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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 23.12.2023

The Truth About Women’s Empowerment In Saudi Arabia

Recently, Saudi Arabia has garnered praise for its efforts towards women’s empowerment. This sentiment has resonated not only in academic circles but also among those I know personally. More often than not, I find myself irked, sometimes even incensed. The discourse surrounding Saudi Arabia’s purported progress in women’s empowerment often overlooks a complex reality. It glosses over human rights infringements, especially those concerning women. This raises questions about the authenticity of the reforms. A notable number of people seem to unquestionably embrace the image Saudi Arabia has meticulously curated for Western media consumption. Outlined and elaborated below are several reasons why the purported changes seem questionable.

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In North Korea, torture awaits those deported from China

After 25 years in China, a North Korean woman was deported and vanished without a trace. DW examines the fate of North Koreans forcibly repatriated by Beijing. Kim Cheol Ok managed a hasty phone call to inform her family about her imminent deportation to North Korea on October 9. On that day, Cheol Ok and 500 other North Koreans living in China were forcibly repatriated. Her bigger sister in London, who managed to escape during the Great Famine of the 1990s, fears for her life.

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Uyghur father jailed for 20 years for sending son abroad and for visiting Turkey

When Nuraxun Rozi visited his teenage son who was studying in Egypt in 2015, little did he know his trip abroad, including a stop in Turkey, would later land him a 20-year prison sentence in Xinjiang. “At the end of December 2015, my father came for a trip to Egypt,” said Nureli Nuraxun, now 22 and an engineer at an aluminum factory in Turkey. “He stayed there for a week and traveled in Turkey for another week, then went back home,” Nureli told Radio Free Asia. “After he went back, his passport was confiscated, and he was not allowed to go abroad again.”

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The first nail-biter election of 2024: Taiwan

2024 will be a bumper year of elections around the world, but one of the first votes on the calendar will also be one of the most hotly contested and consequential: Taiwan, where there are vital strategic interests at play for both the U.S. and China on January 13. If the campaign started with expectations in the U.S. that the ruling, pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose top brass are frequent and welcome guests in Washington, would stroll to victory, the final stages of the presidential and legislative race have turned into a nail-biter.

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UN condemns North Korean human rights abuses for 19th straight year

The U.N. General Assembly condemned North Korean human rights abuses for the 19th consecutive year on Tuesday, emphasizing the plight of women and girls and links between human rights and international security for the first time.The U.N. has adopted a resolution on DPRK human rights every year since 2003, and this year’s text is largely the same as last year, calling for Pyongyang “to immediately end the systematic, grave violations and abuses of human rights.

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Gulf States Treat Migrant Workforce as Disposable

Migrant workers are playing an indispensable role in addressing extreme heat in Gulf Cooperation Council countries, yet these governments are failing to protect essential workers from dangers related to climate change, Human Rights Watch said on International Migrants Day on December 18, 2023. Multiple studies and projections have indicated that the risks of extreme heat have escalated in the Gulf states in recent years due to climate change. While all workers in the Gulf face risks from extreme heat, migrant workers are overwhelmingly exposed to the most dangerous working conditions in the region.

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Strengthening Human Rights-Centered Approaches Toward North Korea

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea. Over the past decade, the Commission of Inquiry (COI) has collected testimonies from North Korean defectors, which reveal grave violations of basic human rights within North Korea such as controlling the right to food, prison camps, and torture. Alongside the COI’s efforts, non-governmental organizations and governments have taken steps to enact laws and appoint special envoys to address North Korean human rights issues.

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