Monday, 30 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 away from the hospital where she was caring for his sick child. Chen Kegui's wife is now too frightened to reveal her location. "She's afraid she will be next and the whole family will be taken away. She's terrified," said lawyer Liu Weiguo, whom she hired before she left.

The family lived just a few hundred metres away from Chen Guangcheng, in the village of Dongshigu in eastern Shandong province. But the family members had not seen each other for more than a year thanks to the state of siege in which the activist lived following his release from jail in 2010. His wife, Yuan Weijing, their six-year-old daughter and his mother are thought to remain under the watch of up to 100 hired guards – armed with hi-tech surveillance and phone-jamming equipment – who have beaten, threatened or harassed supporters, journalists and even diplomats trying to visit. They are said to have broken Yuan's bones in one beating last year...

Perhaps the most immediate cause for concern is Chen Kegui. Hours after the incident he told blogger Cao Yaxue that a group of men – armed with wooden clubs and led by a local official – had broken in at around midnight on Thursday after realising his uncle had escaped. Sobbing as he spoke, Chen Kegui described how he had grabbed kitchen knives to use for self-defence and slashed at the intruders as they tried to grab him. It is unclear how badly the men were injured.

"In China, law is trampled over at will. I love my motherland, but this is what she gives me," he told Cao. "Chen Guangcheng is innocent. But they forced a charge on him. My father is getting old, couldn't walk, and where did they take him? I feel helpless. "If I am sentenced to death, I hope someone will help take care of my father, my mother, my family, my child … I hope the case will be dealt with according to rights provided for by the law, not manipulated by the privileged people."...

See previous report: China dissident escapes:

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 partial victory for Khawaja, but his family said immediately that it did not go far enough as he is to remain in custody. "Abdulhadi al-Khawaja did not go on hunger strike saying death or retrial, he said death or freedom," his daughter Maryam wrote on Twitter. "A retrial doesn't mean much." Khawaja's wife, Khadija al-Moussawi, told the BBC: "I think it is ridiculous. What sort of legal process is this? They are playing for time, and should have transferred his case to a civilian court at the first hearing, not the third." The Bahrain Human Rights Society noted that the retrial would still be based on interrogations carried out by military prosecutors.

The retrial decision is line with the so far largely ignored recommendations of the Bahrain independent commission of investigation (BICI) appointed by King Hamad Al Khalifa, which found that Khawaja had suffered prolonged torture while in detention. Khawaja has dual nationality with Denmark, and the Danish ambassador criticised the decision to keep him in custody and renewed his call for Khawaja to be transferred to Denmark on humanitarian grounds. Bahrain's government, meanwhile, has been accused of urging supporters to vote in an online opinion poll on the Radio Times website to ensure that a highly critical film about repression during last year's protests does not win the current affairs prize at this year's Bafta Television Awards. On Saturday, the Bahraini foreign minister, Khalid Al Khalifa, tweeted to his nearly 80,000 followers urging loyalists to vote against the al-Jazeera documentary Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark. The film has already won numerous awards for al-Jazeera. Human Rights Watch said in a new report at the weekend that Bahraini police were beating and torturing detainees, including minors, despite the recommendations of the BICI and public commitments to end torture and police impunity.

"Bahrain has displaced the problem of torture and police brutality from inside police stations to the point of arrest and transfer to police stations," said Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "This abuse contradicts one of the most important recommendations of the independent commission and shows why investigations and prosecutions of abusers to the highest level are essential to stopping these practices."

See also: A call from the international  network - Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (SIAWI)
To the authorities in Bahrain and to Member-States of the European Union:

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 Tripura (15.07%). The rejection rate of as many as 11 states is above 50 per cent.

The claims are being rejected on frivolous grounds. The Forest Rights Committees have not been constituted at the Gram Sabha level in several states as provided in the Act while the forest officials have been obstructing the process of verification and decision making at various level. The claimants are denied proper hearing of their cases and opportunity to file appeal against the rejections. In an overwhelming number of cases, the rejections are not being communicated to the claimants.

The Community Forest Rights (CFRs) are not being recognized and in many States even the forms are not supplied. The claims under the FRA are not being recognised in the protected areas such as National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries. The Other Traditional Forest Dwellers are being denied rights under the FRA. Even in cases where land titles are issued, they are vaguely worded and
often without clear maps or demarcation of any boundary, area etc. In many cases, more than one person/family has been granted title over the same plot of land.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules, 2007 actually overrules the Act to deny rights to the beneficiaries. In clear violation of the FRA, under Rule 14(3) of the Forest Rights Rule 2007 the Sub-Divisional Level Committee has been
empowered to reject the claims without any explanation.

The Ministry of Environment & Forests and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs which have jointly constituted the National Committee on the FRA have undermined the National Committee. On 3 August 2010, Kanti Lal Bhuria, then Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, raised objections to the
functioning of the National Committee on the FRA. Further, in October 2010, Jairam Ramesh, then Union Minister of Environment and Forests in a letter to the Chairperson of the National Committee expressed unhappiness over the suspension of a Divisional Forest Officer by the Uttar Pradesh
government after an investigation by senior officials vindicated the findings of irregularities as pointed out in the report of the National Committee on FRA.

The Action Taken Report on the Tenth Report, “Implementation of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 - Rules Made Thereunder” of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment has been placed before the Parliament on 22.12.2011. Though the Ministry of Tribal Affairs claimed that out of the 23 recommendations, 12 have been accepted by the Government, in reality the recommendations were only forwarded to the State Governments. AITPN recommended, among others, that the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes be provided with adequate financial and human resources to examine the complaints pertaining to the claims under the Forest Rights Act.

AITPN has Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC
C-3-441 (Top Floor), Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India
Phone: + 91-11-25503624, 45511307; Fax: + 91-11-25503624
Website:; Email:

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 newfound ability to earn a decent living. Also, in Kashmir, the political stakes in ensuring that the Indian Army does not violate human rights are so high that Kashmiris today have little to complain.

On the streets of Srinagar and in the villages around, regular people, who are not writers or journalists or intellectuals, have come to hate Pakistan for what it has done to the Valley in the name of freedom. Also, what Pakistan has become, politically and economically, has ensured that accession to that country is not part of popular sentiment here anymore. In fact, there is even relief in Kashmir that historical circumstances saved the Valley from being a part of Pakistan. And what India has become, politically and economically, has made it more endearing than the Kashmiri elite wants to admit in public. But freedom from India remains a fervent wish for many, which means that an independent sovereign Kashmir stranded between India and Pakistan is the only option left. Kashmir’s elite, especially those who live in Kashmir, believe that a sovereign Kashmir is an impractical idea and to continue the status quo with the newly prosperous and somewhat secular India is the best way forward. “But we can’t say it, you know, we can’t say it publicly without a lot of our brothers from Dubai and America abusing us,” says one of the prominent journalists of Kashmir in an informal chat with me in the lobby of a hotel in Srinagar.

Is it obscene to search for happiness in Kashmir, is it obscene for a writer from the south of India to wander around Kashmir interviewing people who will tell him that they want to get on with their lives despite the presence of the Indian Army? What is the stake of an outsider in Kashmir? The fact is that Kashmir, too, has occupied India. Kashmir is the reason why India is one of the worst victims of terrorism. All Indians have a stake in Kashmir’s state of mind...

See also: In Kashmir, some hot potatoes, by Praveen Swami
New Delhi's policy establishment still imagines it is dealing with a Kashmir that disappeared two decades or more ago: an illusion sustained by the fact that so many key actors are the children of the men who made the deals that propped up the State's dysfunctional political order. Its key instruments remain cajoling and co-optation - and, when it fails, outright bribery. Meaningful political dialogue, least of all the new language of transparency, rights and empowerment Mr. Ahmad represented, simply isn't on the agenda. Prime Minister Singh's government won the war in Jammu and Kashmir, inflicting a decisive defeat on the insurgency. His government's actions suggest it is now doing its best to lose the peace.

And: Who are the real enemies of a happy Kashmir?

Reports from an independent human rights investigation in Kashmir

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 economic growth in the past two decades, now numbers around 300 million. Nearly nine out of ten Indians say their country already is or will eventually be one of the most powerful nations in the world, an October 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey revealed.

Symbols of India's newfound wealth and power abound. Last year, 55 Indians graced Forbes' list of the world's billionaires, up from 23 in 2006. In 2008, the Indian automobile company Tata Motors acquired Jaguar and Land Rover; last year, Harvard Business School broke ground on Tata Hall, a new academic center made possible by a gift of $50 million from the company's chair, Ratan Tata. And in 2009, a company run by the Indian billionaire Anil Ambani, a telecommunications and Bollywood baron, acquired a 50 percent stake in Steven Spielberg's production company, DreamWorks. Gaudy, gargantuan shopping malls proliferate in India's cities, and BMWs compete with auto-rickshaws on crowded Indian roads. Tom Cruise, eyeing the enormous Indian movie market, cast Anil Kapoor, a veteran Bollywood star, in the most recent Mission: Impossible sequel and spent a few weeks in the country to promote the film. "Now they are coming to us," one Indian tabloid gloated.

But even as Indian elites confidently predict their country's inevitable rise, it is not difficult to detect a distinct unease about the future, a fear that the promise of India's international ascendance might prove hollow. This anxiety stems from the tense duality that defines contemporary India, an influential democracy with a booming economy that is also home to more poor people than any other country in the world...

Of course, staggering poverty and crippling inequality at home do not necessarily prevent countries from trying to project their power abroad. When India won its independence, in 1947, it was even poorer than it is today. Yet Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's founding prime minister, sought to raise India's international profile, providing significant political support to independence movements in British colonies in Africa and Asia and helping found the Non-Aligned Movement. Throughout the Cold War, Indian leaders sought to use their country's victory over British colonialism to inspire other subject peoples in their own struggles for self-determination -- and, in the process, to gain more global influence than otherwise might have been possible for an impoverished country. In this way, India's Cold War-era foreign policies, although primarily concerned with national interests, contained an element of idealism, and the country's growing international profile during those early decades of independence served as a powerful symbol of freedom and autonomy in the Third World.

Over time, however, India has exchanged idealism for realism, as the country's leaders have gradually abandoned an anticolonial distrust of hegemony and embraced great-power ambitions of their own. Thus, although India has made admirable progress in many areas, it is unclear whether an ever-growing Indian role in global affairs symbolizes anything more than the country's expanding definition of its self-interest. It is therefore hard to avoid feeling a sense of ambivalence when considering the prospect of India's ascent, especially when one scrutinizes the poverty, corruption, and inequality that suffuse Indian life today -- as do two recent, revealing books: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo, and The Beautiful and the Damned, by Siddhartha Deb...

No one is born with hatred or intolerance

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 global capital pushing for maximum exploitation of labour and complete privatisation and contractualisation of work in neo liberal reforms era. Millions of agricultural workers, NREGA workers, construction workers, fish workers, forest workers, hawkers, and many other non-traditionally recognised forms of workers remain outside the social security net and face problems with the authorities in forming their own unions across the country. In the same way millions of workers working in manufacturing sector face the same problem most recent being Maruti factory in Gurgaon, Rockman and Satyam in Dehradun and elsewhere.

Various studies, surveys and reports have accepted the fact that this group of workers contributes more than 60% to the GDP. From road construction crews to domestic help, they work long hours for less than the minimum wage, receive no compensation for work-related injuries; and they receive no social security. About 44% of all unorganised urban workers are construction workers but they have no social security or job security, most of them migrants who stream in from remote villages where agriculture can no longer support their growing numbers. It is unfortunate that even though nearly 60% of the population is engaged in the agriculture, fishery and forestry but their total contribution to the GDP has come down to nearly 16%, indicating worst agrarian crisis fuelling large scale farmers suicide and migration.

These issues and others were discussed at Rashtriya Jan Sansad held in New Delhi (March 19 – 23), attended by nearly 7,500 people from 20 States over five days. Member's of People Parliament agreed that time has to demand rights and justice for the working class people who are running the economy today but remain unprotected and unorganised. Some of the significant resolutions from the discussions on the subject are following :

The honest producers of this country – workers, artisans, fisher folks, hawkers, and others in unprotected and unorganised sectors continue to be oppressed and often victimised. The 93% of workers who have been denied social security pensions should be given protection equivalent to the organised and secured sectors. There should be access to food, water, shelter etc. to everyone equitably. Every service, every resource or development benefits should be equitably distributed.
The Provisions for pension must be extended to the 93% workers in the informal and unorganised sector workers, the current provisions are not at all adequate. The inequality in various pension schemes in different states must be removed.

There should be an end to inequality in the country. The politicians are working only for the interests of a handful of people, not for the interests of the masses. There shouldn’t be a difference of more than 1:10 in the income of the people and a ameeri rekha should be determined. Tax should be levied on property and assets, not on small productions or incomes.

Right to Unionise is a fundamental right and it must be respected irrespective of the sector, work, etc. All forms of forced labour must be stopped effectively. There is need of comprehensive social protection for all unorganised sector workers and fair wages must be given to them.

The minimum wages must be raised to a living wage level and it must be ensured that these are remitted on time. Minimum wages should be as such that the whole family is provided for by the income of one. The below poverty line families list should be enumerated by the members of the gram sabha or the electorate of the urban areas.

There must be provisions for Rain Basera (shelter homes) for daily wagers and migrant workers. The migrant workers in cities who have faced eviction must be duly rehabilitated.

Under NREGA, work must be provided throughout the year. Corruption must be stopped in NREGA and different pension schemes must be introduced.

