The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

Has Bangladesh’s Elite Police Force Gone Too Far?

by Christopher Shay / Dhaka

On March 27, Bangladeshi doctors amputated the leg of Limon Hossain, a 16-year-old student, four days after he was shot during a raid by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh’s elite security force. Almost everyday since, Hossain’s name has made headlines in Bangladesh, becoming a symbol of accusations that the governments paramilitary force acts as judge, jury and executioner in its official mission to clean up this south Asian nation of crime and corruption. “RAB is misusing their power,” Hossain says. “They are killing people.” Read the rest of this entry »

After Murder, South Korea Rethinks Marriage Brokers

by Christopher Shay

Within three days, a man can meet and marry the Vietnamese bride of his dreams, one typical marriage agency claims. The Vietnamese woman will be faithful, submissive, between the ages of 18 and 25 and a virgin, the agency promises. Indeed, the potential bride’s background is much better vetted than the man’s: one popular Singapore-based marriage agency will medically examine the woman to ensure she’s a virgin — once by a doctor in Vietnam and a second time in Singapore — just to be sure. Until now, that’s been business as usual in an industry that has been facilitating thousands of marriages each year in Asia since the late 1990s, forever transforming the demographics of places like Taiwan and South Korea. But last month’s brutal murder of a Vietnamese bride has caused Seoul to rethink its approach to international-marriage brokers.

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Is Burma’s Junta Trying to Join the Nuclear Club?

by Christopher Shay

It may seem counterintuitive, but Burma has a lot going for it. Blessed with abundant natural resources, the nation is home to the last of the world’s ancient teak forests; it produces tens of thousands of tons of jade every year; it’s at the center of the global ruby trade; and most important, it has natural gas. Lots of it. Burmese gas already powers half of Bangkok, and it will soon start flowing to China, making billions of dollars of profit. For many though, it’s how the money is being spent that’s worrying. Read the rest of this entry »

Loving Day Honors Mixed-Race Marriage, Fights Prejudice

by Christopher Shay

In February 1961, Barack Obama’s parents did something that was illegal in 22 states and that 96% of the population disapproved of: they got married. In fact, interracial marriage, sex and cohabitation would remain illegal in much of the U.S. for another six years. Then on June 12, 1967, in the case Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the country’s anti-miscegenation laws, allowing interracial couples across the country to marry. Thirteen years after Brown v. Board of Education, the court took the last legal teeth out of the Jim Crow era, ridding the U.S. of its last major piece of state-sanctioned segregation. June 12 has since become a grass-roots holiday in the U.S., especially for multiracial couples and families. Known as Loving Day, the celebration commemorates the 1967 case and fights prejudice against mixed-race couples, and is a reason to throw an awesome, inclusive party. Read the rest of this entry »

Cambodia: Making Heroin Addicts Use Herbal Remedy

by Christopher Shay

About 100 people — mostly local drug addicts — gathered at a pagoda in Phnom Penh in mid-February. A few drug users had brought their families for support, and they sat together on woven mats before a Buddhist shrine. The crowd put their hands together, bowed their heads and prayed. In a country where many drug addicts report being beaten, electrocuted and forced into military-style camps, the group prayer was organized to raise public awareness of their plight. In one prayer, Cambodia’s drug users and monks chanted together, “We pray for drug users to have access to proper, community-based, voluntary drug treatment.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jetstar Detentions Raise Red Flags for Investors in Vietnam

by Christopher Shay

In most places, a business deal that goes sour can get you fired. In Vietnam, it could cost you your freedom. For decades, Vietnam’s economic growth has been the envy of its developing neighbors in southeast Asia. In the last 20 years, GDP growth has fallen only once below 5%, typically hovering around 8% as the single-party state has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and seen poverty rates drop below that of India, China and the Philippines. Read the rest of this entry »

A Brief History of the Hmong and the CIA

by Christopher Shay

On Dec. 28, Thailand’s military packed more than 4,000 Hmong asylum seekers into trucks and drove them from refugee camps to neighboring Laos, a single-party state that’s been accused of persecuting the Hmong since they backed U.S. forces during the Vietnam War. Thailand maintains that Hmong living illegally in Thailand are economic migrants, not political refugees in need of international protection — but the decision to forcibly repatriate them drew international condemnation. Human Rights Watch called the expulsion “appalling,” while the U.S. State Department argued that the refugees deserved to be protected from threats they faced in their homeland. Read the rest of this entry »

Should Anthropologists Go to War?

by Christopher Shay

Anthropologists have traditionally had a pretty wonkish reputation, earnestly taking field notes while interviewing a tribal chief or lecturing in some college classroom about the intricacies of indigenous clan-systems. If the Pentagon has its way, though, more anthropologists will exchange their tweed for military fatigues and leave the halls of academe for the front lines. For the past two years, the U.S. military has embedded anthropologists and other social scientists with American troops in order to improve the Army’s cultural IQ. But last week the American Anthropological Association (AAA) released a report coming out strongly against the program, saying that in both concept and application, it “can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal: Cambodia’s Healing Process

by Christopher Shay

When the Khmer Rouge emptied the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh of human inhabitants in 1975, one of Pol Pot’s soldiers murdered 4-year-old Theary Seng’s father. Later, Theary Seng, her mother and siblings ended up in a prison in southeast Cambodia. One day, Theary Seng awoke to an empty cell — the prison population had been massacred overnight. In a rare act of mercy, the Khmer Rouge soldiers allowed the handful of children to survive. Theary Seng eventually escaped to a Thai refugee camp and then to the U.S. Her story is by no means unique in Cambodia. In just this one prison in Svay Rieng province, between 20,000 and 30,000 people were executed, and during the Pol Pot era, about 1.7 million Cambodians died — more than 20% of the country’s population. Read the rest of this entry »

A Brief History of Abu Sayyaf

by Christopher Shay

A small band of U.S. and Philippine soldiers were on their way to pick up supplies for a local school on the southern Philippine island of Jolo on Sept. 29 when their vehicle rolled over a land mine. The blast killed two U.S. soldiers and one Filipino marine, and though authorities are still investigating the incident, analysts immediately pointed the finger at the militant Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf known to be active in the area. Read the rest of this entry »