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Chongjin camp gets 2.8 user rating

Leading article: It's not yet spring in Burma

Is Burma turning the corner? Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, does not rule out the possibility: there were "grounds for cautious optimism", he said yesterday, ahead of his trip to the country, the first by a British minister for decades. And the Association of South-East Asian Nations certainly thinks so: yesterday it let it be known that the Burmese regime's reforms of the past few months are to be rewarded with the organisation's rotating chair for 2014, a major diplomatic prize.

Prisoner release may point to democracy

Thousands of prisoners are today due to be released by the authorities in Burma in a move that could mark a crucial move towards greater democracy by the new government.

Prisoner release may point to democracy

Thousands of prisoners are today due to be released by the authorities in Burma in a move that could mark a crucial move towards greater democracy by the new government.

Aung San Suu Kyi puts her newfound freedom to the test

The Burmese democracy leader today defies warnings to make her first political appearance outside Rangoon since her release

Kim Hye-sook: 'I saw prisoners turned to honeycomb by the bullets'

For three decades the diminutive 50-year-old endured life in a North Korean gulag. She gives Jerome Taylor a rare insight into a world of beatings, starvation and brutal executions

Yingluck Shinawatra: 'I am capable enough to make my own decisions'

Thailand's new Prime Minister tells Andrew Buncombe that she, not her exiled brother, is pulling the strings to unite a chaotic nation

Leading article: Ai Weiwei is free; another 1,426 are not

It would be good to think that the Chinese artist and dissident, Ai Weiwei, had been released because of the sustained pressure from the world's human rights activists. Mr Ai has, under the terms of his bail, said nothing, but his demeanour is not that of a man whose spirit has been broken into demonstrating a "good attitude in confessing his crimes", as the Beijing police suggested. Having said that, thousands of political prisoners remain in Chinese jails. Among them is Liu Xiaobo, last year's Nobel peace laureate. His empty chair at the Nobel ceremony in Oslo spoke eloquently of the problem. But the vast publicity which ensued appears to have done little towards securing his release.

Paul Vallely: A welcome move, but thousands remain political prisoners

One man has been freed. Ai Weiwei, China's most famous living artist, has been released from jail. His offence, according to the Beijing police department, was tax evasion. But the whole world knew the prominent dissident had really been arrested for having the temerity to make public criticisms of China's oppressive record on human rights – and urging the regime in Beijing to reform its political system.

Gulag Voices Edited, By Anne Applebaum<br />The Victims Return, By Stephen F Cohen

That these two books appear at almost the same time is doubtless coincidence. The volume edited by Anne Applebaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Soviet prison-camp system, Gulag, is the latest in Yale's Annals of Communism series. It aims to chart different aspects of Soviet and international communism through judiciously selected primary sources. Stephen Cohen's book is the product of a 40-year old project, originating in his doctoral thesis, that he picked up again when Soviet-era archives started to be opened.

Syrian protesters torch offices

Protesters against the government of Syria set fire to offices of the ruling party today while hundreds of political prisoners were released in a bid to appease the rioters.

More Cuban political prisoners freed

Seven more political prisoners are to be freed by the Communist government, the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday. Six people convicted of crimes against state security planned to leave for Spain, but one intends to remain in Cuba and return to the independent reporting that led to his arrest. Ivan Hernandez was among 75 people arrested in a crackdown on dissidents in 2003.

Bahrain: Protesters demand reforms after Shia die in clashes

Thousands of Shia protesters marched into the capital of Bahrain yesterday after a man was killed in clashes between police and mourners at a funeral for a demonstrator shot dead at an earlier anti-government rally.

Uzbek leader pressed by EU on human rights

The European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, pressed the Uzbek leader, Islam Karimov, to free political prisoners during a meeting in Brussels on Monday that had drawn wide condemnation from rights groups. Mr Barroso met Mr Karimov to discuss energy and military co-operation, as well as human rights, but activists criticised the meeting as a signal that the European Union was reducing pressure for an end to violations in Uzbekistan.

Tunisian government in crisis &ndash; after just one day

Ministers resign amid calls for members of the old regime to quit the cabinet as protesters continue to take to the streets

Cuban dissident refused visa to collect prize

A Cuban dissident used a video address at yesterday's award of the EU's main human rights prize to call for the release of political prisoners in his homeland and for the government to end attacks on the opposition.

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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine