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SACW | 6 Feb 2005

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    South Asia Citizens Wire | 6 Feb., 2005 via: www.sacw.net [1] Pakistan: (i) Obscurant prescriptions (editorial, Dawn) (ii) Rewriting the History of
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 6 Feb., 2005
      via: www.sacw.net

      [1] Pakistan:
      (i) Obscurant prescriptions (editorial, Dawn)
      (ii) Rewriting the History of Pakistan (Pervez
      Amirali Hoodbhoy and Abdul Hameed Nayyar)
      [2] Nepal:
      (i) Royal Takeover in Nepal: Drastic and Ill-Advised (Kanak Mani Dixit)
      (ii) News digest by Sara Shneiderman and Mark Turin
      (iii) King rolls back 15 years of press freedom
      gains in four days (Press Release, RSF)
      (iv) Trade Unionists Call For Restoration of Democracy In Nepal
      [3] Bangladesh:
      (i) We, The Citizens of Bangladesh Demand
      Security . . .A statement by 72 Women
      (ii) Appeal to Overseas Bangladesh Communities (Asma Kibria)
      [4] India: Urgent Press Release 'state-sponsored
      violence against indigenous and dalit peoples in
      Orissa'
      [5] UK: Charity Commission into the fundraising
      activities of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (press
      Advisory by Awaaz South Asia)
      [6] India: Acceptance Statement: National Award
      for Best Non-Feature film (Anand Patwardhan)


      --------------

      [1]

      Dawn, 5 February 2005
      Editorial

      OBSCURANT PRESCRIPTIONS

      Thursday saw the tabling of two private bills in
      the Frontier assembly by a Muttahida
      Majlis-i-Amal member seeking a ban on music and
      dance, and advertisements featuring women at all
      public places.
      As defined in the bills, public places include
      educational institutions and entertainment
      houses, and even private homes where the public
      may be admitted to enjoy music or dance, with or
      without a payment.
      If adopted by a simple majority, the bills will
      make such activities non bailable offences
      carrying a punishment of up to five years and a
      fine of up to Rs10,000. The opposition parties in
      the assembly were quick to reject the bills,
      terming them an attempt at Talibanization of the
      province.
      It is not clear whether these extremist views on
      music and the featuring of women in
      advertisements, as expressed by the MPA in
      question, are shared by his party's government in
      the province.
      Much harm has been done to society by similar
      obscurantist ideas and bans imposed on visual and
      performing arts in the past. It is hard to see
      how music programmes and advertisements that are
      perfectly acceptable to the public in all the
      four provinces should now be considered as
      crossing the threshold of morality in one
      province.
      The people of the Frontier deserve better in
      terms of development that they badly need in
      various socio-economic sectors, including health,
      education, employment, etc.
      Breach of public morality in cultural activities,
      as seen by a misguided few with a narrow view of
      what religion allows and it prohibits, is the
      least of public priorities.
      The holding of music concerts and other social
      activities in educational institutions and
      recreational spots can only have a healthy effect
      on society. The MMA government would do well to
      distance itself from the self-righteous views
      expressed by the MPA in question.

      o o o o o


      (ii)

      www.sacw.net. | February 6, 2005

      REWRITING THE HISTORY OF PAKISTAN

      by Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy and Abdul Hameed Nayyar
      (From: Islam, Politics and the State: The
      Pakistan Experience, Asghar Khan (ed.) Zed Books,
      London, 1985, pp. 164-177.)

      URL: www.sacw.net/HateEducation/1985HoodbhoyNayyar06022005.html

      ______


      [2]

      [Nepal]

      (i)

      Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 9:22 PM

      ROYAL TAKEOVER IN NEPAL: DRASTIC AND ILL-ADVISED

      By Kanak Mani Dixit

      When King Gyanendra sacked the prime minister and began direct rule on 1
      February 2005, he said he did so under a constitutional provision which
      enjoins the monarchy to uphold and protect the Constitution. While he
      repeated many times in the royal address his commitment to constitutional
      monarchy and multiparty rule, the king's drastic action on Tuesday went
      patently against those principles. Firstly, he was taking over as executive
      monarch on the basis of a personal decision. Secondly, the royal address was
      replete with castigating references to political parties, who are the
      intermediaries for pluralism and democratic practice anywhere in the world.

      King Gyanendra's antipathy towards the political parties is well known and
      has been often-expressed, but by sidelining them completely and planning to
      rule as well as reign, the king has removed a buffer between himself and the
      rough and tumble of politics. To that extent, he has taken a great risk and
      put the institution of monarchy in the line of fire. Clearly, the king
      believes that the risk is worth taking. Which brings us to the matter of
      whether Narayanhiti Royal Palace has a trump card vis-à-vis the raging
      Maoist insurgency. If such is indeed the case and there is rapid movement
      towards tranquility, with the insurgents being routed or laying down arms,
      the royal palace may be able to overcome the turbulence it has introduced
      into the Nepali polity. Peace and an end to
      the insurgency would put the monarchy back on the pedestal as a respected
      institution, but everything depends on how soon that would happen. At one
      time, the Maoists did announce that they would negotiate only with Prime
      Minister Deuba's 'master', so are we to hope that now with the king directly
      in-charge the Maoists will extend a hand? We can hope.

      Further, the Royal Nepal Army's fight against the highly motivated and
      increasingly brutal insurgents thus far has been lackluster. Will the royal
      palace's direct control of national affairs mean that the military will now
      put up a spirited fight, and also that its human rights record will improve
      from current levels? We will have to see.

      What is clear is that this has been a radical step exposing the institution
      of kingship to flak, when other approaches could have been tried. Such as
      using the inherent powers of kingship to cajole the political parties to
      work together and put up a political front against the insurgents. But the
      king's deeply held feelings towards the parties seems to have blocked off
      this avenue towards resolution. The calls made since King Gyanendra took
      over informally in October 2002 for an all-party government or revival of
      the Third Parliament, all of which would have provided political challenge
      to the Maoists on their home ground, are now for naught.

      King Gyanendra's announcement of a takeover for 'up to three years'
      provides a long window in which Nepal's highly successful experiment with
      democracy of the last dozen years may be eroded. Unless there is a rapid
      move towards resolution of the insurgency, it is also likely that the
      Maoists will try to make common cause with the political parties. Although
      it is not likely that the above-ground parties will go with the insurgents
      as long as they hold on to the gun, it is certain that the royal action
      will add strength to the insurgents' demand for a king-less republican
      constitution and government, a call that has been taken up with alacrity
      lately by many politicians.

      It is inexplicable how the royal palace plans to attend to the criticism
      that is bound to erupt in the domestic political arena as well as in the
      international community. In castigating the political parties, King
      Gyanendra preferred to hark back to the Parliament dissolved three years
      ago, while keeping silent over interim period and rule through
      palace-appointed prime ministers. This is the period when the peace and
      security of the country's populace plummeted more than previously.

      In the speech, King Gyanendra highlighted the great contribution of the
      Shah dynasty to the creation of the nation and ventured that he was speaking
      for the 'janabhawana', i.e. the Nepali people's feelings. While it is true
      that the desire for peace overwhelms all other political desires among the
      people, the question arises whether the royal takeover was the proper way to
      address the 'chahana' (desires). Rather than remonstrate at the political
      parties' inability to work together and opt for the takeover, it would have
      been a much more popular and realistic move for the king to have used his
      prerogative as head-of-state to bring the bickering parties together at this
      critical juncture.

      In the end, unless King Gyanendra is able to come up with the trump card of
      peace vis-a-vis the Maoists in the near term, one can conclude that his
      unprecedented action of the First of February has exposed the historically
      significant institution of Nepal's monarchy to the vissictitudes of
      day-to-day politics and power play. Did the Nepali monarchy deserve this at
      this late a date in history?

      Endnote: As I write this on Tuesday evening, the significant political
      leaders are all under house arrest, the media (press, television, radio) is
      under censorship, the fundamental freedoms have been suspended, a state of
      emergency has been announced, telephones (landlines and cellular) as well as
      Internet are down, and the Tribhuvan International Airport is closed.

      o o o o o

      (ii)

      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Sara Beth Shneiderman <ss364@...>
      Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 22:58:47 -0500 (EST)
      Subject: [INSN] news digest from Kathmandu, Friday, Feb 4, 2005, 11am


      Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
      Date: Friday, February 4, 2005

      [This brief news digest was prepared by Sara Shneiderman and Mark Turin,
      researchers from Cornell and Cambridge universities, who are currently
      based in Nepal. Due to the ongoing communications blackout and widespread
      censorship in effect, little information about Nepal is getting out. We
      are sending this email out through a secure V-SAT link from a foreign
      mission in Kathmandu. Please disseminate this news digest widely to
      friends of Nepal, to media outlets and to politicians in your own country
      who may be willing to express their condemnation of the King's action. We
      will continue to send brief updates as often as we can until
      communications are restored.]

      At 10am on Tuesday, February 1, 2005, Nepal's King Gyanendra gave a
      televised address in which he sacked the country's coalition government,
      dissolved the ministries and suspended fundamental rights under a State of
      Emergency. Citing Article 127 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal,
      1990, the King constituted a council of ministers under his own
      chairmanship.

      During his 40-minute speech to the nation, he heaped scorn upon Nepal's
      political parties for allegedly destroying the country's infrastructure.
      According to the King, despite having had adequate opportunities to
      resolve the state's ongoing conflict with Maoist insurgents, or call an
      election, the political parties had failed the people of Nepal. Laying
      claim to the glorious history of the Shah dynasty, Gyanendra stressed the
      age-old relationship between King and subjects and promised to restore
      multi-party democracy within three years.

      As the speech came to a close around 10:40am, all fixed and mobile
      telephone lines were cut, and non-satellite internet connections were down
      by the end of the day. By noon, the Kathmandu Valley was effectively
      sealed off from the rest of Nepal and the outside world: Tribhuvan
      International Airport was closed, with all incoming flights diverted
      elsewhere, and the main road arteries out of the Valley were blocked by
      security forces.

      Despite these draconian measures, the city was calm, with most shops
      remaining open through the end of the business day. There were rumours of
      a curfew, which sent schoolchildren scurrying home in the mid-afternoon,
      but these were unfounded. Armed security forces in riot gear were deployed
      across the city, and there was little obvious protest against the King's
      move.

