Showing posts from April, 2012

Chen Guangcheng's nephew flees in fear for his life

Four days after the blind activist Chen Guangcheng made his audacious bid for freedom, dropping over a wall under cover of darkness and limping away on an injured leg, his nephew also made a desperate escape through fields of peanut and sweet potato plants. Friends say the older man reached the safety of the US embassy in Beijing, but when last heard from on Sunday night, his nephew, Chen Kegui, was on the run – penniless, frightened, struggling for breath and hiding from a black car he feared was following him. The 33-year-old's flight is the most potent reminder that his uncle's incredible escape from 19 months of house arrest has come at a bitter cost. On Monday, the European Union urged China to avoid harassing the activist's family and associates. But many are already in the hands of furious officials; Chen Kegui fled after lashing out with a knife at men who had broken into his home and detained his father. Shortly afterwards, two police officers marched his mother

Bahrain hunger striker will get retrial

Bahrain has announced a retrial for a hunger-striking political activist and 20 other people accused of trying to overthrow the western-backed monarchy in the Gulf state's Arab spring protests last year. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is to be tried in a civilian court – rather than a military court as before – suggesting an attempt by the Bahraini government to respond to domestic and international criticism of its policies by finding a face-saving solution. Khawaja, 52, was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting against the state last summer. But a three-month hunger strike and an energetic campaign by family and supporters have kept his case in the spotlight. It was raised too in the runup to the recent controversial Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain. Khawaja is currently in a military hospital in a serious condition, having lost 25% of his body weight. The Bahrain defence forces denied in a statement on Sunday that he was being force-fed. The decision to give him a retrial is a pa

The State of India's Forest Rights Act

The Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN) shares its latest report The State of the Forest Rights Act . This is a comprehensive study on the flawed implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. It is available at As of 31 January 2012, a total of 31,68,478 claims have been received and 27,24,162 claims (85.98%) have been disposed off. Out of the total claims disposed off, 12,51,490 titles (45.94%) were distributed and 14,72,672 claims (54%) were rejected. In terms of rejection rate, Uttarakhand is on the top with 100% followed by Himachal Pradesh (99.62%), Bihar (98.12%), Karnataka (95.66%), Uttar Pradesh (80.48%), West Bengal (73.12%), Maharashtra (67.91%), Madhya Pradesh (63.32%), Chhattisgarh (55.86%), Jharkhand (53.13%), Assam (50.94%), Rajasthan (49.85%), Andhra Pradesh (47.76%), Gujarat (30.95%), Orissa (30.75%), Kerala (16.95%), and T

Kashmir: a fragile peace?

Peace is designed to be fragile in Kashmir. Any moment, at the slightest provocation, its youth will be nudged by those who stand to gain from strife to erupt against the Indian Army, or militants may choose to stir things up to bolster the lucrative business of terrorism. But it is hard not to see that this is an extraordinary period of peace. A few days ago, Syed Salahuddin, chief of terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, confirmed something, which Kashmiris say is common knowledge—that he has withdrawn all his men from Kashmir. According to Jammu and Kashmir’s tourism minister, in 2011 more tourists visited the Valley than in recent memory. It is believed that the figure was over a million . This winter, almost all hotels in Gulmarg, a skiing destination an hour from Srinagar, were fully booked. Zahoor, who is from Srinagar and works in Gulmarg in the winters as a skiing instructor, and who taught me how to ski, says he is enjoying the peace and hordes of Indian tourists and his

Book(s) Reviewed: India's Broken Promise

Behind the Beautiful Forevers , by Katherine Boo The Beautiful and the Damned , by Siddhartha Deb India's political and business elites have long harbored a desire for their country to become a great power. They cheered when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finalized a nuclear deal with the United States in 2008. Indian elites saw the deal, which gave India access to nuclear technology despite its refusal to give up its nuclear weapons or sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, as a recognition of its growing influence and power. And Indian elites were also encouraged when U.S. President Barack Obama announced, during a 2010 visit to India, that the United States would support India's quest to gain permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council, which would put the country on an equal footing with its longtime rival, China. In recent years, such sentiments have also spread to large segments of the Indian middle class, which, owing to the country's remarkable

No one is born with hatred or intolerance


Labour Day : An Appeal from Jan Sansad

Our Labour ! Our Strength ! Workers Power Zindabaad ! Labour Day : An Appeal from Jan Sansad Dear Friends, Zindabaad ! Every year the May Day is celebrated by millions of workers around the world commemorating the the hard earned workers rights after years of struggles. It is a celebration but also a time to remember the victories, defeats and challenges infront of the workers movement even as we move ahead. Workers of the world unite ! The slogan has assumed much importance and the meaning of work and labour has also gone through significant changes over years. Today nearly 93% of the workers are in the unprotected and unorganised sector who are still having to fight for their basic rights : social security, job security, pension, health and education facilities, eight hour working day, mandatory leaves, fair wages, minimum wages, right to unionise and others. A hard fought right to form independent unions by the workers is under threat and so are other rights in the era of glo

