South Asia Citizens Wire - 5 August 2011 - No. 2724
1. Afghanistan Seeks to Disband Some Armed Militias (Ray Rivera)
2. Nepal: Religious Practices Oppress Women (Sudeshna Sarkar)
2.1 Peace leaves Maoist 'comfort women' in worse plight in Nepal
3. Pakistan: The question of ISAF’s missing containers (Musa Khan Jalalzai)
4. Right-wingers across the world seem to share a vocabulary of persecution and hate (Saba Naqvi)
5. India: After having bludgeoned Niyamat Ansari to death, Maoists now threaten Jean Dreze
5.1 PUDR condemns threat being issued by CPI (Maoist) to members of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in Jharkhand
6. Content updates from sacw.net
+ Fascism, Maoism and the Democratic Left (Jairus Banaji)
+ Interim Statement on the Situation in Karachi by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
+ A letter to India’s Prime Minister on the importance of a ’universal public distribution system’
+ Resistance to forced marriage in India: Asylum victory in New York Text of order of immigration judge, March 2011
+ Elections, Development and Democratisation in Post - war Jaffna (Ahilan Kadirgamar)
+ Contempt for law and constitutional values: Bloodstains will remain (Binayak Sen, Ilina Sen)
+ India: Why the court disbanded Chhattisgarh’s SPOs (Nandini Sundar)
+ Online Petition to Demand that Harvard end its association with religious extremist Subramanian Swamy
+ Saffronisation of Karnataka (Narendra Nayak)
+ India: Killings, Torture at Bangladeshi Border (A Human Rights Watch press release)
+ When equal protection matters most (Farah Naqvi, Harsh Mander)
7. Recent content on Communalism Watch:
- Tamil Nadu Religion in the School
- Right wing terror: Dangerous link
- Right-wingers across the world seem to share a vocabulary of persecution and hate
- Mihir Desai on the The Communal and Targeted Violence Bill
- Indian Americans Express Alarm at Breivik's Hindutva Nexus
- Salil Tripathi on Anders Behring Breivik's Badge from India
- Anders Breivick cites N.S. Rajaram the Hindutva laden historian
8. Publication announcement:
India’s Environmental History
Vol. 1: From Ancient Times to the Colonial Period / Vol. 2: Colonialism, Modernity, and the Nation
Mahesh Rangarajan And K. Sivaramakrishnan, Editors
- News of the World vs. WikiLeaks (Bret Stephens)
- The Bin Laden vaccine (M.S.)
- Calling Breivik mad lets the far-right off the hook (Laurie Penny)
- Cheers for Tendulkar drown out the Far Right (Philip Collins)
10. Upcoming events:
- Hiroshima Day Candle light vigil (Lahore, 6 August 2011)
- Screening of 'War & Peace' + Discussion on Nuclear Power, Aug 6, IIT Bombay
- Screening and discussion of NERO'S GUESTS (14 August 2011, Vancouver)
1. AFGHANISTAN SEEKS TO DISBAND SOME ARMED MILITIAS
by Ray Rivera
(The New York Times, August 2, 2011)
KABUL, Afghanistan — Government officials seeking to break up hundreds of small independent militias in the volatile northern province of Kunduz have ordered more than 4,000 members to surrender their weapons within 20 days or face a military crackdown, threatening more violence in a region where security has steadily eroded over the last two years.
The militias in many cases piggybacked on an officially sanctioned American-financed program to recruit local men for police patrols to fight off the Taliban, an effort that has been tried in other parts of the country with varying degrees of success.
In Kunduz, where the government has armed and equipped about 1,500 militiamen, thousands of others have joined the proliferating independent groups, or arbakai. Some have only a dozen men, while others number in the hundreds. But officials say they are little more than gangs that wreak havoc, frequently clashing with one another and collecting illegal taxes from local residents.
The new order is focused on Khan Abad district in the southeast of Kunduz, where officials say the concentration of the independent militias is highest. The decision came after a gathering there on Saturday of tribal elders, army and police officials and some militia leaders.
Military officials say they will begin going house to house to collect the weapons if the militia members do not comply by the deadline.
“The existence of these illegally armed groups has created serious problems in bringing peace,” said Mohammad Zaman Waziri, First Brigade commander of the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps. “These people take money from people in the name of religious tax, disturb locals, and they have also fought among each other many times.”
But the province has only grown more dangerous in recent years, and militia leaders say turning over their weapons — which include rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and mortars — would leave them vulnerable to the Taliban they claim to be fighting.
“There are still many Taliban in our areas,” said Hussain, an arbakai commander who goes by one name. “If our weapons are taken from us, the Taliban will kill us.”
Others say that instead of being rewarded with local police jobs for their efforts to push out the Taliban, they are being punished.
“I am ready to surrender my weapons to the government,” said another commander, Mohammad Omar. “But the condition is that I should get hired in the local police.”
Many of the officially recognized militiamen in Kunduz are to be absorbed into the Afghan Local Police through the American-financed program, which aims to convert insurgents and other residents of remote areas into village defense forces until the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police can be built up enough to protect the entire country.
But Kunduz has only 1,200 local police slots available, and the process of screening and training has been slow. To date, only 105 militiamen have become officers. Khan Abad district has only 550 slots available, said Col. Abdul Rahman Aqtash, deputy police chief of Kunduz.
The problems in Kunduz reflect growing concern over the local police program. Begun a year ago, it had trained about 6,200 officers in 41 districts by mid-June with the goal of recruiting 30,000 in 100 districts by the end of the year. But aid workers and United Nations officials warn that the program risks empowering local strongmen who have little regard for human rights and legal procedure.
Other areas of concern include weak vetting of recruits and oversight, and issues of command and control over the forces, which are supposed to fall under the local police chief but which often remain loyal to their former bosses. A recent study by Oxfam and three other nongovernment groups concluded that that the program had failed to provide effective policing and instead produced forces that are “feared by the communities they are supposed to protect.”
The controversy in Kunduz began during the spring harvest as new arbakai began demanding what they deemed an Islamic tax from the farmers, amounting to 10 percent of their harvest. Payments were also demanded from others. In June, two arbakai commanders with 30 armed men stormed a girls school in Kunduz city and beat the headmaster and assistant headmaster after they refused to pay, leaving both men in comas.
