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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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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
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The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

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Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn