2818SACW - 27 Feb 2014 | Bangladesh: Jessore Road / Pa kistan:cost of buying peace / India: Doniger's b ook; Violence in Karbi Anglong; how to stop commun al riots; India’s official Left / Auroville / China: workers' movement / Algeria: For Aziz S mati on Valentine's Day / Leftist Opposition in Ukra ine
- Feb 26, 2014South Asia Citizens Wire - 27 February 2014 - No. 2811
1. Life under Taliban | Irfan Husain
2. Pakistan: The cost of buying peace | Afiya Shehrbano Zia
3. January on Jessore Road / The besieged Hindus of Bangladesh | Gargi Bhattacharya
4. India: Here's how you could stop the next communal riots | Harsh Mander
5. Why we write books | Ananya Vajpeyi
6. India: Law for bad behaviour | Martha C. Nussbaum
7. Appeal for Justice for Pakistani Hindu Migrants in India
8. India: Recent Incidents of Targeted Violence in Karbi Anglong Dist, Assam (Dec 2013-Jan 2014)
9. Poem: If we are to believe Mr. Modi . . . by Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah
10. India: Weaponised drone testing and manufacture project in Karnataka halted by the green tribunal
11. India: The February 5-6th 2004 Disturbances in Ullal Region in Karnataka - A Fact finding report
12. India’s Left Faces Major Challenges as Elections Approach | Praful Bidwai
13. Algeria: For Aziz Smati on Valentine's Day | Karima Bennoune
14. A Report on the workers' movement in China 2011-13
15. Selected Posts From Communalism Watch:
- India: For Doniger row, don’t blame the law | Jyoti Punwani
- India: On gender justice and human rights, court can’t hold back or abdicate responsibility | Upendra Baxi
- India: National Convention for Democracy and Secularism 27th February, 2014 (New Delhi) - Programme Schedule
- UK: Fresh Efforts For International Action Against Modi
- Baised Textbooks of Gujarat Council of Education Research and Training (GCERT): News reports
- Liberal Hinduism versus Sectarian Hindutva | Ram Puniyani
16. New Books / TV Programmes:
(i) Economics for People and Earth – the Auroville case, 1968 – 2008 by Henk Thomas and Manuel Thomas
(ii) Challenges before the New Nepal Government - TV debate on India's World Programme - Rajya Sabha TV
17. Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education: A New Initiative for a Rational Pakistan | Pervez Hoodbhoy
18. The Pitfalls of Publishing Books in India | Neha Thirani Bagri
19. Who was who in Kiev’s independence square - Ukraine beyond politics | Emmanuel Dreyfus
20. US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters | Paul Craig Roberts
21. Manifesto of Leftist Opposition in Ukraine
1. LIFE UNDER TALIBAN | Irfan Husain
It would appear that the Taliban are broadcasting on a radio frequency most Pakistanis are not tuned into. And yet their message is loud and clear: our version of the Sharia, or else. The Taliban have also made it clear that under them, education will only be imparted through madressahs. It doesn't take a genius to figure out where this path will take us.
2. PAKISTAN: THE COST OF BUYING PEACE | Afiya Shehrbano Zia
Between the clear misogynists and the sympathetic rationalisers, women should be anxious about the outcome of the peace talks with the TTP
3. JANUARY ON JESSORE ROAD / THE BESIEGED HINDUS OF BANGLADESH | Gargi Bhattacharya
Few moments in the past century evoked as much hope in its stakeholders than the emergence of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as a secular state in the eastern part of the subcontinent. Drenched in the blood of martyrs and fired by lofty idealism that has still not completely died, this nation-state has not lived up to its ideals.
4. INDIA: HERE'S HOW YOU COULD STOP THE NEXT COMMUNAL RIOTS | Harsh Mander
I therefore fervently appeal to all political parties in this last winter session of Parliament to rise above partisan politics and pass a law to make communal violence history, and help build an India in which some people are not condemned to live life only in the spaces between riots.
5. WHY WE WRITE BOOKS | Ananya Vajpeyi
Penguin India's decision to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, from publication — as a result of legal and possibly extralegal pressure from a right-wing organisation — has thrown up a series of questions in the public sphere. These include questions around the ethics of corporate action and the limits of corporate responsibility in supporting and protecting authors; the prevalence of two sets of laws in India — those governing freedom of expression and those governing insult and injury to groups defined around different vectors of identity, including religion and caste — and how these laws might constrain or override one another; and looming questions about the kinds of effects that a neo-nationalist and majoritarian political regime is likely to have on the spectrum of civil liberties and citizens' rights in the coming months.
6. INDIA: LAW FOR BAD BEHAVIOUR | Martha C. Nussbaum
Section 295A of the IPC opens the door for bullies to walk in
7. APPEAL FOR JUSTICE FOR PAKISTANI HINDU MIGRANTS IN INDIA
On Feb 21 2014 Hindu Singh Sodha, along with 350 Pakistani Hindu migrants, are sitting on a dharna (sit-in) at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi for the rights of the Pakistani Hindu migrants.
8. INDIA: RECENT INCIDENTS OF TARGETED VIOLENCE IN KARBI ANGLONG DISTRICT, ASSAM (December 2013-January 2014)
This report presents our findings as a fact-finding team (FFT) that went to Karbi Anglong district mid-January (2014) to inquire into a series of targeted attacks and the retaliatory violence that followed. As a team, we sought to fully comprehend the factual record and the specific political context within which these incidents occurred. We have found that perpetrators of violence have not been identified, far less brought to book. This has allowed for rumour to flourish and mutual suspicions to mount. A deepening estrangement between the Karbis and Rengma Nagas living in the district could be the outcome. The multiple armed groups that operate in the district and the wider region with agendas that remain unclear, often using methods of terror and extortion, could become bolder as a result.
