Happy New Year everyone! In this week’s news roundup we tackle a few interesting items from countries we haven’t heard from much in the past articles. In North Korea Kim Jong Un is making statements regarding it denuclearization and future direction in relation to Washington’s demands. In India a major move in human rights has taken place with the overturning of a religious law regarding women’s rights. In Hong Kong a similar movement to France’s yellow vest movement is becoming more prominent.
Kim Jong Un Reassures US of Denuclearization
During an annual New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un reaffirmed North Korea as well as the world that their denuclearization efforts are continuing with no intention of arming themselves with nuclear weapons in the coming future. Kim also spoke on Washington’s push for complete denuclearization as he feels the demands are “one-sided”. Kim reached out with his speech asking to speak with Trump whenever he is willing and wishes for the continuing disarming of North Korea to move towards a “give and take” arrangement versus what it is now. “His overarching message was confident, normal, sophisticated … reminiscent of the feel as the Singapore summit setting, wearing a suit and tie,” said Duyeon Kim, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Century Old Religious Ban Overturned in India
Two women in the state of Kerala in India made history last week as a century old ban on religious practices was overturned by the supreme court. The pair, aged 42 and 44, became the first women to access the shrine after the country’s Supreme Court overturned a centuries-old ban on women aged 10 to 50 from entering the temple in September last year, ruling it to be discriminatory and arguing that women should be able to pray at the place of their choice. The Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, which is thought to be more than 800 years old, is considered the spiritual home of Lord Ayyappa, a Hindu god of growth. Proponents of the ban on women of menstrual age argue that since Ayyappa is considered celibate, allowing “impure” women into the temple would be disrespectful.
Hong Kong “Yellow Umbrella” Movement Meets Resistance from State
The “Yellow Umbrella” movement is coming under more pressure coming into the new year in Hong Kong as some of their leaders are facing possible jail time for starting the movement in 2014. The movement, similar to France’s “yellow vest” movement is a movement pushing for a more democratic Hong Kong. In their New Year’s march they were rallying against the shrinking the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and even joined up with the Hong Kong independence movement during their march. On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Hong Kong government reiterated “its zero tolerance on ‘Hong Kong independence’.” Police and organizers had estimated the crowd to be roughly half that of last year’s march, which will be a concern for the pro-democracy camp as they face a difficult 2019. The prosecution of the leaders could pale in comparison to what some fear will happen if the Hong Kong government, under pressure from China, moves to pass a hugely controversial anti-sedition law.
You can read more from Amos Joseph on Think Liberty here.