South Asia Citizens Wire - 5 Oct 2012 - No. 2754
1. Bangladesh: Mob attack in Ramu on Buddhist shrines: media commentary and citizen groups response, statements
- Ramu massacre a blot on nation’s conscience (Edit, Daily Star)
- Nip intolerance in the bud (Mahfuz Anam)
- BNPS Protests Communal Attacks on Buddhists (news report + related URLS)
- Bangladesh: Minority communities must be protected and arsonists face justice (Amnesty International)
2. Pakistan: Rule of the ‘danda’ (Aasim Sajjad Akhtar)
3. Sri Lanka: The FUTA strike and the survival of democratic dissent (Kumar David)
4. India - Gujarat: Secular groups condemn violence by miscreants in Old Ahmedabad
5. India: Fear is the way to voters’ hearts (A N Siddiqui) '
§. India: The Kinship of Impunity (Mukul Dube)
7. India: 1,528 victims of fake encounters in Manipur: PIL (Dhananjay Mahapatra)
8. Madhavan Palat’s Essay on Alexander Solzhenitsyn
9. UK: Whose Archive? Whose History? Destruction of Archives at Ruskin College, Oxford (Hilda Kean)
Memorial to a Genocide - Gulberg Gujarat 2002-2012 (New Delhi, 9 - 13 Oct 2012)
1. BANGLADESH: MOB ATTACK IN RAMU ON BUDDHIST SHRINES: MEDIA COMMENTARY AND CITIZEN GROUPS RESPONSE, STATEMENTS
sacw.net - 4 October 2012 | http://www.sacw.net/article2896.html
RAMU MASSACRE A BLOT ON NATION'S CONSCIENCE
GO ALL OUT TO HEAL THE VICTIMS' WOUND
Editorial - The Daily Star, October 3, 2012
The facts coming out from our on-the-spot investigations into the Ramu desecration of sacred religious sites, a prized part of our heritage and the symbol of communal harmony are more disturbing and insidious than the first reports indicated on Monday. What was confined to the realm of speculation and came to be known in fragmentary and piecemeal manner have now fallen into a pattern. Thanks to information gathered firsthand and presented as a connective narrative, an unprecedented act of subversion has come to light. Penetrating the smokescreen around the circumstances, our findings reveal an entirely unprovoked, premeditated, well-orchestrated operation by a gang in a pillaging and burning orgy. What is however left to be unravelled is the identity of those who masterminded the worst subversive and unprecedented desecration since independence.
Particularly inexplicable and dubious appears to be the role of the police. Despite being tipped off with the news of the brewing storm, the lack of police initiative was utterly inexplicable. Indeed, as we are now aware, residents had appealed to Ramu police chief to take preventive measures as tension was building from September 29, but it was largely ignored. We are aghast at the failure of intelligence when the surrounding ambiance had been tensed up already not to have taken adequate precautions to protect such important religious sites. That a piece of information planted in the social network facebook got displayed and yet the police had no inkling of the scheme being afoot is simply unacceptable. Had pre-emptive measures been taken in the early hours of the rapidly escalating situation, perhaps the unfolding disaster could have been contained.
Our heads hang in shame. We apologise to the community as our heart goes out in sympathy for the victims.
We believe the home minister has his job cut out. Even though initial signs were to the contrary, there should be no politcisation of the issue because it would not only derail investigation but also divert attention away from the culprits. As we must be earnest in our endeavours to heal the mental scars of the Buddhist community, in truth one cannot see any redemption without identifying the ringleaders and perpetrators and meting out severely deterrent punishment to them.
o o o
NIP INTOLERANCE IN THE BUD
POLITICAL BLAME-GAME WILL ONLY STRENGTHEN EXTREMISTS
by Mahfuz Anam
There should be no doubt in anybody's mind as to the enormity and gravity of the meaning of what has happened at Ramu and in the adjoining areas. Never before in our history have places of worship of a religious minority been ravaged on such a large scale and in so deliberate a manner. Twelve Buddhist temples and more than 50 houses were burnt down and vandalised in a pre-planned manner. And these people are among the most peaceful, docile and non-violent that we have.
Just imagine the feelings of the Buddhist community and of the monks seeing their religious books and Holy Texts torn to bits and burnt, evidence of which was lying all around the destroyed temples for all to see. The best way to understand the agony of our Buddhist compatriots is to imagine how we would have felt if our Holy Book had been desecrated in any manner.
As The Daily Star and other print and electronic media reports make it clear, the whole tragic event was premeditated and carefully planned.
