sept, bylaws enacted within 60 days, general election held 90 days later. Attorney general 17 March filed charges against former commerce minister and twenty others for corruption in prior govt’s rice subsidy scheme; Supreme Court 19 March announced it will decide whether former PM Yingluck was guilty of criminal negligence for failing to halt alleged graft in scheme, first hearing to be in May. PM Prayuth 27 March said he would soon lift martial law and invoke Article 44 of provisional constitution, which grants him absolute power. Several civilians and security forces wounded in insurgent attacks in deep south, including in largely peaceful Songkhla province. Families of four men killed by security forces in 25 March raid in Thung Yang Daeng district, Pattani, denied slain men were militants.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Govt 23 March tabled draft bill for 19th constitutional amendment, key component in President Sirisena’s 100-day agenda. Amendment limits presidential powers, expands powers of PM, establishes series of independent oversight commissions. Sirisena 23 March appointed group of SLFP ministers to UNP-led government in bid to win SLFP support and two-thirds parliamentary majority for 19th amendment. Tensions in Sirisena’s broad coalition deepened over dates of parliamentary elections and introduction of new election laws. Supporters of ex-President Rajapaksa, including some SLFP MPs, held large rallies 6 and 26 March calling for his return as PM in next parliament. Indian PM Modi visited mid-March, called for full implementation of 13th amendment and “going beyond”. Sirisena visited China late March amid tension over suspension of work on key Chinese-funded development projects following corruption allegations. Sirisena visited London 8-10 March to attend Commonwealth meetings. UK PM Cameron pressed new govt to cooperate with OHCHR war crimes investigation. Sirisena promised domestic accountability mechanism, UN to play no role beyond offering advice. UN special rapporteur on transitional justice visited Sri Lanka end March. Govt 10 March released activist Balendran Jayakumari on bail, released some military-held land in north, allowed national anthem to be sung in Tamil. Multiple investigations into financial fraud by UPFA politicians underway, several corruption-related arrests made, court placed travel ban on Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Nepal

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

As parties again failed to overcome deadlock on overdue draft constitution, specifically over issue of federalism, 30-party alliance of opposition parties led by Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) announced fresh protests, nationwide strike early April. Constituent Assembly chair Subhash Nemwang extended deadline for agreement on constitution again.

Pakistan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Head of National Counter Terrorism Authority Hamid Ali Khan 8 March reportedly said govt had decided to drop three of twenty points in new counter-terrorism National Action Plan, namely actions against banned militant organisations, madrasa reform, and repatriation of Afghans; Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali refuted claim. After saying late Feb that govt plans to repatriate all Afghans, federal minister for state and frontier regions Abdul Qadir Baloch 11 March said govt instead planned to register 1.4 million unregistered Afghans. Suicide attacks on two Lahore churches 15 March killed seventeen, injured more than 70; amid countrywide demonstrations against attacks 17 March, Christian protestors allegedly killed two men by setting them on fire. Paramilitary Rangers 11 March raided Karachi HQ of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), detaining 100 and recovering weapons it claimed were stolen from NATO shipments (denied by U.S.). MQM alleged Rangers killed one of its members in raid; Rangers denied. Four suspected Taliban killed in clash with security forces in Karachi 10 March; two police killed in bomb attack in city 27 March. Spokesperson of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) breakaway faction Jamatul Ahrar 13 March announced his group and Khyber agency-based Lashkar-e-Islam merging with TTP. Former TTP commander in N Waziristan 16 March reportedly announced his newly-created breakaway faction Jaish-e-Muttaqi had reached peace deal with govt. Army 16 March announced successful end of its operation in Khyber agency; reported scores of militants killed in airstrikes and ground offensives in area in second half of month. Two polio vaccinators and police escort shot dead 17 March in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mansehra district; another vaccinator killed in FATA’s Bajaur agency next day. Defence Minister Asif in talks with Saudi Arabia 31 March on whether to join Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia failed to appear at her trial for corruption 3 March despite threat of arrest; her lawyer said she was willing to appear and surrender to police if security was guaranteed, she was allowed bail and could return to her party office. Next court hearing scheduled for 5 April. BNP 9 March suspended ongoing 48-hour hartal (strike) before restoring strikes 10-13 March. Zia allowed to address press conference from her office 13 March, first since early Jan; reiterated demands for fresh election under neutral caretaker set-up, end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, and dialogue to resolve political crisis. PM Sheikh Hasina next day ruled out fresh dialogue. Although Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL) and BNP remain intractable in public positions, senior party officials from both sides have expressed willingness to talk, contingent on BNP ending violent street agitation, and govt ending abuse of human rights and fundamental political freedoms. Despite lower death toll in street clashes between pro-govt supporters and BNP-led opposition, political tensions and sporadic violence continue. Police 2 March arrested alleged activist of banned Hizb ut-Tahrir as prime suspect in murder of well-known Bangladeshi-American activist writer Avijit Roy, hacked to death on street in Dhaka 26 Feb; murder compounded public fears of extremists taking advantage of political crisis. Blogger Washiqur Rahman hacked to death in another attack in Dhaka 30 March. BNP’s SG Salahuddin Ahmed disappeared after being apprehended 10 March by men identifying themselves as police; police inspector general denied any agency under his control had Ahmed in custody. Five killed in arson attacks 19 March. Chief Election Commissioner 18 March announced long-overdue Dhaka and Chittagong mayoral polls for 28 April; BNP yet to decide if it will take part.

