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SACW | 17 Feb 2005

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    South Asia Citizens Wire | 17 Feb., 2005 via: www.sacw.net [1] Press Release re recent rape of a physician - Asian American Network Against Abuse of Women
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 16, 2005
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 17 Feb., 2005
      via: www.sacw.net

      [1] Press Release re recent rape of a physician -
      Asian American Network Against Abuse of Women of
      Pakistan
      [2] Nepal:
      (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)
      [3] Bangladesh: Bangladesh: Bomb Attacks by Fundamentalists
      People Urged To Fight Back Fundamentalist Forces
      + Brac, Grameen Bank under bomb attack
      [4] India - anti sikh riots of 1984: Justice as
      self-purification (Jyotirmaya Sharma)
      [5] India: The Hindu far iight and their
      extraterritorial loyalty (J Sri Raman)
      [6] Japanese peace mission travels to Pakistan -
      'Learning From Hiroshima' (Zubeida Mustafa)
      [7] Announcements:
      (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)


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

      [1]

      [15 February 2005]

      Asian American Network Against Abuse of Women of Pakistan (ANAA)

      PRESS RELEASE:

      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
      and
      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
      unfortunate doctor,
      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
      paths.

      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
      President Musharraf.

      Please visit:
      www.4anaa.org

      ______


      [2] [Nepal : Statements by citizens and Rights groups]

      (i)

      16 February 2001
      5 Falgun 2061

      His Majesty King Gyanendra
      Chairman, Council of Ministers
      His Majesty's Government
      Kathmandu, Nepal

      Your Majesty,

      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.

      Dhruba Kumar
      Krishna Khanal
      Hari Sharma
      Krishna Hachhethu
      Dalman Dahal
      Kanak Mani Dixit
      Abhi Subedi

      o o o o

      (ii)

      Committee to Protect Journalists
      330 7th Avenue, 11th Fl., New York, NY 10001 USA
      Web: www.cpj.org

      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:

      Censorship
      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
      Rights Watch.

      Communications
      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
      area.

      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
      told CPJ.

      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
      Kathmandu.

      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
      rights.

      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
      journalists.

      Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your reply.

      Sincerely,

      Ann Cooper
      Executive Director

      CC:
      James Moriarity, U.S. Ambassador to Nepal
      Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator
      American Society of Newspaper Editors
      Amnesty International
      Article 19 (United Kingdom)
      Artikel 19 (The Netherlands)
      Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
      Freedom Forum
      Freedom House
      Human Rights Watch
      Index on Censorship
      International Center for Journalists
      International Federation of Journalists
      International PEN
      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

      (iii)

      Reporters Sans Frontières / Reporters without Borders
      5 rue Geoffroy Marie
      75009 Paris

      Press Release

      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
      military.

      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
      Journalists.

      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
      information.
      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.


      ______


      [3] Bangladesh: Bomb Attacks by Fundamentalists

      Daily Star
      February 17, 2005

      PEOPLE URGED TO FIGHT BACK FUNDAMENTALIST FORCES
      'People's committee' to be formed to probe bomb attacks
      Staff Correspondent
      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
      government.

      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

      [See Also]

      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 [...].
      http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/02/17/d5021701011.htm

      _______


      [4]

      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'
      reaction.

      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
      politics.

      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.


      ______


      [5]

      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
      action.
      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
      government".
      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
      category.
      The writer is a journalist and peace activist based in Chennai, India


      ______


      [6]

      Dawn (Pakistan)
      16 February 2005
      Op-Ed.

      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
      fingers crossed.

      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
      project.

      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
      through generations.

      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
      Hiroshima.

      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
      that so?

      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
      universities now.

      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.

      _______


      [7] ANNOUNCEMENTS

      (i)

      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
      the city.

      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



      ______


      (ii)

      Subject: Food-for-work
      Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005

      Dear friends,

      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
      districts include:

      - 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
      http://righttofood.tripod.com/rtowork/ffwguidelines.html.

      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
      Gram Sabha".

      The list of 150 "FFW districts" is available at
      http://rural.nic.in/AnnexureNFFWP1.htm.

      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@...

      _______


      (iii)

      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
      www.redearthindia.com/pamphlet/issue_1.html

      Red Earth
      A 39/3, SFS, Saket
      New Delhi 110017
      Ph: 011-51764054, 98182-10894
      www.redearthindia.com


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      Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
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