      Many citizens said they were relieved that the King had taken control,
      stating that there was no other way out of the political stalemate that
      has crippled the country for the last several months. To them, Gyanendra's
      move was a brave risk, which would either see the King's previously mixed
      reputation cleared, or destroyed once and for all. There were also many
      sceptical voices, who feared a return to Panchayat era secrecy and the
      repeal of liberties hard-won over the last fourteen years of democratic
      process.

      By Tuesday evening, there was no sign of communications returning, and
      people gathered what information they could from their colleagues,
      neighbours and friends. In discussions with Nepali journalists and
      academics, foreigners in official and diplomatic positions in Kathmandu,
      conflict monitoring groups and the media, we learned that the leaders of
      major political parties, trade unions and student organisations were under
      house arrest or taken to one of six major detention centres around the
      valley. Captains and majors of the Royal Nepal Army were stationed in the
      editorial offices of all national dailies in order to censor the morning
      editions before they were put to bed.

      On Wednesday, many of the foreign missions based in Kathmandu issued
      statements. They had been taken by surprise by the royal-military coup,
      and the United Nations, Unites States, United Kingdom, the Council of the
      European Union and India all expressed varying degrees of strongly-worded
      concern. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he would not
      attend the SAARC summit scheduled for the coming week in Bangladesh as a
      vote of protest against 'political turmoil' in the region. Only China was
      reported to have accepted the King's power grab without critique, stating
      that it would not pass judgement on Nepal's internal affairs. Prachanda,
      Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), issued a passionate
      statement dated February 1 condemning the King's action and calling upon
      'pro-people forces' in the country to join with the Maoists to topple the
      monarchy and build a republic. The Maoists reiterated their call for a
      three-day national strike, which had predated the royal proclamation.

      Judging by the traffic on the streets on Thursday morning, the Maoist call
      was not heeded, which many saw as an indication of King Gyanendra's
      influence over the populace and iron grip over the nation's capital.
      Outside of Kathmandu, the Maoist strike was apparently observed. Reports
      started to trickle in from the rest of the country, thanks to limited road
      travel in private vehicles and a brief reprieve in the communications
      blackout (landlines were turned on for one to two hours each evening, but
      internet servers, cellular phones and international lines remain blocked).

      Specific events reported by reliable sources include a student
      demonstration at Prithvi Narayan Campus in Pokhara which was fired on by a
      military helicopter gunship leaving several protestors badly injured if
      not dead; the blocking of all FM radio broadcasts outside of Kathmandu and
      the instruction to those broadcasting in Kathmandu to play only
      entertainment-oriented programmes; the BBC FM station recently established
      in Kathmandu being forbidden from broadcasting the news in Nepali; the
      closure of news stands outside of the Valley; and a 72-hour blockade on
      long-distance public bus travel in and out of Kathmandu.

      As of writing on Friday morning, the communications network remains down.
      Journalists and human rights activists are concerned that they will be the
      next targets for arrest now that most political leaders have been muted.
      It remains to be seen how wide the web of detentions will be, but there is
      a sense of powerlessness and foreboding for the future among those who
      have previously expressed criticism of the state in any way.

      o o o o o

      (iii)

      Reporters Sans Frontières
      5 rue Geoffroy Marie
      75009 Paris, France

      Reporters Without Borders

      Press Release
      4 February 2005

      NEPAL: KING ROLLS BACK 15 YEARS OF PRESS FREEDOM GAINS IN FOUR DAYS

      Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at
      the drastic manner in which King Gyanendra and
      his army have wiped out the press freedom gains
      of the past 15 years, along with other democratic
      gains, since the coup d'etat on 1 February.

      The state news media and ten privately-owned
      media have been put under direct military
      control. Dozens of news media have been closed in
      the provinces. The authorities have banned any
      negative reporting about the regime for six
      months. Dozens of journalists are pursued by the
      security forces, including the president of the
      Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ). And
      foreign news media correspondents are being
      prevented from working freely.

      "By criminalizing the right to inform and by
      bringing a vibrant and courageous independent
      press to its knees, the king is responsible for
      the most important setback to freedom in 15
      years," Reporters Without Borders said, voicing
      support for the FNJ's call for demonstrations to
      defend Nepalese democracy.

      The press freedom organization said it urged the
      international community to freeze aid to the
      Nepalese government immediately. The aid should
      be conditioned on respect for basic freedoms
      including freedom of expression, it said.

      Reporters Without Borders has identified King
      Gyanendra as a predator of press freedom for the
      past three years. He has defended the abuses
      which eight UN experts described as extremely
      serious in 2004, above all because of the
      increase in torture and detention in undisclosed
      locations. Some 400 journalists were arrested or
      imprisoned by the security forces in 2004.

      Nepal has been cut off from the world since 1
      February. The few reports getting out indicate a
      very severe clampdown on both state and
      privately-owned media. Military are in charge of
      censoring state TV programmes. Army officers have
      moved into the offices of the main
      privately-owned newspapers, including the daily
      Kantipur. The premises of the weekly Janaastha,
      known for criticising the monarchy, were overrun
      on 1 February by around 20 soldiers who
      sequestered the journalists there for the first
      24 hours. An officer has stayed to censor reports.

      Kantipur's famous editorialist, Khagendra
      Sangraula, who is known for his criticism of the
      palace, has been detained in an army barracks in
      Kathmandu.

      The work of the few foreign press correspondents
      has been blocked. The news agency Reuters said
      hotel owners have refused to let foreign TV crews
      install their satellite dishes on hotel roofs.
      The military police briefly detained about 10
      Nepalese and foreign journalists today,
      confiscating equipment. They included the
      correspondents of the Associated Press, who were
      covering the arrests of some 50 Congress Party
      activists.

      The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
      said FNJ president Tara Nath Dahal had been in
      hiding since the security forces tried to arrest
      him at his home. The FNJ had condemned what it
      called a "coup d'etat against democracy" and
      called on journalists to fight with courage and
      determination to guarantee the right of the
      Nepalese people to news and information.

      The IFJ said the military has imposed censorship
      throughout the country. All the media were closed
      down in the central town of Pokhara, where the
      army fired on a crowd of students. "You can no
      longer publish news, that is the responsibility
      of the newspapers in Kathmandu," an officer
      reportedly told a Pokhara journalist.

      All of Nepal's community radio stations have been
      closed, while the oldest community station, Radio
      Sagarmatha, is now controlled by the army. News
      programmes have been banned. The military ordered
      two FM radio stations and four local newspapers
      to close in the western district of Rupandehi.


      o o o o o

      (iv)

      3 February 2005

      TRADE UNIONISTS CALL FOR RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY IN NEPAL

      At a meeting of journalist trade unionists in
      Bangalore, India, organised by the International
      Federation of Journalists (IFJ), representatives
      and office bearers of the All India Newspaper
      Employees’ Federation, the Indian Journalists’
      Union and the National Union of Journalists,
      India expressed their deep concern about recent
      events in Nepal and called upon the King to
      immediately restore multi party democracy and
      ensure the safety of media workers in Nepal.

      In sacking his government overnight the Nepalese
      King has abolished democracy and induced tyranny
      on the Nepalese people. All phone lines and
      Internet communication have been cut off, and
      there is fear for the safety of all Nepalese,
      including the many journalists there. According
      to information received soon after the coup
      d’etat, one of the first acts of the King after
      the take-over was to summon all newspaper editors
      to the palace. They were told that from now on,
      all publications would be vetted.

      The IFJ has documented Nepal's grim history of
      violating human rights and oppressing freedom of
      expression. More than 100 journalists were
      arrested during the previous state of emergency
      and many of them were tortured.

      Trade unionists gathered at Bangalore urged the
      governments in South Asia to apply pressure on
      the King of Nepal to re-instate democracy and
      human rights, and urged the King to ensure the
      free passage and safety of all journalists and
      their access to communication lines and
      information.


      All India Newspaper Employees Federation
      Indian Journalists’ Union
      National Union of Journalists, India

      Bangalore, India

      3 February 2005

      Laxmi Murthy
      Tolerance Prize Coordinator (South Asia)
      International Federation of Journalists, New Delhi
      378/37 NOIDA,
      U.P. 201 303, India

      ______


      [3] [Bangladesh]

      (i)

      www.sacw.net | February 6, 2005
      URL: www.sacw.net/Bangladesh/72women06022005.html

      [A statement issued by 74 women in Dhaka, on 30
      January, 2005 following the assassination of Shah
      A M S Kibria and five members of his audience
      (Abul Hossain, Farid, Manjurul Huda Manju, Siddiq
      Ali, Abdur Rahim) in a grenade attack on a public
      meeting in Habiganj, Sylhet, Bangladesh. ]

      WE, THE CITIZENS OF BANGLADESH DEMAND SECURITY. . .

      The latest in a series of bomb attacks occurred on 27 January 2005 at
      an Awami League public meeting in Habiganj, Sylhet. In this attack
      Shah A M S Kibria, member of Parliament, internationally renowned
      economist, freedom-fighter, language movement activist, member of
      Awami League's Presidium, the former Finance Minister and 5 others (
      Abul Hossain, Farid, Manjurul Huda Manju, Siddiq Ali, Abdur Rahim)
      were killed. According to newspaper reports, nearly a hundred persons
      were injured. The targeted killing of a high-ranking leader of a large
      political party has shocked people at large. Citizens are now fearful
      that bomb attacks may occur in the most unsuspecting of public places.
      They are also distrustful because of the administration's failure to
      take action against the perpetrators of previous bomb attacks, or to
      take adequate security measures. The situation is leading to
      increasing desperation, and encourages criminality and violence. We
      think the present situation is highly dangerous for the nation as it
      signals an absolute breakdown of political and social morals.

      In the last 5 years, from March 1999 to January 2005, over 140 persons
      have been killed in 21 bomb and grenade attacks. These attacks have
      targeted political public meetings, cultural activities, including
      theatre performances (Jatra and Baul singing), and even homes of
      political or cultural activists. We do not think that these incidents
      are unconnected; on the contrary, they appear to be systematic and
      well planned. This is why these incidents of bomb and grenade attacks
      are very alarming. We are concerned with the administration's failure
      to prevent these attacks, to carry out proper investigations, to make
      public investigation reports or to bring the perpetrators to justice.
      What is most alarming is the inefficiency, incapability and lack of a
      clear political will on the part of the government to stem the tide of
      political violence.

      Information available from different news sources - government and
      private - reveals that after these bomb or grenade attacks,
      investigations have remained inconclusive, evidence has been
      destroyed, enquiry commission reports have not been made public and
      perpetrators have not been caught. Instead a few arrests made on
      grounds of suspicion have been a source of harassment, and only once
      has the accused been charge-sheeted. So far no trial has been held.
      The inquiry reports that were published after the grenade attack on
      the Bangla New Year celebrations in 2001 at Ramna, Dhaka, (which
      killed 10 persons including 1 woman) and the bomb attack on a large
      Awami League rally on 21 August, (which killed Ivy Rehman and 20
      others including 4 women) were incomplete and lacking in credibility.
      After each such incident the Prime Minister, Cabinet members and
      high-ranking officials promised to bring the culprits to justice.
      These promises ring hollow to the citizens of Bangladesh, as
      successive grenade attacks and bomb explosions have led to the killing
      of Ahsanullah Master, a member of Parliament from Ghazipur and a
      popular Awami League leader, several well-respected journalists, such
      as Manik Shaha and Humayun Kabir and political activists.

      In the name of quelling terror attacks and law enforcement, officially
      commissioned forces such as RAB, Cheeta, Cobra and the police have
      killed alleged suspects in custody, without giving them the benefit of
      a trial, and referred to their deaths as "crossfire" killings,. There
      has been no enquiry into the causes of these "crossfire killings". On
      the other hand, the administration has remained passive in the face of
      the vigilantist killings (of 20 persons) and torture perpetrated by
      Siddiqul Islam aka Bangla Bhai's and his gang in the name of
      suppressing Shorbohara members. Bangla Bhai remains at large inspite
      of an order of arrest from the Prime Minister reported in the media in
      2004. Several ministers and relevant police officials have dismissed
      Bangla Bhai as a figment of media imagination despite clear evidence
      to the contrary.

      Irresponsibe acts by those in the highest seats of government and the
      lack of sincere, committed, and sustained measures for law enforcement
      has created tremendous insecurity for citizens and is a cause for
      deep social unrest. The growing tendency to extra-judicial killings
      has created an alarming deterioration in the law-and-order situation.
      It has curtailed citizensâ*™ rights to freedom of political
      participation and cultural activities. We demand an end to this
      situation. We also demand that the administration take immediate steps
      to ensure security for all public and private functions, political and
      cultural activities (such as the traditional Jatra), and women's
      sports (wrestling, swimming, football), and to create an environment
      for the practice of citizen's rights.

      We grieve for each life that has been lost, for each life that has
      been maimed or injured. At the same time, we condemn the terror
      attacks in the strongest possible language.

      We demand:

      - an independent and transparent investigation into each bomb blast
      and grenade attack (free of government intervention);
      - medical care for those injured in such attacks and compensation for
      their families;
      - the culprits be identified, and tried and that those found guilty be
      duly punished
      - steps be taken to improve the law and order situation,
      - that newly constituted forces stop using methods that are leading to
      custodial deaths or other forms of torture in the name of law enforcement,
      - that measures be taken to reinstate public faith in the law, courts,
      judicial system and in public institutions
      - an environment conducive to the performance of cultural activities
      (Jatra, Baul singing), to women's sports events (wrestling, swimming,
      football).

      (Coalition of Outraged Women
      Join us in a silent procession to protest bomb attacks, on 2 February,
      2005 at 3 pm starting from Muktangan to Shahid Minar )

      Signatories:
      1. Hena Das
      2. Laila Kabir
      3. Ayesha Khanam
      4. Farida Akhter
      5. Shirin Akhtar
      6. Hasina Akhter
      7. Shamim Akhter
      8. Shahin Akhter
      1. Prof Nasrin Ahmed
      10. Khursheed Erfan Ahmed
      11. Rubina Ahmed
      12. Rehnuma Ahmed
      13. Nahar Ahmed
      14. Hasina Ahmed
      15. Aasha Mehreen Amin
      16. Dr Sonia Amin
      17. Rabiya Sultana Anju
      18. Advocate Salma Ali
      19. Shaheen Anam
      20. Fatema Sannaiya Ansari
      21. Nasima Akhter Banu
      22. Supriya Bari
      23. Suraiya Begum
      24. Maleka Begum
      25. Bilkis Nahar Biju
      26. Kanak Chapa Chakma
      27. Ila Chanda
      28. Rekha Chowdhury
      29. Protiti Debi
      30. Aroma Dutt
      31. Nina Goswami
      32. Dr Sadeka Halim
      33. Mita Haq
      34. Adv. Sigma Huda
      35. Minu Haque
      36. Adv. Rezwana Hasan
      37. Sara Hossain
      38. Dr Hameeda Hossain
      39. Fatema Hussain
      40. Tasmima Hussain
      41. Naseema Islam
      42. Salma Jebin
      43. Nargis Jaffar
      44. Rounaq Jahan
      45. Roushan Jahan
      46. Shamshunahar Joshna
      47. Umme Hasan Jhulmul
      48. Shirin Kabir
      49. Joshna Kabir
      50. Sultana Kamal
      51. Saeeda Kamal
      52. Saeeda Gulrukh Kamal
      53. Khaleda Khatoon
      54. Khushi Kabir
      55. Dr Naila Khan
      56. Dr Nasreen Khondker
      57. Iti Koro
      58. Hameeda Akhter Laily
      59. Mahbuba Akhter Lipi
      60. Tayyaba Lipi
      61. Shirin Banu Mithil
      62. Dil Monwara Monnu
      63. Munira Murshid Munni
      64. Shukla Pal
      65. Roushan Jahan Parveen
      66. Ferdausi Priyobarshini
      67. Faustina Pereira
      68. Malika Perveen
      69. Shahrukh Rahman
      70. Shamshunahar Rahman Rose
      71. Roqaiya Rafiq
      72. Fahmida Rakhi
      73. Dr Makhduma Nargis Ratna
      74. Rasheda Begum Rekha
      75. Afroza Haq Rina
      76. Adv Sultana Akhter Ruby
      77. Zafreen Sattar
      78. Mina Sarkar
      79. Masuda Akhtar Shefali
      80. Hajera Sultana
      81. Shimul Yusuf
      82. Sara Zaker
      83. Fareha Zeba

