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SACW | Dec. 2, 2006 |

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | December 2, 2006 | Dispatch No. 2330 - Year 8 [1] India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch - November 30, 2006 [2]
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2006
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | December 2, 2006 | Dispatch No. 2330 - Year 8

      [1] India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch - November 30, 2006
      [2] India: Autonomous women's groups - Looking
      back, looking forward (Deepti Priya Mehrotra)
      [3] India: How They Crush Mangalore's Muslims
      (An independent citizens' fact-finding team)
      [4] India: Force-Fed Sharmila Fights On for
      Freedom From Armed Oppression (J. Sri Raman)
      [5] Upcoming Events:
      (i) Seminar: Pakistan - State Aggression and its
      Repercussions on Human Rights (Harvard, 5 Dec
      (ii) Book Release and Panel Discussion Human
      Rights for Human Dignity (Delhi, 5 Dec 2006)
      (iii) Bal Adhikar Samvad (Delhi, 19 Dec 2006)
      (iv) 6th KaraFilm Festival (Karachi, 8-18 Dec 2006)



      Compilation No 166
      (November 30, 2006) Year Seven
      URL: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IPARMW/message/177



      Kashmir Times
      2 December 2006

      by Deepti Priya Mehrotra

      Have autonomous political movements in India come
      of age? They have indeed - according to Saheli,
      an autonomous women's group (AWG) currently
      celebrating its 25th birthday.

