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SACW | 2-3 Sept. 2005

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    South Asia Citizens Wire | 2-3 September, 2005 [This issue of the SACW is dedicated to remembering Alice Thorner. She died in Paris on the 24th of August
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2005
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 2-3 September, 2005

      [This issue of the SACW is dedicated to
      remembering Alice Thorner. She died in Paris on
      the 24th of August 2005. The late Alice was known
      to several generations of South Asia scholars,
      intellectuals. Alice will live on in our
      memories. ]


      [1] Bangladesh: Mullahs Bomb 63 of the 64 districts:
      - We can't say that we haven't been warned (Zafar Sobhan)
      - Religiously affiliated NGOs - A probing look
      necessitated (Editorial, The Daily Star)
      [2] Sri Lanka:
      (i) We condemn the assassination of Minister
      Kadirgamar (Democratic Left Front)
      (ii) Impunity in the Name of Peace (University
      Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Sri Lanka)
      [3] Insurgency-ridden Kashmir has many 'disappeared' (Basharat Peer)
      [4] Gay like Us - Why are Indians homophobic? (Farah Baria)
      [5] Book Review: "The Parivar Raj and After by Mukul Dube" (Yoginder Sikand)
      [6] Upcoming events:
      (i) 'Land, Agrarian Struggles and Democratic
      Rights' 20th Dr Ramanadham Memorial Meeting
      (New Delhi, 3 September 2005)
      (ii) The AMAN Peace and Conflict Studies Course
      (Delhi, September 26 - October 26, 2005)

      ______


      [1]

      The Daily Star
      August 19, 2005

      Editorial

      WE CAN'T SAY THAT WE HAVEN'T BEEN WARNED
      Zafar Sobhan

      The only possible silver lining to the horrific
      serial bomb blasts that reached into every nook
      and corner of the country on August 17 (apart
      from the fact that the death toll was thankfully
      low) is that now at least we can perhaps agree
      that the debate on the presence of religious
      extremists in Bangladesh, their scope, and their
      intentions can be put to rest.

      There can be no doubt (not that there should have
      been before, but anyway) that there exists a
      well-organised movement that wishes to replace
      our democratic system of government with a
      religious theocracy, and that they are prepared
      to use any means necessary to achieve their ends.

      Don't take my word for it -- or that of any other
      media trouble-maker for that matter. Take their
      word for it.

      Interestingly enough, though, early indications
      are that neither the government nor the
      opposition are doing so.

      BNP Standing Committee member Khandaker Mosharraf
      Hossain laid the blame for the bomb blasts at the
      door of those "trying to tarnish the image of the
      country." He did not come right out and implicate
      the opposition, but his suggestion that the
      perpetrators "want to create political issues as
      they don't have genuine issues against the
      government" echoes earlier critiques of the AL
      and leaves little to the imagination.

      Jamaat-e-Islami leaders were less circumspect.
      Senior party leaders including Secretary General
      and Cabinet Minister Ali Ahsan M. Mujahid pointed
      the finger of blame straight at the AL, and
      asserted that the blasts were part of an
      opposition plan to make the country politically
      unstable and bring it into disrepute.

      This kind of irresponsible and mendacious
      accusation is more of the same from the
      government, which has made even more
      unsupportable claims about previous terrorist
      attacks such as the one on the AL rally last
      August 21. The time has come to speak honestly
      and to stop insulting the intelligence of the
      country.

      Let's be perfectly frank. If the AL had the
      organisational capacity and internal discipline
      to pull off this kind of an attack, it would have
      been able to force the government from office
      long ago.

      For its part, the AL is laying the blame for the
      bombings squarely at the feet of the government.
      Sheikh Hasina is on record as saying that
      "without government involvement no one could
      carry out such a series of bomb blasts in 63
      districts at a time" and opining that culpability
      goes all the way to the PM.

      Persuasive as this argument might seem, there is
      another possibility in terms of how the
      government could have let such an attack occur,
      which given the government's record seems far
      more likely -- common or garden incompetence.

      Let's be frank here, too. If the government had
      the ability to pull this off then one would have
      expected that it would have been able to do a
      better job running the country the last few years.

      Two more persuasive reasons militate against the
      possibility of government involvement or
      complicity with the bomb blasts.

      One, the text of the leaflets found as well as
      the fact that administration and court buildings
      were principal targets make it clear that the
      bombers do not consider the current government
      their friend, regardless of the presence of
      mainstream religious parties within the ruling
      coalition.

      Two, it is hard to see how the blasts do anything
      but hurt the incumbent government. The fact that
      religious extremists have been proved in such
      dramatic fashion to exist and that the government
      has apparently zero ability to curb their actions
      cannot benefit an administration hoping for
      re-election or trying to project a positive image
      of its rule to the outside world.

      But this is not to say that the government can
      escape blame for what must be counted as a
      shocking failure on its part.

      In the first place, the blasts happened on its
      watch, and so it is in part culpable. It is the
      government's job to keep us safe and it is clear
      that this is a duty that it is not meeting. In
      light of the other terrorist attacks and
      incidents of the past few years, the government
      had an even greater duty to take the steps
      necessary to ensure security, but what the blasts
      have proved is that the government has done
      little or nothing while the threat has grown
      right under its nose.

      In the second place, a big part of the problem
      has been that for too long the government has
      insisted that it is not presiding over a time of
      rising religious militancy. The government
      instead blamed the opposition and the media and
      "foreign hands" for conspiring against it by
      fabricating such accounts for their own gain. The
      truth is that it is the government that has mined
      this issue for partisan gain and we are all
      paying the cost.

      Third, the government's turning a blind eye to
      other incidents of religious militancy and its
      half-hearted pursuit of religious extremists in
      the past has served only to embolden them.

      Let us not forget that the Jamat-ul-Mujiahideen
      was supposedly banned back in February. It is now
      clear that what the media has been saying all
      along, that the government action against the
      militants, which had left most of the senior
      leaders untouched, was little more than a public
      relations stunt intended to enhance the
      government's image rather than to strike
      effectively at the terrorists, is entirely
      correct.

      But for all their faults, common sense and
      political self-interest dictate that neither the
      AL nor the BNP were behind the bomb blasts. The
      less time the government and opposition spend
      trading acrimonious accusations the better.

      The question that we need to be focused on now is
      the implications behind this attack: why now,
      what do the bombers hope to gain from their
      campaign, and what does this mean for the future?

      The first thing to note is that it seems that the
      attacks were intended not to cause maximum death
      and destruction (one can be thankful for small
      mercies), but to frighten or to send a message.
      Had the bombs been more powerful, thousands could
      have been killed or maimed.

      It has been speculated that the blasts were a
      "dry run" for a future more devastating attack.
      But this makes little sense as one would have
      thought that the terrorists would not have wanted
      to tip their hand and alert the citizenry if they
      wished to inflict maximum casualties in the
      future.

      The most likely motivation is that the bombers
      wished to send a message as to their
      organisational capacity, reach, and intentions.

      The interesting thing is that such an approach is
      in marked contrast to earlier terrorist attacks
      in the country, which were almost all committed
      anonymously. The question we need to be asking is
      what does it mean that the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen is
      now stepping out of the shadows.

      It means, at the very least, that the time is
      long overdue for us to get serious about this
      threat. It is not true, as the government has
      long claimed, that violent extremists do not
      exist in the country. It is evident that they
      exist, and are well-funded and well-organised.

      However, neither is it true that there are
      extremists hiding under every rock and that they
      are poised to take over the country. The good
      news is that there is no evidence that the
      terrorists enjoy any kind of support among the
      general public. We cannot be complacent but we
      need not be alarmist either.

      But let us hear no more denials of what we all
      know to be true. The government has brought this
      on itself due to its perfunctory pursuit of
      religious extremists in the past. Unfortunately,
      it has brought this on all of us, too.

      The Jamat-ul-Mujahideen has fired the first shot.
      The serial bomb blasts need to be recognised as a
      warning shot across the bows of the nation. The
      smart move would be to take heed. This might
      sound ridiculously obvious, but the fact is that
      in the past too many of us have not taken heed of
      the threat that has been gathering.

      Let us never again hear anyone say that religious
      extremists are not active in the country or that
      they are not a serious threat. After August 17,
      we can never again say that we haven't been
      warned.

      Zafar Sobhan is Assistant Editor of The Daily Star.


      o o o o


      The Daily Star
      September 01, 2005

      Editorial

      RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED NGOS
      A PROBING LOOK NECESSITATED
      The current administration has expended a great
      deal of effort to bring certain NGOs under their
      scrutiny. NGO finances have been rigorously
      examined, and registration and operation of NGOs
      has come under far more stringent control than at
      any time in the past.

      It is quite ironic that at the same time that it
      has been exercising such strict control over
      non-religiously affiliated NGOs, that the
      government has been so lax in its oversight of
      the religiously affiliated NGOs -- specifically
      Islamic NGOs.

      As a result, these entities have been given a
      virtual free pass, and have been able to run with
      only minimal governmental oversight and
      supervision.

      There are 34 Islamic NGOs currently registered
      with the NGO bureau and funded from abroad.
      However, the oversight over these entities
      remains negligible. In addition, there are
      several hundred NGOs that are registered with the
      social welfare department, which has neither the
      resources nor the inclination to keep a tab on
      their activities. These NGOs are barely
      scrutinised, and little or no record of their
      activities is maintained.

      Finally, there are countless NGOs and NGO-type
      entities that have no registration whatsoever,
      and thus no government oversight.

      In effect, the administration has permitted such
      NGOs a virtual free hand. The result is that
      there is no accurate accounting done of much of
      the foreign funds that come into the country, or
      what is done with them, or what the operations of
      these NGOs are.

      This is not to say that all the NGOs are suspect;
      for, there may be those that are doing a good
      Samaritan's job; but it is the rapid
      proliferation of religiously nomenclatured
      entities that makes one sit up and take note.

      Let's not forget, the links between the more
      disreputably affiliated NGOs, some of which have
      been already outlawed by the government, and the
      militant organisations, no longer remain matters
      of hypothesis.

      In light of recent events, now is the time for a
      comprehensive policy to regulate such NGOs. There
      is no justification for the fact that they are
      subject to less scrutiny than regular NGOs. This
      type of scrutiny should have been undertaken long
      ago. Better late than never.

      _____


      [2]


      (i)

      Democratic Left Front

      Media Release

      WE CONDEMN THE ASSASSINATION OF MINISTER KADIRGAMAR
      WE AWAIT THE RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION EAGERLY.

      One can infer on the face of it that the LTTE could
      be held responsible for the assassination for the
      reason that Mr. Kadirgamar was being considered an
      enemy by the LTTE for quite sometime. Nevertheless
      according to the information available as of now there
      has been a serious lapse related to his security
      arrangements. When the former defence minister Mr
      Ranjan Wijeratne was assassinated similarly the LTTE
      was alleged to be responsible. But later on other
      forces were suspected to be behind it. Up to date the
      real fact of it is not known.

      Therefore it is necessary to launch an immediate and
      incisive investigation to probe into why and how the
      assassin was able to get at him in this manner despite
      the heavy security. Who knew that Mr Kadirgamar was
      going to the place of incident on this day and at this
      time? Why did his security leave him uncovered and
      exposed in or near the swimming pool? How did the
      assassin manage to escape so easily from the scene of
      the crime?

      His death is a substantial loss to our society and
      we express our condolences.

      As an organization that deplores any political
      violence we condemn this political assassination
      vehemently. Similarly we also condemn efforts by
      racist political forces to incite communal violence
      and drag the country back to war capitalizing on this
      unfortunate event.


      Vasudeva Nanayakkara
      Quintus Liyanage
      Secretary
      National Organiser

      49 1/1 Vinayalankara Mawatha
      Colombo 10
      13 - 08 - 2005

      o o o o

      (ii)

      University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Sri Lanka

      Date of Release: 17th August 2005


      IMPUNITY IN THE NAME OF PEACE:
      NORWAY'S APPEASEMENT STRATEGY CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM

      The killing on 12th August of Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka's Foreign
      Minister and the government's most senior Tamil officeholder has brought
      to the world's attention one of many heinous acts carried out by the LTTE
      over the years. Will the international community once again make
      rhetorical statements of condemnation and yet close its eyes to the other
      daily acts of violence that have for so long engulfed our community?

      Lakshman Kadirgamar was a respected figure in the Southern polity, one of
      the few who understood and opposed the fascist nature of the LTTE and
      voiced his criticism worldwide. There can be no illusions about who killed
      him, or why. But Southern politics has long been dominated by illusions,
      unattainable shortcuts and untrammelled opportunism. Upcoming elections
      and the associated deal making currently in the air, work to Sri Lanka's
      detriment and to the LTTE's gain.

      A perverted culture also prevails among a section of the expatriate Tamil
      community that celebrates this type of killing. The attitudes expressed in
      the many websites which promote hatred and narrow ideology in the name
      nationalism need to be checked if the Tamil community is going to regain
      its humanity. And while the LTTE-dominated Tamil media gloats over
      Kadirgamar's murder, the climate of impunity in Sri Lanka and the Police
      atrophied by the non-investigation of hundreds of killings of Tamils will
      leave room for mischief and manipulation. There can be no civilisation,
      democracy, peace or dignity of citizens without competent law enforcement.

      Norway's Role

      Since the beginning UTHR(J) has expressed concern over major flaws in the
      peace process that reward impunity, encourage the LTTE to violate the
      Cease-fire Agreement (CFA) and provide no meaningful checks on abuse.

      We have also consistently raised questions about Norway's positioning,
      which has often been both politically charged and extremely soft on human
      rights. Norway began the peace process in 2002 by quite openly sidelining
      President Kumaratunge in favour of her long-time political adversary,
      Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. It showed its readiness to further
      interfere politically when it threatened to withdraw from the peace
      process over the President's takeover of ministries dealing with security
      in November 2003.

      At the same time, Norway has virtually ignored the LTTE's political
      killings and its scandalous conscription of children. The Norwegian
      government even facilitated LTTE efforts to strengthen its worldwide
      propaganda network (and thus its control over Tamil populations) by for
      example, helping them to acquire transmitting equipment. Norway has
      facilitated travel abroad for so-called LTTE fact-finding missions,
      including coaxing European representatives to meet them. Norwegian
      lobbying of the international community has encouraged tacit support for
      the LTTE's methods, and diluted or obstructed many initiatives aimed at
      holding it to account.

      It is time for Norway to reassess its role in the process and have the
      courage to admit that they made wrong assessments of the ground realities
      and to openly declare that it is not only the CFA that needs reappraisal,
      but also that the SLMM is not an adequate mechanism for the task at hand.

      Fantasies and Bankruptcy

      Several NGOs in the South have sought comfort in "politically
      correctness," projecting themselves as peacemakers by embracing conflict
      resolution strategies endorsed by Norway that have little applicability to
      the Sri Lankan reality. The daily killings and promotion by default of
      terror politics in the Tamil community have been treated as minor
      irritations to an otherwise excellent peace process. The LTTE's suicidal
      ideology and its effect on the Tamil community has been almost completely
      ignored, while any token commitment by the LTTE to democracy has been
      welcomed as a statement of good faith in a bid to perpetuate the status
      quo. In this perverted social analysis, fascistic actions are treated as
      mere illiberal tendencies. Contrarily, when Southern groups voiced
      anti-NGO rhetoric, they were called fascists without any reservation.

      This attitude of the peacemakers and erstwhile progressives has out of
      bankruptcy identified Tamil rights with appeasement of the LTTE. It
      reflects a continuing disregard for the risks taken by members of the
      Tamil community struggling against the LTTE's ruthless bid for asserting
      total control while demanding a political solution ensuring dignity and
      fair play. More ironically, the peacemakers have conceded the moral high
      ground of defending the basic human rights of Tamils and their children to
      Sinhalese supremacist elements, who long stood against a decent political
      settlement.

      The UNP played a particularly callous game in this regard, flirting with
      Sinhalese chauvinism to obstruct a political settlement, while at the same
      time promising the LTTE a fiefdom to attain power. Combined with the utter
      passivity of the present government, it allowed the LTTE to entrench its
      killer squads all over the country and to play Russian roulette with the
      peace process.

      The 'Sri Lanka experts' in global capitals, whose attitudes reflect the
      growing contempt for democracy in their own countries, came to respect
      principally the LTTE's stunning capacity for violence, which it held
      together by constantly attacking the humanity of its people. Its
      mafia-like network, which it wove to continually upgrade its destructive
      power under the very noses of Western governments, is allowed to go
      unchecked. Indeed, it was virtually rewarded with sole representation of
      the Tamil community.

      The ISGA or P-toms, both a formal expression of appeasement, looked
      appropriate against the South being unable to present a cohesive political
      challenge to the LTTE. Demands for human rights protection and democratic
      space for alternative voices were treated as efforts to inhibit the peace
      process. It was in fact, this lack of clarity and direction in all
      sections of the Sinhalese polity and the failure to perceive the
      consequences that pushed Norway into its disproportionately influential
      role.

      Elite Southern NGOs and members of the international community appear to
      be waiting for the UNP to come to power once again, to promote the ISGA as
      the means to achieve peace, a strategy that promises rewards for everyone
      but the ordinary Tamil people; their predicament is apparently of no
      concern. .

      Even in this climate, individuals and small networks of committed
      individuals in Sri Lanka and abroad, joined isolated organisations such as
      UTHR(J) in exposing the continued child conscription and political
      killings, and lobbied for tangible initiatives to address them. The
      conscription of children was so rampant and open that even UNICEF, which
      supported engagement with LTTE to resolve it, was finally forced to come
      out openly and critically against the LTTE's behaviour. However, the
      present initiatives in the Security Council to check child recruitment may
      not have any real impact on the LTTE if the leading nations, especially
      Norway, determine that they should be ineffective so that their
      discredited peace strategy would have a further lease of life.

      The Cost of Self-serving Illusions

      Lakshman Kadirgamar's murder was one of many and bears a resemblance to
      those that preceded it. Just hours before his assassination, SLBC
      journalist Relangi Selvarajah and her husband were shot and killed in
      their travel agency office in the Bambalapitya neighbourhood of Colombo.
      Relangi Selvarajah had produced a radio programme that was critical of the
      LTTE. They leave behind an eighteen-month-old infant born after many years
      of childlessness.

      Subathiran of the EPRLF, who was important to the revival of democracy
      among Tamils as Kadirgamar was to Sri Lanka, was killed on 14th June 2003.
      The SLMM guardians played the role of the proverbial three respectively
      blind, deaf and dumb monkeys, who dismiss political killings as mere
      criminal acts unconnected with the peace process. It is further ironical
      that ignoring the LTTE's use of a sniper from a nearby tall building to
      assassinate Subathiran, who was exercising, may have served to encourage
      its use as the modus operandi against Kadirgamar in similar circumstances.

      The Police's failure to investigate Subathiran's killing despite the
      evidence against Easwaran (then Nallur LTTE Commissar) being available
      immediately, also created the climate for the same Easwaran to play a
      leading role in abducting and killing Jaffna SP Charles Wijewardene
      following the accidental shooting by an SL Army soldier in Inuvil on 5th
      August 2005.

      In the face of mounting internal dissension and resistance from the
      people, the LTTE's typical moves are to provoke reprisals and a return to
      war. This time the absence of reprisals against civilians, which the LTTE
      hoped for, threw the focus on the LTTE's miscreants and placed it in a
      crisis. Its provocations became more desperate.

      Along with the lethargy in seeking a political settlement, the illusion
      persists that the LTTE respects Sinhalese who act with friendliness and
      goodwill, provided they ignore the LTTE's treatment of its fellow Tamils.
      On the contrary it has contempt for them and when it wants to provoke,
      they are the first targets. When the LTTE wanted to provoke war with the
      Indian Army in October 1987, the first victims were Chairman Jayamanne of
      the Cement Corporation and several journalists who had come from the South
      in a spirit of goodwill. Soosai then cruelly killed two very friendly and
      helpful Sinhalese policemen in Valvettithurai. When the LTTE wanted a
      return to war in 1990, it killed hundreds of security personnel who were
      hobnobbing with it during the appeasement that preceded it. In a land of
      illusions and shortcuts leaders do not want to understand.

      Dealing with the LTTE to prevent a recurrence of war is important. But
      there can never be a surrender of human rights and basic functions and
      responsibilities that give dignity to a State. Equally there should be no
      illusions about the nature of the LTTE, for which there is absolutely no
      excuse. The LTTE's recent behaviour has been precipitated by the Karuna
      split in 2004 and the failure of Norway's stratagems on Prabhakaran's
      behalf. (Norway pronounced that it was an internal affair, but did not
      threaten to withdraw from facilitation citing a lack of clarity about who
      held power in the North-East. It was such an alleged lack of clarity about
      the South that Norway offered as the pretext for withdrawing from
      facilitation in November 2003.)

      Kadirgamar joins an unending line of Tamils, all distinguished in their
      chosen spheres and victims of LTTE killer squads, who defied the advance
      of fascism and worked for a dawn when there would be peace with dignity
      for all. Among them were Subathiran, Cheliyan Perinpanayagam, Neelan
      Thiruchelvam, Thangathurai and many others known and not so well known. In
      the absence of the Sinhalese polity and leadership challenging the LTTE by
      coming forward with a political settlement that addresses Tamil
      aspirations, all such Tamils were facing marginalisation, of which they
      were painfully aware, and life itself would have become more painful than
      death.

      The Sinhalese polity has a choice. It could shower empty words of praise
      on these Tamils and go on as before, or get its act together and seek
      dignity and justice for all. If it chooses the former, appeasement with
      its illusions is the only course open. If the latter, it is time to
      examine Norway's role and show that we are capable of deciding our own
      future. Then the demands below will be appropriate:

      · Effective steps should be taken at the international level to take the
      LTTE to task according to the full force of international law for its
      crimes against humanity, and in particular the continuing perpetration of
      political killings and child conscription.

      · Those who support and promote the LTTE's
      ideology in the Diaspora should
      be challenged for their promotion of hatred and suicidal politics.

      · The political parties in the South should unilaterally work towards a
      political solution that addresses minority aspirations, given the LTTE's
      refusal to negotiate, as evident from the assassination of Lakshman
      Kadirgamar.

      · The international community should pressure the LTTE to resume
      negotiations based on principles expressed in the Tokyo Declaration, with
      the protection of human rights, independent participation of a Muslim
      delegation in talks, a permanent political solution and de-militarisation.

      · There should be zero tolerance for child
      recruitment. The LTTE should be
      required to release all children who have been recruited.

      · The Government should immediately take
      the initiative to ratify the Rome
      Statute of the ICC.


      ______


      [3]

      Tehelka
      September 10 , 2005

      THE PRICE OF TURBULENCE
      Insurgency-ridden Kashmir has many 'disappeared'
      sons. Some are determined to find out where they
      might be

      By Basharat Peer
      New Delhi

      From the picturesque village of Vangaam near the
      north Kashmir border town Bandipora,
      sixty-year-old Hajra has travelled 26-hours in a
      bus to reach Delhi as part of a delegation from
      Kashmir's Association of Parents of Disappeared
      Persons (APDP). Formed in 1994, the APDP has been
      fighting for justice for the persons who have
      disappeared after being taken into custody by
      security forces or the police in Kashmir. On the
      occasion of the international day of
      disappearance (August 30), the APDP came to
      register their protest in the capital.

      Three of Hajra's sons were killed in the early
      years of the conflict and her fourth son, Bashir
      Ahmad Sofi, who ran a bakery in her village, is
      missing. She approached the local legislator, the
      local police and went to the army camp. Eleven
      years later, she still has no news of her son.

      "They should at least tell us they killed our
      boys, show us a dead body. But all that the army,
      bsf, police or the government says is that the
      disappeared men are not with them or they might
      have crossed the border," said Parveena Ahanger,
      president, APDP. Her 17-year-old son, who
      suffered from a speech disorder, is missing too.
      "Soldiers from National Security Guard took him
      from my house. I filed a case in a Srinagar
      court. It took years for the court to get
      sanction from the Union Home Ministry to take
      action against the army people who took my son.
      But even then nothing happened."

      She has lost her faith in the courts. But works
      tirelessly to mobilise and guide people who share
      her fate. Along with her lawyer, Pervez Imroz, a
      human rights activist, Parveena set up the APDP.
      It has documented most cases, and meets every
      month in Srinagar. It believes more than 4,000
      men are missing. Her determination and work has
      been recognised this year: she is one of the
      group of 100 women worldwide nominated for the
      Nobel Peace prize.