      o o o o o

      (ii)

      Appeal to Overseas Bangladesh Communities
      by Mrs. Asma Kibria [February 5, 2005, Dhaka]
      URL:www.sacw.net/Bangladesh/AsmaKibria05022005.html

      _______


      [4]


      URGENT PRESS RELEASE

      New Delhi, 1st February 2005: Protesting against
      the state-sponsored violence against indigenous
      and dalit peoples in Orissa to facilitate the
      entry of mining companies into bauxite rich
      forest lands, members of Orissa-based struggle
      group Prakrutik Sampada Surakshya Parishad
      (PSSP), alongwith New Delhi-based youth and human
      rights activists, writers and intellectuals today
      submitted a memorandum to the Resident
      Commissioner of Orissa after a peaceful
      demonstration in front of the Orissa Bhavan in
      New Delhi this morning. Organizations present
      included PSSP, AIPRF, Samajwadi Jan Parishad,
      PUDR, Saheli, Sandhaan, Jagori, DSU, The Other
      Media, Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha and others. The
      memorandum demanded the immediate and
      unconditional release of 18 PSSP members who have
      been illegally arrested since December 2004 and
      to stop the human rights abuses by the state
      police on the villagers around Kashipur who have
      been for years peacefully resisted the moves by
      bauxite mining consortium Utkal Alumina
      International Ltd (UAIL) to take over their land
      and forests for a 100% export oriented alumina
      mining and refinery project.

      The Rs 4500 crore UAIL is a joint venture of
      Indian company HINDALCO (55% share) and Canadian
      company ALCAN (45%). TATA, HYDRO (Norwegian) and
      ALCOA (America) who were earlier part of the
      venture, were forced to withdraw from the project
      due to the mass struggle and opposition by the
      villagers. The project will source bauxite from a
      195 million ton deposit in Baphli Mali, a sacred
      hill for the adivasis. The promoters also plan to
      set up an alumina refinery near Kucheipadar,
      from where it will be exported. At the
      refinery's capacity of consuming 9 million tones
      of bauxite per year, the Baphlimali deposit will
      be exhausted within two decades.

      The mines and refinery are slotted to come up in
      adivasi-majority areas that are protected by the
      Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. The Fifth
      Schedule guarantees the right of land to
      adivasis, and prohibits the transfer of these
      lands to non-tribals for any purpose. "The
      Government of Orissa is in the hands of the
      mining companies. Since early December, the
      Government has unleashed a reign of terror in the
      villages near the proposed mining project, and is
      keen on evicting the people at gun-point," said
      Rabi Shankar of PSSP.

      On November 25, 2004 Orissa Chief Minister Naveen
      Patnaik was quoted as saying that anti-mining
      struggles will be firmly dealt with. From late
      November, villages that are protesting the Utkal
      Alumina project proposed on their lands have
      been under siege by the police.

      On December 1st , 2004, the state police launched
      a brutal lathi charge on 400 adivasis, mostly
      women, who had gathered to protest the
      inauguration of a road to a proposed
      bauxite-mining site in Baphlimali owned by ALCAN.
      As a result, 16 people were critically injured
      and three women were beaten unconscious. Since
      this incident, platoons of armed police with
      firing orders have occupied Kucheipadar
      village-the center of the adivasi struggle.
      Eighteen activists of PSSP, the umbrella
      organization of adivasis spearheading the
      struggle against bauxite mining have been picked
      up from their villages mostly in the night in
      separate incidents and are now in jail without
      access to bail.

      "This is not the first time that adivasis of
      Kashipur are facing such state repression and
      police brutality," said Rabi Shankar. On December
      16, 2000, three adivasis were killed in Kashipur
      when police fired on unarmed villagers associated
      with the people's struggle against bauxite
      mining. Following international outrage at the
      incident, one of UAIL's original stakeholders,
      Norsk Hydro of Norway, withdrew from the project
      in a move that clearly implicated both the UAIL
      and the Orissa government.

      The situation in rest of Orissa is not very
      different. As many as five bauxite mining and
      alumina projects are in the pipeline, covering 5
      blocks of 3 districts - Kashipur ( Rayagada
      district) , Luxmipur and Dasamantpur ( Koraput),
      Lanjigada and Thuamulrampur (Kalahandi). Sterlite
      is proposed to source bauxite from Sasubohu mali
      of Kashipur block. Larson and Tubro from
      Sijimali and Kutrumali ( Kashipur block), Birla
      from Kodinga Mali ( Luxmipur block) and Vedanta
      from Niyamgiri and Khandual mali of Kalahandi
      district.

      "The total investment in the Orissa bauxite
      projects is to the tune of Rs 20,000 crores.
      Taking into consideration the present price of
      even just UAIL, the joint venture will reap a
      profit of at least Rs 2,88,000 crore during the
      22-23 years of the project life, whereas the
      government will get Rs. 1300-1400 crores as
      royalty during that period. And the adivasis and
      dalits of these villages will get state
      repression, and a lifetime of misery and slum
      life," added Ranjana Padhi of Saheli Women's
      Resource Centre, Delhi, a group supporting the
      Kashipur peoples' struggle.

      The group has also appealed to the PMO office and
      the SC/ST for the release of the 18 people. For
      more information, contact: Ranjana Padhi; Harish
      Dhawan <kashipursolidarityindelhi@...>

      _______


      [5]

      AWAAZ - SOUTH ASIA WATCH LIMITED, LONDON, UK [www.awaazsaw.org]
      A UK-based South Asian secular network committed to challenging all
      forms of religious hatred and violence

      Contacts: contact@...

      3 February 2005

      PRESS ADVISORY
      IMMEDIATE

      A DECEPTION EXPOSED - BUT A CRUCIAL OPPORTUNITY WASTED

      The report by the Charity Commission into the fundraising activities of
      Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS, charity number 267309) still leaves many
      questions hanging about the charity's connections with extremist and
      violent groups in India.

      The inquiry acknowledged a number of points first made by Awaaz - South
      Asia Watch's report last year [1]. The most disturbing fact is that the
      charity and its two other operating arms in the UK (Sewa International)
      and India (Sewa Bharati), have failed to provide audited accounts of how
      the money raised for the Gujarat earthquake appeal was spent in India.

      The Charity Commission also admits that it was unable to establish for
      itself how the funds were used in India, as they were not granted visas
      by the then BJP-headed Indian government.

      Awaaz believes the British public will be alarmed that HSS has been
      unable to provide audited accounts for how money donated in good faith
      to victims of the earthquake was actually spent abroad.

      The money that was raised by Sewa International, the UK 'service' arm of
      the HSS, was given to Sewa Bharati in India, the report confirms. Sewa
      Bharati is known to be a key front organization for the Rashtriya
      Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS has long been involved and implicated
      in anti-minority violence and hatred. Similarly, Sewa Bharati has been
      involved in violent and hate-driven activities in Madhya Pradesh and
      elsewhere in India.

      The Charity Commission's inquiry corroborates Awaaz's claim that Sewa
      International failed to consistently and clearly identify its link with
      the HSS. The Commission says that on some appeal literature, the HSS
      registered number was quoted, but the name of the charity was not.

      Awaaz also welcomes the advice by the Charity Commission that:

      * Sewa International must fully declare its association with HSS in
      all its promotional, campaign and fundraising material. Awaaz believes
      that in its recent Asian tsunami appeals, Sewa International UK
      continues to fall well short of this key threshold of public
      transparency and accountability.

      * Charities operating internationally have a range of duties and
      obligations regarding good accounting practice, accounting transparency
      and accounting records, including good practice in producing audited
      accounts relating to expenditure abroad.

      While welcoming the report, Awaaz feels that it does not go far enough.
      Awaaz believes it represents a wasted opportunity to bring to light the
      ways and means used by violent fundamentalist organizations abroad to
      raise funds from the UK public without the public being made aware of
      the nature of the organizations hiding behind charitable fundraising.

      * By limiting its inquiry, without legitimate reason, solely to the
      Gujarat Earthquake Appeal, the Charity Commission failed to address the
      nature of the RSS/HSS, and the consistent support and fundraising
      undertaken by HSS/Sewa International UK over several decades for
      violent, extremist and hate-promoting organizations in India. Sewa
      International UK is a fundraising front for RSS organizations in India;
      the HSS is a branch of the RSS in the UK. The allegiance of both
      organizations is to the secretive paramilitary cult of the RSS and its
      family of organizations. Sewa International / HSS has raised funds for
      organizations such as the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram that have been involved
      in large-scale anti-minority violence in Gujarat (during the carnage
      there in 2002) and elsewhere.

      * Even within this limited remit (the Gujarat earthquake funds), the
      Charity Commission failed to investigate and report on several serious
      allegations that it was fully aware of: that all the Gujarat earthquake
      money was given to Sewa Bharati, a key RSS front organization; that Sewa
      Bharati branches in Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere have an extensive,
      publicly documented track record of anti-minority violence and hatred,
      including allegations of bomb making in Madhya Pradesh; that all the
      money raised from the British public for 'Schools Project 2' (some £1.3
      million) was for building sectarian, highly controversial RSS schools
      and not directly for earthquake relief; that money from 'Schools Project
      2' was sent to organizations that are known in Gujarat (Lok Kalyan
      Trust) or elsewhere (Jankalyan Samiti) to be involved or implicated in
      serious violence and hatred.

      * The Charity Commission claims that HSS / Sewa International UK had
      taken steps to ensure funds were applied in accordance with the
      earthquake appeal. This claim is based on a document presented by
      supporters of Sewa International UK (none of whom provided evidence of
      Sewa Bharati's accounts.) Yet the Charity Commission report also states
      that it has been unable to establish how the funds were utilised in
      India. It further states that no audited accounts from Sewa Bharati
      Gujarat were received. These findings are inconsistent and are a cause
      for considerable concern.

      * Another investigation [1] into the use of Gujarat earthquake funds
      by Sewa International UK was produced by Awaaz, a small unfunded
      organization with comparatively few resources. This showed that Sewa
      International UK misled the British public about the number of villages
      it claimed it was rebuilding, and that it did not disclose to the
      British public information about the extensive funds that it received
      for the six villages from state governments in India. This report also
      showed the extensive promotion of the RSS, its ideology and its leaders
      that went along with Sewa International UK's earthquake-related efforts.

      * The Charity Commission report accepts that there is only an
      ideological commonality between the HSS UK and the RSS. We are concerned
      that this claim does not affect the credibility of the Charity
      Commission, since the Commission might be widely seen as one of few
      organizations in existence that does not seem to know that the HSS UK
      and Sewa International UK are RSS outfits. The RSS openly states that
      HSS UK is its branch and Sewa International is its project. The
      extensive evidence of the RSS's direction, guidance, involvement in and
      support of its UK organizations, and the extensive and active working
      links between the RSS and the HSS UK are amply documented [1]. These
      associations have also been widely publicised in the Indian and UK press
      / media.

      Sewa International / HSS UK's intimate and extensive links with the RSS
      are more important than ever to expose given the devastating Asian
      tsunami and the remarkable groundswell of British public sympathy for
      and generosity towards the victims. For its tsunami-related fundraising
      in the UK the RSS has relied virtually exclusively on Sewa International
      UK. And yet again, HSS / Sewa International UK are up to their tricks in
      their tsunami fundraising campaigns. This has included failing to
      disclose that they are fundraising virtually entirely for RSS
      organizations in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in India, including
      organizations linked to violence and hate.

      Awaaz calls on the Charity Commission to open fresh, thorough and
      competent investigations into the ideological and political links
      between the HSS / Sewa International UK, the VHP UK, the Kalyan Ashram
      Trust UK (all registered charities) and the RSS and its family of
      organizations.

      [ENDS]

      NOTES

      [1]. The Awaaz report is available from www.awaazsaw.org/ibf. The report
      is titled: In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism, published
      by Awaaz - South Asia Watch Ltd, London, 2004, ISBN 0 9547174 0 6.

      [2] The Charity Commission's report can be accessed here:
      http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/investigations/inquiryreports/hss.asp

      [3]. The RSS, the 'National Volunteers' Corps', was formed in 1926 and
      is dedicated to turning India from a secular, democratic,
      multi-religious nation into an authoritarian anti-minority 'Hindu
      nation'. It has a large family of closely allied organisations operating
      in India and abroad. The founders and key leaders of the RSS were
      strongly inspired by Fascist Italy and vocally supported Nazi Germany,
      including Nazi policies towards German-Jews. The ideology of the RSS is
      'Hindutva', a belief that India only belongs to Hindus who 'share the
      blood' of 'Vedic-Aryans' and who consider India as their 'holyland'. M.
      K. Gandhi was murdered by an RSS supporter.

      [4]. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK is the British branch of the RSS. Sewa
      International UK is its 'service project' and is the British fundraising
      arm for RSS front organisations in India.


      ________


      [6]

      Acceptance Statement: National Award for Best Non-Feature film

      Two years ago our film "War and Peace" was
      refused a censor certificate. The Bombay High
      Court finally ruled that the film could be shown
      without cuts. Next we fought so that
      documentaries in the video format could become
      eligible for national awards. Our fight does not
      end here. The filmmaking community wants to
      ensure that censor certificates are no longer
      required for national awards and film festivals.

      In a country like India divided by class, caste
      and gender, the democratic rights of weaker
      sections continue to be compromised. And yet it
      will be foolish to ignore the moments in time
      when our democracy begins to live up to its name.

      "War and Peace" is a critique of nuclear weapons
      in India and abroad. The Honourable President who
      is giving this national award is one of the
      architects of India's nuclear policy! This may
      be a delicious irony but it is also a welcome
      signifier of democracy.

      Our next effort will be to get the film telecast
      on national television and encourage debate on
      what exactly constitutes national security, what
      is considered to be good science, and what
      constitutes patriotism. Is it love for a piece of
      land that could well become radio-active for
      millions of years, or love for the people who
      live and die on this land.

      I thank the many who helped to make and show the
      film and accept this award on behalf of all those
      in our subcontinent who are fighting for
      democracy, communal harmony, de-militarization
      and peace.


      Anand Patwardhan Feb 2, 2005
      Contact: <anandpat@...>


      _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

      Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
      Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
      citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
      Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
      SACW archive is available at: bridget.jatol.com/pipermail/sacw_insaf.net/

      Sister initiatives :
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      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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