9. POEM: IF WE ARE TO BELIEVE MR. MODI . . .
by Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah
(Translated from Gujarati) - 16 February 2014
If we are to believe Mr. Modi, Gujarat has “developed” so much so that it would do if Gujarat's development goes dieting for months together.
If we are to believe Mr. Modi, Gujarat has “developed” so much that Gujaratis can do without Food Security Act.
If we are to believe Mr. Modi, Gujarat has “developed” so much that Gujaratis can do without government hospital, medicines and doctors. (...)
10. INDIA: MASSIVE WEAPONISED DRONE TESTING AND MANUFACTURE PROJECT IN KARNATAKA HALTED BY THE GREEN TRIBUNAL
26th February 2014
National Green Tribunal halts all construction activity in Challakere Amrut Mahal Kavals
11. INDIA: THE FEBRUARY 5-6TH 2004 DISTURBANCES IN ULLAL REGION IN KARNATAKA
A Fact finding report by PUCL Karnataka and Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike
12. INDIA’S LEFT FACES MAJOR CHALLENGES AS ELECTIONS APPROACH | Praful Bidwai
India’s Left parties, among the world’s biggest parties belonging to the Communist tradition, face formidable challenges as they approach the 2014 national election. The election will play a major role in deciding if they can reverse the setbacks they recently suffered, or go into a steep decline, with a fall in membership, decreasing political influence, and growing organisational dissonance.
13. ALGERIA: FOR AZIZ SMATI ON VALENTINE'S DAY | Karima Bennoune
In honour of the determination of people like Algerian TV producer, Aziz Smati, who was shot exactly twenty years ago today, we must support all those who wield song against suicide belt, and wage art against fundamentalism, writes Karima Bennoune
14. A REPORT ON THE WORKERS' MOVEMENT IN CHINA 2011-13
China's workers have emerged over the last few years as a strong, unified and increasingly active collective force. Workers have time and again demonstrated the will and the ability to stand up to abusive and arrogant managements and to demand better pay and working conditions. However, workers are still hampered by the lack of an effective trade union that can maintain solidarity, bargain directly with managements and protect labour leaders from reprisals. As a result, workers are turning to labour rights groups that can advise and support their collective actions while, at the same time, demanding more of the official trade union and putting pressure on it to change.
15. SELECTED POSTS FROM COMMUNALISM WATCH:
India: For Doniger row, don’t blame the law | Jyoti Punwani
India: On gender justice and human rights, court can’t hold back or abdicate responsibility | Upendra Baxi
India: National Convention for Democracy and Secularism 27th February, 2014 (New Delhi) - Programme Schedule
UK: Fresh Efforts For International Action Against Modi
Baised Textbooks of Gujarat Council of Education Research and Training (GCERT) - News reports
Liberal Hinduism versus Sectarian Hindutva | Ram Puniyani
BJP ally VHP says Hindus should ‘produce’ at least 5 children
India: Video of Hindutva book police in action at World book fair in Delhi against Wendy Doniger's book
16. NEW BOOKS / TV DISCUSSIONS:
(i) ECONOMICS FOR PEOPLE AND EARTH – THE AUROVILLE CASE, 1968 – 2008
by Henk Thomas and Manuel Thomas
Auroville, an international township in South India, was founded in 1968. A small group of pioneers on a heavily eroded plateau, close to the Bay of Bengal near Pondicherry, set out to reforest the barren land and create a new socio-economic, ecological and spiritual habitat with a vision to build “a city the Earth needs”. For years later, a vibrant community of almost 2,000 people from 43 nations had emerged, providing employment to some 4,000 men and women from nearby villages. Meanwhile, they had reforested thousands of acres of land, built homes, health centres and schools, developed organic farms, experimented with renewable energy and cost-effective building technologies, reached out to the neighbouring villages, and set up a plethora of businesses and services. This book is the result of 15 years of research on Auroville’s economy
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 5, 2013)
o o o
(ii) CHALLENGES BEFORE THE NEW NEPAL GOVERNMENT
TV debate on India's World Programme - Rajya Sabha TV
17. EQBAL AHMAD CENTRE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION: A NEW INITIATIVE FOR A RATIONAL PAKISTAN
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Pervez Hoodbhoy
Date: Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM
Subject: Announcing A New Initiative for a Rational Pakistan
Your help is requested to support this initiative, launched by the Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education. Please spread the word around (after removing this email address). Success or failure will depend upon that. Thank you.
GOAL: EACPE seeks to foster the use of science and reason to understand nature and society and so better enable citizens of Pakistan to participate fully in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their society; to exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities; to value human rights, democracy and the rule of law; to promote cultural and religious diversity; to raise awareness of global issues and the natural environment; and to advance the goals of international peace and justice.
The immediate aim is to produce and promote, equally in Urdu and English, 6-10 minute videos on important social, political, and scientific issues. One new video will be uploaded every week (see website).
Interviews of prominent Pakistani scholars and commentators will be undertaken at the next step.
We welcome others to be part of this effort and will host other suitable videos.
The current video list:
1. WHY IDEOLOGY? (Nazariyyeh Ki Zaroorat?)
Many people never ask, never question. They simply believe. Could this
be because of human biology?
2. A CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS? (Tahzeebon Ka Tassadum?)
Many think that Islam and the West are at war with each other. True?
Let's have a second look.
3. RICH COUNTRIES AND POOR COUNTRIES. WHY?
(Ameer Aur Ghareeb Mulk -Akhir Kyon?)
Culture is critical in deciding between poverty and progress. But
which aspects of culture?
4. THE DOWNSIDE OF NATIONALISM (Qaum Parasti Kay Muzir Asrat)
The world is integrated economically and yet torn apart by nationalist
fervour. Why? After all, you and I had no choice in choosing our parents
5. NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS ? GOOD OR BAD? (Kya Qaum Parast Tehreekon Ki
Himayat Ki Jaey?)
Thousands have been killed in the separatist struggles against the
central authority of various nation states in South Asia. Whose side
should one be on?
6. THE BIG BANG - JUST A MYTH? (Big Bang - Mehz Aik Nazariya?)
Every culture and religion has its own version of creation. But here is
the evidence that science offers.
7. WHERE IS THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE? (Kainat Ka Markaz Kahan Hai?)
A student recently asked me if Mecca was where the Big Bang started
from. Yes, I said, but Karachi is also the centre....
8. HOW WILL OUR UNIVERSE END? (Kainat Ka Anjam Kya Hoga?)
Until a decade ago we didn't know how everything would end. Now, we do -
and it's nothing to look forward to!
9. BLACK HOLES IN EUROPE? (Zameen Par Black Hole Banana Mumkin Hai?)
Citizens of France and Switzerland are very worried they will be eaten
up by a black hole made at CERN. Should they be?
10. LIFE IN OUTER SPACE? (Ghair Shamsi Sayyaron Par Zindagi?)
Over 1000 extrasolar planets have been discovered and there are billions
more. What is the chance of finding life?
11. SWINDLES IN SCIENCE (Science Kay Double Shah)
A car that would run only on water enthralled Pakistan. How can we save
ourselves from such embarrassments in future?
12. IS AMERICA CAUSING STORMS AND EARTHQUAKES IN PAKISTAN? (Kya Pakistan
Main Anay Walay Toofan Aur Zalzalay Amrika Kay Tuhfay Hain? )
People allege that America has developed the means to change weather and
Pakistan is among its victims. True?
18. THE PITFALLS OF PUBLISHING BOOKS IN INDIA
by Neha Thirani Bagri
(India Ink - The New York Times - February 14, 2014)
Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times A pamphlet against the book, “The Hindus: An Alternative History” seen at Dinanath Batra’s office in Delhi on Wednesday. It was Mr. Batra’s campaign that forced Penguin to withdraw and destroy remaining copies of the book on Hinduism.
MUMBAI — In withdrawing “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” by the American scholar Wendy Doniger, Penguin Books India joined a long line of publishers that have pulled contentious books from the Indian market — a decision that they say has more to do with systemic problems in the country than a lack of commitment to freedom of expression.
India has a long history of banning or withdrawing books to protect religious, corporate or political interests. In 1988, it became the first country in the world to ban “The Satanic Verses,” by Salman Rushdie, on the grounds that it might create a law-and-order problem. “The Polyester Prince,” a biography of the Ambani Group founder, Dhirubhai Ambani, was never published in India, following a legal notice served to the author and publisher.
Those in the Indian publishing industry say books are often quashed because of the ambiguous language of India’s defamation laws, the protracted process of Indian courts, growing pressure from extremist religious and political groups and the Indian government’s tendency to bow to threats of violence from these groups.
Mita Kapur, the founder of Siyahi, a literary agency, said the most common reasons given by a publisher for withdrawing a book were the “fear of hurting the sentiments of some religious faction” and “political pressure.”
The broad language of the Indian law regarding freedom of speech, defamation and libel provides the legal platform for lawsuits against controversial works. According to the Indian Constitution, the state is allowed to place “reasonable restrictions” in the interest of “public order, decency or morality.”
“While the Indian legal system is quite robust, there are some limitations, and one of them is public order, morality and decency — these are extremely sweeping statements and provide a very subjective yardstick,” said Rajshekhar Rao, an advocate who practices before the Supreme Court and specializes in civil litigation. “What is decent according to one group may not be decent according to another. That is the ambiguity in the law that needs to be addressed.”
Other publishers blame the Indian government and law enforcement agencies for caving in to the demands of those looking to restrict freedom of expression.
“Anyone and everyone can raise an issue about a book or a film or a painting and threaten violence,” said Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, managing editor at HarperCollins India Publishers. “Instead of dealing strongly and ensuring that such people are dealt with with a firm hand, the state takes the easy way out either to appease a religious or social group or to pre-empt the threat of violence.”
Urvashi Butalia, who runs Zubaan Books, a feminist publishing house in New Delhi, and has contributed to India Ink, said intolerance was on the rise in India as extremists tried to stop the expression of opinions they see as distasteful or blasphemous. “I think in most instances the state’s response has been weak, and often shameful,” she said. “If the state were to take a hard line and defend the freedom of speech, publishers would also, I suspect, be more adventurous.”
Even if there is no stated threat of a lawsuit, literary agents say publishers are usually extremely wary of publishing unauthorized biographies of well-known personalities, public figures or institutions, and if they do, they will often self-censor. Publishers also ask for authorization letters and no-objection certificates from the subjects.
“As an agent, it’s next to impossible for me to sell any biography that is not authorized by the subject,” said Kanishka Gupta, the founder and managing director of Writer’s Side, a literary agency. “Even when the subject is aware that a book is being written and has provided access to the writer, there’s no guarantee that a libel suit won’t be filed at the last minute.”
He cited the example of the Indian conglomerate Sahara, which filed a lawsuit to block the publication of “Sahara: The Untold Story,” by Tamal Bandyopadhyay, the deputy managing editor at Mint, a business newspaper. Mr. Bandyopadhyay interviewed the Sahara chairman, Subrata Roy, as well as regulators, corporate executives, auditors, chartered accountants and bankers in his book about the corporation, which is currently mired in a fight with financial regulators.
Sahara slapped a 2 billion rupee, or $32.3 million, defamation suit against the author and asked the Kolkata High Court to stop publication of the book. On Dec. 23, the court issued a stay, blocking Jaico Publishing House from releasing the book until the case was resolved.
Fighting libel charges in India takes a long time, given the slow pace of India’s courts, which means that authors or publishers end up deciding that it’s better just to give in to a complaint rather than spend years trying to fight it.
Jitender Bhargava, a former Air India executive who chronicled the national airline’s troubled history in “The Descent of Air India,” said he stood by his criticism of several decisions made by Praful Patel while he was the minister of civil aviation. The book, which was released in October, was withdrawn by Bloomsbury last month in response to a legal notice issued by Mr. Patel.
However, Mr. Bhargava said in an email, “even though I am on firm footing with respect to contents of my book, I may be kept busy by the court for years before I can firmly establish the veracity of every instance narrated in the book.”
Meanwhile, many in the publishing industry fear that censorship is on the rise in India.
“It is disappointing that publishers and authors have to be fearful of causing ‘offense’ to self-righteous factions that have curbed the idea of the freedom of expression,” said Priyanka Malhotra, director of Full Circle Publications, a publishing house based in New Delhi. “We need to be a braver lot, because to be in publishing means more than towing the line and presenting only safe and popular manifestos.”
19. WHO WAS WHO IN KIEV’S INDEPENDENCE SQUARE - UKRAINE BEYOND POLITICS
by Emmanuel Dreyfus
(Le Monde Diplomatique - March 2014)
The Ukraine parliament has promised elections, after the president was swept away in a brief burst of revolution in Kiev. Can the former opposition, including the far right, unite to form a viable future government?
by Emmanuel Dreyfus
Now that Viktor Yanukovych has gone, and new elections are promised, we need to assess the political and popular forces that succeeded in overturning Ukraine’s political system. Who were the protesters and what were their goals? At the barricades in central Kiev there were Ukrainian and EU flags, as well as portraits of the poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), considered as a spiritual father of Ukrainian identity, and of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) who was, depending on your point of view, either a great patriot or a Nazi collaborator. And there were pictures of five Ukrainian activists, treated as martyrs after they were killed during the clashes in Grushevsky Street.
Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicentre of the protests that had been taking place across Ukraine for three months, was filled with tents pitched by sympathisers from every part of the country: from Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk, the strongholds of nationalism, but also from Lugansk and Donetsk, the big cities of the industrial east, which have always felt close to Russia. Cossacks wore their traditional costume. Women brought black bread and ham to the men standing guard. There was a pervasive smell of tea, cabbage soup and wood fires. During the week, the few thousand activists went about their day-to-day business; on Sundays, tens of thousands came to hear speeches by opposition leaders, pray and sing the national anthem, tirelessly.
The protest movement emerged in November last year, after Yanukovych suspended negotiations on a free trade agreement with the European Union (1). Independence Square was gradually transformed. The first to arrive were a few thousand pro-European partisans, but as repression began the square became a symbol of revolt against a corrupt and mercenary political system for many others — initially a revolt against the Yanukovych system, but also a rejection of the opposition parties, out of their depth in this crisis.
The involvement of several nationalist groups — a small but highly visible presence — and of ultra-radical, non-democratic movements without European sympathies has produced different reactions. Their presence was used actively by Russia, and to some extent by Yanukovych’s government, to discredit the movement. But it also raised fears of a possible takeover of Independence Square by the far right — even though a popular movement was behind the protests and any attempt to categorise it in political terms would be an over-simplification.
Far right’s inspiration
The far right is largely modelled on the nationalist movement that developed from the 1920s, when most of what is now Ukraine was divided between Poland and Soviet Russia. From the start it was shaped by a variety of influences: Italian fascism, the partial collaboration — for pragmatic or ideological reasons — of some of its representatives (such as Bandera) with Nazi Germany, the participation of several Ukrainian battalions in the massacre of Jewish and Polish civilians during the second world war.
Political scientist Andreas Umland, who teaches at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, said: “There are no objective historical accounts of Bandera’s [career]. Russian historians portray him as a fascist ally of the Nazis, while Ukrainian historians praise him without reserve. His admirers on Independence Square take a naïve and biased view of him, which is a problem. But it seems equally biased and dishonest to call him a fascist, as the Russians do” (2).
Dormant during the Soviet era, the nationalist movement reappeared after independence in 1991, when the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU) was formed. Until the early 2000s, the SNPU was a marginal, xenophobic and ultra-nationalist organisation, and what little support it had was largely in the west of the country. Its leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, was elected to the Ukrainian parliament for the first time in 1998.
During the 2000s, the SNPU changed significantly. It shed its fascist trappings at its 6th congress in 2004, renaming itself Svoboda (freedom) and abandoning its neo-Nazi badge, the Wolfsangel (wolf hook), in favour of a more neutral symbol. According to Oleksiy Leshchenko of the Gorshenin Institute thinktank, these cosmetic changes “were intended mainly to reassure voters, but were also meant to improve Svoboda’s image abroad.”
In search of respectability, Svoboda established relations with other European far-right parties. Jean-Marie Le Pen, president of France’s Front National, attended the 2004 congress as guest of honour. Svoboda also moderated its nationalist stance and references to Bandera — about whom Ukrainians do not agree — and gradually adopted a more general discourse, relatively common among the European far right, based on radical and vehement criticism of “the system”.
This did not prevent Tyahnybok from making statements that recall his xenophobic and anti-Semitic roots. In 2004 he declared that the Ukraine was governed by a “Jewish-Russian mafia”, which led to his exclusion from the Nasha Ukraina (Our Ukraine) parliamentary group. In 2005 he wrote an open letter to the president, demanding that he “put an end to the criminal activities of Ukrainian Jewry”.
At the parliamentary elections in 2012, Svoboda won nearly 10.5% of the vote and 37 seats in parliament. With more than two million votes, it became a party of national importance, achieving significant results in parts of the country other than the west, which is traditionally more receptive to nationalism.
Svoboda’s anti-system stance played a significant part in its electoral success. As Ivan Stoiko, MP for the centre-right opposition party Batkivshchyna and “commander” of Ukrainian House, one of the buildings occupied by the Independence Square protesters, put it, “voters disappointed by the traditional political class and impatient for radical change were seduced by Svoboda’s rhetoric, by its closeness to the people and its grassroots initiatives.” Yuri Yakimenko, deputy director of the Razumkov Centre thinkthank, claims that, of the 10% of votes won by Svoboda, “hardcore supporters account for 5%. The remaining 5% voted above all to express their opposition to other political forces.”
Svoboda, “probably on the advice of [France’s] Front National”, according to Andreas Umland,has also drawn up an economic programme with a social dimension. This would renationalise a number of enterprises, introduce progressive taxation on business profits, and seek to reduce the dominance of the oligarchs over the political and economic systems. These measures, together with the promise of a vigorous campaign against corruption, have attracted some categories of voters, especially small businessmen and members of the middle class, who have been particularly affected by the crisis and by nepotism, which has increased since Yanukovych was elected.
Svoboda has also been rewarded for its nationalist stance, which, though toned down, remains central to its identity: it has won over some of those who once voted for Viktor Yushchenko, president from 2005 to 2010. “The Yushchenko period was the most fertile in terms of the development of nationalism,” said Sophie Lambroschini, an independent French researcher based in Kiev. “It brought freedom of speech in public life and politics. But it’s Svoboda that is getting the dividends, as Yushchenko greatly disappointed nationalist voters.”
A number of initiatives under Yanukovych’s presidency have irritated voters keen to defend the Ukrainian language and identity. They include a law on regional languages that came into effect in summer 2012 and allows regions that wish to do so to make Russian their second official language, or to reduce Ukrainian language-teaching in schools, as it is “unnecessary”, according to the education minister, Dmytro Tabachnyk.
Though re-centred, Svoboda is still anchored in the far right. Its lead policy is the strengthening of Ukrainian national identity, which implies an end to Russian influence. On the foreign policy side, this translates into a wish to see Ukraine join NATO, rearm with nuclear weapons and leave all post-Soviet cooperative organisations.
Among Svoboda’s domestic priorities is “de-Sovietisation”: purging or sidelining former SNPU cadres and KGB agents, changing street and place names, removing monuments to heroes of the Soviet Union. Svoboda also proposes to abolish Crimea’s autonomous status and promote Ukrainian national identity through measures ranging from systematic glorification of the nationalist movement to reintroducing the mentions of religious affiliation and ethnicity on identity documents.
Svoboda wants to see Ukraine join the EU. This pragmatic change of stance is inspired more by the tactical necessity for a “sacred union” with other opposition forces, and by electoral goals, than by a sincere desire to join, though Svoboda does also see the EU as a way of keeping Russia at a distance.
Svoboda is the only party to criticise immigration (which is low) and propose measures to limit it, such as restricting access to the university system for foreign students, or the granting of Ukrainian citizenship only to those born in Ukraine or “ethnic Ukrainians”. The party denies being xenophobic, but rejects multiculturalism. “We are defending family values and a Europe of nations against multiculturalism, which I regard as a policy aimed at merging different cultures — which is not possible,” said Yuri Levchenko, a senior Svoboda cadre. “Look at your own country: immigration hasn’t produced a new culture, only ghettos. It’s not logical to make people of different cultures live in the same city. It can’t work.”
The party has also tried to disassociate itself from anti-Semitism, to the point where Joseph Zisels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities in the Ukraine, assured me that “Svoboda presents no threat to Jews. Their real enemy is the Russians. ... It’s true that it’s the only major party to take Bandera andShukhevych (3) as its heroes, which I admit is awkward, but for all that it is not anti-Semitic.” This has not prevented a few slip-ups, for instance when Svoboda MP Igor Miroshnichenko in November 2012 denied that US actress Mila Kunis had Ukrainian roots, saying that she was in fact a jidovka, an ambiguous Ukrainian slang word meaning a person of Jewish faith or ancestry.
Svoboda has been highly visible in Independence Square — it controlled Kiev city hall, occupied until 16 February — but ultimately has little influence over the demonstrators, as is the case for other opposition parties. This political void, coupled with the violence used by the authorities over the past few weeks, culminating in a pitched battle, has created conditions favourable to the emergence of new groups, whose style and ideological stance have raised many questions.
The biggest, Pravy Sektor (right sector), emerged after the Grushevsky Street clashes and, for the moment, enjoys real popular support. It has a few thousand members across the country, including people disappointed by Svoboda, members of ultra-nationalist groups, hooligans and dropouts. Their common denominator is a taste for radical action, and for the ideology that one of the movement’s leaders, Andrei Tarassenko, dispensed from its high-security headquarters on the fifth floor of Trade Union House, on Independence Square. Pravy Sektor defines itself as “neither xenophobic nor anti-Semitic, as Kremlin propaganda claims” and above all as “nationalist, defending the values of white, Christian Europe against the loss of the nation and deregionalisation”. Like Svoboda, it rejects multiculturalism, as “responsible for the disappearance of the crucifix and the arrival of girls in burqas in your schools”, but it does not advocate joining the EU, which it describes as “liberal totalitarianism in which God has vanished and values are turned upside down”.
Pravy Sektor supports none of the opposition parties, especially not Svoboda, disappointed by its “appeals for calm and negotiation with the authorities”. It could contemplate becoming a party itself, which would be awkward for Svoboda’s Tyahnybok: besides seeing his reputation as an anti-system champion seriously dented by his appeals for moderation during the clashes, he would have to come to terms with a party even further to the right, whose feats of arms and determination are known.
Svoboda’s success over the past few years and the presence of neo-fascist groups such as Pravy Sektor in Independence Square are signs of a crisis in Ukrainian society. It is first and foremost a crisis of identity: in 22 years of independence, Ukraine has not managed to develop an unbiased historical narrative presenting a positive view of all its regions and citizens: even today, the Ukrainians are seen as liberators in Galicia but as fascists in Donbass. It is also a political crisis: some Ukrainians, exasperated and disappointed with the Orange Revolution (4), have turned to voting for extremist parties, more out of pique than for real ideological reasons. Though Independence Square will go down in history as an extraordinary example of collective and popular action, the political outcome is as yet unclear. Ukraine is in need of a new force that truly serves the people and transcends its many social and political divides.
Translated by Charles Goulden
Emmanuel Dreyfus is an international relations consultant specialising in the former Soviet Union.
(1) See Sébastien Gobert, “Ukraine caught between EU and Eurasia”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, December 2013.
(2) See Andreas Umland, “Ukraine, Russia and the EU”, Le Monde diplomatique, Diplomatic Channels, December 2013.
(3) Roman Shukhevych (1907-1950), another Ukrainian nationalist figure, led a Ukrainian unit of the Wehrmacht known as the Nachtigall Battalion
(4) See Vicken Cheterian, “Revolutionary aftershocks in the East ”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, October 2005.
20. US AND EU ARE PAYING UKRAINIAN RIOTERS AND PROTESTERS
by Paul Craig Roberts
( http://tinyurl.com/las34fr )
February 17 2014 "Information Clearing House - A number of confirmations have come in from readers that Washington is fueling the violent protests in Ukraine with our taxpayer dollars. Washington has no money for food stamps or to prevent home foreclosures, but it has plenty of money with which to subvert Ukraine.
One reader wrote: “My wife, who is of Ukrainian nationality, has weekly contact to her parents and friends in Zhytomyr [NW Ukraine]. According to them, most protesters get an average payment of 200-300 grivna, corresponding to about 15-25 euro. As I additionally heard, one of the most active agencies and 'payment outlets' on EU side is the German ‘Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’, being closely connected to the CDU, i.e. Mrs. Merkel's party.”
As I reported on February 12, “Washington Orchestrated Protests Are Destabilizing Ukraine,” Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a rabid Russophobe and neoconservative warmonger, told the National Press Club last December that the US has “invested” $5 billion in organizing a network to achieve US goals in Ukraine in order to give “Ukraine the future it deserves.” Nuland is the Obama regime official who was caught red-handed naming the members of the Ukrainian government Washington intends to impose on the Ukrainian people once the paid protesters have unseated the current elected and independent government.
What Nuland means by Ukraine’s future under EU overlordship is for Ukraine to be looted like Latvia and Greece and to be used by Washington as a staging ground for US missile bases against Russia.
From the responses I received to my request for confirmations of the information sent to me from Moldova, http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/02/14/russia-attack-paul-craig-roberts/ there is enough evidence that Washington fomented the violent riots for western newspapers and TV channels to investigate. But they haven’t. As we know, the presstitutes are enablers of Washington’s crimes and duplicities. However, the US media has reported that the Ukrainian government is paying Ukrainians to rally in favor of the government. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/16/ukraine-government-protests/5435315/
As Karl Marx wrote, money turns everything into a commodity that is bought and sold. I wouldn’t be surprised if some protesters are working both sides of the street.
Of course, not all of the protesters are paid. There are plenty of gullible dupes in the streets who think they are protesting Ukraine government corruption. I have heard from several. There is little doubt that the Ukraine government is corrupt. What government isn’t? Government corruption is universal, but it is easy to go from the frying pan into the fire. Ukrainian protesters seem to think that they can escape corruption by joining the EU. Obviously, these gullible dupes are unfamiliar with the report on EU corruption issued February 3 by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. The report says that a business-political nexus of corruption affects all 28 EU member countries and costs the EU economies $162.2 billion per annum. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2014/02/eu-report-corruption-widespread-bloc-20142313322401478.html Clearly, Ukrainians will not escape corruption by joining the EU. Indeed, the corruption will be worse.
I have no objection to Ukrainians protesting government corruption. Indeed, such gullible people could benefit from the lesson they would learn once their country is in the hands of corrupt Brussels and Washington. What I object to is the lack of awareness on the part of the protesters that by permitting themselves to be manipulated by Washington, they are pushing the world toward a dangerous war. I would be surprised if Russia is content to have US military and missile bases in Ukraine.
It was fools like Nuland playing the great game that gave us World War I. World War III would be the last war. Washington’s drive to exploit every opportunity to establish its hegemony over the world is driving us all to nuclear war. Like Nuland, a significant percentage of the population of western Ukraine are Russophobes. I know the case for Ukrainian dislike of Russia, but Ukrainian emotions fueled with Washington’s money should not direct the course of history. No historians will be left to document how gullible and witless Ukrainians set the world up for destruction.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, HOW AMERICA WAS LOST, is now available: http://www.claritypress.com/RobertsAnthology.html .
21. MANIFESTO OF LEFTIST OPPOSITION IN UKRAINE
Euromaidan and a Program for the Left
Euromaidan’s popularity has nothing to do with Ukrainians finding the question of free trade with the European Union so significant that it emboldened them to survive sleepless nights on the square. The country’s socioeconomic problems, which are much more acute than those of its neighbors to the East and West, gave the protest its meaning. The average salary in Ukraine is 2 to 2.5 times lower than in Russia and Belarus, and much lower than in the EU. The worldwide economic crisis affected the Ukrainian economy much more drastically than almost any other economy in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals. Economic growth after the crisis nearly froze, and industry will most likely continue to decline in 2013. Furthermore, Ukraine’s economic system more or less exempts oligarchs from paying taxes. One can completely legally export tens of billions of dollars worth of minerals, metals, ammonia, wheat, and sunflowers, and report no profit. All earnings are stashed in offshore jurisdictions, where almost all of Ukraine’s functioning enterprises are formally located. Any profits earned by an enterprise inside the country can be legally and effortlessly transported to offshore locations by reframing them as a fictitious loan, for example.
Is it any surprise that the Ukrainian government systematically has trouble replenishing the budget? At the end of last year, Ukraine was in a pre-default stage. Withholding wages owed to state employees became common practice, and the budget practically stopped allotting funds to social programs. The situation was exacerbated by a trade war with Russia, when Gazprom forced Ukrainian gas prices to record heights in Eastern Europe. Oligarchs drove the country into a corner; even after endless discussion, they could not formulate a coherent development strategy, avoiding any investment in the state while systematically draining it. Any development strategy must include a curbing of their appetites – it must at least partially ban offshore schemes and enforce minimum tax payments. But that’s exactly what oligarchs cannot accept, even though they understand that if they don’t change the rules of the game, they will drive the state into socioeconomic catastrophe, chopping off the branch where they themselves sit.
The right-wing opposition, when speaking about economic problems, focuses almost exclusively on the themes of corruption and ineffective rule. And if the conversation does turn to oligarchs looting the state, then it limits itself to the businessmen who are close to the Party of Regions, and most often does not delve further than the business that belongs to Yanukovich’s sons. From the right wing’s point of view, the other oligarchs are not a problem, because they have national consciousness. By this logic, when Ukraine is plundered by a “щирый” (Ukr. for “authentic”– editor’s note) Ukrainian, it is still beneficial to the national cause.
A paradoxical situation is unfolding. All conscientious economists (even quite neoliberal ones like, for example, Viktor Pinzenik) agree that the tax and regulatory systems of the country were built to completely exempt oligarchs from paying taxes. Everyone can see that this system won’t last much longer, but none of the politicians in the Parliament have dared to offer the obvious and realistic systemic alternative. Almost nobody dares to publicly admit that the most pressing issue facing Ukraine is not the EU or the trade union, but simply that oligarchs should start paying their taxes. The apparatus of the state is perfectly capable of forcing them to do so since the oligarchs’ functioning assets are all located in Ukraine. However, as Andrei Hunko recently pointed out, the oligarchization of Ukrainian politics has reached such proportions that not a single one of the existing parliamentary parties can even mention this matter.
Sadly enough, only radical leftists voice these minimal and obvious demands. I emphasize that these demands must be seen not as the agenda of the Left Opposition, but as first steps toward the formation of policies that could gather together all anti-oligarchic forces, who don’t consider an ultra-right fascist dictatorship to be any kind of solution – the kind of dictatorship the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” so insistently pushes us towards, while the official opposition leaders sit by and watch.
The glaring absence of any coherent plan of action to help Ukraine out of its crisis has become so pressing that even quite liberal, almost right-liberal publications have started discussing our “Ten Points” – such as, for example, Lvov’s zaxid.net.
Zahar Popovich, “Left Opposition”
Plan for Social Change, in ten points.
Foreword, by the Left Opposition.
We submit to your attention a document titled “Plan for Social Change”, which outlines ways to increase the well-being of the citizens and ensure social progress. It was created partly because most socio-economic demands at the Euromaidan demonstrations have been ignored. Our hope is that this document might serve as a platform to unify a wide range of social, leftist, and trade-union initiatives. This document was written by activists belonging to the Left Opposition, a socialist organization that aims to unify all those who belong to the community provisionally called #leftmaidan.
It goes without saying that political parties transform the protest movement and direct it toward electoral politics; they try to find new voices, instead of making significant changes to the system. We do not support the ideas of liberal structures, which propagandize free market economics, nor do we support radical nationalists who push discriminatory policies.
Our hope is that the protest movement, spurred to action by social injustice, might ultimately eradicate the root causes of this injustice. We believe that the cause of most social problems is the oligarchy that formed as a result of unbridled capitalism and corruption. It is important to limit the egotistic interests of our oligarchs, instead of relying on the help of Russia or the IMF, with the consequent national dependence. We believe that it is harmful to add our voices to the demands for Euro-integration; instead, we need to clearly delineate the changes necessary to support the interests of ordinary citizens, especially hired laborers. On several occasions, we cite the progressive experiences of a few European states that have taken similar measures.
The goals we’ve created are relatively moderate, so that they might appeal to the widest possible range of organizations. We won’t conceal the fact that, for us, this plan is less a reaction to current events than a step toward the formulation of a contemporary leftist political force – a force that is capable of influencing those in power and offering an alternative to the existing social order. The Left Opposition considers the proposed plan to be the minimum for building socialism on the principles of self-government: the socialization of industry, the allocation of profit for social needs, and the appointment for citizens to government functions.
We welcome you to subscribe to our Facebook and VKontakte pages to voice your opinions there, or to email us at gaslo.info@....
Replacing one set of politicians and oligarchs with another without overall systemic changes will not improve our lives. Instead, our group of social and union activists is proposing ten basic conditions for overcoming the economic crisis and ensuring Ukraine’s future growth.
The Left Opposition Collective
1. GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE, NOT BY THE OLIGARCHS
There must be a transition from a presidential to a parliamentary republic, in which presidential power is limited to representative functions on the international stage. Authority should be transferred from state administrators to elected regional committees (soviets). Authorities should have the right to fire delegates who have not met expectations; judges and police chiefs should be elected, not appointed.
2. NATIONALIZATION OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES
Metallurgy, mining, and chemical industries, along with infrastructural enterprises (energy, transport, and communications) should contribute to social welfare.
3. WORKERS SHOULD CONTROL ALL FORMS OF OWNERSHIP
Following successful European examples, we should construct a wide network of independent workers’ unions, which will control management and guarantee workers’ rights. Workers should have the right to strike (refuse to work when payment is not received). Workers should also have the right to take out loans at the employer’s expense if wages are delayed (following Portugal’s example). Production, accounting, and management data of all enterprises that employ more than 50 people, or have a capital turnover of over $1 million, should be published online.
4. INTRODUCTION OF A LUXURY TAX
We should instate a 50% tax on luxury items – yachts, elite automobiles, and other items that cost more than 1 million gryvna. A progressive personal income tax should also be introduced. Individuals with an annual income of more than 1 million gryvna should be taxed up to 50%, following Denmark’s example (in such a system, Renat Ahmetov alone would have paid 1.2 billion gryvna to the federal budget, as compared to the 400 million he actually paid in 2013 on a 17% tax).
5. PROHIBITION OF OFFSHORE CAPITAL TRANSFERS
The bylaws that exempt Ukrainian enterprises from taxation in a number of offshore countries should be revoked, in order to prevent the transfer of capital offshore. The assets of offshore companies in Ukraine should be frozen, and a temporary administration should be appointed until the legality of the investments can be proven.
6. SEPARATION OF BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT
Citizens with incomes that exceed 1 million grivni should be banned from government positions and seats in local government. Nationwide reelections should be held in compliance with this rule.
7. REDUCTION OF SPENDING ON THE BUREAUCRATIC APPARATUS
Government spending should be controlled and transparent. Administrative reforms should take place, resulting in a reduction in the number of managerial employees. Today, whole departments could be replaced by computer programs. But instead, in the last eight years the number of bureaucrats in the government has grown by almost 10%, comprising more than 372,000 people (in Ukraine, there are 8 bureaucrats for every 1000 people – in France, there are only 5 per 1000!).
8. DISSOLUTION OF BERKUT AND OTHER SPECIAL FORCES
Beginning in 2014, there should be subsequent reductions in spending on the sercurity apparatus of the state: the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Security Service, the Office of the Prosecutor General, and special police forces. It is unacceptable that the Ministry of Internal Affairs was allocated more than 16.9 million grivni in 2013 – 6.9 million more than all public health expenditures!
9. ACCESS TO FREE EDUCATION AND HEALTHCARE
Funds for this initiative should come from the nationalization of industries and reduced spending on the security and bureaucratic apparati. To eliminate corruption in education and medicine, we must raise doctors’ and teachers’ salaries and restore the prestige of those fields.
10. WITHDRAWAL FROM OPPRESIVE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS We support the termination of further cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions. We should follow the example of Iceland, which refused to pay debts accrued by bankers and bureaucrats (under government warranty) for the purposes of personal enrichment and “social handouts”, rather than for the development of industry.
Published in Russian on the Open Left platform: http://openleft.ru/?p=1157
Translated from the Russian by: Jordan Maze and Helen Tsykynovska
[The above is also available at: http://www.sacw.net/article7785.html ]
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