Philippines

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

President Aquino facing political crisis as 13 March police investigative report stated that he bypassed chain of command of “defective” anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano 25 Jan that saw 44 commandos, seventeen MILF and at least five killed in clash; also allowed former police chief friend to participate in mission despite being under suspension over graft allegations; and involvement of U.S. officials in intelligence sharing, medical evacuation. Report called for investigation to determine criminal liability, prompted calls for Aquino’s resignation. Aquino 9 March said he had been misled about details of Mamasapano operation. MILF 24 March submitted its report on Mamasapano incident to Senate, said police commando unit opened fire first and broke terms of ceasefire by not notifying MILF of operation in advance. After receiving report, Ferdinand Marcos, chairman of Senate Committee on Local Govt which will decide on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), scheduled resumption of BBL hearing for 13 April. MILF denied allegations that it had opened new training camp in Iligan City. Govt continued offensive against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao, said it would not affect peace process with MILF. UNHCR 20 March reported over 120,000 displaced in fighting in southern Philippines since late Jan. Dozens of rebels and several govt soldiers killed in fighting. Military captured leader of BIFF breakaway rebel group Justice Islamic Movement mid-March, 30 March ended offensive, said over 100 insurgents killed. One year since signing of Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, Aquino 27 March announced creation of citizens peace council led by national luminaries to make independent review of BBL.

Korean Peninsula

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

DPRK 6 Feb flight-tested new anti-ship cruise missile in Sea of Japan; media reports that DPRK flight-tested submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in Jan unconfirmed. DPRK army continued rigorous winter training program, including live-fire missile exercise and island attack drill near ROK islands off DPRK coast. Growing evidence that DPRK has restarted nuclear reactor in Yŏngbyŏn. ROK military 27 Jan conducted live-fire exercise on islands near DPRK coast. ROK conducted air force exercise, large-scale mobility exercise, combined military exercises and multinational exercises, including with U.S. and others in Thailand and Guam. USS Olympia nuclear-powered submarine 5 Feb participated in three-day ROK-U.S. combined naval exercise, commemorating inauguration of ROK Navy submarine command. ROK and Chinese defence ministers early Feb discussed bilateral security cooperation, during first visit by Chinese defence minister in nine years; China expressed opposition toward U.S. deployment of THAAD missile defence battery to ROK. DPRK Workers Party Politburo 10 Feb adopted resolution with six main points: Central Committee and the Central Military Commission met next day and published list of over 300 slogans in mass appeal for national exhortation to achieve goals outlined in Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s address. UN 24 Jan announced it would provide $2mn in aid to DPRK through Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). U.S. think-tank report published late Feb projected DPRK could have up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.

Uzbekistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Amid ongoing rumours about his health and ahead of presidential elections set for 29 March, President Karimov 11 Feb approved new cabinet: Muzraf Ikramov appointed justice minister, replacing Nigmatilla Yuldashev, now chairman of Senate and substitute to president if he is unable to fulfil his duties.

Turkmenistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Army and border service reservists being called up since Jan for three months’ training; students graduating secondary school who want to attend university to serve two-year military service following recent changes to conscription law. Russian and opposition media report extensive call-up is due to reports of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) operation in Afghanistan close to Turkmen border.

Tajikistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Deputy head of State Committee for National Security said Pakistan early Feb handed over six Tajik citizens alleged to be Jamaat Ansarullah members. Supreme Court 17 Feb sentenced thirteen alleged Jamaat Ansarullah members to jail.

Kyrgyzstan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Arrests on extremism and terrorism charges continued: 26-year-old arrested in Kara-Suu, Osh province 3 Feb; four alleged Hizb ut-Tahrir members arrested in Issyk-Kul province in east 9 Feb; homes of twenty other alleged members raided in Osh next day. Head imam of largest mosque in south Rashod Kamalov arrested 9 Feb in Kara-Suu on extremism charges, family said to have links with Hizb ut-Tahrir. Kamalov denied charges; observers fear arrests will aggravate ethnic Uzbek tensions in south. Officials 19 Feb claimed they detained suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir leader in Karakol. Protest at U.S. embassy 27 Feb against appointment of new chargé d’affaires.

Kazakhstan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Ethnic violence erupted in south after ethnic Tajik 4 Feb allegedly stabbed ethnic Kazakh man; around 200 ethnic Kazakhs rioted next day, attacked ethnic Tajik property. Unrest spread to nearby Bostandyk village 6 Feb; authorities launched large-scale police operation. Parliament’s upper chamber 19 Feb approved early presidential elections, stating President Nazarbayev needs another term “to ensure the continuity of the current policy”. Nazarbayev’s former son-in-law and later political opponent Rakhat Aliyev found dead in Austrian jail 24 Feb.

Kashmir

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Shelling continued across Line of Control (LoC) and India-Pakistan working boundary; Pakistan accused India of killing civilian 14 Feb. Pakistani PM Sharif 5 Feb addressed representatives of separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day: reiterated support for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, peaceful resolution of conflict. Pakistani Senate and National Assembly passed resolutions pledging support for Kashmiris, condemning “farcical” state elections in India-administered Kashmir. Trade and travel resumed across LoC 17 Feb after being halted following Indian arrest of truck driver accused of smuggling narcotics early Feb. At least six militants reported killed by Indian forces late Feb including two in Shopian district 25 Feb.

Afghanistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Delay in forming new unity cabinet continued, paralysing parts of administration and reducing customs revenue representing key source of govt income. New Interior Minister Nur-ul-Haq Ulumi early Feb travelled to outlying provinces to review security situation following parliament’s rejection of President Ghani’s defence minister nominee; Ulumi 14 Feb promised reform to stem rising police combat deaths. President Ghani 4 Feb threatened to fire any defence officials not ensuring weapons supplies and logistical support for soldiers, reflecting widespread concerns about lack of battlefield supplies. Govt forces mid-month launched major operation against insurgents in Helmand province. Turkish soldier killed in Taliban suicide attack on NATO vehicle in Kabul 26 Feb. Pakistani military officials 18 Feb claimed Taliban ready to begin peace talks with Kabul as early as March. UN 18 Feb reported 25% increase in civilian deaths in 2014 over 2013; ICRC reported collecting twice as many bodies from battlefield in 2014 than 2013.

Myanmar

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated

Serious clashes in Kokang region 9-12 Feb as ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, apparently assisted by other groups, attempted to seize control of Kokang capital Laukkai. Attack repulsed, but military reported that over 50 of its troops killed. President 17 Feb declared state of emergency and martial law in area. The fighting, most serious in country since 2009 takeover of Kokang, prompted at least 30,000 to flee across border to China, thousands more internally; sporadic clashes continued late month as military re-established control. Fighting also put huge additional strain on peace process, which remains stalled despite president’s push for deal to be signed on 12 Feb Union Day. 12 Feb talks resulted in Deed of Commitment containing significant commitment to federalism. Only four of thirteen armed groups present signed; seen as unlikely that Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will be signed before elections. In debate on Referendum Bill, legislature 2 Feb approved by 328 votes to 79 president’s proposal to allow some one million holders of Temporary Registration Certificates or TRCs (mostly Muslims in Rakhine State) to vote. Following nationalistprotests president 11 Feb said all TRCs would expire 31 March, after which citizenship status of holders would be assessed; implies there will be no valid TRCs at time of elections. With citizenship verification process in Rakhine state deadlocked over govt insistence that Muslims identify as “Bengali”, seen as unlikely that new identity documents will be issued to Rohingya, raising prospect of further confrontation in coming months in Rakhine.

Bangladesh

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged Risk Alert

Political crisis continued, threatening severe destabilisation of country: over 100 killed and hundreds injured since early Jan in violent anti-govt protests and country-wide transport blockade led by opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP); anti-corruption court 25 Feb issued warrant for BNP leader Zia’s arrest for non-appearance, raising fears of escalating violence in case warrant executed. PM Hasina 6 Feb compared actions of BNP and Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) to actions of Middle Eastern jihadi group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Several civil society groups demonstrated for resolution to crisis, criticised negative economic impact including in country-wide protests early Feb; newly-formed committee of prominent jurists, retired officials and other civil society actors also pressed for AL-BNP dialogue; UNSG Ban mid-month urged Hasina and BNP leader Zia to engage in constructive dialogue. Zia remained confined to BNP offices in Dhaka; police 11 Feb temporarily blocked food and water supplies. Hasina 18 Feb promised govt action against newspaper for reprinting poster of banned Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir. Controversial International Crimes Tribunal, tasked with prosecuting war crimes committed during 1971 liberation war, 18 Feb sentenced senior JeI member Abdus Subhan to death.

Pakistan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Uneven progress in implementing new counter-terrorism “National Action Plan”, adopted following deadly Dec attack on Peshawar school; army 13 Feb said nine militants arrested out of 27 linked to attack. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT, also known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa) 5 Feb held rallies in several major cities after interior ministry official late Jan admitted neither LeT nor Haqqani Network added to list of banned terrorist organisations, contradicting earlier official claims. Punjab home minister 15 Feb said forty terrorism cases referred to military courts since Jan empowerment of courts to try civilian suspects under 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army Act (amendment) bill; President Hussain 12 Feb extended latter to cover Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), allowing military courts to try terrorism suspects there. Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association 9 Feb jointly challenged 21st amendment in Supreme Court: said it was passed under military pressure, undermines fundamental rights and judicial independence. Sectarian attacks and other militant violence continued: 22 killed in attack on Shiite mosque in Peshawar 13 Feb, another three killed in attack on mosque in Rawalpindi 18 Feb; paramilitary forces 15 Feb reportedly killed commander of Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), accused of masterminding deadly late Jan bombing of Shiite mosque in Sindh; several members of Sunni extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba (also known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) killed in targeted attacks, including three in Karachi 1 Feb; eight killed in suicide attack near Lahore police HQ 17 Feb. Military operation continued in NW: army claimed at least 25 militants killed 4 Feb. Fifteen separatist militants, one soldier reported killed in Balochistan province 10 Feb.

Nepal

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Prospective Constituent Assembly vote on draft constitution, pushed for by ruling parties following failure of political parties to meet 22 Jan deadline for reaching consensus, postponed indefinitely mid-month to allow resumption of negotiations; United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) leader Baburam Bhattarai late month said talks will resume following scheduled 28 Feb opposition demonstrations. Govt 10 Feb set up committees to investigate alleged human rights abuses and disappearances during civil war era; Supreme Court 27 Feb rejected amnesty provision in April 2014 bill offering possible amnesty for human rights offenders.

Philippines

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

House of Representatives ad hoc committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) 9 Feb said it would suspend hearings on BBL “indefinitely” pending House probe into 25 Jan deadly clash between police commandos and rebels; means BBL will not pass by previous March 2015 deadline, ahead of congress break in May. Committee chair joined calls for MILF to surrender its members who participated in attack on police; MILF says it disciplines its own fighters in line with 2014 ceasefire agreement, 18 Feb turned over sixteen firearms taken from police commandos. MILF chief negotiator 10 Feb said suspension “bad sign” but respected decision, would not resort to violence. Thousands of people in Mindanao took part in rallies 10 Feb calling on Congress to reconsider suspension of hearings on BBL, calling for BBL to be passed without further delay. MILF 16 Feb asked Congress to pass proposed BBL “with no changes”; 18 Feb said it could accept a diluted BBL, but that this would not address problems in Mindanao. MILF launched operation against breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in North Cotabato province 5 Feb; thousands of civilians fled in subsequent clashes in N Cotabato and Maguindanao; BIFF 18 Feb threatened to target provincial capital. BIFF 20 Feb reiterated call for establishment of Islamic state, rejection of BBL. Military 20 Feb launched operation against BIFF in N Cotabato; also engaged in operation against Abu Sayyaf group late month, with 24 militants, two soldiers reported killed.

