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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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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

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Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

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Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

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