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CrisisWatch Database

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2586 results found
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Uzbekistan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
President Karimov 25-26 April visited Moscow, said Russia should be involved in Afghan peace talks (see Afghanistan); President Putin said both countries support creation of international anti-terrorist coalition.

Turkmenistan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Fighting reported 19 April between 300-400 Taliban and Afghan govt forces less than a kilometre from Turkmen border.

Tajikistan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) members 21 April held four-day military exercise 30km from Dushanbe involving 1,500 troops reacting to simulated terrorist attack from Afghan-Tajik border. Prosecutor Rahmonov late March said 85% of reported 1,094 Tajik citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq were recruited while working in Russia, 400 from Khatlon province which borders Afghanistan. Two suspects arrested in Khatlon 31 march for allegedly plotting to blow up local interior ministry HQ.

Kyrgyzstan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged

PM Temirbek Sariev 11 April resigned following corruption scandal; parliament 13 April approved Sooronbai Jeenbekov as new PM, 28 April took oath of office. Three opposition members arrested late March on allegations including plotting a coup and liaising with Uzbek intelligence agents. Foreign ministry 14 April issued angry response to criticism in U.S. State Dept’s 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Kazakhstan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
President Nazarbayev travelled extensively during month: during U.S. visit 31 March said Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) not a recreation of Soviet Union, EEU and EU should hold meetings; discussed trade and cooperation during Tehran visit 11-12 April; delivered speech on terrorism, corruption and non-proliferation at Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued joint call with President Erdoğan for unity among Islamic nations; 15 April met Uzbek President Karimov in Tashkent, discussed shared water resources and regional security issues.

Thailand

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) 29 March issued Order giving some military officers authority to conduct warrantless searches of homes, seize assets and detain civilians without charge. Human rights defenders condemned military intrusion into legal process; many observers believe order intended to curb criticism of draft constitution. Following 29 March issue of draft constitution, National Legislative Assembly 7 April approved referendum bill. Referendum will include question on whether or not joint sitting of parliament, including wholly appointed senate, should vote on PM. Referendum bill also authorises ten years’ prison for persons who “cause disturbances, deceive, force or threaten voters”. Army Commander General Thirachai Nakwanit 1 April told reporters that politicians who openly oppose govt could be sent for re-education course at military bases in violence-torn south. Army 19 April detained former commerce Minister Watana Muangsook for fourth “attitude adjustment” after he posted comments critical of NCPO on Facebook; activists demonstrated demanding his release, Watana released on bail 21 April. Soldiers 27 April arrested eight civilians for violations of Computer Crimes Act for Facebook posts ridiculing NCPO; the eight were charged with sedition. Violence continued in southernmost provinces, including several killed late-March/April in attacks/bombings. Secretary of Thai peace-dialogue delegation, Lt. General Nakrob Bunbuathong, transferred from post 21 April. Thai delegation met with Malay-Muslim separatist umbrella group Mara Patani in Kuala Lumpur 27 April, refused to sign Terms of Reference, setting back efforts to start formal negotiations.

Philippines

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Month saw heavy fighting on Basilan island as military launched major operation against Abu Sayyaf Group. Eighteen soldiers killed, over 50 injured 9 April after over 100 Abu Sayyaf attacked military in Tipo-Tipo, highest death toll of single military operation since 2011. Islamic State (IS), to which Abu Sayyaf has claimed allegiance, 14 April issued first official communiqué on attacks in Philippines claiming to have blown up seven trucks carrying soldiers during Basilan clashes; Philippine military rejected claim as propaganda. Military 10 April deployed over 2,000 soldiers to pursue Abu Sayyaf leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Furuji Indama. 37 militants reported killed in clashes 9-16 April. Military captured at least three Abu Sayyaf camps throughout month. Military 6 April confirmed foreign nationals held by Abu Sayyaf include fourteen Indonesians, four Malaysians kidnapped from ship 3 April. Abu Sayyaf 8 April freed former Italian missionary after six months; 25 April murdered Canadian hostage held since Sept 2015; 1 May released ten Indonesian sailors held since late March. Govt’s chief peace negotiator 14 April said operations against Abu Sayyaf highlight importance of Mindanao peace process with MILF in curbing terrorist groups. As campaigning got underway for 9 May general elections, candidates debated significance of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). All presidential contenders have also declared supporting the continuation of peace process.

Myanmar

  |  2 May 2016

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Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) confirmed in two cabinet positions, FM and minister in the President’s Office, after energy and education portfolios given to other ministers 5 April. Parliament 5 April approved bill creating new extra-constitutional position of “State Counsellor” specifically for ASSK, providing her legal authority to advise both executive and legislative branches; law pushed through despite objections from military bloc that it was unconstitutional. New govt released over 150 jailed activists 8 and 17 April; 69 of whom were students charged with illegal demonstration and 83 of whom were people imprisoned on political grounds who received presidential pardons. Fighting between govt forces and Arakan Army in Rakhine state continued, with clashes 16 April in Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun and Rathedaung townships killing several soldiers. Kyauktaw court late-March/early-April sentenced some 30 people to prison sentences of three to five years for links to rebel group. Meeting of groups who did not sign National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in Wa enclave 26-28 March resolved to negotiate end to fighting, but also take joint military action if necessary to respond to attacks by govt forces/“other armed groups”. Eight NCA-signatory armed groups held meeting in Chiang Mai 24-26 March, discussed preparations for dialogue with new govt and formed “Peace Process Steering Team”. Outgoing President Thein Sein 28 March lifted state of emergency in Rakhine state, in place since June 2012 following outbreaks of deadly communal violence. At least 21 Rohingya IDPs drowned 19 April when boat they were taking from IDP camp to local market near Sittwe capsized in heavy seas. In first official engagement as FM, ASSK hosted Chinese FM Wang Yi on a two day visit to Myanmar 5-6 April; Wang also met commander-in-chief and president.

Indonesia

  |  2 May 2016

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NGO Amnesty International reported that anti-terror elite police unit Densus 88 admitted torturing man to death in Klaten, Central Java in March. Protests reported in Papua and W Papua 13 April calling for independence and for United Liberation Movement for West Papua to become full member of Melanesian Spearhead Group regional bloc.

Sri Lanka

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
First parliamentary steering committee meeting overseeing drafting of new constitution held 5 April, chaired by PM Wickremesinghe. President Sirisena continued moves to strengthen hold over Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) including appointing two additional deputy ministers and new state minister 6 April and new party organisers 28 April. Constitutional council 18 April voted to appoint Senior Deputy Inspector of Police Pujith Jayasundara as new inspector general, who promised strengthened investigations into alleged crimes under previous govt. More than a dozen ex-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) combatants and other Tamils arrested throughout month following late March discovery of hidden explosives in Jaffna; seizure of some suspects in unmarked white vans raised fears of abductions. District-level Tamil govt officials 10 April reportedly attacked by Sinhalese fisherman in Mullaitivu and subsequently detained by Sinhalese troops. Amid worsening economic situation, government 29 April finalised agreement with IMF for $1.5bn three year financial support; govt 15 April confirmed VAT increase to take effect 2 May. During three-day visit to Beijing, PM announced 7 April decision to restart $1.4bn Chinese-funded and owned “Colombo Port City” project, and expansion of other Rajapaksa-era Chinese-led projects previously criticised by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe. U.S. State Dept’s Country Report on Human Rights in 2015, released 13 April, reported harassment of activists, journalists and alleged sympathisers of the LTTE, in addition to arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, and rape committed by police and security forces.

Pakistan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Punjab police 9 April launched security operation against Chotoo criminal gang in southern Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan districts; gang 13 April killed six police, took 24 hostage. Military 16 April announced it had taken over operation, launched airstrikes; gang leader and twelve others surrendered 20 April, released hostages. Belying official claims of success of ongoing paramilitary-led Rangers operation in Karachi, seven police protecting polio workers shot dead in two attacks in city 20 April; five people also killed early April in drive-by shootings. Two police, two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi killed 2 April in Karachi police raid. Four killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including one police 7 April in unclaimed IED blast, Awami National Party leader 10 April in Pakistani Taliban attack, one police 12 April in unclaimed shooting. In other militant attacks, bomb 5 April derailed Lahore-Quetta train, killing one; guard of Bilal Afridi, leader of pro-govt armed group in Khyber Agency, killed 18 April intercepting suicide attack. Security forces reportedly killed 34 members of United Baloch Army 9 April in Kalat district. Frontier Corps 6 April announced arrest of alleged Afghan intelligence operative in Balochistan. Leaked records of offshore holdings implicating over 200 nationals including family of PM Sharif early April further undermined legitimacy of govt.

Nepal

  |  2 May 2016

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Talks between mainstream and dissenting Madhesi parties on constitutional amendments remain stalled amid increasing indications that govt plans to begin implementing new constitution. Govt 8 April formed two committees to prepare transitional arrangements for new federal structure including identifying new provincial capitals; Madhesi parties opposed decision pointing to outstanding disputes over boundaries; opposition Nepali Congress demanded formation of new political mechanism to address boundary demarcation. PM KP Oli instructed ruling UML party leaders to prepare for local elections; govt seeking to hold initial phase of polls in earthquake-affected areas. Several Madhesi parties preoccupied by preparations for internal conventions which must be held by June according to Election Commission. Some Madhesi and smaller Janajati parties announced new alliance 18 April to increase pressure on govt to address demands of marginalised communities; alliance hamstrung by tactical disagreements over prioritising Kathmandu-centric or district-level protests. Two transitional justice mechanisms mid-April began 60-day complaint registration process for victims of 1996-2006 armed conflict; 2,344 cases received by Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and 604 cases received by commission investigating disappearances as of 28 April. PM Oli accused of attempted intimidation for reprimanding National Human Rights Commission officers 3 April after they criticised govt activities.

Kashmir

  |  2 May 2016

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Tensions between India and Pakistan increased following Pakistan’s 24 March arrest of Indian national accused of being spy for Indian intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Balochistan’s Frontier Corps commander 2 April said spy’s activities demonstrated Balochistan’s armed movement was “Indian state sponsored”. Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi 7 April said India-Pakistan dialogue process suspended. Indian and Pakistani FMs met on sidelines of Heart of Asia regional summit in New Delhi 26 April, first meeting between the two since Jan militant attack on Indian airbase in Pathankot in Punjab near Pakistani border; no significant progress reported. Indian National Investigation Agency director general 1 April said Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team, which arrived in India late March to investigate Pathankot attack, was given “concrete evidence” of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed involvement in attack. Pakistan military 9 April said Indian forces “resorted to heavy unprovoked firing and shelling” across Line of Control. Clashes between Indian soldiers and insurgents continued. Four killed in violent clashes between protestors and Indian police in areas of Indian-administered Kashmir including Handwara and Srinagar 12 April, following allegations that Indian soldier molested girl; authorities imposed curfews. Anti-India protests broke out 7 April in Shopian after two suspected insurgents killed in gun battle.

Bangladesh

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated

Several brutal murders during month underscored growing power and impunity of violent extremist groups. Law student and secular blogger Nazimuddin Samad hacked to death in Dhaka 6 April; al-Qaeda-linked Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal 10 April called on secular bloggers to “control” their writing, strongly criticised those writing against “religious establishment”. In 14 April address to party leaders and workers PM Hasina condemned writing that “hurt religious sentiments” as “unacceptable”, however stressed Islam does not allow individuals to murder alleged blasphemers. Jagannath University students 7 April protested over govt inaction following Samad’s killing. University professor Rezaul Karim Siddiquee hacked to death NW of Dhaka 23 April; Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility. Two people including LGBT magazine editor and activist Xulhaz Mannan hacked to death in Dhaka 25 April; govt blamed opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam 26 April claimed responsibility. Hindu man hacked to death in Tangail 30 April; IS claimed responsibility, authorities 1 May detained secretary of local JeI group, local BNP activist and local madrasa over killing. Violent clashes around second phase of local elections continued early-April, including between rival supporters of Awami League (AL) and between supporters of AL and BNP; more than 30 party activists reported killed. BNP leader Khaleda Zia, granted bail 5 April “considering her age and physical condition”, following 30 March arrest warrant over alleged role in firebomb attack during Jan 2015 opposition blockade. Senior police official 17 April said daily Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman (detained in 2013 on charges of sedition, defamation and corruption) accused of plotting to abduct and murder PM Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy.

