Thursday, 30 August 2018

Statement by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) against arrest of Human Rights Activists // Open Letter from civil servants about recent events

Statement by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) against arrest of five Intellectuals and Human rights Activists on 28 August, 2018

Press Release
30 August, 2018

Pune police under BJP government in Maharashtra arrested five well known left leaning intellectuals and activists under UAPA on August 28.  Eighty years old Varvara Rao is a famousTelegu poet.Sudha Bhardwaj is general  secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and a leader of Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha. Gautam Navlakha is a journalist and has been associated with Economic and Political Weekly and People’s Union for Democratic Rights. Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves are lawyers.
They were arrested by Maharashtra police years ago for being associates of banned CPI(Maoist), but were acquitted by courts of all charges as there was no evidence against them. Arun Ferreira has been an active campaigner for the rights of people detained under black laws like POTA and UAPA. Police also raided house of Prof Satyanarana, the son in law of Varvara Rao in Hyderabad, and of Dalit scholar Prof Anand Teltumbde in Goa, and eighty year old Father Stan Swamy in Jharkhand. Police claims these arrests to be a follow up of the arrests of Prof Rona Wilson, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, civil rights activists Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut, and lawyer Surendra Gadling, on June 6. For the time being the Supreme Court has stayed the police custody of the accused, and ordered their house arrests till September 6.

All of the people arrested have been active in public life for many decades. Their ideas, political ideology, and activities have been in public domain all these years. Pune police has accused them of being urban contacts of the CPI (Maoist), of being part of a conspiracy to spread caste violence at the Bheema Koregaon gathering of Dalits in January, and of the plot to kill ‘high political functionaries’ in the  style of ‘Rajiv Gandhi assassination’ . These charges would be laughable, but for the sinister intent of the BJP government.

Prashant Bhushan: Worse than Emergency // Former CJI RM Lodha: Arrests undermine basics of democracy

On Tuesday, the Maharashtra Police arrested some of India’s finest human rights activists from five cities across the country on completely fabricated charges under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the IPC. The activists arrested are Sudha Bharadwaj, a civil rights activist and labour lawyer from Chattisgarh, presently teaching at the National Law University, Delhi, Gautam Navlakha, former president of the People’s Union for Democratic Reforms, Varavara Rao, a poet-activist, Vernon Gonsalves, human rights activist, and Arun Ferreira, a civil rights activist and lawyer based in Mumbai. Residences and offices of other activists were raided, and laptops and mobiles seized. These include pro-democracy activists who have been leading peoples’ resistance movements for several years, such as Father Stan Swamy, an Adivasi rights activist based in Ranchi, Anand Teltumbde, a management expert, intellectual and writer, and Susan Abraham, civil liberties lawyer and a member of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights.

The arrests and raids are outrageous attempts to stifle voices of dissent and curb peaceful struggles against this government’s anti-people ideology. Democracy is under siege in India... read more:

Former CJI RM Lodha: Arrests undermine basics of democracy
Former jurists, including former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, have come out strongly against the arrest of five civil rights activists and lawyers by police probing an alleged Maoist link to the Elgaar Parishad meeting in Pune a day ahead of the January 1 violence in Bhima Koregaon. Justice Lodha told The Indian Express that the government’s actions are “an attempt to suppress the dissenting voice” He said the arrests were “an attack on freedom of speech… and an act to undermine the fundamentals of Constitutional democracy”.

Justice P B Sawant, former judge of the Supreme Court and one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad meeting on December 31, 2017, said: “I don’t know why these persons have been arrested. The police are alleging they are connected to the Naxalite movement and are also organisers of the Elgaar conference on December 31 last year. Did they realise this after eight months? I have never seen them. Only one of them, a lady advocate, visited me earlier for some legal advice some time back…. when some other arrests were made, the police had then said that nothing was found to connect them to Naxalites. Now, they are organising another spate of arrests.”.. read more:

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

'We ​can’t go back': Syria's refugees fear for their future after war

Each day for as long as he can remember, Abu Ahmed, a Syrian merchant, has hawked Qur’anic pamphlets in central Beirut, one eye out for a buyer and another for the police. He has been in the Lebanese capital for the past six years, as war consumed his homeland, casting more than a million refugees like him into near permanent exile. Now, however, as the seven-year conflict approaches what many believe to be an endgame in Syria’s north-west, Abu Ahmed fears his meagre, but so far safe existence is in jeopardy.

The blazing guns of insurgency have largely been silenced in central and southern Syria, and politicians in Damascus, Beirut and Amman are claiming with increasing vehemence that a ruined country from which at least 6 million people have fled is now a safe for them to return. Few Syrians in Lebanon seem convinced. “I’ll serve my country proudly and shed my blood for it with a smile on my face, but not like this,” said Abu Ahmed, 41, who hails from the former opposition stronghold of Ghouta. “But not for this chaos. We can’t go back because of [the risk of] neighbours’ petty revenge. They snitch on you and call you a traitor and the next thing you know you’re languishing in prison, for nothing. My town is filled with regime forces and thugs. How do they expect me to return?”

International donors, aid workers and diplomats are also wary of the insistence that postwar Syria is safe, and of the motives behind the claims. Senior representatives of all three say the relative quiet in Syria should not be confused with enduring order, and that entreaties from the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, are unlikely to mean a warm homecoming... read more:

Michael Safi - Demonetisation drive that cost India 1.5m jobs fails to uncover 'black mone

More than 99% of the currency that India declared void in a surprise announcement in 2016 was returned to the country’s banks in subsequent weeks, according to a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report. The figures suggest prime minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation policy, which likely wiped at least 1% from the country’s GDP and cost at least 1.5m jobs, failed to wipe significant hordes of unaccounted wealth from the Indian economy — a key rationale for the move.

Modi shocked Indians in November 2016 when he announced on live television that all 500 and 1000-rupee notes, equivalent to about £6 and £12, would be banned in four hours’ time. People were given several weeks to exchange their demonetised currency for new notes at banks. But new notes could not be printed fast enough, and the policy sparked a months-long currency crunch that left tens of millions of Indians cashless or standing in line for hours each day to retrieve small sums of cash.