Sri Lanka

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Month saw new coalition govt make some progress on promised reform although at slower pace and with less public consultation than expected by many supporters: critics pointed to lack of concrete anti-corruption measures, including arrests of former officials; Tamils criticised continued army occupation of land in north and east, failure to release detainees held for years without charges. UN HRC 16 Feb approved six-month deferral of OHCHR report on alleged war crimes during civil war; govt promised to establish domestic accountability mechanism with consultation and support from OHCHR, agreement on details pending. Postponement of OHCHR report criticised by many, especially Tamil groups, who held large demonstrations in north and east. Northern provincial council 10 Feb passed resolution requesting UN investigation of alleged genocide against Tamils. Parliament 20 Feb approved long-promised victims and witness protection bill; text appeared largely unchanged from draft proposed by ex-President Rajapaksa’s govt. Supporters of Rajapaksa 18 Feb held major rally in Colombo calling on Rajapaksa to stand as PM candidate for former ruling coalition, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), in general elections expected in June; rally joined by Buddhist militant group Bodu Bala Sena.

Thailand

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Military government facing greater international opprobrium and domestic dissent than since immediate aftermath of May 2014 coup. Speaking to media during visit to Japan early Feb, PM Prayuth repeatedly mentioned govt’s intention to hold elections early 2016, but declined to rule out further coups, stating “Thailand is different from other countries. If something cannot be solved, the military will solve it”. U.S. State Dept expressed “significant concerns” about Prayuth’s statement. EU delegation 13 Feb issued statement expressing concern over continuing imposition of martial law and plans to expand military judicial authority over civilians. China continued expressions of support for junta, with President Xi’s special envoy and defence minister both visiting Prayuth during month, agreement to strengthen military ties. Tensions rising following retroactive impeachment of former PM Yingluck. Public prosecutor filed criminal charges against Yingluck 19 Feb; also faces civil suit for failure to curb alleged corruption in her govt’s rice-subsidy scheme. National Anti-Corruption Commission 24 Feb indicted 250 former lawmakers for their role passing amendment to 2007 constitution providing for fully elected senate; they face five-year ban from politics. Several protests by regime critics; four organisers of 14 Feb protest in Bangkok commemorating Feb 2014 general election detained and charged with violating a ban on political gatherings. Multiple bombing in Narathiwat town 20 Feb in which several people injured marked return to car bombings in urban areas by insurgents in southernmost provinces. Several Malay-Muslims shot dead in separate attacks in Yala and Narathiwat.

Korean Peninsula

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

ROK Ministry of National Defence 6 Jan issued biennial Defence White Paper asserting that DPRK nuclear threat is increasing. ROK 19 Jan announced plan to develop advanced weapons and reconnaissance satellites to enhance defence capabilities and counter evolving DPRK security threats. Defence officials from U.S., Japan and ROK late Dec signed military agreement to share intelligence on DPRK nuclear and missile threats. Cyber security threats and countermeasures fallout continued. New York Timesreported that U.S. National Security Agency penetrated DPRK computer networks, has had access to them since 2010. Nov attacks on Sony Pictures attributed to Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) and Bureau 121, said to have about 6,000 hackers; many attacks said to originate in China. U.S. 2 Jan imposed additional economic sanctions against RGB for cyber operations, also two other DPRK entities, Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation and Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, and ten DPRK individuals, sanctioned for illicit arms sales and procurement activities. North Korean army deserter crossed Chinese border and killed four people in Yanbian prefecture 27 Dec before being shot dead by Chinese police. ROK’s Joongang Ilbo 8 Jan reported KPA has developed seven-day war plan.

Uzbekistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

President Karimov 12 Jan said Uzbekistan will not join Eurasian Economic Union or any “alliance similar to USSR”. U.S. Deputy Asst Sec State for Central Asia Daniel Rosenblum 21 Jan confirmed U.S. transferring hundreds of military vehicles to Uzbekistan, said transfer conditional on govt making “substantial and continuing progress” on rights, freedom of expression, genuine multiparty system.

Turkmenistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Afghan senator 21 Jan reported presence of Islamic State fighters in Faryab province, near country’s border with Turkmenistan.

Tajikistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Tajik citizens fighting for Islamic State in Syria released video 4 Jan threatening Tajikistan with jihad. Ten suspected members of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan arrested 7 Jan near Dushanbe with alleged cell leader. New army base to monitor militants near Afghan border reportedly being built in Kulyob district. Two border guards wounded 18 Jan while preventing armed group crossing over Afghan border.

Kyrgyzstan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Growing concerns over recruitment to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL); Interior Ministry directorate in southern city Osh 12 Jan said IS recruitment in south rising. 21-year-old Osh resident questioned on suspicion of recruiting 60 young men from city to fight in Syria; six suspected terrorists arrested in Osh province mid Jan, alongside discovery of weapons cache. Chui province resident arrested 28 Jan on suspicion of persuading relatives to fight in Syria.

Kazakhstan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

President Nazarbayev continued mediation attempts in Ukraine crisis, 9 Jan met German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin. Planned 15 Jan meeting in Astana between Ukrainian, Russian, French and German leaders called off as fighting in Ukraine escalated. Nazarbayev held phone conversations seeking peaceful solutions to crisis with U.S. and Russian presidents. Five sentenced 15 Jan for membership of banned Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat. Prosecutor general’s office reported over 700 websites determined to be “extremist” and blocked during 2014.

Kashmir

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Firing across Line of Control and India-Pakistan working boundary continued: fifteen soldiers and civilians reported killed late Dec/early Jan. Governor’s rule imposed on Jammu and Kashmir 9 Jan after caretaker chief minister resigned following failure of parties to establish coalition govt after Nov-Dec state elections. Several militants reported killed by police, including five in Shopian district 15 Jan; army officer, policeman killed by militants in Pulwama district 27 Jan.

Afghanistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) 1 Jan assumed formal responsibility for all combat missions following conclusion of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and its transition into follow-up mission “Resolute Support”. President Ghani 12 Jan announced cabinet nominees after months of delay; proposed cabinet seen as implying reduced influence of former mujahidin figures, increasing influence of former members of Soviet-backed govt. Several candidates mid-month withdrew nominations, some claimed parliamentarians demanded bribes or jobs for constituents in exchange for approval. Eight nominees approved by parliament late Jan including for interior, foreign affairs and finance ministries; approval process expected to continue into Feb. Violence continued across country including Taliban deputy shadow governor for Kapisa province reported killed 15 Jan. Army commander 18 Jan confirmed some insurgent factions swore allegiance to jihadi group Islamic State; observers estimated factions only loosely affiliated with militants in Iraq and Syria, play limited role in insurgency.

Indonesia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Two police and one security officer found dead at Freeport mine in Papua 1 Jan, with machete and bullet wounds; police said 13 people arrested. Freeport mining company 22 Jan committed to build copper smelter in East Java; Papua governor said facilities should instead be built in Papua, where ore is mined.

Nepal

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

Political parties failed to reach consensus on constitution draft before 22 Jan deadline despite reportedly reaching agreement on several core issues 19 Jan. Scuffles broke out in parliament during Constituent Assembly sessions around deadline as ruling parties tried to push vote on draft; Maoist opposition organised general strike, rallies. Ruling parties 25 Jan tasked committee with resolving contentious issues before vote; Maoists vowed one-month boycott of committee and more protests, insisted on consensus decision.