      The story, the pattern of arrest and
      disappearance remains the same over the years. On
      June 11, 1994, Shaheena Guru was walking in
      Srinagar city centre with her brother, Sajjad
      Guru. There was a grenade blast and half-an-hour
      later they boarded a bus for home. Men from 30
      bsf battalion grabbed Sajjad on his neck and took
      him away in a jeep. She looked for him in all the
      prisons and interrogation centres of Srinagar.
      "We even went to Jammu and Rajasthan jails but
      could not find him." In 1996, DD Saklani, then
      adviser to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor,
      offered her compensation of one lakh rupees and a
      job for her younger brother on condition that she
      accepted her brother was dead. She refused. "We
      had some hope during the 2002 elections. pdp
      leader Mehbooba Mufti said she will help us find
      our missing relatives if we voted for her party.
      But she did nothing."

      These women scoff at the Mufti government's
      much-talked-about 'healing touch' policy, calling
      it 'peeling touch'. Since Mufti came to power,
      188 more men have disappeared. Men like
      32-year-old Tahira's husband, Tariq Ahmed, from
      border town Uri. He had left his village in
      Baramulla for Delhi on official work. He never
      reached the capital, and has not returned home
      since December 11, 2002. "I met army, police
      officers and even law and finance minister
      Muzzaffer Beigh. But there is no news of my
      husband," said Tahira, who works in a sewing
      centre in Srinagar and lives in a rented room
      with her three sons.

      Families of the disappeared persons have not seen
      any positive sign. None of these lost boys has
      returned home. Most believe they were killed in
      custody.

      "I have not seen my son's body. I dream about
      him. I am sure he is alive somewhere," hopes
      Hajra. Parveena, the APDP president, is
      determined to fight on, to tell the world her
      story: " I have come to Delhi to talk to the
      people, not the government. We have to try our
      bit. One day god will punish the guilty. I will
      not give up till I am alive."

      ______


      [4]


      The Indian Express
      August 26, 2005

      GAY LIKE US
      WHY ARE INDIANS HOMOPHOBIC?
      Farah Baria

      That I can't name him in this piece, is perhaps
      the ultimate irony. I can't, not because he gives
      a fig leaf - he doesn't - but because the people
      who care for him do. And so this man I love so
      well is consigned to anonymity, to living in the
      shadow of another love that dare not speak its
      name.

      It hasn't been easy. At barely sixteen, he
      clipped a silver ring on his left ear, and let
      the world know exactly who he was - an act of
      such naked bravery, it was tantamount to social
      suicide. But hey, better to die than live a lie!
      It hasn't been easy enduring those sidelong
      glances from sniggering colleagues, sidestepping
      black-mailing policemen, or assuring well meaning
      relatives that he wasn't looking for a wife,
      thank you very much.

      Now, twenty years later, the earring is gone, and
      the flagrant pink shirts have been packed away;
      age has mellowed the rebel, taught him that while
      what he does in his bedroom is no secret, it
      isn't a public statement either. I once asked him
      when he guessed he was gay. ''Oh, before I could
      recite Georgie Porgie'' he said, with
      characteristic black humor. ''I always knew I was
      different.''

      Last week, at the country's first official gay
      rally in Mumbai, a section of his misunderstood
      species protested that ''different'' does not
      mean ''criminal.'' After all, in a world where
      babies are butchered because they belong to
      another God, and hatred is the official foreign
      policy of nations, surely no love between two
      consenting adults can possibly be a crime?

      Yet, almost six decades after India pledged
      herself to liberty and equality, section 377 of
      the Indian Penal Code says it can - on the same
      grounds as child abuse and bestiality. While
      every other democratic country in the world has
      legalized homosexuality, our Government, which
      almost never addresses the issue of public
      morality - how can it, when corruption is as
      intrinsic to governance as the so-called
      ''crime'' of sodomy is to gay sex? - seems almost
      passionate about enforcing its own brand of
      personal morality on private citizens.

      Recently, replying to a petition filed in the
      Delhi High Court by Naz Foundation, an advocacy,
      AIDS control and gay outreach organization, the
      Government claimed that Indian society was ''not
      ready'' for the practice of homosexuality. In
      fact the 42nd report of the Law Commission opines
      that society's disapproval was ''strong enough to
      justify it being treated as a criminal offence,
      even when adults indulge in it in private.'' The
      penalty? Imprisonment for ten years or even life.

      How ironic that in a country where criminals seem
      to go scot-free for roasting 14 people alive in a
      bakery, national leaders are acquitted for
      abetting the carnage of 3,000 Sikhs, scores are
      maimed or blinded because they belong to a
      ''lower'' caste, women are wantonly assaulted on
      city streets, and many, many marriages are alibis
      for legalized violence and rape, our government
      wants to ''protect'' us from law abiding
      citizens, whose only ''crime'' is their sexual
      preference!

      Worse, its absurd contention that legalizing gay
      sex will encourage paedophilia is like saying
      heterosexual intercourse encourages rape or
      incest.