In search of Sa'adat Hasan Manto

Every time young Sa'adat came down to Paproudi for his vacation, Ujagar Singh knew exactly what needed to be done. In the small, quiet village in Punjab's Samrala tehsil the friends had their own ritual. Grab some makki ki roti and sarson ka saag and meet at their regular hangout - the common well in fellow villager Kartar Singh's fields. Or as they fondly put it, "Kartaarey da khoo" . That was where they would bathe, eat and while away time playing football. Ujagar Singh admits his memory is rusty. He is, after all, close to a 100 years old. But when he talks about the little things he does remember, his heavily lined face further creases into a smile. "He (Manto) really liked playing football. He would get one himself. For all the years he was here, I never heard him utter a single swear word." His disjointed memories of the time he spent with his childhood friend are frequently punctuated with "Bahut hi changa banda si (he was a very fine man).&q

Four youths held for desecration of temple

The incident triggered riots in Hyderabad earlier this month . It was not ‘jihadis,' but four Hindu youths, instigated by two local leaders, who planted the legs of a cow and sprinkled green paint in a temple at Madanappet, sparking communal clashes in the old city three weeks ago, the police have said. The youths have been arrested, and the police have launched a hunt for Niranjan, a wine merchant, and Srinivas, a moneylender, accused of masterminding the desecration. The arrested were Nagaraj, who works as a contract sanitation supervisor in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation; Kiran Kumar, a florist; Ramesh, a hotel worker; and Dayanand Singh, a car driver. All of them hail from Kurmaguda of Madannapet. The arrested persons did not have any criminal record, but were organising religious programmes in the area. Their aim was to create communal disturbances and turn the situation to their advantage by provoking and uniting the Hindus, the police said on Friday . The ab

Pakistan: ‘Good looking Jamaat-e-Islami’ From: Viewpoint

by Nayyer Khan : Both Jamat-e-Islami and Pakistan's deep state were looking for a charismatic character, who had a glitz of the Western culture and a mindset of an Islamist. One senior memeber of Jamat-e-Islami, namely Hafeea ullah Niazi effectively solved this problem by finding the right person for this job. He happened to be the brother-in-law of Cricket's super star, male sex symbol and Casanova of International repute, Imran Khan. The Jamaat Islami (JI) won Pakistan state’s patronage to be given a role in home politics for the first time during the brief, yet eventful tenure of military ruler Yahya Khan, when designing of state’s vital policy matters was assigned to then minister for Information and National Affairs, Major General Sher Ali Khan. Yahya Khan was no different from his predecessors – starting from Jinnah to Ayub Khan – who were hardly observant of Islamic practices in their personal lives; but had used political Islam as a major tool for defining national id


What happened: A week ago, a violent a mob of about 2,000 Sinhalese, including a group of Buddhist monks led by the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter Inamaluwe Sumangala thero, stormed and vandalised a mosque in Dambulla. The mosque was declared an illegal structure, but it is unclear how this far this is accurate. Several videos, broadcast on national TV in Sri Lanka and now circulating globally on YouTube capturing the violence beggars belief. There are members of the sangha engaged in physical violence and verbal abuse. There is a member of the sangha who disrobes and exposes himself, in public, in front of the mosque. In one video, Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala thero suggests that the maniacal mob is actually a shramadaanaya, and that destroying the mosque is something that they should in fact be helped by the government. Aside from the physical violence, which includes scuffles with Army and Police personnel, the derogatory and racist language employed by Ven. Inamaluwe Su

Jairus Banaji: Fascism, Maoism and the Democratic Left

I’ll start with three meanings of democracy as I see it. 1. Democracy in the sense of the formal framework of a constitutional democracy with the rights to freedom and equality, the right to life and personal liberty, to freedom of religion etc that it guarantees.  In the Indian Constitution these are the fundamental rights incorporated in Part 3 of the Constitution, under Articles 14–30. 2. Democracy as a culture of resistance grounded in the constitutional rights given under my first meaning, including the Fifth Schedule protecting adivasi communities in the Scheduled Areas. India today is full of mass struggles and when labour movements are strong we can see what a culture of resistance means. And 3, democracy as an aspiration for control. One can see the Communist Manifesto as a generalisation of democracy in this third sense (of the mass of workers aspiring to control their own lives, economically, politically and culturally) and as a culmination of democracy in both the prev

