Afghanistan: Return of the Warlords
Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, June 2002
"Taking Cover: Women in Post-Taliban Afghanistan"
A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, May 9, 2002

A Human Rights Watch Question and Answer on Afghanistan's Loya Jirga Process
April 17, 2002

Cambodia's Commune Council Elections
January 2002

As Cambodians head to the polls on February 3, for the first time ever they will be democratically electing their own local level representatives. For the last twenty years the leaders of Cambodia's 1,621 communes (administrative units consisting of four to seven villages) have been appointees of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP). They are now to be replaced with popularly elected commune councils and commune chiefs. As well as marking an important step in the development of democratic institutions in Cambodia, the commune elections will play a crucial role in setting the tone for national elections slated for July 2003. They will also be the first polls conducted during a time of relative peace, and thus could have important ramifications for Cambodian democracy, rule of law and human rights.
Press Backgrounder on Anti-Terrorism Legislation in India

(November 20, 2001) The Indian parliament is currently debating the enactment of legislation that would reinstate a modified version of the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) of 1985 (amended 1987). TADA led to tens of thousands of politically motivated detentions, torture, and other human rights violations. In the face of mounting opposition to the act, India’s government acknowledged these abuses and consequently let TADA lapse in 1995.
Cluster Bombs in Afghanistan

(October 31, 2001) -- The United States-led alliance began its air campaign in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. While the Pentagon has been reluctant to talk of specific weapons used in the bombing, U.S. military sources have told Human Rights Watch that the Air Force began dropping cluster bombs within a matter of days. During the first week of the campaign, it is believed that Air Force B-1 bombers dropped 50 CBU-87 cluster bombs in some five missions.
Backgrounder on Afghanistan: History of the War

(October 2001) -- The U.S- led military intervention in Afghanistan marks the fourth phase in the country's twenty-three-year-old civil war. In every phase foreign powers have intensified the conflict by supporting one side against another.
No Safe Refuge

The Impact of the September 11 Attacks on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants in the Afghanistan Region and Worldwide
(October 18, 2001)

China: Human Rights Concerns in Xinjiang

(October 2001) -- In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, the People's Republic of China has offered strong support for Washington and affirmed that it "opposes terrorism of any form and supports actions to combat terrorism." Human Rights Watch is concerned that China's support for the war against terrorism will be a pretext for gaining international support-or at least silence-for its own crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Afghanistan: Ethnically-Motivated Abuses Against Civilians

(October 7, 2001) -- Ethnic tensions in Afghanistan have been exacerbated by nearly a decade of conflict between armed factions rooted in different ethnic, religious, and tribal groups. Human Rights Watch has reported on widespread and serious violations of international human rights by all sides in the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan. As the country heads into a period that may involve realignment and large-scale conflict between the warring parties, the potential for ethnically-motivated violence against civilians is likely to rise as well.
Military Assistance to the Afghan Opposition

(October 6, 2001) -- To respond to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the United States government has begun to put together what it calls a coalition against terrorism. As part of this approach, the United States has signalled support for the creation of a broad-based coalition to oppose the Taliban, the current rulers of most of Afghanistan. This opposition would include forces that presently constitute the United Front--also known under its former name the Northern Alliance--as well as Taliban defectors
Backgrounder on Indonesia: Accountability First

(September 2001)-- On September 19, 2001, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will meet U.S. President George Bush. Support from Indonesia, the country with the world's largest Muslim population, for a U.S. "war against terrorism" is likely to be high on the agenda. U.S. sources have said that the Osama bin Laden network has penetrated Laskar Jihad, a radical Java-based Muslim militia that now has thousands of young fighters in Maluku, an archipelagic province east of Bali and north of East Timor.
Freedom of Expression and the Internet in China

(August 1, 2001) -- As the Internet industry continues to expand in China, the government continues to tighten controls on on-line expression. Since 1995, when Chinese authorities began permitting commercial Internet accounts, at least sixty sets of regulations have been issued aimed at controlling Internet content. The broadly-worded regulations represent a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression, and the government is devoting considerable time and resources to trying to implement them. More..
China: Detention of Scholars and Human Rights Conditions

(June 19, 2001) China's detention of four intellectuals of Chinese descent with ties to the U.S. poses a serious challenge to U.S.-China relations. In addition, another prominent scholar with links to Hong Kong and a businessman who is a permanent U.S. resident and is reported to be extremely ill have been detained. Two of the scholars have thus far been accused of spying, although no evidence has been produced by the Chinese government to justify the charges.  More..
Questions & Answers : China and the Olympic Games 2008
March 2001

What is Human Rights Watch's position on China getting the 2008 Olympics?

We think that the human rights record of a country should be taken into serious consideration by the International Olympic Committee in selecting the site for the 2008 Olympics, but we are not opposed a priori to China getting the Games. Experience with the 1995 U.N. Women's Conference in Beijing has shown that having thousands of people from around the world in China can focus attention on the country, including on the degree of state control and fear of political protest.
Indonesia: The Violence in Central Kalimantan (Borneo)
February 28, 2001

The violence in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, started on the night of February 17-18 when a Dayak house was burned down. Rumor spread that an ethnic Madurese was responsible, and immediately, a band of Dayaks went into a Madurese neighborhood and began burning houses. In the ensuing violence, a Dayak and a Madurese were killed. This sent the clash to a new level, and in a matter of days, the violence had spread to Kualakayan, a subdistrict 110 km north of Sampit, and to Palangkaraya, the provincial capital of Central Kalimantan, some 220 km away.  More..
Cambodia: Landmark Indigenous Land Rights Case To Be Heard in Ratanakiri Provincial Court

Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC), Cambodian Association for Human Rights and Development (ADHOC), Oxfam Great Britain, and Human Rights Watch issue the following background briefing memo on a major land conflict in Ratanakiri province. More..
Fueling Aghanistan's War
December 15, 2000

Afghanistan has been at war for more than twenty years. During that time it has lost a third of its population. Some 1.5 million people are estimated to have died as a direct result of the conflict. Another 5 million fled as refugees to Iran and Pakistan; others became exiles elsewhere abroad. A large part of its population is internally displaced. Afghanistan has virtually the world's lowest life expectancy and literacy rates and the highest rates of infant, child, and maternal mortality. It is suffering from a devastating drought and, with Somalia, is one of the world's two hungriest countries.

Xinjiang, China's Restive Northwest
November, 2000

Increasing separatist activity over the last five years in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China's northwest is fueling ongoing repression in the region, with Chinese authorities carrying out large scale arrests, trials, and executions.

Indian Prime Minister's Trip to Washington
September 14, 2000

During Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's state visit with President Clinton on September 15, both sides will probably try to avoid "controversial issues." But Human Rights Watch has documented extensive human rights problems in India, which should certainly be on the two leaders' agenda. This briefing describes some of these problems and includes specific questions to be put to the President and Prime Minister at the joint press conference scheduled for the same day.

Unfinished Business: Justice for East Timor
August 2000

One year after the U.N.-supervised referendum on the future of East Timor and the scorched earth destruction that followed, not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice.

What took place last September is not in serious dispute. On August 30, 1999 East Timorese overwhelmingly voted for independence. Immediately after U.N. officials announced the results on September 4, Indonesian army-backed militias began a campaign of murder, arson, and forced expulsions.

Moluccan Islands: Communal Violence In Indonesia
June 2000

Clashes between members of Muslim and Christian communities in the Moluccan island region of Indonesia have led to more than 200 deaths since June 21. Official government sources, which in the past have often underestimated casualty figures, report that nearly 3,000 people have been killed since communal conflict first broke out in the region in January 1999.

Burmese Refugees in Thailand at Risk
May 6, 2000

As the Asian Development Bank begins its annual meeting in Chiang Mai, Human Rights Watch expressed concern over the worrisome shift in the implementation of Thai refugee policy. Burmese refugees who remain in urban centers are increasingly vulnerable to arrest and, in some cases, forcible return to Burma, where their lives are at risk.

Justice for East Timor
March 31, 2000

The individuals responsible for the killing, mass destruction, and forced expulsions that convulsed East Timor last September must be brought to justice. The United Nations and its member states, actively involved in East Timor at the time of the carnage, have a particular obligation to see that justice is done. International investigators have called for establishment of an international tribunal.

Human Rights Developments In China -- 1999
For President Jiang Zemin's Visit to the U.K. and France

October 15, 1999

Controls on basic freedoms were tightened during the year, in part because of the Chinese government's desire to ensure stability on several sensitive dates. These included the fortieth anniversary of the March 10, 1959, Tibetan uprising, the tenth anniversary of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, and the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949.

Indonesia: Why Aceh is Exploding
August 27, 1999

(August 27, 1999, New York)—The twenty-four year conflict in East Timor may be nearing the end game with voters there choosing on August 30 between autonomy under Indonesian sovereignty and independence. But a potentially much more dangerous conflict is spiraling out of control in Aceh, the resource-rich region on the northern tip of Sumatra. The international community should be pressing Indonesia to address three of the key underlying causes of the conflict: failure to prosecute past abuses; failure to reduce a hated military presence; and diversion of locally-produced revenues to Jakarta.

Indonesia: The May 4, 1999 Killings in Aceh
May 1999

Aceh, unlike East Timor, is critical to the survival of Indonesia as a nation. East Timor was never part of the Indonesian nationalist struggle, and its departure from the Indonesian republic, to which it was illegally annexed in 1976, will not shake the concept of Indonesian nationhood. Aceh was not only at the forefront of the nationalist struggle against the Dutch colonial government, but it is vital to Indonesia politically, strategically, and economically. If violence continues to escalate and demands for independence grow stronger, the government in Jakarta will face immensely difficult choices.

Secretary of State Albright's trip to Asia: China, Indonesia and Thailand
February 99

During her visit to Beijing, Albright will lay the groundwork for Premier Zhu Rongji's summit meetings in Washington, D.C. in early April. Albright is expected to raise human rights issues brought up by President Clinton during his visit to China last year on which there has been no progress, and in some cases, major setbacks have occurred.



2001  2000  1999

Backgrounders By Region

Children’s Rights
Europe and Central Asia
Middle East and Northern Africa
United States
Women's Rights