      The group called a meeting on August 12, 2006 at
      the Mekhala Jha auditorium, New Delhi, with the
      overall goal of 'strengthening autonomous
      politics'. It was a well-attended meeting,
      stretching from 9 am to 7 pm. Nearly 150
      participants shared memories and journeys in the
      morning hours, and discussed issues of democratic
      politics, wider mobilisation, sexuality politics
      and relations between State and gender rights, in
      the afternoon and evening.
      Professor Uma Chakravarty, feminist historian
      from Delhi University, spoke of contradictions as
      well as joint achievements of the women's
      movement and civil liberties and democratic
      rights movement, over the past 30 years.
      Strong women's organisations in India have fought
      influential battles on extremely significant
      issues. Even before national independence in1947,
      the All India Women's Conference, National
      Federation of Indian Women, Women's India
      Association and a host of regional and local
      organisations waged struggles for female
      education, voting rights, widow remarriage,
      rights of women workers and equity in personal
      laws. They were rather successful on several
      The 1970s saw women organise around issues of
      ecological, food and livelihood security. The
      Chipko movement of Uttaranchal is known worldwide
      because grassroots women raised environmental
      issues recognised as globally significant. The
      Self-Employed Women's Association, a group with
      Gandhian roots, spearheaded struggles by women
      workers in the informal sector, beginning in
      Gujarat and spreading to other parts of the
      country. In Maharashtra, women from different
      parties got together to fight a pitched battle
      against price rise. The 1974 release of the
      'Status of Women in India' by a
      government-appointed committee alerted the
      country about declining sex ratios, and low
      indices in health, education and political
      In the 1980s, there was a spurt of new women's
      groups. Many were AWGs, although some others,
      like All India Democratic Women's Association
      (associated with the Communist Part of
      India-Marxist), were wings of political parties.
      What distinguishes AWGs is their refusal to be
      subject to any political party or other
      institution. They argue that women need to create
      separate spaces in which to take initiatives,
      speak their minds, and define an independent
      politics. Saheli, Manushi, Vimochana, Asmita,
      Forum Against Oppression of Women, Anveshi,
      Awaaz-e-Niswaan, Sama and Sampurna are some of
      the contemporary AWGs.
      AWGs have led campaigns on issues hitherto
      considered too personal to discuss publicly -
      including sexual abuse, domestic violence and
      marginalised sexualities. These issues festered
      for long within the confines of patriarchal
      family and civil society institutions. AWGs
      declare that democracy must not stop at the
      threshold of the family. In sync with the
      international women's movement slogan 'the
      personal is political', women and civil liberties
      groups came together to bring these skeletons out
      of the cupboard. Over the years, shocking
      evidence of high rates of wife-battering,
      dowry-related wife-murders, rape, child sexual
      abuse and other forms of domestic violence kept
      piling up. Women have also begun to challenge
      homophobia publicly. Chayanika Shah of LABIA
      (Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action), Mumbai, spoke
      at the Saheli meet, expressing relief that some
      space has finally opened for such issues.
      AWGs have been instrumental in politicising
      issues that were earlier swept under the carpet.
      We now have wider awareness and laws on domestic
      violence, pre-natal sex determination (PNDT) and
      women's property rights. As important as the
      passage of such legislation is the process
      leading up to them - a collective process of
      formulation and reformulation, based on inputs by
      a large number of groups and organisations. In
      the case of the PNDT and domestic violence laws,
      women's groups are actively organising to ensure
      that these laws are actually implemented. Whereas
      three decades ago, an issue like rape was
      unmentionable, today the media cannot afford to
      ignore issues like sexual abuse, harassment at
      the workplace, personal laws and even marital
      Despite these achievements, the women's movement
      still faces enormous challenges. As we take
      stock, it is important to balance celebration and
      euphoria against the desperation that still lurks
      in the lives of the majority of Indian women. An
      anniversary is a time to be honest, to introspect
      and engage in serious soul-searching. Success
      must be measured against limitations, as well as
      downright failures.
      Several news items over the past few weeks
      illustrate the challenges ahead. Women's
      organisations - AWGs as well as Left-party-based
      - got together to protest lack of political will
      regarding the bill for women's reservation in
      Parliament. First mooted in 1997, the bill has
      been shelved year after year. This is despite the
      success of the earlier legislation (1993-94),
      under which 33 per cent representation of women
      is ensured in local self-governance (panchayati
      raj institutions).
      'Anganwadi' workers of the Integrated Child
      Development Services, touted as the biggest child
      welfare programme in the world, have been
      agitating in New Delhi for formal recognition as
      'workers'. Agananwadi workers receive a paltry
      'honorarium' for the long list of duties they are
      obliged to carry out - meeting nutrition, care
      and pre-school education needs of children below
      six years in all the villages and slums of the
      country, as well as providing inputs for women's
      health and contraceptive needs. At the Saheli
      meet, Arti Sawhney and Kiran Dubey of the Sathin
      Karamchari Sangh spoke of the struggles of
      sathins - 'sathins' being government-appointed
      functionaries of the Women's Development
      Programme (Rajasthan). Sathins work for women's
      empowerment, but are frequently not allowed to
      raise their own issues as women and as workers.
      Other crucial areas where autonomous politics
      must intervene systematically include education,
      health and social security. Rising levels of
      poverty have actually led to an erosion of the
      quality of life of large numbers of Indian women.
      Autonomous women's politics, to be relevant,
      needs to build bridges across class and caste. At
      the Saheli meet, Saraswati, an organiser of Dalit
      women in Karnataka, described her experiences as
      a Maddiga - vulnerable to exploitation both as a
      woman and as a Dalit. Shamim, from the Shramik
      Adivasi Sanghathan, Madhya Pradesh, spoke on the
      imperative need for mass organising and political
      The meet confirmed the relevance and vibrancy of
      an autonomous women's politics, as also the many
      currents and enormous dilemmas confronting it.
      Sheer survival is often a big challenge for small
      AWGs, yet not only have many survived, they
      continue to raise their voices, engage in vibrant
      debate and strategise collectively for a better

      *(Dr Deepti Priya Mehrotra is a political
      scientist as well as activist and journalist. Her
      publications include 'Home Truths: Stories of
      Single Mothers'; Penguin, 2003.)
      -(Courtesy: Women's Feature Service)



      Dec 09 , 2006


      An independent citizens' fact-finding team
      discovers that attacks on Muslims in coastal
      Karnataka routinely go unreported. And now,
      police atrocities are also being overlooked.
      These are excerpts from the team's report

      Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was
      unrepentant about the state police's style of
      violence-management in Mangalore, when he
      defiantly said, "Were they to dream of such
      violence?" In coastal Karnataka, the police could
      most certainly have foreseen communal violence if
      they had just been alert on duty. That wasn't the
      problem. In fact, during the violence in
      Mangalore, the police were either lost in
      daydreams in the face of daylight looting and
      atrocities, or were inflicting nightmares on
      unsuspecting Muslims in the middle of the night.

      The Press has always suppressed the fact of
      violence against Muslims throughout the coastal
      belt: but, this time around, they suppressed
      police atrocities too; the non-bjp parties too
      have maintained complete silence. This is a new
      development in the bloody history of coastal
      Karnataka's communal violence. The
      administration, the police, and the media had
      never before worked unanimously and in tandem.

      From what we saw in the violence-affected areas,
      wherever the Muslims had taken to destruction, it
      was as a response to the violence inflicted on

      AT BAJPE
      The Mangalore violence during the first week of
      October 2006 erupted in Bajpe, on the outskirts
      of the city. On October 3, a Sharada procession
      was scheduled and was to pass the Bajpe Masjid.
      Some Muslims told police about their objections
      to one tableau. The police and bjp mla Krishna
      Palemar, who was there, requested the organisers
      to remove that particular tableau. But the
      request went unheeded. Nor did they oblige to an
      altered request that the tableau should not pass
      in front of the masjid. Therefore, police stopped
      the procession. The organisers chose to place the
      Sharada idol in the middle of the road, in

      What was this tableau all about? It was claimed
      that it was the tableau of Bappa Beary
      worshipping Sharada Matha, and that there wasn't
      anything here that would insult Muslims. The
      popular legend, that was invoked, has it that
      Goddess Durga Parameshwari gave darshan to Beary,
      a rich Muslim merchant, in his dream. Legend has
      it that he erected a temple for her. There is
      also a popular Yakshagana narrative based on this
      legend. These days, the narrative presents Bappa
      Beary as a clown and the Bajpe tableau had a
      similar visual. The Muslim contention was that
      the man in the tableau portrayed a pitiable
      maulvi rather than Beary. However, the Muslims
      did not pick up a quarrel.

      As the unchanged procession was allowed to
      proceed, seven Muslim and two Hindu shops were
      looted by a 1,000-strong mob. Mohammed Hanif of
      Top Collections incurred the highest losses: his
      Ramzan collection worth Rs 15 lakh was looted.
      Even as the looting was on, there were at least
      200 policemen including the sp and the dcp
      stationed there. The next morning, the newspapers
      reported that the Muslims had objected to a
      symbol of communal amity and had stalled the

      AT ULLAL
      Unlike Bajpe where the police were silent, they
      turned into beasts in Ullal on the outskirts of
      Mangalore. In the afternoon of the bandh called
      by Sri Rama Sene on October 6, three Hindu shops
      on the road to Ullal were set on fire. As there
      was stoning and rioting in two areas nearby, the
      police took it to be the handiwork of Ullal's
      Muslims. They covered their faces and broke into
      Muslim houses when most men were away at the
      masjid. They robbed these people and beat up
      women and children. Nearly 70 Muslims of Ullal -
      most of them boys - were arrested and shifted to
      Mangalore, and two days later they were charged
      with criminal cases and moved to Bellary jail.

      Bunder is a "Muslim area" with a substantial
      number of Hindus. But it is considered a
      communally sensitive area, for reasons of planted
      prejudice. On the midnight of October 8, police
      broke into Muslim houses, mouthed obscenities
      against Bearies, and arrested the men. There were
      communal disturbances in Bunder earlier, but the
      police hadn't broken into Muslim houses like this
      time. More importantly, Bunder was completely
      calm. The Muslims we met asked us: "With three
      continuous days of curfew, where would our
      children run? Would they be asleep at home if
      they were involved in rioting elsewhere?" The one
      solace, if it is one, was that the police here
      didn't loot, as in Ullal.

      On October 13, there were four mild explosions
      near the BC Road Bus Stand that slightly damaged
      shop windows. Two people were stabbed. Next
      morning, the coastal press reported it as if it
      were a terrorist plot. Soon, the police swung
      into action and broke into Muslim houses at the
      nearby Goodina Bali and arrested 20 men, most of
      whom were either beedi-rollers or coolies.

      The same police had slept when, on October 5, the
      Bajrang Dal had forced a bandh in the district.
      In broad daylight, 11 Muslim shops were looted
      and that too barely 100 metres from the police
      station. This loot and destruction was designated
      a "communal riot," by the media.

      Soon after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992,
      Muslim houses and shops were looted in several
      places of coastal Karnataka. Since then, there
      has been a systematic Hindutva brigade-led attack
      on Muslims - in Puttur (1997), Suratkal (1998-9),
      Kundapur (2002), Adi Udupi (2005) - and
      Protestant Christians. It is now routine for the
      Hindutva brigade to co-opt the media, raise an
      alarm that Hinduism is in danger, and then attack
      Muslims with redoubled bestiality.

      Veeranagara and Faisal Nagara are two settlements
      on Mangalore's outer edge on the bank of
      Nethravathi river. This stretch was formerly
      called Kodange. In Faisal Nagara, Muslims are a
      majority with a substantial number of Hindu
      households while in Veeranagara, Hindus are a

      On October 6, Muslim youths stoned some Hindu
      houses at Faisal Nagara. The mob broke into four
      Hindu houses and damaged them. In one house, a
      middle-aged man and his son were beaten up. We
      visited the house, but couldn't see any symptoms
      of systematic destruction. The same evening, the
      police forcibly shifted 30 Hindu families of
      Faisal Nagara to a camp in adjacent Veeranagara.
      While doing so, they told people that they could
      stay at their own risk.

      Nearly 150 people have returned to their homes
      after staying three days in the camp. All of them
      we spoke to categorically said that they would
      not have gone but for police pressure, and that
      they perceived no threat.

      Though this shifting of Hindus to Veeranagara was
      due to police irresponsibility, it gave the media
      a golden chance to fan communal hatred as it
      showed "the terrified Hindus" at the Veeranagara

      At Veeranagara, a shop that belonged to Abdul
      Khader (of Faisal Nagara), was attacked. Khader
      lodged a police complaint, naming some looters
      but none were arrested. Instead, his second son
      Pervez was arrested and taken to Bellary jail.
      When Fathima, wife of Khader's first son,
      questioned the police, a policeman tried to
      molest her.

      Hasanabba belongs to Maanur village of Bantwal
      Taluk. Of the nearly 20 households here, five
      belong to Muslims. A well-to-do beedi contractor,
      Hasanabba has employed nearly 120 people and all
      of them are non-Muslim women. He had earned the
      villagers' respect by getting the local youth
      employment as well. But that didn't matter on
      October 6 when 20 youth marched into Hasanabba's
      house. As soon as he opened the door, he was
      struck on the head by a stone.

      Sensing danger, he immediately closed the door.

      Hasanabba called his friend and lawyer Ramesh
      Upadhyaya, a bjp man. As soon as Upadhyaya came
      to the spot, the mob fled. Next day, the village
      elders expressed their sympathies to Hasanabba.
      He pleaded with them, "These boys are your
      children. Please take them to the village temple,
      let them promise to your God that they won't
      repeat this in future." None of the elders
      responded. Unwillingly Hasanabba lodged a police
      complaint and named the culprits. But they still
      continue to be at large.

      We saw a ray of hope at Perlagudde at
      Veeranagara. At the entrance here, there is only
      one Muslim household, surrounded by dalit
      households. Khalid lives here with his two elder
      sisters. On October 6, when he was returning from
      the masjid, three sword-wielding men stabbed him.
      When we met Khalid at the hospital, he named
      those who attacked him. Next day a group
      surrounded his house, stoned it and were about to
      set fire. Then, 70-year-old Kalyani and other
      neighbours - all dalits - scared the group away.

      At the courtyard of Khalid's house, this is what
      Kalyani told us, "They have done no wrong to
      anyone. If someone says we will set fire to his
      house, how can we sit quiet?"



      30 November 2006

      by J. Sri Raman

      It was a small, double-column story tucked
      away into an inside page of a newspaper that came
      as a sharp, stinging reminder of a saga. Visiting
      Iranian human-rights activist Shirin Ebadi, said
      the story, on Tuesday called on the much less
      known Irom Chanu Sharmila, a woman from India's
      State of Manipur, on a hunger strike in a New
      Delhi hospital.

      Hunger strikes, which Mahatma Gandhi
      popularized as a form of protest, are common
      enough in India. This, however, is a different
      case. Sharmila, a 34-year-old woman, has been on
      a hunger strike for over six years. Or, more
      correctly, she has been force-fed, as she has
      fought on since 2000 for freedom from armed

      Sharmila's single, specific demand has been
      for the scrapping of a draconian law titled the
      Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, or the
      AFSPA. The law has posed a dire threat to the
      liberty, life, and dignity of the people in
      Manipur, one of the insurgency-prone tribal
      states in India's northeast.

      Sharmila's epic fast started on November 6,
      2000, four days after men of the Indian armed
      forces reportedly opened fire on ten youths
      waiting at a bus stand in Malom, near the airport
      of Imphal, capital of Manipur, and killed all of
      them. The AFSPA empowered the men in uniform to
      kill those merely suspected to be the country's
      separatist enemies.

      To Sharmila and to other Manipuris, the
      atrocity did not come as a shock. The AFSPA did
      not only give even officers of the lowest rank in
      a "disturbed area" such a license to kill for the
      sake of law and order, it also authorized what
      functioned as an occupation army "to destroy any
      shelter, from which armed attacks are ... likely
      to be made." On "reasonable suspicion," any
      person could be arrested without a warrant, and
      so could any premises be entered and searched.
      Obviously, these provisions made a host of human
      rights abuses possible, and the hapless people of
      the state had not been spared any of them.

      While the victims of the Act belong mostly to
      weaker sections, women have been particularly
      vulnerable to its abuse. By all local accounts,
      rape-and-murder sequences had been made to look
      like part of routine anti-insurgency
      investigations even earlier.

      The Malom incident, however, created the
      psychological moment for a major popular movement
      against the Act. And it made Sharmila join the
      struggle. When she sat in a public place and
      declared her resolve not to "drink a drop of
      water" until the AFSPA was withdrawn, she
      encountered some ridicule. It turned into
      respect, and something like reverence, as she
      continued the fast through days, weeks, and

      Over the years, she has become a living
      legend. Or a legend kept alive by force-feeding
      on behalf of armed forces. Nose-fed and tube-fed,
      she has continued to emulate the example of the
      founder of India's freedom from colonial rule,
      whom a nuclear-proud New Delhi hails as the
      Father of the Nation with despicable hypocrisy.
      Arrested and re-arrested, moved from prison to
      prison and from hospital to hospital, she has
      refused to call off her fast, making November 6
      an anniversary of Manipur's struggle.

      The fast has continued despite the
      fluctuations in the movement. Sharmila returns
      like a painful memory whenever the movement shows
      resurgence, but her struggle does not cease when
      the media turns its attention to other matters.

      I wrote of her last in these columns over two
      years ago ("Manipur's Magnificent Struggle,"
      August 22, 2004). The main focus then was on
      another woman activist, Thangjam Manorama Devi,
      who had been raped and murdered. As I reported, a
      unit of the armed forces had taken 32-year-old
      Manorama "into custody as a suspected
      separatist," and she never returned to tell what
      had transpired. According to reports that call
      for an inquiry into what might have remained one
      of many such cases and complaints on record, "the
      soldiers had pumped bullets into Manorama's
      genitals to cover up the gender part of their

      This led to a protest by nude Manipuri women
      against naked militarism outside the camp of the
      unit Assam Rifles, with the demonstrators daring
      the soldiers to rape them en masse. The protest
      drew countrywide attention, but so did Sharmila's
      continued and dignified fast against the crimes
      of many years against the Manoramas of Manipur.

