August 11, 2012 by Claire McCurdy
A few years back I became acquainted with some Chinese grad students working at Teachers College Library’s conservation lab. They were charming, very quick learners, whose fingers were exquisitely adept, and they quickly became amazingly skilled at cleaning and repairing old books. One day the topic of the Cultural Revolution came up—in fact, I think we had found archival photos of the Chinese intellectuals working in rice fields outside of Beijing.
The Cultural Revolution appeared to me to have been a civil war, waged by the government against its citizens. Even those who appeared to have emerged in fine shape continued to suffer psychological pain as a result of their “re-education.”
My Chinese friends, to all appearances light-hearted, and not at all prone to self-revelation, gasped at the sight of these images and began to cry. They had been part of the group of intellectuals and artists targeted for “re-education.” They began slowly and reluctantly to tell us about the cruelties they had been subjected to. It was an appalling story, which I never forgot.
August 11, 2012 by David H. Shinn
Djibouti’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning, Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, spoke at Chatham House in London on 11 July 2012. His remarks were surprisingly frank. He noted that stability in Djibouti “has been achieved mainly thanks to the international community whose presence, especially that of the French army, was a stabilizing factor.” He added that Djibouti’s stability depends on stability in Somalia.
As a result, Djibouti hosts international armies and forces in order to contribute to efforts to combat piracy and terrorism. He pointed out that the United States, Japan, France and European Union all have bases in Djibouti. Minister Dawaleh said the “conflict in Eritrea has a much bigger potential to destabilize Djibouti and the whole region” than the situation in Somalia. He looks to the day when Djibouti will not have to spend large sums to station a military force along the border with Eritrea so that the money can be used for poverty alleviation.
The Minister acknowledged that unemployment in Djibouti has reached 49 percent and that “this represents a risk for the government.” He said economic growth is the top priority of the government. Click here to read the minister’s remarks.
August 11, 2012 by Aurangzaib Alamgir
In the last four years, more than 65 attacks have occurred on the Hazara people in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, and in the first six months of 2012, more than 22 alone. The attacks have led to countless killings and have left thousands wounded. 2003 marked the first time that there were attacks against the Hazaras in Balochistan and this coincided with the insurgency movement in Balochistan. Many attribute these killings as part of the sectarian divide that has existed in Pakistan since the 1980s as a result of the widening Shia-Sunni fault line.
Since independence in 1947, Pakistan has not been able to consolidate as a nation state or create a single national identity. Infrequent attempts by fundamental Sunni sects to bandit the practice of Shiaism have fueled violence and divided the Pakistani society along sectarian lines. The sectarian divide breaks down roughly to 75 to 85 percent Sunni and 15 to 25 percent Shia.
August 11, 2012 by Ishak Mia
India has long sought road transit facilities through Bangladesh for the transport of goods from West Bengal to other Northeastern states. Due to unresolved bilateral issues and internal political objection, Bangladesh has consistently avoided the subject over the past few years. With changes to the governments in both countries the transit issue has recently gained new momentum. The Awami League, the ruling party of Bangladesh, is very eager to sign a comprehensive transit deal with India for all forms of transportation – roads, rail and waterways. Historically, the Awami League has had close ties to the India’s ruling Congress party.