SACW | 17 Feb 2005
- South Asia Citizens Wire | 17 Feb., 2005
 Press Release re recent rape of a physician -
Asian American Network Against Abuse of Women of
(i) Citizens Letter to the King re arrest of Professor Lok Raj Baral
(ii) Committee to Protect Journalists urges Nepal to restore press freedom
(iii) Eleven steps to safeguard press freedom in
Nepal (Reporters without Borders)
 Bangladesh: Bangladesh: Bomb Attacks by Fundamentalists
People Urged To Fight Back Fundamentalist Forces
+ Brac, Grameen Bank under bomb attack
 India - anti sikh riots of 1984: Justice as
self-purification (Jyotirmaya Sharma)
 India: The Hindu far iight and their
extraterritorial loyalty (J Sri Raman)
 Japanese peace mission travels to Pakistan -
'Learning From Hiroshima' (Zubeida Mustafa)
(i) Meeting on Slum Demolitions in Bombay (New Delhi, 19 February 2005)
(ii) Suggestions re 'Food-for-work' in India
(iii) The Metrosexuals: Exploring the Unexplored (Red Earth)
[15 February 2005]
Asian American Network Against Abuse of Women of Pakistan (ANAA)
Members of Asian American Network Against Abuse
of Women of Pakistan (ANAA) are outraged at the
recent rape of a physician while on duty working
for Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL). Rape is
a violation of human rights and that of a healer
who should have been given protection by PPL is
beyond belief. Not only did PPL management fail
to provide security to her, they tried to cover up
this heinous crime and the alleged involvement of
Pakistan army officers in this crime is even more
infuriating. To make matters worse, now this
unfortunate doctor is also being labeled as Kari
her own tribe has vowed to take her life. We
demand justice for the victim and harsh punitive
actions to be taken against PPL. Nothing can
alleviate the pain and suffering of this
but making an example of giants like PPL will
scare future perpetrators. We demand justice so
that our women can feel safe and their families
can allow them to pursue professional career
We have started a signature campaign. Our goal is
500 signature and we have crossed 225 mark.
Letter will be sent to Ambassador Pakistan and
 [Nepal : Statements by citizens and Rights groups]
16 February 2001
5 Falgun 2061
His Majesty King Gyanendra
Chairman, Council of Ministers
His Majesty's Government
On 7 February 2005 (25 Magh 2061), Professor Lok Raj Baral was
picked up by security personnel on arrival from New Delhi at the
Tribhuvan International Airport. He has been in detention since.
Prof. Baral is an independent scholar, and his arrest for unknown
reasons has provided cause for concern among the country's
academics, intellectuals and others. No society can progress when
independent thought and expression are controlled. Such actions
also hamper the search for a common solution to the difficulties
facing the country.
We the undersigned seek the immediate release of Prof. Baral.
Kanak Mani Dixit
o o o o
Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Fl., New York, NY 10001 USA
February 16, 2005
His Excellency Ambassador Kedar Bhakta Shrestha
2131 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Via facsimile: 202-667-5534
Dear Ambassador Shrestha:
Thank you for meeting with Joel Simon, deputy
director of the Committee to Protect Journalists,
and CPJ Washington, D.C., Representative Frank
Smyth last week. As communicated in that meeting,
CPJ is deeply alarmed at the treatment of
Nepalese journalists since King Gyanendra's
February 1 declaration of a state of emergency,
and we urged your government to restore press
freedom immediately in the interests of your
nation's citizens and its international standing.
We greatly appreciate your offer to convey our
grave concerns to the king.
The recent assault on the Nepalese press has been
immense and deeply troubling. More than two weeks
after King Gyanendra cut off all communication in
the country and imposed total media censorship,
many of the drastic measures affecting Nepal's
journalists remain in place. A program of
military-enforced censorship that began on
February 1 has not been lifted, and hundreds of
journalists who cannot report the news face
layoffs. Communications have been restored with
the disturbing caveat that security forces may
monitor and cut them off at will. And several
journalists remain in detention, including Bishnu
Nisthuri, the General Secretary of the Federation
of Nepalese Journalists.
Threats to the press leave all citizens at
increased risk of abuse by security forces.
Reports from Nepal indicate that the media
crackdown has been most severe in rural areas,
which are the primary site of conflict between
the army and Maoist rebels.
CPJ is particularly concerned about the following press freedom violations:
Independent FM radio stations have been banned
from reporting the news and are limited to
broadcasting entertainment programming. Hundreds
of broadcast journalists now face layoffs, and
the survival of local radio in Nepal-more than 40
outlets are a primary source of news to people in
districts across the country-is at stake.
The king's orders have banned all media from
broadcasting or publishing negative commentary on
the king's activities or indirectly or directly
criticizing the security forces in any way that
could "affect morale." Anyone who disobeys these
orders will be placed under immediate house
arrest, according to state media.
For a period of days following the February 1
declaration, security forces were stationed at
the nation's major media houses. Military
officers vetted news articles and editorials and
imposed the king's new censorship guidelines by
threat of force. Though the physical presence of
military battalions in media offices in Kathmandu
has diminished, media outlets remain under
military surveillance and censorship. Security
forces continue to enter newspaper and magazine
offices at will. Local sources told CPJ that in
the last week, security forces have entered the
offices of weeklies Chhalphal, Deshantar, and
Dristi to censor their content.
Print publications outside the capital are at an
even greater risk. Because of the disruption in
communications, specific information on
conditions in the provinces is limited. But
sources have told CPJ that many newspapers in the
districts have closed completely-some under
orders of security forces-or have drastically
reduced their staff size.
In the midwestern city of Nepalgunj, the military
rounded up newspaper editors to issue an order
banning them from publishing any information on
civilian deaths perpetrated by security forces.
The 12-point guidelines also banned them from
publishing information on political parties or
quoting news about Maoists from foreign media and
required them to submit publications to the
government for monitoring.
The media was prohibited from reporting on a
February 1 student protest in Pokhara, where
police shot one student and detained and beat 58
others, many of them severely, according to Human
Mobile phone lines across the country remain
down, and the king has authorized security
personnel to monitor or ban the use of telephone,
radio, fax, television, e-mail, or any other form
of electronic media as they see fit.
CPJ has received reports that on February 14,
security forces ordered Nepal Telecommunications
to cut off telephone lines in eastern Nepal's
Sarlahi District, isolating thousands of people
and disrupting all flow of information in that
Detention of journalists
At around 10 p.m. on February 4, security forces
arrested Bishnu Nisthuri, General Secretary of
the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), at
his home in Kathmandu. His arrest came hours
after Nisthuri had issued a statement condemning
the harassment of journalists and military
censorship of the press during the state of
emergency. Nisthuri remains in custody at the
Singha Durbar Ward Police Office.
Security forces have also targeted FNJ President
Tara Nath Dahal, visiting his home and
threatening his wife and children. The offices of
FNJ remain under military surveillance, sources
Also in detention since the first days of the
emergency is Khagendra Sangraula, a columnist for
Kantipur daily and a strong critic of the
monarchy. He is being held at the armed police
headquarters at Halchowk, on the outskirts of
On February 13, security forces arrested two
journalists in Chitwan District for unknown
reasons. We request additional information on the
status of reporters Narayan Adhikari, with the
state-owned Rastriya Samachar Samiti news agency,
and Basanta Parajuli, of the daily Gorkhapatra.
On February 15, security forces arrested D.R.
Panta, local correspondent of Kantipur
publications in the district of Dadeldhura.
According to news reports, he is currently being
held at the district police office.
CPJ also requests additional information on the
reported detentions of FNJ member Narayan Dutta
Kandel, Suresh Chandra Pokhrel of Channel Nepal,
and Suman Shrestha. The latter two were
reportedly arrested while attending protests.
Your Excellency, your government has justified
its actions by claiming that they are necessary
to disrupt the Maoists' alleged communication
network and to put an end to news reports that
were demoralizing the population. But by
dismantling Nepal's communication infrastructure
and shutting down the press, you have gravely
harmed both the people of Nepal and your
country's international reputation. When Maoist
rebels have disrupted communications and attacked
the press, your government has condemned their
actions. Yet officials have now taken much more
sweeping action against the media.
As you well know, Nepal's economy is largely
dependent on international aid and tourism. The
February 1 actions have garnered universal
international censure, compelling several major
donor countries to recall their envoys and
putting millions of dollars of development and
military aid under review. In November 2004, the
U.S. Congress passed a bill linking military aid
to Nepal's demonstrated commitment to human
rights. In May 2004, nine donors, including
Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway, and
Germany, signed a statement making development
aid contingent on democratization and human
According to reports received by CPJ, at least
eight journalists have been arrested since the
crackdown began, putting your country in the
company of just a handful of other countries,
including China, Eritrea, Cuba, and Burma, whose
routine imprisonment of journalists puts them
outside the international mainstream.
As an independent organization dedicated to
defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ calls on
your government to restore full communications
without security surveillance, lift media
censorship, and immediately release all
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your reply.
James Moriarity, U.S. Ambassador to Nepal
Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Artikel 19 (The Netherlands)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Center for Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
Michael G. Kozak, United States Assistant
Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
The Newspaper Guild
The North American Broadcasters Association
Overseas Press Club
Reporters Sans Frontières
The Society of Professional Journalists
World Association of Newspapers
World Press Freedom Committee
o o o o o
Reporters Sans Frontières / Reporters without Borders
5 rue Geoffroy Marie
16 February 2005
NEPAL: ELEVEN STEPS TO SAFEGUARD PRESS FREEDOM
As the international community works to help
restore democracy in Nepal, Reporters Without
Borders has sent the Nepali government, via its
embassy in France, a list of 11 urgent steps it
should take to safeguard press freedom, damaged
by recent decisions from the palace and the
As long as the Nepalese government fails to take
these steps, the organisation will continue to
campaign for Western countries to impose
political sanctions on the Himalayan kingdom. EU
and India's ambassadors have been withdrawn from
Kathmandu for consultations and the United States
is planning to suspend aid, including military.
Reporters Without Borders also sent a list of ten
Nepalese journalists who have been imprisoned,
five of them arrested since 1 February 2005.
Among those arrested was Bishnu Nisthuri,
Secretary General of the Federation of Nepalese
Eleven urgent measures to save press freedom in Nepal
1. Repeal the prohibition, imposed on 1 February,
on the publication of any negative information
about the king, government or army for a period
of six months.
2. Withdraw the directives issued on 7 February
to newspaper editors about authorised news and
3. Allow news programmes to resume on FM radio stations.
4. End the blocking of privately-owned TV
stations and international TV stations.
5. Reopen all provincial media.
6. Release imprisoned journalists.
7. End the control which the security forces have
been exercising in the editorial offices of
newspapers, especially opposition weeklies.
8. Reopen community radio stations.
9. End the harassment of the leaders of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
10. Allow the FM re-transmission of the BBC World
Service's Nepali-language programmes to resume.
11. End the censorship of news websites.
 Bangladesh: Bomb Attacks by Fundamentalists
February 17, 2005
PEOPLE URGED TO FIGHT BACK FUNDAMENTALIST FORCES
'People's committee' to be formed to probe bomb attacks
Speakers at a roundtable yesterday called upon
the people to fight back the fundamentalist
forces as they have become a threat to the spirit
of the liberation war.
They also decided to form a 'people's inquiry
committee' to investigate into all grenade and
bomb attacks, and another body to publish a white
paper on the activities of the extremist groups.
The roundtable on 'Repeated grenade and bomb
attacks and target of militant fundamentalism:
The duty of civil society" was organised by South
Asian People's Union against Fundamentalism and
Communalism and Muktijuddher Smriti Sangrakkhan
Kendra at Cirdap auditorium yesterday.
Barrister Amir-ul-Islam said a national programme
should be chalked out to save the country from
the grip of fundamentalist forces.
AAMS Arefin Siddiqui, president of Dhaka
University Teacher's Association, said the people
are panicked as the government could not find out
a single bomb or grenade attacker.
Prof Muntasir Mamun said the young generation is
now confused as true history of the country could
not be presented to them.
Bazlur Rahman, editor of the daily Sangbad,
stressed the need for strengthening the
organisational power of the progressive forces.
Shahriar Kabir, union secretary, presented a
concept paper at the roundtable where he quoted
some interviews given by top Jamaat-e-Islami
leaders of Bangladesh to Jamaat leaders of
Pakistan showing how Jamaat-e-Islami, a major
partner of the alliance government, strengthened
its organisational power with the help of the
The interviews also revealed that until now the
Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh is carrying out its
activities following the ideology of Maulana
Moududi, founder of Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami.
Chaired by Prof Kabir Chowdhury, the roundtable
was also addressed by CPB President Monjurul
Islam Khan, Justice KM Sobhan, Promod Mankin MP,
former secretary Mokammel Haq, Barrister Shafiq
Ahmed, Prof Nim Chandra Bhoumik, development
worker Aroma Dutta, human rights activist Rosalin
Di Costa, Moulana Abdul Awal Khan, Zabid Ahsan
Sohel and Shamsunnahar Siddiqui.
o o o o
The Daily Star, February 17, 2005
BRAC, GRAMEEN BANK UNDER BOMB ATTACK
8 staffs wounded; 3 grenades recovered from a Brac office
Eight people -- six employees of Brac and two of
Grameen Bank -- have been injured in identical
bomb attacks on two Brac offices and a branch of
the bank since Sunday, while three grenades were
recovered from another Brac office [...].
The Hindu - February 17, 2005
JUSTICE AS SELF-PURIFICATION
By Jyotirmaya Sharma
The report on the anti-Sikh riots offers the
Congress a chance to reinvent itself.
NOTHING WOULD do more to enhance the credibility
of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance
(UPA) Government at the Centre than the early
publication of Justice (retd.) G.T. Nanavati's
report on the post-Indira Gandhi assassination
anti-Sikh riots of 1984. A fair, speedy and
impartial Action Taken Report (ATR) following its
publication will give substance to the UPA's
promise in the Common Minimum Programme "to
preserve, protect and promote social harmony and
to enforce the law without fear or favour to deal
with all obscurantist and fundamentalist elements
who seek to disturb social amity and peace."
It is essential to restate that the mandate of
the 14th Lok Sabha was for secular and
progressive forces. Keeping the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) and its allies out of power is only a
small step towards consolidating secularism.
Enormous effort to build and strengthen liberal
institutions, practices and observances is the
inevitable next step towards preventing a
political regrouping of communal forces. Any
stance of the UPA Government that seeks to
establish truth, reconciliation and justice on a
firm footing will only further its claims to
furthering a substantive idea of secularism.
Previous attempts to bring the victimisers of the
Sikhs in 1984 to book have failed either because
of excessive legalism or because of the lack of
sufficient will to punish the guilty. Whatever
the reasons, little has been done to take into
account the perception of the victims. Nor has
the system of law and justice reflected this
perception. The failure of the state and the
citizens has been at various levels. At one
level, it is reflected in the lack of willingness
to act on behalf of those who suffered. Further,
there have been attempts to blame certain parties
and individuals and absolve others while little
has been done to mitigate, compensate and act on
behalf of the victims.
The anti-Sikh riots unveiled a trend where those
suffering at the hands of a well-organised mob
become hapless spectators to a growing sense of
tolerance to passive injustice. Indifference to
the misery of others as well as the inability of
the rule of law to contain all forms of vengeance
is on the rise. Such indifference is often
cloaked in the guise of the `inevitability' or
`necessity' argument: acts of violence are
condoned by their perpetrators by resorting to
the idea of a `spontaneous' and `popular'
While there will be sections within the Congress
that would resist the outcome of the Nanavati
Commission's findings, the party would be wise to
rise above partisan politics and implement the
report. The Congress has lacked a coherent
ideology for many decades now, and what
masquerades as ideology is often a negative
sentiment against all that the BJP stands for.
Part of the problem lies in the Congress' attempt
to be all things to all people. The report on the
anti-Sikh riots offers the party a tremendous
opportunity to reinvent itself.
To emerge as a viable political force on its own
steam, the Congress must give up being a more
acceptable version of the religion, caste and
identity-based political formations. More so, it
needs to strengthen democratic institutions,
including Parliament and the Judiciary, introduce
genuine transparency and openness in the work of
government and governmental institutions, and,
above all, it needs to exhibit a sense of
fairness and non-partisanship. The BJP's claim to
be a party with a difference was a mere slogan;
the Congress needs to be such a party for its
survival and restoring its legitimacy. Its
attitude towards the Nanavati report ought to be
one of self-purification.
There is a real danger that differences on
economic issues might derail the primary focus of
the UPA Government, namely, fighting communalism.
Mere lip service to secularism, therefore, will
not be enough. If Gujarat has been viewed by the
BJP as its most successful laboratory, the
Congress must take action against the guilty in
the 1984 riots and claim the moral high ground to
take on the BJP and its brand of divisive
For the past 10 months, apart from rectifying the
saffronisation of educational institutions,
little has been done by the UPA Government to
take on communalism in a decisive fashion. The
Prime Minister's ambivalence over the Savarkar
controversy only added to the view that the
senior partner in the alliance was not
wholeheartedly behind the drive to marginalise
communal forces. The temptation to opt for
reconciliation is strong in polarised polities.
But reconciliation becomes merely a ploy to paper
over differences in order to pursue economic,
managerial and bureaucratic visions. Truth and
justice, on the other hand, are about the very
survival of liberal-democratic politics. The
choices here are stark, but the people of India
did vote for truth, justice and secularism in May
2004. There is little reason to believe they
think otherwise now.
Daily Times - February 17, 2005
THEIR EXTRATERRITORIAL LOYALTY
by J Sri Raman
Historians warn us against the 'what-ifs' of
history. Fussy academic concerns, however, need
not stop a newsman's frivolous and speculative
query. What if the Bharatiya Janata Party had
headed the government in New Delhi on February 1?
What, indeed, if the last general election had
gone the BJP's way and the party had held
untrammelled power on the day the King of Nepal
placed a partial democracy under suspension?
Of course, in its official reaction to the
dramatic development, the BJP has been critical
of King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev's action.
He had dismissed the quasi-representative
government of appointed prime minister, Sher
Bahadur Deuba, declaring a state of emergency and
taking over all state powers. Said the BJP: "The
events in Nepal have seriously affected the cause
of legitimate democracy. India has been
consistently supporting the development of a
political system that truly reflects people's
aspirations. King Gyanendra's actions have caused
a serious setback to this process."
No strong denunciation, but a disapproving
statement all the same, though it suggests that
the suspension of the process is temporary. The
statement cleverly avoids comment on the ground -
"Maoist terrorism" - the King has cited for his
But the BJP, whether as part of a coalition in
power or an opposition front, cannot fully and
freely represent the far right on such issues.
The far right has far less circumscribed fronts -
like the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS) and the
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) - to speak up on such
occasions. They did so repeatedly and in ringing
tones whenever the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime
had to resort to the device of double-speak.
They did so, for example, on Ayodhya when the
allies would not let the regime proceed beyond
paying tributes to the "nationalist movement".
They did so, too, on Gujarat, when Vajpayee had
to condemn the carnage even while vindicating it
as a reaction to Godhra. Demolition of the
edifice of secularism, they swore, would follow
that of the "disputed structure" of the Babri
Masjid. They hailed the Gujarat pogrom and held
it up as a model for the rest of the country.
They are playing the same role now on Nepal. No
pretence of commitment to principles of democracy
dilutes their defence of the King and his action.
The stated ground of their defence is the same as
his - "Maoist terrorism" - but the true reason is
not too remote from their case on Ayodhya and
Gujarat. The counter-terrorist argument
camouflages, pretty thinly, a cross-border
extension of communal fascism.
