Counterfeit Electronic Products Worth HK$1.3 Million Seized in Hong Kong


clifford-lo-250Clifford Lo reports: About 200 parcels mailed from the mainland to the United States carrying counterfeit electronic products were intercepted in a three-day joint operation mounted by Hong Kong Customs and United States authorities.

In Hong Kong, about 1,300 fakes including mobile phones, tablet computers and chargers were confiscated in 54 parcels totalling an estimated street value of HK$1.3 million, the Customs and Excise Department said.

The US authorities intercepted 140 shipments and confiscated fake electronic products that could be sold for US$1.1 million there during the operation conducted between November 15 and 17 last year.

It is understood some of the parcels intercepted in the United States were confiscated based on intelligence from Hong Kong customs officials.

Initial investigation showed the fake products were mailed from the mainland and destined for the US via Hong Kong, a source said. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Chinese Agents Acted Like Triads’, says Bookseller in Abduction Row


An outspoken Hong Kong bookseller who has become a symbol of opposition to China’s authoritarian government has accused Chinese security agents of behaving like the notorious triad gangs in a bid to silence the publishers of provocative books about the country’s leaders.

Lam Wing-kee shot to prominence in June when he revealed how he had been spirited into secret detention in eastern China by a mysterious group of agents supposedly acting on the orders of the Communist party leadership.

Writing in the Diplomat, Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee said Lam’s testimony had provided “a blow-by-blow account of the abusive tools that have become Chinese authorities’ modus operandi to silence critics since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012”.  Read the rest of this entry »

The ISIS Trail of Death 

Since October 10, ISIS and its sympathizers around the world have killed at least 525 people in six attacks in six countries outside its so-called caliphate.

Here is the chronology and body count of the attacks, with U.S. intelligence analysis of who was behind each:

—Oct. 10: The bombing of peace demonstrations outside the main train station in Ankara, Turkey left 102 dead. Directed by ISIS.

—Oct. 31: The bombing of a Metrojet plane bound for Russia over Egypt killed 224 passengers and crew. An “announcement” attack by the ISIS in the Sinai peninsula.

—Nov. 10: Two suicide bombers detonating themselves in a marketplace in southern Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 people. Directed by ISIS.

—Nov. 13: Attacks on multiple sites in Paris, including the Bataclan theater, left 130 dead — excluding attackers. Directed by ISIS.

—Nov. 24: The bombing of a bus carrying members of the presidential guard in the Tunisian capital city of Tunis left at least 12 dead. An “announcement” attack by the ISIS affiliate in Tunisia. Read the rest of this entry »

‘External Influence’: Russian Plane Crash: ‘Planes Don’t Just Break Apart in Mid-Air’


(CNN) The only reasonable explanation for the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt is “an external influence,” an executive from the airline that operated the flight said Monday, stressing that planes don’t just break apart in midair.

“There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash. It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”

— Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel

Kogalymavia Flight 9268 broke into pieces before it hit the ground in a remote area of Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. 

The executive was not specific about what he meant by an external influence. Experts say it is too early to know for certain what caused the plane to break up at the start of what could be a lengthy investigation.

The state-run Russian news agency reported that the head of Rosaviatsia, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, had told Rossiya-25 television that claims that external factors could have caused the crash were not based in fact.

“It is completely premature to speak about the reasons of this, as there are not grounds. And I’d like to call on the aviation community to refrain from any premature conclusions,” it quoted Alexander Neradko, the agency chief, as telling the station.


CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest suggested that the Kogalymavia official could have meant something abnormal and out of the ordinary had occurred.

“We exclude technical problems and reject human error,” the Kogalymavia airline official, Alexander Smirnov, said at a Moscow news conference as he discussed possible causes of the crash.

He added that the crew did not issue any warnings or communications during the final moments, indicating that the flight crew must have been disabled and not able to radio out.

However, Smirnov said that while the plane’s flight and voice data recorders had been recovered, they had not been read or decoded.

Officials have played down an apparent claim by Islamic militants in Sinai that they brought down the Airbus A321-200, saying technical failure is the most likely reason for the crash.

Here’s where things stand:


Flight 9268 was on its way from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg early Saturday when it dropped off radar about 23 minutes into the flight, Egyptian officials say.

Air traffic controllers apparently didn’t receive any distress calls from the pilots. “There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash,” Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said Saturday. “It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”

CNN’s Richard Quest said it was “unusual” for an aircraft to go down roughly 20 minutes into a flight.

“At this point, a plane is on autopilot. It’s reaching its initial cruising altitude, and there is little that can or should go wrong,” he wrote in an analysis.
Read the rest of this entry »

The American Bar Association Mumbles as Beijing Arrests Lawyers


Not Such Good American Friends.

Every foreign business or nonprofit in China has to balance its principles with the realities of operating in a dictatorship. But what’s the point of claiming to promote the rule of law in China if your presence and silence serve as political cover for the worst legal abuses?

China’s recent arrests of human-rights lawyers have drawn protests from around the world, but there’s a notable, mumbling exception: the American Bar Association.

“ABA leaders acknowledge that the development of a just rule of law is a continuing struggle in every nation, including the United States.”

— ABA President William Hubbard

State security agents rounded up some 235 lawyers and other legal activists around the country last month, some of them grabbed, hooded and not heard from since. Beijing officials have railed against a “major criminal gang” of lawyers “plotting to stir up sensitive cases.”

Activists protest outside the Chinese embassy in Bangkok on August 6, 2015. Amnesty International staged a protest outside the Chinese embassy to demand the release of over 200 human rights lawyers and activists in China. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI

Amnesty International staged a protest outside the Chinese embassy to demand the release of over 200 human rights lawyers and activists in China. AFP/ Nicolas ASFOURI

Some brave voices inside China have spoken up for these political prisoners, as have legal groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The New York City Bar Association expressed “grave concern” and called on Beijing to “immediately release” those lawlessly detained, more than 20 of whom it cited by name. Read the rest of this entry »

Putin Enacts Law Banning ‘Undesirable’ NGOs


Under the law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barred from the country

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially enacted a controversial law banning “undesirable” non-governmental organisations, the Kremlin said Saturday, in a move condemned by human rights groups and the United States.

“We are concerned this new power will further restrict the work of civil society in Russia and is a further example of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on independent voices and intentional steps to isolate the Russian people from the world.”

— State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf

The law allows authorities to bar foreign civil society groups seen as threatening Russia’s “defence capabilities” or “consitutional foundations” and go after local activists working with them, the Kremlin statement said.

Supporters presented the law as a “preventative measure”, necessary after the wave of Western sanctions put in place over the Ukraine conflict.


Under the law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barred from the country.

It also allows them to block the bank accounts of the organisations until the NGOs “account for their actions” to the Russian authorities.

Lawmakers cited the need to stop “destructive organisations” working in Russia, which could threaten the “value of the Russian state” and stir up “colour revolutions”, the name given to pro-Western movements seen in some former Soviet republics over the last several years.

Critics have said that the vague wording of the law—which gives Russia’s general prosecutor the right to impose the “undesirable” tag without going to court—could allow officials to target foreign businesses working in Russia. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Watch Report: Jihadists Executed More than 500 Captives in Iraq


Evidence indicates that militants from the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group executed more than 500 captives in Iraq earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. Around 1,700 soldiers surrendered to IS in June after its fighters seized second city Mosul and swept south towards Baghdad.

“The barbarity of the Islamic State violates the law and grossly offends the conscience.”

ISIS subsequently released photographs of dozens of men in civilian clothes apparently being executed by firing squad in desert areas, and said it had killed hundreds in total.

“Another piece of this gruesome puzzle has come into place, with many more executions now confirmed.”

— Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at HRW

“Information from a survivor and analysis of videos and satellite imagery has confirmed the existence of three more mass execution sites, bringing the total to five, and the number of dead to between 560 and 770 men, all or most of them apparently captured Iraqi army soldiers,” HRW said.

“Another piece of this gruesome puzzle has come into place, with many more executions now confirmed,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at the rights watchdog. Read the rest of this entry »

Saudi Arabian Court Orders 1,000 Lashes and Ten-Year Sentence for Website Editor


Severe sentence comes after Kingdom criticized Norway’s human rights record

For The IndependentHeather Saul writes: A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced the editor of a website that discussed religion in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cyber-crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the Arab state, local media has reported.

His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and allegedly insulted Islam and religious authorities, according to Human Rights Watch.

Prosecutors had demanded Badawi be tried for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, but this was dismissed by the judge.

Badawi was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial – which then earned him a more severe sentence. Read the rest of this entry »

CHILL: China’s ‘Corruption Crackdown’ Crushes Dissent, New Citizen Movement Activists Arrested


Targeting of China’s graft-busting New Citizen Movement highlights the limits of the Chinese Communist Party’s pledge to tackle corruption

 reports: It was just a picture. Three friends gathered outside an apartment block, holding a sign. But the trio in the photograph are affiliated with China’s New Citizen Movement, a loose network of rights campaigners, legal activists and ordinary citizens whom the country’s rulers don’t much like. And the sign called for Chinese officials to fully disclose their assets. After it was posted online, the picture got the three locked up.

The people in the photograph — Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua — on Tuesday will face charges of illegal assembly, a vague, catchall charge often used to net dissidents. The case, to be tried in southeastern Jiangxi province, first opened in October, but was adjourned on Day 1 after the defendants dismissed their lawyers in protest. It was a rocky start to the first trial of New Citizen Movement activists since a crackdown on the movement began last spring. “This is definitely a test case,” says Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It may tell us something about the new leadership’s attitude toward peaceful activism.”

Read the rest of this entry »

China to Defend Human-Rights Record to U.N.

Members of the Students for a Free Tibet organization display a banner on scaffolding in front of the European headquarters of the U.N. in Geneva on Oct. 22, 2013 Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Members of the Students for a Free Tibet organization display a banner on scaffolding in front of the European headquarters of the U.N. in Geneva on Oct. 22, 2013 –  Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Amid criticism of a worsening crackdown on dissent, China will defend its human-rights record before a U.N. panel on Tuesday. It will be the Asian superpower’s second hearing at the Human Rights Council, which calls upon each country every four years, Voice of America reports.

Human Rights Watch states that recent years have seen “one of China’s major crackdowns on activists and free expression,” citing among other things the disappearance a month ago of activist Cao Shunli, the country’s pervasive culture of media censorship and extensive abuses in Tibetan and Uighur areas.

Beijing has welcomed the discussion but warns that it will not accept interference in internal affairs. At the last hearing in 2009, officials rejected practically every recommendation made by U.N. member states.

In drive to strengthen one-party rule, China treats Internet ‘as ideological battlefield’

Activist Liu Ping is one of many recent victims of crackdown on dissent

Activist Liu Ping: one of many recent victims of crackdown on dissent

From Democracy Digest:

Since Xi Jinping came to power just less than a year ago, China Digital Times notes, hopes that his administration would oversee substantial political reform have been dissipating amid frequent crackdowns on the country’s media and developing civil society. An infographic from the South China Morning Post plots arrests under the new administration’s watch to show that state suppression of the politically-liberal is gaining momentum.

The Economist outlines the Communist authorities’ efforts to shape public opinion by treating the Internet as an ideological battlefield:

Read the rest of this entry »

Indian Woman Tries to Sell Daughter’s Virginity

By Aditi Malhotra

Raveendran/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images In this Dec. 2008 picture, children protest in New Delhi on the Global Day against child trafficking.

Raveendran/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
In this Dec. 2008 picture, children protest in New Delhi on the Global Day against child trafficking.

Police in western India said they have arrested two people for trying to sell a 13-year-old girl’s virginity. One of those arrested in the sting operation was the girl’s mother, said police in Thane, a district near Mumbai.

Police said a team of six crime branch officials raided an apartment in Mumbra, on the outskirts of Thane, at about 8 p.m. Sunday and arrested the 32-year-old mother and a 29-year-old auto rickshaw driver.

The police said they were acting on a tip-off from the Indian Rescue Mission, a Mumbai-based nonprofit founded in 2009 to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked children, sometimes through undercover operations.

Read the rest of this entry »