      As for society not being ''ready'', 55 years ago,
      when the Constitution was being framed, were we
      ready for a ban on sati, equal rights to women,
      and concessions to backward castes? I think not.
      The joke is that for all our gratuitous prudery,
      Indian society provides the model for Sigmund
      Freud's gay archetype. According to Freudian
      psychology, homosexuality is caused by faulty
      child rearing, typically an overprotective,
      fawning mother, and a distant, autocratic father
      who the male child fails to identify with. But if
      the Freudian theory was indeed true, nearly all
      Indian men would be gay!

      The scientific truth is that homosexuality is not
      a social crime; its a genetic fact. In other
      words, gays are born, not made, and persecuting
      them for their sexual preference is like
      persecuting someone for having a weak heart, poor
      eyesight or a crooked nose. This is hardly a new
      concept. Way back in 1948, the famous Alfred
      Kinsey report on human sexuality estimate that
      about 10 per cent of any given population across
      the world is homosexual.

      Why, then, are Indians so homophobic? One
      hypothesis is that, as a nation, we are not
      comfortable with our own heterosexuality. Its a
      well researched fact that the human sexes are not
      mutually exclusive, but fall along a continuum;
      we all have masculine and feminine hormones,
      masculine and feminine traits, masculine and
      feminine orientations, in varying degrees. But
      try explaining that to our average male
      chauvinist! Only when Indian men understand,
      accept and even celebrate their own feminine
      side, without feeling threatened or insecure,
      will we be free from sexual fundamentalism.

      Moreover we are a nation of moral hypocrites. We
      ban legal dance bars, while illegal prostitution
      flourishes. We censor on-screen kissing, but
      gleefully lap up every smutty detail of our
      filmstars' lives. We police what college girls
      wear to prevent ''indecent exposure'', but can't
      seem to get enough of Baywatch.

      That's why when a sizeable gay society wants to
      come out of the closet and demand its fundamental
      right to equality (Article 14), freedom (Article
      19), and personal liberty (Article 21), it has to
      find a more ''respectable'' reason: AIDS
      prevention and control. A petition filed in the
      Delhi High Court pleads that if homosexuality is
      legalized by scrapping Section 377, high risk
      gays will be encouraged to seek medical
      intervention, instead of hiding for fear of
      prosecution. But surely AIDS control is the
      corollary, not the postulate!

      If gay Indians want to be recognized, they need
      to stop hiding behind the AIDS purdah, and demand
      to be treated first as sexual minorities, on par
      with religious and social minorities. If that is
      against our so-called ''cultural values'', so be
      it. Or as a gay friend once remembered, ''Feel
      proud to be a faggot. And leave culture to the
      bigots.''

      ______


      [5]

      New Book on Hindutva Fascism
      Name of the Book: "The Parivar Raj and After"
      Author: "Mukul Dube"

      In the history of communalism in India, the
      Gujarat carnage of 2002 was the most distinct
      marker of the deep seated religious divide. This
      divide was not an impromptu development but the
      culmination of a series of incidents of communal
      violence and of planned and targeted attacks on
      religious minorities under the BJPís rule over a
      decade. That rule itself came about because of a
      succession of planned actions of violence and a
      sustained campaign to propagate distrust and
      hatred.

      Mukul Dubeís book, The Parivar Raj and After, is
      a highly critical exposÈ of the gruesome
      atrocities committed by the rabidly communal
      Sangh Parivar on the minority Muslim community of
      Gujarat, citizens of India. The authorís insights
      and analyses bring out clearly the systematic
      manipulation by the Sangh of facts about the
      events of Gujarat 2002. He shows how this
      communal outfit has successfully brainwashed the
      people, taking hatred to unprecedented heights.

      Another important theme which Dube discusses in
      this book is the hypocritical so-called
      commitment of the Congress Party to secularism.
      According to Dube Gujarat remains a central theme
      in the articles which were written after the
      general election of 2004. News reports and other
      public documents are used to show that the
      Congress and its allies, who were returned to
      power in that election, have calmly forgotten the
      promises they had made. Justice remains a dream
      for those tens or hundreds of thousands of
      Indians who were brutalised in Gujarat ñ and who
      continue to suffer because all they are given are
      empty words and yet more brutality.

      Mukul Dube born 1950, studied at the Delhi School
      of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the
      University of Sussex. Until the end of 1977 he
      pursued an academic career, but since has
      compiled and published the Directory of
      Performing Hindustani Musicians (2001), his The
      Path of the Parivar (nearly the whole of which is
      reproduced in this volume) came out in 2004, and
      a small book of childrenís stories is due to be
      published.

      Vikas Adhyayan Kendra regularly publishes
      materials that probe different facets of the
      communal problem in the country. We hope that
      this new addition will be a useful contribution
      to the continuing debate on communal politics in
      this country.

      The book is available for sale in our office at the following address:

      Vikas Adhyayan Kendra
      D1, Shivdham, 62, Link Road,
      Malad (West), Mumbai 400 064
      India
      Phone: +91-22-2882 2850/ 2889 8662
      Fax: +91-22-2889 8941
      E-mail: vak@...
      Website: www.vakindia.org

      Suggested Contribution: INR 200/ -*
      US $ 10
      (Both inclusive of postage charges)
      * By M. O. or D. D. favouring Vikas Adhyayan Kendra


      ______


      [6] [Upcoming events]

      (i)

      20TH DR RAMANADHAM MEMORIAL MEETING

      People's Union for Democratic Rights invites you to a meeting on

      Land, Agrarian Struggles and Democratic Rights

      Date: 3rd September 2005 (Saturday)

      Time: 1.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.

