The Story of the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden, Part 1: “Their whole world collapsed around them”

In January 2019 Vietnamese authorities carried out a massive operation in the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, which saw the forcible eviction of thousands of residents and the destruction of over 500 homes. Today, nearly two years later the residents of Loc Hung continue to await justice.

Over the next few weeks, CSW will be telling the story of the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden through a series of interviews with those who lived there. For our first instalment, we spoke to Cao Ha Truc, one of those leading efforts for the residents to receive some form of compensation.

How long have you lived in the Loc Hung Vegetable Garden and how did you come to live there?

My family have lived here for four generations, ever since my grandparents and parents heeded the call from President Ngo Dinh Diem to migrate from the north to the south after the Geneva Accords of 1954. I was born here and so were my children. I farmed on the land here from the day I got married until the day it was taken from my family.

Initially my family made a living from farming vegetables in the garden, but as we grew in size we needed to expand our living space so we built more houses on the land – some to live in and a few more to rent out to subsidise the income from the vegetable garden.

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Burma elections: This Sunday, the country needs a miracle

By Benedict Rogers

Five years ago, the overwhelming election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma heralded the dawn of a new democratic era after over fifty years of brutal military dictatorship and civil war.

After a total of 15 years under house arrest and more than a quarter of a century of courageous struggle for democracy, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate known to everyone as “The Lady” was poised to head her country’s government. And although the military had deliberately drafted a constitution that excluded her from becoming President, her advisers ingeniously created a new role that circumvented that restriction – the position of State Counsellor, de facto prime minister. With the exception of the three key ministerial roles given to the military under the constitution – home affairs, defence and border affairs – she has absolute oversight of the civilian government.

Yet five years on, it’s a very different picture. Burma approached the crossroads of democratization, peace-building and national reconciliation – and went into reverse.

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The COVID-19 pandemic could be an opportunity to save North Korean lives, if Moon Jae-In takes action

By Benedict Rogers

North Korea is ruled by the world’s most repressive, most brutal regime – one which does not allow any freedom whatsoever, one which violates every single article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights every day. It is also the world’s most closed nation – extremely difficult to get in or out of. Those who do visit – as I have done once – are tightly monitored and controlled, while those who try to leave the country without permission face imprisonment, torture and even execution if caught.

The COVID-19 pandemic has served to tighten the restrictions on access even further. Like many countries dealing with coronavirus, North Korea has sealed its borders. Britain’s embassy in Pyongyang has been closed since 27 May, with Ambassador Colin Crooks stating on his Twitter page: “Working from London pending my return to Pyongyang.” And last week, the North Korean regime warned its citizens to stay indoors over fears that a “yellow dust” blowing in from China could bring coronavirus with it. The so-called “hermit kingdom” has become the “hermetically sealed” nation.

And yet this offers a rare opportunity to save lives, because due to its COVID-19 restrictions, North Korea has told China it will not receive repatriation of North Korean escapees. In normal times, China has a policy of forcibly returning North Koreans who escape across its border, sending them back to face certain torture, detention and in some cases execution – in flagrant breach of the international principle of ‘non-refoulement.’ Now, Kim Jong-Un’s regime says it does not want them.

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Father Stan Swamy: The Indian authorities target one of the country’s oldest human rights defenders

On 8 October, members of India’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) arrested Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and long-time activist on tribal rights in the country. While the targeting of those who stand up for human rights in India is nothing new, Father Swamy’s case has drawn particular international attention because, at 83-years-old, he is one of the country’s oldest human rights defenders (HRDs).

“The oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India”

Father Swamy has been working with India’s Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes) for over three decades. Even in his old age, and despite suffering from numerous health issues, he has continued to advocate for the group right up to the present day. In a video released just days before his arrest, Father Swamy said that he had filed a case in the Jharkhand High Court on behalf of 3,000 young Adivasis who had been imprisoned.

He was arrested at the Jesuit-owned Bagaicha social centre in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, and was subsequently informed that he would be remanded in custody in Taloja Jail near Mumbai until 23 October.

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“I’m not buying it, China”: The cost of fast fashion for religious and ethnic minorities in China’s Uyghur region

A new cotton jumper arrived in my post this week, with three words on the label that sent my mind spinning: ‘Made in China.’ Whereabouts in China? Was it made in the Uyghur region? Was this jumper a product of forced labour? A token of a part I had played – albeit unknowingly – in fuelling an industry which I knew to be entrenched in the plight of China’s religious and ethnic minorities?

Where does China’s cotton come from?

China is one of the world’s largest cotton producers and most of its cotton is produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur Region), referred to by many Uyghurs as ‘East Turkestan.’ Credible reports claim that the Uyghur Region produces 84% of China’s cotton output, and it is the main supplier and exporter of cotton, apparel, and textile products to Chinese factories, within China and internationally.[1] The Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour believes that 20% of the world’s cotton comes from the Uyghur Region.

Continue reading ““I’m not buying it, China”: The cost of fast fashion for religious and ethnic minorities in China’s Uyghur region”