News

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.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel Shop See all offers »
India and Nepal
14 nights from £2,159pp Find out more
Dutch Masters
five nights from £679pp Find out more
La Robla and Rioja
nine nights from £1599pp Find out more
Classical Spain
six nights from £539pp Find out more
California and the Golden West
14 nights from £1,599pp Find out more
Bruges
three nights from £259pp Find out more
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?