In this week’s roundup, we go a little outside our typical region in Asia. Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, is stuck in a Pakistani prison fearing for her life. Her sentence is commuted, but her safety outside the prison isn’t guaranteed. New Caledonia, a territory of France in the southeast region of the Asian Pacific Ocean, is voting on whether or not to remain a part of France. North Korea came back into this news this week with its issue of a worrying nuclear threat just prior to upcoming talks with the US. All this is in this week’s news roundup of the Asian continent.
Asia Bibi, Fearing For Her Life
Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani, was charged with the crime of blasphemy, which resulted in her sentence being the death penalty. This charge was commuted last week, but Asia’s safety to leave the prison became impossible as protesters threatening her life have kept her from leaving the prison, now converted into a safe house for protecting Asia. Asia’s lawyer fled Pakistan for The Netherlands as he “feared for his life” and was forced to flee “against his wishes” from the UN and the EU.
Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has sent out a video begging the US, Canada, and the UK to grant his family asylum. Asia was convicted of the blasphemy “crime” back in 2010, because of an argument with her Muslim colleagues regarding the Prophet Mohammed. She won her appeal last Wednesday to overturn both her conviction as well as the death penalty. The Pakistani government has struck a deal with the protesters to release protesters detained during the protest, to not deny a petition to further review Asia’s case by the Supreme Court, as well as accepting an application to have Asia added to a list of citizens not allowed to leave Pakistan. Asia is still at the prison and will remain until this conflict is resolved. The Conservative Islam protests demand Asia not be released and her death penalty be carried out.
New Caledonia Votes To Remain With France
New Caledonia, a territory of France, resides in the Pacific Ocean just northeast of Australia. It has voted to remain a territory of France. The referendum yielded a surprisingly close result of 56 percent voting to stay with France. New Caledonia, once a territory of the now nonexistent empire of France, has seen a recent rise of the territory to become independent, as they are among only a handful of territories ruled by a mainland far away. While the referendum didn’t result in independence, New Caledonia will hold another vote on the matter in 2020 if the local government approves it.
North Korea Issues Threat, Again
This week the US and North Korea had another round of high-level talks set to negotiate more about the nuclear question of North Korea. An official of the North Korea foreign ministry, however, issued a threat against the US that they would resume “building up nuclear forces” as a response to the US’s “crippling sanctions” levied on North Korea. This threat came prior to the talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of State of North Korea Kim Yong Chol which were planned to be in New York this week. The state news of North Korea carried on the threat stating that the US is foolish for thinking North Korea would yield to the sanctions. The North Korean news went on the say that, “the improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible.” Mike Pompeo commented that the threats were “stray voltage” and would not affect the talks.
“We know with whom we’re negotiating. We know what their positions are. And President Trump has made his position very clear: no economic relief until we have achieved our ultimate objective,” he said.
The ultimate objective is to be a non-nuclear North Korea.
With North Korea popping up on the news radar again, it’s good to see other news coming from an area in Asia but not being necessarily a nation, as New Caledonia faces their next couple years under France. The talks with North Korea will be something to watch for as new developments will come out as a result. Pakistan will be under a microscope as well with their struggle to deal with the world watching as they chose between violating human rights or giving into archaic conservative Islamic ideals.
You can read more from Amos Joseph on Think Liberty here.