The ambiguities and contradictions in central and state labour laws must be removed. The labourers must be adequately represented in the labour boards.

The use of machines in PMGSY must be stopped and manual labour be implemented so that the employment can be provided to workers and their skills can also be upgraded.

There is a need for changes in the hawkers policy and provisions must be made for them to be allotted shops and given rehabilitation as per requirement.

The domestic workers must be brought under the sexual harassment act and be provided protection and security under various acts.

Many other issues were discussed during the Jan Sansad which will take forward the struggle for the development with justice and equity. The programmes emerging from the Jan Sansad will be carried forward in coming days by the movements and community groups in their regions and areas through struggles, moblisations and advocacy.

On this Mazdoor Diwas on May 1st our constituent groups organise to demand the rights, dignity and security for the 93% of the working force of this country and pave the way forward for a most just and humane society. We hope you all will join us in taking forward the struggle for a life and livelihood of dignity for millions of working class people of the country.

In Solidarity: Medha patkar, Prafulla Samantara (Orissa), Sandeep Pandey (Uttar Pradesh), Dr. Sunilam (Madhya Pradesh), Gautam Bandopadhyay (Chattisgarh), Suhas Kolhekar, Vilas Bhongade, Subhash Lomate, Sumit Wajale (Maharashtra), Shaktiman Ghosh (National Hawker Federation), P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju (Andhra Pradesh), Gabriele Dietrich (Tamilnadu), Vimal Bhai (Uttarakhand), Rakesh Rafique, Manish Gupta, Rupesh Verma (Western Uttar Pradesh), Prof. Ajit Jha, Rajendra Ravi, Bhupendra Singh Rawat, Vijayan M J, Madhuresh Kumar (Delhi), Gurwant Singh (Punjab), Anand Mazgaonkar (Gujarat), Mahender Yadav (Patna, Bihar), Nizam Ansari (Bokaro, Jharkhand), Geo Jose (Kerala) and others
(Jan Sansad Coordinating Committee)

हमारी मेहनत ! हमारी शक्ति ! मजदूर एकता जिंदाबाद !
मजदूर दिवस के दिन जन संसद का एक आह्वाहन

प्रिय साथियों
जिंदाबाद !
हर साल दुनिया के लाखों करोड़ों मजदूर १ मई को मजदूर दिवस मनाते हैं | यह दिन सिर्फ जीत का जश्न मनाने का दिन नहीं, बल्कि जीत के साथ साथ हार एवं आज के समय में मजदूरों के सामने मौजूद चुनौतियों के बारे में सोचने का भी समय है | दुनिया के मजदूर एक हो! आज के दौर में इस नारे का महत्व और बढ़ गया है | आज देश में ९३ प्रतिशत मजदूर असंगठित एवं असुरक्षित वर्ग में हैं जो कि अपने बुनियादी हकों के लिए जबरदस्त संघर्ष कर रहे हैं - सामाजिक सुरक्षा, पेंसन, शिक्षा, स्वस्थ्य, आठ घंटे की समयसीमा, नौकरी के निश्चितता, नियमित छुट्टियाँ, मजदूर संघ बनाने का अधिकार, उचित मजदूरी और अन्य तमाम मुद्दे |
आज के समय में एक तरफ मजदूर निष्पक्ष मजदूर संघ बनाने के अधिकार को लेकर लड़ रहा है जहाँ उसके लिए खतरे के सिवाए कुछ नहीं है, वहीं दूसरी तरफ नव उदारवाद के दौर में वैश्विक पूंजी के आने के साथ निजीकरण एवं ठेकेदारी प्रथा बढती जा रही है | करोड़ों कि संख्या में खेतिहर मजदूर, वन श्रमजीवी, मत्स्यजीवी, नरेगा के मजदूर, खादानों में काम करने वाले मजदूर, निर्माण मजदूर, हाकर्स एवं इस तरह के तमाम गैर - परंपरागत श्रमिक सामाजिक सुरक्षा से वंचित हैं एवं देश भर में अपने संघ बनाने को लेकर सरकार से लड़ रहे हैं | उत्पादन के कामो में लगे मजदूर, चाहे वो गुडगाँव के मारुती में काम करने वाला मजदूर हो, देहरादून के सत्यम या रॉकमान का हो या कहीं और का, उसी तरह के परेशानियों को झेल रहा है |
तमाम सर्वे एवं शोध ने इस बात को साबित किया है कि जीडीपी (सकल घरेलु उत्पाद) का कूल ६० प्रतिशत इस तबके के मजदूरों कि मजदूरी के योगदान से आता है | निर्माण के क्षेत्र से लेकर घरेलू कामगारों तक यह मजदूर ८ घंटे से ज्यादा काम करते हैं जिसके एवज में उनको पूरा मजदूरी भी नहीं मिलती और न हि सामाजिक सुरक्षा | ४४ प्रतिशत से ज्यादा असंगठित / असुरक्षित शहरी मजदूर निर्माण के क्षेत्र में लगे हुए हैं जिनको न कि कोई सामाजिक सुरक्षा मिलती है और न ही काम की सुरक्षा, अधिकांशतः ये मजदूर गांव में खेती और उचित रोजगार न होने के चलते शहरों में आते हैं | यह बहुत शर्म कि बात है कि, ६० प्रतिशत से ज्यादा आबादी खेती, मत्स्य पालन जैसे कामों में लगा है लेकिन इनका सकल घरेलु उत्पाद में योगदान घट कर सिर्फ १६ प्रतिशत रह गया है और यह आंकड़े खेती में हो रहे घाटे एवं उससे हो रहे पलायन एवं आत्महत्या को दर्शाते हैं |

मार्च १९ से २३ को नयी दिल्ली में हुए राष्ट्रीय जन संसद में ५ दिनों में करीबन ७५०० लोग २० राज्यों से शामिल हुए वहाँ इन सवालों के ऊपर गहराई से चर्चा हुई | राष्ट्रीय जन संसद में आये हुए जन सांसदों ने महसूस किया कि अब वक्त आ गया है कि अर्थ व्यवस्था को चलने वाले असुरक्षित / असंगठित मजदूरों के आवाज़ को एवं उनके मांगों को आगे बढ़ाया जाये| जन संसद में पारित कुछ प्रमुख सुझाव इस प्रकार से हैं-
हमारे देश के सच्चे उत्पादक, सच्चे कुशल कारीगर, सही निर्माणकर्ता आजतक वंचित है, शोषित पीड़ित है | जिन ९३% श्रमिको को सामाजिक सुरक्षा पेंशन से वंचित रखा गया है. उन्हें संगठित – सुरक्षित क्षेत्र के श्रमिकों के बराबर सुरक्षा दी जाये | रोजी, रोटी, कपडा, मकान, हर किसी को प्राप्त हो | हर सेवा का, हर संसाधन या विकास के लाभ जैसे पानी, उर्जा का समान बटवारा हो |

जिन ९३% श्रमिको को सामाजिक सुरक्षा पेंशन से वंचित रखा गया है. उन्हें संगठित – सुरक्षित क्षेत्र के श्रमिकों के बराबर सुरक्षा दी जाये क्यूँ कि अभी के समय में जिन सुविधायों को दिया गया है वो बिलकुल हि न के बराबर है |

देश में गैरबराबरी कि हद हो चुकी है, उसे खत्म किया जाये, राजनेता खुद और मुट्ठी भर लोगों के उपभोग के पक्ष में है, न की सबकी जरूरत पूर्ति के | आय में किसी भी कीमत पर १:१० से अधिक का फर्क न रहे, देश में 'अमीरी रेखा' सुनिश्चित करने की आज जरुरत है | अधिकांश कर संग्रह (टैक्स) सम्पत्ति पर हो, न की छोटे – बड़े उत्पादन या आय से |
संघ बनाने के अधिकार बुनियादी अधिकारों में से है उस अधिकार को हर एक तबके के मजदूरों के लिए लागू करना चाहिए |
हर तरह के बंधुआ मजदूरी को खतम करना चाहिए | सभी मजदूरों को सामाजिक सुरक्षा कानून के तहत सुरक्षा प्रदान किया जाये एवं सभी को न्यूनतम मजदूरी दिया जाये | (न्यूनतम) मजदूरी इतनी हो कि पूरे परिवार का पालन पोषण एक के रोजगार से मिले | गरीबी रेखा के नीचे के परिवारों की सूचि ग्रामसभा तय करे और शहर में वार्डसभा तय करे |
दिहाड़ी मजदूरों के लिए एवं बाहर से आये हुए मजदूरों के लिए रेन बसेरा का प्रावधान रखा जाये एवं जब शहरों में मजदूरों के बस्तियों को विस्थापित किया जाता है तो उनका सही जगह में पुनर्वसन किया जाये |
नरेगा कानून के अंदर पुरे साल काम देने का प्रावधान हो | एवं नरेगा में चल रहे भ्रष्टाचार को तुरंत खतम किया जाये |
केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारों के बीच श्रम कानूनों के भेद को मिटाया जाये एवं सभी मजदूरों को श्रम बोर्ड में उचित स्थान मिले |
हाकर्स के लिए कानूनों में बदलाव कि ज़रूरत है | सभी हाकर्स का सही पुनर्वसन किया जाये |
घरेलू कामगारों को लैंगिक / दैहिक उत्पीडन कानून के अंतर्गत लाया जाये | उनको कानून के अंतर्गत सुरक्षा प्रदान किया जाये |
जन संसद में पारित सभी प्रस्ताव संघर्षों को आगे ले जाने के राह में कारगर साबित होंगे जो कि एक समता एवं न्यायपूर्ण समाज का गठन करेंगे | जन संसद में उभरे सभी मुद्दे संघर्षों के कार्यक्रमों के ज़रिये आगे बढ़ेंगे |
इस १ मई, मजदूर दिवस के दिन हम सभी संघर्षों / आंदोलनों के साथियों को आग्रह करते हैं कि वह इन ९३ प्रतिशत मजदूरों के मुद्दों को आगे बढ़ाये एवं एक समतामूलक समाज के निर्माण में अपना योगदान करे | आप भी जुडिये हमारे इस संघर्ष में !

आपके साथी
मेधा पाटकर, प्रफुल्ल सामंतरे (उड़ीसा), संदीप पाण्डेय (उत्तर प्रदेश), डॉ. सुनीलम (मध्य प्रदेश), गौतम बंदोपाध्याय (छत्तीसगढ़), सुनीति एस आर, सुहास कोल्हेकर, विलास भोंगाडे, सुभाष लोमटे, सुमित वंजाले (महाराष्ट्र), शक्तिमान घोष (राष्ट्रीय हाकर्स फेडरेशन), पी चेन्नैया, रामकृष्ण राजू (आंध्र प्रदेश), गैब्रियल डिएट्रिच (तमिलनाडु), राकेश रफीक, मनीष गुप्ता, रूपेश वर्मा, ऋचा सिंह (उत्तर प्रदेश), विमल भाई (उत्तराखंड), प्रोफ. अजित झा, राजेन्द्र रवि, भूपेन्द्र सिंह रावत, विजयन एम जे, मधुरेश कुमार (दिल्ली), गुरवंत सिंह (पंजाब), आनंद मज्गाव्कर (गुजरात), कामायनी स्वामी, किशोरी दास, सिस्टर डोरोथी, महिंद्र यादव (बिहार), निजाम अंसारी (बोकारो, झारखण्ड), जियो जोस (केरल), और अन्य
राष्ट्रीय जन संसद संयोजन समिति

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)."

As young kids playing in the wheat fields that surround Paproudi even today, Ujagar Singh says he never imagined his playmate Sa'adat Hasan Manto would some day become one of the greatest short story writers the Indian sub-continent had ever seen. Being unlettered, he has never read Manto. But he knows Manto was written about in the papers. He remembers nothing of the time when the writer was charged with obscenity and tried in court for six of his stories. "Maybe something like that happened. I don't know," Ujagar Singh says, the words tripping over each other as they come out of his mouth in a near-incomprehensible mumble.

In its absence, Ujagar Singh's memory mirrors that of Samrala. There is a vague sense of acknowledgement that a writer of renown once belonged to these parts. But it's easy to find vignettes of rustic Punjab in Manto's stories like 'Thanda Gosht' (Cold Meat). Gurbhajan Singh Gill, president of the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, calls Manto a "real son of the soil" . Manto's characters worked to shock and turn societal stereotypes on their heads. For example, Mozel, the Jewish woman who accepts, spurns and then dies for her Sikh admirer. Or Babu Gopi Nath, who does all he can to get a young prostituted woman married off to a rich man. Manto's accounts of the riots and violence that followed Partition are chilling yet remarkably sensitive at the same time. 'Khol Do' is one stand-out example that immediately comes to mind. 'Toba Tek Singh' , perhaps his most famous story, is a telling commentary on the madness of Partition.

Manto's treatment of sex and sexuality was something that earned him the ire of the British government as well as the rulers of Pakistan, where he had migrated to in the late 1940s. His openness and direct approach to the subject was taken for obscenity and perversion then. Today, though, he finds place even in the Delhi University syllabus, regarded as a man ahead of his times. Manto, however, did not stay in his village of birth for long. He studied in Amritsar and later moved to Bombay for work. But had Manto been around, he'd be happy to see that finally, after all these years, a small group of people are putting all their might to revive the writer in Samrala and neighbouring Ludhiana.

On May 13, two days after Manto's birth centenary , the Punjabi Lekhak Manch and the Punjabi Sahit Akademi have scheduled a seminar in Samrala , inviting the writer's three daughters from Pakistan. The Ludhiana chapter of Punjab University will also stage a play based on one of his short stories. In Malerkotla, a village about 40 km away from Samrala, an Urdu bi-monthly magazine 'Nazariya' plans to bring out a special issue dedicated to Manto. Advocate Daljeet Singh Shahi, who works in the Samrala civil court and is also president of the Punjabi Lekhak Manch, proudly points out that it's the same court where Manto's father served as subjudge years ago. A Punjabi short-story writer himself , Shahi is unhappy at the lack of recognition for Manto in Punjab today. "I feel people have forgotten him. There is very little interest in literature here," he says. Talking about the centenary celebration plans, he turns to two people waiting in his office and politely explains to them who exactly it is that is being discussed. The men have never heard the name Manto before.

See alsoSaadat Hassan Manto and the partition of India —Ishtiaq Ahmed
This year marks the centenary of one of the most remarkable Urdu short-story writers of the Indian subcontinent: Saadat Hassan Manto (May 11, 1912-January 18, 1955). His contemporary, Krishan Chander (1914-1977), himself a literary icon who some critics have described as the “the imam of the Urdu short-story” graciously wrote in his obituary on Manto that indeed he was the greatest short-story writer of his generation...I will end by narrating one of my other favourites. In his, ‘Siyah Hashiye’ (Black Borders), Manto depicts an excited pro-Pakistan mob that attacks the statue on the Lahore Mall Road of the great Hindu philanthropist of Punjab, Sir Ganga Ram. One of them blackens its face with tar. Another collects old shoes, strung into a garland, and is about to put it around the statue’s neck, when the police shows up and begins firing. The man who is about to put the garland of shoes around the statue’s neck is injured. He is sent to the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for treatment.. (The writer is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University. He is also Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

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 absconding persons did not belong to any religious organisation. They used to lead youngsters of the area in celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi and Navaratri. The two believed that by projecting a threat from the rival community, they could unite the Hindus. They anticipated some trouble during Sri Rama Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in the first week of April. “As the events passed off peacefully, they conspired to trigger communal clashes,” the police said.

Investigators said the youths met in a wine shop and finalised their plan on April 7, allegedly at the behest of Niranjan and Srinivas. Being a sanitation worker, Nagaraj knew a place at Chanchalguda, where the burnt legs of animals are dumped. While he collected two severed legs of a cow, another procured a bottle of paint. Past midnight on April 7, they went up to the temple, planted the legs on the wall, inserting them through the iron grill, and sprinkled the paint.

The next morning, as the news spread, the Hindus of the locality gathered in large numbers. When a sniffer dog headed for the main road, a mob followed it and started throwing stones, damaging Muslim property. As the affected persons retaliated, clashes broke out at Madanappet and Saidabad, prompting the police to impose curfew on the areas under the two police stations. The police began their investigation, picking up youngsters involved in cases of property damage. Ramesh was among those held. He came out on bail four days ago. Piecing together the leads, the City Police Commissioner's Task Force teams picked him up again. And he admitted to his offence. On his confession, the other three were nabbed.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

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 identity and nation-building. They wished to keep militant Islamism under control to prevent it from destabilizing domestic politics; yet direct it against India and also to use it to counter the leftist and nationalist dominant trends that were at the time working against what they deemed the Islamic ideology underpinning the state. In Sher Ali’s scheme of things the “ideology of Pakistan and glory of Islam” became pet words of our military leadership, which projected the army itself as ultimate defender of the ‘ideology of Pakistan’. Learning the lesson from public agitation against Ayub Khan, Sher Ali convinced Yahya that army should maintain its mythical image before the people as a final savior of the nation whenever national interests so demanded and, therefore, control the national politics from behind the scene; to avoid any situation in which people of Pakistan would ever confront the army directly. For this purpose a weak political government was needed to arise from the first general elections in Pakistan, scheduled to take place by the end of 1970, to be used as a fig leaf to army's oligarchy.

As per Sher Ali plans the results of the polls were not to be manipulated during; but before the polls by providing the state’s assistance to religio-political parties - especially JI – in shape of financial and propaganda support. The substantial funds of Ayub Khan’s faction of the Muslim League confiscated by the Yahya’s Martial law regime were diverted to JI, in addition to money raised by IB from the industrialists and business class to fund the election campaign of Islamic parties (Hasan Zaheer ‘The Separation of East Pakistan’ Oxford University Press. pp 124-125). Funds were also poured in JI’s pouch by the Saudi government as well as Saudi sponsored Rabita al-Alam al-Islami.

Following the journalists strike in April-May 1970, media purification and purging was carried out by Sher Ali to replace leftist and secularist media persons with those from JI’s cadres, both in state and private owned media, thereby amplifying Islamic overtones. Emphasis was made by JI, backed by state propaganda machinery, that Pakistan’s ideology was threatened by ‘non-religious’ socialist and secularists like Z.A. Bhutto and Sheikh Mujeeb-ul-Rahman. By doing all this, Pakistan’s deep state was trying to kill two birds with one stone viz preventing emergence of a strong popular government by ensuring a split mandate in the polls, so that army could always play the role of a moderator or a referee amongst wrangling politicians, and keep Islamists’ influence in the state’s matters to maintain the national ideology which had little room for secularist views...

In his most-talked-about recent rally in Lahore, Imran Khan said nothing new; but pushed the single-point thesis of the establishment in which the entire problems of the country are attributed to the corruption of the politicians. This is the agitprop that the deep state of Pakistan has been amplifying through media since restoration of the democratic system in 1988 and on the pretext of which many elected governments were dismissed half way through their mandated period to rule the country during the 1990’s. Imran Khan only strengthened the belief of a common man that corruption of politicians really is the actual cause of all his miseries, which is only a quarter of the truth. The hyperbole of this overstatement has always been aimed at playing down and concealing the root cause of the country’s actual distress, which in fact is the jingoism and martial plans of our establishment, eating up the country’s limited resources... Read more:


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 Sumangala thero and other Buddhist monks during the attack against the mosque, and a nearby Hindu kovil, is appalling. Though the violence of the Sinhala idiom employed loses much in translation, Groundviews put into English the most disquieting comments for a wider appreciation. More startling are anti-Muslim, Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist Facebook groups that have thousands of active members and with content too inflammatory to even translate.

A week after this violence,it has not received the condemnation it deserves from the President, government or mainstream media. Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala thero, perhaps reacting to the indelible record of violence captured in film, attempted to suggest to the BBC that the footage of the mob broadcast on TV was doctored. Ironically, his own media websites showcase the same violence, in greater detail.  A Press Release issued on 25th April from the Government Information Department, only in Sinhala, strangely referred to the violence as a ‘minor misunderstanding’, yet reiterated that Sri Lanka is “a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society” and that “in addition to respecting their constitutional obligations, as well as the policies and principles of the government, all Sri Lankans have a long standing tradition of being respectful of each other”.