      The mandarins of New Delhi , of course, have
      managed bigger crises. They got over this one
      simply by setting up an inquiry by a retired
      judge of India's Supreme Court. But, the contents
      of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission, submitted
      in June 2005 and stated to contain strictures on
      the armed forces, have been neither divulged nor
      discussed in public.

      The mainstream media outside Manipur might
      have forgotten about Sharmila forever, but for
      her success in smuggling herself out of Manipur
      and into New Delhi last month. The first thing
      she did in the country's capital was to visit the
      Mahatma's tomb, and then she proceeded to
      continue her fast at a public spot. The official
      response was predictable. In a midnight swoop,
      the police arrested her and put her in the
      prestigious All-India Institute of Medical
      Sciences (AIIMS).

      Meanwhile, in Manipur, they registered a
      police case against her under section 125 of the
      Indian Penal Code (IPC). This provision deals
      with a threat to the security of the president
      and the prime minister of India (which this
      fasting, fragile woman's presence in the capital
      is supposed to represent)!

      In the high-profile hospital, she continued
      to be force-fed, under heavy armed security.
      Neither the AIIMS nor any other authority has
      seen fit to issue a bulletin on her health,
      though sources close to her say that she feels
      weak and that her bones have become brittle. A
      medical manual I consulted says that "long-term
      use of nasal steroids may cause fungal infections
      of the nose or throat." It also warns that
      nose-fed intakes may enter one's bloodstream and
      adds: "This may have undesirable consequences
      that may require additional corticosteroid
      treatment. This is especially true for children
      and for those who have used this for an extended
      period of time."

      Also relevant to Sharmila's case is a recent
      statement by 250 medical leaders on force-feeding
      in remote Guantanamo Bay. The March 11 issue of
      British medical journal The Lancet carries a
      letter by these leaders, condemning the practice
      of force-feeding detainees, "strapped into
      restraint chairs in uncomfortably cold isolation
      cells, to force them off their hunger strike."
      Attorneys for the detainees are said to have
      reported extreme suffering among their clients as
      a result of painful force-feeding methods via
      nasal tubes and prolonged shackling in the
      restraint chairs.

      A report on the statement notes that US
      military officials have acknowledged the use of
      such aggressive tactics in order to break hunger
      strikes at the detention facility. The Indian
      authorities have not denied force-feeding their
      detainee, either.

      Sharmila is more than a Manipuri activist.
      She and her struggle, for freedom and against
      armed occupation and oppression, are metaphors
      with a larger meaning.


      [5] Upcoming Events


      Seminar: Pakistan : State Aggression and its Repercussions on Human

      This roundtable seminar is pegged on the Oct 30 air strike on a religious
      seminary in Bajaur, Pakistan, that killed about 80 people, allegedly
      militants using the place to train terrorists. Can 'terrorism' be addressed
      with state-sponsored or initiated violence? What is the ensuing 'collateral
      damage' to human rights, democracy, and the media? What are the
      repercussions on Pakistan, South Asia, and beyond?

      This event is supported by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and
      Friends of South Asia (FOSA) Boston

      Featuring seminar presentations by:
      - Imtiaz Ali, reporter, BBC Pashto Service, Peshawar, currently
      International Knight Fellow, Stanford
      - Hassan Abbas, Research Fellow at the Belfer Center 's International
      Security Program and Managing the Atom Project
      - Bob Dietz, Asia Desk, Committee to Protect Journalists, NY
      - Husain Haqqani, Director, Center for International Relations at Boston
      - Lawrence Lifschultz, former South Asia Correspondent, Far Eastern
      Economic Review
      - Adil Najam , Associate Professor of International Negotiation &
      Diplomacy, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University
      - Beena Sarwar , Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
      - Charlie Sennott, former foreign correspondent (Afghanistan, Pakistan,
      Iraq, Israel), Boston Globe
      - Nasim Zehra, Fellow, Asia Center, Harvard University; columnist The
      News International, Pakistan

      Tuesday, December 5th, 12:00-3:00 pm
      Malkin Penthouse, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
      Lunch will be served. RSVP to Meghan_Frederico@...


      Invitation for Book Release and Panel Discussion

      Human Rights for Human Dignity

      Published by
      Amnesty International

      Date: December 5, 2006 (Tuesday) Time: 2.30 pm
      Venue: Gandhi Peace Foundation, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi

      Chief Guest & Keynote Speaker:
      Justice J S Verma, former Chief Justice, of India
      Common Minimum Postulates (CMP) of Human Rights

      Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi
      Group Rights and Human Dignity
      Prof. Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
      Development with Dignity
      Dr. Purna Sen, Program Director (Asia-Pacific), Amnesty International
      Dignity, Human Rights and Gender

      On December 5, celebrating the World Dignity Day,
      Amnesty International India is launching its
      publication, 'Human Rights for Human Dignity: A
      Primer on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights',
      in English and Hindi. We take the pleasure of
      inviting you to our book release program and a
      panel discussion thereafter on December 5 2006
      (Tuesday), 2.00pm – 4.00 pm at Gandhi Peace
      Foundation, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, near ITO,
      New Delhi.

      'Human Rights for Human Dignity' presents an
      overview of economic, social and cultural rights,
      outlines their scope and content, and gives
      examples of violations and what can be done to
      address them. This primer highlights not only the
      obligations of the governments within their own
      countries but also their international
      obligations, and the human rights
      responsibilities of a wider orbit of actors
      including international organizations and

      Amnesty International (AI) has also planned its
      next global campaign on the theme of 'Human
      Rights and Human Dignity'. As the international
      community has repeatedly recognized, all human
      rights are universal, indivisible,
      inter-dependent and interrelated. Human dignity
      requires respect for all human rights of all
      people: there can be no higher priority than the
      right to live with dignity. Amnesty International
      joins local communities and activists worldwide
      in campaigning for economic, social and cultural
      rights of the marginalised people.

      Sixty years after the adoption of the Universal
      Declaration of Human Rights, the aspiration for
      “a world free from want as well as fear” is
      unrealised for millions. A massive shift in
      mindset is needed so that poverty is understood
      and addressed as a condition driven and
      perpetuated by a web of indivisible human rights
      violations. Bringing a human rights based
      approach and global activism, through the lens of
      health & housing, and grounded in individuals'
      experience, is the need of the hour.

      The full realization of economic, social and
      cultural rights – including rights to food,
      housing, health, education and work – requires
      significant human, , technological and variety of
      other resources. Yet limited resources can not be
      accepted as the principal cause of widespread
      violations of these rights, and cannot be used as
      an excuse to deny them to specific individuals
      and groups. Ethnic minorities, indigenous
      peoples, women, members of opposition or
      religious groups, people living with HIV/AIDS or
      mental disabilities and many others risk
      injustice as a result of such discriminations and

      The Governments that are keen to encourage
      investments have often failed to ensure that the
      big business respects its human rights
      responsibilities as well. Moreover, they have
      exposed the population to exploitation through
      the denial of the right to fair wages and decent
      working conditions. Functioning independently or
      through international financial institutions, the
      governments have often disregarded the rights of
      people elsewhere, supporting large-scale
      development projects which have resulted in
      widespread homelessness and defiance of
      indigenous peoples' rights. Violations of
      economic, social and cultural rights are not just
      a matter of inadequate resources or policy; but a
      matter of dignity.

      AI wishes to join the mobilisation for concrete
      changes in policy and practice to help create
      space for the marginalised to claim their rights
      and dignity.

      We, therefore, invite you to join us for the book
      release and the panel discussion, and express
      your solidarity for our campaign for the cause of
      economic, social and cultural rights of all

      Thanking you.