      Venue: Deputy Speakers Hall, Constitution Club, (near V.P. House)
      Rafi Marg (walking distance from Patel Chowk Metro Station)

      Friends,
      Every year, for the last twenty years, PUDR has organized an annual meeting
      in honour of Dr Ramanadham, Vice-President of the Andhra Pradesh Civil
      Liberties Committee (APCLC), who was killed by the police in Warangal on 3
      September 1985. Each time, we have tried to raise and debate wider issues of
      significance to people's lives and for the democratic rights movement in
      this country. The issues chosen are based on our understanding that an
      important aspect of rights is that they are collective, and fought for
      collectively.

      PUDR has, since the late 1970s, sought to intervene and report on radical
      agrarian struggles and the repression they face, in Bihar and other states.
      The issue of land reforms and agrarian struggles have been made invisible,
      particularly in the last few years. Given economic 'reforms' since the
      nineties and how agriculture has been affected, does it not in fact become
      all the pressing? Let us meet to discuss and debate this, one of the most
      pressing democratic rights issues of our times.


      Chairperson:

      Prof. Anand Chakravarty (Delhi University)

      Speakers:

      D.M. Diwakar (Giri Institute, Lucknow; will focus on Uttar Pradesh)
      Tilak Das Gupta (Writer and Columnist, West Bengal; on Bihar and West
      Bengal)
      D. Narendranath (Vice-President, Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh; on AP)
      Prof. Sucha Singh Gill (Panjabi University, Patiala; on Punjab)

      Discussant: Bela Bhatia (CSDS, Delhi)

      After the four presentations, we hope to have an enriching discussion.
      Please do attend. Also pass on information about this meeting to anyone who
      may be interested.


      Deepika Tandon
      Secretary, PUDR

      ______


      (ii)

      THE AMAN PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES COURSE (In collaboration with Jamia
      Hamdard)

      Delhi, September 26 - October 26, 2005

      Overview

      The course aims at developing and widening intellectual discourse on the
      subject among individuals working in NGOs, teachers, journalists,
      students and other concerned citizens. The course will make Indian and
      South Asian reality a starting point for an investigation of conflict,
      violence and its many ramifications. A conceptual approach that will
      connect, rather than compartmentalize themes relevant to violence and
      conflict will be developed. We believe that philosophical and ethical
      inquiry is a necessary element in such a study. Our lectures and
      seminars shall examine the relationship between local and global issues,
      competing histories and antagonistic polities; and the functions that
      link ethnic identity, gender, and symbols to political and economic
      structures.

      Duration

      The course will be conducted from 26th September to 26th October, 2005.
      It will be interactive and residential, with two or three units being
      conducted every day, two in the mornings and one in the afternoon/early
      evening. Each unit will consist of two hours, and will include a lecture
      and a discussion.

      Three seminars will be organized over the duration of the course

      Application requirements

      Prospective participants are required to send the following information
      by 20th August 2005.

      1) A Curriculum Vitae

      2) An essay in 500 - 800 words stating your reasons for applying for the
      course

      3) Names and contact details of two referees

      Participants' ability to comprehend lectures and other forms of
      discussion in English is necessary, although the course is open to those
      who wish to speak and submit their coursework in Hindi.

      Course Structure: The course will consist of the following six rubrics,
      whose contents will be supplied in greater detail to participants over
      the weeks preceding the course. The web site can be visited for regular
      updates. <www.amanpanchayat.org>

      Rubric 1: Ethical and Philosophical Perspectives on Violence
      Rubric 2: Aspects of twentieth century world history
      Rubric 3: Gender Violence and Conflict
      Rubric 4: The world order and concepts of conflict
      Rubric 5 : Issues in the Contemporary History of India and South Asia
      Rubric 6: Law, Conflict and Peace Processes


      Costs:

      The costs for arranging this course are considerable. AMAN will charge a
      minimum (subsidised) fee of Rs. 5,000/- (five thousand) for an
      individual and Rs 10,000/- (ten thousand) for participants sponsored by
      NGOs,organisations and institutions.
      The costs are inclusive of accommodation and food but do not include
      travel.

      Scholarships: A limited number of scholarships are available. Those who
      wish to apply for this should send us reasons for their request in no
      more than 200 words.


      Contact:

      Please ask for more information on the Aman Trust and the Peace Course
      from our office, via e-mail, or ordinary mail. Address correspondence
      to:

      Peace Course, The Aman Trust
      C- 651, 1 st Floor,
      New Friends Colony,
      New Delhi- 110065
      E-mail: peacecourse@...

      Visit AMAN web site for further details on the course and organization
      <www.amanpanchayat.org>

      Early applications will be appreciated as the course is limited to 20
      participants.


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

      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.
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