Afghanistan

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated
Taliban 12 April launched start of spring offensive “Operation Omeri”, with clashes throughout month further dimming hope of Taliban participation in peace process and contributing to increasingly strained relations between Kabul and Islamabad. In deadliest insurgent attack on Kabul since 2001, Taliban 19 April detonated car bomb and launched gun attack on National Directorate of Security office killing 64; CEO Abdullah Abdullah postponed Pakistan trip following attack. U.S. special envoy 10 April encouraged Pakistan to use influence to bring Taliban to negotiations. Govt 11 April said Taliban should join peace talks or face military action by Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) states; 28 April criticised Pakistan for reportedly allowing Taliban delegation visit to Islamabad. Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) insurgent group 2 April said govt elements trying to sabotage peace process, rejected allegations that its talks with High Peace Council (HPC) were aimed at obtaining ministries; 5 April dropped precondition of troop withdrawal, 18 April insisted on removal of leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s name from UN and U.S. blacklists. President Ghani 4 April said govt facing threats from al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), Taliban; acting defence minister warned al-Qaeda expanding. Taliban resumed attacks on police check points in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area, Baghlan province; five militants and two security forces killed 4-5 April. At least 45 IS loyalists reported killed in Nangarhar province by Afghan National Security Forces and U.S. drone strike 5-6 April. Dozens killed in other attacks during month, including twelve army recruits killed in 11 April suicide attack in Jalalabad; at least seven killed in suicide attacks in Parwan and Kandahar provinces 5-6 April. U.S. 29 April released report detailing events of 2015 Kunduz hospital bombing.

Korean Peninsula

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
DPRK 1 April launched short-range ballistic missile off east coast, 15 and 28 April failed in three attempts to launch medium-range missiles, reportedly including inaugural test of Musudan missile with range of over 3,000km. U.S. military said unusual launch site indicated road-mobile missile. Responding to launch, Chinese foreign ministry said all parties should respect UNSC decisions. China 5 April announced embargoes on imports of coal and mineral ores from DPRK, halted sale of jet fuel to DPRK except for civilian aviation. DPRK 1 April said state of “semi-war” exists on Korean peninsula, jammed GPS signals in ROK and blocked multiple social media and ROK media websites. DPRK 23 April fired submarine-launched ballistic missile off east coast; UNSC condemned “another serious violation” of UN resolutions. Satellite imagery indicated “continued activity” at Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, amid speculation from observers that failed Musudan launch increased likelihood of fifth nuclear test. ROK 11 April reported defection of senior DPRK military officer who oversaw spying operations. G7 countries 11 April issued joint communiqué condemning DPRK nuclear tests and missile launches. DPRK 27 April announced first ruling Workers’ Party of Korea congress in 36 years to take place 6 May.

Thailand

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) 29 March released final constitution draft, including National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) proposals for NCPO-appointed 250-member senate during five-year transition period following 2017 general election. Six senate seats are reserved for senior military and police officers. Critics, including members of Pheu Thai and Democrat parties, described five-year transition as ploy for NCPO to retain power following general election. National Legislative Assembly 10 March approved amendments to interim constitution to stipulate that majority of ballots cast, rather than majority of voters, necessary for approval of constitution in referendum scheduled for early Aug. Deputy PM 1 March said only govt-sanctioned debates supervised by Election Commission permitted to discuss draft constitution ahead of referendum. NCPO continued to crack down on critics; Pheu Thai Party politician detained 26 March by army for three-day “attitude adjustment”. Month saw increase in violence in southernmost provinces, including at least ten attacks in Yala and Narathiwat provinces 13-14 March in which one defence volunteer was killed and ten people injured. At least 40 insurgents 13 March seized hospital in Cho Airong, Narathiwat province and used it as base to attack adjacent army camp, wounding seven rangers. Three police killed, six wounded in ambush in Rangae, Narathiwat 29 March; Pattani rocked by several explosions 30-31 March, one person killed.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
MPs 9 March approved resolution for parliament to act as “Constitutional Assembly” tasked with drafting new constitution. President Sirisena continued moves to strengthen hold over Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) including appointing Mahinda Amaraweera as UPFA Sec Gen 8 March. Despite Sirisena’s threats to suspend MPs attending opposition events from party, rally by “joint opposition” with former president Rajapaksa and over 40 SLFP MPs 17 March in Colombo drew large crowds. During speech in Washington FM Samaraweera 25 Feb said govt willing to consider participation of international actors implementing UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution, while former Army Commander and Regional Development Minister Sarath Fonseka 10 March endorsed international participation in war crimes investigation; however, Sirisena 18 March again rejected involvement by foreign judges. UNHCHR 10 March said release of land held by military, reviewing cases of security detainees and resolving disappearances must accelerate. Sirisena 14 March presented deeds for additional 700 military-occupied acres of land to owners in Valikamam North division of Jaffna peninsula. Three-week hunger strike by fourteen Tamil detainees held under Prevention of Terrorism Act ended 11 March after Attorney General Dept officials assured them that magistrate’s court would file charges soon. Amid growing economic pressure, Central Bank governor 17 March confirmed govt in negotiations with IMF for $1.5bn loan.

Pakistan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated
Over 70 people killed and at least 300 injured in suicide bomb attack on park in Lahore 27 March; victims included many families celebrating Easter. Attack claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) which said it was targeting Christians. Amid criticism of inadequate security, PM Sharif called for better coordination on part of security services against terrorism; military and intelligence agencies conducted raids following attacks, killing five suspects and arresting more than 600. Violent protests against execution of Mumtaz Qadri, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s murderer, in Islamabad, with thousands of Islamist activists besieging parliament and destroying public property, ended 30 March with govt reportedly agreeing not to amend blasphemy law, to show no leniency to those imprisoned on blasphemy charges, and to release non-violent demonstrators. At least 31 killed in insurgent attacks throughout month, including in Peshawar, Mohmand Agency and Sibi districts. Dozens of suspected insurgents also killed by security forces during month, including in N Waziristan, Karachi, Punjab and Balochistan. Security forces 10 March reportedly arrested fourteen members of Afghan Taliban near Quetta. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar 2 March ordered investigation into allegations that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party received Indian funding and weapons; former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal next day accused MQM party leader of ties with Indian intelligence. Supreme Court 11 March rejected request by paramilitary Rangers to establish separate police structure and one year extension of special policing powers in Sindh province.

