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Illegal abortions in Indonesia, the story of a brave woman.

I’m pregnant. I need someone to talk to.


Sanne van Oosten

A quaint house in the middle of a rice field, not really the place where one would expect the headquarters of the Indonesian women’s reproductive rights movement to be. But it is. When you walk inside, women’s rights posters from all over the world decorate the house. The founder and leader of Samsara, Inna Hudaya, welcomed us into her house in the middle of a rice field. She lives in a small remote village to be able to be as anonymous as possible. The village doesn’t know about her work, and she’d like to keep it that way. They think she works in educating women on sexuality. For her own safety, that’s all they should know.

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Just to be on the safe side: scare the population

Davey Meelker

In our trip through China we couldn’t help but notice the many security measurements. In our view this is greatly exaggerated, since China seems like such a safe country. Probably safer than many places in the West. So why are these severe security measures necessary? Many say it is needed to control the population, but is it also plausible that it is needed to justify Chinese repressive policies?

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The Khmer Rouge Tribunal: was it all worth it?

Photo left: Chinese President Hua Guofeng (right) welcomes Pol Pot (centre) and Ieng Sary to Beijing in 1977. Photo right: Ieng Sary at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Davey Meelker

Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, died today while he was standing trial for being one of the leaders of the regime responsible for killing around 2 million people. This is another setback for the tribunal that only convicted one person since it became operational in 2007. Ieng Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, who was also standing trial was released earlier because of her Alzheimer’s desease. Now, there are only two suspects left. Many blame the tribunal as unprofessional, corrupt and inefficient. Is the tribunal turning out to be a fiasco?

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Developing China: nobody can stop the authorities

Flats marked to tear down in China_BloggersWithoutBorders

Davey Meelker

When we were visiting the Chinese metropolis GuangZhou, we were impressed by the modernity of this city in the southeast of China. It doesn’t look like anything like it looked a few decades ago. Everywhere there are skyscrapers, there is a convenient trilingual subway system and it has wide roads. It is clean and much more modern than all European cities. Our friend took us to one of the only remaining old neighbourhoods one day. On our way we passed large blocks of houses surrounded by a wall with the military guarding it. Our friend explained that this was a nice old neighbourhood, but the government decided to build more flats and skyscrapers.  When they decide something, they take drastic measurements.

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The war from a Japanese perspective: Yasukuni-jinja

Sanne van Oosten

“We don’t talk about that anymore” is the standard answer when asking a Japanese person about the Second World War. If there is some kind of response to this question it is somehow related to the atom bombs dropped in august 1945. However, there is one particular place in Japan where the war is discussed in great lengths: the Yasukuni-Jinja museum, Yusukan. A place where you will be shocked by how distorted the history of the war is still being presented.

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How the Second World War is plummeting Japan’s Economy

The lobster street in Osaka Dotombori, Japan

Davey Meelker

The Japanese economy shrunk 3.5% on an annual base between July and September. Further, the trade deficit doubled last October to 6.7 billion dollars. A great cause is of this economic downfall is the Chinese boycott on Japanese products. The shipments to China decreased 11.6% last month and the car export even plummeted with 82%. We shouldn’t just look to the islands disputes to know the reason for this boycott, we have to go back 75 years when Japan invaded China and the conflict between the tow countries erupted into a full war.

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China and Tibet: an honest quest to find the truth

The landscape of Tibet outside the Tibet Provence

Davey Meelker

When people in the West want to badmouth China, they will definitely point to Tibet. Ordinary Chinese have no idea why the West is making such fuss out if it, and doesn’t like its nosiness. As a Westerner I know the Western story best, but I am questioning if it is not just part of Western propaganda. Are we maybe exaggerating the human rights abuses? With this question in my mind I explored greater Tibet.

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Kazakhstan, visualizing extremes

Davey Meelker

Kazakhstan, the country of extremes. At one moment you are enjoying a 3D movie in one of Astana’s luxerious malls, the next you are driving in a small Lada on a bumpy road looking for a hole in the ground that is called a toilet (read more here about Kazakhstan’s inequality). It really feels as if you are going to a different country when you travel from the cities to the rural areas. Those extreme differences are visually expressed in this blog

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Uyghurs versus Tibetans, same story different sympathies

Sanne van Oosten

People in the West can be extremely emotional when it comes to Tibet. Their civilization is being diluted to extinction and there is nothing that can be done about it. But the Tibetans aren’t the only ones facing the same fate in the hands of the Chinese. The Uyghur minority based mostly in the Western frontier of Xinjiang province are experiencing the same thing. Still, you’ll never see any Westerners take to the streets to stand up for their woeful fate. Same story, different people? Not really. Try this one. Same story, different sympathies.

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Kazakhstan and the Dubai of the Steppe

Davey Meelker

Last week I wrote a blog about the great inequality in China, but this is nothing when you compare China to Kazakhstan. The extreme differences between cities, and especially the capital Astana, and the rural areas are striking.

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