What is the fall-out?
The photographs, audio and video recordings of the violence in Dambulla have gone global. They cannot be erased. Incensed by this incident and those who led it, there are now growing threats of violence by sections of the Muslim community, though there are many voices, including the Muslim Council, who are calling for calm, and a more reasoned approach to the transformation of this conflict, noting that the actions of a few are not indicative of the nature of the majority.

There is a real danger that unaddressed or if simply glossed over, this militant religious extremism can very quickly and very seriously undermine Sri Lanka’s post-war reconciliation, and contribute to new, more geographically dispersed violent conflict. Extremists from both the Sinhala-Buddhist community and the Muslim community can also use this incendiary incident in Dambulla to stoke up communal tensions, leading to heightened fear and anxiety.

What can we do?
The shameful behaviour and expression employed by the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter, along with the monks he led and the crowd of thugs is not remotely associated with or reflective of the philosophy of the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, or the way in which a Buddhist monk is supposed to behave and speak. Many online have already expressed their dismay and deep concern over the actions of a few, placing Sri Lanka in the media spotlight again for all the wrong reasons.

We have a choice, but time is running out. Speak up. Put your name in a comment below, in English, Sinhala or Tamil. Say that last week’s violence was not in your name. Renounce a fringe lunacy and resist extremism. By putting your name below, oppose mob violence and bigotry as ways to resolve disputes.

If we have to fight, let’s fight to keep Sri Lanka free of extremists who threaten not only what they seek to destroy, but also who and what they claim to represent.

Put your name down, resist violence, pass on the message

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 previous senses.  Thus for communists (in Marx’s sense) the mass element in democracy is crucial, it is what defines democracy in its most complete sense and historical form.

Now contrast this with cultures of resistance and/or struggles for control that are not grounded in democracy in sense 1/. They involve an authoritarian vision of democracy, both in the sense that they set out to overthrow the existing democracy which is seen simply as a mask for the rule of capital or in the sense that they disregard the rights guaranteed by the Constitution on the grounds that no armed struggle can be waged while respecting those rights. In contrast to all of the above, fascism targets democracy in all senses, seeking to overthrow democracy as such without pretensions of replacing it with any more complete form of democracy, as the Maoists claim to do with their notion of a ‘New Democracy’.

What fascism & Maoism share in common is the goal of overthrowing an existing parliamentary democracy, though they seek to do so in very different ways (the right being driven by what Arthur Rosenberg called their ‘hatred of democratic government’). 1  I’ll deal with both a bit later but first let me make another set of distinctions which you may find helpful.

In India we face the paradox of a constitutional democracy that is based on a repressive state apparatus. I call this a paradox because the exercise of repression violates numerous rights guaranteed under the Constitution, so that it generates a contradiction at the heart of the system. By repressive state apparatus I mean (to take the obvious examples) large-scale militarisation of the Indian state; the culture of encounter killings (that is, extra-judicial killings) that is specially rife in certain states like Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh; the shocking impunity that exists for politicians who instigate violence against minorities; and so on. All of these have become endemic features of our democracy.

But how do we understand this paradox?.. On the left the traditional answer has been that this is what ‘bourgeois democracy’ is, there is no contradiction or paradox here, it’s the nature of ‘bourgeois’ democracy to promise more than it can offer.  This is an essentialist argument in the sense that it constructs a model of a system and seeks to explain reality by the essential nature of that model. Frankly, I think it’s time to break with this orthodoxy because, to my mind, the expression ‘bourgeois democracy’ is really quite meaningless. I suggest it would be helpful (as we did with the different meanings of democracy) to draw a line between three things that are, especially on the left, often conflated, namely, capitalism, democracy and the state apparatus. As a historian I know at least this much -- that capitalism and democracy are not functionally related, not even historically, but systems in conflict.

Capitalism seeks to limit democracy through its use of the state apparatus.  For the democratic left the crucial element of democracy lies in the ability of the masses to shape their lives through the political system, and that in turns requires mass organisations like unions, workers’ councils, and popular committees of the kind we saw in the recent upsurge in Egypt especially.  It is this ‘mass’ element in democracy that capital seeks to contain or subvert through its use of the state apparatus. Mass democracy presupposes a strong and well-organised labour movement, as well as a passion for freedom, that is, a culture where people are willing to fight for their rights, and it withers in conditions where capital is able, through the state, to decimate both of these.    

With these distinctions, there is nothing particularly paradoxical about a constitutional democracy that survives by requiring some level of repression against its own people. It is not democracy that is at fault but the state apparatus (as an entity distinct from democracy) and the ability of powerful groups to use it to contain both cultures of resistance and aspirations for control, if not actually subvert the Constitution itself.  In the case of India, the recent book by Anu and Kamal Chenoy shows brilliantly how the militarisation of the Indian state has been grounded in a drive to hold the union together by force rather than the power of democracy.

This is one sense in which we can speak of the subversion of constitutional democracy, which is often secured behind the mask of laws that legitimate repression. Read more:

Also see: Maoist Insurgency - End of the Road for Indian Stalinism?

Friday, 27 April 2012

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 according to the law
Mr Chen names some local officials who told him that they "do not care about the law" and that "a few hundred people" were hired by the local government to "lock down" the village he lives in.

The Chinese authorities have come under international criticism for their treatment of him. At one point his daughter was barred from school. Many sympathisers who have tried to visit his home say they have been beaten up. In the video, Mr Chen says: ''I may be free but my worries are for my family… my wife, my child, my mother. Perhaps because of my leaving, they may become the target of more brutal abuse.'' The plight of Mr Chen has become famous around the world. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has repeatedly called for his release and is due to visit Beijing next week. An activist based in the United States who has been in close contact with Mr Chen confirmed that the dissident had left Shandong - about eight hours' drive from Beijing.

"Now I can share with you Chen is now in the 100% safe location in Beijing. That's how much I can share with you,'' Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, based in Texas in the US, told the BBC via email. Another activist based in China, He Peirong, who has been campaigning for his freedom, told various sources that she drove him to "a safe place" outside Shandong. There are also unconfirmed rumours that Mr Chen is at the US embassy in Beijing. The US embassy ''would not comment'', says an Associated Press news report. In the same report, Ms He denied the rumours published in Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao newspaper, saying that she had spoken to people at the embassy.

"I can tell you he's not at the US embassy, and he's not in Shandong,'' she told AP. The authorities appear to be moving against those believed to have been involved in Mr Chen's escape. Reports on Friday said that local authorities had surrounded the house of Mr Chen's brother, Chen Guangfu, and nephew, Chen Kegui, in Dongshigu, near Linyi...

The fact that Chen Guangcheng has chosen to address Premier Wen Jiabao rather than President Hu Jintao or other leaders suggests he wants to challenge Wen Jiabao to put into practice his repeated calls for political reform and action to root out corruption among officials. Wen Jiabao often presents a more caring side than most in the leadership, frequently appearing in disaster areas and showing sympathy with the victims. In this case, however, it is highly unlikely that Premier Wen - or anybody else in the Chinese leadership for that matter - will respond to Mr Chen's request.

Nevertheless, Mr Chen's dramatic escape and videotape once again put his situation in the spotlight of international attention. Awkward questions will be asked of Chinese officials at news briefings, and human rights organisations are likely to resume putting pressure on the authorities in China over the treatment of Mr Chen and his family. While dissidents like Chen Guangcheng pose a constant headache to the authorities, they themselves have few options. If they leave China and start a life in exile in the West, they gain freedom, but lose contact with their families, relatives and friends.

Chinese activist fears 'insane retribution' on family after escape:

In a video message, Chen confirmed he was beaten and said 90 to 100 local officials were involved in his detention. He expressed "extreme concern" about retaliation against his family. Chen confirmed reports about his maltreatment that have appeared over the years. "The truth was even worse," he said. "I formally made three requests to Premier Wen Jiabao. First, severely punish criminals. Second, look into this yourself, and third, send a special investigation team to find out the truth." Chen is believed to have used the cover of darkness in which his blindness – he lost his sight at the age of five – gave him an advantage over his captors. He previously attempted to dig a tunnel without success.

It is not yet clear how Chen evaded the officials, police and plainclothes thugs who have been permanently camped in and around his home in Linyi since his release from prison in 2010. But activists said it was not an individual, opportunistic bid for freedom. "This wasn't a sudden thing. In order to escape from a place with so many guards must have taken a great deal of planning," said Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch. Chen's exact whereabouts are unknown. Several sources said he was in a place that was safe from the scrutiny of security agencies, prompting speculation that he may have taken refuge in a foreign embassy or consulate. The US embassy has declined to comment on the case.

According to the US-based group China Aid, Chen was "100% safe" in Beijing. But the group said that the activist He Peirong, one of the people who helped Chen flee, was arrested at her home in Nanjing on Friday morning. He, who is said to have been in close contact with the Chen family, had earlier told CNN that Chen's hands were trembling, but his spirits were high. She said he was injured in the escape...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

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 level of mistrust among leaders in the one-party state. To maintain control over society, leaders have embraced enhanced surveillance technology. But some have turned it on one another - repeating patterns of intrigue that go back to the beginnings of Communist rule. “This society has bred mistrust and violence,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, a historian of Communist China’s elite-level machinations over the past half century. “Leaders know you have to watch your back because you never know who will put a knife in it.”

Nearly a dozen people with party ties, speaking anonymously for fear of retribution, confirmed the wiretapping, as well as a widespread program of bugging across Chongqing. But the party’s public version of Mr. Bo’s fall omits it. The official narrative and much foreign attention has focused on the more easily grasped death of Mr. Heywood in November. When Mr. Bo’s police chief, Wang Lijun, was stripped of his job and feared being implicated in Bo family affairs, he fled to the United States Consulate in Chengdu, where he spoke mostly about Mr. Heywood’s death. The murder account is pivotal to the scandal, providing Mr. Bo’s opponents with an unassailable reason to have him removed. But party insiders say the wiretapping was seen as a direct challenge to central authorities...

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…

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 to clearly address. Diocese officials said in a statement issued to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the lawsuit challenges its rights as a religious institution "to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis."

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January that religious workers can't sue their employers for job discrimination because anti-discrimination laws allow for a "ministerial exception." But the justices failed to define who was and who wasn't a religious employee. "The Supreme Court didn't give us a kind of neat little on-off test as to who's a minister and who isn't," said Rick Garnett, associate dean and professor of law at Notre Dame Law School. In a similar case in Ohio, a federal judge last month gave the go-ahead for a trial in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati by a parochial school teacher who was fired after she became pregnant through artificial insemination, which the church is also against. The archdiocese fired Christa Dias in 2010, saying the single woman violated church doctrine...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

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. After this precedent, the Deoband Ulema can continue dictating our research programmes indefinitely.

By any sensible standard of reasoning, to research something does not imply 'glorification'. If I study various versions of the Ramayana, this does not imply that I'm glorifying this or that version. If I study the bombardment of Hiroshima, this does not mean I approve of atomic warfare. The study of Mein Kampf does not imply an admiration of Adolf Hitler. If I read Golwalkar's or VD Savarkar's writings, it does not follow that I sympathise with the RSS. Studying Pol Pot does not make the researcher a proponent of genocide. The Deoband Ulema should reflect on the damage they are doing to the very basis of academic research by citing 'hurt sentiment' to oppose a legitimate literary research programme. It's ironic that in India today we can study the ideas of mass murderers, Nazis, fascists, racists, imperialists, communalists etc etc., but Deoband will not let us study Rushdie. Wonderful! I suggest the Ulema examine the compatibility of their religious norms and sentiments with the brutal treatment of Asiya Bibi, a worker and mother of five children, condemned to hang on mere hearsay; and the acquittal of the men who assaulted Mukhtar Mai. The intellectuals of Deoband need to understand that by raising such issues repeatedly, they contribute to the fascist degeneration of the Indian polity - Dilip

LUCKNOW April 24: Taking a strong exception to the UGC's decision to award post-doctoral fellowship on Salman Rushdie's writing, Darul Uloom Deoband has demanded "immediate remedial steps to correct the high impropriety". The Islamic seminary is apparently miffed by the topic - "Use of Magic and Realism in the major novels of Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth" - chosen by a scholar in the Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut.

"To glorify Rushdie is a an overt act of treachery and a government body like UGC should have used its imagination better. This step raises serious concerns about its style of functioning. Darul Uloom Deoband strongly condemns it," official spokesperson Ashraf Usmani said on Monday."Our stance on Rushdie has been clear. The author of 'The Satanic Verses' has blasphemed against Islam and hurt sentiments of devout Muslims all over the world," Usmani told TOI over phone. "Any attempt to glorify him or his writings would only lead to promotion and build up of his image. He deserves to be shunned. Moreover, 'The Satanic Verses' still carries a ban by Indian government and going by the law, he should be considered blacklisted. Meerut University and the UGC, who are apparently party in the grant of the fellowship, must cancel it with immediate effect," he said..

Deoband heat 'forces' university to scrap paper on controversial author Salman Rushdie:
Chaudhary Charan Singh University (CCSU) in Meerut has cancelled the post-doctoral fellowship of Prabha Parmar, who was awarded research work on the novels of three authors, including controversial writer Salman Rushdie. Darul Uloom Deoband had opposed any study on Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, which is banned in the country, though Parmer's ambit of research reportedly did not cover the novel.

But in an official communication dated April 23, 2012, sent to her, Prof. Arun Kumar, department of English, (CCSU), gave another reason for cancelling her fellowship: That she is on maternity leave and is yet to start the research work sanctioned by the UGC this January. 'This has reference to the UGC letter dated January 23, 2012, on the subject of the award for fellowship for the year 2011-2012 (Category OBC) for your topic Use of Magic Realism in the Major Novels of Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth in the subject of English. 'You joined the department on February 13, 2012, and on the next day asked for maternity leave for three months till May 13, 2012,' the letter read. 'You have technically not started your research work, which was approved by the UGC on January 23, 2012.'Please be informed that the department of English will not be able to provide any facilities for your fellowship,' it stated.

Not ready to speak on the issue, Parmar merely confirmed the receipt of the letter on Wednesday. But a source close to her said that the department had not raised any objection before some members of the university tried to create a controversy. Ashraf Usmani, chairman of Darul Ifta, fatwa department of Darul Uloom, Deoband, had said on Monday they were preparing to oppose the fellowship. 'The CCSU had allowed a student to do research on a book (The Satanic Verses) which was banned in India. 'This means that the ban on the book is mere eyewash and the government supports a student to read it and do research on it,' he had said. Expressing his satisfaction over the fresh decision, Usmani said: 'They stand corrected. We are happy about it.'


See also: Communalism feeds on itself:

and: The purging of AK Ramanujan's Many Ramayanas:

"With force I have subdued the brains of the proud" - Epitaph on the tomb of Cardinal Saint Roberto Bellarmino, Cardinal-Inquisitor who ordered Galileo to abandon his ideas on heliocentrism in 1616.


Resist the Climate of Intimidation in Academics
It is a matter of deep distress that a threat from Darul Uloom Deoband has forced Prabha Parmar , a research scholar at the Chaudhary Charan Singh University to change the topic of her post-doctoral research: Use of magic and realism in the major novels of Salman Rushdie,Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth. Taking strong exception to the UGC's decision to award a post-doctoral fellowship to the scholar on a topic that included Rushdie’s writings, Darul Uloom Deoband demanded “immediate remedial steps to correct the high impropriety.” Terming the award an act of ‘glorification’ of Salman Rushdie, the seminary asked for the writer to be blacklisted and for the award to be cancelled with immediate effect. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation created by this statement led Meerut University to cancel the fellowship. Later the scholar withdrew her research proposal.

This is yet another assault on the space of scholarship and free enquiry which represents the essential character of a university. In recent months there have been many instances of academic institutions succumbing to threats issued by religious and sectarian bodies and withdrawing texts and films or modifying syllabi or curricula to please them. The point at issue is not the controversial nature of the text, because freely debating such texts is the very purpose of intellectual inquiry. Rather, the crucial point is the climate of intimidation and the thinly-disguised threat of violence that informs the language of those making such demands. They constantly remind us that their sentiments are inflamed enough to spark off bloodshed. They crush the spirit of inquiry by intimidating those who disagree with them. They assume the fake title of representatives of this or that community to enforce their claims. And our spineless authorities allow them to do this with impunity. This time it is the Deoband ulema who have claimed yet another academic victim.

We condemn the attempt of bodies like Deoband to encroach on our academic space. It is time for all Indian academicians and intellectuals who believe in the freedom of thought to firmly defend our right to free enquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. We appeal to Meerut University and the UGC to stand by the scholar and encourage her to pursue her research on a topic of her choice.

1.      Aditya Nigam, CSDS
2.      Amlan Dasgupta, Jadavpur Unv
3.      Aniket Alam, Senior Assistant Editor, Economic and Political Weekly.
4.      Anita Cherian
5.      Apoorvanand , Professor, DU
6.      Arma Ansari, ANHAD
7.      Arshad Ajmal, Sahulat, delhi
8.      Asha Bhagat
9.      Ashok Vajpeyi, poet, writer
10.  Biraj Patnaik, Right To Food campaign
11.  Dhruva Narayan, Managing Editor, Daanish Books
12.  Dilip Simeon
13.  Furqan Qamar, VC Central Unv of Himachal Pradesh
14.  Gauhar Raza, scientist, poet
15.  Gautam Bhan
16.  Harsh kapoor
17.  Irfan Khalifa, television journalist
18.  Ishwar Dost , Asst. Prof., CSSEIP, Goa University.
19.  J Devika, Centre for development studies, Trivandrum, Kerala.
20.  Jairus Banaji
21.  Jamal Kidwai
22.  Jyoti Punwani
23.  Jyotirmay Sharma
24.  Kausar Wizarat
25.  Kavita Panjabi, Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla
26.  Kavita Srivastava, PUCL National Secretary
27.  Khairunnisa Pathan, Parwaaj
28.  Khurshid Anwar
29.  Mahmood Farooqui, Dastango
30.  Mahtab Alam, civil rights activist and journalist
31.  Manoj Mitta, Journalist
32.  Mary E John,
33.  Mehtab Alam
34.  Moinak Biswas
35.  Momin Latif
36.  Mukul Sharma, Writer and Researcher
37.  Musab Iqbal, Editor,
38.  Naseem Mansuri, Niswan
39.  Naseem Shaikh, Niswan
40.  Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Journalist
41.  Naveen Kishore
42.  Nayanjot Lahiri, professor, DU
43.  Nilanjana Gupta, Professor of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
44.  Nirantar, Resource Centre for Gender & Education
45.  Nivedita Menon, JNU
46.  Noorjahan Ansari, Niswan
47.  Noorjahan Diwan, ANHAD
48.  omair anas
,cwas/sis jnu
49.  Parthasarthi Bahumik, Jadavpur Unv
50.  Prof Rama Kant Agnihotri (Rtd., Univ of Delhi)
51.  Purwa Bharadwaj
52.  Ramchandra Guha
53.  Rehana Qureshi, Nyayagrah
54.  Rohan D'Souza
55.  S.Irfan Habib, historian
56.  Satya Shivaramn
57.  Satish Deshpande, DSE, DU
58.  Semeen  Ali
59.  Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Anhad
60.  Shakeel Shaikh, Ahmedabad
61.  Shamina Diwan, Parwaaj
62.  Sharifa Chhipa, Niswan
63.  Sheba george, Sahr waru, Gujarat
64.  Shivam vij, journalist, delhi
65.  Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist/writer
66.  Sohail Hashmi, Writer, Film Makerli
67.  Sucheta Bhattacharjee
68.  Usman Shaikh, Nyayagrah
69.  Waqar Qazi, Social Activist, Anhad, Gujarat
70.  Zafar Syed, banker, Mumbai

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] Chinese Communist Party," a resident was quoted as recalling an official’s remark. The report did not say what happened, if any, to the girl who wrote the slogan on blackboard.

More news from Tibet: