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SACW - 1 Oct 2012 | Afghan Women and Taliban / Bangladesh: Personal laws Discriminate / Sri Lanka: Hector Abhayavardhana / India: letter by deported Japanese activists; Maruti suzuki workers / Freedom to criticize religion / Tunisian Islamists / Church role in Italy / Spain: 25S manifesto

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire - 1 Oct 2012 - No. 2753 ... Contents: 1. Afghanistan: Women Who Fight for Freedoms & The Taliban’s War on Women (Yalda Hakim) 2.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2012
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      South Asia Citizens Wire - 1 Oct 2012 - No. 2753


      1. Afghanistan: Women Who Fight for Freedoms & The Taliban’s War on Women (Yalda Hakim)
      2. Bangladesh: Separate personal laws for Muslims, Hindus, and Christians discriminate against women - HRW report
      3. Sri Lanka: Hector Abhayavardhana - The last of the Old Left and the end of an era (Rajan Philips)
      4. Letter from Japanese Anti Nuclear Activists and their experience of being deported from India
      5. India: Arbitrary arrests and intimidation used against Maruti Suzuki workers - PUDR Press Release
      6. India: Not vegetarianism or dieting, Mr. Modi (Indira Hirway)
      7. India: Survivors, not victims (Namita Bhandare)
      8. India: The ISRO Spy Case Test (Shekhar Gupta)
      9. Selected content from Communalism Watch

      10. Aggressive Salafist Islamists threaten Tunisia's dream of freedom (Nick Meo)
      11. Freedom to criticize religion is a touchstone of free expression’ - Gilbert Achcar Interview
      12. Italian director slams Church's political role
      12. Spain: “Democracy has been kidnapped. On 25 September we are going to save it" - Coordinadora #25S’s manifesto

      Afghan women who fight for freedoms by Yalda Hakim
      + The Taliban’s War on Women - Transcript of reportage by Yalda Hakim


      Bangladesh’s personal laws for Muslims, Hindus, and Christians have not been reformed in decades. Personal law reform has often been fraught with problems, with some opponents invoking discriminatory interpretations of religion. The separate personal laws for Bangladesh’s Muslims, Hindus, and Christians discriminate in overlapping but distinctive ways. Each erects barriers to divorce and economic equality during marriage and after, and none of the laws provides for women’s equal right to marital property.


      by Rajan Philips
      Hector Abhayavardhana passed away on Saturday, September 22, at the ripe old age of 93. He was a lifelong and loyal member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.Almost from the time he joined the Party as a young University student, Hector belonged to the top echelon of the Party – that formidable political pantheon of Philip Gunawardena, N.M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Edmund Samarakoddy, Bernard Soysa and Doric de Souza. With his death the curtain finally falls on Sri Lanka’s oldest political party, but its contributions over fifty years are a huge part of the island’s 20th century politics and society.


      We could not see people in Koodankulam and those sympathized with them. It is truly regrettable that we could not meet them. However, after being denied entrance, our concern has become more serious and our solidarity has been stronger. Those who push for nuclear energy are closely connected. Globally, there are no boarders when it comes to nuclear devastation. Then let us overcome the difference of nationalities and languages and make thousands of, ten thousands of comrades to fight for our future without nukes together. We hope to see you in India on next opportunity.


      PUDR Press Release
      26 September 2012
      Press Release
      Based upon its preliminary investigation, PUDR asserts that instead of a thorough investigation into the alleged murder of Awanish Dev, Manager, Maruti Suzuki Ltd’s Manesar plant on 18 July 2012, the Haryana police have been responsible for arbitrary arrests of workers, illegal detention and harassment of their family members as well as custodial violence. Our findings reveal how miscarriage of justice has occurred and continues at many levels:


      by Indira Hirway
      Low wage rates, poorly functioning public schemes and patchy access to water and sanitation are the real explanation for Gujarat’s persistent malnutrition

      by Namita Bhandare
      (Hindustan Times, September 29, 2012)
      This we know: On September 9, a 16-year-old Dalit schoolgirl in Dabra village, Hisar was kidnapped, raped and photographed allegedly by a group of upper caste Jat boys. This we know: The girl complains to her father. The photographs are circulated in the village. The father tries to
      lodge a complaint, fails, and kills himself nine days after his daughter was raped.

      This we know: It takes media outrage, street processions and the threat of job suspensions by the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes before the Haryana police arrest nine of the 12 accused (one is the nephew of the INLD district chief and three are said to have links to the Congress). But even before interrogation can begin, comes news of a copycat rape: another Dalit woman, also gangraped, also filmed, also in Haryana, only this time in Jind district.

      The silence in Hisar has an echo in Jind. At the time of writing, the National Commission for Women is yet to rouse itself. Leave alone a visit to Hisar, it has not even bothered with a statement laced with the mandatory clichés of outrage, shock etc.


      by Shekhar Gupta
      . . .The real issue was the general opprobrium among sections of the intelligentsia, and certainly within the journalistic community who had spent months building the fiction of this allegedly greatest spy story ever.


      Jamaat e Islami in deep mourning for Hindutva topgun Sudarshan

      Missing the soft notes - Jawed Naqvi

      What, exactly, unites Indian Muslims and what divides them? - Christophe Jaffrelot

      Who is in Whose Land? - Thackeray Family’s Bihar Connection - Ram Puniyani

      Postmodern Gandhians And Hindu Nationalism - Part I and II - Michael Barker


      by Nick Meo

      In Sidi Bouzid, birthplace of the Arab Spring, there is disillusion with the aftermath of the revolution and growing support for hardline Salafist Islamists

      Luckily there were no sunbathers at the swimming pool when the mob of 80 Islamic hardliners arrived to smash up the Horchani Hotel, the only place in Sidi Bouzid where you could buy a cold beer.

      Bearded, angry young men threatened the few staff who were around at lunchtime with iron bars, broke windows, smashed up ornamental fountains and threw bottles of wine and spirits into the empty pool, which is now full of shattered glass.

      "They said if I serve alcohol again they will come back and burn down the hotel," said Jamil Horchani, 64, whose family has run the place since 1976.

      The birthplace of the Arab Spring is a few streets away in the flyblown, ramshackle town four hours drive south of Tunis, the capital. A desperate young street vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself alight in December 2010, sparking protests which grew into an uprising and toppled the autocratic leader Zine el Abidine Ben Ali before spreading beyond Tunisia's borders.

      The revolution, started by an act of despair, raised high hopes in Tunisia, a nation of 11 million which is has as much in common with the northern Mediterranean countries as the Arab ones on the southern shore; lively bars, beaches where Tunisian women wear bikinis, and universities which turn out well-educated young people who struggle to find work in the depressed post-revolution economy.

      Sidi Bouzid, a backwater and unemployment blackspot, doesn't enjoy much of the capital's Tunisian dolce vita, and since its brief moment of glory last year not much has changed. At least the police who hounded Mr Bouazizi to his death have been withdrawn from the streets – their place filled by earnest young men in traditional robes with long beards.

      They organise street cleaning teams to sweep away rubbish, and vigilante groups who patrol for the criminals who have become bolder since the revolution.

      Many traders and shoppers in the souk are glad of the Salafists, as the hardliners are called. But there are those who fear that the town has swapped one group of persecutors, the police, for another.

      "There are two types of Salafists," said a 44-year-old widow who would only give her first name, Fatima. "Those that are peaceful and spiritual, and the aggressive ones. They attack people in the streets for not going to say their prayers, and they start fights in the mosque with people they don't like."

      They are the men who smashed up Mr Horchani's bar. The businessman is former captain of the town's football team and a leading member of the business elite which prospered under Ben Ali's rule.

      In other Tunisian towns customers and bar staff have grabbed bar stools and pool cues and sent squads of self-appointed religious enforcers packing. But Sidi Bouzid is a conservative place with many Salafists and only a few drinkers, who are now a persecuted minority.

      It's not only Tunisia's imbibers who have suffered: in recent weeks Salafists have harassed artists whose work they don't like and threatened journalists who write unfavourably about them. They have pressured women to wear the headscarf, especially in universities which have become cultural battlegrounds.

      "It was terrifying, they were a tough bunch and they knew they would get away with it – none of them has been arrested," Mr Horchani said.

      "I was not surprised at all when they attacked the US embassy in Tunis. The interior minister has made it clear that the police will not arrest them, and anyway the government and the Salafists are all Islamists together."

      The Salafists were mainly regarded as a nuisance until they broke into the US embassy in Tunis nine days ago, setting fire to the gym and looting the American school nearby. Now ordinary Tunisians are becoming frightened of them.

      "Salafists are maybe two per cent of the population and cause 90 per cent of the trouble," said one young man in the capital, who said he was scared to go for a beer after work.

      Partly it is fear of the unknown. Under Ben Ali's rule Salafists were locked up – often sharing prison cells with members of the current governing Ennahda party, who are moderate Islamists.

      After the revolution, thousands were let out, and promptly set about organising political parties and making converts. The Salafist message of equality and moral reform is simple and powerful. After years of corrupt government it is particularly appealing to the young and desperate who expected much from the revolution and feel disappointed. The unemployment rate is 18 per cent, and nearer 50 per cent for graduates in towns like Sidi Bouzid.

      Ben Ali's bans on men growing beards and women wearing headscarves or veils were lifted in the spirit of liberty after the revolution. Now, for the first time, there are Islamic-looking men and women everywhere, to the dismay of middle-class Tunisians who prefer jeans and T-shirts, or skirts and revealing dresses. They increasingly complain that the government's moderate Islamists are soft on the hardline Islamists.

      In June Salafists started riots after invading an art gallery in an upmarket Tunis suburb in the same week the government brought in a delegation of would-be foreign investors from abroad - who instead of looking at business opportunities were forced to stay in their hotel rooms.

      A few weeks ago a French councillor of Tunisian ancestry warned tourists to stay away for their own safety, after he was attacked by Islamic extremists with swords because his wife and daughter were wearing shorts. It was a fresh setback for the crucial tourism sector, which had finally begun to revive, with a third more British visitors in May than in the same month last year. Television pictures of the burning embassy and bearded protesters are likely to deter tourists further.

      Last week, after the attack on the US embassy in which four rioters died, police launched an unconvincing crackdown on hardliners in the capital. Armed officers in balaclavas gathered outside the El Fatah mosque, taken over now by the Salafists, on Avenue de Liberte, with its smart boutiques and airline offices.

      Inside was Abu Iyadh, a notorious preacher, allegedly with combat experience in Afghanistan, who was accused of whipping up the mob outside the US embassy.

      The bourgeoisie of Tunis, the women in smart, skimpy clothes, the men in suits and nice shoes, emerged from shops and offices to watch in horrified fascination as a mob of Salafists, many wearing scraps of camouflaged military uniforms, formed a wall of howling bodies to keep the police out of the mosque.

      "The genie is out of the bottle," one man murmured as he gazed at them. "What they did at the US embassy damaged the image of Tunisia in the world. And they got away with it. There will be a lot more trouble to come."

      The real nightmare for middle-class residents of Tunis are the so-called Jihad-Salafists, who number only a few thousand individuals but who are determined, tough and well organised. Some were caught in February with a lorry-load of guns being smuggled in from Libya. Their hard core has experience fighting the Russians in Afghanistan and the Americans in Iraq, and more are heading to Syria for the latest jihad.

      Chokri Abdelfattah, 40, fought in Libya against the Gaddafi regime, then returned home to rejoin the struggle to turn Tunisia into an Islamic state. He arrived for an interview with The Sunday Telegraph wearing a T-shirt with "Al-Quida" written on it and a graphic showing a jet flying into a skyscraper. It would have been enough to get him jailed under Ben Ali, but nobody will arrest him for it now.

      A few weeks ago his nose was split open and his front teeth smashed by a tear gas cylinder fired by police during a demonstration, and he boasted that his brother had just been arrested. Police had filmed the brother driving outside the US embassy with a Stars-and-Stripes tied to the back of his car, dragging the flag in the dust.

      "I am proud to be a jihadist, it is my duty to protect Muslims," he said. "America is our enemy. It kills our brothers. We don't want their embassy here."

      But although he was delighted with the embassy invasion he added that Tunisia was not yet ready for holy war. "It's not the time for Kalashnikovs at the moment. In Libya I had 10, but I didn't bring them back to Tunisia, I gave them up to the authorities."

      The Jihad-Salafists are concentrating their efforts on dawa, educating and converting Muslims, for the time being. Mr Abdelfattah said that growing disillusion with the moderate Islamist government was making that task easy, especially with poor young men.

      "Ennadha was elected because the voters thought it was an Islamic party, but now the voters are starting to realise that it is just like Ben Ali's party," he said.

      "We are patient. Tunisians will turn to our way. Then they will choose the Caliphate."

      Gilbert Achcar Interview
      We are reaping today the result of the left’s failure over many decades to raise the basic secular demand of separation of religion from state. Secularism – including freedom of belief, religion, and irreligion – is an elementary condition of democracy. It should be, therefore, an elementary part of any democratic project, let alone a left project. But most of the left in my part of the world, the Arab region, has capitulated on this issue.
      If the left wants to challenge the hegemony of Islamic forces and develop a counter-hegemonic movement in the political, social and cultural spheres, it must fight resolutely for secularism as well as against gender oppression – another fight from which many on the left also shy away in fear of ‘hurting the feelings’ of the believers. This is a self-defeating strategy.

      (AFP report)
      06 Sep 2012 VENICE, Italy (AFP)
      Italian director Marco Bellocchio on Thursday condemned the Catholic Church's interference in politics after the premiere of his new controversial film about a high-profile euthanasia case.

      "As long as Catholics can condition Italian political life, things are not going to change," said the 72-year-old Bellocchio, whose "Bella Addormentata" ("Dormant Beauty") is one of 18 films vying for this year's Golden Lion.

      "It is impossible to pass a law on end-of-life decisions, even one that is respectful," the director told a group of journalists after some centre-right politicians and clergymen voiced strong criticism of the film.

      Bellocchio's plot revolves around three fictional characters in the momentous days leading up to the death of Eluana Englaro at the age of 38.

      Englaro had been in a coma for 17 years and her family won the right in court to switch off life support, a ruling that unleashed a fierce backlash.

      "Italy tore itself apart over the fate of this poor young woman. There was a lot of media tension, a clash between Catholics and lay people," he said.

      [Photo Caption] Italian film director Marco Bellocchio (L) and actor Toni Servillo pose during the 69th Venice Film Festival. Bellocchio condemned the Catholic Church's interference in politics after the premiere of his new controversial film about a high-profile euthanasia case.

      The Catholic Church waged a campaign against the suspension of life support for Englaro, with support from then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who tried to rush an emergency law through parliament to stop Englaro's family.

      Three years later "the problem has not been resolved," said Bellocchio, pointing out that a draft law on end-of-life decisions is stuck in parliament.

      A small demonstration at the Venice film festival drew around 50 people, who distributed pamphlets saying Bellocchio had "killed Eluana a second time."

      "They have the right to do it (but) I think they represent a tiny minority of the Catholic world, where there are also more open positions," he said.

      Bellocchio chose not to portray the Englaro family directly but to explore it through the eyes of a mother (Isabelle Huppert) whose daughter is also in a coma and a senator (Toni Servillo) who is called on to vote for the law.

      The third central character is a drug addict who is desperate to kill herself but is rescued by a doctor and eventually chooses to live.

      A translation of Text of Coordinadora #25S’s manifesto is posted below (Este manifiesto es fruto del debate en las asambleas de esta Coordinadora 25S)


      We, ordinary people are fed up to live with the consequences of a system conditioned by and forced to adapt itself to the markets, which is in every respect insupportable, and has led us to be victims of a large scale scam which has caused this crisis. We unify in order to edit this manifesto. We invite every citizen to unify themselves with the claims we are making in this manifesto.

      We perceive that the current situation has exceed all tolerable limits and that we are victims of an attack without former precedents from the side of economical powers, who are using the crisis as an excuse. This is ruining our lives and those to blame are them who present themselves as an untouchable oligarchy. This with the complicity of all political forces represented in the parliament, who are manipulating the powers of the State by maintaining their privileges and excessive and illegitimate enrichment.

      There is no way to hide that we live in a gigantic social fraud, with governments systematically betraying us by doing exactly the opposite as promised in their electoral statements, just as there isn’t any justice in the tribunals against bankers, politicians and business men who are guilty of the current situation. We just have to look in order to see how this structure of vicious and immoral power creates policies that end our rights and destroy our lives, and in order to see how we are victims of an unfair repression when demanding a change of the situation.

      We believe that the problem is of such a big seize and the roots such profound that any solution will not be founded in reforms based in the actual political system. Therefore we demand:

      – The dismissal of the entire government, as well as the dismissal of the Court and the Leadership of the State, because of betraying the country and the whole community of citizens. This was done in premeditation and is leading us to the disaster.

      – The beginning of a constitutional process in a transparent and democratic way, with the goal of composing a new Constitution. We want to do this with the participation of the whole community of citizens, in such a way that the result will be their own, because we don’t recognize any democratic character in the actual constitution and laws. On the contrary these are drawn by a selected group behind the people’s back and confirm the domination of the heirs of the Franquismo era (the period during dictator Franco ruled) and those agreeing with them. It has to be the people who determine the model of social organization in whom they desire to live – not the opposite way.

      – The audit and control of the public debt of Spain, with moratorium (delay) of debt’s payment until there is a clear demarcation of the parts which not have to be paid by the nation, because they have been served private interests using the country for their own goals, instead the well being of the whole Spanish community. Equally we demand the prosecution of all this persons who show and present themselves as suspicious of such moves, and we demand that they guarantee and pay with their own goods in the case they appear to be guilty.

      – The reform of the electoral law, with the design of a new electoral process, in order to really represent the people’s will before any election which will be necessary to supply the development of a constitutional process of democracy.

      – The immediate abolition of all cuts and all reforms taken against the well fare state with the excuse of the crisis, which set up limits to the population’s rights and freedoms, not only because they mean a disaster for the country, but also because they have been consisting out of taxes betraying the will of the people.

      – A profound tax reform, which is making to pay more by those gaining more benefits of society. We equally demand the abolition of the fiscal amnesty ordered by the government, since these injustice is a real mockery for those who pay honestly.

      – The abolition of all the privileges of those holding a political or public position, and the introduction of efficient mechanisms controlling the performance of those positions.

      – The immediate paralysis of all forced evictions (forced leaving of homes), and to put at the population’s disposal those houses belonging to the banks and companies who have been helped by public funds.

      – The creation of new jobs, which first premise will be the sustainability, and whose goal will be the development of humanity, as well as a form of management appropriate and adapted to the disposable jobs such that populations can work in order to live – instead of being forced to live in order to work. It is a tremendous hoax when over and over saying we have to work more, a fallacy supported by the greed of the big interests but contrary to the interests of the ordinary people.

      For all this above explained we make a call to the population on the 25 of September 2012 to manifest in an undefined form at the gates of the Congress in order to obtain the dismissal of the Government and to make the beginning of a Constitutional Process, by making this call of unification of all the fights, strives and wrestling for a more fair Society.

      We are the overwhelming majority, we are the people, we are right, we will not tolerate this and we will not be walked all over.


      SEE ALSO:

      Will the Occupy movement dissolve Spain's parliament? (+video)

      Some 6,000 of protesters gathered outside Spain's parliament in Madrid to protest austerity measures and to call for the ouster of Spain's current government .
      by Alan Clendenning, Associated Press / September 25, 2012


      Anonymous Operation Spain - Press Release

      Tuesday - September 25, 2012 6:00 PM ET USA

      Greetings World --

      Anonymous sends it's solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Spain who at this very moment have completely surrounded the Parliament Building in Madrid. They are calling for the resignation of a government that like so many in our world today has failed to serve the needs of it's people. We encourage our comrades in Spain to remain steadfast until their demands are met, and we promise to do all we can to assist them.

      Anonymous watched on the independent livestreams the horrendous brutality on the part of the Spanish National Police. It is always intolerable to us, but it is especially deplorable when we witness this level of senseless violence used against peaceful protesters in a supposedly western and modern "democracy". In response to this wanton violence by the Spanish National Police against our brothers and sisters in Madrid, Anonymous has removed from the Internet the web site of the Spanish National Police located at http://www.policia.es - and we will keep it offline so long as we continue to watch scenes of brutality.

      Beginning tomorrow, Anonymous will also begin an attack on the primary website of the Parliament of Spain. This attack will include not only DdoS and hacking, but also Black Fax & E-Mail bombs - effectively removing the Parliament of Spain from the Internet entirely.

      We Are Anonymous
      We Are Everywhere
      We Are Legion
      We Do Not Forgive
      We Do Not Forget
      Government of Spain, it's to late to Expect Us.

      SIGNED -- Anonymous


      [See also: Spaniards rage against austerity in march to Parliament http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/hundreds-of-police-seal-off-spanish-parliament-ahead-of-protest-against-crisis-measures/2012/09/25/fcce6fa2-06e2-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html%5d


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