The always quotable Praveen Togadia of the VHP,
who had glorified the police-aided Gujarat pogrom
as a great 'Hindu' upsurge, said "There was
anarchy in the Hindu kingdom before the King's
takeover". He warned that, "if India remained a
mute spectator to the unfolding events in Nepal,
China might take advantage of the situation". VHP
president Ashok Singhal, who had proclaimed he
was "proud of Gujarat", said that "increased
extremist terror targeting innocent people had
prompted the palace to dismiss the Deuba
RSS spokesman Ram Madhav sneered: "I do not
understand all this criticism from India. We want
democracy to flourish around the world, but what
about Goa?" He was referring to the raging
controversy over the dismissal of a BJP
government in the tourism-centred state, despite
a doubtful vote of confidence it won in the
assembly under a partisan speaker. Madhav also
pointed to the constitutional provision under
which the King had acted, though the RSS rejected
a similar defence of Indira Gandhi's infamous
emergency in 1975.
The real reason for this special pleading was no
secret. Ashok Singhal put it succinctly on
January 22, 2004, in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal,
at a ceremony to honour King Gyanendra as the
world's only Hindu monarch. Ordained the VHP
oracle: "It is the duty of 900 million Hindus the
world over to protect the Hindu samrat (king) ...
God has created him to protect Hindu dharma."
Singhal also proposed to organise a world Hindu
meet in New York under the King's leadership. The
proposed event "would project Hindus as a global
power... with the Nepalese king leading the way".
Similar sentiments have emanated from the
Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, now facing
criminal charges relating to a murder. He denies
the police allegation that he was planning to
flee to Nepal, but his relations as the 'rajguru'
or the palace priest in Kathmandu with Gyanendra
(and his brother and predecessor King Birendra)
have been as close as with the VHP and the rest
of the far-right parivar (family). The
Shankaracharya, on a visit to Nepal, proclaimed
its monarch as "the king of all Hindus" and
counselled the Nepalese people to support him
against "Maoist insurgents".
To the parivar, the King of Nepal may be the
"king of all Hindus". To sections of the
far-right 'family', however, the Hindu kingdom
must also be part of a 'Hindu' India. In January
2001, BJP leader KR Malkani kicked up a
controversy with his 'revelation' that King
Triubhuvan of Nepal had offered his country's
accession to India in the early fifties. Malkani
added: "We should have accepted (the offer)." The
BJP, of course, distanced itself from his
"unfortunate" remarks without taking any other
action against him.
Long ago, RSS ideologue Guru Golwalker, in his
famous 'Bunch of Thoughts', listed India's
Muslims, Christians and Communists as the
country's main enemies for their
"extraterritorial loyalty". To far-right
political philosophers, loyalty to the king of
another country does not fall in the same
The writer is a journalist and peace activist based in Chennai, India
16 February 2005
LEARNING FROM HIROSHIMA
By Zubeida Mustafa
The India-Pakistan dialogue has had many ups and
downs since it was launched last year. The fact
is that every time there is a "down" there are
many who wait with bated breath and keep their
Is there need for this over-reaction - if one may
call it so? Yes, if one remembers that both India
and Pakistan now have nuclear capability and
could use nuclear weapons if war breaks out
between them. They have threatened to do so, at
least on one occasion.
A war fought with conventional weapons is bad
enough. A nuclear war is a catastrophe. But the
world - especially the leaders who decide the
destiny of nations - seem to be blissfully
unaware of the devastation and horrors atomic
weapons can unleash. After all, 60 years have
passed since the Hiroshima tragedy and people,
most of whom were not even born then, feel they
can put it all behind them and move on.
But not the people of Hiroshima who still carry
the scars of that fateful day in August 1945 when
nuclear terror rained down upon them from the
skies killing 70,000 people instantaneously,
injuring 140,000 and causing painful radiation
effects on another 100,000.
Nearly two-thirds of the buildings in the city
were destroyed. They remember it all and they
want others who escaped that experience to
remember it too, so that man never uses nuclear
weapons ever again.
In anticipation of the 60th anniversary of the
day "Little Boy" (the American atomic bomb) was
dropped, the Hiroshima International Cultural
Foundation, a non-profit organization established
in 1977 to enhance peace awareness, created a new
This was the Hiroshima World Peace Mission. Since
last year the mission has been dispatching small
groups of representatives from Hiroshima to
nuclear weapon states to share with the people
their own experience of a nuclear attack.
Co-sponsored by two media companies and supported
by the local bodies, peace organizations and the
UN universities in Japan, the mission has already
sent four delegations to the Middle East and
Africa, Northeast Asia, Europe, and Russia.
The fifth delegation visited Pakistan and India
recently to pass on its "A-bomb experiences and
memories" to the people and governments of these
countries as well. Later this year, a group will
visit the United States and the UN.
While talking to these peace activists, one could
vividly visualize the devastation nuclear weapons
and wars can wrought and how their trauma runs
Since they had experienced these horrors first
hand one could not dismiss them as a bunch of
crazy peace campaigners who do not understand the
intricacies of power politics. Emiko Okada, the
67-year-old hibakusha (survivor of the nuclear
attack), spoke with deep emotions about what she
had lived through.
When the bomb fell, she was eight-year-old and
her entire family was exposed to the blast and
the radiation that enveloped them. They were
badly burnt and injured. Describing her own
condition, she said, "Because I had breathed the
radioactive gas, I was vomiting frequently and
was very ill. I couldn't move for two days. I was
bleeding from my gums and lost my hair. I often
felt weak and had to lie down."
But worse was the shock of losing her 12-year-old
sister who had left home in the morning saying,
"See you later." She had gone to the building
demolition work near the hypo centre where the
students were helping. She never came home. Emiko
recalled, "My mother would spend hours and hours
searching through the rubble for Mieko.
My parents had believed till the end that my
sister was alive and they died without submitting
a notification of her death to the municipal
office. We don't have her remains and belongings
[those who died instantly from the blast simply
vaporized never to be seen again].
All we have is this letter (which she wrote to
her cousin looking forward to his return home
from the army and excitedly telling him what a
different city Hiroshima would be)."
It is not strange that Emiko hates nuclear
weapons and fears for the countries which possess
them. "Now I find that the threat of nuclear
weapons is not going away. A-bombs are not things
of the past. We must call for nuclear abolition,
so that my sister may not have died in vain."
Even 22-year-old Takayuki Sasaki, a peace studies
student at the university of Hiroshima, feels as
strongly against nuclear weapons as Emiko. Though
he belongs to the post-war generation and none in
his family suffered from the nuclear attack on
Hiroshima, he has heard a lot about the war.
Japanese society is now aware of the dangers of
nuclear weapons because those who witnessed its
horrors were determined not to let the lesson of
Hiroshima die. The impact of the Hiroshima blast
continued for decades.
Those who survived developed fevers, nausea,
diarrhoea, keloids, leukaemia and other effects
of radiation. The children born to those exposed
suffered from deformities.
As if words were not enough, Akira Tashiro, 57,
the director of the mission and a journalist
working for Chugoku Shimbun, one of the
co-sponsors of the mission, had with him pictures
of Hiroshima after it had been bombed.
The paper, which was founded in 1892, lost 150 of
its 350-strong staff on August 6, 1945. All its
facilities were destroyed and only the frame of
its building remained standing as a bizarre
structure amidst a sea of ruins, located as it
was only 900 metres from the hypo centre.
The Chugoku Shimbun photographer who had survived
took those pictures. I looked at them and felt
sick. There were pictures of a totally bombed out
city, images of shadows of people which I was
told were actually the men and women themselves
who had vanished like thin air when the intense
heat from the bomb burned them through leaving
the dark marks on the ground, sombre photographs
of the streets strewn with corpses with no clear
ground for people to walk on, and bare bodied men
and women whose nakedness was covered with the
hanging strips of their own skin.
And then I looked out of the hotel room to see
the bright neon signs and street lights of
Karachi - a vibrant city full of life. I shut my
eyes and imagined this city in ruins like
No, we don't want nuclear weapons. We don't want
a nuclear war. Yet we live in a make-believe
world of our wishful thinking. Our nuclear
weapons are only to maintain a power equilibrium,
we are told.
They give us security and protection since they
provide us with mutually assured destruction (the
so-called MAD theory of yesteryear) and act as a
deterrent to war, it is drummed into us. But is
If we don't resolve our disputes with India and
continue to practise a policy of brinkmanship,
war can actually break out. Were that to happen
will the two sides refrain from using their
nuclear arsenals? We don't even warn our children
about the horrors of war. We build monuments of
Chaghai, and erect missile-like structures. How
many of our students will be like Takayuki after
what they read in textbooks?
What we need is a peace culture. No army which
wields political power in a country can be
expected to promote that culture because it
intrinsically goes against the raison d'etre of
its existence. Hence it is the people - the civil
society as we call them - who will have to
promote this culture. Is any university teaching
peace studies in Pakistan? We do have private
Do we persistently call for nuclear disarmament?
Many occasions arise when we can. Did we protest
when the nuclear explosions took place in 1998?
Only a few people in Balochistan did.
It is time we started cultivating a peace culture
in our society. We can do that on our own
initiative without the government's intervention.
Let all mothers decide to boycott toy guns and
not give them to their boys.
Let every teacher speak of love and peace to his
students even if the books do not do so. Let the
singers sing of friendship and tolerance. Let us
spread the message of peace far and wide and see
how it will change the world.
The last few weeks have witnessed an intense,
brutal round of demolitions of jhuggis in Mumbai.
Starting 8 December, up to 60-75,000 slum houses
have been destroyed, in various parts of Mumbai,
affecting perhaps upto 3 lakhs people. Contrary
to its promises in the recent elections, the
Maharashtra Government has been demolishing
houses that have come up after 1 Jan 1995. It is
reported they have slowed demolitions in recent
days in the face of widespread protests across
This attempt by elites to turn our cities into
another "Shanghai" was also witnessed in the huge
demolitions in Yamuna Pushta last year, and in
other parts of Delhi.
Leena, a housing rights activist, will initiate a
discussion by sharing experiences of what is
going on in Mumbai. This can be followed by a
discussion, and perhaps we can also discuss what
kind of intervention here is possible.
We will also be distributing copies of a new
report on the Yamuna Pushta demolitions, 'Suno
Nadi Kya Kehti Hai', recently brought out by
Visthapan Virodhi Abhiyan, a collective that was
formed in response to the Pushta demolitions.
Time: 4.30 pm
Venue: Saheli office, under Defence Colony Flyover [New Delhi]
Date: Saturday, 19 February 2005
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005
At recent meetings in Delhi and elsewhere, many
suggestions have been made about possible
campaign activities in the "food for work"
districts. What happens in these districts is
likely to have an important influence on the
debate about an Employment Guarantee Act. Also,
there are special opportunities for grassroots
mobilisation in these districts. Recent
suggestions of possible activities in these
- Organised demand for work.
- Monitoring of the works that are started.
- Ensuring the payment of minimum wages.
- Fighting corruption.
- Forming unions of labourers employed on FFW programmes.
- Organised demand for conversion of FFW into Employment Guarantee.
With this in mind we are circulating below a
summary of the official "guidelines" of the FFW
programme. The full guidelines can be found at
http://rural.nic.in/nffwpguidelines.htm, and also
in the "Employment Guarantee" section at
According to the guidelines, muster rolls are
supposed to be available for public scrutiny and
"copies of muster rolls duly certified by the
Panchayat Sarpanch shall be placed before the
The list of 150 "FFW districts" is available at
If you are working in FFW districts please send
us a line; we are trying to compile a list of
organisations working in these districts and to
initiate regular contacts with them.
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Rajasthan) is
willing to help organise training programmes for
activists working in FFW districts. If you are
interested please let us know or write directly
to MKSS at mkssrajasthan@...
The Pamphlet Project, the flagship initiative of
'Red Earth' which aims to revive the literary
genre of the pamphlet, using it to articulate
issues centred on popular culture, urban life,
and the arts in India. The first issue of the
project 'The Metrosexuals: Exploring the
Unexplored' was released in October 2004, and is
a multi-faceted study of metrosexuality in global
and Indian contexts. More details, and a
synopsis, are available at
A 39/3, SFS, Saket
New Delhi 110017
Ph: 011-51764054, 98182-10894
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 :
South Asia Counter Information Project : snipurl.com/sacip
South Asians Against Nukes: www.s-asians-against-nukes.org
Communalism Watch: communalism.blogspot.com/
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.