As India’s massive informal economy reeled, Modi implored the country to give the policy time to work, arguing it would flush out un-taxed wealth being hoarded by wealthy Indians, help to digitise the economy — one of the most cash-based in the world — and starve terrorists and criminal gangs of cash. The RBI’s annual report on Wednesday found 99.3% of the money withdrawn from circulation had been returned to banks, indicating either there was less “black money” than expected, or that schemes to launder money were more successful than thought... read more:

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Pune police conduct raids on human rights activists all over India, Sudha Bhardwaj arrested

NB: A government that protects lynchers; covers up the mysterious death of the judge hearing the case against Amit Shah; indulges in the blatant sabotage of the justice system, is now engaged in intimidating its critics. We should all resist the newest malevolent actions of the BJP government: DS

Pune police on Tuesday conducted searches in various cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa, Haryana and Chhatisgarh in connection with the recent arrests of five persons allegedly linked with Maoists activities. The searches are being conducted at the residences of the persons having Maoists links and who were directly or indirectly connected with the organizers of 'Elgaar Parishad', said sources. According to the sources in Pune police, the police have arrested left-wing activist and poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad and trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad. They are being produced in a local court in respective cities and will be brought to Pune after getting transit remand.

Police shielding Hindutva accused?
Police Disobeying High Court Orders In Arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj 
Meanwhile, searches are being conducted at the residences Vernon Gonsalves who was arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2007, activist Arun Ferreira in Mumbai and human rights activist Gautam Navalakha in Delhi and other persons in other parts of the country. Varavara Rao's name was mentioned in one of the letters allegedly written by fugitive Maoist Milind Teltumbde which was seized from Rona Wilson who was arrested from Delhi along with Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut and Shoma Sen earlier in June this year in connection of Elgaar Parishad held in Pune on December 31, 2017. According to police, today's searches are in connection with the earlier arrests. "While investigating the case pertaining to Elgaar Parishad, the names of some persons were cropped up. While probing further, we have found that they are closely associated with the banned organisation CPI (Maoist). 

Their activities such has conspiring and participating in movements with an intention of creating violence clearly falls under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and therefore, the searches are being conducted at various places," senior police officer of Pune police told DNA on the condition of anonymity. Pune police had claimed that they had seized 25,000 GB data from the five arrested persons and they are currently going through the each and every detail of that data. "While scrutinizing the data, the names of the persons surfaced who were closely associated with the arrested persons and they are active in Maoists activities in various parts of the country. Since very strong links have been found of the arrested persons with the other persons, the searches are being conducted at their residences," the officer said.

see also

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Pratap Bhanu Mehta - A blasphemous law

NB: The proposed law is a disgrace. It shows how our political leaders' first instinct is to appease the most base features of public mentality; instead of upholding the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Pandering to 'hurt sentiment' is a means of empowering goondas, nothing less. How does one 'injure' a book? Suppose I claim that the contents of such and such holy book are questionable, or not to be taken literally (something Mahatma Gandhi often observed); or that claims to speak divine wisdom are unconvincing, do I therefore deserve to be put to death? In a country where lynchers enjoy impunity, is the avowal of atheism now to become a crime? The Punjab Congress government must be forced to withdraw this poisonous proposal. The Almighty God can look after himself or herself without the assistance of political hypocrites. DS
The Punjab government’s proposal to amend Article 295 of the Penal Code is deeply regressive and will have deep ramifications beyond Punjab. The proposed amendment gives life imprisonment for whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagwad Gita, the Quran and the Bible. As we have seen in the case of neighbouring Pakistan, the progressive strengthening of anti-blasphemy laws during the Seventies was a sign of a toxic combination of greater intolerance and authoritarianism. Does India want to traverse the same road?

Holy books like the Adi Granth are sacred. They are sacred not just for their content. They express the highest truths about Ultimate Reality. The “Sat” in “Ek Omkar Sat Nam” brilliantly combines both Truth and Existence. But in the Sikh tradition, the Book is also treated iconically, with elaborate rituals around its sacred treatment, often to the point where it is not easily disseminated. But using state power to enforce the sacred, both defiles the sacred and messes with the secular. The article defiles the sacredness of the Book, the eternity of the Word because the status of the Book now becomes an artefact of state power. It is if the song of Krishna, or the word of Mohammad, or the teaching of the Gurus, now need the imprimatur of state violence to secure their sacredness.

Rather than being luminous, potent and transcendent texts, their status is now reduced to a section of the Indian Penal Code. It also gives defilers of these texts more power: It is in effect saying these books can, in fact, be defiled by some rearrangement or even a burning of a copy. So much for the indestructible Word. The greatest heresy is to think that the word of God needs protection from the mortal state. The sacrilege to the book is not its burning, it is this law.

Roland Barthes: A double grasp on reality

Andy Stafford considers Barthes’s analysis of how we create a world of meaning, and how it creates us  
Towards the end of Mythologies (1957), Roland Barthes’s study of contemporary myths, he claimed: “I have tried to define things, not words” – surprising perhaps, given the philosopher’s popular association with language, communication and meaning. It is not that words are not also things; but the comment suggests an important corrective to the understanding of his work. Barthes was not (simply) an aesthete interested in forms, but a theorist who tried to understand how these forms constructed our imagination.

As an early theorist and user of semiology, the science of signs and meanings, he offered analyses that attempted to find the intelligible in almost all human activities. Barthes was a Houdini, using the essay form to wriggle his way out of (but not necessarily, away from) the tight constrictions of post-war Hegelian thought. The essay, by being both literary and scientific, allowed Barthes to apply and, at the same time, to question Hegel’s philosophy of history as well as the tight master–slave dialectic that informed it. Thus existentialism, Marxism, phenomenology, sociology, Brechtian theatre, all slowly gave way in Barthes’s work to semiology, structuralism and semiotics.

Barthes was born in 1915 in Cherbourg into a middle-class family, beset by tragedy when his father was killed the following year in a naval battle off France’s northern coast. Brought up by his mother in Bayonne and then in Paris, the young Barthes experienced further personal difficulty: his career was delayed by tuberculosis, which began in his late teens. This resulted in a lengthy stay in a sanatorium in the Alps in his mid-twenties, thanks to which he missed the Second World War. But his closeness to his mother and what he called his “Alpine Oxford”, where he spent the war (alongside Elias Canetti’s brother, Georges, for example), allowed him to develop a wide range of interests, including Ancient History (during these years he read the work of the nineteenth-century romantic historian Jules Michelet avidly), existentialist philosophy and the literary modernism of André Gide. 

Barthes emerged from the Second World War believing that we can explain everything in our human world – except, perhaps, the mysteries of human interaction which, involving the inter-subjectivity of at least two human beings, opened out onto a world of infinite (and thereby, unknowable) possibilities… read more:

ALOMA RODRÍGUEZ: The feminist moment

Feminism maintains that one half of the population should have the same rights and opportunities as the other half. This affects many areas of life, and develops in different ways in different places. Obviously, the situation of women in Europe is infinitely better than that of women in Saudi Arabia – even though they can now drive a car. However, it is not the same for an immigrant in France as for a senior executive, nor is it the same whether someone is transgender, homosexual or heterosexual. 

Differences of degree exist, but, despite all the possible nuances, the goal is to advance towards the most egalitarian society possible, in which all individuals are protected whatever their gender, ethnicity or other origin. This may seem an obvious truism but it is the goal of the Enlightenment and of liberalism, and of feminism in the most global sense. The marches of women against Donald Trump, the publication of the allegations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement (with its emulators such as the French #BalanceTonPorc or #Cuéntalo in Spain) have finally forced a taking of sides regarding feminism. 

A climate of cultural war has taken shape, at least on social networks. All of us find ourselves obliged to take up rigid, fixed positions, and books or films are put in question by being interpreted through a gender perspective – which sometimes leads to erroneous readings, as in the case of Lolita, which is above all a terrible story of abuse, as Nabokov himself thought. More extreme postures have also been aroused on the other side, as, for example, in the emergence of Jordan Peterson and his machista discourse with an intellectual patina. We are in a feminist moment.

There are good reasons why women are angry: in the majority of advanced democracies there is still a salary gap – generally directly related to maternity. Few women succeed in breaking through the glass ceiling, and consequently few women take major decisions. Quotas continue to be necessary. In other parts of the world things are much worse. In many countries abortion remains illegal, women’s rights are limited and restricted, and there are still forced marriages. In the war in Syria rape has been used as one more weapon in the conflict. In western democracies, there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality, even if the advances made in only a few decades have been impressive, from the incorporation of women into the labour force to the generalized use of contraception, or from the right to vote to the acceptance of homosexual marriages. 

All such changes are steps towards a more egalitarian and just society. The new government that took office in Spain in June, for example, has eleven women ministers in a cabinet of seventeen members, and, with a composition thus made up 64.7 per cent by women, is the government with the highest female representation in Europe and the world. This representation in government would possibly not have come about without the sustained effect of the marches each 8 March which made the rise of feminism visible, as the political analyst Sílvia Claveria pointed out in an article in El País, although the previous governments of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero from 2004 to 2011 already had equal representation of men and women. Women have for some time also headed governments in a range of countries, as in the case, today, of Angela Merkel in Germany, Theresa May in the United Kingdom or Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand.. read more

Friday, 24 August 2018

Pratap Bhanu Mehta: The Age of Cretinism

NB: A good characterisation of our time. In her first reflections upon Nazism’s death factories, Hannah Arendt called them ‘the organized attempt to eradicate the concept of the human being.’ We live in their shadow, and the shallowness of our moral sensibility is witnessed every day. Benedetto Croce, the Italian philosopher who defied Mussolini and called fascism a 'moral illness', believed that liberty is not a natural right but an earned right that arises out of continuing historical struggle for its maintenance. Croce defined civilization as the continual vigilance against barbarism.. DS

IN AN ERA WHERE LANGUAGE HAS LOST ALL STABLE REFERENTS, it is difficult to find a word that describes the tenor of our times. But if, at the pain of gross simplification, one were to choose a word to characterise the times, ‘cretinism’ might not be a bad candidate. This is an age of both moral and political cretinism. The term ‘moral cretinism’ was perhaps first used by Alan Bullock in his biography of Hitler. It referred to a peculiar immunity that fascists had to any moral considerations or motivations. Bullock was not entirely clear whether this was simply a deep incapacity, a pathological trait, or a willed condition. But what the term captured quite startlingly was the idea that one could imagine a politics which was increasingly immune to any of the normal moral sensibilities. 

It referred to a condition where our ordinary sense of compassion and decencies get immobilised. They get immobilised to the point where a total inversion of values becomes possible: those who lynch get more political support than those who are lynched; those who indulge in extraordinary brutal sexual violence are protected; the ‘other’ is demonised to the point where their basic humanity disappears from plain sight. The ordinary moral terms that should be positively valued - pity, compassion, sympathy, civility - become terms of contempt, supplanted by new virtues like pitilessness, indifference, antipathy and incivility.

In some ways, all societies have elements of moral cretinism built in. At various points, even the most morally progressive individuals can act like cretins: incapable or unwilling to be moved in the face of manifest moral demands. Radical inequality, where our fellow citizens almost seem like some other species, whose existence places no moral demands on us, can also produce a quotidian kind of cretinism. Collective identities can sometimes abstract our thoughts away from the humanity and individuality of others, and make us particularly prone to cretinism. We are immune to the moral values at stake beyond the fulfilment of our own collective narcissism. Our morality is defined by the need to seek new enemies. Nationalism can sometimes lead to a profound moral regression in just this sense. Caste identities can sometimes combine both of these features, making the privileged immune to any moral considerations.

But what is distinctive about our times is that cretinism itself becomes a high moral standard. It is hard to imagine a time in recent history where political leaders openly support a culture of violence without compunction or any trace of self-consciousness, public discourse routinely carpet-bombs fine distinctions with a view to making any nuanced moral responses impossible, and sympathy is routinely so partitioned along partisan lines that the possibility of any human response to tragedy and atrocity seems like a distant gleam. There is an instrumentalism to every argument, such a relentless unmasking of motives that the very possibility of having a moral motive seems like an oxymoron, and the language of outrage is now so tired and wearied by being made to repeat itself that there is no language left to register the next moral horror: yet another lynching or a newer form of sexual violence. The danger is not the existence of cretinism; it is its routinisation and elevation: a stunting of our moral imagination and the supplanting of it with an aggressive coarseness... read more:

The Double Standard for Black Athletes Began Long Before Trump. Just Ask Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

President Trump keeps lashing out at black athletes, trying to change the subject from his inner circles’ guilty pleas and verdicts back to NFL players protesting the anthem, calling Colin Kaepernick, who wouldn’t kneel for the anthem, a “son of a bitch” and LeBron James dumb for good measure. The insults seem at once pointed but almost generic, as if he sees these athletes as inter-changeable parts, devoid of their own will. He seems easily shocked when they prove that they aren't.

Tommy Smith (307) (1st place) and John Carlos (259) (3rd place) of the US raise their fists in the "Black Power Salute" during the playing of the national anthem at the Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico; 1968 NCAA PHOTOS/GETTY

Trump is a very new kind of president, but he’s tapped into a long tradition of black athletes using their prominent platforms to speak up about American injustice, and powerful fans then telling them to keep quiet and just play. In 1968, the same year our future commander in chief’s bone spurs saved him from serving his country and fighting in Vietnam, two African American men about his age, U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, made a statement at the summer Olympic Games in Mexico city. After Smith won the gold medal and Carlos the bronze in the 200 meter race, they and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all had human rights badges on their jackets. When the U.S. anthem played and the men turned to face the flag, Smith and Carlos raised black-gloved hands in the black power salute to protest in perhaps the most potent political gesture of a tumultuous time.

The men had prepared for the moment, with both of them in black socks with no shoes to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf to represent black pride and Carlos had a necklace of beads “for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.".. read more:

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Trump is the alpha con man. Rick Wilson

Is it dangerous to be friends with Donald Trump?  Duh.

If yesterday didn’t prove to you my theory that Everything Trump Touches Dies, I have to presume you were locked somewhere deep in an underground bunker, submerged in a warm-water sensory deprivation tank while tripping balls on some high-quality hallucinogens. You certainly weren’t watching now-wrecked lives of two of Trump’s former confidants, fixers, business associates, wives, girlfriends (compensated and otherwise), and political allies join the long, long line of people who have learned that it’s dangerous to be friends of Donald Trump.

The associative property of Trump’s reality-TV glamour, his crude fame, his various blandishments, and his seductive promises of fame, wealth, and empowerment have long lured in suckers. Don’t be ashamed if you’re one of them; from major international banks to the thousands of people who bought into his low-rent, ersatz “university” multilevel vitamin marketing schemes, shoe-leather prison-meat steaks, jug-wine, assorted dead-on-arrival real estate branding projects, and of course, his objectively ludicrous presidency, Trump is the alpha con man.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018, will stand as one of the more terrible days in a catalog of terrible days in the era of this terrible president. All cons fall in the end, and there are always marks, victims, and collateral damage left holding the fecal end of the stick. Yesterday, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen felt the cruel, hot pain of reality’s hardest bitch slap; both men are going to prison either because of crimes in service to Donald Trump or because their association with him drew their malfeasance into the baleful glare of the law.

Trump watched as his former personal attorney stood in a Manhattan courtroom and began the process that will amount to a beautiful, brutal, and richly deserved betrayal of his former friend and client, the president of the United States. Cohen, as I’ve written before, has the keys to the Trump Kingdom. He was the keeper of a gigantic pyramid of evidence, experience, and inside-the-Tower knowledge. He’s the sticky-fingered archivist of emails, text messages, documents, contemporaneous notes, recordings, NDAs, contracts, medical records, and who knows what kind of sketchy bank paperwork, used pregnancy test kits, DNA swabs, and Hefty trash bags full of crusty hotel sheets that would glow vividly under UV light.

For outside observers, it was a thing of karmic beauty. For years, victims of Trump’s utter lack of loyalty to anything but his monstrous ego, rapacious greed, and whatever caused his last erection felt almost entirely powerless. They were victims of a man with a corporate organization designed from the ground up to fuck over his latest partners, contractors, wives, and hoochies-du-jour.
Now, no matter how many snide tweets Trump throws to further humiliate and demean Cohen, his ex-fixer is in a position to rip the veneer off of Trump’s finances, business practices, personal life, and taxes.  Cohen has testified that he acted to violate the law on Trump’s direction and can point to the greasy financial snail-trail of Trump’s payoffs to Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, and others. (Over at the professional evangelical headquarters, they’ve laid on a second shift for the mulligan machine.)

No matter how much Trump’s media enablers want to downplay Cohen’s admission of guilt, the facts stand. He is now drawing a direct implication that the president of the United States, while still a candidate for office, used Cohen to illegally silence two of the candidate’s most recent sexual conquests. The fear emanating from the Trump’s tweets about Paul Manafort is an entirely different flavor… read more:

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Condemnation of the mob attack on Professor Sanjay Kumar, Department of Sociology, MG Central University, Motihari Bihar

As sociologists, social scientists and concerned individuals across the world, we strongly condemn the brutal mob assault on 17 August 2018, on sociologist Sanjay Kumar at Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, Bihar. 

This particular trend of mob violence directed at dissenting voices in various university/college campuses of late has become ‘normal’. Teachers have been targeted and abused on account of their political opinions and social position. In particular, because of the nature of the social sciences where we engage with contemporary society, social scientists have come under attack. As per media reports, the complicity of the office of the Vice-Chancellor, M G Central University, Motihari in the macabre attack on Sanjay Kumar cannot be ruled out. We unequivocally demand the effective intervention of the Government of Bihar to probe the dastardly act and provide all necessary legal and medical help to the victim. 

We appeal to all university teachers, students and citizens at large to ensure the safety and civility of our campuses and ensure there is space for open discussion. 

(177) Signatories: 

1. Abhijit Kundu, Sri Venkateshwara College, University of Delhi. 2. Rajni Palriwala, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics 3. Nandini Sundar, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics 4. Sujata Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Simla, Former President, Indian Sociological Society 5. Gyan Prakash, Princeton University. 6. Arjun Appadurai, New York University 7. Geetha Nambissan, Zakin Husain Centre, JNU 8. Satish Deshpande, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 9. Tulsi Patel, Retired Faculty, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics. 10. Nabanipa Bhattacharya, SVC, University of Delhi 11. Surinder S. Jodhka, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University. 12. Renny Thomas, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi 13. Sudha Vasan, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics 14. Roma Chatterjee, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics 15. Vikramendra Bardhan, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 16. Mala Kapoor Shankardass, Maitreyee College, University of Delhi 17. Reema Bhatia, Miranda House, University of Delhi 18. Vinod K. Jairath, Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad 19. Sunil Babu, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics 20. Nasreen Fazalbhoy, Ex. Faculty, Bombay university 21. Sanjay Srivastava, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi 22. Ruby Bharadwaj, JDMC, University of Delhi. 23. Farhana Ibrahim, IIT, Delhi. 24. Anjali Bhatia, LSR, University of Delhi. 25. A.R. Vasavi, Social Anthropologist, Bengaluru. 26. Bharati Jaganathan, Delhi University 27. Shoma Choudhury Lahiri, St Xavier's College, Kolkata 28. Bedabrata Pain, Ex NASA Scientist and Filmmaker 29. Sophia Abbas, Yale University 30. Sanjay Kumar, Delhi University 31. Sanjay Srivastava, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. 32. Rajshree Chandra, Delhi University 33. Arnav Das Sharma, Delhi University 34. Pushpendra Kumar, TISS Mumbai 35. Purushottam Agarwal, JNU 36. Kamal Nayan Choube, Delhi University 37. Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi 38. Prakash Upadhyaya, Researcher, New Delhi 39. Ananya Vajpeyee, CSDS, Delhi 40. Kham Khan Suan Hausing, Hyderabad Central University 41. Brita Ohm, University of Bern 42. Srila Roy, University of Wittswatersrand 43. Nida Kirmani, LUMS 44. Dirk Moses, The University of Sydney 45. Ali Javed, Delhi University 46. Snigdha Kumar, University of Minnesota 47. Mohan Rao, JNU 48. Kalpana Wilson, Birkbeck College University of London 49. Ravi Kumar, South Asia University 50. Anjali Arondekar, University of California, Santa Cruz 51. Rohit De, Yale University 52. Pradip Kumar Bose, CSSS, Calcutta 53. Zaheer Baber, University of Toronto 54. Kusum Lata, Jamia Millia Islamia 55. Dilip Menon, University of Wittswatersrand 56. Ashima Mittal, Delhi University 57. Malvika Kasturi, University of Toronto 58. Shubhadeepta Ray, Tezpur University 59. Vipul Mudgal, CSDS 60. Tariq Thachil, Vanderbilt University 61. Manuela Ciotti, Aarhus University, Denmark 62. Surajit Mukhopadhyaya, Amity University, Raipur. 63. Basabi Chakrabarty, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata 64. Samuel Asir Raj, M. S. University, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu 65. Vijayalakhsmi Brara, Manipur University 66. Kunal Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University, Kolkata 67. Kalpana Kannabiran, CSD, Hyderabad 68. Elena Heisnam, University of Delhi 69. Radhika Chopra, DSE, University of Delhi 70. Ishita Dey, Ambedkar University, Delhi 71. Gita Chadha,University of Mumbai 72. Ravinder Kaur, IIT, Delhi 73. Neshat Quaiser, Retired Faculty, JMI Central University, Delhi. 74. Amman Madan, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru 75. Janaki Abraham, DSE, University of Delhi 76. Meenakshi Thapan, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics 77. Reva Yunus, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. 78. Amar Singh, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. 79. Vikas Maniar, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru 80. Ashok Prasad, Colorado State University 81. Deepak Mehta, Ex Faculty, DSE, University of Delhi 82. Mujibur Rehman, JMI Central University, Delhi 83. Ish Mishra, Delhi University 84. Shubh Mathur, Independent Scholar 85. Rukmini Sen, Ambedkar University, Delhi. 86. Soma KP, Researcher 87. Shantha Sinha, Former Chairperson, NCPCR, GOI 88. Radhika Menon, University of Delhi 89. Prathama Banerjee, CSDS, Delhi 90. Nicolas Jaoul, CNRS, Paris 91. Shagufta Kaur Bhangu, University of California Berkeley 92. Francis Cody, University of Toronto 93. Suguna Pathy, Retired Professor, V N South Gujarat University 94. Prakash Kashwan, Assistant Professor at UConn 95. Bhangya Bhukya, University of Hyderabad 96. Geeta Patel, University of Virginia, Charlotsville 97. Leki Thungon, University of Delhi 98. Rama Vasudevan, Colorado State University 99. Aftab Alam, University of Delhi 100. Paola Bachetta, University of California, Berkeley 101. Sarbani Sharma, JMC, University of Delhi. 102. Geetha J Sodhi, SVC, University of Delhi 103. Nandita Dhawan, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. 104. Ashwini Deshpande, Department of Economics, Delhi University 105. Abhishek Kaicker, University of California, Berkeley 106. Rana Behal, University of Delhi 107. Karen Coelho, MIDS, Chennai 108. Shadan Farasat, Advocate 109. Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Jaipur 110. Shastri Ramchandran, Journalist 111. Kamal Shukla Journalist 112. Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara 113. Panini Anand, journalist 114. Purwa Bhardwaj, Niranter, Delhi 115. Omita Goyal, IIC 116. Smita Gupta 117. Chitaroopa Palit, Bhopal 118. Daljit Ami, Independent Filmmaker 119. Rahul Ram, Musician 120. Sripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan 121. Madhushree Mukerjee, Writer 122. Kiran Shaheen 123. Zarina Bhatty, writer 124. Anil Mishra, Journalist 125. Vidya Subramanian, The Hindu Research Centre 126. Neha Sharma, Yoga Instructor 127. Saba Dewan, Documentary Film-maker 128. Noor Zaheer, IPTA 129. Jitendra Kumar, Greenpeace 130. Shubhranshu Chowdhury, journalist 131. Indu Prakash Singh, Delhi 132. Indrani Mukherjee 133. SP Udayakumaran, Tamil Nadu 134. Bela Bhatia, Independent Researcher 135. Sri Prakash, film-maker 136. Prafulla Samantara, Odisha 137. AS Vasantha Kumari 138. Anikendra Sen, journalist 139. Goldy M. George, Raipur 140. Lina Krishnan, writer, Bangalore 141. Enakshi Ganguly, Haq Child Rights 142. Vineet Tiwari, Joshi Adhikari Institute 143. Sonia Jabbar, Delhi 144. Arundhati Ghosh 145. Sunit Arora, Livemint 146. Gurpreet Siddhu, Designer 147. Sarajini Nadimpalli, Sama, Delhi 148. Ravi Shukla, IT Consultant 149. Rini Simon Khanna, Journalist 150. Anu Mandavilli, San Jose Peace and Justice Centre, USA 151. Lalita Ramdas, Former Board Chair at Greenpeace International 152. Divya Pathak, Ranchi 153. Seema Azad, Allahabad 154. Manish Kunjam, Akhil Bharatiya Adibasi Mahasabha 155. Savi Kolla, Advocate, Hyderabad 156. Usha Varadarajan, Delhi 157. Shome Basu, Consulting Editor, The Wire 158. Madhavi Kuckreja, CEO and Founder, Sanatkada 159. Mimi Choudhury, Delhi 160. Mona Kothari-Dikshit, Delhi 161. Amitabha Pande, Noida 162. Taru Dalmia, BFR Sound System, The Sky Vengers, New Delhi 163. Sheila Kumar, Author Journalist, Delhi 164. Zulaikha Jabeen, New Delhi 165. Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai 166. Asad Zaidi, Three Essays Collective, Gurgaon 167. Sujata Madhok, New Delhi 168. Manoj Mitta, Noida 169. Vani Xaxa, New Delhi 170. Vrinda Gopinath, journalist 171. Zulaikha Jabeen, FSSSCTC 172. Sheila Kumar 173. Taru Dalmia, Word Sound Power 174. Rakesh Sharma, filmmaker 175. Indu Chandrasekhar, Publisher 176. Sumita Mehta, Delhi 177. Hiren Gandhi 178. Sudhanva Deshpande, New Delhi 

'Our memories have vanished': the Palestinian theatre destroyed in a bomb strike

The Said al-Mishal Centre brought theatre, dance and music to the beleaguered residents of Gaza City. Its destruction in an Israeli air strike last week has sparked outrage – and dealt a heavy blow to Palestinian culture. Can the show go on? It was the deep panic of the last-minute rush known to everyone involved in theatre.

One of the playhouse’s top directors, a precocious 27-year-old who had been working in theatre since he was a teenager, was preparing his latest production – a dark comedy. Stage crew and actors had been working for months, all leading up to the Eid al-Adha performance, one of the biggest productions of the year timed for the Islamic holiday period. The show was to be held in Gaza City’s premier auditorium, the Said al-Mishal Cultural Centre, where the audience could relax into red fabric seats for a night of escapism. On 9 August, the show’s final decorations were being hoisted.

Outside, in the early evening sun, people in the Mediterranean city was winding down for the weekend. Many were hoping for an end to a 24-hour flare-up in which the militant group Hamas had fired volleys of rockets into Israel, which had responded with airstrikes. The Palestinian director, Idrees Taleb, was focused on the preparations for the play, not on the jets in the skies. His office had been on the fourth floor of Al-Mishal for half a decade, and he saw no reason why the Israeli military would bomb a theatre. “During wars, I would leave my house and sleep at the building,” he says. “I always thought it’s the safest place in the world.”.. read more:

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Human rights activist Israa al-Ghamgham in danger of execution by beheading in Saudi Arabia

Israa al-Ghomgham from Qatif province has been in detention for 32 months. She was put before the specialized criminal court (SCC) in Riyadh recently where the public prosecutor recommended death penalty for six defendants, which included her as well as her husband Moussa al-Hashem.
"The call of the public prosecution for a death sentence for the detainee is a dangerous indicator that the trial outcome will lead to a death penalty sentence being issued," The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said, adding, because the “Saudi mechanisms involved in the prosecution process are not independent and serve the needs of King Salman directly… Israa is being subjected to an unfair trial, which uses flawed laws and can be regarded as a ‘show trial,’” Sputnik News reported.

She appeared on government radars during 2011 protests in Qatif, demanding an end to anti-Shia discrimination and also the release of political prisoners. Al-Ghomgham and her husband were detained in a house raid by Saudi security forces Dec. 8, 2015. Saudi human rights groups reported she could not afford a lawyer while she was in detention. However, a lawyer offered service for free after he saw a petition from her father that sought donations to help cover the 300,000 Saudi riyal ($80,000) cost of providing her with a lawyer.

Human activists are livid at the recommendation of death penalty with some even ironically pointing out the nations is a part of the United Nations Council on Human Rights. “Saudi Arabia is calling for the beheading of female human rights defender Israa Al-Ghomgham because she participated in peaceful protests. This is the same barbaric regime which still sits on the UN Women’s Rights Commission,” Sarah Abdallah, an Independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator tweeted.
"She was a person who tweeted and supported the protests. Maybe she protested as well. But the Saudi government is clearly trying to use that to send a message that we will not spare anyone, woman or not," Ali al Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based human rights advocacy group, told Sputnik.

Many media outlets falsely reported that Ghomgham has already been executed. "The Thefreethoughts Twitter account and other Saudi sources said the female, named as Esra al-Ghamgam, was executed on the prosecutor’s orders on Sunday. It shared a video showing an executioner fixing her in a recumbent position on the ground before decapitating her with a sword as security forces stood by,” a source claimed. However, the video proved to be from an earlier beheading. The nation has often been subjected to criticisms for executions. According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi beheaded 48 people in last 4 months with most of them for non-violent drug charges... read more:

Indonesian woman who complained about noisy mosque jailed for blasphemy

DARIA KHLEVNYUK - Stalin’s continuing, disputed legacy

The memory of Stalin’s Terror is now receiving more attention in Russia than at any time since the 1980s. However, the scope of the debate needs to be widened still further, argues Daria Khlevnyuk.

The Stalin epoch’s influence on Russia is undeniable. Present-day Russians mainly live in a country inherited from the Stalin-era Soviet Union, not least in terms of infrastructure, architecture and social institutions.1 However, scholars, intellectuals and journalists agree that Russian society has yet to thoroughly work through the totalitarian legacy of Stalin’s era.2 Lately, a lot of work has been done on this front. In 2017, a memorial to Stalin’s victims was erected, while last year’s Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions saw a record number of media outlets publishing pieces on Stalin’s repressions.3The investigation by a private citizen, Denis Karagodin, into his great-grandfather’s execution attracted a lot of attention from both the national and international media.4

Yet despite the clear and mounting evidence of Stalin’s repressions, Russians are clearly divided in their attitudes towards him. According to a recent Levada-Center poll, Stalin’s popularity is actually rising. Around 40 percent of respondents expressed positive attitudes towards Stalin, while around one third agreed that Russia now needs a leader like Stalin.5 The discrepancies in understanding the Stalin era and associated repression can be explained with reference to generational gaps, current politics and other such factors, but it is obvious that the memory of Russia’s painful Stalinist past is far from homogeneous.

Even train passengers on their way through the town of Segezha, in the Republic of Karelia in north-western Russia, cannot avoid the smell of rotten eggs that permeates the town – an effect of the sulphurous compounds produced by the local pulp and paper mill. This mill was built with Gulag labour as part of the Belomorsko-Baltiiskii Kombinat (BBK), a large industrial complex that stands alongside the White Sea-Baltic Canal, a grandiose venture also built by Gulag prisoners, without whom the costs to the state of such projects would have been prohibitive. Segezha developed around industry built by prisoners, which is served by a canal built by prisoners; the town itself was planned by imprisoned architects and built by inmates.

The region of Karelia is known not only for its paper-pulp facility but also for the prison colonies that still exist here. In fact, the current Russian prison system replicates the geography of the Soviet system,6 with some colonies and prisons inherited directly from Soviet times.7 One of Segezha’s colonies became famous thanks to its recent inmates. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the prominent Russian oligarch, spent several years here. Two years ago, Ildar Dadin was dispatched to the same colony after being sentenced under Russia’s strict laws governing street protests. The echo of political repression does not stop here. Ildar Dadin’s time in the colony led to a minor crisis when he stated that he had been tortured.8

Dadin’s allegations were discussed in the press, with several former inmates of the colony coming forward to support his testimony9 and some of his fellow inmates staging a protest.10 The director of the colony stated that nothing of the kind went on in his institution and that Dadin had lied to draw attention to his case. However, one year on, the director retired and criminal charges were brought against him for abusing his authority and extorting money from prisoners.11Torture and other human rights violations in Russian prisons are, unfortunately, common... read more:

Monday, 20 August 2018

The whole world is watching. How the 1968 Chicago 'police riot' shocked America. By David Taylor and Sam Morris

By the summer of 1968, Americans were dying at a rate of more than 1,000 per month in the bloodiest year of the Vietnam war

Where the National Guard once stood in formation with bayonets fixed, a line of stands for rental bikes now stretches away along South Michigan Avenue. Where protestors against the Vietnam War once massed, chanting “the whole world is watching”, sun shines on formal flower beds filled with purple hostas and golden lilies. Across the street, the facade of the Hilton Chicago looms, four towers of brick rising above war-like stone carvings of figures carrying shields and axes. There are few clues, but 50 years ago, this spot was a crucible of violence, which exposed fault lines in a divided and traumatised nation.

A tumultuous season of assassinations, riots and war, 1968 was the year that changed America, in ways that still unfold today. And part of that momentous drama played out on summer nights in Chicago when blood ran in the streets and police orchestrated a riot as anti-war protesters tried to march upon the Democratic National Convention calling for an end to the Vietnam war. After four days and nights of violence, 668 people had been arrested, 425 demonstrators were treated at temporary medical facilities, 200 were treated on the spot, 400 given first aid for tear gas exposure and 110 went to hospital. A total of 192 police officers were injured.

Images of police firing teargas and beating demonstrators with their nightsticks played on network television news. It looked like an oppressive fascist state and offered a view of a nation apparently tearing itself apart. Rick Perlstein, the author of Nixonland, speaking at an event at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism to mark the Chicago '68 anniversary, cited an NBC news producer who thought the footage he had produced was “a crystalline theatre of moral witness, evil being visited upon innocents”. But not all saw it like that – a Gallup poll showed 56% of Americans backed the police actions against the demonstrators. Charles Kaiser, the author of 1968 in America, said: “The biggest impact was on the older generation because they were so completely freaked out by it, this spectacle of anarchy was really terrifying. 

"The combination of the two assassinations [Rev Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F Kennedy], the extremely violent and numerous riots after Martin Luther King was killed, the spectacle of upper middle class white college students fighting with policemen in Chicago, I think there is an argument to be made that the images of police riots in Chicago were as useful to Richard Nixon’s campaign as anything else that happened in the whole year. “They contribute in a big way to this whole sense that everything is out of control and therefore the man who is preaching law and order becomes very attractive.”

In 1969, President Nixon would hail a "silent majority" and urge them to support him, claiming patriotism for conservatives and condemning the "bitter hatred" of young Americans as he derided a minority who tried to impose their view on the nation "by mounting demonstrations in the street". Some of those fault lines, and that language, still echo 50 years later... read more and see photos:

Touré - Sorry to Bother You: is this the most shocking anti-capitalist film ever?

A wealthy man once told me that you can’t get really rich unless you have other people working for you. To achieve the American dream of boundless wealth, you need to stand on many other people’s backs. That’s capitalism. But how do you entice them to let you stand on their backs so you can make more money than them, and what do you owe them for that privilege?

These questions are at the core of Sorry to Bother You, a comedy-drama starring Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson, written and directed by Boots Riley, a rapper with Oakland band the Coup. Sorry to Bother You, set in an alternative version of that Californian city, is one of the most anti-capitalist movies Hollywood has ever produced. We’re used to seeing the rich portrayed as evil, but here we see people sell their souls to ascend the corporate ladder. The film shows how easily people will compromise their principles for money – and, more frightening still, how far owners and management will go to create perfectly obedient workers.

But Sorry to Bother You could easily find itself remembered primarily for a brilliant repeated gag: a black character speaking with a comically white voice. Stanfield has quickly established himself as one of the most interesting actors of his day. He played Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton and more recently featured in Get Out and Atlanta. But here he is doing something totally different. His character, Cassius “Cash” Green, a low-level telemarketer, learns that, in order to succeed at work, he has to put on a white voice. This does not mean a nasal affectation, along the lines of that corny old nerdy-voice stereotype that mid-level black comedians do. It means putting into your voice an embrace of the ease that white privilege brings. It means sounding as if you’re entitled to the good life. It means feeling calm way down in your soul. It means never having to be afraid someone will call the police on you just because you’re breathing... read more:

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Fifty years ago: Moscow crushes the Prague Spring - archive, August 1968

In the night of August 20 1968 Soviet tanks and troops invaded Czechoslovakia in an effort to stop the so-called Prague Spring. For four months, under the leadership of Alexander Dubček, the country broke free from Soviet rule, with the government allowing freedom of speech and removing state controls over industry. Dubček claimed he was offering ‘socialism with a human face,’ but the Soviet Union viewed developments as tantamount to counter-revolution. Czechoslovakians did not fight the invading Russians but instead stood in front of the tanks, with some putting flowers in the soldiers’ hair. The reforms were curtailed, hard-line communists retook positions of power and Dubček was deposed in April 1969.

