THE INDEX – May 21, 2010

Chinese authorities have introduced new restrictions on photocopiers in Tibet, according to a report in the Lhasa Evening News. The restrictions, issued on May 10, emerged from concerns that photocopiers are being used by Tibetan separatists to mass-produce pamphlets and other “objectionable material.” Citizens who operate photocopying services will now have to reapply for printing permits, keep detailed records of their customers, and provide specific information about copied documents. The latest crackdown is part of an expanding attempt to disarm dissidents and intellectuals who advocate separatism in Tibet. In April, an author named Traygal was arrested after publishing a book that advocated nonviolent protests, and in January, singer Tashi Dhondup was sent to a labor camp after his CD called upon the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. China has stepped up its efforts to limit the distribution of incendiary materials since the deadly protests of March 2008, which included the distribution of pamphlets reading “Long Live the Dalai Lama.” More than 30 Tibetan intellectuals have been arrested since the protests.

An abortive military mutiny in Madagascar resulted in a standoff between security forces and an elite group of soldiers on Thursday. Security forces in Antananarivo, the nation’s capital, alleged that members of the Forces d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (FIGN) stationed at the Fort Duchesne military base initiated the brief exchange of gunfire. Political tensions in the nation have been high since a military coup in March 2009 ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana and installed Andry Rajoelina as president. The FIGN argue that Ravalomanana promised 500 million ariary ($242,000) to their military post in 2009. They have called for the resignation of General Bruno Razafindrako based on his failure to provide these funds. In addition, the FIGN’s demands for rule by a “military committee” have been repeatedly denied. The Malagasy radio claims that two members of the FIGN were killed, and at least three civilians were injured in the exchange of fire. Late Thursday night, security forces raided the barracks to find that the FIGN had fled. Some reports suggest they are now negotiating with government officials.

Ethnic riots in Kyrgyzstan have caused officials to postpone elections, originally scheduled for later this year, to October 2011. The announcement came in response to Wednesday’s ethnic violence, when Kyrgyz tried to overrun a building at the People’s Friendship University, founded by Uzbek citizens, in the southern city of Jalalabad. The riots resulted in at least two deaths and 62 injuries, and curfews were enforced as troops patrolled parts of the city. Violence in the nation has increased in response to the April 7 overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was replaced with an interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva. Political and ethnic tensions merged when members of the nation’s Uzbek minority expressed their support for the interim government, exposing them to attacks from members of the Kyrgyz majority who still supported Bakiyev’s administration. Along with the postponement of the elections, the government announced that Otunbayeva will not be eligible to run in the October 2011 race.

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