On 11 May 2015, Vietnamese authorities announced that Mr. Kim Quoc Hoa, the former editor-in-chief of Nguoi Cao Tuoi (The Elderly) will be charged under Article 258 of the Penal Code for “abusing freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interests of the state”. Furthermore, public Security Department issued a request for a search warrant on Mr. Hoa’s home in Hanoi. On 12 May 2015, both the notice of intent to prosecute and the search warrant were approved by the Supreme Peoples’ Procuratorate and delivered to Mr. Hoa. The Elderly published several articles covering official corruption in recent months.
India: RTI activist and family physically attacked for filing RTI against private college
February 1, 2015
On the 23rd January 2015, Right to Information (RTI) activist Mr. M Meganathan and his family were subjected to physical assault in their home by a weapon-wielding gang. The attack is thought to be in relation to Meganathan’s RTI application in December 2014 seeking information on tax and property tax paid by a private college in his area. The said information could reveal alleged tax evasion by the concerned college which is owned by the Minister for Health of the Government of Tamilnadu, Mr. Vijayabaskar. Meganathan has previously been threatened by Vijayabaskar to revoke his RTI application.
India: RTI activist assaulted
January 31, 2015
On 31 January 2015, RTI activist Dr. Harsh Chander was attacked by unknown assailants irked by his petitions seeking to expose corruption and irregularities in local municipality administration and corporate companies in Punjab.The 46 year old Harish Chander is an Ayurvedic and homeopath practicing in the Jaitu town of the Faridkot District in Punjab. He has been using the Right to Information (RTI) Act for the last 4 years, i.e. since the year 2011 to expose cases of fund embezzlement in the local municipal administration, rampant corruption in the process of distribution of gas cylinders by gas agencies and RO water supply system in and around Jaitu city and rural areas of Punjab.
Indonesia: anti-corruption activist shot
January 21, 2015
On the 20th January 2015, anti-corruption activist Mathur Husaini was shot outside his home at around 2am. He was severely wounded but the shot wasn’t fatal. Fellow activists have linked the shooting with the investigation of a corruption case allegedly involving Bangkalan legislative council speaker Fuad Amin, who is also a former Bangkalan regent, by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
On the 11th October 2014, a human rights worker for organization Equitable Cambodia was beaten by police after refusing to allow officers to search their car without a warrant and gain access to a camera. Following the illegal search and beating of the staff member, police confiscated the car and deleted a number of photos from the camera. The violence comes after Equitable Cambodia staff were detained last month during a visit to Bos village in Oddar Meanchey, to investigate a case where approximately 100 families were affected when their rice fields were destroyed to make way for sugarcane plantations.
Cambodia: journalist investigating illegal logging shot dead
October 14, 2014
On the 12th October 2014, journalist Taing Try, who was investigating illegal logging, was shot dead by two policemen and a soldier.
Indonesia: police file case against watchdog for defamation
August 28, 2014
On 27 August 2014 National Police chief General Sutarman stated that the force will continue to investigate Adrianus Meliala, a member of the state-sanctioned National Police Commission (Kompolnas) watchdog, for speaking out in a TV interview about rampant corruption in the police. The move has been criticised as a clear attempt to intimidate and muzzle the watchdog to prevent it from bringing corruption and abuse of power to light as it is mandated to do. In a revealing demonstration of its priorities, the police force will continue to pursue Mr. Meliala even as it fails to act on a myriad of high-profile corruption cases within the force.
India: RTI activist severely beaten
July 23, 2014
On 7 July 2014, Raj Kumar Singh, a right to information (RTI) activist, was severely beaten in Mau district, Uttar Pradesh, suffering a fractured leg. Mr. Singh has filed over 50 RTI applications since 2011 in order to expose corruption in the use of public funds. His actions have led the Mau district administration to order the repayment of funds by the head of a village in the area, who has since threatened him numerous times. It is believed that the beating was ordered by the village head.
On 10 April 2014 Zhao Changqing, a member of the New Citizens’ Movement (NCM), went on trial on charges of gathering a crowd to disrupt public order, in connection to a display of banners in Beijing which he allegedly supported (but was not present at). His trial comes as three other NCM anti-graft activists, Ding Jiaxi, Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng, are on trial on the same charges. Ten members of the NCM have been tried since January.
Meanwhile, Wang Jinping, a lawyer providing assistance to Zhao’s lawyer in the case, has gone missing this week while driving from Beijing to Guangzhou, although the exact date of his disappearance is unclear and it is not yet known if he has been detained.
UPDATE- 18/04/14: Four Chinese anti-graft activists were sentenced to prison on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Ding Jiaxi was sentenced to three-and-a-half years, Zhao Changqing got a two-and-a-half year sentence and Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng got two-year terms. Critics claim that contrary to the court’s public rationale, the four were sentenced because they had publicly called on Chinese Communist Party leadership to disclose their assets. Their prosecution is part of a broader crackdown on dissenting voices- the worst in years, observers say.
China: Anti-corruption activists on trial
June 25, 2014
On 17 April 2013, Mr. Zhao Changqing and Mr. Ding Jiaxi, members of the anti-corruption New Citizens’ Movement allegedly suspected of having participated in organizing the campaign for public disclosure of assets, were reportedly taken into custody on charges of “unlawful assembly.”
UPDATE 08/04/2014: Ding Jiaxi and Li Wei went on trial in Beijing under heavy security. The two were detained for having called on China’s political leaders to disclose their assets, and are charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” There have been obvious irregularities in both the trial and questioning methods. Ding alleges that he was severely beaten in custody; the defence is not being allowed to speak in their clients’ defence, call witnesses or to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses; Ding’s lawyer was questioned and physically abused by police during the lunch break; and foreign diplomats were unable to enter the courtroom. Another New Citizens’ Movement activist, Zhao Changqing, is due to be tried on 10 April.
UPDATE 10/04/14: Sui Muqing and Jiang Yuanmin, Ding and Li’s lawyers, walked out of the trial and denounced it as not in conformity with Chinese law after the court refused to provide original (as opposed to photocopied) evidence of the trial. However, it appears that unlike in January, when Ding and Li replaced their lawyers to delay the trial, Sui and Jiang will continue to represent the accused.
UPDATE 18/04/2014: Ding Jiaxi, Zhao Changqing, Li Wei, and Zhang Baocheng all found guilty of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Ding received three and a half years in prison, Zhao received two and a half, and Li and Zhang received two. All four are likely to appeal.
UPDATE 18/06/2014: Ding and Li’s sentences upheld by Beijing’s intermediate court.