Guardian Editorial: Jackboots again over Eastern Europe 
22 August 1968
Czech youngsters holding a Czechoslovak flag stand atop an overturned truck as other Prague residents surround Soviet tanks in Prague, 21 August 1968.
Czech youngsters holding a Czechoslovak flag stand atop an overturned truck 
as other Prague residents surround Soviet tanks in Prague, 21 August 1968. 
Photograph: Libor Hajsky/AFP/Getty Images
Anger, horror, and contempt – these certainly; but most of all a feeling of deep sadness. After 50 years communism still means, in Soviet eyes, the rule of the tank and the jack-boot. And after a decade in which, all over the world, hopes had risen that civilised relations between nations might at last become the rule, the Russian leadership has retreated into its old imperialism. The aim of the reformist movement in Czechoslovakia was simple. It was to bring elementary civilities and freedoms into the Socialist way of life.  “The Communist Party”, wrote the Czechoslovak Praesidium in one of its historic rejoinders, “depends on the voluntary support of the people. It cannot enforce its line by orders, but by the work of its members and the truth of its ideals. It cannot impel its authority, but must constantly acquire it by its actions.”

Prague Spring
Prague spring 1968 - Warsaw Pact tanks in Praha (French Audio)
Prague Spring 1968
The Prague Spring of 1968 

But the Russian leaders and their pitiable satraps saw in this idealism a menace to their own positions, which are maintained not by consent but by power. In spite of their agreement, only just over a fortnight ago, to allow the Czechs and Slovaks their own mode of development, they have resorted to the same treachery which, twelve years ago, put down the movement for colonial freedom in Hungary. Hungary at that time had renounced the Warsaw Pact and was on the way to a two-party system. How much less justification is there now for action against a country which has constantly professed its loyalty to the Soviet Union.

Support of the people: The Russians’ excuse for invasion is as contemptible as the deed. It is the excuse first suggested in May by General Yepishev, the political head of the Red Army, who was later taxed with it by the newly freed press in Prague. He proposed that the Army should heed an appeal from a group of “loyal Communists” to go to their aid. Yesterday’s statement by Tass used this formula. “Party and Government leaders,” it said, had requested military assistance. The last act of “Rude Pravo” before it fell once more under Russian censorship was to publish the Praesidium’s denial of this specious excuse. No doubt in time we shall be told who these “leaders” are; but Mr Stewart was quite correct last night to announce that Britain would continue to recognise the Government which existed until yesterday morning. No one can doubt that the Government had the support of the people. The brave, eager, and idealistic young people of Czechoslovakia, who had not yet learned to accept the fatalism of their fathers, and who had so visibly relished their sudden release from the deathly conformism of so many years, are once again today in a police State. It is a tragedy beyond description.

Audio-visuals of some major events of 1968
Anti Vietnam-war Demonstrations (1968)
Vietnam War protest in Washington
European anti-Vietnam War Protests
Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration In New York & San Francisco (M. Luther King addresses crowd in New York & Mrs Luther King speaks at rally in San Francisco) [No audio, nos. of still images].
Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration In Berlin
Tet Offensive
Tet Offensive War Footage
 Vietnam War - Tet Offensive

Prague Spring
Prague spring 1968 - Warsaw Pact tanks in Praha (French Audio)
Prague Spring 1968
The Prague Spring of 1968 

Polish Crisis
March 1968. The last exodus of Polish Jews

Paris, May 1968: The Student Revolt
"All Power to the Imagination"

Mexico Olympics
Olympic Flashback: Mexico City 1968 (00:00 - 01:52)
1968 Massacre at Tlatelolco (01:09 - 03:22)

1960's Women's Liberation Movement - A PBS Documentary Trailer
Why did feminists protest against the Miss America pageant in 1968?

Martin Luther King
MLK Assassination and Watts Riots - 1968
Martin Luther King - Assassination and Aftermath- CBS News Special Report April 5, 1968

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Piyasree Dasgupta - Jailed for waving a black flag at Adityanath

LUCKNOW, Uttar Pradesh — A few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a forum of investors in the city last month, police constables surrounded Pooja Shukla as she stepped out of her friend's house in Ismailganj. Shukla, a 23-year-old student activist with the Samajwadi Party (SP), said the policemen and women dragged her to a waiting jeep, snatched her phone, drove her around the city for five hours and only let her go when she pretended to be ill. Another group from the police, she said, raided her house in Sarojini Nagar, where she lives with her parents.

"They abused me for hours inside the car," Shukla said. "They narrated how encounters are done by the police. Then they said that I have been creating problems for them and I might get into big trouble." This wasn't Shukla's first brush with the law: images of her sparring with the police have been widely shared among university students in the city. Last year, she spent 26 days in prison after she was arrested for waving a black flag at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath when he visited Lucknow University.

Shukla, a slight young woman with an outsized presence, is one of a cohort of student activists who have been drawn into politics by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) crackdown on universities. The student upsurge began in January 2016, when the suicide of Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula triggered protests on campuses across the country. A few months later, the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya - and the widespread media coverage that followed - marked the first real signs of dissent against the Modi government. Now, as the country is preparing to go to the polls again next year, students such as Shukla are a visible part of the opposition to the BJP. "She is aggressive and not easily intimidated," said Rahul Singh, national president of the student wing of the Samajwadi Party, explaining why the party signed her up. "She won't shut up easily and is young and idealistic."

In June 2017, when Adityanath was scheduled to visit Lucknow University to unveil a statue of Shivaji erected inside the campus, Shukla (who was not affiliated with any political party at the time) and a group of fellow students stood by the gates—reading, chatting in pairs and pretending like they were simply waiting for class. They had stuffed black cloth flags inside their books and lunch boxes, which they whipped out the moment Adityanath's convoy rolled up. The police quickly rounded up and thrashed the protestors. Eleven of them - nine men and two women, including Shukla - were thrown into jail the next day after a court order. Shukla was charged with rioting, obstructing a public servant from performing his duty and intimidation of a public servant - offences punishable with imprisonment of up to five years. She spent 26 days in jail, the longest among all the detainees, and upon her release, joined the SP which had helped bail her out… read more: