South Asia Citizens Wire - 10 February 2013 - No. 2770
Bangladesh: The Meaning of "Shahbag Square" (Naeem)
- Second ICT verdict and Quader Mollah’s victory sign (Editorial New Age - 6 Feb 2013)
- Shahriar Kabir: Impunity for 1971 war crimes bred Islamic militancy in Bangladesh
- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Statement in solidarity for Leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami facing war crimes charges
Pakistan: Mobarak Haider: A society at war with itself
India: Spectacle As Reality (Mukul Dube)
Public Interest Cartoon by Amul India's Milk Coop in Defence of Kashmiri Girls Band facing Ire of the Religious Right
Eqbal Ahmad's Review Article on the Bhuttos in London Review of Books - June 1998
Reconciliation in Sri Lanka (Anuradha Chenoy)
Meredith Tax: Double Bind - tied up in knots on the left
India: PMANE's Letter to Rahul Gandhi
India: The new sexual security regime (Ratna Kapur)
India: Life And Death In Annawadi (Jan Breman)
India: PUDR questions secretive hanging of Afzal Guru - Press Release
India: We strongly oppose the cold-blooded execution of Afzal Guru in our name
India: Concerned Citizens Statement on the Execution of Afzal Guru
India: PUCL Statement on the Hanging of Afzal Guru
India: The Hanging of Afzal Guru - Statement by Committee For The Release of Political Prisoners
India - Kashmir: Flower Power - Editorial, The Telegraph
India: selected posts on Communalism Watch
Books of Note: Reason And Medicine: - Art and Science of Healing from Antiquity to Modern Times by Daya Varma
Fifty Years since ‘The Feminine Mystique’ (Suzanne Weiss)
The Philosopher and the Terrorist: When Sartre Met RAF Leader Andreas Baader
BANGLADESH: THE MEANING OF "SHAHBAG SQUARE"
Although I do not support the calls for “hanging,” I believe this is a mass phenomenon parallel to Jahanara Imam's famous gono adalot which inspired our generation in high school days. It is formally also a new phenomenon (at least temporally) because majority of the people in Shahbag were not even born, or were in their child stage, when gono adalot happened. I am opposed to the death penalty, no matter who it is. My position does not change when it is the dreaded rajakars. I believe even war criminals deserve a fair trial (something we have so far not managed) and they should receive life sentences. Therefore I cannot call for “fa(n)shi,” even for dreaded war criminal Kader Molla.
BANGLADESH: SECOND ICT VERDICT QUADER MOLLAH’S VICTORY SIGN (EDITORIAL IN NEW AGE)
SHAHRIAR KABIR: IMPUNITY FOR 1971 WAR CRIMES BRED ISLAMIC MILITANCY IN BANGLADESH
EGYPT'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY FOR LEADERS OF BANGLADESH JAMAAT-E-ISLAMI FACING WAR CRIMES CHARGES
PAKISTAN: MOBARAK HAIDER: A SOCIETY AT WAR WITH ITSELF
War is a tragedy but a society at war with itself and everything around, with no objective and no remorse is more than a tragedy; it is a total disasterThe professional Muslim Ulema of Pakistan have influenced our thinking so much that we see everything in religious terms. We keep a keen record of “atrocities against Muslims” but we ignore the enemy within who hides behind Islam. Earlier, we used to see two centres of evil: India and Israel but with time they have increased to include America (...)
INDIA: SPECTACLE AS REALITY
by Mukul Dube
I find myself in a state of mixed bewilderment and despair. I try to keep abreast of what happens in my part of the world, and what do I see? In Tamil Nadu a motion picture, part of the entertainment industry, becomes the centre of people's universe. In the west, an intellectual says something to a small gathering and that causes tremors across the land. Neither of these provocations would have been nearly so effective when I was a young man. This seems to me the (...)
PUBLIC INTEREST CARTOON BY AMUL INDIA'S MILK PRODUCERS COOPERATIVE IN DEFENCE OF KASHMIRI GIRLS BAND FACING IRE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT
This cartoon by Amul appeared in the Indian newspapers on the 6th of January 2013
EQBAL AHMAD'S REVIEW ARTICLE ON THE BHUTTOS IN LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS - JUNE 1998
The Terrorist Prince: Life and Death of Murtaza Bhutto by Raja Anwar, translated by Khalid Hasan Verso, 254 pp, £16.00, January 1997, ISBN 1 85984 886 9 Memoirs of a Bystander: A Life in Diplomacy by Iqbal Akhund Oxford, 500 pp, £15.99, June 1998, ISBN 0 19 577736 0 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pakistan by Rafi Raza Oxford, 420 pp, £15.95, April 1998, ISBN
RECONCILIATION IN SRI LANKA
by Anuradha Chenoy
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will have its annual review in March. Many countries are likely to face the review of their internal rights situations. The United States has taken the decision to place a procedural resolution against Sri Lanka on the situation of Tamils, post the conflict. The country had after all faced 37 years of ethnic conflict and bloodshed. The end of the war was particularly gruesome since many civilians and surrendering militia were allegedly killed and women raped. Instead of using their victory to reassure and reconcile with the Tamil ethnic minorities, the Sri Lankan government pursues triumphalism and is increasingly intolerant towards any dissent. President Rajapaksa's latest volte face is his statement that the Tamils will not get autonomy. Will India support the US resolution or will it give in to Sri Lankan pressure
MEREDITH TAX: DOUBLE BIND - TIED UP IN KNOTS ON THE LEFT
Instead of sanitizing the Muslim right as a way of fighting racism in the North, Meredith Tax argues that the left should develop a strategy of solidarity with democrats, trade unionists, religious and sexual minorities, and feminists struggling in the Global South against both neo-liberalism and fundamentalism.
INDIA: PMANE'S LETTER TO RAHUL GANDHI
Greetings! We are writing on behalf of several millions of people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala who have been waging a peaceful and nonviolent struggle for almost a quarter century against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP). We have intensified our struggle since August 2011 with indefinite hunger strikes, relay fasts, massive marches, siege protests and so on. And the Tamil Nadu police have registered more than 325 cases including ‘sedition,' ‘waging war on the Indian State' and on other such serious sections with 5,296 named accused and 2,21,483 unnamed accused at the Koodankulam police station alone. This is a history of sorts in our independent India.
INDIA: THE NEW SEXUAL SECURITY REGIME
by Ratna Kapur
The government has largely disregarded the focus on rights, and used the establishment of a security regime to further regulate sexual conduct, rather than liberate women.
INDIA: LIFE AND DEATH IN ANNAWADI
Jan Breman on Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Close-quarters chronicle of life in a Mumbai slum-settlement.
INDIA: PUDR QUESTIONS SECRETIVE HANGING OF AFZAL GURU - PRESS RELEASE
PUDR today strongly reaffirms its opposition to the inhuman, brutal and arbitrary provision of capital punishment. The secretive hanging of Mohd. Afzal Guru today goes further to show how it is unfair, unjust and can be carried out for narrow political benefit of those in power.
INDIA: WE STRONGLY OPPOSE THE COLD-BLOODED EXECUTION OF AFZAL GURU IN OUR NAME
(Resolution adopted at the Second Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture, 9th February 2013)
INDIA: CONCERNED CITIZENS STATEMENT ON THE EXECUTION OF AFZAL GURU
We, concerned citizens from different parts of India, are shocked by the secretive manner of the execution of Afzal Guru who was accused in the Parliament attack case and condemn the continued use of death penalty.
INDIA: PUCL STATEMENT ON THE HANGING OF AFZAL GURU
The tearing hurry with which Afzal Guru was hanged, accompanied by the flouting of all established norms by not giving his family their legal right to meet him before taking him to the gallows, clearly indicates that there were political considerations behind taking this step.
INDIA: THE HANGING OF AFZAL GURU - STATEMENT BY COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
The CRPP condemns strongly the illegal execution of Mohd. Afzal Guru. The central home minister and the home secretary have gone on record saying that every procedure has been followed in the case of Afzal Guru. None of his family members are aware of this decision of the Government of India. Nor do the lawyers of Afzal Guru.
INDIA - KASHMIR: FLOWER POWER - EDITORIAL, THE TELEGRAPH
(6 January 2013)
The all girls’ band from Kashmir has shut shop and no amount of entreaties is likely to make it change its mind. As young entrants to the music scene, the teenagers had probably readied themselves to face the ugliness of competition, but not the fury of the opprobrium that was heaped on them. They have been accused of bringing shame not only to their families but also to the whole of Kashmiri society by going against what is believed to be the sharia’s prescriptions. Like girls elsewhere in the country, they have been forced to become standard bearers of morality for a society that does not know how to deal with change. The fact that they belong to Kashmir perhaps makes their story more poignant because here they also have had to contend with an administration which does not know its mind. After haranguing them with his support on Twitter, the chief minister of the state has declared, in not so many words, that he can neither be expected to displease a mufti by condemning the fatwa brought against the girls nor be held responsible for any decision taken by the band members, even if it means the folding up of the band in the face of the onslaught. In a state where the administration cannot ensure the safety of its employees or members of the civil society who pledge to work with the government, the girls cannot be blamed for not trusting the chief minister with their lives. So after deciding to withhold public performances, they are believed to have gone further to disband their group in order to assuage the hurt sentiments of the moral guardians of the society that claims them as its members.
In other words, the girls have been put into a straitjacket. They have been segregated not only from the mainstream youth of the country for their sin of belonging to a disputed region but also forced to fit it in with a culture that thinks nothing of victimizing them for their gender. And all this has been done in the name of upholding a religious and regional identity that has never been more alien to Kashmir. A land made famous by its women minstrels such as Lal Ded and its syncretic culture, Kashmir is itself being straitjacketed into a suffocating puritanism it has never identified itself with.
INDIA: SELECTED POSTS ON COMMUNALISM WATCH
At protest after Afzal Guru's hanging: Delhi police protected goons in saffron and detained us instead
India: Religious orthodoxy bars the route to women’s emancipation
India: Hindu Far Right attacking peaceful protest against Afzal Guru's assasination ( Photo from The Hindu)
Condemnation of Hate Speech by Praveen Togadia
Video Clips Showing Police Run Riot in Dhule
Modi in Delhi - Biased Media Reporting (Mukul Dube)
India: BJP Leader At the Kumbh Mela with Religious leaders Talks of the Ram Temple
From Nisha Pahuja's film 'World Before Her' - from Beauty Boot Camp to Durga Vahini fundamentalists
Against Fundamentalists on Both Sides of the Border - Image by Laal Band in Pakistan
BOOKS OF NOTE:
REASON AND MEDICINE: ART AND SCIENCE OF HEALING FROM ANTIQUITY TO MODERN TIMES
by Daya Varma
Subjects: Gender and women’s studies, History and archaeology, Social studies
Tags: History, Medicine
Pub. Date January 2013
Pages xii, 352 pages
₨. 500 / $25.00
There is no such thing as Chinese, Hindu, Islamic or European physics or chemistry. Why then are there distinct schools of medicine (Ayurvedic, Chinese, Unani, Homeopathic, etc.)?
What has been the role of witchcraft in the history of healing?
What has been the contribution of women in healing and medicine – in antiquity and in the modern world?
Why has the materialist outlook been so important for the development of modern medicine?
Why do other schools of medicine survive in the modern age?
Is ancient Greek medicine the only heritage of modern medicine?
What have been the Islamic contributions to science and medicine?
What has been the political economy of medicine under capitalism?
How did the development of capitalism lead to advances in medicine and health care?
Why does medical research today pay great attention to diseases of the rich and of the developed countries than to diseases that affect the majority in developing countries?
What is the role of pharmaceutical giants in making health care inaccessible?
Why is the expansion of a universal public health care system so important?
What constitutes medical ethics?
FIFTY YEARS SINCE ‘THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE’
by Suzanne Weiss
(rabble.ca - February 6, 2013)
Fifty years ago, on February 13, 1963, the publication of US writer and activist Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique sparked a new awakening in the thinking of women across North America.
Friedan denounced the repression women suffered in the aftermath of World War II, when they were forced out of wartime jobs and convinced to accept the role of keepers of the home.
Profiteers of the market launched an unrelenting but subtle propaganda campaign to venerate women as wife and mother. This role, Friedan said, was the “feminine mystique”.
This domestic existence became, Friedan wrote, “a religion, a pattern by which all women must now live or deny their femininity”. In submitting to this concept of womanhood, women gave up their self-respect, recognition of their talents and abilities, and — most importantly — their identities. Fundamentally, Friedan said, this was a scam to sell more consumer goods to women, who were to be the major purchasers for home and family.
The middle-class women living in their complacent homes, Friedan explains, found it impossible to adjust to them because of their narrow sphere of existence. They were very unhappy and dissatisfied, but they were unable to identify their dilemma — which Friedan called, “The problem with no name.”
I was 22-years-old when Friedan’s book came out. I quickly bought a copy and read it with excitement.
True, I was already for women’s rights and did not orient to a life as wife and mother. Also, she didn’t talk about how the feminine mystique was related to segregation against Blacks or laws against women’s reproductive rights, issues so important to my generation. And her focus was on educated, middle-class women — not my milieu at all.
But what she wrote rang a bell. I recalled my father, in the late 1950s, berating me about my role as a woman in society. “For females to be anything other than nurturer, wife and mother is unnatural,” he would roar. The conflict went on for years and caused me a lot of grief.
Friedan’s book told me that my teenage problem was not personal; it reflected pressure on women right across the society.
My family had suffered from the McCarthy witch-hunt against “reds” in the 1950s and the Cold War. These threats hung heavy over the future of young people, who became known as the “silent generation”. I saw a parallel here. McCarthyism took aim against freedom of speech and association; the feminine mystique bore down on women’s freedom to be themselves.
A year after Friedan’s book appeared, I read an article by the socialist anthropologist Evelyn Reed that told me more about the link of the feminine mystique and right-wing ideology.
The program of pushing women back in the home was the very one that Hitler promoted in the 1930s with his “Three K’s: Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, cooking, church),” Reed explained. This same package was now being sold to American women.
It was progressive middle-class women in North America, Reed wrote, who “led an inspiring ‘feminist’ struggle for women’s rights in the previous two centuries. Out of those battles, they won the right to higher education, participation in production, professional careers, independent ownership of property and the vote.”
The history of these pioneer fighters for women’s rights were given the deep-six, Reed explained. “Fighters for women’s rights were portrayed as ‘embittered sex-starved spinsters’ incapable of fulfilling their ‘femininity’ as wives and mothers.”
These women had been inspired and “spirited women” who had the “unforgivable traits” of “enjoying their participation in the struggle for social change,” Reed said.
The feminine mystique had set a “pattern of behaviour and aspiration” for working-class housewives, Reed said. Working women thought they could have a better life as a full-time housekeepers and mothers. But now Friedan’s book was promoting a new rise of feminism.
When I joined the US Socialist Workers Party in 1959, I read Frederick Engels’ Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Through it I understood how women’s oppression was rooted in capitalist society and their liberation would come through socialism.
The SWP was always for women’s rights, but didn’t put this into practice. This changed at the rise of the feminist movement, which demanded that the party put its words into deeds. The party began to learn from feminism and to change before my eyes.
We understood feminism as support for women’s liberation and opposition to male chauvinism — what is now called “sexism”. I was a feminist — a socialist feminist.
A new layer of young women rose out of the campaigns for civil liberties, against the bomb, and for Black rights. These women were displaying what Reed had called the unforgivable trait of enjoying their participation in the struggle for social change.
Our battle cry for women’s equal rights, for birth control and control of our own body, for sexual choice, child care, equal opportunity in education and in the job market, reverberated in the socialist organisations.
A new code of conduct was established in the SWP whereby violence by members against women was no longer permitted, including within the confines of private life. This new norm was effective because it was supported by mass sentiment across society as a whole.
Women had kept the party going on a daily basis. They had always led the subscription campaigns, fund drives, and organisational campaigns, and did a lot of administrative work. But they received little recognition from the leaders, who were men. It wasn’t until the rise of the women’s movement in the 1960s that we won a new respect.
Women were elected to the national leadership, first as alternates but nonetheless with recognition. Young women were joining the party in larger numbers, and they insisted on this change.
The party plunged into the struggle for women’s rights. It published books and pamphlets on women’s fight for equality. Women were encouraged to express their and the party’s ideas.
The party embraced affirmative action: every branch promoted women who showed interest or talent in leadership. I became head of typesetting in the party print shop and was then celebrated as the first woman operator of the web press in the State of New York.
My printshop career reflected the way women, by the end of the 1960s, were pushing their way into careers previously closed to them: in law, medicine, and other professions, and also in industrial jobs with equal pay. When I left my printing post, I became an oil refinery worker in Louisiana and later Virginia.
Of course, I had co-workers who could not accept this change and fought the integration of women just as they had fought the integration of Blacks. But as women on the shopfloor, we felt we had rights as part of a national women’s movement, and we stood our ground.
Today, Friedan’s Feminine Mystique is remembered as the book that helped launch the “second wave of feminism” in the 1960s. Led initially by privileged, educated women, this movement expanded to embrace women students and workers — a mass movement that effectively gave the feminine mystique a good kick and opened up a world of new opportunities for women.
Although today, we have not gone backward to the feminine mystique, we have lost much ground on the rights we won then. We continue to struggle for the right to control our own bodies, against violence to women, for equal recognition of women as human beings, and for a socialist world that will bring liberation to all.
THE PHILOSOPHER AND THE TERRORIST: WHEN SARTRE MET RAF LEADER ANDREAS BAADER
(via Dilip Simeon's Blog)
Jean-Paul Sartre’s meeting with RAF leader Andreas Baader was long considered to be one of the philosopher’s great missteps. A transcript of the meeting, which has only now been released, shows the Nobel laureate actually wanted to persuade him to stop murdering people.
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