China dissident Chen Guangcheng escapes house arrest

One of China's best known dissidents, Chen Guangcheng, has escaped from house arrest and has released a video addressed to Premier Wen Jiabao. In it he makes three demands, including one that Mr Wen investigate what Mr Chen, who is blind, calls the brutal beating up of his family members. Rights activists say Mr Chen slipped out of his home in Dongshigu town in Shandong province on Sunday. His whereabouts are unclear, but supporters say he is safe in Beijing. Unconfirmed reports say Mr Chen may have taken refuge in a diplomatic mission. Mr Chen, 40, had been under house arrest since he was released from a four-year jail sentence in 2010. In the video, delivered from a darkened room and posted online by Boxun, a Chinese dissident news website based in the United States, Mr Chen asks that: Premier Wen investigate and prosecute local officials Mr Chen says beat up his family members The safety of his family be ensured Corruption in general in China be dealt with and punished acc

Ousted Chinese Leader Is Said to Have Spied on Other Top Officials

When Hu Jintao, China’s top leader, picked up the telephone last August to talk to a senior anticorruption official visiting Chongqing, special devices detected that he was being wiretapped — by local officials in that southwestern metropolis. The discovery of that and other wiretapping led to an official investigation that helped topple Chongqing’s charismatic leader, Bo Xilai, in a political cataclysm that has yet to reach a conclusion. Until now, the downfall of Mr. Bo has been cast largely as a tale of a populist who pursued his own agenda too aggressively for some top leaders in Beijing and was brought down by accusations that his wife had arranged the murder of Neil Heywood, a British consultant, after a business dispute. But the hidden wiretapping, previously alluded to only in internal Communist Party accounts of the scandal, appears to have provided another compelling reason for party leaders to turn on Mr. Bo. The story of how China’s president was monitored also shows the

The best children’s poem of 2005

When I born, I Black, When I grow up, I Black, When I go in Sun, I Black, When I scared, I Black, When I sick, I Black, And when I die, I still black… And you White fellow, When you born, you pink, When you grow up, you White, When you go in Sun, you Red, When you cold, you blue, When you scared, you yellow, When you sick, you Green, And when you die, you Gray… And you call me colored???……… “ “This poem was voted the best children’s poem of 2005. It was written by an African kid.

Teacher Fired From Catholic School For In Vitro Fertilization

An Indiana teacher who says she was fired from a Roman Catholic school for using in vitro fertilization to try to get pregnant is suing in a case that could set up a legal showdown over reproductive and religious rights. Emily Herx's lawsuit accuses the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and St. Vincent de Paul school in Fort Wayne of discrimination for her firing last June. Herx, 31, of Hoagland, Ind., says that the church pastor told her she was a "grave, immoral sinner" and that a scandal would erupt if anyone learned she had undergone in vitro fertilization , or IVF. The Roman Catholic Church shuns IVF, which involves mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring a resulting embryo into the womb. Herx said she was fired despite exemplary performance reviews in her eight years as a language arts teacher. Legal experts say Herx's case illustrates a murky area in the debate over separation of church and state that even the U.S. Supreme Court has failed t

Academic research on Rushdie's literary work sabotaged by Deoband Ulema

NB:  Over the past four months, the Deoband Ulema has contributed to the climate of intolerance and religious bigotry in India. First by opposing Rushdie's presence at the Jaipur Literature Festival, and now by sabotaging a perfectly legitimate subject for research. In the first instance they succeeded by riding on the backs of various hooligans disguised as 'Muslim leaders', and now by presenting themselves as the self-appointed representatives of 'hurt sentiment' - that tried and tested weapon of communal politicians of all colours. (Witness the hue and cry over AK Ramanujan's Many Ramayanas). They want Rushdies work to be excluded from bona-fide literary research, even if the research does not explicitly take up The Satanic Verses. In Jaipur, there were threats of violence - with talk of 'rivers of blood' etc. The Ulema ought to have condemned such statements in clear and explicit terms, but we did not hear of it. We only heard of their sentiments. Af

Blackboard slogan of schoolgirl provokes Chinese re-education across Tibet   The Chinese authorities have cracked down massively across Markham (Chinese: Mangkang) County in Chamdo Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region after a middle school girl wrote “Long Live Dalai Lama” on blackboard, reported (Radio Free Asia, Washington) Apr 22, citing local residents.  Large Work Teams of party cadres were reported to have been dispatched to conduct political re-education in schools across the county . Residents have been cited as saying the campaign was being led by the county party secretary Bao Luo. In talks given to the children and staff under the campaign, the officials have been accusing the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile in India of "advocating separatism and using religion to deceive Tibetan Buddhists”. "We had to launch this campaign to cleanse students and staff of the wrong influence of the Dalai clique, so that the students can grow up with a healthy and stable mind to [adhere] to the [directives of the]