Philippines

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

44 police commandos killed in clash with MILF militants in Tukanalipao village, Maguindanao province 25 Jan, at least seven civilians also killed; clash followed police operation to capture internationally wanted Malaysian terrorist suspect Zulkifli bin Hir aka Marwan. Govt said it believed Marwan to have been killed in operation. MILF blamed police for failing to notify them of presence in area in accordance with March 2014 ceasefire. Interior Minister said clash a “misencounter”, both govt and MILF expressed hope it would not derail peace talks. Incident prompted lawmakers to suspend parliamentary hearings related to passage of proposed Bangasamoro Basic Law (BBL); two senators withdrew support for bill. Amid public outrage and calls for retribution against militants, President Aquino in televised national address 28 Jan urged legislators and public not to abandon peace process. During national day of mourning 30 Jan Aquino pledged justice for those killed. Govt and MILF peace negotiators 30 Jan signed protocol for decommissioning of rebels. At least two killed, dozens wounded in explosion in Zamboanga City, Mindanao 24 Jan; authorities said Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) responsible. Followed killings of several ASG militants by army in earlier incidents.

Bangladesh

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

Month saw escalating political crisis, violent clashes between opposition and govt supporters around first anniversary of disputed Jan 2014 elections boycotted by opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP); at least 36 killed. Escalation raised fears about possible military intervention or exploitation of crisis by extremist and criminal networks; ruling Awami League (AL) denied country faces crisis, called BNP actions terrorism. Govt 3 Jan confined BNP leader Khaleda Zia to Dhaka BNP office in anticipation of BNP-led protests around 5 Jan election anniversary; move triggered deadly clashes between BNP and AL activists, at least four BNP workers killed, including two reportedly by security forces, leading Zia to call for indefinite countrywide strike, transport blockade. Zia released 19 Jan; said blockade would continue until govt agreed to dialogue, announced 48-hour strike in Dhaka, Sylhet and Khulna. Zia implicated for instigating two cases of arson during blockade; her son Tarique Rahman charged with treason 8 Jan.

Pakistan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Govt and parliamentary opposition continued to cede control over national security policy to military following deadly mid-Dec Peshawar school attack by Pakistani Taliban (TTP); 6 Jan passed 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army Act (amendment) bill 2015, overriding many fundamental rights and allowing military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects. Supreme Court 22 Jan decided to consider petitions against 21st amendment after Lahore High Court Bar Association 2 Jan passed resolution against military courts, Sindh High Court Bar Association 14 Jan challenged amendment through constitutional petition; outcome of consideration seen as defining test of court’s willingness to uphold judicial independence, fundamental rights. Govt closed 40 printing presses and stores, reportedly arrested 157 for hate speech or publishing hate material following late Dec adoption of counter-terrorism “National Action Plan”; 20 prisoners executed by mid-Jan following lifting of moratorium on death penalty. Jamaat-ud-Dawa (formerly Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) and other jihadi groups continued to operate freely despite govt pledges to end distinction between “good” and “bad” militants, latter targeting Pakistani state, former neighbouring countries. At least 60 killed in bombing of Shiite mosque in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district 30 Jan. Dozens of militants reported killed in U.S. drone strikes including six in N Waziristan 19 Jan. Military operation continued in NW; army claimed 92 militants killed in airstrikes 27 Jan.

Thailand

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) 23 Jan voted to impeach former PM Yingluck Shinawatra for negligence in failing to curb corruption in her govt’s rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck appeared before NLA 9 Jan to deliver statement defending herself against impeachment bid; failed to attend second hearing 16 Jan. Office of attorney general 23 Jan announced filing of criminal negligence charge against Yingluck for alleged corruption. Assistant U.S. Sec State Daniel Russel visited 26 Jan, said impeachment “politically driven”, called for lifting of martial law. National Council for Peace and Order 13 Jan appointed Defence Minister and Deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan head of new task force to enforce implementation of junta policies. Internal Security Operations Command reported violent incidents and casualties in south declined in fourth quarter of 2014. In ongoing insurgent attacks and clashes, school security guard shot dead in Cho Airong district, Narathiwat 2 Jan; two suspected militants killed in clash with rangers in Cho Airong 6 Jan; three insurgents killed in clash with security forces 9 Jan in Mayo district, Pattani; teacher injured in bomb attack 19 Jan in Narathiwat’s Bacho district.

Sri Lanka

  |  2 Feb 2015

Improved

Long-time President Rajapaksa conceded defeat to joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in 8 Jan presidential election; polling day largely peaceful despite widespread violence during campaign. Sirisena gained overwhelming support from Tamil and Muslim voters, about 45% of Sinhala votes. Senior members of new govt alleged Rajapaksa early morning 9 Jan attempted to declare state of emergency, called on army to stop vote-count and annul vote; move reportedly blocked by attorney general, head of police and army commander. Police subsequently launched investigations into incident and other alleged abuses of power by Rajapaksa, members of former administration. Sirisena 14 Jan announced new cabinet, dominated by United National Party, with members from all other joint opposition parties and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members who backed him during election. Rajapaksa 16 Jan ceded leadership of SLFP and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UFPA) to Sirisena, formerly Rajapaksa’s health minister. Sirisena 15 Jan removed northern governor with history of obstructing work of Tamil National Alliance (TNA)-led provincial council; new PM Ranil Wickremasinghe said govt will allow council to exercise full powers under thirteenth amendment although appearing to rule out fuller devolution of power demanded by Tamil parties. Wickremasinghe and FM Mangala Samaraweera confirmed govt will establish domestic investigation into alleged war crimes during civil war, expressed willingness to engage with UN HRC; govt 16 Jan lifted restrictions on foreigners traveling to north, 28 Jan reinstated chief justice impeached by former government in 2013; justice resigned next day, Tamil candidate sworn in 30 Jan.

Myanmar

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

At Independence Day celebrations 4 Jan President Thein Sein presided over large military parade in Naypyitaw, first time civilian has presided over military parade since 1962. President invited leaders of sixteen main armed groups to attend celebrations. Despite late Dec round of peace talks between ethnic groups and govt, distrust remains high. President called on groups to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Accord 12 Feb, but agreement unlikely. Several days of serious armed clashes near Hpakant, Kachin state from 15 Jan between KIO and military, most serious fighting for at least a year, 1,000 civilians displaced. President 12 Jan convened meeting of 48 political stakeholders in Naypyitaw, including 29 ethnic affairs ministers; meeting reaffirmed his authority to determine participation, also attempt to show priority he is giving to ethnic issue. National Human Rights Commission 14 Jan issued statement criticising police for 22 Dec fatal shooting of protester at site of controversial Chinese-run copper mine in Letpadaung. Eleven sentenced 29 Dec for involvement in July 2014 communal violence in Mandalay. Annual UNGA resolution on human rights in Myanmar 29 Dec welcomed reforms, expressed concern about situation of Rohingya, calling on govt to protect their rights, ensure humanitarian access. UN Special Rapporteur for human rights returned for second visit: met by demonstrators in Rakhine state angry at her perceived pro-Rohingya stance; in 16 Jan statement urged focus of discussions on Rohingya be their actual situation and rights, not terminology. 2nd U.S.-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue in Naypyitaw 14-15 Jan; followed visit by senior U.S. delegation. Yangon held first municipal elections in 60 years 27 Dec.

Korean Peninsula

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

U.S. blamed DPRK for major cyberattack on Sony Pictures 1 Dec, allegedly in response to launch of comedy movie featuring DPRK regime; President Obama said U.S. would “respond proportionally”. DPRK denied role in attack, proposed joint investigation, later blamed U.S. for several internet blackouts in DPRK. UNGA 18 Dec passed resolution calling for UNSC to refer DPRK’s alleged human rights violations to ICC. UNSC 22 Dec discussed human rights situation in DPRK. ROK 29 Dec offered to resume high-level talks with DPRK; DPRK leader Kim Jong-un in New Year’s address said open to talks. DPRK military continued winter military training, described by ROK military sources as “unusually intensive”. DPRK denied involvement in hack of ROK nuclear power operator late Dec.

Uzbekistan

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

President Karimov and Russian President Putin met in Tashkent 10 Dec; agreed on enhanced military technical cooperation, Moscow wrote off $865m in Uzbek debt. Karimov met U.S. Asst Sec State Nisha Biswal in Tashkent 2 Dec; Biswal’s visit criticised by rights groups. Parliamentary elections 21 Dec saw reported turnout of 89%: victorious candidates all from parties supporting President Karimov.

Turkmenistan

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Concerns after Khamyab district in Afghanistan’s Jowzan province adjacent to border fell under Taliban control 14 Dec. Also in Jowzan province, villagers 17 Dec threatened to attack Turkmen border guards who they claimed were moving border posts and depriving them of grazing pastures.

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CrisisWatch N°140

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