At least 50 families in Khan Abad say that groups have taken their homes to use as military compounds, and clashes between groups in the last few months have left at least six people dead and several more wounded, Mr. Aqtash said.
“We get reports and complaints about arbakai forces almost every day,” he said.
The Taliban, meanwhile, have remained active in the province. At 4 a.m. on Tuesday, insurgents attacked a guesthouse in Kunduz city frequented by foreign aid workers and private security contractors, leaving four people dead.
The attack began when a suicide bomber rammed a Toyota Corolla packed with explosives into the front entrance of the guesthouse compound, killing the four guards at the gate. Two other attackers armed with light weapons and wearing explosive-laced vests ran into the compound before police arrived, leading to a three-hour firefight before one of the attackers was shot and killed and the other detonated his vest, killing himself as the police closed in, Mr. Aqtash said.
Nine civilians and a police officer were wounded, he said.
An Afghan employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Kunduz Province.
2. NEPAL: RELIGIOUS PRACTICES OPPRESS WOMEN
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Inter Press Service
KATHMANDU, July 28, 2011 (IPS) - The recent gang-rape of a Buddhist nun and her expulsion from her sect have sparked a debate about the deep-rooted religious traditions and biases that foster discrimination and violence, especially against women, in this South Asian state.
The public outcry against the nun’s expulsion forced the Nepal Buddhist Federation to reconsider, saying now that once she recovers, the victim can return to her nunnery.
But it is only a minor triumph. While public debate on a discriminatory socio-religious practice led to its retraction, thousands of women continue to be victims of other religious rituals in Nepal.
The expulsion debate started after the 21-year-old nun was attacked on June 24 while travelling in eastern Nepal. Bad weather disrupted the journey and the young woman, easily recognizable as a nun by her shaved head and red robes, was persuaded by the bus driver to spend the night in the vehicle.
She was later raped by five people, including the driver and his two helpers, who also looted the money and other belongings she was carrying.
"It is a nightmare," says the nun’s uncle, Surya Bahadur Tamang. "We took her to a private hospital in Siliguri but the doctors said they would certify it as an accident since rape would mean police intervention. How can we fight a legal case against the culprits if the doctors don’t support us?"
When the nun’s family brought her to Kathmandu for further treatment, the state-run hospital they went to refused to admit her at first. By then, however, media reports about the attack had begun to appear and Nepal’s National Women’s Commission as well as indigenous organisations intervened, forcing the doctors to treat her.
But more suffering awaited the victim. A joint statement supported by 15 organisations— including Nepal Tamang Lama Ghedung, an organisation of Buddhist monks, Nepal Buddhist Federation, and Boudha Jagaran Kendra (Buddhist Awakening Centre)— condemned the attack but said she had lost her celibacy and her religious status. The rejection triggered widespread debate, with Buddhist groups from across the world criticising it.
"There is a great deal of shock and disbelief at the very idea of such an action by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists in the U.S. and abroad," wrote Matthew Frazer, an American who established the Yeshe Tsogyal Foundation to defend Buddhists targeted by violence or abuse. "Such an action reflects badly not only on Nepal, but on Buddhists in general to the rest of the world. It will set a very perilous precedent that can be used to take similar actions against future victims."
The Syracuse Buddhism Examiner reported last week that the attack had shaken up the Buddhist community in New York state. "The rape issue is taken very seriously here," the Examiner said, at the same time offering help and the space to discuss rape issues.
Others like the Australian Anthony Best, now a monk known as Bhante Sugato, are mobilising support through blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The nun belongs to the Tamang community, a Tibeto-Burman people once living in the high Himalayan ranges who migrated to Tibet, India, Bhutan and Nepal. They are among Nepal’s most disadvantaged groups, lacking education and access to economic resources. They are also among the worst victims of human trafficking.
Poverty has led to the perpetuation of a religious practice—the Jhuma tradition—among Tamangs and other Buddhist communities of western Nepal.
"As land is scarce in the mountains, families with several children seek to prevent it from being split up," says Uttam Niraula, executive director of the Society for Humanism Nepal (SOCH Nepal), a non- government organisation campaigning against superstition and paranormal practices. "While the eldest looked after the family, the one in the middle was sent off to become a monk or nun. This is the Jhuma tradition."
SOCH Nepal recently worked with Nepal’s women, children and social welfare ministry to produce a draft law to prevent discrimination and violence in the name of social malpractices, many of which stem from religion, like Jhuma and two more celebrated traditions, the Kumari and Deuki.
The Kumari – Nepal’s famous Living Goddess – is the tradition of choosing a girl at pre-puberty, sometimes as young as three years old, as the guardian deity of the city and installing her in her own palace, away from her family. She does not go to school and is not allowed to walk outside. Her reign ends when she nears puberty and is replaced by another young girl.
The Deuki system, similar to India’s notorious Devadasi or temple slave custom, exists in far western Nepal where families "gift" a young daughter to a temple, abandoning her to a fate of poverty, exploitation and often enforced prostitution.
"All these customs violate a child’s rights and are clearly banned by Nepal’s Children’s Act of 1992," says Niraula. "The Act says a child should not be separated from the parents, should be allowed to go to school and play and should not be dedicated to god. It specifically says that a child under 16 can’t be made to become a nun or monk. But the implementation is weak. The new act will have tougher deterrents."
But the government faces an uphill task trying to implement the new law, even if parliament passes it.
In 2005, lawyer Pundevi Maharjan filed a public interest suit, arguing that Kumaris should be allowed to go to school, stay with their families and enjoy the rights granted to all children by the constitution. Though Nepal’s Supreme Court vindicated Maharjan’s stand, the Kumari still continue to lead a sequestered life, with a succession of governments fearful of antagonising the powerful Newar community, whose deity she is.
Buddhists, too, are not ready to see the Jhuma tradition end.
"It will be a violation of our cultural rights," says Ang Kaji Sherpa, general secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities. "The government needs to consult the stakeholders and initiate social reforms first instead of trying to impose a law unilaterally." (END)
2.1 PEACE LEAVES MAOIST 'COMFORT WOMEN' IN WORSE PLIGHT IN NEPAL
The Times of India
TNN July 24, 2011
KATHMANDU: Nearly seven decades after the revelation of the plight of women caught in World War II and made to provide sex and companionship to the Japanese army similar tales are emerging from Nepal that survived a longer war for 10 years.
Did the Maoist party of Nepal, that went to war against the state from 1996 seeking the abolition of monarchy and equal rights for all, especially women, coerce young women to provide companionship to underground comrades and then leave them in the lurch after the "People's War" was won?
Khima Dangi, a section commander of the Maoist People's Liberation Army (PLA), has been living in limbo in a cantonment in Dang in western Nepal. Awaiting rehabilitation since 2006, when the war ended, she doesn't know what life holds for her, especially after being abandoned by her husband Lokendra GC, a PLA battalion commander.
In 2002, when Lokendra asked her to marry him and she refused, he threatened to kill himself. "He was lonely and stressed out by the conflict," Dangi told the Nepali Times weekly. "He wanted companionship and intimacy." She gave in and they had a daughter, who is now seven. But now that the war is over, Lokendra, she says, found someone else and coerced her to divorce him so that he could marry the new woman in his life.
The Maoists' women's organisation has received hundreds of complaints from women cadres, saying they have been abandoned by their husbands. At least one high-profile leader's son has featured in these complaints. Politburo member and former foreign affairs in-charge Chandra Prakash Gajurel, who could be made minister in a new cabinet reshuffle, is said to have remained mute witness to his son Sanjiv divorcing his first wife, Sunita Pokhrel.
Nepali tabloids said Pokhrel has also complained to rights organisations that her mother-in-law mentally tortured her for dowry and that she was tricked by her husband into having an abortion. Her husband subsequently married another girl.
It is difficult if not impossible to address the plight of the abandoned Maoist "wives" as most of the marriages were "people's marriages" that are not legally recognised. So though there are laws to get alimony and child support from deserter husbands, the Maoist wives can have no recourse to them.
It is only the party that can rein in its cadres. However, with a three-way leadership tussle raging in the largest party and its focus on gaining control of the government, abandoned women cadres' rights do not make it to the priority list. In some cases, the offending husbands have been promoted.
Shanta Kandel, former secretary of the Maoist district committee in remote Arghakhanchi district, married Hari Bhattarai when she was 16 and gave birth in a cave during the "People's War". After the war ended, her husband eloped with someone else. But the party still made him a senior member of an indigenous party council. Kandel, on the other hand, the Nepali Times noted, sells trinkets by the wayside.
3. THE QUESTION OF ISAF’S MISSING CONTAINERS
by Musa Khan Jalalzai
(Daily Times, July 21, 2011)
The biggest problem faced by Pakistan is the smuggling of arms within the country through these suspected containers
The scam regarding ISAF’s 11,000 weapons-loaded missing containers has raised many questions: were these missing containers offloaded in Karachi, or diverted to the headquarters of the Punjabi Taliban in Bahawalpur, southern Punjab? These questions have become very irksome for the law enforcement agencies and the military establishment fighting insurgencies across the country. The biggest scam of Pakistan’s history and the missing of such a huge number of containers containing weapons, whisky, military uniforms and other prohibited and non-prohibited luggage has created a climate of fear and harassment across the country lest these lethal weapons fall into the hands of the Punjabi Taliban or the invisible terror army in Karachi.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has recently released a detailed report and identified important factors that gave rise to the threat of the jihadist Taliban inside the country. Military-grade weapons, the FAS says, are available to them in major towns and cities in all parts of FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This means that the so-called Pakistani nuclear threat is only a pretext; Pakistan is the real target — owing to its role in the complex US-China geopolitical relations. Writing in the Cutting Edge Magazine (June 22, 2011) Shoshana Bryen revealed that the CIA has been using drones in Pakistan from bases in Afghanistan because the US does not want to wage a war in Pakistan from Pakistan; the CIA wants to wage Pakistan’s war from Afghanistan.
Moreover, there are signals indicating that failure to win the war against the Taliban could tempt NATO to broaden the theatre of war into Pakistan. The danger is real and notwithstanding President Obama’s assurance about friendly ties with Pakistan; the US is changing its stance on partnership with Pakistan and creates a new issue of distrust every week.
In case of a NATO military operation in Pakistan, in addition to the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the alliance would be facing 500,000 professional personnel of a well organised army. The recent threatening statement of General Petraeus to undertake unilateral military operations inside Pakistan was followed by NATO violations of Pakistan’s airspace in North Waziristan. All these challenges faced by Pakistan are linked with the availability of military-grade weapons to insurgents and terrorist groups.
I came across a report of Pakistan’s Federal Tax Ombudsman (January 2011) on the issue of ISAF’s missing containers. This is a comprehensive report, which gives readers a lot of information but only represents the government of Pakistan’s standpoint. In my telephone conversation with one of the senior advisors of the Federal Tax Ombudsman in Islamabad last week, he told me that since ISAF’s forward mounting base in Karachi was shifted to Kabul, the coordination mechanism between the customs authorities and ISAF representative were undermined. He told me that this is the biggest scam of customs reported in the country’s history worth over Rs 220 billion. After NLC, Hajj, Steel Mills, Rental Power Plants, Railways, PIA, KESC, and hundred other scandals, this scandal joins the series of high level corruption in Pakistan.
According to Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and customs intelligence sources in Lahore, these missing containers were imported to supply weapons to NATO in Afghanistan but they disappeared abruptly. Who received these containers and lethal weapons, who sold them to whom, nobody knows. But the question is: why have Pakistan’s over 50 intelligence agencies so far failed in recovering this huge number of weapons-loaded containers or why they have not carried out a thorough investigation into the scam?
Counterterrorism authorities in Islamabad understand that these missing containers might cause more violence across the country if they fall into the hands of the Punjabi Taliban or the invisible armies in Karachi. Counter-insurgency experts say it will take Pakistan at least a decade tackling multi-faceted insurgencies across the country.
Some military experts in Islamabad understand that the disappearance of these containers has put national security in constant danger. On February 8, 2011, Daily Times reported parliament’s standing committee’s serious reservations and pressure on the defence minister and chairman FBR to explain the government’s stance.
The committee was told that only 7,000 containers were missing, which is not true. The committee asked about the agreement between Pakistan and the NATO alliance, which allowed NATO-ISAF containers to pass through Pakistan without scrutiny.
In response to the Supreme Court and public allegations, the Federal Tax Ombudsman prepared a detailed report on the missing containers. The report accepts the incapabilities of the customs officials. Moreover, following the report’s revelations, the government of Pakistan suspended 22 officials of the Pakistan Customs Service for their involvement in the container scandal. According to a Pakistani think tank report, since the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Pakistan allowed more than 300,000 NATO containers to pass from Karachi to Afghanistan through the Chaman or Torkham border. During the Musharraf regime, Pakistani officials had no authority to even scan the containers.
The main hurdle here is that US military cargos carry Radio Frequency Identification Devices, which give the sole right of monitoring to American Homeland Security. No Pakistani agency or institution has access to these containers. The US government does not share this with other partners. More importantly, more than 80 percent of military cargos are being handled by ISAF- and NATO-hired private companies. The suspected threat arises from the delay of these containers.
For example, NATO containers need a certificate of the Afghan embassy to cross the border and this may take 15 days. Pakistani officials are of the opinion that in this relatively long space of time, most of the containers are changed, altered or emptied. The biggest problem faced by Pakistan is the smuggling of arms within the country through these suspect containers. Media reports have already highlighted the suspect movement of these containers carrying arms through false declaration or fake documents. Military experts in Islamabad say these containers are enough for sustaining the Taliban insurgents for a decade.
The writer is the author of Afghanistan Beyond 2014 and Punjabi Taliban.
4. THE RIGHT WING : FROM OSLO, TO NAGPUR
RIGHT-WINGERS ACROSS THE WORLD SEEM TO SHARE A VOCABULARY OF PERSECUTION AND HATE
by Saba Naqvi
(Outlook, August 8, 2011)
A Hindu holocaust has taken place in India
Hindu nationalists suffer the same persecution from Marxists as European right-wingers
Hindus abroad worry more about Hindu culture than those in India
The Hindu right wing does not tolerate the current injustice and often riots and attacks when things get out of control
The UPA government relies on appeasing Muslims
There is something about the rantings of right-wingers, be they mass murderers in Europe or fanatics from the ranks of the Hindu right, that carries a sinister echo of each other. Certainly it would be unfair to blame the forces of Hindutva for Anders Breivik’s killing spree in Norway that claimed 76 lives. The man was a lunatic who moved from just harbouring prejudices and spreading hatred to bloody action. In the larger story of Breivik, the fact that he praises the forces of the Hindu right and suggests a compact with the European right can be a mere footnote.
But what is clear is that the views he espouses in his ‘A European Declaration of Independence’ are eerily familiar to those who follow the rantings of extremists across the world. For instance, he writes that “in the Indian subcontinent, the history is tragic indeed, that’s where the Hindu holocaust took place....” Meet B.L. Sharma ‘Prem’ of the VHP, who got the BJP ticket to contest from the Northeast Delhi parliamentary seat in 2009. After Breivik’s bloodbath, he says, “I am against all violence.” Yet when this correspondent reminds him of plans to build a holocaust museum to record the horrors wreaked on Hindus in India, he enthusiastically says ‘Yes’, but rues that there’s a problem getting land in Delhi.
A European madman and an Indian extremist, both talking of a “Hindu holocaust”. A stretch? Let us not overlook the fact that the great ideologue of the Hindu right, M.S. Golwalkar, espoused views very similar to all right-wing groups across the world. In his 1939 book We, Our Nationhood Defined, Golwalkar wrote: “...to keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” He adds: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The race spirit has been awakening.”
Rhetoric such as that could be from any European fanatic or Nazi apologist. Breivik rants against Muslims, Islam, “cultural Marxism” and multiculturalism in much the same manner as members of the Hindu right do. For instance, the VHP’s Giriraj Kishore has in the past told this correspondent that Muslim men are seducing Hindu women and multiplying the numbers of their community and soon India will be overtaken by Muslims and Bangladeshis. Sharma has in an earlier conversation with me been quoted as saying: “If we don’t watch out, India will be a Muslim country. Muslim men are seducing Hindu women, reducing us to a minority. They know how to seduce. Their diet is uttejak (aphrodisiacal).”
Breivik believed there would be a 21st century version of the Knights Templar, an armed Christian movement, to save Europe from being run over by Muslims. Literature of the Bajrang Dal and VHP constantly evokes a great Hindu past and exhorts Hindus to be more “aggressive” against the “invaders”.
Such lunatic rantings are not always a laughing matter. Breivik ended up slaughtering innocent teenagers among others. It is now a matter of public record that investigative agencies believe that terrorists drawn from the Sangh background planted bombs in order to “get even” with Muslims.
Some in the Sangh parivar believe that a Hindu holocaust took place. Breivik seemed to endorse that view.
The RSS naturally denies everything and claims to be an organisation that only does service to the nation. Spokesman Ram Madhav, always more sophisticated than many of his organisation’s members, says the attempts to link Breivik to the Hindutva movement are reprehensible. “Ideologically, Breivik’s views are more akin to hordes of conservative writers and thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic,” he says. According to him, Breivik’s position on issues like immigration and multiculturalism “is no different from that of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Nicholas Sarkozy”. Others would argue that that view actually gives Breivik a respectability he does not deserve as there is a legitimate conservative movement in the West.
Madhav also says that it “is important to note that the attitude of contempt and condescension of the Left-Liberal cabal is what is responsible for such heinous happenings. Issues that the conservatives raise are dismissed and derided by these worthies rather than discussed honourably.” Breivik would agree. In his declaration, he writes that “the Indian government is made up of socialists-Leftists-liberals...the UPA relies on appeasing Muslims alongside communists who want total destruction of the Hindu faith and culture.” Later, the Norwegian makes quite a perceptive remark and says “the irony is that expatriate Hindus are more concerned about Hindu culture than the ones in India....” That certainly seems to be the case when we see the ferocious energy being devoted to the Hindu project by regular letter writers to editorial pages who live in the US. They too rave and rant, as they undoubtedly will against this article.
The other question that must be posed is: What’s the difference between extreme right-wingers across the globe and Islamists? The grievances are different. The right wing, from the US to Europe to India, rants about minorities, Muslims, Hispanics, or Blacks. In the case of Islamic radicals, they rant against the policies of the West, often the great “shaitan” (Satan) America, and if you go by e-mails earlier sent by a group that claimed the name of the Indian Mujahideen, they were against the Indian system, “anti-Muslim” lawyers and the judicial process. Such e-mails also carried quotations from the Quran and dire warnings about Allah’s wrath.
There is a far more direct consonance between the vocabulary of the right-wing loonies of the West and their counterparts in India. Both reflect the extremism of elements in the majority community who have come to believe they are being sidelined in their own land by hordes of Muslims or coloured people just waiting to take over. Breivik writes that “India will continue to wither and die unless the Indian nationalists consolidate properly and strike to win”. That is exactly the kind of belief held by individuals like Swami Aseemanand and Sadhvi Pragya, who also created little massacres of their own.
5. INDIA - JHARKHAND: FIRST, THEY KILLED HIM.
NOW THEY THREATEN ACTIVISTS. NO FIG LEAF FOR MAOISTS HERE
by Kunal Majumder
(From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 31, Dated 06 Aug 2011)
Niyamat Ansari was beaten to death for exposing corruption in Jharkhand’s MGNREGA
IN AN unprecedented and troubling case of antagonism towards civil rights workers, the CPI (Maoist) has issued threats against economist-activist Jean Dreze, National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy and two Jharkhandbased professionals — Nand Lal Singh and Gokul Vasant. A poster issued by the Maoists on 11 July demands that these activists be “punished by a Jan Adalat” for countering the Maoists’ allegations against slain MGNREGA activist Niyamat Ansari. The Maoists have also targeted Ansari’s former colleagues in Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, (GSA) a local organisation spreading awareness about the right to work.
The tensions began earlier this year when Ansari, 36, and his friend Bhukhan Singh, 35, exposed a Rs 2.5 lakh scam in MGNREGA in Rankikalan Gram Panchayat. The former block development officer (BDO), a panchayat sewak and the son of a local contractor were accused of pocketing the money. After an inquiry by the district administration, an FIR was lodged against the first two on 1 March.
The next day, Maoists picked up Ansari from his home and thrashed him brutally. When his family tried to rush him to the local hospital, Maoist diktat prevented people from offering even a bullock cart. Ansari’s handicapped brother, widowed sister and wife carried him in an unconscious state on a charpoy to the local police station 10 km away. From there an ambulance took him to the district hospital. But by then it was too late.
The following day, 3 March, Ansari’s sister Sayida Bibi lodged an FIR against eight persons. All were arrested except local Maoist commander Sudarshan. On 6 March, the CPI (Maoist) issued a statement in local newspapers alleging that Ansari was a police informer and had failed to appear at a jan adalat convened by them to resolve a forest land dispute. They also warned Bhukhan, who had escaped the 2 March attack, that if he failed to come to a jan adalat, he would meet the same fate.
This was not the first time Ansari and Bhukhan had been attacked by the contractor- Maoist nexus in Latehar. “Bhaiyas (Maoists) came for him earlier but he escaped through the window,” says Ansari's widow Nooresha, cradling her one-year-old daughter. Both her sons are away in hostels.“ He was even educating my 13-year-old daughter,” says Sayida Bibi, who is dependent on Ansari’s family.“ I don’t know what will happen to us now.”
Dreze first heard about Ansari and Bhukhan in October 2008, while visiting the area to check progress in MGNREGA work (he was then a member of the NAC). “Initially, I thought the local contractors were using the Maoist tag to merely threaten NREGA activists. But soon it turned serious,” recalls Dreze. Ansari and Bhukhan were then involved with the GSA. In November 2010, both joined the Sahayata Kendra set up by Dreze and Reetika Khera and continued their work.
A week after his killing, a letter signed by 20 prominent activists, including Arundhati Roy, Harsh Mander, Nandini Sundar and Swami Agnivesh, had demanded justice for Ansari and security for Bhukhan (read full text of the letter). After repeated protests and dharnas, the Maoists came out with a counter-allegation: that Ansari and Bhukhan had collected 13 lakh from villagers and were involved in child sacrifice; that all district officials involved in probing Ansari’s death and protecting Bhukhan Singh were GSA cronies. The note raised questions like: “It is a prestige issue for them: how will they accept that Ansari and Bhukhan made a mistake?”
To conduct an independent probe, Nand Lal Singh, former chairman of Palamu District Bar Association, and Gokul Vasant, a senior journalist, visited Latehar. “Our impression is that Maoist leaders were misled by anti-social elements,” the report says. “In fact, Ansari and Bhukhan have been working to make the people of Latehar aware of their rights under MGNREGA. They lodged FIRs against corrupt middlemen and officials.” In turn, five cases had been slapped against Ansari and Bhukhan since February 2007, when they started their work, the report noted.
The report was released on 18 May in Ranchi, along with a renewed demand for a CBI inquiry. The state government accepted the demand only in July. But the real shocker was what came after this.
Akhilesh Srivastava of PUCL says the Jharkhand Maoists have no control over their cadres. They have become criminalised
The CPI(Maoist) issued a seven-point handwritten letter threatening Abhiyan members with dire consequences unless those arrested for Ansari’s killing are released. They have even called for Dreze, Roy, Gokul Vasant and Nand Lal Singh to be tried and punished by a people’s court for demanding justice and trying to prove Ansari’s innocence. Roy doesn’t work in that area but was present to show solidarity when Vasant and Singh’s report was released.
Delhi University professor and Vice-President of Revolutionary Democratic Front of India, GN Saibaba, expresses shock at the Maoists’ missive. “I have serious doubts if such a letter was really issued by Maoists. Local contractors might be hand-in-glove with the administration in this act,” he says. He points out that Maoists generally respect intellectuals even if they have divergent views.
However, Akhilesh Srivastava, president of the Jharkhand unit of PUCL, disagrees. “The Maoists in Jharkhand have no control over their cadres. Their structure has become criminalised. It is disgusting that they should threaten a person like Jean Dreze,” he says. He adds that it’s high time the Maoists rethink violence as a strategy.
An interaction with GSA volunteers reveals a sense of frustration tinged with fear. “We are doing the same work as the bhaiyas. Why are they targeting us?” asks Sunita (name changed), a 32-year-old tribal woman who has worked in Latehar for five years.
Close by is the police guest house where Bhukhan was sheltered for some time after Ansari’s murder. His family — wife and two teenaged sons — have been on the move with him since then. The government has offered 24-hour security but his friends advise against it. “It will only bolster the Maoist allegation that he is a police informer,” says a senior member of Abhiyan.
Social activists get threats
Letter issued by CPI(Maoist) south Latehar sub-zonal committee
The above missive translates as:
• Gram Swaraj Abhiyan should stop using forest for farming.
• The death of Niyamat Ansari is just the beginning, members of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan are next.
• Take back all the false cases against innocents implicated in the Niyamat Ansari case.
• Bhukhan Singh, the stooge of Gram Sabha Abhiyan, come to your senses.
• Police and brokers, stop filing cases against innocent people or else there will be bloodbath.
• Punish Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Gokul Vasant and Nand Lal Singh in a Jan Adalat for claiming Niyamat Ansari is innocent.
• Sonia Gandhi’s agent Jean Dreze, come to your senses.
Kunal Majumder is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.
5.1 PUDR CONDEMNS THREAT BEING ISSUED BY CPI (MAOIST)
TO MEMBERS OF GRAM SWARAJ ABHIYAN IN JHARKHAND
PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, DELHI (PUDR)
People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi (PUDR) condemns the threats being issued by the CPI (Maoist) party to members of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and to others investigating and protesting against the killing of Niyamat Ansari at Manika block in Jharkhand.
Niyamat Ansari, the convenor of Manika block unit of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and the MNREGA Support Centre was killed on 2 March this year.
PUDR expresses concern that posters and printed leaflets had appeared in Manika claiming to have been brought out by the CPI(Maoist) threatening to punish Gokul Vasant, Nand Lal, Jean Dreze and Aruna Roy for claiming Niyamat Ansari’s innocence. It also contained a renewed threat to the lives of Bhukan Singh and members of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.
The CPI(Maoist) party has owned up and justified the killing of Ansari by claiming he was involved in corrupt practices. A two member team comprising Gokul Vasant and Nand Lal from Daltonganj have investigated these allegations and declared them to be baseless.
PUDR and many other organisations have condemned the killing and demanded that the CPI(Maoist) hand over the culprits, that they publicly apologise and that an assurance be given that no harm should come to Ansari’s colleague, Bhukan Singh.
PUDR finds this kind of intolerant behaviour by the CPI (Maoist) wholly unacceptable. We urge the CPI(Maoist) to recognize that people have a right to criticize and a right to carry on politics in accordance with their beliefs. Intolerance of people’s rights to question does not pave the way for a just society.
PUDR demands that the CPI (Maoist) withdraw the threat immediately and respect the right of people to form associations as per their conscience.
6. CONTENT UPDATES FROM SACW.NET
FASCISM, MAOISM AND THE DEMOCRATIC LEFT
by Jairus Banaji
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 generalization 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.
WAVE OF VIOLENCE IN KARACHI - JULY 2011
INTERIM STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION IN KARACHI BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF PAKISTAN
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has completed a fact-finding mission in Karachi (July 29-31, 2011) to ascertain the causes of the current wave of violence in the country’s largest metropolis in which heavy losses in life and property have already been caused.
A LETTER TO INDIA’S PRIME MINISTER ON THE IMPORTANCE
OF A ’UNIVERSAL PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM’
July 21, 2011
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Respected Prime Minister,
We are a group of research scholars and student volunteers who have just spent three weeks surveying the Public Distribution System (PDS) around the country. We are writing to share a few thoughts on the National Food Security Act in the light of this experience.
[. . .]
RESISTANCE TO FORCED MARRIAGE IN INDIA: ASYLUM VICTORY IN NEW YORK
Text of decision and order of immigration judge, March 2011
A young woman from Gujarat India fought against her forced marriage. A New York court granted her asylum in March 2011; "[T]he Court finds that Respondent has demonstrated past persecution on account of her membership in the particular social group of Indian women opposed to forced marriage." Text of legal decision attached.
ELECTIONS, DEVELOPMENT AND DEMOCRATISATION IN POST - WAR JAFFNA
by Ahilan Kadirgamar
In the months ahead, the issues of development, demilitarization, devolution and democratisation are bound to return to the North, not only because of the continuing international focus on post-war political reconciliation, but also because of the Northern Provincial Council elections. The Rajapaksa regime’s approach to the Tamil community in the North has been one that pokes at the wounds of a devastated people, and for which the people responded in the ballots with dignity. If there is a larger lesson to be learned from the local government elections in the North, it is that there are limits to the political muscle of party machines and patronage. And this indeed is a victory for democracy in the country.
CONTEMPT FOR LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES:
BLOODSTAINS WILL REMAIN
by Binayak Sen, Ilina Sen
The recent Supreme Court judgment in the Nandini Sundar and Others v. the State of Chhattisgarh (popularly known as the Salwa Judum judgment) case promises to become one of the foundational documents of our democratic polity. Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar are animated by an acute analysis of the overall situation which acts as the context for the lawlessness of the Salwa Judum. The judgment castigates the constitutionality of the governance model in the area ravaged by the Salwa Judum in the strongest terms
INDIA: WHY THE COURT DISBANDED CHHATTISGARH’S SPOS
by Nandini Sundar
cheap and dirty outsourcing of guerilla war, we are told, is the only efficient way of fighting Maoism. The home ministry’s “logic” that “state governments recruit SPOs to counter the advantage that Maoist jan militias have” betrays deep envy of the Maoists. No pretence of being the impartial steel frame of the country, or of apolitical adherence to the rule of law. My militia versus yours. It is precisely against the “institutionalisation of this policing paradigm” that Justice Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar’s recent landmark judgment on Salwa Judum is directed.
ONLINE PETITION TO DEMAND THAT HARVARD END
ITS ASSOCIATION WITH RELIGIOUS EXTREMIST SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY
We the undersigned members of the Harvard community are outraged to learn that Subramanian Swamy, an Indian politician whose recent editorial shows him to be a bigoted promoter of communalism in India, also teaches economics at Harvard University Summer School. We demand that the Harvard administration repudiate Swamy’s remarks and terminate his association with the University.
SAFFRONISATION OF KARNATAKA
by Narendra Nayak
In Karnataka it is these maths and swamis who are ruling the state! The Yaddiyurappa govt. is a tool in their hands. All decisions have to be taken at their level and then passed by the govt. which is only a rubber stamp! The so called cabinet is busy lining their own pockets trying to save their chairs and from the allegations of corruptions etc.
INDIA: KILLINGS, TORTURE AT BANGLADESHI BORDER
A HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH PRESS RELEASE
The government of India should undertake a speedy, fair, and transparent criminal investigation into fresh allegations of killings, torture, and other abuses by the Border Security Force (BSF) at the border with Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch said
WHEN EQUAL PROTECTION MATTERS MOST
by Farah Naqvi, Harsh Mander
The draft Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill 2011, proposed by the NAC, has attracted welcome debate. Any legislative measure, intended to correct a historical wrong, should indeed be subject to the closest scrutiny to improve and strengthen it. For if we get this right it can help realise, far better than we have so far, the constitutional guarantees of equality before the law.
7. URLS OF RECENT CONTENT ON COMMUNALISM WATCH:
Tamil Nadu Religion in the School
Right wing terror: Dangerous link
Right-wingers across the world seem to share a vocabulary of persecution and hate
Mihir Desai on the The Communal and Targeted Violence Bill
Indian Americans Express Alarm at Breivik's Hindutva Nexus
Salil Tripathi on Anders Behring Breivik's Badge from India
Anders Breivick cites N.S. Rajaram the Hindutva laden historian
8. PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT:
INDIA’S ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
Vol. 1: From Ancient Times to the Colonial Period
Vol. 2: Colonialism, Modernity, and the Nation
Mahesh Rangarajan And K. Sivaramakrishnan, Editors
Environmental history in India has generated a rich literature on forests, wildlife, human–animal conflict, tribal rights and commercial degradation, displacement and development, pastoralism and desertification, famine and disease, sedentarism and mobility, wildness and civility, and the ecology versus equity debate.
This reader brings together some of the best and most interesting writing on India’s ecological pasts. It looks at a variety of the country’s regions, landscapes, and arenas as settings for strife or harmony, as topography and ecological fabric, in the process covering a vast historical terrain.
Vol. 1 provides an antidote to the existing historiography, which barely takes notice of the era before 1800. The essays here range from prehistoric India to the middle of the nineteenth century. They provide insights on forest and water disputes, contests over urban and rural space, struggles over water and land, and frictions over natural wealth which have led to a reinterpretation of source materials on early and medieval India.
Vol. 2 shows how colonial rule resulted in ecological change on a new scale altogether. Forests covering over half a million sq km were taken over by 1904 and managed by foresters. Canal construction on a gigantic scale gave British India perhaps more acreage than any other political entity on earth. Similar new forces were at work in relation to the animal world, with species being reclassified as vermin to be hunted down or as game to be selectively shot.
For all who are interested in the diverse and detailed findings of the best scholarship on India’s environment, this two-volume set is essential.
MAHESH RANGARAJAN is Professor of Modern Indian History at the University of Delhi. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, from where he got his PhD. His books include India’s Wildlife History: An Introduction (2001), and (as co-editor) Environmental History as if Nature Existed (2007) as well as Making Conservation Work (2007). He chaired the Elephant Task Force in 2010, is a well-known commentator on politics in the Indian media, and (soon to become) Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.
K. SIVARAMAKRISHNAN is Professor of Anthropology, and Forestry and Environmental Studies, at Yale University. His research covers both historical and contemporary environmental issues in India, as well as development and state formation. His several books include (as co-editor) Ecological Nationalisms: Nature, Livelihoods and Identities in South Asia (2006).
HARDBACK / VOL. 1 472PP, VOL. 2 628PP / RS 1850 FOR SET OF 2 VOLS / ISBN 81-7824-316-4 / 2011
All Permanent Black books can be ordered from
RAM ADVANI BOOKSELLERS
7. INTERNATIONAL :
NEWS OF THE WORLD VS. WIKILEAKS
Only one placed at risk 'the lives of countless innocent individuals.'
by Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2011
How does this year's phone hacking scandal at the now-defunct British tabloid News of the World—owned, I hardly need add, by News Corp., the Journal's parent company—compare with last year's contretemps over the release of classified information by Julian Assange's WikiLeaks and his partners at the New York Times, the Guardian and other newspapers?
At bottom, they're largely the same story.
In both cases, secret information, initially obtained by illegal means, was disseminated publicly by news organizations that believed the value of the information superseded the letter of the law, as well as the personal interests of those whom it would most directly affect. In both cases, fundamental questions about the lengths to which a news organization should go in pursuit of a scoop have been raised. In both cases, a dreadful human toll has been exacted: The British parents of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler, led to the false hope that their child might be alive because some of her voice mails were deleted after her abduction; Afghan citizens, fearful of Taliban reprisals after being exposed by WikiLeaks as U.S. informants.
Both, in short, are despicable instances of journalistic malpractice, for which some kind of price ought to be paid. So why is one a scandal, replete with arrests, resignations and parliamentary inquests, while the other is merely a controversy, with Mr. Assange's name mooted in some quarters for a Nobel Peace Prize?
The easy answer is that the news revealed by WikiLeaks was in the public interest, whereas what was disclosed by News of the World was merely of interest to the public. By this reckoning, if it's a great matter of state, and especially if it's a government secret, it's fair game. Not so if it's just so much tittle-tattle about essentially private affairs.
You can see the attraction of this argument—particularly if, like Mr. Assange, you are trying to fight extradition to Sweden on pending rape charges that you consider unworthy of public notice.
You can also see its attraction to anybody who claims to know what the public interest ought to be and is in a position to do something about it. In June 2006, the New York Times revealed that the Bush administration had a secret—and highly effective—program to monitor thousands of banking transactions in an effort to stop terrorism financing. Several months later, the Times' own public editor argued that the program was entirely legal and that the article should never have been published. The Gray Lady moved on.
But you can also see why the distinction between the Public Interest, loftily defined, and what actually happens to interest the public, not-so-loftily defined, is a piece of rhetorical legerdemain that masks a raw assertion of privilege. Was it in the higher public interest to know, as we learned from WikiLeaks, that Zimbabwe's prime minister and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was privately urging U.S. diplomats to hold firm on sanctions even as he was saying the opposite in public? No. Did the public want to know about it? No. What did this particular WikiLeak achieve? Nothing, except to put Mr. Tsvangirai at material risk of being charged with treason and hanged.
Seen in this light, the damage caused by WikiLeaks almost certainly exceeded what was done by News of the World, precisely because Mr. Assange and his media enablers were targeting bigger—if often more vulnerable—game. The Obama administration went so far as to insist last year that WikiLeaks "[placed] at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals—from journalists to human rights activists to soldiers." Shouldn't there be some accountability, or at least soul-searching, about this, too?
Don't count on it: It would require too much introspection among people whose primary emotional mode is furious, and perpetual, self-righteousness.
As for News of the World, the media has alighted on one of its convenient little narratives, this one about the all-powerful media mogul, his lidless eyes gazing over every corner, closet and cellar of his empire, his obedient minions debasing everything they touch. That this media Sauron has now begged forgiveness of the Dowler family, shut the offending paper down and accepted the resignations of his top lieutenants hardly seems to have made an impression. But as someone noted recently in connection to L'Affaire DSK, few things are as unstoppable—or as prone to error—as a stupid media narrative.
It's probably inevitable that this column will be read in some quarters as shilling for Rupert Murdoch. Not at all: I have nothing but contempt for the hack journalism practiced by some of the Murdoch titles. But my contempt goes double for the self-appointed media paragons who saw little amiss with Mr. Assange and those who made common cause with him, and who now hypocritically talk about decency and standards. Their day of reckoning is yet to come.
Write to bstephens@...
THE BIN LADEN VACCINE
Yes, vaccinations are a CIA plot
July 20th 2011
BACK in 2000 I shared a train cabin from Amsterdam to Munich with an Afghan man who, when he learned I was a journalist, pleaded with me to communicate to the American public that the CIA had to stop destroying his country and rebuild it instead. "They have so much power," I recall him saying. I reacted with the tolerant and condescending attitude of the Western liberal. The real sources of Afghan misery, obviously, were tribal, political and religious rivalry, and while it was tempting for people with lower levels of political understanding to blame a foreign mastermind for their troubles, such conspiratorial thinking was actually part of the problem in the Mideast, as in Eastern Europe. Right?
Afghanistan and Pakistan are where liberalism goes to die. In the years since, it's become increasingly clear that my traveling companion was at least partially right: when trying to explain a social or political event in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it's entirely rational to assume that it stems from a plot by an intelligence agency, quite likely the CIA. The sickest confirmation of this point was the recent revelation that the CIA ran an operation to verify Osama bin Laden's location by gathering DNA samples through a false-flag hepatitis B vaccination programme. As James Fallows notes, American officials are defending this operation, not denying it.
This is despicable and stupid.
All over the world, poor people resist vaccination campaigns in the belief that they are part of a plot by powerful authorities to take advantage of them. The CIA operation in Pakistan turns these fears from crazy conspiracy theories into accurate and rational beliefs. But what's really tragic is that Pakistan happens to be at the epicenter of a crucial ongoing vaccination programme: the worldwide campaign to eliminate polio, which has been hampered by opposition from Muslim clerics. As it happens, the only countries in the world where polio is still endemic are Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and "persistent pockets of polio transmission in northern India, northern Nigeria and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are the current focus of the polio eradication initiative." In Nigeria, beginning in 2003, Muslim religious leaders hamstrung polio vaccination campaigns by spreading rumours that the shots are actually sterilisation drugs, part of a conspiracy by Westerners to reduce African birth-rates. At a minimum, several hundred Nigerian children per year contracted polio in subsequent years because of the resulting failure of vaccination campaigns. By 2007,Taliban clerics in Pakistan joined the anti-vaccine campaigns. Resistance also developed in extremely poor regions of Uttar Pradesh in India. To counter both religious resistance and high levels of "misconceptions" among the extremely poor, hard-to-reach populations where polio is concentrated, World Health Organisation-backed health campaigns engaged in outreach to local religious authorities, according to a WHO report.
In 2004, Muslim religious (2697) and community (1892) leaders were asked to participate in the polio campaign, resulting in 77% and 79%, respectively, of these leaders supporting the programme’s efforts to convince resistant caregivers. They succeeded in 87% of cases in their coverage area, reaching 100% in some districts. This was a critical contribution to the reduction of the immunity gap among Muslim and Hindu children in Uttar Pradesh’s western region. The number of Muslim children who had not received at least two polio drops was reduced from 5% in 2002 to nearly 0% in 2004. Engagement of religious leaders to counter refusals due to religious reasons or misperceptions has yielded similar results in Pakistan’s north-west frontier province. Data from 2007 show that, after involving religious leaders in polio eradication activities, coverage of children in families refusing due to religious reasons increased from 13% in August to 17% in October, and coverage of families refusing due to misconceptions increased from 37% to 50% in the same period. When properly engaged, religious and community leaders become strong community allies to eradicate polio.
Terrific. How many of those Muslim religious leaders in Pakistan will continue to support vaccination programmes, now that it's clear that such programmes may in fact be CIA operations designed to smoke out Taliban or al-Qaeda operatives so they can be taken out in drone missile strikes?
If the fake vaccination campaign was a necessary part of the operation to "take out" Osama bin Laden, it would have been better to leave Mr bin Laden in. One more ailing ex-terrorist holed up in a ratty house in remote Pakistan, watching old videos of himself; this was not worth jeopardising global vaccination campaigns. In fact, though, nobody will be able to say whether the vaccination DNA intelligence was critical to the assassination effort. Like any other programme, it was one more effort among many, launched by officials who decided the probability of producing some information useful for their organisation's priority goal outweighed the nebulous possibility of doing some damage to public goals that were not their specific responsibility and had no constituency within their organisation. In that sense it's similar to what happened atanother large organisation concerned with intelligence-gathering. And it's equally inexcusable.
LAURIE PENNY: CALLING BREIVIK MAD LETS THE FAR-RIGHT OFF THE HOOK
Few wish to examine the possibility that the killer may simply have taken to a violent extreme ideas that, while hateful, are current in mainstream political debate
The Independent (UK), 29 July 2011
The language of lunacy is political. When I first heard that Islamist terrorists had slaughtered up to 80 innocent people in Norway, I was at a gathering of left-wing activists – the sort of people who are ordinarily supposed to question knee-jerk assumptions about political butchery and the Islamic faith. Very few of us did. "It's because they reprinted that Danish cartoon," someone said, reading from the newswires. We nodded solemnly. We did not think to ask whether the ethnicity and ideology of the killers had yet been confirmed. And nobody used the word "madman".
The next day, even as The Sun's headline screeched that "Al-Qa'ida" had launched "Norway's 7/7", it emerged that everyone's first guess had been wildly wrong. Not only is the man responsible for the monstrous attacks in Utøya and Oslo a white, Christian European, he is also a fanatical anti-Islamist, claiming common ground and possible direct links with far-right groups
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