Nepal

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Constitution-related negotiations between mainstream and Madhesi parties remained stalled, no progress on disputes on state boundaries. In coalition of Madhesi parties, disagreements continued over strategy and form of further protests; public confidence in parties eroded in Tarai region. Supplies of petrol in Kathmandu normalised mid-March; shortages of diesel and cooking gas continued. Former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba elected new Nepali Congress president 7 March, triggering discussions on possible change of govt. PM KP Oli continued regional diplomatic efforts, visiting Beijing 20-27 March, signing bilateral transit transport agreement 21 March granting Nepal access to China’s ports; visit an effort to counterbalance trade dependence on India. Nepal Army announced former Maoist combatants integrated into its forces to be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions beginning July 2016; 85 of 1,420 ex-Maoist combatants to participate initially. Post-earthquake reconstruction efforts remain delayed due to political disputes, lack of policy framework or feasibility studies by National Reconstruction Authority (NRA); NRA CEO under investigation for alleged corruption in previous role as head of national Town Development Fund.

Philippines

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Murad Ebrahim 7 March said MILF will uphold Mindanao peace process ahead of May elections, appealed to international supporters of process to influence new govt to implement 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB); warned about growing frustration over Congress’s failure to pass Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) leading to fringe militant groups allying with Islamic State (IS) to establish stronghold on southern islands; said MILF working to dissuade IS-allied militants from launching attacks. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., author and sponsor of alternative to BBL, 24 March said implementing peace process best deterrent against IS influence in Philippines. Clashes continued between military and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao. Two New People’s Army (NPA) bomb attacks 20 March wounded four soldiers and two civilians in Bicol region. Military confirmed Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militant Radullan Sahiron, wanted by U.S. for $1 mn, injured in 18 March firefight with govt security forces in Patikul. One ASG reported killed 23 March in MILF ambush. ASG reportedly kidnapped ten Indonesian sailors late month. IS-linked Ansaru’l Khilafah Philippines 17 March released video purporting to show beheading of man working for police.

Myanmar

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
MPs 15 March overwhelmingly elected Aung San Suu Kyi confidant Htin Kyaw as president, with retired Lt-Gen Myint Swe and Henry Van Thio becoming VPs. Htin Kyaw and Henry Van Thio both National League for Democracy (NLD) nominees, both seen as Suu Kyi proxies; Myint Swe selected as nominee by military bloc, seen as military hardliner. Legislature 24 March approved President-elect’s eighteen nominees for 21 ministries without discussion; list includes Suu Kyi, who will hold four portfolios: foreign affairs, education, energy and president office. Others include technocrats, NLD leaders and some members of other political parties. Htin Kyaw sworn in as president 30 March, spoke of need for democratic constitution. Speaking at Armed Forces Day 27 March, marked with 10,000 military personnel parading in Naypyitaw, commander-in-chief said military must remain a political force. Work continued on peace process at procedural level, particularly on joint ceasefire monitoring mechanisms at national and state/region levels. Situation remains unstable in many areas, with new clashes causing significant displacement. Fighting in N Shan state between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and govt forces continued. Arakan Army claimed to have killed over 30 govt troops in clash in N Rakhine state 3 March. Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) late Feb announced re-establishment of additional brigade in N Shan state. Political tensions surfaced in Rakhine as president-elect’s nomination on 29 March of member of minority NLD bloc, rather than dominant Arakan National Party (ANP) bloc, as state’s chief minister gave perception of side-lining main political party ANP, which won majority of state seats in Nov 2015 elections. UN reported some 25,000 displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled sectarian violence in 2012 returned from camps to original communities in past twelve months – most to villages adjacent to camps; 120,000 still in camps. U.S. State Dept reported Rohingya Muslims continue to face persecution.

Kashmir

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Pakistani investigation team 27 March arrived in India to investigate 2 Jan militant attack on Indian airbase in Pathankot in Punjab near Pakistani border killing seven Indian soldiers; followed Indian FM’s 17 March announcement during South Asian Associated for Regional Cooperation Council of Ministers meeting of agreement with Pakistan Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz that Pakistan would send investigation team. Indian defence minister 1 March accused Pakistani non-state actors of responsibility for attack, said “no non-state actor from there [Pakistan] can function smoothly without the state’s support”. Pakistan interior minister 8 March confirmed his govt had informed Indian authorities of ten suspicious men crossing border from Pakistan 3 March; Indian security forces reportedly killed three of them. Pakistan officials summoned Indian ambassador 25 March protesting illegal entry of suspected Indian spy captured in Baluchistan province 24 March. Clashes between Indian soldiers and rebels continued including two suspected rebels killed in gun battle NW of Srinagar 18 March. Indian army 3 March said three suspected Kashmiri rebels killed during gun battle in Tral; hundreds of residents shouting pro-freedom slogans attempted to reach site of clash, police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Indonesia

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Suspected members of armed wing of Free Papua Movement 15 March attacked highway project in Papua’s Puncak municipality, killing four construction workers and kidnapping two; govt said construction project would continue, with extra security. Solomon Islands raised concerns about human rights violations in Papua at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva 18 March. Jakarta police chief Gen Tito Karnavian sworn in as country’s head of counter-terrorism 16 March. Rights activists called on parliament to reject proposed revisions to anti-terrorism law including detention without trial for up to three months.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
First round of local elections 22 March saw at least eleven killed and over 500 reported injured in election-related violence, reportedly including by Awami League (AL) supporters who, fearing local party losses, attacked police taking ballot boxes; opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) contested local polls despite alleging widespread rigging ahead of vote. BNP leader Khaleda Zia and son Tarique Rahman won chair and senior vice-chair positions respectively in uncontested BNP internal elections 7 March. At 19 March triennial national council meeting between BNP leaders to discuss reforms and elect council, Zia pledged BNP would, if voted to office, introduce “new govt model” for better balance of power between PM, cabinet, and parliament; called for transparency in appointments to constitutional bodies. Ahead of meeting, party leaders considered revising party manifesto to explicitly reject “extremism and religious militancy”, in apparent bid to counter criticism of having turned a blind eye while in govt. Court 30 March issued arrest warrant for Zia and 27 other BNP officials over role in instigating firebomb attack during opposition blockade Jan 2015; court 10 March cleared BNP acting Sec Gen and 25 other members of BNP-led 20-party alliance of arson charges over alleged election-related violence in Jan 2014. Shia doctor hacked to death in Jhenaidah district of Khulna Division 15 March, Christian man stabbed to death north of Dhaka 22 March; Islamic State reportedly claimed both attacks. Raids on suspected Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) cells continued, including paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion’s arrest of five alleged JMB members 13 March in Dhaka. Supreme Court 8 March upheld International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) death penalty for senior Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) member Mir Quasem Ali, believed to be party’s main financier. ICT 15 March issued death warrant for JeI chief Motiur Rahman Nizami.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Taliban 5 March announced it would not participate in direct talks with govt until all preconditions have been met, including foreign troop withdrawal, release of Taliban prisoners, removal of Taliban names from UN sanctions list. President Ghani addressing parliament next day warned Taliban must “choose whether they want peace or war”. Hizb-e-Islami insurgent group representatives 17 March met with High Peace Council, maintained demands for foreign troop withdrawal and “establishment of legitimate Islamic system”. Ghani 5 March issued long-awaited constitutional decree on electoral reform to enable release of international financial assistance urgently needed for elections to be held in Oct. Afghan and Pakistani border forces 6 March exchanged mortar and rocket fire across border in Nangarhar province. Clashes between rival Taliban factions led by Mullah Akhtar Mansour and Mullah Mohammad Rasool in Herat’s Shindbad district 10 March reportedly resulted in 100 deaths. Over a dozen security forces killed in clash with Taliban in Uruzgan province in south 29 March; two police and several insurgents reported killed in fighting in Balkh province in north 30 March; Herat provincial officials reported some 100 militants killed during security operation to regain control of Shindand district late month. Thirteen Taliban killed 23 March in Ghazni province during clash with security forces. Multiple suicide attacks included: attack near Indian consulate in Jalalabad 2 March killing two; attack in Kabul 5 March reportedly killed three people. In Helmand province, ten Taliban and three police killed in attack on govt buildings 9 March. New commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan 22 March issued formal apology for 2015 Kunduz hospital bombing. UN SRSG Nicholas Haysom 15 March warned UNSC that Afghan govt’s survival in 2016 “will be an achievement”.

Korean Peninsula

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
UNSC 2 March unanimously adopted Resolution 2270, drafted by U.S. and China, initiating further sanctions against DPRK, including: mandatory inspections of cargo to/from DPRK, blacklisting of ships, total arms embargo, ban on selling aviation/rocket fuels, embargoes on DPRK’s coal, iron ore, gold and rare earth exports. Philippines 5 March impounded blacklisted North Korean freighter; at least five other vessels denied entry at Russian and Chinese ports. ROK and U.S. 7 March began largest ever joint military exercises; DPRK called them “nuclear war moves”, threatened pre-emptive nuclear strike, fired short-range missiles off east coast 3, 21 and 29 March; 18 March medium-range ballistic missile. Leader Kim Jong-un 4 March said country’s nuclear warheads “need to be ready for use at any time”; 9 March that DPRK had miniaturised nuclear warheads to fit on ballistic missiles; 11 March asked scientists to continue nuclear tests; 10 March announced all inter-Korean agreements on economic cooperation and exchange projects nullified, vowed to liquidate South Korean assets in DPRK. UN envoy 17 March requested UNSC meeting on joint military exercises. Obama 16 March issued and executive order formally enacting UN and U.S. sanctions; China said it opposes unilateral sanctions. Chinese and Russian FMs issued joint press statement saying they would not recognise DPRK as nuclear weapon state.

Uzbekistan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Tensions with Kyrgyzstan rose as 40 Uzbek border troops and armoured vehicles entered disputed border area 18 March, unilaterally closing a checkpoint on Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in Jalalabad province. Kyrgyzstan responded sending 40 troops, followed by 200 troops on 20 March. Kyrgyz State Border 21 March said number of Kyrgyz and Uzbek troops had been reduced, situation stable. Kyrgyzstan 22 March initiated special intergovernmental Collective Security Treaty Organisation Permanent Council meeting to address tensions. Uzbek troops withdrew 26 March.

Tajikistan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Massive military exercise including 50,000 Tajik soldiers and reservists and 2,000 Russian soldiers conducted 15-19 March along length of Afghan border; followed 5 March skirmish between Tajik border guards and Taliban near Panj border post in which one Tajik soldier killed. Tajik border guards early March reportedly prevented infiltration of alleged armed group from Afghanistan near eastern city Khorog.

Kyrgyzstan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Amid worsening economic situation, prominent nationalist politicians from south including Adahan Madumarov and Kamchybek Tashiev (leader of Ata Jurt party) 12 Feb formed new nationalist party United Opposition Force of Kyrgyzstan (UOF). Group formation comes against backdrop of mounting protests over economic situation, including rallies held in Aksy, Kerben, Jalalabad and Talas 14 March. Speaking in Osh 17 March President Atambayev reportedly said provocateurs should be stoned. National Security Committee 23 March confirmed authenticity of records confirming opposition’s plans to seize power. Amid accusations, opposition cancelled 24 March mass protest in Osh; two opposition leaders, Bektur Asanov, Kubanychbek Kadyrov and Ernest Karybekov, detained 24-25 March. 27 March local elections in Osh held peacefully with Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) leading poll.

Kazakhstan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Snap parliamentary elections 20 March passed without incident; Central Election Committee 22 March announced ruling party Nur Otan won 82.2% votes, reported 77.12% turnout; OSCE said “genuine political choice remains insufficient”.

Thailand

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Critics across political divide criticised draft constitution released late Jan, claiming it is undemocratic; National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) officials suggested critics could face legal consequences if they sow public confusion. PM Prayuth 3 Feb said election will be held in 2017, even if the public rejects the draft in a referendum. Deputy PM 9 Feb told reporters that if draft constitution is rejected in referendum by narrow margin, govt could make minor amendments and then promulgate it. Appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) 15 Feb rejected clauses of draft that changed balloting process and placed greater restrictions on who could become PM; endorsed military-dominated “crisis panel” to step in during moments of national crisis and entirely appointed senate. Cabinet 18 Feb asked Constitution Drafting Committee to ensure NCPO retains governing authority, even after general election and empaneling of civilian government, citing need to preserve peace and order. Former PM Thaksin Shinawatra in series of international media interviews late Feb criticised draft constitution and NCPO. Prayuth attended U.S.-ASEAN summit in California mid-Jan; U.S. President Obama urged quick return to civilian rule. Govt announced merger of Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, interagency unit charged with coordination of social, political and economic initiatives in southernmost provinces, with army-dominated Internal Security Operations Command. Ongoing violence in Deep South included: roadside IED blast 12 Feb killed two soldiers in Krong Pinang district, Yala; soldier killed in IED attack in Bacho district 17 Feb; car bomb wounded twelve including seven police in Pattani’s Muang district 27 Feb.

Philippines

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Congress went on recess 3 Feb without passing Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), meaning that bill, which is required to implement 2013 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) through creation of autonomous Bangsamoro region, will not be passed before May elections. Chief peace negotiator criticised legislators’ “indifference” and “chronic absenteeism” in the 16th Congress. Following talks in Malaysia 10-11 Feb, govt and MILF issued joint statement expressing disappointment but agreeing to extend ceasefire until March 2017. MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal warned of frustration and anxiety within MILF; MILF leader Murad Ebrahim 18 Feb also expressed commitment to peace, urged patience and calm among Bangsamoro communities. Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) 26 Feb said that Jan 2015 Mamasapano incident, in which 44 police commandos and eighteen MILF were killed, not only halted passage of BBL but also may have made extremism more attractive to young Muslims. Military 10 Feb reported arrest of top Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) militant Hassan Indal alias Abu Hazam west of Cotabato City. BIFF suspected of responsibility for roadside bombs in Maguindanao killing four people 17 Feb and one soldier 20 Feb. Six suspected BIFF fighters reported killed in clash with military 16 Feb. MILF 25 Feb announced it was repositioning its fighters in south to avoid “mis-encounters” with army fighting BIFF. Military reported 42 suspected militants claiming links to Islamic State killed during clashes in Lanao del Sur province late month; three soldiers also killed. Military reported clash between Abu Sayyaf Group and Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu 20 Feb, two killed. Six policemen killed in attack by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Cagayan 16 Feb. Military reported NPA leader shot dead by soldiers in Bukidnon province 23 Feb.

Myanmar

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

New five-year legislative term commenced 1 Feb with convening of lower house, and upper house 3 Feb. National League for Democracy (NLD)’s choice of speaker and deputy speaker elected unopposed in both houses: both positions in upper house filled by non-Burmans, while both deputy speakers are non-NLD members. First session of joint Union Legislature 8 Feb decided presidential election process would not begin until 17 March, two weeks before end of current administration’s term 30 March; later brought date forward to 10 March. Lower house 5 Feb appointed former Speaker Shwe Mann – a key ally of Suu Kyi and third most powerful general in old regime – as chair of Legal Affairs and Special Issues Commission. Suu Kyi held third meeting with Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing 17 Feb; reportedly discussed rule of law and peace process. Local media 13 Feb reported Min Aung Hlaing and his deputy extended their terms for five more years. Facebook 1 Feb removed video posted three days earlier by controversial nationalist monk Wirathu dramatising rape and murder of Rakhine girl that sparked deadly anti-Muslim violence in 2012; video had prompted strong criticism from senior NLD member and warning from Ministry of Religious Affairs that it could lead to court action. Further round of clashes erupted between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Shan State Army-South (SSA-South) armed groups in N Shan state 7 Feb, displacing several thousand civilians. Meeting of Shan State Joint Action Committee (committee of armed groups and political parties in Shan state) agreed 14 Feb that Shan State Progress Party (SSPP)/SSA-North should mediate talks between belligerents. Lower house 17 Feb discussed emergency motion calling for immediate ceasefire and humanitarian assistance; deputy defence minister reported Myanmar armed forces had begun military intervention to end fighting in area.

Indonesia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Following 14 Jan terror attack, govt drawing up plans for tougher anti-terrorism laws. Australia late Feb issued updated travel advisory warning terrorists could be in “advanced stages” of preparing attacks in Indonesia. Amnesty International annual report criticised govt failure to protect religious minorities; Human Rights Watch 11 Feb reported that local authorities in Subang, West Java have banned activities of Ahmadiyah religious community.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

President Sirisena 4 Feb reaffirmed commitment to implement UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution, however govt position on role of foreign experts/judges remains unclear, despite visit by UNHCHR Zeid 6-9 Feb. Govt 12 Feb launched two-month consultation process on transitional justice mechanisms in Jaffna; following late Jan visit, UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice Pablo De Grieff issued statement 10 Feb urging longer consultation period and major push to build govt capacity and develop coherent strategy for implementing HRC resolution. Govt’s 16 Feb appointment of veteran and pro-devolution Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP, Sirisena’s party and part of national govt) politician Reginal Cooray as Northern Province governor widely welcomed by Tamil politicians. Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka 9 Feb appointed to fill vacant United National Party (UNP, second party in national govt) seat in parliament; decision challenged in court as he was not on UNP list at Aug elections as required by law; Fonseka made minister of regional development 25 Feb. New Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya sworn in 11 Feb amid widespread criticism of office’s reported blockage of criminal prosecutions and releases of Tamil detainees. MPs from “joint opposition” Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United People Freedom Alliance protested in parliament 9 Feb after speaker’s refusal to allow them to sit separately from SLFP. IMF 11 Feb confirmed govt had requested additional support to cover increasingly severe balance of payments difficulties, amid rising opposition to proposed trade deal with India.

Pakistan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Continued attacks against security personnel raised concerns that extremist outfits have regrouped and operating freely; govt early Feb said terrorists being funded externally by “hostile intelligence agencies” to foment instability. Intelligence Bureau head 11 Feb said Pakistani Taliban (TTP) has ties with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) extremist groups and is coordinating with Islamic State (IS), which is growing in country; Foreign Ministry and Interior Minister denied, said IS has no organised presence in Pakistan. Army 12 Feb reported arrest of 97 suspected al-Qaeda and LeJ militants in Karachi. Attacks in Balochistan included eleven killed 6 Feb in TTP-claimed suicide bombing near military convoy in Quetta; ten members of Balochistan Liberation Army reported killed, twelve arrested 14 Feb in Sibi district raid. U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan’s Paktika province 1 Feb reportedly killed eighteen TTP militants. In Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), TTP’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for two attacks in Mohmand Agency 18 Feb, nine tribal police killed. In other militant attacks, Awami National Party Swabi district councillor and her two children killed in Peshawar 10 Feb, TTP suspected; three police killed 10-12 Feb in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Former Afghan governor Fazlullah Wahidi kidnapped 12 Feb in Islamabad, later freed by police; policeman killed at routine checkpoint search 12 Feb. Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department 17 Feb reported seven suspected TTP and LeJ militants killed in Sheikhupura district; polio worker wounded, two police killed same day in two attacks in Lahore. Country-wide protests 29 Feb following execution of Mumtaz Qadri for 2011 murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. International Federation of Journalists reported Pakistan fourth deadliest country in world for journalists in 2015.

Nepal

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Five-month long blockade on essential supplies imposed by protesting Madhesi parties and groups along Indian border lifted 6 Feb following differences on strategy between parties comprising United Madhesi Democratic Front (UDMF) and increasing protester fatigue. Humanitarian situation eased despite fuel supplies remaining partially disrupted due to thriving black market. Govt began downsizing deployment of security forces across southern Tarai districts. Disputes regarding contentious constitutional provisions – especially key Madhesi demand related to demarcating new federal provinces – remained unresolved. Cabinet 18 Feb announced formation of political committee to discuss provincial boundaries; UDMF rejected decision, blaming lack of prior consultation on committee’s terms of reference. PM KP Oli visited New Delhi 19-23 Feb to help ease bilateral tensions following India’s criticisms of constitution-writing process and unofficial Indian support for blockade; Indian PM Modi reemphasized need for consensus and dialogue to ensure new constitution’s success. Former PM and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala died 9 February; NC general convention to elect new party president scheduled 3-6 March.

Kashmir

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Indian home minister 3 Feb said govt would continue working with Pakistani investigation into 2 Jan attack on Pathankot air base in Indian Punjab; said Islamabad had to show “sincerity and take action against terrorists operating from its soil”. Anonymous security official 8 Feb reportedly said Pakistani investigation team found “nothing dubious” in homes, madrasas and phone records of Jaish-e-Mohammad members blamed by India for attack. Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs 1 Feb urged govt to avoid “encouraging” support to Kashmiri militants. Addressing Pakistan-administered Kashmir parliament 5 Feb, PM Sharif said solution “lies in dialogue” with India. Leader of militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa warned Sharif not to “betray the Kashmiri cause”. Nine reported killed including civilians in three-day gun battle between militants and security forces in India-controlled region after gunmen 21 Feb attacked bus carrying police. Five suspected militants and two soldiers killed during gun battle 13 Feb in Kupwara near Line of Control. One killed during clashes between Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) activists 13 Feb in Kotli district of Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities imposed curfew in Indian-controlled areas 15 Feb amid calls by separatist groups to protest death of teenage boy and women during demonstrations against Indian rule.

Turkmenistan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Late-Jan offer by visiting Russian FM Lavrov to assist with protecting Turkmen-Afghan border reportedly rebuffed amid ongoing spat over gas and concerns about Caspian Sea. Govt reported to be considering constitutional changes that would allow President Berdymukhamedov to rule for life. Amnesty International annual report criticised repression, continuing torture and rights violations.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Political atmosphere remained relatively calm, however govt continued to target opposition and dissenting voices. Fifteen opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami activists sentenced 2 Feb to life imprisonment over alleged political violence in 2013; over 100 BNP leaders including acting secretary general indicted mid Feb over violence during BNP blockade early 2015. BNP 12 Feb announced it will contest local elections 22 March, and hold party national council also in March. Awami League (AL) parliamentarians and PM Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy 6 Feb urged prosecutors to try Daily Star Editor Mahfuz for treason, after he publicly apologised for publishing stories about then-opposition leader Hasina’s alleged corruption; international press freedom organisations called on govt to end Mahfuz’s harassment. Editor of pro-BNP newspaper arrested in bomb blast case. Suspected Islamist militants 21 Feb fatally stabbed Hindu priest near Panchagarh; Islamic State claimed responsibility, however police said militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) behind attack, arrested four. Police launched several raids on suspected extremist hideouts, recovering large amounts of weapons and explosives. International Crimes Tribunal 2 Feb sentenced two to death for alleged crimes during 1971 independence war. Relations with Pakistan deteriorated further; Pakistan embassy official detained for several hours 1 Feb for “suspicious movement”; Pakistan responded by detaining Bangladeshi embassy official for same amount of time; ambassadors to both countries were summoned by foreign ministries following incident.

Tajikistan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Russia’s Central Military Command chief late Jan said country’s 201st air base near Kulyab to be downgraded from division to brigade, allegedly to increase mobility. Supreme Court 9 Feb started hearings in trial of thirteen leading members of Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) accused of attempting overthrow govt Sept 2015. Lower house 10 Feb approved 22 May referendum date on constitutional amendment to allow President Rahmon to retain presidency beyond 2020 and decrease lower age limit. During fifth session of EU-Tajik Cooperation Council 16 Feb, EU confirmed $251mn development aid to Tajikistan until 2020. U.S. govt’s Counterterrorism Partnership Fund reportedly earmarked $50mn in assistance to Central Asia, named Tajikistan special partner. Human Rights Watch 17 Feb denounced crackdown on political opposition.

Kyrgyzstan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Protests erupted in Naryn town 27 Jan against proposed cuts to allowances paid to residents/workers of mountainous areas. Protests over state allowances, rising electricity tariffs and introduction of mandatory house and car insurance held in Kara-Jygach, Jalalabad province 10 Feb and in Talas 22 Feb. Osh regional police said fifteen women detained 24 Feb on suspicion of being Hizb ut-Tahrir members.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Deteriorated

Fighting continued to worsen ahead of proposed talks between govt and Taliban early March. Officials 20 Feb reported Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) pulled out of Helmand’s Musa Qala district after dozens of police and soldiers were killed across province mid-month. Several police killed in heavy fighting in Sangin district 14 Feb. Badakhshan provincial governor 18 Feb reported Jurm and Yamgan districts completely under Taliban control. MPs from Baghlan province 3 Feb said Sept 2015 deal between Dand-e-Ghori regional govt and Taliban led to increased insecurity in N Afghanistan and Baghlan. CEO Abdullah 5 Feb said continued NATO troop support for ANSF essential. U.S. National Intelligence Director 10 Feb warned Afghanistan at “serious risk of political breakdown” in 2016; UN 14 Feb reported 2015 saw highest number of civilian casualties recorded since 2009. Taliban splinter group 6 Feb released video calling new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour puppet of Pakistani intelligence agency, declared nationwide military campaign against Mansour. Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and U.S. met in Islamabad 6 Feb, discussed Afghan peace process; Afghan officials 23 Feb said govt expects to meet with Taliban early March. At least 26 people killed in two separate suicide bombings 27 Feb in Kumar province and Kabul; Taliban claimed responsibility for Kabul attack. Five ICRC staff kidnapped 16 Feb in Ghazni province, released three days later. President Ghani 9 Feb approved mass media law seeking to promote freedom of speech, but prohibiting content contrary to Islam, offensive to other religions, or defamatory.

Kazakhstan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Amid falling oil prices and depreciating currency, ruling Nur Otan party late Jan presented list of candidates for 20 March parliamentary elections; list includes only 33 of party’s 83 previous MPs, and including sportsmen, singers and businessmen. PM Masimov and President Nazarbayev 6 Feb met Turkish PM Davutoğlu in Astana, declaring importance of relations with Ankara despite Russian-Turkish tensions. In telephone call with Nazarbaev 8 Feb, President Putin blamed Turkey for tensions. Ethnic tensions erupted into unrest in Zhambyl region in south as crowd stoned houses of ethnic Turks and demanded lynching of ethnic Turkish suspected of killing child during botched burglary; special forces deployed to disperse protesters. Amnesty International annual report warned of worsening human rights situation in the country.

Korean Peninsula

  |  1 Mar 2016

Deteriorated

DPRK 7 Feb announced launch of earth observation satellite from Sohae launch site, violating UNSC ban on ballistic missile tests. Rocket used has potential range of 12,000km, U.S. reported twice payload of previous rocket test. Launch prompted international condemnation including from UNSC. U.S. 25 Feb submitted draft resolution to UNSC including “unprecedented sanctions” against DPRK, with vote scheduled for 1 March; reported China and U.S. agreed on strong and united international response to Pyongyang’s provocations. ROK 10 Feb ordered shutdown of Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), reporting intelligence suggesting 70% of DPRK’s KIC earnings funnelled into nuclear weapons program. DPRK retaliated expelling all ROK nationals, freezing ROK firms’ assets, announcing plans to put complex under military control; also vowed to disconnect its three hotlines with south. China 17 Feb proposed simultaneous denuclearisation talks and replacement of existing armistice agreement with peace treaty; ROK, U.S. said progress on denuclearisation must come first. U.S. intelligence chief 9 Feb reported DPRK has expanded Yongbyon nuclear enrichment facility and restarted plutonium production reactor, could obtain plutonium within weeks; also stated low yield of DPRK’s 6 Jan hydrogen bomb inconsistent with successful detonation of a thermal nuclear device. U.S. imposed new sanctions against DPRK, also stepped up military deployment to ROK. ROK and U.S. began talks on deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system; Chinese FM 12 Feb voiced concerns, saying THAAD exceeds defence needs of Korean Peninsula; U.S. stressed it does not aim to undermine Chinese security interests. ROK media 10 Feb reported DPRK had executed Army Chief of Staff Ri Yong-gil. ROK intelligence reported Kim Jong-un ordered intensification of preparations for terrorist attacks against ROK, urged lawmakers to pass new counter-terrorism bill.

Thailand

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Anti-coup New Democracy Movement (NDM) student leader Sirawith Seritiwat seized 20 Jan by uniformed men; Sirawith alleged he was hooded and beaten before being delivered to police station. Sirawith and three other NDM activists later released after military court rejected police request to extend their detention. Military court 19 Jan ordered release of fourteen student activists detained since June 2015 for leading anti-coup rallies. Defence ministry 30 Dec released results of investigation into alleged corruption by senior army officers in construction of Rajabhakti Park, exonerating army. Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) 29 Jan issued constitution draft. CDC chairman Meechai Ruchapan said general election may be delayed from July 2017 to end of that year. Iyad Amin Madani, Sec Gen of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, visited Thailand 10-13 Jan, expressed support for military govt’s approach to Malay-Muslim insurgency in southernmost provinces; 10 Jan met in Kuala Lumpur with representatives of Majlis Syura (Mara) Patani, umbrella group of Patani independence organisations. Three NGOs 8 Jan released report alleging torture of insurgent suspects by security forces in deep south. PM Prayuth 21 Jan said authorities investigating report that three people with links to Islamic State (IS) had visited Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat late 2015 to donate money to mosques and encourage religious teachers to support IS. Violence in region continued, including explosion in Thepha district, Songkhla province 18 Jan, killing one.

Uzbekistan

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Police in restive Ferghana Valley complained over wage arrears early Jan; followed protests drawing hundreds mid-Dec over lack of gas, electricity and heating in Margilan and Ferghana. New law charging 7.5% tax on earnings above $21 minimum monthly wage came into force 1 Jan. FM Kamilov 19 Jan met U.S. Asst Sec State Nisha Desai Biswal in Washington, reportedly discussed political development, regional stability/security, trade and development.

Turkmenistan

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Russia’s Gazprom 4 Jan stopped buying gas from Turkmengaz, switching to Uzbekistan for gas supplies, in move analysts believe intended to pressure Turkmenistan into military cooperation with Russia. Media reported banks 12 Jan banned sale of dollars indefinitely. Twelve governors sacked by presidential decree 4 Jan, eleven for failing to meet harvest quota, twelfth on ill-health grounds; followed 31 Dec brawl between residents of Dashoguz province’s Tagta district and police.

Philippines

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) which tracks implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) 3 Jan urged govt and MILF to promote passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and manage public expectations in case congress does not pass it; also expressed concerns over whether BBL would be compliant with CAB. Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte 28 Jan conceded BBL will not be passed before May 2016 elections. Tensions heightened 27 Jan with reopening of Senate probe into 25 Jan Mamasapano incident in which 44 police commandos and eighteen MILF were killed. MILF 27 Jan reported it has set up task force following reports of recruitment activities by Islamic State in south Mindanao, expressed concern over rising radicalism among region’s youth. Thousands of civilians reportedly fled areas in southern Philippines early month following attacks by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Continued clashes between military and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

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