      Mukul Sharma, Director - 9810801919
      Joe Athialy, Campaigns and Communication Coordinator - 9868114470
      Soumya Bhaumik, Human Rights Education Coordinator - 9811472549

      Hitesh Gogia: 9811283747
      Sundera Babu: 9811744919
      Monami Banerjee: 9818448041




      (Constitution Club Lawns, V P House, Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110 001)

      A special gathering, "Bal Adhikar Samvad", is to
      be held in Delhi on 19 December 2006. This event
      is an attempt to focus public attention on the
      fundamental rights of children under the age of
      six years - including their rights to nutrition,
      health and pre-school education.

      Bal Adhikar Samvad is part of a growing campaign
      for the rights of children under six. Earlier
      activities of this campaign include a major
      convention held in Hyderabad (on 7-9 April 2006)
      and a series of local actions around the country:
      'anganwadi divas', bal adhikar yatras, legal
      action, media events, and more. Bal Adhikar
      Samvad is an opportunity to learn from these
      experiences, and plan further activities. It is
      also an occasion to reiterate our basic demand
      for "universal" child development services: a
      lively Anganwadi in every settlement, and full
      coverage of all children under six.

      Other items on the programme (see below) include
      cultural activities and the presentation of a new
      report, Focus On Children Under Six (FOCUS).
      About 500 participants from all over the country
      are expected to take part in Bal Adhikar Samvad.
      The proceedings will be mainly in English and

      This event is convened by Citizen's Initiative
      for the Rights of Children Under Six, as part of
      the "right to food campaign". Professor Amartya
      Sen has kindly agreed to join us and to be the
      keynote speaker.

      You are warmly invited to participate in this
      event. If you require any assistance ( e.g. with
      accommodation in Delhi), please send a line to
      or call the secretariat of the right to food
      campaign at 011-4350 1335. We hope to see you
      on 19 December.

      Programme Committee

      [Jean Drèze, Navjyoti, Biraj Patnaik, Spurthi
      Reddy, Devika Singh, Gurminder Singh, C.P. Sujaya
      (Advisory group: Ashok Bharti, Asha Mishra, Annie
      Raja, Aruna Roy, Shantha Sinha, Kavita

      (Constitution Club Lawns, 19 December 2006)

      MORNING SESSION (9.30 am to 2.00 pm)

      Introduction and welcome

      [including cultural items]

      Short presentations

      [(1) The state of Indian children; (2) FOCUS
      (Focus On Children Under Six) report; (3) Action
      for children under six.]

      Panel discussion

      [Speakers: Mina Swaminathan, Montek Ahluwalia,
      Shabana Azmi, Shantha Sinha, Sukhdeo Thorat]

      Interactive session

      Keynote address: Amartya Sen.

      AFTERNOON SESSION (3 pm to 5 pm)

      Campaign reports
      [Anganwadi Divas, Bal Adhikar Yatra, Legal Action, etc.]

      Future activities

      Concluding address: Aruna Roy

      For further details please contact the
      secretariat of the right to food campaign (tel
      011-4350 1335, email
      website <http://www.righttofoodindia.org/>


      6th KaraFilm Festival
      (8-18 December 2006)

      Organized under the aegis of the KaraFilm Society, a grouping of
      committed young filmmakers, the KaraFilm Festival is a celebration of
      the moving image and of storytelling. Our goal is to promote an
      appreciation of the art and craft of filmmaking among a wide
      population as well as to encourage creativity and high standards among
      filmmakers. We hope that this will have a salutary effect on the
      development of the motion picture industry in Pakistan and elsewhere.

      Many years ago, international film festivals in Karachi attracted
      large audiences and some of the best filmmakers in the world. Satyajit
      Ray, for example, was one of a host of world renowned directors
      screening films in Karachi in the 1960s.

      With this festival we hope to create, once again, a space for
      alternative and independent cinema in Pakistan, where both experienced
      and new filmmakers can exhibit their creative endeavours and where
      work is recognized on the basis of merit. In addition, the festival
      also provides an excellent opportunity for filmmakers to meet and
      learn from each other.




      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/

      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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