The natural question is: Who did it and for what purpose? Is it just to create unrest and tension in a disturbed region of our country? Is it to embarrass the government? Is it just to spoil the image of Bangladesh? Is it only to create misunderstanding between the majority Muslims and the Buddhists? The purpose, in our view, is far more sinister.
It is to weaken us as a people, as a country and as a culture. It is to hit at the very ethos of Bangladesh. It has been an attack on the very foundations of our state, our values and the principles of our Liberation War. And it has been done through using the religious sentiments of the majority Muslims.
It started with a posting on the social media Facebook. In the account of Uttam Kumar Burua, 25, an unknown Buddhist man, someone 'tagged' a picture that was insulting to the Muslim Holy Book. Facebook works on developing and enlarging the circle of online 'friends' who share messages, pictures, etc., between themselves. This 'circle' of friends grows exponentially as 'friends' of 'friends' and their 'friends' all become part of an ever widening group that grows all the time. In this scenario, anyone within a 'circle of friends' can 'tag' a picture on another's account. In fact, that is how this social media links people.
That is how someone 'tagged' a picture that was insulting to us, the Muslims.
As it is evident that the whole attack on the Buddhists was premeditated, pre-planned and quite meticulously organised, it is reasonable to conclude that even the 'tagging' of the picture in the account of a Buddhist youth was part of the plan. Otherwise how so many people could come to know about it in such a short time? We have reports that the offensive picture was sent from one mobile phone to another using Bluetooth technology and through the internet.
The situation raises serious questions about the role, mindset and capabilities of the law enforcement agencies. The police inaction in the early hours of the tragedy, when prompt action could have prevented the burning down of 12 temples, raises doubts about their efficiency, and even their intentions. Can we really brush aside the possibility of local police being complicit? What about our intelligence agencies? We spend hundreds of crores of taka on them, and often see how they harass ordinary citizens over their slightest of 'mistakes'; and yet when it comes to such serious incidents of national security they fail us totally.
What about the ruling party's front organisations, some of whose leaders and activists were seen in the early processions that were inciting people to attack the Buddhists and their temples? The opposition MP was conspicuous by his absence from the scene. Given our propensity to try to cash in on any religious issue they could have well nigh participated in these activities.
What makes the situation highly complex and worrisome is the presence of a large number of Rohingyas in the area. Given the background of the movement for a Rakhaine state on the Myanmar side of the border and their possible and potential links with international and regional extremist groups, this might well emerge as a national security issue for Bangladesh.
What is of utmost importance at this stage is national unity. We must all work together to prevent our state from being weakened, our national purpose for a democratic polity being distracted, our core values of religious tolerance being subverted, our culture of celebrating diversity being destroyed and the principles of our Liberation War of establishing a multi-religious, multi-ethnic democratic state being defeated.
But at this very crucial stage we are, regrettably, witnessing a politicisation of this national threat. No sooner did the Buddhists have had their temples burnt and their houses gutted our political leaders went on a quick march to blame their opponents. The first salvo was fired by our newly appointed home minister alleging, without the slightest shred of evidence, the possible involvement of the local MP who, surprise, surprise, belonged to the BNP. The BNP secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul, soon accused the ruling party of being involved, followed by the BNP chairperson parroting the same. Then both parties' propaganda machinery went into overdrive and the blame game began to be played in full swing. All this while the extremists were safely nestled somewhere and were having a good laugh at our expense.
It will be suicidal to politicise this very serious threat to the religious harmony that characterizes Bangladesh before the world. We repeat, never in our history has such a massive attack been carried out on the minorities. Only a few days ago we saw massive unrest in Rangamati area that flared up because of an incident involving some boy talking to some girl of a different ethnic group.
When the situation is so fragile that minor inter-personal incidents have the potential of becoming inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts, politicising these issues is a sure formula for disaster and a sure chance for the culprits to escape and repeat their heinous crimes.
Will our political leaders listen? Or will they be so overtaken by mutual hatred and so consumed by their thirst for power that they will ignore such a grave threat to what Bangladesh should, must and does, mostly, stand for?
READ MORE AT/ http://www.sacw.net/article2896.html
2. PAKISTAN: RULE OF THE ‘DANDA’
by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
AS Pakistan’s love-hate relationship with the mythical ‘rule of law’ unfolds, the very real rule of the danda continues to manifest itself in virtually every little nook and cranny of society, unnamed if not unnoticed.
Every thana and katcheri in this country — the very institutions that purport to uphold the rule of law (while epitomising the rule of the danda) — is a theatre of suffering for the millions of minions who pose as the state’s citizens.
The marketplace for goods and services of all kinds, including human labour, is mediated by a healthy dose of coercive force, or, at the very least, the threat of it. In our homes, physical and emotional abuse is commonplace, justified sometimes in the name of tradition or religion, and sometimes not justified at all.
While too much is made of the spectacular political violence that enters our homes every day via cable TV, it is difficult not to sit up and take notice of the full force of the state unleashed in Lyari, in much of Balochistan and in large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. Here too the rule of the danda poses as the rule of law; it is in the name of reestablishing law and order that the state undertakes its unending military operations.
While it is true that the most brazen examples of the rule of the danda feature the state’s security apparatus as chief protagonist, I want to emphasise that there is something much deeper at work here, an authoritarian ethic that is evident across much of our social terrain.
3. SRI LANKA: THE FUTA STRIKE AND THE SURVIVAL OF DEMOCRATIC DISSENT
by Kumar David
If the FUTA strike is crushed it will resemble the crushing blow that JR inflicted on the working class and independent political activity in July 1980. I do not want to over dramatise, it is only in retrospect that we can make secure historical judgements, but it is possible that this is one of the final chances the nation will get to throw back the executive power of an authoritarian menace. The state is primed for the offensive, but public opinion, the working class and trade unions, and the educated classes and left opinion are half asleep, but fortunately, also half awake.
4. INDIA - GUJARAT: SECULAR GROUPS CONDEMN VIOLENCE BY MISCREANTS IN OLD AHMEDABAD
Thursday 4 October 2012
We are shocked at yesterday’s [3 October 2012] incidents in the old city [Ahmedabad] and we strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by miscreants during yesterday’s protest rally. Attacking and burning of vehicles, police personnel and the only women police station in the old city is highly condemnable and unaccepted behaviour. While every citizen has a right to protest peacefully indulging in violence is a criminal act and it only helps the divisive forces.
The Muslim community has struggled for ten years peacefully against the atrocities which were perpetrated against them in 2002 and it is an insult to the peaceful struggle of the of the ordinary people who have fought within the norms of the law and Indian constitution without ever resorting to violence.
Coming on the next day of Gandhi Jayanti, when everyone is celebrating Mahatma’s message of non-violence, it could have been done by only those who do not believe in the teachings of the Mahatma.
While there have been protests across the globe against the film in question, they all happened earlier in the year, when a 15 minute clip was released on you tube in June 2012 made by amateurs in 5 days in a studio in California.
Senior members of various sects from the Muslim community had appealed against the bandh and procession. The community does not have a history of defying the appeals from senior religious leaders.
It is very clear that the protest yesterday was instigated by certain people with vested interests, with the help of certain miscreant elements from the Muslim community, who have been wooed over the past year.
We have a hunch that with elections already announced and no other way of creating trouble probably this is a route which has been taken by those who want to polarise the voters.
We demand a magisterial enquiry into the whole incident and a stern action against those who participated in the violence and all those who are responsible for it .
Common people everywhere in Gujarat want peace and harmony and they dream of a society where interests of the marginalised are kept in mind as enshrined in the Indian constitution. We appeal to all communities across Gujarat to remain vigil against the vested interests so that similar situation is not created anywhere else in the coming months.
Released on behalf of:
Dev Desai - Anhad Yuva Manch
Fr. Cedric Prakash - Prashant
Gagan Sethi - Centre for Social Justice
Gautam Thakker - PUCL
Hanif Lakdawala - Sanchetna
Indu Kumar Jani – Naya Marg
Mallika Sarabhai - Darpana
Manan Trivedi - Anhad
Manish Dhakad - Anhad
Manisha Trivedi - Anhad
Mahila Manch Nafisa Barot - Utthan
Prakash N Shah - Nirikshak
Shabnam Hashmi - Anhad
Sheba George – SAHRWARU, NAWO
Sofiya Khan - Safar
Zakia Soman – BMMA
5. INDIA: FEAR IS THE WAY TO VOTERS’ HEARTS
by A N Siddiqui
Fear is strategically deployed as a powerful mobilising political strategy to keep the support of the minorities, particularly Muslims. The parties belonging to the “Secular Camp” give some token benefits and sops to the minorities just before elections to keep them in good humour but do not try to genuinely address or alleviate their socio-economic problem. They know in their hearts that the politics of fear will do the trick instead, writes A N Siddiqui
6. India: The Kinship of Impunity
by Mukul Dube
(sacw.net - 3 october 2012)
A Supreme Court decision of 26 September 2012 was reported in the newspapers in a manner that suggested wishful thinking. Headlines are necessarily abbreviated, and those in this instance said that the SC had sent a message to "the police" about branding people on the basis of religion. The message, in fact, was specifically to the Gujarat Police: "District Superintendent of Police and Inspector General of Police and all others entrusted with the task of operating the law must not do anything which allows its misuse and abuse and [must] ensure that no innocent person has the feeling of sufferance only because ’My name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist.’”
7. India: 1,528 victims of fake encounters in Manipur: PIL
The Times of India
by Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Oct 2, 2012, 01.43AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday took serious note of a PIL alleging that there had been apathy on the Centre and Manipur government's part to bring to book the guilty among armed forces and state police, which allegedly were responsible for 1,528 extra-judicial killings in last 30 years.
The impact of the magnitude of extra-judicial killings of innocent citizens in Manipur was visible on a bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Ranajana P Desai, which had been instrumental in getting the CBI to go full throttle and unearth larger conspiracy behind two such fake encounters in Gujarat, where alleged criminals Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati were killed by police officers.
The bench took judicial note of the PIL by NGOs — Extra-judicial Execution Victims families Association of Manipur through Neena N and Human Rights Alert through Babloo Loitongbam - and issued notices to the Centre and the Ibobi Singh government. It asked the Centre and state to file their responses by November 5.
Asking petitioner's counsel senior advocate Colin Gonsalves to make other required officials party to the PIL, the court requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to respond to the macabre incidents and appointed advocate Menaka Guruswami as amicus curiae to assist the court in the case.
The petition gave details of each of the 1,528 people killed in fake encounter since 1979. It said though the SC upheld the constitutional validity of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 15 years ago, it had issued certain dos and don'ts to the security forces. But, these guidelines were seldom followed, it alleged.
"By way of example, petitioner cites details of 10 cases where eyewitnesses exist, but the killings had been justified as encounters with militants," the petitioner alleged. Even though the PIL detailed the killings by the security forces and police, it did not reflect on the killings resorted to by militants in the state, which could have resulted in eliminating an equal number of persons in the state.
"In almost all cases, young boys attending to their daily chores were picked up randomly by security forces and killed in cold blood. In several of these cases eye-witnesses, parents and neighbours were present when the victims were gunned down," the petitioner said.
"What are even more frightening are the breakdown of the criminal justice system and a complete denial of the protection of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. There is not a single instance where the perpetrators of the heinous crimes - torturing and killing of young in cold blood - have been brought to justice," the petitioner said.
"Out of the 1,528 killings, petitions relating to 20 murders were taken to the Guwahati High Court where these are still pending. The cries of anguish had fallen on deaf ears," it said and alleged that not a single investigation or departmental inquiry against the alleged perpetrator had been taken to logical end.
The petitioner said in a functioning democracy eyewitness accounts would be immediately acted upon leading to registration of murder cases, but "in Manipur such FIRs are not accepted at the police station, no investigation is done and no disciplinary action is taken".
INTERNATIONAL / Miscellaneous
8. MADHAVAN PALAT’S ESSAY ON ALEXANDER SOLZHENITSYN
In the well-established tradition of the Russian intelligentsia, Solzhenitsyn reflected on Russia’s past, her relation with the West, and the crisis of modern civilization; but he departed from that tradition in significant ways.
9. UK: WHOSE ARCHIVE? WHOSE HISTORY? DESTRUCTION OF ARCHIVES AT RUSKIN COLLEGE, OXFORD
by Hilda Kean
(History Workshop Online)
Sign the petition at Care2 now to stop further vandalism: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/120/...
I remember being impressed by the diary of John Ward, a nineteenth century weaver from Lancashire, who had written daily accounts in a cash-book of the effects of the cotton famine caused by the American Civil War. There would be readers who may have thought these entries trivial: ‘A clear frosty day but now tonight is raining. I have joined the Low Moor Mechanics’ Institute and Reading-room. It is a penny per week, so I will see a daily paper regular.’i But the students whom I then taught at Ruskin College (and I) thought otherwise. These tiny glimpses and traces of a past evoked another world. What added to the interest were the circumstances by which the diary had been handed down to us. This possibly unique diary of a working weaver from the 1860s had been retrieved in 1947 from a heap of rubbish by a labourer who was feeding the furnace at the Clitheroe destructor. While someone had seen fit to discard it, another, also a working man, had realised its value. Without the binman’s intervention, the wider social history community would never have known that the diary – and, of course, its author – even existed.
Citizens for Justice and Peace & Jamia Millia Islamia
MEMORIAL TO A GENOCIDE - GULBERG GUJARAT 2002-2012
Missing Person’s Wall
OCTOBER 9-13, 2012
M.F. Hussain Art Gallery, jamia millia islamia, New Delhi
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